China and Austria exchange culture and lifestyle television series.

Posted: 28 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Xinhua, 24 Feb 2011: "A video series jointly produced by Chinese and Austrian media on Wednesday premiered on a TV channel in Germany. The video series 'Tandem-China and Austria' was a joint project between China International Broadcasting Network (CIBN) and Austrian television broadcaster ORF. The eight-episode series aims to introduce Chinese culture, lifestyles and thinking to German-speaking nations and vice versa. Each 45-minutes episode compares the two nations in certain fields such as economy and education. The first episode 'Beijing and Vienna' was aired on BR-alpha, a TV channel owned by Bavarian Broadcasting, a German media company based in Munich." -- And what channel in China will broadcast the Austrian video?

Telesur "feeding a total falsehood" about Libyan uprising.

Posted: 28 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Field, 23 Feb 2011, Al Giordano: "The version of events fed to TeleSur viewers portrays Gaddafi pronouncing 'I am a revolutionary,' and repeats his claims that 'extremist groups are paying the demonstrators' against him without a shred of irony or proof. It portrays the dictator as defending the country of Libya from 'the insults that have been made against the Libyan people in recent days.' ... Of course, TeleSur gave top billing to Castro’s claim of a 'plan by the US for NATO to invade Libya.' Libyan demonstrators are portrayed as pillaging and burning everything in sight ('furious hordes,' a general is quoted as describing them) and that 'there are no police, nor Army, nor security forces' to be found. Not a word about the multiple massacres by Gaddafi’s troops, who according to TeleSur, contrary to repressing the people, are not even present, nor the aerial attacks by military planes on the crowds. TeleSur has reported nothing about the defections by military, diplomatic and tribal pillars of support for the regime. In sum, TeleSur is feeding a total falsehood to its viewers and calling it 'news.'", 24 Feb 2011, Roy S. Carson: "What is strangest about TeleSur's astonishing fictionalization of the Libyan crisis is that the news organization has an existing agreement with Al Jazeera in which each network may use the video footage of the other. But none of the strongest images or reports by Al Jazeera from Libya have made it past the cutting room floor in Caracas this week.", 25 Feb 2011, translating Correo del Orinoco International: "According to BBC Mundo, there is no evidence of Internet censorship in Venezuela. The article, titled Internet Censorship Map and The War Over Payments, reports on an investigation by OpenNet, a joint initiative between Harvard Law School and Citizen Lab of the University of Toronto, regarding countries that censor Internet, the type of content that is censored and how it is done. ... In every category no evidence was found of Internet censorship in Venezuela. Other countries with no evidence of Internet censorship include Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico, Chile and Paraguay. However, in the United States, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Argentina some type of censorship was detected."

Global Voices, 26 Feb 2011, Julián Ortega Martínez: "Unlike the Egyptian protests, when teleSUR mostly relied on the coverage by Al Jazeera English (both outlets have a content deal since 2006) and which were celebrated as a 'victory' by the network, teleSUR seemed to have, specially during the early days of their coverage inside Libya, a favourable bias to the country's ruler Muammar Al Gaddafi. Critics of teleSUR have claimed it is a 'propaganda tool' for left-wing Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, and last week when rumours emerged about Gaddafi having fled to Venezuela, many people were reminded about the close relationship between the two leaders."

BBC News, 28 Feb 2011: "1300 Venezuela's state-run news channel Telesur, has sent a special correspondent into Libya. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has close ties to Col Gaddafi. Telesur's correspondent, Jordan Rodriguez, tweets: 'We are now in Surman. Forces loyal to Gaddafi are in control of the city. Trade and traffic are normal.'"

Mathaba, 26 Feb 2011: "The calm that prevailed changed the Libyan capital on Friday, with riots in different parts of the city and a remarkable increase of security devices, however pro Muammar Al Gaddafi demonstrators remain in the Green Square, special teleSUR Jordan Rodriguez envoy reported. The home team of journalists from TeleSur was threatened and assaulted, confirmed the journalist. ... Rodriguez said the teleSUR team was arrested a second time for four hours, when they came back after the tour of the Libyan capital and said the situation for journalists is quite difficult. ... He said the team cameraman teleSUR, Jesus Romero, received several physical blows as well. (Mathaba: Is it not fantastic, that Gaddafi, who surely has a lot of security around him, has absolutely no media with him? Did it not occur to him to at least allow TeleSur to be with him and report? Instead his stupid array of fossil media has all collapsed, no outside voice whatsoever, and even TeleSur, which is certainly objective and also most definitely not against him with any agenda such as the other media, is relegated to being beaten up, and among the chaos of street corners without any view neither of what is happening in Tripoli as a whole, nor with Gaddafi family, nor of course the rest of Libya. Bravo Gaddafi.)"

Radio Free Libya? Or is it Radio Free Tobruk? Or Voice of Free Libya? Anyway, free of Gadhafi.

Posted: 28 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
McClatchy Newspapers, 24 Feb 2011, Hannah Allam: "Tobruk’s Radio Free Libya was among the first three stations in the country to offer uncensored updates on the revolt against Gadhafi’s regime, which still controls the capital, Tripoli, and most of the western part of the nation. Once supervised by in-house intelligence agents who had the final say over every program, the radio station is now the mouthpiece of anti-government rebels who have few other conduits to the masses because the old state-run newspapers have stopped publishing, and the regime has shut down the Internet and most cellphone service throughout the country." See also photo, Spiegel, 26 Feb 2011.

BBC Monitoring, 25 Feb 2011: "[T]wo opposition-controlled radio stations, thought to be using the transmitters of Libyan state radio that have fallen into opposition hands, have been heard from neighbouring countries. 'Radio Free Libya from the Green Mountain' - presumed to be beaming from al-Bayda - has been urging other Libyan cities to join the 'revolution'."

Toronto Star, 27 Feb 2011, Oakland Ross: "Radio Free Tobruk was set up — to add to the clamour for Gadhafi’s departure. The station’s makeshift headquarters are a modest affair, huddled beneath two radio towers that rise from a sandy, windblown bluff just south of the city itself. The one-story building used to house the local TV station before Gadhafi closed it down years ago. ... Now renamed Radio Free Tobruk, the station has been broadcasting around the clock ever since, with the help of 22 volunteers. ... The station carries no advertisements, and its programming involves little but talk. Just about anyone who shows up, whether from Toronto or Tobruk, stands a pretty good chance of getting on air." See (listen to) also NPR, 27 Feb 2011.

AFP, 27 Feb 2011: "Radio Free Tobruk 'is broadcasting from the border to Derna. From Derna to Al Baida and Al Marj, there is another radio. In Benghazi, another. We have daily contact with these people,' Abdul Bliheg, a 29-year-old former Libyan state television employee, who helps run Radio Free Tobruk] said."

Fast Company, 24 Feb 2011, Neal Ungerleider: "The resistance in Benghazi is also resorting to the old fashioned solution of setting up an FM station--opposition forces set up 'Radio Free Libya,' broadcasting in both colloquial and modern standard Arabic, over a course of days."

Washington Post, 28 Feb 2011, Leila Fadel: "'This is free Libya, and Tripoli is our capital,' he proclaimed at 2 p.m. on Feb. 21. Radio Free Libya has been broadcasting uninterrupted every day since. ... In a bit of irony, it was over Radio Benghazi that a young army officer named Moammar Gaddafi announced the bloodless military overthrow of the Libyan monarch on Sept. 1, 1969. Gaddafi took over the station that morning, ordered a technician to open the broadcast with verses from the Koran, and announced, perhaps over the same aged equipment, 'From this moment on, Libya is a free and sovereign republic.'"

NECN/CNN, 27 Feb 2011: "'This is the voice of free Libya,' says radio announcer Ahmed Al-Muqasabi. It's a voice that reaches across more than a thousand kilometers, from Benghazi to Tripoli, from the opposition-controlled east to the cities in the west still under the shaky grip of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi." -- If it really reaches a thousand kilometers, it is perhaps the 100-kilowatt medium wave transmitter in Banghazi, on 675 kHz.

The Irish Times, 28 Feb 2011, Mary Fitzgerald: "Here in al-Marj, a small town in the region known as Jebel al-Akhdar (Green Mountain), the local affiliate of Radio Free Libya is housed in the dank basement of what was once the regime’s area headquarters. ... The station, which organisers say reaches more than 15,000 people within a 50km radius of al-Marj, was commandeered by the opposition in the early days of the uprising."

Reuters, 28 Feb 2011: "Opponents of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have held off an attack by pro-government forces near the town of Misrata and shot down a military aircraft, a witness told Reuters on Monday. Misrata is 200 km (125 miles) east of the Libyan capital. 'An aircraft was shot down this morning while it was firing on the local radio station. Protesters captured its crew,' said the witness, Mohamed."

Twitter, 28 Feb 2011, AIBNews: "So what's happened to English-language staff at Libyan broadcasting? Website ... not updated since 17 Feb!"

Radio Free Sarawak, on shortwave, was set up by sister-in-law of Gordon Brown.

Posted: 27 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
London Evening Standard, 22 Feb 2011, David Cohen: "Until now the identity of the 'pirates' behind Radio Free Sarawak has been a closely guarded secret... . [T]he Evening Standard can reveal that the mystery Englishwoman who set up Radio Free Sarawak four months ago and who brought out the tattooed tribesman - real name Peter John Jaban - to front her broadcasts is in fact Clare Rewcastle Brown, sister-in-law of former prime minister Gordon Brown. ... She kicks off her leather boots and laughs. 'The irony is that Taib [Mahmud, chief minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak] and his people think we're a huge operation but there are just five of us with a couple of laptops and a mixer. Advances in MP3 technology mean that these days shortwave radio is cheap and easy to do. We've been so effective that Taib's people believe we're funded by George Soros, whose foundation funds Radio Free Burma [Democratic Voice of Burma?]. ... As an investigative journalist who started with the BBC World Service in 1983, she is better equipped than most to uncover the wealth of the Mahmud family." See also The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 24 Feb 2011, Rintos Mail.

The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 25 Feb 2011, Ng Ai Fern: "Now that the brains behind Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak have been exposed, politicians from both sides of the divide are calling for action to be taken. Sarawak United People’s Party youth chief Sii Hua Tong asked the authorities to find out if the blog and radio station had committed any offence. 'Whether those responsible are overseas or not, when they interfere in our nation’s interest and threaten national security, it is a serious matter.'"

Free Malaysia Today, 27 Feb 2011, Joseph Tawie: "Sarawakians are urged to report online broadcast station, Radio Free Sarawak (RFS), which has been highly critical of the state government to the police, home ministry or the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to enable an investigation to be carried out. Said Information, Communication and Culture Deputy Minister Joseph Salang: 'If in the course of investigation it is proven that the radio broadcast content contravenes the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, MCMC can block its broadcast. So far there has been no report lodged. We urge the people to report RFS to the police, home ministry or MCMC.' Salang, who refuses to believe that RFS is operating from London, described the station as operating illegally from Malacca." -- If it uses a leased shortwave transmuitter outside of Malaysia, which is likely, Malaysia has no authority over it.

Borneo Post, 26 Feb 2011: "The rogue Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) allegedly inciting anti state government sentiment and interracial hatred, is operating from Malacca and not London as believed."

Bruno Mansers Fonds press release, 23 Feb 2011: "Defenders of Sarawak's indigenous communities and the Borneo rainforest have announced street protests in the United Kingdom and Canada against the blatant corruption of the Sarawak Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud. ... The protest in London will be led by Peter John Jaban and Clare Rewcastle Brown. Peter John Jaban is the DJ of Radio Free Sarawak, an independent short-wave radio station which is broadcast from London."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC ends 73 years of Spanish-language shortwave broadcasts; BBC Mundo continues via internet.

Posted: 27 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 25 Feb 2011: "The BBC has ended its radio broadcasts in Spanish for Latin America, 73 years after they first went on air. The radio service has been closed as a result of cuts to the World Service budget, but the BBC's Spanish-language website, BBC Mundo, will continue. ... The BBC Latin American service was launched on 14 March 1938 to counter propaganda from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy on the eve of World War II. It faced its greatest challenge during the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982, when its journalists were determined to maintain objectivity in the face of pressure from the British government. But radio output had been substantially reduced in recent years in favour of the internet, with the remaining broadcasts mainly intended for Cuba. BBC Mundo editor Hernando Alvarez said the end of Spanish-language radio was a sad moment, but the BBC's journalism would still be available to audiences in Latin America via the internet and mobile phones."

Loss of BBC Caribbean Service creates gap in pan-Caribbean news coverage.

Posted: 27 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Jamaica Observer, 27 Feb 2011, Rickey Singh: "Pan-Caribbean broadcast journalism is now set to suffer a major blow when the BBC Caribbean Service, which has been providing a most valuable package of news and views to this region for almost three decades, shuts down on March 25. ... For this region, closure of the BBC Caribbean Service is sad news. The Caribbean Community will be the poorer for independent and reliable information as it is yet to recover from loss of the range and quality professional wire and radio news coverage that were a regular feature of a once vigorous Caribbean News Agency (Cana). ... If, warts and all, there are leaders in the public and private sectors yet to be sensitised to what it means for this region to suffer the loss of the pan-Caribbean communication services of, first the Montserrat-based Radio Antilles; then Cana Radio and its original wire service, and now BBC Caribbean, then the problems to ensure availability of a regular and credible pan-Caribbean flow of information, news and views may be quite great indeed." See previous post about same subject.

"The last broadcasts to a wider world" and more about the BBC World Service cuts.

Posted: 27 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Irish Times, 26 Feb 2011, Mark Hennessy: "In recent years, BBC executives have slowly pared down the World Service’s shortwave transmissions in all languages, arguing that shortwave is 'a dying concept' in the world of the internet. However, shortwave, unlike the internet, is difficult for dictators to jam, as was shown during the Egyptian crisis earlier this month, when the Mubarak regime all but closed down the internet in a flailing attempt to survive. ... Not everyone is despondent, however; Richard Sambrook, former head of BBC global news, said ... said 'an important British export to the world should refashion itself rather than lament or try to hang on to the past'." See previous post for the Sambrook op-ed.

Guardian Weekly, 22 Feb 2011, letter from Ian Alexander: "Tuning in to the BBC World Service is one of the few examples of anyone one in the world actually listening to what Britain has to say about anything. Its voice commands overseas infinitely more respect and credibility, and I suspect influence, than anything our lightweight politicians have to offer. Thinking about it, perhaps that's precisely why [the Tories] want to run down the World Service."

The Telegraph, 24 Feb 2011, Neil Midgley: "Andrew Tyrie MP, who chairs the influential House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, said in a letter to Mr Hague that 'I find the case for the cuts in the World Service budget difficult to justify'. It is understood that Mr Tyrie is privately supported by senior MPs from across the politicial spectrum, including ministers. ... Mr Tyrie’s letter, which will be published today in Prospect magazine, suggested that the entire cut to the World Service budget could easily be found from the ringfenced budget of the Department for International Development." See also ConservativeHome, 27 Jan 2011, Jonathan Isaby., 25 Feb 2011, Rachel McAthy: "The National Union of Journalists is to hold a public meeting on the development of its campaign to defend the BBC World Service, which faces service closures and hundreds of job losses due to funding cuts. ... Meanwhile an oral evidence session has been arranged by the Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee, which is holding an inquiry into the cuts called 'Implications of the BBC World Service Cuts'. The session is scheduled for 9 March where witnesses due to speak will include Jeremy Dear as well as director of the BBC World Service Peter Horrocks and Richard Thomas, chief operating officer for BBC Global News." See also inquiry web page.

National Union of Journalists, 24 Feb 2011: "The NUJ have organised a public meeting to defend the BBC World Service for Tuesday 15 March in the House of Commons, committee room 14, starting at 6.30pm."

BBC News, 25 Feb 2011: "Three of the BBC language services are going off air later, as a result of cuts to the World Service budget. The BBC Serbian and Latin American services end more than 70 years of broadcasting on radio, but the Latin American service continues online. The Portuguese for Africa service, which is widely listened to in Angola and Mozambique, has also been closed. The BBC Yugoslav service began in 1939 at the start of World War II. Later it split into Serbian and Croatian. The Croatian service was closed in 2005 and BBC managers say Serbia now has reliable media, diminishing the need for the BBC's service. BBC Spanish broadcasts began in 1938, in an effort to counter Nazi propaganda, but faced their greatest challenge during the UK war against Argentina in 1982 over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)."

See previous post on 26 Jan for a list of the BBCWS closures and reductions and on 18 Feb 2011 for their effective dates.

Report: Attempts to find money to save BBC Hindi shortwave broadcasts.

Posted: 27 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 20 Feb 2011, David Sapsted: "The British government is desperately trying to save the BBC World Service's Hindi programmes in the face of mounting protest both in India and the United Kingdom. It was announced last month that the Hindi short-wave service, which is estimated to have 20 million regular listeners, mainly in the Indian hinterland, would end on April 1 as part of massive cuts imposed on the BBC by the government. But the decision has been controversial and, on Wednesday, prominent figures from the worlds of arts, media, law, social activism and academia launched a 'Don't Silence BBC Hindi' campaign. ... Senior BBC executives are now understood to be pressing ministers to see if they can save the service through the allocation of emergency funds. ... Additionally, if BBC Hindi services do end, the international broadcasting field will be left clear for Radio China [China Radio International], which transmits extensive Hindi-language broadcasts to northern India's populous states."

The Guardian, 19 Feb 2011, letter from Mark Tully and 17 other signatories: "We are astonished at the news that the BBC management has decided to stop transmission of BBC Hindi radio on short wave from 1 April (Jonathan Freedland, Comment, 9 February). For nearly seven decades BBC Hindi radio has been a credible source of unbiased and accurate information, especially in times of crisis: the 1971 war, the emergency in 1975, the communal riots after the demolition of the Ayodhya mosque in 1992. Today India is facing other serious problems: the ongoing conflicts in Kashmir, in the north-east and in vast areas in central and eastern India, where Maoist militants are fighting the state. Ten million listeners in India – most of them in rural and often very poor areas – need BBC Hindi radio and the accurate, impartial and independent news it provides."

The Guardian, 22 Feb 2011, letter from Naleen Kumar: "The BBC hopes to save £300,000 by closing its Hindi service (Letters, 19 February). BBC Hindi has 12 million listeners, so that's 2.5 pence per listener." See previous post about same subject.

BBC News, 24 Feb 2011: "Maoists in India's Orissa state have freed a magistrate abducted earlier this month, the state government says. The release of R Vineel Krishna was delayed for a few hours. ... One of the negotiators on behalf of the Maoists made an appeal on Wednesday for them to honour their deadline via an audio message on BBC Hindi radio. ... The BBC is a particular Maoist favourite for what they call its 'fair and objective' reporting."

The Himalayan, 23 Feb 2011: "Leader of the Nepali Congress Arjun Narsingh KC, who is presently on a visit to Britain, called on Richard Ottoway, chairman of Foreign Affairs Select Committee in House of Parliament, Westminster on Tuesday. ... He ... raised an issue relating to the BBC World Service's plan to stop the shortwave radio transmission service in Nepali language from March. In response, Ottoway urged KC to submit a request letter so that he could bring it to the committee for discussion and also promised to do his best for the continuity of Nepali shortwave transmission."

The BBC Serbian Service and its poignant last moment.

Posted: 27 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC From Our Own Correspondent, 26 Feb 2011, BBC Belgrade correspondent Mark Lowen on the just-closed BBC Serbian Service: "And what of the legacy of the BBC Serbian Service? 'It has set the highest standards of journalism,' said Jovan Cirilov, who still tunes in daily. 'And it's made those of us who listen citizens of the world, since Serbian news is so domestic.' ... The argument is that, as this country's own media and democratic institutions strengthen, there is less need for the BBC Serbian language section. But Jovan Cirilov is not convinced. 'You never know with the Balkans,' he told me. 'There may be rough times ahead when we need the BBC the most, but then it'll be too late.' ... For decades, the BBC has been speaking to this country throughout its turbulent and profound change. Now it is time for Serbia to go it alone."

BBC News, 25 Feb 2011: "The BBC Yugoslav service began in 1939 at the start of World War II. Later it split into Serbian and Croatian. The Croatian service was closed in 2005 and BBC managers say Serbia now has reliable media, diminishing the need for the BBC's service."

Listen to the end of the last BBC Serbian broadcast, 25 Feb 2011 (mp3). Audio of the complete last-day broadcasts available, for now, at

Departing BBC Trust chairman says BBC's global mission is "not just editorial" but "also commercial."

Posted: 27 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 22 Feb 2011, Tara Conlan: "Sir Michael Lyons, the outgoing BBC Trust chairman, on Tuesday laid out the principles of a 'new global strategy' for the corporation. Speaking in Stockholm, Sweden, Lyons said the BBC's global mission was not just editorial, but 'is also commercial'. However, following the furore over BBC Worldwide acquiring publisher Lonely Planet, Lyons sent a warning to executives from the corporation's commercial arm. 'The BBC cannot afford never-ending growth in its international activities and must never put short-term financial need ahead of the long-term imperative to protect its reputation for honesty and integrity,' he said. ... In a speech to mark Sweden's Public Service Day, Lyons said he was announcing 'for the first time the principles of a new global mission for the BBC, recently agreed by the trust'. He added that the three principles are bringing the world to the UK, bringing the UK to the world and generating new financial value from BBC intellectual property via BBC Worldwide. ... He also used one of his last speeches as chairman to defend the BBC Trust model of regulation and governance, saying it 'stands between the government and the BBC and speaks for the public as owners of the BBC'.", 22 Feb 2011, Rachel McAthy: Sir Michael Lyons "emphasised the importance of protecting the World Service's impartiality, and outlined the challenges facing the broadcaster's international efforts and the 'tough decisions' being made, such as the recent service closures and job cuts at the World Service. 'Of course some argue that because the World Service is currently funded via a government grant, it must inevitably be a mouthpiece for British foreign policy. It's not, of course, and the BBC fiercely protects its editorial independence. ... That's why the new arrangements agreed in the BBC licence fee settlement, while challenging, do have benefits. When the BBC takes on the responsibility for funding the World Service in 2014/15, it will then be even easier to demonstrate that the World Service is completely independent of government.'"

BBC press office, 22 Feb 2011, full text of "Public value and the BBC's international role," Sir Michael's speech to Sweden's Public Service Day.

If I understand this correctly, if you want to continue to watch BBC World News in Azerbaijan, it will cost you one manat.

Posted: 26 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
ABC.Az, 21 Feb 2011: "AG Telecom company (operating under KATV1 brand) has stopped transmission of English speaking BBC World channel in its cable nets. The company reports that the decision was made at the basis of subscribers’ inquiry in connection with the fact that Azerbaijani Culture channel had to be necessarily included in analog and digital broadcasting of KATV1 cable television from 14 February. 'Considering the absence of free frequencies for adding of new channel for analog broadcasting it was necessary to sacrifice one of transmitting TV channels. A few days before start of the airing of Culture channel the employees of KATV1 cable channel carried out a telephone survey of subscribers for revealing the channel not enjoying subscribers’ special interest. The subscribers’ choice was English speaking BBC World channel',- the report says. Nevertheless BBC World continues transmission of KATV1 cable television in basic package as before (difference in subscriber payment compared to analog broadcasting is only 1 manat) and the interested ones can watch the programs of this channel."

Chinese public diplomacy is a paper tiger funded by our trade deficit.

Posted: 26 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 22 Feb 2011, Philip Seib: "[T]he Chinese government is pouring money into its international broadcasting channels, trying to establish a media presence that complements its other efforts. Although the Chinese are not forthcoming about their grand strategy in these matters, it is clear that decisions have been made by the government to spend whatever is necessary to influence global publics, particularly in those countries that China needs as trade partners or suppliers of natural resources. Most impressive (or frightening, depending on your outlook) is the apparent coherence of the Chinese public diplomacy strategy. The Chinese know what they want to accomplish and they have decided that they will do what it takes to reach their goals. The United States is far behind in committing both the economic and intellectual resources needed to compete effectively in public diplomacy." -- Prefessor Seib is probably unaware of this, but he has put his finger on the crux of the matter. China authorities may "know what they want to accomplish", but China appears to be clueless in knowing what the audience for international media wants to accomplish. For the most part, that audience wants news that adds value to the news they get from their domestic media. I lose sleep because I'm getting older, but not because of China's stepped up public diplomacy efforts.

Global Times (Beijing), 22 Feb 2011, Li Xiguang: "Hillary Clinton has decided to choose Internet as her weapon. China's future warfare of words with the US is likely to become increasingly unpredictable as network technologies continue to advance. The Internet should be used in a more effective way in times of emergency in China. With open access to the Internet, Chinese online citizens could provide instant and convincing firsthand stories to the world through the dialogue of social media, which often elicit more trust than government voices. China has 450 million Internet users, including 75 million microblog users. These grass-roots bloggers and netizens constitute a colossal army of spokespeople that have the potential to enhance China's voice in the world with one-on-one dialogue and trustworthy blogs. The Chinese government should utilize the new opportunity that social media presents to formulate proactive public diplomacy policies and to make Chinese voices heard loudly, correctly and completely."

The Hindu, 24 Feb 2011, Ananth Krishnan: "Zhao Qizheng, who chairs the CPPCC's Foreign Affairs Committee ... hinted that China would look to follow the United States' lead in being more effective in spreading both the country's message and its values overseas. ... He also pointed to the influence wielded by U.S. government-funded media outlets, such as the Voice of America. 'VOA and other organisations help spread American values,' he said, adding: 'It is up to other countries themselves to decide whether or not they want to accept these values.' While China would boost investment in its television and radio broadcasts overseas, its content 'would not criticise or interfere with other countries', he said. Mr. Zhao cited the recent expansion of China Radio International — the country's official and biggest radio station — as part of the recent public diplomacy initiative. The government spent a reported $8.7 billion last year on external publicity. Much of it went to CRI and two other state-run organisations — China Central Television (CCTV) and Xinhua news agency. Last year, Xinhua launched a global 24-hour news channel in English, looking to emulate the success of Qatar's Al Jazeera, and to provide 'a better view of China to its international audience'. CRI has expanded its programming, operating broadcasts in 61 languages. Mr. Zhao said it would also look to expand its presence overseas, purchasing slots on local AM and FM channels."

State Dept official "weighing his words carefully ... both praised and criticized Al Jazeera."

Posted: 26 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, The Cable, 24 Feb 2011, Blake Hounshell: "Weighing his words carefully, [Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs] ... both praised and criticized Al Jazeera, the Doha-based Arabic satellite network that has played an integral role in inspiring and intensively covering protest movements that have spread in recent weeks to Bahrain, Libya, and Yemen. 'The United States recognizes the phenomenon of Al Jazeera,' he said. 'We've had an often difficult relationship" with the satellite channel, which is funded by the Qatari government but maintains that its coverage is completely independent. I think it's a very, very important media tool, and we would be stupid to ignore it,' he emphasized. 'That said,' he continued, 'we had a lot of questions about the Palestine Papers' -- the extensive notes of Palestinian negotiators that were released with great fanfare in late January by Al Jazeera -- the coverage of which he said blurred the line between 'what is investigative journalism and what becomes character assassination.' 'There was a sensationalist aspect' to the reporting that 'didn't seem to meet the professional standard that Al Jazeera sets for itself,' Feltman said."

For Americans without Al Jazeera English on Cable, Roku and Google TV are solutions.

Posted: 26 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Awl, 24 Feb 2011, Eric Spiegelman: "Al Jazeera is putting every American news channel to shame with its amazing coverage of the revolutions across the Middle East. But most cable systems in this country won’t carry it! If you live in Toledo, Ohio, or Burlington, Vermont, or Washington D.C., you might have it. The rest of us are out of luck. Unless, of course, you own a Roku or Google TV. These are two of the several new set-top boxes that deliver programming to your television set via the Internet. Others include Apple TV and Boxee, and even Playstations and XBoxes can do this now. All of these allow you to watch Netflix streaming and Amazon video-on-demand. But only Roku and Google TV allow you to watch Al Jazeera."

Al Jazeera English in the USA: more arguments for and against.

Posted: 26 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Time, 22 Feb 2011, Abderrahim Foukara, Washington bureau chief for the Al Jazeera Arabic channel, as interviewed by Ishaan Tharoor: "At a time when many U.S. news outlets are feeling strapped for cash and cutting down on foreign coverage, you have this channel which continues to invest in its international reporting. Not just in Egypt and the Middle East, but in Latin America, in sub-Saharan Africa, in South Asia. Not only are all these parts of the world very important in their own right, but it's also very important for Americans to know what goes on there. 9/11 showed us one thing: that a story you consider foreign and far away all of a sudden [can become] local."

Postmedia News, 21 Feb 2011, Randy Boswell: Concerns about Al Jazeera "were rooted in a 'Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld'-era suspicion of Al Jazeera's Arabic-language network, and fears that its English spinoff would promote a skewed view of global affairs undermining Israeli and U.S. foreign policies, said [Tony Burman, Al Jazeera English's head of strategy for the Americas]. Burman, based at AJE's North American headquarters in Washington, insisted that the network is all about opening people's minds and deepening their understanding of the world."

Right Side News, 21 Feb 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "Al-Jazeera English, supposedly different than the Arabic version but funded by the same source, the Emir of Qatar, has promoted the Islamic Army in Iraq by featuring an 'exclusive interview' with its spokesperson and sending a correspondent to travel secretly with the terrorist group. This is typical of Al-Jazeera. It has a habit of finding anti-American terrorist groups and giving them publicity. The Islamic Army of Iraq, which includes former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party, has its own website, where it highlights the Al-Jazeera coverage of its activities. Such coverage is seen as a stamp of approval."

San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Feb 2011, Ronnie Lovler: "You can watch Al Jazeera on TV almost anywhere in the world - except in the United States. How is this possible in our nation where freedom of the press is a basic constitutional tenet? Just what do cable and satellite carriers fear?", 17 Feb 2011, Joshua Errett: Al Jazeera English "is piggybacking its cause on Egypt’s historic regime change, drumming up public outrage at what is admittedly a hypocritical stranglehold on its availability in the U.S. Here’s how: Next to the video player showing Tahrir Square was a widget where U.S. viewers could enter a ZIP code under the words 'Demand Al Jazeera in the USA.' It spits out a form letter that can be sent off to the local cable provider."

American Thinker, 17 Feb 2011, Ed Lasky: "Recently, the Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times) published an op-ed by Juliette Kayyem advocating that more American cable companies carry Al Jazeera. ... But what is of interest is the background of Juliette Kayyem: President Obama appointed her to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. One would think that a key official at the Department of Homeland Security would see the danger of Al Jazeera being broadcast all over America."

Campus Times (University of Rochester), 24 Feb 2011, Leah Buletti: "[I]if your viewing of Al Jazeera is minimal, you’re not entirely at fault: Al Jazeera English is carried by only one satellite service and almost no cable networks in the U.S. except local networks in Toledo, Ohio and Burlington, Vt. The Student Association for the Development and Awareness of Arab Culture at UR (SADAC) has therefore taken up the pertinent campaign to get the network broadcast on mainstream U.S. cable networks."

CNN, Parker Spitzer, 25 Feb 2011, Jay Kernis, interviewing AJE MD Al Anstey: "As journalists we don't take a side, articulate an opinion, or have any 'agenda'. The integrity of what we do is of paramount importance. Any past criticism was born out of lack of vision of the channel and is immediately dispelled once people watch us for the first time. We are increasingly gaining a loyal audience in all corners of the globe – we are now seen in over 100 countries worldwide, by a potential quarter of a billion homes." See also video.

Christian Science Monitor, 23 Feb 2011, Howard LaFranchi: "[W]ith scoops coming out of Al Jazeera like one Wednesday reporting that Muammar Qaddafi’s daughter was on a Libyan plane that sought to land in Malta but was turned back – it seems more Americans are now clamoring for access to a news source that once struck fear in more than a few hearts."

Al Jazeera English managers meet with Comcast and Time Warner in bid for US cable distribution.

Posted: 26 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Philadelphia Business Journal, 22 Feb 2011, Peter Key: "Some Al Jazeera executives were scheduled to meet with Comcast Corp. officials Tuesday to talk about the possibility of Comcast carrying Al Jazeera English on its cable-television systems. Molly Conroy, a Washington, D.C.-based spokeswoman for the Doha, Qatar-based news network, said Monday that the executives planned to bring print-outs of 13,000 e-mails asking Comcast to carry Al Jazeera to the cable giant’s Philadelphia headquarters, where the meeting is slated to occur."

Eye of Dubai, 26 Feb 2011, onpassing Al Jazeera press release: "AJE arrived at Comcasts HQ in Philadelphia with boxes of emails garnered from their online campaign to gain national carriage. The channel provided a facility on their website for Americans to email their local cable provider. Over 40,000 emails were lodged in the first few weeks of the campaign this month. 13,000 of these were for Comcast who requested that they all be printed out and delivered to them. The meetings continue today with Time Warner and Cablevision, who have already been sent around 7,500 and 1,000 emails respectively by their subscribers. If cable providers were in any doubt about the demand that exists for Al Jazeera, this should have been extinguished by now. There is a market for serious global news, and people want to see us slot onto their existing menu of channels."

MediaPost, 23 Feb 2011, John Hancock: "Comcast and others are about to come face to face with a very important decision; public pressure will be further shrouded by well-funded initiatives, cloaked in poorly-understood concepts like 'democracy' and 'religious freedom.' In reality, what we're seeing playing out on the airwaves of Al Jazeera is a study on mobocracy, as it morphs into theocracy across the African continent, the Middle East, and its outer suburbs of Madison, Wisconsin."

Financial Times, 24 Feb 2011, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson: "The priority for the channel, which has 1,000 staff, is 'to get our content out there', not to make a lot of money from it, says Mr Anstey, a former head of foreign news at ITN in the UK. He will not disclose what fees al-Jazeera English is seeking from Comcast and others, but says he wants recognition for the integrity and in-depth nature of its coverage."

WTXF-TV (Philadelphia), 25 Feb 2011: "Radio show host Dom Giordano and local financial expert Todd Schoenberger go head-to-head on a big local media issue: should Comcast allow Al Jazeera on its cable network?" With video.

Philadelphia Magazine, The Daily Scoop, 24 Feb 2011: "[I]s allowing Americans to see world news filtered through another worldview a bad thing? We think not. So, come on, Comcast, make this happen."

Media Spy, 24 Feb 2011, Cyril Washbrook: "In Australia, Austar includes Al Jazeera English as one of the channels in its standard starter pack. But Foxtel, the country's largest subscription television company, has claimed that there is insufficient consumer demand to justify adding the channel to its suite."

Questions about Al Jazeera's non-coverage of the assault on Lara Logan.

Posted: 26 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, PostPartisan, 17 Feb 2011, Jonathan Capehart: Paul Chamberlain "is among those Americans who flocked to al-Jazeera for on-the-ground reporting on the Cairo protests from Arab reporters in the cultural capital of the Arab world. 'I was curious how they would handle the Lara Logan incident," Chamberlain [wrote]. 'Go here and search "Lara Logan."' When you do it, your reaction might be the same as mine to Chamberlain, 'um.....crickets.'"

Washington Post, PostPartisan, 18 Feb 2011, Jonathan Capehart: "In an internal e-mail two days ago, Heather Allan, head of news gathering for Al Jazeera English, based in Doha, Qatar, answered, 'No, we're not,' to the question 'Lara Logan: Are we reporting this?' So I asked her why. Allan was kind enough to respond. 'The attack on Ms. Logan was shocking and brutal. Many journalists were attacked, detained and beaten. These incidents were mentioned in our reporting but were not the focus of our output. We believe, as a general rule, that we are not the story. When CBS issued their statement about the attack, they specifically asked the press to respect her privacy and that of her family. That's what we opted to do.' Al Jazeera's silence on Lara Logan has been deafening. And while I appreciate Allan getting back to me, her explanation rings a tad hollow."

MWC News, 23 Feb 2011, Jillian York: "Capehart could have used his column to point out how common brutality toward female journalists is. He could have discussed the sexual harassment faced by Egyptian women daily. Instead, he chose to smear Al Jazeera, adding to the cacophony of American voices protesting Al Jazeera’s entree into the US media scene. We should be asking why."

Yes, But, However!, 20 Feb 2011, John Romano: "Al Jazeera has gained a lot of influence during its coverage of the Egyptian uprising (they were Johnny on the spot throughout), however its ignoring of the Logan story shows the network for what it is: a tool of its fundamentalist Islamic masters.", Live Blog Egypt, 16 Feb 2011: "12:48 [pm] Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher expresses his condolences for Lara Logan from CBS News in the US. She was beaten and sexually assaulted while covering the protests in Egypt. 'Thoughts with my friend and former colleague @CBSNews Lara Logan who suffered brutal attack in #Egypt - hope she gets well and recovers soon.'"

Al Jazeera English, Listening Post, 14 Feb 2011: "In this week's main feature we follow foreign correspondent Lara Logan's stand against American network CBS. Logan produced a piece called Battle for Haifa Street about violence on the streets of Baghdad. The network refused to run it deeming it 'too strong'. In frustration Logan sent out an email to friends and colleagues stating the segment was too important to ignore."

Al Jazeera English applies its "voice of the voiceless" tagline to Wisconsin.

Posted: 26 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
WISC-TV (Madison, WI), 22 Feb 2011: "Tuesday marks the ninth-straight day of rallies and protests at the Wisconsin Capitol, and the battle over barraging [sic!, probably should be bargaining] rights is gaining international attention. Local and statewide media have been doing most of the coverage of the protests, and it grew late last week to a national audience. And now, people across the world are seeing what's happening in Madison. ... International journalist John Tarrett is with Al Jazeera TV. 'I work for the English-language channel, which covers international news wherever it may be,' Tarrett said. Tarrett and his crew are talking to people in at the Madison rallies. He said real people are being affected by proposed sweeping changes -- and that's why they felt they needed to be here. 'For Al Jazeera English, one of our mantras is that the news that we do concentrates and focuses on what we like to say is the voice of the voiceless. So we try and bring ordinary people's stories to the television screen,' Terrett said. 'It's the people's stories, and so we follow what the ordinary people are doing.'"

Globe and Mail, 22 Feb 2011, John Doyle: "By the time The National aired on CBC on Sunday, there wasn’t much more to report from Libya, but Wendy Mesley narrowed her eyes and looked way-serious anyway. An exhausted-looking Nahlah Ayed did some punditry from London. One understood the exhaustion. All that turmoil. Nobody ever thought that the Libyan regime might fall and now it looked to be teetering. No mention of events in Wisconsin, though. It occurred to me that although CBC couldn’t get reporters into Libya – nobody could – it could get excellent reports from Wisconsin, if it tried. Over on Al Jazeera again, there was a roundup of events across the world, as the world is seen by the channel. Libya. Tunisia. Egypt. Bahrain. Morocco. Yemen. Then Uganda. And then, Wisconsin. Somebody at Al Jazeera obviously figured that, as the news agenda was all about turmoil, public demonstrations and people power, events in Wisconsin might as well be included. The channel briefly and simply gave a snapshot of the mass protests and the political showdown. It was left to the viewer to extrapolate more. What to extrapolate? The meaning of events in Wisconsin will probably have a more profound effect on people in the United States and Canada than events in the Arab world. It deserves better coverage on TV. And instability is everywhere, thanks to TV images."

VOA News, 22 Feb 2011, Kane Farabaugh report from Madison, with video. Also VOA News, 24 Feb 2011, analysis from Washington by Jim Malone, and another video report from Madison by Kane Farabaugh. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Netherlands programs available on Reliance mobile network in India.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
MediaNama, 18 Feb 2011, Anupam Saxena: "Reliance Communications and Radio Netherlands Worldwide(RNW) have signed an agreement under which, Reliance will offer a 24X7 live stream of Radio Netherlands Worldwide and feature RNW newsfeed on its WAP portal, R World, available on Reliance CDMA and GSM networks. RNW provides news and analyses from a Dutch-European perspective. Reliance is the first telecom company to have partnered with RNW. ... Reliance also offers BBC Radio service on R World, charged at Rs 30 per month and around 13 TV channels including CNN International. We feel it would be difficult for RNW to find listeners amongst Reliance customers, since RNW caters to a niche audience." -- I think Radio Netherlands programmming is of sufficiently general interest to appeal to more than a "niche audience." See also Reliance press release, 17 Feb 2011.

Based on these sales, the most successful US international broadcaster might be the BBC.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 21 Feb 2011: "BBC Worldwide has made its first international sales of Top Gear USA, ahead of BBC Showcase – the UK's biggest television export event and the only one of its kind in the world to be hosted by a single distributor. Top Gear USA, the American version of the UK's most popular motoring show, has already been sold to broadcasters in Australia (Nine Network), Iceland (Screen One), Israel (Ego), Italy (Discovery), Finland (MTV3), New Zealand (Prime), Norway (NRK3) and Sweden (Kanal 5), and will be one of the key titles at the 35th BBC Showcase, held in Brighton from 27th February to 2nd March."

Zeroing out CPB could affect BBC distribution on US public broadcasting outlets.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Telluride [CO] Daily Planet, 23 Feb 2011, Matthew Beaudin: "A $430-million gash to funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as part of a larger budget package that culls $61 billion in federal spending. The measure would effectively de-fund the CPB, which helps provide programming to public TV and radio stations. ... The Telluride-based radio station [KOTO] is hugely vulnerable to any cuts because it is one of only a few stations in the country that’s non-underwritten. ... [T]he cuts would slash some of KOTO’s 'flagship' programs, such as the NPR news programs and the BBC World News broadcasts."

ScrippsNews, 17 Feb 2011, Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis: "The real face of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting isn't attached to a Muppet. Instead, it belongs to a wind-burned rancher out in Western Kansas, a man who listens to 'All Things Considered' on High Plains Public Radio in his truck while checking his herd. This is the part of the world usually revered by Republicans as 'real America,' and it is, perversely, the place that would suffer most if the GOP gets its way. High Plains Public Radio -- which provides NPR's news programming, along with programs from the BBC World Service -- gets roughly 35 percent of its budget from state and federal sources. And it would be devastated if that money went away."

Video looks back at the history of Voice of America and its Bethany, Ohio, transmitting station.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Middletown (OH) Journal, 20 Feb 2011: "The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester Twp. is in need of financial support, and a video has been produced to shed light on the Bethany Relay Station’s history and reasons for preservation."

YouTube, 30 Dec 2010: "A history of the Voice of America (VOA) and the Bethany Relay Station located in West Chester, OH. Learn about the construction of VOA by Crosley, the people involved throughout its history, and the impact it had on the world. From defeating Hitler and Nazi Germany, to reaching behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union, VOA carried the message of truth to the people under the rule of oppressive regimes. This historic building is being preserved as a museum and needs your financial support. Narrated by Nick Clooney." See also the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting website.

American Diplomacy, 21 Feb 2011, Jim Fearing: "If we take the June 13, 1942 date as the formal beginning of the OWIOB [Office of War Information Overseas Branch], but we know broadcasts were made before that, when did the broadcasts begin? Researching that turns up conflicting citations; some of which may be intentional disinformation due to the needs of fighting a war and dealing with a sometimes-hostile Congress. However, most citations note that the CIAA and the COI began broadcasting in 1941. Evidence in Cincinnati demonstrates clearly the broadcasts in Spanish, Portuguese, and English began in 1940 via WLWO [adjacent to the site of the later VOA transmitting site]. At some point the CIAA [Office of the Co-coordinator of Inter-American Affairs] and the COI [Coordinator of Information] began using intelligence supplied by the British Security Coordination (a division of MI6 located in New York City), and WLWO also began to broadcast in German, French and Italian. Again, those languages were broadcast from Cincinnati via WLWO on fixed antenna built specifically to cover Europe beginning in August of 1941. Another missing piece in the article is the role of VOA broadcaster Robert Bauer. The only German language writer and broadcaster WLWO ever had was Bauer. He began broadcasting into Germany from Cincinnati in August 1941. By the time the Office of War Information was established, he had already been broadcasting on behalf of the United States into Germany for eleven months, six of which were from Cincinnati. So the notion of who made the first VOA broadcast into Germany on behalf of the United States would seem to be answered: it was Robert Bauer, and he made that broadcast from Cincinnati in August of 1941." -- Responding to paper on early VOA history by Walter Roberts. See previous post.

Return to an old target country: VOA English newscasts now heard on Focus Radio in Bulgaria.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Focus Information Agency (Sofia) , 20 Feb 2011: "FOCUS Radio Network is to broadcast four news bulletins a day in English from Washington as of February 21. The bulletins for Bulgaria will be aired at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. local time and will be prepared by Voice of America (VOA). Broadcasting news bulletins in English is in compliance with a contract between FOCUS News Agency and Broadcasting Board of Governors, an agency of the U.S. government. The target group of the English news bulletins of FOCUS Radio is the Bulgarian citizens and all foreign nationals and institutions staying or working in Bulgaria. The top international pieces of news from Washington will be aired in the news bulletins in Bulgarian." -- Are the newscasts especially prepared for Focus Radio? Re the last sentence, VOA no longer has a Bulgarian service, so perhaps Focus is translating VOA news in English into Bulgarian.

VOA reports blocked opposition websites in Cambodia.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
CPJ, 23 Feb 2011: "The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by reports that Cambodian authorities have ordered local Internet service providers to block a number of websites, including the popular KI Media news aggregator and commentary blog, considered critical of the government. Voice of America's Khmer-language service reported on February 17 that it had been forwarded e-mail correspondence from a senior official in Cambodia's Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT) telling local ISPs--WiCam, Telesurf, and Hello--to censor websites that contained anti-government content." See also VOA News on 17 Feb and 18 Feb, 2011.

DPA, 16 Feb 2011: "Late last year, a senior official told Radio Free Asia that the government would shut down KI-Media by the end of the year. That statement came days after the website published articles that were critical of him and other members of the government."

"Broadcasting from Jerusalem to his native Iran for more than half a century."

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 18 Feb 2011, David Horovitz: "The ayatollahs’ regime is ‘artificial,’ argues Menashe Amir, who has been broadcasting from Jerusalem to his native Iran for more than half a century. ... Impelled by the need to earn a living to finance his Hebrew University studies, he joined Israel Radio’s Farsi service in June 1960, and has been there ever since, though he handed over the management of the department to his deputy seven years ago and has since greatly reduced his workload. ... Despite working under heavy financial constraints at the Israel Broadcasting Authority, 'We’re perceived in Iran as a broadcasting superpower,' Amir notes. 'And I certainly think that this has helped protect and strengthen the status of the Iranian Jewish community.' Programming through the decades has focused a third or so on Israeli current affairs, and two-thirds on Iranian-related material. 'People listen to overseas broadcasts when they lack adequate information about what’s happening at home,' Amir reasons. And along with the BBC, the Voice of America and other services that have followed Jerusalem’s lead, Israel Radio has filled the information vacuum, notably since 1979." -- Kol Israel ended all of its shortwave broadcasts in 2008, except for Persian, which continues daily at 1500-1600 UTC, Mon-Fri at 1600-1630, on 11595 and 13850 kHz.

Unveiled diplomatic papers indicate that Japan paid to move the old VOA Okinawa relay station.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Mainichi Daily News, 26 Feb 2011: "Former Japanese Foreign Minister Kiichi Aichi urged former Prime Minister Eisaku Sato to accept a proposal for Japan to cover the cost of relocating facilities for U.S. government broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) in the months leading up to the 1972 reversion of Okinawa, newly released documents have shown. The request, made on May 21, 1971, appeared in a document among 606 volumes of diplomatic papers unveiled at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Diplomatic Record Office on Feb. 18. The document indicates that the confrontation between Japan and the U.S. over the issue had reached a climax -- which eventually ended in Japan fully conceding. Coverage of the $16 million to relocate VOA -- amounting to roughly 5.76 billion yen at the exchange rate at the time -- was one of several secret agreements, alongside another pact committing Japan to cover the $4 million (about 1.44 billion yen) needed to restore former military lands to their original state. The Japanese government still denies the existence of any secret pact on shouldering the cost of relocating VOA, and the issue was not subject to an investigation on secret pacts whose results were announced in March last year. During negotiations, the U.S. had requested that, after the reversion of Okinawa, Japan pay the cost of moving VOA and maintaining the radio broadcaster's operations. However, talks broke down when Japan refused, citing issues relating to China and broadcasting laws that did not permit foreign broadcasters." See previous post about same subject.

VOA Persian Parazit devotes program to fan who was killed during Iranian protests.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 17 Feb 2011, Farnaz Fassihi: "Iran's government on Wednesday hijacked the funerals of two students shot dead during antigovernment protests by busing its supporters to take over the procession and preventing the victims' families and friends from attending the ceremony, witnesses and family member said. The two college students, Sanah Jaleh, 26, and Mohamad Mokhtari, 22, were killed in demonstrations Monday that brought tens of thousands of people to the streets across Iran and triggered the arrest of hundreds. ... Mr. Mokhtari, described as strikingly handsome with jet black hair and big eyes, came from a large middle class family, and loved sports. He hiked on weekends and played soccer and basketball, friends say. He had a good sense of humor and relished the Iranian political satire show Parazit, aired on Voice of America and modeled after the Comedy Central's 'Daily Show With Jon Stewart,' according to his Facebook postings."

Voice of America press release, 18 Feb 2011: "Voice of America’s popular Farsi language television program Parazit breaks with its satirical and sometimes comic format this week, to discuss the young Iranian pro-democracy demonstrators who died after being shot at Monday’s protests in Tehran. Parazit co-creators Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi learned Tuesday that one of the pro-democracy protesters who died this week was a Facebook friend and fan of their show, Mohammad Mokhtari.", 19 Feb 2011: Iranian "MPs and clerics called for the execution of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who are already under house arrest, for organising last week's rallies. ... The brother of one of the men has been arrested following an interview he gave to the Voice of America (VOA). The Iranian government says that Sana Jaleh was a member of the Basij security force, and that he was killed by anti-government protesters in Monday's banned demonstrations. ... The broadcaster interviewed an unnamed man claiming to be Sana's brother, saying that Sana 'is a martyr ... in the footsteps of Iran's Islamic martyrs' and denying that anyone in his family had ever spoken to the VOA.", 23 Feb 2011, Alan Heil: "More than one out of ten VOA listeners and viewers worldwide now hear programs targeted to Iran. Parazit along with good solid reportage from throughout the region may push that percentage even higher in 2011." See previous post about same subject.

House bill calls for support for RFE/RL, VOA, and Belsat broadcasts to Belarus.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 18 Feb 2011: "A bill extending the Belarus Democracy Act for 2011 and 2012 has been submitted to the US House of Representatives, BelaPAN said. The draft law, named the 'Belarus Democracy Reauthorization Act of 2011,' was introduced by Representatives Christopher Smith, Dana Rohrabacher, Dan Burton and Frank Wolf. ... Apart from support for human rights defenders, independent media, trade unions, youth groups, pro-democratic political parties, the draft also specifically calls for support for the Belarus Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Voice of America, and Belsat TV and European Radio for Belarus."

From the Bill (H.R. 515): "It is the sense of Congress that the President should continue to support radio, television, and Internet broadcasting to the people of Belarus in languages spoken in Belarus, by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Voice of America, European Radio for Belarus, and Belsat." -- Interesting that it does not specify the Belarusian language. RFE/RL, but not VOA, has a Belarusian service. Russian is also generally spoken in Belarus, and that is available through various media from both RFE/RL and VOA.

Radio Azadi SMS service has 100,000 subscribers.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 17 Feb 2011: "After only three months in operation, Radio Azadi’s SMS Service has garnered over 100,000 regular subscribers. This number accounts for people in Afghanistan who receive RFE’s twice-daily headline news roundups. Many of these same subscribers also serve as part-time citizen journalists, regularly sending on-the-ground updates to Radio Azadi from all over the country. The SMS messages received regularly by RFE paint a picture of public sentiment in Afghanistan that is hard to match through typical third-party reporting. ... Azadi's SMS service was started in late October, 2010. It is the result of a partnership with mobile service provider Etisalat. Customers who subscribe to the free service receive news headlines from Radio Azadi in either Dari or Pashto. They also get SMS messages on their phones with breaking news and emergency alerts. Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan has an estimated 57 percent penetration rate for mobile phone use - 17 million subscribers out of a population of 29 million. For more on Afghanistan, check out RFE's new 'Gandhara' blog."

Tunisia: Radio Tunis International in English, and Doha Debates.

Posted: 25 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
WRN (London) website: "Radio Tunis International is the foreign-language broadcasting service of Radio Tunisienne which is owned and operated by the Tunisian government. Radio Tunis International broadcasts programmes in more than 5 languages and aims to inform listeners around the world about news and current affairs and other developments in Tunisia." Audio streams available in English. -- Friendly and fashionable sound, much like Radio France International.

Zawya, 20 Feb 2011, press release via: "The Doha Debates, Qatar's free-speech forum, are in Tunis to examine the wave of political unrest in the Arab world - the first public, televised discussion of its kind in the region since the troubles began. The session [took] place on the 22 February ... . The Doha Debates have established a reputation as the premier forum for discussing the hottest, political issues in the Arab and Islamic worlds. They are available to nearly 400 million homes on BBC World News and stations in the US, Pakistan and Bosnia and Herzegovina."

New novel works loss of job at BBC World Service into the plot.

Posted: 24 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
GateHouse News Service, 18 Feb 2011, Susie Stooksbury: "After years of putting his career ahead of his family, Tom Nicholson loses his lucrative job at BBC World Service in the backwash of the financial crises. Suddenly his lackluster marriage to Annie, a hospital administrator who now becomes the chief breadwinner, is thrown into disarray. Their son, Jake, also out of work, returns home to live with them bringing his baby daughter, and Tom's mother, Hermione, comes to stay as well since she can no longer afford assisted living. Can the foundering Nicholson marriage survive? Elizabeth Buchan supplies the comic answer in 'Separate Beds.'" See blurb at

Al Jazeera "quietly preferred" among State Department Arabic speakers.

Posted: 24 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 17 Feb 2011, Regan E. Doherty: "A State Department source told Reuters that Arabic speakers there have 'quietly preferred' Al Jazeera 'to any other news source based in the Arab world, but I don't think we made it a very public preference, given its nasty reputation in the U.S.' While Arab viewers dismiss the far-fetched notion that the channel is in bed with al Qaeda, many say Al Jazeera can appear sympathetic to extremist groups such as Hamas, which defeated the more secular Fatah in Palestinian elections in 2006. That belief appeared to be underlined in January with Al Jazeera's publication of leaked documents revealing that the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority had offered multiple concessions to Israel in peace talks. The revelations, which Al Jazeera shared with Britain's Guardian newspaper, made the Palestinian Authority and Fatah look weak and led to the resignation of Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who has accused Al Jazeera trying to bring down the Palestinian Authority."

Express Tribune (Karachi), Media Watchdog blog, 18 Feb 2011, Farheen Hussain: "The sanitised coverage of western mainstream channels and usage of generic language has the impact of detaching the viewers from those engaged in the revolution. The reality and rawness of the Egyptian revolution was captured by Al Jazeera because it took a truly people centric approach; anchoring their journalists amongst those on the streets and letting the people tell their story not have it told by an endless stream of analysts and diplomats disconnected from the eye of the storm. Similarly, the nuanced differences in language between channels became increasingly apparent; while CNN, BBC preferred to use words like ‘crisis’ or ‘protests’, Al Jazeera befittingly called it a revolution."

Asharq Alawsat, 21 Feb 2011, Huda Al Husseini: "[I]t was impossible for the Egyptian regime to neutralize the popular uprising, because it did not have solutions to the economic problems inherent in Egypt, and was cautious about resorting to violence to confront the demonstrations, because of [the presence of] Arab satellite channels, especially 'al-Jazeera'. The report indicated that a study is currently being conducted to gauge this channel's policy towards Syria, and to try to reach an agreement with it, as Iran did during the demonstrations that erupted after the 2009 elections, when Ahmadinejad was declared victorious."

Mideastposts, 24 Feb 2011, Steve Royston: "It’s hard to see a coherent guiding hand behind Al-Jazeera. The ruling family of Qatar would surely not benefit from all of the potential outcomes from the current turmoil. And I would expect that some of the station’s star names like Sir David Frost would not be comfortable associating themselves with being unwitting instruments of Qatari foreign policy, especially if the influence was blatant. But then again most journalists are used to working for proprietors with agendas. Rupert Murdoch, for example, could never be described as hands-off.

Council on Foreign Relations, 17 Feb 2011, audio of Jonathan Masters interviewing Abderrahim Foukara, Washington, DC, Bureau Chief for al-Jazeera Arabic.

MEMRI, 22 Feb 2011: "Leading Sunni Scholar Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi issues fatwa on Al-Jazeera TV to Libyan Army to kill leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi."

Al-Ahram editor: "I reject incitement from the BBC or any Arab or foreign channel." Then throws microphone to the floor.

Posted: 24 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 17 Feb 2011, Paul Adams: "Not quite as old as the pyramids from which its name is derived, al-Ahram was founded in 1875 and has, over time, become a newspaper, publishing house, think-tank and cultural centre. But it is also owned by the government and so, in the wake of Egypt's recent tumultuous events, it has become an organisation at war with itself. Some are calling it al-Ahram's own revolution. ... During an interview with the BBC's Arabic Service, [editor-in-chief Osama] Saraya responds angrily to questions about calls for him to resign. 'You are inciting against me. Is that what you're trying to do?' he says. 'I reject incitement from the BBC or any Arab or foreign channel.' In language reminiscent of Mr Mubarak's final television appearances, Mr Saraya accuses the interviewer of trying to undermine stability at al-Ahram. 'This is a dangerous moment in Egypt's political history," he says, before throwing his microphone to the floor.'"

At BBG's "infomercial" on 15 February, "Isaacson's positioning will probably appeal to conservatives."

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Asia Times Online, 19 Feb 2011, Peter Lee: "The BBG, as it is known, is the oversight committee that handles Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, and a host of other initiatives to deliver America's message to citizens in authoritarian regimes across the airwaves and over the Internet. Ironically, its own funding is on the chopping block as part of the Republican jihad against big government. This occasioned a classic piece of Washington farce.

"As Clinton was burnishing the State Department's credentials as the flagbearer in the crusade to give the world 'freedom to connect', on February 15 the BBG convened a dog-and-pony show in Washington to lobby for more money and increased responsibility for rolling out circumvention technology. The presentation, as much infomercial as informational briefing, was hosted by the BBG's chairman - and media bigwig via top management stints at Time and CNN - Walter Isaacson.

"While touting the accomplishments of the BBG's media and circumvention technology, Isaacson made the case for his organization as laser-focused on an Internet censorship-circumvention mission as part of its content-delivery effort (while trying to deflect criticism in the right-wing mouthpiece the Washington Times for the BBG's discontinuation of shortwave Voice of America Mandarin broadcasts to the Chinese countryside in favor of engaging the hundreds of millions of urban Chinese Internet users).

"He explicitly contrasted BBG's single-mindedness with the divided loyalties of the State Department (concerned over destabilization of authoritarian American allies) and America's corporations (unwilling to hurt their worldwide business dealings with authoritarian regimes by explicitly signing on to the US Internet freedom agenda). Isaacson's positioning will probably appeal to conservatives, who believe that all that stands between Iran and China and regime change is the State Department's pusillanimous refusal to throw resources into bandwidth to serve existing circumvention tools and bring the evil empires to their knees."

See previous post and previous post about same subject.

After Clinton internet freedom speech, US Embassy Beijing posts to Sina Weibo microblog platform held back for review.

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, China Realtime Report, 17 Feb 2011, Josh Chin: "Attempts by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to stimulate discussion on Internet freedom among Chinese microblog users ran up against Beijing’s sophisticated censorship apparatus Wednesday. Now it appears that this effort has landed the embassy’s official account on Sina Weibo, China’s most active microblogging platform, on censors’ watch list. An attempt Thursday to send out a message apparently unrelated to Internet freedom using the U.S. Embassy’s Sina Weibo account returned a notice from Sina saying the message was being reviewed, Richard Buangan, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said on Twitter."

Radio Free Asia, 17 Feb 2011, Ding Xiao: "Beijing has hit out at proposals by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support cyber-activism and a free Internet, warning Washington not to use the issues to meddle in China's internal affairs. 'We are opposed to any country using Internet freedom as a pretext for interference in Chinese affairs,' foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular news briefing on Thursday. ... Meanwhile, postings promoting [Hillary] Clinton's speech to the microblog account of the U.S. embassy in Beijing were blocked by China's system of Internet blocks and filters called the Great Firewall, or GFW. ... Online searches for the word 'Hillary' in Chinese were also reportedly blocked on at least one site."

Florida Congressional delegation beats backs amendments to de-fund Radio/TV Martí.

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
McClatchy Newspapers, 16 Feb 2011, Juan O. Tamayo:"Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, a longtime critic of Radio/TV Marti, has filed an amendment to a must-pass House spending bill that would eliminate all of the U.S. broadcaster's funding: $30 million."

Sunshine State News, 21 Feb 2011, Kevin Derby: "A bipartisan coalition in Congress helped beat back proposed amendments to eliminate federal funding of Radio and TV Marti, the stations broadcast to Cuba. Members of the Florida delegation -- including Republicans U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, U.S. Rep. David Rivera and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Democratic colleagues such as U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- helped keep the funding in place. ... Rivera chimed in Saturday when the amendments gutting the funding were withdrawn. 'The withdrawal of these amendments is a victory for freedom of information, and for the hope of democracy in Cuba,' said Rivera. 'The Castro dictatorship controls all other sources of information on the island. Eliminating Radio and TV Marti would have meant eliminating a lifeline to pro-democracy activists on the island.'"

Washington Post, In the Loop, 16 Feb 2011, Al Kamen: [N]ot on Obama's list to be axed are some perennial Loop Favorites, the Martis - as in Radio Marti and Television Marti - which eat up $28.5 million a year and accomplish pretty much nothing, since hardly anyone tunes in. (That's because the commies block their signals except when TV Marti broadcasts important baseball games.) The White House budget proposal has their budget going up only $25,000, which is down more than $1 million from two years ago. The program's budget proposal acknowledges that only about 2 percent of Cubans polled admit they tune in once a week - and even that might be only for the soaps and such. Still, even if there's no particular benefit, 136 jobs in Miami are at stake and the Cuba lobby wants the program, so it won't be cut. Well, democracy can be a messy thing. And besides, on a slow day, it's good to have them to kick around."

Weather for North Korea: southwesterly winds with a chance of leaflets (updated).

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 15 Feb 2011: "The floating of propaganda leaflets to North Korea can probably resume soon now that northerly winds which halted the activity for a month are abating, Grand National Party lawmaker Shin Ji-ho said Sunday. The wind would have blown the helium balloons that carry the leaflets back to the South, so a plan to send them on the birthday of North Korean heir apparent Kim Jong-un was canceled. Shin said southwesterly wind is forecast for Wednesday, the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Some 100,000 leaflets are ready to be sent, with their front denouncing the hereditary power succession in North Korea and the back contrasting pictures of starving North Koreans and the luxurious life of the Kims." See previous post about same subject.

Update: Christian Science Monitor, 16 Feb 2011, Donald Kirk: "South and North Koreans observed North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s birthday [16 Feb] – albiet in quite different ways. South Korean activists fired off leaflets proclaiming North Korea a 'Republic of the Fat,' while North Koreans spent the day, among other things, watching films honoring their leader and viewing displays of figure-skating and 'Kimjongilia' flowers – and trying to stay warm. ... One leaflet pasted to a DVD shows images of revolutionary protest in the Middle East, none of which gets reported by the North Korean media. Although few North Koreans are likely to be able to play the DVDs, activists believe some will pick them up and play them despite the draconian penalties inflicted on those caught with such material." See also photos, Daily Mirror (Colombo), 16 Feb 2011.

The Chosunilbo, 16 Feb 2011: "The U.S. State Department cut the entire budget for promoting democracy in North Korea from a 2012 budget proposal submitted to Congress on Monday. Since 2008, the department allocated US$2.5-3.5 million a year to the Economic Support Fund to support organizations working for democratization and human rights there, but it did not allocate a penny to the fund this year. ... But Radio Free Asia quoted a State Department official as saying it is possible that Washington will keep supporting the North through an emergency relief fund."

Yonhap, 15 Feb 2011, Hwang Doo-hyong: "Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul [addressed] a forum ... organized by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which operates Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. ... 'The Chinese border is essentially unprotected,' Lankov said. 'Roughly a quarter-million North Koreans went to China and came back with stories about Chinese success and stories about the outside world. People began to smuggle short-wave radios, which is technically illegal. But because the communist society became very corrupt, you can just pay a small bribe and keep it.' Despite a lack of Internet access, a growing number of North Koreans are being exposed to modern information technology and South Korean pop culture through USB devices, the scholar said."

The Chosunilbo, 17 Feb 2011: "North Korea has launched the website of the official Rodong Sinmun daily on the occasion of leader Kim Jong-il's birthday, it emerged on Wednesday. Until recently, the North posted Rodong Sinmun articles on a propaganda website named 'Uriminzokkiri.' ... The North has been carrying out an aggressive online propaganda campaign, using its country domain name .kp. Experts speculate that it wants to make propaganda materials more accessible and stir up dissent in South Korea, where the site has been blocked."

Crowdsourcing? The crowd depends on majormediasourcing.

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BizNews, 16 Feb 2011, Helen Leggatt: "When HP's Social Computing Research Group sampled over 16 million tweets between September and October last year, they were able to identify 22 users who were the source of the most retweets when a topic was trending. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of those accounts belonged, not to prolific tweeters or those will mass followings, but to mainstream media brands such as CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) and New York Times (@nytimes). Other mainstream media tweeters among the 22 users identified in HP's research are ESPN (@espn), Huffington Post (@huffingtonpost), Reuters @reuters), Washington Post (@washingtonpost), BBC World (@bbcworld), CBS News (@CBSnews), and The Telegraph (@TelegraphNews)."

Memories of listening to VOA in Albania.

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA), 15 Feb 2011, Lane Lambert: Albanian-American restaurant owner Leo Keka, recalling his youth in Albania: "You would listen to Voice Of America (in secret) and know you couldn’t speak of it (to your friends), because your parents would go to jail for the rest of their life if anyone found out." -- There was no RFE/RL Albanian until the 1999, nor a BBC Albanian in those days, so it was VOA Albanian for news.

US international broadcasting entities "send pro-American messages." Forsooth.

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Wired Danger Room, 15 Feb 2011, Spencer Ackerman: "[T]he Broadcasting Broad of Governors, which oversees the government-owned media organizations that send pro-American messages to foreign audiences, has begun using social media to go around online restrictions in repressive countries."

"Pro-American messages"? No wonder VOA and the other entities of US international broadcasting have identity problems.

The entities of US international broadcasting transmit reliable news, not "pro-American messages."

The observer might ask, "Why not? After all, VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, Alhurra, Sawa, and the Martís are funded by the US government."

The response would be: because the audience is not seeking messages that are pro- or anti- anything. They want news that is more balanced, objective, and credible than they get from their state-controlled domestic media, so they can make up their own minds about current events.

The observer follows up: "If that's what we're broadcasting, what's in it for us?"

The response: 1) This is what we have to broadcast if we want to have an audience, i.e., not to be a waste of the taxpayers' money. 2) Well-informed audiences are bolstered against the misinformation and disinformation of dictators, terrorist, and other miscreants. 3) If the policies of the United States are wise and virtuous, the truth, in the long run, will be on our side.

By this time the observer has lost interest and is looking at his mobile phone, reading a tweet about an entirely different subject.

VOA website hacked again? (Or is it just my PC?)

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
I was reporting most of 22 February that that the VOA website was still hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army. Actually, the VOA site was back up earlier in the day, but I had to shut down my router and turn it back on to flush the DNS cache. Now I'm seeing the real again.

Update at 0800 on 23 Feb: The Iranian Cyber Army is back on my PC when I type

Update at 0810 on 23 Feb: I just did an ipconfig /flushdns, and VOA is back. Actually (updating the update), refreshing sometimes brings up Iranian Cyber Army, and sometimes the VOA home page., 21 Feb 2011, Aliya Sternstein: "The website of U.S.-funded broadcaster Voice of America Persian was attacked by an Iranian pro-government group, according to a correspondent for sister station Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. The main VOA site also appeared to have been hacked, as of 9:04 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. 'Website of VOA Persian Service was Hacked today by #Iran 's Cyber army #Iranelection,' Golnaz Esfandiari wrote at around 5:30 p.m. Eastern on the social media tool Twitter. One VOA story now states that the incident may have been prompted by the U.S. State Department's recent Arabic- and Persian-language Twitter campaigns in support of pro-democracy opposition groups overseas. ... Here's a Google-translated recap of the VOA article: ... 'It seems that this action in response to remarks on Sunday (20 February) that Hillary Clinton in a television interview with BBC America, while talking about opening accounts in Arabic and Persian Tweeter by America's Foreign Ministry, had said : "We want young people like the young Americans who seek to express their rights are believed to be associated."'"

Washington Times, 21 Feb 2011, Bill Gertz: "Iranian computer hackers on Monday hijacked the website of the Voice of America, replacing its Internet home page with a banner bearing an Iranian flag and an image of an AK-47 assault rifle. ... It then listed more 90 websites of VOA it claimed has also been hacked. A State Department spokesman could not be reached for comment. ... The hacking takeover of the website of VOA,, followed the announcement last week by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA’s parent agency, that it was canceling all shortwave radio broadcasts of the VOA’s Chinese-language service in favor of Internet broadcasting."

The Tech Herald, 22 Feb 2011, Steve Ragan: "So what happened this time? The short answer is that no one knows yet. Many of the domains listed by the ICA as hacked share a common thread, Network Solutions. However,, the master domain, does not appear to use Network Solutions at all. At the same time,,,,,, as well as many others, resolve to a Network Solutions holding page or point to the ICA message on In addition, they use DNS hosting from WorldNIC, a Network Solutions company. It is possible that the Network Solutions account was compromised, and then with that access, was defaced thanks to a shared password. However, most of the domains pointed to the main URL before the defacement. So this could be a case where single compromise covered 93 additional domains simply due to the nature of their hosting. We’ve reached out to Network Solutions, as well as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the organization that manages Voice of America, for comment on the incident. If we hear back from them, we will update this story."

Blogger News Network, 21 Feb 2011, Ted Lipien: "Americans for U.S. International Broadcasting, a group of current and former VOA and BBG employees and free media advocates, have started a petition drive to convince Congress to reject the BBG’s and the Obama Administration’s proposals for eliminating shortwave radio broadcasts to China."

Fars News Agency, 22 Feb 2011: "An Iranian cyber group announced that it has hacked the Voice of America (VOA) and all its affiliated websites. The move came in response to the false reports released by the VOA and other websites on the spread and progress of seditious moves in Iran. VOA and its affiliates have long been supporting anti-Islamic Republic groups and sought to provoke unrests in Iran. The Voice of America is the official external radio and television broadcasting service of the United States' federal government, but it acts as a complementary and media arm of the US spy agencies."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 22 Feb 2011: "As popular protests unfold across the Middle East, U.S. international broadcasting faces increased satellite signal interference and a web Domain Name System (DNS) attack. ... On Monday, February 21, an unknown party hacked the Voice of America’s primary domain name (, along with numerous related domains registered with Network Solutions. Web users were directed to a website claiming to be run by a group called the 'Iranian Cyber Army.' ... This was a Domain Name System (DNS) attack redirecting the website. This was not a breach of internal systems or servers. No data was lost or compromised as a result of this event. An investigation is underway to determine who is responsible."

VOA News, 22 Feb 2011, William Ide: "Cyber security expert Jeffrey Carr says the Iranian Cyber Army should be taken seriously. 'There are a few hacker crews operating out of Iran that do have allegiances or ties with the Iranian government. The Iranian Cyber Army is one of them. They have a good skills set. These are not script kiddies [inexperienced hackers],' he said."

RFE/RL websites, including, are accessible. See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 18 Feb 2011: "[S]ince earlier this week, RFE's Iranian service Radio Farda has experienced a new form of interference from Iran: a flood of automated phone calls aiming to clog up its answering machines. On an average day, Radio Farda receives between 150 and 200 voice messages from its listeners with everything from eye witness reports to music requests. These messages are recorded by answering machines at RFE's Prague headquarters in the Czech Republic and at its news bureau in Washington D.C. This Wednesday, RFE's technicians noticed something unusual: a large number of calls coming in from an automated system. Soon, Radio Farda's answering machines were receiving 200-300 calls an hour - an obvious attempt to block out regular callers with a variation of a 'dial of service,' or DoS attack."

Re plan to drop VOA Mandarin shortwave: "So do you just want me to apply for a job at Xinhua?"

Posted: 23 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 15 Feb 2011, Bill Gertz: "The Obama administration will cancel shortwave radio broadcasts by Voice of America into China this year, as Beijing is expanding its propaganda operations in the United States and around the world. Critics of the broadcasting cuts, announced Monday, said major reductions in staff and shortwave broadcasts will sharply curtail an important outlet for unfiltered news and information for large numbers of people in China, especially areas such as Tibet and western Xinjiang province, where pro-democracy forces are opposing Chinese rule. ... The U.S. government will continue to operate Radio Free Asia, a less official and smaller news operation that will continue broadcasts into China and other closed states in Asia. It also is facing budget cuts that officials say will limit its effectiveness. ... The plan to cut VOA China broadcasts follows the recent state visit to the United States by Chinese President Hu Jintao. Some officials say the VOA cuts were a concession to China to alleviate Beijing's decades-long jamming of VOA radio signals." -- So the way to stop the jamming of VOA Mandarin shortwave broadcasts is to stop VOA Mandarin shortwave broadcasts?

Wall Street Journal, 17 Feb 2011, Keith Johnson: "The latest audience survey carried out for the broadcasting corporation showed that short-wave radio broadcasts by Voice of America reached just 0.1% of the population. Radio Free Asia, which started broadcasting in Mandarin in 1996, reached an even smaller share of the audience and was less well-known. U.S. efforts aren't reaching many more people via the Internet: The same study estimated a Chinese Internet audience of about 200,000 for VOA, less than the 300,000 it estimates listened to VOA radio."

Epoch Times, 15 Feb 2011, Stephen Gregory & Matthew Robertson: "Prominent democracy activist Yang Jianli ... believes VOA’s current shortwave radio format suits the people of China much better than digital broadcasting. 'It’s more secure and safer [than using the Internet]. They’re harder to track. If you’re on the Internet and you make some movements, it’s possible to track you. But listening to the radio is relatively safer.' Yang also pointed out that you can listen to the radio while driving, cooking, cleaning, or running errands—which is not possible with Internet broadcasts in China."

Taipei Times, 16 Feb 2011, William Lowther: "Insiders said that while there would almost certainly be objections from some members of Congress, there was also enormous pressure to cut spending. VOA plans to lay off 45 Chinese-language broadcasters, including 38 employees of its Mandarin Service and all Cantonese broadcasters. At present there are 69 employees in the Mandarin Service."

Taipei Times, 19 Feb 2011, J. Michael Cole: "Amid the great uncertainty surrounding the future of the service, one young Taiwanese reporter at VOA Mandarin spoke his mind and told management how he regarded the situation. 'So do you just want me to apply for a job at Xinhua?' — the state-owned Chinese news service, which has now gone global — a source quoted him as saying earlier this week."

Washington Times, 18 Feb 2011, Blanquita Cullum, member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors from 2002 to 2010: "Public access to information from worldwide sources empowers citizens of all nations to make informed decisions and exposes dictators for what they are - power-hungry, illegitimate and increasingly scared of their own people’s desire to have a say in their government. Now is the time to increase worldwide access to information - especially when a void is created by other broadcasters’ budget-driven cutbacks. This is not the time to pull the plug."

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 20 Feb 2011, editorial: "Washington must use all possible means to convey truth to those oppressed in China, America's most worrisome rival. Congress must signal to Beijing that America is not acquiescing. The VOA's shortwave broadcasts to China must not be silenced."

American Thinker, 16 Feb 2011, Ed Lasky: "President Obama's propaganda priorities are becoming clearer. Does the community activist-in-chief care about a billion Chinese and what they know about their dictatorial government? Community organizers are supposed to speak truth to power. How can the Chinese people speak truth to power when they are cut off from learning the truth?"

VOA News, 16 Feb 2011: "David Wu, a Democratic member of Congress from Oregon, told VOA Wednesday that he is 'utterly opposed' to any reduction in VOA's Mandarin service. He said he will raise the matter with John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, and with Frank Wolf, chairman of the House or Representatives committee responsible for the BBG's budget allocation. ... S. Enders Wimbush, chairman of the BBG's Strategy and Budget Committee, defended the decision during a hearing in the U.S. Congress on new technologies Tuesday. He said the audience for shortwave in China over the past few years has been barely measurable, while the country is now the largest Internet-using society in the world. He said the shortwave mission was being shifted to Radio Free Asia (RFA), also supervised by the BBG, which will now be able to operate on better frequencies and with better time slots."

International Federation of Journalists, 21 Feb 2011: "'Recent internet blacklistings on internet searches on the Egypt and Iran protests have shown that China ’s capacity for controlling the internet and blocking access to information is second to none,' IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said. 'Furthermore, there are a great number of Chinese citizens who live in poverty and would have tremendous difficulty accessing VOA services online. The IFJ urges the United States Congress to overrule the proposal and the BBG committee to consider other means of expanding the VOA service which will not threaten the job security of media practitioners, or the public’s ability to access the service.'"

VOA News, 22 Feb 2011, Stephanie Ho: "Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Tuesday he has seen reports that international broadcasters like Voice of America and the BBC will reduce their Mandarin broadcasting. He had no comment to add but says the organizations made their own decisions."

Heritage Foundation, 23 Feb 2011, Helle Dale: "On Monday the VOA websites, including those of the Persian News Network, were hacked by a group proclaiming itself the Iranian Cyber Army. This leaves in doubt the wisdom of the management’s proposal to close down much of its radio broadcasting and move it to the Internet."

BBC Earth programming block will eventually reach the entire planet.

Posted: 22 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 14 Feb 2011: "BBC Earth – a brand new programming block showcasing the very best in natural history programming from the BBC – will launch across the world on BBC Knowledge from March 2011, giving viewers a ringside seat to some of the most beautiful, bizarre and enchanting creatures from the natural world. BBC Earth will make its debut on BBC Knowledge first in Australia on March 4, launching with the spectacular landmark series Planet Earth, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. The block will then premiere in Asia on March 31 with Planet Earth and Wild China and in Poland on April 3 with Nature's Great Events before rolling out in Africa and Scandinavia on May 8. BBC Earth programming will also feature in the schedules of BBC Knowledge in Italy and New Zealand, the newest channels in BBC Worldwide's portfolio, which both launch in March 2011. ... BBC Earth draws from one of the world's largest and most diverse natural history archives, spanning 50 years of programme making from the BBC Natural History Unit, globally recognised for its quality and innovation. The BBC Earth catalogue consists of over 1,000 titles that make up over 2,200 hours of programming showcasing the beauty, the wonders and the stories of the wild world."

Libya accused of jamming Al Jazeera and other channels on Arabsat and Nilesat (updated).

Posted: 22 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily Star (Beirut), 21 Feb 2011, Patrick Galey: "Lebanese satellite news channels were hit as part of a sustained blocking attack which jammed several regional stations over the weekend, preventing the broadcast of pictures showing unrest and violence in Libya. Caretaker Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas told The Daily Star that an organized and sophisticated blocking attack had prevented several channels, including NBN, Al-Jadeed and Al-Manar, from being viewed in Lebanon. He blamed officials in Libya for barring regional news channels, including Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television, which was also targeted. Two network providers – Arabsat and Nilesat – came under what an Al-Jazeera spokesperson called a 'sophisticated' blocking attack late Friday, which involved scrambling certain channels’ frequency width."

AFP, 21 Feb 2011: "Al-Jazeera satellite television channel on Monday accused Libya's intelligence services of jamming its broadcasts in the country where demonstrators have been protesting against the regime. The Qatar-based network said it was 'able to determine the source of the jamming of its broadcasts which began on February 2 and continued intermittently, but coincided with the channel's broadcasts on Libya.' In a statement, Al-Jazeera said the jamming "originated south of the capital of Tripoli from a Libyan intelligence technical administration building" headed by a general."

Twitter, 21 Feb 2011, AJELive: "Al Jazeera is allowing any networks to broadcast its material due to the deliberate scrambling of its signals by #Libya."

Update: The Jordan Times, 22 Feb 2011, Hani Hazaimeh: "The Jordan Media City (JMC) said Monday Al Jazeera channel was moved to a different transponder after its signal was jammed as 'it was targeted by the Libyan authorities. The jamming caused the loss of 13 signals. Al Jazeera frequency is among a package of frequencies transmitted from the JMC, which also includes Jordan TV, Melody Aflam, Blue Nile and five other scrambled ART channels, among others,' JMC CEO Radi Alkhas told The Jordan Times yesterday. He added the JMC addressed Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar and asked them to move their frequency to a different transponder in order to restore the other channels, adding that Al Jazeera officials showed understanding and agreed to move to a frequency transmitted on Eutelsat. So far, he said, there were no signs that the Libyan authorities stopped the jamming, even after Al Jazeera was moved."

Libya has previously been accused of satellite jamming. See previous post.

Libyan ambassadors "dramatic," "striking" during BBC appearances.

Posted: 22 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times News Service, 22 Feb 2011: "Ali al-Essawi, Libya's ambassador to India, resigned on Monday, apparently in protest against the crackdown on demonstrators in his home country. After the dramatic announcement on BBC's Arabic service, al-Essawi disappeared from public view."

Mediaite, 21 Feb 2011, Mark Joyella: "In a striking interview airing Monday evening on BBC World News America, Ali Adjali, Libya’s ambassador to the U.S. tells the BBC’s Laura Trevelyan he has quit the government of Muammar Gaddafi. “I am with the people,” he said. “I’m not supporting this government anymore.”

BBC The Editors blog, 20 Feb 2011, Jon Williams, 20 Feb 2011: "Reporting from Libya is tricky at the best of times - clearly, the situation there right now is anything but. ... [T]he door is firmly shut to international journalists, local reporters face intimidation and the threat of worse. It explains why, in contrast to recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain, we're unable to report from inside Libya on the protests taking place there, and the authorities violent response. And that's an uncomfortable place for us to be."

New director of VOA Persian News Network already taking flak from the right.

Posted: 22 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The American (American Enterprise Institute), 14 Feb 2011, Trey Hicks: "Voice of America recently hired Ramin Asgard to direct its Persian Service. His selection is curious, given his track record. Asgard has worked in the State Department and, for a time, directed its 'Iran Regional Presence Office' in Dubai. More recently, he served as a political advisor on Iran at CENTCOM. The problem is that it appears that he used both positions to undermine American policy toward Iran. •According to emails recently shared with me, while managing the 'Iran Regional Presence Office,' Asgard suggested a scheme to support the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) with tax dollars. ... •While serving as a political adviser to CENTCOM last spring, Asgard penned an article for a Tufts University journal in which he professed moral equivalency between Iran and the United States, blaming both equally for a lack of 'dialogue' and 'cultural diplomacy.' ... •Those who have met with Asgard question his Persian fluency. ... Over the last several years, U.S. international broadcasting has had serious management and content problems (for a small taste, see here, here, here, here, and here). Things will worsen if the Broadcasting Board of Governors fails to start hiring serious public diplomacy experts who can speak the language of their broadcasts and offer a 'clear and effective presentation of the policies of the United States Government and responsible discussion and opinion on those policies' (22 USC Chapter 71 sec. 6202)."

That same sec. 6202 stipulates "news which is consistently reliable and authoritative, accurate, objective, and comprehensive." As for "effective presentation" of US policies, because audiences use international broadcasts to get news that is more credible than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media, the most effective way to present those policies is by way of "news which is consistently reliable and authoritative, accurate, objective, and comprehensive." That would be a market-based approach to US international broadcasting. The American Enterprise Institute is, apparently, more into central planning.

Inter Press Servive, 16 Feb 2011, Barbara Slavin: "VOA management has had difficulty finding the right person to run the sprawling service, which has one hit show – a 'Daily Show' clone called 'Static' or 'Parazit' in Farsi - but has been riven by disputes among its staff over what vision of Iran's political future to promote. Some members of Congress as well as some Iranian expatriates have complained that PNN is too critical of U.S. policy and too accommodating to Tehran. Asgard, who also served as head of an Iran watch office in Dubai, did not seek the position but was offered it after several others turned VOA down or were deemed unsuitable, according to a source with knowledge of the process."

Falun Gong affiliate Sound of Hope will expand its shortwave broadcasts to China.

Posted: 22 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 22 Feb 2011, Shanshan Wu: "While BBC is canceling its Mandarin broadcasts in April 2011 and Voice of America (VOA) its Mandarin and Cantonese broadcasts in October 2011, Sound of Hope Radio (SOH) Network announced that they will be expanding short-wave broadcasting to China to meet the demands of its Chinese audience. Based in San Francisco, California SOH has broadcast to China two hours every day since 2004. SOH’s broadcasts have increased every year in its six years of operation, with its recent addition of 4.5 hours bringing its average daily shortwave broadcasting hours to 20. Network president Allen Zeng indicated that SOH has long wished to expand its shortwave broadcasting. ... Zeng said that SOH will do its best to shoulder the responsibility of bringing uncensored information to the people of China, adding that, 'The international community should understand the needs of the Chinese people and invest extensively in China’s free access to information, including the Internet, large-scale shortwave broadcasting, and satellite television, in order to truly aid China towards positive progress.'" -- Sound of Hope and Epoch Times are affiliated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Deutsche Welle notes interference to its satellite, VHF, and shortwave transmissions, and to its website.

Posted: 22 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 15 Feb 2011, Birgit Görtz: "Engineers at Deutsche Welle detected interference of its transmissions coming from the Hotbird 8 satellite beginning [14 Feb] at 13:07 UTC. It is believed the DW transmissions are being 'jammed' by foreign signals, though the source of the signals can not be confirmed. Deutsche Welle last experienced jamming in February 2010, which was believed to have emanated in Iran. The disturbances are affecting DW-TV Europe, DW-TV Arabia, as well as very high frequency (VHF) and shortwave signals in regions including Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia. TV live streaming on Deutsche Welle's multi-language news website is also affected by the disturbances. To ensure the transfer of Deutsche Welle content, alternate transmission services have been arranged for Internet and satellite broadcasting. Partner stations that rebroadcast DW have been informed." -- I'm not sure what DW means by VHF. The FM band is in the VHF part of the radio spectrum, so are DW FM rebroadcasts in certain areas jammed? See previous post about Iranian satellite jamming.

Stepped up internet censorship in Iran after anti-government protests.

Posted: 22 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 15 Feb 2011: Iranian "authorities have increased censorship in a bid to prevent [14 Feb] anti-government protests, blocking independent or pro-opposition websites and other electronic media. Broadband speed has greatly slowed in major cities as in the run-up to previous anti-regime demonstrations or opposition events. Mobile phone and text-message traffic has been badly disrupted and the Persian calendar month 'bahman' has been added to blocked keywords in an effort to reduce calls for today’s protests (14 February is 25 Bahman)."

PBS Frontline, Tehran Bureau, 18 Feb 2011: "4:30 p.m. From Tehran: I cannot connect to anyone using my laptop. The only way I can check emails is through my mobile and only via WIFI. The GPRS is also not working. BBC Persian programs are completely cut. SMS service is very limited. (By 2 p.m., slow internet service available again.)"

CBS News, 21 Feb 2011, Tucker Reals: Iran's government has stepped up its filtering of Internet content and witnesses inside the country report dramatically slowed down connection speeds -- essentially rendering web work impossible -- after anti-government protests were reportedly quashed by gunfire on Sunday. The government, headed by hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has always maintained a tight grip on news reports inside Iran, and on the information allowed to leave the Islamic Republic. But reports suggest that clampdown getting even tighter in the wake of large protests last week."

Democratic Voice of Burma may reduce broadcasts because of drop in donor funding.

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 14 Feb 2011: "Overseas-based media such as the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) are seen as an important source of news in the impoverished nation, where an authoritarian government keeps a stranglehold on domestic reporting. ... Within weeks of the first elections in 20 years, DVB -- an Oslo-based television, radio and online news provider that is banned in Myanmar -- cancelled several programmes after suffering big losses in subsidies. DVB deputy manager Khin Maung Win said the cuts amounted to about $1 million in 2011, party because the group had received roughly $500,000 in extra funding last year to cover the November election. He said it would result in job cuts among some of the group's 150 journalists based in Norway, Thailand or Myanmar. ... Other established independent media sources covering the country include Radio Free Asia (RFA), financed by the United States, and the BBC's Burmese service, which recently escaped being axed in severe cuts by the broadcaster."

DPA, 15 Feb 2011: "A 15-per-cent drop in donor funding has forced the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) to reduce programming and cut some of its operations, the head of the Myanmar opposition broadcaster said Tuesday. DVB has decided to 'move some of our (radio) production from Norway,' executive director Aye Chan Naing of the Oslo-based DVB told the German Press Agency dpa over telephone. The shortfall was the equivalent of 515,000 dollars, compared to 2010 funds. ... The station broadcasts about two hours of radio daily to Myanmar, but would likely have to cut that to one hour and also drop live broadcasts, he said. Some production would be moved closer to Myanmar. Aye Chan Naing declined to specify which donors, either governments or other organizations, had reduced funding. DVB has earlier had to deal with most donors only giving funds for a year at a time, making longer term planning difficult. 'It has never been stable,' he said."

The use of international media in political uprisings -- then and now.

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Today's Zaman, 14 Feb 2011, Beyza Ünal: "In the Cold War, the use of Radio Free Europe (RFE) -- a non-profit organization funded by the United States, broadcasting to the former Eastern Bloc states such as Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia -- is an explicit example of the robustness of strategic communication methods. Without RFE we would not have seen a Hungarian uprising or demonstrations in Czechoslovakia and Poland. Similar to the Arab revolts, demonstrations against the Soviet Union during the Cold War were also part of a chain reaction. Moreover, in parallel to the Soviet Union’s interference in RFE broadcasts, there were a few days in which Internet access was denied in Egypt. However, there were still tweets coming from Twitter in Egypt as people found ways to get online and spread methods to access the Internet via a login number and password. As technology improved, radio broadcasting transformed into a sort of networking, much like the Internet. The main difference between RFE and social media today is merely technical issues, but the main purpose is still to provide unrestricted information to states that limit freedom of communication and freedom of information. Yet, these values come from a Western mindset. Therefore, what we see today is a clash of authoritarian values from the state level with the democratic values from two levels -- internally from the societal level and externally from Westernized countries."

Jakarta Globe, 13 Feb 2011, Robert H. Reid: "Egypt’s young revolutionaries used the tools of the 21st century — the Internet, Facebook and Twitter — to organize the first protests in late January. After the government unplugged the Internet and shut down mobile phones, Egyptians turned to Arabic language television stations — Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and Alhurra — for word of what was happening on the streets. ... Instead of turning to the likes of Al-Jazeera for news, Iranians [in 1979] relied on crackling shortwave broadcasts by the BBC’s Persian language service, which the shah’s government tried repeatedly to jam."

Ballerina's "expletive-rich" interview on Radio Liberty.

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 14 Feb 2011: "A scandal-prone Russian ballerina on Monday accused the Kremlin of pulling two television shows about her after she voiced sympathy for jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and quit the ruling party. Anastasia Volochkova accused the Kremlin's chief ideologue Vladislav Surkov of ordering two talk shows to be taken off the air on Friday, linking this to an obscenity-strewn interview she gave about Khodorkovsky. ... In an interview with Radio Liberty earlier this month Volochkova slammed the United Russia party as "s--t", saying its officials forced her to sign a letter supporting Khodorkovsky's first jail sentence."

BBC News, 14 Feb 2011: "She announced her decision to quit United Russia in an expletive-rich radio interview earlier this month. Talking to Radio Liberty, the star said she had decided to withdraw her membership because the party forced her to sign a letter supporting Mr Khodorkovsky's first jail sentence." See also RFE/RL Transmission blog, 4 Feb 2011.

Japan's Asahi Shimbun launches Chinese-language "Fresh Japan."

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Times, 11 Feb 2011: "With a domestic readership of nearly 8 million, the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's most influential newspaper, is one of the largest papers in the world. Last year, it launched a spinoff magazine in Chinese language, Fresh Japan (xinxian riben), which publishes translated articles from the Japanese edition for the Chinese readership. Why did the paper decide to move into the Chinese market? What role can the media play in public diplomacy? Tokyo-based Global Times (GT)reporter Cai Chengping conducted an exclusive interview with Tsuyoshi Nojima (Nojima), editor in chief of Fresh Japan and the head of Chinese team at the international headquarters of the Asahi Shimbun, on these issues. ... 'GT: Media has very important social responsibilities. In your opinion, how can both Chinese and Japanese media provide more objective and rational coverage of both countries' affairs? Nojima: This question may be beyond my competence. But I think that any responsible media of any countries including Japan and China should be committed to making objective and neutral reports based on the facts. This has long been the unwavering position and attitude of the Asahi Shimbun and will be the standpoint of Fresh Japan.'" -- No information on how the magazine is distributed -- print and/or web -- nor any URL.

Ears To Our World, nonprofit shortwave radio distributor, subject of VOA Special English report.

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA Special English, 13 Feb 2011, June Simms: "This is the VOA Special English Technology Report. A shortwave radio might seem like ancient technology these days. But for some people, it remains their only link to the wider world. Ears to Our World is an organization based in the United States. It provides shortwave radios to schools and communities in some of the poorest areas of the world. The radio is small, about the size of a book, and self-powered. Users turn a crank. Winding it for two minutes provides about forty minutes of listening time." See also Ears To Our World website.

Australia's SBS: international, but "not Radio Australia or the Australian [sic] Network."

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Encore, 14 Feb 2011, Aravind Balasubramaniam: "In Australia, SBS has been assigned the responsibility of communicating with non-English speaking background (NESB) communities. ... SBS was launched as an innovative radio service with the frequencies 3EA and 2EA, at a time when the Federal Government needed to communicate with the new Australians that were arriving – about, for example, Medicare, the then-new universal health service introduced in 1975. Five years later, SBS TV became a platform to expose Australians to other cultures, both the ones around the world, and the ones living here. It also started offering its ethnic language news services for migrants. ... 'We are an Australian service. This is not Radio Australia or the Australian Network. This is a domestic service provided to Chinese Australians about life in this country and that’s our number one priority: to provide content and services where communities can talk to each other about issues that are affecting their lives here, in this country.'" -- SBS was orginally called Special Broadcasting Service. See previous post with a proposal to merge ABC and SBS into an international service.

Republicans' proposed 10-percent budget cut might force US international broadcasting to improve its performance.

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 15 Feb 2011, William Matthews: "House Republicans' plans to cut more than $100 billion from the federal budget would lop nearly 10 percent from the $745 million budget of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. ... A cut that large 'would have very serious consequences for us in international broadcasting,' said BBG spokeswoman Letitia King. 'It is difficult to say how we would implement it.' The agency already is struggling to absorb rising costs -- from rent on buildings to health insurance costs to vendors' fees -- with its budget frozen at the 2010 level, she said." See all the cuts in House Appropriations Committee chart (pdf).

A ten percent budget cut might be the best thing that ever happened to US international broadcasting. Eliminate the duplication that exists because two US international broadcasting entities transmit in 20 languages. The resulting concentration of resources would actually improve performance. It would also eliminate layers of US international broadcasting management. This would require reform of US international broadcasting, which, legislatively, would be even more difficult to accomplish than the budget cut.

Not that anybody read these pieces, but I wrote about this in the New York Times, 12 July 2010, and Foreign Service Journal, October 2010 (pdf).

Rep. Rohrabacher suggests plan to cut VOA Mandarin shortwave is part of Obama deal with China.

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link

National Review Online, Feb 18 2011, Matthew Shaffer: "One thing Obama’s budget proposal does cut: $8 million for radio broadcasting of Voice of America in China. And Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.) doesn’t like it. ... [H]e suspects that, 'the fact that this announcement was made so short after the visit of Mr. Hu Jintao — there’s every reason to believe that this is being done to curry favor with an authoritarian.' He admits, 'I’m not an expert on the issue.'" -- Joe Mooney comment: "So our landlord has asked us to turn the music down....."

Epoch Times, 19 Feb 2011, Matthew Robertson: "Mr. Rohrabacher said, 'What we’re seeing is the product of a deal between the President of the United States, and a dictator who holds power with an iron fist.' Online commentators have pointed out how the BBC’s decision to sideline its China shortwave service also corresponded with the visit to England of Li Keqiang, the apparatchik next in line for the premiership. Both lines of speculation are unconfirmed."

The Intelligencer (Wheeling, WV), 18 Feb 2011, editorial: "Is Obama attempting to curry favor with Chinese officials? Whatever his reasoning, it is wrongheaded. Congress should not allow cancellation of the VOA broadcasts to the largest group of downtrodden people on the planet."

American Thinker, 18 Feb 2011, M Catharine Evans: "Beijing is spending billions 'to expand its own international broadcasting abilities' and with its internet censoring capabilities known as the Great Firewall hidden, short-waves might once again become a 'big part of the anti-communist culture.' Too bad we have a president more interested in appeasing communist dictators than freedom of speech."

The Cypress (TX) Times, 18 Feb 2011, Reggie Littlejohn: "I believe that the VOA Mandarin Service has been singled out for the chopping block precisely because of its effectiveness – it has been the leading international broadcaster into China for nearly 70 years and has an enormous following inside China. VOA has become an aching thorn in the side of the Chinese Communist Party by exposing, for example, the persecution of human rights lawyers and the use of forced abortion to enforce China’s hated One Child Policy. My interview about China’s One Child Policy on VOA’s Mandarin Service generated an ardent and wide-ranging discussion, in which people from all over China called in to comment and discuss. The interview gave Chinese citizens a national forum in which to debate passionately held beliefs – an opportunity they otherwise would not have had, but for VOA."

Chinese media comment on proposed elimination of BBC and VOA Mandarin radio broadcasts.

Posted: 21 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link

China Daily, 17 Feb 2011, Ai Yang and He Wei: "Li Liangrong, a professor of media studies at Shanghai-based Fudan University, said these media giants were re-aligning their resources 'to implement a cost-effective and market-specific strategy to reach target audiences in China. Most Western countries' publicity strategies regarding China are aimed at influencing elite groups, most of whom can understand English.' In such a context, there is simply 'no point in keeping the Chinese-language channels, especially at a time when news outlets are faced with budget cuts', said Yu Guoming, vice-dean of the Journalism School at Renmin University of China."

Global Times, 17 Feb 2011, Observer: "Even in its heyday, foreign broadcasters did not dominate Chinese mainstream thinking, though indeed, there were times when foreign broadcasters provided additional sources for those Chinese eager to learn more about current affairs. They were able to break news much earlier than domestic news media. The invasion that foreign broadcasters made in China was more a result of the information seclusion of China in its old days. It was also a symbol when hostility between East and the West was at its highest. ... Those days are now gone. As China has integrated into the world, and the people have accessed more multi-sourced and multi-dimensional information, they now make their own judgments. During the process, domestic media platforms have grown with comparable influence. ... The Chinese service of VOA and BBC are heading toward an inevitable fall. In addition to competition from other media, they are being marginalized due to their biased and unprofessional reporting."

China Daily, 20 Feb 2011, via PhoneBeta: "It goes without having saying that the BBC and VOA have been reaching out to Chinese for years as component of the Western publicity technique. Apart from disseminating information and news via the Western lens, they’ve introduced Western way of life to the Chinese audience by means of their programs in Putonghua. Overall, they serve as a carrier of Western values and also the Western idea of democracy. Instead of bridging the gap of information and understanding between peoples, quite typically their biased programs have produced misunderstanding between the West along with the East. As global media giants, the BBC and VOA are likely to turn to far more advanced means to spread Western values and culture in foreign countries. Even if the British and American governments increase their fund support to them, it really is critical for the BBC and VOA to know that the content of their foreign language programs also matters."

BBC World News America will move off of BBC America and onto BBC World News -- which reaches fewer US homes.

Posted: 20 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC America press release, 18 Feb 2011: "BBC Global News and BBC Worldwide America today jointly announced a fresh approach to news distribution in the U.S., including increased investment online and a plan to broaden the reach of its television news output. ... Further investment will be made in the U.S. Edition of the BBC News website (, which already attracts more than 15 million U.S. users per month, and BBC World News, the BBC’s 24-hour global news channel, will be a priority. ... Online, investment will be targeted at adding dedicated video journalists to the Washington D.C. team currently producing the U.S. edition of and enhancing the video production facility. ... BBC AMERICA will return to its roots, delivering high-quality and innovative entertainment programs throughout primetime. The evening news program, BBC World News America, anchored by Matt Frei and Katty Kay, will migrate from BBC AMERICA and become a twice nightly staple on the BBC World News channel. It will also be available to PBS stations expanding the program’s audience and driving awareness of the 24-hour BBC World News channel. ... The new approach cements a strong presence for BBC News across all platforms in the U.S. while setting BBC AMERICA on a clear entertainment course." -- But will BBC World News be available on as many cable systems as BBC America?

New York Times, 18 Feb 2011, Brian Stelter: "[G]aining distribution for BBC World News is most likely to be exceedingly difficult. BBC America is already available in more than 60 million American homes; BBC World News is only available in about six million. Distributors are generally reluctant to add new channels."

Media Bistro, 18 Feb 2011, Alex Weprin "BBC World News has limited distribution in the U.S., but the situation in the Middle East has led many people to ask cable providers for more international news options. While much of that chatter has been about Al Jazeera English, BBC World News may fit the bill. The plan is for BBC America to focus exclusively on entertainment programming, complemented by the news programming on BBC World News." Also reported by Multichannel News, 18 Feb 2011.

The Atlantic, The Daily Dish, 14 Feb 2011, Andrew Sullivan: "If you do not DVR or watch Matt Frei's and Katty Kay's 7 pm hour-long BBC America broadcast, you're missing a huge amount of what's going on in the world."

Kansas City Star, 18 Feb 2011, Aaron Barnhart: "KCPT2 is probably the most worthwhile of the secondary broadcast offerings in town. It has a thoughtfully designed, more global mix of programs, including many that don’t air on KCPT. 'BBC World News' comes on at 5 p.m., an hour before it airs on BBC America."

US supported Security Council statement on Israeli settlements "first reported by Alhurra" (updated with ironic outcome).

Posted: 20 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, Turtle Bay blog, 16 Feb 2011, Colum Lynch: "The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body 'does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,' a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal. ... The U.S.-backed draft statement -- which was first reported by Al Hurra -- was obtained by Turtle Bay." Cited by Fox Nation, 16 Feb 2011.

AFP, 17 Feb 2011: The Libyan "Quryna newspaper said security forces and demonstrators clashed late on Tuesday in what it branded the work of 'saboteurs' among a small group of protesters. ... Quryna said the unrest coincided with calls from exiled Libyan opposition figures living in the United States and Britain for 'a campaign of incitement' against Tripoli broadcast on the American Arabic-language satellite Al-Hurra."

Time, 16 Feb 2011, Aryn Baker: "Positive coverage from satellite channels like al-Jazeera and al-Hurra have helped, both by encouraging Yemenis to protest and exposing them to the support of the outside world." -- Real news organizations don't do "positive coverage." Or "negative coverage."

Update: Politico, 18 Feb 2011, Ben Smith: "The United States this afternoon vetoed a United Nations Security Council condemning Israeli settlements, ending a messy and fruitless week of diplomacy in the stalled Middle East conflict. ... The U.S. had offered to support a weaker presidential statement against resolutions, which was rejected after it leaked (ironically, to the U.S. government station Alhurra)."

VOA scoop on North Korean missile launch facility widely cited by other news media.

Posted: 20 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Feb 2011, Mark McDonald: "New satellite imagery shows North Korea has completed construction of a second - and more modern - missile launch facility, a vital step in its efforts to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles. The images, first obtained by Voice of America News, show an expansive launch pad next to a launch tower that stands more than 30 metres tall."

AFP, 17 Feb 2011: "An image taken on January 10 of the Tongchang-ri base on the west coast shows a moveable launch pad and swing arms along with the tower. It was disclosed by Voice of America News this week and was posted on the website of US defence information group"

The VOA report was also cited by Arirang, 17 Feb 2011, The Korea Times, 17 Feb 2011, Reuters, 17 Feb 2011, and The Guardian, 16 Feb 2011. See the orginal report by VOA News, 16 Feb 2011, Steve Herman.

VOA covers demonstrations in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Algeria. In Wisconsin, not so much.

Posted: 20 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Looking at the website on the morning of 20 February, the top of the home page includes these stories...

VOA News, 19 Feb 2011, Suzanne Presto in Cairo: "Anti-Government Movements Gain Traction as Yemen, Libya Face Crackdown."

VOA News, 19 Feb 2011, Phillip Walter Wellman in Manama: "Anti-Government Protesters Storm Bahrain's Central Square."

VOA News, 19 Feb 2011, Lisa Bryant in Paris: "Algerian Police Clamp Down on Rally in Capital."

Even a protest in leftist Bolivia is mentioned...

VOA News, 18 Feb 2011: "Thousands Protest in Bolivia Over Rising Prices."

But there are also vigorous demonstrations -- pro-union, and now anti-union -- happening in Madison, Wisconsin. The only VOA story is...

VOA News, 17 Feb 2011, Kane Farabaugh in Chicago: "US Public Sector Cuts Spark Protests in Wisconsin."

Other international broadcasters have covered the Wisconsin story more recently, and with more intensity. None, however, appears to have a reporter actually in Madison..., 20 Feb 2011: "Ideologies clash in Wisconsin."

RT (Russia Today), 19 Feb 2011: "Union protests spread across the US." No evidence of a reporter on hand, but acquired video of the protests, and a Skype-like interview with student in Wisconsin.

BBC News, 19 Feb 2011: "Wisconsin budget cuts: Madison rally attracts thousands." See also BBC slideshow.

CNN does a reporter on the scene...

CNN, 20 Feb 2011: "Tea Party activists join protests, favoring Wisconsin budget bill." -- And this report probably gets some global distribution via CNN International.

Al Jazeera English web traffic spiked when Mubarak resigned, driven by social media -- more Twitter than Facebook.

Posted: 19 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
TechCrunch, 13 Feb 2011, Erick Schonfeld: "While you can debate about the exact role of social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook, in Egypt’s revolution, there is no question about its role as a new global media channel. Where once people tuned into CNN to watch governments collapse, this time around they tuned into Al Jazeera on the Web (at least in English speaking countries lie the U.S. where Al Jazeera English is not widely carried on cable systems). Thanks to Chartbeat, we now have a realtime snapshot of what activity looked like on Al Jazeera’s English website on Friday when Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak resigned. Everyone wanted to watch and they flooded to Al Jazeera’s English website. Concurrent realtime visits spiked from about 50,000 right before noon ET to 135,371 when the snapshot above was taken. The number of people simultaneously on Al Jazeera’s website kept going as high as 200,000—that was at any given second, and translated into millions of people watching on the Web. ... If you drill down into the report for the article, 'Hosni Mubarak resigns as president,' a full 71 percent of traffic at 11:40 AM ET came from social media. The second screenshot below shows a bar chart that breaks up traffic by source across time, and shows how traffic from social media (also lavender) spiked across the site right around noon. And what was the biggest source of social media traffic? It wasn’t Facebook. It was Twitter (followed by Reddit). When it comes to spreading realtime news, the social revolution is very real and Twitter is in the vanguard."

Comment to ibid., larryk: "You are missing a key point. Al Jazeera BOUGHT all the advertising inventory on Twitter related to Egypt. Every search for Egypt on Twitter, returned a sponsored Al Jazeera link as the first result. ... So we learned two things: 1. In real time crisis, people go to Twitter search. 2. Twitter ads work."

Comment to ibid., Is300fan: "1) Al Jazeera has a distribution model that stations must consider. 2) Al Jazeera, unlike what Republicans would have you think, isn't the mouthpiece of terrorists but in fact is a pretty good news organization. They've done a wonderful job snatching up journalists that used to work at the BBC, ITV, etc. 3) Al Jazeera kept their reporting fairly neutral even after Mubarak was toppled. 4) Al Jazeera didn't stick to the usually flock of mind-numbing 'experts' we find on the various US TV cable news networks. 5) Al Jazeera's anchors didn't turn the story into something all about them unlike Anderson Cooper who's video of getting pushed around was on non-stop repeat for days on CNN. 6) Al Jazeera should be allowed in the US."

"Britain's respected BBC" seen as model for Egypt's state media in the new era.

Posted: 19 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, Feb 14 2011, via Radio Netherlands Media Network: "Journalists from Egypt’s state media, until last week the staid propaganda arm of a hated regime, are battling to overcome conservative management and win back the trust of their public. ... 'When the demonstrations broke out, we were following the news on the BBC and Al-Jazeera,' said Suha al-Naqash, a 41-year-old Nile News anchor. 'They forced us to say "Calm has returned to the streets of Cairo", when the country was boiling over. It was very painful for me. We, who were supposed to be the main source of news, were saying nothing was happening.' ... For Naqash, the best solution would be for the Radio and Television Union - which oversees all state broadcasting - to become a public but autonomous organisation, like Britain’s respected BBC. 'It’s a new era. We must reform everything,' she said."

Post-shortwave international broadcasting will have to deal with the choke points of the internet.

Posted: 19 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 15 Feb 2011, James Glanz and John Markoff: "For all the Internet’s vaunted connectivity, the Egyptian government commanded powerful instruments of control: it owns the pipelines that carry information across the country and out into the world. Internet experts say similar arrangements are more common in authoritarian countries than is generally recognized. In Syria, for example, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment dominates the infrastructure, and the bulk of the international traffic flows through a single pipeline to Cyprus. Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries have the same sort of dominant, state-controlled carrier. Over the past several days, activists in Bahrain and Iran say they have seen strong evidence of severe Internet slowdowns amid protests there. ... [D]espite [the internet's] decentralized design, the reality is that most traffic passes through vast centralized exchanges — potential choke points that allow many nations to monitor, filter or in dire cases completely stop the flow of Internet data."

CBC Radio, The Current, 14 Feb 2011, "Kill Switch" segment (mp3): "When the Egyptian Government decided to shut-down the Internet, the act was described as unprecedented, but it hasn't been the only government that has tried to limit access to the Internet or shut it down altogether. In North America, a soon-to-be considered 'internet kill switch' legislation in the United States has civil liberties groups wary. There's a fear the government could use it to infringe on personal rights in the name of cyber security."

Russia Today (RT) expands into San Francisco and claims ratings success in Washington and New York.

Posted: 19 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RusInfoService, 11 Feb 2011, apparent RT press release: "RT, an international TV news channel, has launched its English-language feed, 24x7, on San Francisco's major cable provider, Comcast, which brings it to approximately 4 million viewers in the San Francisco metro area. In the U.S., RT is carried by cable networks in New York, NY; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; and in Los Angeles, CA. ... Nielsen Media research showed RT's average daily audience in Washington, DC, as exceeding that of Deutsche Welle, France 24, Euronews, and CCTV News, the English-language Chinese news channel. In New York metro, the Nielsen survey indicated that RT's daily audience exceeds the average daily audience of Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera English and CCTV News. Almost one-half (42.6%) of RT viewers in Washington, DC, and in New York, NY, appreciate RT's critical take on news of the day, as well as its different stance from the mainstream media, and see it as a reliable alternative. The majority (87%) of respondents consider mainstream TV channels, such as CNN and BBC America, to be partisan. Nielsen Media Research conducted the survey in the fall of 2010 with 2,192 residents in Washington, DC, and 2,180 residents in New York city."

Russia Today might hire suspected spy awaiting deportation from the UK.

Posted: 19 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 13 Feb 2011, Andrew Osborn: "Katia Zatuliveter, a 25-year-old former parliamentary assistant for Mike Hancock, a Liberal Democrat MP, was arrested in December and ordered deported on MI5's advice after it was decided that her continued presence in Britain was a potential threat to national security. She has since been released on bail and is living in London, with strict limits on her freedom of movement, until her appeal against her deportation can be heard in October. However RT, the Kremlin's English-language TV news channel, has offered her an unspecified on-air role which could see her become a presenter in Moscow or even a London-based reporter."

RIA Novisti, 11 Feb 2011: "British authorities have softened bail terms for alleged Russian spy Yekaterina (Katya) Zatuliveter and allowed her a job interview with the Russia Today English-language television channel. ... Zatuliveter has officially denied accusations that she used her position as a British lawmaker's aide to spy for Russia and filed an appeal against deportation procedures. Hearings in the case cannot be held until October 18-21 as one of the main witnesses, a senior British intelligence official, is otherwise engaged and can give testimony no earlier."

The Herald (Glasgow), 15 Feb 2011, Tom Shields: "RT has on its staff Anna Chapman, the redhead femme fatale deported from the US for espionage. She is about to be joined by Katia Zatuliveter, who worked in the Commons as a researcher for a Liberal Democrat MP but was suspected of being a spy. RT loves to have a go at the US. Yesterday’s highlights included archive footage of a chap called Stetson Kennedy who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. There was a report on blue-collar poverty with scenes of decent American folk searching for food in dumpsters (skips, to us). An item on prescription drugs told us that 'big pharma has replaced the defence industries as the number one defrauder of the US government'. It’s a brand of unabashed reporting you don’t get on the bland and boring BBC news channel. It is taking on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News at its own game."

"Noise multiplies; signal is scarcer. Links to articles are disseminated to others before the articles are read."

Posted: 19 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 12 Feb 2011, Anand Giridharadas: "The debate has tended to dwell on the question of whether all this overseas digital mirroring of a crisis, especially when the Internet is inaccessible or censored in the nation in crisis, is of any use to those on the ground. But what is often missing from the debate is the idea of bearing witness: the notion, as [Elie] Wiesel, a survivor of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, once put it, that an experience like the one he endured 'cannot stay with me alone. It must be opened, it must become an offering, it must be deepened and given and shared.' ... But there is also a paradox about this digital bearing of witness: Amid the chaos and fragmentation and deluge of the new media world, it becomes easier for the witness to hear, but perhaps harder to listen. Noise multiplies; signal is scarcer. Links to articles are disseminated to others before the articles are read. Genuine testimony and propaganda mingle freely under the flag of the #Jan25 Twitter hashtag, no one knowing for sure which is which."

Russia Today (on many US cable systems) versus Al Jazeera English (on few US cable systems).

Posted: 19 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Post, 13 Feb 2011, Miriam Elder: "Anyone getting their information about Egypt from Russia Today would have learned that the United States orchestrated the uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood was formed by MI6 and opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei was a Free Mason. Five years since its launch, the English-language channel has become home to fringe ideas and rabid anti-American rhetoric. At the same time, Qatar-based Al Jazeera English has proved itself indispensable, in a time of decreasing television budgets, to the coverage of global stories such as the Egypt uprising — bringing non-stop live coverage as the events unfolded and holding interviews with those most relevant to the story. Another difference between the two? Russia Today is widely carried by major U.S. cable providers such as TimeWarner. Al Jazeera is not. ... 'I liked RT when I first started working there,' said a former employee. 'They were exposing stories on human rights violations, political activists under siege — stuff the U.S. media never touched on.' But the reporter soon grew disenchanted, saying editors often 'added extreme opinion into the stories' without the reporter’s approval. 'They over-exaggerate details and to a certain degree make up details — details that had no importance to daily news.'"

Yemen News Agency, 14 Feb 2011: "Yemen and Russia discussed here on Monday aspects of joint cooperation in media fields, particularly in TV and news agencies as to serve the growing mutual economic and political cooperation. The discussion took place at a meeting gathered Minister of Information Hasan al-Lawzi and Russian ambassador to Yemen Sergei Kozlov. ... Kozlov made a suggestion of a visit to be paid by a team form the Russian Today TV Channel to make a documentary and interviews with Yemeni officials about Yemen, showing the real acts and developments in the country."

Marketingweb (Cape Town), 15 Feb 2011, Dianne Bayley: "[S]witching from loud ads was how I discovered Russia Today, the only channel that showed the floods in Australia and not Egypt 24-7."

The eminent and the religious speak out against BBC World Service cuts.

Posted: 18 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 17 Feb 2011: "Mark Tully, the veteran BBC reporter whose dispatches have been followed by generations of Indians, on Thursday led an angry attack on the corporation's axing of its Hindi-language radio service."

Press Trust of India, 16 Feb 2011: "Eminent writers, civil society activists, journalists and other noted personalities on Wednesday came together and asked the British government to re-think its decision to cut down funding to the BBC which is resulting in the closing down of its Hindi radio service. The group will submit a statement to the British High Commission tomorrow. 'We, the undersigned, are astonished at the news that the BBC management has decided to stop transmission of BBC Hindi radio on short wave from April one, 2011,' the statement said."

Media Newsline, 16 Feb 2011: "In a statement titled ‘Don't silence BBC Hindi radio', the signatories, including broadcaster and author Mark Tully, writer Vikram Seth, Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, music maestro Amjad Ali Khan and historian Ramchandra Guha, said they were 'astonished at the news that the BBC management has decided to stop transmission of BBC Hindi radio on short wave from 1 April, 2011'."

Independent Catholic News, 14 Feb 2011: "David Campanale is the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Father of Chapel in the BBC World News TV and a director of Christian aid agency, Tearfund. He said the World Service plays a vital role in truth-telling around the world. He is looking to the churches to speak out against the cuts, which the unions say will deeply damage an internationally respected and successful broadcaster. He commented: 'At its best the World Service can challenge corruption, expose human rights abuses and promote democratic values. By cutting the service the government will cut British influence in the rest of the world and also damage objective quality international news.'" -- Which is it? "Promote democratic values"? Or "objective quality international news"? It's unusual for a BBC official to be uncertain of the concept.

Anglican Communion News Service, 16 Feb 2011: "The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, today raised concerns about the effect of cuts to the BBC World Service in a question to Government Ministers in the House of Lords. ... 'The BBC World Service output is much loved and respected across the globe. Not only is it the gold standard for international affairs coverage, it has a unique ability to reach into a variety of situations overseas – often where democratic values and basic human rights are not being upheld. Just look at the way the World Service has been covering the protests in Egypt, or the way it reports natural disasters or war. There is no-one else providing the same level of insight for a global audience. ... With the closure of language services in Azeri, Mandarin for China, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian, I wonder if we can really call it the "world service" anymore!'"

William Hague: "The right way to go is to develop the BBC’s satellite television services."

Posted: 18 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
House of Commons Hansard, 17 Feb 2011: "Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): ... As the Government are in the mood for U-turns, should not they look again at their planned wasteful cuts to the BBC world services? Mr Hague: The hon. Gentleman is right that social networking sites have played a strong role in recent events across the middle east. So has satellite television, which brings us to an important point. The BBC’s services must adapt to the changes in the world—the vast majority of people in the Arab world keep in touch with those events through watching satellite television channels. That is the way for the BBC to develop its services, including its online services, rather than thinking that every service that it now provides has to stay exactly the same. Medium-wave transmissions across much of the Arab world will be continued. Shortwave transmissions will continue into the Arabian peninsula and into Sudan, but the right way to go is to develop the BBC’s satellite television services. That is the sort of thing people are watching."

House of Commons Hansard, 14 Feb 2011: "Ms Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab): The Foreign Secretary is right when he says that democracy is about more than elections. There are two things that he could do in a concrete way. One he has already done-increase the funding for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. The second is to increase the funding of the World Service, rather than cutting it. Mr Hague: Of course, it would be nice to have the budget to do everything that everybody demanded. As the hon. Lady knows, we do not have the budget to do that. On the World Service and the Arab world, I stress that satellite television is watched almost ubiquitously through the Arab world and was of course much resented by the Egyptian authorities during recent events. That includes the BBC. BBC Arabic is continuing on medium wave, and the shortwave service is being continued for the most sensitive areas in Sudan and the Arabian peninsula, so the BBC will continue to have a very strong representation in the Arab world."

Former BBCWS head of research: "Shortwave remains the only unstoppable way to reach people."

Posted: 18 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Times, 15 Feb 2011, Graham Mytton (no link available): "The campaign against the ending of shortwave service in BBC Hindi is a reminder not only of the damage to the BBC’s reach in India but also of similar cuts to shortwave for many BBC services, including Arabic, Swahili and others. The BBC estimates that 161 million people listen to its radio output; of these 85 million (53 per cent), still use shortwave, a clear majority of its global radio audience. Despite this, BBC managers continually depict shortwave as a 'dying medium'. In many countries listeners have stopped using shortwave, but this is not because the medium is out of date but because local media become more free. And shortwave remains the only way to reach many listeners in many countries. The BBC has successfully used other new means to reach audiences — local FM relays and rebroadcasters, mobile phones and the internet — but these media are often cut by local political decisions. Shortwave remains the only unstoppable way to reach people. I was in charge of audience research for the World Service for 16 years until 1998. I continue to specialise in audience research in the remoter parts of the world, most recently in Darfur, South Sudan, Sierra Leone and elsewhere. Many people still use shortwave and there is no sign that it will not continue to be the major part of the way that people can be reached by the BBC and other broadcasters, unless, that is, it continues the very unwise policy of cutting it."

BBC WS might buy SW time during crises, and announces dates for service closures.

Posted: 18 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 17 Feb 2011, Josh Halliday: "An email sent to Bush House staff on Wednesday by Peter Horrocks, the BBC's global news director, revealed plans to respond to major events in particular regions by buying up short-wave radio capacity, against a backdrop of violent political uprising sweeping across the Middle East. ... 'We are looking into the possibility of buying SW capacity at short notice to ensure we can react quickly should we need to, as highlighted recently in Egypt,' he added. ... Horrocks also revealed the timeline for service closures across the World Service. Four services are to close this month. The BBC Portuguese service for Africa, BBC Serbian and BBC Mundo radio will cease broadcasting on Friday 25 February, and BBC Albanian will air its last transmission on 28 February. Three services – BBC Caribbean, BBC Russian Radio and BBC Chinese Radio – will stop broadcasting on 25 March. BBC Vietnamese radio and BBC Azeri radio will close on the final weekend of March. Short-wave radio distribution for the Indonesian, Kygryz, Nepali, Swahili, Great Lake and Hindi service will also end on the weekend of 26 and 27 of March."

The Guardian, 17 Feb 2011, Josh Halliday and Riazat Butt: "Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, was forced to defend the World Service cuts in the corporation's in-house magazine, Ariel, this week. Changes to the World Service's output was 'deeply regrettable', Thompson said, describing them as 'cuts we would rather not be making'. Thompson made the comments in response to an open letter published in Ariel from six assistant editors at the World Service, who expressed 'dismay' at the way the institution had been 'shabbily treated'. 'We would like to express our dismay at the savage cuts to the World Service and the closure or part closure of important language services which appear to have been sacrificed for political expediency and we find it particularly ironic that you should call the process of cuts in the BBC "Delivering Quality First",' the letter stated."

In Manama, BBC Arabic *was* projected on the side of monument in Pearl Square.

Posted: 18 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 16 Feb 2011, Michael Slackman and Nadim Audi: "By nightfall Wednesday at Pearl Square, a feeling of absolute celebration took hold, a block party in the square. If the afternoons belonged to disaffected young men, the evenings belonged to the whole community. BBC Arabic was projected on the side of the pearl monument, making Pearl Square seem like a living room where protesters sat together, relaxed and watched TV while sipping tea. At least until the police arrived." -- And why not Al Jazeera? Various tweets are reporting that Al Jazeera Arabic is not giving much coverage to Bahrain, although Al Jazeera English is.

BBG chairman says that "iMovie in the cloud" is the future of international broadcasting.

Posted: 18 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 15 Feb 2011: "During a packed briefing at the U.S. Capitol this morning, new media experts and journalists from U.S. international broadcasters discussed this digital revolution and how the U.S. is taking advantage of its potential for change. ... Calling the technology suite provided by Citizen Global a type of 'iMovie in the cloud,' BBG Senior Strategist Paul Marszalek demonstrated how the collaboration will provide multiple avenues for women living in the conflict zones of Central Africa to share their stories, and will be a central site for VOA’s award-winning coverage of the region. 'This is an exact template of what I think the future of international broadcasting will look like,' said BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson of the initiative, which will eventually populate multiple sites on a variety of topics. 'It’s crowd-sourcing, mixed with great journalism, mixed with social networking so that people are empowered by accurate information.'" Video and audio of the event is available here.

Wired Danger Room, 15 Feb 2011, Spencer Ackerman: "Facebook is blowing up in Indonesia, said Rebecca McMenamin, the new media director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, so the Voice of America set up a Facebook page for its Indonesian service that’s now got 278,000 Likes and counting. ... To some degree, the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ new social media efforts already wade in the circumvention pool. They don’t provide proxies to online dissidents. But in a closed country like Uzbekistan, RFE/RL launched mobile sites in November that earn 20,000 users a month, McMenamin said. The website of Voice of America’s Russian service crowdsourced a map for user information to circulate about the December election in Belarus. The Mandarin service is in league with 'a network of bloggers' in China to get pro-American content 'inside the firewall,' McMenamin said." -- Rebecca McMenamin did not say "pro-American." The idea is to get information into the target country that is more balanced and objective than the target country's own state-controlled media., 16 Feb 2011, William Matthews: "BBG's hope is that the free exchange of information over the Internet and social networks will foster democracy, said BBG chairman Walter Isaacson. It hasn't always worked out that way. On at least one occasion, U.S.-sponsored social media were quickly dominated by Islamic fundamentalists, one BBG official conceded."

Survey in Egypt shows 65% viewing Al Arabiya, 25% Alhurra, 22% Al Jazeera during uprising.

Posted: 18 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors, 17 Feb 2011: "Results of a new poll of Egyptians in Cairo and Alexandria show that 25 percent of respondents tuned into Alhurra to follow the recent uprising in Egypt. The telephone survey was conducted during the network’s 18 days of live comprehensive coverage of the historic events in Egypt. The poll, commissioned by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, focused on how Egyptians in Cairo and Alexandria consumed media during the recent protests in Egypt. Results show that Egyptians turned heavily to satellite television to follow the events in their country during the demonstrations. Although the pan-Arab channel Al Arabiya was the most widely watched, surpassing Egyptian State TV, Alhurra TV reached a large audience during this period, with a quarter of all respondents saying they had used the station to follow the events. The results also showed there was substantial use of communications methods such as text messaging, social networking, or email; in spite of Egyptian authorities’ attempts to block these technologies. ... The phone survey, conducted between Feb. 4-10, 2011, consisted of 500 randomly selected adults (age 15+) in the cities of Cairo and Alexandria."

From the report: "Egyptians used a wide variety of media platforms, in addition to personal communications, to follow the events. Television, however, was clearly dominant, with 86% of respondents calling it their 'most important' source of information. Interestingly, the only other medium ranked as 'most important' by more than 5% of respondents was the Internet, and among those aged 20-29, the role of Internet was even more pronounced – 16% of the respondents in this age group called it their 'most important' source.

"Survey results indicate that respondents used many different television channels to follow the protests and ensuing events. Al Arabiya appeared to be the clear favorite, followed by the main Egyptian state channel, the private Egyptian channel Al Mehwar, and Nile TV. Significant portions of the sample reported using Alhurra and Al Jazeera, while BBC Arabic TV and CNN were cited less often."

Percent "currently using to stay informed about the protests"/percent using most often: Al Arabiya 65/44, Egyptian TV 1 59/21, Al Mehwar (Egypt) 42/23, Nile TV (Egypt) 31/16, Alhurra 25/9, Al Jazeera 22/6, CNN (English) 16/5, BBC 13/5. (Very small audiences for DW-TV, Rusia Al-Youm (RT Arabic), France 24, and Hezbollah's Al Manar.)

"Radio: While just over half of the respondents reported having used radio to some extent to follow the events, no more than 5% had used any of the specific radio stations asked about in the survey. There was notably little role for international radio in particular: among the main international stations only BBC Arabic had an appreciable audience, with 3% reporting some use of the station.

"More than half of the survey respondents stated that governmental restrictions had impeded their ability to use their mobiles and/or the Internet. ... Among those who could and did use the Internet to access the news, the web sites of CNN [which has an Arabic website] and Al Arabiya were the most frequently used – by 8% and 7% of respondents, respectively. Other sites used were those of Al Masry al Youm (7%), BBC Arabic (5%), Al Jazeera (3%) and Alhurra (2%)."

Twitter, 17 Feb 2011, abuaardvark (Marc Lynch): "BBG: 25% of Egyptians watched al-Hurra during uprising vs 22% al-Jazeera, 65% al-Arabiya. Sorry, just not credible."

Twitter, 18 Feb 2011, arabist: "@abuaardvark Although I heard al-Hurra had good coverage, in all fairness. Still not very credible."

The results of this survey cannot be dismissed so offhandedly. The output of a sample of 500 is vastly more credible than the opinion of any expert, pundit, or blogger.

The results do make sense. The relatively small audience for Al Jazeera probably has something to do with the channel having been removed from Nilesat, the satellite of choice in Egypt, from about 29 January to 10 February. This would also have taken Al Jazeera off Egyptian cable systems, which likely use Nilesat as their feed. There were also reports of interference to Al Jazeera's signals on Arabsat and Hot Bird.

Further downward pressure on the Al Jazeera numbers may have been caused by Egyptians watching Al Jazeera Mubasher, a C-Span-like channel offering uncut coverage of major events, including the demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt. Indeed, it was Mubasher that was first taken off Nilesat. Some respondents in this survey may not have answered affirmatively about Al Jazeera if they were actually watching Mubasher.

Given the considerations above, this left Al Arabiya as the only indigenous pan-Arab news channel in the clear. This might explain its success, although the report states, "[r]ecent (but pre-crisis) qualitative research conducted Egypt by BBG also suggests that many Egyptians have become more mistrustful of Al Jazeera in recent years, and in particular with its coverage of their own country, though it is impossible to tell to what degree such sentiments may have affected media choices during the protests."

The good showing for Alhurra is consistent with previous surveys in the region, to which, unfortunately, the BBG has not provided easy access. Alhurra's detractors are recalling early surveys in which the only question asked was which station do you use most often. With such wording, channels from outside the Arab countries would have little chance, because international broadcasting is usually used as a supplement to domestic (or, in this case, intra-Arab) media.

The relatively small audience for BBC Arabic TV is surprising, given the BBC's newsgathering resources and stature in the region. The result, however, is consistent with previous BBG surveys which have shown Alhurra leading over BBC Arabic in most Arab countries. CNN's audience is impressive, given that it is in English rather than Arabic.

CNN does have a website in Arabic. The fact that the CNN website was cited as "most frequently used" more than that of any other news organization shows that CNN's web investment in Arabic seems to have paid off.

USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 17 Feb 2011, Adam Clayton Powell III: "Alhurra, the U.S. international broadcasting channel, more than tripled its usual viewers since last year: 25% had watched, up from 7% a year ago, and 9% were using it 'most.'" -- Because of the difference in the wording of the question in this and the previous survey, it can't really be said that Alhurra has tripled its audience. See also Government Executive, 17 Feb 2011, William Matthews.

International Analyst Network, 17 Feb 2011, Siddharth Ramana: "The failure of rival Arab language channels – Al-Hurra and Al-Arabiya in denting Al-Jazeera’s ratings is an indicator of its growing importance and stature in the Arab world, and more importantly in the hands of the Qatari government."

Just what the social media need: a gatekeeper.

Posted: 18 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
GroupFlier press release, 14 Feb 2011: "Group texting service GroupFlier ( ) today announced the release of the industry’s first curated text messaging groups. The first group is dedicated to providing timely information and tweets from Wael Ghonim, the 30-year old Egyptian activist, Google executive and face of the Egyptian pro-democracy youth movement. ... The text messaging group dubbed 'Egypt4Peace' will follow the tweets made by Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who survived 11 days in police custody blindfolded and without cause. ... Although anyone can set up Twitter to follow SMS tweets, the GroupFlier option will not automate the sending of tweets indiscriminately. This curated service will screen for the most relevant tweets and news headlines that convey compelling information about the passion, plans, and convictions of Wael Ghonim and the youth movement."

Tonight Show with Jay Leno returns to CNBC Africa.

Posted: 17 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Update, 9 Feb 2011: "CNBC Africa has confirmed that popular late-night show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, will return to its primetime slot of 21:00 [Central Africa Time; 1900 UTC] beginning 1 March. After an absence of over 24 months, during which dozens of viewer emails and open letters by journalists were sent to CNBC Africa and DStv, the channel has secured the latest season of the hit show."

Radio Farda stream of concert by Iranian traditional musician Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, today 1630 UTC.

Posted: 17 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 17 Feb 2011: "Today, February 17, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda will live stream a concert by famed Iranian musician Mohammad-Reza Shajarian direct from Dubai. Shajarian is a renowned composer, singer, and master (ostad) of traditional Persian music, or dastgah, as it is known in Iran. Shajarian began his career in 1959 and has enjoyed domestic and international success ever since. During the Iranian election protests of 2009, Shajarian drew controversy by expressing solidarity with the protestors after president Ahmadinejad dismissed them as 'dust and trash.' Shajarian has called himself the voice of dust and trash and forbidden the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) from using his songs in its broadcasts. Tune in today at 17:30 Prague time (11:30 am on the East Coast [of the USA]) to hear the show." -- International broadcasters should include UTC time if there is an expectation of audiences in more than one time zone. This broadcast will be at 1630 UTC.

In India, Al Jazeera English "will focus on international news ... not the local stuff."

Posted: 17 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Sify, 16 Feb 2011: "The Al-Jazeera news channel which got license to allow down-inking in India from December 2010, will focus on international news, where content is concerned. 'The channel is known for hard-core news reporting of a different kind. This is what our niche is and this is what we will focus on during our expansion in India' said Diana Hosker, head of distribution, Aljazeera Network. The channel which launched its English version in 2006, is broadcasted from Washington and London, keeping West Asia as its focus, Hosker said at the Cable TV Show being organised in the city. 'There is an appetite for our kind of news, which is characterised by the highest standards of journalism and conflict reportage in India as well. Our niche is not the local stuff. International news remains priority for the Al-Jazeera network', she said."

Best Media Info, 13 Feb 2011, interview with Anmol Saxena, Chief of Bureau, South Asia, Al Jazeera: "Q) What’s the blue print for channel’s distribution? Saxena: Our main focus is to be present on all DTH platforms in India to reach maximum influential and English speaking masses. There is an appetite for Al Jazeera in India and it is working both the ways. While we are willing to come on all the DTH platforms, the DTH players are also willing to showcase Al Jazeera on their network. Very soon, Al Jazeera will be available on all major DTH networks in India. ... General perception about Al Jazeera has changed and it is changing as people watch the channel once. Now the channel has got worldwide reach and praised all over. So it is just a matter of some time only for Indian audience too. Less clutter, more clarity; less advertisements, more content; less drama, more authenticity is Al Jazeera’s USP." -- Does "less advertisements" mean more subsidy from the Qatar monarchy? See previous post about same subject.

With Alhurra and Radio Sawa, US Government "hedged its bet" on Mubarak, he writes.

Posted: 17 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 8 Feb 2011, Michael A. Clauser: "The stability of Mubarak's regime has been Washington's biggest, but not only, investment in Egypt. At the same time that the U.S. pumps billions into Mubarak's military, the U.S. government has hedged its bet on Mubarak's military and supported broadcast media outlets such as Al Hurra Television, Voice of America Arabic [replaced by Radio Sawa in 2002], and Radio Sawa in the country. These stations provide forums for debate, dialogue, and differing opinion encouraging civil society and giving breath to pro-democracy movements; an altogether different and longer-term investment than annual military aid."

The Angry Arab News Service blog, 4 Feb 2011, As'ad AbuKhalil: "The official US propaganda channel, Al-Hurrah is referred to as an Arab network in the New York Times: 'Another Arab network, Al Hurra, had what it described as one of the only live feeds from the square.' In fact, Al-Hurrah should never be mentioned without being followed by this phrase: which nobody watches."

Huffington Post, 15 Feb 2011, Philip Seib: "Consider the delivery of information in an increasingly Internet-centric world. A 2009 Harvard University study of Middle Eastern blogs found that the Arabic-language news channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya ranked near the top of the list of bloggers' outward links. The U.S. government's Al Hurra channel was number 2,871 on the list. Lots of U.S. taxpayers' money is being spent to accomplish very little."

In the BBG telephone briefing later today, we should find out how much of an audience Alhurra had in Egypt during the uprising.

US college students want internships at Al Jazeera English, even if they can't watch it on cable TV.

Posted: 17 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 12 Feb 2011, Kristen Saloomey: "As a correspondent for Al Jazeera English in New York, the questions follow me wherever I go: Where can I see Al Jazeera? How can I watch it? Suddenly my inbox is full of college students looking for internships. Several reporters have approached me (me? I'm supposed to be the one asking the questions!) to do a story about what is keeping our broadcast off American airwaves."

Philadelphia Business Journal, 11 Feb 2011, Peter Key: "Verizon Communications Inc.’s Fios TV service doesn’t include Al Jazeera English in its channel lineup, according to Lee Gierczynski, a spokesman for the New York-based company. Verizon receives requests for many channels, including Al Jazeera English, and will continue to evaluate adding channels to its Fios TV lineup based on the requests and other factors, Gierczynski said in an e-mail."

Deutsche Welle, 10 Feb 2011, Michael Knigge: "[S]ince Americans and US media are generally regarded as inwardly focused, the Qatar-based network is unlikely to become a serious competitor for domestic outlets."

Boston Globe, 14 Feb 2011, Juliette Kayyem: "AJE’s battle with the cable carriers is major news in the Middle East. Not carrying the network sends a message to the Arab world about America’s willingness to accept information, unfiltered, from the very region we spend so much time talking about."

American Thinker, 14 Feb 2011, Ed Lasky: "Al Jazeera is filled with anti-American propaganda. It is also awash in anti-Semitism. The material broadcast stokes terror and violence. Why would the person who Barack Obama appointed to be the Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem, advocate American cable companies carry the channel-a channel that cannot help but inflame tensions and anger and one that is not known for unbiased accuracy." Cited by Fox Nation, 14 Feb 2011.

AlterNet, 14 Feb 2011, Peter Hart: "According to some media industry analysts, cable operators send Fox almost 60 cents per subscriber per month, whether the subscribers are Fox viewers or not. Do the math, and you begin to see how much money they're making. Fox is already more expensive than CNN and MSNBC, and they're warning that they want a raise from the cable companies this year. So you can't watch Al-Jazeera English on cable, but part of your monthly check to the cable company goes to support the news brought by Rupert Murdoch. Think of it as a Fox News tax."

Indiana Daily Student (Indiana University), 13 Feb 2011: "We say it’s stupid to block a reputable network based in an area of the world from which Americans want information and to which American reporters can’t get good access. The BBC has an international reputation for top-notch news reporting, and now we have BBC America. Al Jazeera is the best network in the Middle East. Doesn’t it make sense that we get Al Jazeera English?"

The New Yorker, News Desk blog, 13 Feb 2011, Will Oremus and Natalie Holt: "There was euphoria on the streets of New York’s Little Egypt district, in Queens, on Friday after Hosni Mubarak announced his resignation. People waved flags, honked car horns, and hugged strangers. Inside El Khayam Café, on Steinway Street, customers cheered and chanted as they watched the news on Al Jazeera and Dream TV, an Egyptian satellite station."

GigaOM, 14 Feb 2011, Janko Roettgers: "Fortunately, Al-Jazeera has embraced the Internet, and the network is now available on connected devices, mobile phones and a number of websites. Check out our list of twelve ways to watch Al-Jazeera English."

Boston Globe, 15 Feb 2011, Laura Collins-Hughes: "Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera, which reportedly hopes its coverage of the turmoil in Egypt will help build an American audience, can count Linda Powell among its latest devotees. The New York actress, in Cambridge to appear in the American Repertory Theater's current production of Sophocles's 'Ajax,' is the daughter of former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who turned her on to the network. She extolled Al Jazeera's virtues recently in an interview, an edited excerpt of which follows. POWELL: I've actually been only watching Al Jazeera. Because, like, the coverage from Egypt is so interesting. My parents have it on the television in D.C. because it's on their cable network, and my dad's been watching it for years. And he's like, 'You should watch Al Jazeera. It's really in-depth coverage.'"

Investor's Business Daily, 14 Feb 2011, editorial: "Imagine a Cold War president relying on Pravda for news. Or CNN and ABC vets rushing to work for the propaganda organ. Insane, right? So why are they swooning over Al Jazeera? Al Jazeera is the rabidly anti-American Arab TV network based in Qatar and bankrolled by an absolute Islamic monarchy. ... Al Jazeera is the enemy. Yet its English-language affiliate is getting a traitorously warm welcome in the U.S."

The New Yorker, News Desk blog, 16 Feb 2011, Nancy Franklin: "There’s a need for a good international-news channel in this country—imagine being able to turn on the television at any time of day and see what’s going on around the world, and to find out more thoroughly what our own country is doing, and, just as important, to be able to educate ourselves about issues that didn’t necessarily involve the United States. Wouldn’t that be better than repeats of Piers Morgan’s CNN talk show and the late-night lineup of slammer shows on MSNBC? ... Some people I know were offended by the attention that CNN’s Anderson Cooper got when he was roughed up while reporting in Cairo. ... Cooper returned to the States irate, delivering his reports with too much fire about Mubarak’s dictatorship. ... His heated approach became a distraction, and he became less useful to viewers, who didn’t, at that moment, need to see a major news reporter undergoing professional growing pains. ... Meanwhile, on Al Jazeera English, all was straightforward professionalism born of expertise and perspective—as you might expect, since most of the reporters covering the story are from the region or of Middle Eastern descent and have also had some international education and training."

Kansas City Star, 15 Feb 2011, Aaron Barnhart: "[B]etween 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. weekdays no fewer than 18 channels draw hash marks (<<), meaning that fewer than 0.1 percent of households that receive that channel are viewing it at those hours. The hash-mark channels include TV Guide Channel, Golf Channel and, sorry to say, BBC America. ... [W]ith help from Adgate, I compiled a list of what I’m calling Cable’s Least Wanted, 10 channels that have been in existence at least three years — in most cases, much longer — and their prime-time nightly average for fourth quarter 2010. [list] ... It’s worth asking why they continue to take up bandwidth in tens of millions of homes. It’s certainly worth asking if you’re one of the 7 million Americans who recently had to stream the unrest in Egypt on Al Jazeera English because it wasn’t on your cable system."

CounterPunch, 16 Feb 2011, Steve Breyman: "The uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (and the others boiling in Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere) happened despite not because of US foreign policy. Americans are the only people in the world not to know this--thanks to the US media’s internalization of the goals of US foreign policy. Cable companies do not carry Al Jazeera English even though the President himself was reportedly tuned in."

AlterNet, 15 Feb 2011, Tom Engelhardt: "Anyone can stream Al Jazeera English on a home computer and be a jump ahead of the CIA any day of the week."

Charlotte Observer, 16 Feb 2011, Professors Shawn Powers and Mohammed el-Nawawy: "While it is impossible to know how the tone of political discourse and attitudes toward foreign policies would be different if Americans had better access to AJE, it is hard to argue against the benefits of less dogmatic political discourse and more deliberation. And more critical, intelligent opinions on key questions of U.S. foreign policy wouldn't hurt either."

See previous post about same subject.

BBG telephone briefing on Egyptian use of media during the crisis, Thursday at 1630 UTC.

Posted: 16 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 16 Feb 2011: "The BBG and Middle East Broadcasting Networks invite you to a telephone briefing on Egyptian Use of Media – Survey Results. What: The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. international broadcasting, will release new survey results on Egyptian use of media during the recent upheaval. Results include Egyptian viewership of Alhurra Television and the use of social media. The latest flash, phone survey took place Feb. 4-10 in Cairo and Alexandria. Speakers: Jeff Trimble, BBG Executive Director, William Bell, Research Director, Brian Conniff, President, Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa). When: Thursday, February 17, 2011, 11:30 a.m. [1630 UTC]. RSVP: To join the call, please respond to: Office of Public Affairs +1 202 203 4400 or"

China Radio International reporter chides CNN for its coverage of Egypt vs. its coverage of Iran.

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Dallas Blog, 15 Feb 2011, Tom McGregor (CRI English broadcaster): "While working as a news editor for China Radio International (CRI), I sit next to the television and I can watch news all day. So, when the Egyptian uprising erupted, I had three TV news stations to select from: Chinese state-owned TV (CCTV), CNN or Al Jazeera. I got so fed up with the one-sided slant of 'Mubarak Must Go,' minute-to-minute (wall-to-wall) coverage of Egypt, which was 24/7 by CNN International that I spent more time watching Al Jazeera for a more neutral tone. You know you’re facing a culture shock when you start thinking Al Jazeera provides the most informative and impartial coverage of the Middle East. Nevertheless, as protests erupt in Iran, CNN International, based in Hong Kong [sic], is airing significantly less coverage of this global news event. So, at this very moment, which is just past 9:00 p.m. Beijing-time on Tuesday, February 15 I’m watching Al Jazeera, while sitting at my desk at CRI and getting full coverage of what’s going on in Yemen, Algeria, and especially Iran."

CNN press release, 15 Feb 2011: "CNN continues to cover the situation in Egypt with a number teams on the ground: Ben Wedeman (@benCNN), Arwa Damon (@arwaCNN), Nic Robertson (@NicRobertsonCNN) and Fionnuala Sweeney. Nic Robertson is reporting from Sharm el-Sheikh while the rest of the CNN teams are in Cairo. More than 20 CNN staff are newsgathering and reporting for all of CNN Worldwide's platforms and providing comprehensive live coverage across: CNN/U.S. and CNN International on television;; CNN's free apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; and, and CNN's Arabic language website based in Dubai which draws upon CNN's global resources of journalists and video production."

Euronews goes 16:9.

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Rapid TV News, 15 Feb 2011, Iñaki Ferreras: "Paneuropean broadcaster euronews will acquire a new dimension : the channel has changed its corporate image and has adopted the 16:9 broadcasting format for HDTV. ... It is [also] to announce YouTube and Dailymotion plays and at the same time will create new on-line channels and will reinforce its presence in the catch-up TV business model on YouTube. ... Euronews will also be launched live on the iPhone, iPad and Android. In he case of the iPad the broadcaster will launch a complete application. it will also launch a mobile TV channel for the trains and the airports."

Floridian asks FCC to "take action" against college TV station for carrying "anti-American" Al Jazeera English and Russia Today (updated).

Posted: 16 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Daytona Beach News-Journal, 10 Feb 2011, Deborah Circelli: "The airing of Al Jazeera English and Russia Today by Daytona State College's public television station has sparked a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission. A Port Orange man, who believes the programs are anti-American, filed the complaint earlier this week accusing the college and its public television station, WDSC-TV, of violating FCC rules. Jerry Kenney, who has hired an attorney in Georgia, wants the FCC to investigate the operation of the station as well as the agreement and take action, including fining the college or revoking its license. He said he would like the college to remove the news broadcasts and told the FCC he questions whether the shows are appropriate for a public television station funded by taxpayers. The college board is expected to decide in March whether to renew its contract that ends in May with MHz Networks, which airs Al Jazeera English and Russia Today on MHz Worldview on 15.3 and Bright House channel 1152 high definition. The Worldview includes other shows from numerous countries, including sports, dramas and educational shows. Kenney said the college station's current agreement with MHz Networks violates FCC rules because it doesn't allow the college the right to reject certain programs."

Update: Daytona News-Journal, 15 Feb 2011, Dan Christian: "In response to those complaining about the Russia Today and Al Jazerra News on Daytona State College channels: I have watched these broadcasts with our teenage granddaughter (she attends DSC). We then discuss the content and presentation of these channels. ... Isn't it important to offer the chance to view these types of broadcasts and learning and making one's own decision? Having one's viewpoint told to them, rather than having sources to make one feel they have made their own decisions, is not a way to learn."

Huffington Post, 9 Feb 2011, Frederick Thomas, CEO of MHz Networks: "[O]ur national channel, MHz Worldview, has spread like wildfire since we launched it five years ago. The channel features aggregated newscasts from multiple international sources -- including Al Jazeera English, France 24, NHK World, RT, ANI, IBA, Deutsche Welle, euronews -- and select international dramatic and sports programming. All of it in English or subtitled in English. To date, we're available in 31 distinct U.S. TV markets: big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Denver; medium cities like Flint, Richmond, and Toledo; and small towns like Warrensburg, Plattsburg, and Topeka. We're even carried statewide in Utah. In total, 38M households can see MHz Worldview through one of our local public television affiliates, with many more on the way."

After 80 years of broadcasting, Vatican Radio moving from "megahertz to gigabyte."

Posted: 16 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 14 Feb 2011: "Vatican Radio, which broadcasts the pope's message in 45 languages worldwide, is looking to a future in new media, said a top official on Thursday, as the station launched an exhibition commemorating 80 years of broadcasting. Monsignor Peter Wells of the Vatican's secretariat of state said the broadcaster must embrace new media — 'from the podcast to the iPad, from social networks like Facebook (News - Alert) to micro–blogging platforms like Twitter' — to take advantage of the opportunities offered for evangelizing in the 21st century. ... A book tracing the last 30 years of Vatican Radio's history, 'From Megahertz to Gigabyte: Vatican Radio from John Paul II to Benedict XVI' is also due out in the fall; a previous book published in 1981 covered the broadcaster's first half–century."

Catholic News Agency, 11 Feb 2011, Alan Holdren: The staff of Vatican Radio "no longer limit their activities to strictly radio services. They also maintain a website,, in 38 languages. In recent years, the station has also established its presence on Twitter and YouTube. A new program called 'Vatican TIC' aims to soon guide online viewers through papal events."

Vatican Radio, 11 Feb 2011: "[O]ur historian explains how by becoming an independent state [in 1929], Vatican City acquired the right to communicate with other states. That's why the day after the signing of the pacts Pius XI entrusted Marconi with the task of setting up the Vatican's radio station, one inaugurated two years later."

Vatican Radio, 11 Feb 2011: "Listen to a sound picture of the inaguration of our radio station back on the 12th February 1931. In this feature you can hear exclusive sound from our archives including recordings of the voices of Pope Pius XI, those of the father of radio Guglielmo Marconi as well as of his daughter, Princess Elettra." With audio

Vatican Radio, 11 Feb 2011: "[T]he head of Vatican Radio's English Programme, Sean Patrick Lovett ... says Vatican Radio played a very important role during and immediately after the Second World War by broadcasting over a million and a half messages to help reunite prisoners of war and refugees with their families. Vatican Radio, he continued, also 'was outrightly denouncing the existence of the concentration camps.'" With audio.

Vatican Radio, 10 Feb 2011, speech by Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells: "Is not the Catholic Church the first global social network? Long before the new media existed, the Church’s liturgical language, values, and way of thinking about the human person have bound together Catholics from around the world, whatever their culture, language, age, race or economic status. The globalization of the media cannot frighten us, because we were the phenomenon’s first authors."

Vatican Radio radio has remained a stalwart user of shortwave, and is an early adopter of Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) on shortwave and medium wave. Do these pronouncements about the new media spell the beginning of the end of Vatican Radio's shortwave output?

In Zimbabwe, Wiztech and other means to avoid domestic state-controlled media.

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New Zimbabwe, 10 Feb 2011, Alex T. Magaisa: "The growth of so-called ‘pirate radio stations’ such as Studio 7 (broadcast though the Voice of America), SW Radio Africa from London, Voice of the People from South Africa and others demonstrates attempts at diluting [ruling party] Zanu PF’s power drawn from the knowledge structure. These are efforts targeted towards disseminating other information to the public, beyond the information broadcast through the state radio and television. The public has been resisting the state media dominance by exploiting new technology to access international broadcast services from South Africa and beyond. All but a few homes that do not have official satellite transmission, have little boxes, called ‘Wiztechs’ or similar that enable them to access regional and international media." -- The "Wiztech" appears to be a decoder box for satellite pay channels.

Iran ready for joint Tajik-Afghan-Iranian TV station. The other two countries, not so much.

Posted: 16 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 11 Feb 2011: "Iran's ambassador to Tajikistan says he has the equipment needed to open the long-planned, joint Tajik-Afghan-Iranian television station if Tajik officials will allow it to be installed, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports. Iranian diplomat Ali Asghar Sherdust said the new station could begin broadcasting some three weeks after the equipment is set up in a Dushanbe office. Sherdust said the station could be ready in time to cover a meeting of the Tajik, Afghan, and Iranian leaders scheduled for Dushanbe during the annual Norouz celebration on March 21. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon agreed to set up the TV station at a meeting in Dushanbe in July 2006. The three countries' people share cultural similarities and the majority of people in each country speak Persian. But Afghanistan showed little interest in the Persian-language TV project, as Kabul has a much more vibrant media environment than the other two countries and also has two official languages. Afghanistan and Tajikistan were also concerned about the costs involved in establishing the station. ... Tajikistan analyst Rajabi Mirzo told RFE/RL today he has doubts that such a TV station could be successful because the three countries have such 'absolutely different ideologies.'"

Some history of VOA broadcasts to Cuba (in the years before Radio Martí).

Posted: 16 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
International Herald Tribune, 11 Feb 2011: "1961 ‘Voice’ Set To Attack Castro: The Voice of America today [Feb. 12, 1961] announced it will broadcast the first of a series of documentary programs denouncing the Castro regime to Latin America Feb. 25 and 26. Earlier, in Havana, Prime Minister Fidel Castro unleashed his first open attack on President John F. Kennedy’s administration, which he said had verbally 'attacked Cuba five times in 20 days.' He said that American fears the Cuban revolution’s increasing success. The Voice of America project is the first to be announced under the new American Administration. It will come at a time when Mr. Kennedy is seeking to further solidify hemisphere relations against Communist infiltration. Entitled 'The Anatomy of a Broken Promise,' the hour-long broadcast was recorded by the United States Information Agency. In the broadcast, the USIA announced: 'Cuban refugees trace Fidel Castro’s ride to power and tell why they turned against him.'"

Ventura County Star, 11 Feb 2011, Karen Lindell: "Born in Artemisa, Cuba, near Havana, in 1949, (jazz trumpeter Arturo) Sandoval started playing trumpet when he was 10 or 11, playing in a marching band and then studying classical music. He listened to jazz on the sly — Charlie Parker and his brethren weren't government-approved entertainers. ... In 1977, Sandoval encountered the man who would become his musical mentor, Dizzy Gillespie, when the famed trumpeter visited Cuba to soak up Afro-Cuban rhythms. Sandoval, who had never spoken with Gillespie, met the musician when he arrived on a boat and offered to be his driver while he was in town. 'At that time I couldn't speak any English, nothing, and I felt so restrained,' Sandoval said, according to 'Dizzy,' a biography of Gillespie by Donald L. Maggin. Gillespie's drummer, Ray Mantilla, however, spoke Spanish. Sandoval told Mantilla, 'I wanna tell this guy that I love his music and I'm here for whatever he wants. I never told them I was a musician; I was embarrassed to say that. Or to tell them that I served three months in prison for being caught listening to Willis Conover's jazz program on Voice of America.'"

International broadcasting (Al Jazeera and France 24) via iPad app.

Posted: 16 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Appolicious, 9 Feb 2011, Kathryn Swartz: The "free app, Al Jazeera English Live, [is] a smart option for news consumers looking for a comprehensive look at worldwide affairs. Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, Al Jazeera English Live includes a live feed of the channel and text articles from Al Jazeera's website. Video quality streaming over both Wi-Fi and 3G was outstanding and crystal-clear, which was surprising, considering this is a live feed. Audio didn't perform as consistently — during one segment sound was choppy, cutting out almost every other word over 3G. A segment later, the audio was perfectly fine. ... Users without an unlimited data plan should be prudent with usage — developers estimate the app draws more than 40 MB of data in an hour. Al Jazeera English Live offers a quality perspective on news, and makes this app a must-download for anyone with an interest in actual news. Al Jazeera also offers Arabic and Mubasher apps."

iPad News Tracker, 8 Feb 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. In addition, an innovative mapping tool allows users to find news according to their location thanks to FRANCE 24’s automatic and geographical referencing of news articles and videos."

SPB Software press release, 15 Feb 2011: "SPB Software, a leading mobile software developer, has announced a major update to its mobile TV solution SPB TV 3.0, which the company will be presenting at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. SPB TV 3.0 is an app store-like publishing platform designed especially for TV channels, which offers broadcasters and content owners the opportunity to distribute content on mobile devices worldwide. ... [N]etworks such as AFP News, France 24 and Euronews have already joined the SPB TV platform."

On shortwave, as broadcasters move out, sources of interference move in.

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 7 Feb 2011, Deborah D. McAdams: "I-triple-E has published its standard for Broadband over Power Lines. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers finalized BPL 1901TM in December and has made them available for purchase. The controversial Internet access technology has been around for several years, but the absence of an IEEE standard has been but one hindrance to its wider adoption. With BPL, merely plugging a browser-equipped computer into a wall outlet yields high-speed Internet access. 1901-compliant local area networks are said to support data rates of more than 500 Mbps, and first- and last-mile ranges of 1,500 meters. The technology scheme allows for the transmission of data over standard AC power lines of any voltage, at frequencies less than 100 MHz. The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules for BPL in 2004, setting off a firestorm of objection from ham radio operators. The American Radio Relay League, representing hams, contended that BPL interfered with their operations, as well as short-wave and low-band VHF communications."

Times Colonist (Victoria, BC), 15 Feb 2011, letter from Robert Smits: "There are many reasons to reject using CFL lamps in our homes. They contain mercury and require special disposal handling when they stop working. Many produce a sickly coloured flickering light, and they don't last as long as they're promised to. They're expensive, many of them don't work with dimmer switches, and they cause interference to AM and shortwave radio broadcasts."

Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 6 Feb 2011: "You can now access 55 receivers world-wide on the Global Tuners website. Receivers on-line operate a variety of modes including the AM and FM broadcast bands, the shortwave spectrum, HF and UHF bands in various modes." See also

Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 9 Feb 2011: "Members of the Rav, Radio Amateurs of Vaudios (HB9MM) will activate the special callsign HE3OM from Sottens during the month of February. Sottens is a small village where the last medium waves transmitter active in Switzerland was located. It stopped its emissions on December 31st, 2010, at 2359 local time. Permission has been granted to the 'Radioamateurs Vaudois' club to use the 2 giant antennas for amateur purposes. The callsign HE3OM was chosen for the following reasons: *The prefix HE3 has already been used in 2004, when the shortwave transmitter in Sottens went off the air. ..." See also, 14 Feb 2011.

Radio Azadi's "Liberty and Listeners" is intermediary between Afghans and their government.

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 8 Feb 2011, Taylor Smoot and John Cleveland :"Radio Azadi's talk show 'Liberty and Listeners' is leading the way in the fields of citizen journalism and investigative reporting. In Afghanistan, where a fledgling government sometimes struggles to meet the needs of the Afghan people, a popular broadcast on RFE’s Radio Azadi is providing an alternative avenue for the cultivation of organized problem solving. Since 2004, 'Liberty and Listeners' has served as a much-needed intermediary between Afghans and the government in Kabul; creating a forum for civilians to reach out to government officials and community leaders in an effort to find solutions to the many infrastructural and security-based problems facing Afghanistan today."

Human Events periodical says it helped President Reagan place conservative as director of VOA (updated).

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Human Events, 5 Feb 2011, Lee Edwards: "For more than 40 years, Ronald Reagan’s favorite newspaper was HUMAN EVENTS, which he said 'helped me stop being a liberal Democrat.' ... As a veteran observer of Washington politics, HUMAN EVENTS understands that people are policy. And so it helped place conservatives in key positions in the Reagan Administration, including Donald Devine, head of the Office of Personnel Management; Ken Tomlinson, editor in chief of the Reader’s Digest and a former HUMAN EVENTS intern, as director of the Voice of America; and Cuban-born Otto Reich who eventually became ambassador to Venezuela." -- The tendency of presidents to place allies, whether conservative or liberal, as director of what should be a news organization is one of the reasons for the reform that resulted in the International Broadcasting Act of 1994, and the creation of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. It is now the bipartisan BBG, not presidents, that selects VOA directors. (Tomlinson later -- 2002-2007 -- served as chairman of the BBG.)

Update: Blogger News Network, 9 Feb 2011, Ted Lipien: "The U.S. Embassy in Moscow had nothing on [Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday] on its homepage, and neither did the official Blog of U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle. The U.S. Embassy Moscow Facebook Page, however, did have a link to the website of the Voice of America Russian Service, which — to its credit — prepared a number of special programs and interviews to mark the 100 anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth. (VOA Russian Service had interviewed former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.) We should all be grateful that the Voice of America is not under the direct control of the White House or the State Department, but VOA’s bipartisan managing body, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), had terminated VOA Russian radio broadcasts in July 2008, just 12 days before the Russian military attack on Georgia."

Fox News, 4 Feb 2011, Steve Forbes: Ronald Reagan "fought to strengthen Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (whose oversight board I chaired during Reagan’s second term), as well as the Voice of America, understanding that Communism was fatally weakened when it didn’t have a monopoly on information."

China tightens censorship of "relatively liberal and bold" newspapers.

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 7 Feb 2011, He Qinglian: "Recently a friend working in Chinese media told me that the Southern Weekly and Southern Metropolis Daily, popular newspapers known for relatively liberal and bold reporting, will be directly censored by the Guangdong Province Party Committee’s Propaganda Department, and will not be able to publish anything without the department’s approval. Such 'honors' bestowed on the two newspapers represent a tightness of control not seen since before China’s economic reforms in the late 1970’s. I was hoping, when I heard the news, that this would only be a temporary measure. However, more news on China’s intensified censorship ensued. One news report by Asia Weekly on Jan. 9 said that the Central Propaganda Department had assigned staff to monitor all major central government newspapers, including some influential local media like the Southern Daily Group. The Department also announced the plan to select two reviewers within every media to be in charge of censorship."

Winning bidder for Australia Network will be subject to IPTV and programming requirements.

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Computerworld Australia, 7 Feb 2011: "The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) intends to include internet protocol television (IPTV) as a core requirement of the Australia Network as the international-facing channel goes to competitive tender for a new operator. Australia Network, which has been in operation since 1993, has been broadcast by the ABC since 2001 and is currently available in 44 Asian countries via free-to-air satellite, rebroadcasters, through some cable networks as well as online, on-demand. ... Speculation surrounds Sky News and ABC as likely bidders for the channel. However, DFAT has called for bidders to plan for inclusion of digital media services accompanying the network, including a 'sophisticated companion website' which would have to provide on-demand video and audio streaming and downloads for the broadcast."

The Australian, 14 Feb 2011, Malcolm Colless: "The federal government-owned international television service, Australia Network, will undergo an overhaul authorised by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd. The highly ambitious strategy gives Mr Rudd sweeping powers to influence program selection for this service that broadcasts to 45 markets throughout the Asia-Pacific region on a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week basis. Tender documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reveal that future operators of the service will have to comply with strict guidelines on programming and other operational issues. Potential tenderers for a new 10-year contract to run this service will have to provide DFAT with a programming schedule for every timeslot over a seven-day cycle, which will be assessed by the department to determine whether it represents an 'intelligent mix of the best of Australian content'. This includes news and current affairs where DFAT will require a detailed quality and quantity breakdown to enable it to decide whether this and business programming supports the government's regional objectives. ... Meanwhile, it says China is a high-priority potential market for the government and the operator of the service must report regularly to DFAT on opportunities to penetrate this target." -- I think these DFAT requirements are intended to keep the new contractor from filling the schedule with "lowest common denominator" programming designed to attract large audiences and thus earn large advertising revenues. If the Australian government requirements extend into journalistic decisions, Australia Network would not have a promising future.

Political scientist calls for Azerbaijani TV and radio directed to Iran.

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
News.Az, 7 Feb 2011: "Political scientist Fikret Sadikhov has called for an information campaign to oppose Iranian 'interference' in Azerbaijan's domestic affairs. His remarks are the latest in a series of statements from Azerbaijani MPs and commentators criticizing Tehran. ... 'There are more than 30 million Azerbaijanis in Iran. They must know from our sources about Iran’s attacks against Azerbaijan and their possible consequences. Iran’s constant interference in Azerbaijan’s affairs has already reached boiling point and we cannot keep silent any longer,' he continued. ... 'Massive systematic information pressure is required: a TV channel radio station broadcasting to Iran should be opened,' Sadikhov told" See previous post about cross-border television in the other direction.

Opportunity for international TV: Iran bans "cooking shows that promote foreign cuisine."

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Radio Netherlands Media Network, 7 Feb 2011, citing AFP: "Iran’s state-run television has been banned from screening cooking shows that promote foreign cuisine as conservatives seek to fight Western influence in the Iranian culture, media reported yesterday. 'From now on teaching how to cook non-Iranian dishes is banned,' deputy head of Iran’s state broadcaster Ali Darabi was quoted as saying by Aftabnews, a moderate website, and several other media outlets. ... Private broadcasters and satellite television are banned in Iran but rooftops are dotted with satellite dishes and dozens of Persian-language channels beam a daily dose of politics and entertainment into the country."

Kurdish-language Roj TV nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Africana Online, 7 Feb 2011, Claudia Sondergaard: "The Kurdish-language television station Roj TV, with headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, has been nominated as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize by a 150-member group – including the South African archbishop Desmond Tutu who won the prize in 1984 for his work against apartheid. The station has been broadcasting since 2004 under a Danish broadcasting license and managing director Imdat Yilmaz has explained to the Danish daily Berlingske Tidende that the main purpose of the station is to promote Kurdish language and culture. The reason for not pursuing this purpose in Turkey, Yilmaz country of origin, is the controversial marginalisation and suppression of the Kurdish minority in Turkey. Despite several demands by Turkish and American officials for the closure of the station, which they believe to be partly funded by the recognised terror organisation PKK, the Danish government had until 2009 not met their appeal."

Hürriyet Daily News (Istanbul), 2 Feb 2011: "The Danish Justice Ministry, which has launched a closure case against the broadcaster, did not issue a statement about its candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize. Tom Behnke of the Danish opposition party said it was strange for a television station that Denmark had tried to close down to be nominated for the prize."

Egypt crisis brings "spotlight on ... international channels streamed over the internet" (updated: more about Livestation).

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Multichannel News, 3 Feb 2011, George Winslow: "The eruption of protests in the Middle East and Egypt has thrown a spotlight on the availability of international channels streamed over the internet. ... [R]ecently increased traffic numbers can be found at the, which offers free streaming access to many international 24 hour news networks, including Al Jazeera, the French-government backed France 24, the Russian government funded RT, China's international English-language news channel CCTV9 and the Iranian government owned Press TV. Live video usage spiked at over the six-day period from Friday Jan. 28 to Wednesday Feb. 2." -- I'm not aware of CNN live streamed video. A live stream of CNN International would help Americans overcome their international news deficit.

Update: Connected Vision, 6 Feb 2011: "A low resolution version Al Jazeera stream is available free of charge on Livestation, with a higher-resolution version for subscribers. Other channels available vary by territory but include BBC World News, France 24, Russia Today, Euronews and Bloomberg, while premium subscribers can also view CNN International and CNBC. Livestation sensibly dropped the peer-to-peer streaming requirement for a separate plugin and now streams online in Flash. A desktop player is also available for download, with integrated chat and twitter features. Mobile applications powered by Livestation are also available for Al Jazeera, BBC World News and CNBC."

Croatian broadcast journalist accepts offer from Al Jazeera Balkans (updated again: launch by April?).

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Blic (Belgrade), 20 Jan 2011, Neven Dzodan: "Goran Milic, the celebrated journalist who began his career in 1970 on Television Belgrade, where he earned his popularity owing to his casual style of presenting the Dnevnik news programme, retires from television work on Sunday. ... Q: 'Will you be accepting Al Jazeera’s offer?' Milic: 'We are still in talks, but the project seems interesting, professional and a lot of people have been calling in and joining it. If you watch Al Jazeera in English, the whole concept would be very similar, but this project would be in Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin languages of the region.'"

Croatian Times, 24 Jan 2011: "The award-winning Croatian Television (HTV) journalist Goran Milic has accepted a position with the Quatar-based television network Al-Jazeera that will start broadcasting from the Balkans this year. Milic, who acquired fame with his well-known travelogues, hosted his last Sunday news programme yesterday (Sun) before retiring. Milic is said to be joining the Quatar-based network with headquarters in Sarajevo in February. He has allegedly been offered a 10,000 Euros monthly salary, the Croatian daily Jutarnji List writes." -- Will departing BBC Serbian broadcasters follow Mr. Milic? See previous post about same subject.

Update:, 7 Feb 2011: "Al Jazeera will launch in April, the latest, a news channel that will cover the Balkans. The new television network aims at exceed the audiences of CNN and implement new professional standards in an area still divided by inter-ethnic conflicts. announced that most probably the new channel will be launched in April or March even though an official date has not been yet announced. Al Jazeera will offer cutting edge technology that will exceed by far the current technology used by local televisions. The company aims at exchanging information between the Balkan countries but the news from the region will have an international audience. The investment will amount to about 10 million euro this year alone. The countries in which Al Jazeera will air are: Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Servia, Slovenia and Kosovo."

B-Sky-B names head of its Arabic news channel, launching spring 2012.

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The Guardian, 14 Feb 2011, Mark Sweney: "BSkyB has appointed Nart Bouran, a senior executive from Thomson Reuters, to run the Sky News-branded Arabic-language service it will launch next year. Bouran, who holds the position of director of television at Reuters news agency, is the first major appointment for the free-to-air Sky News Arabia service that is launching as a joint venture with Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp. ... He will have overall responsibility for the 24-hour news and current affairs channel, which is earmarked for launch in the spring of 2012 and will compete with rivals including al-Jazeera and the BBC World Service's Arabic Television. ... BSkyB said the Abu Dhabi-based venture will 'offer a fresh, independent and innovative approach' to broadcasting news in the Middle East and North Africa. The joint venture plans to employ 180 multimedia journalists and be based in the Twofour54 media zone in Abu Dhabi, with support from a network of news bureaux, including offices in London and Washington DC."

Secretary Clinton tapes interviews with Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, *and* Alhurra (updated with transcripts).

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
State Department, 14 Feb 2011: "2:20 p.m. Secretary Clinton tapes television interviews with Abderrahim Foukara of Al Jazeera, Hisham Melham of Al Arabiya, and Michel Ghandour of Al Hurra, at the Department of State." -- Consecutive interviews, rather than a three-on-one.

Update: See State Department transcripts of the Alhurra, Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya interviews, all 14 Feb 2011. -- Graduate student looking for a paper topic? These are perfect for a comparative analysis.

Politico, 14 Feb 2011, Laura Rozen: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped up U.S. taunting of Iran's leaders Monday, for praising Egyptian street protests while cracking down on their own anti-government protests. 'I find it very ironic that Iran is trying to give lessons in democracy to anybody,' C[l]inton told Al Hurra's Michel Ghandour in an interview Monday. 'Talk about a revolution that was hijacked: Iran is Exhibit A.' ... Clinton was later asked in an interview with Al Arabiya's Hisham Melhem Monday if the U.S. is encouraging anti-government demonstrations in Iran while not pushing for anti-government unrest in autocratic U.S. allies such as Jordan, Yemen, etc. Her answer -- the U.S. believes in peaceful demonstrations and politics -- is unlikely to appease people living under U.S.-allied autocratic regimes without much in the way of political freedom." See also VOA News, 14 Feb 2011, David Gollust.

Obit: Pepe del Río, famous VOA Spanish morning host from 1961 to 1986.

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
From VOA house announcement: "José Pepe del Río, a veteran VOA broadcaster who charmed audiences for 25 years as the host of the Spanish Branch program Buenos Días América, died in his sleep February 12, 2011 at his home in Temple Hills, Maryland following a long struggle with a blood disorder. He was 84. Born in Tampico, Mexico, Pepe was the anchor of Buenos Dias America from 1961 until 1986. He also did field reporting for the Spanish Branch in Vietnam in the 1960s, and from Cape Kennedy at the launching of the Apollo mission to the moon in 1969 and the Columbia space shuttle in 1981. Pepe entertained audiences from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn with his unique conversational banter over coffee and live interviews with newsmakers. He became so well known in Central and South America that presidents and prime ministers hosted him during trips to the region. After his retirement from VOA he worked for a decade as a broadcaster for the Mexican station, CRC." See also VOA Spanish, 14 Feb 2011. -- Many US shortwave listeners, even if they did not speak Spanish, were familiar with the voice and name of Pepe del Río.

DX Listening Digest Yahoo! Group, 14 Feb 2011, Horacio Nigro, Montevideo, Uruguay: "Also, heard today of the loss of another great man at VOA: Luis Daniel Uncal (1927-2011) (see: also in Spanish.) I remember Luis Daniel Uncal's reports heard in local station (CX14 El Espectador) news bulletins as correspondent of VOA -as he was for various radio stations in Latam. He was one of the first sounds of shortwaves I heard. I was a child and have clear memory of his daily closing sentence 'Desde Washington y para CX 14 El Espectador de Montevideo, Uruguay, les habló Luis Daniel Uncal'. During late 60s and early 70s stations in Latin America could pick and record from a VOA special segment before regular service and for later rebroadcast, short correspondent reports (personalised with the station's name). These broadcasts were received with superb signals emanating from the Greenville relay station."

Czech Senator, in letter to Hillary Clinton, outlines labor grievances of some RFE/RL employees.

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
News.Az, 14 Feb 2011, citing Information Centre Caucasus – Eastern Europe: "In his letter to Hillary Clinton ... [Czech Senator Jaromir Stetina wrote that RFE/RL] 'foreign personnel in Prague may be fired at any time, for any reason or without any reason whatsoever -- without prior warning, without any preliminary disciplinary measures if such are deserved; without even contractual severance pay for the years of service unless one signs the letter of consent with such a termination and, also in writing, gives up the inalienable (at least, in the Czech Republic) human and civil right to seek protection in the courts of law.' ... RFE/RL Afghan service called 'Radio Azadi', serves for the bureaucrats managing the American radio station as the showcase of their commitment to human rights in Afghanistan, to women’s rights, in particular. The website of Radio Azadi emphasizes the programs devoted to Afghan women. The Afghan showcase is the first language service to be presented to American and foreign dignitaries visiting RFE/RL. In April 2009, Radio Azadi was the only RFE/RL service to which Hillary Clinton gave an interview in Prague – and she talked about women’s rights. On January 26, this year, the staff of Radio Azadi greeted Mr. Norman Eisen, the new American Ambassador to Prague. Mrs. Saliha K. who, after seven years of devoted service at Radio Azadi, was fired... . That Afghan woman was the only employee of RFE/RL public-relations galleon Radio Azadi to be fired -- out of necessity 'to reduce expenditures in fiscal year 2011', so the official explanation provided to Mrs. Saliha K. Simultaneously with firing Mrs. Saliha K., RFE/RL placed an add for international search of an additional PR-pusher and lobbyist to be based in Washington, who 'will join a 10 (!) person communications and government relations team' ... . Major required qualification: 'Exposure to think tanks & Congress'." See also full text of Senator Štětina's letter. And RFE/RL vacancy notice for the Media Affairs Specialist/Writer.

Daily Times (Lahore), 15 Feb 2011: "The great majority of discrimination victims are Muslims. Insiders call Radio Free Europe a 'Europe-free Radio'." See also Croatian Times, 15 Feb 2011.

BBG successfully tests its FOE circumvention system. Would it have worked during Egypt's internet shutdown? (updated)

Posted: 15 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Federal Computer Week, 1 Feb 2011, Alice Lipowicz: "The federal broadcasting board that oversees the Voice of America recently concluded a successful test of an e-mail system that potentially could circumvent Internet censorship, according to a report published by The test report was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and was published on the Government Attic website on Jan. 31. It is not known whether the test shows a capability that might be used to transmit news during an Internet shutdown such as is being experienced in Egypt during the civic turmoil, according to a National Journal article today. The report indicates that the Feed Over Email (FOE) system tested by the Broadcasting Board of Governors was designed to transmit news and complement other anti-censorship tools. The test showed the system was effective in transporting data in tests carried out for from March to June last year in China." See also YouTube, 16 Jan 2011, for presentation explaining FOE.

PC Magazine, 1 Feb 2011, Mark Hachman: "The obvious question is whether the FOE technology would be feasible in Egypt, where the country has shut off Internet access. On Monday, the Noor Group, Egypt's last remaining ISP that remained operational and accessible by the outside world, went dark. For those without access to Noor, however, the French Data Network (FDN) is providing those with landlines access to dial-up networks.", 2 Feb 2011, Fahmida Y. Rashid: "Egypt has dozens of Internet providers, but with major carriers offline, their ability to communicate was impacted. There were some telecommunications providers, such as the French Data Network, who provided dial-up services to customers with landlines. Google also implemented a speech-to-Twitter service. In this kind of a situation, the FOE system, had it been deployed in Egypt, would have ensured information continued to flow in and out of Egypt over the past five days."

Update: Fox News, 5 Feb 2011, Judson Berger: "'If there's a blackout ... nothing works,' BBG Director of Information Security Ken Berman said. But the agency's testing demonstrated that, at least in China, it can be used effectively to transmit everything from RSS feeds to downloadable files to proxy web addresses which users can access to browse an uncensored version of the Internet." See also Aquapour, 5 Feb 2011 and Slashdot, 5 Feb 2011.

Information Week, 7 Feb 2011, Elizabeth Montalbano: "Pros of the technology the report cites are that it worked without user intervention and that no installation was required. On the downside, it limits system functionality and requires some configuration during initial use, according to the report. A user also must have an email address outside of the country for the technology to work. FOE also would not be helpful in a situation like people have been experiencing in Egypt, where access to the Internet was completely cut off, because it needs Internet access to work."

RedHerring, 8 Feb 2011: "Compatible with all operating systems, the technology is user friendly, as RSS feeds can easily be erased. Future versions are planned to let users delete the software quickly in case of a secret police raid. The technology works well with news feeds, podcasting and small downloadable files, but doesn't work well with large files or real-time apps like Twitter. FOE also works on mobile phones."

Epoch Times, 15 Feb 2011, Joshua Philipp: "The FOE has a few fundamental flaws. In order to work, it requires users to have e-mail accounts in the United States, or with Foreign Service providers. It will not work with China-based e-mail accounts. The system also has security gaps that could place users at risk of being caught by the Chinese regime’s Internet police. It does not require SSL, which means the activity of a user could be visible to government monitoring if they don’t configure their e-mails properly. It has no way to authenticate messages as they come in to discern trusted content. It also could be vulnerable to SQL injection attacks that could compromise its server, according to a blog entry by Steve Weis, former member of the applied security group at Google. While software such as FOE is being funded by taxpayers, the few successful anti-censorship systems are still receiving little government support. Among Chinese users, tools from the Global Internet Freedom Consortium are by far the most popular and most successful for breaking through the Chinese regime’s Internet blockade. The volunteer-run organization created software including FreeGate and UltraSurf, both of which help more Chinese citizens break through government censors than every other system combined. Both systems are currently limited only by how many users their servers can hold." -- Some disclosure is missing from this piece. The developers of Freegate and UltraSurf and the Epoch Times are associated with the Falun Gong movement.

BBG budget request closes VOA Cantonese and Croatian and shifts VOA Mandarin to "web-only."

Posted: 14 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors website, link to the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request (large pdf): The BBG request would close VOA Cantonese and Croatian. Also: "The Agency will shift VOA Mandarin from traditional radio and television broadcasting to a web-only platform utilizing new media technologies. This strategy recognizes the growing importance of new media in China, and targets niche audiences for VOA Mandarin content. VOA will concurrently increase funding for content for mobile devices and technical support for censorship circumvention initiatives. VOA will continue to produce audio and video programs which will be distributed on web and mobile platforms. As VOA shifts delivery of Mandarin content to the web and other new media, the BBG will strategically consolidate the network’s shortwave transmissions to ensure availability of peak listening hours for RFA Mandarin. RFA will continue its radio broadcasting in Mandarin and exchange some of its off-peak hours for VOA’s preferred broadcast hours, while realizing a significant reduction in its overall transmission expenses. This will be accomplished by decreasing the number of frequencies utilized simultaneously and minimizing the power levels used for each transmission." -- And much more to digest from the 154-page document.

Our correspondent reports that the NPR website is blocked in Iran.

Posted: 14 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Sent today (14 Feb) at 1623 UTC: "I'm sending you this from Tehran, Iran. Just an hour ago NPR's website,, was blocked by Iranian officials. This means that no one has access to NPR's programs and transcripts without VPN connections or proxies. Of course, as the internet speed has been dramatically slowed down as a consequence of today's demonstrations, these tools don't function reliably either."

BBG Webcast on 15 Feb: The New Media Revolution and U.S. Global Engagement.

Posted: 14 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 9 Feb 2011: Webcast of the invitation-only BBG event at the Dirksen Senate Office Building will be live 15 Feb 2011 at 9:00am to noon (1400-1700 UTC). "The role New Media is playing in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere is up for debate. What's certain, however, is that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media tools have changed the way people communicate."

AFP: Senate report will recommend anti-censorship funding be moved from State Dept to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Posted: 14 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, Feb 13 2011, Chris Lefkow: "State Department efforts to combat Internet censorship in China and other countries have fallen short and funding for the drive should be shifted to another US agency, a Senate committee report says. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee report sharply criticizes the State Department for being slow in spending money allocated by Congress for Internet Censorship Circumvention Technology (ICCT). The report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, recommends that the funding be given instead to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and other US radio and TV networks. The report is to be released on Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to deliver remarks on Internet freedom at George Washington University here. ... The report said ... delays in allocating funding have 'strengthened the hands of ... governments, including China's, who seek to restrict their citizens' access to information. The State Department is poorly placed to handle this issue due to its reliance on daily bilateral interaction with these very same governments, particularly China. ... As such, the BBG, and not the State Department, would appear to be the logical lead agency in the federal government to focus current and future ICCT funding.'" -- This is a welcome acknowledgment of the independence of USIB from US diplomatic agendas.

"Maybe it's time we shut up," but also restore VOA Arabic, he writes.

Posted: 14 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
McClatchy Newspapers, 12 Feb 2011, Ben Barber: "Maybe it’s time we shut up. We are constantly telling the Egyptians and the Tunisians, the Ukrainians and the Georgians, the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Pakistanis and the Sri Lankans, how to behave. If I missed your country, just wait. And what it boils down to is this: we want them to behave like us. Of course it is an edited version of us, minus our own corruption, poverty, crime, pollution and big money politics. But this is the 21st Century and they know all about us. They listen to the BBC in Arabic and the somewhat exaggerated version of Western life in Al Jazeera. What they unfortunately lack in the Middle East today is the Arabic version of the Voice of America. Guess what folks — in the middle of the greatest crisis in the Arab-Western relations following 9/11, the U.S. government stopped funding VOA in Arabic. Instead, the State Department decided to fund a Western pop music station — Radio Sawa — which gave a few news bulletins on the hour. So we added cultural imperialism to the disrespect of eliminating one of the Arab world’s most trusted media — VOA in Arabic." -- Actually, VOA Arabic was replaced by Radio Sawa back in 2002. It was not a State Department decision. And -- guess what folks -- the Arab news audience has moved to television. Alhurra (created in 2004) is providing that on behalf of the United States. We could debate whether it should be called VOA Arabic, but Alhurra is drawing larger audiences than any other Arabic-language channel from a non-Arab country. Radio Sawa is also doing well, because its format corresponds with the present preferences of Arab radio audiences. I'm sure Radio Sawa stepped up its news output during the Cairo protests.

BBC World Service ends its version of border radio. MW 648 kHz will sign off 27 March.

Posted: 13 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service website, 11 Feb 2011: "The BBC is ceasing its 648 kHz transmissions of World Service English language radio on 27 March, 2011. We have had to make some difficult decisions about the distribution of BBC World Service radio around the world, as a result of the Spending Review settlement that BBC World Service received at the end of 2010. Closure of the 648 kHz service continues the process of withdrawing from direct broadcasts to Europe in response to a declining number of direct listeners. However BBC World Service continues to be available in Europe by satellite, cable and online. In the UK it is available on dedicated channels across the whole of the UK on DAB, online and on all digital TV platforms. This is in addition to overnight transmissions of BBC World Service on Radio 4 frequencies." -- Indeed the end of an era. It was mainly on medium wave that the BBC broadcast to Europe during World War II. Medium wave was also an important part of BBC broadcasts to Eastern Europe during the Cold War. (I still have and regularly use my BBC 648 coffee mug. BBC 648 began in 1987 as a trilingual English-French-German service. That ended a few years later, and BBCWS was English-only on 648 kHz (via Orfordness) during its final years.) See previous post about same subject.

Will US noncommercial FM frequencies cast out BBC World Service and bring in the gloryland chorus?

Posted: 13 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
City Beat (Cincinnati), 31 Jan 2011, Ben L. Kaufman: "NPR and our local public news station, WVXU (91.7 FM), get a small but important part of their annual budgets from Congress. Rightwingers want to cut or end federal funding because politically neutral NPR isn’t the GOP’s Fox News. It’s another reason to support WVXU and other public radio stations with cash and supportive messages to House members, senators and the White House. Meanwhile, Brits offer a timely lesson of what happens when a conservative government pleads poverty and decides to slash its most famous and reliable modern export, the BBC World Service (heard here at night on WVXU). Unlike its domestic services, BBC’s World Service is funded by the Foreign Office. Despite taking the Queen’s shilling, it rarely danced the Queen’s tune; BBC has a sterling reputation for neutrality and accuracy, especially where uncensored news media do not exist. So far, cuts haven’t targeted English-language broadcasts to North America. Rather, BBC’s decision to close some foreign language broadcasts and fire of hundreds of linguists will impoverish the information available to listeners everywhere."

Mr. Kaufman mentioned both NPR and BBC World Service, but did not completely make the connection between the two. (BBCWS is actually distributed by Public Radio International, but to stations that are mostly NPR affiliates.) If the Republicans who want to "zero out" the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting succeed, public radio stations in non-urban areas will lose a large part of their funding. Not only will they no longer be able to purchase the rights to relay BBC World Service, they might have to go off the air. Because their frequencies are between 88 and 92 MHz, their licenses must be sold or transferred to other non-commercial entities. They would likely become religious radio stations, which almost certainly will not carry BBC. In addition to their theology, or as part of it, these stations would advocate for socially conservative causes. This gives Congressional Republicans another incentive to eliminate funding for public broadcasting.

See also The Durango (CO) Telegraph, 27 Jan 2011. And Technorati, 12 Feb 2011.

Budget cuts at BBC World Service mean no in-house memorial service for former managing director Gerard Mansell.

Posted: 13 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
London Evening Standard, 9 Feb 2011, Gideon Spanier: "More angst at the BBC World Service: High-ranking past and present staff are upset the Beeb won't pay for a memorial service for ex-World Service managing director Gerard Mansell, who was also deputy director-general and created Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4. Top BBC figures did attend Mansell's funeral but won't pay for a memorial service, blaming the cuts."

The Guardian, 22 Dec 2010, Philip Purser: "Gerard Mansell, the former deputy director-general of the BBC, who has died aged 89, was among the last of the corporation's traditional mandarins; a civil servant rather than a showman, his experience and seniority acquired in sound broadcasting, and wary of television. ... He entered the BBC in 1951 by way of its European Service. External Services – which later became the World Service – was then the division of the BBC most at home in black jacket and striped trousers. Though editorially independent, it was (as now) financed by the Foreign Office, and its members could hardly avoid thinking of themselves as servants of the state. They had their own premises in Bush House, and their own way of doing things. The department also enjoyed enormous prestige, from wartime days when it carried hope for the future to the occupied and oppressed. Mansell would in 1982 publish its history under the title Let Truth Be Told. Meanwhile, he rose to be head of overseas talks and features, during which tenure he clashed with Alistair Cooke, whose Letter from America was carried on the World Service as well as the Home Service." See also The Telegraph, 27 Dec 2010.

The Guardian, 23 Dec 2010, John Tusa (former BBCWS MD): "Returning to Bush House as managing director, Gerry spent most of his time defending the BBC External Services from government spending predations. His greatest satisfaction came in outwitting the [Kenneth] Berrill inquiry team in 1977. Leading them round the newsroom, he observed – innocently – that the only road to big savings was to reduce round-the-clock working. To his delight, that idea became a Berrill report recommendation, which was of course ridiculed and rejected, since the audience existed in 24 different time zones."

See (listen to) Jonathan Marks's Media Network Vintage Vault, 27 Oct 2010 with a review of Mansell's book, and on 21 Feb 2010 with an interview of Mansell.

On BBC World Service cuts, Ukrainian writes "Time goes by." Jamaican laments "blow to pan-Caribbean broadcast journalism."

Posted: 13 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Kyiv Post, 1 Feb 2011, Viktor Kovalenko: "[T]ime goes by. Media technologies dramatically have changed journalism in the past decade since I visited Bush House – the Web replaces traditional broadcasting. Bush House will stop being the headquarters of British journalism in a year: the World Service is getting ready to move from the old building by the end of 2012. I don't share a desperation that young Ukraine's democracy would die exactly without radio from London. The web more and more provides Ukrainians with opportunities to access any news, expert opinions, share own views and discuss everything with anyone from anywhere. That's why I share an optimistic stance the BBC Ukrainian director Maciek Bernatt-Reszczynski who recently said in his blog: 'The website will stay as a solid informational bridge between Ukraine and the UK.'"

Jamaica Observer, 9 Feb 2011, Rickey Singh: "[T]here came the very surprising announcement from London of the Government's decision on whopping budgetary cuts to the BBC's World Service (including the Caribbean), effective later this year. For us in this English-speaking region it could mean total closure of the BBC Caribbean Service and a very serious blow to pan-Caribbean broadcast journalism which had already been affected when the wire and radio services of the Caribbean News Agency (Cana) went out of business. At the time of writing, Caricom governments and leading regional media enterprises were still holding their silence on this dramatic communications development -- perhaps in the absence, just yet, of a surprising likely creative alternative initiative project."

Daily Mail, 5 Feb 2011, Tim Luckhurst: "A leadership team more sensitive to the BBC’s history would have recoiled at the prospect of butchering the World Service. But, despite boasting 58 executives who earn more than the Prime Minister’s salary, the BBC’s executive management team seems to lack a good historian. So, among the biggest victims of its spending cuts will be services that once maintained the morale of resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Europe."

"BBC Hindi ruled the roost."

Posted: 12 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Best Media Info, 28 Jan 2011, Rajat Arora: "Even as media like TV became more accessible and radio, especially on short-wave, went out of fashion, BBC continued to enjoy a loyal following, mainly in rural and semiurban areas. The list[e]nership for last year was reported to be close to 10 million. In India, BBC will continue its Hindi online service with more intensive reporting and added visual content, as well as its nominal presence on the private FM scene. The Urdu service on short-wave would also continue but the Tamil and Bangla services would move from short-wave to FM."

Eurasia Review, 5 Feb 2011, Tanveer Jafri: "A year ago, another major Hindi news service Voice of America was closed by the US administration. This decision also had the financial crunch behind it. But in India it didn’t make much news as is being made by the closure of the BBC. ... BBC Hindi ruled the roost with the help of its incredible news analysts and intelligent and well-versed correspondents. ... British government should have took note of the fact that the BBC, by its reliable, impartial and authentic information dissemination, left behind the Voice of America and other Russian, Chinese and German rivals."

Daily Mail, 7 Feb 2011, Mihir Bose: "You could say I was part of a small minority of the English-educated Indian elite that was taught to believe that a news item was true only if it had been broadcast by the BBC World Service. But it says much for a country that can generate such a belief, so much so that Rajiv Gandhi, in 1984, only accepted his mother Indira had been assassinated when he heard the broadcast of Mark Tully, the BBC’s legendary man in Delhi."

Indian Express, 6 Feb 2011, Achala Sharma: "It was the morning of October 31, 1984. I was working as a programme executive at the Delhi station of All India Radio, after a three-year stint with the BBC Hindi Service in London. At the 10 am meeting of AIR programmers, a senior colleague barged in to say that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had been shot by her bodyguards. We were asked to tone down the programmes but, at the same time, instructed not to say a single word about the incident. In the afternoon, BBC’s Mark Tully and Satish Jacob broke the news of the assassination on BBC World Service — and on BBC Hindi. The AIR was mum. Until six in the evening, AIR officials maintained that a clearance from the top was awaited before the death of the Prime Minister could be announced. Those were the days of state broadcasting. So what? The BBC was there."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 1 Feb 2011, Sam Miller: "Why then is Hindi radio being closed? After discussing that question, off-the-record, with several senior BBC managers (old colleagues all of them, because I too used to work at Bush House) I'm still not entirely sure. The official explanation is that radio listening on shortwave, an old technology, is dying around the world – and Hindi radio is almost entirely on shortwave. But given that the Hindi programmes continue to attract large audiences, it's clear that for India at least this argument is specious. Certainly, if the Hindi shortwave listenership collapsed as similar audiences have elsewhere in the world – it would be impossible to justify continuing with these broadcasts. But, in fact, the latest audience surveys suggest a slight rise in listening. ... Russia, Iran and, of course, neighbouring China continue to broadcast in Hindi on short-wave to India – and all will undoubtedly be delighted to pick up their share of the BBC Hindi audience. While Britain, now discovering the disadvantages of punching below its weight, is in danger of becoming little more than a heritage brand in India."

If BBC World Service cuts affect arts programming, can VOA "rise to the occasion"?

Posted: 12 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Louisville Courier-Journal, 5 Feb 2011, Elizabeth Kramer: "Nearly two decades ago, I spent three years living on an island in the Indian Ocean's Mozambique Channel. Radio was my only regular link to what was happening beyond the blue-green waters that lapped the shoreline. I learned not only about the fall of the Soviet Union, but that Mary Chapin Carpenter had made a hit out of Lucinda Williams' song 'Passionate Kisses.' I learned about police chasing O.J. Simpson and the death of Kurt Cobain. Much of this kind of news I got on my shortwave radio from Voice of America, the U.S. government's official broadcasting service. The arts coverage here was mostly of the pop-culture variety. It included news about Lisa Bonet's and Lenny Kravitz's divorce and of the movie 'Jurassic Park.' This information gave me a kind of cultural collateral that helped me not sound like an alien when I returned home. But, in general, this wasn't the kind of arts and cultural coverage I listened to much. My station of choice was the BBC's Africa World Service. It's there that I learned about the Young British Artists, including the provocative Damien Hirst, who had come onto London's art scene thanks to Saatchi Gallery, and of notable passings, including the deaths of composer John Cage and famed acting teacher Stella Adler. And of course, I learned even more about the nuance of cultural and political events happening in the United States via Alistair Cooke's weekly 'Letter from America.' ... [A]fter all the cuts [to BBC World Service] have been implemented, it will be interesting to see if these traditions will be audible over the airwaves and if there will be reporting that continues to embrace cultural and art-related topics. News, information about the arts and arts programming could be scarcer in Africa and other remote places. Then again, maybe the vacuum could be filled by some of the Internet and FM networks that have been growing around the world. It could be even more interesting if Voice of America would be able to rise to the occasion, now that it will be the leading global news broadcaster."

US international broadcasting, if consolidated, could become the leading global news broadcaster. Because such consolidation probably won't happen, BBC World Service will remain the leading global news broadcaster. The high cost of duplication in US international broadcasting will also preserve the BBC's status as the leading purveyor of arts programming.

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 8 Feb 2011, Jonathan Freedland: "By insisting on cutting the budget of the BBC World Service, the government has cast aside what would once have been Tory guiding principles. The BBC estimates that the cuts will not just shrink the payroll by 650 journalists, but shrink the audience by a staggering 30 million listeners. Britain will no longer be the home of the world's biggest broadcaster, losing that pre-eminent place to the Voice of America. The 19th-century Tories who once gazed at the globe from their high-backed leather chairs in Pall Mall's clubs would be appalled: they knew the value of soft power. They would have realised the enduring benefit for Britain in the villagers of Africa, China or India for ever associating the free circulation of ideas with a British accent. With five language services closing entirely and the daily arts programme slashed by a third, Bush House insiders discern a direction of travel that ends with the World Service reduced to a glorified rolling news operation, lacking the country-by-country specialisation and arts, music and drama that made it nothing less than a global force for enlightenment."

New Statesman, 10 Feb 2011, Antonia Quirke: "[T]he BBC finally confirmed the loss of a third of its staff at the World Service - cuts that will lead to the shedding of 30 million listeners. It's a catastrophe for the station. Short-wave broadcasts in Hindi will cease altogether, along with all evening radio programmes from the Arabic Service. Other services will be cut in China, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania and elsewhere. It is inevitable now that the station will be eclipsed by Voice of America as the leading global broadcaster. All we can hope for - and hope we must - is a renaissance in 2014, when the licence-fee payer takes over responsibility for the station's funding from the Foreign Office. Until then, says the World Service director, Peter Horrocks, we must 'put our arms round each other and get through this'. A BBC executive publicly asking for a hug . . . Could things get any worse?"

The Telegraph, 11 Feb 2011, Robert Webb: "To those who accuse it of a sinister Left-wing agenda, I can only say that they are seeing things in Antiques Roadshow, The Archers, I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue, The Proms, EastEnders, Mastermind, Today at Wimbledon and Question Time (chaired by the famous Marxist David Dimbleby) that I have missed. And if we are to have no Navy to speak of (but we can trust the Conservatives with the Armed Forces, so I don't know why I bring that up), then what greater projection of 'soft power' – that is, cultural influence – can we bring to bear than that provided by the BBC World Service? Luckily, the Conservatives would never allow the World Service to be overtaken by the The Voice of America, so that's a relief."

China jams BBC shortwave, blocks BBC websites, buys rights to BBC's "Top Gear."

Posted: 12 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 11 Feb 2011: "China, the world's largest car market, is revving up for its own version of the BBC's hugely successful motoring show 'Top Gear', with one of the local hosts confirming a pilot has been completed. Cao Yunjin, a Beijing-based comedian and television presenter, told the Global Times newspaper that he and two other men would present the local edition of the award-winning programme, keeping the original's zany style. 'The boys go crazy with cars in the show, like pushing a Maserati over the top of a three-storey building and smashing it,' Cao told the state-run paper in comments published Friday. ... Officials at China Central Television, which is rumoured to have obtained the rights to the show, declined immediate comment when contacted by AFP. ... The British original has yielded spin-off shows in foreign markets including the United States and Australia, although the politically incorrect humour of Clarkson and his sidekicks does not always travel well."

"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is exceptional amidst largely flaccid public diplomacy today."

Posted: 12 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Council on Foreign Relations, 11 Feb 2011, Mark Lagon: "[T]he role of mass opinion and new media in Egypt show how public diplomacy remains crucial to U.S. soft power. Concerted public diplomacy could amplify the sense that just rule works and has momentum. There is still a role for publicly funded surrogates for private media gagged by autocracies. Al-Jazeera and private media play a major role in the region, but the U.S. government should not just create value-free carbon copies or consider government-funded public diplomacy a relic of the Cold War. U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is exceptional amidst largely flaccid public diplomacy today, championing pluralism in the former Soviet Union and Iran. As the United States must tighten its budgetary belt, we need more bargains like RFE/RL." -- RFE/RL is not helped by this "compliment." "Surrogate" means the "value-free" news service that would be available in the target country if the target country's media were free. I don't think "surrogate" means propaganda to counter the propaganda of the target country, and I'm very sure this is not what audiences in the target country want.

US TV "looking down on the protests," Al Jazeera "in the middle of the action."

Posted: 12 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Baltimore Sun, 11 Feb 2011, David Zurawik: "It is not overstatement to say Al Jazeera owned this story the last 18 days. The Qatar-based broadcaster's coverage was so clearly superior that I kept it up on my laptop screen almost non-stop as I channel-hopped all the other coverage on TV. As I said in yesterday's post, the simulcasting of CNN and CNN International was a wise choice and made for a more focused and authoritative news product -- no doubt about it. But CNN also had its problems Thursday night in at first over-emphasizing an interview with the Egyptian ambassador who was trying to use the channel to sell a false message -- and then losing its momentum when the deadly duo of 'Parker-Spitzer' and Piers Morgan hit the airwaves in the heart of prime time. It was fascinating Friday to watch how closely CNN seemed to be tracking or imitating -- or maybe simply chasing -- Al Jazeera. ... Last week, I wrote about the core difference between the point of view and news images on U.S. cable versus Al Jazeera. On U.S. TV, it always seems as if you are looking down on the protests from an almost omniscient point of view. On Al Jazeera, you are in the middle of the action, on the street, eye level with those in the crowd."

New York Times, 11 Feb 2011, Alessandra Stanley: "Calling Mr. Suleiman’s statement 'short but sweet,' the [Al Jazeera English] anchor Adrian Finighan said simply, 'Hosni Mubarak is gone.' Reporters and anchors on other news programs rushed in over the commotion to describe the scene and begin speculating on what would happen next. Mr. Finighan stopped talking and let the outpouring of car horns, flags and tears tell the story. ... Al Jazeera English seemed intent on using the upheaval in Egypt to assume the kind of authoritative role that CNN had during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The network fought back — with impassive resistance. Throughout the crisis, its correspondents covering the protests tried to hold themselves to a strict neutrality that even CNN reporters didn’t feign."

AP, 11 Feb 2011: "Each of the [US] broadcast networks interrupted regular daytime programming for special reports within five minutes. NBC's Brian Williams was the only one of the top three anchors on duty (David Muir was on for Diane Sawyer for ABC; Jeff Glor for Katie Couric on CBS) and the experience showed. He was quickest to catch the historic import of the moment and the extraordinary nature of the response, pausing for 15 seconds and suggesting viewers simply listen. ... Al Jazeera's English network, little seen in the U.S. but available on the Internet, displayed the advantage of its staffing throughout the Arab world. Al Jazeera aired pictures from Alexandria when U.S.-based networks had nothing beyond Cairo."

Globe and Mail, 10 Feb 2011, John Doyle: "The problem with the Egypt story is that most American and Canadian viewers don’t actually care much about Egyptians. They have no empathy and very little interest in what Egyptians say, think, do or feel about anything. Groups of angry people demonstrating on the street in Arab countries make viewers in North America uneasy. The knee-jerk reaction is to associate the visuals with Islamic fundamentalism. The visuals look all too similar to footage of anti-American, anti-Western rage erupting somewhere. The other knee-jerk response in viewers is to remain steadfastly indifferent to any nuance in the situation."

The Hindu, 12 Feb 2011, Sevanti Ninan: "As for perspective, if you watched Al Jazeera the picture you got of Vice President Omar Suleiman who was emerging as a key figure in the possible transfer of power was a little different from what CNN and BBC were projecting. The AJE website had an article titled 'CIA's man in Cairo' which talked about his links with the CIA as well as his rather direct role in torture in Egypt. By mid-week last week human rights lawyers were being interviewed on what they thought of him. CNN, by way of contrast, had an article by former CIA director Gen. Michael V. Hayden on its website suggesting that Suleiman had 'shown remarkable pragmatism when dealing with Israel, the Palestinians and Hamas' and that he might be the one to simultaneously hold things together while building toward an alternative future. The BBC profile too had no mention of torture or about him being 'the CIA's man'."

New York Magazine, 11 Feb 2011, Nitasha Tiku interviewing Al Jazeera English Cairo correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin: "For a day or so, the story in the U.S. became 'our anchors are getting attacked.' Did you think it was ridiculous? Mohyeldin: Without sounding disrespectful, it’s really a sad state of affairs when a big part of a news show’s coverage revolves around the anchor being punched ten times in the head, in the case of Anderson Cooper. In the case of Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour that they were jostled around by protesters. Listen, I’m not trying to take anything away from that. Those are very scary moments and we know that journalists have been harassed, but it’s really how you deal with the story that reflects the importance of it. This is a dangerous environment. The journalists are not supposed to be part of the story. Sometimes the tendency for these big personalities when they arrive in this country is to think that the story revolves around how they’re seeing the story rather than actual events that happened. But please don’t take my words out of context. I’m not trying to take any shots at these personalities. But it’s a slight disservice to the story when it becomes more about the journalist more than the actual people who are doing much worse."

Alhurra claims scoop on news of Mubarak's decision to resign.

Posted: 12 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Middle East Broadcasting Networks press release, 12 Feb 2011: "Alhurra Television was the first to report that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would step down and transfer power to the Egyptian army. Yesterday at 9:34 a.m. (EST), Alhurra Television’s Cairo Bureau Chief Tarek El Shamy went on the air live and reported that official sources close to the Egyptian government were saying the Egyptian President would transfer all of his presidential powers to the Egyptian army. ... [Alhurra's viewers] heard firsthand accounts of protesters whose unwavering resolve brought about a historic change in Egypt. ... According to international research firms such as ACNielsen, Alhurra has consistently had a weekly reach of approximately 25 million for the past three years. The most recent survey done by ACNielsen in Egypt show that Alhurra has a weekly reach of 7.5 percent. That is larger than all of the other non-indigenous Arabic-language new[s] channels (including BBC Arabic, Russia Today, Deutsche Welle and France24) combined and nearly doubled the audience of Hezbollah’s Al Manar in Egypt." See previous post about Alhurra

Slate, 11 Feb 2011, Brian Palmer: "Voice of America has a useful summary of the key leaders on the Supreme Council" of Egypt's Armed Forces.

Alhurra report that Mubarak departed for Dubai cited by many news agencies.

Posted: 11 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 11 Feb 2011, citing "correspondents in Cairo": Conflicting reports were emerging as to Mr Mubarak's exact location, with one suggesting that he had departed to the Sinai resort of Sharm Eshiskh, according to Al Arabiya TV. Other reports said he had flown to an 'unknown' destination, while the US-based Al-Hurra TV reported that he was headed for Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates."

Press Trust of India, 11 Feb 2011: "US-based Al-Hurra TV reported that Mubarak had left for the United Arab Emirates."

Deccan Chronicle, 11 Feb 2011, citing "agencies": "US-based Al-Hurra TV has reported that Mubarak was flying toward the United Arab Emirates and was expected in Dubai in an hour." -- And many other mentions in news reports., 11 Feb 2011: "As crowds grew outside the palace, Mubarak left Cairo on Friday for the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, according to sources who spoke to Al Jazeera."

BBC News, 11 Feb 2011: "Mr Mubarak has already left Cairo and is in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he has a residence, officials say."

VOA News, 11 Feb 2011: "On Friday, reports said he had gone to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh."

Palestinian National Authority will complain to IFJ about Al Jazeera, alleging "theft of confidential documents."

Posted: 11 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Gulf News (Dubai), 9 Feb 2011, Nasouh Nazzal: "The Palestinian National Authority plans to complain against Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera at the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) for theft of confidential documents, a top Palestinian official said on Monday. Dr Saeb Erekat, the Chief Palestinian Negotiator, said the Palestinian Authority will bring up its case against Al Jazeera to the IFJ in the next 14 days. He accused Al Jazeera of stealing the documents, which he termed a crime committed against the Palestinian people." Refers to Al Jazeera's "Palestine Papers"; see previous post.

Jerusalem Post, 6 Feb 2011: "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman on Sunday. ... Addressing the ongoing unrest in Egypt and taking the opportunity to attack Al Jazeera, Abbas told reporters after the meeting: 'Within these difficult circumstances, we need to preserve the ongoing communications and consultations with the King. This is the purpose of the visit, especially with what is happening in the area specifically in Egypt and the violent campaign launched by Al Jazeera Satellite Channel,' according to the [Palestinian news agency Wafa] report."

Egypt develops new method for domestic propaganda: forced text messages.

Posted: 11 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 3 Feb 2011, Raphael G. Satter: "Egyptian authorities forced Vodafone to broadcast pro-government text messages during the protests that have rocked the country, the U.K.-based mobile company said Thursday. Micro-blogging site Twitter has been buzzing with screen grabs from Vodafone's Egyptian customers showing text messages sent over the course of the demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-old regime. A text message received Sunday by an Associated Press reporter in Egypt appealed to the country's 'honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor.' Another urged Egyptians to attend a pro-Mubarak rally in Cairo on Wednesday. The first was marked as coming from 'Vodafone.' The other was signed: 'Egypt Lovers.'"

Egypt's VP Suleiman: "Do not listen to the satellite television stations."

Posted: 11 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The National, 11 Feb 2011, Chris Stanton and Ashraf Khalil: Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman, speaking after President Mubarak's speech on 10 February: "'We cannot be driven to the perils of chaos and we cannot allow those perpetrating and plotting intimidation,' Mr Suleiman said. 'Do not listen to the satellite television stations whose main purpose is to fuel sedition.'" Suleiman also singled out the satellite channels during an interview with Nile TV on 3 Feb. See previous post.

Voice of Russia plans digital radio in London, medium wave in Switzerland.

Posted: 11 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 3 Feb 2011, Andy Sennitt: "[T]he Voice of Russia World Service in English announces on its website that it has launched a 24/7 [digital radio channel] for listeners in London. ... In fact, Media Network has learned that the service has been slightly delayed, and is now expected to launch on or around 15 February.", 12 Feb 2011 issue: "The Russian public service broadcaster 'Voice of Russia' has been granted permission to transmit its program service on medium-wave from the Monte Ceneri transmitter. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) awarded the station a corresponding licence. Voice of Russia aims to start broadcasting on 1 March 2011. The programme service is targetted at foreign listeners as well as Russian citizens living abroad and reception will be possible primarily in the Tessin and northern Italy."

International Amateur Radio Union, 9 Feb 2011, DK2OM: Voice of Russia moved from 7200 to 7265 kHz (shortwave) after interference complaints from European radio amateurs, who are allocated 7000-7200 kHz.

Iran steps up satellite jamming of BBC Persian after joint Persian/Arabic call-in.

Posted: 11 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 11 Feb 2011, Roy Greenslade blog: "The BBC's Persian TV service is being jammed from within Iran due to its coverage of the unrest in Egypt. It appears that the trigger point was a joint broadcast on Wednesday by the corporation's Persian and Arabic services in which Iranian and Egyptian callers exchanged views. Many Iranian viewers said during the interactive programme that they were watching events unfold in Cairo extremely closely."

Press Gazette, 11 Feb 2011, Oliver Luft: BBC "said heavy electronic jamming of satellites its uses in the Middle East to broadcast the BBC Persian TV signal to Iran started last night. Technicians working for the BBC traced the interference and confirmed that it is coming from Iran - as it did when protests against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began in Tehran in June, 2009."

BBC World Service press release, 11 Feb 2011: "Peter Horrocks [director of BBC Global News] said: 'This jamming should stop immediately. The events in Egypt are being viewed by the entire world and it is wrong that our significant Iranian audience is being denied impartial news and information from BBC Persian TV. ... The BBC will not stop covering Egypt and it will continue to broadcast to the Iranian people.'"

Al Jazeera Turkish will launch "sometime in the coming months."

Posted: 11 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Fast Company, 9 Feb 2011, Neal Ungerleider: Al Jazeera is "gearing up for its most audacious project since the launch of Al Jazeera English: A new, fully autonomous Turkish-language news channel. ... A formal launch date for the new network, named Al Jazeera Turk, has reportedly been scheduled sometime in the coming months. ... While Al Jazeera has been quiet about plans for its Turkish-language network, snippets on the web show indicate that planning for the project has been extensive. Test broadcasts quietly began last month and profiles of Al Jazeera Turk employees are now showing up on LinkedIn." See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English on US cable? Supporters, detractors, doubters, and workarounds.

Posted: 11 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Philadelphia Magazine, 8 Feb 2011, Gail Shister: "Comcast carries more than 500 channels, catering to every interest from sports to news to weather to cooking to nature to lifestyle to kids to soaps to NASCAR to sci fi to Congress to comedy to cartoons to jewelry to travel to food to video games to retirement to shopping to classic movies to independent movies to women-in-peril movies to … What Comcast — or any other major cable or satellite company in the United States — does not carry is Al Jazeera English, the corporate sibling to Arab-language Al Jazeera, based in Qatar. Who cares? We all should. Regardless of your feelings about AJE’s obvious Middle East, Islamic slant, the network has had the most comprehensive, on-the-ground coverage of the continuing anti-government protests in Egypt, by far. It has been on the story live and non-stop."

The Nation, 7 Feb 2011, Laura Flanders: "Even as American diplomats damn the Egyptian government for blocking the free flow of information, a handful of cable operators right here exercise a chokehold on their viewers’ options. And Al Jazeera—a victim of post-9/11 Islamophobia—is not one of those."

Arab News, 8 Feb 2011, Barbara Fergusaon: "Al-Jazeera English, AJE – its reporting on the unrest in Egypt has been the envy of broadcasters throughout the world, who relied heavily on video feeds from the Doha-based channel. Much as CNN capitalized on its coverage of the 1990-91 Gulf War, AJE has won praise for its on-the-spot reporting and context about the Tunisian and Egyptian protests. While American television networks were scrambling to move reporters and producers into Cairo, the Al- Jazeera channels were already there."

Media Bistro, 9 Feb 2011, Gail Shister: "[Dave] Marash joined AJE prior to its November 2006 launch. Two years later he left in anger, publicly accusing the network of anti-American bias in its coverage. 'I was right to go and they were glad I left,' he says in retrospect. ... Still, Marash remains bullish on AJE and its prospects here. The current situation is 'tragic,' in his view. 'It plays into the ignorance of American viewers, most of whom are clueless as to what the world thinks and why. ... AJE presents news through a Middle Eastern, Islamic prism, Marash acknowledges, 'but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t do skilled and appropriate reporting from that point of view.' In the first days of anti-government demonstrations in Cairo, AJE correspondents, particularly the younger ones, were 'openly cheering' for the protesters, Marash says. As for journalistic objectivity, 'nobody [in news] is absolutely objective,' he opines. -- No, but some are more objective than others. Some strive for objectivity, and some push an agenda.

Business Insider, 7 Feb 2011, Glynnis MacNicol: "On Reliable Sources yesterday [Sam] Donaldson responded with this somewhat bizarre definition of why he thinks Al Jazeera is important. 'Al Jazeera, I thought, performed a service in fanning the flames in Egypt. Hey is that so bad? If Al Jazerra brings information to the Arab world that makes them throw over their dictators should we complain? ... ' Donaldson's phrasing suggests that Al Jazeera nothing more that political pep rally masquerading as a TV station, and while there may be television stations that fit that bill...I don't think Al Jazeera's current output from Egypt quite puts them in that category."

Kansas City Star, 10 Feb 2011, Aaron Barnhart: "Now there are hundreds [of cable channel] and it's time for the industry to step up by hosting one or two (for you BBC fans) global news channels that will go places and invest in bureaus and journalists that American news channels long ago gave up on. DirecTV and Dish get a pass, for now, because they air LINK TV, which airs global news including Al Jazeera English's newscasts." -- CNN International should be included in the mix. Then US cable systems would have the big three global English-language new channels.

The Nation, 8 Feb 2011, Peter Rothberg: "Al Jazeera has recently launched a slick campaign encouraging viewers to implore their local providers to offer the channel. The site also encourages meetups for individuals to come together around their appreciation for the channel and offers this video testimony making the case for the network's inclusion in US cable packages."

Lost Remote, 4 Feb 2011, Cory Bergman: "With Egypt as its crowning moment, Al Jazeera English has now launched Meetup and Twitter campaigns to 'demand Al Jazeera' appear on U.S. television. Using Meetup Everywhere, Al Jazeera fans are urged to attend local meetups on February 10th to help influence cable and satellite providers to carry the channel. Al Jazeera also bought promoted Tweets today to spread the message, using the hashtag #demandaljazeera, which seems to be generating a fair amount of activity. 'Millions of Americans want to watch our channel and better understand our region, and too many are deprived of that opportunity,' said Wadah Khanfar, the network’s director general."

Atlantic Wire, 9 Feb 2011, Erik Hayden: "[T]he U.S. would probably be well-served by having another 24 hour news network other than the current big three: Move Forward, Lean Forward and Left Behind. But take a glance at this #DemandAlJazeera Day page with the large map of meetups. Isn't harnessing protest fever--during an actual, dangerous protest--to promote the network just a bit...tactless? While Al Jazeera isn't explicitly saying so, they don't seem to mind if you decide that asking cable companies to add them to your channel lineup is your way of supporting the end of authoritarian rule in Egypt."

Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb 2011, Alexandra Le Tellier: "[T]he question remains whether broader American audiences will continue to watch Middle East news with such gusto after the revolt in Egypt runs its course; when they can no longer connect with the 'narrative,' as it were, of impoverished and second-class citizens banding together to overthrow a dictator. If cable channels offered Al Jazeera English, would you watch?"

Current Intelligence, 7 Feb 2011, Patricia Sauthoff: "A few might put AJE into their news rotation but with the heavy focus on the Arab world, most will turn away, in that other American tendency: isolationism. As life returns to normal for some Egyptians who can't keep their shops closed any longer, so too will Western news habits. Just a week ago most couldn't help but ask which country would be next. Most, unfortunately, won't tune in to find out."

BNET, 4 Feb 2011, Catharine P. Taylor: "There’s yet another reason for cable-company reticence: Al Jazeera will mean nothing to its bottom line. Cable networks have two revenue streams: subscribers and advertising. Al Jazeera, which can be streamed online for free, isn’t going to drive either one. Sure, as of Monday, it had 1.6 million views in the U.S., but that’s a drop in the bucket, and an unsustainably high level of traffic unless the crisis continues. If it does get picked up, it will be by an upstart that has closely studied demographic patterns in the communities it serves — and identified Al Jazeera as an advantage in the ongoing war for subscribers. For most of the country, though, it just won’t matter."

Free Speech TV press release, 7 Feb 2011: "Independent media broadcasting pioneer, Free Speech TV is pleased to announce that they will be carrying live, breaking news coverage from Al Jazeera English, the channel that has been widely praised for its extensive coverage of the unrest in Egypt. ... Free Speech TV is ... broadcasting fulltime on DISH Network channel 9415, DIRECTV channel 348, part-time on 200 US community cable affiliate stations, and online at"

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 7 Feb 2011: "The arrangement to stream Al Jazeera English on the RNW [Radio Netherlands] website to cover breaking news from Egypt has been extended, and the stream will now be available on our website through Monday 14 February 2011."

Accuracy in Media, 6 Feb 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "The Muslim Brotherhood, which effectively controls Al-Jazeera, gave rise to terrorist organizations such as Hamas, officially designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. State Department. ... Al-Jazeera consistently and misleadingly describes the Muslim Brotherhood as a 'non-violent' organization. In return, the Muslim Brotherhood describes Al-Jazeera as 'the greatest Arab media organization' and has published an interview with Wadah Khanfar, Al-Jazeera’s General Manager."

Family Security Matters, 7 Feb 2011, Marilyn Penn: "Al Jazeera was certainly no lifeline for Daniel Pearl or any of the other victims of beheadings and executions flaunted at the public by this feeder of Islamic frenzy. ... Are journalists so ethically challenged and so oblivious to the respect owed a member of their own clan that they can praise the Islamic news service that fanned the flames of Islamic hatred to torture and kill innocent civilians?"

Nilesat resumes carrying Al Jazeera.

Posted: 10 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 10 Feb 2011: "Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat has resumed carrying Al Jazeera after an 11-day suspension that began as the network gave extensive coverage to anti-government protests, a spokesman said yesterday. 'Broadcasting on Nilesat has resumed normally,' the spokesman for the Qatar-based channel said. Al Jazeera had announced on January 30 that its transmissions on Nilesat had been interrupted on orders from then-outgoing Egyptian information minister Anas Al Fikki."

Los Angeles Times, Babylon & Beyond blog, 9 Feb 2011, Meris Lutz: "The decision comes after Egypt's ambassador to the United Nations, Maged Abdelaziz, told the U.N. Security Council that the government had no effective means of controlling the flow of information."

Al Jazeera: "as powerful as countries," "has the game by the throat," "shows how shallow CNN is."

Posted: 10 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 7 Feb 2011, John Plunkett and Josh Halliday: "With China investing $7bn in foreign language media, we may also be witnessing the beginning of a shift, albeit slight, in the nature of global TV news and debate. Stephen Claypole, the former senior BBC News and TV news agency executive who is now chairman of the London and Abu Dhabi-based consultancy, DMA Media, says: 'Al-Jazeera has the game by the throat, both in Arabic and English, and it has certainly lived up to its reputation as the most watched broadcaster in the Arab world in spite of intimidation and violence against its staff in Egypt.' ... As the al-Jazeera channel eyes up further international expansion, funded by its backer's seemingly bottomless pockets, western news organisations such as the BBC's World Service are having to sharply cut back, with its shortwave Egyptian service among those facing the axe."

Spiegel Onlline, 8 Feb 2011, Matthias Gebauer and Yassin Musharbash: "No other Arab TV network, no daily newspaper and no radio station reaches as many of the Arab world's 360 million people. Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language station is broadcast into about 50 million households. The network is powerful in the Arab world, where it has more influence than CNN or the BBC. It determines which images are important for the people in the region -- and which emotions these images trigger in Tunisia, Egypt or Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. Al-Jazeera isn't just a news network, but is also a political factor -- and one with a sense of mission. Its editors are particularly zealous in scrutinizing secular regimes like Mubarak's. Al-Jazeera is generally pan-Arab, but there is also a pro-Islamist spectrum within the network."

The Independent, 7 Feb 2011, Ian Burrell: "Not everyone buys the idea Al Jazeera is without an agenda. Nadim Shehadi, an associate fellow of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, argues that within the Arab world the network – especially the original Al Jazeera Arabic service – is seen as being in tune with the views of its Qatari paymasters. ... Mr Shehadi concedes that Al Jazeera English is less partisan than Al Jazeera Arabic, which broke the Saudi monopoly on Arab media when it was founded in 1996 by former members of the BBC Arabic TV service. He also said that Al Jazeera's coverage brought a depth of analysis to the region which 'shows how shallow CNN is and raises the standard of those who need to compete with it'."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 7 Feb 2011, Wadah Khanfar, DG of Al Jazeera: "Al-Jazeera and other free media are not the cause of the wave of uprisings and unrest sweeping the region. The reasons are profound and go far beyond the role of the media. But we are one important factor giving people across the region the means to take control of their own lives. What is certain is that the fate of the Middle East can no longer be decided behind closed doors."

McClatchy Newspapers, 2 Feb 2011, Sheera Frenkel: "On Wednesday night, Israel's two leading television news broadcasts led their programming with images of protesters in Egypt chanting anti-Israel slogans. The four-minute segment highlighted anti-Israel fervor among some protesters; a second report showed the clashes Wednesday between Mubarak's backers and his opponents. 'It's frightening. They make us feel like Egyptians are going to come marching over the border and attack us as soon as they are done overthrowing Mubarak,' said Dan Oved, a 25-year-old student in Tel Aviv. 'Then I watched Al-Jazeera English and it was a very different picture.' Al-Jazeera is available in Israel for free, though viewers have to request it from their cable companies. An Israeli cable provider said there had been a huge surge in Israelis calling to request the channel since the upheaval in Egypt began. 'Other TV stations make it seem like the protests are mostly about Egyptians wanting a better life. In Israel, there is an undertone that they want to get us, too,' Oved said."

Foreign Policy, 9 Feb 2011, Hugh Miles: "Despite [Al Jazeera's] exceptional job in covering the turmoil in Tunisia and Egypt, the complex relationship with Saudi Arabia is a reminder that even for Al Jazeera, in the Persian Gulf free press has its limits. History will record the channel's crucial galvanizing role in the extraordinary events that are now unfolding in Egypt and Tunisia. But whether the Al Jazeera effect will continue to ripple across the Middle East or the heavy hand of state pressure will attempt to shut Pandora's box again -- however temporarily -- is yet too close to call.", 9 Feb 2011, Hebba Fahmy and Anita Krajnc: "AJE has been brazenly direct and relevant in its coverage of people's democratic struggles in the Middle East and across the globe. The essence of this is airing, first and foremost, the voices of ordinary people on the street and taking the vantage point of the pro-democracy demonstrators. Its Code of Ethics requires that journalists provide a 'clear, factual and accurate picture while giving full consideration to the feelings of victims of crime, war, persecution and disaster...'"

Australian Broadcasting Corporation "PM," 8 Feb 2011, Mark Colvin interviewing Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English: "MARK COLVIN: Do you think that the Egyptian government believes that your coverage of Tunisia was part of what's sparked what's happening in Egypt? AL ANSTEY: I can't really speak for the Egyptian government but one thing I will say is that our job is to cover and not create stories, so our coverage of Tunisia and our coverage of any story in the world is about factual coverage. There's a huge conversation that goes on online amongst people who want to talk about stories. But what we're here to do is cover the story. Cover the facts on the ground as they unfold."

BBG chairman Walter Isaacson on international broadcasting providing the "oxygen of democracy."

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Foreign Policy, 8 Feb 2011, Walter Isaacson, chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors: "In Egypt, text, photos, and videos from the streets of Cairo rocket around the world instantly thanks to mobile technology. The regime's attempts to sever Internet connectivity, which were only partially successful, are reminiscent of the Soviet Union's jamming of the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe during the Cold War. The attempt to extinguish the free flow of accurate, trustworthy information -- the 'oxygen of democracy' -- is a sure sign of fear. Al Jazeera English, the Qatar-based, 24-hour news channel, is earning praise from media critics for its on-the-ground, extensive coverage of the turmoil. Alhurra TV, the U.S.-funded international broadcaster, has also come of age during the crisis. ... The United States finances Alhurra and other international broadcasters to support exactly the long-term goals of democracy and respect for civil society that are at the heart of protesters' demands across the Middle East."

Well, which is it? "Accurate, trustworthy information," or "support [for] democracy and ... civil society"? Yes, the former supports the latter, but in an indirect way that must be explained. Otherwise, we are left with the ambiguity that causes US international broadcasting to fall short in perceived credibility.

Egypt was more than "partially successful" in blocking the internet. For a few days, finding a modem and dialing in to internet providers in Europe, or a personal satellite node, was the only way to connect. Al Jazeera was taken off Nilesat, the most popular satellite. Al Jazeera's channels on Arabsat and Hot Bird were subject to interference. Egypt was pretty well bottled up. Still getting though were the Arabic-language broadcasts of Radio Sawa, BBC Arabic, and France's Monte Carlo Doualiya, all from medium wave relays on Cyprus. Radio, however, is old media, unhip, uncool, and therefore unmentioned.

Al Jazeera English must overcome "West Asian" image to get access to Indian cable and DTH homes.

Posted: 10 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Sify, 9 Feb 2011, Vanita Kohli-Khandekar: "How do you start telling advertisers and cable operators that Al Jazeera is not a 'Muslim' channel with a West Asian agenda? That it is a global English news channel just like BBC and CNN. That an Indian Al Jazeera simply means that the global beam is now available in India. And that it is not throwing money at journalists to join. These, among others, are the challenges the Doha-based Al Jazeera Network faces as it rolls out in India. Anmol Saxena, chief of bureau, south Asia, emphasises: 'We don't have an agenda on news. There is a perception that we bring a Middle Eastern perspective. But that is because we are strong in that region and we get the right voices. We were in Tunisia and in Egypt, but we were also there in Haiti, in London, in Mumbai. We move resources wherever there is news.' The network, which got permission to broadcast in India in December last year is putting together the pieces that help distribute Al Jazeera (English) across cable and DTH. Saxena hopes to reach about 25 per cent of India's 13.5 crore [135,000,000] TV homes by the end of the first year."

Al Jazeera English to increase original hours. "We’re not about presenting an elite view of the world."

Posted: 10 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcast, 10 Feb 2011, Alex Farber: "Al-Jazeera English is upping the number of original hours of content it orders by more than 25% this year as it increases its number of dedicated seasons. The broadcaster is aiming to commission about 100 extra hours of original content this year, on top of the 370 hours ordered in 2010. ... Paul Eedle, director of programmes for Al-Jazeera English, said ... 'We’re not just another channel, we’re a global broadcaster transmitting to an international English- language audience. We need to appeal to audiences in Africa and South Asia, so our stories and subjects will be different to a European or US broadcaster. The ideas that really fly are the ones that work best for our audience, which is the emerging middle classes of the emerging world. And we aim to put them at the centre of the story. We’re not about presenting an elite view of the world but challenging the centres of power and representing the average person’s view.'" -- CNN International and BBC World News will have to compete with this.

Northern Mariana legislative bill calls for end to "illegal land lease" at BBG transmitter site (updated).

Posted: 10 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Saipan Tribune, 7 Feb 2011, Haidee V. Eugenio: Northern Mariana Island House of Representatives "Joint Resolution 17-19, which asks the Department of Public Lands to officially end 'the illegal land lease' between DPL and the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors and its IBB, narrowly passed an 8-7 vote referring it to the Natural Resources Committee. The resolution also seeks back payment 'for lower than appraised rental value that IBB has been paying since the lease expired in 2006.'" -- The IBB has shortwave relay facilities on Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands, used for both VOA and Radio Free Asia. I'm not sure which site this legislation refers to, although the sponsor is from Saipan.

Update: Saipan Tribune, 10 Feb 2011, Haidee V. Eugenio: "Public Lands Secretary Oscar M. Babauta told the House of Representatives yesterday he will renegotiate with International Broadcasting Bureau an extended or new land lease agreement, shortly before the House adopted a resolution asking the Department of Public Lands to rectify the 'flawed' deal. The 25-year lease deal expired in 2006, but Babauta said IBB at the time 'reluctantly refused' to renegotiate with DPL's predecessor, the Marianas Public Lands Authority. As a result, IBB continues to pay DPL $15,000 in annual lease rental even after the 25-year period expired in 2006. ... Babauta said DPL preliminary estimates show that IBB should have been paying $24,540 to $32,720 in annual lease. ... Babauta said DPL will communicate with IBB whether it wants to extend the lease for another 15 years or negotiate a new lease."

RFE/RL and BBC Uzbek "try to break through the Uzbek government's news blackout" about Egypt.

Posted: 09 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 4 Feb 2011, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick: "[H]uman rights activists and journalists in Uzbekistan -- those who have managed to stay out of jail -- as well as many ordinary people have been avidly following what news they can glean of events in Egypt this week... . Very mindful of the parallels, Uzbek state media has suppressed any news of the events in the Middle East and has carried no footage or commentary about the marches of hundreds of thousands of people in Cairo this week, the independent website reported. ... Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Uzbek Service, Radio Ozodlik, and the BBC's Uzbek Service provide independent programming to try to break through the Uzbek government's news blackout." See previous post about the BBCWS plan, overruled by Foreign Secretary William Hague, to drop its Uzbek service.

New IPTV service will bring Turkish channels to Europe, then rest of the world.

Posted: 09 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 5 Feb 2011, Robert Briel: "The Turkish Cihan news agency has announced the launch of a web TV platform to bring Turkish programming to viewers across the globe. The service will first be introduced in The Netherlands. An agreement between Cihan and IPTV Iletisim (Communications) Holding to introduce this service was signed at Cihan’s headquarters in Yenibosna. Across Europe there is a large Turkish population and increasing restriction on the use of satellite dishes. ... 'The best part of IPTV is that you can watch television over the Internet without needing a satellite.' ... The platform, which will deliver 10 local and 40 national channels, will become available to viewers around the world in the near future."

If members of Congress support this Georgian television station, they can form the First Caucasus Caucus (updated).

Posted: 09 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 25 Jan 2011: "Russian-speakers in the Caucasus, Europe, Russia, and beyond now have a new place to turn for news. The Georgia-based Kanal PIK ('Pervy Informatsionny Kavkazsky,' or First Caucasus News) has made its television debut. For six hours a night, the channel will broadcast news, documentaries, and cultural programs about the Caucasus and the wider world to audiences who until now have had only Kremlin-dominated stations to turn to for their Russian-language news. Kanal PIK director Robert Parsons, a former BBC Moscow correspondent and former director of RFE/RL's Georgian Service, says the station seeks to fill an information gap when it comes to news about the North and South Caucasus."

Georgia Today, 21 Jan 2011, Maia Edilashvili: "The channel is owned and run by K-1, a private firm established by the British journalist, Robert Parsons and Georgian national, Ekaterine Kotrikadze. Parsons serves as the channel’s Director General. He has a solid journalism background having worked as international affairs editor at France24 as well as the BBC Moscow correspondent between 1993 and 2002; in 2003 he became a director of RFE/RL’s Georgian Service, leaving the organization in 2005."

Update: Hürriyet Daily News, 3 Feb 2011: "This is not the first attempt by Georgia to set up a Russian-language channel. A previous project, First Caucasian, was launched last year but almost immediately lost its satellite signal after Russia's Gazprom energy giant bought out nearly all of the satellite's broadcast space. This time, Parsons said he anticipated no technical snafus, and that satellite transmissions of Kanal PIK will be available throughout Russia, Western Europe, the North and South Caucasus, Turkey, Iran and Israel. The station will also run a live feed on its website and hopes to eventually offer cable coverage to Russian-speaking populations in the United States and elsewhere."

International criticism of BBC for "Top Gear" comment about Mexicans and for "tabloiditus" in royal wedding coverage.

Posted: 09 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Latin American Herald Tribune, 4 Feb 2011: "Britain’s state-owned BBC television has publicly apologized for offensive remarks about Mexicans made last weekend by the hosts of the popular 'Top Gear' program. The BBC said Friday on its Web site that it has sent a letter to the Mexican ambassador in London, Eduardo Medina Mora, apologizing to anyone who might have been offended and explaining that jokes based on national stereotypes are part of the British sense of humor. Over the last few days, hundreds of people, mostly Mexicans, contacted the network’s Spanish-language Web site, BBC Mundo, to complain about the slurs made by hosts Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May, the broadcaster said."

The Independent, 7 Feb 2011, Luke Blackall: "The show has an estimated global audience of 350 million. Turn on the TV in a foreign hotel and you’re likely to find the three podges racing caravans round a track on the BBC World channel. As a three-time guest on the show, Steve Coogan, pointed out this week: 'Forget, the World Service; overseas, Top Gear is more frequently the public face of the BBC.' It is the prized possession of BBC Worldwide, while BBC Worldwide itself is the prized possession of the BBC. Last year it announced profits of £145m, arise of 36 per cent, and its overall value was put at £1bn. One estimate suggested that Top Gear itself made £26m a year. At a time when the BBC and its licence fee are being criticised more than ever from a hostile press, it is keen to highlight the few areas it does turn a profit."

The Economist, Prospero blog, 2 Feb 2011, T.W.: "The clip has reached the Mexican papers’ websites too. 'Top Gear', to the eternal embarrassment of Britons living in Mexico, is very popular here. But one network of radio stations has already said it will boycott BBC content in protest. This week’s stunt might have gone down well in the domestic market (population: 62m), but it has been an own goal in at least one export market (population: 112m). How long before the "Top Gear" PR machine crunches into reverse?"

Daily Mail, 5 Feb 2011, Paul Revoir: "The BBC’s World Service has been accused of a ‘colonialist’ attitude after annoying international listeners with blanket coverage of the forthcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Listeners complained about the broadcaster’s trailers heralding its ‘100-day countdown’ to the event, and making the boast ‘the BBC – the home of the British royal wedding’. ... One item, which saw the broadcaster asking Kenyan schoolchildren what dress they thought Miss Middleton should wear, was singled out as being reminiscent of the days of the British empire where royal events were used as propaganda. ... Another listener, from Malta, said: ‘The BBC intend to inflict on World Service listeners another insufferable dose of tabloiditus with its countdown to the wedding. ’A man from Berlin in Germany added: ‘Is this the BBC World Service, or the BBC royal service?’"

BBC America press release, 27 Jan 2011: "BBC AMERICA, the home of the Royal Wedding, has signed Cat Deeley to host and produce Royally Mad, an original two-part special that is at the heart of the channel’s comprehensive Royal Wedding coverage. Royally Mad is the latest addition to BBC AMERICA’s robust Royal Wedding programming with more announcements to come. ... Royally Mad features Deeley as a spirited tour guide taking four of America’s most enthusiastic Royal Wedding fanatics on a trip of a lifetime to London, where they will have a chance to indulge in everything Royal Wedding-themed and will ultimately experience their own fairytale ending."

Outgoing MTV international president: "I decided I wanted MTV to be everywhere."

Posted: 08 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 29 Jan 2011, Amanda Andrews, about Bill Roedy, the outgoing president of MTV Networks International: "One of his proudest moments was doing a deal with the Chinese government to launch a branded MTV channel in homes – a rarity in China, where most Western channels have a presence only in hotels and compounds. 'We negotiated with the Chinese government and we did a deal. We agreed to launch CCTV9, their English language 24-hour news channel, in US hotels. In exchange, we would get a 24-hour MTV-branded channel along the Pearl River Delta.' He says negotiations were helped along by him arranging a much-wanted tour around West Point for Wang Keman, who was the managing director of Chinese cable company Southern Media Corporation. Wang had previously attended the Chinese military academy. ... 'I decided I wanted MTV to be everywhere. I adopted a concept of aggressive, creative and relentless distribution. If cable didn’t exist, we would use direct-to-home,' he says. To this day, some countries, including Italy, Russia, Indonesia and Brazil, receive MTV on terrestrial television. ... Despite launches in countries which some others would have deemed impossible, Canada was ironically the last 'hold-up'."

Patricia Villegas is new president of Telesur.

Posted: 08 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 27 Jan 2011, Patrick J. O'Donoghue: "The Gaceta Oficial No. 39.601 dated January 25 has revealed that Colombian journalist, Patricia Villegas will take over as president of Telesur continental TV channel. Without going into details, the Gaceta stated that outgoing president, Andres Izarra appointed Villegas in his place. No explanation is offered as to why Izarra has the power of choosing his successor. The Venezuelan News Agency (AVN) simply announced that Communication & Information (MinCi) Minister Andres Izarra named Villegas as the new president. Villegas has been with the channel, dubbed the Al Jazeera of South America, since 2005 and worked as director of information." See also El Nacional (Caracas), 26 Jan 2011.

Two RFE/RL correspondents detained in Cairo (updated again: "witness to a thuggish sadistic violence").

Posted: 08 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 4 Feb 2011: "Two correspondents for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have been detained in Cairo. Robert Tait and Abdelilah Nuaimi -- both U.K. citizens -- had just flown into the Egyptian capital to report on the ongoing political unrest. RFE/RL made contact briefly around 1 p.m. local time with Tait, who said he had to cut the call short because he and Nuaimi were being detained. A local RFE/RL correspondent in Cairo spoke around the same time to Nuaimi, who told him they were being held in what he believed to be a police station in the city's Al-Azhar area. 'We call on the Egyptian authorities to release our correspondents and their equipment immediately,' said RFE/RL News Director Jay Tolson."

Twitter, 5 Feb 2011, 1020 UTC, RFERL: "We still have not heard from our 2 journalists who were detained in Cairo yesterday."

RFE/RL, 5 Feb 2011: "Two correspondents for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were released today after being detained in Cairo. The two -- Robert Tait and Abdelilah Nuaimi, both U.K. citizens -- were detained shortly after arriving in the Egyptian capital on February 4 to report on the ongoing political unrest there. The two were held at an unknown location but were said to have been treated well. Tait and Nuaimi were being escorted by police to the airport for what appears to be a flight back to Prague."

RFE/RL, 6 Feb 2011: "There was still no word from two correspondents for Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty one day after they were said to have been released from a police station in Cairo. ... RFE/RL earlier spoke with a man (unnamed) detained with Tait and Nuaimi who said they had been held at an unknown location 'but were treated very well.' Tait and Nuaimi were said to be en route to the airport in a police escort for a flight back to Europe, but there has been no direct contact with them since their arrest."

RFE/RL press release, 6 Feb 2011: "Two detained RFE reporters, Robert Tait and Abdelilah Nuaimi, have been released from police custody and flew out of Egypt today. Tait and Nuaimi were detained by police shortly after arriving in the Egyptian capital Cairo on February 4. They were on their way to report on the ongoing political unrest. Tait is a senior RFE correspondent covering the Middle East, Nuaimi is a reporter for RFE's Iraqi service. Both are U.K. citizens. According to a brief message, both are 'safe and relatively well' and are now en route to Prague. Tait reports that 'whatever official statements you might hear about the situation of detained journalists, we were not treated well.' Communication with Tait and Nuaimi has been very difficult over the past three days due to the fact that police confiscated some of their equipment, including phones and cameras. RFE will provide a more detailed account of their detention upon their arrival in Prague. Another Cairo-based correspondent for RFE's Iraqi service was held and questioned for over two hours at a police check point today. He was traveling to the airport to meet with Tait and Nuaimi."

Update: RFE/RL, 8 Feb 2011, Robert Tait: "I had told him [the interrogator] my full career resume in copious detail and emphasized RFE/RL's funding by the U.S. Congress, in the belief that it would bring about a quick resolution. He told me that I would be released 'after certain procedures' had been completed. But it was to take another 24 hours or so, during which I bore blind but all-hearing witness to a thuggish sadistic violence." lets you watch international channels while driving to work. If I read that correctly.

Posted: 08 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link press release, 2 Feb 2011: "Everyone hates a long commute, but that long commute just got shorter with A long commute means that you have a lot of time to kill before you arrive at the place where you 'look busy' for 8 or so hours a day. provides a convenient way of killing that time by allowing you to watch live TV online for free. has an extremely large database of online internet tv channels. ... is definitely becoming the site that people turn to for live online news from around the world. During the recent protests in Tunisia, people logged on to to watch the latest events on Tunisie TV 7 and Tunisie TV 21. When the students revolted in France, people watched BFM TV, France 24, and 24/24 to stay abreast of the latest breaking events. The recent problems between North and South Korea have caused thousands of Koreans from around the world to log on and watch MBC TV, GTB SBS TV, CTS TV, and KBS TV. The most pressing of current events surrounds the all out civil war occurring in Egypt. In keeping up to date with that ongoing tragedy, you can log on to to watch Nile News, and Al Jazeera. ... In short, people turn to, because they know that they will find the best in French TV, Spanish TV, Italian TV, German TV, Russian TV, Hindi TV, Arabic TV, English TV, and Portuguese TV, just to name a few of the broadcasts available." -- Perhaps they mean watching while commuting via mass transit. is apparently headquartered in Frisco, Texas, a state known more for commuting via pickup truck than via mass transit. has a very comprehensive menu of channels, but as is usual with video stream aggregators, many of the streams don't work.

France 24 and TV5 Monde expand distribution in the Americas.

Posted: 08 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 1 Feb 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French speaking channels France 24 and TV5Monde have both extended the reach of their distribution in America. Since January 2011, international news channel France 24 has been broadcasting part-time on the PBS KCET network in California in conjunction with partner MHz Worldview. France 24’s English version is available Monday to Friday from 07:00 to 07:30, from 13:00 to 13:30 and from 20:00 to 20:30 (local time). Saturdays and Sundays, broadcast hours range from 07:00 to 07:30 and 19:30 to 20:30. KCET is available across all the counties in the greater Los Angeles region, on the terrestrial [digital channel] 28.4 as well as via cable operators in the region. For its part, French-speaking channel TV5Monde Amérique Latine has signed up and renewed distribution deals in Latin America. Partners include UNE EPM in Colombia, Intercable in Venezuela, and IPTV supplier Telecommunications Services of Trindad & Tobago in the Carribean."

Discovery Communications claims ratings success for TLC channel in Europe and Asia.

Posted: 08 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Discovery Communications press release, 7 Feb 2011: Discovery Networks International (DNI) today announced that TLC, a new flagship lifestyle and entertainment network targeting women 25-49, has posted solid ratings wins in key European and Asian markets since launching in March 2010. Fueled by strong ratings and distribution on track to reach 100 million households in 2011, TLC is well positioned to be a leading global lifestyle and entertainment brand. After only four months on air, TLC in Poland is the #1 female channel among Women 25-49, surpassing the local competition including TVN Style and Polsat Café. ... TLC launched across Asia-Pacific in September 2010 and ranks as the #1 international travel and lifestyle network for Persons 25-54. Primetime viewership has increased in several key countries year-on-year including India up 52%, Malaysia up 26% and Taiwan up 12%. In Australia, audience has doubled year-on-year since January 2010."

Broadband TV News, 3 Feb 2011, Chris Dziadul: "Discovery Communication’s business in Eastern Europe is to be renamed Discovery Networks, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA). The move follows the formal merger of the company’s Central European and Emerging Markets operations at the start of the year. Discovery Networks CEEMEA has nine channel brands, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Science and Discovery HD Showcase. Headquartered in Warsaw and will offices in London, Moscow, Bucharest and Budapest, it broadcasts in 18 local languages in 99 countries across three continents. Discovery Networks EMEA was split into Discovery Networks CEEMEA and Discovery Networks Western Europe at the end of last year." As reported here in September 2010. See also the (presumably soon to be dismantled) Discovery EMEA webpage.

VOA's girl-child education project in Nigeria.

Posted: 07 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Independent, 30 Jan 2011, Innocent Oweh: "[T]he Voice of America (VOA), in conjunction with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) took the campaign for increased girl-child education to Sokoto State [Nigeria], where they engaged the government and the people of the state on the importance of educating the girl child. ... VOA’s Director, Development and International Media Training, Joan Mower, emphasised the age long belief which states that 'when you educate a male child, you only succeed in educating an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate and indeed help in the transformation of an entire society.'"

VOA press release, 20 Jan 2011: "VOA’s education project is supported by USAID. Nigeria Mission Director Ray Kirkland told the Town Hall participants that girls’ education contributes to the benefit of society. He quoted the saying that if 'you educate a boy, you educate one person; if you educate a girl, you educate the world.'"

Head of English at BBC World Service becomes Prime Minister's communications director.

Posted: 07 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 2 Feb 2011: "The prime minister has chosen a senior executive at BBC News to replace Andy Coulson as Director of Government Communications. Craig Oliver, controller of English at BBC Global news, and a former editor of the BBC News at Six and Ten will take up the post shortly. ... BBC director of global news, Peter Horrocks praised Mr Oliver but added: 'Given the crucial editorial independence of the BBC, Craig and I have agreed that he should end his duties at the BBC immediately.'"

The World At Large blog, 2 Feb 2011, Richard Sambrook, former director of BBC Global News: "His appointment marks a departure in background, tone and approach to the role. But he will have his work cut out – beyond the normal demands of the job – to make himself felt. I wish him much luck."

Broadcasting to Belarus, including Radio Svaboda and Belsat TV, in the news.

Posted: 07 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 4 Feb 2011: "As Belarus continues to crack down on local media outlets and independent journalists, BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson and RFE President Jeffrey Gedmin today affirmed their commitment to media freedom in Belarus and expressed concern for the safety of journalists throughout the country. Isaacson and Gedmin visited Lithuania as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation led by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). ... Since the widely criticized December 2010 elections, a growing number of Belarusian media outlets have been shut down. As a result, Radio Svaboda's audience has increased dramatically. In a single day shortly after the election, the station's website received a 20-fold increase in page views over normal daily traffic. In January 2011, visitors to Radio Svaboda's website viewed a total of 2.4 million pages of content, reflecting a five-fold increase over the same period in 2010. Recently, graffiti has started showing up in Belarus with Radio Svaboda's website address prominently visible. 'I will not keep silent,' reads one wall of graffiti in Minsk. 'The truth is on the Internet -'"

AFP, 2 Feb 2011: "Funded by Poland, Belsat TV is one of a handful of independent Belarussian media beaming uncensored news into Belarus where the authoritarian Lukashenko keeps a stranglehold on the domestic media. [Program director Sairhei] Pelesa is hoping that a fundraising conference today in Warsaw and dubbed 'Solidarity with Belarus' will bring fresh support from the 27 EU states as well as the US and others to expand free media activity in his homeland. ... Aside from Belsat, Poland also hosts and funds three Belarussian-language radio stations. Radio Svaboda is another such broadcaster, based in the Czech capital Prague and financed by the US through Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty."

IsraelNationalNews, 1 Feb 2011, Amiel Ungar: "[T]he head of the Deutsche Welle's Russian Broadcasting service, Ingo Mannteufel, has suggested that the United States and European Union enlist the assistance of Russia to make the sanctions [against Belrusian president Alexander Lukashenko] more effective."

Former Deutsche Welle relay site in Malta will be "showcase of energy efficient systems."

Posted: 07 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Malta Independent, 6 Feb 2011, Annaliza Borg: "The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (Mepa) is currently assessing 12 pending applications for wind turbines in different localities in Malta and Gozo, with eight being in Outside Development Zones. ... Among the permits issued is one for two 5 KW turbines at the former Deutsche Welle site, where afforestation of the area is also planned."

Times of Malta, 3 Feb 2011, Sarah Carabott: "The wild beauty at Xrobb l-Ghagin, at the south-eastern tip of Malta, is being transformed into a totally sustainable nature park in a joint initiative between the government and Nature Trust. Celebrating Malta’s unique eco-system, this 155,000 metre square park will be a showcase of energy efficient systems once ready in a few weeks’ time. The park saw the installation of sun pipes – shafts which direct natural light into buildings as alternatives to electric light sources, three types of photovoltaic panels, vertical and horizontal wind turbines and a biological drainage treatment system where second class water is used for irrigation and the toilet flushing system. Although the former Deutsche Welle relay station, which is being restored as part of the project, was in itself energy efficient, research carried out by the University of Malta was instrumental to the development of the renewable energy system now in place." -- The DW shortwave and medium wave relay at Cyclops, Malta, operated from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Commando Solo to restore internet in Egypt? Problematic.

Posted: 07 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Wired Danger Room, 7 Feb 2011, Spencer Ackerman: "When Hosni Mubarak shut down Egypt’s internet and cellphone communications, it seemed that all U.S. officials could do was ask him politely to change his mind. But the American military does have a second set of options, if it ever wants to force connectivity on a country against its ruler’s wishes. There’s just one wrinkle. 'It could be considered an act of war,' says John Arquilla, a leading military futurist. ... Consider the Commando Solo, the Air Force’s airborne broadcasting center. A revamped cargo plane, the Commando Solo beams out psychological operations in AM and FM for radio, and UHF and VHF for TV. Arquilla doesn’t want to go into detail how the classified plane could get a denied internet up and running again, but if it flies over a bandwidth-denied area, suddenly your Wi-Fi bars will go back up to full strength. 'We have both satellite- and nonsatellite-based assets that can come in and provide access points to get people back online,' Arquilla says. 'Some of it is done from ships. You could have a cyber version of pirate radio.' ... Alternatively, operatives could smuggle small satellite dishes into a country. Small dishes were crucial to getting the internet back running in Haiti after last year’s earthquake. It’s how cameramen in war zones rapidly transmit high quality video from the middle of nowhere. ... The trouble is, if a government follows Egypt’s lead and turns off the internet, it’s not going to be keen to see a meddling foreign power turn it back on."

Commando Solo is a psyop (now called MISO, or military information support to operations) tool, to be used in areas where the US military is fighting or occupying. Commando Solo univited over Egypt would be a violation of sovereignty that would probably not appreciated by either the Egyptian government or the opposition.

Protesters in Egypt could set up satellite nodes to reach satellite broadband internet services, or low-earth-orbiting satellites for e-mails and tweets. Individuals could connect to these by getting close to the nodes, and accessing via wifi or a LAN cable.

San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Feb 2011, Evgeny Morozov: "The events in Egypt have fired the imagination of governments everywhere. A few of them are probably mulling the idea of conducting "Internet shutdown" drills, just to see how easy it would be. ... One likely consequence is that more governments will warm up to the idea of an 'Internet kill switch,' finding a way to centralize their control over Internet networks and to turn them off in case of an emergency." -- But shutting off the internet comes with a price...

Forbes, 3 Feb 2011, Parmy Olson: "Researchers at the OECD have done some back-of-the-envelope calculations to figure out how much a clampdown on the Internet cost Egypt’s economy. Their estimate? About $90 million, or $18 million a day. But a closer look at the numbers shows that the real answer is probably much higher."

Any speculation about the commercial use of medium wave is arguably "silly."

Posted: 07 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 26 Jan 2011, Paul Rusling via Garry Stevens Message Board: "It’s likely some of you will start seeing mentions of a new radio station, using the project working title UK International (but it may well become called England International or even London International by launch time) and I just wanted to suppress some of the rumours before it gets discussed too widely in sensational terms. Our plan is to use 500 kiloWatts on 648 kHz - now the BBC [World Service] have confirmed they will stop using the frequency in 2 months time. The station will be owned by a group of UK and Dutch media folk and have a broad appeal, particularly to car drivers, and be a shop window for various products and services. It will be presented in the style of Top 40 radio, as we believe that is what will appeal to our target listeners. We have put in an offer to lease the facility at Orfordness, our preferred site, but if huge bureaucratic delays and problems are encountered we have a second site available. That’s all I shall say about it for the time being; hopefully it will avoid silly speculation.” -- I love the sound of amplitude-modulated analog radio broadcasting, whether on the long, medium, or short waves. If these signals cross national boundaries to create an international experience, so much the better. Not many of us left, however, with such media preferences.

IBB director in the UAE, discussing "cooperation on training and exchange of news content."

Posted: 07 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Emirates News Agency, 31 Jan 2011: "Richard M. Lobo, director of the United States' International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and officials from the UAE's National Media Council discussed cooperation on training and exchange of news content. Lobo was accompanied by Gary Thatcher, Director of the Office of Marketing and External Liaison at IBB. At the meeting, a presentation was given on the UAE's media landscape in the UAE where 15 TV channels, 24 radio stations and16 daily newspapers operate in the UAE along with tens of weeklies, monthlies and specialized periodicals."

New on BBC World News: presenter staring at the camera while caller bores us to the point of rapid eye movement.

Posted: 07 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 2 Feb 2011: "World Have Your Say – the BBC's award-winning global interactive news discussion show on radio – is launching a new weekly TV edition of the show which will broadcast every Friday on BBC World News television from Friday 4 February, from 3.00pm (GMT). Hosted on the BBC's international news services – on radio (BBC World Service) and now on TV (BBC World News) – the show is a global conversation with the agenda set by everyone taking part. The show uses different technology to enable as many people as possible in different parts of the world to join the debate via online, Twitter (@bbc_whys), Facebook (World Have Your Say), telephone and on air." -- "3:00pm GMT" is not standard usage for an international broadcaster.

Report: After satellite restrictions in Eritrea, "this leaves shortwave radio as the only source of independent news."

Posted: 06 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 4 Feb 2011: "As the people’s rage moves from Tunisia to Egypt and possibly to Yemen, the Eritrean regime is in a state of panic and is trying to engineer a total news blackout in Eritrea. The State media, which is the only legal medium of information dissemination in Eritrea, has maintained total silence on the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and the uprisings in Sudan and Yemen. Until now, Eritreans could get the information from international radio broadcast and satellite TV. ... [T]he National Security Office sent out an order to every village, town and city administration demanding that cafes, restaurants and all public places which provide satellite-carried international news cease and desist immediately and that failure to comply immediately will result in loss of their license. ... This leaves short wave radio as the only source of independent news for Eritreans. Our reporter commented, 'I still have my radio, glad the regime does not have the ability to block radio waves!' The reporter also said that he is following all the news and he is up to date with the news."

Radio Netherlands launches Farsi website, promptly criticized by Iranian news agency.

Posted: 06 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 5 Feb 2011, 3 Feb 2011: "Prompted by the tense relations between Tehran and The Hague following the execution of Dutch-Iranian Zahra Bahrami, RNW has launched a new website aimed at Iran. The new site went live today in a ‘light version’ - for social media and mobile phone use - and will be, as its name indicates, produced in Farsi, the language spoken in Iran and by the many Iranians who live outside the country. The decision to start this new internet service has also been prompted by the continuing crises in Egypt and Tunisia, both of which are of great significance for many other countries in the region, including Iran."

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 5 Feb 2011: "Iran’s Mashrek news agency has accused Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s Farsi website of being part of ‘an international media campaign against Iran’. ... Iranian internet sites have also been critical of a recent RNW press release, connecting it to the execution in Tehran of Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami. Her case has led to the worsening of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Iran. Rik Rensen, RNW’s editor-in-chief, says there is no basis to the criticism voiced by the Mashrek news agency. He says RNW is completely independent and works according to internationally accepted standards of journalism."

"Iran blocks Yahoo and Reuters as internet speeds fall."

Posted: 06 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Zamaneh, 3 Feb 2011: "Iranian authorities have blocked access to Yahoo News and expanding their usual restrictions on foreign sites. Reuters reports that their site has been blocked since Monday and while there has been no official acknowledgement of the restrictions, an unidentified Iranian official contacted by Reuters told them that the government was looking into the problem in order to remove it. Iran's Committee for Internet Filtering Instances, which runs under the supervision of Iran's Prosecutor Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, determines which sites will be blocked. Several sites including Radio Zamaneh, BBC, Radio Farda, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America as well as Facebook, Twitter and Balatarin, are on the Committee's long list of blocked sites and have been beyond reach of Iranians without use of proxies. According to recent ISNA reports internet users have reported a sudden decrease in internet speeds across Tehran. 'Google, Yahoo, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail have been hardly accessible in the past days,' ISNA reports."

Egypt uprising: "Viewers of American television have been best served by CNN."

Posted: 06 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 4 Feb 2011, Alessandra Stanley: "In all the confusion, contradiction and multisource coverage in the 11 days since the Cairo uprising began, . ... Plenty of other news organizations, including MSNBC and Fox News, are providing analysis and live reports from seasoned correspondents who risk beatings and arrest to report the latest developments. CNN manages to do it all without raising its voice or cluttering the screen with ideologues and deskbound rabble-rousers. Comedians like Stephen Colbert sometimes mock Anderson Cooper of CNN as a war zone glamour boy and glory hound, but he hunkered down in an undisclosed location on Thursday night and did his job in semi-darkness. Even while being roughed up by mobs attacking journalists earlier in the day, Mr. Cooper sounded more calm and collected than some of the cable news talk-show divas who wind up their viewers from the safety of studio sets."

Twitter, 5 Feb 2011, abuaardvark: "CNN rises to the top in Egypt coverage | sure, and Seattle won NFC West. only if you ignore AJE + BBC."

Globe and Mail, 1 Feb 2011, John Doyle: "[W]ith so much blather and confusion, it is with relief that that one turns to BBC World News. It is also with some reluctance – the BBC’s status should have long since been transcended by others, but it hasn’t. There was Canadian [BBC reporter] Lyse Doucet on the air from Cairo, speaking calmly, describing what she had seen in the city and then talking to others. She asked clear, helpful questions – 'What did you see? Who did you speak with and what did they say?' While Fox went a bit wacky, at one point using a map of the Middle East which incorrectly located Egypt, and CNN developed an unhealthy obsession with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statements, BBC News stayed shockingly calm. And we watch BBC aware that it isn’t going to present a map of the Middle East which places Egypt next door to Iran."

Creative Loafing, 6 Feb 2011, Mitch Perry: "[O]ver the course of nearly two weeks now, CNN has been the absolute critical cable television network to follow the events in Egypt (unless you’re streaming Al Jazeera English). As the ratings indicate, if there’s not a breaking news event, most people would rather watch MSNBC or Fox and view their predictable dose of partisan wrangling can be highly entertaining if you’re into that sort of thing. However, American[s] are still hard wired to want to find CNN on their television remotes when something like a U.S. Congresswoman is almost killed, or, in the case of the past few weeks, when a whole mass of people who have been held down forever dynamically and spontaneously cry out for freedom. Though it no longer deserves the reputation that it was once had years ago, the bottom line is that in this country, when something comes across the transom, most Americans will still turn on CNN than any other news outlet. But for Sunday morning talk, when for many people it’s the only time of the week that they can sit back and try to get some perspective on the American political scene, it’s been CNN alumnus Christiane Amanpour for the second week in a row bringing the best weekly round-up of this electrifying and unpredictable story, all bottled into an hour long show."

Afghanistan's Hizb-e-Islami chief warns Egyptian protesters against "those ... promoted by BBC and the Voice of America."

Posted: 06 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The News (Karachi), 6 Feb 2011, Mazhar Tufail: "Saluting the strong determination and magnanimity of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutionaries, Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has advised them to avoid leaving the revolution halfway and trusting the suspicious figures and foreign puppets. 'We salute the strong determination and magnanimity of the believing revolutionaries of Tunisia and Egypt. We pray for their earlier victory,' said Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former prime minister of Afghanistan, in a Pashto language statement a copy of which was received here on Saturday from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan. 'We hope that we will see the Islamic flag begin unfurling in the two powerful strongholds of Islam,' he said. The Hizb chief said those who raise slogans of western democracy and are being promoted by BBC and the Voice of America are no more than the other side of the images of Hosni Mubarak and Zine El-Abedine Ben Ali. He warned the Tunisians and Egyptians that if such people gained power, they would surpass the dictators in oppressing them and would brutally behave with them."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 5 Feb 2011: "As journalists face ongoing attacks and detentions in Cairo, they are increasingly concerned that state broadcasts are creating an atmosphere that is encouraging violence against the media, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. ... Sayyid Ali and Hanaa al-Simari, hosts of a program called "48 Hours" on Al-Mihwar, which is owned by a pro-Mubarak businessman, accused international media--Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya in particular--of having a hidden agenda and falsifying facts in order to provoke and inflame demonstrators against the state and the president, multiple sources in Egypt told CPJ. The two also accused the BBC Arabic service of having a similar agenda."

Al Jazeera Arabic: "very balanced" or "Fair & Balanced®"?

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Washington Post, 4 Feb 2011, Liz Sly: "Mahed Hattar, a secular democracy activist in Jordan, has been critical of the network in the past for focusing too heavily on the views of Islamists, but he says he has detected no such bias in its coverage of the Egypt protests. 'It's very balanced, more than at any other time. They're giving both sides,' said Hattar, who like so many across the region has been glued to the television since the protests erupted, surfing mainly between three channels, al-Jazeera and the Arabic services of France-24 and the BBC."

MSNBC, 5 Feb 2011, Michael Moran: "The question of whether Al-Jazeera plays fair and reports objectively by U.S. standards has frequently been a source of criticism. Al-Jazeera’s defenders respond by comparing the network’s marketing strategy to that of Fox News: Know who your audience is, tell them the news they want to hear and how they want to hear it, and they will come back regularly."

Big Think, 4 Feb 2011, Prof. Erik Nisbet via his brother Matthew Nisbet: "In the short term, the Pan-Muslim and Pan-Arab narratives typically embedded in al Jazeera content, in combination with growing Pan-Muslim and Pan-Arab identification among Arab audiences, most likely facilitate the 'contagion' began by the successful Tunisian revolt. A large portion of Arab audiences who watched al Jazeera's extensive month-long coverage of Tunisia, and now Egypt, are interpreting these events and outcomes through transnational Muslim and Arab political lenses, rather than as Jordanian, Saudi Arabian, Moroccan, Yemini etc, etc."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 2 Feb 2011, Brian Whitaker: "Faced with an event of Berlin Wall magnitude on its home turf, the Arab media is torn over the uprising in Egypt and how to report it, if at all. In the old days, the media's role was not so much to report the news as to 'guide' the public, shielding them from 'harmful' information or anything that might inflame their passions. That ceased to be a viable option more than 20 years ago with the arrival of satellite television, especially al-Jazeera, and since then the internet has made it less viable still. And yet, large sections of the Arab media still persist in their hidebound ways. At the weekend, while al-Jazeera was providing minute-by-minute coverage of events in Tahrir Square (and generally doing it better than western news organisations), Egyptian state television was focusing its cameras on quieter parts of Cairo, including a tranquil bridge over the Nile."

The Palestine Chronicle, 5 Feb 2011, James Gundun: "Now Egypt’s ongoing revolution is pushing Al Jazeera’s limit to new heights. If Hosni Mubarak's regime does crumble and give way to real democracy, participating Egyptians will look back 40 years from now and likely view the news organization as integral to their memory. Protesters would generate a similar energy in Al Jazeera’s absence, as illustrated by Egypt’s temporary Internet shutdown. Millions are driven to protest by decades of collective misery and pent-up outrage. But it seems safe to say that Al Jazeera magnified their output by providing a safe-guard against broader government massacres, and through its power to visually unite. Twitter and Facebook only mimicked Al Jazeera’s two-way channel as a revolutionary enabler."

Al Jazeera English, 2 Feb 2011, via There is a media war over Egyptian street coverage. Is putting street views on air without censorship an incitement? The gap between the official media and the vernacular, private satellite TV, and independent newspapers, Who is telling the truth?" With video.

Frank Rich: Americans trying to watch Al Jazeera English like "Iron Curtain citizens ... trying to pull in the jammed VOA."

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New York Times, 5 Feb 2011, Frank Rich: "Unable to watch Al Jazeera English, and ravenous for comprehensive and sophisticated 24/7 television coverage of the Middle East otherwise unavailable on television, millions of Americans last week tracked down the network’s Internet stream on their computers. Such was the work-around required by the censorship practiced by America’s corporate gatekeepers. You’d almost think these news-starved Americans were Iron Curtain citizens clandestinely trying to pull in the jammed Voice of America signal in the 1950s — or Egyptians desperately seeking Al Jazeera after Mubarak disrupted its signal last week."

Newsweek, 5 Feb 2011, Wadah Khanfar, DG of Al Jazeera: "Ironically, like the people on the streets of Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Sudan, the people of America, too, have been defying limits. They’ve adapted, watching our live streams online and our YouTube channel. They’re spreading our headlines virally across social media. A new age of journalism is emerging, and we are succeeding by empowering a new generation of reporters to thrive in it. It’s a wonder the West’s most powerful country doesn’t get to watch."

Denver Post, 4 Feb 2011, Joanne Ostrow: "While every outlet provided shots of protesters throwing rocks, al-Jazeera English was most instructive when reporting on the differences between international media coverage and state coverage in Egypt, on the anti- American sentiment and possible domino effect in the region. Journalistically, the network is giving other news organizations a run, proving one thing: A broader range of media options always is better."

Multichannel News, 4 Feb 2011, Mark Robichaux: "MCN: Unfairly or not, since 9/11, critics hve said Al-Jazeera has allowed anti-American, anti-Semitic content to air, and it doesn't carry opposing views. True? [Al Anstey, MD or AJE]: I refute them whole heartedly. We don't just cover opposing views, we cover all the relevant views. And covering the Egyptian story this week, we have covered all the relevant views in that story. And there is absolutely no partiality. I can only talk for the English channel. We've begun this channel with the highest standards of journalism and we continue now with the highest standards of journalism. It's not like we've evolved into this, it's from Day One."

Reuters, 5 Feb 2011, Christine Kearney: "Maureen Huff, a spokeswoman for Timer Warner Cable, one of the largest U.S. cable companies, said it was 'willing to talk' about carrying Al-Jazeera English and was not afraid of a backlash."

Hartford Courant, 6 Feb 2011, Susan Campbell: "If you try to find Al Jazeera English on your television, good luck. American cable providers have been hesitant to carry the Qatar-based news organization. The Bush administration's distaste for Al Jazeera was legendary, but it's time to pay attention to their boots-on-the-ground coverage from the world's current epicenter of news. Interested viewers can go to Al Jazeera's website and fill out a petition."

Washington Post, blogPost, 4 Feb 2011, Elizabeth Flock: "On Feb. 10, al-Jazeera is encouraging a meet up in 224 communities for viewers to demand the network on U.S. television."

Los Angeles Times, Baylong & Bayond blog, 5 Feb 2011, Molly Hennessy-Fiske: "Tony Burman, Al Jazeera’s head of strategy for the Americas, said traffic to the satelite network's English-language website, where a live stream of its broadcast is available, increased 2,500% during the past week of Egypt coverage. He said up to 60% of the traffic was from the United States."

Huffington Post, 4 Feb 2011, Larry Magid on how to receive Al Jazeera English using a Roku set-top box.

KCET (Los Angeles) press release, 4 Feb 2011. "As protests and demonstrations in Egypt continue to make worldwide headlines, KCET brings viewers international perspectives on the historic unrest with a live feed of Al Jazeera English News today at 4:00 p.m. KCET is the only major Southern California broadcaster carrying Al Jazeera English News. Special coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. with BBC World News, anchored by Mike Embley. Coverage continues with the view from Israel at 3:30 p.m., Al Jazeera English News at 4:00 p.m., an encore of BBC World News with Mike Embley at 5:00 p.m., Japan’s NHK Newsline at 5:30 p.m., and a live feed of BBC World News at 6:00 p.m."

Minot (ND) Daily News, 6 Feb 2011, Eloise Ogden: "The oil boom on the Fort Berthold Reservation is attracting the interest of the international broadcaster Al Jazeera English. Producer Kavitha Chekuru, reporter Cath Turner and cameraman Ralf Oberti are planning to arrive in New Town late this week. Chekuru and Oberti are with AJE's Washington, D.C., bureau and Turner is with the New York bureau. Chekuru, who has never been to North Dakota, said they are coming to North Dakota to see how the community and the Three Affiliated Tribes are dealing with the oil boom."

Ronald Reagan supported RFE in the 1950s and RFE/RL while president.

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Cold War Radios, 5 Feb 2011, Richard H. Cummings: "Sunday, February 6, 2011, is the 100th birthday of Ronald Wilson Reagan. His life is being honored world-wide this weekend. As actor and later as President of the USA, he was a firm supporter of the Crusade for Freedom and Radio Free Europe. ... Reagan was narrator of the short film entitled 'The Big Truth,' which was written by Otis Carney and directed by Seymour Friedman and shown in movie theaters around the United States. Carney received a Freedom Foundation award in 1952 for his screenplay. The heavy propaganda film opens with a scene of two Czech soldiers chasing a man in a forest. They shoot at him as he crosses through the barbed wire Iron Curtain, meets two men on the other side and eventually appears in the film reading a script before the RFE microphone. ... In a speech to the British House of Commons at Westminster Palace on June 8, 1982 (The famous 'Evil Empire' speech), President Reagan [said]: ... 'It is impossible to resist oppression without having access to the truth and without being able to communicate with your fellow man. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty can help the people of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union overcome their problems. They are indispensable--the closest thing to a domestic free press that outsiders can provide for them.'" See previous post about Reagan and about previous post about RFE/RL history.

More from the recently published biography of "Axis Sally" (updated: the other "Axis Sally").

Posted: 06 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Columbis Dispatch, 30 Jan 2011, Joe Blundo: "Mildred Gillars was reviled nationwide, but at the end of her life she found a little peace in Columbus. The first full-scale biography of the woman better-known as Axis Sally is absorbing for several reasons, not the least being that she spent her final years here. Author Richard Lucas is a New Jersey freelance writer and shortwave-radio enthusiast who became intrigued after hearing Gillars' voice on historic audio clips. ... Lucas exhaustively chronicles Gillars' work during World War II. American troops knew well her mellifluous voice. She told them their cause was hopeless and their wives were cheating on them. She used anti-Semitic slurs. She tried to enlist American prisoners of war in propaganda efforts. After the war, Gillars was captured and returned to the United States, where she was convicted of treason." See previous post about same subject.

Update: Note from Roger Tidy in the UK: "I should like to point out that Mildred Gillars was not the only broadcaster who was given that nickname. The other 'Axis Sally' was Rita Zucca, from New York, who broadcast to US and British troops first for the Italians and then for the Germans over a station called Jerry's Front Radio. There are two chapters on these characters in my new book 'Hitler's Radio War'. Also covered are such 'personalities' as Lord Haw-Haw and Mary of Arnhem. The book looks in detail at Nazi overt and clandestine broadcasts to many areas of the world, including Britain and the US, several European countries, the Soviet Union, the Middle East, South Africa, India and Latin America and attempts to answer the question of how successful, or otherwise, were the Nazis in their radio propaganda to their various audiences. 'Hitler's Radio War', which is illustrated and runs to 240 pages, is published in England by Robert Hale Ltd and can be purchased from or any online or city booskstore. I am interested in receiving comments and any other feedback about the book from anyone who reads it." See also blurb, with purchase information and Roger Tidy's bio.

Super Bowl XLV to the American Forces, including the ships at sea.

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American Forces Press Service, 4 Feb 2011, Donna Miles: "When millions of Americans gather around TV sets this weekend for Super Bowl XLV, they’ll have lots of company from U.S. forces around the world and at sea, thanks to the American Forces Radio and Television Service. AFRTS has been delivering the game live since the first big game was played on Jan. 15, 1967. ... AFRTS taped shout-outs from 32 players -– 17 Packers and 15 Steelers, including quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger –- to air throughout the game, said Paul Waldrop, chief of the AFRTS’ radio and television production office. In addition, messages from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and five celebrities will run during the broadcast, with all sending words of thanks and encouragement to military members... . Troops overseas have been treated to live broadcasts of every Super Bowl, initially through short-wave radio broadcasts, Sichter said." -- Shortwave is still used by AFRTS for ships and remote land installations without satellite broadcast receiving capability.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1 Feb 2011, Dan Gigler: "Sylvia Liberati Rooney-Rosencrans (no relation) writes in: 'As a native Pittsburgher, who spent twenty-five years in Venezuela with Orinoco Mining Company (US Steel), my three sons grew up listening to Steelers' Games on short-wave radio.'"

More comments on the BBC World Service cuts, e.g.: "The shortwave was, and still is, indispensable."

Posted: 05 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Time, 5 Feb 2011, Dejan Anastasijevic in Belgrade: "'The first things that disappear in times of trouble are cellphone networks and the Internet — look at Egypt,' says [Serbian reporter Milos] Vasic. 'The shortwave was, and still is, indispensable.' ... [M]aybe there's room for a more optimistic view. When the BBC dissolved its Slovenian and Croatian language service some years ago, it was widely seen as a sign that these countries are becoming stable democracies that no longer need information transfusions from the outside. Maybe this also applies to Serbia, and other countries affected by the recent cuts, like Macedonia and Albania? 'Not likely,' grumbles Vasic. 'We are about to lose the gold standard of objectivity and accuracy in radio reporting. This will not end well.'"

Yorkshire Post, 3 Feb 2011, Richard Heller: "Looked at in isolation, all of the cuts may seem plausible. Does this country really need to provide an Albanian broadcasting service? But the modern world should teach us that every country is important, and that we can never know when any particular country will present a crisis. In the 1930s, when the World Service began, millions of people agreed with Nancy Mitford's Uncle Matthew that Abroad was Beastly. They supported Neville Chamberlain's infamous phrase before Munich: 'a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.'"

PRI The World, 2 Feb 2011, Patrick Cox: "So which global radio services will move in to replace the BBC? The pod’s last interview is with journalism professor George Brock. He says that services run by the Chinese and Russian governments are likely to benefit, especially in Africa and Asia. And they don’t have the same news values as the BBC. Where the Beeb is remarkably successful at maintaining its editorial independence, Brock says the Russian and Chinese operations are mainly mouthpieces of their respective governments."

Lowy Institute for International Affairs, The Interpretor, 2 Feb 2011, Alex Oliver: "The BBC's loss could be Australia's gain. Imagine, we could pick up the BBC's discarded frequencies in China, Indonesia and other parts of Asia, and use them to extend Radio Australia's broadcasts there. And perhaps boost Australia Network's presence as well, if the Government's new contract for the Australia Network service promised any more money. The likelihood is, of course, that these pleasant fantasies will come to nought. China's international radio and CCTV services have probably made their move already."

News & Style Magazine (Vilnius), 2 Feb 2011, Sagittarius: "Petru Clej, a long-term employee of BBC Romania, which was discontinued in 2008, comments in his blog on the Portal 'Compared with the first five years of the new millennium, not to mention the time before the end of the Cold War, the BBC World Service is barely recognisable as an institution. This service was an invaluable weapon of public diplomacy for the United Kingdom, without the government in London having a hand in it in any way. It was a trump card that allowed Britain to box among the heavyweights on the world stage, although in the last 70 years its real weight had dwindled. Now it is on the way to losing this trump card.'"

Jamaica Observer, 3 Feb 2011, editorial: "Every end can be a beginning. So let it be with the BBC Caribbean Service. We are indebted to and will be inspired by those who over the years have purveyed to the Caribbean information and commentary of the highest professional standards. They have been a voice to the Caribbean and a voice for the Caribbean. It is time for the voice of the Caribbean to emanate from within the mouth of the Caribbean."

Without BBC Hindi on shortwave, "how will I digest my meals?"

Posted: 05 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link

Outlook India, 14 Feb 2011 issue, Namrata Joshi: "For 87-year-old Sukhdeo Narayan of Basantpur village in Supaul district of Bihar, the mornings have always begun with him fiddling with his radio or transistor to tune them to the BBC frequency. 'Short wave ke bahut nakhre hain (it has its tantrums). It’s difficult to receive the transmission,' he says, sounding a trifle irritated. But even more disorienting, now, is the thought of not receiving it at all. 'Khana kaise pachega?' (how will I digest my meals), asks the retired block extension education officer and author. ... Listenership, pegged at about 35 million in the early ’80s, began its downward spiral in the early ’90s. But the strength of the bond remains. 'I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who turned up during the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1990 and at the roadshows we did in 40 small cities in 2004. The direct interaction with them, the special relationship shared with them, is my most cherished memory,' says Achala Sharma, former head of BBC Hindi. And it will be these memories that hold sway after April 1, as voices fade out."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 1 Feb 2011, Sam Miller: "One of [my former BBC World Service] colleagues told me the decision about Hindi radio can only be understood in the context of the panic that set in at World Service when the foreign secretary, William Hague, turned down the original BBC proposal to close more individual language services. 'Hague', he told me, 'hung us out to dry.' The BBC then needed, quickly, to find language services that they could butcher but not kill. Part of the Hindi service – namely Hindi online, and a one-minute long sports-and-entertainment capsule sent to Indian local radio stations, survived. But Hindi radio did not. The saving to World Service is less than £1m per annum. ... Russia, Iran and, of course, neighbouring China continue to broadcast in Hindi on short-wave to India – and all will undoubtedly be delighted to pick up their share of the BBC Hindi audience. While Britain, now discovering the disadvantages of punching below its weight, is in danger of becoming little more than a heritage brand in India." See previous post about same subject.

Nepali Times, 4 Feb 2011, Rubeena Mahato: "BBC Nepali will probably experience a slight drop in audience numbers as it will stop broadcasting in shortwave from next month, but hopes to make up for the loss by expanding its syndicate partners. Even so, it already rivals Radio Nepal for the highest audience numbers in Nepal. ... The online listenership ranks among the top ten in the BBC despite Nepal's relatively smaller diaspora. Unlike radio, with online service, audience do not have to wait till evening for the news and can listen to programs again and again. Says Mishra, 'What gives the Nepali Service such an impact is that it speaks to a large section of society. Everyone wants to hear what is happening, after all.'"

UK journalists' union: Egypt crisis shows BBC World Service needs "its own network of transmitters beyond the reach of dictators."

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The Guardian, 3 Feb 2011, John Plunkett: "The BBC is standing by its decision to cut back its World Service broadcasts to Egypt despite the political crisis that has engulfed the country. ... Short-wave broadcasts of the BBC Arabic service, which has around 400,000 listeners in Egypt, will be shut down as part of plans to save £46m from the World Service's budget. The changes follow a 16% cut in its funding by the government and are likely to lead to the loss of 30 million listeners worldwide. There will also be 'significant reductions' in the BBC's Arabic TV services, according to the plans outlined by the BBC's global news director, Peter Horrocks, last week. ... The National Union of Journalists described the World Service's transmission policy as 'short sighted'. ... 'In a volatile world the World Service needs to maintain its own network of transmitters beyond the reach of dictators so it can continue to reach its audience.' The BBC said the majority of its World Service listeners in Egypt tuned in on FM or via local broadcasting partners." See also Fast Company, 4 Feb 2011. And NUJ, 1 Feb 2011.

According to this list, only BBC English learning programs are on FM in Egypt. I am not aware of BBC Arabic or any other international broadcaster having FM rebroadcasting outlets in Egypt. The Egyptian government has not allowed them. BBC Arabic can be heard in Egypt and the Levant, mainly at night, by way of its medium wave relay on Cyprus. Another BBC medium wave relay in Oman covers the Arabian peninsula. Shortwave listening rates are low in most of the Arab world. Postmortem studies can determine if Egyptians have turned to shortwave during the crisis.

WAFB-TV (Baton Rouge), 2 Feb 2011: "With family in the heat of things overseas, [Sarah] Andalib begins each day on her laptop with BBC Arabic. ... Andalib was born and raised in Egypt. She even worked for the Egyptian government for seven years. She moved to the United States 13 years ago."

News on News, 2 Feb 2011: "The BBC's UK newschannel and its worldwide newschannel BBC World News have been simulcasting each other's coverage for most of today, and on the BBC News website, viewers in the UK can see the output of BBC World News, a channel that is not normally available to UK audiences. ... The only let down for the BBC's coverage in the United Kingdom so far has been on radio, with the main spoken networks, Radio Five Live and Radio 4 doing their own things, and the BBC's World Service also continuing to go it alone. Surely, the corporation's radio output would better suit some joined up, simulcast programming as the crisis continues to unfold, in order to get the best coverage possible from it's resources in the region."

Labour MP says cuts to BBC World Service "mean that Voice of America will be the only real international broadcaster left."

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House of Commons Hansard, 3 Feb 2011: "Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab): Recent events in Egypt have demonstrated the importance of the BBC World Service and its interpretation of events. The cuts in the service that were announced recently mean that 'Voice of America' will be the only real international broadcaster left. Will the Leader of the House allocate time for a serious debate on the future of the BBC World Service and how it can return to being the world's international broadcaster? Sir George Young [Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal]: I am not sure that the assertion that the Americans have a monopoly on the broadcasting of what is going on Egypt is correct. The Foreign Secretary made an extensive statement on the World Service last week, which was followed by a series of questions and answers. I cannot promise a debate on the subject, but the next session of Foreign Office questions will provide another opportunity for it to be raised."

Video of Foreign Secretary William Hague's statement to the House of Commons about BBC World Service is available at YouTube, 26 Jan 2011. The text of his statement, with questions and answers, it at the House of Commons Hansard, 26 Jan 2011.

Australia using shortwave for broadcasts to cyclone-affected northern Queensland (updated).

Posted: 05 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 2 Feb 2011, Andy Sennitt: "Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasi will hit the northern Queensland coast between Cairns and Townsville within the next few hours. Much damage to houses, property and infrastructure are anticipated within this area when the cyclone hits the coastline. Flooding and very high winds will also be a major problem for those people who haven’t managed to leave the area. Because of this the local ABC and commercial broadcasters expect severe damage to landbased TV and radio transmitters within the region. The ABC has requested Radio Australia to transmit the ABC’s northern Queensland regional radio service using a shortwave transmitter at Shepparton, Victoria to northern Queensland until further notice. ... Schedule: 2100-0830 UTC on 9710 kHz, 0830-2100 UTC on 6080 kHz."

Update: Shepparton (Victoria) News, 3 Feb 2011: "Just as it did after Cyclone Tracy, Radio Australia's Shepparton base has been providing short-wave radio broadcasts into cyclone ravaged parts of north Queensland. Radio Australia transmission manager Nigel Holmes said the service had been relaying ABC Queensland Local radio on two short-wave services into the region hit by Cyclone Yasi. 'We got the request at 12.45 pm on Tuesday and we had it up and running in 31 minutes,' Mr Holmes said yesterday."

Pot calls kettle a waste of money: RT (Russia Today) on US international broadcasting.

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RT (Russia Today), 2 Feb 2011, Kaelyn Forde: "Hundreds of millions of dollars have been funneled through the US to broadcast its foreign policy agenda throughout the world. Since 1942, the US has broadcasted its politics and its culture around the world through outlets like the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Last year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors—the organization in charge of overseeing US-funded foreign media—had an annual budget of $745.5 million dollars. But what happens when people just start tuning out? More and more, US funded media outlets are channels in search of an audience…but taxpayers are still footing the bill." From video: "Some Americans are saying we should switch off international broadcasting, and let the rest of the world watch what they would be watching anyway."

Broadcasting Board of Governors will host conference on 15 February, somewhere "on Capitol Hill."

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Radio World, 3 Feb 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseers of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has not surprisingly taken an interest in the protests in North Africa and the Middle East. Especially interesting to them is the role of new forms of media being used by the protestors to organize and make their case to the authorities and the world. It’s but the latest example of how media habits and public reaction are evolving. On Feb. 15, the BBG will host a three-part conference in Washington, 'The New Media Revolution and U.S. Global Engagement.' Speakers will include BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson, board governors, VOA and RFE/RL personnel and NGO members and academics. The scheduled talks include 'Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting in the New Media Era,' 'Censorship, Signal Blocking and Cyberjamming: Can the U.S. Keep Up?' and 'North Korea, Iran and Cuba: Bringing Accurate Information to Closed Societies.' The conference will be held on Capitol Hill starting at 9 a.m. Seating is by invitation." -- I better get my suit drycleaned for this event. Oh, wait, it's "by invitation." I can't even get myself invited to a timeshare sales pitch. More details on the agenda, speakers, and location at, 3 Feb 2011, Matt Armstrong (with Matt's comments).

Broadcasting Board of Governors Highlights, 4 Feb 2011: "BBG Governor Victor Ashe met with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 4 to discuss the governor's recent four-country trip to Asia, the 15th anniversary of Radio Free Asia, Chinese efforts to block broadcasting into China, and RFA's wide listenership in Cambodia. Ashe's trip started off Jan. 16 in Seoul, and from there, he and Radio Free Asia's Executive Editor Dan Southerland, went to Bangkok, Phnom Penh and wrapped up in Hong Kong on Jan. 26." -- Unmentioned is VOA, which has an even larger audience in Cambodia. "Radio Free Asia" has a cooler sounding name, though. (Maybe this is why I don't get invited to BBG conferences.)

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond -- video of talk by author Ross Johnson.

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Radio World, 27 Jan 2011: "'Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty: The CIA Years and Beyond' is a new book by A. Ross Johnson. According to the publisher, Johnson, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and former director of Radio Free Europe and director of the RFE/RL Research Institute, was able to access previously classified material for information on the CIA’s involvement during the first two decades of the 'radios.' He also used material from archives in Germany, Hungary and Poland. ... The publisher states ... that Johnson distills lessons that might be useful now 'as the United States tries to "win the hearts and minds" of foreign elites and populations and promote positive political change, particularly in the Muslim world.'"

Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars now has video of its event on 20 January 2011 in which Ross Johnson discusses his book. -- Recommended viewing for anyone interested in the history of US international broadcasting. See also blurb, where the book can be purchased.

National Review Online, The Corner, 4 Feb 2011, Ion Mihai Pacepa: "In 1978, when I broke with Communism, I was heading Ceausescu’s presidential house. Soon after that I wrote the manuscript for Red Horizons, describing life at the court of a quintessential Communist dictator. I was having a hard time finding a publisher. ... It took years to find a way out of this dilemma. In September 1985, I gave my manuscript to Director of Central Intelligence William Casey. In a letter dated December 17, 1985, DCI Casey wrote back: 'The president has read it and was impressed.' That president was Ronald Reagan, who called the manuscript 'my Bible for dealing with dictators.' Al Regnery, a Reagan admirer, published the manuscript. On Christmas Day 1989, Ceausescu was executed by his own people at the end of a trial where most of the accusations had come from my book, which had just been serialized by Radio Free Europe."

RFE/RL press officer will become AIPAC spokesperson.

Posted: 05 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Politico, 4 Feb 2011, Laura Rozen: "The pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC has found a new spokesperson, after the departure last year of veteran press flack Josh Block. Ari Goldberg, who hails from RFE/RL, will start as spokesperson and director of media relations at the pro-Israel lobby group after President’s Day. 'I'm excited to take up the new position,' Goldberg told POLITICO. 'I've been a supporter and admirer of AIPAC for as long as I can remember.' ... Before starting as senior press officer at RFE/RL three years ago, Goldberg, a native of El Paso, Texas, worked on the Hill for Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Howard Berman (D-Ca.), as a journalist in Israel, and earned a masters degree in Hebrew literature from Cambridge University."

On Egypt, VOA was "way ahead of the story, months ago, way ahead of our own State Department."

Posted: 05 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Matters for America, 4 Feb 2011, Adam Shah: "Fox Nation and blogger Jim Hoft have attacked President Obama for reportedly watching coverage of the crisis in Egypt on Al Jazeera. They seems to think that means Obama is in league with the terrorists or something. However, if it's a problem to rely on Al Jazeera, then Fox News itself is perpetuating the problem. That's because Fox News has relied on the both Al Jazeera's live feed and its reporting as can be seen from a couple of stills from Fox over the last week. ... But that's not all. Conservative media outlet Pajamas TV has criticized Fox's coverage of Egypt while praising Al Jazeera's coverage. On the February 2 edition of Pajamas TV's Pollywood segment, Lionel Chetwynd, an appointee to President Bush's Committee on the Arts and Humanities and Pajamas Media founder Roger L. Simon agreed that Al Jazeera had the best coverage: ... CHETWYND: 'For whatever reason, Fox did not rely on Sky. Whenever they go to "our sister network Sky," their coverage is good because BSkyB in England, which is also a News Corp. enterprise are very good on the ground. For some reason they weren't. I also did a little bit of listening to Voice of America who, you know, were way ahead of the story, months ago, way ahead of our own State Department actually.'" -- See, for example, VOA News, 22 July 2010, Elizabeth Arrott.

The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Feb 2011, Mark Cina: "Katayoun Beglari, who reports for the Voice of America, is among a group of journalists camped out in the Marriott Hotel in Cairo. 'We’re unable to leave the hotel because outside there are people with knives and guns and sticks,' she told The Hollywood Reporter by phone on Friday. 'The streets are run by gangs.' Beglari said her cameraman had been beaten in the street a few days earlier, and a Swedish journalist had been knifed and forced to return home."

Al Jazeera's Cairo office is stormed and burned. Economist blogger: "pity the competition is so bad."

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
ABC News, 4 Feb 2011, Nick Schiffrin: "Al Jazeera's office in Cairo was stormed and burned today, the most dramatic evidence yet that Egyptian authorities are desperate to shut down the network widely praised for revealing the size and reach of the demonstrations. ... That authorities have targeted reporters for Al Jazeera English – as well as those for Al Jazeera Arabic -- shows how the younger, more analytical of the two channels has come echo the Arabic channel's ability to get under the skin of autocratic, unpopular regimes." See also Reuters, 4 Feb 2011.

The Economist, 3 Feb 2011, Schumpeter's notebook: "Like many people, I have been glued to Al Jazeera for the past few days. It's breathless and biased, to be sure, with a tendency to inflate numbers and play down risks, but it is much better than the alternatives. With the notable exception of Fareed Zakaria's programme, CNN is a shadow of its former self, and the BBC, which justifies its poll tax, in part, on the grounds that it provides superlative news coverage, is more interested in what Egypt means for British holidaymakers, bless them, than for geopolitics. Given that Egypt is likely to produce a cascade of troubles in the Middle East, Al Jazeera has now become essential viewing. Pity the competition is so bad."

Foreign Policy, 2 Feb 2011, Lawrence Pintak: "There is no chance that the world would be watching these extraordinary events play out in Egypt if Egyptians had not watched the Tunisian revolution play out in their living rooms and coffee shops on Al Jazeera. ... Journalism purists in the West may object to the idea of news organizations overtly helping to foster revolution. But the history of American journalism is replete with media activists: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Samuel Adams, to name a few. The state of politics in the Arab world today has much in common with 18th-century America; the same is true of its journalism. That is not to say the Arab media is a monolith or that Al Jazeera is without its critics in the Arab world. Just as Fox and MSNBC attract partisans in the United States, Arabs turn to Al Jazeera, its Saudi-owned rival Al Arabiya or various other channels, depending on their politics."

The Progressive Realist, 1 Feb 2011, Jeb Koogler: "It's far from clear that Al Jazeera will be so gung-ho in its coverage of anti-government protests if the location were, say, Syria or Saudi Arabia. Or Qatar, for that matter, where the network is based. Al Jazeera blatantly refrains from criticism of a number of regimes and is quick to provide critical reporting of others."

Daily Finance, 2 Feb 2011, Jonathan Berr: "Qatar, whose sovereign wealth fund reportedly has as much as $100 billion in assets under management, is hardly losing sleep over the profitability of the Al Jazeera. Zubair Iqbal, of the Middle East Institute, tells DailyFinance that Al Jazeera is funded 'essentially for strategic reasons. Qatar has ambitions to become a major player in the region. . . . I don't think they are interested in making money [on the network].' But one way to gain a more global audience, Iqbal says, is for Qatar to back a channel that has many critics in Arab capitals -- to underscore the differences between Qatar's more liberal society versus its rivals in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The strategy appears to be working, now that Al Jazeera is more popular than ever."

The Spectator, 2 Feb 2011, Daniel Korski: "I have often participated in interviews and debates on al-Jazeera and found them a lot more professional and unbiased than, say, Russia Today, where anti-Americanism is rife. But it cannot be overlooked that al-Jazeera is run and funded by a state, which itself stifles dissent – a subject al-Jazeera sometimes reports on, but rarely in detail. The chairman of the network's board of directors is Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer Al-Thani, the former Qatari deputy minister of information, and the exact nature of the relationship between the Qatari state and the TV channel is opaque. So let us watch al-Jazeera, praise it for its role in Egypt, but not see it as a champion of democracy. It is not a new BBC World Service."

Foreign Policy, 4 Feb 2011, Sheila Carapico: "More than 16 million people in the districts of Cairo and four times that number outside the capital have probably been swayed by state propaganda to suspect that outside agitators have stirred up the trouble. But they have also been struck by the sharp contrast between the grim determination, unnatural silence, and physical hardships of the past 10 days and the noisy chaos on international TV. Lots of people complain about coverage of looting and vandalism that relatively few witnessed firsthand and the dearth of acknowledgment of the countless commonplace acts of cooperation and civic responsibility everyone has experienced. Even quite apart from the xenophobic antagonism and even personal vendetta unleashed by pro-Mubarak goons against news reporters and human rights investigators, there's no question that the popular mood is increasingly suspicious of journalists whether Arab or Western."

Senator Sessions: Does VOA Persian need fixing? Southern Baptists: Yes.

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 27 Jan 2011, Helle Dale: "A conspicuous lack of significant U.S. support for democracy in Iran is a sore point with political activists, as are the shortcomings of Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian service. Senator Jeff Sessions in his remarks Monday commented on the attempts to fix VOA Persian-language broadcasting and asked the Iranian activists if VOA was helpful or still needed fixing. He received a resounding response that VOA still has a long way to go."

Truth and Justic blog, 29 Jan 2011, Mehrtash: At the Iran Democratic Transition Conference (where Senator Sessions spoke), "the attendees unanimously called for the elimination of the IRI corruption that plagues news and media network ‘Voice of America’."

Baptist Press, 28 Jan 2011: "Southern Baptist and other Christian leaders have called on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation to pressure Iran to give up on its nuclear arms program. Officials with the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) were among those who urged stronger sanctions on the militant Islamic regime to bring an end to its nuclear ambitions ... [in] the Jan. 24 letter from Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-free Iran. ... In the letter, the leaders encouraged all 100 senators to support legislation that would include: ... --Reform Voice of America's Persian News Network to make sure it supports Iran's pro-democracy movement."

FrontPageMagazine, 3 Feb 2011, Mark P. Tooley: "'Christian Leaders for a Nuclear Free Iran' recently sent a letter to U.S. Senators that urged expanding the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, increasing U.S. emphasis on Iran’s enormous human-rights violations, enhancing Voice of America’s Persian News Network’s support for the 'pro-freedom movement in Iran' ... Concerns about the Iranian mullahs’ persecution of fellow Christian believers do not typically excite distress by the Religious Left in America, much less the strategic threat that a nuclear Iran would pose to all its neighbors, including Iran, and ultimately the U.S. Several years ago, Jim Wallis’ Sojourners, along with the United Methodist lobby office, the Episcopal Church, and the National Council of Churches, organized a 'Words Not War with Iran' campaign to forestall any decisive U.S. supported action to prevent Iranian nukes.", 26 Jan 2011, Ken Timmerman: "The letter ... asks the Senate to reform Persian language broadcasting, 'ensuring that it informs and supports the pro-freedom movement in Iran,' a measure that has growing Congressional support from Republicans and Democrats alike. The VOA has been under fire for its practices before."

Alhurra activities in Egypt mentioned by other media, including China Radio International.

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 4 Feb 2011, Jeremy W. Peters and J. David Goodman: "Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, which have provided some of the most extensive network coverage of the revolt, said their journalists had been hounded from the street and from vantage points above the square where their cameras had been placed. In the absence of live pictures, the networks relied on grainy amateur video taken on the streets. Another Arab network, Al Hurra, had what it described as one of the only live feeds from the square on Thursday."

AFP, 4 Feb 2011: "[A] correspondent for American channel Al Hurra, said during a live feed: 'We are still under threat. Thugs and criminals are still near the building’s entrance, only four or five people remain at the office. We don’t know whether we will stay or go and that’s, perhaps, what the regime wants. It wants journalists to panic so that they ... stop broadcasting.'"

Xinhua via China Radio International, 4 Feb 2011: "Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq called on protesters gathering in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo to end 11 days of demonstrations to force President Hosni Mubarak to immediately end his 30-year rule. ... In an interview with the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra TV, Shafiq said more than 90 percent of the protesters' demands have been met, so they should leave Tahrir Square."

USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 3 Feb 2011, Alvin Snyder: "Although Alhurra is separate and independent from the US State Department, behind the “firewall” of a Broadcasting Board of Governors, its value for US public diplomacy abroad cannot be overstated. As Alhurra works to broaden its viewer base, it should have the full weight of the White House and the State Department behind the effort. Providing a news exclusive to Alhurra once in a while would be a good start. CNN used to be the satellite channel that was turned on in foreign ministries abroad. That could be changed to Alhurra without compromising its editorial independence in any way."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 3 Feb 2011: "Alhurra and Radio Sawa continued their exhaustive coverage of the epic events in Egypt despite continued restrictions on Internet access and the harassment and intimidation of Alhurra’s journalists by pro-government mobs on the streets of Cairo. ... Alhurra and Radio Sawa's coverage of these events in the Arab world’s most populous country has been exemplary in its depth and breadth. ... Prior to the protests, a majority of Alhurra’s Facebook fans were based in Egypt. However, despite the lack of Internet in Egypt, the daily visits to has increased 540 percent." See previous post about same subject.

At Firehouse Subs: 100 flavors of Coke and a mural depicting the Voice of America.

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Hamilton Journal-News, 3 Feb 2011, Lindsey Hilty: "Firehouse Subs is coming to West Chester Twp. [near Cincinnati] and area representative Charles Fryman said he expects it will be the hottest new restaurant in town. ... A highlight to this store ... will be ... flavor machine, allowing customers to choose from 100 flavors to mix with their Coke. ... Each restaurant reflects the community it is in, and the West Chester Twp. Fire Department has donated items to place on display, he said. There will be a mural depicting a World War II-style fire truck, the Voice of America radio station and a modern West Chester Twp. logo with a fire truck." -- Near the site of the old Bethany shortwave transmitting station.

Nilesat takes action against its customers who relayed Al Jazeera.

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily Star (Beirut), 2 Feb 2011, Simona Sikimic: "Lebanese television station Al-Jadeed faced being taken off the air in Egypt Tuesday after Egypt’s second biggest satellite provider, NileSat, threatened to cut off coverage. NileSat made the warning after Al-Jadeed suspended regular broadcasting Tuesday, replacing its programs by Al-Jazeera coverage of the Egyptian protests. Live feeds from Al-Jazeera first appeared on air at around 5 p.m. with Al-Jadeed announcing it was interrupting its scheduled programming out of 'solidarity with Al-Jazeera television and the Egyptian revolution.' But, following threats from NileSat issued around 7 p.m. and reportedly also levied against the National Broadcasting Network (NBN), Al-Jadeed decided to review its policy. ... 'They have the satellite and they have the power to take us off the air with one button and then no one will be able to air anything anymore,' [Karma Khayyat, deputy news director] said."

The Jordan Times, 3 Feb 2011, Hani Hazaimeh: "The Jordan Media City (JMC) said Wednesday that it has been under pressure from the Egypt-based NileSat administration to drop Al Jazeera satellite channel from its package of channels that broadcast via NileSat. ... 'What the Egyptian broadcasting company did was unprofessional and jeopardises the whole industry as they used their capabilities to serve a political agenda of the Egyptian government,' [JMC CEO Radi] Alkhas said." See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera offers to buy Turkish TV channel Cine 5.

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Hürriyet Daily News (Istanbul), 31 Jan 2011: "Al Jazeera, which is preparing to launch a Turkish-language news channel based in Turkey soon, has offered to pay $21 million to acquire the Cine 5 television channel, which had previously been seized by the government. The bid by the Qatar-based news network on Monday was the only bid for Cine 5, which is being auctioned for the fifth time. However, the figure is just above half of the appraisal price of $40 million, set by the Savings Deposit and Insurance Fund, or SDIF. ... In advertisements published in various newspapers on Sunday, former Cine 5 boss Erol Aksoy said he would file a lawsuit if the channel were sold. Aksoy said the lawsuits he has launched against the seizure of the TV channel have not been completed yet."

De-fund Radio/TV Martí. Or, if you prefer, transmit it from international airspace.

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
World Policy blog, 28 Jan 2011, Lissa Weinmann: "Support the de-funding of Radio Marti and especially TV Marti — American-funded Spanish news broadcasts that are aimed at Cuba but are frequently blocked by the Cuban government and otherwise ignored by the Cuban public. These programs costs American taxpayers millions and achieve virtually nothing."

South Florida Sun Sentinel, 31 Jan 2011, James Cason: A "bipartisan agenda [towards Cuba] should include: Placing in international airspace the aircraft modified to serve as a broadcast platform to make sure TV Marti signals are received in Cuba." -- Broadcasting on or above international waters is prohibited by international telecommunications regulations. This is why "Aero Martí" flies above the Florida Keys.

Meeting will discuss Digital Radio Mondiale's role "where broadcasters plan to cover large areas."

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital Radio Mondiale press release, 31 Jan 2011: "The DRM Consortium will hold its 23rd annual General Assembly Meeting on the 7th - 8th March 2011 at the Hotel Istana, Kuala Lumpur. ... The two day conference (7th-8th March 2011) will be attended by many DRM members and supporters from around the world who will not only review the work that has been undertaken, but will discuss the progress of DRM technology and the challenges faced when introducing digital radio. Sharad Sadhu, Director of the ABU Technical Department says, 'The radio broadcasters in the Asia-Pacific can look forward to reaping immense benefits by implementing digital services. In that effort, the DRM and DRM+ technologies are poised to play a pivotal role, more so where the broadcasters plan to cover large areas' ... Digital Radio MondialeTM (DRM) is the universal, openly standardised digital broadcasting system for all broadcasting frequencies up to 174MHz, including LW, MW, SW, band I and II (FM band)."

The VOA relay project that canceled because its "radio waves might disorient the migrants."

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
"Several years ago, a Voice of America radio relay station originally planned for just north of Eilat [Israel] was relocated to Kuwait because of the possibility that the radio waves might disorient the migrants." -- Migratory birds, that is. The relay agreement was canceled by Israel before the First Gulf War opened up Kuwait as a alternate location for a VOA relay in the region. See President Reagan's statement, 18 Feb 1987, at the signing of the agreement. And this report on its cancellation: New York Times, 21 June 1990.

China blocks references to Egypt in internet searches.

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, Connect Asia, 2 Feb 2011: "Chinese authorities are censoring references to the protests in Egypt on the internet. Two of the country's biggest web portals have blocked search words like 'Cairo' and 'Egypt' and that is fuelling speculation that the government is deeply concerned about the effects that the protests could have in China. The move follows intense discussion on Chinese social media websites, where bloggers have drawn parallels between the uprisings in Cairo and similar incidents in China, including the 2009 protests in the northwestern province of Xinjiang." See also Washington Post, 3 Feb 2011, and links thereto.

Former ambassador to Senegal to head French international broadcasting?

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Le Nouvel Observateur, 25 Jan 2011, Vincent Monnier: Jean-Christophe Rufin, a writer, member of the French Academy and a former ambassador of France to Senegal, has reportedly been approached by Nicolas Sarkozy to head l’Audiovisuel Extérieur Français (AEF), the parent entity of France 24, Radio France International and TV5-Monde. AEF, currently experiencing a dispute among its top managers, is not commenting.

Radio France International will expand coverage of Rwanda, where it is back on FM.

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 28 Jan 2011, citing The New Times: "Following the restoration of diplomatic relations between Rwanda and France, the Managing Director of Radio France International (RFI), Geneviève Goetzinger, has announced that RFI is set to expand its coverage across the country. ... 'We have been on Rwandan airwaves since October last year but we didn’t have correspondents here, and now we are expanding coverage especially on health issues, the current country’s developments, internal political affairs and education and among others,' she said. 'We are going to use local journalists who know the country very well; we shall only bring two French technicians. We will be reporting current affairs values and viewpoints independently, impartially, honestly and pluralistically.'"

International broadcasting to Ethiopia: VOA and DW "excellent" but "ESAT is different."

Posted: 04 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 28 Jan 2011, Yilma Bekele: "Compared to [Tunisian and Egypt], Ethiopia is a little different. We are lot poorer. Ethiopia is still a peasant society. Communication like Internet, Television, and Radio are deliberately suppressed. Our leader understands knowledge is power. In Ethiopia there is a Communications Department that oversees what is being said and printed in the country. In both Tunisia and Egypt what is being called ‘Social Media’ played a big role in the citizens ability to be informed and organize. Facebook and twitter are the new heroes. That is what we lack in Ethiopia. The Meles regime was aware of the power of information and suppressed the media. The 2005 general elections proved to Meles and company the danger of even a half free press. But we are innovative people. We will always find a way out. We created ESAT [satellite television]. I know Voice of America and Deutche Welle are doing an excellent job of informing our people. But ESAT is different. ESAT is you and I. It is the result of our own labor and sweat. It is accountable to no one but us. ESAT is our Facebook and twitter. The TPLF regime knows that. They will spare no amount of expenses to shut ESAT down. They have done it once. They will try again. We will deny them that pleasure."

Seib: US public diplomacy should use the media Arabs rely on -- Al Jazeera, not Alhurra.

Posted: 03 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 1 Feb 2011, Philip Seib: "Lessons abound for the future of U.S. public diplomacy. As the speed of global news flows -- through social media as well as conventional news organizations -- public diplomacy must move apace. Outreach to people in the streets must be simultaneous with, not trailing, the conventional diplomatic minuet in which governments engage. In Egypt, this needed to happen quickly, before the government shut down the Internet and mobile telephone service. Further, there must be more sophisticated appreciation and use of the media that people rely on. In today's Arab world, that means Al Jazeera, not the U.S. government's Al Hurra; it means Twitter as well as official White House briefings." -- If Professor Seib means that US officials should seek interviews on Al Jazeera rather than Alhurra, that makes sense, given that Al Jazeera has the much larger audience. If he means the US government should not fund an Arabic-language television channel, surveys of Middle Eastern media behavior during this crisis will determine if Alhurra played a substantial role. It is unrealistic to expect Alhurra or any non-Arab channel to match the audience size of Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya. But how well is Alhurra doing versus the other Arabic channels from non-Arab countries? Is Alhurra achieving a sizeable fraction of the Al Jazeera audience. Is it compensating in quality what it might lack in quantity of audience?

AFP, 2 Feb 2011, via Edmonton Journal: "[F]ormer UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who some consider as a potential figurehead for the protest movement, said Friday has been set as 'departure day' for the [President Mubarek]. ... ElBaradei told Al-Arabiya television that Mubarak should leave by Friday. 'What I have heard (from protesters) is that they want this to end, if not today (Tuesday), then by Friday maximum,' he said. But he called for Mubarak to be spared prosecution. 'I'm for a safe exit for President Mubarak,' the Nobel peace laureate told U.S.-funded Al-Hurra television.", 1 Feb 2011, Jim Bessman: "Arab-American singer-songwriter and peace activist Stephan Said has just released a new version of the classic Egyptian civil rights anthem 'Aheb Aisht Al Huriya' ('I Love the Life of Freedom') in both YouTube video and MP3 formats. ... The song played yesterday on Democracy Now! the daily TV/radio news program airing via public media, and has also been programmed on the U.S. government-financed Middle East news/information satellite TV channel Alhurra."

In rare display of USIB synergy, RFE/RL mentions Alhurra and VOA reports on Egypt (updated).

Posted: 03 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 29 Jan 2011, Heather Maher and agencies: "Tarek el-Shamby, a Cairo correspondent for Alhurra TV, the U.S.-sponsored Arabic-language television network, says that the security situation has deteriorated over the last 36 hours. 'Yesterday night, there were a lot of looters. They burned a lot of shops and banks and other places -- different places -- in Egypt. And actually the people are feeling now that they are not safe,' he says."

RFE/RL, 29 Jan 2011, Heather Maher with Charles Recknagel and agencies: "The Voice of America’s Cairo correspondent Henry Ridgwell described the city as night fell as 'very tense,' with standoffs continuing between security services and protesters, and glowing orange fires dotting the landscape."

But the inter-entity comraderie goes only so far, as evidenced by the non-mention of VOA Persian News Network in the following... RFE/RL, 28 Jan 2011, Golnaz Esfandiari: "'State television has no coverage of the unrest in Tunisia,' said one man in Tehran, who spoke on condition of anonymity in the days leading up to Ben Ali's fall. 'If Tunisians had protested against the U.S., it would have become a top story,' he added. He said he relied on Persian-language media based outside of Iran, including RFE/RL's Radio Farda, to follow the developments in Tunisia and other Islamic countries."

Update: RFE/RL, 2 Feb 2011, Charles Recknagel: "So why has oil risen in price? One answer is simply Egypt's position on the map. As Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy tells Voice of America: 'It's in a strategic position. The Suez Canal flows through Egypt and there is also a significant oil pipeline which stretches from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea,' Henderson said. 'So the oil markets are apprehensive of disruption here. So far there hasn't been any, but oil markets tweak up the price because of what they see as sensitivity.'"

BBG condemns "threats of violence" against Alhurra journalists in Egypt.

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Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 3 Feb 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors strongly condemns the recent threats of violence leveled against journalists reporting for Alhurra Television in Egypt. Unidentified individuals entered Alhurra’s Cairo news bureau earlier today and threatened to kill Alhurra’s two on-air journalists – Akram Khuzam and Tarek El Shamy – if they didn’t leave the building. The bureau was immediately closed. Similar threats were made at the production facility for Alhurra’s flagship program 'Al Youm.' The staff had not yet arrived for the show and the unidentified individuals eventually left the building. In addition, a pamphlet circulating currently throughout Cairo calls for government supporters to attack Alhurra and Al-Jazeera journalists. ... While regular bureau activities have been relocated, Alhurra continues to have exclusive live shots of Tahrir square and reports via telephone from eyewitnesses in the square and elsewhere in downtown Cairo."

The Absurd Times, 3 Feb 2011, Honest Charlie: Interviwed by Egypt's state-run Nile TV, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman "criticised certain – unnamed – countries for 'interfering in our domestic affairs' and warned this would have 'a negative impact on our relations with them ... It's very surprising to hear them interfere in our affairs.' He added: 'I blame certain friendly states who are hosting unfriendly TV stations who charge the youth against the state.' Suleiman ended his interview with these slightly toe-curling remarks: 'I would say to the youth: we thank you for what you did; you were the spark that ignited reform in this time ... Do not succumb to the rumours and satellite TV stations raising you against your country.'"

Radio France International, 3 Feb 2011: "French international news channel, France 24, says that three of its journalists have been arrested while covering the protests in Egypt and are being held by what it describes as 'military intelligence services'."

The Guardian, 3 Feb 2011, Josh Halliday: "Journalists from the BBC, al-Jazeera, and other Arab news organisations were today facing fresh attacks from pro-government 'thugs' after an escalation of violence in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, overnight. Reporters from a number of media organisations, including CNN's Anderson Cooper and the BBC's Jerome Boehm, were targeted yesterday and earlier today as supporters of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak continued their attacks against anti-government protesters."

Al Jazeera English coverage of Egypt reaching US audiences via Link TV and Roku internet media player.

Posted: 03 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Kansas City Star, 2 Feb 2011, Aaron Barnhart: The New York Times's Brian Stelter "didn't quite have it right when he wrote, 'New ways to watch Al Jazeera English in the United States keep popping up — but not on cable or satellite systems.' In fact, for over a year there's been a relatively easy way to get the essential AJE on TV every weeknight. It's called LINK TV and it's free for every one of DirecTV and Dish Network's 33 million subscribers. LINK TV, based in San Francisco, has been offering news and cultural programming from around the world for a decade. It's one of those channels that even other people who write about TV scarcely know about. In fact, if you care about news from any part of the world the American news media isn't interested in (unless someone's overthrown or a disaster happens), you should get LINK TV. Currently LINK TV is devoted about half its day to live broadcast of Al Jazeera English, based on news events in Egypt. But even after the excitement in the Middle East dies down, it will resume carrying an hour or more of newscasts and other programming from AJE by special agreement."

San Francisco Chronicle, 2 Feb 2011, Joe Garofoli: "'We don't want to become the Al Jazeera channel,' said Link's chief content officer Kim Spencer told us. But their coverage has been so good, that Link started carrying even heavier doses last Friday. 'They were already on the ground there well before the American (TV anchors and reporters) landed. They have all the relations there, they know all the players. They're way ahead,' said Spencer, a former ABC News producer."

TMCnet, 2 Feb 2011, Michelle Amodio: The Roku media player "now features Al Jazeera English for those interested in continuous coverage of current events. Despite cable companies’ reluctance to offer the news network, subscribers are looking to Al Jazeera because they are providing the best coverage of the Egyptian crisis. Roku users don’t have to look further than their devices for up to the minute news. The free streams are available via Roku’s Newscaster Channel."

MHz Networks, 3 Feb 2011: "MHz Worldview presents three additional live broadcasts from Al Jazeera English (AJE) specifically covering the events in Egypt. The expanded coverage airs from 8:30 - 9 AM ET, 10 - 11 AM ET and 2 - 2:30 PM ET. Regularly scheduled half-hour Al Jazeera English newscasts continues at 8 AM ET and 7 PM ET weekdays and 7 PM ET weekends. MHz Worldview reaches more than 35 million American households."

AP, 3 Feb 2011: "When the story calms down, Al-Jazeera plans go back to cable operators in the U.S. to seek permanent spots on the air, said Al Anstey, the network's managing director. 'This is a really important moment for us in the United States,' Anstey said. 'To me, this is evidence that there is a clear demand for Al-Jazeera English and the content that we put out.'"

Fox News commentator calls Al Jazeera "a propaganda outfit."

Posted: 03 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Mediaite, 2 Feb 2011, Matt Schneider: Bill O'Reilly "cited four instances where guests on Al Jazeera programs espoused anti-American opinions and argued he could spend the whole show rattling off more examples. [Alan] Colmes claimed all those opinions merely came from guests on the network rather than being the opinion of the network itself, and wondered why O’Reilly as a journalist would not side with an institution taking advantage of a free press." With video. See also Huffington Post, 2 Feb 2011, Jack Mirkinson.

This American was more impressed by the US pavilion at the Shanghai Expo than by the "stern lectures" of VOA.

Posted: 03 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Sampan (Boston), 28 Jan 2011, Alan Phillips: "I was very impressed by USA’s pavilion [at Shanghai Expo]. I’ve found in the past that the American government is often very bad at selling itself abroad. When I lived in China in the early 1990s, I would often listen to the Voice of America broadcasts. Their 'editorials' (basically propaganda) managed to make freedom and democracy sound as unpleasant as a visit to the dentist. But apparently, they hired some decent PR folks for their pavilion at the Shanghai expo. The USA exhibit was the most unique of all the ones we visited. It consisted of three short movies in three different theaters. One was an introduction where pedestrians were interviewed on the Brooklyn Bridge and asked to try to speak a greeting in Chinese for the expo. The second film was a more conventional 'This is our country'-type advertisement where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke a few words in Chinese and gave short speeches about how well America gets along with China (subtitled in Chinese, of course). The USA pavilion was the only one we saw that actually portrayed its leaders. For some reason, no other pavilion made a mention of their government. The third film really had nothing to do with American directly. It was a near-silent film of a community coming together to try to build an urban garden. I suspect the Chinese audience might have been puzzled by the last film, but I thought it was clever and original and far better than the stern lectures on freedom and democracy from the Voice of America."

The US military "apparently thought they could launch newspapers the way they launch rockets."

Posted: 03 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Voltaire Network, 27 Jan 2011: "The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is concerned about the funds mobilized by the Department of Defense (DoD) for propaganda purposes. Indeed, the Pentagon budget is extravagant compared to that of the Department of State on whose prerogatives the DoD has been worming in for the past 7 years. ... The military apparently thought they could launch newspapers the way they launch rockets. ... The Pentagon created numerous newspapers in the Muslim world, especially in the countries it occupies militarily. Like in Western countries, such a profusion suggests a plurality of opinion, when it actually represents a plurality of vectors to disseminate a single point of view. Furthermore, a large slice of the funds were used to create internet sites rivalling State Department radio and TV stations (Voice of America, Al-Hurra, Radio Marti, etc.): Info sur Hoy (English, Spanish and Portuguese) Central Asia Online (English, Russian, Farsi and Urdu), Al-Shorfa (English, Farsi), Mawtani (Arabic), South East Times (English, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian, Macedonian, Romanian, Serb, Turkish) and MaghArebia (English, French and Arabic)." With link to NED/CIMA report.

Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, 26 Jan 2011: "In addressing the ability of the United States to win Muslim 'hearts and minds,' former BBC World Service analyst Roger Hardy discussed the challenge of undermining Al-Qaeda and the radical Islamists, who are perceived as a threat by the United States, without alienating the rest of the Islamic world. On January 26, 2011, the Middle East Program hosted a discussion on 'Losing Hearts and Minds: From Bush to Obama' with Hardy, Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center. ... He argued that while public diplomacy has traditionally been a function of the State Department, continued efforts have been stymied by underfunding, understaffing, and the lack of a long-term strategy, pointing to the asymmetry between State and Defense within the U.S. budget."

Washington Bangla Radio now available on ROKU internet video player.

Posted: 03 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Bangla Radio press release, 29 Jan 2011: "Continuing it's pioneering world leadership in online Bengali radio and entertainment services, Washington Bangla Radio USA has announced the public release of the initial version of WBRi Washington Bangla Radio Online Channel on the popular ROKU Internet Video Player device. The new ROKU channel enables Bengali music lovers, non-resident Indians (NRI) and expatriate Bengalees who own ROKU internet video players to tune into Washington Bangla Radio and listen to internet broadcast of top Bangla songs from Kolkata on their connected television sets or hi-fi music equipment."

Early history of radio in Jamaica includes shortwave listening and transmitting.

Posted: 03 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Jamaica Observer, 30 Jan 2011, Mark Wignall: From Horace Leslie Galbraith's History of the Jamaican Sound System: "Radio came to Jamaica in the early to mid-1930s. In those years, all radios sold in Jamaica had to be able to tune in to the short wave (SW) radio bands as the broadcasts from England, (the BBC), the Netherlands, Germany and France were all short wave transmissions. Medium wave (MW) radios could also pick up Cuba and the Dominican Republic, as well as the high-powered American stations WCKY, WLWO and WLNY, but only from after dark until sunrise, (when atmospheric conditions allowed for reception). 'In the early years there were not many radios and I remember in 1936, when King Edward VIII was crowned, Jamaicans gathered in the streets outside of the houses of those who owned radios. These radios were then turned up to the maximum for the people outside to hear the broadcast. ... [Shortly after World War II began in 1939] The first Jamaican radio station, Radio ZQI, (later to become RJR) started broadcasting on 3.75 MHZ and 4.95 MHZ with Archie Lindo, Dennis Gick and others."

Al Jazeera says 10 regional channels help it overcome satellite disruptions. One report says Libya is source of jamming.

Posted: 02 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link, 1 Feb 2011: "Al Jazeera has said its broadcast signal across the Arab region is facing interference on a scale it has not experienced before. Signals on Egypt's Nilesat platform were cut, and frequencies on the Arabsat and satellite Hotbird platforms were disrupted continually, forcing millions of viewers across the Arab world to change satellite frequencies throughout Tuesday. The latest disruption came on the day of the historic 'million man march' in Egypt. 'We have been working round the clock to make sure we are broadcasting on alternative frequencies. Clearly there are powers that do not want our important images pushing for democracy and reform to be seen by the public,' a spokesman for Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, said. 'We appreciate the extraordinary support from the ten channels across the region who interrupted their own programming to live-broadcast our signal to their audiences.'"

New York Times, Media Decoder, 1 Feb 2011, Brian Stelter: "Twitter messages from viewers said A Hewar, Al Jadeed, Al Karama, Al Suhail, and Aden were among the channels that have participated in the simulcast."

Reuters, 2 Feb 2011: "The Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera called on the Egyptian satellite company Nilesat on Wednesday to resume broadcasting its signal or face legal action, according to the news channel's website." See also AFP, 2 Febr 2011.

AmmonNews, 2 Feb 2011: "The jamming and outages of the pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera's broadcast has been pinpointed at Libya, and not Egypt. Informed sources told Ammon News that technical coordinates' monitoring devices have identified Libya as the location of the jamming and interference activities rather than Egypt, as has been reported before. Al Jazeera's main news channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher (Live) and several other channels within its network have been facing interference, jamming and outages since its coverage of the widespread protests and demonstrations in Egypt, before the Egyptian government closed the network's offices last week and banned its reporters from resuming their coverage." -- This is so far not reported elsewhere. Libya does have a history of satellite jamming. Al Jazeera's "main news channel" is Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Mubasher is a C-Span-like channel providing uninterrupted coverage of events. As such, it may be the preferred channel during the Egyptian protests.

Egypt restores internet access.

Posted: 02 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Rensys blog, 2 Feb 2011, James Cowie: "Egyptian Internet providers returned to the Internet at 09:29:31 UTC (11:29am Cairo time). Websites such as the Egyptian Stock Exchange, Commercial International Bank of Egypt, MCDR, and the US Embassy in Cairo, are once again reachable. All major Egyptian ISPs appear to have readvertised routes to their domestic customer networks in the global routing table, with the exception of Noor Group (AS20928). Recall that Noor was the exception (until Monday) to the Internet blackout, so they are as much an anomaly in restoration as they were in outage. (Update: Noor group back online with 82 prefixes as of 12:52pm Cairo time. Better late than never.)", 2 Feb 2011, Warwick Ashford: "A flood of celebratory and congratulatory tweets on Twitter has greeted the news that internet services have been restored in Egypt. 'Internet is back in Egypt! I am tweeting this from my fone in Alex,' tweeted Rawya Rageh. ... Even blocked sites such as Twitter and Facebook have been restored, but mobile phone services, such as text messaging, are still not functioning fully, according to the Financial Times."

Sudan Radio Service uses SMS for audience feedback.

Posted: 01 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
PBS Mediashift Idea Lab, 28 Jan 2011, Anne-Ryan Heatwole: "The Sudan Radio Service, which has been operating since 2006, recently began incorporating mobile technology into its work in a two-pronged approach to monitor the reach of their broadcasts and to solicit reader feedback. ... In order to monitor the reliability and clarity of the radio broadcasts, SoukTel designed a survey for field workers in ten different regions where the Sudan Radio Service is heard. Previously, the broadcasts were sent out of Nairobi over shortwave radio frequencies, but the new station in Juba uses an FM signal. The branching survey, available in both English and Arabic, leads the field workers through a series of questions to describe the sound quality of the programs and, if the sound quality is poor, potential reasons for the interrupted service. The information is sent back to the main radio centers where the data is used to track trends in service interruption and to make changes in problem areas. Written in PHP and SQL, the survey is available to field workers entirely through SMS so it works on basic phones."

With Al Jazeera English on almost no US cable systems, is Egypt the first Internet TV revolution? (updated)

Posted: 01 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 30 Jan 2011, Ryan Grim: "The last 24 hours have seen a two-and-a-half thousand percent increase in web traffic, Tony Burman, head of North American strategies for Al Jazeera English, told HuffPost. Sixty percent of that traffic, he said, has come from the United States." The URL for the live stream (how many viewers can it handle?) is

WNYC blog, 31 Jan 2011, Justin Krebs: The weeks and months ahead will tell the story of Egypt’s uprising against entrenched powers and hopefully the years ahead will follow the arc of this emerging movement for democracy. The days ahead, though, will see us glued to our laptops. With the exception of a few states, your cable box won’t provide the best live coverage – you have to find Al Jazeera English (AJE) on your computer. Now, though, as Facebook statuses direct more friends to tune into AJE and a twitter campaign – 'WeWantOurAJE' – picks up steam, we can expect one unintended consequence of this uprising may be that you’ll soon find AJE in a cable line-up near you."

Huffington Post, 30 Jan 2011, Jeff Jarvis: "It is downright un-American to still refuse to carry it. Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one -- not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media -- can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can."

Media Bistro, 31 Jan 2011, Alex Weprin: "The network’s coverage of Egypt has been superb, but like its American counterparts, once the big news event dies down, the quality of its coverage often declines with it. Will the people calling for AJE now be tuning in regularly once Cablevision starts carrying it on channel 180? Don’t bet on it."

CounterPunch, 31 Jan 2011, Charles R. Larson: "CNN's coverage is interrupted ad nauseam for commercials that often string half a dozen mindless advertisements together. FOX 'news' continues its infantile coverage of non-events as if nothing of significance ever happens outside the United States. That leaves Al Jazeera, first chronicling the remarkable events as they occurred in Tunisia and now Egypt. Though their bureau in Cairo has been closed down by the Egyptian government, live feeds of voices from phone lines continue non-stop. Maybe Americans will not only learn something about a part of the world about which we are so woefully ignorant. Perhaps we will also begin to realize that while media organizations are generally faithful to their geographical and cultural places of origins, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are distorting information."

FOX Nation, 31 Jan 2011: "Sam Donaldson on ABC This Week: 'Talk about propaganda for Al-Jazeera. Thank you for what you're doing. People say Al Jazeera fanned the flames here by bringing the fact that democracy is in existence and that people are being suppressed. That's what we need. We need more communication in the world. It's not Al Jazeera's fault that Mubarak is under siege now.'"

NewsBusters, 30 Jan 2011, Noel Sheppard: "ABC News prominently featured the anti-American television network Al Jazeera on 'This Week' Sunday. Not only was the network's Washington bureau chief afforded a good amount of time during the Roundtable segment to sing Al Jazeera's praises, but as the show neared its conclusion, Sam Donaldson actually thanked the organization."

Update: Huffington Post, 31 Jan 2011, Wadah Khanfar is the director general of the Al Jazeera Network"[I]n the United States, Al Jazeera faces a different kind of blackout, based largely on misinformed views about our content and journalism. Some of the largest American cable and satellite providers have instituted corporate obstacles against Al Jazeera English. We are on the air and on the major cable system in the nation's capital, and some of America's leading policymakers in Washington, DC, have told us that Al Jazeera English is their channel of choice for understanding global issues. But we are not available in the majority of the 50 states for much of the general public. We believe all Americans, not just those in senior governmental positions, could benefit from having the option to watch Al Jazeera English - or at least having the option not to watch us - on their television screens."

New York Times, 1 Feb 2011, Brian Stelter: "White House officials have turned to Al Jazeera English among other television channels to monitor the mounting protests in Egypt. But most Americans lack the same ability to tune in to the broadcaster, which is based in Qatar, because cable and satellite companies in the United States have largely refused its requests to be carried. ... Some of the cable companies pointed to the live Web streams as evidence that cable carriage is less of an imperative. But the channel’s American supporters say that the stream is not equivalent to a channel in a cable line-up, and that by declining to pick up Al Jazeera English, cable and satellite companies are effectively restricting Americans’ views of the world."

New York Post, 1 Feb 2011, Claire Atkinson: "Al Jazeera English's leading coverage of the uprising in Egypt is giving it new ammunition in its long-running battle against a TV blackout in the US. ... 'There is no question they are viewed as a trusted source by the people . . . all over the world,' said one network news chief. 'But there's clearly been suspicions in the government about what their true motivations might be. I think this might be a time to re-examine that.'"

Technologizer, 31 Jan 2011, Ed Oswald: "Cable companies, whether it be for political reasons or otherwise, now refuse to bring the English-language version of the network here. In Canada, it took a effort by Al Jazeera English and supporters there to have the government mandate the channel be carried: Regulators there have much more power in forcing the hands of cable providers. Here, not so much. However, with the new troubles in the Middle East, there seems to be a new push."

The New Hampshire, 1 Feb 2011, editorial: "The American public can benefit from an additional viewpoint, as it's easy to fall into the notion of thinking that if you've heard the conservative and liberal arguments, you've heard them all. Restriction of international exposure for no rational reason isn't helping matters."

Matea Gold, 31 Jan 2011, McClatchy-Tribune "Even the Drudge Report linked to Al-Jareeza English's live stream Monday — a sharp contrast from the skepticism that greeted its launch in 2006, when critics said the network would promote anti-American sentiment."

Wall Street Journal, 1 Feb 2011, Sam Schechner: "Intense interest in Egypt's uprising is sending a flood of new viewers to the website of Al Jazeera's four-year-old English-language news channel—giving the network a boost in the U.S. where it has struggled to gain a spot on cable systems. Since Jan. 27, as protesters took to the streets in Egypt, U.S. Internet users have watched some 1.6 million live video streams on the network's website,, for an average of nearly 19 minutes each, the network said. At a peak Friday night Cairo time, about 110,000 people simultaneously used Al Jazeera's English-language site, up from a baseline that is normally closer to 5,000 or 10,000 users. About half were from the U.S., the network said. ... Al Jazeera's Arabic-language news channel has come under attack at times, with critics arguing it gives voice to anti-American sentiments. Since its launch, the English-language channel has hired a host of veteran journalists to help raise its profile and burnish its credibility. While it has benefited from its Arabic siblings' access across the Middle East, it has also inherited some criticism."

Israel national News, 1 Feb 2011, Gil Ronen: "Egypt is in a state of chaos, the Middle East is destabilized, and experts in Israel and abroad lay much of the blame on incessant incitement by Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based television network. However, the leftist-liberal American press is heaping praise upon the institution, which has been referred to as "jihad TV" by its detractors. There have been reports that the channel is largely a project undertaken by Muslim Brotherhood leaders who were exiled from Egypt and made their home in Qatar."

The Bay Citizen, 31 Jan 2011, Reyhan Harmanci: "Since Friday, Link TV has been pre-empting scheduled shows to show live footage from Al Jazeera English in Egypt. On Sunday, Link ran 10 hours of live AJE. ... Link TV broadcasts to more than 33 million households via satellite TV and another 20 million homes that receive programming from 220 cable outlets. Link TV has approximately 6.7 million regular weekly viewers across the country."

MHz Networks press release, 1 Feb 2011: "MHz Worldview adds three additional blocks of live Al Jazeera English coverage from Egypt to the existing daily 8 AM and 7 PM ET scheduled newscasts. ... MHz Worldview also blankets the U.S. satellite footprint on DirecTV."

State Department uses YouTube video to advise Americans in Egypt -- who currently have no internet access.

Posted: 01 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 31 Jan 2011, Dave Alpert: "State Dept just posted this video PSA update on ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens in #Egypt." With YouTube link.

But Dave asks, with no internet access in Egypt, or at least none fast enough to handle a YouTube video, what good does this do Americans in Egypt?

It is not like in years past, when the State Department would use special announcements on the Voice of America to provide advice to Americans caught in crisis areas. (This is even though broadcasting to Americans abroad was never part of VOA's mandate).

With VOA broadcasting many fewer hours per day, and on fewer frequencies, and with fewer Americans taking along a shortwave radio during their international travels, State may no longer consider VOA a useful outlet for these messages.

The VOA English news program Middle East Monitor, on 31 January, did include a story about the State Department's plan for the evacuation of Americans from Egypt. This was a combination of a news interview and second-person advice by the State Department spokesperson.

Americans in Egypt who have a shortwave radio could also listen to VOA's International Edition, including its airplays to Africa and Asia. However, provides no frequencies for this program.

Perhaps the best avenues for State Department announcements for Americans in Egypt would be CNN International, whose satellite channel is apparently not jammed in Egypt, or the BBC World Service English-language medium wave relay on Cyprus, 1323 kHz.

"Ham Radio Not a Viable Option for Egypt." But dial-up is.

Posted: 01 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
IDG News, 31 News 2011, Nancy Gohring: "Despite the best efforts of Internet activists who are trying to help Egyptians communicate with the outside world, ham radio isn't a viable option in this situation, experts said. ... [D]espite reports of ham radios being used to send Morse code, there have been no confirmed transmissions out of Egypt, said Allen Pitts, a spokesman for the National Association for Amateur Radio. 'I haven't heard of any transmissions, period,' he said. ... There is a long history of using ham radio in emergency situations, but it is not ideal for the current situation in Egypt, Pitts said. 'Ham radio does do wonderfully in situations like this ... but in this particular case, there's nobody transmitting,' he said. That may be partly because there are few ham users in Egypt to begin with. 'Most people cannot afford it or do not have the political connections needed to get a license there. Those with licenses are apparently, wisely, keeping low,' he said. They may be concerned about who is listening and whether there will be consequences for what they say." -- If those few radio amateurs in Egypt can be located and activated, they could send non-political "health and welfare" messages from foreigners in Egypt, letting their relatives know they are OK. These could be transmitted by voice, on shortwave, to radio amateurs in Europe, then passed on to the recipient via e-mail. See previous post about same subject.

Yahoo! News, 31 Jan 2011, JC Torpey: "While Egypt may be able to cut off the Internet, the government cannot silence phone lines. As such, and in response to the 'blatant attacks' on the Egyptian people by its government, as it is worded in a Noor press release, the provider is offering any Egyptian an easy way to access its services. Using an analogue telephone line and dialing a phone number-like everyone used to do about 10 years ago-will connect to the French service and allow the Egyptians to access the dial-up Internet."

Wall Street Journal, Digits blog, 31 Jan 2011, Shayndi Raice: "In a boost to the free speech crowd, Internet giant Google entered the fray on evening of Jan. 31 and launched a new service that lets people post Twitter messages via old-fashioned landline phone service, which still works in Egypt. The 'speak-to-tweet service' will let people in Egypt tweet a message by making an international phone call, the company says. Simply leave a voicemail on a Google-supplied international phone number and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. The service was cooked up over the weekend by engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company Google acquired last week."