With disappearance of its last working ISP, "Egypt has no more data service."

Posted: 31 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Rensys blog, 31 Jan 2011, Earl Zmijewski: "As of approximately 20:46 UTC ... [Egypt's last operating internet service provider] Noor started disappearing from the Internet. They are completely unavailable at present."

Twitter, 31 Jan 2011, torproject: "It appears the last Egyptian ISP, Noor, is now offline. Egypt has no more data service."

New Scientist, 31 Jan 2011, Jacob Aron: "[I]t's suspected Noor was spared because it runs services for the Egyptian stock exchange."

Twitter, 31 Jan 2011, Dave Alpert: "It is now Tuesday in #Egypt. State TV has just anncd banks and the Cairo stock market will be closed."

Radio Prague's last day of shortwave transmission: "easier to block the internet than to block shortwave signals."

Posted: 31 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Prague, 31 Jan 2011, on its last day of shortwave transmission: "Just as Radio Prague’s shortwave broadcast withstood the hostile invasion of its own country, it has continued to penetrate information blockades all over the world. Radio Prague’s transmission is heard in Cuba in Spanish, in Belarus in Russian, throughout the Middle East and Africa in English and French. Over the years we have broadcast in Swahili and Portuguese, in Arabic and Italian, Esperanto and many more languages. Even today, it is easier to block the internet than to block shortwave signals. The man in charge of the technical side of Czech Radio’s shortwave broadcasting for the last 40 years has been Oldrich Cíp, also chairman of the international High Frequency Co-ordination Committee. CípOldrich Cíp: 'I think that all shortwave stations have some importance still, although the era of shortwave broadcasting has of course changed. It still has value for specific segments of the audience. The delivery methods of international radio have diversified, with the internet and satellites, but shortwave has some specific properties, and it is my very strong belief that there will always be a specific segment of the audience that prefers shortwave broadcasting from terrestrial transmitters to other delivery methods. I am afraid that some of the decision makers in some of the big organisations may cause a domino effect, whereby when they start reducing then the smaller ones follow suit. So I am afraid that the reduction of shortwave broadcasting around the world was made quite hastily and is not a good development.' But when the money for expensive shortwave broadcasting is lacking, then what would you recommend? 'Well to reduce it! But to stay on the air. Because shortwave broadcasting bands exist and I believe they will always be used. I think this particular group of listeners will stay tuned to shortwave, and it’s a pity that Radio Prague will not be there.'"

Shut down NHK World, replace it with a commercial channel, he writes.

Posted: 31 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 28 Jan 2011, Tyler Brûlé: "Though NHK [World], along with contributions from other broadcasters, could make a soft-power play with its news service, it is instead throwing away billions of yen on dreadful 'talent', useless films and satellite time. At a time when Japan should be making strategic plays to strengthen its voice and influence in the world, it is producing a TV service that reinforces many of the negatives that plague both the government and corporate Japan: rigid, bureaucratic, slow, out-of-touch, arrogant, inward-looking, dated and not particularly international. A bright spark in the country’s foreign ministry should lobby prime minister Naoto Kan’s government to shut the channel down with the aim of launching a global, commercial service that only partly relies on the public purse. A new, improved channel wouldn’t broadcast only from Tokyo but anchor out of Taipei, Seoul, Beijing, Singapore and Jakarta regionally; and from London, Washington, Los Angeles and São Paulo globally. ... There’s a need for a new network to connect Asian nations to each other – not to mention the rest of the world. The audience awaits." -- NHK World does broadcast some exquisitely produced, very good documentaries, many on nature topics.

Richard Sambrook: "Reinvent a vision of the World Service fit for today." And other views.

Posted: 31 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 31 Jan 2011, Richard Sambrook, previous director of BBC Global News: "For long-standing loyalists, many of whom will be joining campaigns and vigils to save the unsaveable, the unique values of the World Service seem imbued in the brickwork of Bush House. Yet any visitor can't fail to notice the signs of ageing and decay in a building clearly imagined in a different age. ... Shortwave broadcasting has been in gradual but accelerating decline for years; FM partnerships around the world have propped up audience figures; limited moves into TV have proven expensive, the web and mobile have been promising but from a very low base. What's needed is to deal with these cuts as swiftly and compassionately as possible and accept a transformational moment. Then, reinvent a vision of the World Service fit for today: multimedia, differentiated by its global intelligence, addressing the needs of younger and older audiences, clearly focused on the issues of today's world rather than living on a reputation forged through the conflicts of the 20th century. Honouring the past, but embracing the future. It's what successive managers have tried to do for the last decade, but they have struggled against political, corporate and staff conservatism."

Press Gazette, 31 Jan 2011, Daisy Phillipson: "A senior journalist at the BBC World Service has branded the cuts facing the organisation as 'the most appalling, dreadful situation it has ever been in'. Mike Workman, who is NUJ Father of Chapel for news and current affairs at the World Service, said plans to save £46m a year through a series of cuts to the service amounted to 'a disgrace beyond disgrace'. ... While recognising the need for technological development, Workman said changes being were being made too really quickly without looking at alternatives."

Scoop, 31 Jan 2011, Binoy Kampmark: "The darlings of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office are evidently not so concerned about this idea, running about chopping budgets to the BBC World Service with greater savagery than a drunken gardener in a rose garden."

The Independent, 31 Jan 2011, Steven Glover: "What madness is this? The World Service is the best thing about the BBC. It is a force for good and a force for Britain. And yet it is losing 16 per cent of its £267m government grant over the next five years, during which time the international aid budget will increase by 37 per cent to over £11bn. What is the BBC World Service but a form of aid for the oppressed? A fraction of the aid budget could preserve it."

"The BBC radio's era in India may soon be over."

Posted: 31 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hindu, 28 Jan 2011, special correspondent: "For dozens of angry people who called up the BBC's office here on Thursday, the only hope for the return of the suave voices of the BBC Hindi anchors could be the easing of the rules that prevent private news and current affairs FM channels. ... [S]ources in the BBC indicate that the organisation would jump at the chance to set up an FM channel of its own, to continue providing radio services in the same way as it is doing in several other countries where short and medium wave services are being cut. India is the only South Asian nation that does not allow private FM news channels. In fact, sources say the BBC launched its preliminary FM initiative, providing entertainment and non-news content to partner channels reaching 52 cities, in the hope that the government would soon agree to allow news content as well. ... While the BBC continues to provide short-wave services in India in Tamil, Urdu, Bengali ... , sources suggest that all short wave services will ultimately be shut down. Unless they are allowed to broadcast news on FM, the BBC radio's era in India may soon be over."

Financial Times, Beyondbrics blog, 30 Jan 2011, James Lamont: "According to some estimates within the BBC, the public broadcaster is about to ditch 12m listeners in India for a more modest number of about 12,000 accessing the service online, plus those who receive BBC programmes that are carried by local FM stations. The post bag and telephone exchange at the broadcaster’s Delhi office is swelling with complaint. True, technology is changing fast in media, and short-wave is viewed as costly old hat compared to FM radio and the internet. But such changes aren’t felt deeply yet in northern India where broadband internet penetration is low, and computer access a distant prospect for the country’s tens of millions of poor people. Radios, however, are popular among the marginalised as is programming distinct from India’s own English and Hindi language media."

The Pioneer (Delhi), 31 Jan 2011, Chandra Mitra: "The BBC was a kind organisation that gave "The BBC was a kind organisation that gave shelter to political exiles of all hues. Associates of assassinated Bangladesh leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman found accommodation in Bush House’s wide bosom, as did asylum-seekers from East Europe, Latin America and Africa. I retained my association with the BBC’s language services long after my return. Initially, they often asked me to report from Kolkata and later Delhi or from trouble spots that I regularly visited, especially Punjab. I remember being feted in militancy-ridden Sopore in Kashmir because residents had heard my commentary on the situation in the State that very morning. No, it wasn’t what they would have liked to hear. But in pre-TV days, anyone associated with the BBC was a celebrity. Sir Mark Tully is, of course, one of a kind, mobbed till recently on visits to small towns."

BBC plan to cut World Service Vietnamese, Indonesian, Uzbek, radio in Persian, Tamil, overruled by William Hague.

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The Telegraph, 30 Jan 2011, Jonathan Wynne-Jones: "BBC executives are trying to raid Government funds intended to tackle world poverty in an attempt to lessen the impact of cuts on the World Service. A secret memo leaked to the Telegraph shows that the state-funded broadcaster has lobbied ministers to divert £25 million out of the budget of the Department for International Development (DfID) and into its own finances. The corporation claims that the move would be justified because World Service broadcasts can 'contribute to the stabilisation of Pakistan and Afghanistan'. ... According to Government sources, the corporation proposed ending its radio broadcasts in Persian and Tamil, languages which reach some of the world's most troubled areas in Iran and Sri Lanka. It also planned to cut its Vietnamese, Indonesian and Uzbek services. All five proposals were blocked by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary." -- Presumably, Persian television would continue. BBC Tamil has no television that I am aware of, so would a web presence have continued? See previous post about same subject.

The Guardian, 29 Jan 2011, Jeremy Paxman: "I don't suppose there are many heroes who wear a cardigan and cords. But that's how I imagine the BBC World Service, an ageing uncle who's seen it all. It has a style that makes understatement seem like flamboyance. Yet I have never, ever, anywhere in the world, heard anyone say a bad word about the World Service. It is more trusted than its American equivalents, more lively than Deutsche Welle, more imitated (unsuccessfully) than any of them. It has a team of steady, dedicated and resourceful correspondents stationed around the world. Their probity is beyond doubt. Its television service puts its poverty on proud display every day."

The Guardian, 30 Jan 2011, Nick Cohen: "In the Commons, opposition MPs have accused David Cameron of aiming to succeed where Hitler failed by slashing the output of the BBC World Service, a far more valuable gift from Britain to the oppressed peoples of the planet than half the aid programmes the coalition funnels to dictatorships."

The Guardian, 28 Jan 2011: "Listeners on three continents lament BBC World Service cutbacks."

Financial Times, 28 Jan 2011, editorial: "It is also striking that the BBC expects to shed a third of its workforce, yet is cutting only a few of the World Service’s offerings. This suggests that remaining staff will be thinly spread. That does not bode well for the quality of the organisation’s output."

Stabroek News (Georgetown), 30 Jan 2011, David Jessop: "With the dismantling of its Caribbean Service its specialist team of independent Caribbean staff, who have become well known and trusted across the region, will depart and what little that was left that represented and conveyed a regional broadcast perspective will disappear for ever. As a consequence the sole vehicle offering the region the chance to hear on a daily basis about events from a broader perspective and sometimes hold politicians to account, will be no more, and leading figures in public life will find it virtually impossible to present their views to a region-wide radio audience. Moreover, the BBC will become a weaker news institution as the in-house expertise and contacts that the Caribbean service has provided to the BBC newsroom and other regional services at times of intense media interest – for example the earthquake in Haiti or recent troubles in Jamaica – evaporate."

Salon, How the World Works blog, 28 Jan 2011, Andrew Leonard: "Sign o' the times: A tweet from Steve Herman, a Voice of America correspondent based in Seoul: 'BBC to end radio programming in Mandarin, stop broadcasts to China. Meanwhile, Radio China Int'l broadcasting in English 24/7.' ... I guess the symbolism just hurts too much, even for the Tories. When you start closing down the BBC World Service, you are conceding once and for all that the sun really has set on the British Empire."

Salon, 29 Jan 2011, letter from m.boli: "The public radio station in Chicago plays BBC world service programs in the middle of the night. I listen a lot, they are much better connected to the news and cultures of the world than NPR is."

Scotland on Sunday, 30 Jan 2011, Gerald Warner: "[T]he World Service has always been in the curate's egg category, good in parts. Historically it was a propaganda organ of imperial paternalism. Its most constructive contribution was in helping people in far-flung regions of the world to learn English. Its signature tune Lillibullero accurately expressed its culture: a Whiggish belief in the civilising influence of Anglo-Saxon institutions."

The Guardian, 30 Jan 2011, John Naughton: "So the BBC is slimming down, in response to government pressure. The World Service is to lose five of its foreign-language services, and a quarter of its staff. And BBC Online's budget will be cut by a quarter to £103m and the unit will lose 360 staff, at the same time as it embarks upon a radical 'redesign' of the website and its navigation. ... What links these two victims of corporate surgery? Answer: they're not television. And that's highly significant. What the cuts to BBC Online signify is that the internal battle within the corporation between the few who understood that push media represent the past, and the many who think that the Wibbly Wobbly Web (as Terry Wogan used to call Tim Berners-Lee's invention) is really just the newest way to convey visual stimuli to couch potatoes, is over. And the past has won."

Radio Netherlands increases satellite and shortwave broadcasts to Egypt.

Posted: 31 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 29 Jan 2011: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide is increasing its broadcasts to Egypt after the authorities shut down internet and mobile services. RNW will increase its Arabic broadcasts using satellites that are not controlled by the Egyptian authorities. RNW journalists are also producing text-television which can be received through satellite. RNW programmes which can be downloaded through satellites are also broadcast on local FM stations. [Satellite details.] There are also extra shortwave transmissions in Dutch for the estimated 8,000 Dutch citizens in Egypt. [Times and frequencies.]

Publicity Alhurra could probably do without: Rep. Moran on race and the 2010 election.

Posted: 30 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Weekly Standard, 26 Jan 2011, John McCormack: "Virginia Democrat Jim Moran was asked by the Arab TV news outlet Al-Hurra last night why the Democrats lost in November. His answer: America is filled with racists. 'It [the Republican successes in the 2010 elections] happened for the same reason the Civil War happened in the United States. It happened because the Southern states, the slaveholding states, didn’t want to see a president who was opposed to slavery. In this case, I believe, a lot of people in the United States don’t want to be governed by an African-American, particularly one who is liberal, who wants to spend money and who wants to reach out to include everyone in our society….'" With video.

Also reported by Powerline blog, 26 Jan 2011, Washington Post Right Turn blog, 27 Jan 2011, Washington Post Virginia Politics blog, 27 Jan 2011, AP, 27 Jan 2011, Politico, 27 Jan 2011, WRC-TV, 28 Jan 2011, USA Today, 28 Jan 2011, The Hill, 28 Jan 2011, American Thinker, 29 Jan 2011, Newsmax.com, 29 Jan 2011, Human Events, 28 Jan 2011.

All of the above referred to Alhurra as an "Arab network," but not mentioning that it is US government funded. The only exception I saw was Newsmax.com, 27 Jan 2011, Henry J. Reske, who specified that Alhurra is U.S.-funded and under the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Al Jazeera in the White House. And more media coverage of Al Jazeera's coverage of Egypt's crisis.

Posted: 30 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily Beast, 29 Jan 2011, John Barry: "For three days straight, as the Cairo crisis gathered momentum, they had hardly left their desks. Now, huddled in the big office of their boss — one of the administration policy-makers trying to calibrate the U.S. response to the unfolding drama — the advisers watched Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s first statement. Two television sets were running, one showing CNN and the other a satellite feed from Al Jazeera."

Business Insider, 29 Jan 2011, Glynnis MacNicol: "That's right, even the President of the United States is watching Al Jazeera. Needless to say this is a far cry from the time (just two years ago!) that Colin Powell declared on Meet the Press that 'those kind of images going out on Al Jazeera are killing us.' More than a few media people have noted that the Egyptian crisis is for Al Jazeera what the Gulf War was to CNN. Without question the network has been putting US coverage to shame -- 'reports Al Jazeera' is the new news verifier on Twitter. One can only hope the one the results of this is that the channel will at some point actually be available on U.S. cable."

Twitter, 30 Jan 2011, Naomi Klein: "When #Egypt cuts off Al Jazeera it's censorship. When US cable providers refuse to show it in the first place it's 'just business'"

Reuters, 30 Jan 2011, Andrew Hammond: "Egypt's decision on Sunday to close the offices of Al Jazeera illustrates the leading role the Arabic broadcaster has taken in reporting unprecedented popular revolts against Arab rulers. Egypt has often harassed the Qatar-based channel since it began in 1996, setting off a revolution in Arab media in the face of state-controlled information, but it had never before tried to shut down its operations completely. ... Saudi-owned Al Arabiya has been more conservative in covering the Arab uprisings -- less proactive in covering the protests in the early stage and quicker to promote a return to stability once concessions are offered. As'ad AbuKhalil, a politics professor in the United States, wrote on his popular blogsite Egyptian and Saudi media were both trying discredit the protest movement."

Globe and Mail, 28 Jan 2011, Susan Krashinsky: "Al Jazeera, which is headquartered in Doha, Qatar, is now a media conglomerate, with a sports channel, a children’s channel, and an English channel for international audiences supplementing its original flagship news station, Al Jazeera Arabic. That channel reaches Arabic-speaking audiences with a very specific model: aggressively opinionated talk shows, a manic style of up-to-the-minute reporting from the streets, and a mandate to give a voice to ordinary citizens, including those who clash with government interests."

Los Angeles Times, Babylon & Beyond blog, 30 Jan 2011, Molly Hennessy-Fiske: "Human rights officials have denounced the Egyptian government shutdown of Arab satellite network Al Jazeera's Cairo bureau Sunday and are demanding the bureau be allowed to reopen."

AIB, 30 Jan 2011: "The Association for International Broadcasting, the industry association for international TV, radio, mobile and online broadcasting, strongly condemns the closure of the Cairo bureau of Al Jazeera Network and the withdrawal of accreditation to Al Jazeera correspondents in Egypt."

Aljazeera.net, 30 Jan 2011: "Al Jazeera has expressed its 'utter disappointment' with the blockage of its signal on Nilesat and sees this as a further attempt to block its reporting out of Egypt. The news network said on Sunday that the move was a reaction to the popularity of its wide coverage of the events in Egypt. On its bureau in Cairo being closed earlier by the Egyptian government, the network said it retained the right to take any available legal measures to reverse the move."

AFP, 30 Jan 2011: "Since its launch 14 years ago, pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera has become a major player in the Arab world, giving a voice to opponents from various backgrounds. ... But its critics accuse it of having become a voice for Islamist hardliners, such as Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, whose messages it was always the first to receive and broadcast. It was banned in Iraq where its covered was deemed to favour the Sunni insurgency there. In December, Kuwait shut down the local Al Jazeera office after the channel extensively covered a police crackdown on a gathering held by the Kuwaiti opposition on December 8. Last May, Bahrain also banned the news channel, which has offended many countries, including Saudi Arabia. Al Jazeera has also been locked in a dispute with Jordan, which it accused of jamming 2010 World Cup coverage for which it had exclusive pay-TV rights — an accusation denied by the monarchy. Morocco suspended the Doha-based channel’s operations and withdrew its staff’s accreditation in October after what Rabat described as 'numerous failures' that went against the 'rules of serious and responsible journalism.'"

Twitter, 30 Jan 2011, EdwardMaunder: "AlJazeera English available on DirectTV 375 and DISH via @LinkTV at least today."

The Wrap, 28 Jan 2011, Dylan Stableford: Comparison of Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, and other media covering the protests in Egypt.

Ustream, 30 Jan 2011, CBS News provides live stream of Egypt's Nile TV (in Arabic).

BBC World Service press release, 28 Jan 2011: "The BBC today announced that it is protesting the deliberate assault by Cairo police on one of its journalists during today's disturbances in Egypt. Assad Sawey, the BBC's correspondent in Cairo, was deliberately assaulted by police while reporting today's protests. He was reporting on a police baton charge when he was surrounded by men who appeared to be plain clothes security men. Despite clearly identifying himself as a journalist for the BBC, he was repeatedly hit, including blows to the head. He also had his camera confiscated."

Americablog, 30 Jan 2011, Joe Sudbay: "The difference between reporting from CNN International and its US-based programming is stark. The international reporters are solid and provide helpful information."

Alhurra finally receiving some press mentions relating to Egypt and neighboring crises.

Posted: 30 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 30 Jan 2011, Liz Sly: "TV viewers across the Middle East who had been watching the upheaval unfold live on the Arabic service of the al-Jazeera satellite TV station saw their screens go blank early in the afternoon, as the Egyptian government blocked the service from the Nilesat satellite that serves the region. The English version of al-Jazeera remained on air. So Arabic-speaking viewers simply switched to one of the many other TV stations covering the protests live, including the U.S.-funded al-Hurra and the Saudi Arabian al-Arabiya network."

InterPress Service, 28 Jan 2011, Emad Mekay and Ali Gharib: "At home, people were watching satellite broadcasts like Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and even Al Hurra, the U.S. government- funded station, which all covered the protests."

Reuters, 28 Jan 2011, Farid Ghadry, "a Syrian-American who co-founded the Reform Party of Syria ... opinions expressed are his own": "Al-Hurra, a US-funded TV station, has been slow in responding to any threats affecting the Syrian regime. Why? Because planted within its Virginia offices are sympathizers and supporters of Assad and Hezbollah. The last time al-Hurra broadcasted a negative story on Syria was in 2005 due to pressure from the Bush administration. If al-Hurra covers the demonstrations happening in Damascus, it will encourage Syrians to rise against Assad."

IsraelNationalNews.com, 27 Jan 2011, David Lev: "Not only do Arab governments use satellite TV to reach the Arab masses; the United States operates several stations in Arabic and Farsi, and has a whole TV station, Al-Hurra, dedicated to explaining its side of the story in Iraq. Many other countries, including Korea, China, France, Britain, and even Holland have their own satellite stations. Besides foreign, official and religious broadcasts, there are also dozens of independent stations broadcasting news, sports, and entertainment, in Arabic – and there are even a surprisingly large number of stations that broadcast movies and TV series originating in the United States."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 28 Jan 2011: "Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Walter Isaacson released the following statement concerning coverage of recent events in the Middle East: 'As Chairman of the BBG, I have been regularly updated on developments across the Middle East by our Arabic-language broadcasters Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa. I am impressed by the results, and the commitment from the reporters, editors and managers at MBN to consistently uphold the highest journalistic standards, to compete with other outlets to get the story first, to get it accurately, and to provide the rich content the public deserves. They are playing a crucial role in reporting the developing story by providing live coverage from Cairo and other key cities, pre-empting regularly scheduled programming to cover breaking news, and incorporating video clips, photos and online comments from protesters as well as commentary from U.S. policymakers and analysts. Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa are important media players in the Middle East during these tumultuous days, contributing to international broadcasting in significant ways, utilizing all means of communications available, and with dedicated commitment to the mission.'"

Alhurra live stream available here.

Al Jazeera adds/changes Arabsat and Hotbird frequencies; interference on these satellites?

Posted: 30 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 30 Jan 2011: "The Egyptian authorities are revoking the Al Jazeera Network's licence to broadcast from the country, and will be shutting down its bureau office in Cairo, state television has said. 'The information minister [Anas al-Fikki] ordered ... suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today,' a statement on the official Mena news agency said on Sunday. ... An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless. ... As their signals have been taken off Nilesat, our Arabic sister channels are now broadcasting on the following new frequencies:" [on Nilesat, Arabsat, and Hotbird]. -- Are these new frequencies on Arabsat and Hotbird because of interference to these satellites? Or to compensate for Al Jazeera's removal from Nilesat transponders? From these unconfirmed tweets...

Twitter, 30 Jan 2011, 25jan: "#aljazeera not working uae all frequency #egypt nilesat arabsat."

Twitter, 30 Jan 2011, Hisham: "RT @Hisham_G: Aljazeera announces new satellite frequencies (Nilesat, Arabsat, Hotbird) as its original signal is being scrambled."

Twitter, 30 Jan 2011, ZeMoo: "REPOST! #AlJazeera new #Egypt #satellite freq.: #NileSat 10949 #ArabSat 11585 #HotBird 12111 = all FEC3/4 SR27500."

Twitter, 30 Jan 2011, Lara Setrakian (ABC News): "We can no longer get Al Jazeera on the TV dial in Egypt - the satellite signal has been blocked." -- Perhaps Egyptian (military?) authorities are now transmitting interfering signals on the Nilesat, Arabsat, and Hotbird downlink frequencies of Al Jazeera. This would explain Al Jazeera changing or adding frequencies on all three satellites. Egyptian authorities would need several terrestrial transmitters to cover all of Cairo, many more to cover other cities. The countryside and villages would probably remain in the clear.

Amateur radio used for some messages in and out of Egypt.

Posted: 30 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 29 Jan 2011, Craig Kanalley and Jake Bialer: "'Internet not working, police cars burning,' sent out one Egyptian. 'Today marks a great day for Egypt,' sent out another. These messages weren't coming from mobile phones or computers, but from an amateur radio sending out Morse Code somewhere amidst the chaos in Egypt. The Egyptian government's efforts to limit communications within the country has triggered a wave of activism from an international group of free speech activists on the Internet called Telecomix. ... The activists thus began providing instructions for using dial-up modems and amateur radios, known as Ham radios, which the Egyptian people could use to communicate. The group says it's also worked on receiving and decoding amateur radio messages, sent on frequencies recommended by the group of activists. While these groups have only been able to receive a small amount of messages of a short length with an unknown source, the Egyptian people's use of amateur radio to transmit messages represents an interesting utilization of old-fashioned technology to circumvent government restrictions."

Computerworld, 29 Jan 2011, Nancy Gohring and Robert McMillan: "We Rebuild describes itself as "a decentralized cluster of net activists who have joined forces to collaborate on issues concerning access to a free Internet without intrusive surveillance." It has set up an IRC for people who can help with ham radio transmissions from Egypt. They are trying to spread the word about the radio band they are monitoring so that people in Egypt know where to transmit. Some ham enthusiasts are setting up an FTP site where people can record what they hear and post the recordings. So far, they say they've picked up Morse code messages. Allen Pitts, a spokesman for the National Association for Amateur Radio, said no one has picked up any voice transmissions from Egypt for the past couple of days. But it's possible that people in Egypt are transmitting over shorter-range frequencies that carry only 30 or 50 miles, he said. One problem with ham radio is that most people who know how to use it in Egypt were probably trained by the military and may be opposed to the protests."

Werebuild amateur radio page: "Ham radio activists are receiving signals in morse code from Egypt. When countries block web, we evolve. Receive: 40m band 7050-7100 [kHz], 20m 1400-14050 [kHz]."

As I mentioned in a previous post, amateur radio can be used for emergency communications, but its use for political activism is legally more problematic. Amateur radio activists in Egypt are, however, probably not at present interested in these finer points of amateur radio regulations.

With internet and mobile shut down in Egypt, communication "reverts to a broadcast/receiver relationship."

Posted: 30 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Ultimi Barbarorum blog, 28 Jan 2011: "Today, Egypt’s authorities tried to dampen a popular uprising by shutting down both its Internet and mobile telephony. This is sobering, but points the way to how such draconian measures can be circumvented by those intent on accessing independent news: By not relying at all on terrestrial infrastructure such as cell towers and Internet cabling, falling back instead on direct satellite communications. By necessity, this set-up reverts to a broadcast/receiver relationship, with international broadcasters like the BBC and Al Jazeera able to invest in satellite video phones as a back-up in case authorities turn off other means of broadcasting live. The Egyptian people, meanwhile, have ubiquitous access to satellite television — as anyone who’s been to Cairo can attest after just a brief glance across the rooftops. There is no way to restrict the reception of such broadcasting — there is no way for Mubarak to prevent Egyptians from watching satellite broadcasts of Al Jazeera short of turning off the electricity." -- Satellite broadcasts can be jammed, either by uplink to the satellite, or by terrestrial jamming of the downlink frequencies. This would, however, be difficult for Egyptian authorities to arrange on short notice.

IDG News, 28 Jan 2011, Jeremy Kirk: "Although the Internet remains locked down in Egypt, Al-Najjar has been participating in the lively stream of posts on Twitter using the hashtags #Jan25 and #Egypt. Some of those postings suggest the use of satellite Internet services offered by companies such as Thuraya, Iridium and Inmarsat. ... Satellite Internet services aren't cheap, however, compared to wired Internet access. Al-Najjar said a satellite-capable phone could cost around US$1,300 in Egypt."

Huffington Post, 29 Jan 2011: "Despite Egyptian authorities shutting down access to the internet, protesters in Cairo have been able to get online by some creative methods. Check out the slideshow [all tweets] to see how they're doing it."

Al Jazeera as the "go-to" channel for Egypt coverage (even if most Americans must watch it online).

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link

New York Times, Media Decoder blog, 28 Jan 2011, Brian Stelter: "The most consistent television coverage of the protests came from the Qatar-based Al Jazeera English. The network relied heavily on two reporters at its bureau in downtown Cairo to narrate the back-and-forth between the police and protesters by the 6th October Bridge. ... Al Jazeera English is not carried by most cable and satellite companies in the United States, so many viewers had to stream the network on the Internet. Mohamed Nanabhay, the head of online for Al Jazeera English, said that Friday represented the heaviest-trafficked day ever to the network’s live Web stream. ... CNN, which has an international channel as well as two channels in the United States, had a more robust presence in Egypt than any other American television company. On Friday, the company had three correspondents in Egypt, and one more on the way."

Minneapolis Star Tribune, 28 Jan 2011, John Rash: "The riveting images and sharp analysis of the protests in Egypt on Al-Jazeera English may make some satellite and cable carriers rethink whether they offer the channel. Twitter chatter from foreign policy observers and media critics indicates that it’s the go-to channel for experts, even if they have to watch it online."

Salon, 28 Jan 2011, Alex Pareene: "Fox, CNN and MSNBC are all acquitting themselves better than they did the day Tunisia's government collapsed. All of them have reporters in Cairo, and are airing footage of the demonstrations on the streets. But none of them are reporting on the situation as compellingly as Al Jazeera English, which has reporters across the country. And if you're in the United States, you can probably only see Al Jazeera English online. If you're watching Al Jazeera, you're seeing uninterrupted live video of the demonstrations, along with reporting from people actually on the scene, and not 'analysis' from people in a studio. The cops were threatening to knock down the door of one of its reporters minutes ago. Fox has moved on to anchor babies. CNN reports that the ruling party building is on fire, but Al Jazeera is showing the fire live. CNN, to its credit, is using coverage from the grown-ups at CNN International."

Aol News, 28 Jan 2011, Steven Hoffer: "Surge Desk hit the Twitter-sphere to round up a few tweets in praise of Al-Jazeera's Egypt coverage."

Miami Herald, 28 Jan 2011, Uri Dromi: "I'll continue to watch Al-Jazeera with interest. I'll be particularly curious to see how those champions of change from Qatar react when another real change in the Middle East happens -- that is, when Iran gets the nukes and starts bullying its neighbors, Qatar first."

Salon, 28 Jan 2011, Julia Dahl: "On the day after the Pennsylvania primary, when U.S. cable news ran nearly nonstop coverage of the democratic race for president, AJE had reports on post-election violence in Zimbabwe and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s calls for an arms embargo on the south African nation, the resumption of fuel shipments from Israel to Palestine, General David Petraeus’s promotion, an elephant rampage in India, bombings in Mosul, Iraq, and a documentary program on the veterans of the Falklands War."

In press release, Al Jazeera notes that it was removed from Nilesat.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Jazeera press release, 29 Jan 2010: "The Al Jazeera Network has called for the Egyptian authorities to allow them to freely cover the events currently unfolding in the country. The global satellite network has reported that their live channel Al Jazeera Mubasher was this morning (Friday) removed from the Nilesat platform from which the public receive television channels. This was after the channel was originally moved to different frequencies, the Network said in a press release issued on Friday. In addition, the Network's bureau in Cairo had its telephone landlines cut, and its main Arabic news channel has also faced signal interference. ... Viewers facing difficulties can watch Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Mubasher using these details: 10949 V 27500 3/4." -- This new frequency is on Atlantic Bird 4, at nearly the same orbital position.

Twitter, 29 Jan 2011, Mohannad Omar: "THEY CUT OFF CNN's BROADCAST ON NILESAT." -- I have not, so far, seen this reported elsewhere.

VOA jazz history in the news.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Jan 2011, John Shand: "Tomasz Stanko needs no link to a legend to establish his credentials as one of contemporary jazz's foremost trumpeters, and in his homeland he is a beacon. By the late 1950s jazz captivated Poland's young. 'It was synonymous with freedom, with Western culture, and this is what we didn't have in those dark, communist times in Poland,' Stanko says on the telephone in an accent as thick as a fur rug. He avidly listened to Voice of America's Jazz Hour on radio, and finally encountered the music in the flesh when Dave Brubeck toured in 1958."

Washington Examiner, 22 Jan 2011, Marie Gullard: "The United States Navy Band presents 'John F. Kennedy: Celebrating 50 years of Diplomacy Through Culture,' a two-part tribute [that was] on Sunday and Monday. These programs are part of the Kennedy Center's salute to the country's legendary commander in chief (who took the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol Jan. 20, 1961) and his wife, Jacqueline, whose passionate interest in the performing and fine arts helped to secure a national place for artistic presentation. ... Navy Chief Musician Michael Bays ... included a Francesco Cilia piece that was performed in the White House by Grace Bumbry in 1962. A Frederick Loewe composition, 'Almost Like Being in Love,' from the Broadway show 'Brigadoon' not only calls to mind JFK's favorite musical but also commemorates the song as one of the many performed by Navy musicians sent to Berlin in the 1960s who were charged with the task of dispelling negative Soviet propaganda. 'What we try to highlight in both of these programs is really the power of music to win hearts and minds,' Bayes continued. 'The second night's show ... is the jazz contribution to diplomacy, the importance jazz played in shaping a positive American image abroad.' Works here include the music of Billy Strayhorn ('Take the A Train'), Dave Brubeck ('Take Five') and Duke Ellington ('Love You Madly.') These and more were heard on the Voice of America program during the Kennedy administration."

Want a job in international broadcasting, in Washington DC? Send your résumé to -- Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Poynter Online Job Search: "Al Jazeera English is a 24-hour international television network. Al Jazeera English’s global footprint continues to grow and now broadcasts to more than 220 million households on six continents in more than 100 countries." Jobs at the Al Jazeera Washington DC hub, all listed on 21 Jan 2011: Unit Manager - Programming Production and Administration, Senior Producer - Live and interactive debates, Program Editor - Internal TV News, Assistant Producer - Social Networks Input/Output.

Radio Prague, leaving shortwave on 31 January, will broadcast Czech music only on Sundays ("cheap").

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 24 Jan 2011, Andy Sennitt: "Radio Prague, which makes its final shortwave transmissions on 31 January, will continue to produce its 30-minute programmes in six languages. However the Head of Radio Prague, Miroslav Krupicka, has told the station’s English programme Mailbox that 'We wanted to make the programme cheap and we’ll play music – Czech music on Sundays.'" See also Radio Prague Mailbox, 23 Jan 2011. The Radio Prague shortwave transmission schedule, good through 31 January, is here.

BBC Knowledge, "skews towards males," dubbed (not subtitled) into Italian on Mediaset DTT.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 25 Jan 2011, Julian Clover: "BBC Worldwide Channels is to launch a dubbed version of BBC Knowledge, the first in Western Europe, following a new agreement with Mediaset. The channel will be added to DTT pay pack Mediaset Premium Gallery on March 1, 2011 and around 100 hours of content will be made available on demand. Alongside Discovery World, which is launching on the platform at the same time, BBC Knowledge will help Mediaset broaden its portfolio that already features movies, TV series, children’s programmes and of course football. 'Mediaset saw an opportunity for a factual channel in Italy and, although it skews towards males, BBC Knowledge appeals to a wide demographic,' Ian McDonough SVP and General Manager, BBC Worldwide Channels, EMEA told Broadband TV News, adding that a considerable amount of material had been dubbed especially for the new channel. 'Dubbing is more expensive than subtitling, but this is a channel we are confident about. It’s a very big market and a fantastic opportunity.'"

Iran seems to be fortifying its firewall.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Tor Project, 20 Jan 2011, phobos: "It appears that one of the five Iranian ISPs is experimenting in blocking censorship circumvention tools; such as Tor, Freegate, Ultrasurf, and Hot Spot Shield. ... Previously, we had data suggesting that ssl-connections were being throttled or experiencing a forced reduced-throughput. It seems this is no longer the case. A simple IP address access list is used to stop access to the public Tor nodes, as well as many Tor bridges. ... In a short few months, Iran has vastly improved the sophistication of their censorship technologies."

Technology, Thoughts, and Trinkets blog, 24 Jan 2011, Christopher Parsons: "Since January 2010, the Iranian government may have significantly modified their network monitoring infrastructure. In short, the government seems to have moved from somewhat ham-fisted filtering systems (e.g. all encrypted traffic is throttled/blocked) to a granular system (where only certain applications’ encrypted traffic is blocked). ... If only a few Western systems can effectively detect this traffic then we might identify who, exactly, sold what to the Iranian government/ISPs. Knowing the vendor and product could help put legal pressure on the vendor, both to prevent future sales and to reveal any flaws in how they mediate censorship evasion traffic."

Slideshare, 25 Jan 2011, slide show by Robert Guerra at the Heritage Foundation event, "The State Department and Net Freddom: All Talk and Little Action... ?" See also Heritage Foundation, 19 Jan 2011, with video. -- During this event, one of the panelists, Amir Abbas Fakhravar, repeats his accusation that VOA Persian News Network has broadcast "anti-American" content, and says that a VOA PNN employee is being investigated by the FBI. During a Q&A, a member of the audience takes issue with that statement about the VOA PNN employee.

Despite Facebook ban, "the largest fanpage in Vietnam currently has 484,000 likes."

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Voices, 25 Jan 2011, Huyen Chip: "When Vietnam blocked Facebook, everyone was talking about a smaller China. One year after the government's endeavor, Facebook Vietnam tells another story. Not only does Vietnam remain on the list of 10 countries with the fastest growth of Facebook users, Facebook marketing is enjoying a boom in this country with Facebook marketing agencies mushrooming all over Internet. Why do Vietnamese still use Facebook even after the government blocked it? The answer is simple: Because they can. If users in China have to pay for a VPN and go through a painful process to gain access to Facebook and other blocked websites, people in Vietnam just need to change their DNS settings and enjoy a full Internet experience for free. According to FBMan, a tool built by Nguyen Thanh Long, ePi Technologies' VP of Marketing, to track the size and growth of Vietnam's Facebook fanpage using Facebook API, the largest fanpage in Vietnam currently has 484,000 likes."

US funding for Free North Korea Radio cut by more than half "due to accounting errors."

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Dong-a Ilbo, 24 Jan 2011: "Free North Korea Radio, a South Korea-based shortwave station targeting North Koreans, saw its annual financial support of 400,000 to 500,000 U.S. dollars from the U.S. government more than halved last year, a first since the station`s foundation in 2004, due to accounting errors. Mainly led by North Korean defectors, the station lets North Koreans know what is happening in both South Korea and the world by renting foreign shortwave frequencies with U.S. funds. The broadcaster also breaks news about the isolated communist country to South Koreans. If financial support decreases, such activities cannot continue. ... East Germans were allowed to watch West German TV programs before reunification, but North Koreans are prohibited from using all means of communications, such as TV, radio, the Internet and mobile phones, that allow them information on the outside world. Equally important is to inform the world of how North Koreans are suffering human right abuses and hunger. In this sense, the South Korean government must be ashamed that four South Korea-based broadcasters targeting the North, including Free North Korea Radio, are operating on foreign funds and frequencies." US funding for Free North Korea Radio and other North Korean exile media is through the National Endowment for Democracy.

"Radio ... will come out of BBC iPlayer," or maybe not, but will BBC domestic radio still be free outside of the UK?

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
About the BBC Blog, 24 Jan 2011, Erik Huggers: "While BBC iPlayer has been a good home for online radio, the way audiences want to interact with radio and music online is different to TV. Radio and music will come out of BBC iPlayer, and we’ll develop a new stand-alone product. All radio station sites, music events, podcasts and programme pages will be integrated to focus on highly interactive live radio, quick and seamless access to programming, support for new music and personalisation - on whatever internet-connected device you happen to have."

James Cridland blog, 24 Jan 2011: "On the face of it, this looks scary. A large amount of tweets appeared after this announcement, unnecessarily worried – and it even made Erik Huggers come out of Twitter retirement and post his first tweet for three months: 'Audiences will still discover both live and ondemand audio in iPlayer. We will however build a new dedicated product for Radio and Music' (which looks a little confusing to me – is it coming out, or staying in?)."

The big question for us outside the UK is whether BBC domestic radio stream and on-demand programming will remain free to us. BBC World Service will eliminate most of its non-news programming (see previous post), forcing us to seek such content from BBC domestic networks.

Azerbaijan using internet and film in "information war" with Armenia.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
News.Az (Baku), 24 Jan 2011: interviewing Elnur Aslanov, chief of the political analysis and information department at the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, interviewed by Azerbaijani news agency News.Az: "We are conducting an information war for the liberation of our own lands, while an Armenian diplomat or official is primarily working on disinformation and lies. Armenian representatives have been facing many unpleasant questions from foreign journalists and officials in recent years. Armenia has entered the conscience of foreign colleagues as an aggressor country, where elements of independence are sacrificed to the internal usurpation of power and where oligarchy has exceeded all bounds. The success in the information war is that Azerbaijani society is developing while Armenia is regressing. We are concentrating all our efforts, while Armenian society is in internal chaos. ... Dozens of Internet resources, disclosing the essence of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, have opened in the past years. A film about the tragedy in Khojaly has already been completed with foreign filmmakers and will soon be shown in European cities."

Yemeni president accuses Al Jazeera of inciting protests.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 29 Jan 2011, Mohammed al Qadhi: "Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh accused Al Jazeera for inciting Thursday's protests that saw tens of thousands of people call for him to step down, the state news agency reported. 'The channel should stop incitement, exaggeration and distorting the facts, and furthermore it should avoid acts that encourage unrest, violence and sabotage in the Arab countries,' Mr Saleh was quoted as saying by Saba."

AFP, 23 Jan 2011, Hammoud Mounassar: "[C]lashes broke out outside Sanaa University on Sunday [23 Jan] when security forces tried to disperse dozens of students and activists calling for political change, witnesses said. The protest eventually broke up. A cameraman who was filming the clashes for Al-Arabiya satellite channel was briefly detained, his station said. And a cameraman for Al-Jazeera was beaten by police, the Qatar-based station said."

Reporters sans frontières, 24 Jan 2011: "Al Jazeera’s Aden correspondent, Fadel Mubarak, was warned by the provincial head of security of Abyan (the province to the east of Aden province) that he would be added to the list of wanted persons if he continued to cover events in the south of the country."

Comments on Afghan and Hungarian media from not-very-public US public diplomacy.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
thenewsmarket.com press release, 19 Jan 2011: "See video from The US European Media Hub, US Department of State at: [link] Afghan Radio Azadi reporter Breshna Nazari on the current situation of the media in Afghanistan, the challenges and opportunities. Available content includes soundbites." -- Follow the links to an onerous registration process which will probably make you lie about yourself in order to get access to the video. However, I finally found the video, registration-free, at the US European Media Hub. Specifically, it's at YouTube, 18 Jan 2011. It's a 2:08 sound bite. See also 13 seconds on the new Hungarian media law.

Cuban cracks down on satellite dishes, but will get high-speed internet via Venezuela.

Posted: 29 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 28 Jan 2011, citing AFP: "Cuban authorities will impose fines and prison terms to people who make or sell illegal satellite television antennas and receivers, the Granma official daily warned yesterday. The Cuban Communist Party’s newspaper cited the case of three Cubans who were sentenced last year to prison terms ranging from 16 months to two years for running a 'significant business' that made and sold parabolic antennas and receiver cards designed for satellite television. ... It also denounced how 'these illegal television broadcasts bring every day foreign destabilizing and interventionist messages oblivious to cultural values that dignify human beings.' ... 'Defending Cuba’s radio-electronic sovereignty is an inalienable right of our people, who will be vigilant against those who insist on violating current legislation,' the newspaper added."

The Guardian, 23 Jan 2011, Rory Carroll: "Cuba is set to join the high-speed broadband era with an undersea fibre-optic cable laid from Venezuela, bringing the promise of speedy internet to one of the world's least connected countries. ... The 50-year-old US embargo prevented Cuba tapping into Caribbean fibre-optic cables, forcing it to rely on a slow, expensive satellite link of just 379 megabits per second."

Egypt cuts off internet from rest of the world, and now reports of blocked international broadcasting.

Posted: 28 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
James Cowie, Renesys blog, 27 Jan 2011: "Confirming what a few have reported this evening: in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air. At 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table. Approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt's service providers. Virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide. This is a completely different situation from the modest Internet manipulation that took place in Tunisia, where specific routes were blocked, or Iran, where the Internet stayed up in a rate-limited form designed to make Internet connectivity painfully slow. The Egyptian government's actions tonight have essentially wiped their country from the global map."

Time NewsFeed, 28 Jan 2011, Emily Rauhala: "With most international connections disabled, Egyptians won't be able to connect to Web sites with servers based overseas. They should, however, be able to connect domestically. In essence, it appears their Internet is working like an Intranet, with just a few bits of information trickling through."

CNET News, 28 Jan 2011, Elinor Mills: "Facebook and Twitter confirmed the disruptions for their sites." With graph from Arbor Networks showing drop in internet traffic to and from Egypt.

AP, 28 Jan 2011: "When countries are merely blocking certain sites — like Twitter or Facebook — where protesters are coordinating demonstrations, as apparently happened at first in Eqypt, protesters can use "proxy" computers to circumvent the government censors. The proxies 'anonymize' traffic and bounce it to computers in other countries that send it along to the restricted sites. But when there's no Internet at all, proxies can't work and online communication grinds to a halt."

Foreign Policy, 26 Jan 2011, Joshua E. Keating: "Unfortunately for the censors, Twitter allows other companies to develop their own applications using its programming interface. This has led to the development of a plethora of tools that allow users to post to Twitter without ever pointing their browsers to Twitter.com. These third-party clients still appear to be functioning in Egypt. There have even been reports of activists updating Twitter through the professional résumé-sharing site LinkedIn."

Reports about interruptions to international broadcasts are beginning to come in (see below). Egypt has apparently used its ownership of Nilesat to stop at least one channel. Egypt also has influence over Arabsat, but so far its relays of Al Jazeera channels are unaffected. Many Egyptians receive satellite channels via cable systems, which could be ordered not to relay some channels. The most popular international radio broadcasts into Egypt are Radio Sawa, BBC Arabic (which has just announced it will drop evening Arabic radio broadcasts), and France's Monte Carlo Doualiya, all via medium wave relays on Cyprus. These could be jammed, at considerable expense. Shortwave broadcasts into Egypt would be more difficult to jam, but most Egyptians are not in the habit of listening to shortwave.

New York Magazine, 28 Jan 2011, Julie Gerstein and Nitasha Tiku: "Egypt can turn off the Internet—but it can't stop satellite TV. Although news media efforts to report on events on the ground have been hampered by the communications clampdown, Al Jazeera has moved to fill the vacuum."

Twitter, 28 Jan 2011, Sultan Al Qassemi: "Tweeps confirm that AlJazeera Mubasher taken off Egyptian controlled NileSat." -- Al Jazeera Mubashar is a C-Span-like broadcaster of live events.

Twitter, 28 Jan 2011, Omar Z. Hamoui: "Jazeera Mubashar on Nilesat changed to a new frequency to 11727 H /27500" -- Why would Nilesat take Al Jazeera Mubasher off one frequency, but allow it on another? The new frequency appears to be the Al Jazeera Children's Channel slot on Nilesat 201.

Twitter, 28 Jan 2011, Ramy Metwally: "New frequency for Jazeera mubasher. Its now back to Broadcast on Nilesat. 10949 Vertical."

Twitter, 28 Jan 2011, AJELive: "New Frequency AlJazeera Live : Nilesat --10949 vertical."

Twitter, 28 Jan 2011, Keyfaya ya Mubarak: "If you access to arabsat Al jazeera is having no problems however the government is trying to block it on NileSat."

Twitter, 28 Jan 2011, Ali Abunimah: "Al Jazeera showing alternate satellite coordinates on screen 'in case we are jammed'"

Twitter, 28 Jan 2011, Ghassan Yonis: "Al Arabeya TV is beyond ridiculous. They're running a documentary now!"

Alison Powell blog, 28 Jan 2011: "Maybe it’s time now to think again about autonomous infrastructure. Since the 1950s and 1960s radio hams maintained a parallel network of radio communications in many countries, using frequency bands set aside for amateur use. Community Wi-Fi networks across Europe have developed peer-to-peer networking systems that allow computers to communicate with each other over the air, and these ad-hoc networks are increasingly possible on mobile devices. From past to future, all of these possibilities provide alternative means of distributing information among a public in times of crisis. This is not to say that having a ham radio network or developing mobile handsets so they can more easily form an ad-hoc network will in itself compensate for the removal of an entire country from the world’s communication network. Removing Egypt from the internet is a clear effort by the government to remove international oversight from today’s activities, as well as cutting off its citizens from each other. It is only to underline that there are other means for publics to be formed, as as the internet comes increasingly to resemble a mass media behemoth, we might want to return our attention to them." -- The problem is getting information in and out of Egypt. This would require a shortwave or independent satellite network, both available to radio amateurs ("ham radio"). Amateur radio can be used for emergency communications, but using it for messages among protesters or insurgents would be legally more problematic.

More important than the Wikileaks? Al Jazeera's "Palestine Papers, " 1,700 files about Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Posted: 27 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 24 Jan 2011, Janine Zacharia: "Palestinian negotiators were willing in 2008 to concede sections of East Jerusalem to Israeli control as part of a final peace deal, according to a newly exposed cache of memos that al-Jazeera TV said came from the talks. Minutes detailing the concession came from a meeting in Jerusalem in June 2008 between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators mediated by then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The document is one of more than 1,600 that al-Jazeera's English-language Web site is calling the Palestine Papers, which it plans to post, WikiLeaks-style, over the next several days."

Washington Post, 25 Jan 2011, Janine Zacharia: "The publication this week of documents revealing the Palestinian leadership's willingness to concede parts of East Jerusalem and make other difficult compromises in peace talks with Israel is troublesome for both sides. ... As they try to limit the fallout from the documents disclosed by al-Jazeera TV, the prospects for renewed negotiations toward a two-state solution appear to be growing even more faint."

Deutsche Welle, 24 Jan 2011, Nick Amies: "Anger was brewing Monday across the Middle East in response to the documents, which Al-Jazeera has shared with the British daily newspaper The Guardian, which detail alleged deals between the Ramallah leadership and the Israelis over settlements in the disputed territory of East Jerusalem. The documents are described as being the official minutes of meetings between Palestinian negotiators and their Israeli counterparts."

Ha'aretz, 24 Jan 2011, Akiva Eldar: "The documents revealed by Al Jazeera are much more important than the documents recently released by WikiLeaks. The former document the talks that took place in 2008 between the head of the Palestinian negotiating team and then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, as well as with American officials, which is not just a chapter in history."

Aljazeera.net, 23 Jan 2011, Gregg Carlstrom: "Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are nearly 1,700 files, thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These documents – memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations – date from 1999 to 2010. ... We know that some of what is presented here will prove controversial, but it is our intention to inform, not harm, to spark debate and reflection – not dampen it. Our readers and viewers will note that we have provided a comments section in which to express opinions. In keeping with our editorial policies, we reserve the right to excise comments that we deem inappropriate, but all civil voices will be heard, all opinions respected. We present these papers as a service to our viewers and readers as a reflection of our fundamental belief – that public debate and public policies grow, flourish and endure when given air and light."

Reaction to the BBC World Service reductions (from 17 sources).

Posted: 27 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 26 Jan 2011, John Plunkett: "The BBC and the government traded blows today over who was responsible for the swingeing cuts to the World Service that will lead to the loss of 650 jobs, more than a quarter of its workforce. Peter Horrocks, the BBC's global news director, pointed the finger at foreign secretary William Hague, who he said supported the concept of a strong World Service but had failed to provide the funds to support it. Hague in return pointed out that BBC management had originally proposed to cut 13 of the global news broadcaster's foreign language services, only for this to be vetoed by the government and reduced to five."

The Telegraph, 27 Jan 2011, Neil Midgley: "Andrew Tyrie, the Tory chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, said: 'There is very deep concern in the House about this decision, and I hope that the Foreign Secretary will reconsider it with Cabinet colleagues. In particular, I hope that he will take a look at the overseas aid budget, which is increasing by 37 per cent in real terms at a time when he intends to implement 16 per cent cuts to the World Service.' ... Labour’s shadow culture secretary, Ivan Lewis, and the Liberal Democrats’ Don Foster also spoke out against the cuts."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The World Today, 27 Jan 2011: "SIMON LAUDER [reporter]: Speaking on the BBC a Conservative member of parliament's Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, Louise Bagshawe, says services which are being cut aren't as valuable as they once were. LOUISE BAGSHAWE: So we're not talking about a Doomsday scenario. What we are talking about is setting strategic priorities, reducing for example you put it that we're cutting radio services to Russia and we're cutting them to China. What we didn't explain there is that China very often blocks off those shortwave services so they're not actually reaching an audience and that in Russia shortwave use is declining massively and people are turning to the internet."

Daily Mail, 27 Jan 2011, Paul Revoir: "Former BBC World Service managing director Sir John Tusa claimed the cuts would be ‘awful’ for listeners around the world and damaging to British foreign policy, because the service is viewed as one of the UK’s most crucial tools of ‘cultural diplomacy’."

BBC News, 26 Jan 2011, Torin Douglas: "The BBC has revealed the full extent of the World Service cuts - and they are, if anything, worse than people had feared. Sir John Tusa, the former head of the World Service, said they were 'bad bad bad.' ... [He] says the Foreign Office should have reduced its International Development budget instead. He believes a £46m cut would have had less impact there than it will at the World Service."

The Guardian, 26 Jan 2011, John Domokos (video): "'This is the death knell' ... Journalists protest outside Bush House against the announcement that 650 jobs would be lost in cost savings at the BBC World Service." Listen also to journalism.co.uk podcast, 27 Jan 2011, Rachel McAthy.

The Scotsman, 27 Jan 2011, David Maddox: "Daya Thussu, professor of international communication and co-director of India Media Centre at the University of Westminster, said: 'The decision … is an unwise move at a time when Britain's influence in the wider world is waning as new actors - China, India, Brazil - emerge.'"

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen), 27 Jan 2011, editorial: "Of all the cuts that the BBC could have chosen to make, reducing the World Service will be one of the least popular. It is the corporation’s global service that has helped it become the most trusted and respected broadcaster in the world. In these days of post-cold-war global politics, it is a valuable tool for so-called 'soft' diplomatic intervention in disputes and for monitoring regimes around the world. Its strategic importance has been such that it has always been funded by a grant from the Foreign Office. That arrangement comes to an end in 2014, when it will have to be funded from the BBC’s own budget. Clearly, the BBC will have to make savings to continue to pay for any level of World Service under a restricted funding deal agreed with ministers. There will be little sympathy, however, with an organisation that chooses to continue to produce products in competition with established services provided by the private sector."

The Independent, 27 Jan 2011, leader: "The Government claims that no public service can be exempt from the impending spending cuts. And there are undoubtedly inefficiencies in Bush House, the World Service headquarters in London. But the proposed cuts are too severe. The World Service helps to nourish democracy and political accountability across the world. Moreover, it produces much high-quality, impartial, and authoritative journalism. It exports British 'soft power' and remains an island of resistance to the global proliferation of celebrity news. A relatively small nation such as Britain may struggle to be heard in the globalised age. Weakening one of its strongest international assets is a mistake."

The Independent, 27 Jan 2011, Daniel Howden: "It is Africa ... that retains possibly the strongest emotional link to the BBC. It is comfortably the most recognisable media brand – more so than CNN and incomparably better known that its equivalents Radio France International (RFI) and the Voice of America (VOA). While the recognition remains, there is an increasing feeling in Africa's larger economies that BBC radio's influence is fading. Although it now broadcasts in clear FM across most of the East African nation, the vast majority of Kenyans would rather listen to the more music- driven local stations that mash up English, Swahili and other languages in a more authentically modern mix. ... The BBC retains its strongest relevance in the places where life is hardest. Somalia illustrates this best. The airwaves have been another battleground between the country's warring groups and while private radio stations have proved to be soft targets for the Shabaab Islamic militants to close down or takeover the BBC Somali service remains a vital independent voice. Any threat to these services would have a real impact on listeners who don't have any other options and undermine what the World Service is known for even where it's not listened to: a rare reminder of British excellence."

Demotix, 26 Jan 2011, Peter Marshall: "In terms of trust, the BBC World Service must be the leading brand worldwide, and one that could be even more important and influential in the future. But the BBC has decided to cut it back hard, perhaps as a deliberate but short-sighted response to the government's stance over the licence fee. The nation deserves better treatment and a more responsible attitude. We could live with one less comedy series that could be done equally as well by commercial providers or sporting events that would be covered almost as well by them, but the BBC World Service is unique. It has a well-deserved reputation as the best in the world and should be the BBC's priority rather than being treated as a poor relation."

followthemedia.com, 27 Jan 2011, Philip M. Stone: "What do the numbers 6195, 7325, 9410,12095 and 15070 have in common? They were all shortwave transmission frequencies for the BBC World Service English language broadcasts in Europe. But no more, for those European shortwave transmissions ended long ago. Not that one can’t listen in Europe to the BBC World Service -- it’s on the Internet and on many local AM or FM transmitters throughout the continent delivered with satellite quality. ... Shortwave is passé today and in the Stone basement there are still three such radios that for many a year have gone unused. She who must be obeyed recently suggested they be tossed since they were just gathering dust but that is one argument she lost! Some things are still sacred."

MMEGI, 27 Jan 2011, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News: "What won't change is the BBC's aim to continue to be the world's best known and most trusted provider of high quality, impartial and editorially independent international news. We will continue to bring the BBC's expertise, perspectives and content to the largest worldwide audience, which will reflect well on Britain and its people."

BBC Trust press release, 26 Jan 2011: "BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons said: 'Today is a difficult day for the World Service, which we want to ensure continues to be the most authoritative, quality broadcaster of news and information around the world. But we have no choice other than to live within the reduced Government grant. Our aim is to help the World Service continue to support the BBC's international role by ensuring it adapts to the changing needs of its audience within a more constrained public spending environment. As part of that the Trust has approved the closure of five language services.'"

Twitter, 26 Jan 2011, Graham Holliday: "So, the BBC butcher the BBC World Service. I do hope they keep all the antique shows, house hunting, reality TV and other important stuff."

Twitter, 27 Jan 2011, "Elizabeth Windsor": "One understands that the BBC World Service is to be renamed 'BBC Almost the Entire World Service'."

See previous post about same subject.

World media note loss of BBC World Service shortwave (or all radio, or entire service) in Hindi, Nepali, Caribbean English, Russian, and Chinese.

Posted: 27 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Asian Age, 27 Jan 2011, Sanjay Basak: "The Hindi service of BBC Radio, one of the oldest radio stations broadcasting to India, will close in a couple of months. It began broadcasting in 1940 and its last transmission will be on March 31, 2011. Sources told this newspaper that 30 BBC employees who used to work on the Hindi service in India are likely to lose their jobs. There is a lot of uncertainty over the fate of many correspondents and stringers spread across northern India as well as in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kashmir, Rajasthan and Bihar. The BBC Hindi footprint in India is now reduced to a miniscule online presence — the BBC Twitter site, with just 735 followers. ... Just over six years ago, in 2004, the BBC had pumped in millions of pounds to set up a state-of-the-art office in New Delhi to serve India and the larger South Asian region. The BBC Hindi service currently broadcasts four times a day — at 6.30 am, 8 am, 7.30 pm and 10.30 pm IST. It is available on shortwave and medium wave radio transmitters and via cable television. BBC Hindi programmes are produced both in its London and New Delhi studios. Millions of Hindi speakers across the world access BBC Hindi programmes in both text and audio through bbchindi.com. ... Senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who has often been interviewed by BBC HIndi Radio, said the move was 'unfortunate'. He felt the service 'has a major impact in India’s politics and is popular in rural areas'. In the remote forest area of Dandakaranya in Chhattisgarh, in the Maoist heartland, BBC Hindi Radio is one of the most popular news sources for the ultra-left rebels." See also Wall Street Journal, India realtime blog, 27 Jan 2011, Diksha Sahni.

Republica, 27 Jan 2011: "As the shortwave broadcasting stops, Nepali service will only be heard on FM radios and the Internet, said Rabindra Mishra, chief of the Nepali Service."

Jamaica Observer, 27 Jan 2011: "The BBC Caribbean Service — once home to late broadcaster Hugh Crosskill and cultural icon Louise Bennett Coverley — will cease to exist as of March 31 this year. Five posts will be lost as a result. ... While not denying the impact the loss of the free service will have on local newscasts, Milton Walker, group head of news at RJR, said perhaps it's time for a revitalisation of the homegrown Caribbean news service. "There will be some impact," he told the Observer. ... 'What it probably may mean is that the region may want to look again at whether CANA and its successor CMC (Caribbean Media Corporation) could be revitalised as a regionally-run news service,' said Walker."

Voice of Russia, 27 Jan 2011, Balayeva Yelena: "Staff of the Russia Service have also been informed about coming cuts. The morning and evening shows of the Russian BBC Service will become a thing of the past. Only a few radio programs will still be in production, including 'BBSeva' hosted by Seva Novgorodtsev. But his listeners will only be able to hear his programs on the Russian Service website where they will be broadcast live. It is expected that the Russian office of BBC will se 18 redundancies in London and another 18 in Moscow. The traditional radio programming will end in March and in April it will become known who exactly will let go."

China Digital Times, 26 Jan 2011, Samuel Wade: "The shift of Chinese-language material to the Internet had already become established over the last few years according to Connor Walsh, formerly a Broadcast Assistant at the World Service. He added that Mandarin broadcasts had long been 'jammed to bejaysus' by the Chinese government, limiting the direct impact of stopping shortwave transmission."

As BBC World Service pulls out of the Balkans, Al Jazeera prepares to move in.

Posted: 27 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 26 Jan 2011, Daisy Sindelar: "The BBC closures in the Balkans come even as another major international broadcaster, the Middle Eastern television network Al-Jazeera, is preparing to launch an ambitious pan-Balkan broadcast channel. Al-Jazeera, whose Arabic and English broadcasts claim to have more than 50 million viewers worldwide, has hired well-known television journalist Goran Milic to head its Balkan operations. Speaking to RFE/RL's Balkan Service, Milic says Al-Jazeera will have 150 correspondents throughout the Balkans, all reporting and broadcasting in their local languages. ... Media observer [Boris] Kontic notes with some irony that the Balkans' 'new history' is beginning with the arrival of Al-Jazeera even as its 'old history' begins to bow out with the retreat of the BBC. But he says the benefits remain the same. Just as the World Service provided an objective, unentangled alternative to local news, Al-Jazeera is likely to avoid the political ties and boosterism that dog Balkan broadcasters to this day." See previous post about Al Jazeera Balkans.

Details of the BBC World Service cuts, including English programs, shortwave, 648 kHz MW, etc.

Posted: 26 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 26 Jan 2011: "Full language service closures: There will be the complete closure of five language services – Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian languages; as well as the English for the Caribbean regional service.

"End of radio programming: BBC World Service will cease all radio programming – focusing instead, as appropriate, on online, mobile and television content and distribution – in the following languages: Azeri, Mandarin Chinese (note that Cantonese radio programming continues), Russian (save for some programmes which will be distributed online only), Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian.

"Reductions in short wave and medium wave radio distribution: There will be a phased reduction in medium wave and short wave throughout the period. English language short wave and medium wave broadcasts to Russia and the Former Soviet Union are planned to end in March 2011. The 648 medium wave service covering Western Europe and south-east England will end in March 2011. Listeners in the UK can continue to listen on DAB, digital television and online. Those in Europe can continue to listen online or direct to home free-to-air satellite via Hotbird and UK Astra. By March 2014, short wave broadcasts of the English service could be reduced to two hours per day in Africa and Asia. BBC World Service will cease all short wave distribution of its radio content in March 2011 in: Hindi, Indonesian, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Swahili and the Great Lakes service (for Rwanda and Burundi). These radio services will continue to be available for audiences by other means of distribution such as FM radio (direct broadcasts and via partners); online; mobiles and other new media devices. Short wave broadcasts in remaining languages other than English are expected to end by March 2014 with the exception of a small number of 'lifeline' services such as Burmese and Somali.

"English language programmes: There will be a new schedule for World Service English language programming – a focus on four daily news titles (BBC Newshour, BBC World Today, BBC World Briefing, and BBC World Have Your Say); and a new morning programme for Africa. There will be a new daily edition of From Our Own Correspondent; and an expansion of the interactive World Have Your Say programme. There will be a reduction from seven to five daily pre-recorded 'non-news' programmes on the English service. This includes the loss of one of the four weekly documentary strands. Some programmes will be shortened. Titles such as Politics UK, Europe Today, World Of Music, Something Understood, Letter From…, and Crossing Continents will all close. There will also be the loss of some correspondent posts."

BBC Spending Review, 26 Jan 2011 now has on-demand video of BBC Global News director Peter Horrocks announcing cuts to staff and taking questions.

BBC World Service estimates it will lose 30 million listeners because of cuts.

Posted: 26 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 26 Jan 2011, John Plunkett: "The BBC today confirmed that 650 jobs would be lost at the BBC World Service in cutbacks that it said would lead to the loss of 30 million listeners around the world. ... Radio broadcasts in China, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey will be axed, and shortwave broadcasts will cease in Hindi. The Persian and Arabic services will work much more closely together with all evening radio programmes axed from the BBC Arabic service. Overseas, the brunt of the cuts will be borne by the Arabic and Russian services, with the latter set to lose 45 posts, about half of its staff."

Save the BBC World Service Facebook page, 26 Jan 2011, comment by Roy Batty: "If the BBC harm WS in any way and keep the travesty that is BBC3 I'll not only eat my license fee but I'll spend it on alcopops and stagger down the town centre singing 'more sports and celebs for me'." Short URL to this Facebook page is savews.com.

UK journalist union leader says VOA will eclipse a reduced BBC World Service.

Posted: 26 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 26 Jan 2011, John Plunkett: "The BBC World Service will be eclipsed by the Voice of America as the world's leading news provider as a result of sweeping cuts to its staff and budget, a senior union official warned today. ... Jeremy Dear, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said the loss of the shortwave broadcasts would lead to a sharp drop in the World Service's global reach. 'For the very first time the BBC World Service will no longer be the leading international news provider by audience size. It will be overtaken by the Voice of America,' Dear told BBC Radio 4's Today." -- Thanks to twitter.com/w7voa news tip.

I don't think VOA by itself can overtake the BBC World Service audience size. US international broadcasting combined could do so, if its resources were combined, as I discussed in the New York Times, 12 July 2010 and in the Foreign Service Journal, October 2010 (pdf). VOA does have an important advantage over BBCWS in that VOA moved more quickly to develop television in several languages. BBCWS is, however, planning to develop its own television content in various languages.

BBC World Service English will lose 300 jobs, but which English programs will be dropped?

Posted: 26 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 26 Jan 2011, Neil Midgley: "The bulk of the cuts will be borne by the English-language World Service radio network, which alone will shed 300 jobs. It will see its newsroom, as well as back office functions such as finance and human resources, more closely integrated with the BBC’s domestic news operation. Many of its bespoke programmes, such as Outlook and Newshour, will disappear completely. The Serbian, Albanian and Portuguese-for-Africa services will be among the five foreign language services to close completely, with the loss of up to 80 jobs. The World Service’s other 26 foreign-language services will also be hit, with the loss of up to 230 jobs. Many will be reduced to broadcasting on the internet only, with short-wave radio transmission particularly hard-hit."

Twitter, 16 Jan 2011, Ben James: "@niffynaffynoo @kaedotcom Not quite - Outlook and Newshour remain - but other programmes dropped, 5 language services closed, 650 jobs to go."

Twitter, 26 Jan 2011, Richard Sambrook (previous MD of BBCWS): "Thinking of former colleagues in BBC World Service - a quarter of organisation to be axed. Major blow to serious journalism." See previous post about same subject.

JVC's historic "El Diablo" boombox had shortwave bands. And more shortwave in the news.

Posted: 26 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Gizmodo, 14 Jan 2011, James Phillips: "JVC, or the Victor Company of Japan, launched itself into the portable radio cassette player/ recorder market in the late seventies when it released the amazing RC-550. Dubbed 'El Diablo' by the Latino community, this giant monobox was devilish. It had a single 10-inch woofer, a 4-inch mid-range, and a 2-inch tweeter, separate bass and treble controls, and a big strong handle as well as a shoulder strap. It had roll bars on the sides that extended forward to protect the speakers, and even had shortwave bands as well."

Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, 15 Jan 2011: "Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation-ZNBC has assured Kapiri Mposhi residents, in the Central Province that work is on going to restore Radio 1 and 2 services. Radio 1 and 2 channels have been off air since January 2 following lightening that struck off and destroyed Zamtel Equipment that carries the ZNBC Radio Signal. ... In a statement to ZNBC News in Lusaka on Saturday, Mr Ndhlovu has advised listeners to search for signals by tuning into the ZNBC Short Wave frequencies for Radio 1 on 5915 Kilo hertz and Radio 2 on 6165 Kilo Hertz."

The Tribune (Greeley, CO), 13 Jan 2011, Peggy Ford Waldo: "The Dec. 7, 1941, attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor launched America into World War II. By January 1942, anything potentially detrimental to National Defense and held by 'enemy aliens' was to be confiscated. 'Enemy aliens' included American residents who were Japanese, Germans and Italians. The 1940 Federal Census for Weld County listed 6,028 people born in foreign countries. Complying with National Defense orders, Weld County Sheriff Gus Anderson and Greeley Police Chief C.G. Hunter oversaw the surrender of enemy aliens’ firearms, explosives, cameras and shortwave receiving sets. All shortwave radio receiving sets were taken to authorized repair shops and 'disabled' because sending shortwave radio messages by amateur operators was banned."

Oxford (OH) Press, 14 Jan 2011, Eric Robinette: "[A] newly revised book called 'Along Interstate 75' by travel writer Dave Hunter ... offers many tips and tricks about traveling along the highway. ... [In] the northern edge of the readership area, which Hunter knows well as an area that has changed dramatically over the book’s 16 editions. 'I’ve seen that area develop so rapidly. Once from Tylersville Road you could see the [shortwave] antenna arrays from Voice of America. Now it’s nothing but big-box shopping.'" -- This is the site of the old VOA Bethany transmitting station.

BBC World Service will cut five services "and sweeping cuts to shortwave radio broadcasts."

Posted: 25 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 26 Jan 2011, John Plunkett: "BBC World Service has announced an unprecedented round of cuts, including around 650 job losses – more than 25% of its workforce. The overhaul will include the closure of five foreign language services – Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian; as well as the English for the Caribbean regional service – and sweeping cuts to shortwave radio broadcasts."

Financial Times, 25 Jan 2011, Alex Barker and Esther Bintliff: "The decision by the BBC to scrap its Russian short-wave radio service and concentrate on online media – managerial changes that do not require approval from the foreign secretary – is expected to be just as controversial. The Chinese service will also be scaled back and reoriented towards a younger audience outside China. One Foreign Office figure insisted the damage to the Russian service would be limited and the changes merely reflected the 80 per cent fall in radio listeners over the past decade and the rapid increase in demand for online output. However, the decision dramatically cuts its potential audience and comes at a time when the Russian state is tightening its grip on the media. 'The timing is awful,' said one MP with knowledge of the changes. ... Along with cuts in Russia, the closure of services for the western Balkans comes at a sensitive time, particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A Foreign Office insider said the World Service struggled to compete in the region with established rivals including Radio Free Europe."

The Telegraph, 25 Jan 2011, Mark Thompson, BBC director-general: "Supporters of the international role of the BBC should not despair. Our global TV and online presence is growing, and in many parts of the world the BBC is a more influential and widely heard voice today than at any point in our history. Across the globe, the audiences which will be lost to the BBC because of today's announcements may be made up by new TV and web audiences. From 2014 onwards, the licence fee should provide more secure and more politically independent funding for the World Service, while closer integration with our home news services should drive even better value."

BBC News, 25 Jan 2011, Torin Douglas, media correspondent: "[A] cut of a quarter of the staff, if confirmed, would be dramatic by any measure. Protests are already planned. The National Union of Journalists is planning a 'vigil' outside the World Service headquarters and is urging committees of MPs to review the planned cuts."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 25 Jan 2011, Mark Damazer: "Bush House – World Service headquarters – is, or used to be, plastered with posters quoting the more respectable sort of world leader proclaiming the World Service's virtues of impartiality, fairness and authority. And the editorial perspective of the polyglot and remorselessly internationally minded World Service helps the more intelligent end of BBC journalism to steel itself against the temptations of celebrity rubbish. All of this is good reason why the government might have protected the World Service in the way it has chosen to protect the Department for International Development. It is not to be. Though I am far from convinced that the provision of decent and honest news and current affairs emanating from Britain should be put in a completely separate category from the necessary provision of roads or wells, it is hard to think of a better example of British soft power; and once a language service is cut, it is lost for ever. The deficit had to be dealt with. I have no quarrel with the idea that the BBC as a whole could not be spared. But I hope that when the BBC takes over the funding of the World Service it will realise that it may need more funding than it is about to get."

journalism.co.uk, 25 Jan 2011, Rachel McAthy: "Members of the National Union of Journalists will protest at the BBC World Service tomorrow [Wednesday] against cuts expected to be announced by the broadcaster."

The Guardian, 26 Jan 2011, Adam Gabbatt: "The BBC Empire Service, later the World Service, was launched in 1932. Lord Reith, the BBC's founder, kept expectations low, warning: 'Don't expect too much in the early days ... the programmes will neither be very interesting nor very good.' Since then, however, the service has covered many historic moments, from Churchill's speeches to the first man on the moon. ... In 1982 the World Service's impartial Falklands war coverage garnered the ire of Margaret Thatcher, who said 'the case for our country is not being put with sufficient vigour on ... the BBC'." See previous post about same subject.

UK's "Broadcast" magazine reports BBC World Service will drop 650 jobs and Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Caribbean and Portuguese-to-Africa services

Posted: 25 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcast, 25 Jan 2011, Catherine Neilan: "BBC World Service is to shed more than a quarter of its workforce and is closing five country services, as it attempts to find £67m of savings. The 650 redundancies will be phased over two years, with two-thirds going in the first 12 months. The cuts are expected to fall across the board, but support services are expected lose around a third of staff. The World Service currently employs roughly 2,400 people, who will be informed of the cuts tomorrow. As previously predicted by Broadcast, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, the Caribbean and Portuguese services for Africa are set to be shut down, with another handful of services set to be scaled back."

UK football fans recall when shortwave was the way to keep track of their favo[u]rite teams.

Posted: 25 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
When Saturday Comes (London), 16-17 Jan 2011: danielmak: "I am generally curious about the ways that fans used to keep track of their favorite teams or leagues before the Internet and satellite TV made it so easy to remain a fan from a distance. Anyone care to share how they did this?" Banana Banana: When I was working in South America I used to listen to BBC Radio on the World Service to get results." ursus arctos: "The classified football results on the World Service were a lifeline, and the primary reason I had a short wave radio." ad hoc: "The World Service for me too. My short wave radio was basically my most prized possession as I moved around." Alderman Barnes: "The World Service was broadcast on FM in Berlin, except that every Saturday at half past five they used to switch over for half an hour to the news in German, followed by English teaching programmes, meaning that I had to desperately switch over to short wave for the end of the live match and the classified results. I wrote angry letters, but to no effect. I'm not proud of this, but when they closed down the German service they had a phone-in, and I drunkenly rang up and told them I was glad they were going. Nowadays I subscribe to the club's site, so I can listen to every game live. I rarely listen to the World Service show any more, but it seems to have gone downhill. They hardly bother with the lower leagues any more and most of the programme seems to consist of Alan Green ranting, and people in far-flung countries arguing the toss over Liverpool and Manchester United." The Exploding Vole: "Yes, yes, yes, yes ... remember all that, remember praying that the ionosphere held out until the World Service went through its 'sequence of football match reports' at around 1130 Wisconsin time so I could hear how Aston Villa got on. But often the signal was just too weak. On Saturdays when I had to work, I stuck my tape recorder in front of the shortwave radio. With the aid of a C-120 cassette, I could sometimes listen to Paddy Feeny's programme when I got home - if there hadn't been too much commotion in the house, or if my mother hadn't come into my room and switched the radio off."

India Infoline, 14 Jan 2011: "[F]ollowing one's team meant late nights listening to Saturday Special on crackling BBC shortwave, which had live commentary for the second half of the featured weekend game. That was how we-including friends who followed tennis or the (very) rare Formula One fan-paid our dues pre-liberalization: scouring magazines, staying up late night to listen to shortwave radio, begging relatives for precious gifts from abroad."

New Silicon Laboratories IC simplifies the manufacture of AM/FM/shortwave radios.

Posted: 25 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Silicon Laboratories press release, 24 Jan 2011: "Silicon Laboratories Inc., a leader in high-performance, analog-intensive mixed-signal ICs, today announced that it is providing its latest digital multi-band receiver technology to Tecsun, a leading Chinese manufacturer of portable radios. Tecsun has chosen Silicon Labs’ Si483x AM/FM receiver ICs for its new R-2010 multi-band portable radio. Designed for the worldwide market, the 12-band R-2010 radio is a wheel-tuned DSP radio, which offers FM stereo, medium-wave (MW) and shortwave (SW) reception. Silicon Labs’ Si483x receivers are the industry’s first wheel-tuned CMOS AM/FM/SW radio DSP ICs offering a full radio solution from antenna input to audio output in a single chip. Based on a patented design, the Si483x AM/FM receivers eliminate the need for external microcontrollers, adjustable capacitors, AM/FM IF filters and other discrete components, and as a result they reduce development time, component count and labor costs. ... Tecsun employs more than 1,000 workers at its 16,000-square-meter factory. Tecsun has a maximum output capacity of up to five million radio units per year." -- "Wheel-tuned" probably means it uses a tuning dial rather than keypad entry and up-down buttons.

TechRadar.com, 23 Jan 2011, Mike Bedford: "In the past, if you wanted to discover the more unusual signals on the radio bands, you'd have needed to buy a shortwave radio and a huge aerial, or share an online radio in 30-second windows. Now there's an alternative: web-based software defined radios, or SDRs. ... An SDR (or software-defined radio) is a radio receiver that uses software to achieve most of what a conventional receiver does using electronic circuits. ... Web-based SDRs have sprung up around the world, offering a second generation of online receivers. The important point is that there's no concept of the hardware being tuned to a particular frequency, because it's the software that's responsible for selecting individual stations from a wide band collected by a high-frequency sound card. The upshot of this is that these online receivers can be used by lots of people at once, each listening to a different frequency."

VOA eliminates Indonesian and Vietnamese shortwave, reduces Mandarin and French.

Posted: 25 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
On 15 January 2011, the Voice of America ended shortwave transmissions in Indonesian and Vietnamese, and reduced shortwave in Mandarin and French (to Africa).

Indonesian was at 0000-0030, 1130-1230, 1400-1500 and 2200-2400 UTC. VOA Indonesian has its largest audience by way of its television programs seen on Indonesian stations. These and VOA radio rebroadcasts in Indonesia continue.

Vietnamese was 1300-1330, 1500-1600 and 2230-2330 UTC. VOA Vietnamese has larger audiences via its medium wave frequencies, which were (and presumably still are) 1575 kHz via Thailand at 1300-1330 and 1170 kHz via the Philippines at 1500-1600. Audio via Asiasat and the internet also continues. -- But does the transmission at 2230-2330 UTC, now devoid of any terrestrial frequencies, continue?

Mandarin shortwave is eliminated at 0100-0300 (09.00-11.00 China time) and 0700-0900 (15.00-17.00 China time). These are not prime listening times in China, and most VOA Mandarin programming during these hours is repeats. Audio streams via internet and satellite continue during these hours. VOA Mandarin continues on shortwave eight hours per day.

For French-to-Africa, leased shortwave transmissions at 0530-0630 (Mon-Fri) and at 2030-2100 (Sat-Sun) UTC are eliminated.

Which frequencies continue for French and other VOA languages? No way to know (unless you are fluent in 44 languages), as VOA no longer has a schedule of transmissions in all languages available at voanews.com.

Radio Netherlands will close its Bonaire shortwave relay in October 2012.

Posted: 25 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Spanish Service, 22 Jan 2011, Sergio Acosta interviewing Jan Willem Drexhage, head of Radio Netherlands distribution department: "SA: In an internal communication has been said said that Radio Netherlands decided to close our relay station on Bonaire in late October next year, 2012. This is very sad news, this is the end of our jewel in the Caribbean. If so, then what is the future then our shortwave broadcasts? JWD: We regret it very much. It is a beautiful station, with good equipment, very good to reach North America, Central and South, but we see that for years, the number of hours we transmit through the station is falling. We anticipate that by the end of 2012, the number of hours used Radio Netherlands will be so small that it would be too costly to maintain the station. That does not mean we stop immediately with the shortwave as lease time on other stations in the region, for example in French Guiana Montsinery and Sackville Radio Canada. This means that when we close Bonaire it does not automatically mean that we end shortwave."

Burmese exile The Irrawaddy ceases print magazine but "will produce a radio show for Radio Free Asia."

Posted: 25 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Democratic Voice of Burma, 25 Jan 2011, Joseph Allchin: "Major funding cuts of some $US300,000 a year have forced leading exiled Burmese news organisation, The Irrawaddy, to cease printing its influential magazine. The magazine’s informative news and analysis of political and humanitarian affairs was often critical of the Burmese regime, and thus like other independent Burmese media outlets, was banned inside Burma. ... The Irrawaddy’s economic woes reflect a wider malaise in media funding, with few turning a profit. International broadcasters that are publicly funded, such as the BBC, are also facing budget cuts due to the global economic downturn. The Irrawaddy will still remain active however. Perhaps in a sign of the times, 'we will focus on our website and the multimedia' aspect, said [editor-in-chief] Aung Zaw, noting that the organisation will produce a radio show for Radio Free Asia (RFA) and a TV show aired on DVB that 'will reach millions' of viewers inside the country. The Irrawaddy is also confident that the slow yet steady penetration of the internet into Burma will allow more readers to access their content." -- What controls, if any, will RFA have over the content of The Irrawaddy program?

Wall Street Journal, 25 Jan 2011, Aung Zaw, The Irrawaddy editor-in-chief: "Recently ... we have seen disturbing signs that some in the donor community are abandoning our side amid the junta's war of attrition against its critics and opponents. Last year one of our donors circulated an email to fellow donors, without our knowledge, announcing that it had decided we were no longer worthy of its support. The email accused us of being a 'donor stooge' — language that echoes that of the regime's official mouthpieces, which were quick to pick up this 'news' and declare our imminent demise."

Radio Free Asia journalist, fired for tweets about Clinton internet freedom speech, reinstated after arbitration.

Posted: 25 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Law.com, 24 Jan 2011, Carla Rozycki and Emma Sullivan: "In Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, Local 32035 & Radio Free Asia, Arb. (Fishgold, Nov. 9, 2010), ... a reporter who was terminated for insubordination and for violating Radio Free Asia's code of journalistic ethics based on his Twitter posts directed toward two subjects of a story he had written filed a grievance alleging unjust termination. After the employee posted several tweets responding to postings made by the subjects of his story, his supervisor instructed him to stop tweeting on the issue. Subsequently, the employee sent a final tweet stating that his boss had instructed him to stop tweeting. Finding that the supervisor's instructions lacked clarity and that the supervisor had aggravated the situation by refusing to allow the employee to change portions of his story, the arbitrator ordered reinstatement with back pay, seniority and benefits." See also Lexology, 21 Jan 2011.

Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, 10 Nov 2010 (pdf): "In his ruling, the arbitrator made it clear he gave little weight to RFA's claims [the employee] had been told not to Tweet with the two bloggers. [The employee] testified at the arbitration hearing that his service chief ... told him just the opposite. He in fact kept her posted of what he was doing and relayed his tweets to her. She never objected to his Tweeting until after RFA higher-ups -- instigated in part by the State Department -- called the Tweets into question. RFA also claimed [the] Tweets had violated the company's conflict of interest policy and code of journalistic ethics. Again, the arbitrator disagreed, though he did say in the future Ho should not engage in a public debate with news sources."

The Newspaper Guild, 1 Dec 2010: "The irony is that the seasoned journalist whose job hung in the balance for nearly 10 months ... was fired for his coverage of a speech about internet freedom. A highly regarded 10-year veteran who had racked up several awards for his reporting ... nevertheless was fired last February after video-recording, tweeting and writing about an event at which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton briefly interacted with two Chinese bloggers."

Report: Public executions in North Korea linked to leaflets sent from the South.

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 24 Jan 2011: "Some 500 people in North Korea attended a public execution of a man and a woman caught reading South Korean propaganda, an activist claimed Sunday citing sources in the North. Choi Sung-yong, the head of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea said security services rounded up some 500 people including 50 family members of South Korean prisoners of war and abduction victims and made them watch the execution. The victims were a 45-year-old woman accused of reading a South Korean propaganda leaflet and failing to notify authorities and a high-ranking regional military officer charged with pocketing the dollar bills that were sent along with the leaflets. ... Activist groups recently gathered at the border in Gangwon Province and other areas and sent leaflets, one-dollar bills and DVDs to North Korea attached to helium balloons. ... 'It seems North Korea is stepping up monitoring and crackdowns on people who read or listen to anti-communist propaganda to ensure the hereditary transfer of power' from Kim [Jong-il] to his son Jong-un." See also AFP, 24 Jan 2011.

Google News will add features for non-English-language readers.

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Economic Times (India), 22 Jan 2011: "Google News, a computer-generated free news site provided by Google Inc that aggregates stories worldwide, is expanding its customization options for non-English-language readers this year, the creator of the news service said recently. In an interview with Kyodo News, Krishna Bharat, who is Google's distinguished research scientist, said he expects the site's news personalization and other features to become more widely available for non-English readers sometime this year. ... 'We had just the one English edition initially -- now we have 72 editions in 30 languages -- it's been a lot of international expansion.' ... Bharat, who grew up in the Indian city of Bangalore, recalled that one of his fondest memories from his childhood was sitting with his grandfather -- an avid listener of the BBC World Service -- and hearing him talk about global events."

The hippie international broadcaster of the Swat Valley.

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC From Our Own Correspondent, 22 Jan 2011, Nadene Ghouri "Forty years after following the hippy trail to South Asia, John Butt is still living in the region, and still spreading a message of peace and love - though now as an Islamic scholar. ... In the early 1990s, he joined the BBC World Service Pashtu service and helped to set up New Home New Life, a now Iconic Afghan radio soap opera, known as The Archers of Afghanistan. Six years ago, he set up a radio station which broadcasts across the Afghan-Pakistan border and which tries to promote tribal traditions along with peace and reconciliation." With links to audio.

BBC World Service cuts scheduled for Wednesday announcement, may hit English "particularly hard."

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 22 Jan 2011, Neil Midgeley: "The announcement of the cuts to the BBC World Service is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, January 26, with its chief, Peter Horrocks, having already admitted that about 300 jobs will have to go. However the BBC’s detailed plan was only signed off by the BBC Trust on Thursday, and is currently with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for approval, meaning that the timing of the announcement could slip. Under the terms of the licence fee deal, the written approval of the Foreign Secretary, William Hague is required for the closure of any of the World Service’s 31 foreign-language services. The FCO currently funds the World Service, but the BBC will take on responsibility for it out of licence fee income from 2014. The announcement is expected to hit the World Service’s English language radio network particularly hard. Staff at its headquarters in Bush House fear that between 50 and 200 jobs will be lost from its newsroom and the current affairs department, with World Service programmes such as Outlook and Newshour facing the axe. Foreign language services, including the Arabic and Persian services, are also expected to be cut back, with radio broadcasts - as opposed to those on television or over the internet - particularly hard-hit."

BBC Global News prepares for, and reports on American "enchantment" with, the Prince William/Kate Middleton wedding.

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Global News press release, 19 Jan 2011: "The BBC’s Global News services – BBC World News (television), BBC World Service and BBC.com – announce Mishal Husain as the anchor for the BBC’s international coverage of the wedding of His Royal Highness Prince William and Miss Kate Middleton in April. In addition, as the 100 day countdown to the wedding begins, BBC.com launches a dedicated section at www.bbc.com/royalwedding. ... The programme BBC World News America on BBC World News will mark the 100 day countdown with three special reports examining the American public’s enchantment with the Prince’s engagement and how it perfectly illustrates the on-going fascination with Britain's Royal Family in the United States."

BBC Worldwide programs now available in HD in Brazil.

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 21 Jan 2011, Iñaki Ferreras: "BBC Worldwide Channels have arrived in Brazil with a programming bloc including the Corporation’s best TV series in HD. Pay-TV operator Sky-Brazil already has exclusive access to the SD version of the content and anticipates the launch of the BBC HD channel in the country in the near future. In this way Sky-Brazil thus also becomes the first Latin America pay-TV operator to offer to audience s the BBC's contents in HD. BBC Worldwide Channels already operates in fifteen Latin American countries including as Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Venezuela, offering through the successful BBC Entertainment and CBeebies thematic channels." -- Does Sky-Brazil dub or subtitle these BBC programs into Portuguese? See also Sky Brazil web page on the subject.

China's CNC World might gain access in developing world by avoiding human rights stories.

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 21 Jan 2011, Daniel Hernandez: "[I]f you are interested and, as Beijing hopes, eager for an alternative to Western coverage of world events, you can now find China's perspective on international news 24-hours a day in English in parts of Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Beijing's official media arm, Xinhua, expanded its CNC news network in those regions on January 1st. ... Americans have never shown a great appetite for world news. So it's hard to imagine Chinese media influencing opinion in the US. Africa and Latin America, on the other hand, are two regions where the emerging global power could build on developing world solidarity. Another advantage Xinhua enjoys over CNN and the BBC is its policy not to report on political repression or human rights. While this sort of journalistic negligence will cost them credibility, it will also win them in access, [Clayton Dube of USC] said. 'A Chinese source that might not focus on issues that are uncomfortable for local governments is more palatable than a Western source,' he added."

Reactions to China's video ad campaign. (And Chinese soft power in Esperanto, etc.)

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Week, 20 Jan 2011: "If the intent is to teach Americans about the Chinese, the campaign falls woefully short,' says Isaac Stone Fish in Newsweek. While 'hardly offensive,' it's 'unlikely' that 60 'boring' seconds of smiling Chinese celebrities will 'inspire Americans to learn Mandarin.' And the ads have 'a risk of backfiring,' says Gady Epstein in Forbes. While 'there is no question China has to work on its public relations,' the campaign 'raises the larger philosophical question, especially in the case of human rights, of whether China has an image problem with the West, or a reality problem.'"

Reuters, 20 Jan 2011, Kristina Cooke: "'This campaign (the promotional videos) is consistent with their soft power efforts,' [Harvard professor Joseph] Nye said. 'It's useful for them to do, but I don't think it will have a huge effect.' Nye said such campaigns are undercut by China's actions like jailing human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. Thomas Cromwell, an expert who specializes in nation 'branding,' said Americans already are exposed to many messages that have shaped their perceptions about China. 'A simple rebranding of this nature is not likely to achieve significant changes in perception,' said Cromwell, president of Washington-based East West Communications. 'The campaign does not address the core international concerns about China, even tangentially.'"

Xinhua, 23 Jan 2011: "'In the eyes of an advertisement specialist, Times Square is a dream, where the biggest screen was as tall as a four-storey building and every day about 70,000 passengers could see the ads,' said the chief executive officer of Shanghai Lowe & Partners advertising company. The company won the bidding of producing China's national publicity video in November 2009."

China.org.cn, 21 Jan 2011: the multi-language-news website China.org.cn debuted on the CNN international edition homepage on Jan. 20, where it was displayed prominently for 24 hours. ... Co-founded by the State Council Information Office and China International Publishing Group (CIPG), [China.org.cn] offers news in 10 different languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Korean and Esperanto. More than 40 percent of its visitors are from overseas, coming from 200 countries and regions. It aims to show an authentic China to the world and reflect the opinions of Chinese internet users." See previous post about same subject.

Radio Martí introduces swap shop program.

Posted: 24 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 21 Jan 2011: "'El Revoltillo' ('The Scramble'), a groundbreaking new program on Radio Martí, brings online classifieds to the airways, bridging the information gap in Cuba. This daily interactive broadcast connects buyers and sellers looking to make an exchange via cash, goods or services, a free market practice that is often curtailed by the Cuban government. ... Given that access to the Internet in Cuba is highly restricted, show co-hosts Karen Caballero and Alfredo Jacomino read online classifieds and audience e-mails, and open the phone lines to Cuban listeners who have something to buy, sell, rent or trade. ... 'El Revoltillo' airs daily from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. on Radio Martí’s AM and shortwave frequencies, and is available online at www.Martinoticias.com."

Telesur (in "Terrorism made in USA" doc), Al Jazeera, Radio/TV Martí, VOA, and BBC Mundo report on 1976 explosion of Cubana airliner.

Posted: 23 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Insidecostarica, 22 Jan 2011: "San Salvador - The documentary 'Terrorism made in USA,' which tackles criminal activities organized by the United States on Cuba, was screened in this capital. ... The work was co-produced by the Cuban Television and multi-state Telesur channel, stated Armando Brinis, second chief of the island's mission in this country. Brinis said the film gives a detailed account of the criminal activities of two of the worst terrorists of the continent: Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, protected by the US governments. Both criminals planned the mid-flight explosion of a Cuban airliner off the coasts of Barbados in 1976 that killed all 73 people on board, he noted."

Aljazeera.net, 19 Jan 2011, Chris Arsenault: Luis Posada's "11 charges include perjury for lying to US immigration officials, but terror-related offences are not on the docket. ... On October 6, 1976 a bomb exploded on Cubana Airlines flight 455, blowing it out of the sky and into the waters off Barbados, killing everyone on board ... . Posada, 82, a Cuban-born Venezuelan-citizen, was considered the mastermind— a CIA-trained explosives expert who would stop at nothing in his personal vendetta against Cuban president Fidel Castro. Planned in Venezuela, the attack killed mostly Cuban nationals."

See also coverage (in Spanish) by Radio/TV Martí on 10 Jan, 11 Jan, and 12 Jan 2011. And by VOA Spanish, 12 Jan 2011. And by BBC Mundo, 11 Jan 2011.

The internet versus 1) authoritarians, 2) corporations that "float above the nation-state," and 3) the very rich.

Posted: 23 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 22 Jan 2011, Robert Coalson interviewing Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side Of Internet Freedom: "RFE/RL: I left your book, to be honest, uncertain about where you stand on whether or not democracy promotion is a possible or worthwhile goal in general, one that Western governments and NGOs should be pursuing in regard to authoritarian regimes? Morozov: I don't think, actually, it is that ambiguous in the book. I do several times mention that what I want is just to find a better way to use the Internet for promoting democracy, so to me that sounds like a very explicit endorsement of promoting democracy to begin with. To answer even more directly, yes, I do think there are definitely things that foundations and governments can do to promote, if not the banner of democracy, then at least the banner of democratic values, freedom of expression, and human rights. ...

"RFE/RL: Perhaps what gave me that impression was that you so thoroughly discredit the cyberutopianism that has been so prevalent in recent years without offering anything else. Morozov: Well, you can also be rejecting the approaches the neoconservatives take to the promotion of the 'freedom agenda' and still believe that we need to promote democracy and human rights. ... [Y]es, there were some very good ideas and, yes, some of them were very benign and some of them were not, but when you mix it all up with military intervention and disrespect for the international community and many other things, you end up with a situation which is much worse. And it is my fear that this may also happen with the Internet freedom agenda, where already you see that a lot of people feel that the U.S. government is hypocritical and duplicitous, simply because its response to WikiLeaks just contradicts so much what they have been saying internationally." Morozov is also interviewed by David Frost, on the Al Jazeera English program Frost Over the World, via YouTube, 22 Jan 2011.

The Atlantic, 12 Jan 2011, Zeynep Tufekci: "[M]ost of the existential problems facing humanity are occurring at a global scale (climate change, resource depletion, wars), while our politics remains constricted at the national one. To make matters worse, corporations have increasingly escaped structures of accountability at the national level; increasingly, we live in a world of corporate extraterritoriality where corporations float above the nation-state, at the financial, regulatory, and even personal levels. ... Along with the emergence of peripatetic global elite, very rich and at home in any number of large cosmopolitan cities and disassociated from any one nation or community ..., it has become very hard for citizens of any given nation-state to confront these powerful global institutions or to start to meaningfully address the multiple global crises facing humanity. And this is where the Internet emerges as a key potential counter-force. ... The rise of Wikileaks has been instructive in this regard: Jay Rosen has correctly called WikiLeaks the first stateless news organization, and Clay Shirky describes it as truly global, not merely international. Wikileaks is merely one early example of the global nature of politics and is unlikely to be the last. Our new global communities will be complicated, partly based on place and partly on affinities. They'll be global and local and everything in between, and it is only through such communities that we have any hope of reclaiming leverage on institutions of power."

Debating the role of Al Jazeera in Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution.

Posted: 23 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 20 Jan 2011, Marc Ginsberg, former US Ambassador to Morocco: "Americans should not underestimate the role that the ever popular Arab news channel Al Jazeera plays in challenging the Arab world's status quo, using events in Tunisia to fuel its favorite political pastime of disgorging its anti-authoritarian editorial bias across all of its media platforms -- much to the anger and hostility of most Arab rulers, particularly those Al Jazeera views as too pro-western (Al Jazeera gives quite a pass to the despotic Syrian regime as well as to its Qatari benefactors). Mind you, I am just as eager as the next person to see the Arab world's transition to a more just and civil society, but to have Al Jazeera serve as the master of ceremonies compels a closer examination of its particular role here, as compared to other Arab media covering the unfolding drama. Al Jazeera's wall-to-wall coverage of events in Tunisia is how Arabs across the Middle East are deciphering events there. Through internet and Twitter feeds, Al Jazeera sees itself less and less as exclusively a news gathering organization and more and more like a 'Wizard of Oz' type instrument for social upheaval in the region -- whether or not it brings to power Salafi extremists is immaterial to its mission. Stoking anger and hostility has become Al Jazeera's mantra, and its producers have taken to heart the axiom 'if it bleeds it leads' to such a degree that baton-swinging policeman clubbing Tunisian demonstrators literally took up the entire first ten minutes of one news broadcast as the emotional reporter cried into his microphone about the unjustness of Arab autocrats."

Huffington Post, 21 Jan 2011, Jillian York: "Ginsberg on the other hand, who is no slouch when it comes to Arab media (he speaks the language fluently and is president of the -- pretty cool -- Layalina Productions), writes: 'Americans should not underestimate the role that the ever popular Arab news channel Al Jazeera plays in challenging the Arab world's status quo, using events in Tunisia to fuel its favorite political pastime of disgorging its anti-authoritarian editorial bias across all of its media platforms -- much to the anger and hostility of most Arab rulers, particularly those Al Jazeera views as too pro-western (Al Jazeera gives quite a pass to the despotic Syrian regime as well as to its Qatari benefactors).' Key phrase: 'Anti-authoritarian editorial bias.' In another universe, or a country far far away, one might call that a 'pro-democracy editorial bias,' or in other words, something possessed by every single mainstream American channel. To put it bluntly, can you imagine MSNBC or CNN (the two 'reasonable' and 'mainstream' US news stations) ever taking a non-democratic stance?" -- Because authoritarians wither in the presence of comprehensive, balanced, objective news reporting, it is not necessary -- and it strains credibility -- for a news organization to adopt any bias or stance at all.

Reuters, 21 Jan 2011, Dina Zayed: "Some Arabs don't mind if Al Jazeera is opinionated. 'Free media should take the side of the people, instead of supporting the views of the rulers,' said Ibrahim Gharab Mohammed, 28, a Syrian living in the United Arab Emirates. The channel's coverage has angered many Arab states, where most domestic media are on a tight leash. Al Jazeera had to wait till Ben Ali was toppled to get its TV crews into Tunisia. But prior to the overthrow, Tunisian ministers went on Al Jazeera to give their views, a tacit admission of its influence. ... One thing viewers and commentators all agree about however is that Al Jazeera's brand of journalism, since first being launched, has changed how Arab media covers events. 'Before the 1990s, anything could have happened and at times nobody would have found out about it,' said Rasha Abdulla, [American University of Cairo's] chair of the Journalism and Mass Communications Department. 'They would have to huddle around a radio, trying to get the BBC signal or so and that would be it,' she said, describing Al Jazeera as one of the most influential developments in Arab media in the past quarter century."

Jordan Times, 21 Jan 2011, George S. Hishmeh (via Al Arabiya): A "shot in the arm [to the Jasmine Revolution] was the decision of Al Jazeera, the influential Arabic-language network, to give full and continuous coverage of the clashes, which also helped rally demonstrators in Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arab world in sympathy with the protesters. Equally effective were the Internet facilities."

Elkridge Patch, 19 Jan 2011, TJ Mayotte: "Despite President Bush’s hope to spread an American brand of democracy across the Arab world, the difficulty encountered in Iraq has precluded any aid from flowing to oppressed peoples. In the case of Tunisia, there was no invasion, no flag-waving foreigners looking to upend decades of authoritarian rule. Heck, there wasn’t even a Radio Liberty. When asked to comment on the growing protests the day before Ben Ali’s regime collapsed, Secretary of State Clinton demurred, 'We can’t take sides.'"

RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal also reports on the "positive things" in Pakistan's northern regions.

Posted: 23 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Prague Post, 19 Jan 2011, Jack Buehrer: "Radio Mashaal was the brainchild of Akbar Ayazi, RFE/RL's associate director of broadcasting, who also oversees coverage of Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, Ayazi, an Afghanistan native, says the number of extremist radio broadcasts - both underground and on the FM dial - was growing in Pakistan's northern regions. There, the largely rural and uneducated population speaks Pashto, a language spoken by only 15 percent of Pakistanis, but the preferred language of the Taliban in the region. ...

"Initially a one-hour daily broadcast, Radio Mashaal employed just four journalists and one technician, making it a challenge to keep up with the 24-hour news cycle in one of the most volatile regions in the world. Slowly, the operation grew as more staff was added. But hiring journalists, especially those based in Pakistan, willing to withstand the constant threats, intimidation, capture and even murder, proved daunting. ...

"Staffers speak with great pride when asked about their coverage of violence and religious extremism and natural disasters. But they're also aware of the negative light in which those same stories paint their homeland. 'I'm a journalist, but I also have an emotional attachment to my land,' [journalist Shaheen] Buneri said. 'Before us there were [journalists] only focusing on the terrorist incidents. So many journalists here are the byproducts of bomb blasts. But I take great satisfaction in knowing that our mission is to not just report on the terrorism but also the history, the culture, the heritage. There are so many positive things in our society, and we're telling those stories, too.'"

With VOA's Deewa Radio (unmentioned in this article) also broadcasting, since 2006, to same region in the same language, hiring by US international broadcasting is not merely daunting, it is doubly daunting. Was Buneri's comment about journalists "only focusing on the terrorist incidents" a reference to Deewa Radio? See previous post about same subject.

Want to listen to dance and trance on shortwave? TDPRadio has a redesigned website.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
TDPRadio.com: "TDPradio brings you the best dance and trance mixes of the moment by talented DJ's worldwide. ... TDPradio is the first and only dance music radio station broadcasting in DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) on shortwave in stereo to Europe and North America. Its mission is to bring the best audio quality on shortwave utilizing only digital technologies from production source to its audience with the smallest number of encoding/decoding steps possible in the digital transmission chain. TDPradio also aims to offer unique, compelling content produced especially for DRM to promote the possibilities and quality of DRM."

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency now has its own URL.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
North Korea Tech, 22 Jan 2011, Martyn Williams: "Korea Central News Agency confirmed for the first time on Saturday that a recently launched website carrying its news is the agency’s official site. ... It can now be accessed via the memorable http://www.kcna.kp . ... Video news and pages in Japanese were added on Jan. 1 this year and a week later it became accessible via the address www.star.edu.kp. That address is still listed on the site as of Saturday, but no longer works. The launch of the new domain is a further sign of North Korea’s growing sophistication with the Internet. The country has launched three websites in the last few months, and signs point to continued expansion of its online efforts. To-date the work appears solely aimed at overseas audiences. There has been no indication that North Korea is opening up the global Internet to its own citizens." -- The links along the left don't work in Firefox, but they do in IE. The www.kcna.co.jp site has more complete news archives. Click on English, then on the next page move the slider in the upper right until Past News becomes available. Click on that.

"Thousands rally for Armenian TV station facing closure" (updated: another demonstration).

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Azatutyun (RFE/RL Armenian), 7 Jan 2011, Tigran Avetisian: "Tigran Karapetian, an Armenian politician, businessman and television commentator, rallied thousands of supporters in Yerevan on Friday to protest against state regulators’ decision to take his ALM channel off the air. ALM lost its broadcasting license last month in a supposedly competitive tender administered by the National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAH). The decision means that will have to discontinue broadcasts by the end of this month. The tender was organized as part of Armenia’s ongoing controversial transition to digital broadcasting which will significantly reduce the number of frequencies available to local TV and radio stations. Government critics say the Armenian authorities are using the process to retain and tighten their grip on the news political coverage of virtually all broadcasters."

Update: RFE/RL, 20 Jan 2011, Emil Danielyan and Hovannes Shoghikian: "The owner of a TV station facing closure has threatened to campaign for the ouster of Armenia's political leadership if it fails to meet his far-reaching political and economic demands. At his second major demonstration in as many weeks, Tigran Karapetian was rallying supporters in Yerevan one day before his ALM channel was due to end broadcasts in line with a controversial decision made by the National Commission on Television and Radio (HRAH) last month." See previous post about television in Armenia.

VOA African news in the news includes detention in Zambia, "chameleon tactics" in Nigeria.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
International Press Institute, 20 Jan 2011, Naomi Hunt: "Two Zambian journalists detained this week have now been charged with sedition, The Post newspaper told IPI this morning. Nyambe Muyumbana of Radio Lyambai and Mwala Kalaluka of The Post newspaper were arrested in separate incidents earlier this week in connection with their reports on protests for greater autonomy in Western Province. ... The Post’s reporter Mwala Kalaluka was released on bond this morning. He was arrested on Monday for speaking on his cell phone about his reports on the Barotseland agreement. Kalaluka was in conversation with his sources in the disputed area, and was telling them about an interview he had given Voice of America, when he was detained by a security agent who handed him to the police in Kabwe, The Post legal counsel Sam Mujuda told IPI by phone today." See also Reporters sans frontières, 20 Jan 2011.

Leadership (Abuja), 20 Jan 2011: "Residents of Jos have adopted various survival strategies as the warring parties resort to secret killings in the troubled city. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that one of the strategies, known as 'chameleon tactics', involved the use of clothes 'acceptable to each of the warring territories.' ... A female journalist, Mrs Zainab Babaji, who reports for the Voice of America Hausa Service, also told NAN that the 'chameleon tactics' had helped her to survive while carrying out her professional duties. 'Depending on where I am going for the day, I have the right dress to match whatever dress code is safe,' she said. Babaji said that it was 'highly dangerous' for her to wear traditional Hausa dress and enter certain areas to perform her duties."

Chinese media censor coverage of President Hu's visit to the USA, especially the human rights bits.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 21 Jan 2011, Keith B. Richburg: "Largely missing from official Chinese news media reports of [President President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington] - and from the foreign television spots that are subject to government censorship - has been the back-and-forth between President Obama and Hu over human rights. ... The [joint Hu-Obama] news conference was not covered live on CCTV, the main Chinese television station, and there was no video available Thursday on the CCTV Web site. Video of the full news conference, however, was available on the Web site of the smaller Hong Kong-based Phoenix television station."

MSNBC, 20 Jan 2011: "Beijing residents said BBC and CNN television broadcasts of the summit went blank when the topic switched to human rights and anti-Chinese protesters, though access to foreign news channels is restricted to upscale hotels and apartment complexes. It appeared that one Chinese censor was endeavoring to prevent pictures of imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo in a BBC World news report about Hu's visit from being shown, and in doing so also blocked part of Hu's comments about human rights, according to a Western journalist. However, Hu's remarks were allowed to be broadcast on other channels."

Lee Bollinger again floats his American World Service proposal.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, 21 Jan 2011, Lee Bollinger: "The fact is that the press we have today is not the product of a pure free market, but of a very mixed system that has grown from a monopoly or oligopoly (certainly in the case of daily newspapers and television), with some government regulation (in the case of broadcasting), some indirect public support (in the form of favorable mailing rates), and some direct support (in the public broadcasting system domestically and programs like Voice of America globally). Yet many Americans, including journalists themselves, react to the idea of public investment as if it were a direct assault on freedom. ...

"We also have the very obvious experience of the BBC, which has established itself across the globe as a credible voice of free press in countries that censor their own media -- and increasingly as Americans' source of information about the globe through its U.S. distribution on NPR, PBS, and cable. Whatever some choose to believe about such publicly funded journalism, the fact is that these essential tasks of fostering access to credible news reporting abroad and greater global insight at home are simply not being fulfilled in a serious way by the commercial news media. ...

"My current vote would be for augmenting the funding for NPR and PBS to take on a greater and greater international role, both in reporting to the world (in different languages) and reporting back to the United States about the world. We need an American World Service, with an American journalistic character but on a scale more like the BBC. We already invest more than $750 million a year in the Broadcasting Board of Governors' services, such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. We know from experience that such funds can be best invested in high-quality journalism and cultural programming reflecting the values of a free society.

"Such an endeavor should not bound by the old Cold War division that legally prevented publicly funded international broadcasting from distribution to domestic audiences -- a prohibition that has effectively been rendered moot by both technology and contemporary realities. Americans certainly do not want government propaganda, but they do need both a credible voice and source of information about the world."

The prohibition on domestic dissemination was moot even back in the 1950s, when VOA's shortwave transmitters could easily be heard in the United States. It is less moot now that IP geoblocking is a common internet procedure. If there should be any will to observe the Smith-Mundt law, the VOA, RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, and Radio/TV Martí websites would be made inaccessible to US IP addresses.

Prospects for augmenting the funding of NPR and PBS seem dim now that many Republicans are dead serious about eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and any government support for public stations.

In my Foreign Service Journal article (October 2010), I proposed instead a partnership between US international broadcasting and private US domestic broadcast news. In Britain, the main domestic broadcast news source is the public broadcaster BBC. In the United States, it is a combination of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox. They would have the wherewithal to assist US international broadcasting in newsgathering and programming, and they would benefit from the global resources and area knowledge of USIB. See previous posts on 14 July, 21 July, and 24 August 2010.

Viacom will "expand its international footprint" with new CEO of Viacom International Media Networks.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 19 Jan 2011, George Winslow: "Viacom Inc. has appointed Robert Bakish to the newly created position of president and CEO of Viacom International Media Networks. Bakish, who was previously president of MTV Networks International, has expanded his duties to oversee Viacom's Media Networks properties that operate outside the U.S., including MTV Networks International, as well as BET Networks' international channels and non-premium Paramount branded networks. ... Viacom International Media Networks includes 145 television channels in 160 countries and territories, as well as a variety of digital properties and consumer products businesses. Its entertainment brands MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, VIVA, TMF (The Music Factory) and Game One reach nearly 650 million households. [Viacom President and CEO Philippe] Dauman also stressed that the appointment and the newly created position signals Viacom's intent to expand its international footprint for all its properties and that the company intends 'to further extend Paramount-themed television channels, taking advantage of Paramount Pictures' brand awareness and the popularity of the motion pictures in its vast library.'"

Second Life? I find First Life to be sufficiently complicated.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 20 Jan 2011, Parag Khanna (commentary): "[T]he best analogy to diplomacy today is a massive multiplayer online game. Even cyberspace is already alive with virtual diplomacy: Sweden, Brazil and other governments have opened virtual consulates in the universe of Second Life, where James Glassman, former U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, held debates with Egyptian bloggers."

VOA's "Parazit" has a great night on "The Daily Show." And a little "static" of my own.

Posted: 22 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily Show, 20 Jan 2011, host Jon Stewart interviewing Kambiz Hosseini, host, and Saman Arbabi, executive producer of VOA Persian News Network's "Parazit" ("Static"): Arbabi: "There's two types of people, Those who liove and those who really hate us. We cater to the ones who really love us. And, obviously, the ones that hate us ... are the reason we actually do the show. ..."

Hosseini: "We do specifically Iranian politics. Honestly, we do not care so much about American politics. We live in Washington! ..."

Stewart: "You're like our show, but with real guts. And I'm proud to be considered in the fraternity of humorists that you guys are in, and I'm honored to have you on the show." See also Washington Post, blogPost, 21 Jan 2011, James Buck.

Washington Post, 22 Jan 2011, Tara Bahrampour: "It wouldn't have been an Iranian encounter without elaborate compliments on each side. 'I can see the passion in what you do and it's very engaging,' Stewart said. 'It's all you, Jon,' Hosseini said. Then, genuflecting, he added, 'You are the prophet, you are the prophet, you are the prophet.'"

NPR On the Media, 14 Jan 2011: "BOB GARFIELD: Iranian state television did a completely irony-free report on the recommended hairstyles. [IRANIAN TV CLIP/AUDIO UP AND UNDER] How did you handle it on your show? KAMBIZ HOSSEINI : The state media runs so much garbage like that, that people have become immune to it. So we basically take that stuff, turn it around and we give it back to our audience, saying, look guys, we know you’re used to hearing this stuff, but seriously, let's listen to this carefully one more time. Is this acceptable? And that’s where the humor kicks in. ...

"BOB GARFIELD: But it is a VOA show so, literally speaking, you guys are agents of the government of the United States. How does that affect your credibility with your audience? SAMAN ARBABI: We've earned our audience’s trust because we've never taken sides with anyone. We've criticized Obama in the past. We've also criticized the Green Movement within Iran, the opposition leaders. So we've g - we've gained our credibility by just being balanced."

If that balance is implemented often enough that the audience notices it, VOA's credibility may remain intact. (Stewart noted that in the Parazit "Good, Bad, and Ugly" segment that he viewed, the bad was the leader of the Revolutionary Guard, and the ugly was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. No "balance" in this particular sample.)

There is no need for quotas -- the Iranian audience is more interested in Iran than in the United States, and the Tehran regime is probably a more fruitful target for satire than the opposition. Nevertheless, occasional humor about US politics, at the expense of both Democrats and Republicans, would send a powerful message about freedom of expression in the United States, and about VOA's independence.

It gives me no pleasure to have some misgivings about Parazit, because my PhD dissertation (An Alternative Programming Strategy for International Radio Broadcasting, University of Minnesota, 1979) hypothesized that lighter, more entertaining fare would bring larger audiences and more impact for international broadcasting. Parazit supports that premise. We must not forget, however, that credible news is still the main reason audiences seek international broadcasts. Every effort must be made to protect that credibility.

See previous post about the same subject.

Al Jazeera: "It is that powerful."

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
GlobalPost, 19 Jan 2011, Tom Fenton: "Al Jazeera has become a prime shaper of Arab public opinion. A recent poll showed that in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza, it is watched by more than 50 percent of viewers. Palestine TV attracts 12 percent, and Al Arabiya (Al Jazeera's main rival, sponsored by Saudi Arabia) only 10 percent. The Columbia Journalism Review said that Al Jazeera's coverage of any future peace deal with Israel would heavily influence whether a majority of Palestinians accept it. It is that powerful. Al Jazeera claims not to take sides, but it has a natural pro-Arab bias, just as most Western media have a Western bias. More importantly, it makes a point of airing various sides of an issue. It even maintains a news bureau in Israel. Its news, talk shows and discussion programs have raised the level of political sophistication of its Arab viewers and increased their reluctance to believe the pronouncements of their own governments. Traditional Arab rulers see it as subversive."

Recalling Barry Zorthian's psywar activities in Vietnam.

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
consortiumnews.com, 20 Jan 2011, Don North: "Barry Zorthian, who died last month at the age of 90, was one of the last surviving U.S government officials who shaped America’s role in the Vietnam War, a man who also stood at the shadowy intersection between press management and psychological warfare. ... Arriving in Saigon, Zorthian was part of the shake-up in the mission that followed the assassination of South Vietnamese President Diem. Because of the timing and his personal talents, Zorthian had input into many of the policy decisions that shaped the war. ... Zorthian also became head of psychological warfare operations, though he lacked any classic training in the field. In that post, he butted heads with the legendary psy-war pioneer, Air Force Lt. Gen. Edward Lansdale, the model for manipulative characters in Eugene Burdick’s and William Lederer’s The Ugly American and Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. ... Although untrained in the art of psychological operations, Zorthian was responsible for coordinating these tactics designed to erode the morale of the enemy and win the allegiance of the Vietnamese people through 'hearts and minds' programs. ... 'There wasn’t a hell of a lot of teamwork in the mission,' Zorthian observed. 'Everybody was ready to blame the other guy. The CIA thought the military was too conventional, and the military thought the CIA were a lot of cowboys running around getting into its business. Our U.S. Information Service was regarded as a puny bunch playing psychological warriors.' At the time, Zorthian’s dual role did draw some criticism as he tried to balance the secretive world of psy-ops with the supposedly transparent world of press relations. But Zorthian, the great juggler seemed to handle it." See previous post about same subject.

BBC and The Economist event for "emerging Indian multinationals" about branding, including "country of origin" effect.

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Best Media Info, 19 Jan 2011, onpassing apparent press release: "The BBC and The Economist are presenting two special events in India, designed to provide a platform for exchanging ideas and thoughts on branding and managing image perceptions. Created for emerging Indian multinationals, Global Brandscape, will feature heads of companies from a number of high profile Indian conglomerates. The events will take place on the 24th and 25th of January, in Delhi and Mumbai respectively. Speakers at the events will present perspectives on how brands present themselves and the tools at their disposal. Influential branding pioneer Wally Olins, Chairman, Saffron Brand Consultants, will speak on 'Place Branding' and explain how it is crucial to create the desired ‘country of origin’ effect for the ‘new’ world as it spreads its influence globally through its own brands. Laurel West, Asia Director, Industry & management research, Economist Intelligence Unit will examine the current state of branding in emerging Asia and look at how companies are tackling the next critical stage of their evolution by harnessing the power of brands. Jeremy Nye, Head of Audience Insight at BBC Global News, will look at how we can understand the ways in which global conversations are taking place – what people talk about, how they do so, and which discussions are the most influential." -- I'll go out on a limb and guess that advertising on BBC World News, on the BBCnews.com international website, and in the Economist will be a good way to establish that global brand.

Comparing the media influences on Tunisia and North Korea.

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Dong-a Ilbo, 18 Jan 2011, Song Pyeong-in: "Bloggers and citizen journalists of neighboring Arab countries are applauding the Arab world’s first democratic revolution. North Koreans, however, might not know of Tunisia’s revolution because of lack of access to the Internet. Pyongyang teaches its people how to use computers but strictly controls Web use. Even North Korean intelligence has begun to focus on the flow of South Korean and Chinese movies or video clips into the Stalinist country. Only a few North Koreans use cell phones near the border to contact the outside world after smuggling them from China. This explains the importance of using shortwave radios, balloons and bullhorns to let North Koreans know about what is going on in the outside world."

China launches China International Broadcasting Network and even more inexplicable Global Broadcasting Media Group.

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 18 Jan 2011: "A new media broadcasting network, the China International Broadcasting Network or CIBN, has been officially launched in Beijing. The network will be based on CRI Online, the world's largest multilingual website run by China Radio International. Featuring 61 languages, CIBN will be a convergence of a website, online broadcaster, network television and mobile service terminal. It's set to become a new state-level broadcasting organization that caters to audiences from all over the world, thanks to the rapid development of the Internet and mobile communication technology. CRI's wholly-owned Global Broadcasting Media Group, or GMG, was also established on Tuesday. It will function as the investing and operating platform for CIBN." See also CRI, 18 Jan 2011 and CRI web page about CIBN. See previous post about same subject.

China Radio International, 18 Jan 2011: "The Global Broadcasting Media Group (or GMG), established by China Radio International (CRI) based on the concept of modern media operation and management, is a platform for operating and developing a media and cultural industry. It aims to help CRI enlarge its industry scale and advance its industry level, boost its strength, provide more development methods, develop CRI brands and widen its influence. Based on CRI's profitable resources in the media and cultural field, GMG targets investing in, developing and operating media resource integration and services, which includes omnimedia resources such as radio, television, publishing, internet and new media." -- If anyone knows what CIBN and GMG will actually do, please let me know.

EU triples its contribution to Euronews, with 20-person bureau in Brussels and new "desks" in 11 cites (updated).

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Parliament, 13 Jan 2011, Martin Banks: "The EU has tripled its contributions to the Lyon-based Euronews channel in the last three years, it has emerged. The news comes as it was revealed that the broadcaster, which is watched by an estimated 2.6m viewers per week, is to open 11 new offices across the world this year. On Thursday, it was disclosed that the commission, said to be frustrated at what it sees as a dearth of news coverage on other outlets, has tripled its contributions over the last three years to €15m. ... Philippe Cayla, CEO of Euronews, said ... new offices are necessary because European public broadcasters, many facing cuts, are reducing their financial contributions to Euronews. Advertising and other commercial sources of revenue account for about 60 per cent of the channel's €60m budget.

"However, news that the EU has substantially increased its funding to the channel has been seized upon by eurosceptics. UKIP member Paul Nuttall MEP said, 'Everybody is making cuts, but here we have aspects of the EU's propaganda spend tripling. It is outrageous that they are opening 11 new journalistic bureaus across the world. Now more than ever we need a clearly independent media, however the behaviour of the EU in this way threatens that and the jobs of independent journalists'." -- Is it impossible for Euronews to be independent the way BBC World Service is perceived as independent despite its (soon to be switched to the BBC license fee) Foreign Office funding?

Update: Reuters, 19 Jan 2011: "International news TV channel euronews plans a major expansion centred around a new, 20-person bureau in Brussels to better distinguish itself from rivals CNN International and BBC World News. ... The expansion of the multilingual news channel, which was founded in 1993 and almost went bust in 2002, will cost tens of millions of euros, will be funded by the European Union and the broadcasters who own euronews. 'We know that a lot of newsrooms are cutting back. This is the moment for us to put our flag,' Lucian Sarb, euronews' director of news and programmes, told a news conference in London. 'We have to try to find our specificity.' ... Euronews will open new permanent desks in Paris, Kiev, Istanbul, Dubai, Washington and Beijing this year."

Broadband TV News, 18 Jan 2011, Chris Dziadul: "Next year will see the channel also open desks in eight further locations including New York, Moscow, Warsaw, Shanghai and Tel Aviv."

CNBC Africa restructures, with job losses, but still plans expansion.

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Bizcommunity.com, 18 Jan 2011, Herman Manson: "CNBC Africa, the financial and business television network, is in the process of an organisational restructure that will result in job losses at the broadcaster, Alexander Leibner, CNBC Africa marketing manager, has confirmed to Bizcommunity.com. ... 'As in any start-up, our business has grown significantly over the last four years,' says Liebner. 'Operational inefficiencies resulting from an excess in staffing have arisen in a number of areas. The exercise to optimise the company's operation is primarily structural rather than economic.' According to Liebner, operations and programming in Johannesburg will remain unaffected 'and we will continue to broadcast eight hours of live content from our Johannesburg studio.' He says plans to expand outside South Africa continues and that the group is looking to open offices in Mozambique, Zambia and possibly Zimbabwe this year. 'The planned growth in Africa continues,' says Leibman. The broadcaster spent a troubled year in 2010 after it lost funding to the tune of US$3 million a year from the Gauteng Film Commission, which resulted in speculation over its financial sustainability." -- Unlike CNBC Europe, Asia, and Arabia, which are owned by NBC, CNBC Africa uses the CNBC name and some of its programs under a license agreement.

Nickelodeon Asia will launch a dedicated feed for the Philippines.

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 18 Jan 2011, Mansha Daswani: "Nickelodeon Asia will launch a dedicated feed for its viewers in the Philippines on April 1, offering up customized marketing opportunities for local advertisers and cable platforms. 'The Philippines continues to be an increasingly important market for us, and the implementation of a dedicated Nickelodeon feed enhances commitment to provide advertisers and cable operators’ customization opportunities in this particularly fast growing market,' said Indra Suharjono, executive VP and managing director of MTV Networks North and Southeast Asia. 'This also demonstrates our commitment to strengthen local programming and cater to the specific viewing preferences of the young Filipino audience and families.' ... 'The localized feed allows for more cost-effective and country targeted options for advertisers and cable operators.'" See previous post about BBC's CBeebies in the Philippines.

France 24 in the news includes incident at National Front party congress.

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
International Press Institute, 18 Jan 2011: "The political correspondent for French news broadcaster France 24, Mickael Szames, was allegedly beaten and insulted by security agents from France’s extreme right-wing National Front (FN) at a party congress on Saturday, the French broadcaster reported. In a live broadcast from Tours, where the congress was held, the journalist said eight FN security officers knocked him to the ground and hit him for taking pictures at the reception."

France 24, 17 Jan 2011: "FRANCE 24 has discontinued direct coverage of the congress in Tours."

France 24, 18 Jan 2011: "Launched on the 3rd of April 2010, the FRANCE 24 app has been downloaded over 150,000 times across the world. With almost 50% of its audience based internationally, the United States, after France, represents the most important country in terms of downloads, followed by Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, the UK, Morocco, Japan, Germany and Italy. Free of charge and available in 3 languages (French, English and Arabic), the application allows iPad users to directly access FRANCE 24’s three channels live."

Le Figaro, 17 Jan 2011, Paule Gonzales: The board of Audiovisuel extérieur de la France (holding company for France 24, TV5 Monde, Radio France International, and Monte Carlo Doualiya) met this week. Issues include budget reductions at the merger of RFI and France 24. See previous post about same subject.

Deutsche Welle ordered to "tighten focus," including less shortwave, less German (but DW Greek stays).

Posted: 21 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
DPA, 19 Jan 2011: "Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet ordered worldwide German broadcaster Deutsche Welle Wednesday to tighten its focus and to cut back its programming for Germans living abroad. Deutsche Welle, which is funded by the German taxpayer and broadcasts in some 30 languages, is to pare back its short wave and medium wave radio transmissions - once the backbone of the service - and concentrate on FM broadcasts in selected countries. Deutsche Welle, which receives 273 million euros (368.4 million dollars) in annual funding, also has television broadcasts and webcasts. The new instructions were based on a 400-page report by Deutsche Welle on how it plans to change.

"The internet, which allows Germans all over the world to catch up with news from German websites, has reduced the need for Deutsche Welle to address German expatriates. Regular German TV channels are also accessible by satellite far from home. In future Deutsche Welle, which has a workforce of 1,500, is to focus on its audience of non-Germans and pay greater attention to German foreign policy interests, according to the cabinet resolution. Up to 2013, it will also gradually focus on key audiences in Asia, Africa, Arab nations and Latin America. Short wave radio transmissions will be mostly dropped, and will only continue to a few regions, an announcement said." -- FM rebroadcasting is easier said that done. It can be difficult to find stations in the target country willing to relay the content of an international broadcaster.

Greek Reporter, 20 Jan 2011, Apostolos Papapostolou: "The German government assured that the Deutsche Welle Greek radio broadcast will be continued and will not be silenced, within the framework of the restructuring of the radio station for the period of 2010-2013. ... The initial proposal, which was overturned by the government’s spokesman statements, foresaw, among other things, the termination of the Greek radio broadcast."

Additional documents in German: Deutsche Welle press release, 19 Jan 2011 and Bundesregierung press release, 19 Jan 2011. The latter reminds that "Die Deutsche Welle ist ein freier und regierungsunabhängiger Sender" ("Deutsche Welle is a free and non-governmental channel."), which means government funded but not government controlled.

Free North Korea Radio's website may have had a direct connection from North Korea.

Posted: 20 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
North Korea Tech, 18 Jan 2011, Martyn Williams: "Free North Korea Radio, one of the handful of independent broadcasters targeting North Korea, attracted a direct connection to its website from inside the DPRK on Wednesday morning. The site said an incoming connection from North Korea was recorded between 9:30am and 10am on Wednesday morning. It included the following screenshot (see below) from its site showing a connection from what appears to be within the North Korean IP address range that’s recently been activated by Star JV. ... Free North Korea Radio, based in Seoul and run by defectors from the north, broadcasts programming critical of the regime. A direct connection from North Korea could be someone interested in the station’s subversive message, or it could just as easily be a scan of the site’s contents by the North Korean regime. Such traffic would typically be sent through a proxy server, a server in a third country that would effectively mask the connection as coming from North Korea. That the connection came direct could be an error or point to an unsophisticated user. A further possibility is that it came from one of the many foreigners in North Korea who seem to have more freedom in their Internet access. Additionally, the radio station says its website was hit by a denial of service attack on Tuesday afternoon."

The Korea Times, 19 Jan 2011, Kim Young-jin: "Free North Korea Radio said in an online report that its website was hit by a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack Monday by hackers using a server in the North, disrupting services for four hours. Another attack occurred Tuesday, it said. 'North Korea has begun attacking defector websites that criticize the regime,' the report said. The allegation came nine days after the North’s main propaganda website, Uriminzokkiri, and its Twitter account were attacked by South Korean hackers. The attacks, later claimed by users on South Korean site dcincide.com, comprised harsh criticism against the Kim Jong-il regime."

Reporters sans Frontiéres, 17 Jan 2011: "The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders is today launching an ad campaign in support of independent media that provide North Koreans with news and information. A campaign graphic with the image of a crumpled photo of Kim Jong-il is being carried by the Korean news portal http://kr.yahoo.com/. It will be visible for the next two weeks to millions of Korean Internet users. ... Using a campaign ad denouncing Kim Jong-il’s media totalitarianism in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, English and French, Reporters Without Borders is appealing to public opinion, governments, media and international organizations to support these North Korean freedom media. Reporters Without Borders helps to fund Radio Free Chosun, Open Radio North Korea and Radio Free North Korea... ."

And now the Chinese will manufacture their own historic 1898 water tower and sell it cheaper than the Americans can.

Posted: 20 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Ypsilanti (MI) Courier, 19 Jan 2011: "With the flip of a switch and the click of a button, thirty million viewers in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore will soon learn about the one and only Ypsilanti, Michigan. After some time at the North American International Auto Show, Sean E. Liu, from the China Branch of Voice of America, spent Wednesday and Thursday in Ypsilanti learning its history, and touring its museums and attractions. Visiting our 1898 water tower was one of his first priorities; so we opened the doors and shared the tower's history and legends with Sean. ... Sean will use the footage he recorded to prepare a five to 10 minute feature story for a weekly prime time program titled 'Cultural Odyssey,' that airs by satellite TV and Internet to about 30 million viewers in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and Singapore."

China's video public diplomacy on Times Square and on CNN.

Posted: 20 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg News, 17 Jan 2011: "China unveiled a 60-second promotional video on the giant screens of New York’s Times Square last night as the nation seeks to present a more positive image for President Hu Jintao’s U.S. visit this week. The marketing film, featuring Chinese celebrities including basketball player Yao Ming, astronaut Yang Liwei, and pianist Lang Lang, will show 300 times a day on six screens, according to the official Xinhua News agency. The clip will also air on television during Hu’s tour from today to Jan. 21, said Wang Lijun, a spokeswoman for producer Shanghai Lowe & Partners." See video of the Times Square version: New York Times, 18 Jan 2011. And video of the two short versions of the advertisement at China Briefing, 19 Jan 2011.

Xinhua, 19 Jan 2011: "Also included in the project is a 30-second commercial to be aired on US television and a 30-minute documentary, according to the State Council Information Office. Experts welcomed the move on Tuesday, including one professor who told China Daily he hopes the project will undo some of the damage caused by anti-Chinese advertisements used by several candidates during last November's mid-term elections in the US. ... The documentary and advertisements will be shown in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Initial media reports suggested the BBC World Service had already scheduled the campaign. However, a spokesman for the broadcaster said via e-mail that the corporation has 'not signed an agreement' with the State Council's Information Office." -- Commercials would be on BBC World News (TV) rathar than BBC World Service (radio), which might explain the denial. See also Xinhua, 17 Jan 2011.

CNN, 20 Jan 2011, Liu Kang, dean of the Institute of Arts and Humanities at Shanghai Jiaotong University and a professor at Duke University (commentary): "There's a long way to go to change the view of the beholders, let alone the perceptions that have taken years to formulate, but Chinese efforts to reach out to Americans through the U.S. media (albeit using paid ads) should not be dismissed as mere propaganda."

Global Times (Beijing), 20 Jan 2011: "'The much-anticipated publicity video by China lacked creativity and resembled a staged family portrait, filled with elite posing but bearing no humanitarian touch. Is this the image of China that we want to convey?' Ma Hongtao, a China Central Television host, on China's publicity commercial shown on Time Square, blogging on a Sina microblog on Wednesday. Dozens of Chinese people appear in the video, including celebrities like basketball star Yao Ming, astronaut Yang Liwei and producer John Woo. The 60-second video, with red as its theme color, will be shown 15 times each hour till February 14 and is expected to be aired on CNN from January 17 to February 13."

Washington Post, 18 Jan 2011, Ariana Eunjung Cha: "The Chinese government and the Alliance for American Manufacturing -- a District-based lobbying group and thinktank -- have launched dueling ad campaigns that aim to shape public opinion on the eve of the state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. ... The AAM's campaign is running a print ad campaign that feature a picture of Hu shaking hands with President Obama with the words 'Hu's on first. And he's about to steal home.' The ads, which began running today in Capitol Hill publications such as The Hill, Roll Call, Politico and CQ Today, as well as online-only news sites, link job losses in the United States to China's 'cheating' on currency and trade."

The Chinese commercials on CNN and other US channels reach a larger American audience that China Radio International, CCTV-9, CNC World, or Blue Ocean Network combined. Television advertising is expensive, but, with well-crafted content and production, they can be a good vehicle for public diplomacy.

BBC loves all the little children of the world -- and their commercial potential.

Posted: 20 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 17 Jan 2011: "BBC Worldwide Channels has inked a deal to launch the award-winning pre-school English-language channel, CBeebies, on SKYCABLE. This marks the first time the channel, targeted at preschoolers six and under, is seen in the Philippines. SKYCABLE is the largest pay-TV company in the Philippines. ... 'The inaugural launch of CBeebies in the Philippines is an important one for our long term growth strategy in Asia,' said Mark Whitehead, Senior Vice President and General Manager of BBC Worldwide Channels Asia. ... 'Growing our business in the Philippines is a priority for us in Asia, and quality programming is a linchpin to our success,' he continued. ... 'CBeebies delivers a safe, non-violent, interactive experience designed by developmental experts to promote imaginative play, social interaction, language skills and educational values.' ... Outside of the Philippines, CBeebies is broadcast in South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Australia, Mexico, Poland, South Africa and a Hispanic version of the channel is available in the USA."

The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Jan 2011, Etan Vlessing: "Canadian public broadcaster Knowledge Network has acquired the BBC Kids cable channel from BBC Worldwide and domestic broadcaster Shaw Media. Pending regulatory approval, Knowledge Network, the British Columbia public educational broadcaster, will form a joint venture with BBC Worldwide and relaunch BBC Kids as a commercial-free channel for young Canadians. BBC Kids since its launch in 2001 has been aimed at Canadian youth from preschoolers to teens. Vancouver-based Knowledge Network said it will acquire and schedule domestic and international programming for the subscriber-driven niche channel." See also Broadcaster, 17 Jan 2011.

"Several" channels from abroad serve "the forest of illegal satellite dishes" in Iran.

Posted: 20 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 20 Jan 2011, Mitra Amiri: "[A] satellite channel based in London, Manoto, [is] one of several that have recently started to defy state censorship by beaming in Persian-language programs that compete for the attention of a large audience that has had, until recently, little choice but to watch what the state broadcaster decided it could see. On [its] cooking show, the chefs, men and women, welcome one another to their houses with kisses – a common enough practice among many Iranians in private, but something that is forbidden in public and on state TV. ... The results of restrictions on the programming of state TV go some way toward explaining why many Iranians have turned to shows beamed to the forest of illegal satellite dishes crowning many of houses and buildings in Iran, to the annoyance of the government. ... Iranian authorities also dislike the influence of Western news channels like Voice of America and BBC Persian, broadcast in Farsi, the main official language of Iran. Yet another hard to control conduit for television content comes from right next door: Some of the 30 million Turkish speakers in Iran can also access soap operas and other programs broadcast in neighboring, secular Turkey." -- It's difficult to keep track of all the Persian-language channels operating outside of Iran. Some are based in the UK and Europe, and some (though we haven't heard much about them lately) in California.

Creators of the VOA Persian version of "The Daily Show" to appear on "The Daily Show."

Posted: 20 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 19 Jan 2011: "The creators of a Voice of America TV program broadcast to Iran called Parazit, which has drawn comparisons to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, are to appear on Stewart’s Comedy Central show Thursday to discuss their program’s satirical look at Iranian politics and politicians. Audiences can’t seem to get enough of the Farsi language program, which airs for 30 minutes every Friday and is produced at VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN) headquarters in Washington and sent by satellite directly to Iranian homes. ... Since October, the number of Parazit’s Facebook friends has doubled to nearly a quarter-million. The number of page views for the show’s Facebook site in December also nearly doubled to nearly 19 million, up from about ten million in October."

There may be a dark side to all the publicity is getting from Parazit. If the program is a "satirical look at Iranian politics and politicians," and only Iranian politics and politicians, then the viewers of The Daily Show will perceive VOA as a station that does propaganda against the governments of its target countries. See previous post about same subject.

Tunisia media update: "Al Jazeera has become a hallmark in a part of the world that increasingly craves unfiltered news."

Posted: 20 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Register, 17 Jan 2011, Jane Fae Ozimek: "The first glimmerings of internet liberalisation were evident in Tunisia this weekend. CNN reports that filters on popular sites such as Facebook and YouTube have been lifted, and this appears to have led to speedier access speeds across the local internet."

Los Angeles Times, 19 Jan 2011, Jeffrey Fleishman: "Al Jazeera has become a hallmark in a part of the world that increasingly craves unfiltered news. Much of its coverage in Tunisia is raw and unvarnished, relying on cellphone videos sent by bystanders and call-in interviews that give those caught in the passion of events a chance to express observations and opinions. It is that same dynamic that stymied U.S. military officials trying to spin the news in the early days of the Iraq war against vivid Al Jazeera video of battered villages and dead civilians."

Aljazeera.net, 17 Jan 2011, Noureddine Miladi (commentary): "It is estimated that more than half of the TV audiences in Tunisia migrate every night via satellite TV to the rest of the world. Global TV broadcasting, headed by Al Jazeera, has become the refuge of people who look for uncensored information. Zapping for news and current affairs analysis about Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and even sometimes to learn more about what is happening in Tunisia itself, characterise their viewing habits. Furthermore what people equally seek out are entertainment channels which provide an endless stream of various TV genres such as reality TV programmes, music videos, sitcoms, soaps and action films in various languages. The recent unrests have given more prominence to satellite TV in the viewing habits of Tunisians. Al Jazeera, which was ahead of other international broadcasters in breaking the news, has become the most influential broadcaster in which critical information about news coverage in various parts of the country can be accessed. Al Jazeera heavily relied on referencing Facebook pages and Youtube in reporting the raw events, which marked a key turning point in unveiling the bloodiness and horror of the manner with which the police had been dealing with the riots. No wonder that Tunisians flocked to the social media networks, which fed and fuelled news stations like Al Jazeera, BBC Arabic, France 24, Al-Hiwar and other channels."

Democracy Now!, 18 Jan 2011, Juan Cole interviewed by Amy Goodman: "Al Jazeera English is difficult to get. For some strange reason, it’s not available on DISH satellite, which does run other foreign channels. And the Arabic, actually, is available much more widely, because it is carried on DISH. Al Jazeera did an excellent job of covering the events, although it should be noted that many Tunisians were miffed at Al Jazeera, because they felt that they gave too much air time to the Muslim activists, who were not representative of this movement, and that Al Jazeera kind of has a little bit of a bias towards the Islamic movements."

Left Foot Forward, 18 Jan 2011, Luke Bozier: "Why did it take a full-blown revolution to get the attention of the [British] media? The French press were ahead of the game, with France 24 in particular paying close attention to the unfolding events, giving Tunisia top slot in its news bulletins over a week ago. I almost fell out of bed on Thursday morning to hear BBC Radio 4 discussing the unfolding events in Tunis, asking whether what might be happening might lead to the downfall of the regime. It was not however until Ben Ali announced his intentions, and pled with the Tunisian people for one more chance, that outlets like Sky and the BBC treated the story with the importance it deserved."

Ahram Online, 17 Jan 2011, Dina Ezzat: "An Egyptian official and an Al-Jazeera source said that rapprochement between Cairo and Doha continues, despite Egyptian authorities' disappointment with a report aired yesterday by the satellite channel, which said Egypt was undertaking measures for fear of the spread of Tunisian unrest. 'We are not going to blow things out of proportions, but we let Al-Jazeera know very well that we are not comfortable with inaccurate reporting,' said the Egyptian official."

Al Jazeera has dominated as the source of news about Tunisia and into Tunisia. Judging from news reports, Al Arabiya and France 24 are in a rather lower second tier. There has been surprisingly little mention of BBC Arabic, and virtually none of Alhurra. Postmortem audience research in Tunisia can confirm all of this. See previous post about same subject.

Alhurra's flagship "Al Yaum" news program spawns a weekend "Best of."

Posted: 19 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 14 Jan 2011: "Building on the success of Alhurra’s flagship primetime show Al Youm, the network is expanding its programming to include a weekly special, The Best of Al Youm. Each week, The Best of Al Youm will showcase the preeminent reports that aired on Al Youm, highlighting stories on health, education, technology, social and cultural issues that have an impact on the region. The hour-long program will launch on January 15th and air Saturdays at 21:00 GMT. The Best of Al Youm will broadcast from Cairo and be anchored by Amr Khalil. He will present, in his unique style, some of the most prominent stories, interviews and subjects. The Best of Al Youm will incorporate reports from Al Youm’s five studios in Beirut, Dubai, Jerusalem, Cairo and Washington, D.C."

Radio Prague's shortwave site will be closed. Fate of the transmitters uncertain.

Posted: 19 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 Jan 2011, Andy Sennitt: "From Radio Prague’s Mailbox programme broadcast yesterday: Armin Gerstberger from the United States asked this question among others: 'I was wondering what will happen to your shortwave transmission facility in Litomysl after 1/31/2011. Will it be maintained for future use by Cesky rozhlas, rented out or sold off?' Radio Prague answered: The Litomysl transmitter has been closed down and the staff laid off. As for now, it is unclear whether the facility will be dismantled or whether it will be preserved for potential future operation." -- Has been closed? Or will be closed on 31 January? The site is operated by České Radiokomunikace. See also the transcript of the Radio Prague Mailbox program on 16 January, with other listener comments about the end of the station's shortwave transmissions. And Radio Prague's statement about the same subject.

An additional medium wave frequency for Radio Farda.

Posted: 19 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 Jan 2011: "The US-operated [RFE/RL] Radio Farda, broadcasting to Iran in Farsi, has commenced broadcasting from Al Dhabbaya in the United Arab Emirates on mediumwave 1314 kHz (1000 kW) as of 1 January 2011. The station operates at 1400-2400 UTC." -- The RFE/RL website is still showing 1575 kHz, also Al Dhabbaya, as the only medium wave frequency for Radio Farda. According to DXers, 1314 is in addition to 1575 (they are hearing both). This appears to be a new transmitter and frequency in the UAE.

Former VOA and DW Bengali broadcaster dedicates his autobiography to Indian Maoist leader.

Posted: 18 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Press Trust of India, 16 Jan 2011, Pranati Bandyopadhyay: "Congress MP Kabir Suman is no stranger to controversy and this time his hard-hitting autobiography apparently gives a handle to the ruling Left Front in West Bengal to target Mamata Banerjee's party in the Maoist-nexus blame game. In his just-released 'Nishaner Naam Tapasi Malik, dedicated to top Maoist leader Kishenji among others... . The former journalist of Voice of America who also worked in the Bengali division of German Radio before his return to India in 1990, said he always felt comfortable within the limits of music. 'Politics is not my cup of tea. At the best I am a political activist, nothing more.'" -- Perhaps the autobiography will include recollections of his international broadcasting days.

Demonstration against new media law in Hungary ("Orbanistan").

Posted: 18 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 14 Jan 2011, Stefan Bos: "An estimated 10,000 Hungarians have demonstrated late Friday against what critics describe as Europe's most restrictive media law. Under the legislation, media in Hungary can face heavy fines and sanctions if authorities deem their coverage unbalanced or immoral. ... Some media outlets have already been pursued by the new media authorities. The voice of Gabor Csabai, the head of Budapest based Tilos Radio, or Forbidden Radio, can still be heard from a tiny studio in a, somewhat rundown building, in Budapest. But his small, independent station has already faced a legal battle with the Media Council after broadcasting a song of American rapper Ice-T, whose real name is Tracy Marrow. ... Critics say that with the media law the center-right government is turning Hungary into 'Orbanistan', a reference to Prime [Minister] Viktor Orban and autocratic Central Asian nations." See previous post about same subject.

Oryx FM, Qatar's French-language partner of Radio France International, launched Sunday.

Posted: 18 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 16 Jan 2011, Raynald C Rivera: "Oryx FM Radio Station, a new French radio service in Qatar, will start airing a variety of programmes round the clock from 6.30am today, it was announced during the station’s launch yesterday. A partnership between Qatar Media Corporation (QMC) and Radio France International (RFI), Oryx FM will broadcast on the frequency of 94 FM various programmes ranging from news, culture, economics and sports apart from a wide music selection of French and world music. ... There are plans to widen the Oryx FM’s reach to other countries in the region, making it the first French speaking radio station, which addresses the Arabic speaking community in the Gulf. 'Today’s launch of Orxy FM is a milestone for the 100,000 French-speaking people in Qatar,' said French Ambassador Gilles Bonnaud, adding France and Qatar has been enjoying strong bilateral ties in many sectors such as education, science and justice."

"Britishification" of American television, by way of "edgy" UK dramas reformatted for US networks.

Posted: 18 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 17 Jan 2011, John Plunkett: "[T]he New York Times's TV critic Alessandra Stanley referred to the 'Britishification' – hardly the buzziest of buzzwords, but it'll have to do – of American television. Nearly 30 years after Chariots of Fire Oscar winner Colin Welland famously announced 'The British are coming!', it really does seem to be boomtime for British TV drama across the Atlantic. 'The drama business is now truly international,' says Wayne Garvie, managing director of international production at super-indie All3Media, parent company of Skins and Shameless producer Company Pictures. 'There is not an American agent or broadcasting executive who does not know what is working and what's not working in the UK, and every British producer worth their salt has an ongoing relationship with American agents and the studios.' ... The roll call of UK dramas making their way across the Atlantic suggests it is the edgy, out of the ordinary productions that are finding favour with US executives. ... Despite the UK's improved performance recently, selling scripted formats to US broadcasters remains a high risk gamble. Jane Tranter, the LA-based BBC Worldwide programming executive and one of the executive producers of the new series of Torchwood, calculates that more than 70 UK comedies or dramas have been reformatted for the US market in the last five years, of which she says only one, NBC's adaptation of The Office, was recommissioned. But lessons are being learned."

BBC World Service digital operating center manages both new and old transmission media.

Posted: 18 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Engineer, 17 Jan 2011, Ellie Zolfagharifard: "BBC World Service ... constructed [its new] Network Operations Centre (NOC) with engineering firm Babcock to boost its transmission capabilities. ... As well as offering multiple channels, it prevents gaps in transmission by overseeing the whole process of content production and scheduling. It does this automatically for 56 active networks that are routed to more than 200 different paths using SMDS as the delivery medium to Babcock’s global network of short- and medium-wave transmitter sites, as well as to the BBC’s FM partners and re-broadcasters. Satellite receivers in more than 150 countries are remotely programmed to decode different programme streams and provide content tailored to the region. ... Its flexibility means that it can serve as a operating centre for multimedia platforms while also controlling traditional methods of transmission, such as broadcasts in short- and medium-wave. In the aftermath of a natural disaster such as the earthquake in Haiti, [Jonathan Robertshaw, BBC technology manager] believes that sometimes it’s the older forms of transmission that prove to be more effective. ’I think very reliable high-frequency shortwave broadcasting in some parts of the world will remain in place for many years to come,’ he said. 'When you look at the early reaction to the Haiti earthquake, where you had a massive collapse of infrastructure, by using external transmitters it meant that World Service could respond very quickly.'"

BBC Monitoring will take net loss of 54 jobs. More BBC World Service cuts to be announced soon.

Posted: 18 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 17 Jan 2011: "BBC Monitoring is to cut 72 posts following a £3m cut in funding over the next two years. The cuts to the £23.2m service, which is currently funded by the Cabinet Office, are part of the government's spending review outlined in October. ... The Caversham-based service translates media reports from around the world. The proposal is to cut £3m from the service's costs by closing the 72 posts - about 16% of its staff - but it expects to create 18 new posts. The BBC agreed to finance Monitoring from 2013/14 as part of last year's licence fee settlement which froze the annual fee at £145.50 for six years. The agreement also saw the corporation agree to take over the Foreign Office-funded World Service from 2014."

BECTU, 17 Jan 2011: "The initial plans indicate that just 18 new posts will be created as a result of the reorganisation; 11 of these posts are due to be located abroad with just seven in the UK."

journalism.co.uk, 17 Jan 2011, Rachel McAthy: "BBC Monitoring tracks more than 3,000 radio, television, press, internet and news agency sources, selecting content and translating it into English before delivering it online to a number of bodies including media organisations and charities."

The Telegraph, 17 Jan 2011, Neil Midgley: "Dan Cooke, from the broadcasting union Bectu, said: 'The planned cuts are clearly substantial and hit Caversham particularly hard. We'll be doing all we can to lessen the impact of the budget cuts on people and to support members during the consultation.'"

The Guardian, 17 Jan 2011, Mark Sweney: "It is understood that the BBC is close to announcing job losses at the World Service as part of a cost-cutting move that will see the Bush House newsgathering teams merged with the corporation's domestic news operation."

NUJ members of BBC Arabic begin 48-hour strike today.

Posted: 18 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
journalism.co.uk, 17 Jan 2011, Rachel McAthy: "Members of the National Union of Journalists who work for [BBC Arabic] are due to strike for 48 hours from tomorrow, according to the union. The union represents 160 journalists in the Arabic service covered by the strike action. Members have already begun a work to rule. The dispute arises from changes to work rotas [rotations of duties] which the NUJ claims have been 'imposed by management'. ... The BBC said today it was 'disappointed' with the results of the NUJ strike ballot and insists it is open to further discussion. 'The BBC considers this strike action to be unjustified. BBC Arabic staff are being treated no differently to other parts of the BBC, and these changes to shift patterns are in line with current practice across other areas of the organisation.'"

BECTU (UK Media & Entertainment Union), 17 Jan 2011: "NUJ members employed in the BBC's Arabic Service will be on strike for 48 hours on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 January in opposition to imposed changes to their rotas. BECTU has no members affected by the proposals but the union gives its full support to the NUJ in its dispute. As it is likely that there will be a picket line outside Egton House, BECTU has issued guidance to its members. The guidance, issued by supervisory official, Helen Ryan, states: 'Because you have not been balloted in this dispute we cannot ask you to take industrial action and you should work normally and refuse to cover any work that would normally be carried out by an NUJ member taking strike action. If, however, as a matter of conscience, you decide not to cross a picket line and your employer attempts to discipline you then you will have the full support of BECTU.'"

New book about Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty will be discussed at Wilson Center event.

Posted: 17 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: "Wilson Center senior scholar and former director of Radio Free Europe, A. Ross Johnson will discuss his latest book entitled Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond, co-published by the Wilson Center Press and the Stanford University Press. The book examines the first twenty years of the organization, policies, and impact of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, arguably one of the most important and successful policy instruments during the Cold War. The book is based on extensive archival research in the U.S. and in Germany, Poland, and Hungary, as well as on interviews and the author's own experiences. It also draws extensively on CIA materials, in part declassified at the request of the author. Johnson concentrates on the origins and role of RFE/RL in the context of U.S. national security strategy, with particular attention to the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in covertly organizing and funding RFE/RL from 1949 to 1971. Johnson also details RFE activities during the most important East European crises of the era—Poland and Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. ... Joining Johnson on the panel will be Stephen Larrabee, Distinguished Chair in European Security, RAND Corporation and Elez Biberaj, Division Director, Eurasia, Voice of America." 20 January 2011, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. ET, at the Wilson Center,1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington.

Two-step flow of information about Tunisian unrest: 1) social media gather, 2) Al Jazeera disseminates.

Posted: 17 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 17 Jan 2011, Noureddine Miladi: "The recent unrests have given more prominence to satellite TV in the viewing habits of Tunisians. Al Jazeera, which was ahead of other international broadcasters in breaking the news, has become the most influential broadcaster in which critical information about news coverage in various parts of the country can be accessed. Al Jazeera heavily relied on referencing Facebook pages and Youtube in reporting the raw events, which marked a key turning point in unveiling the bloodiness and horror of the manner with which the police had been dealing with the riots. No wonder that Tunisians flocked to the social media networks, which fed and fuelled news stations like Al Jazeera, BBC Arabic, France 24, Al-Hiwar and other channels. .... Satellite TV, in this case, has become the international public sphere (to borrow a term coined by the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas), available not only for Tunisians in different parts of the world to express their views on the events, but also Tunisians living in Tunisia. As opposing views cannot be expressed on state or any other broadcaster in the country, Al Jazeera has become the virtual space in which Tunisians debate the developments in various towns and cities. Through its various news as well as current affairs programmes the channel has facilitated such debates about the need to change, and the type of change people look for. ...

"The mushrooming of social networks on Facebook and Twitter was by far the most instrumental factor in the escalation of the recent events. Tens of thousands joined Facebook groups and got to know about the news developments and mobilised for further action. ... On state media there has been systematic and organised silence, placing a blackout about the riots. During the first two weeks of the unrest the Tunisian main broadcaster Tunis 7 and Channel 21 completely steered away from mentioning news about the death of the two university graduates and the subsequent deaths of targeted civilians. They subsequently started a campaign of demonising the protester as thugs and outlaws."Reuters, 16 Jan 2011, Tom Pfeiffer: "Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera, launched in 1996, has been devoting airtime to the Tunisia unrest, showing on-air interviews with witnesses to clashes and opposition figures. In an apparent recognition that the channel is influencing Tunisian opinion, government ministers appeared on air to give their views on what was happening."

Gawker, 15 Jan 2011, Jeff Neumann: "Arab media outlets were broadcasting striking images from Tunisia into millions of homes long before Western media found the air time, and the role Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and many other satellite news channels have played can't be underestimated."

The Moderate Voice, 15 Jan 2011, Jeb Koogler: "I’ve been watching Arabic TV outlets this morning — Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and BBC Arabic, primarily — to get a better sense about what’s going on in Tunisia, and the reactions of the Tunisian Street in response to the departure of Ben Ali. ... The coverage of these protests — and of police brutality against the demonstrators — is being broadcast throughout the Arab world, and we can imagine what kind of effect this might be having on the Arab public."

ars technica, 16 Jan 2011, Nate Anderson: "For those craving up-to-the minute news, Twitter has become a terrific source. Writers like Dima Khatib of Al-Jazeera and columnist Sultan Al-Qassemi are providing aggregation and opinion on a moment-to-moment basis."

The Economist, Newsbook blog, 15 Jan 2011: "It is too soon, and too simplistic, as Marc Lynch, a Middle East scholar who studies the media in the Middle East, argues to call this a Twitter revolution. But Arab televisions stations such as al-Jazeera, still probably the most important media outlet in the Middle East, picked the videos and pictures circulating online of Mohamed Bouazizi, the unemployed college graduate who set himself ablaze in an act of despair. The combination of old and new media has been a potent force, one that could be replicated across the region."

Los Angeles Times, 16 Jan 2011, Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan: "Holding the middle in the Arab world is getting more difficult these days. Al Jazeera beams national transgressions into living rooms and cyberspace activists outflank police and intelligence networks."

The Daily Beast, 15 Jan 2011, Mike Giglio: "As during Iran’s Green Revolution, the primary function of social media has been to get around the government’s iron grip on information flows. International media can pull the information from [websites], then broadcasts it back into Tunisia via satellite TV, a process in which Al Jazeera in particular has played a critical role. Social media, along with SMS and traditional word-of-mouth, has also been an important tool to coordinate the grassroots protests which don’t really have any leaders yet.

The National (Abu Dhabi), 17 Jan 2011, Alan Philps: "Protest movements these days are always dubbed by the media 'Twitter revolutions'. But while there is plenty of evidence of information and rumours being shared, there is no sign of any hidden leadership using the micro-blogging service to get the people out on the street. Ultimately, the Arabic satellite TV news channels were probably the strongest mobilising force, by picking up and broadcasting the photos and videos of the demonstrators."

Gulf Times (Doha), 17 Jan 2011, Ali Babiker: "Kadhem Kanzari, from Ben Aroos, an outskirt of Tunis, ... said he was happy because the revolt caused the return of Al Jazeera network to Tunisia, after it was banned for a long time."

Ahram Online, 17 Jan 2011, Dina Ezza: "Of 15 Cairo residents – men and women of different backgrounds – who spoke to Ahram Online on Sunday afternoon, there was not a single individual who expressed sympathy for Ben Ali. ... Each of these 15 individuals said they use Qatari owned Al-Jazeera satellite channel as their main source of information, along with the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm."

Stabroek News (Georgetown), 17 Jan 2011, letter from Ray Chickrie: "Al Jazeera, the so called ‘Bin Laden’ 24-hour news network was expelled from Tunisia during the Ben Ali dictatorship. It’s the only credible news network in the Arab world, and the Arab masses are being revolutionized because of it. The masses of Arabs are glued on Al Jazeera. This is what I witnessed while living in the Middle East."

MidEastPosts, 16 Jan 2011, Bassam Sebti: "America was founded upon the principle of liberty and freedom, but guess who was covering the quest for freedom in Tunisia extensively yesterday? Al Jazeera, not the American news TV Networks. I am utterly disgusted by how American TV channels have abandoned an important historic event of our time. Tunisian people took to the streets and toppled a Saddam-like totalitarian regime, but their voices and images from their revolution did not make it to the American viewers. CNN, FOX News and MSNBC were busy interviewing celebrities and discussing pet-related stories. ... Making Al Jazeera, or at least BBC World (not the awful BBC America) available on air, cable or satellite will provide Americans with an alternate source to watch real news... ."

Did Al Jazeera really dominate this story? Or is "Al Jazeera" being used as a generic term for all the Arabic-language satellite news channels? See previous post and another previous post (both posted 15 Jan) about the same subject.

China Radio International launches its FM relays in Pakistan, with "news about China’s phenomenal development."

Posted: 17 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Associated Press of Pakistan, 16 Jan 2011: "Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khan said here that the launch of FM-93 radio channel from China Radio International (CRI), which has vast experience of broadcasting around the world, would create a good opportunity to Pakistani audiences to learn more about China and Pakistan-China relations. The CRI is set to launch its transmission through Radio Pakistan simultaneously from Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Kohat (Khyder Pakhtunkhwa) from Monday. The launch of the FM Channel initially from five major cities of Pakistan is a milestone in all weather relations, as both Pakistan and China have decided to celebrate 2011 as the year of Friendship. ... Ambassador Khan said that the people of Pakistan would especially welcome CRI’s Urdu service. Over the years, he said, CRI had promoted Urdu language. ... CRI, through its English and Urdu broadcasts, will be able to share with its Pakistani listeners news about China’s phenomenal development. He said the selection of the peak hours of 1700-1900 hrs timings for airing programmes would ensure that a maximum number of people listen to CRI’s programmes."

Associated Press of Pakistan, 17 Jan 2011: "China Radio International (CRI) Monday launched two hour transmission through Radio Pakistan’s FM-93 channel as part of initiatives aimed at strengthening relations between Pakistan and China. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Liu Jian pushed the button to officially launch the service, which would be one hour each in Urdu and English." See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal marks one year of doing the much the same that VOA's Deewa Radio has been doing for four years.

Posted: 17 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 12 Jan 2011: "This week, RFE's Radio Mashaal marks the first anniversary of the launch of its Pashto-language broadcasts in Pakistan's Pashtun heartland. ... On a recent broadcast of one of the stations' most popular call-in shows, 'War Stories,' a widow from the Swat Valley recounted the story of a 14-hour Taliban attack on her house that killed her husband and son. Another popular Radio Mashaal program is airing a weekly series profiling Pashtun tribal elders who have been killed by the Taliban. The targeting of elders, who form the backbone of Pashtun society in places with little or no government presence, is an underreported tactic the Taliban has been employing for nearly a decade. ... Radio Mashaal and VOA's Radio Deewa each broadcast nine hours a day on a shared AM frequency. They produce programs on news, politics, culture, women's issues, and music."

VOA's Deewa Radio was created in 2006 to broadcast much the same information to the same region in the same language. What eventually became Radio Mashaal was forced upon US international broadcasting by a rider to a Defense appropriations bill, in a process apparently impervious to the existence of VOA Deewa Radio. So while the BBG did not create Radio Mashaal, the co-existence of it and Deewa Radio helps solidify the BBG as the poster-bureaucracy of budget-and-resource-sapping duplication.

See previous post (19 Sept 2009): "And, so, in one of the most difficult parts of the world to get news out of, and one of the most difficult to transmit news back into, in one of the most difficult language groups from which to recruit journalists, US international broadcasting will be dividing it resources between two stations whose efforts will largely overlap. No wonder the United States is being 'out communicated.'" See previous post on 16 Jan 2010. I also wrote about USIB duplication here and here.

VOA scoop about Iranian on Rice U basketball team domestically disseminated by NC website and cited by Houston Chronicle.

Posted: 16 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Houston Chronicle, 14 Jan 2011, Joseph Duarte: "Although he admits one day playing in the NBA is a goal, Rice forward Arsalan Kazemi [from Iran] has made no decisions on his future. Kazemi, a 6-7 sophomore, downplayed comments he made to Voice of America News that he plans to make himself eligible for the NBA draft after next season. 'Everyone hopes to go to the NBA, but you never know when you are ready and when it’s your time,' Kazemi said. 'I’m not thinking about that right now.' In the report, which was also published on the website Tar Heel Tribune, Kazemi said he would put his name in this year’s NBA draft pool, work out for teams and receive an evaluation where he might be drafted. 'Then (I’ll) come back for my junior year at Rice, work on those areas and then make the move fully after that season,' Kazemi said to VOA News." Refers to VOA News, 13 Jan 2011, Tala Hadavi.

The State Department's American Documentary Showcase: "Propaganda is not what it used to be."

Posted: 16 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 14 Jan 2011, John Anderson: "Propaganda is not what it used to be. As it enters its third round of bringing nonfiction American films to underserved foreign audiences, the American Documentary Showcase, a project of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, has been full of surprises — some for the audiences, some for the filmmakers. 'I was shocked when they picked "Street Fight,"' said the director Marshall Curry, whose 2005 film recounts the hard-fought 2002 mayoral contest in Newark between the entrenched Sharpe James and the unknown Cory Booker. 'I thought: "How did this happen? Who’s going to be fired when they finally see this list?"' ... The program — an echo of cold war efforts like Radio Free Europe, which courted Soviet satellite nations with American culture — is a more subtle strategy than one might ordinarily credit to a monolithic entity like the State Department." -- Actually, VOA was nominally tasked with courting Soviet satellite nations with American culture, but the VOA-RFE dichotomy seldom worked the way it was supposed to.

He rates Tor, Circumventor, and Glype as the "Top 3 Tools For Busting Through Firewalls."

Posted: 16 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Information Week, 15 Jan 2011, Serdar Yegulalp: "Governments like those in Iran or mainland China place restrictions on the Internet with software, and individuals work their ways around those restrictions with more software. The end result is an arms race: here, a country blocks YouTube or Facebook; within days (or even hours), people inside and outside that country engineer ways to work around the block. There's no one way to do this, but they all have a few things in common. They require some participation by people on the other side of the firewall, who can allow requests for non-blocked content to be used to deliver blocked content. How they do this varies, but that one technique lies at the heart of just about all efforts to circumvent censorship. I'm going to look at several of the major software technologies used to perform that kind of circumvention. Some of them require nothing more than installing a simple software package; some are more convoluted. Each of them comes with risks and shortcomings, which in turn also must be worked around. [His top three circumvention tools are Tor, Circumvent, and Glype. He also mentions web proxies and other workarounds.] ...

"There seems little question that the struggle between censors and citizens will remain an arms race, with censorship worked around almost as quickly as it's put into place. The question remains: if such filters are so unreliable and so routinely dodged, why do governments or other groups bother to try blocking information at all? The answer is simple: it's symbolic, not tactical. It's more about what forms of speech a given government or organization wants to show disfavor for, and not about actually preventing information from reaching people. In the long run, it's impossible to suppress any one piece of information completely -- but few people want to be seen as tacitly condoning things that aren't in their best interest, and so up go the firewalls."

Is he a bit too upbeat about the ability of these tools to overcome net censorship? The big question is how many internet users in a country know how to access and use these methods. See previous post about same subject.

In survey, residents of Qatar rate Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Alhurra, and BBC Arabic as objective.

Posted: 16 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 15 Jan 2011, Fazeena Saleem: "The Qatar University’s Social and Economic Research Institute (SERI), in a survey, asked Qatari and expatriate respondents which source they trust for reliable news. More than 75 percent of the Qatari respondents and more than 60 percent of expatriates said they trust television as the most reliable news source. ... Majority of both Qatari and expatriate respondents rated Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Al Hurra and BBC Arabic language channels as objective with Al Jazeera having the highest rating. Eight out of ten (83 percent) Qatari respondents and seven out of ten (73.3 percent) expatriates said that Al Jazeera is very objective in reporting news. Television and newspapers were followed by radio, magazines, Internet, short message service and friends as news sources." -- Does this mean the majority watch all these channels, or just rate them as objective by their general reputation?

US radio talk show host Thom Hartmann now has a TV show on RT (Russia Today).

Posted: 16 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
AlterNet, 15 Jan 2011, Adele M. Stan: "Thom Hartmann, the nation's most popular progressive talk radio host ... [is] new to the nation's capital, drawn here from Oregon by the television deal with RTTV [RT, or Russia Today], which includes the brand-new, state-of-the-art studio where 'The Big Picture' is produced, near the National Press Building, not far from the White House. ... [He and his wife Louise] have complete editorial control of the show, which appears on RT and is produced in its facilities through a licensing agreement with the network. The RT network was launched in 2005 as a Russian counterpart to the BBC News Channel, Al Jazeera and France 24. ... On 'The Big Picture' television show, Hartmann hosts a more evenly divided mix of progressive and conservative guests than appear on his radio program. ... Hartmann introduces each segment with a stand-up piece that often draws on his knowledge as a self-educated historian, as he did when I appeared on the show on election night." -- RT does not brand itself as "RTTV." Also, no discussion in this piece about RT's controversial mix of excellent documentaries, conspiracy theorists, and UFO stories. See also RT's The Big Picture web page, with links to video.

Piers Morgan will be an international broadcaster, too.

Posted: 16 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
MarketingWeek (London), 14 Jan 2011, Lara O'Reilly: "The launch of Piers Morgan’s new weeknight CNN chat show is to be supported by a month-long UK media campaign targeting international travellers and potential advertisers. An outdoor digital billboard campaign carrying guest information will run on the London Underground and at departure gates at London City Airport. ... CNN International’s marketing director Mark Haviland says: 'What will be really interesting to see is how this plays out in social media. The very distinctive interview style that Piers has and his ability to spark controversy and debate will, we think, be perfectly suited to that digital discussion.'"

From Indonesia, less than friendly words about US public diplomacy and US international broadcasting.

Posted: 16 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Jakarta Globe, 14 Jan 2011, Simon Pitchforth: "Jakarta is home to a lively selection of foreign cultural institutes such as the French Cultural Center, ErasmusHuis and the Goethe Institute, which all put on classical music concerts, lectures, exhibitions, film festivals and the like. Now though, Uncle Sam has also got in on the act and has come out all guns blazing by setting up the incredibly high-tech @america center, the first of its kind in the world, down in the suitably high-tech surroundings of the Pacific Place mall. The propagandist platitudes of the Voice of America are no longer deemed adequate in these ideologically charged times, and so a glitzy, technological wonderland has been constructed, which more closely resembles the Epcot Center or even the bridge of the Starship Enterprise than any of the city’s other cultural centers. The mission of @america is to boldly go where no US embassy has gone before and disseminate an ideology of truth, justice and the American way to eager visiting school kids. That is, before Obama is ignominiously booted from office two years hence and the center is replaced by a branch of Starbucks." -- VOA Indonesian TV programs have millions of viewers in Indonesia, so apparently not everyone agrees with the "propagandist platitudes" assessment.

Al Jazeera's version of C-SPAN الجزيرة مباشر "refreshed" with "more opportunities for viewers to comment."

Posted: 15 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Gulf Times (Doha), 14 Jan 2011: "Al Jazeera Network will unveil the refreshed version of its live broadcast channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher today, a spokesperson said yesterday. The updated version will have a new look and content aimed at boosting the channel’s real-time interactivity with its viewers. It will also increase the number of live broadcasts, the official said. ... Key among the new features is more opportunities for viewers to comment, in real-time, on what is being aired on-screen. Viewers can do so via text messages (SMS), social networks, micro-blogging sites, among others."

According to its Wikipedia entry, "Al Jazeera Mubasher (Arabic: الجزيرة مباشر) ... is an all-Arabic channel that broadcasts conferences live without editing or commentary, using subtitles when translation is needed. The channel is also sometimes referred to as Al Jazeera Live, as Mubasher is an Arabic word for Live (as in live broadcast). Al Jazeera Mubasher is the first channel of its kind in the Arab world and is similar to the U.S. channel C-SPAN."

Tunisian uprising and international broadcasting -- mostly Al Jazeera, with social media assist.

Posted: 15 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, Net.Effect, 14 Jan 2011, Evgeny Morozov: "I know that Al-Jazeera and France 24 (to their credit) began reporting on Tunisia much earlier than their American counterparts. But then it was probably not a factor of social media's influence but rather of Tunisia's unique position in the Arab and Francophone world. There is little doubt that social media has helped to make their coverage better. Has it also played a role in generating new coverage that wouldn't have happened without it? This would be one good question to investigate. There are probably many dissertations to be written about the way in which the rise of non-American global broadcasters like Al-Jazeera and France 24 has helped to balance the geopolitical myopia of the American media. However, as much as I'd like to think that it has led to some fundamental shifts in how the American public (and, by extension, the US government) choose their news diet, I cannot possibly see much evidence that this is actually happening."

Twitter, 14 Jan 2011, sami ben gharbia: "@evgenymorozov 'social media seems to have failed' not true. Social media was feeding aljazeera+france24. I'm not talking here about US MSM [mainstream media]."

New York Times, The Lede, 14 Jan 2011, Robert Mackey: "[A] Moroccan lawyer who blogs as Ibn Kafka ... strongly denounced a Tunisian journalist for appearing on France 24 to defend the regime by claiming that 'this is all the fault of a U.S. government plot using WikiLeaks and Al Jazeera.' ... Golnaz Esfandiari, an Iranian journalist who blogs for the American-financed Radio Liberty Web site, reports on her Twitter feed: 'some Iranians reacting with envy to events in #Tunisia #Sidibouzid, others say situation different, not comparable.'"

Foreign Policy blog, 15 Jan 2011, Marc Lynch: "Al-Jazeera may be so 2005, but it is still by far the most watched and most influential single media outlet in the Arab world. It has also embraced the new media environment, creatively and rapidly adopting user generated content to overcome official crackdowns on its coverage of various countries -- a practice perfected in Iraq, where it had to rely on locally-generated content after its office was closed down in 2004. Other satellite television stations have followed suit, leading to genuine and highly significant integration among new and slightly-less-new Arab media. ... Al-Jazeera's role may not fit the current passion for the internet, but overlooking it will lead to some serious misunderstandings of how the media works in today's Arab world and how the Tunisian events might matter outside of that country over the longer term."

Twitter, 15 Jan 2011, abuaardvark (Marc Lynch): "For Tunisia + Arab protestors it's not Twitter/Fb/YouTube OR al-Jazeera, it's T/Fb/Yt AND al-Jazeera combining into potent media space."

The Atlantic, 15 Jan 2011, Michael Wahid Hanna: "Since Arab nationalism's heyday under the 1950s and '60s stewardship of Egyptian president Gamal 'Abd al-Nasser, that collective identity has remained, held together by shared media and culture. The role once played by the radio broadcasts of Sawt al-'Arab (Voice of the Arabs), the Egyptian-run radio station established during the Nasser era, is now filled by the saturation coverage of such Arab satellite stations as al-Jazeera and al-'Arabiyya. The networks often focus on intra-Arab issues. The protests on the streets of Tunisia were seen far and wide, in real time, by millions of Arabs, with no need for translation or cultural filtering."

The Guardian, 14 Jan 2011, Ian Black: "Arab excitement has been maintained by al-Jazeera, the freest and feistiest TV channel in the region, which has broadcast riveting pictures of Tunisian crowds facing down well-equipped security forces."

BBC News, 15 Jan 2011, quoting Zouhair Ben Jemaa in Tunis: "Facebook has been fantastic and we will never forget what al-Jazeera is doing."

New York Times, 15 Jan 2011, David D. Kirkpatrick, via Ocala Star-Banner: "'Thank you, Al Jazeera,' read one sign, commending the Arab news channel for its nightly coverage of the unrest in the past month — long before the Western news media took serious notice. Many here credit Al Jazeera’s broadcasts with forging the sense of solidarity and empowerment that moved Tunisians across the country to take to the streets simultaneously. The other side of that sign read '#sidibouzid,' a reference to a Twitter feed, named for the town where the self-immolation took place, that demonstrators used as a forum for their anger and their plans."

Wall Street Journal, 14 Jan 2011, Margaret Coker, Summer Said And Jay Solomon: "Middle East governments watched uneasily as events in Tunisia snowballed to a stunning climax Friday, while millions of their citizens followed on satellite television and the Internet the sudden departure of Tunisia's long-time leader amid growing street protests. ... His departure was broadcast to the region across a collection of media outlets, such as al Jazeera, that hardly existed a decade ago, as well as on the Internet and social networks such as Twitter and Facebook."

New American Media, 14 Jan 2011, Jalal Ghazi: "Tunisian state television reported that the protests were 'isolated events.' This narrative, however, was completely shattered when Al Jazeera satellite television aired Facebook and YouTube videos, as well as Flickr images showing that the demonstrations were anything but isolated. Ironically, Al Jazeera and other Arab television networks were forced to turn to social media videos because non-state media were banned from reporting from Tunisia."

Amnesty International, 14 Jan 2011: "The Tunisian authorities must either release or promptly charge two men arrested after one of them gave media interviews about ongoing protests, Amnesty International said today. Hamma Hammami, spokesperson for the banned Tunisian Workers’ Communist Party (Parti Communiste des Ouvriers Tunisiens, PCOT) was arrested at his home in Tunis on 12 January. ... Hamma Hammami was physically assaulted by men believed to be plain-clothes police officers in September 2009 when he flew into Tunis airport after a trip to France in which he criticized the Tunisian government in interviews with Al Jazeera, Mubasher and France 24."

New media were involved, but consensus is that Tunisian uprising was not a "Twitter revolution."

Posted: 15 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 14 Jan 2011, Scarface: "We are witnessing the first social revolution in our history in #Tunisia the true power of social media."

Foreign Polisy, 14 Jan 2011, Ethan Zuckerman: "Pundits will likely start celebrating a 'Twitter revolution' in Tunisia, even if they missed watching it unfold; the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan already revived the dreaded phrase Thursday. Others are seeking connections between unfolding events and a WikiLeaks cable that showed U.S. diplomats' frustration with Ben Ali, and with denial-of-service attacks by online activist group Anonymous, which has been targeting entities that have tried to stop the dissemination of WikiLeaks cables, like the Tunisian government. But any attempt to credit a massive political shift to a single factor -- technological, economic, or otherwise -- is simply untrue. Tunisians took to the streets due to decades of frustration, not in reaction to a WikiLeaks cable, a denial-of-service attack, or a Facebook update. But as we learn more about the events of the past few weeks, we'll discover that online media did play a role in helping Tunisians learn about the actions their fellow citizens were taking and in making the decision to mobilize. How powerful and significant this influence was will be something that academics will study and argue over for years to come. Scholars aren't the only ones who want to know whether social media played a role in the end of Ben Ali's reign -- it's likely to be a hot topic of conversation in Amman, Algiers, and Cairo, as other autocratic leaders wonder whether the bubbling cauldron of unemployment, street protests, and digital media could burn them next."

Foreign Policy, Net.Effect, 14 Jan 2011, Evgeny Morozov: "What strikes me about events in Tunisia is that social media seems to have failed in what many of us thought would be its greatest contribution (outside of social mobilization) -- that is, in helping to generate and shape the coverage of events in the mainstream media. On the contrary, despite all the buzz on Twitter it took four weeks to get the events in Tunisia on the front pages of major newspapers, at least here in the U.S. (the situation in Europe was somewhat better -- and it was way better in the Middle East -- for all the obvious reasons). ... This is not to deny that many of us were watching the Tunisian events unfold via Twitter. But let's not kid ourselves: This is still a very small audience of overeducated tech-savvy people interested in foreign policy. I bet that 90% of Twitter users are not like that -- and that percentage will get worse as Twitter becomes more mainstream."

Huffington Post, 14 Jan 2011, Romina Ruiz-Goiriena: "Media censorship had long played a key role in Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 23 year rule of the North African country. Video-sharing sites were banned in Tunisia until Thursday when Ben Ali himself announced 'Al Jazeera, YouTube, Dailymotion, Takriz would now be accessible to all.' The televised speech aimed to appease Tunisian youth. What he hadn't realized was that the other site, Facebook.com -- which he hadn't clamped down on -- was the primary culprit."

TechCruch, 14 Jan 2011, Alexia Tsotsis: "[T]he most jarring thing about today’s revolution was the constant commentary about how the amount of Twitter and Facebook buzz didn’t seem to translate over to mainstream Anglophone media. After 4 weeks of protests, Paid Content founder Rafat Ali tells us he had not seen any 'traditional' Tunisia coverage until yesterday and then 'only [a] bit in NYT.' When asked to clarify his humorous tweet, Pareene said, 'MSNBC has just mentioned Tunisia briefly a couple times, no video that I’ve seen.'"

Aljazeera.net, 14 Jan 2011, Jillian C. York: "As activist Nasser Weddady remarks: 'What is remarkable is how Tunisia successfully imposed draconian censorship, and yet remained seen as a progressive regime in the West, and France in particular.'"

Twitter, 14 Jan 2011, Raymond Pritchett: "I just watched a government fall on Twitter while #CNN interviewed the Jeopardy host about a robot contestant."

Jillian C. York blog, 14 Jan 2011: "[T]o call this a 'Twitter revolution' or even a 'WikiLeaks revolution' demonstrates that we haven’t learned anything from past experiences in Moldova and Iran. ... And in this case, yes, I–like most Tunisians to whom I’ve posed this question–believe that this would have happened without the Internet. ... Social media may have had some tangential effect on organization within Tunisia; I think it’s too soon to say. No doubt, SMS and e-mail (not to be mistaken with social media) helped Tunisians keep in touch during, before, and after protests, but no one’s hyping those–e-mails and texts simply aren’t as fascinating to the public as tweets."

RFE/RL Tangled Web blog, 15 Jan 2011, Luke Allnut: "The problem is that we so desperately want there to be a Twitter revolution. In a 24-hour news cycle, we don’t just seek instant news but instant answers, clear explanations and narratives that can be book-ended with events and wrapped up into a three-word headline. At first it is just a catchy headline beloved of journalists in need of page views, but quickly that moniker becomes a narrative, an established truth that is often wildly divergent with the reality on the ground.

Twitter, 15 Jan 2011, mattb811: "I don't understand how the people of Tunisia overthrew their government without me signing an e-petition or changing my Twitter avatar."

CNN en Español banned from its (already limited) distribution in Cuba.

Posted: 15 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
babalú, 14 Jan 2011, Alberto de la Cruz: "The Ecuadorian daily El Commercio is reporting that the Castro regime has banned on the island CNN en Español, CNN's Spanish version of their all-news network. 'Cuba eliminated the American news channel CNN en Español from its cable and satellite providers on the island, an official from the state-run Telecable informed ANSA. "It was removed to comply with the State's guidelines. Now no one on the island will be able to see CNN in Spanish," he said. The suspension took place on January 6, but in the first days it was not known if it was temporary. Since then another American channel has taken the place of the 24-hour Spanish news channel, which has a desk in Havana. CNN in English remains on the Telecable's lineup, which is one of the principal foreign information channels on the island. The main hotels, embassies, and residences of foreign nationals are part of the clientele served by Telecable. Satellite antennas are prohibited in Cuba, although there are many illegal antennas throughout the island."

AFP, 14 Jan 2011: "CNN abrió una oficina en Cuba en 1997, con un corresponsal que ha realizado desde entonces reportajes para los servicios en inglés y español. En los últimos meses, los medios cubanos -todos estatales- criticaron que CNN en español se presta desde su sede en Atlanta a una campaña mediática contra Cuba. Algunos comentaristas señalan que el canal está bajo creciente influencia de la derecha del exilio anticastrista en Miami."

"Why the Russian internet doesn't need the West."

Posted: 15 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 13 Jan 2011, Emma Barnett: "The US technology giants, such as Google and Facebook, have a presence in [Russia], but unlike the majority of territories they have entered around the world, they have failed to dominate; Russian companies reign across search, social networking, digital media and email services. ... Arkady Volozh, [chief executive of Russian search engine Yandex], thinks there are two reasons: 'The language barrier is a big reason and lots of US companies are still playing catch up in this area. And there is the bigger reason – Russian technology is just as good, if not better than a lot of similar US companies. Yandex has been able to keep ahead of Google because of the quality of its search and other key services. People will only leave a service if the quality starts dropping.'"

Moroccan public broadcaster SNRT increases its stake in Euronews.

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Arab Network, 14 Jan 2011, Shahid Abbas: "Société Nationale de Radiodiffusion et Télévision (SNRT), a public broadcasting company, is on the way to join "the category of the largest stakeholders" in Euronews, a source from the administration of the international news channel said. The Stakeholders' General Assembly will vote next February on a project to allow SNRT to increase its contribution to the capital of the European channel from 0.33% to 6%, President of Euronews' Board of Directors Philippe Cayla told MAP. He expressed the channel's willingness to foster cooperation with the SNRT, adding that Euronews ambitions to develop the terrestrial broadcasting of its French and Arabic programmes in order to reach a wider audience." -- Our last news about Morocco had the country suspending Al Jazeera news operations within its territory. See previous post.

Visit by Euronews executives to Azerbaijan was apparently a big deal in Azerbaijan.

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
News.Az, 14 Jan 2011: "Executives from the Euronews TV channel have visited the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and History Museum in Baku. Euronews executive board chairman Philippe Cayla and supervisory board chairman Pier Luigi Malesani were briefed about the work of the Foundation, set up to honour the memory of former President Heydar Aliyev."

News.Az, 14 Jan 2011: "Culture and Tourism Minister Abulfas Garayev has received senior executives of Euronews TV. They discussed partnership for the World Cultural Dialogue Forum which is to be held in April in Baku, Culture Ministry spokeswoman Zohra Aliyeva said." See also Azeri Press Agency, 14 Jan 2011.

News.Az, 14 Jan 2011: "Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Euronews TV channel Pier Luigi Malesani and Chief Executive Officer Philippe Cayla have visited the Sangachal Terminal, one of the world’s largest integrated oil and gas processing terminals, as part of their Azerbaijan trip."

ABC.AZ, 13 Jan 2011: "Today President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in Baku Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Euronews TV Channel Pierre Luidji Malesani and the Channel’s Chief Executive Officer Philip Kailan. At the meeting the sides exchanged views on the issues of the channel’s cooperation with relevant bodies in Azerbaijan and international cooperation in information sphere. Earlier Azerbaijan placed its tourist commercials on that channel and then accused it of a bias in preparation of materials on Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno Garabagh conflict." See also similar New.Az, 13 Jan 2011.

Trend News Agency, 13 Jan 2011: "The meeting saw exchange of views over relations between Euronews and Azerbaijan`s relevant structures. They also highlighted the importance of international cooperation in the field of information, and exchange of news."

New Fujian Radio and TV Centre "will ... raise Fujian’s voice in broadcasting to Taiwan and globally."

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
China Daily, 11 Jan 2011, Hu Meidong and Wei Tian: "The Fujian Radio and TV Centre, a new landmark of the East China province’s capital city Fuzhou, launched its official opening ceremony on New Year’s Day 2011. ... [T]he central TV and Radio broadcasting area will meet the needs of programming 11 TV channels and 6 radio frequencies. 'Fujian Radio and TV Centre is the most complex, most advanced and most expensive project in Fujian’s broadcasting history,' said the person in charge of Fujian Radio Film and Television Group. 'It will greatly enhance the level of production and raise Fujian’s voice in broadcasting to Taiwan and globally.'" -- PRC stations broadcasting to Taiwan tend to be located in Fujian, just across the Taiwan Strait.

South Korea blocks websites with the North Korean .kp domain.

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Post, 13 Jan 2011: "South Korean authorities blocked residents from accessing North Korean websites, Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday. Authorities said they blocked sites with the domain name '.kp' because they contained 'illegal information' under South Korea's anti-communism and security laws. The web censorship by the South's state-run Communications Standards Commission came a day after it emerged that the North began reusing the domain name to expand its propaganda sites. There were at least three propaganda websites on the web using the '.kp' domain name, Yonhap said."

Yonhap, 13 Jan 2011: "Naenara at http://www.naenara.com.kp is a multilingual portal site, and http://www.friend.com.kp is mainly an English Web site run by an organ that handles exchanges with other countries. The KCNA has its Web site at http://www.star.edu.kp."

"Is this the end for radio via 3G?" (updated)

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 12 Jan 2011, Jonathan Marks: "Is this the end for radio via 3G? For casual listening its certain a blow."

Expert Reviews (London), 12 Jan 2011, David Ludlow, quoting a statement from T-Mobile: “On Monday 10th January 2011 we announced that, in line with the rest of the industry, T-Mobile would be reducing its Fair Use Policy for data usage to 500MB a month for all mobile phone customers,' said Lysa Hardy, VP of T-Mobile. 'Following a further review of our policy, these changes will now be introduced from 1st February, to new and upgrading customers only - not existing customers. There will be no change to the data packages for existing customers for the duration of their contract and we apologise for any confusion caused. The revision to the FUP is designed to ensure an improved quality of service for all mobile internet users.'"

For international broadcasting, the one advantage shortwave had over internet radio is that shortwave was more portable. Audio streams via 3G and other mobile platforms introduced portability to international internet radio. As Jonathan pointed out, however, the era of portable radio via the internet may be ending, for now.

Update: James Cridland's blog, 14 Jan 2011: "The US mobile phone user gets more bandwidth as standard. As a result, you’ll not hear any equivalent concerns in the US about data-capping; and many US operators will continue to think that the future of radio is via mobile internet and iPhones: at least, until data caps are reduced. This also might explain why the US-designed iPhone and Nexus phones, in particular, have failed to include a radio receiver: because for most users in good coverage areas, streaming radio comes free. The UK mobile phone user pays significantly less for a monthly contract; but also gets significantly less included data."

Georgia's Russian-language channel will return as "First Informational Caucasus (PIK)."

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Radio Netherlands Media Network, 13 Jan 2011, citing RIA Novosti: "The Russian-language Tbilisi-based satellite First Informational Caucasus (PIK) TV channel on today announced plans to resume broadcasting after a nine-month hiatus. PIK is direct heir of the First Caucasus TV channel. The First Caucasus channel was launched in January 2010 and soon begun satellite transmissions via a French satellite. However, two weeks later the TV channel’s link to the satellite was cut due to a technical failure. The TV channel announced a re-branding in the early summer of 2010 and has not been broadcasting since. First Caucasian channel’s Director General is British journalist Robert Parsons. The station aims to provide residents of CIS countries with international news, as well as tell them about the cultural, historical and environmental landmarks of the Caucasus region. Russian TV channels broadcasting news in Georgia and Russian-domain websites were blocked for some time after a five-day military conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008."

When North Vietnamese and North Korean propaganda becomes art, it becomes news.

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Prague Post, 12 Jan 2011, Cat Contiguglia: "Those who lived under communist regimes might have a hard time ever perceiving the propaganda of the times as art, but a new exhibition of posters from Vietnam at the National Gallery undermines that assumption. The exhibition at the Veltržní palác branch of the National Gallery runs through Jan. 30 and features more than 100 posters created under communist rule, all hand-painted. ... 'It was never controlled in the way propaganda art was controlled in China, North Korea, Russia or Nazi Germany. These [North Vietnamese] artists signed their work, which didn't occur in other places, and what's very interesting is to see the individualism in their work,' [curator Richard Asianari di San Marzano] said." For examples, see The Dogma Collection.

Reuters, 14 Jan 2011, Amie Ferris-Rotman: Chubby-cheeked, hard-working and joyous but also ready for military action is how North Korea presents its people at a major show of official art from the secretive state in Moscow. 'And Water Flows Beneath the Ice' exhibits 40 works by 39 state-commissioned artists which have never been shown abroad and span 25 years of tight North Korean rule. ... 'Pure propaganda is not art. We are hoping visitors will see this as a national art form,' co-curator Anna Zaitseva told Reuters at the pink-carpeted and red lit exhibit, which runs until the end of January." Video of the show at YouTube, 20 Dec 2010, moscowtimesru.

Comcast cable adds Star India channels in Washington DC and Philadelphia.

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Broadcasting & Cable, 12 Jan 2011, George Winslow: "News Corp.'s wholly owned Star India subsidiary has launched four channels on Comcast systems in the Washington D.C. area and Philadelphia. The launches are part of an ongoing push by Comcast to beef up its South Asian ethnic programming. Prior to these new launches, the channels--Star India Plus, Star One, Star India News and Star India Gold--had been available in a number of other Comcast markets, including California, Georgia, Texas, Illinois, Florida and Washington State."

Bringing Cyngerdd Mawr Talent Cymru and Fferm Ffactor to the world.

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Daily Post (Conwy), 12 Jan 2011: Welsh channel "S4C can gain bigger audiences and more commercial revenue through a new relationship with the BBC, MPs were told. BBC Director General Mark Thompson said it could use its commercial muscle to help sell S4C’s programmes around the world." -- Last year's UK year's comprehensive spending review included the BBC license fee taking over some of the costs of Welsh-language broadcaster S4C.

Finland's Focus magazine "presents the country’s strong points to the world."

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 12 Jan 2011: "The newest issue of Focus on the Economy and Technology, a magazine created for key audiences in Finland’s major export markets, presents the country’s strong points to the world in articles about water expertise, education, energy, design and more. The same central themes were emphasised in Finland’s country brand report in November. 'Finland has numerous strengths, some of which are still waiting to be discovered by the rest of the world,' says editor-in-chief Paula Parviainen of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. 'Focus fulfils a valuable role in increasing awareness of Finland, helping the country attract investment, business partners, students and tourists.' ... A version of the English magazine tailored to increasingly important partner nation India will come out in January. The Spanish, German and Russian versions of Focus are released in March, while Japanese and Chinese versions appear in the spring. ... Focus can be read online at www.focusmagazine.fi. Free copies of the magazine may be ordered at the same address." -- The online pdf version includes page-turning sounds.

French culture minister says the holiday is over (a fin de la récré) in France 24 management feud.

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 11 Jan 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand has promised 'the end of recreation' at France 24 following an interview on Canal+ regarding the turf war raging at the head of French international news channel France 24, the current spying affair and the announcement of an unlimited strike by sections of the staff. 'There’s is an administration board meeting to take place into a few days and a decision is to be made about this confrontation,' Mitterand revealed who is opposing CEO Alain de Pouzilhac and Delegate General Director Christine Ockrent. On 13 January 2011, a strike will begin to protest against 'French State silence' regarding the recent motion of distrust voted for by France 24’s staff against Christine Ockrent."

Le Point, 9 Jan 2011, Google translated: "Interviewed Sunday on Canal + by Anne-Sophie Lapix, Frederic Mitterrand does not hide the esteem he has for Christine Ockrent, which has lost the confidence of his boss, Alain de Pouzilhac, executives and 85% of journalists France 24. The minister believes [she is] the victim of a 'lynching' and demonstrates, having worked with her, that '[s]he's a tough but has a great experience.'" Also notes that, despite its present difficulties, France 24 did get the first interview with Ivory Coast presidential contender Alassane Ouattara, with BBC's interview folowing.

Libération, 13 Jan 2011, Google translated: "With a cliffhanger that keeps everyone in suspense: Who will jump? Ockrent? Pouzilhac? Both? Following your favorite thriller next week." See also AFP, 10 Jan 2011.

Radio México Internacional, now internet only, will add English, French, indigenous languages.

Posted: 14 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 12 Jan 2011, citing ephekto.com: "Radio México Internacional, which was re-launched on 1 January 2011, is currently in Spanish only, but has already announced the launch of programmes in English and French, as well as in some dialects of South American Indians. Radio México Internacional was a shortwave broadcaster until 2004, when it was closed due to deterioration of the transmitters and the advent of new technologies. But the closure was not due to shortage of funds. Dolores Bestegi, the CEO of IMER (Instituto Méxicano de la Radio) at the time, said 'Radio México Internacional was a shortwave project, working with six transmitters, five of which were worn out. To repair them would cost 60 million pesos. We could find 60 million pesos, but it was unclear who now listens to broadcasts on shortwave. Therefore, we closed the project.'" See also RNMN, 6 Jan 2011. -- During many afternoons in the late 1970s, when I was a graduate student in Minneapolis, I listened to Radio México Internacional (perhaps then just IDing as just "Radio México"), which usually delivered a massive signal to my shortwave radio. The programming consisted mainly of uninterrupted Mexican music, a good accompaniment to my dissertation work.

"EU needs to step up its support for independent media and increase TV and FM broadcasting to Belarus from Poland and Lithuania."

Posted: 13 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Belarus Digest, 12 Jan 2011: "Despite the recent progress with the TV channel Belsat broadcasting from Poland and efforts by Deutsche Welle and European Radio for Belarus, independent media penetration remains low and does not reach the general population. The EU needs to step up its support for independent media and increase TV and FM broadcasting to Belarus from Poland and Lithuania. If the Belarus regime will lose the propaganda battle, it will lose the war. The Belarusian regime understands that and uses more repressions against journalists than against any other group. Like the Soviet society, the Belarus society is based on lie, which can be effectively exposed by independent and accessible media."

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 12 Jan 2011, citing Charter 97: "Belarusian radio station Avtoradio today received an instruction of the Belarusian State Telecommunication Inspection informing about the 'termination of permit to use radio frequency spectrum and prohibition to use radioelectronic facilities'. 'The right of Avtoradio to terrestrial radio broadcasting is annulled by a decision of the commission because Avtoradio failed to adhere to its creative concept and aired information containing public calls to extremist activity.'" See also RFE/RL, 12 Jan 2011, which spells the station's name "Autoradio."

RFE/RL, 12 Jan 2011, Daisy Sindelar: "Someone in Andrey Sharenda's home had the presence of mind to secretly turn on a recording device at the moment a group of KGB officers crossed the threshold, brandishing a search warrant, shortly after 10 a.m. on January 10. What resulted is a 45-minute audio recording that offers rare insight into the day-to-day work of Belarus's secret police as a systematic crackdown continues against journalists and political activists in the wake of the country's disputed presidential election. The tape -- made available to RFE/RL's Belarus Service within hours of the visit -- records an exchange that is being repeated in numerous households throughout Belarus." See previous post about same subject.

US military MISO radio program will teach literacy to Afghan women.

Posted: 13 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Stars and Stripes, 11 Jan 2011, Nancy Montgomery: "Starting next month, thousands of southern Afghan women will be able to turn their radio dials to a new program that could transform their world. With books and pencils in hand, women will be able to follow along with a 30-minute daily broadcast, first teaching the Pashto alphabet, then word recognition, then sentence structure. ... [The program was developed by Spc. Jim] Daniels, a high school history teacher and curriculum specialist from Austin, Texas, deployed with the 344th Military Information Support Operations Company. Military information was formerly known as psyops. ... Capt. Trent Hickman, noted that the black crank radios made in China and handed out by the tens of thousands to Afghans by ISAF troops over the past four years were hugely popular. ... Couldn’t they address literacy somehow with the radios, Hickman asked. ... Each broadcast, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, will repeat all week, Saturday through Thursday, to try to prevent people from giving up if they miss a broadcast or two. Each week will build on the previous week. At the end, the best student will be at about a third-grade reading level. The broadcasts will also include two Afghan songs. It will be the first time a literacy program has been offered on the radio — the first attempt at literacy distance learning — ever in Afghanistan, as far as anyone can tell... ." -- BBC World Service Trust in Afghanistan conducts literacy education projects. The article does not specify which stations will broadcast the MISO literacy program: US military MISO stations? Radios Azadi (RFE/RL) or Ashna (VOA)? Afghan stations?

Al Jazeera "soon" to add Turkish, Swahili, and Balkans channels.

Posted: 13 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
USC Center of Public Diplomacy blog, 12 Jan 2011, Philip Seib: "Money is a wonderful thing. Qatar has plenty of it and is putting it to use in its expanded public diplomacy. With wealth rather than weaponry, Qatar is becoming a new kind of superpower. ... Qatar will be able to use the World Cup to become better known to people around the world, a task that has previously been dependent largely on the Al Jazeera television news channels that were born in Qatar, with the generous financial backing of the emir, in 1996. This television empire is expanding, with Al Jazeera Turkish, Al Jazeera Swahili, and Al Jazeera Balkans soon to join its list of channels, and Al Jazeera English has recently received permission from the Indian government to broadcast in that crucial market. Al Jazeera’s channels serve as Qatar’s virtual ambassadors to much of the world, providing an invaluable public diplomacy presence." -- This is the first I knew of Al Jazeera Swahili. Al Jazeera's senior editors should, if they are prudent, object to the characterization of Al Jazeera part of Qatar's "public diplomacy presence." Whether they would be justified in that objection is a discussion for another day.

Tunisian internet users take to the streets to protest "File Not Found."

Posted: 13 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 13 Jan 2011, Tim Lister: "The protests that have gripped Tunisia in recent weeks are, to say the least, unusual. Organized dissent in the streets is rarely tolerated in Arab states, and human rights groups say the Tunisian government has had a short fuse when dealing with opponents. But what's going on in Tunisia is all the more unusual because the protests are being organized and supported through online networks centered on Twitter and Facebook. So prolific are the educated members of the northern African nation's younger generation online that it has become a top priority of the Tunisian government to block and disrupt bloggers and others perceived as opponents. The U.S. State Department -- in an unusual public criticism of a pro-West Arab government -- said last week it was concerned about 'recent reports that Tunisian ISP providers, at the direction of the government, hacked into the accounts of Tunisian users of American companies including Facebook, and providers of email such as Yahoo and Google, and stealing passwords. This kind of interference,' it continued, 'threatens the ability of civil society to realize the benefits of new technologies.' ... The protesters have been quick to mock the government's efforts to stifle them -- with slogans like 'Free From 404' [Internet language for 'file not found'] abounding online and in the streets."

SC Magazine, 11 Jan 2011, Charles Jeter: "With account credentials obtained [allegedly] through malware driven account hijacking and admin level overrides, the Tunisian government has wiped blog content clean, disrupted Facebook and other social media sites, and created a furor expressed in protesting in the streets." See previous post about same subject.

Haiti earthquake relief was "laboratory" for new media, but radio was "most effective tool."

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PBS Mediashift, 11 Jan 2011, Anne Nelson: "In the weeks after the [earthquake] crisis, Haiti quickly became a real world laboratory for several new applications, such as interactive maps and SMS texting platforms. In the aftermath of the quake, these tools were used for the first time on a large scale to create dialogue between citizens and relief workers, to help guide search-and-rescue teams and find people in need of critical supplies. ... [N]ew media efforts did not preclude the importance of traditional media. As in past crises in the developing world, radio continued to be the most effective tool for serving the information needs of the local population. With Haiti's newspapers and television broadcasters knocked out of production for the first few weeks after the quake, radio provided a heroic lifeline." With link to Knight Foundation report. See also ars technica, 12 Jan 2011, Matthew Lasar, for another summary of the report.

Euronews, previously anchorless and "a bit impersonal," will show live reporters, dubbed into ten languages.

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New York Times, 11 Jan 2011, Eric Pfanner: "Viewers of Euronews, a quirky 24-hour television news channel, may soon see images of people they can’t avoid on other TV news programs, even though they have been practically invisible on Euronews: the journalists. Euronews, which is owned by 21 European public broadcasters, has avoided showing reporters and anchors because of the network’s unusual, polyglot approach. The channel provides a single video feed, while the audio narration is translated into 10 languages, which is beamed across much of the world via broadcast, cable and satellite. Euronews, based in Lyon, says that by dispensing with images of carefully coifed journalists it has been able to set itself apart from the show-business mentality of other news providers. Yet on Tuesday, acknowledging that Euronews is seen as a bit impersonal, executives announced plans to show reporters conducting interviews or moderating magazine-style talk shows. Their words will be dubbed for the other languages in the multilingual audio feed."

Rapid TV News, 11 Jan 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "In addition to the arrival of new programmes and TV figures like anchormen Alex Taylor and Chris Burns, euronews hopes to have open 11 offices worldwide this year. Permanent offices are opening in London, Paris, Kiev, Istanbul, Dubai, Washington and Beijing. Keeping to number 11, the channel also plans to launch its eleventh language-service in Ukraine next August. 'We are mostly reflecting European values,' argued Philippe Cayla. 'Without being the voice of Brussels we are a channel made in Europe.' Compared with the competition of the 70 other news channels operating in Europe, euronews claims to be 'the only multilingual channel, served by a multicultural news reporting team and a worldwide distribution.' The channel employs 700 people out of which 370 are journalists."

See also www.euronews.net.

RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Service is part of the "Tatnet."

Posted: 13 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Window on Eurasia, 11 Jan 2011, Paul Goble: "The Tatar segment of the Internet ["Tatnet"] can play a key role in the consolidation of that widely dispersed nation, providing a virtual meeting place in which Tatars regardless of where they live can come together, share ideas, and recognize their commonalities, according to a leading specialist on the web in the Russian Federation. ... [T]he Tatnet features several Tatar radio stations whose programming is streamed including Dulkyn and Radio Liberty in Tatar and Bashkir." See also RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir web page.

During Hu Jintao visit, Obama should grant interview to Radio Free Asia rather than Chinese media, she writes.

Posted: 13 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 12 Jan 2011, Kelley Currie: "Chinese President Hu Jintao's arrival in Washington for a state visit next week provides insight into how the Obama administration's thinking on the U.S.-China relationship has evolved—especially on how Washington factors in human rights into this relationship. ... Many of the issues that animated the 1997 state visit—trade, nuclear proliferation, the environment and Taiwan—remain at the top of the list for the upcoming summit. As does human rights: China's crackdown after dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize last year ensures that. ... The best way for Mr. Obama to honor his connection to Mr. Liu would be to use every means at his disposal to show the Chinese people that freedom of expression is one of the crown jewels of American society. For example, Mr. Obama should meet with Chinese dissidents who have suffered for trying to exercise this right. His staff should forget interviews with China's censored state-owned propaganda organs, and instead host uncensored Chinese-language media like Radio Free Asia, leading Chinese bloggers and cutting edge media for presummit briefings." -- Radio Free Asia is "state-owned," too, so it is the censored versus uncensored that is the operable variable.

Radio Free Asia, 10 Jan 2011, An Pei: "The wife of a missing prominent Chinese civil rights lawyer said she plans to travel to Washington to highlight her husband's plight during President Hu Jintao's visit, after a new report showed that the attorney was severely tortured in police custody. Gao Zhisheng, who has defended some of China's most vulnerable people and advocated constitutional reform, disappeared in February 2009, re-emerged to speak briefly to friends and colleagues in March 2010, and has not been heard of since."

Is Radio Free Asia involved in South Korea's "wishful thinking" about reunification?

Posted: 12 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Asia Times, 13 Jan 2011, Sunny Lee: "Newspapers and television channels in Seoul are reporting that North Korea is on its last legs. It seems that, as South Korean President Lee Myung-bak cryptically predicted twice in December, 'Reunification is drawing near.' ... [S]ome don't necessarily see the US as an innocent bystander which was enticed by South Korea, but more of an accomplice. They point out that many of these South Korean reports were actually translated from articles that were originally reported by Radio Free Asia, a US government-sponsored news agency. 'So, it was a meeting between the wishful thinking of South Korea and the wishful thinking of the US,' said [Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of international relations at Waseda University in Tokyo.]" See previous post about same subject.

Wall Street Journal, Korea Realtime, 12 Jan 2011, Jaeyeon Woo: "The two Koreas are engaged in propaganda warfare, online. Uriminzokkiri, a North Korea propaganda site, early this week blamed 'South Korea’s extreme right-wingers' for a cyber attack that disrupted its website last weekend. The China-based site claimed the hackers were trying to stop its 'influence from spreading.'"

The Guardian, 11 Jan 2011, Justin McCurry: "The Seoul-based Free North Korea Radio said North Korean officials had questioned the operators of Uriminzokkiri, based in the Chinese city of Shenyang, over their failure to prevent the attacks." See previous post about same subject.

Some history of San Francisco shortwave station W6XBE, later KGEI, which is now history.

Posted: 12 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 11 Jan 2011, John Schneider: "The Golden Gate Exposition was one of a long line of world’s fairs celebrated in various U.S. cities in the 20th century. It was held in 1939 to commemorate the completion of San Francisco’s two major bridges: the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. It took place on Treasure Island, in the middle of the Bay Bridge span across San Francisco Bay. One of the many features of the fair was General Electric’s operating shortwave station W6XBE. The station was licensed to operate with 20 kW on 9,530 and 15,330 kc, and broadcast regular programs to Europe and South America from the Electricity and Communications Building. ... The government issued standard four-letter call signs to all shortwave stations late in 1939, and so W6XBE became KGEI. ... At the start of World War II, the government took over all international shortwave stations to form the Voice of America, and it was KGEI’s transmitters that beamed General Douglas Macarthur’s 'I will return' message to the Philippines."

Radio Azadi's SMS news service in Afghanistan receives 150-200 messages a day.

Posted: 12 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
MediaShift Idea Lab, 11 Jan 2011, Melissa Ulbricht: "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is three months into an interactive SMS service with its Radio Azadi service in Afghanistan that allows listeners to access content and participate in the program via mobile phone. ... Outgoing messages -- those sent by Radio Azadi -- include breaking news headlines and emergency alerts. The headlines are sent about twice daily and there are currently 50,000 subscribers since the launch in late October. RFE/RL partnered with mobile provider Etisalat for the interactive SMS service; it's free for users. Knapp said it was important to go with a major regional player with a large subscriber base. However, only Etisalat customers can join the service for now. To sign up to the bilingual SMS headline service (there is one code for Dari and one for Pashto), people send an SMS message to a shortcode. Another facet of the service supports citizen journalism in Afghanistan by allowing subscribers to text in reports and opinions. Radio Azadi receives 150 to 200 messages a day from Afghans with messages ranging from music requests, comments on programming, and information about local stories and issues." See previous post about same subject.

"In Kabul, we have all the classic public diplomacy efforts, but we do them on steroids."

Posted: 12 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
New America Foundation, 7 Jan 2011: "The New America Foundation National Security Studies Program hosted David Ensor, the Director of Communication and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and former CNN national security correspondent, for an invitation-only, on-the-record discussion of the challenges, achievements and goals of building an effective civilian communications structure in Afghanistan." With video, including produced feature about US PD efforts in Afghanistan. Recommends more Afghan-produced television content.

"During 2010, RFE journalists suffered intimidation, physical attacks and arbitrary arrest in 12 of the 21 countries forming its broadcast region."

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RFE/RL, Journalists in Trouble, 10 Jan 2011: "During 2010, RFE journalists suffered intimidation, physical attacks and arbitrary arrest in 12 of the 21 countries forming its broadcast region. The year presented additional challenges as authorities in Belarus, Turkmenistan and Iran broadened their efforts beyond individuals and conducted sustained campaigns to silence entire RFE language services. RFE’s experience is consistent wih the findings of other media watchdogs, suggesting that governments in its broadcast region are increasingly intolerant of independent media and that the tools traditionally available to safeguard it are increasingly inadequate."

In Iran, circumvention tools circumscribed. In Tucson, newspaper website "hobbled" by traffic.

Posted: 12 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Tor Project, 9 Jan 2011: "Over the past 48 hours it seems the Great Persian Firewall is updating to attempt to block a number of circumvention tools, including Tor. Iranians and their diaspora have been reporting to us that Tor, Hot Spot Shield, UltraSurf, and Freegate are all experiencing connectivity problems from inside Iran to the outside world. Our research indicates that ssl-based communications are being throttled to 2 kilobit per second rates or simply blocked altogether. This is inclusive of basic ssh, ssl, vpns, and other proxy technologies."

Knight Citizen News Network, undated(!) but obviously recent, Andrew Pergam: "As news of the Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson coursed through the web, TucsonCitizen.com quickly became hobbled. Although editor Mark Evans didn’t realize it at the time, his site became one of the first with the news of a mass shooting when a politically connected blogger posted one sentence: 'Gabrielle Giffords shot in head in Tucson.' Internet traffic, primarily from outside the region, quickly overwhelmed the site’s servers. Undeterred, Evans’s team took to Twitter and Facebook to report the unfolding story, while he continued to publish the site between server reboots."

BBG strategic review seeks to empower (whatever that means) customers (whoever they are).

Posted: 12 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 10 Jan 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the Agency that oversees U.S. international broadcasting, continues its strategic review with the first in a series of regional assessments. This month’s regional review will focus on Africa and will engage internal and external experts in discussions to be held in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 11-13. 'First, we need to get our own strategy right by understanding what we need to know, what we must learn, and where gaps in our knowledge exist,' said BBG Governor S. Enders Wimbush, who co-chairs the Board’s Strategy and Budget Committee. 'Second, we need to decide how the BBG can allocate resources most effectively to empower our customers by putting the right programming on the right targets with the right technologies.'" -- Who are the "customers"? Audiences? Affiliates? Entities? Members of Congress? And "empower"? Well, perhaps, in that knowledge is (em)power(ment).

If you want to know when VOA broadcasts in [insert language here], first you must learn [insert language here].

Posted: 12 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
DX Listening Digest Yahoo! Group, 11 Jan 2011, Erik Koie, Copenhagen: "I asked the VoA where I could find their frequencies used - as they seem to have disappeared from their web site, and I got this amazing reply: 'Hello, Unfortunately, we no longer have an overall listing of frequencies as it was difficult to keep accurate. Each language is keeping their frequencies up-to-date, some by program though." -- So, if you speak English, and you want to know when, and on what frequencies, VOA broadcasts in Burmese, first you learn Burmese, then go to the VOA Burmese web page, where, theoretically, the schedule can be found. Same procedure for all other VOA languages. See previous post about same subject.

Jeffrey Gedmin will depart as RFE/RL president (updated again).

Posted: 12 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin today informed RFE/RL employees that he will leave his post "to pursue a new course." He added, "It was a difficult decision. ... I'll share with you shortly news of my next steps. Meanwhile, I'll begin to support our board in their search for a new president. ... For now, though, I'm here till the end of February."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 11 Jan 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has accepted, with regret, the resignation of Jeffrey Gedmin, who has served for four years as president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Gedmin announced his plans to depart RFE/RL at the end of February 2011. The BBG, which oversees all U.S. international broadcasting including RFE/RL, thanked Gedmin for his dedicated service and announced plans to begin a search for a new President of RFE/RL. ... Gedmin took office in February 2007 and has overseen RFE/RL’s expansion of broadcasts to critical countries, its significant development of new media, the corporate relocation to a state-of-the-art broadcast headquarters in Prague, and has served as a passionate defender of press freedom. 'Jeff has been an exceptional leader of RFE/RL over the past four years,' said Dennis Mulhaupt, chairman of the corporate board of RFE/RL and member of the BBG. '... As a Board, we reaffirm our commitment to RFE/RL's vital mission, which is more important than ever.'"

Update: Foreign Policy, The Cable, 11 Jan 2011, Josh Rogin: "In an interview from Prague, Gedmin said that his decision to leave RFE/RL after working so hard on its expansion for the last four years was the toughest career decision he's ever made. 'The best time to leave a job you love is never, yet if you are genuinely committed to growth and personal development, you always have to mindful of what you're giving to the organization where you work as well as what your next step will be,' Gedmin said. 'I decided it was the right time to move on because if I'm telling my people to step out of their comfort zone and be open to growth, I have to be able to take my own advice.' Gedmin's tenure at RFE/RL was marked by an expansion of the reporting resources there. He now manages a staff of over 550 people in Prague and RFE/RL has about 40 personnel in Washington, DC as well. Gedmin oversaw the launching of Radio Mashaal, a news service covering neglected regions of Pakistan, which will celebrate its one year anniversary this week." -- "Neglected" except that VOA already had a service, Deewa Radio, serving exactly the same region in exactly the same language. See previous post.

MountainRunner.us, 11 Jan 2011, Matt Armstrong: "RFE/RL is part of the domain overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors but operates more independently than the Voice of America."

Legatum Institute press release, 11 Jan 2011: "The Board of Directors of the Legatum Institute announced today that Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Legatum Institute, a leading policy think tank. ... Mark Stoleson, CEO of the Legatum Group, said, '... With his extensive international experience, proven thought leadership and organisational acumen, Dr. Gedmin will shape the ideas and policy recommendations that will promote global prosperity and its key drivers of individual liberty, free markets and entrepreneurship.'"

"Refreshed" BBC Entertainment caters to "upscale English-speaking Indian audience."

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BBC Worldwide press release, 10 Jan 2011: "BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), today unveiled an all new BBC Entertainment channel, boasting a fresh new look and with highly rated factual and lifestyle programming joining award-winning drama and comedy on the channel for the first time. The refreshed, multi-genre BBC Entertainment is aimed at the upscale English-speaking Indian audience, with a schedule designed to mirror their daily routines. ... Deepak Shourie, Director, South Asia, BBC Worldwide Channels added, 'India, with its large English-speaking population, high level of BBC brand recognition and strong affinity with the UK, is a significant market for us. The refreshed channel, with its unique, award-winning and top-rated programmes, targets upscale English-speaking viewers and will deliver some much-desired audience segments to advertisers in India.' ... The brand new BBC Entertainment channel is now available on cable and DTH in India."

Indo-Asian News Service, 12 Jan 2011: "'People already have Indian content, now they want international,' Deepak Shourie, director, south Asia, BBC Worldwide Channels, told reporters at a press conference here Wednesday."

Press TV objects to BBC Persian's phraseology on Iranian subsidies.

Posted: 11 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 10 Jan 2011: "Britain's spying apparatus MI6 has instructed UK-based Persian TV channels including BBC Persian to use Iran's 'subsidy cut plan' instead of 'targeted subsidy plan' in their news bulletins. The MI6 introduced an agenda to anti-Iranian Persian TVs instructing them to use 'subsidy cut plan' rather than 'targeted subsidy plan' when referring to the Iranian government's plans to overhaul the country's economy in their news bulletins. The MI6 agenda aims at sabotaging the project by instigating Iranian nation to revolt against the government's policies. ... The plan aims at replacing the government's subsidies on food and energy with targeted social assistance, in accordance with Five Year Economic Development Plan and moving towards free market prices in a 5-year period." -- Refresh my memory: what are the UK-based Persian TV channels other than BBC Persian? -- My friend Andy Sennitt has the answer: "I can only find one: Simay Azadi (Simay-e Adazi / Iran NTV / Iran National TV) is a Persian-language satellite television station based in London, UK. www.iranntv.com."

Sudanese intelligence bureaucrats interrupt opposition leader's interview with Alhurra.

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Sudan Tribune, 10 Jan 2011: "Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) has been preventing international media from interviewing opposition leaders in the latest sign of political tension sweeping the North. The leader of the dissolved Umma Reform and Renewal Party (URRP) Mubarak Al-Fadil told Sudan Tribune that NISS agents stopped his interview with the U.S. Arabic-language TV channel Alhurra. He said that NISS officers cut the satellite link and ordered the organizers to evict him from the studio without providing an explanation. Al-Fadil further said that authorities prevented the BBC Arabic TV from interviewing the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) leading figure in the North Yasir Arman."

Newest medium of international broadcasting: Netflix.

Posted: 11 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Post Tech, 8 Jan 2011, Cecilia Kang: "In a short time, Netflix has shaken up the way Americans and Canadians get their favorite movies and television shows. And CEO Reed Hastings said Friday he's just getting started. The online video streaming and DVD rental service plans to go global, providing users around the world with a cheaper alternative to cable service, Hastings said."

Huffington Post, 10 Jan 2011, Bianca Bosker: "Asked to imagine where he and his company would be in ten years, Hastings predicted he would still be chief executive, that Netflix would have expanded globally -- 'successful everywhere except China, maybe' ..."

More CNN International on CNN, but you have to wake up early.

Posted: 11 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 10 Jan 2011: "Beginning Monday, January 17, CNN/US will add two more hours of live programming to its weekday lineup. CNN will now broadcast live from 4 a.m. through 11 p.m. each weekday. (All times Eastern). At 4a, CNN will air World Business Today, hosted by Charles Hodson and Andrew Stevens from London and Hong Kong. At 5 a.m., CNN will broadcast World One, hosted by Zain Verjee and Monita Rajpal from London, which is a general news program covering both international and domestic top stories. Both programs are simulcasts with CNN International and will air live around the world in more than 200 countries."

CNN International press release, 10 Jan 2011: "CNN International has won a 2010 Asian Television Award in the 'Best Documentary Program (30 minutes or Less)' category for its show 'Eco Solutions-Saving Sumatra'. Produced in the network's regional headquarters in Hong Kong, the show investigated the true cost of palm oil, a product used in everything from soap to chocolate and one that fuels a multi-billion dollar industry. Eco Solutions visited the Indonesian island of Sumatra to find out about the forces causing widespread deforestation."

New Chinese text rules dwarf "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" (updated).

Posted: 11 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 6 Jan 2011, Xin Yu: "Chinese authorities began to implement new controls on the content of text messages sent to mobile phones this week, according to service providers. Documents showing lists of hundreds of banned keywords, including 'democracy', 'human rights,' and 'telling the truth,' were circulating widely on the Internet. ... The banned terms are divided into categories, including more than 700 relating to national security and politics, including 'Cultural revolution,' 'Xinjiang independence,' 'June 4,' and 'anti-corruption.'"

Update: China Media Project, 11 Jan 2011, David Bandurski: "Last week, Radio Free Asia and other media reported that Chinese media had received a propaganda directive instructing them not to use the term 'civil society,' or gongmin shehui (公民社会), in news reports, or to build up stories around the topic. Our sources confirm the existence of a directive, but it remains to be seen just how effective such a ban might prove. Beijing Film Academy professor Cui Weiping (崔卫平) told Deutsche Welle’s Chinese-language news service late last week that rumors of a possible ban on the term had been tossed about since last October, but added that it was impossible for the word to really disappear simply because of a ban. The service also quoted scholar Li Shun (李楯) as saying: 'If indeed there is a ban, it will be impossible for the authorities to enforce. Among intellectuals in China today, the term ‘civil society’ is common coin, and this is not something that simply handing down a directive can change.'" See also The Underground, 11 Jan 2011.

Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation planning a "special ceremony" for its new FM relays of China Radio International.

Posted: 11 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Associated Press of Pakistan, 10 Jan 2011: "A comprehensive action plan to celebrate Pakistan-China Friendship year 2011 has been chalked out, focussing on wider interaction between the two countries’ leadership and the people through joint activities and exchanges. ... JANUARY-MARCH: ... Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation will organize a special ceremony for airing China Radio International FM programme in Pakistan. The Pakistan Television (PTV) will hold weekly Chinese language classes from March onwards." See previous post about same subject.

Kuwait moves to control satellite TV channels, including those "broadcasting from abroad."

Posted: 11 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
DPA, 10 Jan 2011: "Kuwait's Ministry of Information has been asked to block TV channels broadcasting without a local license, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida said on Monday. The newspaper said the Council of Ministers had asked the Ministry of Information for a list of satellite channels broadcasting into Kuwait without permission. In addition, the council asked for the names of all Kuwaiti stations broadcasting from abroad."

Kuwait Times, 8 Jan 2011: "MP Naji Al-Abdulhadi has urged the Kuwait government to establish a state TV news station to rival those of several similar regional and international stations, such as Al-Jazeera. Al-Abdulhadi proposed that the Ministry of Information launch a 24-hour rolling news channel covering local, regional and international events and representing the state of Kuwait."

International geo-block of ABC News 24 lifted for Australian flood coverage.

Posted: 11 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 11 Jan 2011, Mark Scott, MD of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: For news about the floods in Autralia, "International geo-block now lifted for #ABCNews24. Also broadcasting live into the region on Australia Network."

Twitter, 11 Jan 2011, Mark Scott: "Streaming link for #ABCNews24 - in Australia and around the world. http://j.mp/eJYdrD."

Twitter, 11 Jan 2011, Mark Scott: "Broadcasting #Qldfloods coverage internationally overnight: #ABCNews24 on Australia Network; @612Brisbane on Radio Australia."

Twitter, 11 Jan 2011, Mark Scott: "No streaming local radio on 3G due to capacity constraints of mobile network during coming days. News Radio available as usual @qldfloods."

ABC Digital Radio newsletter, 11 Jan 2011: "ABC Local Radio in Queensland is now broadcasting live on Digital Radio and nationally online, giving all Australians a local perspective on the devastating floods currently affecting much of the Queensland. The broadcast will include 24 hour rolling coverage of the unfolding events in Brisbane, the crisis in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley and the recovery mode across the state. The special digital station, ABC QLD Floods, can be heard on Digital Radio in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide and streamed nationally online at abc.net.au/emergency." -- Thanks to Matt Francis for this news tip.

More early history of the Voice of America, by someone who was there.

Posted: 11 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
American Diplomacy, 11 Jan 2011, Walter Roberts: "In an undated memorandum (but probably written in June 1942) intended for incoming OWI [Office of War Information] director Elmer Davis, [then VOA director John] Houseman wrote that the German broadcast, 'was the only broadcast made and transmitted directly by the COI in New York.' Two other daily broadcasts (in French and Italian) were handled for the COI [Coordinator of Information] by the National Broadcasting Company. Cabled comment from London soon justified our belief that for clarity and propaganda value, the new Voice of America [multiple announcer] technique was distinctly superior to the routine broadcast with a single announcer. We also discovered that it was difficult to give to a broadcast, made by a private company outside the immediate control of the COI, the degree and intensity of angling which seemed desirable in the first American medium-wave broadcast to be heard by the population of Europe. For these reasons, on February 26th the COI began the daily transmission of three fifteen minute programs for re-broadcasting by BBC: one German, one French and one Italian. On March 8, an English program was added ...

"During World War II, the term 'Voice of America' was not well known outside our office. If someone had asked me then where I worked, I would have answered, 'in the Office of War Information,' rather than in the Voice of America. After September 1, 1945, when President Truman transferred the foreign information activities of the OWI (including VOA) to the Department of State, I probably would have answered differently. Working in New York, I would have felt it misleading to tell people that I was employed by the State Department, and would have said that I worked in the Voice of America. It is therefore not surprising that William Benton whom President Truman appointed in August 1945 as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs was astonished by the scope and role of the VOA programs that had become his responsibility." See previous post for the first part of Dr. Roberts's history of VOA. And this previous post for research by Chris Kern.

Highly recommended reading. Dr. Roberts explores many of the intracacies of US international broadcasting during the war years. We learn that the effort was basically divided into three parts: 1) Coordinator of Information (COI) broadcasts from New York to Europe, 2) COI broadcasts from San Francisco to Asia, mainly via the General Electric shortwave station KGEI (and not apparently called "Voice of America" until 1944), and 3) Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA) broadcasts to Latin America, in partnership with private US shortwave stations.

I read many histories and memoirs of World War II, looking for accounts of people listening to international radio broadcasts. In histories of the European theater, it is striking how often the BBC is mentioned, compared to few mentions of VOA. This might be due to VOA having less favorable access than BBC to medium wave transmitters in the UK, and thus having to rely on long-haul shortwave transmissions from the United States. (In Europe, radios with medium wave bands were much more common than those with shortwave bands.) Or it may have to do with the vagueness of the Voice of America brand (as discussed in Dr. Robert's essay), in contrast to the crisp "BBC," easy to pronounce in any language, and easy to remember.

But I think the main reason is the motivation people had to listen to foreign broadcasts. They wanted to know what what really going on, and they needed to cut through the propaganda that was pervasive on the European continent during the war. The BBC "single announcer" newscasts provided that. The Voice of America, at the time, was more interested in "propaganda value." By the end of the war, however, VOA had a better sense of what its audience wanted. It dropped the Houseman quasi-theatrical news productions, and concentrated more on the transmission of accurate information.

In Afghanistan, Canadian forces psyops focuses on Panjwaii district.

Posted: 10 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Canadian Press, 9 Jan 2011: "The Canadian military's focus [in Afghanistan] is primarily on two parts of Panjwaii [district]. One is the so-call Horn of Panjwaii at the district's westernmost tip. The other is known as the Taliban Triangle, an area between three villages where the insurgents once moved freely. It is in these areas where the Canadians have also stepped up their use of psychological warfare. Radio ads, billboards and leaflets urge locals to point out improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. So-called PsyOps teams venture into the villages, hoping to win local trust and support. Maj. Benoit Mainville, the head of the Canadian military's psychological operations team, said if there's a focus on Panjwaii, it's because the local governments and security are more stable in the other districts. 'I focus my assets where there are more insurgents, there's more instability, there's less trust," Mainville said."

South and North Korea apparently hacking each other's websites.

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AFP, 10 Jan 2011: "Computer hackers from South and North Korea are waging an apparent propaganda battle in cyberspace, less than two months after their militaries traded artillery fire across the tense sea border. Users of the South's popular website dcinside.com have claimed responsibility for hacking into the North's Twitter account and its official website, and leaving messages denigrating the ruling Kim family. A separate and now deleted posting on YouTube showed a cartoon of Kim Jong-Un -- youngest son and heir apparent of leader Kim Jong-Il -- mowing down ordinary people in a fancy sports car. It was apparently posted to mark Jong-Un's birthday Saturday. Suspected North Korean hackers have retaliated for the website hacking with an attack on dcinside.com, a spokeswoman told AFP Monday."

Arirang, 10 Jan 2011: "A North Korean website which was hacked on the day of Kim Jong-il's youngest son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un's birthday Saturday [stated?] that is has been restored as of 10 p.m. Sunday. And the media account, usually used for propaganda to the South, has posted some 60 articles from Pyeongyang's official newspaper Rodong Sinmun right after the restoration. The articles are mainly known to be urging South Korea to accept the North's proposals to hold bilateral talks as soon as possible and emphasized the legitimacy of its request."">previous post about same subject.

DPA, 9 Jan 2011: "South Korea on Sunday indicated that it does not believe North's Korea renewed call for unconditional talks to be 'official,' but said assessments of the offer will continue. 'We don't think that this is an official offer,' a spokeswoman for the Unification Ministry in Seoul said, referring to a new message on Saturday from North Korea."

Three newspapers publish Iran air crash photos that BBC and VOA Persian cannot.

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 Jan 2011: Photos of rescue efforts after the 9 January crash of an IranAir airliner include this credit: "(AP Photo / Al Alam) NO ACCESS BBC PERSIAN NO ACCESS VOA PERSIAN IRAN OUT" -- Al Alam is Iran's Arabic-language international television channel. Same photo credit wording in San Jose Mercury News, 9 Jan 2011, and San Francisco Chronicle, 10 Jan 2011.

New York Times, 9 Jan 2011, William Yong: "Witnesses told the BBC Persian language news service by telephone that the plane broke into several pieces on impact but did not explode."

Former Russian television host describes present Russian television news.

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RFE/RL Transmission blog, 10 Jan 2011, Andy Heil: "Must-see viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in Russia or the muzzling of the free press. It's Leonid Parfenov -- a popular former NTV host who was fired in June 2004 for violating his employment agreement, which obligated him 'to support the company leadership' -- speaking at a ceremony for an award named after slain journalist Vladislav Listyev. He ... [indicts] a situation in which Russia's political leadership serves as puppetmaster and independent media are ruthlessly extirpated."

Parfenov, from the video, describing Russian television news: "Reports are replaced by protocol shootings from the Kremlin, reporter's intonation sounds supportive of the officials and basic broadcasting models are about showing the country's leader receiving a minister or a governor, the leader reaching out for the masses or conducting a summit with a colleague from abroad."

Obit: Carl Watts, Canadian-born announcer on Voice of Russia; was "Carl Yegorev" on Radio Moscow.

Posted: 10 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 9 Jan 2011, Andy Sennitt: "I was sorry to read the following on the Voice of Russia website: 'Today is a very sad day for all of us here at the Voice of Russia. Gone is Carl Watts - a cherished friend and colleague, whose deep baritone carried far and wide enthralling audiences around the world. For more than half a century Carl Watts was by right touted as the signature “voice” of Radio Moscow International [sic], now known as The Voice of Russia. A born radio personality and top-flight broadcaster, Carl Watts gave much of his energy and talent to the radio. For many decades he exhibited a masterful, disciplined stewardship that helped our English-language broadcasting come of age. Our listeners often wondered where Carl picked up his Canadian accent. And they were quite right in thinking that it was in Canada. He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where his parents moved from Ukraine in the 1920.' ... Andy Sennitt adds: Some of our readers will probably remember him better as Carl Yegorev, the on-air name he used for many years. That’s why so many listeners wondered about his accent. He could also be heard on Radio Station Peace and Progress." See also Voice of Russia, 9 Jan 2011, another 9 Jan 2011, and a third item on 9 Jan 2011.

South Korean Unification Ministry will launch internet broadcasts during 2011.

Posted: 10 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 9 Jan 2011, citing Yonhap: "South Korea’s Unification Ministry is to start Internet broadcasts on issues relevant to the unification of the divided Korean Peninsula this year, a ministry official said. The project aims to help the public gain better understanding of unification issues and comes under a ministry goal this year to prepare for the rejoining of the two Koreas. The peninsula has remained divided since the end of the three-year Korean War in 1953. The ministry said it is considering live Internet radio broadcasts for at least one or two hours per day, and may also search for a spot on a cable television channel to air the North Korea-related content from its Internet broadcasts, including sketches of the impoverished country’s current situation. The ministry plans to operate its programmes with a five-member broadcasting team that includes external broadcasting experts, and will launch a test-run in the first half of the year before entering full-scale broadcasting by the year’s end."

Instead of a question, Al Arabiya reporter has advice to State Department officials about civil society.

Posted: 09 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
State Department background briefing, 7 Jan 2011: "OPERATOR: Okay, thank you. Our next question or comment comes from Hisham Melhem from Al Arabiya Television. Your line is open.

"QUESTION: Yes, thank you for doing this. Again, I hate to beat a dead horse, but I have to go back to civil society. I mean, this is the seventh Forum, and you’re talking about reviving on the civil society, or the civil society in the Arab world is blossoming. I think that’s the word that was used. At the same time, you see that civil society is under tremendous assault from the various governments in the region, including governments that are friendly towards the United States, governments that receives support – financial and material and military from the United States from Egypt to Yemen to Tunisia, Jordan.

"And when you add to that the sectarian violence that we’ve seen against the Christian communities in both Iraq and in Egypt, it seems to me that all of this focus on civil society, the states that are involved, the governing structures that are involved, including those that depend on U.S. support, are not listening to us. And I think I don’t have to tell you this, but this also carries with it a certain element of not only moral responsibility, but political responsibility, because those forces, especially the extreme religious elements, are using this to mobilize support against the United States because they are accusing the United States of supporting these governments that are not listening to their own people.

"SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Hisham, that’s the question?

"QUESTION: It’s a comment and it’s a question, because I’m sure you are frustrated, like most of us who are – who would like to see civil society truly blossoming, but it’s not blossoming, in part – mainly, probably – because of the actions, the repressive actions, of these governments. And many of them depend on U.S. support, and one would argue that those people who do not wish the United States well in the Middle East, the extremist religious elements in particular, are using this relationship between the United States and these various governments to put also the blame on the United States. So – and I think it’s incumbent on the United States to take a tougher – maybe a tougher position against these governments.

"SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Hisham, thanks for the question and for the comment, and I understand where you’re coming from. ... Hisham, look, I think the Secretary’s been quite frank about her concern on freedom of association issues globally and a backlash against civil society, and that’s precisely why she raised that issue in Krakow and made that her priority and a focal point in her remarks there because she sees this as a significant challenge to democracy and to the growth of democracy globally. And the Middle East, I don’t think, presents an exception to that broader, very unfortunate global trend."

Blogger praises Al Jazeera English for avoiding "false balance" in the autism and vaccinations controversy.

Posted: 09 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Left Brain Right Brain, 8 Jan 2011, Sullivan: "One of the really bad parts of the past few days has been watching the media fall into the same old traps. Instead of taking this opportunity to sideline Andrew Wakefield [who has associated autism with vaccinations] and his supporters, they have given them a lot of airtime to make unsubstantiated, and sometimes just wild, accusations and claims. It is the false balance idea — give both sides of the story. I ran across this video of Al Jazeera which gave a brief quote of a response by Mr. Wakefield but otherwise discussed the fraud and the fallout." With link to video. -- Where does a news organization draw the line between stories that deserve balance, and those that do not? Even if the view of the discredited side is without merit, the audience might be interested to know what that side has to say. In any case, keep your children up to date on vaccinations.

Foreign Policy blogger criticizes Deutsche Welle's characterization of American multilateralism.

Posted: 09 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, The Multilateralist, 8 Jan 2011, David Bosco: "In the course of a pretty humdrum and predictable piece on whether American exceptionalism is coming to an end, Deutsche Welle does considerable violence to the history of American multilateralism. Here's how the piece describes U.S. involvement in international organizations: 'Self-confident in its power and principles, Washington has aggressively guarded its national sovereignty. Yet historically, Washington's emphasis on sovereignty has created tensions with the rest of the world. ... The US did play an instrumental role in the creation of the United Nations. But Washington has also failed to ratify a host of international treaties including the Kyoto Protocol and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, among others.' Just the United Nations? Wasn't Washington instrumental in creating the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, NATO, the World Trade Organization, and the international criminal tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda?" -- How many readers of this post -- or does even David Bosco himself -- know what Deutsche Welle is? Many reporters and commentators who encounter a DW report on the web describe it as a newspaper.

New Heritage Foundation report: efforts to cease Radio/TV Martí broadcasts should cease.

Posted: 09 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Cubapolidata, 5 Jan 2011, Armando F. Mastrapa 3d: "Last month, the Heritage Foundation issued a report [pdf] on why U.S. broadcasts to Cuba are vital: '…the U.S. should maintain its steadfast commitment to the Cuban people by equipping them with the tools required to establish freedom and democracy. Any effort to eliminate international broadcasting to Cuba should cease and Radio/TV Martí should be retained as the chief vehicle for reaching out to the Cuban public.'"

Turkey, "leading proponent of ... 'information independence,'" will allow 50% foreign ownership of Turkish broadcasters.

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 8 Jan 2011, Evgeny Morozov: "[M]ore governments are likely to start designating Internet services as a strategic industry, with foreign firms precluded from competing in politically sensitive niches. The Turkish government has emerged as the leading proponent of such 'information independence,' floating the idea of both a national search engine and a national email system. Authorities in Russia, China and Iran have debated similar proposals. ... The real Internet trade wars will begin once Russian and Chinese technology giants, with their poorly veiled government connections and piles of cash, come looking for American and European acquisitions. How will officials in Washington or Brussels react when China's Tencent (with a market capitalization of $42 billion, almost twice that of Yahoo) or Russia's Yandex makes a bid for AOL or Skype?"

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 8 Jan 2011, citing Reuters and Today’s Zaman: "Turkey’s Parliament on Thursday approved legislation allowing foreigners to own 50 percent of Turkish broadcasters, doubling the limit and paving the way for more acquisitions from abroad."

Twitter and Facebook accounts of Pyongyang-connected Uriminzokkiri hacked.

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
North Korea Tech, 8 Jan 2011, Martyn Williams: "The Twitter account of Uriminzokkiri, the China-based web site with close ties to Pyongyang, has apparently been compromised. (See the bottom of this post for updates.) Four messages posted on Saturday morning are derogatory to leader Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un, his son and heir apparent. Yonhap News translated one of the messages: 'Let’s create a new world by rooting out our people’s sworn enemy Kim Jong-il and his son Kim Jong-un!' ... [T]he apparent hacking has also hit the YouTube channel. A video featuring Kim Jong-Un in a sportscar was posted to the account twice. ... The main Uriminzokkiri website is currently offline, but the YouTube and Twitter postings remain. Organizations faced with such a problem would typically remove the social media postings first."

Who will fly AeroMarti after June 2011?

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
FedBizOpps.gov, 5 Jan 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is seeking information regarding industry's capability to provide airborne television broadcasting services to audiences in Cuba ... . Currently, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) utilizes Phoenix Air Group to provide highly specialized airborne television (TV) services under a firm-fixed price (FFP) contract that expires on May 31, 2011. The Incumbent uses two (2) of its own Grumman Gulfstream I turboprop aircraft for performance of this contract. The Incumbent's aircraft have installed on-board the following U.S. Government Furnished Equipment (GFE): the airborne broadcasting platform called 'AeroMarti,' television transmission systems made operational for broadcasting both ultra high frequency (UHF) and very high frequency (VHF) television, a 45 kilo-volt-ampere (kva) auxiliary power unit (APU) generator, and a left engine regulated 28 volt 400 amp generator which is not standard equipment on a G1 aircraft, but is required to power the on-board UHF and VHF transmission systems. These systems are necessary to broadcast off-air TV signals to an audience in Cuba for up to five (5) days per week broadcast/mission flight schedule. The broadcast altitude is between 18,000 and 21,000 feet using an oval figure 8-pattern approximately 100 miles from beginning-to-end. The aircraft are operated from the U.S. Naval Air Station, Key West (NAS-KW). The required minimum air services staffing during normal scheduled periods include a pilot, co-pilot, and aircraft mechanic."

Foreign media among websites blocked in "Tunisia's bitter cyberwar."

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 4 Jan 2011: "Reporters Without Borders condemns the reinforcement of online censorship amid a wave of protests and rioting in Tunisia that began two weeks when a young man set himself on fire outside a police station in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid. ... Access to the pages of foreign media websites with coverage of the current unrest is blocked inside Tunisia. They include reports posted online by France 24 and Le Nouvel Observateur. More examples of blocked media: Deutsche Welle, BBC, Rue89, Al Jazeera." With links. See also RSF, 7 Jan 2011.

Aljazeera.net, 6 Jan 2011, Yasmine Ryan: "Thousands of Tunisians have taken to the streets in recent weeks to call for extensive economic and social change in their country. Among the fundamental changes the protesters have been demanding is an end to the government's repressive online censorship regime and freedom of expression. That battle is taking place not just on the country's streets, but in internet forums, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. The Tunisian authorities have allegedly carried out targeted 'phishing' operations: stealing users passwords to spy on them and eradicate online criticism. Websites on both sides have been hacked."

International channels and foreign stations mentioned in this brief history of Cameroonian television.

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Cameroon Tribune, 5 Jan 2011, Peter Efande: "[S]tate-owned Cameroonian Television (CTV) ... enjoyed absolute monopoly up to the year 2000 when a liberalisation decree by the President of the Republic opened up to private ownership. This was followed by the consequential TV boom with its attendant impact on the population. ... Cable distributors also boosted the TV landscape with over 70 channels such as CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, TFI, CFI, France 24, NTA, etc. But one major hurdle remains to surmount: territorial coverage. ... The lack of national TV signals even in such sensitive areas of Cameroon as Bakassi or Idenau has not augured well for the inhabitants who rely on foreign stations for information."

Bimonthly spot on Houston's Pacifica KPFT, produced by Israeli consulate general, causes controversy (updated).

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Jewish Herald-Voice (Houston), 30 Dec 2010, Michael C. Duke: "A local public radio station is under fire for providing airtime to Israeli officials in an effort to be more balanced in its Israel-related coverage. 'Voice of Peace,' a new bimonthly spot on [Pacifica's] KPFT 90.1 FM that began airing during the 'Open Journal' hour on Dec. 14, has prompted a flurry of online criticisms, discussions of possible protests and boycotts, and petitions for a town hall forum with station officials and listeners. The underlying problems for many critics are that 'Voice of Peace' is produced by the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest, and that the program features facets of Israeli society that are nonconflict related. For years, the bulk of KPFT’s Israel-related programming has been conflict related, with Israel’s side of the story usually underrepresented and the Jewish state cast in the role of aggressor." See also KPFT's blog for note about this and the station's airing of news from Al Jazeera English.

Update: Jewish Herald-Voice, 6 Jan 2011, Michael C. Duke: "Local activists picketed a radio station for giving airtime to Israeli officials. A dozen or so umbrella- and sign-wielding Houstonians gathered in front of KPFT 90.1 FM’s studio, on the dreary morning of Dec. 29, in continued protest over a new bimonthly spot on the station called 'Voice of Peace,' produced by the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest. Picket signs read: 'Israel out of KPFT now'; 'No show on KPFT for murderous Israeli government'; and 'No show for Shlomo.' (Meir Shlomo is the local Israeli consul general.)"

Meanwhile, concerning another Pacifica station, KPFA in San Francisco... San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, 4 Jan 2011, Gerry Bill: "The regular listeners to the 6 a.m. 'Democracy Now' woke up one morning to find it was not there. In its place was an hour-long edition of 'Al Jazeera English,' which is produced in Washington, D.C. Apparently there had been negotiations going on for a long time to broadcast Al Jazeera news on the Pacifica stations, but not for that specific time slot. The early-morning slot was not an ideal choice for the Al Jazeera program because the only way to do it was to broadcast a program produced the night before. Apparently, Al Jazeera does not produce an hour-long news program ready to be imported to KPFA that early in the morning, so the previous night’s show is the only choice. Careful listeners will notice some anomalies that result from the time delay. One might hear a report on Al Jazeera at 6 a.m., only to hear Amy Goodman contradict the report at 7 a.m., because something about the story changed overnight. Goodman is pretty good about inserting late-breaking news into her show, but Al Jazeera really cannot do that in the early morning."

Michigan's public diplomacy includes ads on CNN International.

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Grand Rapids Press, 5 Jan 2011, Jeff Cranson: "The Grand Rapids area's top economic development official said today she's thrilled that state officials want to solidify 'Pure Michigan' as the state's primary campaign to grow and attract businesses. 'Pure Michigan is the number one state campaign in the country. It just hits all the right notes,' said Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place. ... The award-winning 'Pure Michigan campaign' -- Klohs says it's the best in the country -- features gorgeous Michigan scenery and the narration of native son Tim Allen. ... Klohs said Pure Michigan is recognized around the world and shapes perceptions of the state. 'I have people overseas say they saw the ads on CNN International.'"

US international broadcasting entities are covering (sharing?) news about the southern Sudan referendum.

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 7 Jan 2011: "The U.S. International broadcasting networks of the Voice of America (VOA), Alhurra TV, Radio Sawa, and Afia Darfur, will provide extensive coverage in English and Arabic, of the historic independence referendum that begins Jan. 9 in southern Sudan. The referendum will give residents from southern Sudan the option of declaring independence from the North. ... The all-news and information Arabic-language program, Afia Darfur, will focus on the impact of the referendum vote on the displaced people in Darfur during hour-long extended versions of its shortwave radio daily program on January 9th and 10th." According to the BBG page on Radio Sawa and Alhurra, components of Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc., "MBN’s all-news and information shortwave radio program Afia Darfur (Radio Darfur) focuses on the latest news from Sudan and the plight of displaced people in Darfur and eastern Chad."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 7 Jan 2011: "Alhurra’s Congressional Correspondent Rana Abtar conducted an interview with Congressman Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health regarding Sudan’s upcoming referendum vote." -- Christopher H. Smith, R-NJ, is now chairman of the subcommittee.

Obit: Barry Zorthian, VOA program director in the 1950s (updated: advised BBG to "hook" to US foreign policy).

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 31 Dec 2010: "Barry Zorthian, a colorful U.S. diplomat who left his mark on American policy in Vietnam as a forthright and often combative press spokesman in the early years of the war, has died. ... After a postwar stint at CBS Radio, Zorthian spent 13 years with the Voice of America, reporting on the Korean War and rising to program director. He then did tours as a foreign service officer in India and Vietnam. In 1964, he was chosen by then U.S. Information Agency director Edward R. Murrow to run the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office, which dealt with the news media. After a year, he was given the diplomatic rank of minister. In that capacity Zorthian served as press media adviser to three successive U.S. ambassadors to South Vietnam — Henry Cabot Lodge, Maxwell Taylor and Ellsworth Bunker — and to Gen. William C. Westmoreland, the U.S. military commander there."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 5 Jan 2011, BBG statement on the death of Barry Zothian: "Barry Zorthian was one of the giants of United States international broadcasting. He understood early in the Cold War how vital broadcasting was to the successful practice of American foreign policy, and he championed the role of 'The Radios' strongly and consistently. The Board was fortunate to have had a chance to hear Barry's views on where broadcasting should be headed and why -- and not a little on how to get there -- just a few months ago. He was passionate that the BBG must put broadcasting on a new footing with a revitalized mission, and he insisted that we hook it once more securely to the timeless principles of American foreign policy. The Board extends condolences to the Zorthian family and shares in their loss." -- Which puts the BBG in a dilemma. Does it honor the wish of Mr. Zorthian, a great figure in the history of US public diplomacy, that the BBG should "hook ... more securely to the timeless principles of American foreign policy"? Or the wish of the audience for an independent, credible news service? The BBG cannot honor both wishes. The BBG must decide whether it wishes to have an audience, or not.

voanoticias gets video from Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez, while martinoticias covers her journalism award.

Posted: 08 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 5 Jan 2011: "Well-known Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez tells Voice of America she hopes the growth of information networks in Cuba will lead to an end of the state’s information monopoly in 2011. In an interview with VOA’s Spanish Service, Sanchez said 'the Cuban blogosphere had a gradual growth and enrichment in 2010,' despite the continuing difficulties with Internet access and government censorship. Sanchez, who also managed to transmit a video message to the VOA website www.voanoticias.com, said, 'The year 2010 has been a very important one for the alternative information nets in Cuba, for those of us reporting from here to the world, and to our people about what is happening.'" The video is on this page: move the slider down to Sanchez.

Martí Noticias (Radio/TV Martí), undated(!) but apparently recent: Yoani Sánchez receives the Prince Claus journalism award, delivered to her in Cuba by the Dutch ambassador because she was not allowed to travel to Amsterdam.

So wouldn't martinoticias want to use the video? And wouldn't voanoticias be interested in her journalism award? Apparently there is no sharing of news between these two apparently rival organizations.

Satellite jamming and the international law of outer space.

Posted: 07 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Space.com, 6 Jan 2011, Leonard David: "'There has been commendable progress on defining what might evolve into a broadly acceptable Code of Conduct for safe and responsible space operations,' said Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute and professor of the practice of international affairs at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C. ... Some consider the jamming of satellites as misconduct, Pace noted. A case in point is the recent protest over the government of Iran's intentional jamming of satellite transmissions of the Voice of America's Persian News Network and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Radio Farda, Pace said. 'But it hasn't been brought up as an outer space treaty violation explicitly,' he added."

"The era of long-distance international broadcasting has faded into the past."

Posted: 07 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Quora, 5 Jan 2011, Jonathan Marks, responding to the question "Which language departments are superfluous to BBC World Service in 2011?": "I personally think that the era of long-distance international broadcasting has faded into the past - at least with the exception of about 8 countries where shortwave still makes sense as part of a media strategy - Sudan, Somalia, Burma, Zimbabwe, Nigeria come to mind. But there is a definite role for focused international media which use relevant platforms to share ideas - and I believe the BBC has created an organisation which have become powerful because they have influence. That's been hard work and requires consistent standards of reporting and editorial independence. ... There is an old rule of international broadcasting. No listens or watches it - unless a government bans it or it can provide something different to whats offered by local media. The viability shortwave analogue broadcasting has been severely tested by the rise in oil prices. Many relay stations were built with the notion that oil was 40 dollars a barrel not a 100. The industry itself has been poor at promoting the medium, with the result that SW listening has faded away in countries like Russia and India and the numbers for China are a fraction on what they used to be." -- By "long distance," I assume Jonathan means direct via shortwave. One of VOA's largest audiences is in Indonesia, where they watch VOA Indonesian programs on local television stations. That's long distance, but by another means.

No doubt it has always been the dream of South Korea's psychological warfare department to be promoted to a division.

Posted: 07 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Korea Times, 5 Jan 2011, Lee Tae-hoon: "The [South Korean] Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Wednesday that it will bolster anti-North Korean propaganda as part of its structural reform. The JSC has promoted its psychological warfare department to a division from Jan. 1, despite having reduced the overall number of JSC staff by 42, according to a senior military official. 'The military will intensify its psychological warfare against North Korea,' the official said. ... [North Korea] is wary of anti-Pyongyang propaganda campaigns because it could instigate the poverty-stricken North Korean people to rise up against the regime. Anti-Pyongyang broadcasts have remained muted for fear that their resumption could lead to another bloody clash with the North."

Washington Post, Right Turn, 4 Jan 2011, Jennifer Rubin: "Christian Whiton, a Far East expert who served in the State Department from 2003 to 2009 ... urges that we should be 'dramatically increasing defector-led radio broadcasting from outside North Korea. The truth is Kim Jong Il's greatest foe, and dissent movements thrive on factual information that undermine the dictators' propaganda.' It is a truism that, as we pump more information in, thereby bolstering oppostion forces, our ability to extract intelligence from a despotic regime increases." Ibid, comment from 54465446: "I am sure the North Koreans won't know they're starving until we broadcast the fact."

Radio Australia, 4 Jan 2011, Mark Willacy: "About 100,000 North Koreans have rallied in the capital Pyongyang in support of their leader Kim Jong-il and his regime. Broadcast on North Korean state TV, the rally in Pyongyang showed tens of thousands of people waving propaganda flags and placards. The gathering began with a hymn to the country's leader Kim Jong-il, and it was held to show support for new policy guidelines outlined in the regime's official New Year's message, in which North Korea called for co-operation and dialogue with the South."

Commentator discusses sourcing of news from North Korea by Radio Free Asia, etc.

Posted: 07 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Korea Times, 6 Jan 2011, Lee Chant-sup, chief editorial writer: "North Korea's former premier Yon Hyong-muk died, presumably of pancreatic cancer in 2005. At the height of his career, he was the most powerful person in the North outside the Kim Jong-il family. He was premier of North Korea from 1989 until 1992. ... This week, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that Kim Jong-il had killed him. Yon’s story is one of many stories making outsiders feel puzzled when they read news on North Korea. Verifying reports on North Korea is quite elusive and puzzling. .... Stories often sound interesting, and even believable, but have no proven grounds. The Japanese press is equally imaginative in reporting make-believe stories, but not credible factual stories, on North Korea. RFA which is often quoted by South Korean news organizations, also depends heavily on North Korean refugees for its reporting. In other words, many of the news stories reported in the press are unconfirmed stories. It is like saying, 'We do not care if people believe it or not, but this is our story.'"

Asia Times, 8 Jan 2011, Yong Kwon: "Radio Free Asia reported that the shelling of the Yeonpyeong Island caused widespread panic throughout North Korea because of the belief that the United States would retaliate militarily. According to the same report, the panic caused a rush on foreign currency and forced the price of food to rise, initiating a crisis similar to the one created by the currency revaluation in December 2009.Radio Free Asia reported that the shelling of the Yeonpyeong Island caused widespread panic throughout North Korea because of the belief that the United States would retaliate militarily. According to the same report, the panic caused a rush on foreign currency and forced the price of food to rise, initiating a crisis similar to the one created by the currency revaluation in December 2009."

On Radio Free Asia: North Korea's Parade of Homes.

Posted: 07 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 5 Jan 2011: "Satellite images show that there are more than 70 luxury residences and villas for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the ruling clique, Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday. The U.S.-funded radio station quoted satellite photo analyst Curtis Melvin as saying the villas are concentrated in Yongsong District in Pyongyang, Sinuiju, Wonsan, Hamhung, and Hoechon. They are typically a hybrid of Korean and Western-style buildings in thick forest with lakes and manicured gardens."

Report: Home of RFE/RL stringer in Turkmenistan attacked.

Posted: 06 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Eurasianet.org, 4 Jan 2011, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick: "Unidentified young men attacked the home in Ashgabat of Gurbansoltan Achilova, a civil society activist and stringer for Radio Azatlyk, the Turkmen Service for Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL), the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR) reported. Achilova said she was awoken at 4:00 am by the sound of broken glass, and found all her windows had been knocked out by stones, and that a group of about a dozen youths were leaving the scene. She immediately called the police, but was told that no cars were available as all the patrol vehicles were needed to ensure the security of the country's leaders during the holidays."

New D-Link router creates "challenging situation" for shortwave radios.

Posted: 06 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
D-Link press release, 4 Jan 2011: "D-Link's whole-home wireless connectivity portfolio now features hybrid networking solutions for extending wired and wireless networks in challenging situations, by tapping into the electrical wiring in the home. By integrating Atheros' industry-acclaimed Hy-Fi technology into a hybrid Wi-Fi/PowerLine Router, D-Link makes it easy for consumers to solve nagging coverage and performance problems. ... This product may interfere with devices such as lighting systems that have a dimmer switch, short wave radios, or other powerline devices that do not follow the HomePlug PowerLine Alliance standard."

Money Morning, 5 Jan 2011, William Patalon III: "[A]s a career-long journalist who's very interested in global investing trends, I've for years been a regular listener to world-band (shortwave) radio broadcasts. And Radio Australia is one of my favorite listening targets."

She finds it "hilarious" that VOA reports on Wikileaks-released cables even as US government employees can't read them.

Posted: 06 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Moderate Voice, 3 Jan 2011, Kathy Kattenburg: "I think it’s hilarious that the government-funded Voice of America publishes an article about a Wikileaks-released cable ... while this same government’s State Department (among other government agencies) forbids its employees to read Wikileaks on government computers and the government’s Department of Justice pursues ways to prosecute Wikileaks founder for espionage and holds in solitary confinement — under maximum physical custody reserved for the most dangerous of national security threats — the U.S. serviceman who allegedly gave said Wikileaks founder those documents." -- Some VOA reporters are authorized by VOA management to report on Wikileaks.

Harris Interactive/BBC America press release, 4 Jan 2011: "A new BBC World News America/Harris Poll finds that Americans are divided, with no consensus, as to how much freedom the media should have to publish confidential government documents. However, a sizable 69% to 18% of all adults agree that 'publishing these documents could pose a security threat to the United States and therefore should be illegal.'"

Study compares China news coverage of BBC World (News? Service?), CNN International, and Deutsche Welle TV.

Posted: 06 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 20 Dec 2010: "The USC Center on Public Diplomacy in cooperation with Deutsche Welle released a report on 'China in the News: A Comparative Analysis of the China Coverage of BBC World Service, CNN International, and Deutsche Welle'. Authors Philip Seib and Shawn Powers present the results of a comparative analysis of the China coverage of three international broadcasters: BBC World Service, CNN International and Deutsche Welle (DW). Drawing upon the results of a quantitative and qualitative content and framing analysis, the report identifies three different approaches to covering China-related news. Although all three broadcasters produced a similar number of China stories, the researchers found that the broadcasters each focused on different types of stories and utilized different frames in reporting China news." With link to the full report, dated July 2010.

From the report: "The USC Center on Public Diplomacy conducted a comparative content analysis of, BBC World Service, CNN International, and Deutsche Welle’s English-language television news coverage of China between 28 January and 4 March 2010. The morning and evening editions of the stations respective 30 minute flagship news programs were selected for analysis: Deutsche Welle's The Journal, BBC's World Newshour, and CNN International’s World Report." -- Is the BBC content radio or television? "BBC World Service" is radio, as opposed to "BBC World News," which is the television channel. And "Newshour" is a BBCWS radio program. DW's "The Journal" is a television program.

How broadcasting to Iran on shortwave can cause excitement in the streets and bazaars.

Posted: 06 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 4 Jan 2011, Emanuele Ottolenghi: "A top priority for policy makers should be to increase resources for the dissemination of free information inside Iran and to help ordinary Iranians organize against the regime. One way of doing this would be for EU countries to strengthen their own Farsi broadcast services, such as those from the BBC and Deutsche Welle, and to counter the regime's efforts to jam satellite transmissions and censor the Internet. An effective low-tech strategy would be to boost short-wave broadcasting. Tehran would have to confiscate every transistor radio in the country to prevent uncensored news from reaching Iranian homes. But our governments' support for radio, TV and Internet broadcasting should not stop at funding. The leaders of the free world must get on the airwaves themselves and start explaining Western policies while condemning the regime's human-rights abuses. Imagine the impact in the streets and bazaars in Tehran and beyond if David Cameron or Angela Merkel spoke directly to the Iranian people and expressed their support for freedom and democracy in Iran."

"Welcome to our daily broadcast in Farsi. Later, Angela Merkel will express her support for freedom and democracy in Iran. We are sure this will cause great excitement in your streets and bazaars. But first we present our program to help you organize against your regime."

As for the transistor radios, not all of them have shortwave bands. And there is the problem of convincing Iranians to start listening to shortwave again now that they are used to television and the internet. Western international broadcasters should frequently remind their Iranian audiences that the shortwave option is available (including the frequencies!) when satellite television and the internet are blocked.

Firewalls versus cyberattacks: "How the Kremlin Harnesses the Internet."

Posted: 06 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 4 Jan 2011, Evgeny Morozov: "In the past, repressive regimes have relied on Internet firewalls to block dissidents from spreading forbidden ideas; China has been particularly creative, while countries like Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are never far behind. But ... [u]nder the Russian model — what I refer to as 'social control' — no formal, direct censorship is necessary. Armies of pro-government netizens — which often include freelancing amateurs and computer-savvy members of pro-Kremlin youth movements — take matters into their own hands and attack Web sites they don’t like, making them inaccessible even to users in countries that practice no Internet censorship at all. Cyberattacks are just one of the growing number of ways in which the Kremlin harnesses its supporters to influence Web content. Most of the country’s prime Internet resources are owned by Kremlin-friendly oligarchs and government-controlled companies. These sites rarely hesitate to suspend users or delete blog posts if they cross the line set by the government. ...

"One reason so many foreign observers overlook the Kremlin’s harnessing of denial-of-service attacks is that they are used to more blatant measures of Internet control. China’s draconian efforts to filter the Internet — characterized by Wired magazine in a 1997 article as the 'Great Firewall of China' — harken back to the strict censorship of the airways by Communist governments during the Cold War. Back then it was possible to keep out or at least cut down on the influence of foreign ideas by jamming Western broadcasts. The Internet, however, has proven to be far too amorphous to dominate. So its better to co-opt it as much as possible by enabling private companies and pro-government bloggers to engage in 'comment warfare' with the Politburo’s foes. ... The eventual disappearance of Internet filtering in much of the world would count as a rather ambiguous achievement if it’s replaced by an outburst of cyberattacks, an increase in the state’s surveillance power, and an outpouring of insidious government propaganda. Policymakers need to stop viewing Internet control as just an outgrowth of the Cold War-era radio jamming and start paying attention to non-technological threats to online freedom."

This essay covers important ground for US international broadcasting. With Russians largely out of the habit of listening to, or even owning, shortwave radios, and with VOA and RFE/RL forced off of Russian domestic FM and television stations, the internet is becoming the best available means of getting USIB content into Russia. Russia, so far, unlike other countries, has not engaged in any large scale internet blocking.

Morozov compares today's internet blocking with the shortwave jamming of the Cold War era. It is debatable -- and it should be objectively assessed -- whether shortwave or the internet is more resistant to interdiction (jamming, blocking).

I think Morozov underplays the effectiveness of national firewalls, especially among average internet users, who are the majority of internet users. As for cyberattacks, defensive techniques are available. I've noticed how most attacked sites manage to get back online, usually within 24 to 48 hours. RFE/RL and VOA have the advantage of not using "prime Internet resources" inside Russia, except, of course, the final circuits needed to reach Russian users. Any interruption of those would constitute a firewall.

The Technology Liberation Front, 4 Jan 2011, Adam Thierer: "In his new book, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, Evgeny Morozov aims to prick the bubble of hyper-optimism that surrounds debates about the Internet’s role in advancing human freedom or civic causes. ... In Net Delusion, as with many of his previous columns and essays, Morozov positions himself the ultimate Net 'realist,' aiming to bring a dose of realpolitik to discussions about how much of a difference the Net and digital technologies make to advancing democracy and freedom. His depressing answer: Not much. Indeed, Morozov’s book is one big wet blanket on the theory that 'technologies of freedom' can help liberate humanity from the yoke of repressive government. ... Yet, in his zeal to counter those who have placed too great an emphasis on the role of information technology, Morozov himself has gone too far in the opposite extreme in The Net Delusion by suggesting that technology’s role in transforming States or politics is either mostly irrelevant or even, at times, counter-productive. I’m just not buying it."

RFE/RL's "Voices of Solidarity," and why it is not a good idea to confuse Belarusians.

Posted: 05 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 3 Jan 2011: "Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, former U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), and dozens of international leaders have taken to RFE's airwaves in Belarus to call attention to the plight of hundreds of Belarusian activists jailed in the wake of the dubious December 19 election. In broadcasts that aired over the New Year's weekend, prominent global leaders read the names of all detainees on RFE's Belarusian station, Radio Svaboda. ... Other prominent officials who participated in the Radio Svaboda project, known as 'Voices of Solidarity,' included U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) President Carl Gershman, Freedom House Executive Director David Kramer, Johns Hopkins University Professor Francis Fukuyama, Russian human rights activist Elena Bonner, RFE President Jeffrey Gedmin, and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. George W. Bush read the names of five presidential candidates being held in a KGB prison in Minsk. 'By reading each person's name, we are signaling that he or she is not forgotten,' says RFE Belarusian Service Director Alexander Lukashuk. 'We know from former Belarusian dissidents that inmates routinely smuggle shortwave radios into prison in order to listen to Radio Svaboda.'"

Washington Post, 3 Jan 2011, editorial: "Over new year's weekend, a group of global leaders joined in a remarkable protest against the political crackdown underway in Belarus, a country sometimes dubbed Europe's last dictatorship. Former president George W. Bush, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and the senior Republican and Democratic members of the House Foreign Relations Committee were among those who participated in a special broadcast by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Each read some of the names of the 700 individuals detained by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko after a disputed Dec. 19 election. The gesture offered some needed attention to a country whose holiday season crisis has yet to prompt an adequate reaction from the United States and other Western governments."

The Economist, Eastern approached blog, 3 Jan 2011, E.L.: "What to do about Belarus, where scores of opposition people are in detention, some of them unseen since arrest, and facing bogus charges of hooliganism? Some luminaries of the human-rights world have been doing their bit: reading out the names of those in jail, for broadcast on the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. They include former President George Bush, Czech and Polish foreign ministers Karel Schwarzenberg, and Radek Sikorski, Václav Havel, and others."

Free Media Online, 3 Jan 2011, Ted Lipien: "Interestingly, the initiative of conducting U.S. public diplomacy in defense of freedom has been taken up also by the U.S.-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which had played a major role in helping to bring down the communist system. I have been in the past critical of RFE/RL, especially its treatment of its own journalists, but many of these policies had been imposed on the station by former members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the BBG’s executives in Washington, D.C. Under the leadership of Bush-era appointed president Jeff Gedmin, RFE/RL has been trying to fill the gap created by the lack of a long-term U.S. public diplomacy strategy in East-Central Europe. RFE/RL has been broadcasting messages of support for the people of Belarus and providing news about the struggle for democracy to a number of countries in Eurasia. ... At least, RFE/RL is making it clear to its audiences that not all Americans agree with President Obama and his vision of America and the world. ...

"[I]t appears from a quick review of its English and Russian websites that the Voice of America did not even report on the RFE/RL’s Belarus initiative or the fact that George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice participated in it as the most prominent Americans. A search for 'Bush, Belarus, and RFE/RL' on the VOA websites did not return any results. If these two stations, working under the same BBG management, cannot consult with one another, it’s rather obvious that no one in Washington is in charge of coordinating public diplomacy and international broadcasting."

So, if I have this right, RFE/RL will fill a gap in US public diplomacy by "making it clear to its audiences that not all Americans agree with President Obama and his vision of America and the world." This is a peculiar notion of public diplomacy, which is conducted directly by administrations. On the other hand, it would be normal procedure for the independent journalistic role of international broadcasting. The VOA Charter, for example, states that "VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions."

The public diplomacy and international broadcasting are each vital professions. When the two functions -- advocacy and journalism -- are jumbled together, however, each loses energy.

A case in point is "Voices of Solidarity." The event was a good idea. RFE/RL conducting the event was not a good idea. The cause is commendable, but this was an exercise in propaganda.

RFE/RL probably has the most substantial external, independent news service available in the Belarusian language. Radio Svaboda's listeners and website readers must know, without ambiguity, that RFE/RL is a news organization, not an anti-Lukashenko faction.

RFE/RL's credibility would have been subject to less strain if "Voices of Solidarity" were conducted by Charter 97, or some other European NGO. RFE/RL's Radio Svaboda would cover the event, live, and almost in its entirety, cutting away just enough the let the audience know that RFE/RL, and not the event organizer, controls the microphone. After the event, Radio Svaboda would report on any reaction to "Voices of Solidarity" from Belarus and elsewhere.

See previous post about same subject.

Internews opens international press center in Port au Prince to assist coverage of earthquake anniversary.

Posted: 05 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Internews press release, 3 Jan 2011, via ReliefWeb: "Internews is creating an International Press Center in Port au Prince to support international journalists covering the one year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010. The press center, equipped with high speed internet and satellite TV, will help international journalists overcome the considerable logistical challenges to reporting from Haiti one year after the earthquake. Building on the proven demand for the press facility on the sixth month anniversary in June 2010, which attracted scores of journalists and broadcasters from major TV agencies and network broadcasters such as APTN, NBC and BBC World, the center will give journalists access to local journalists, leading humanitarian agencies and government representatives in the symbolic venue of the Montana (former Hotel Montana), from Monday, January 10 to Friday, January 14, 2011. Overlooking the city of Port-au-Prince and built in 1946, the Montana has always been the most prestigious Hotel in the country."

TV critic considers whether NHK's "Newsline" is ready for Los Angeles prime time.

Posted: 05 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan 2011, James Rainey: "KCET's daring and possibly foolish flight away from the PBS network has been in force only since New Year's Day, but it doesn't seem too early to guess that one program in the station's new lineup will not win a lot of fans. [NHK's] 'Newsline' takes the place of the dependable and time-tested [PBS] 'NewsHour,' the staple nightly news program that public television viewers see as the civilized antidote to the loud and contentious world of cable TV. ... We can all use an occasional view of the news as it appears from other points of view. And, to be sure, there are nearly 5 million people of Asian descent in California. But 'Newsline,' from Japan's NHK network, forces a form of total foreign immersion — with a Japan-based anchor introducing stories and pitching to correspondents who tailor their stories for audiences much closer to home. The problem is not language, at least entirely. 'Newsline' anchor Yuko Fukushima could give English lessons to a few news anchors here in L.A. But some of the NHK program's correspondents are not so facile — sounding like they are reading phonetically from flash cards." See previous post about same subject.

In the USA and South Korea, international channels become more domestic.

Posted: 04 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Variety, 4 Jan 2011, Stuart Levine: "BBC America has tapped Discovery Communications alum Rachel Smith as veep of original programming. ... Smith will oversee all aspects of nonscripted program development for BBC America, and develop relationships with show creators, talent, agents and writers in the hopes of mining new shows for the cabler. ... Said Smith: 'It's an honor and a privilege to be part of the team charged with extending the much-revered BBC brand into home-grown American content. I look forward to working with the BBC America team and program-makers to create some great shows for the channel.'"

Worldscreen.com, 3 Jan 2011, Mansha Daswani: "SPE Networks - Asia has formed a joint venture with CU Media - a division of the cable MSO C&M - to manage and operate the AXN channel brand in South Korea. With the new JV, AXN Korea, which features English-language shows subtitled into Korean, will be able to add local content to its slate. The joint venture will also expand AXN's Korean distribution base in cable. The brand has been in the market since July 2005, licensed as a foreign retransmission service."

Writer for New Delhi weekly sees connection between Radio Veritas Asia and Sri Lankan Tamils.

Posted: 04 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Organiser (New Delhi), 9 Jan 2011 issue, BR Haran: Father Jagat Gaspar Raj "shot into the limelight through Radio Veritas. It is a non-stock, non-profit organisation tasked to 'proclaim the message of God’s love to the peoples of Asia.' RVA is committed to proclaim the message of God’s love to the people of Asia by producing human development and Catholic evangelisation programmes, in cooperation with recognised production centers and transmitting these programmes via short-wave and related means of electronic media. This station is also used by the Church to promote its brand of politics. The Sri Lankan Government has earlier protested against its bias in promoting Tamil Tiger politics. Fr Jagat Gaspar Raj was with the Tamil section of the Veritas radio, broadcasting a half hour slots daily in the morning as well as in the evening. As this radio is a shortwave broadcast, many in Tamil Nadu do not listen to this radio broadcast. The radios in many houses in Tamil Nadu do not have the shortwave. But Sri Lankans have direct access through shortwave radio connections. Veritas also had direct access to Jaffna through the Catholic Church. The Tamil Catholic priests in Jaffna who had the privilege of moving freely in war zones of Jaffna fed Radio Veritas with pro-Tiger versions of events. Veritas used to receive the news reports from the Jaffna Bishop’s House for broadcast. The news carried in the Veritas Tamil service usually lasts for about five minutes but it had a powerful impact on the Sri Lankan Tamils. The censorship imposed by the Sri Lankan Government also helped the Tamil service of Radio Veritas to gain a considerable following in Jaffna. It was at the height of the ethnic conflict that Fr Jagat Gaspar Raj became the Director of the Veritas Tamil service." See also Radio Veritas Asia Tamil Section web page.

Al Jazeera's coverage of protests in Tunisia gets mixed reviews.

Posted: 04 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Magharebia, 3 Jan 2011, Monia Ghanmi: "Al-Jazeera coverage of the Sidi Bouzid protests is causing controversy across Tunisia, with some citizens praising the Qatari network for filling a media void and others slamming the news reports as biased and unprofessional. ... Al Jazeera's coverage involved a lot of exaggeration and misinformation due to its few sources, according to al-Khabeer journalist Najia Ghenimi, adding that the channel's 'Every Angle/Every Side' slogan was absent in its dealing with events in Tunisia. ... Other journalists, however, praised the channel's reporting techniques as groundbreaking. Al Jazeera created a new method in its coverage of events, by depending on pictures and videos posted on social networking websites, al-Arab journalist Abdelatif Jaballah said, adding that the channel's coverage of the demonstrations was based on images captured by eyewitnesses." ("The Magharebia web site is sponsored by the United States Africa Command, the military command responsible for supporting and enhancing US efforts to promote stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.") See previous post about same subject.

BBC and CNN International as antidotes for America's "Media McDonalds."

Posted: 04 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 3 Jan 2011, Brian Ross: "Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News and Fox TV is to the media business what Ray Kroc, McDonalds founder, was to the restaurant biz: A purveyor of mental junk food. We in the news business fail, much as the restaurant business did for years, because we chase quick profit and fail to show you the nutritious news to feed your mind and preserve our freedom. ... Listen to the BBC World Service. Watch the news on BBC America. In one hour it puts to shame every news organization in North America, including NPR, PBS, and even the much-vaunted last bastion of American news, the New York Times, which runs a distant second. None of the other networks other than the BBC, and few newspapers other than the New York Times and, stretching, the Washington Post, give us anything more than a tiny snapshot of the goings-on in the world. In the rest of the world CNN International goes toe-to-toe with the BBC for coverage. In the United States we get reruns of Larry King and a disgraced former New York governor turned talking head in a news-lite show about very little. ... Bookmark the BBC, and demand more of CNN's international news on the American broadcast." See previous post about CNN International.

The internet, he writes, won't "promote democracy without having to send in the Marines."

Posted: 04 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Post, 2 Jan 2011, Evgeny Morozov: "[S]o many in the West still believe that it was Radio Free Europe and Voice of America, along with technology smuggled into the Soviet Union, that destroyed communism. Such triumphalism views about the Cold War’s end have survived well into the new millennium... . If only the Iranians or the Chinese had the tools to act, they would long overthrow their dictators! The Internet, such logic goes, would allow America to promote democracy without having to send in the Marines. Sadly, the vast majority of those oppressed by authoritarianism have pragmatically reasoned that their iPads would be far better employed to play Angry Birds or watch Lady Gaga videos than to download reports from Amnesty International or edit Wikipedia entry on 'human rights.' ... Anyone who believes that 'Twitter revolutionaries' would be able to topple the regimes in Tehran or Beijing on their own are only playing in the hands of the dictators, many of whom are quite content to see their troublesome youths to protest in virtual — rather than real — town squares. The Internet is more helpful in allowing the dissatisfied to blow off their steam rather than in orchestrating the next revolution."

Foreign Policy, January/February 2011, Evgeny Morozov: "[T]he State Department's enthusiasm for technology has surpassed its understanding of it. Early last year, in an effort to help Iranian dissidents, the U.S. government granted an export license to the company behind Haystack, a privacy-protecting and censorship-circumventing technology then being touted in the media as a revolutionary tool for Internet freedom. But Haystack proved to be poorly designed and massively insecure in its early tests in Iran, putting its users -- the democracy advocates it was supposed to protect -- in even greater danger. ... The idea that the U.S. government can advance the cause of Internet freedom by loudly affirming its commitment to it -- especially when it hypocritically attempts to shut down projects like WikiLeaks -- is delusional. The best way to promote the goals behind the Internet Freedom Agenda may be not to have an agenda at all."

Wall Street Journal, 3 Jan 2011, L. Gordon Crovitz: New year's resolution for "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: After her rousing speech in Washington, D.C. early last year on an open Internet as manifest destiny, the U.S. has done little to empower users in censored countries such as Iran. Using new technologies, the U.S. could enable millions of people to jump over national firewalls at a level of taxpayer expense similar to Radio Free Europe and other Cold War efforts."

Al Jazeera in the news: new offices in Riyadh and Seoul, criticized for Nigeria reporting.

Posted: 04 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 2 Jan 2011: "The Al Jazeera Channel is going to open office in Saudi Arabia in the next few months, a local Arabic daily reported yesterday quoting the Saudi Newspaper Al Watan. The Channel has negotiated with several Saudi journalists to work with the new office planned in Riyadh, the daily added."

Arirang, 3 Jan 2011: "The Doha-based international news network Al Jazeera is set to open an office in Seoul early this year. The Managing Director of Al Jazeera English, Al Anstey, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency that Korea is playing a large role in the Asian economy and in the information technology field while adding that many viewers are interested in the situation on the Korean peninsula. Al Jazeera has more than 65 bureaus around the world, including three in Asia."

Bernama, 3 Jan 2011: Anstey "expected the bureau to give South Korea a larger share of the channel's total news content and deliver a more accurate perspective on the country to viewers in the Arabic-speaking world."

PANA, 2 Jan 2011: "Nigeria has slammed international news channel Al Jazeera for its alleged inaccurate reporting of the Abuja military barracks blast that claimed four lives and left many more injured. A presidency statement said Saturday that an Al Jazeera report quoting President Goodluck Jonathan as blaming Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram for the Abuja bombing was 'an outright lie.'"

Voice of Russia chairman invites listeners to listen to his station: "intellectual, competent, interesting and fast."

Posted: 04 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, "Red Line," 31 Dec 2010, Ekaterina Kudashkina interviewing Andrei Bystritski, Chairman of the Voice of Russia: "Ekaterina Kudashkina: What are your plans for the future development of our company? Andrei Bystritsky: Of course, I hope that the Voice of Russia will be a typical multimedia company. We have to use video, texts, audio and so on. We have to find new ways of reaching a new audience. ... And now, traditional radio broadcasting is a sort of promotion of our broadcasting in new forms. Ekaterina Kudashkina: Does it mean that you are going to explore new ways in the Internet, namely in such projects as Facebook? Andrei Bystritsky: Maybe, LiveJournal would be better for intellectual discussions. But LiveJournal is not very popular. Facebook is designed to exchange brief information. It is a marketing tool, a tool for communication. There is a hierarchy of communication types and we should therefore understand that Facebook is a simple way to exchange simple information and that’s it. ... Ekaterina Kudashkina: With that vision of the essence of human communication, what do you want to wish our listeners? Andrei Bystritsky: To listen to the Voice of Russia, since we present a very high level of radio broadcasting. It is intellectual, competent, interesting and fast." -- By expanding into video and text, VOR is increasingly competing with Russia Today (RT).

Online Journal Russia! Magazine: "Hi all, we all love LiveJournal, but Russia! also has a Facebook page, so if you have an account there, check it out! Love, Your grandmother."

Voice of the Native dagblog, 1 Jan 2011, Orion: "Native Americans are largely undiscussed in the American media, as if their existence were a historical aberration. Foreign media, like Russia Today, do bring up their role in the American story in an effort to show the country's imperfections, while the like of Rush Limbaugh use their economic marginalization as red meat to his prejudiced listeners." With link to RT video report abouit native Americans in Alaska.

The trouble with balloons in international propaganda is that they sometimes domestically disseminate themselves.

Posted: 03 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 2 Jan 2011: South Korean activists ... unsuccessfully tried to launch thousands of propaganda leaflets by balloons toward North Korea. The balloons flew southward and burst in mid-air in a southern town before crossing the border because of strong winds. The activists burned placards with the images of a North Korean national flag and the photos of Kim and his son and heir-apparent Kim Jong Un before flying the balloons." -- This AP story seems no longer available, so I'm excerpting from the cached version. Perhaps the balloons did not actually turn southward, but this version of the story is much more entertaining.

PTI, 31 Dec 2010: "Breaking the monotony of regular programmes and propaganda on North Korea's state TV, the channel has broadcast first ever western film -- Gurinder Chadha's 'Bend it Like Beckham'. ... Quoting a message aired during the broadcast, BBC said the film was shown to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries."

North Korea Tech, 2 Jan 2011, Martyn Williams: "The Korean Central News Agency carried video news for the first time on its new home page on Jan. 1, 2011. Two video clips were posted as part of the daily news offering. The first shows scenes from around Pyongyang, including families visiting the Mansudae Grand Monument, while the second includes more shots of the city and comments from a government official identified as Kim Pyong O, a department director in the Ministry of Light Industry, on the New Year editorial." See also RFE/RL, Tangled Web blog, 3 Jan 2011, Luke Allnut.

Private US shortwave station news: WINB expands hours, WYFR prepares for abrupt sign-off.

Posted: 03 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 30 Dec 2010, citing Hans Johnson: "America’s oldest private international shortwave station WINB is expanding its schedule as of 1 January 2010 (USA date, not UTC date). It will be using a new frequency, 9405 kHz, from 0330-1130 UTC carrying the Christian programme Radio 2:11." See also reception notes by Glenn Hauser via Bclnews, 2 Jan 2011.

This new transmission, nominally beamed to Central America but also audible in parts of North America, it not yet listed at the WINB website, which bills the station as "America’s oldest private international shortwave station."

WINB (Red Lion, PA) is the US shortwave station whose license has longest, since 1962, been been held by the same organization. Another private US station, WYFR, holds a license that dates back to the W1XAL of 1931, with call letters changed to WRUL in 1939, and to WNYW in 1966. In 1973, the license was sold by then-owner Bonneville to Family Stations Inc. (now Family Radio Worldwide), which changed the call letters to WYFR.

After WINB received its shortwave license in 1962, the Federal Communication Commission began a moratorium on new private shortwave licenses. That ended with the granting of a shortwave license to WRNO in New Orleans in 1982. Many other US private stations came on the air in the subsequent years.

And on the subject of WYFR, and its owner Family Radio...

AP, 2 Jan 2011: "Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio Worldwide, [is an] independent Christian ministry whose leader, Harold Camping, has calculated the May 21 date based on his reading of the Bible. ... Camping, 89, believes the Bible essentially functions as a cosmic calendar explaining exactly when various prophecies will be fulfilled. The retired civil engineer said all his calculations come from close readings of the Bible, but that external events like the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 are signs confirming the date. 'Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment,' he said. The doctrine known as the Rapture teaches that believers will be taken up to heaven, while everyone else will remain on earth for a period of torment, concluding with the end of time. Camping believes that will happen in October." See also Family Radio Worldwide website.

WYFR is an active member of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (NASB). NASB is organizing a Caribbean cruise for its members, with the convenient dates 13-16 May 2011.

All India Radio transmitter "upgradation" includes shortwave.

Posted: 02 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Indiantelevision.com, 31 Dec 2010: All India Radio "stations are functioning at a total of 238 places. AIR has a total of 380 transmitters (177 FM, 149 MW, and 54 Short Wave). Information and Broadcasting sources admitted to indiantelevision.com that some of the AIR transmitters were working sub-optimally as they had outlived their useful life of more than twenty years. Problems have also been faced in AIR because of shortage of staff. The old transmitters are being replaced in phased manner with state-of-the-art Digital Technology Transmitters. Replacement or upgradation of 34 FM transmitters, 40 Medium Wave Transmitters, and five Short Wave transmitters have been taken up in the Eleventh Plan, and the quality is expected to improve after this work is completed."

In Buffalo, Oprah bumps CNN International from Verizon FiOS. Elsewhere, too?

Posted: 02 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Buffalo News, 31 Dec 2010: "Holiday TV viewers not glued to the bowl games may want to check in on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, which debuts today. ... On Verizon FiOS, it replaces a CNN International channel on Channel 105."

This is in Buffalo. Will this happen elsewhere in the FiOS network? So far, here in arguably more cosmopolitan northern VirginIa, CNN International and Oprah Winfrey's OWN continue to coexist on separate FiOS channels. (Not that we can watch it in our house, as we use FiOS only for internet.)

In a previous post, I discussed how domestic distribution of CNN International would do much to overcome of the paucity of world news in the United States. And no government subsidy, as proposed by Columbia University president Lee Bollinger, would be required. FiOS is perhaps the only multichannel television system providing CNN International in the United States, and, at least in Buffalo, even that has disappeared. The paucity becomes a vacuum.

Bowie (MD) Patch, 1 Jan 2011, John Rouse: "I pay a fortune for Verizon's FIOS service, and the TV side is a thousand or so channels, most of which are junk. BBC and France 24 save the day for me."

Washington Post is latest news outlet to cover VOA Persian satire program.

Posted: 01 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 1 Jan 2011, Tara Bahrampour: "[L]ately, a couple of irreverent expats in Washington have captivated Iranians with a show that pokes fun at the absurdities of life in the Islamic republic. Operating out of Voice of America's Persian News Network, Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi have started a weekly program, 'Parazit,' that has drawn comparisons to Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show' for its satiric take on Iran's news of the day. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a favorite target. 'His bloopers are fantastic,' said Arbabi, 37, as he and Hosseini, 35, cozied up to pints of Guinness in a District bar. 'The same way Bush was - he says a lot of dumb things without thinking about it, and at the same time he's president of one of the most important countries in the region. And they have nukes.' ... Although VOA doesn't know how many people watch 'Parazit' via their forbidden satellite dishes, posts from 'Parazit's' Facebook page have been viewed more than 17 million times in the past month - a staggering number compared with other VOA programming. The show's YouTube channel generates another 45,000 hits each week."

Here, VOA Persian is functioning as a "surrogate" broadcaster for Iran: providing the content that Iranian domestic would if it were free. Yes, in theory, VOA is not supposed to be the surrogate station, but, de facto, in most parts of the world, it is.

The use of satire or other types of humor at the expense of the government of the target country is not new to international broadcasting. The technique was used in World War II. In the last years of the Soviet Union, Radio Moscow's English service for North America had a program called "Warmongers' Monthly," employing fairly amusing skits to lambaste various US policies. But only the United States, and never the Soviet government and Communist Party, were at the receiving end.

The most courageous, groundbreaking, and balanced use of humor in international broadcasting was Radio Sweden's Saturday Show, because the Swedish government, along with other national governments, e.g. USA, USSR, was the object of the humor.

When President Obama consented to an interview by BBC Persian, rather than VOA Persian, did "Parazit" do a bit about that? In such a case, the humor would have been at the expense of the president and/or VOA. The sketch could have practically written itself.

See previous posts on 2 Dec, 25 Nov, and 8 Oct 2010 about the same subject.

China Radio International DG says China International Broadcasting Corp. (whatever it is) will be set up "before long."

Posted: 01 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 1 Jan 2011, new year's speech of CRI director general Wang Gengnian: "This year, 17 new full frequency FM or AM radio stations were established abroad, a multimedia entity consisting of radio, television, and internet is taking its shape, and a brand new broadcasting building is in the works. Before long, China International Broadcasting Network (CIBN) will be set up. With the help of new media, CRI is ready to offer more timely and accessible information. All our efforts have paid off. We have received a record of more than 3 million letters and e-mails from listeners and netizens around the world. ... The coming year marks the 70th anniversary of China Radio International. Along with your support and enthusiasm, we have successfully grown from our memorable old days to our present prosperity." -- It is still unclear what CIBN is, and what its relationship to CRI will be. See previous post about same subject.

China Radio International, 31 Dec 2010, Chinese President Hu Jintao's new year's address: "At this beautiful moment of bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new, via China Radio International, China National Radio and China Central Television, I am delighted to extend New Year greetings to Chinese of all ethnic groups, to compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions and Taiwan, to overseas Chinese and to friends all over the world! ... Development. In the upcoming year, we will unswervingly uphold the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, deepen the implementation of the Scientific Outlook on Development under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, pursue a path of scientific development, accelerate the change of development mode and structural adjustment, and maintain a proactive fiscal and stable monetary policy."

"The Archers" in another time and place: BBC radio series in Rwanda and Afghanistan are "education through entertainment."

Posted: 01 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 30 Dec 2010, Susannah Butter: "Although The Archers is no longer setting out to educate, [its original] idea, which actor Felicity Finch (who plays Ruth Archer) calls the 'education through entertainment' model, has since inspired radio shows around the world. Twice a week, 10m Rwandans (74 per cent of the population) tune in to Urunana (which means 'hand in hand') to hear tales from a fictional village called Nyarurembo. Launched by UK-based charity Health Poverty Action (formerly Health Unlimited) in February 1999, Urunana is broadcast through the BBC World Service and local radio. The scripts reflect discussions that producers, writers and actors have had with people in villages about what they would like to hear and the programme is beginning to cover political subjects – a character called Agnes mourns for her family who were killed in the 1994 genocide, and there’s also discussion of HIV and Aids. In Afghanistan, Naway Kor, Naway Jwand (New Home, New Life), about life in a rural Afghan village, was first broadcast by the World Service in 1994 and has 11m listeners. A 1997 United Nations study found that there had been a reduction in injuries from landmine accidents since 1994, partly due to the soap opera’s storylines. The success led in 2009 to a spin-off soap, Old City, New Dreams, aimed at young people coming to the city to look for work. Finch, who has been to Rwanda to meet the producers of Urunana, says: 'In countries like Rwanda and Afghanistan, where a huge percentage of the population are illiterate and live in remote rural areas, radio is a fantastic medium for reaching out. But, as with The Archers in 1951, the educational aspect would not be successful if these programmes did not also entertain.'"

BBC News, 1 Jan 2011: Photo slideshow: "New Home, New Life is a bilingual radio drama in Afghanistan that was first broadcast by the BBC World Service in 1994."

Ivorian domestic media criticize French international broadcasting.

Posted: 01 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 30 Dec 2010, Roy Greenslade blog: "The state-owned Radio-Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) continues to take Ggagbo's side. It accused the French news channel France 24 of trying to 'destabilise the country' by broadcasting the independent electoral council's proclamation of provisional results, according to which Ouattara won the presidential election. The daily Le Temps accused the French media of 'showing bad faith.' The same day, Notre Voie ran the headline: 'Election second round, lies and disinformation from France 24 and RFI.' Freelance cameraman Alassane Kanaté, who works for France 24, was arrested at a military roadblock, held overnight and mistreated while in detention. The signals of all international radio and TV news stations carried by the Canal+ Horizon satellite service were suspended on the orders of the National Broadcasting Council (CNCA) on 2 December, citing the need to 'preserve social peace.' ... Since 24 December, La Première, RTI's major TV channel, has not been available in France or in neighbouring African countries, due to the jamming of satellite service." -- Probably not jamming, but some other interruption of the usual La Première signal. See previous post about same subject.

Reporters sans frontières, 25 Dec 2010: "Reporters Without Borders has established that since 24 December, La Première, the leading TV channel of Côte d’Ivoire’s state-owned broadcaster Radio-Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI), has not been available in France or in neighbouring African countries, where it is normally carried by the Canal + Horizon satellite service. It would seem this is because its signal has been suspended or is being jammed. ... Although concerned that RTI began several weeks ago to behave like one faction’s propaganda tool rather than a public service media, Reporters Without Borders believes that jamming or any action designed to prevent a news media’s dissemination is never an appropriate response and regards it as a violation of media freedom."

Christian Science Monitor, Africa Monitor, 31 Dec 2010, G. Pascal Zachary: "As [Duke University anthropologist] Stephen Smith told the Voice of America’s enterprising correspondent Nico Colombant, the UN’s action [in Ivory Coast] following a disputed African election appears unprecedented."

BBG seeks sources that can provide "cell phone messaging services into the borders of closed societies" (updated again)

Posted: 01 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Nextgov.com, 20 Dec 2010, Aliya Sternstein: "The federal government is searching for vendors to provide cell phone messaging services for U.S.-funded news broadcasters inside closed societies, according to federal contracting officials. Such technology likely would rely on proxy mobile networks that could sustain communications when a repressive regime heightens surveillance of existing cell phone networks, or shutters social media services. ... On Friday, the government-funded broadcasting service that operates Voice of America announced it is surveying the market to find out if any organizations or companies are capable of delivering text-messaging services in countries that block Internet and cell phone service. ... 'If an alternate network got set up, then, for the BBG, it might be a conduit through which people could send [text] alerts about what is happening,' said Robert Guerra, Internet freedom program director for Freedom House, a human rights group. 'If you successfully set up a mobile network it would allow people to tune in to the broadcast through their phone.'" Refers to...

FedBizOpps.gov, 17 Dec 2010: "On-demand transmission of bulk messaging to include unlimited number of recipients ... Automated managed subscriber opt-in/opt-out capability." -- "On demand" of the BBG entity, or the recipient? Good to know there will be an opt-out procedure, which is not always available in USIB textual news services.

Setting up a "proxy mobile network" inside a closed target country is the international broadcasting equivalent of "bring me the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West!" As mobile networks involve cell towers and landlines entirely inside other countries, they are very gatekept systems. (The actual "sources sought notice" does not mention proxy mobile networks.)

If this works, excellent. However, it's prudent to seek independent verification of claims by companies and government agencies that they can get information into countries where that information is thoroughly blocked and censored.

Also keep in mind that mobile phone users can be annoyed by the reception of text messages that are 1) unsolicited, 2) solicited but arrive too often, or 3) incur costs.

Pajhwok Afghan News website, 23 Dec 2010, via BBC Monitoring: "Militants torched two towers of private mobile-phone companies in the northern province of Baghlan, officials said on Thursday [23 December]. Armed men of the Jundullah destroyed boosters of Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) in Borka and Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) in Koh-e Mar area of Nahrain district late Wednesday night. ... A month earlier, all the private mobile companies would switch off their antennas from 6pm to 6am because of a Taleban warning. Over the past one month, however, residents had 24 hours access to mobile phone services."

Update: p2pnet, 30 Dec 2010: "Two Berlin mobile security researchers have outlined the 'SMS of Death' attack which could, they say, potentially strike millions of mobile phones worldwide, the overwhelming majority of which are ‘non-smart’ older models. 'By flooding these mobiles with hundreds of thousands of malicious texts, they were able to discover bugs within the phones text-message reading software, that in some cases would force the phone to get stuck in a reboot loop', says Deutsche Welle." See also Aljazeera.net, 31 Dec 2010.

National Geographic News Watch, 21 Dec 2010, Ken Banks interviewing Bev Clark, program director of Freedom Fone, and a founder of Kubatana, a Zimbabwean civil society NGO: "[M]any Zimbabweans cannot access email. To address this challenge we have developed an SMS subscriber list that is approximately 14,000 strong. We use SMS to share news headlines, notifications of events and we also encourage a two-way dialogue. We pose questions on social justice issues and ask our subscribers to respond with their views and opinions. We, in turn, collate the SMS responses and publish them either in our weekly email newsletter or on our community blog. In so doing we believe we extend the conversation to people living on the margins of access to information. Zimbabweans are more connected via text and mobile than any other way. The Internet and email remain 'elite' technologies. Print distribution can be difficult and sensitive, depending on the issue you are raising, and the audience you are targeting. Broadcast media is closed to independent voices. SMS is a very immediate way of communicating and very private, too. Our biggest feedback comes via text messages."

Radio station for Southern Sudan can now transmit from Southern Sudan.

Posted: 01 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 29 Dec 2010, Daniel Braverman: "Since 2003, the Sudan Radio Service, an 'independent media service dedicated to peace and development in Sudan,' has broadcast balanced news and information in Arabic, English and several local languages in an effort to help promote peace and to help the country transition to democracy. Because conditions in Sudan originally were deemed too unstable for SRS to establish studios and headquarters in the country, it has operated from Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya, with MP3 audio files sent via the Internet for broadcast from offshore shortwave transmitters. However, conditions in southern Sudan have improved since the 2005 peace agreement that ended the north-south civil war; and in 2008 it was decided that the time had come to move SRS operations to Sudan and to supplement its shortwave broadcasts with a 2 kW FM transmission from Juba, the southern Sudanese capital."

TV and Radio Martí rebroadcast call-in program of Venezuela's Globovisión.

Posted: 01 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 30 Dec 2010: "Globovision’s citizen call-in program about life in Venezuela, Alo Ciudadano (Hello Citizen), will now reach a Cuban audience via Radio and TV Martí. As part of expanded coverage of relevant international news, TV Martí began broadcasting Alo Ciudadano on Dec. 27 and Radio Martí will soon air the program. ... In a country where many newspapers and broadcast companies are closing down or scaling back, Alo Ciudadano remains one of the few broadcast forums for independent voices. In Alo Ciudadano citizens express their opinions and/or complaints live on the phone or via text messages, which appear on the news ticker." -- Globovisión is a 24-hour television news network in Venezuela facing pressure from the Chávez government.

While Belarusian president delivers new year's address, President Bush reads names of Belarusian activists on RFE/RL.

Posted: 01 Jan 2011   Print   Send a link
PAP/Gazeta Wyborcza, 31 Dec 2010, via Polskie Radio: "Poland’s Foreign Minister, Radek Sikorski and former Deputy Prime Minister and economist, Leszek Balcerowicz are to go on-air and read a letter sent by incarcerated Belarusian opposition activists on Radio Svaboda, the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe. The idea to read the letter came from journalists working for Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, which has its offices in Prague. 'We will start to read the letter on New Year’s Eve, at precisely the same time when [Belarusian president] Lukashenko will be delivering his New Year’s address to the nation,' Jan Maksymiuk, a journalist working for Radio Svaboda told the Gazeta Wyborcza daily. Sikorski and Balcerowicz are to be joined by a number of other high-ranking politicians in reading out ten surnames of people who have been arrested by the Belarusian KGB following the unrest seen after the elections. Other politicians billed to take part in the event are former US president George Bush, former Czech President and opposition activist Vaclav Havel, the Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, as well as Russian human rights activists Irena Bonner and Sergei Kovalev." See also RFE/RL, 1 Jan 2011, with audio.

While The Right takes a break, VOA and RFE/RL take flak from The Left.

Posted: 31 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Dissident Voice, 29 Dec 2010, Linh Dinh: "Even Voice of America, that Cold War relic and official mouthpiece of Washington, has this exchange: [VOA]: 'How does it feel from the beginning of the Christmas season from your point of view?" [Cashier]: 'It’s not that good. It’s like so-so, you know.' ... [VOA]: 'Is your job in danger?' [Cashier]: 'Yeah.' Weird, such candor from the VOA. Maybe their CIA check bounced?"

World Socialist Web Site, 31 Dec 2010, Paul Mitchell and Chris Marsden: "A report by the Council of Europe describes Kosovo today as a country subject to 'mafia-like structures of organised crime'. It accuses KLA commander and current prime minister, Hachim Thaci, of heading a criminal network involved in murder, prostitution and drug trafficking. ... The liberal media has been largely silent on the charges against Thaci and wholly silent as regards any editorial mea culpa—denoting their own agreement with the propaganda mouthpiece of US imperialism, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which insisted, 'Regardless of the truth behind the charges against Thaci and members of the KLA, one should not abandon the broader perspective, as some otherwise reliable commentators have done.'" Refers to a commentary by Gordana Knezevic, director of RFE/RL’s Balkan Service, RFE/RL, 21 Dec 2010. "The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL."

Singing competition show on NBC will be called "The Voice," not "The Voice of America."

Posted: 31 Dec 2010   Print   Send a link
Inside Blip, 29 Dec 2010, Michele Lellouche: "Sensing an opportunity with the departure of Simon Cowell from 'American Idol' and coming off the success of 'The Sing Off,' NBC is launching its own individual singing competition, 'The Voice.' Originally titled 'Voice of America,' the show is based on a successful Dutch series and will be produced for the U.S. by John de Mol of 'Big Brother' and Mark Burnett, the mastermind behind 'Survivor' and 'The Apprentice.'" -- At the top of voanews.com, notice notice the ® next to Voice of America. I don't know if it's new, but it certainly is conspicuous. See previous post about same subject.