Survey in Saudi Arabia and UAE, showing most watched and most trusted TV channels, leaves us most confused.

Posted: 31 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Grayling/YouGov Siraj press release, 30 Mar 2011: In a Graying/YouGov Siraj survey in Saudi Arabia, "respondents ranked their local news channels fifth in terms of popularity with a 25 per cent score, compared to 66 per cent for Al Arabiya and 62 per cent for Al Jazeera. Interestingly, local TV news scored only 10 per cent in terms of a trust, compared to 50 and 49 per cent for the most watched channels." In the UAE, "Al Jazeera still comes out on top in terms of popularity at 42 per cent, with 38 per cent saying it was the most trusted. However, BBC World News (English) was ranked second with a significant 35 per cent saying it was both the most watched and the most trusted channel, followed by CNN at 32 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. Sky News - soon to open an Arabic service from Abu Dhabi - was ranked in tenth place with only 7 per cent."

In the accompanying table for the UAE, "BBC World Arabic" is listed, instead of the "BBC World News (English)" from the narrative. However, in a story about the survey in Kipp Report, 30 Mar 2011, "BBC World English" is shown in the table.

But, even more confusing, it would seem that there can only be one "most watched" station. In the UAE, 42% say Al Jazeera is most watched, 35% BBC World English (or maybe it's Arabic), 32% CNN, 28% Al Arabiya, 24% local news channel. We're already at 161%, and there were other channels in the survey. Something is missing here. We also need to know about the methodology. The press release concludes, "Grayling will make the entire results available via the company's website." I haven't found anything yet at www.grayling.com.

The revival of Serbo-Croat: Al Jazeera Balkans channel plans for September launch.

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AFP, 29 Mar 2011, Rusmir Smajilhodzic: "The Al-Jazeera pan-Arab satellite channel says it will begin airing a Balkans programme in September, hoping to to establish itself as a regional news hub in the ethnically divided region. With powerful public television divided along ethnic lines across the region and dozens of private channels mostly focusing on entertainment, Al-Jazeera Balkans hopes to fill the void for a regional news broadcast. 'In the region there are currently more than 100 stations that broadcast news,' said Goran Milic, 65, a prominent Croatian journalist who will be responsible for Al-Jazeera's Balkans operation. 'We cannot compete with them on the level of local news and won't be able to for a long time,' he added, Instead, he said, Al-Jazeera could offer the regional approach abandoned in the 1990s due to war and the emotions that it sparked. ... So Al-Jazeera Balkans will be put to the test when it starts broadcasting in what was once called Serbo-Croat, which is universally understood in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro. Together with Al-Jazeera Turkey, it will be one of the first [Al Jazeera] regional offices to broadcast in languages other than Arab or English."

followthemedia.com, 1 Apr 2011, Michael Hedges: "There’s no question that Al Jazeera is a significant force in international news broadcasting. Expansion into the Balkans fills more than a single void. Other international broadcasters, notably the BBC and Deutsche Welle, have scaled back presence in the region. Serbia and Croatia have highly developed and professional media services, in broadcasting, print and now the Web. Bosnia has lagged."

USAF Commando Solo psyop broadcasts to Libya confirmed -- again.

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YLE Finland, 29 Mar 2011: "A Finnish DX radio hobbyist has confirmed that the United States has made its Commando Solo aircraft available to coalition forces engaged in operations in Libya. The special craft is being used for propaganda radio broadcasts currently aimed mostly at the Libyan Naval Forces. ... On his DXing.info website, Mäkeläinen writes that he has received an on-the-record confirmation from the Joint Task Force that the Commando Solo aircraft has been deployed in the conflict area and can be used at their discretion. However the radio enthusiast noted that the US has not made the propaganda campaign public as it did in previous engagements, 'In Iraq leaflets were dropped with information about frequencies and broadcast schedules,' he pointed out. This time, it seems that the US is taking a more cautious approach to the growing conflict in Libya. Mika Mäkeläinen is also a foreign news correspondent for the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE." -- Well, it was also confirmed in the AFP story of 21 March. See previous post. See also Commando Solo factsheet.

AP, 29 Mar 2011: "International military forces are using words as well as weapons to try to weaken the grip of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi and urge his troops to turn against him. They are dropping leaflets targeting government troops as well as flying a U.S. propaganda plane that broadcasts to forces of the North African nation, U.S. military officials said Monday."

South Korean activists might have to launch leaflets to South Koreans who are opposed to leaflet launches (updated).

Posted: 31 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 28 Mar 2011: "Activists have decided to float propaganda leaflets to North Korea quietly without announcing their plans after a spate of recent run-ins with residents near the border who are worried about reprisals from the North. 'We're going to launch the leaflets without making the time and venue public,' said Lee Min-bok, who heads a coalition of activist groups. Better equipment means the helium balloons to which the leaflets are attached can now be launched by one or two people, reducing the risk of protests from locals or shots being fired from North Korea. One activist group clashed with locals and members of leftwing groups on Sunday while attempting to launch propaganda leaflets from Chorwon, Gangwon Province."

Stars and Stripes, 28 Mar 2011, Ashley Rowland and Yoo Kyong Chang "When they heard about a defector’s plan to launch propaganda-filled balloons into North Korea from their island, an informal group of residents, dockworkers and local government officials came up their own counter-offensive to, as they saw it, defend their land: physically block the defector and his group from leaving Baeknyeong Island’s ferry port by creating a barricade with their cars. The islanders never had to execute their plan. The defector, Park Sang Hak, head of Fighters for Free North Korea, canceled Saturday’s balloon launch — set to mark the first anniversary of the sinking of a South Korean warship off the island’s coast — before a truck carrying thousands of leaflets and DVDs criticizing the Kim Jong Il regime could leave the mainland."

The Chosunilbo, 28 Mar 2011, editorial: "The South Koreans who are blocking the launch of balloons are probably aware how effective their cargo can be in helping North Koreans learn about the outside world and empowering them. But their fears are legitimate too. Groups supporting human rights in North Korea just need to find new ways of pursuing their mission. They have taken the first step by abandoning the publicity circus that has surrounded each launch with press releases and videos telling the whole world about it, and opting instead for a low-key approach."

The Korea Herald, 28 Mar 2011: "South Korean activists said Monday they have asked the government to approve their plan to fly anti-North Korea propaganda balloons across the border ahead of the birthday of the communist state’s late founder. It is the first time for rightist groups here to officially notify the government of the propaganda activity that has long been a source of tension between the two Koreas. ... Although activists rarely reveal the exact contents of the balloons, they are believed to contain consumer goods and anti-communist books and video tapes, along with leaflets to rattle the Pyongyang regime."

The Korea Herald, 29 Mar 2011, editorial: "In the war of nerves over the leaflet campaign, South Korean commanders may be tempted to test the determination of their Northern counterparts. But restraint is a better weapon in the current delicate situation. Innocent civilians should not unnecessarily be put in increased peril just to see if the North is serious about its threats. After all, it is time for both military and civilian communities to display flawless solidarity in countering North Korean bellicosity."

Update: AP, 31 Mar 2011: "A South Korean activist has floated propaganda balloons including footage of protests in the Middle East toward North Korea, despite Pyong yang's threat to retaliate. Park Sang-Hak said the balloons were launched today from a hill near the border. They also carried $1 bills and 200,000 propaganda leaflets. The move came days after North Korea's military said it would fire at South Korean border towns if Seoul doesn't stop the leaflets. South Korea says it cannot do that, citing freedom-of-speech protections."

The Korea Times, 31 Mar 2011, Kim Young-jin: "The group plans to make more launches between April 9 and 15 at the border tourist park of Imjingak, to coincide with the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, which falls on April 15 and is one of the biggest holidays in the communist state."

AP, 30 Mar 2011: "An artist whose 36-foot labor-history mural was removed from the Maine Labor Department said the artwork should be returned to the agency's walls and suggested the state should hang her late father's Bronze Star in its place until then. Artist Judy Taylor, of Tremont, said it was "heartbreaking" to learn the controversy may have been sparked by an anonymous letter that compared her work to North Korean propaganda. ... Taylor spent a year working on the mural for the Department of Labor using a $60,000 grant. It was installed in 2008 but was removed last weekend after Gov. Paul LePage said it was biased toward organized labor and out of line with his pro-business agenda. The artwork is now in storage at an undisclosed location."

"TweetChat" today at 1430 UTC with VOA's Steve Herman in Japan.

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VOA press release, 30 Mar 2011: "Twitter users around the world know Voice of America’s Steve Herman from his terse and sometimes poignant tweets from Japan describing the aftermath of the deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. ... Now you can go live with Steve (@W7VOA) as he takes questions from the audience in a TweetChat this Thursday on VOAAsia’s Twitter page. To follow the Chat or to participate, log on to Twitter and use the hashtag #VOAAsiachat1. The live, half-hour TweetChat, starts at 10:30 AM EST (that's 11:30 PM to 12 midnight in Japan, or 1430 to 1500 UTC). You can also send questions to Steve ahead of time by email at Crossroads@voanews.com or Daybreak@voanews.com." See also VOA Earthquake in Japan page.

BBC Hindi reduces shortwave output. "Don't break the thread of love."

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The Independent, 28 Mar 2011, Kunal Dutta: "BBC Hindi, the shortwave radio service that since 1940 has brought global news and current affairs to some of India's poorest and most remote regions, scaled back its transmission yesterday in a move that the author Vikram Seth said was contributing to 'a great loss of goodwill and increase of mistrust in India'. The station, which broadcasts to more than 10 million listeners across the world's biggest democracy, was earmarked for closure as part of plans to shave 20 per cent from the World Service's £253m annual budget. It was granted a late reprieve only after a high-profile campaign by leading cultural figures."

The Independent, 27 Mar 2011, Vikram Seth: "BBC Hindi is a wonderful and rather astonishing thing. (I’ve just listened, this last month, to programmes about a pipe band set up in a jail to give prisoners both hope and a future profession, about corruption in Bihar, about the experiences of a reporter who spent a month with Maoist guerrillas.) We don't get this sort of stuff elsewhere. All India Radio is seen as the somewhat boring and biased voice of the government. The disinterested and interesting voice of the BBC needs to be maintained, not brutally cut. This has been a very bad incident, and many millions of people, including poor listeners for whom BBC Hindi on shortwave has been their only link to the wider world, feel uncertain about what is to come. Before listeners have given up or turned away, a morning programme should quickly be reinstated, and it should be affirmed in no uncertain terms that the BBC intends to keep its shortwave Hindi programmes going - not merely for a year. A 17th century Hindi poet put it well: 'Don't break the thread of love, Raheem has said. /What breaks won't join; if joined, it knots the thread.'"

ANI, 28 Mar 2011: Amit Baruah, the head of BBC Hindi, said he was confident that the station could make a 'successful transition' into the digital and mobile market, regardless of whether or not it could secure commercial funding.

BBC News, 25 Mar 2011, Geeta Pandey: "Naval Kishore Thakur, 63, bought a Philips radio in 1980 for 700 rupees. For a farmer with a small landholding, it was rather indulgent. ... Mr Thakur says it's OK if they miss the [government-controlled] All India Radio news, but missing the BBC broadcast is 'unthinkable'. ... Well-known poet and professor of English in the state capital, Patna, Arun Kamal, says the BBC has been a part of history for generations of Indians and an effective tool of Britain's foreign policy. 'We had a choice between Radio Moscow, Radio Peking (Beijing), Voice of America and BBC. We chose the BBC because it was believed to be the most neutral.' He says the Hindi service played a crucial role in shaping public opinion in India during World War II and also during the emergency imposed on India by late prime minister Indira Gandhi. ... 'The new generation is more into TV. In cities and towns, radio also has competition from the internet and mobile telephones. Now there is news on Twitter and Facebook. So the short-wave listeners are going down in numbers,' Prof Kamal says. The fact that only Indian state media can broadcast news on FM is another factor in the BBC's decline."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC World Service shift to internet "of little help for the countries where it is most needed."

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The Chief Officers' Network (Kuala Lumpur), 28 Mar 2011: "On Friday, the BBC closed its radio broadcasts in Mandarin and its [Caribbean] and Azeri services. On Saturday, the Vietnamese service went the same way: it had been continuously on-air since 1952. The same day, the Russian language service was unplugged. Some services will remain available over the internet - but for those who relied on the BBC for unfiltered honest reporting in relation to their own countries, this will be of little help for the countries where it is most needed which are most likely to use internet monitoring to block the service or, worse, to find out who is listening to it. ... And for those who have no access to the internet or mobile devices, that means no access to independent information unless those priorities change. Listeners in Singapore can pick up the BBC's global English service on 88.9 FM, in Hong Kong on 675AM (and 783AM in Cantonese), on more than two dozen frequencies across Indonesia - but not in Malaysia (other than on short wave or satellite - Telstar 10 at 76.5° East and Telstar 18 at 138° East) where strict policies relate to broadcast media."

BBC ends broadcasts to Europe on 468, no, 648 MHz, no, kHz. Anyway, it's off the air.

Posted: 31 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
London Evening Standard, 30 Mar 2011, Gideon Spanier: "Amid the latest cuts and changes to BBC World Service, its radio transmission for European listeners on 648 MHz medium wave has been axed. To add insult to injury for hard-pressed World Service types, a report on Radio 4 announcing the closure repeatedly referred to it as '468'." -- That should be 648 kHz. See previous post about same subject. -- And just after I typed this post, I noticed that I have been drinking my morning coffee from my BBC 648 kHz mug, obtained in the latter 1980s or early 1990s, when BBC 648 transmitted in English Francais Deutsch.

Jonathan Marks suggests listening to the last (25 March) edition of "Europe Today" on BBC World Service. "In the closing minutes of the show on March 25th they did a montage of their work through the years. The problem they faced towards the end is that Europe itself is not an issue. Its more a collection of national issues." See also previous post for video of Jonathan's 2003 visit to the Orfordness 648 kHz transmitter site.

BBC websites were down for an hour Tuesday night.

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PC Pro, 30 Mar 2011, Nicole Kobie: "The BBC is looking into the causes of a technical failure that knocked its entire web estate down for an hour last night. BBC News editor Steve Herrmann said the sites were down for a full hour, but came back live at about midnight. 'We haven't yet had a full technical debrief, but it's clear it was a major network problem,' he said in a post on the BBC blog. BBC staff suggested via Twitter it was down to a 'faulty switch' or configuration problems. Others suggested that it looked like a problem with the BBC's DNS servers. ... During the outage, many took to Twitter to suggest more dramatic causes, including a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by Anonymous. 'It's not often we get a message from the BBC's technical support teams saying, "Total outage of all BBC websites",' Herrmann said."

The Guardian, 30 Mar 2011, Jonathan Paige: "Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service, tweeted: 'We're having technical problems with the BBC website – they are being looked into urgently. Apologies from BBC News.'"

BBC, The Editors blog, 30 Mar 2011, Steve Herrman: "It appears the websites went offline when some of the essential equipment that we use to direct people to the site - known as routers - failed. These routers not only act as the main funnel for all traffic coming into the site but also 'broadcast' the location of BBC Online so that it can be 'found' on the internet. Normally this would not cause any problems as we plan for events like this and run backup equipment. But, in an unusual turn of events, these also failed meaning that the whole of BBC Online became unavailable. A number of internal services were also affected." With links.

Radio Azadi's Person of the Year is popular Afghan musician (once again I was passed over).

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RFE/RL press release, 29 Mar 2011: "A popular Afghan musician known for drawing huge crowds across Afghanistan is Radio Azadi's 'Person of the Year.' Farhad Darya was recognized by RFE's Afghan station for his exceptional dedication to promoting music and cultural tolerance throughout the country. 'Farhad's songs carry a powerful message of peace and reconciliation,' says Radio Azadi Director Hashem Mohmand. And he performs everywhere, even in volatile regions where the Taliban and other extremists are still very hostile towards music.' ... Radio Azadi's annual 'Person of the Year' award recognizes outstanding individual contributions to democracy and civil society in Afghanistan. Previous winners include lawmaker Ramzan Bashardost, physician and human rights activist Anarkali Honaryar, and former Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai." -- One of my great goals in life in to be named Radio Azadi's Person of the Year. Now, yes, it is true, I am not an Afghan, nor have I ever set foot in Afghanistan, nor have I ever made any contributions to democracy and civil society in Afghanistan, or, for that matter, in any other country. But I hope these trifling technicalities do not dissuade the selection committee next year.

US public diplomacy online: from usinfo.state.gov to america.gov to ejournalUSA.

Posted: 30 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
America.gov home page: "America.gov is being decommissioned on March 31, 2011, and will be available only as an archive site. Information on U.S. foreign policy and national interests will be available through U.S. embassy and consulate websites or www.state.gov." See previous post about same subject.

In January 2008, usinfo.state.gov changed its name to america.gov. The Americagov Twitter account is still active, but it lists its URL as www.facebook.com/ejournalUSA.

So the social media seem to be replacing a traditional website for US public diplomacy. Anyone can establish a Facebook to Twitter account. On the other hand, it takes considerable skill to design and maintain a professional-looking website. I think every country should have a public diplomacy gateway to the world. A good example is www.finland.fi. Separately and complementarily, each country should have a news website -- independent, objective, balanced, and all those good journalistic principles -- available in more than one language. An example would be Belgium's flandersnews.be.

State Department Media Note, 30 Mar 2011: "Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) Coordinator Dawn L. McCall announced the expansion of the Bureau’s web presence to more than 20 social media assets in seven languages garnering a following of 1.7 million. The Bureau has also initiated a web-based mobile platform for special events to appeal to small-screen users. IIP, which operates four of the Department’s top-five Facebook sites, uses its social media presence to engage youth audiences on topics of interest. ... Due to the change in strategy, as of March 31, the Bureau will no longer support its website, America.gov. Content the Bureau produces will continue to feed the 450 Embassy websites around the world."

"Press freedom" award to Hugo Chavez for establishing Telesur is predictably controversial.

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BBC News, 29 Mar 2011: "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been given a press freedom award during a visit to Argentina. The University of La Plata said it was honouring him for his efforts to break 'media monopolies' in Latin America and support 'popular communication'. The award has angered critics who accuse Mr Chavez of stifling opposition media in Venezuela. ... Since becoming president in 1999 Mr Chavez has set up the Telesur network, which offers a state-funded alternative to private television stations across Latin America. He has also funded a major expansion of state-funded media in Venezuela that support his left-wing politics. And he has been involved in a long-running battle with private media companies in Venezuela, who he has accused of supporting efforts to overthrow him. New regulations have forced the closure of many pro-opposition radio and cable television stations, although independent newspapers and websites still operate."

Dow Jones, 29 Mar 2011, Ezequiel Minaya: "The dean of the school's journalism program, Florencia Saintout, defended the decision in a letter to a newspaper and said that with the state-funded Telesur Chavez had challenged the hold on the press by 'the owners of large media corporations.' At the time of the network's launch in 2005, Chavez said its programming would be a response to international broadcasters like CNN that reported on Latin America with a U.S.-influenced bias. Argentina was the first South American country to answer Chavez's call for the expansion of Telesur and agreed to provide 100 hours per month of television production and content, as well as personnel and satellite links for transmitting news services, in return for a 20% stake in the network. Venezuela struck similar deals with Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, and other left-leaning governments in Latin America."

AP, 29 Mar 2011, Micahel Warren: "The InterAmerican Press Association president, Gonzalo Marroquin, said in an interview that Chavez is a 'clear enemy of freedom of the press.' ... 'It would take a long time to enumerate the long chain of actions Chavez has taken against the right of the Venezuelan people to receive information,' he said."

Aljazeera.net, 26 Mar 2011, Nikolas Kozloff (commentary): "As I discuss at great length in my recent book, Chavez has done much to promote state-sponsored media in South America in an effort to counteract traditional, conservative media tied to the US. After right-wing forces allied to the Bush administration and Venezuela's right-wing media failed to dislodge Chavez in a 2002 coup, Caracas stepped up its information war, first by promoting domestic media and later by spurring the growth of more innovative pan-South American outlets. Though US diplomats expressed concern about left-leaning media in general, it was Telesur which most raised the Americans' ire. A satellite news network sponsored by Venezuela and leftist allies such as Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba and Bolivia, Telesur was the 'main source to broadcast anti-US propaganda', running 'particularly slick' documentaries about CIA meddling in Latin America."

Heritage Foundation, 24 Mar 2011, Ray Walser and Andrew Bradway: "TELESUR is the creation of Chavez and company. It has been in business since 2005 and follows in the footsteps of other state-controlled media such as that of Fidel Castro’s regime. Its purpose is eventually to crowd out or silence alternative, free, and critical media throughout the Americas. TELESUR is part of Chavez’s media empire. While it may not be ABC, CBS, NBC, or even CNN, it is a well-oiled operation back by Venezuelan petroleum earnings. ... When it comes to getting a message out, Chavez can always count on TELESUR and his loyal minions. The U.S, on the other hand, still struggles—as Helle Dale and others at The Heritage Foundation have often pointed out—to develop a serious strategic communications strategy. The U.S. government too often appears complacent and unhurried when trying to compete with Chavez, TELESUR, and his allies for audiences around the hemisphere." -- Once again, Heritage is seeking to expand the size of government rather than seeking private sector solutions. The private sector solution all along has been CNN en Español, soon to be joined by Univision's new news channel. These two should limit the ability of Telesur to distort the news. And -- this is my favorite part -- they cost the US taxpayers nothing.

Chinese commentator says US broadcasts to Iran "advocate mass protests."

Posted: 30 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
People's Daily Online, 24 Mar 2011, Zhang Xinyi: "In those anti-U.S. countries, such as Iran and Syria, the United States would definitely agitate anti-government protests to trigger change. The United States launched a propaganda campaign. the Persian service of Voice [of] America (VOA), 'Tomorrow Radio' [Radio Farda] and 'Free Radio' have done whatever they can to advocate mass protests in Iran. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton literally sits on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees all these anti-Iran Persian radio programs. In the similar case, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) also started their campaign with Persian-language programs."

As if Chinese-made goods were not already omnipresent, China Radio International launches shopping channel.

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China Radio International, 29 Mar 2011: "China Radio International, China's only state international radio broadcaster, formally launched its televised shopping channel 'Global Go' Tuesday in Beijing. 'Global Go' is a professional shopping channel that focuses on the latest product and sales information about famous high-end items worldwide. 'Global Go' is a cable TV program with internet, mobile phone and radio broadcasting platforms, offering audiences all over the world information on both China-made and world-famous brands." -- But no information on how to access Global Go. I can't find a link at the CRI website.

Pakistan's ambassador to Beijing says "feedback is very good" for China Radio International relays on FM in Pakistan.

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Associated Press of Pakistan, 27 Mar 2011: "Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Masood Khan who was associated with Radio Pakistan before joining the Foreign Service said that his visit to China Radio International (CRI) has always revived the sweet memories of his association with radio. ... 'When I grew up most of the people in my country used to listen BBC or Voice of America, but now an increasing number of people listen to CRI programmes’ not only in English and Chinese but also in Urdu,' he noted. ... Ambassador Khan said that CRI in cooperation with PBC has started airing programmes on FM channel from this January in five cities of Pakistan and the feedback is very good.'" -- Radio Pakistan, the international service, has a daily broadcast in Mandarin. Will this reciprocally be heard on FM in China?

New America Foundation, 22 Mar 2011: "Murtaza Solangi, Director General of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, discussed the importance of radio to education, grassroots empowerment, and countering extremist voices. Mr. Solangi heads up the oldest and largest radio network in Pakistan with over 88 stations across the country. He was joined in the discussion by U.S. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale... ." With audio.

China "once again torpedoing its soft-power campaign."

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Washington Post, PostOpinions, 25 Mar 2011, Joseph S. Nye Jr.: "I was asked to lecture at Beijing University on soft power, the ability to use attraction and persuasion to get what you want without force or payment. This was before the series of revolutions roiling the Middle East, in whose aftermath China is clamping down on the Internet and jailing human rights lawyers, . ... [F]or all the efforts to turn Xinhua and China Central Television into competitors of CNN and the BBC, there is little international audience for brittle propaganda. In the wake of the Middle East revolutions, China is tightening its controls on the Internet and arresting activists for fear that the Egyptian example might inspire similar protests. A few futile efforts by demonstrators have been quickly suppressed by Chinese police." -- The CCTV News and CNC World channels are not quite "brittle propaganda." They are selective in their coverage of China, thus neither very useful nor attractive to potential audiences. Of course, an international news channel that sees its mission as "soft power" rather than journalism does not have much prospect of success.

France 24's video report on "chaotic yet determined militants bringing the fight to the Gaddafi regime."

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France 24, 25 Mar 2011: "Filmed before the Western allies imposed a no-fly zone and started air assaults on Libya, this report looks at the chaotic yet determined militants bringing the fight to the Gaddafi regime." With video, 10:15.

BBC Radio 4 "Today," 26 Mar 2011: "The BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson reports on how he was taken to a house which the Libyan authorities claimed had been hit by a missile which had injured one person." With audio.

Al Jazeera office in Sanaa ransacked, then closed. Yemen government says the channel is "hostile" (updated).

Posted: 30 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 24 Mar 2011, Vivian Salama: "Yemen’s government condemned Al Jazeera television for what it called an attempt to 'mislead the audience and deliberately distort Yemen’s image,' state-run Saba news agency reported today, citing a government official it didn’t name. The official said Yemen has the right to prosecute Al Jazeera over 'its hostile activities against Yemen and its unity, security and stability,' according to the report. Doha-based Al Jazeera said yesterday that Yemen’s government had closed its office in the country amid protests by people seeking the ouster of President Al Abdullah Saleh."

Media Spy, 24 Mar 2011, Cyril Washbrook: "Al Jazeera said that it was dismayed at the latest move, which represents the latest step in Yemen's efforts to inhibit journalists' activities in the country. 'Our bureau was ransacked by twenty armed men yesterday. When we said the authorities should provide us adequate protection, today's move is not what we had in mind,' the organisation said in a statement this morning."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 18 Mar 2011: "Several hundred more civilians were wounded by security forces' fire at the demonstration site in a square outside the main entrance to Sana'a University, news reports said. Among them was a photojournalist, working for the BBC Arabic service, who was shot in the shoulder, the BBC reported. The photojournalist was not identified by name."

Update: Yemen Observer, 26 Mar 2011, Mohammed al-Kibsi: "Yemen’s Ministry of Information has prohibited Al Jazeera TV news reporters from working in the country after the network broadcast allegedly false reports about the current political crisis, confirmed an official on Thursday. The official accused the news network of inciting the public against the Yemeni government. It said that among the many false and even fabricated reports that Al Jazeera broadcasts was a video that presented Iraqi torture scenes as official Yemeni security footage. The scenes were filmed in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule and was broadcast by al-Arabiya TV channel in 2007. But Al Jazeera screened it repeatedly on Wednesday [23 March] and claimed that it was filmed by Yemeni security officials. ... Al Jazeera admitted on air on Wednesday that it screened the video due to a technical mistake and apologized. It did so only after a Yemeni government spokesperson protested about the news fabrication and after al-Arabiya screened the same video."

NHK on the Japan disaster: "resources of the BBC but the quirks of a middle-school science teacher."

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Countercurrents.org, 29 Mar 2011, Sadanand Patwardhan: "NHK world, a Japanese news channel, is my principle source of information on the FDNPP crisis. A person exposed to western channels like CNN, BBC, Sky News, and so on, where anchors in studios coordinate an army of 'news specialists', reporters on the ground give 'sense of the situation' as it unfolds, 'experts' and 'strategic thinkers' provide 'sure footed analysis' & 'cocky perspectives', and computer nerds create 'superb animations”' that simplify and make digestible all the 'wisdom' flowing out of TV screens; is confounded by the bizarre style of NHK World. For one, it may be cultural difference, & for other, it could be the difficulties of rendering in English the discourse that is taking place in Japanese. But even if allowances are made for these, the fumbling, unsteady, tentative, pronouncements that greet the viewer accompanied by amateurish handmade models & graphs or diagrams drawn on paper do not aid communication. A country where 'electronic pets' & 'digital sweethearts' are a rage should have done a competent & professional job of briefing."

Washington Post, 27 Mar 2011, Chico Harlan: "For those accustomed to the breathless coverage of Western cable news, NHK can feel almost pedantic — it has the resources of the BBC but the quirks of a middle-school science teacher. In-studio analysts hold long talks about microsieverts. A cardboard model of a nuclear reactor is kept behind the anchor desk, available as a prop to illustrate the malfunctions at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. ... 'The NHK announcer was just pleading — pleading — to get to high ground immediately,' said Steve Herman, a Voice of America reporter who was watching from Seoul. 'I knew I had never, ever seen one of these announcers, when they’re reading the boilerplate — I had never heard any emotion in that voice. To anybody in the West, this might not seem like anything unusual. But the emotion astonished me. That’s when I realized, "Uh oh, this is potentially a disaster." For me, that was like Cronkite taking off his glasses.'"

Philadelphia Daily News, 30 Mar 2011, Jonathan Takiff: "After almost three weeks of conversations with concerned parties and incessant viewing of Japan's English-language NHK World channel (available online and broadcast locally on WYBE Channel 35.2), I've gotta speak my piece about the situation. ... Only after Western journalists started digging did NHK begin to offer analysis, mostly from university academics. And the state-owned TV network has yet to address a key issue: Why did TEPCO build those reactors so low and close to the Sea of Japan, given the region's history of tsunamis?"

Globe and Mail, 30 Mar 2011, Ziya Tong, co-host of "Daily Planet" on Discovery Channel: "Ustream is the app. If you go there, type in NHK World and you'll get live 24-hour coverage of what's happening in Japan right now. It's particularly useful to people who have friends and family there and need up-to-date coverage. I'm following it every day.

The Brad Blog, 23 Mar 2011, Brad Friedman: "Today on my show on KPFK (L.A.'s Pacifica Radio affiliate), we ... [went] live from Tokyo in an interview with Voice of America's VOA News' Northeast Asia Bureau Chief, Steve Herman. Herman, who has been reporting from the Fukushima prefecture and in Tokyo since the March 11 quake and tsunami, brings us up to date with the latest on Friday morning in Japan... ." With video. See also Steve Herman's tweets at twitter.com/w7voa.

VOA Tibetan Service celebrates 20th anniversary.

Posted: 30 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 25 Mar 2011: "The Voice of America’s Tibetan Service, which began with a 15 minute shortwave radio broadcast on March 25, 1991, is being hailed today as one of the most influential Tibetan language multi-media platforms in the world. ... VOA’s Tibetan Service produces two hours of original television programming each week, and 42 hours of radio. The programs are broadcast on shortwave, transmitted via satellite and streamed on the service’s website, www.voanews.com/tibetan/news. The Voice of America has also undertaken a number of initiatives to make the broadcasts accessible to Tibetans through a variety of social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, and with ongoing strategies to combat jamming and Internet restrictions imposed by the Chinese government." See also VOA Editorial 30 Mar 2011.

The Tibet Post, 23 Mar 2011, Carly Selby-James: "Robert Barnett, director of Modern Tibetan Studies at New York's Colombia University ... points out that Tibetans in larger cities within Tibet have access to accurate information from the foreign news radio broadcasts of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia (who broadcasts the views of the Tibetan Administration in Exile), but that those who live in more rural areas may only have access to Tibetan-language publications approved by China, which will more than likely paint an unsavoury picture of the situation in an attempt to convince the Tibetan people that the His Holiness the Dalai Lama is abandoning them. Although he believes firmly that Tibetans within Tibet remain sceptical of what they read in the Chinese media and will most likely not be convinced by propaganda, he admitted to being concerned nonetheless that the restriction of information and censorship by the Chinese regime could lead to confusion among rural populations."

Al Jazeera English is still "can't-see TV" in the United States.

Posted: 29 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Chicago Tribune, Mar 25 2010, editorial: "Flip through the cable dial in Chicago and you'll find channels from Vietnam, Peru and Poland. ... What you won't find is the English-language version of arguably the world's most influential TV network: Al Jazeera. ... We agree that Al Jazeera has not always played its coverage down the middle. But the so-called 'Arab Spring' of democracy movements has Al Jazeera earning a second look. If you're an autocrat in the region, chances are the channel has you riveted. That is why pro-government thugs in Egypt ransacked the network's office and Yemen expelled two of its journalists."

The Daily Review (Towanda, PA), 26 Mar 2011: "The depth of Al Jazeera English's coverage in a part of the world that is crucial to American interests should gain it a place on the American cable dial. Its representatives have met recently with large cable operators, including Comcast. Those companies should give Americans the opportunity - characteristic of the Western democracies that we want the Middle East to emulate - to decide for themselves about news coverage."

Boston Globe, 26 Mar 2011, Joseph P. Kahn: "The controversy over Burlington Telecom’s initial decision to carry Al Jazeera intensified two years after its launch, in 2008, when its original contract with the news channel expired. New management at Burlington Telecom proposed dropping the channel. After hundreds of subscribers protested, public hearings were held and the proposal scrapped. Critics like Jeffrey Kaufman were not mollified, however. A retired physician who serves on Burlington Telecom’s advisory board, Kaufman has been calling for a public referendum on the issue, saying he will not subscribe to Burlington Telecom as a matter of principle until the city puts the matter to a vote. He is hopeful that then Al Jazeera would be canceled for good."

WBUR (Boston), 28 Mar 2011: "A community cable operator in Cambridge [Massachusetts] is joining a small but growing number of local television outlets across the country to begin broadcasting news by Al-Jazeera. Cambridge Community Television ... will start showing an hour-long newscast from Al-Jazeera English News beginning April 1 at 10 p.m."

The Smith College Sophian, 24 Mar 2011, Rachel Johnson: "While I love watching MSNBC's talking heads as much as the next bleeding heart liberal, I think [Secretary Hillary] Clinton has a point. Al Jazeera's 24-hour coverage of the conflicts in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other regions in the Middle East provides a stark contrast to U.S. media. ... Although it has talking heads too, the station has a much newsier and less U.S.-centric reporting style than mainstream American news outlets. Moreover, the channel's reporting extends far beyond the Middle East; Al Jazeera's international coverage includes a wide range of political issues and viewpoints from many regions of the world."

The Daily Caller, 26 Mar 2011, Pamela Geller: "Al Jazeera is the leading terrorist propaganda organization in the world. Jihad murder mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki has praised Al Jazeera, and several years ago one of its most prominent reporters was arrested on terror charges. Al Jazeera also has for years been the recipient of numerous Al Qaeda videos featuring bin Laden, Zawahiri, and American traitor Adam Gadahn. Yet they never seem to be able to trace where these videos are coming from. They have repeatedly been set up at the point of attack right before a bomb went off, so that they could take the picture of the slaughtered, dismembered bodies. How did they know? Who was their Roger Ailes? A Ouija board? They don’t report news. They spread poison. They are no different from Al Manar, the 'broadcast' station for Hezbollah."

Fresno Famous, 23 Mar 2011, Conrad Seitz: "I am adding Al-Jazeera English to my list of daily news sites that I consult, for several reasons, least of which is their complete coverage of current events in the Middle East. The most important reason is their opinion pieces, which provide points of view that we don't ordinarily get to see from our American media. Now if we could just get Al-Jazeera on TV like the rest of the world."

Link TV: "This year, when millions across North Africa and the Mid East cried for freedom, Link was the first national US channel to broadcast hours of Al Jazeera English coverage. ... But all of that would have not been impossible without your contributions. That’s because Link TV is viewer-supported."

See previous post about same subject.

University of London professor says Al Jazeera Arabic and English are different, but University of Arizona study says they are not.

Posted: 29 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link

Real News, 23 Mar 2011, Paul Jay interviewing Professor Gilbert Achcar of the University of London: "JAY: When I watch reports by some of the Al Jazeera journalists, it verges on cheerleaders for the Western intervention, which reflects the Qatari government's position. ACHCAR: Well, you're certainly speaking about Al Jazeera the English channel. JAY: I'm talking about Al Jazeera English, yes. ACHCAR: Yeah, whereas I watch the Arabic channel, and there it's, let's say, more nuanced and more balanced than what you depicted, if only because, you know, the Arab populations, even though they, you know, feel a lot of sympathy with the Libyan uprising, have, you know, strong reservations--and one can understand that--when they see the spectacle of this armada of Western forces using the kind of weapons that have been used on Iraq twice, in '91 and 2003, and this reminds people of a lot of things."

University of Arizona News, 25 Mar 2011: "In a study published in the recent issue of The International Communication Gazette, UA associate professor Shahira Fahmy compared the content of Al-Jazeera's English online coverage to its Arabic-language coverage. Some critics of Arab media in general, and more specifically Al-Jazeera, say that the news for English-language speakers has a more pro-Western viewpoint but inflames hatred toward Americans and Europeans with anti-Western content for its Arab audience in Arabic. ... They found some difference in placement of stories between the English and Arabic website versions, but no other differences."

McClatchy Newspapers, 26 Mar 2011, William Douglas: "Many media analysts and political experts believe that Al-Jazeera is in the midst of a 'CNN moment,' as its coverage of the uprisings is catapulting it into U.S. prominence much as CNN's round-the-clock coverage of the 1991 Persian Gulf War did for it. That's when the Atlanta-based 24-hour news network shed its early amateurish image and became recognized as a well-respected news operation."

Free African Media, 3 Feb 2011, Sipho Hlongwane: "Inasmuch as the Maghreb protests may be the region’s Berlin Wall moment, the crises have been Al Jazeera’s rite of passage. Middle East coverage will now never be complete without Al Jazeera’s take on it. By playing such a pivotal role in sparking popular outrage across countries, it has made an indelible mark in the world and emphatically shown that where the Middle East is concerned, there is only one channel worth turning to."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 24 Mar 2011, Robert Mahoney interviewing Ayman Mohyeldin of Al-Jazeera English: Al Jazeera "has been a microphone and a conduit for ordinary citizens in the Arab world who want to express themselves, express their dissatisfaction with the government, and express their demands. It has been a conduit for all of these people to do all of these things to a much larger audience. These are revolutions that are being started by Arabs. They are organic, they are not a product of any foreign interference, foreign influence; they are not started by satellite television, they are not started by the Internet, they are not Facebook revolutions or Twitter revolutions, they are simply organic people-movements that are powered by information."

Huffington Post, 23 Mar 2011, Matt Sledge: "Many of Al Jazeera's on-air journalists referred to Egyptians taking to the streets as 'pro-democracy' demonstrators -- a term more partial to the protests' aims than, say, 'anti-government,' and the sort of editorial decision that the authorities took as a provocation. [Al Jazeera English correspondent Ayman] Mohyeldin said he is at ease with that choice. 'I never met a single protester in Egypt who said, I don't want democracy, I want dictatorship,' he said. So far, Al Jazeera has fared well under the military government, he added: 'I think it's safe to say that post the departure of Mubarak, Al Jazeera has been relatively untouched in Egypt by the authorities.'"

The Diplomat, 27 Mar 2011, Luke Hunt: "It’s difficult not to like Al Jazeera. Their journalists avoid the self-indulgent habits of TV reporters elsewhere by not talking about themselves all the time. They also like to break news stories, that mainstay of the news business that seems so out of fashion these days. This week, they’ve been at it again, reporting from Indonesia that senior retired generals were attempting to oust President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from office by secretly backing hard-line groups to incite religious violence, ferment a rebellion and topple his government."

Monthly Review, 26 Mar 2011, Sukant Chandan: "How did Al-Jazeera, once dubbed the 'terror network' by some and whose staff were martyred by US bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, end up becoming the media war propagandist for yet another Western war against a small state of the Global South, Libya? ... [T]his much is already certain: the station is betraying gross political bias against its pan-Arab and pan-Islamic anti-imperialist constituency, reflected by its discriminatory reporting on the region based on Qatar's interests and its relations and service to the West."

GobalPost, 28 Mar 2011, Tom Fenton: "Al-Jazeera, the Arabic language television channel run by the Emir of Qatar, and al-Arabiya, another pan-Arab channel, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, are both backing the anti-Gaddafi rebels in the Libyan civil war. As influential shapers of public opinion, they are the Arab world's most important contribution to the war against Gaddafi at a time when no Arab government (except Qatar) has yet been willing to make a military commitment. But it is notable that both Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya pay less attention to the uprising in Bahrain, where Qatar and Saudi Arabia support the ruling royal family rather than the demonstrators." -- The UAE has also made a military commitment. For Al Jazeera English coverage of Bahrain, see, for example, AJE, 25 Mar 2011.

Dubai-based Orient TV says its satellite signal is jammed by Syria.

Posted: 29 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 Mar 2011: "The signal of Orient TV, a private, Dubai-based satellite channel, has been jammed in Syria since Friday, according to Ghassan Abboud, the station's director and owner. Orient has extensively covered protests in Daraa. Last week, the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that Syrian officials have made harassing and threatening phone calls to Orient TV employees, suggesting the journalists could be treated as spies and their families persecuted."

Business Insider, 25 Mar 2011, Gus Lubin: "Pro-regime supporters have surrounded the Al Jazeera bureau in Damascus and are threatening to storm it or burn it down, according to Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera has of course covered the regime's massacre of protesters." With links.

Business Insider, 27 Mar 2011, Gus Lubin: "Syrian spokeswoman Reem Haddad appeared on Al Jazeera earlier to announce the lifting of emergency law. But AJ's Folly Bah Thibault quickly put her on the defensive with questions about the killing of hundreds of protesters in the past week. Thibault asks why protesters were not allowed to take to the streets peacefully in Daraa." With video.

NOW Lebanon, 28 Mar 2011: "Al Jazeera, for whom the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was its CNN moment and who took the anger of Tahrir Square into virtually every Arab home, has been shamefully subdued in its coverage of the uprising in Syria, an event that Western diplomats in the capital are citing as the beginning of the end for the Assad regime. Only BBC Arabic and Al-Arabiya have been consistent in reporting what is arguably the most dramatic of the revolutions and the one with potentially the most far-reaching consequences."

Eurasia Review, 25 Mar 2011: "The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that security forces detained Rami Sulayman on March 20 from Da`el, a small town neighboring Daraa, because of a phone call he made to BBC Arabic to describe the situation."

VOA Studio 7 to Zimbabwe jammed. "Your best reception would be on shortwave."

Posted: 29 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Zimbabwean, 25 Mar 2011, John Chimunhu: "Relentless jamming by President Robert Mugabe's forces is depriving Zimbabweans of a wide array of free entertainment sources provided by foreign governments. ... [T]he latest deployment of Chinese-made jamming has forced even the VOA to acknowledge routinely in its Zimbabwe broadcasts that the waves are jammed. An announcer is now regularly heard to say: 'This is Studio 7 for Zimbabwe broadcasting on 909 AM, but due to jamming your best reception would be on Shortwave...' Zanu (PF) made external broadcasts a major issue during the negotiations for a settlement in 2008, demanding that they be banned. ... Surprisingly, Zanu (PF) officials are clamouring to be heard on the Voice of America Studio 7, which is virtually banned in Zimbabwe by Mugabe's government. Recently, senior Zanu (PF) and pro-Mugabe officials Rugare Gumbo, Joram Gumbo, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu and Attorney General Johannes Tomana have freely given interviews to the 'pirates'."

Voting starts in the Deutsche Welle Best of Blogs competition (updated: nominee disappears in China).

Posted: 29 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 24 Mar 2011: "From now until 11 April, Internet users can vote for their favourite blog by going to this address, www.thebobs.com, and taking part in the Best of Blogs (BOBs) competition which the German public radio station Deutsche Welle is holding for the seventh year running. The BOBs are awarded to journalistic blogs. This year, there are a total of 187 finalists in eleven languages and six categories including Best Blog, Best Video Channel, Best Use of Technology for Social Good, Special Topic Award Human Rights and (this year for the first time) Best Social Activism Campaign. Reporters Without Borders is a partner in the competition and the Reporters Without Borders Award for blogs defending freedom of expression is one of the six categories. A Reporters Without Borders representative is also on the jury. The jury chose eleven finalists in each of the six categories and eleven languages (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Indonesian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) from the blogs that the public began nominating in February." See also Deutsche Welle press release, 23 Mar 2011 and www.thebobs.com.

Update: Twitter, 29 Mar 2011, The BOBs: "Chinese Nominee for #thebobs Yang Hengjun has disappeared. ... We urge Chinese government to clarify where he is." See also Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Mar 2011, John Garnaut. Shanghaist, 29 Mar 2011, Kenneth Tan: Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu, when asked about the whereabouts of Yang Hengjun: "I have not heard of that person."

CNN, 28 Mar 2011: "There are over 60 million bloggers in China, and he was among the first ones. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout talks to Isaac Mao." With video.

For Hulu, "built from the ground up to be global," content rights are barrier to international expansion.

Posted: 28 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 23 Mar 2011: "The acquisition of local content rights remains a significant hurdle for US over-the-top service provider Hulu to cross before it can launch internationally, according to Johannes Larcher senior vice-president, international, Hulu, speaking on the keynote plenary session at the IP&TV World Forum in London today. 'Unless we see a way to acquire that content on reasonable terms it’s difficult to see how we can enter other markets,' said Larcher. Larcher said that Hulu remained 'very interested' in expanding the business to international markets, and pointed out that the internet TV start-up, backed by Fox, Disney ABC, NBC Universal and private-equity group Providence Equity, had existing strong content deals for its US service. 'The technology has been built from the ground up to be global and international from the outset,' he said."

Obit: Douglas Malton, co-founder of UK-based religious international broadcaster Feba.

Posted: 28 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Feba press release, 24 Mar 2011: Douglas Malton, 82, was founder of religious international broadcaster Feba. "Feba started in 1959 as a support group for the Manila-based Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC). ... Ineffective in broadcasting from Manila to India, FEBC asked for help in locating another site closer to listeners. The Seychelles, then a British crown colony, appeared on the horizon as a likely site. Malton’s and Wheatley’s dream came true. Funded by voluntary donations, a studio complex was built, staff recruited, and Feba Radio started broadcasting in May 1970 to India. The following year, broadcasts to the Middle East started, subsequently spreading to other regions." -- Feba was orginally FEBA, for Far East Broadcasting Association, a name for the UK-based station slightly different from its US-based partner, FEBC.

HCJB Global, 28 Jan 2011, Ralph Kurtenbach and Harold Goerzen: "The longtime host of a popular shortwave radio listeners’ program, Clayton Howard, died on Thursday, Jan. 27, in Tahlequah, Okla. He was 92. He had served from 1941 to 1984 as an engineer with Radio Station HCJB, an international shortwave station in Quito, Ecuador. For more than two decades he and his wife, Helen, hosted the 'DX Partyline' program. ('DX' is a radio term for distance; DXers are listeners to distant radio stations.) ... After [his] final 'DX Partyline' program aired in June 1984, Clayton received what Chuck referred to as an unusual tribute from an unlikely source, Radio Moscow, which stated, 'The living legend of the Andes has retired!'"

When writing about international broadcasting, Washington think tanks can be comedy clubs.

Posted: 28 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 21 Mar 2011, Patrick Clawson and Mehdi Khalaji: "Iranians face great difficulty getting information about what is happening in their country. More than half of the population has access to satellite television, and even more to foreign radio. Outlets such as BBC Persian television and Voice of America's Persian News Network (PNN) are among the most important ways Iranians receive news, while the private Fars One satellite network is the most popular station for entertainment programs. Yet Tehran devotes a great deal of effort to jamming these stations -- a clear sign of how threatening they are to the regime.

"The U.S. government funds both PNN and Radio Farda, the Persian section of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In recent years, Farda's twenty-four-hour news and music programs and Persian website have been quite successful in attracting an audience.

"For its part, PNN has begun a fresh phase under new director Ramin Asgard, a foreign service officer who previously ran the U.S. Iran-watchers office in Dubai. The network is scheduled to undergo dramatic changes in structure, management, and the format and content of its programming, all in order to gain credibility and popularity. For example, PNN's Parasit -- an exceptionally successful weekly satire that has become popular in Iran -- shows how far the network's other programs have to go in terms of professionalism and solid journalism. From its inception, PNN's style has been largely old-fashioned (e.g., long shots of a single talking head), its journalism unimaginative at best, and its credibility at risk of politicization in favor of royalists. ...

"As for the regime's signal-jamming efforts, the United States should work with its EU partners to ameliorate the problem. Such jamming violates agreements of the International Telecommunications Union, to which Iran is a party. In March 2010, the EU foreign ministers called for 'defin[ing] and apply[ing] strong measures that may be implemented' if Tehran does not immediately end 'this electronic interference,' but little has happened since."

"Solid journalism"? Parazit is a satire program. It mostly makes fun of the Tehran regime. Is that what VOA PNN should do during the rest of its schedule?

Heritage Foundation, 23 Mar 2011, Helle Dale, re reported plan BBC World Service Trust to apply for State Department grant to study anti-internet-blocking and anti-satellite-jamming techniques: "It will be, of course, absolutely appalling if State does decide to award the money once the proposal arrives at the office of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) in Foggy Bottom. At a time of soaring budget deficits in this country and cuts in U.S. radio transmissions to key areas of the world, a U.S. grant given to the BBC World Service would have been a snub of enormous proportions to the BBG, which overseas [sic] not only U.S. international broadcasting, but also the Internet circumvention efforts of the U.S. government itself. ... Is the Obama administration and the State Department really so enamored of the BBC that it prefers the British broadcaster over its own U.S. government-funded and globally respected broadcasting services? So it seems. After all, President Obama went on the BBC to give an important message to the Arab world in June, 2009, but has never given one to Voice of America — the only U.S. president since the founding of VOA not to do so. Possibly the president might find the BBC’s often anti-American point of view more in sync with his own thinking." See previous post about President Obama's June 2009 interview with the BBC's North American editor Justin Webb. ("Went on the BBC" links instead to President Obama's September 2010 interview on BBC Persian.)

So, while Clawson and Khalaji of the Washington Institute write that the United States should "work with its EU partners to ameliorate" jamming, Dale of Heritage scoffs at the idea that the State Department should provide money to the BBC World Service Trust, in the EU-member UK, for that purpose.

As I wrote in a previous post, "the State Department has funds for internet freedom projects which must be granted to someone." Would Mrs. Dale prefer that the money be given to two high school kids working out of a basement? BBC World Service has the knowledge to work on these problems, but, given their recent huge budget cut, probably not the funds.

Dictators are getting the upper hand in blocking the internet and jamming satellite broadcasts. The viability of international broadcasting is at stake. One of the best hopes is for the experts of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and its International Broadcasting Bureau, and for the boffins of BBC World Service, to work on these problems, then get together to compare notes. See previous post about same subject.

Winner of its first regional reporting prize will spend a week in the Radio New Zealand International newsroom.

Posted: 28 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Pacific Scoop, 24 Mar 2011: "A young graduate who topped the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at [Auckland University of Technology] tonight won the inaugural Radio New Zealand International prize for regional reporting. The RNZI prize, an all expenses paid internship for a week in the radio station’s Wellington newsroom, was presented by manager Linden Clark. 'We are delighted to be supporting Asia-Pacific journalism at AUT University with this new award,' Clark said. Kim Bowden recently graduated as a journalist with AUT’s Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies to add to her political studies and geography degree. The move into journalism had been a change in career path for Bowden. She had previously worked for six years with adventure tour company Intrepid Travel in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Zealand."

Events in Prague will mark the 60th anniversary of Radio Free Europe to Czechoslovakia (updated).

Posted: 28 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Cold War Radios, 27 Mar 2011, Richard H. Cummings: "In celebration of sixty years of Radio Free Europe (1951 - 2011), there is a major project going on in Prague now through May 2011. For anyone who understands Czech, there are many recordings of former RFE Czech Service staffers and a wealth of information about RFE's Czech Service." With link to an English-language information page of Ceský Rozhlas. See also RFE/RL's RFE Turns 60 web page.

A. Ross Johnson adds: "May 1, 2011, is the 60th anniversary of the first expanded or full-service RFE Czechoslovak broadcasts produced in Munich and transmitted from Germany (and later in 1951 also from Portugal). RFE Czechoslovak broadcasts began in mid-1950, produced in New York and transmitted from Germany. The broadcasts prior to May 1951, however limited in scope and weak in signal strength, had some resonance in Czechoslovakia. (Eg. The U.S. Embassy Prague dispatch of September 5, 1950, cited on p. 17 of my Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty book.). The first RFE Polish broadcasts from New York were noted negatively by the Polish regime and in the Kremlin. Such early indicators encouraged the U.S. Government and the Free Europe Committee to expand RFE broadcasting and relocate most program production to Europe." See previous post about Ross's recent book about RFE and RL. And previous post about a conference in Munich, 28-30 April, about the history of RFE.

Listen to the last minutes of BBC Russian via radio.

Posted: 27 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Russian, Вечер на Би-би-си, 26 Mar 2011 (audio mp3, 3:07): BBC Russian on shortwave and medium wave radio, before becoming internet-only, ends with the clinking of glasses (probably champagne, maybe vodka), followed by a montage of goodbye songs.

See previous post about same subject. See also interesting essays, BBC Russian, 23 Mar 2011, by David Morton, former head of the BBC Russian Service, and by Andrew Ostalsky, former editor of BBC Russian. They are in Russian, but Google-translate fairly well.

Dutch (ahem) "radio geek" is monitoring Odyssey Dawn psyop transmissions.

Posted: 27 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Wired Danger Room, 20 Mar 2011, Noah Shachtman: "The U.S. military has dispatched one of its secret propaganda planes to the skies around Libya. And that 'Commando Solo' aircraft is telling Libyan ships to remain in port – or risk NATO retaliation. We know this, not because some Pentagon official said so, but because one Dutch radio geek is monitoring the airwaves for information about Operation Odyssey Dawn — and tweeting the surprisingly-detailed results." -- In addition to "radio geek," he is also referred to in some news accounts as a radio "ham." He might be a radio amateur, but an amateur radio license is not required to monitor these transmissions.

Radio Netherlands, 27 Mar 2011, Heleen Sittig: "A Dutchman known only by his first name Huub has received worldwide publicity on the Internet by using Twitter to disclose information about Operation Odyssey Dawn, the international coalition enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. All the information was collected using ordinary equipment widely available from amateur radio suppliers. But by using Twitter. His monitoring reports have been able to spread worldwide literally within seconds."

Air Force Times, 22 Mar 2011, Scott Fontaine: "[H]e has no problem providing some unsolicited advice to U.S. Africa Command: '@USAfricaCommand be advised, one of your WEASEL’s F-16CJ from 23th FS Spangdahlem Germany has his transponder Mode-S on! NOT secure!'"

AFP, 21 Mar 2011: "Asked at a press conference about these operations, a senior Pentagon official confirmed that a 'specialised aircraft' had been used by coalition forces. 'We've put up one of our specialised aircraft of that nature and I'm not ready, I'm not able to to talk about the messages,' Vice Admiral Bill Gortney told reporters."

Bloomberg, 24 Mar 2011, Tony Capaccio and Brendan McGarry: "U.S. and coalition efforts to communicate with Libyan army troops have failed to persuade them to halt attacks against civilians or turn against Muammar Qaddafi, a top Pentagon official said today. The military is 'using every tool that we have available in our toolkit,' said Vice Admiral Bill Gortney of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, although he declined to detail what the military calls 'information operations' in Libya." See also DOD briefing transcript, 24 Mar 2011. See previous post about same subject.

Twitter, 27 Mar 2011, David R. Alpert: "Presumed U.S. military psyops broadcast again w/ msg to #Libya ships in Arabic and English, 10405 kHz Audio: http://bit.ly/fsGEpn."

China versus Google and "how creepy all of this stuff going on is."

Posted: 27 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
UPI, 21 Mar 2011: "Google says its Gmail is being disrupted in China and blames jamming by the government. Computer users in China told the Voice of America they've had trouble accessing their Gmail accounts recently. Some have been blocked completely. Google said it has no technical problems and the disruption is 'government blockage, carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail.'"

Aljazeera.net, 23 Mar 2011, Melissa Chan: "After weeks of frustration from Gmail users within China, Google has finally come out to accuse the Chinese government of being behind the interference that has prevented users from accessing the site. This comes after a statement from Google on March 11th that it had 'noticed some highly targeted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users. We believe activists may have been a specific target'. The focus of this piece will be on this March 11th announcement, which has been overlooked or given briefer mention in articles. This is because much of the focus has looked at the general step-up of Internet censorship in China. The point of this exercise is to, with one example, give you a more detailed look at how creepy all of this stuff going on is. While Google has not mentioned from which country these targeted activists were from, and did not answer Al Jazeera's query when we contacted them for more information, we have learned that at least some of the targets were in China, and that some of the perpetrators are also based in China."

AP, 22 Mar 2011: "China is rejecting accusations of interfering in Google's email services. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu referred questions to the Cabinet's news office but said China did not accept such accusations."

AFP, 27 Mar 2011: "China appears to be moving aggressively to plug holes in its 'Great Firewall' censorship system, causing frustration for businesses and web users, foreign Internet companies and analysts said. ... The problems have followed a call for subtle, weekly 'strolling' protests in China inspired by political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, and indicate the government is intent on nipping dissent in the bud, analysts said. 'They're testing new capabilities to see if there are technical means of dealing with the possibility of organised opposition,' Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based political analyst, told AFP. China operates an ever-expanding system of Internet control and censorship dubbed the 'Great Firewall of China', aimed at snuffing out information or comment that the government considers a threat to its authority."

Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar 2011, Ben Fritz and John Horn: "China has become such an important market for U.S. entertainment companies that one studio has taken the extraordinary step of digitally altering a film to excise bad guys from the Communist nation lest the leadership in Beijing be offended. When MGM decided a few years ago to remake 'Red Dawn,' a 1984 Cold War drama about a bunch of American farm kids repelling a Soviet invasion, the studio needed new villains, since the U.S.S.R. had collapsed in 1991. The producers substituted Chinese aggressors for the Soviets and filmed the movie in Michigan in 2009. But potential distributors are nervous about becoming associated with the finished film, concerned that doing so would harm their ability to do business with the rising Asian superpower, one of the fastest-growing and potentially most lucrative markets for American movies, not to mention other U.S. products. As a result, the filmmakers now are digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols from 'Red Dawn,' substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake."

"Voice of America Museum struggles to exist."

Posted: 26 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Cincinnati Enquirer, 23 Mar 2011, Sheila McLaughlin: "The Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting, the proposed centerpiece of VOA Park in West Chester, may not get off the ground. The executive board appointed to oversee renovation of the proposed museum said they need $300,000 from the township over the next three years to hire someone to manage and raise money for the $12 million project. Or they could call it quits. 'We're at that point,' said Mark Hecquet after two of three township trustees suggested Tuesday they didn't have the money in light of the prospect of losing $5 million in state funds in the proposed state budget. ... [Museum board] member Clyde Haehnle has a personal interest in bringing the museum to life. A retired employee of WLW radio, Haehnle was project engineer for the Voice of America Bethany Station, which relayed American radio broadcasts across the world [on shortwave] from World War II until the federal government shut it down in 1994. ... Board members say the museum has international interest and already draws curious visitors from China, Thailand and Czechoslovakia. The museum is currently closed because of the exterior renovation. Plans for the museum include collections of artifacts related to the history of Bethany Station and the impact of broadcasting technology, a media theater, restored control room, concourse and gift shop."

Hamilton (OH) Journal-News, 22 Mar 2011, Lindsey Hilty: "'We know what the impact of the Voice of America museum can be, but I think it will be bigger nationally and internationally than it will be locally,' volunteer Melinda Zemper said." See previous posts on 9 Mar and 20 Feb 2011 and on 30 May 2009. See also voamuseum.org.

BBC World Service and Radio Australia agree to share content and transmission sites.

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BBC Press Office, 23 Mar 2011, speech by Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News, to The Lowy Institute of International Policy, Sydney: "Yesterday, the BBC and Radio Australia signed a memorandum of understanding to explore a number of new areas of joint activity, including in English Language teaching. As the BBC and Radio Australia share editorial values and approach, it means that we can distribute content from both organisations on existing transmission sites, operated by BBC or Radio Australia. For instance we have agreed to share the BBC transmission facility in Singapore with Radio Australia. We will also investigate potential partnerships with Universities and educational organisations to deliver joint English Language Teaching content. Both the BBC and Radio Australia plan also to create mutual benefit by increasing our ability to share stories and news gathered by stringers/reporters of each other's organisation. Sharing reporters will not only reduce costs, but will broaden perspectives. ...

"Providing training, co-producing debates with broadcasters in developing countries, collecting stories from the audience and, above all, listening to our audiences far more - this is a very different world from the early days of the BBC internationally. Of stiff voices in stiff collars declaiming to an empire thousands of miles away that could not Twitter back. But of course much stays the same. The same commitments: to accuracy in an ever changing world, to impartiality in an ever more opinionated world and to the highest standards and a belief in civility in a world where those values can seem debased. And, curiously and encouragingly, those standards are still attractive – maybe even more so in the era of online flame wars."

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Mar 2011, Tim Dick: "But the chief executive of Radio Australia, Michael McCluskey, said the discussions were not aimed at cutting costs, but increasing the effective number of correspondents it could use." -- Cooperation on content has already begun, as per previous post.

BBC World News America was hour on BBC America, will be 30 minutes on PBS.

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Columbia Journalism Review, 25 Mar 2011, Ann Cooper: "While we wait for Comcast and Time Warner cable to conquer their Al Jazeera phobia, let me suggest an alternative for news junkies who find American TV a little too News Lite: tune in to BBC World News America. And watch it on PBS. ... Starting Monday, March 28, BBC World News America will move to its new and distinctly American home: PBS, or at least to those PBS channels that choose to air it. (Its former home, the BBC America channel, is going all entertainment, all the time.) ... If the main news in the U.S. is big enough, it leads the show and warrants some talking-head analysis. But the program always moves on, circling the globe to remind us that Pakistan is still recovering from last summer’s floods, that Laurent Gbagbo is still ensconced in Ivory Coast, that Nepal is still struggling to build a post-monarchy system. ... On a disaster scene, there are no BBC journalist-doctors treating victims—though a correspondent may lend a more subtle helping hand." See also BBC America notice. See previous post about same subject.

Los Angeles Times, Show Tracker, 22 Mar 2011, Scott Collins: On 22 March, Ted Koppel, former ABC 'Nightline' host, anchored "a special edition of 'BBC World News America' with the latest news from the unrest in Libya and Yemen and the aftermath of the earthquake and nuclear mishap in Japan."

Mediaite, 22 Mar 2011, Mark Joyella: "One area of concern, though, is the cultural shift between ABC News and the BBC. For one, they don’t have anchors. 'It’s my first time as a "presenter" and I’m having a little bit of trouble with the language used by correspondents who have three names,' Koppel told Mediaite." With video.

BBC budget reduction could affect foreign news coverage and overnight TV programming.

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The Independent, 22 Mar 2011, Ian Burrell: "The BBC’s journalists are 'running on empty', their budget for covering foreign news ran out 'some time ago' and the corporation’s executives are in talks with other British broadcasters to pool resources on stories in order to save money. The cash shortage follows an unprecedented run of major and long-running foreign stories stretching back to the Haiti earthquake last year and covering the mining accidents in Chile and New Zealand, the Christchurch earthquake, the uprisings in North Africa, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. But the demand on resources has come at a time when the BBC is in the process of identifying 20 per cent savings across its output."

The Guardian, 22 Mar 2011, Tara Conlan: "Overnight programmes on [television channels] BBC1 and BBC2 could be axed, and natural history shows and BBC1 dramas repeated more often, as part of a series of cost-saving ideas being considered by the BBC. According to the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, about £150m a year could be saved if output between 10.35pm and 6am was cut on the BBC's main television channels." -- Seems like an opportunity for international broadcasting here. One possibility, that would cost the BBC little if anything, is to relay whatever C-SPAN in the United States is broadcasting during those hours.

CNN en Español, “from Alaska to Patagonia," seeks to increase its US audience.

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New York Times, Larry Rohter, 20 Mar 2011: "New programs, new talent, new sets, a fancy new studio in Miami and a new logo featuring an outsize, stylized tilde. In an effort to broaden its appeal to Hispanic viewers in the United States, CNN en Español, the Spanish-language branch of the cable news giant based here, is undergoing a fundamental reconfiguration of both its content and image. Gone is the repetitive traditional half-hour hard-news block that has been the Spanish network’s sustenance since it began 14 years ago, replaced by informational, magazine-style shows meant to reinforce the new slogan 'Live the news.' ... CNN en Español is available in 30 million homes “from Alaska to Patagonia,” as the network’s executives like to say. But fewer than 5 million of those households are in the United States, and the network’s new strategy, whose rollout began on Nov. 22 and will continue throughout the spring, is aimed at redressing that imbalance. CNN en Español has long operated bureaus in Mexico City and Buenos Aires and had correspondents in nearly every Latin American capital, as well as in global flashpoints like Jerusalem. Now the network is beefing up its Los Angeles and New York bureaus. It recently opened the studio in Miami, which contributes three hours of live programming daily and provides experts and commentators for shows that originate from Atlanta." -- As CNN en Español becomes more US-centric, will it become less appealing elswehere in the Americas? See previous post about Univision's plans for a news channel.

"CNN has begun featuring news talent from CNN International."

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AP, 22 Mar 2011, David Bauder: "CNN has built the biggest infrastructure in U.S. television news, partly with the help of money-making sister networks in CNN International and HLN. Since it collects advertising revenue as well as subscriber fees from cable and satellite systems, and its main business is news, that gives CNN an advantage over advertiser-dependent broadcast networks that are cutting back in staff and relying more on video news services for images overseas. Over the past few years, it was hard to tell that CNN had such a large international presence. CNN International, while produced out of the same Atlanta headquarters as the domestic network, might just as well have been part of another company. Under [domestic chief Ken] Jautz during these big international stories, CNN has begun featuring news talent from CNN International. Hala Gorani has co-anchored newscasts on the main network, and reported from Egypt alongside Cooper. Isha Sesay co-anchored Blitzer's 'Situation Room' while he was on the road last week." See previous post about same subject.

Salon, 22 Mar 2011, Adam Clark Estes: "CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson lit into Fox News for irresponsibly running an 'exclusive' on journalists being used as human shields in Libya." With video. GlobalPost, 22 Mar 2011, Thomas Mucha: "[E]ven I was surprised today by the level of vitriol that CNN reporter Nic Robertson threw at Fox News."

Business Standard (New Delhi), 12 Mar 2011: Shuchi Bansal interviewing Anne White, American graphics designer for the two new channels of India's NDTV: "In our strategy sessions we kept comparing CNN and Fox News. There is a big difference between the two. Fox News takes an editorial approach and is not afraid to sensationalise news. CNN tries to be objective and says here’s what happened, now you decide. Fox says, My gosh, this is what has happened, isn’t it terrible? So the Fox visuals are big, bold and brash while the CNN visuals are calm and mature. There is a difference between these two channels and that’s where we see an opportunity in creating new standards in news."

Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, etc, available internationally via ABC TV On Demand (the US ABC).

Posted: 26 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldTVPV Blog, 22 Mar 2011: "US TV is the most popular worldwide so it comes as no surprise that ABC TV are launching their product worldwide. And the latest Country to get video on demand from ABC is Portugal via pay subscription TV service ZON Videoclube. The launch involves ABC’s International cach-up-tv service ABC TV On Demand and will let subscribers of ZON watch 500 plus top US shows such as Criminal Mind, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost and Desperate Housewives. With the promise of continual new shows being added.Portugese TV viewers will need to subscribe to watch the ABC content for around $15 monthly." See also Disney/ABC Television Group press release, 27 Aug 2010. -- Not to be confused with, but probably will be confused with, the ABC (of Australia) iView, if it becomes available internationally. See previous post.

How to watch five international news channels online (geoblocking may apply).

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Australian Business Traveller, 23 Mar 2011, Dan Wayne: "Want to keep up with TV news while you travel? As long as you have an internet connection, it's easy. We've selected five good TV news channels which you can tune into online as live streaming video services." ABC News 24, BBC World News, Al Jazeera English, NHK World, and CNN International. -- In the United States, CNN International via Livestation costs $5 a month.

Euronews increases its cable TV penetration in Thailand.

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Rapid TV News, 23 Mar 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "France-based European news channel euronews has inked a major distribution deal with Thailand Cable TV Association (TCTA). From now, the 500 cable operator members of TCTA can offer the news channel to all their subscribers and in the next few weeks, 3.5 million Thai homes will have access to the English version of euronews. Operators will also be able to add the Russian and the Arabic service to their basic package. euronews is already available on cable in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya. According to Philippe Cayla, Chairman of the Executive board of euronews, following this deal, 'Thailand is now the most important country for euronews in Asia.'" -- This probably doesn't mean that euronews plans to add the Thai language. If it did, euronews would somehow have to accommodate the Thai-language "expansion factor," getting the Thai translation into the fixed amount of time for the corresponding video.

France 24 claims ratings success in Tunisia and other Maghreb countries.

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Rapid TV News, 23 Mar 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French international news channel France 24 claims that it is consolidating its position in the Maghreb region, following studies conducted to assess audience ratings. The channel, which has been broadcasting in Arabic on a 24/7 basis since October 2010, shows that according to a TNS Sofres survey, 78% of Tunisians say they watched France 24 to follow political events during the Jasmine Revolution. Online, 77% of internet users visited the channel’s website. 'France24.com has become the most visited news website in Tunisia, ahead of Al Jazeera (75%), Nessma TV (49%) and Al Wataniya (42%),' it stated. ... Regarding ratings in Tunisia, the channel claimed that France 24 is the second most watched international news channel by opinion leaders on a daily basis after Al Jazeera (13.9% against 17%) and the third most watched by the population as a whole behind Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. In the [Maghreb] region, TNS Sofres showed that with an average daily audience of 7%, France 24 is already the second international news channel after Al Jazeera (29%) among opinion leaders. 'This trend is confirmed with the general public as it also ranks second with an average daily audience aged 15+ of 3.2%, behind Al Jazeera (16.2%),' France 24 concluded." See also France 24 press release, 15 Mar 2011 (in French), which does not specify if all five Maghreb countries were included in the TNS "Maghreboscope" survey.

The advantage of being believed: VOA's role in providing information after the Chernobyl disaster.

Posted: 25 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 20 Mar 2011: "When Soviet authorities finally admitted publicly that something had gone wrong, they spoke in vague terms. The delay and opaqueness appear to have hindered protective measures Ukrainians could have taken. Many first heard advice to take iodine to try to stave off thyroid cancer on Voice of America broadcasts they listened to clandestinely."

Miller-McCune, 19 Mar 2011, John Perlin: "Several days into the crisis, the Voice of America — this was during the era of the Soviet Union, and VOA offered an important outside source of news — reported that radioactivity had escaped, but the winds blowing southeast to northwest had carried all the nuclear debris toward Scandinavia. Meanwhile, the Soviet media admitted that though fires continued to rage, 'All measures to keep it under control are being taken.'"

RFE/RL "would be one of Moscow's first targets" under proposed Russian internet law, she writes.

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 21 Mar 2011, Khatuna Mshvidobadze (commentary): "Moscow refuses to sign the only promising agreement, the European Convention on Cybercrime, which has been open for signatures since 2001. The Kremlin does not want to cooperate with foreign law enforcement officials looking into something like the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia, and it is surely does not want to risk exposure of its links to the thugs who run cybercrime syndicates such as the Russian Business Network (RBN). As a diversion, Moscow has a treaty proposal of its own. The thrust of its proposal would be to ban media or Internet broadcast of any information that could 'distort the perception of the political system, social order, domestic and foreign policy, important political and social processes in the state, spiritual, moral, and cultural values of its citizens.' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty would be one of Moscow's first targets under such an approach."

Workshop in Galway, on 1 April, will deal with radio, empire, and "critical interdisciplinary engagements."

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Vertical Geographies blog, 17 Mar 2011: "Workshop: Building Empires on Air: Histories and Geopolitics of Radio and Empire. Venue: Moore Institute National University of Ireland, Galway 9am-6pm, 1 April 2011. ... This workshop will compare scholarly approaches to histories of radio and empire, in a broad transnational and geopolitical context. Key questions to be considered include: •How have transnational broadcasters sought to influence society, politics, and culture in target areas, at different times and in different settings? What comparisons and contrasts can usefully be drawn? •How might concepts of (soft) power, territory, sovereignty and trans-nationality contribute to critical interdisciplinary engagements with international broadcasting within historical and contemporary ‘empires’?"

And this reminder about the conference on the history of Radio Free Europe, 28-30 April, in Munich. See previous post.

Complaints to BBC Worldwide about Lonely Planet guide to Burma travel.

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The Bookseller, 21 Feb 2011, Marli Roode: "A petition urging consumers to boycott Lonely Planet will be launched today (21st February), calling on parent company BBC Worldwide to withdraw the Burma guidebook. The TUC, Tourism Concern, Burma Campaign UK and the New Internationalist are behind the lobby, claiming the guide legitimises Burma’s violent military dictatorship. According to the petition, the availability of the Lonely Planet guide encourages tourism to the country and gives the impression that such travel is ethical. ... Stephen Palmer, c.e.o of Lonely Planet’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, said: "We share the aspiration for a change of regime, but we don't accept that, by publishing a guide book to Burma, we are legitimising that regime."

Univision plans a 24-hour news channel, will compete with CNN en Español.

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Variety, 18 Mar 2011, Anna Marie De La Fuente: "Buttressed by an influx of capital from its core programming supplier Televisa, Univision is planning to launch three Spanish-lingo cable channels, starting with a 24-hour news channel this year. Plans are also afoot for telenovela and sports channels. ... Univision's news would go up against CNN en Espanol, which has been revamping its programming since late last year and has brought in new talent, sets, a new state-of-the-art studio in Miami and even a redesigned logo."

BBC Mandarin becomes internet-only. "You need a bit of effort."

Posted: 25 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 25 Mar 2011, Vivien Marsh: "The BBC Chinese Service has made its final radio broadcast in Mandarin after nearly 70 years. Shortwave programming in Mandarin is a casualty of spending cuts announced by the BBC World Service in January. From now on, Mandarin-speakers will be served only by the BBC's Chinese-language websites; a weekly radio broadcast in Cantonese will continue. ... The head of the Chinese service, Raymond Li, believes China's Mandarin-speakers will still be adequately served by the BBC. 'You need a bit of effort, but having said that, a lot of people as far as I know actually are using what they call proxy servers or proxy sites. It's not ideal. But then of course, away from online, actually we know the mobile technology has taken up. A lot of people in China are increasingly using mobile phones to access foreign media websites.' So for the BBC, the future is digital. And also, it seems, for the Voice of America, funded by the US government. It, too, plans to shift Mandarin to a web-only service."

Will David Ensor, formerly of CNN and most recently of US Embassy Kabul, be the new VOA director?"

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Washington Post, 24 Mar 2011, Al Kamen: "David Ensor ... the longtime national security correspondent for CNN ... [had] worked for National Public Radio and covered the White House and the State Department for ABC News before heading to CNN. The buzz now is that he may be coming back to Washington for a safer — although perhaps only marginally so — job as head of the Voice of America. Hey! Maybe with those British connections he could get some funding from London for VOA operations overseas?" -- Most recently, he has been Director of Communication and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. (See previous post.) If this is true, can he successfully switch hats from public diplomacy to international broadcasting? Or, in the future, will it all be -- and this would be old hat -- the same hat?

USAID money to BBC World Service (Trust) "seemed a most curious move to folks on this side of the pond."

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Washington Post, 24 Mar 2011, Al Kamen: "The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, not exactly flush with cash these days, have come under fire of late for what looks like extending a helping hand to the beleaguered BBC, which is facing a cut of about 16 percent under the British government’s budget-slashing initiative. USAID, for example, has given the BBC a $4.5 million grant over three years for media training in Nigeria. Seemed a most curious move to folks on this side of the pond — and probably to some in Nigeria as well, because Voice of America has a fine training program over there and a listenership comparable to the BBC’s. ... So why not give the money to U.S. organizations? Is it that fancy accent?" -- Reported here on 5 March. Kamen doesn't mention the money was for BBC World Service Trust, not quite the same as BBC WS. See previous post about same subject.

For US international broadcasting, is this House hearing the first step towards the Dark Side?

Posted: 25 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
House Committee on Foreign Affairs: On 30 March, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold the hearing, "Is America’s Foreign Broadcasting Consistent with Our Nation’s Interests and Our Commitment to Freedom?" Invited to the first panel: Judith A. McHale, under secretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs, U.S. Department of State. Invited to the second panel are John Lenczowski, president, Institute of World Politics; Shiyu Zhou, vice president, New Tang Dynasty Television; Robert Reilly, former director, Voice of America. At 2:00 pm, Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building.

The glaring omission is that Walter Isaacson, chairman of the Broadcasting Boad of Governors, was apparently not invited. Secretary McHale represents Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as one (ex officio) member of of the BBG, but she does not have executive authority over US international broadcasting.

The second panel includes viewpoints that range from conservative to conservative. Robert Reilly came to the VOA director job from the VOA (later IBB) Office of Policy, which writes the editorials "reflecting the views of the United States Government." (See previous post about Robert Reilly.)

I don't think independent journalism is the idea behind this hearing. It might be the first skirmish, in the 112th Congress, of the battle for the soul of US international broadcasting.

NB: I'm told the hearing has been canceled, although it's still at the HCFA website.

American Diplomacy, 21 Mar 2011, Rachel Greenspan: "One challenge in dealing with foreign media is to appear to project a balanced point of view. For example, shortly before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the [Department of Defense] began crafting a plan to establish free media within Iraq post-invasion. Robert Reilly, former Director of Voice of America was hired to be Project Director of the Iraqi Media Network (IMN) [fn]. The project faced credibility issues, as the network was instructed to run ‘endless’ coverage of Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) conferences, and produced little to no independent content. Meanwhile, Congress was having trouble distinguishing between the goal of IMN and the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ $100 million a year program to broadcast into the Middle East over Radio Sawa and the TV station al-Hurra [fn]. In this context, it would appear that Radio Sawa and al-Hurra were already undertaking the task of communicating with foreign audiences with the supervision of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and public diplomacy professionals."

BBC Russian leaves radio, continues online. "The BBC was not trying to teach us."

Posted: 25 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link

BBC News, 22 Mar 2011, Steven Eke: "At the end of this week, the BBC's Russian Service will close its radio frequencies for good. The Russian Service began broadcasting to the Soviet Union in 1946 and quickly established a reputation with Soviet listeners, in the brief period before the onset of the Cold War. ... The BBC's Russian Service was blocked selectively and varyingly. However, jamming was never totally effective, and listening to the Russian Service as well as other western broadcasters had, by the 1970s, become a ubiquitous phenomenon among the Soviet urban intelligentsia. This week, the Russian Service is playing out audio postcards from listeners, revealing how they listened, and what it meant to them. One especially memorable episode comes from a listener in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, explaining how her family learned of the assassination of President Kennedy from the Russian Service's news broadcasts. ... BBC's Russian output will continue on bbcrussian.com, where two radio [audio] programmes will be broadcast every Monday to Friday and one will be broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays."

BBC World Service "Witness," 24 Mar 2011: "For 65 years the BBC World Service has broadcast in Russian, this weekend it stops. The Russian Service came into its own during the attempted coup by communist hardliners in August 1991. Mikhail Gorbachev said he got his news from the BBC, while being held under house arrest in Crimea." With ten-minute audio report.

BBC World Service press release, 23 Mar 2011: "In a week of special programming in the run-up to this milestone date, BBC Russian is featuring special multimedia content, looking back at the radio journalism that has made the BBC a household name, from Vilnius to Vladivostok, and also looking at future shape of media. Head of BBC Russian, Sarah Gibson, says: 'This is a sad time for all of us at BBC Russian. We are also proud of the unique heritage our broadcasts have left behind – in the hearts and minds of millions of radio listeners. As we move on, we will continue to serve our audiences through online and mobile services.'"

The Moscow Times, 25 Mar 2011, Alexander Bratersky: "Public and media figures contacted by The Moscow Times were unanimous in their disappointment over the closure, praising the BBC Russian Service for its balanced coverage, lack of preaching and willingness to go beyond propaganda. 'I can't advise the British government on how it should spend its money, but this is a sad thing,' Leonid Gozman, co-chairman of the pro-business Right Cause party, said by telephone. 'Now we are able to listen to variety of radio stations, but possibly a day will come when we would again have to turn to foreign radio stations for the truth,' Gozman said. ... Admittedly, the BBC trailed the U.S.-sponsored Radio Liberty in popularity, but some preferred its editorial stance. Media analyst Alexei Pankin said he always felt more comfortable with the BBC since he felt its editorial line was more diverse. 'You could listen to it and not feel irritated,' Pankin said, adding that, unlike Radio Liberty — whose Russian service is still on air — 'the BBC was not trying to teach us.'"

Voice of Russia, 25 Mar 2011, Sergei Sayenko: "The reality is sad and we can only feel sorry for our colleges at BBC and express our solidarity. ... In the Soviet times many citizens of our country listened to the BBC programs with great interest. But the times are changing and people are changing. The USSR no longer exists, there is no 'iron curtain' anymore and our citizens can easily travel to other countries. They also have access to any information, first of all thanks to the Internet. The BBC Russian Service is no longer the channel through which we could get the information concealed by the Soviet authorities or learn about the attractions of the Western lifestyle. Besides that the days of short wave radio format are almost over and mass media are moving to the Internet. BBC also follows this trend. The Russian service website will remain and continue to develop. BBC has always been famous for its high class professionals and we are sure that they will manage to find the new efficient channels to bring their information and their points of view to the people. That is why the BBC Russian service is not dead yet."

Kyiv Post, 23 Mar 2011, Oleh Lyashko, member of Ukraine parliament: "Announcements of cuts in several BBC language services, including Ukrainian, served as a signal for a number of political regimes that gravitate towards authoritarianism. Ukraine is no exception. Declining international informational monitoring of the situation inside Ukraine leads to an ever-growing permissiveness of authorities. Such actions, obviously, don’t serve the interest of the West, which is very concerned with democratic recessions in Ukraine, nor of the people of Ukraine, who suffer from repressive actions by the authorities, nor of the opposition, which continues to rely on the West’s support for maintaining a level, democratic playing field. The reason for the cuts is trivial: The U.K. government is trying to save on budget costs, including radio broadcasting. However, these trivial cuts of BBC language services will result in far more serious geopolitical consequences that the West would find much more challenging and expensive to fix."

In Russia, are blogs (even if past the peak of their popularity) the new samizdat?

Posted: 25 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 23 Mar 2011, Konstantin Rozhnov: "When it comes to self publishing, writers and readers in Russia have more experience than most. In Soviet times, the phenomenon of samizdat - the Russian word for self publishing - was the only way for many to make themselves heard in an environment strictly guarded by the Soviet propaganda machine. Moreover, it was one of very few ways, along with word of mouth and the BBC Russian Service's radio programmes, to learn about things the Soviet censorship wanted to keep secret. But then, during the 2000s - after a decade of almost total freedom of speech in Russia - the state significantly increased its control over mass media. It was only natural for many people to respond by embracing the new culture of online blogging. ... A recent survey puts the monthly audience of the fast-growing Runet [Russian segment of the internet] at 50 million. 'There are more than 40 million blogs in the Runet, but only 7-10% are active - that is, updated at least once a month,' says Dmitry Chistov, chief analyst at the Russian Association of Electronic Communications. Globally, blogs have been losing the battle with social networks, but in Russia they are holding their ground much better, although, Mr Chistov admits, the peak of their popularity was reached in the 2000s."

BBC Caribbean Service ends today with call-in about future of pan-Caribbean news.

Posted: 25 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Cayman News Service, 22 Mar 2011: "After more than 72 years of broadcasting to the people of the region the BBC World Service is axing its Caribbean Service this week as part of the organisation’s enforced cuts. The service will come off air on Friday 25 March is one of the oldest English Language services that the BBC has provided. It started broadcasting in 1939 featuring its first programme Calling the West Indies. ... On the eve of the service’s radio silence the team will be hosting a special one-hour call-in programme looking at the future of pan-Caribbean news and current affairs. 'During this programme, we hope to both reflect the legacy of BBC Caribbean but, more importantly, we will be looking at what the Caribbean can now do for itself in terms of cross-regional media coverage and output. In addition to this, we are planning to leave a legacy website celebrating the best of BBC Caribbean output over the years,' said Debbie Ransome from the BBC Caribbean service team. ... Although BBC executives have slowly reduced the World Service’s shortwave transmissions in all languages recently stating that shortwave is 'a dying concept' in the world of the internet, given the recent unrest in the Arab world the difficulty for dictators to jam shortwave demonstrates its continued value." See previous post about same subject.

BBC News, 25 Mar 2011: "E-mails to the Caribbean Service overwhelmingly voiced sadness at its closure. 'It filled a great need for the Caribbean audience to have a view of the world not provided by local radio stations,' wrote Jacqueline Sharpe in Trinidad and Tobago."

BBC Caribbean Service, 21 Mar 2011: "Copies of the sound and text content of the BBC Caribbean's radio and online archives will be donated to the University of the West Indies (UWI). A UWI archiving team will be working at Bush House. The Service online site bbccaribbean.com will also become a legacy site with some highlights from the news, sporting, and cultural archives."

Trinidad Express, 25 Mar 2011: "One Caribbean Media Ltd (OCM), the indigenous pan-Caribbean media company, is launching a new Caribbean Super Station (CSS) on April 4. This new station will be a part of the Group's OCM Network which currently operates radio stations in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St Lucia, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis and the British Virgin Islands. ... 'To date our application for radio broadcast licences for the Caribbean Super Station in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados and a television broadcast licence for Barbados have not been favourably received, but we remain hopeful that as a publicly-owned and indigenous media company, such approvals will not be long in coming. ... We feel encouraged though by the recent calls from political leaders and social commentators across the region for some entity to step in and fill the breach that will be left by the closure of the BBC's Caribbean service.'" See also Barbados Nation, 24 Mar 2011.

Rep. Lamborn's bill targets NPR, but he says VOA should remain "well-funded."

Posted: 24 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
KXRM/KXTU TV (Colorado Springs), 23 Mar 2011, Tim Elbertson: "Colorado's Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn said National Public Radio can survive without government backing – if it changes its mindset. ... Lamborn's funding bill passed the House on March 17, 2011 by a mainly party-line vote of 228-192. It now heads to the Democratically-controlled Senate. His bill targets NPR – and the approximately $64 million dollars in federal money that goes toward the organization. ... However, there's another public broadcasting service funded by American taxpayers – and with a much larger budget. Voice of America (run by the Broadcasting Board of Governors) has an annual budget of $755 million and broadcasts 1,500 hours of news, informational, educational and cultural American-based programming over the airwaves around the world. Lamborn said that even though VOA's large budget could probably undergo some streamlining, he thinks its mission should be well-funded. 'That's trying to help out with some of the countries (like) Libya, the Northern Africa countries, where democracy needs to get a foothold. And if that works, we're better off in the West with less terrorism and challenges against Western civilization.'" -- VOA no longer broadcasts in Arabic, and the $755 million budget is for all the BBG entities, not just VOA.

Radio-info.com, 18 Mar 2011: "Minnesota-based Public Radio International and American Public Media say that Colorado Republican House member Doug Lamborn's H.R. 1076 'also prohibits stations from using that money to purchase shows from other distributors.' PRI, which syndicates shows such as Ira Glass' 'This American Life' and the BBC World Service, says it is 'appalled' by the passage of the bill, which it says would 'inhibit stations' ability to serve local audiences and stifle producers' development of new content.' American Public Media, which syndicates 'Marketplace' and 'A Prairie Home Companion', says 'the bill would affect the entire public radio system, and not just NPR as it is being represented.'"

MountainRunner.us, 18 Mar 2011, Matt Armstrong: "The most likely winner, at least the short term, will be foreign government broadcasters. Already, local public radio stations often fill gaps in programming with news from the BBC. It is easy to imagine demand for the BBC will increase if programming from NPR becomes unavailable or drops in quality. But BBC is not the only game in town. The recent performance of Al Jazeera English in covering the Middle East may embolden AJE to explore avenues. I would be surprised if Russia Today wasn’t actively seeking to expand its reach. The same for Chinese Government broadcasters, including Xinhua and Radio China International. I do not anticipate a large expansion into public radio, however."

BBC won't give away its radio content. It must be purchased by public radio stations through exclusive distributor Public Radio International. If government funding dries up, some public radio stations may no longer be able to carry BBC World Service programs. Deutsche Welle and other international stations might provide their programming for free. Voice of Russia and China Radio International would be delighted to distribute their programming at no charge. See previous post about same subject.

NHK tries to provide "balanced coverage" of Japan disaster.

Posted: 24 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Japan Times, 20 Jan 2011, Edan Corkill: "NHK is not the only international broadcaster operating in the disaster areas of northeastern Japan and the stricken nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture. The BBC and CNN are just some of the dozens of broadcasters working on the ground. [Makoto Harada, the head of NHK's International Planning and Broadcasting Department] volunteered that the approaches of such broadcasters would naturally be different to NHK's. "I used to work as a reporter, and I covered the tsunami in Bali and the earthquake in Sichuan Province, China," he said. 'When you are operating with just one or two crews and you are overseas, then of course you have to go to the most drastically affected areas. Those are the images that you send back.' NHK has so many crews on the ground, he continued, that it is possible to provide coverage not just from the most affected areas (and now the Fukushima reactors), but also from the recovery efforts taking place over a massive area. 'The idea is to try to provide a balanced coverage of everything that is going on,' he said."

The Tyee, 24 Mar 2011, Crawford Kilian: "English-language Japanese media like Japan Today and NHK World provide calm, up-to-date reports."

The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Mar 2011, Tim Goodman: "Remarkably, among American outlets, CNN has been doing better work than its competitors. It makes you shudder (or should). For example, MSNBC seems adrift, and every time it comes back to Chris Matthews and his talk-yelling at people on the set. Fox doesn't have the reporting strength that CNN does, and CNBC appears more concerned about the Nikkei than the people of Japan. The best coverage - by far - is being done online by the likes of Japanese network NHK English, the BBC and Al Jazeera English."

MSNBC Technolog, 18 Mar 2011, Suzanne Choney: "The app, NHK World TV Live, has been around since last July, but has just been highlighted by Apple in a new section on iTunes called 'Stay in Touch: Apps for Communicating and Sharing.' ... I've downloaded the app; it's running now on my phone as I write this (with the phone plugged into a charger). The video is not always the clearest, but it is still incredibly useful — and amazing to be able to have access right in your pocket to such important news on your schedule." CIO, 23 Mar 2011, Tom Kaneshige: "It's no wonder the NHK World TV Live app for iPhone (free) became one of the most downloaded apps on the App Store last week."

RCN Telecom press release, 19 Mar 2011: RCN Telecom Services "has opened up the signal for TV Japan, a leading in-language television network carried by the company. Currently TV Japan is airing NHK International Broadcasting’s coverage of the disaster directly from Japan. Through March 31, 2011, all RCN customers are able to access the TV Japan network on channel 504 (channel 911 in Lehigh Valley, PA). ... RCN Telecom Services, LLC (http://www.rcn.com) is a competitive broadband services provider delivering all-digital and high-definition video, high-speed internet and premium phone services to residential and small-medium business customers. RCN's primary service areas include Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley (PA), New York City, Boston and Chicago."

See also VOA's Earthquake in Japan web page.

State Department's public diplomacy website America.gov will be "decommissioned" 31 March.

Posted: 24 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
America.gov home page: "Website Decommissioning: America.gov is being decommissioned on March 31, 2011, and will be available only as an archive site. Information on U.S. foreign policy and national interests will be available through U.S. embassy and consulate websites or www.state.gov."

As a demonstration of how much influence I have in Washington, in Foreign Service Journal, October 2010, I advocated expanding America.gov to more languages, operating it as a public-diplomacy complement to US international broadcasting. I.e. the former advocates, the latter provides an independent news service. The ink on that article is hardly dry, and now we learn that America.gov will go away. How will State.gov deal with languages other than English? Will there be links in those languages available at the top of the home page? If it's anywhere else, chances are non-anglophones won't find the link.

Can Al Jazeera and BBC be mentioned in the same sentence?

Posted: 24 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 19 Mar 2011, Mark Seddon: "Perhaps it was unintended, but two or three weeks ago, at the height of the protests that were gripping the great cities of Egypt, the director general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, appeared on the channel's flagship current affairs programme, Newsnight, in London as part of a debate on the future of newsgathering, and mentioned the BBC and Al Jazeera in the same sentence. I was sufficiently taken aback at Al Jazeera's apparent coming of age at the highest reaches of the BBC that I forgot the context in which both channels got an equal mention. ... CNN and the BBC as might be expected produced highly-polished reportage based on the work of their experienced journalists in the field. The BBC seemed to excel in some of the discussion programmes, in a way that CNN did not. But, and here is perhaps the reason for the great leap forward that we have witnessed over the past weeks, it fell to the free Middle East media to report on exactly what was happening on the street from Cairo to Tehran, and from Sana'a to Tripoli."

Macleans, 21 Mar 2011, Colby Cosh: "As much as we enjoy having our Western liberal pieties confirmed by al-Jazeera—without thinking too much about how the sausage is made—there are obvious questions about the viability of a news network whose owner can ring the palace and order up a bombing. One would be 'Can you rightly call it a "news network" at all, except in the vestigial sense in which one might use the term to apply to the North Korean Central News Agency or the old Soviet-era TASS?' Another would be 'Isn’t this the sort of thing that is likely to compromise al-Jazeera’s vaunted access to Muslim regimes pretty quickly?' And the most awkward of all: 'If the reporting activity of al-Jazeera correspondents is implicitly backed up by the threat of hellfire from the sky, isn’t it justifiable for governments to regard and treat those people as enemy agents?'" -- The same might be said for BBC World Service, still funded by the UK Foreign Office, soon to be paid for by the government-mandated BBC license fee. BBC, domestic and international, maintains its independence through its own "firewall," the BBC Trust. The nature of Al Jazeera's corporate governance is murkier.

Huffington Post, 18 Mar 2011, Danny Schechter: "I heard a term there on the lips of an Al Jazeera executive that I never uttered by any American media exec in my years of media watching and working at ABC, CNN, and CNBC among others. The term is 'oppression' -- as in being a voice for the voiceless, standing up for oppressed people. Al Jazeera explicitly links its media efforts to the fight for democracy and free speech. CNN, these days, like Fox and MSNBC, is more about supercharged domistic partisan opinion. Al Jazeera is more about universal human rights, facts and journalism, although when it does offer opinions it always offers more than one. Its slogan has always been, 'the opinion and the other opinion.'" -- "Fight for democracy" has a good, noble sound to it, but just reporting the news would be much more helpful to a democracy and to those aspiring to democracy.

The Big Issue, 18 Mar 2011, Adam Forrest: "Some claim Al Jazeera has become more of a participant than an observer of the protests. Dr Mohammed el-Nawawy, author of Islam Dot Com, believes the network’s rise is so bound up with efforts toward openness, its editorial stance could not be any other way. 'Clearly, the channel was excited about change that came from the people. Al Jazeera is associated in people’s minds with greater freedom and independence. That is its appeal. The millions protesting are the millions watching Al Jazeera.' ... If some onlookers in Europe and the States remain suspicious of what they view as the network’s anti-Israel and anti-US rhetoric (intervention in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere is often referred to as the 'so-called war on terror'), they are being forced to adapt to the idea of well-equipped news teams surveying the globe from a non-Western perspective."

Accuracy in Media, 23 Mar 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "Al-Jazeera wants to ignore stories that put Arabs and Muslims that it favors in a bad light. At the same time, Israeli victims of terrorism will be blamed for what happens to them and any notion that they were human beings with names and faces will be discouraged."

Greek Reporter, 17 Mar 2011, Anastasia Miskedaki: "'A terrible attempt of defamation of Greece' characterizes the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Al Jazeera reports, according to which a ship with a Greek flag on it was transporting weapons to Tripoli, Libya. The Arab satellite TV net broadcasted last Friday, with a testimony of an eyewitness, that a ship with a Greek flag on it unloaded weapons in the port of Tripoli. The reaction of the Greek Ministry came through an announcement on Tuesday. 'The channel managers never communicated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or some other Greek authority to crosscheck the reliability of that claiming... .'"

University of Wisconsin-Madison News, 15 Mar 2011: "Al Jazeera's chief strategic adviser in the Americas will be the keynote speaker at the third journalism ethics conference at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Friday, April 15. Tony Burman, previously managing director of Al Jazeera English, will address the conference 'In Your Face: Partisan Journalism in a Democracy.'"

Hürriyet Daily News (istanbul), 19 Mar 2011, Aijaz Zaka Syed: Al Jazeera "has changed the rules of the game not just in the incredibly dull world of the Middle East media but is forcing the movers and shakers of the world media to watch their step and constantly read and revise their script to keep pace with the change that the Doha-based network has come to represent. Al-Jazeera has not just emerged as the real voice of the Arab street, it is pitching itself as a healthy, credible alternative, even if it is still hopelessly young and green, to the apologists and cheerleaders of the empire. That has been hard to miss for anyone following the whirlwind of change that has turned the Arab world upside down. ... It kept its ear to the ground, listening to the drums beating in distance. This is why all those Western wonks and professional pundits failed to see the wave of change spearheaded by the Internet generation of young Arabs, dangerously aware of their democratic rights as well as the hopeless inadequacy of their elites, Al-Jazeera saw the Arab revolt coming... ."

Al Jazeera English in the USA: the discussion continues.

Posted: 23 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 22 Mar 2011, Michael Hernandez: "In some quarters, Al Jazeera has been painted as no more than a platform for extremist Islamist viewpoints. Critics, largely right-wing US pundits, grew progressively vocal during Al Jazeera's recent growing prominence. The Fox News talk show host Bill O'Reilly characterised the network as 'anti-American' and 'anti-Semitic' on his news show, The O'Reilly Factor, last month. Glenn Beck, another Fox News personality, took O'Reilly's criticisms a step further on his self-titled news show, seeing the criticism against Al Jazeera as part of a fight of 'good versus evil'. 'Even our media can't seem to figure out that Al Jazeera is a propaganda machine for, in this case [Egypt], the Muslim Brotherhood, and the 'revolution' on the streets.' Tony Burman, Al Jazeera English's chief strategic adviser for the Americas, said claims of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism were nonsense. He said: 'I suspect O'Reilley and Beck and that whole crowd probably have not spent a minute of their lives watching Al Jazeera English.'"

McClatchy Newspapers, 22 Mar 2011, William Douglas: "When the uprisings first began, Los Angeles's KCET, a public television station, decided to move the half-hour Al Jazeera English newscasts its was airing on its digital channel, MHZ Worldview, to its regular channel. Station officials said the newscasts have been thriving ever since. Between Feb. 7 and March 4, the 6:30 p.m. Al Jazeera English broadcast alone increased by 450 percent, drawing about 100,000 viewers, according to Bret Marcus, the station's senior vice president and chief content officer."

The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Mar 2011, Lorraine Ali and Marisa Guthrie: "'It was a real blow to AJE when they couldn’t get their foot in the door when they launched,' television news analyst Andrew Tyndall says. 'Now the irony is that the great heyday of making money off a cable news operation is over.'"

Fairfield Weekly, 22 Mar 2011, Gregory B. Hladky: "The arrival of the English-language Al Jazeera news broadcast on Connecticut’s airwaves hasn’t produced much in the way of angry cultural backlash, according to Benjamin Michael, general manager of the Middletown-based WESU-FM. 'It’s all been pretty positive,' Michael says of the response to the station’s hour-long Al Jazeera news show that’s been on the air at 11 a.m., Monday-through-Friday, since it began on Feb. 14. Michael says he’s had no direct complaints at all, although the Middletown Press got some heated reaction on its blog site when it ran an item about the launch of the Al Jazeera news program."

See previous post about same subject.

With Qatar support for Saudi intervention in Bahrain, a test for Al Jazeera (updated).

Posted: 23 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, Babylon & Beyond blog, 15 Mar 2011, Meris Lutz: "The Doha, Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network has been credited with helping to sustain protest movements across the region with its wall-to-wall coverage, but will its editorial line change now that Qatar has voiced support for Saudi intervention in Bahrain? ... Al Jazeera is considered among the most credible Arabic news sources, but it has been accused at certain times of allowing its royal backer's political affiliations to skew its coverage. Al Jazeera Arabic, in particular, has recently been criticized for what some see as its overly careful handling of violent clashes between Bahraini protesters and government forces."

Al-Masry Al-Youm, 16 Mar 2011, Ahmed Zaki Osman: "A group of Arab activists has called on the Doha-based Al Jazeera satellite channel to provide more extensive coverage of the pro-democracy protests in countries that enjoy deep political ties with the Qatari government. ... [I]n Bahrain, Al Jazeera seemed to be reluctant to cover the protests, especially with the unprecedented move by Saudi Arabia in sending troops to quell them. However, in recent days, the Al Jazeera network, especially Al Jazeera English, has paid more attention to the Bahraini protests."

The Peninsula (Doha), 5 Mar 2011, editorial: "Al Jazeera is hailed as an epitome of free media in the Arab world and beyond but critics say its so-called freedom and boldness would actually be put to test when the channel begins covering local issues. Al Jazeera has, of late, been at the receiving end on Qatari social networking sites for focusing attention on the outside world and ignoring issues in the country of its birth. Its coverage of events in neighbouring Bahrain and Oman has also left many viewers wondering if it is really objective in its treatment of developments in those countries."

For a recent example of Al Jazeera English Bahrain coverage, see aljazeera.net, 16 Mar 2011. See also the Al Jazeera English live blog on Bahrain.

Update: The National, 22 Mar 2011, James Calderwood: "Mahmoud Galander, an associate professor of mass communication and information science at Qatar University, said last week that the network paid less attention to unrest in Bahrain than other protests in the region because of 'political interests'. Bahrain and Qatar are both members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). 'It's only natural' that media organisations are influenced by their sources of funding, Mr Galander said in an interview. Al Jazeera is funded by the Qatari government. Najeeb al Nauimi, former minister of justice of Qatar who played a formative role in the creation of the network, said he does not believe its claim to report freely on local issues. On one occasion, in an interview with the Arabic-language channel, he criticised the government. The interview, which was taped, was not broadcast."

Think Progess, 19 Mar 2011, Zaid Jilani: "A ThinkProgress analysis of press coverage by the three major U.S. cable news networks — CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News — from March 14 to March 18 finds that Bahrain received only slightly more than ten percent as many mentions as Libya and that Yemen received only six percent as many mentions as Libya. ... One network that has been paying close attention to the revolts in Bahrain and Yemen is Al Jazeera English. It filed a detailed video report yesterday from the scene of a government attack on protesters in the capital Sana’a." [with video link]

Taliban uses media they formerly banned "to affect the opinions of both Afghans and foreigners."

Posted: 23 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 16 Mar 2011, Bashir Ahmad Gwakh: "[W]hile the Taliban officially banned photography, movies, and the use of the Internet when it was in power in Afghanistan -- considering them un-Islamic -- today the militant group cannot deny the potential of such media as tools of propaganda and recruitment. ... Danish Karokhel, director of Afghanistan's first independent news agency, Pajhwok Afghan News, says that the Taliban's media campaign is intended to affect the opinions of both Afghans and foreigners. 'They do [propaganda] to influence foreign nations to put pressure on their governments [to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan]. Also, they want to spread terror among people in Afghanistan through their videos,' Karokhel says. ... Taliban is taking advantage of another media tool -- cell phones. [New posted on Taliban websites] is converted to SMS text messages, which are then sent to subscribers, who can then send them on to their own contacts. 'Each of them sends it to his acquaintances inside and outside Afghanistan, and so a chain of dissemination begins.'"

Daily Times (Lahore), 17 Mar 2011, Mohammad Taqi: "It was not that long ago that Mullah Fazlullah’s FM radio service was giving Radio Free Europe a run for its money and Muslim Khan graced the screens of major channels through his mobile phone (that creating a radio-jammer or locating the mobile phone-user through GPS-tracker is literally child’s play is another story)."

State Dept and BBC World Service stepping out on the BBG? Not really worth getting angry about.

Posted: 23 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 22 Mar 2011, Ben Dowell: "An application by the BBC World Service Trust for US government funding to help combat censorship in countries such as China and Iran has met with a furious response in America. Some figures within rival US international broadcasters such as Voice of America are said to be 'deeply angry' that, at a time when the Congress is embroiled in a delicate budgetary standoff with the Obama administration, the World Service Trust is hoping to receive US tax dollars. One Washington source said that the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the US government agency which distributes about $760m of public money annually to five US international broadcasters, should receive the funding and not the BBC World Service Trust. 'We are deeply angry here in the States. The Voice of America is the US government's international broadcaster and needs support,' the source added. 'This is coming at a time when the US government is cutting funding for the BBG as well as National Public Radio and people are angry that money is going to the BBC World Service Trust.' ... BBC World Service sources insisted that American money will be going to the World Service Trust – which is the corporation's international charity – and not to the World Service, the international broadcaster. 'It is quite reasonable that project by project work by the trust could apply for state department and US funding,' said a BBC World Service Trust source."

State Department, 21 Mar 2011, Michael H. Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor: "The Guardian article of March 20, alleging that the U.S. Department of State is about to sign a funding deal with the BBC is inaccurate and misleading. The BBC World Service Trust has indicated its intention to submit a proposal to the State Department in the area of Internet freedom, as part of an open and competitive solicitation, but we have not yet received this proposal or made any funding decisions. The State Department has no intention of announcing any funding decisions regarding Internet freedom programming on World Press Freedom Day."

Foreign Policy, The Cable, 22 Mar 2011, Josh Rogin: "State has not yet made any decisions on how to spend the $30 million of congressionally appropriated money for fighting internet censorship that is sitting in its coffers. The BBC World Trust Service is just one of the 61 organizations applying for the funds, but has not gotten any approval or grants."

RT (Russia Today), 23 Mar 2011: "One of the best-known broadcasters, the BBC World Service, has applied for a grant from the US State Department. The company says it needs the funding to develop anti-jamming technology, but some fear the US might use the deal to promote its agenda. ... 'The cuts in the BBC budget are so draconian that they are looking for money any place they can get it and I am sure the State Department was aware of this,' said Brian Drolet from Deepdish television. 'I think what you can interpret from this is that the United States feels comfortable with the political line and the interpretation of world events that are coming from the BBC.' ... 'The minute you actually start taking the money, there is bound to be a certain element of ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’,' said director of Institute of Economic Affairs Mark Littlewood. 'It is a strange arrangement, and I would worry that the more complicated we make the BBC World Service, the less pure its message can be.'"

Fast Company, 21 Mar 2011, Neal Ungerleider: "Software currently used by the BBC World Service to detect hostile governments around the world blocking their websites will be significantly upgraded. The new programs will have far more sensitive--and far more frequently updated--information on user metrics that will aggregate drastic drops in service country-by-country, something that has been a bit of a weak spot for them in the past. ... Most interestingly, part of the sum will also be dedicated to implementing specialized anti-television and radio jamming services for the BBC. While the BBC has not been forthcoming on the technologies they'll use to beam television signals onto sets located in hostile regimes, it's safe to make some educated guesses about how they will do it. Jamming of terrestrial and satellite television signals, along with radio signals, can be defeated with complicated antenna and software-based solutions. Other funds will be dedicated to a propaganda campaign centered around educating BBC World Service users on the basics of using proxy servers and how to educate non-computer savvy listeners on the basics of accessing the Beeb via computer workarounds. ... The BBC World Service's recent budget cuts mean that finding new funding solutions have been a priority for the news agency. But for the British, having the American government fund technological innovation at a beloved (and partially publicly funded) institution may open a Pandora's Box of future issues."

Senator Richard Lugar has proposed that federal funds for the circumvention of net censorship be transferred to the Broadcasting Board of Governors from the State Department, which he believes has not been spending them quickly enough. Until and unless Senator Lugar's idea is implemented, the State Department has funds for internet freedom projects which must be granted to someone.

Unlike some software startup companies that might apply for these grants, the independently and charitably funded BBC World Service Trust has an excellent reputation for the work it has done over the years. And it is connected to the BBC World Service, which has the technical expertise to develop anti-net-censorship and anti-satellite-jamming techniques. BBC World Service Trust would provide additional brains to those of the BBG and IBB already working on these challenges.

If BBC World Service Trust uses the State Department money, and then does not share the results of its research with the BBG and other friendly international broadcasters, so that the BBC retains the competitive advantage, then this matter would justifiably become controversial.

It would be helpful to have a central, global clearinghouse keeping track of, and reporting, what stations are jammed on what satellites, and perhaps even determining the origin of the interference. This could become an additional revenue stream for BBC Monitoring, which is subject to the same budget cuts as the rest of BBC World Service.

See previous post about same subject.

Ars Technica, 22 Mar 2011, Nate Anderson: "Google has awarded $1 million to Georgia Tech researchers so that they can develop simple tools to detect Internet throttling, government censorship, and other 'transparency' problems. ... Wenke Lee, a computer science professor at the school ... said, 'say something happens again like what happened in Egypt recently, when the Internet was essentially shut down. If we have a community of Internet user-participants in that country, we will know instantly when a government or ISP starts to block traffic, tamper with search results, even alter Web-based information in order to spread propaganda.'"

"Time to Rethink the Broadcasting Board of Governors" needs more thought.

Posted: 23 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 16 Mar 2011, Helle Dale and Nick Zahn: "Members of Congress should be concerned that while the Chinese government is investing billions in public diplomacy efforts and broadcasting, the [Broadcasting Board of Governors] has presented a budget that would cut 45 positions at the VOA China branch, reduce the overall broadcasting in Mandarin, and eliminate the Cantonese service as early as October 2011. ... The cuts in the Chinese service are part of an overall BBG strategy focused strongly on building Internet capacity at the expense particularly of radio. ... In fact, even the Chinese government, which is buying up shortwave frequencies en masse, uses them in part to communicate with its own hinterlands. And while the Internet and cell phones are vulnerable to government interference—especially in China, where the entirety of the telecommunications infrastructure is government-owned—radio, particularly shortwave, is difficult to block if enough is invested in signal strength and bandwidth. ...

"At this time, Congress should seriously consider replacing the board with a more professional broadcasting management structure or potentially giving it advisory (as opposed to managerial) responsibility. A $750 million corporation in the private sector could ill-afford the absence of fully engaged and accountable leadership. The five international broadcasters that the BBG oversees represent a staff of nearly 4,000 personnel and need a non-partisan, paid, full-time president and CEO with the resources and time to engage in long-term planning and implementation strategies for U.S. international broadcasting. In addition, Congress itself should also take a far more active role in oversight of this important tool of U.S. foreign policy. Paying attention only when things go wrong is not enough."

The BBG's meat-axe "recalibration" of US international broadcasting to China will encourage criticism such as this, first from think tanks and commentators, later from members of Congress.

According to the theory of US international broadcasting, listeners in China now tune to Radio Free Asia (unmentioned in Dale and Zahn's half-analysis) to hear news about China, then return to VOA (different time, different frequency) to hear world and US news. After the proposed recalibration, the Chinese audience will have to tune to shortwave radio (on which RFA will remain) for news about China, then switch to another medium, the internet, for world and US news, because VOA Mandarin will become an internet-only service.

As I discussed in Foreign Policy Journal, October 2010, the present structure of US international broadcasting is untenable. Any attempt to recalibrate US international broadcasting within that structure will also be untenable. The BBG must lead the way by proposing a much bolder, more thoroughgoing, and necessary reform.

The Heritage fellows are on the right track in discussing the relative utility of shortwave versus the internet in reaching China. The internet is certainly more popular in China, but shortwave may still have the edge in overcoming Chinese interdiction.

China cannot "buy" shortwave frequencies. No country owns or has permanent title to shortwave frequencies. Shortwave is more like the parking lot at the supermarket. You take the best spot you can find when you get there.

Dale and Zahn suggest "replacing the board." We need to review why the Broadcasting Board of Governors was created in the first place. (My paper, "Too Many Voices of America," Foreign Policy, Winter 1989/90, apparently helped to start the discussion that led to the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 and creation of the BBG. As such, I may be a primitive ancestor of the BBG.) When audiences are compelled to tune to international broadcasts, they do so to get news that is more comprehensive, reliable, and credible than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media. To achieve that all-important credibility, the international broadcasting effort must be independent. The only way that a government-funded public broadcasting entity can be independent is through a bipartisan, or multi-partisan board, providing the "firewall" between the broadcaster (especially its newsroom) and the government.

The Heritage fellows are correct that US international broadcasting needs a CEO. The absence of such a slot is a fundamental flaw in the International Broadcasting Act of 1994. If US international broadcasting were a single corporation, it would have a CEO and senior management team. The board of that corporation could then limit itself to the appointment of those senior managers, and the other general supervision that boards of private corporations do. If the CEO is appointed not by the board, but by the president with Senate consent, he/she can hardly be "non-partisan."

Dale and Zahn go on to encourage Congress to "take a far more active role in oversight of this important tool of U.S. foreign policy." First, it's a news organization (or, rather, at present, a collection of somewhat overlapping news organizations), not a "tool of U.S. foreign policy." Congress could get more involved in the content of the entities, calling for more of this, and less of that, but the BBG was created to prevent that sort of interference.

There is a precedent for the type of broadcasting effort that the Heritage fellows envision. It was Radio Moscow, from the 1940s through the 1980s. It was mainly on shortwave and it adhered to the bullet theory of communication: keep sending a message and eventually the audience will agree with that message. And because Radio Moscow sent the messages that were pleasing to the Soviet leadership, it thrived. It had the most hours of output, in the most languages, using the most kilowatts, of any international radio station during that period. It also had very small audiences, because it was not providing the accurate news that people were seeking on their shortwave radios.

If a future administration and Congress go along with the Heritage Foundation vision, US international broadcasting may thrive in the same way.

Pasadena Weekly, 10 Mar 2011, André Coleman: "A letter to Pasadena Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff and members of the House Appropriations Committee from area human rights activists expressed grave concerns about proposed cuts to Voice of America broadcasts to Communist China. The letter from Ann Lau, president of the Visual Arts Guild, and Joe Brown, head of the NAACP Pasadena Branch, decries $8 million in cuts to VOA’s $206 million annual budget being proposed by the Broadcast Board of Governors, an independent agency responsible for all non-military international broadcasting sponsored by the US government. ... 'Young people throughout the world are risking their lives for basic human rights, freedom and the right to participate in governing themselves,' states the letter from Lau and Brown. 'They look to our country for inspiration, and their stories deserve to be shared. Shuttering Voice of America’s Chinese services will stifle their struggles.'"

International broadcasters covering captured arms ship in Israel subject to hour-long wait at security post.

Posted: 22 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Ynetnews, 16 Mar 2011, Yoav Zitun: "The report about the 'Victoria' arms vessel seized near Israel's coast Tuesday received little media coverage in the backdrop of the Japan earthquake disaster. IDF soldiers may have been lauded for preventing weapons from reaching terror groups, but the army's PR efforts failed to impress foreign media elements. The IDF invited members of the foreign press to get a close look at the weapons seized on the ship. Foreign reporters left the Ashdod Port outraged after being held up for over an hour at a security check post. Yehia Kassem, a reporter for Alhurra TV told Ynet, 'I don't understand why we're being help up. We won't manage to send materials in time. Those who stayed are left feeling soured. I don’t understand why they didn't prioritize foreign press which needs to show the pictures to the world. A Spanish reporter who left the scene was furious. 'This is a disgrace. It's a shot in the foot. What did they bring here us for? To sit around or to see weapons intended for Hamas?' In total, some 30 reporters and photographers, including German, Spanish and Arab teams, left the site. Soldiers handed out sandwiches and water to the remaining crews.'"

Globes, 16 Mar 2011, Li-or Averbach: "'Globes' obtained a list of the briefings held, and currently being held, by the IDF Spokesman's Office. They show that in addition to bloggers in the US and Europe, special briefings were held with correspondents from 'The New York Times', 'Washington Post', and two major German papers. Press briefings were also held in Arabic, including for the BBC's Arabic Service and Alhurra TV."

Australia's ABC might follow BBC iPlayer with an international ABC iView video-on-demand service.

Posted: 22 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
GoodGearGuide, 18 Mar 2011, Campbell Simpson: "When the BBC announced an international iPlayer Web and iPad application, the possibility of an internationally available ABC iView video-on-demand service looked more promising. Arul Baskaran, multiplatform controller for the ABC, told PC World Australia that the BBC's moves were an 'interesting development', but the ABC wouldn't be following suit immediately: 'It's new, and it isn't exactly proven what model works — whether it's the subscription one, or whether it's advertising.'"

Continental will display DRM digital shortwave exciters at the NAB show.

Posted: 22 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link

Radio World, 17 Mar 2011, interviewing Dan Dickey, president of Continental Electronics Corp, about the Continental exhibit at the 2011 NAB Show: "On the DRM front Continental will be displaying the TransRadio DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale] DMOD3 exciter used with our 100 kW, 300 kW and 500 kW DRM shortwave transmitters that are currently being deployed around the world. We will also be hosting a presentation on DRM titled 'Getting The Most From DRM' on Monday."

The North Korean exile shortwave stations and their specific target audiences.

Posted: 22 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, April 2011, Robert S. Boynton: "Radio is the chief technology through which the [North Korean] regime communicates with its citizens and is, for a variety of reasons that include patterns of historical use, the technology of choice for the exile-media outlets. A few target specific audiences. North Korea Reform Radio, founded in 2007, directs its free-market message at government bureaucrats (it recently aired a 44-episode series on China’s economic liberalization); North Korea Intellectual Solidarity, or NKIS, a hybrid think tank and news organization, concentrates on the intelligentsia ('The bottom of the population are too ignorant and brainwashed, and the elites are too hardline,' says its founder, Kim Heung Kwang). Much of the programming has a distinct social-media character. Free North Korea Radio’s Voices of the People features man-on-the-street interviews with North Koreans, their voices digitally distorted before being broadcast back into their country. NK Reform Radio interviews defectors now living in South Korea. ... The bet is that a mix of entertainment and news is more compelling than broadcasts that focus on famine or human-rights abuses (things most North Koreans are well aware of)."

Iranian-American actress, to perform in VOA Nowruz special, was criticized in BBC Persian report for Iranium role (updated).

Posted: 22 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 18 Mar 2011: "Oscar nominated actress and Emmy award winner, Shohreh Aghdashloo, appears on stage at Voice of America headquarters in Washington this Sunday in a special televised performance of the play, An Iranian in Heaven. The Farsi language performance will be broadcast to Iran live by satellite and streamed on the Internet as part of the VOA Persian News Network’s (PNN) special program marking the Iranian New Year, Nowruz. The Iranian-born Shohreh Aghdashloo says, 'I am thrilled that after so many years, and thanks to Voice of America, I am fulfilling my dream of performing in front of my compatriots in Iran – it is thrilling that millions will be watching live.'"

Jerusalem Post, 14 Mar 2011, Oren Kessler: "The documentary film Iranium ... has had a polarizing effect since its February 8 premiere. Fox News’ Sean Hannity devoted a special hour-long episode to Iranium, and the network continued to report on it weeks after its US release. But PBS reporters Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib disparaged the film for what they called its 'alarmist' tone, and for overstating the case against the Iranian regime. Shohreh Aghdashloo, the Iranian-American actress who narrates the film, was criticized in a BBC Persian television report for Iranium’s alleged exaggeration of the scope of political executions in Iran, and the fact that director Alex Traiman lives in the West Bank settlement of Beit El."

For more about Iranium, see PBS Frontline, Tehran Bureau, 28 Jan 2011, Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib. For controversy about screening of the film in Canada, see YouTube, 19 Jan 2011 (clip from CBC TV news). See also the Iranium website.

News.Az, 14 Mar 2011: "'Representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the USA' Robert Avetisian`s [Nowruz] speech was removed from the website of the Armenian service of the Voice of America radio station following Azeri ambassador Aliyev`s letter to director of the Voice of America Danforth W. Austin. The letter underlined Avetisian was registered by the US Department of Justice as a lobbyist and does not holds any diplomatic status."

Update: RFE/RL press release, 20 Mar 2011: "As Nowruz celebrations begin in Iran tonight, RFE’s Radio Farda will ring in the Persian New Year with the 200th episode of its popular satire show 'Pas Farda' and live-streamed concerts by famous Iranian artists banned from performing inside the country. As a special treat, 'Pas Farda' host Farshid Manafi will be joined on the air tonight by Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi, the hosts of VOA's hit television show 'Parazit.' 'Parazit' and 'Pas Farda' have become hugely popular in Iran, as both programs have pushed the limits on critical satire in Persian-language media. ... In the coming days, Radio Farda will also be live streaming several Nowruz concerts from Dubai. Many Iranians travel to the Emirate to celebrate the New Year and to attend concerts by artists that have been banned from performing in their home country." See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 22 Mar 2011: To celebrate Nowruz (the Persian New Year, which began on March 21), RFE's Radio Farda is live streaming a special three-day concert series from Dubai.

Sock puppets: will million-dollar contract bring authenticity to "false online personalities"?

Posted: 21 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 17 Mar 2011, Ian Cobain: "A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an 'online persona management service' that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world. The project has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as 'sock puppets' – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same."

The Guardian, 17 Mar 2011, Jeff Jarvis: "[T]here is absolutely no need to spend millions of dollars to create fake identities online. Any child or troll can do it for free. Millions do. If the government insists on paying, it can use salesforce.com to monitor and join in chats. There is no shortage of social management tools marketers are using to find and mollify or drown out complainers."

Commentators cheer CNN International, and more CNN/CNN International simulcasts.

Posted: 21 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Baltimore Sun, 20 Mar 2011, David Zurawik: "While some analysts are attributing CNN's ratings surge in recent weeks only to the incredible crush of news happening in place like Egypt, Japan and Libya, I believe there is more to the network's success than just a staggering flow of news. Amid all its prime-time struggles with the likes of Eliot Spitzer and Piers Morgan, CNN has found something far more important than those two prime-time poseurs: It has developed and is now refining a more compelling model of presentation for its superior worldwide journalism. I am talking about the simulcasts that CNN and CNN International have been using more and more since its Egypt coverage. I started paying attention to it in mid-February after talking to Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, about the network's coverage of Egypt. Maddox, who had previously been responsible for international newsgathering, was now in charge of international and CNN/U.S. newsgathering, and the difference was starting to show. ... And I have to be frank, some of the CNN/U.S. shows desperately needed more of that sort of intensity. Some of the lowly rated shows felt like they were as dead in the water some days and nights as the nightly news on CBS. But that's not the case with what I have seen at CNN International. ... One note of warning amid CNN's success: Some of the tweets Saturday night from CNN folks about the U.S. Tomahawk attack on Libya seemed a little gung-ho to me."

Broadcasting & Cable, 19 Mar 2011, John Eggerton: "CNN/U.S. and CNN International were in simulcast Saturday with the breaking news."

OnMilwaukee.com, 18 Mar 2011, Tim Cuprisin: "If I have a criticism of [CNN's] coverage, it's that live reporting usually doesn't continue late at night, with reruns of earlier programs instead. Of the three news channels, CNN has an international news channel, CNN International, to which it could -- and should -- switch over. The good news is that CNN International is available on digital cable and satellite. You can find at on Channel 357 on Time Warner Cable in southeast Wisconsin."

Daily Kos, 15 Mar 2011, Laurence Lewis: "[A]fter spending most of 2004 and 2005 traveling in Europe, occasionally catching the BBC or CNN International, upon returning home, I just couldn't watch the domestic versions anymore. It was embarrassing. It was painful. It was a waste of time."

ATV Today, 14 Mar 2011, Shaun Linden: "CNN International has been given a fresh look today, bringing it in-line CNN US. The international news channel has been given a new look with new graphics and the CNN logo slightly re-aligned on screen. The new look which was unveiled this morning copies a similar style to that of CNN in the US."

DNA India, 15 Mar 2011, G Seetharaman interviewing Ellana Lee, managing editor of CNN International, Asia Pacific: "One thing is we don’t compete with local news. We are clearly aware of our strengths and where we don’t want to be. We don’t want to compete with your 100 + news channels and 400 + entertainment channels. We clearly know our DNA is international news. When there is big news on the international scene you turn to us because we have got the best resources and scale. ... Having said that, India is a unique country because we have a really good relationship with CNN-IBN."

CNN press release, 14 Mar 2011: "CNN International announced today that environmentalist Philippe Cousteau will be the network’s host and special correspondent for the successful Going Green specials during 2011." See also CNN, 16 Mar 2011.

Twitter.com, 20 Mar 2011, Michael van Poppel: "CNN is now permanently showing a 'breaking news' bar on its website. Now lost all its meaning."

State Dept to provide funds to BBC World Service to combat TV jamming and web blocking (updated: it's BBC WST grant application).

Posted: 21 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian 20 Mar 2011, Ben Dowell: "The BBC World Service is to receive a 'significant' sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China. In what the BBC said is the first deal of its kind, an agreement is expected to be signed later this month that will see US state department money – understood to be a low six-figure sum – given to the World Service to invest in developing anti-jamming technology and software. The funding is also expected to be used to educate people in countries with state censorship in how to circumnavigate the blocking of internet and TV services. It is understood the US government has decided the reach of the World Service is such that it makes investment worthwhile. ... The deal, which is expected to be formally announced on International Press Freedom Day, 3 May, follows an increase in incidents of interference with World Service output across the globe, according to its controller of strategy and business, Jim Egan. ... This will allow it to detect jamming sooner than it does currently where it relies on reports from users on the ground. 'Software like this helps monitor dips in traffic which act as an early warning of jamming, and it can be more effective than relying on people contacting us and telling us they cannot access the services,' said Egan."

This story of full of ironies. Senator Richard Lugar recently proposed that US funds for net circumvention be transferred from the State Department, which he suggested has not been spending them quickly enough, to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. At a 15 February BBG conference on Capitol Hill, BBG chairman Walter Isaacson applauded the idea. A "rollicking, inter-agency competition for federal funds" seems to be ensuing. The latest volley is that State is giving its circumvention funds not to BBG, but to rival BBC.

By way of precedent, USAID has given BBC World Service Trust funds to help re-equip Nigerian radio stations. And on 9 March, BBC Global News director Peter Horrocks told the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, "We will shortly be making announcements about, new circumvention technology that helps users on the internet to get round some of the blocks put in the so-called great firewall of China. We have received funding-interestingly, from the US Government, rather than from the UK Government-in relation to researching that." I'm surprised that BBC World Service, which guards both its independence and the appearance of its independence, would want to be associated with State Department money.

Update: ZDNet, 21 Mar 2011, David Meyer: "The BBC World Service Trust is in the early stages of applying for US State Department funding for research into combating the jamming of broadcasts by repressive governments. The Trust, which is the corporation's international charity for promoting human rights and reducing poverty, is understood to be applying for the money because it is concerned about the ability of authorities in countries such as China and Iran to block broadcasts from the BBC and other international outlets. It is not clear at this point how much money has been applied for, or whether the State Department will choose to provide it to the World Service Trust." -- Now it makes more sense. Most of the income for BBC World Service Trust comes from grants and charitable donations. The State Department makes grants.

New York Magzine, 21 Mar 2011, Nitasha Tiku: "Just wait til the anti-NPR brigade gets wind that U.S. funds are going to foreigners."

Global Voices, 20 Mar 2011, Oiwan Lam: "In order to get around the Great Fire Wall and visit blocked website such as Twitter and Facebook, many Chinese netizens subscribe to VPN services. However, it has been confirmed that three of the most popular VPN providers in China: Witopia, 12VPN and StrongVPN have been blocked or disrupted since March 16 2011 as a result of the blocking of PPTP and L2TP VPN Protocols."

The Telegraph, 18 Mar 2011, Christopher Williams: "Internet freedom activists believe the regime in Tehran has implemented highly sophisticated internet surveillance technology and that an information 'arms race' is now inevitable. The crackdown targeted Tor, a free piece of software that allows anyone to connect to internet via a global private network that hides computer IP addresses, which could be used by authorities to identify and locate dissidents. It also encrypts the contents of users' internet communications, making eavesdropping on emails, Facebook, Twitter and other applications more difficult. ... [T]he temporary block on Tor does show that Iran is now more advanced than even China and its Great Firewall in terms of the technology it uses to suppress dissent online... . The value of 'internet freedom' technologies to US foreign policy has not gone unnoticed in Washington: the Tor Project’s arms race with Iranian authorities is funded in part by grants from both the Department of Defense and the State Department."

BBC America will offer commercial-free royal wedding coverage. Public diplomacy or loss leader?

Posted: 21 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, Show Tracker, 17 Mar 2011, T.L. Stanley: "Brilliant news, Anglophiles! BBC America, already billing itself as the official home of the royal wedding, has announced that it will air the April 29 nuptials between Prince William and Kate Middleton live and commercial free. This will mean that U.S. viewers will be able to catch 'events in London live and without commercial breaks, just as if they were sitting in a British living room watching the BBC,' Perry Simon, general manager of BBC Worldwide America, said in a statement." See also BBC America press release, 16 Mar 2011. -- BBC America is a commercial channel, for the purpose of making money for the BBC in the UK. If it is commercial-free during the wedding, is this an exercise in UK public diplomacy? Or a loss leader? Or just too tacky to insert commercials during the event?

More calls for BBC World Service funding from the UK international development budget.

Posted: 21 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, Poverty Matters blog, 16 Mar 2011, Jonathan Glennie: BBC World Service "shouldn't be shut for lack of money. A global public good like the communication of sensible and relatively unbiased information is a vital factor in development progress and human rights. ... So, what can be done? The sum of £46m is peanuts, and it should come from the Department for International Development (DfID) budget. The reason it can't, under current rules, is that it would not comply with the OECD's definition of development aid (pdf). But that definition is not quite as narrow as you might think.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 18 Mar 2011, Andy Sennitt: "A former director of the BBC World Service has said there is 'absolutely no reason' why government funds cannot be diverted in order to prevent cuts. Speaking at a public meeting held at the House of Commons on Tuesday night, John Tusa, who was head of the World Service from 1986 until 1993, told the assembled crowd that money could be diverted from the Department for International Development. 'The World Service does a lot of what DFID does, and arguably does it better,' he said."

Broadcast, 18 Mar 2011, Catherine Neilan: "Alan Johnston – the BBC journalist who was taken hostage in Gaza four years ago – added: 'What’s happening is a hollowing out of the World Service…. They are choosing to turn down the volume, to mute the voice of the World Service.'" See also BECTU, 15 Mar 2011. And journalism.co.uk, 16 Mar 2011.

The Guardian, 17 Mar 2011, Terry Hazzard: "Of more concern is that this beacon of 'soft diplomacy' for Britain will be governed by the BBC Trust, not known for its international perspective or for taking a view on development issues."

BBC Democracy Live, 16 Mar 2011: "Foreign Secretary William Hague ... faced questioned on planned cuts at the BBC World Service, announced earlier in the year by Director-General Mark Thompson. ... Mr Hague has told MPs that the World Service 'performs a valuable role, reflecting British democratic values overseas and supporting British influence in the world' and provided 'a beacon to many in the poorest and most insecure countries in the world'. However he refused to criticise the cuts saying that services had to 'change and develop', and that moving from short wave to online coverage would still reach 'vast numbers' of people." With Video.

Radio World, 15 Mar 2011, James Careless: "There is no doubt that the world has changed since the Cold War, when the BBCWS and other international broadcasters dominated the shortwave bands. In particular, satellite television and the Internet have ended shortwave’s monopoly on global distribution. At the same time, shortwave is the only one of these three media that cannot be easily blocked by hostile governments." See also Radio World, 15 Mar 2011.

See also House of Commons Hansard 10 Mar and 15 Mar 2011. See previous post about same subject.

Continued debate about the future of BBC World Service Hindi.

Posted: 21 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Democracy Live, 14 Mar 2011: "In an adjournment debate on 14 March 2011, former Conservative minister Edward Leigh said: 'The BBC is cutting its short-wave Hindi service which costs £1m a year. Once it is cut, they will save just 2.5 pence per listener.'" With video. See also House of Commons Hansard, 14 Mar 2011.

Stourbridge News, 20 Mar 2011: "Stourbridge MP Margot James has called for extra funding for the BBC’s Hindi Service, part of the BBC World Service. ... Ms James called for the World Service to receive funding from the Department for International Development (DfID). ... 'The World Service certainly contributes to international development so I trust that it will be possible for the Hindi Service to be funded by the Department for International Development.'"

The Independent, 21 Mar 2011, Stephen Glover: BBC "is threatening the Hindi service, which enlightens and entertains millions in the poorest parts of India, and costs practically nothing, while the Government continues to pump hundreds of millions of pounds of aid into the country. Can anyone explain the logic of that?"

The Times of India, 16 Mar 2011, Jaideep Deogharia: "A spokesman for the Bihar Jharkhand North Chhatisgarh Simant Regional Committee of the Maoists, Manas, is such a regular listener of the BBC Hindi service that the names and timings of the broadcast were on his finger tips. 'Our day begins with Namaskar Bharat at 6.30am followed by light exercise to catch the next broadcast Tees Minute' at 8am,' he said. Manas said once they were aware of the happenings around the globe with special emphasis to India, they felt connected to the outer world. ... Although the Voice of America is also one of the popular channels like the Hindi service of Radio Germany but nothing stood at par with the BBC, claimed a lower-rung Maoist cadre." -- VOA Hindi left the air in 2010.

See also House of Commons Hansard 15 Mar and 16 Mar. See previous post about same subject.

Himalayan News Service, 17 Mar 2011: "Nepali mediapersons and civil society organisations today urged British Prime Minister David Cameron and Ambassador John Anthony Tucknott not to shut short-wave transmission of BBC Nepali Service. In a letter addressed to the duo, around 33 journalists and civil society members said the closure would affect millions of listeners. BBC had recently decided to shut down the short-wave transmission of its Nepali service effective from March 27, following a budget cut decision. 'The BBC Nepali Service has played a crucial role in building an informed, critical mass across the country,' read the statement. They requested BBC to continue its transmission for at least a few years until FM services reach all parts of the country."

San Jose radio station switches (at least for now) to a Chinese pop format.

Posted: 21 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Survivor, 17 Mar 2011, Jennifer Waits: "As of yesterday, KSJO [San Jose, California] is now airing an all-Chinese format and I have been catching a range of Chinese pop sounds over their airwaves (and still no commercial announcements). They don’t seem to have a new website up yet, so details are sketchy as to what the goals and format of this new KSJO will be." -- Sometimes when a radio station is in the process of permanently changing its format, it will employ unusual playlists during the transition period. That might be what is happening here.

News about media and propaganda in Libya (including: RFE interviews VOA).

Posted: 20 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 17 Mar 2011, Ian Black: "In normal times Libyans with satellite dishes can access channels such as al-Jazeera or BBC Arabic. But signals have been sporadic since the crisis began and with the internet down for much of the past few weeks sources of information are limited to what the state makes available. Anger at what is described as foreign media misreporting and exaggeration is powerful and apparently genuine. In al-Zahaf al-Akhdar (The Green Page), organ of the revolutionary committees, Thursday's poorly drawn cartoon on the back page excoriates al-Jazeera, its Saudi rival al-Arabiya and the BBC, warning people not to believe their 'false' or 'biased' coverage. Al-Jazeera, based in the Gulf state of Qatar, was the subject of an entire page of invective in Wednesday's al-Fajr al-Jadid (The New Dawn) and described as an outpost of the Israeli Mossad."

AFP, 20 Mar 2011: "Four journalists working for Al-Jazeera, including a Norwegian and a Briton, are being held in Tripoli after being arrested in Libya's west, the Qatar-based satellite channel said late Saturday. ... A statement on the channel's website said that the Libyan authorities 'will be held accountable for the safety, security and well-being of the team." See also aljazeera.net, 20 Mar 2011.

Ynetnews.com, 20 Mar 2011: "Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani announced that his nation will take part in the military operation against Libya. ... Al Thani noted in an interview with Al Jazeera that the Qatari military does not intend to harm neither the Libyan people nor Muammar Gaddafi or his family."

USA Today, 19 Mar 2011, Clare Morgana Gillis: "Pan-Arab satellite channels Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya and Al-Horra are broadcasting live footage from Misurata which shows continued fighting despite the cease-fire order." -- "Al-Horra" is presumably Alhurra.

France 24, 20 Mar 2011, Jade Barker: "Libyan journalist Mohammed al-Nabbous, who launched a Web channel (similar to a live streaming TV channel on the internet) that covered the escalating violence in his home country, was killed in the attacks on rebel stronghold Benghazi that pro-Gaddafi forces carried out on Saturday, hours before a coalition military operation. The 28-year-old Nabbous, whose channel was called Libya Al-Hurra (or Free Libya), played a key role in generating public outage against Gaddafi in the weeks before the UN voted in favour of a no-fly zone in Libya." -- Libya Alhurra was not connected to the US-funded BBG entity Alhurra.

The Australian, 21 Mar 2011, David Burchell: "And so began Nabbous's particular life-project, the independent satellite TV station Libya Alhurra - which he ran out of a noisy, improvised office in that whitewashed Libyan coastal city, where the bright breezes of the Mediterranean vie with the blank white heat from the southern desert. Ever since February 17, Nabbous's hand-held videos have appeared (most uncredited) on broadcasts from CNN, al Jazeera, and occasionally even the BBC."

Radio France International, Atelier des média blog, 18 Mar 2011, Ziad Maalouf: "Depuis la prise de Benghazi par les opposants au régime de Mouammar Khadhafi, la radio Al-Hourrah, la radio libre de Benghazi informe les habitants de l'Est de la Libye."

RFE/RL, 17 Mar 2011: "As Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's troops near the eastern city of Benghazi, the mood in the country's last major opposition stronghold is a mix of hope and fear. RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel talked with the head of Voice of America's Cairo bureau, Elizabeth Arrott, who has just returned from the city."

San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Mar 2011, Jen'nan G. Read: "I am an American Libyan. I spent 14 years of my youth in Libya and Egypt. I remember hearing Moammar Gadhafi’s secret police driving through the streets near my house with loudspeakers encouraging everyone to come and witness the public hangings of Gadhafi naysayers. I remember my parents forbidding me from watching television because they knew the state media would broadcast the executions on all of the channels. I also remember being on the coast of Tripoli when the Reagan administration bombed Libya in 1986. I remember being a scared teenager who felt helpless then. I also recall listening to the Voice of America and being proud of the United States for taking such a strong stand against the madman who was running our country: Gadhafi."

Shortwave monitors hearing psyop directed to Libyan military.

Posted: 20 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Milcom Monitoring Post, 20 Mar 2011: "Ary reported the following around 0730 UTC: '6877 kHz [shortwave]: Psychological operations, possibly EC-130J Commando Solo III. Asks Libyan naval officers not to board their ships in AA/EE/FF. Hard to read here in Holland but msg is clear.'" With audio, included apparent jamming. -- On 6877 kHz, the transmission could be from land-based transmitter in Europe, or from a ship in the Mediterranean, and still be heard in Libya. The Commando Solo aircraft may not be needed unless used for FM and television, which have shorter range. See also twitter.com/utilityworld Hugh Stegman.

Livestation, streamer of international channels, reports "huge spike in traffic" due to Middle East unrest.

Posted: 20 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Beet.TV, 15 Mar 2011, Andy Plesser: "London-based Livestation, a portal which streams linear news programming from broadcasters, including the BBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, and a number of Arabic-language programs, including Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic, France 24 Arabic, has seen a huge spike in traffic to its site since unrest in the Middle East erupted in January. CEO Matteo Berlucchi told Beet.TV in an email that traffic has surged with 50 million video views over the past eight weeks, up 560 percent over the same period last year. A great deal of traffic is coming from the Middle East, via the Arab language services. In something of a remarkable coincidence, Japan's public broadcaster's English service NHK World went live on Livestation on Friday, the day the earthquake struck. Views are trending up, Burlucci says."

Venezuelan ambassador to Nigeria suggests an Al Jazeera-like, Telesur-like channel for West Africa.

Posted: 20 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Trust (Abuja), 10 Mar 2011, Judd-Leonard Okafor: "Venezuela's Ambassador to Nigeria Enrique Arundell has said an Al-Jazeera type of network among ECOWAS countries will help the countries know more about each other without the influence of non-African broadcasters. He made this suggestion during a courtesy call on the Information and Communications Minister, Labaran Maku, yesterday during which he expressed the desire that both countries will develop closer ties, especially in the media sector. Ambassador Arundell said Venezuela wants to share its experience in Telesur--a cross-border broadcasting network it established to share information among other South American nations, including Ecuador, Argentina and Venezuela itself. He said Telesur carries the voice of the region much the same way Al-Jazeera broadcasts the voice of the Arab world and replicating a similar experience in the West African regional bloc will help integration and cooperation."

Colombia Reports, 14 Mar 2011, Edward Fox: "Former Colombian Senator Piedad Corodba is set to collaborate with Venezuela-backed TV channel TeleSur on a series of programs focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean, Spanish news agency EFE reports. The series, named 'Just Causes,' will consist of 13 programmes and concentrate on social, economic and political themes in the region. ... Since being expelled from the Senate in 2010 and barred from holding public office for 18 years for her alleged ties to the FARC, Cordoba has concentrated her attention on her group 'Colombians for Peace."

Morocco's SNRT increases stake in Euronews to 6%, becomes a "principal shareholder."

Posted: 20 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 11 Mar 2011, Julian Clover: "Shareholders in Euronews have approved an increase in share capital that takes the holding of the Moroccan public broadcaster SNRT (Société Nationale de Radiodiffusion et de Télévision) to 6%. The EBU member is now one of the principal shareholders in Euronews. SNRT originally became a shareholder in 2008 when Euronews launched its Arabic language service. The capital increase follows last month’s announcement of the opening of permanent news desks in Cairo, Doha and Dubai, to cover North Africa and the Middle East."

New Al Jazeera competitor will be Sky News Arabia: "We don't have to take sides."

Posted: 20 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 14 Mar 2011, Stanley Carvalho: "British broadcaster BSkyB and a private Abu Dhabi investor plan to launch a round-the-clock Arabic-language news channel next year under the Sky News brand, company officials said on Monday. Sky News Arabia, due to be launched in the second quarter of 2012, would be a 50-50 joint venture with Abu Dhabi Media Investment Co (ADMIC), providing coverage of news across the Middle East and North Africa and competing with the likes of Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC Arabic." See also skynewsarabia.ae.

The National, 15 Mar 2011, Ben Flanagan: "The Arabic-language news station being launched under the Sky News brand will be impartial in its editorial coverage, the station's news director says. ... 'Sky News and Admic are committed to launching a genuinely independent, impartial news organisation,' says Nart Bouran, who has been appointed the station's director of news. 'We don't have to take sides on any of these stories. Our mandate is pretty clear: a news story is a news story.' ... While Mr Bouran acknowledges the achievements of [Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya], he says his Sky News channel will partly distinguish itself through its use of mobile and online. He says the station will have 'a multi-platform approach that will bring something new and fresh to the region'. ... Sky's Arabic-language station will feature the Sky News brand and will be broadcast for free across the Mena region. It will be supported by advertising, with a sales team based in Abu Dhabi."

The National ,15 Mar 2011, Ben Flanagan: "John Ryley, the head of Sky News, said the launch would be followed by news services for smartphones and tablet devices. 'We're not just talking about a TV news channel,' Mr Ryley said. 'We plan to put it online and on mobile applications and tablets - not immediately, but in the months and years to come.' ... The new station will be based at the twofour54 media zone in Abu Dhabi, with bureaus around the world."

The Australian, 21 Mar 2011, Mark Day: "Those with a long memory will recall Murdoch's Whitehall Palace speech at the 1993 launch of a new BSkyB multi-channel service where he sought to position News Corp at the forefront of technological innovation in communications. In a speech written by the then executive chairman of News Limited, Andrew Knight, Murdoch argued that George Orwell had been wrong in his book, 1984. Instead of mass communications being the means by which governments controlled their citizens, it liberated them. ... Murdoch's speech was to cost him his chances to break into the Chinese market in a big way. The Chinese leadership saw it as a challenge and a threat. But he was not wrong. The Egyptian uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarek was facilitated by the massing of like-minded forces via Facebook and Twitter. ... Murdoch's keynote speech at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit last week had echoes of Whitehall Palace and may surprise people who see Murdoch and News through a prism of anti-Muslim bias. Murdoch began by quoting an Arab saying -- 'if a wind blows, ride it' -- and argued his case for an open, creative society as the best way to create jobs and prosperity. ... 'In face of an inconvenient story, it can be tempting to resort to censorship or civil or criminal laws to try to bury it. In the long run, this is counter-productive. Markets that distort their media end up promoting the very panic and distrust that they had hoped to control.' Could that be seen as a red rag to a bull? ... Murdoch's partners are the region's rulers and his speech was a call for the freedom of their people. It is 18 years since the Whitehall Palace speech. It is perhaps a forlorn hope, but I'd like to see the impact of last week's speech a couple of decades from now." See full text of Murdoch speech at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit at paidContent.org, 9 Mar 2011.

BBC, speaking peace unto nations via the web versus "clunky old shortwave" (updated).

Posted: 20 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 11 Mar 2011, Matthew Engel: "And now yet again, the always impoverished World Service – its funding dumped from the Foreign Office on to the licence-payer – is in the firing line. This has added exponentially to the atmosphere of gloom that pervaded Bush House – with its army of exiles enduring the grey weather and vile coffee – even in the good times, if there ever were any. ... The website has now replaced the World Service as this nation’s main means of speaking peace unto other nations (except that, as recent events have shown, it is easier for a tyrant to jam the internet than clunky old short wave)." -- Mr. Engel has overlooked the fact that BBC World Service speaks peace unto other nations mainly through languages other than English, which are not available in the BBC websites other than those of BBC World Service.

Update: Financial Times, 19 Mar 2011, letter from Patrizio Fama, Kuala Lumpur: "Great article by Matthew Engel, but a curious omission: BBC World News. It is watched by tens of millions of people around the world every week, as well as many millions within the UK every day (when it is simulcast domestically). An anomaly in funding terms – in that its money comes from commercial sources (principally BBC Worldwide) rather than the public purse – it sums up BBC journalism: integrity and excellence produced on a shoestring, which the world, not just Britain, desperately needs."

Radio-frequency solutions to net censorship.

Posted: 19 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Economist, 17 Mar 2011: "With a tin can, some copper wire and a few dollars’ worth of nuts, bolts and other hardware, a do-it-yourselfer can build a makeshift directional antenna. A mobile phone, souped-up with such an antenna, can talk to a network tower that is dozens of kilometres beyond its normal range (about 5km, or 3 miles). ... To get round government shutdowns of internet and mobile-phone networks, resourceful dissidents have used such makeshift antennae to link their computers and handsets to more orthodox transmission equipment in neighbouring countries. ... To help democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa get online, [New York-based Access] is equipping a network of ham-radio operators with special modems that convert digital computer data into analogue radio signals that their equipment can cope with. These signals are then broadcast from operator to operator until they reach a network member in an area where the internet functions. This operator reconverts the signal into computer-readable data and then e-mails or posts the information online. Satellites provide yet another way of getting online, though they are expensive to connect to. It is, however, beyond the authorities in most places to shut down a satellite operated by a foreign company or country." -- One would still have to be fairly close to the border for the directional antennas to work. I can't find a URL, or any other information about the Access organization. It is legally questionable whether radio amateurs should handle such traffic. In any case, radio amateurs have had for years digital modes that can connect easily with the internet. Satellites may be difficult to "shut down," but most are rather easy to jam. Iran and Libya are doing it routinely. Other countries could, except they would not want interference to their own satellite communications. The gentlemen's agreement not to jam satellites holds, but only among gentlemen.

Press TV: Iran's Al Alam "plagued by jamming ... interference reportedly comes from Saudi Arabia."

Posted: 19 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 16 Mar 2011: "The signal of the Al-Alam network has been . The Iran-based Al-Alam satellite news channel, whose coverage of recent political developments in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain has been widely watched in the Arab world, first reported jamming on its Badr 5 transponder on Tuesday evening and later on its Badr 6 transponder on Wednesday morning. The jamming attacks have been reportedly caused by installations capable of simultaneously interfering with Al-Alam's frequencies on the Badr (formerly known as ArabSat) satellite.-- Al Alam is Iran's Arabic-language satellite channel.

Good news for CNN International from the EMS winter survey of elites in Europe, Middle East, Africa.

Posted: 19 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 14 Mar 2011, Julian Clover: "There were strong performances for Eurosport, Arte, Euronews, CNN International and Sky News in the EMS Winter Survey. EMS is designed to measure the habits of Europe’s most affluent consumers and top business decision makers. It is also the only pan-European guide to awareness and audiences of the continent’s major TV brands. ... Among the news channels Euronews ranked first in weekly reach with 15.4%, followed by CNN (14.9%) and Sky News (14.6%). The Lyon-based channel [euronews] came second in terms of daily and monthly reach. Despite a focus often in the UK, Sky News claimed top spot for daily reach with 4.6%, CNN was third with 3.1%. ... In monthly cross media data, combining TV and online, CNN was ahead with 41.1% of the EMS universe ahead of BBC World News plus BBC websites (40.0%), Euronews (30.6%) and Sky News (28.3%)." -- Euronews is helped by the fact that it is available in multiple languages, whereas the other news channels are English only. See also Media Week, 15 Mar 2011.

CNN press release, 14 Mar 2011: "CNN is the top international news channel for monthly and weekly reach amongst elite audiences across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) combined, say new results from Synovate’s EMS Survey. ... EMS EMEA results also show that CNN is the channel of choice for the business elite leading on all measures for key groups including Business Travellers and Business Decision makers." -- In the press release, click on the tables to make them bigger and readable.

CNN press release, 20 Jan 2011: "The latest Pan Asia Cross Media Survey (PAX) (2009 Q4 to 2010 Q3) sees CNN once again confirmed as the most watched international news channel amongst most senior business people throughout the region. Each week, a million more affluent and influential viewers tune in to CNN than any other news or business channel. More Top Managers tune into CNN than any other international channel, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis."

BBC: UK will no longer Have Your Say, though the rest of the world will still have World Have Your Say. Or so they say.

Posted: 19 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, The Editors blog, 18 Mar 2011, Alex Gubbay: "[W]e have decided to close our Have Your Say platform. ... We have also for many years run our Have Your Say debates, but within a specific section on the site, often in something of a silo away from the rest of the content. So having changed the underlying technology last year - to bring it into line with the pan-BBC system, we are now in a position to surface that interactivity more within the stories - themselves. ... Though World Have Your Say - the BBC's global interactive news discussion show - will continue across BBC World Service, World News TV and online." -- In fact, World Have Your Say has expanded a bit, per previous post.

Twenty years of BBC World Service Television, later BBC World, later BBC World News.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 14 Mar 2011, onpassing BBC World News press release: "Today marks 20 years since BBC World News’ first broadcast, and not only is the channel likely to have its most commercially successful year to date, it is also preparing to move into a new state-of-the-art newsroom in 2012. In 1991, the channel started broadcasting to Europe as BBC World Service Television. By 1995 it was available across all major continents as BBC World. Three years ago, in 2008, the channel rebranded as BBC World News and is today available in close to 300 million households around the world." -- I wish I could be on the mailing list for these BBC World News press releases. This one is not available at the BBC press office.

BBC World News press release, 16 Mar 2011: "BBC World News and BBC.com are to showcase a multi-platform series exploring the business world of the future, after signing a major new sponsorship deal with DuPont. BBC World News will air a series of 30-minute programmes, to be called Horizons, which will transmit from late Spring 2011. ... The programmes will examine the future of business, looking at the companies around the world that are likely to be making the greatest impact in influencing the way mankind will live and work in the future."

Starke County Economic Development Foundation press release, 14 Mar 2011: "The Starke County [Indiana] Economic Development Foundation (SCEDF) was the contact point for the recent visit to Starke County of a reporter and a producer/cameraman from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World News on the topic of an issue always at the forefront in the Hoosier State – time zones. The BBC is doing a story on time zones around the world and how they affect the way people live their lives, highlighting areas where there are a number of time zones in a small area. Starke County and Indiana will be the focus of that part of the report talking about time zones in America. Reporter Rajini Vaidyanathan came to Starke County from Washington D.C. together with Ramon Goni, a cameraman from New York City, based on some preliminary research she had done on the State of Indiana having more than one time zone and in turn, Starke County, because of the fact that the County has been in and out of both the Eastern and Central time zones on more than one occasion."

Top Gear USA back for a second season ... and a NASCAR deal.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Hot Rod, 11 Mar 2011, Jesse Kiser: "The famed BBC show Top Gear crossed the pond last year with Top Gear USA on the History Channel. Nervous about the outcome and wondering if lightening could strike twice, many of us held our breathes as the first season unfolded. Starting off shaky but ending great, the first season stood a chance. Last month BBC Worldwide announced that History will be picking the show up for another season. The show is produced mostly by BBC and is sold to the History channel with some shared production involvement between the two. Now with its success, Top Gear USA has attracted the youngest viewers in the History channel’s, well, history, with nearly 60 million total viewers."

Top Speed, 15 Mar 2011, Chris Seabaugh: "Top Gear USA and NASCAR have just announced NASCAR’s Top Gear 300. The race will be part of NASCAR’s Nationwide series and will take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28th, 2011. ... While Top Gear USA’s first season was not up to par with the latest British series, compared to the first series from over the pond it was quite good. The chemistry among the American hosts is getting there. The one thing that they do need is more money to finance more of the adventures that we know and love. That’s where NASCAR comes in."

Radio France International is participant in online Gulag museum.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio France International, 12 Mar 2011, Jan van der Made: "On 11 March, the French Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in cooperation with Radio France Internationale, which had already published a sound archive, launched an online museum with more than 150 testimonies of European survivors of the [Soviet] Gulag. ... In cooperation with RFI, the Berlin-based Centre Marc Bloch, Cefres in Prague and the Franco-Russian centre for research on social sciences and humanities, 13 researchers travelled to 15 countries – in the former USSR, eastern Europe, Germany, France and Italy - and took interviewed survivors in eight languages." No URL provided for the online museum, but this seems to be it: museum.gulagmemories.eu. See also www.english.rfi.fr/europe/20100311-stories-gulag.

BBC World Service citizen video requires (surprise, surprise) "verification and cross-checking."

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 13 Mar 2011, Josh Halliday: "Without a reporter in the country, and in the face of systematic jamming by state authorities, the World Service [Persian] channel has become increasingly reliant on video, audio and images published by Iranian citizens. 'Since the presidential protests [in December 2009], the government has realised the power of that footage and decided to work actively to not let the BBC and others broadcast it,' said Sanam Dolatshahi, a London-based producer and presenter for BBC Persian TV. 'So they would jam our footage and show their own version of events – using the same UGC [user generated content], but to tell a different story, a different version of events. They would also try to make us broadcast wrong stuff so that we would lose our credibility.' ... 'Somehow it's as if our coverage is now dependent on pictorial evidence and video footage,' Dolatshahi said. 'But if you rely on videos so much then you don't have enough to prove stories. It's very challenging for us when we're accused of feeding protests and showing wrong stuff. So we have to sit down and do more verification and cross-checking of our sources.' ... Raymond Li, the head of BBC China, says he circumvents the communist state's censors by publishing news on Twitter-equivalent sites, where regulation is less strict. ... 'By using microblogging sites the censorship of media seems to be less. By publishing news and content on microblog sites you can publish stuff you wouldn't get published in public media spaces, but you have to be careful and skillful.'"

Zimbabweans sell livestock to buy satellite dishes, providing alternatives to ZBC.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Zimbabwean, 12 Mar 2011, Lovejoy Sakala: "Poor villagers have sacrificed their livestock in order to buy free to air satellite dishes as local broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) continues to churn out propaganda in support of Zanu (PF). Free to air satellite dishes mainly screen South African Broadcasting Channels (SABC1-3) and Botswana television. Villagers said they had no choice but to sell their livestock to subscribe to foreign stations as ZBC continued to bombard them with sub-standard information and poor programming. Irate villagers told The Zimbabwean that ZBC was screening jingles showering praises on the aged Zanu (PF) leader President Mugabe despite the formation of an all inclusive government. ... 'We are missing a lot from what is happening in our country because some people have turned a national broadcaster into a private property. We rely on foreign stations such as Voice of America, Studio 7 and SW Radio and newspapers such as The Zimbabwean which keep us well informed and updated,' said Rudo Kamanga, a vendor."

RFE photographer beaten by police in Baku.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Journalists in Trouble, 11 Mar 2011: "A freelance photographer working for RFE’s Azeri service was beaten by a police officer today while filming a demonstration in downtown Baku as protesters demanded the release of jailed journalists and activists and the resignation of the Azeri president. Abbas Atilay said that he was filming the detention of an activist when he fell down and a police captain began beating him. He told RFE's Azeri service, 'When I wanted to stand up, [the police captain] began beating me very aggressively in the face and the stomach. At that moment, plainclothes policemen approached me and apologized, saying I was beaten by mistake. Then high-ranking police officials approached me and said there was a misunderstanding. They said the OSCE was on the scene and asked me to forgive them.' The incident left him with a deep cut and bruises on his face."

Both VOA and Radio Free Asia host debates among candidates for Kalon Tripa of Tibetans in exile.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 16 Mar 2011: "Following the Dalai Lama’s announcement of his intention to hand over political leadership of the Tibetan government in exile to the next prime minister, both the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia have hosted live debates among Tibetan political candidates vying to be the Prime Minister (Kalon Tripa) of the exiled Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamsala, India. The VOA debate, which was televised March 1, was held at the Newseum in Washington and featured Lobsang Sangay, Tashi Wangdi, and Tenzin N. Tethong in a first of its kind debate in front of a live audience. .... The RFA event, also featuring the three Kalon Tripa candidates, was held on March 13 and was broadcast via satellite television, Internet, and shortwave radio from several locations. Candidates were in Washington and at two debate sites with audiences in India: in Dharamsala and in the southern town of Bylakuppe." See also VOA press release, 1 Mar 2011, and RFA press release, 11 Mar 2011 (pdf).

AFP, 14 Mar 2011, Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy: "In a debate hosted Sunday by US-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia, all three candidates voiced clear reservations about assuming the Dalai Lama's political title and urged him to reconsider stepping down."

Radio Australia directs shortwave transmissions to inform Australians in Japan.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 Mar 2011, citing Nigel Holmes, Transmission Manager Radio Australia, via Mike Bird: "ABC has reinforced Radio Australia’s capacity to assist the Australian Government in the carriage of urgent information to Australian citizens in Japan. Broadcasts normally directed to Papua New Guinea have been extended to cover Japan. In addition two broadcasts normally directed to south-east Asia have been re-directed to Japan." With times and frequencies.

Conference on the history of Radio Free Europe will take place in Munich, 28-30 April.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Collegium Carolinum: "On the occasion of Radio Free Europe’s sixtieth anniversary, the Czech Center and Collegium Carolinum in Munich and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague (ÚSTR) organize an international conference in Munich on April 28-30, 2011. Researchers from the U.S., Germany, East Central Europe and Scandinavia will present their latest works on RFE’s activities and structures, as well as on the reception and role this broadcasting station played during the Cold War era. Moreover, a panel discussion ('International Broadcasting Today'), two round table discussions with contemporary witnesses and a film screening will be part of the conference."

Today in Radio History: "1968-03-14. CBS TV suspends Radio Free Europe free advertising because RFE doesn't make it clear it is sponsored by the CIA."

Austin Statesman, 12 Mar 2011, AP photo by Gyula Czimbal: "Doctoral students from the University of Fine Arts of Budapest worked on a project titled 'The Concrete' involving thousands of tomes embedded in concrete. The politically outdated books were donated by the Research Institute of Radio Free Europe, which helped fight communism before the collapse of the Soviet Union."

International broadcasters cover the news from Japan.

Posted: 18 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Mar 2011, Tim Goodman: "The best coverage – by far – is taking place online by the likes of Japanese network NHK English, the BBC and Al-Jazeera English. Deeper content is, of course, available from print outlets like the New York Times and such, but all natural disasters and wars are visual stories benefiting from moving pictures. And so CNN often becomes the default channel – so their faults, noted here, should then be applied on down to the line to those TV news outlets in this country who fall below CNN (not in ratings, naturally, but quality content)."

Seattle Times, 16 Mar 2011: "Newscasts from NHK, Japan's national public-broadcasting system, are available to residents of the Puget Sound area. Comcast digital-cable subscribers can watch news from Japan on TV Japan for free until the end of March. ... You can also find a link to live coverage by NHK World TV in English on seattletimes.com. KCTS-TV (Channel 9) is airing 'NHK Newsline' at 5:30 weekday mornings."

Zatz Not Funny!, 18 Mar 2011, Dave Zatz: "Last weekend, while updating my iPhone apps, I came across NHK World TV Live which is a 24 hour English language news channel out of Japan."

The Japan Times, 16 Mar 2011, Rick Martin: "In those first few hours after the earthquake, I found Twitter was by far the most reliable source of information available. And in the days since, a few voices have emerged to play a critical role in disseminating news in English, contributing updates and translations. Their efforts have been tireless and cannot be praised enough. Steve Herman of Voice of America (@W7VOA) is on the ground near the affected areas, and is sending out frequent messages about the situation that he's witnessing there. Martyn Williams of IDG News Service (@martyn_williams) was sending early updates as well, and is definitely one to follow as a reliable source as the situation progresses."

PC Magazine, 15 Mar 2011, Jeffrey L. Wilson: "If you'd like to keep track of the latest news coming out of Japan following the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunamis, the United Nations has pulled together a list of Twitter users and hashtags intended to help you stay on top of the situation." -- Including @w7voa, who now has 16,457 followers.

Twitter, 17 Mar 2011, David R. Alpert: "Excellent piece! RT @W7VOA: My 'view from the hot zone' on VOA's website." Refers to VOA News, 17 Mar 2011, Steve Herman. Steve's photos from Japan at Picasa, 14 Mar 2011.

BBC News, 17 Mar 2011, Magazine Monitor: "Proving popular with readers of the Voice of America website is the surprise expressed by their correspondent Steve Herman at Japanese Stoicism after the earthquake. As well as the lack of open anger, Mr Herman notes the missed opportunity to increase prices. He adds that merchants may have traditionally ranked near the bottom of Japan's social hierarchy but in most of the country trying to make a little extra money in times of adversity is 'just considered, well, unseemly and un-Japanese'."

Topeka Capital-Journal, 16 Mar 2011, Phil Anderson: "Chris and Kathy Hamilton ... were in Warsaw, Poland, in April 1986, about 200 miles from the Chernobyl meltdown near Pripyat, Ukraine. ... [N]othing had been broadcast on Polish news outlets about the disaster. That soon changed, he said, as 'the Poles didn't like the Russians' and started a 'truth' movement designed to get the word out about the explosion. ... Meanwhile, he tuned into radio news reports from the British Broadcasting Company, which expressed grave concern over the Chernobyl disaster. The U.S.-funded Voice of America, meanwhile, painted a much rosier picture on the radio, in large part because of a pro-nuclear energy policy embraced by the Reagan administration, [Chris Hamilton] said."

Experiment: "Americans Biased Against Al Jazeera English? Not If They Think They’re Watching CNN."

Posted: 17 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Arab Media & Society, Spring 2011, William Youmans and Katie Brown: In a experiment, American subjects viewed an Al Jazeera English report about the Taliban that was labeled either as from AJE or from CNN International. "The findings that show differential bias ratings between AJE and CNNI based on the same exact news clip suggest Americans are, on average, still unable to fairly evaluate the station. If there was no prejudice against AJE, the reputational change between CNNI and AJE would be equal. Instead, we see no movement for AJE and gain for CNNI. Though we did not see movement by condition for the trustworthiness, likelihood to watch, and the cable carriage questions, AJE was evaluated significantly less favorably on all three vis-à-vis CNNI, regardless of condition and likewise witnessed no movement on these questions. Taken together, these findings suggest that CNNI’s evaluations benefited from the clip, while AJE’s did not. On the contrary, perceptions of AJE appear to be not only negative, but stable. Further, the American public’s interest in Al Jazeera English – to the extent the MTurk sample is representative – is not substantial. Ninety-eight percent of participants had little or no exposure to the news channel, yet generally find it untrustworthy and are uninterested in watching, even after exposure to a clip that is credible enough to boost CNNI evaluations when ascribed to that network. This does not bode well for the prospects of AJE gaining a broad audience in the United States, while CNNI’s better evaluations likely resulted from the goodwill of CNNI’s brand." -- Trustworthiness is developed over years, not in one viewing. Nevertheless, this is a well-executed study with an important finding. Summarized by Mediaite, 17 Mar 2011, Mark Joyella. And by Media Bistro, 17 Mar 2011, Alex Weprin

Bloomberg, 15 Mar 2011, Lee C. Bollinger: "The Qatar-based network’s reporting and viewership is by no means limited to the Arab world: it has more bureaus in Latin America than either CNN or the BBC. As a State Department official recently explained with respect to the government’s engagement with Al Jazeera, 'If we are not in the conversation, people will be speaking for us or about us.' ... The arguments against access to foreign media are grounded in fears about surrendering U.S. sovereignty. These objections will be overcome only after we recognize that the information available to us through the global public forum is critically valuable both to our democracy and commercial interests in international markets."

Future of Capitalism, 15 Mar 2011, Ira Stoll: "The whole column is an embarrassment to both Mr. Bollinger (who is apparently difficult to embarrass) and Businessweek. It's not clear what is so special about Al Jazeera that it deserves to be forced by the U.S. government onto American televisions. Does Mr. Bollinger want every foreign television channel whose owner is a major Columbia donor or potential one to be forced by the American government onto American television?

Bizcommunity.com, 9 May 2011, Oresti Patricios: "The network is currently in three American cities but there's increasing pressure from people, including the White House administration, for that to change. Small wonder that conservative media brands like the FOX Broadcasting Company are more than a little annoyed with this move, but they should get used to it. With the Middle East set to play a stronger role in world politics in general and the US in particular, it looks like Al Jazeera's more than here to stay."

Bangor Daily News, 11 Mar 2011, editorial: "Time Warner and the rest of the cable systems should see the light before long. When they do, they will be helping their viewers, their country and their own business. Al Jazeera’s time has come."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 10 Mar 2011, Stephen Maher and Michael Corcoran: "While US shows largely consist of political strategists rehashing partisan talking points in superficial "debates" that last only minutes between commercials breaks, al-Jazeera programmes, like Marwan Bishara's 'Empire', feature much longer, in-depth conversations, without excessive commercial breaks, that are far more informative than anything seen on US cable news. Likewise, the channel's hard news segments put US media to shame. Al-Jazeera had on-location, nuanced reports from the very start of the Egyptian uprising, virtually every US news channel was reduced to broadcasting images from al-Jazeera, having no footage of their own. Notably, the Drudge Report regularly linked to AJE's coverage of the Arab Spring."

Huffington Post, 14 Mar 2011, Frank Schaeffer: "We Americans are so isolated from the larger world that we will always be a dollar short and a day late unless we find alternatives to our "media." Al Jazeera is that alternative. It's time America's cable companies are deluged by Americans asking that Al Jazeera become part of a standard cable package everywhere. ... If freedom and democracy comes to countries ranging from Egypt to Libya future historians will note that the freedom of information provided by Al Jazeera (at great cost) played a huge role, a bigger role than the increasingly irrelevant US media that is too busy worrying about Charlie Sheen to notice that the planet is changing."

The Keene (NH) Sentinel, 17 Mar 2011: "You can’t watch BBC World, the 24-hour BBC news service, on the big U.S. cable or satellite TV systems. Some PBS stations run half hours here and there. But no full-time BBC World, which is available just about everywhere else in the world. No France 24 either, the news channel broadcasting from Paris with versions in English and French. No CBC News from Canada. No access to China’s or Russia’s global English language networks. No NHK World from Japan. And, with a few exceptions, no Al-Jazeera English. Nope. Although the United States has military involvements in countries around the world, the people of the United States have little access to other countries’ news and opinion on the TV spectrum, for reasons that are probably both economical and ideological."

dagblog, 15 Mar 2011, Orion: "Al Jazeera recently covered the issue of endangered wolves in the United States and did an amazing job of it. More so than any sort of conservative propaganda could, you are able to empathize with the farmer Druska and her husband Richard, who make their living by feeding America."

LA Observed, 14 Mar 2011, Kevin Roderick: "KPFK [Los Angeles] will start carrying the news from Al Jazeera English at 3 p.m. during the week. 'The virtual exclusion of Al Jazeera English from the American media market is an absurdity that KPFK is thrilled to help rectify,' program manager Alan Minsky said in a statement."

Eastern Iowa Business, 14 Mar 2011, Dave DeWitte: "A grassroots movement is brewing in Iowa City to get Mediacom to add Al Jazeera, the Arab-centric satellite news channel, to its lineup. Letters to the editor urging Mediacom to pick up Al Jazeera have been showing up in the daily Press-Citizen newspaper, and Paul Deaton of the politically-oriented Blog for Iowa wrote a post about their demands over the weekend."

Mobiputing, 15 Mar 2011, citing reddit: "[T]he folks at the Al Jazeera network, which has been having a tough time finding US cable distributors, have sidestepped the whole argument by offering free apps that let you watch live news from the network for free — no subscription required. Al Jazeera LIVE for Android offers live streams of Al Jazeera’s English and Arabic new services. Video quality is reasonably good for the live streams, and you can also download the latest 'video news bulletins' for offline viewing."

Daytona Beach News-Journal, 11 Mar 2011, Deborah Circelli: The board of trustees of Daytona State College "approved an amendment to its agreement with MHz Networks, which airs Al Jazeera English and Russia Today, on the college's public television station. The amendment confirms the college has control over programming. The board left the decision about whether to keep the shows up to the administration." See previous post about same subject.

See previous post about same subject.

With communications failures in Japan after the earthquake, can domestic shortwave broadcasting fill the gap? (updated)

Posted: 16 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Kyodo, 14 Mar 2011: "Communications failures caused by Friday's massive earthquake off the northeast coast continued to expand in number and range Sunday. NTT East Japan said 879,500 subscribed telephone lines and 475,400 Flets Hikari fiber-optic telecommunication systems in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures were out of service as of 6 a.m. Sunday. While the number of disconnected lines had not changed from 8 p.m. Saturday, 76,500 more Flets Hikari systems were disabled. NTT East expects the failures to expand once power supplies are drained in commercial buildings dependent on emergency generators for telecommunications." News tip @w7voa.

Could the communication gap be filled by Japan's domestic shortwave radio broadcasting service, Radio Nikkei? See also the Wikipedia entry about Radio Nikkei.

Update: Radio Netherlands Media Network, 16 Mar 2011, Andy Sennitt, citing Radio Nikkei website: "Due to the nuclear emergency in Fukushima, Japan, Radio Nikkei - the country’s only private shortwave broadcaster - has begun to simulcast some programming from a local radio station in Fukushima - Radio Hukuzima - which is broadcasting a 24-hour emergency service. The simulcasts are carried on Radio Nikkei’s 1st Programme, which operates on 3925/6055/9595 kHz."

Iran's Fars news agency unexpectedly praises RFE/RL's "Liberty & Listeners" program in Afghanistan.

Posted: 16 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 9 Mar 2011, "In a surprising plug, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency recently endorsed RFE/RL’s own 'Liberty & Listeners' program in Afghanistan. Published almost concurrently with the reported DOS attack on Radio Farda’s answering machines, the article commends Radio Azadi’s popular program as a unique and helpful venue through which the Afghan people can connect to their government. In the relatively glowing report [link], Fars praises 'Liberty & Listeners' for the role it has played in 'bridging the strongly-felt gap between the Afghan people and government.' This marks a surprising break in sentiment for an organization known for its often one-sided articles expounding its government’s anti-western stance. Further, the fact that Azadi’s Iranian counterpart, Radio Farda, is officially banned in the theocratic nation (and subject to consistent jamming efforts by its government) adds to the quizzical nature of the plug."

RFE/RL, 12 Mar 2011, Sayaed Jan Sabawoon: "Is he Tajik? Is he Pashtun? Mohammad Rasool has a story that leaves him unable to answer that question. So, the 34-year-old Afghan tries to be both in a country where usually you are one or the other. Recently, he left a voice message on Radio Free Afghanistan's popular show 'In Search Of The Missing.' He was, he said, a Panjshiri looking for his Pashtun parents. ... Shortly after RFE/RL broadcast his message, a first listener in Kandahar responded. The man, speaking Pashto, said he had no news of Rasool's family nor even any idea of who they might be. But he said he was touched by the story and wanted to contact Rasool and offer his help." -- Radio Free Afghanistan identifies itself as Radio Azadi.

More coverage of VOA Persian News Network's "Parazit." And Radio Farda has a satire show, too.

Posted: 16 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
PBS NewsHour, 28 Feb 2011, "For Iranian TV Viewers, 'Parazit' Offers Reprieve From Static" (interviewed by Jeffrey Brown).

Fox News Sunday, 28 Feb 2011, "Power players of the week" (video). See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 2 Mar 2011: "Farshid Manafi, host of Radio Farda's wildy popular talk show 'Pas Farda,' pushes back against Iranian censors with his critical eye and gimlet wit. Reactions from his listeners are a testimony to his success. Farshid has been a well-known Iranian personality for some time. But five years ago, his lively programs on state television and radio were shut down by censors, and he was fired. There is no substitute for truth, and we at 'Pas Farda' try to provide that every day in a fun and unique way. Banned from Iranian airwaves, Farshid joined RFE's Iranian service Radio Farda and created 'Pas Farda' (Farsi for 'The Day After Tomorrow'), which has been on-air five nights a week for a little over a year. A satirical production skewering both political and social mores inside Iran, 'Pas Farda' provides a breath of fresh air in a media climate devoid of critical voices. ... 'This week we will be focusing on corruption and the Revolutionary Guard’s propaganda efforts.'"

VOA stringer in Angola sentenced to one year in prison after report about top judicial official.

Posted: 16 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 3 Mar 2011: "A court in Angola's southwestern province of Namibe sent a journalist to prison today without due process over his coverage of a sexual harassment scandal that implicated the province's top judicial official, according to local journalists and news reports. Judge Manuel Araujo sentenced Armando José Chicoca, a freelancer who reports for U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) and private Angolan newspapers such as Folha 8, Agora, and O Apostolado, to one year in prison and a fine of 200,000 kwanza (US$2,100), according to news reports. ... Chicoca's conviction for libel and defamation under Angola's criminal code was based on a lawsuit brought by Antonio Vissandula, presiding judge of the Provincial Court of Namibe, over a 2007 report aired on VOA about claims made to local media by Rosa Camunu José."

VOA press statement, 7 Mar 2011, by director Danforth Austin: "The Voice of America values Mr. Chicoca’s reporting and notes for the record that he gave the judge, who was the subject of these allegations, ample opportunity to respond to the charges. As Mr. Chicoca’s report stated, the judge declined to do so. The Voice of America is concerned about the chilling effect this case will have on journalists in Angola as they try to report on important issues of social justice that impact our audience."

Human Rights Watch, 16 Mar 2011: "Angolan authorities should immediately quash the conviction of a Voice of America journalist who was convicted after an unfair trial for stories critical of a local judge, Human Rights Watch said today."

NHK World gains North American audience via free cable, video streams, iPhone and iPad.

Posted: 15 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 12 Mar 2011, John Eggerton: "With Japanese Americans, tourists and others eager for news from the earthquake and tsunami-devastated country, Cablevision said Friday it would make the Japanese-language TV Japan channel available to digital cable service customers at no charge, joining other operators taking the channel up on its offer of an open feed during the crisis. AT&T is also temporarily providing subscribers to its IPTV U-verse platform free access to TV Japan. ... The channel offers news from Japan's NHK, the nation's leading broadcaster. TV Japan and distributor International Media Distribution made the TV Japan feed available nationwide to any operator who wants to carry it, and said Friday many had taken them up on the offer. It will also provide a second audio channel in English and other languages featuring updates."

C21Media.net, 14 Mar 2011, Jesse Whittock: "Japanese pubcaster NHK has temporarily opened the signal to its TV Japan news channel to North American platforms to allow live coverage of the ongoing earthquake disaster. Cablevision, AT&T U-Verse and Verizon's FiOS are among operators to have picked up the Japanese-language 24/7 news net free of charge so local Japanese communities and tourists can keep up with developments. A secondary audio option is available to non-Japanese speakers."

Variety, 14 Mar 2011, Sam Thielman: "[N]ets with a smaller U.S. footprint are also likely to come out on top in the wake of large-scale international news. CNNi and the BBC are going to be helped by this, [TV news analyst Andrew] Tyndall predicted. 'And Al Jazeera, as we've seen, is always helped by international news.' That net is being eyed for wider carriage in the U.S. (Al Jazeera English is available on only a few cable systems and online), as it provides continuous coverage of one of the world's most volatile areas. In fact, just as Al Jazeera came to prominence in the U.S. -- Stateside viewers began viewing the net online during the protests in the Middle East -- Japanese net NHK has begun to see significant American interest. The NHK website's traffic spiked 610% between Saturday and Sunday, and Cablevision has added TV Japan -- a net aimed at the Japanese diaspora that broadcasts NHK content, including several English-language programs -- to its iO TV digital cable service until March 17."

Huffington Post, 15 Mar 2011, Art Levine; "One of the best sources of recent news is the NHK World live stream."

Philadelphia Daily News, 15 Mar 2011, Ellen Gray: "Given the occasional frustrations involved in watching CNN's TV feed ... I found myself turning more and more to the station's iPad app, whose 'live video' option was often an English-language feed from Japan's public broadcaster, NHK. Frequently heartbreaking but never histrionic, NHK World Live's TV coverage is the most detailed (and least speculative) I've seen since the disaster began. Any iPhone user who'd prefer to cut out the CNN middleman can download a free NHK app from iTunes."

Vancouver Sun, 15 Mar 2011, Gillian Shaw: "The first on-the-scene coverage came from NHK, and iPhone and iPad users quickly learned of the NHK World app that let them keep up on their mobile devices with the events unfolding in Japan."

USA Today offers a live stream of NHK World. Also available at Japan International Broadcasting.

Money Morning, 15 Mar 2011, Kerri Shannon: "Japan is doing all it can to communicate the depths of the devastation, the efforts and progress being made, and the international assistance that it is receiving. For instance, NHK World/Radio Japan is devoting its daily broadcasts on the international shortwave band entirely to news on the disaster. Typically, the world-band radio broadcasts to North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and Central Africa are a mix of news, music, commentary and culture. This policy change will remain in effect in the days to come, NHK news anchors have said on the broadcasts."

Broadband TV News, 14 Mar 2011, Robert Briel: "Ziggo, Holland’s largest cable operator, has added NHK World TV to its basic digital bouquet. The Japanese public broadcaster has turned the international English language channel into an all-news service following the earthquake and tsunami."

News on News, 12 Mar 2011: "Bloomberg Television are claiming that their worldwide newsgathering and television resources have worked out for them on breaking the news first of the devastating earthquake in Japan. The time between the quake occurring and Bloomberg Television getting on the air to break the news is reported to be just 5 minutes, breaking the news at 12:51am ET. The nearest news network to get on air with the story was CNN International, which broke the news at the top of their 1am ET bulletin, with CNN's Domestic output switching to a CNN International simulcast at 1:12am ET."

Australians unimpressed by ABC News 24 Japanese earthquake coverage, even with its use of NHK and BBC video.

Posted: 15 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Spy Report, 14 Mar 2011, Cyril Washbrook: "There have undoubtedly been deficiencies in ABC News 24's coverage, which have been the subject of their fair share of debate. The ABC says that the frequent gaps in its coverage of the disaster in Japan were partly a consequence of the limitations of its international agreements, which prevented it from taking continuous live feeds from either BBC World News or NHK."

Crikey, 14 Mar 2011, Margaret Simons: "ABC insiders today are admitting that Saturday was not good. Part of the problem — but surely not a sufficient excuse — was the limit in the amount of BBC footage it can use. There is a quota, and it was quickly eaten up. The Japanese network NHK was also, understandably given what they were facing, not providing much new footage."

The Advertiser (Adelaide), 16 Mar 2011, Miles Kemp: "The ABC was also hammered by viewers on various social networking sites and managing director Mark Scott extraordinarily used Twitter to redirect viewers to the Japanese NHK World English news on the internet."

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 14 Mar 2011, Tim Blair: "ABC managing director Mark Scott promised at ABC News 24's launch it would 'allow audiences across Australia to see the latest news, to follow breaking events live,' but we never got even close until late on Saturday when the ABC belatedly revived its connection with Japanese broadcaster NHK World. Even online lefties, usually furiously defensive of the ABC, were revolted. 'This is beyond pathetic,' wrote one. 'I got more out of the Spanish News on SBS 2,' wrote another, 'and I don't speak Spanish.'"

Smartoffice, 14 Mar 2011, David Richards: "At one stage over the weekend, ABC News 24, crossed to an aboriginal reconciliation conference, from last November, an old Foreign Correspondent show and three week old Queensland news ahead of coverage of the disaster. Meanwhile, CNN and the BBC ran constant coverage of the event. Also delivering extensive coverage was Sky News."

mUmBRELLA, 14 Mar 2011: "ABC News 24 was criticised for filling much of its weekend schedule with archive content rather than switching to rolling coverage. However, an ABC spokeswoman said the the organisation has taken a similar approach to fellow public service broadcaster the BBC. She said: 'The reality is ABC News 24 did exactly what the BBC did – we had live coverage then went back to the regular schedule then crossed back into regular news updates throughout the day.' For contractual reasons, the ABC was not able to carry a constant feed from BBC News 24. She said: 'Most of our feeds over the weekend came from the BBC and NHK. The ABC operates under a quota system with the BBC which means we are limited in the amount of coverage we can run from them.'"

Fake SMS message, purportedly from BBC, warned about radiation from Japan.

Posted: 15 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 15 Mar 2011: "A fake text message warning people that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant has leaked beyond Japan has been panicking people across Asia. The SMS message, purporting to come from the BBC, has been circulating around Asian countries since Monday. It warns people to take necessary precautions against possible effects of radiation. The BBC has issued no such flash but the hoax has caused particular panic in the Philippines." -- This shows how difficult it is to protect one's brand and authenticity on SMS.

BBC World Service and ABC Radio National co-production examines media freedom in Southeast Asia (updated again).

Posted: 15 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, Connect Asia, 25 Feb 2011: "Special: 'What Can I Say: Indonesia'. In the second of our series on independent media in South East Asia, Gary Bryson goes to Cambodia, a country struggling to join the global community but still haunted by the ghosts of its genocidal past. ... Gary Bryson met many Cambodians, including a radio DJ who's spent time in jail more than once for his defiant remarks. ... The series is a co-production of ABC Radio National and the BBC World Service."

Radio Australia, Connect Asia, 18 Feb 2011: "Special: 'What Can I Say: Indonesia' ... While Indonesia's media is thriving, not much of it is independent enough to call the corrupt to account.

BBC World Service "What Can I Say" web page: "In partnership with the Australian radio station ABC, the four-part series What Can I Say? explores freedom of speech and democracy in South East Asia. Presenter Gary Bryson travels to Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore to meet people who are trying to find a voice for their village, their culture or their nation."

Radio Australia, Connect Asia, 4 Mar 2011: "Special: 'What Can I Say: Thailand' ... There are some 8,000 community radio stations in Thailand - most of them illegal. In Chiang Mai, Gary Bryson visits a Red Shirt radio station that broadcasts out of a room in an empty hotel. Then there's the young director of an independent online magazine, who's currently facing a jail sentence on charges of Lese Majeste."

Update: Radio Australia "Connect Asia," 11 Mar 2011: "In the final program of our series exploring freedom of expression and independent media in Southeast Asia, Gary Bryson finds himself in Singapore. Singapore is one of the richest countries in the region and certainly the most developed. However, it's not the most democratic and the people of the city state have traded many basic freedoms for prosperity and economic growth."

Al Jazeera cameraman killed in Libya; BBC crew mistreated.

Posted: 15 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 14 Mar 2011, Matt Wells: "An al-Jazeera cameraman who died in eastern Libya was hunted down and ambushed by forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, according to sources at the broadcaster. Ali Hassan al-Jaber was among a team from the network's Arabic station attacked as they returned to the rebel-held city of Benghazi on Saturday. In an official statement, al-Jazeera said the group were ambushed, and it condemned 'the cowardly crime, which comes as part of the Libyan regime's malicious campaign targeting al-Jazeera and its staff'." See also aljazeera.net, 12 Mar 2011.

AFP, 15 Mar 2011: "The rebel-held Libyan oil port of Tobruk has renamed a high school after a Qatari television cameraman who was killed while covering the revolution against Muammar Gaddafi's rule. Many Libyans regard slain 55-year-old journalist Ali Hassan Al Jaber's employer, pan-Arabic news channel Al Jazeera, as an ally in their revolt against dictatorship, and Saturday's murder has inspired great emotion."

BBC News, 9 Mar 2011: "Three members of a BBC team trying to reach the besieged town of Zawiya were detained and mistreated for 21 hours by the Libyan military. They were beaten and subjected to mock executions... . When Chris Cobb-Smith, Feras Killani and Goktay Koraltan were stopped they had been on a journey taken by dozens of international journalists in Gaddafi's Libya. ... The guys have all been to hell and back. Feras is a tough and experienced reporter for the BBC Arabic service, of Palestinian descent with a Syrian passport. He seemed to be singled out for the worst of the violence - more than one of his abusers told him they didn't like his coverage of the Libyan popular uprising."

South Korea will consider allotting medium wave frequencies for broadcasts to North Korea.

Posted: 15 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Dong-a Ilbo (Seoul), 11 Mar 2011, editorial by Lee Jeong-hoon: "Broadcasts by North Korean defectors in the South perform a role existing South Korean broadcasters cannot not play. To avoid intervention from the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration, the defectors began broadcasting by purchasing a shortwave frequency band from abroad. Shortwave signals can be sent to faraway places but sound quality suffers. Medium waves cannot go as far as short waves but has better sound quality. Offering a way to overcome the limits, Choi See-joong, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission, told the National Assembly Tuesday that the panel will consider allotting a medium-wave frequency to air civilian broadcasting in the North. If this happens, North Koreans in South Pyongan Province and areas south of it can listen to South Korean broadcasts with clear sound quality. This could open the way for the South to let North Koreans know what is going on the Korean Peninsula and in the world." -- The KBS Global Korean Network is already transmitting on medium wave to North Norea, so the possible new medium wave allotment might be for North Korean defectors' broadcasting efforts. Medium wave does not have a better "sound quality" than shortwave, except for the fact that MW signals do not travel as far as SW signals, so there is less opportunity for MW to encounter interference, noise, and fading along the way to the listener.

Heritage Foundation, 10 Mar 2011, testimony before House Committee on Foreign Affairs by Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation: "The U.S. should expand public diplomacy to increase North Korean exposure to the outside world and induce the transformation of the nature of the regime, as took place in Communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. ▪Increase public diplomacy offensive (overt and covert). This could include defector-led broadcasting; leaflets, covert ops; ▪Facilitate formal student and cultural exchange programs; ▪Expand broadcasting services, such as by Radio Free Asia, and distribution of leaflets, DVDs, computer flash drives, documentaries, and movies into North Korea through both overt and covert means."

Brazil considers the digitization of domestic shortwave broadcasting.

Posted: 15 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 11 Mar 2011, Jorge J. Basilago: "More than 20 years after the emergence of digital radio, its fate in Latin America remains uncertain. Most countries of this region have not demonstrated a preference as to which system to adopt. At the same time, digital’s progress in some countries has been slow, though technology studies and trial broadcasts have been going on since the mid-1990s. ... An additional question for Brazil is the digitization of tropical band shortwave stations, which are used to cover the vast Amazon basin." -- The digitization (presumably using the Digital Radio Mondiale, or DRM, syetem) of shortwave for remote areas of Latin America should be tested before it is adopted. If it works, it could provide near-FM audio quality, as well as eliminate fading and background static crashes from lightning. But DRM can overcome the degradations of shortwave only to a certain point, beyond which there is no reception at all. It is better for audiences in remote Latin American regions to have imperfect analog audio than no audio.

Radio World, 11 Mar 2011, Paul J. McLane: “Louis Brown in Chantilly, Va [wrote] 'I spent ... 10 years as director of operations at Radio Free Europe. Now that was AM! There’s something awesome about a 250 kW brute-force Class B modulated AM shortwave transmitter. We had four of them at our Holzkirchen, Germany, transmitter site. If memory serves, the combined output of all five of RFE’s transmitter sites was 54 megawatts, operating into curtain antennas with as much as 17 dB forward gain. I'm sure modern-day solid-state transmitters are more efficient and more reliable than the old rigs that you and I cut our teeth on, but I miss the glow of the 833s [vacuum tubes], where you could set the modulation by watching the plates flicker.'" -- AM, or amplitude modulation, is the transmission mode used for analog shortwave, medium wave, and longwave.

Activists want internet freedom funds to go to the State Dept, not "narrowly focused" BBG.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Wired Danger Room, 14 Mar 2011, Spencer Ackerman: "In a letter sent to Capitol Hill on Monday, activists warned that moving the funding for the Obama administration’s Internet Freedom Agenda to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees pro-American radio, TV and internet programming abroad, would undermine the goal of a 'free and open internet.' ... Bad idea, the letter’s signatories argue. The Broadcasting Board of Governors has a mandate to promote pro-American content. But 'to be effective, internet freedom must be content- and message-blind,' the letter argues. And to conflate the Board’s mission with the creation of tools for online activists could put those activists in jeopardy 'by exposing them to the charge of outside interference.' At the same time, the letter argues for keeping control of the cash under the wing of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Couldn’t receiving cash from the U.S. government’s diplomatic wing also expose activists to the same charge? Not really, says Katrin Verclas of MobileActive.org. 'State funds, for example, digital security trainings, mobile-security applications, etc.,' Verclas says in an e-mail. 'Message-blind entirely, and often not even noted as U.S.-funded to ensure that activists are not put at risk in their countries.'"

mobileactive.tumblr.com, 14 Mar 2011: "While the Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees media programming exemplary of core American principles, its mission is narrowly focused on delivering content to target audiences. This is different from the much broader United States policy of promoting global Internet freedom, which will be weakened if it is conflated with an attempt by the United States to define the content made available to people in repressive regimes. ... We are concerned that conflating the mandate of the BBG with the development of new venues and tools supporting the free flow of information endangers activists by exposing them to the charge of outside interference. In short, to be effective, Internet freedom must be content- and message-blind."

Interestingly, US international broadcasting, to be effective, must also be "message-blind." In other words, it should just report the news. Independent journalism is "exemplary of core American principles."

Because internet freedom is central to the BBG's ability to reach its audience, the BBG would perhaps pursue this goal with greater urgency than State. And I think the BBG can carry out these efforts with sufficient agnosticism. If both State and BBG do this, there is potential for inefficiency through duplication of effort.

In any case, let's get ready for a good, rollicking, inter-agency competition for federal funds. Should be entertaining.

CEO of Australia Network on Rupert Murdoch as "catalyst for change" in China's media sector.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Business Spectator (Melbourne), 11 Mar 2011, Bruce Dover, author of Rupert's Adventures in China and the chief executive of ABC's Australia Network: "[W]hile the results of [Rupert] Murdoch’s unashamed courting of China might be construed a failure, Murdoch’s unstinting tilts at the Great Wall of China over a 10-year period did much to revolutionise the Chinese media sector. ... The advent of the Murdoch-funded Phoenix Chinese Channel provided an enormous catalyst for change in China’s television industry. Because it was a general entertainment Mandarin-language channel it presented Chinese viewers for the first time a true comparison to the staid, dour programming of the national broadcaster, CCTV. It astounded its audience, which was limited but highly influential, with innovative programming, computer generated graphics and slick presentation skills. It introduced viewers to Western-style news and current affairs formats with a bevy of telegenic female journalists and male news readers who were actually out in the field asking questions rather than stoically reciting statistics of rice production from behind a desk in front of a grey studio set. It might well have been low brow, populist programming modelled on the success of the Fox cable network in the US, but it proved that Chinese television audience taste was little different from the rest of the Western world."

Blog post by BBC's Philippa Thomas (on sabbatical) led to resignation of State Dept spokesman PJ Crowley.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 13 Mar 2011: "US state department spokesman PJ Crowley has resigned after calling the treatment of the man accused of leaking secret cables to Wikileaks 'stupid'. He said he was taking responsibility for the impact of his remarks about Bradley Manning. ... His remarks were revealed in a blog by the BBC's Philippa Thomas, who attended the event."

Philippa Thomas Online blog, 14 Mar 2011: "It started as I walked back from the event at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I called my colleagues at the BBC Washington bureau to tip them off. Soon after that, I published the blogpost. The BBC’s North America editor Mark Mardell retweeted the link. Within 24 hours, my blog registered 17000 views. ... I’d spoken briefly to Mr Crowley before the event, identified myself as a journalist and exchanged business cards with him. But because of the setting, I thought it was fair to ask openly at the end of the event, 'Are you on the record?' Had he said no, I wouldn’t have wiped his comments from my mind and walked away. I would have done what journalists do in these situations, which is first to ask Mr Crowley whether I or one of my BBC colleagues could arrange to speak to him on the record, and then to alert the BBC to investigate further the tensions within the administration over the treatment of the Wikileaks whistleblower. If you can’t broadcast information, you can still use it."

Latest swipe at US international broadcasting to Iran contradicts itself within a single sentence.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 9 Mar 2011, Ilan Berman: "Washington should redouble its own outreach to Iran's captive population. America's public broadcasting is already quite popular. By one estimate, outlets such as Voice of America's Persian News Network, Radio Farda and associated websites cumulatively reach nearly a third of Iran's adult population every week. But serious systemic problems—from self-censorship by U.S. government reporters to a failure to frame sensitive political issues properly—have left this outreach devoid of much meaning." -- Another potshot at US international broadcasting to Iran. And a self-contradictory one: if reporters "frame sensitive political issues properly," isn't that "self-censorship"?

Pajamas Media, 3 Mar 2011, Michael Ledeen: "The secretary of state complains that more and more people in the Middle East are watching al Jazeera, and she says it’s because AJ delivers 'real news,' as compared to that stuff you see on American tv, with all those annoying commercials. ... I’m sure there are lots of folks in the State Dept who get their 'news' from AJ. Which is not all that different from some of our MSM, after all, and without those annoying commercials. One hopes that someone in Congress pointed out to her that our very own Voice of America Farsi programs are also often violently anti-American and very sympathetic to the rulers of Iran." -- Notice how these swipes at VOA Persian lack details?

Realpolitik Chicago, 8 Mar 2011, politicaljunkfood: "Kambiz is an Iranian journalist living in exile. I first met him on a train in Hamburg, Germany in 2005. ... After nine years as a journalist and a lifetime in Iran, he decided it was time to leave. Kambiz applied for, and accepted, a job at Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, a pro-American news organization funded by the U.S. Congress. The station is located in Central Europe, where Kambiz lives today. He is classified as a CIA operative by the Iranian regime and is no longer welcome back in his home country."

BBC and RFI still off the FM dial in Ivory Coast.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 13 Mar 2011, Tim Cocks: In Ivory Coast: "BBC and Radio France International, the two main foreign stations have been cut for two weeks, with no official reason." -- But VOA is still on the air, via FM, in Abidjan. See previous post about same subject.

NPR/The Root, 14 Mar 2011, Sunni M. Khalid: "Ivory Coast is a big story in the European media, particularly the French media. Over the years the BBC, Radio France International and others have maintained a strong commitment to covering the world, which is easier and more cost effective for them because they are closer to many hotspots than their American counterparts."

BBC World Service announcement "shortly" about new circumvention technology for Chinese internet users.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
UK Parliament, 9 Mar 2011, oral evidence taken before the Foreign Affairs Committee: Implications of the BBC World Service Cuts: Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News: "We are investing, and will shortly be making announcements about, new circumvention technology that helps users on the internet to get round some of the blocks put in the so-called great firewall of China. We have received funding-interestingly, from the US Government, rather than from the UK Government-in relation to researching that. Our technologists are developing techniques that will at least help those who seek out our content online." -- The UK's boffins have apparently had a go at China's firewall. Unless the technology is imported.

BBC World Service cuts in the news, including some hope for Arabic and Hindi.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
journalism.co.uk, 10 Mar 2011, Sarah Marshall: "Some of the 60 jobs due to be axed in the Arabic section of the BBC World Service may be saved, director Peter Horrocks said yesterday. ... Horrocks told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee yesterday that the Arabic-speaking journalists had done a 'fantastic job' in reporting the uprisings in the Arab world. 'We [may be] able to alter some of these job losses,' he said. According to the World Service director, any reduction in job losses at the broadcaster's Arabic service would be based in part on securing outside funding from organisations including the Department for International Development."

The Guardian, 9 Mar 2011, John Plunkett: "Horrocks told MPs that reductions in the distribution of the Arabic service would not be as severe as originally planned. But he ruled out a wholesale reversal of the changes to its Arabic operations which will see the loss of 60 jobs and an estimated 5.7 million listeners. 'We are sustaining our short- and medium-wave [broadcasts] in the Arabic region more than we originally intended,' Horrocks told the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee on Wednesday. 'Clearly if political circumstances change we respond to them,' said Horrocks. But he warned: 'There isn't significant room for further flexibility within the resources we have available.'"

Forbes India, 14 Mar 2011, Alok Joshi: "When BBC said it will close down its Hindi service due to paucity of funds, it led to such an outcry among its fans in India that the broadcaster was forced to retract its decision. Now, BBC has agreed to keep alive a one-hour daily transmission for a year as it explores commercial funding for the service. ... BBC World service has been an effective tool of British foreign policy. Its operations are funded by the foreign office and not by any licence fee or a revenue stream. This is why BBC World Service is not present in countries with a flourishing media of their own. So why do we need a BBC Hindi Service after such a media explosion in India? It appears the British policymakers had the same question before deciding to sever ties with a listening population of 30 million."

Outlook India, 21 Mar 2011 issue, Namrata Joshi: "[A]s some point out, it’s not a return to full broadcast. 'It makes a very small difference. Much more needs to be done,' says writer-broadcaster and former BBC journalist Sam Miller, who vigorously campaigned against the axing of the service. 'I am partially cynical and partially hopeful about whether it will flourish in its new avatar or fizzle out,' says Sharma. The service, which has until now never competed with market forces, will have to actively seek commercial funding, and learn to swim—or sink—in a brave new world. But for listeners it remains, for now, a reassuring continuation of the past." See previous post about same subject.

UK Parliament, 9 Mar 2011: Foreign Affairs Committee session "on the effects of the changes announced by the World Service on 26 January, including the closure of 5 language services and the ending of radio transmissions in 7 languages, including Mandarin Chinese and Russian." With video.

MIA news agency, 5 Mar 2011: "Macedonian section of the BBC World Service ... broadcast news for the last time on Friday, following January's decision of the company board over its annulment together with the sections in Serbian and Albanian languages as part of the saving measures, MIA reports from London. The news broadcast at 17:30 UK time [marked] the end of the BBC Macedonian section, which aired for more than 15 years." Audio of the last broadcast is still available at www.bbc.co.uk/macedonian

Digital Spy, 9 Mar 2011, Andrew Laughlin: "Labo[u]r sources say that the BBC has bowed to government pressure to tone down its coverage, and are equally concerned that the words 'cuts' and 'savings' are being viewed as interchangeable. However, a BBC spokesman dismissed the complaint as 'nonsense', arguing that the words 'cuts' and 'savings' are 'used in context as appropriate'. ... Labo[u]r is also thought to be uneasy about the influence the Conservative party's new director of communications Craig Oliver, previously a BBC Global News executive, may be able to exert over his former colleagues."

The Drum, 9 Mar 2011: "As part of an ongoing pruning program the BBC World Service is to axe its magazine World Agenda in its drive to save cash. From March 11 the website will be mothballed whilst the print edition, a monthly periodical distributed to government officials and diplomats, has already been canned. The guardian reports that this process will see content on the website archived along with the departure of the small team of editors who fed the site."

The Guardian, 8 Mar 2011, Josh Halliday: "World Agenda's small team of editors are understood to be leaving the BBC, as part of about 650 job losses at the World Service. The majority of World Agenda content – which will be archived once the website is closed down – was contributed by BBC journalists working elsewhere in the corporation." -- Pay respects at the World Agenda web page.

journalism.co.uk, 8 Mar 2011, Sarah Marshall: "An archive of broadcasts from BBC World Service radio stations due to be axed is being made available online. Services involved in the archive plans include BBC Para Africa, the Portuguese service for Africa, which has made audio and photos from its 72-year-history available on its website."

The Independent, 10 Mar 2011, John Kampfner, chief executive of Index on Censorship: "The BBC is, in virtually all areas, a bloated organisation, offering too many services and staffed by too many managers of limited talent and too many footsoldiers who have never worked in the chilly world of the private sector. The need for cuts, or should I say savings, is as legitimate at the BBC as it is in all other areas of public life. Once again, however, the organisation shoots itself in the foot. The BBC is perhaps the greatest brand this country now has to offer, and the World Service is a considerable part of that brand. With uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, with continued autocracy in Belarus, other parts of the former USSR and elsewhere, the quiet authority of the BBC has been vital. It does not operate in a vacuum and needs to modernise. But the cannibalisation of the World Service into an adjunct of domestic newsgathering will have a long- term detrimental effect on pro-democracy movements around the world."

Fox International Channels setting up Baltic regional headquarters in Tallinn.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 9 Mar 2011, Julian Clover: "Fox International Channels (FIC) is setting up shop in Estonia. The News Corp-owned operation is basing its new Baltic regional headquarters, Fox International Channels Estonia OÜ, in Tallinn. The new company will be responsible for all operational and programming functions for FIC’s existing Baltic channels, including: Fox Life, Fox Crime, National Geographic Channels."

Found: American undergraduate who watches international news.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Wildcat (University of Ariziona), 8 Mar 2011, Andrew Shepherd, political science senior: "If Americans truly want to be informed on domestic political issues, one must look abroad for the most decent coverage. By far, the best news organization in the world is the BBC. The British Broadcasting Corporation's coverage of American issues is far superior to the coverage by American networks in that they don't focus so much on the rhetoric spewed from both sides of the political aisle. One can learn more about what's going on in the US Congress from a simple trip to the BBC News website in a few clicks than an hour spent watching CNN. If you want to learn about global issues, definitely steer clear of cable news. Interested in the Middle East? Read Al Jazeera English. Interested in the Arab/Israeli Conflict? Read Al Jazeera English in combination with Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. Interested in Europe? Read the BBC, Financial Times or Deutsche Welle English. The truth is that Fox News and MSNBC are seemingly incapable of telling a story without allowing their biases to show through and CNN will not tell you everything you need to know."

Scenario: conservatives defund PBS, forcing Americans to tune to Al Jazeera for children's programming.

Posted: 14 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Big Hollywood, 9 Mar 2011: "Al Jazeera’s banking that its newest project–an English-language children’s channel–will help it get on the air in the all-important North American and Asian markets. The new English-language Al Jazeera Children’s Channel is scheduled to launch by the end of 2012. Content will be a mix of syndicated shows from other sources and original programming, dubbed into English, from the already existing Arabic-language Al Jazeera Children’s Channel."

The Daily Caller, 9 Mar 2011, Steve Nelson: "As PBS faces rough seas ahead with potential cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s federal funding, Al Jazeera may fill PBS’ once-prominent role in entertaining young American children."

Mediaite, 9 Mar 2011, Mark Joyella: "And you can almost hear the screaming voices of outrage already, can’t you? The programs on Al Jaz Children’s feature cartoons and educational fare similar to PBS, but do have a distinctly Al Jazeera feel, like Saladin, a children’s cartoon about the Crusades, told from the perspective of the legendary Muslim warrior. Fun!" See previous post about same subject.

"Tribute to BBC 648 kHz Orfordness." Soon no more BBC MW to Europe.

Posted: 13 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Vimeo, 13 Mar 2011, Jonathan Marks: "Been cleaning up a video archive and came across video I shot in Ordfordness in 2003. It turns out to be topical because the BBC will cease using 648 kHz which originates from there as from March 27th 2011. This video safari will never be shown on mainstream TV - it is designed for those of us in radio who enjoy the details of high-frequency engineering. This edition, therefore, is unanashamedly detailed. There are frequent references to a BBC transmitter site in Crowborough Sussex. This was the home of the most powerful transmitter in the world during the 2nd World War, nicknamed Aspidistra after the song by Gracie Fields. On my audio vault at jonathanmarks.libsyn.com/?media_network_wartime_deception_part_1 you can hear more."

A catalog of international news channels' video feeds of Japan earthquake coverage.

Posted: 13 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
PC World, 11 Mar 2011, Patrick Miller and Alex Wawro: "Enough video feeds are out there for you to recreate your own newsroom feeling in your home or office--if you know how to find them, that is. NHK World Live (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) has an international video feed that is currently alternating broadcasts in different languages. ... Al-Jazeera English and the BBC are also offering live online video feeds of their daily coverage, though they're also covering the other events of the day, so you won't get 100 percent tsunami coverage. CNN is currently running live video streams from both Japan and California--you can find them from the network's landing page." With links. -- Unusual for a free live stream to be available from the BBC. A good quality stream of NHK World is also available at the Japan International Broadcasting website. NHK World English coverage is rather repetitious. They need to partner with another English-language news channel to get more material.

Ad Age Global, 11 Mar 2011: "News of the event hit American airwaves in the morning, just before most people were heading to work, and while multiple sources captured the tsunami on video, cable news outlets didn't offer a live-stream of its coverage online where people could take advantage of office connections to the internet. Al Jazeera English quickly pushed a live stream of Japan's devastation on its website, one of the first major news organizations to do so. 'They're able to do that because they're liberated by the absence of contractual legal obligations,' said Doc Searls, an author working with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. 'Unlike, say, the BBC, which will not communicate outside their own borders, and in the case of the traditional mainstream networks, who are contractually obligated to broadcast only through affiliates and satellite or cable, so that's why you have Al Jazeera winning.'" -- What is Searls talking about? BBC has international television, radio, and web services. Also, given that Al Jazeeera English is available on so few US cable systems and therefore must depend on internet video streams for viewing in the United States, it did not have any distribution advantage over NHK World, which was also providing live coverage from the beginning.

Washington Post, Faster Foward, 11 Mar 2011, Rob Pegoraro: "[T]weets and retweets noted the increasing disaster and linked to photos and videos already being uploaded while critiquing news coverage. Among international news networks, the BBC and Al-Jazeera English won more compliments on Twitter than CNN for their initial responses."

Convergence is in (on) the air: "The Stream" on Al Jazeera English, "Global Public Square" from CNN.

Posted: 13 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Wired Epicenter, 6 Mar 2011, Dylan Tweney: "As the Arab world reels with revolutions fomented in part online, Al Jazeera English is planning a new talk show that has social networking at its heart. It’s just lucky timing, says Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, the voluble young producer and co-host of the show, called The Stream, which is scheduled to appear on the English language version of Al Jazeera starting in May. ... The core idea of The Stream is that it’s not scripted in the ordinary way. Rather than give the hosts a script, typed rundown or teleprompter cues, the producers will make extensive use of tweets, Facebook wall posts and YouTube videos from the most engaged viewers and the web at large."

CNN press release, 9 Mar 2011: "CNN.com has launched Global Public Square, a new blog in partnership with Time.com featuring global news distilled into compelling and enlightening points of view from Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS and Editor at Large for TIME. Other expert guests and journalists from CNN and TIME magazine will contribute to the blog as well. ... Edited by CNN.com’s new World producer Amar Bakshi, the Global Public Square blog will use CNN’s global resources to help interpret and explain the world. Users can also participate in the conversation by asking questions of newsmakers, commenting on the posts and giving their opinions on international events and the diverse, original perspectives that are presented."

Aljazeera.net, 9 Mar 2011, Jillian C. York (commentary): "Though some risks are inherent to the architecture and policies of social media tools--Facebook’s 'real name' rule, for example, or the lack of HTTPS across most sites--others are a matter of use, and a lack of forethought to the permanence of online postings. Imagine for a moment that Egypt's protesters had not been successful in ousting Mubarak; the myriad photos, videos, and tweets posted by Egyptians, many with identifiable information, would remain online for the security service to pore through."

VOA's Steven Herman is tweeting from Japan.

Posted: 12 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 12 Mar 2011, Steven Herman, VOA Northeat Asia correspondent: "Heading east in Fukushima trying to reach evacuees from radiation exclusion zone."

Twitter, 12 Mar 2011, Steven Herman: "Traveling in car with NPR reporter & Spain's Ponto Radio correspondent. As the only one who speaks Japanese I'm the interpreter!"

Follow Steve's reports from Japan at twitter.com/w7voa.

NPR, The Two-Way blog, 11 Mar 2011, Bill Chappell: "On the morning after the quake, Voice of America correspondent Steve Herman described the scene in Tokyo. Herman was very active on Twitter throughout the first day of the crisis." UN Dispatch, 11 Mar 2011, Christopher R Albon.

Cameroon's ban of Twitter via SMS won't make much of a difference, he writes.

Posted: 12 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Scribbles from the Den, 8 Mar 2011, Dibussi Tande: "In a bid to insulate Cameroon against popular uprisings similar to those that have toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt in recent months, the government of Cameroon has forced mobile operator MTN end its five-month old partnership with the microblogging giant Twitter, and to discontinue its Twitter short code service. This service allowed MTN subscribers to receive tweets for free and send tweets at the standard SMS rates. ... Increasingly smartphones are making their way into Cameroon, and practically every phone in the market has a camera. The combination of standard SMS and smartphones is where the potential 'threat' to national security (i.e., the Biya regime) really lies, and not on a service that was used by only a handful of people; the police brutalization of Kah Walla, for example, was captured on a cell phone, uploaded onto the internet and also distributed via email before it ultimately found its way on Twitter. Even without Twitter, the video would have still gone viral."

One more thing for countries to worry about: the annual BBC World Service Country Rating Poll.

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BBC World Service press release, 7 Mar 2011: "Positive views of Brazil have sharply improved in the annual BBC World Service Country Rating Poll of 27 countries around the world. ... Overall, positive ratings increased in 13 of the 16 nations rated. These include the USA – positive views of American influence rose an average of four points to 49 per cent, with 31 per cent negative. The United Kingdom's positive ratings rose five points to 58 per cent, making it, for the first time, the second most positively rated country. ... In marked contrast, the three most negatively viewed countries saw their average ratings go from bad to worse, including Iran (59 per cent negative, up three points since 2010), North Korea (55 per cent, up six points), and Pakistan (56 per cent, up five points)." See also Globescan ress release, 7 Mar 2011, with links to full reports.

Radio France DG "furious" after last weekend's power failure, which included RFI.

Posted: 12 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio France International, 6 Mar 2011: "Radio France bosses have ordered an inquiry into why a power cut halted broadcasts, including those of RFI, on Saturday night. 'I’m furious,' Radio France director-general Jean-Luc Hees declared Sunday, commenting that there should never be a break in public service radio broadcasts. Emergency generators failed to kick in when the power cut hit Paris’s Maison de la Radio, which houses national radio broadcasters and Radio France Internationale. Broadcasts were cut for periods of between half and hour and several hours and disruption to websites, including RFI in English, continued Sunday."

A rundown of the US funded internet anti-blocking, anti-tracking technologies.

Posted: 12 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 10 Mar 2011, Ian Shapira: "The Obama administration may not be lending arms to dissidents in the Middle East, but it is offering aid in another critical way: helping them surf the Web anonymously as they seek to overthrow their governments. Federal agencies - such as the State Department, the Defense Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors - have been funding a handful of technology firms that allow people to get online without being tracked or to visit news or social media sites that governments have blocked. Many of these little-known organizations - such as the Tor Project and UltraReach- are unabashedly supportive of the activists in the Middle East. ... The Tor Project, a nonprofit organization that gets money from the State and Defense departments, has seen far more people use its product during the Middle East uprisings. ... UltraReach, which last month began receiving portions of an $800,000 federal grant, has seen the use of its product UltraSurf explode in the Middle East. ... A Canadian company, Psiphon, which has a contract with the BBG to help disseminate Voice of America and other U.S. news services in Iran, China and the former Soviet Union, said it also has seen traffic upticks in the Middle East, although its focus is elsewhere in the world. ... Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, AnchorFree, which makes money by splashing banner ads atop every Web page accessed through its Hotspot Shield application, says it steers clear of choosing political sides, even though it has contracted with the BBG in the past." See previous post about same subject.

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 7 Mar 2011, Evgeny Morozov: "Tweets were sent. Dictators were toppled. Internet = democracy. QED. Sadly, this is the level of nuance in most popular accounts of the internet's contribution to the recent unrest in the Middle East. ... After all, the world has yet to meet a Soviet dissident who doesn't think it was the fax machine that toppled the Politburo – or a former employee of Radio Free Europe or Voice of America who doesn't think it was western radio broadcasting that brought down the Berlin Wall."

Are US public diplomacy and international broadcasting the "smoking gun that exposes American collusion in the ouster of Mubarak"?

Posted: 12 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy Journal, 6 Mar 2011, Maidhc Ó Cathail: "On January 12, 2009, US Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman joined a group of Egyptian political bloggers from the Virtual Newsroom of the American University in Cairo. Is this the 'virtual' smoking gun that exposes American collusion in the subsequent ouster of Hosni Mubarak? ... When pressed by the questioner, Glassman added: 'Now, we have to work with those governments. And let me also just say, there’s a difference on an operational level between public—what we do in public diplomacy and what is often done in official diplomacy. We are communicating and engaging at the level of the public, not at the level of officials. So you know, it certainly is possible that some of these governments will not be all that happy that—at what we’re doing, but that’s what we do in public diplomacy.' ... In 2007, Glassman became Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a US government agency that provides propaganda to overseas audiences via the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti). Norman J. Pattiz, the 'founding father' of Radio Sawa, which is increasingly popular in Egypt, sits on BBG’s board. Pattiz is also on the national board of the Israel Policy Forum, which is 'committed to a strong and enduring U.S.-Israel relationship and to advancing the shared interests of the United States and the State of Israel.'" -- Given Israel's nervousness about the transition from Mubarak, with whom it had a fairly stable relationship, to whatever will come next in Egypt, this hypothesis does not hold up. (Note that Foreign Policy Journal contents include articles by 9-11 truthers.)

The Gulf Today (Sharjah), 6 Mar 2011, Michael Jansen: "Once Egyptians began to protest in Tahrir and elsewhere, key support came from the media, particularly pan-Arab and international media. Leading the pack of satellite television channels were Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera International (English) and Mubasher (live streaming). Arabiya and other Arabic channels and BBC World (Arabic and English) and CNN (English) made their contributions but Al Jazeera was outstanding. Why? Because its correspondents were on top of the story as they say, 'Twenty-four-seven.' Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Al Jazeera deployed journalists in Tahrir itself, in a building above the square, in Alexandria and Suez. The channel brought in Egyptian commentators and interviewed protesters. Constant media coverage did two things: it encouraged Egyptians to carry on with their uprising and frightened the regime. Tens of thousands of Egyptians continued to flow into Tahrir, the epicentre of the uprising, on a daily basis. While those from the upper and middle classes had access to satellite television coverage of what was happening, the lower middle and poorer classes did not. Instead, they viewed events on state run channels which portrayed protesters as Al Qaeda, stooges of the West, and criminals. Egyptians who depended on such coverage were confused, conflicted and afraid. Only when they came to Tahrir did they realise that government media were telling lies."

"Radio Free Sarawak is the independent radio station that brings you the news you want to hear, not what others want you to hear."

Posted: 12 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Borneo Post, 9 Mar 2011, Johnson K Saai: "The authorities concerned will leave no stone unturned in its investigation into the operation of Radio Free Sarawak (RFS), Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said. ... Earlier, he confirmed that a police report had been lodged against RFS for its alleged ploy to run down the Sarawak government by broadcasting 'malicious lies'." See also Borneo Post, 10 Mar 2011. And Bernama, 8 Mar 2011.

Free Malaysia Today, 4 Mar 2011, Mariam Mokhtar: "Although Sarawak is blessed with mineral wealth and has, for over a hundred years been a major producer of oil and gas, very little of the oil money has reached the average citizen. On the other hand, [Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud's] family has become fabulously wealthy, not from hard work or creative business skills. They became obscenely rich from the corrupt exploitation of government office, by abusing Taib’s position as Chief Minister and by diverting the monies derived from Sarawak’s natural resources. This is the culture of corruption that Clare Rewcastle Brown, the founder of Radio Free Sarawak and the author of the Sarawak Report blog is trying to expose. Last week, she and Peter John Jaban, Sarawak’s own freedom fighter, have both vowed to expose Taib’s alleged corruption and hence remove him from power. In the days after these two went public in London, Clare shot back at Barisan Nasional who said her radio broadcasts were illegal. They accused her of trying to overthrow Taib and of trying to stir up trouble in Sarawak. Clare is aware that she has a powerful weapon in the form of the RFS and SR websites. Another secret weapon is the Iban, Peter John Jaban, a broadcaster who once worked for a radio station in Sarawak which was controlled by Taib."

radiofreesarawak.org: "Radio Free Sarawak is the independent radio station that brings you the news you want to hear, not what others want you to hear. No one controls us, except you, the listeners of Sarawak. So tune in and enjoy the news, interviews, reports and comment that you will never get to hear on any of the other government-controlled radio stations in Sarawak. There will be plenty of our best music too, all presented to you in Iban by Papa Orang Utan, our own man from the jungle of Sarawak!"

Today (Singapore), 12 Mar 2011. "Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has voiced his support for his sister-in-law's crusade against what she deems to be the exploitation of Sarawak's people and forests by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. ... Ms Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who took responsibility for Radio Free Sarawak and the Sarawak Report blog two weeks ago, has been highly critical of Mr Taib's 30-year-old administration, accusing it of corruption and illegal political practices."

Today (Singapore), 12 Mar 2011. "Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has voiced his support for his sister-in-law's crusade against what she deems to be the exploitation of Sarawak's people and forests by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. ... Ms Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who took responsibility for Radio Free Sarawak and the Sarawak Report blog two weeks ago, has been highly critical of Mr Taib's 30-year-old administration, accusing it of corruption and illegal political practices." See previous post about same subject.

Hillary Clinton's "information war" statement at Senate hearing generates more comments.

Posted: 11 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Time, 3 Mar 2011, Ishaan Tharoor: "When addressing the U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities Committee on March 2, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton argued for more funding for her department on the grounds that the U.S. is losing an 'information war' around the world. Once-hallowed media institutions like Voice of America are a shadow of their former selves, while English-language TV channels like Russia Today and CCTV -- products of authoritarian regimes in Moscow and Beijing, respectively -- have stepped up their presence from Africa to Southeast Asia. ... When based in Hong Kong, I used to watch Al Jazeera English every morning before trudging off to work. What's clear about the channel's coverage — apart from its depth of resources and expertise in the Arab world — is that it is serious. Like BBC serious. It's a channel that would rather focus on, say, a political imbroglio in Ecuador than a throwaway piece involving dogs, kittens or who is or is not attending the wedding of an effete pair of silver-spooned royals."

AP, 5 Mar 2011: "'Like it or hate it, [Al Jazeera] it is really effective,' Clinton said. 'In fact, viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the United States because it is real news. you may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news that is not providing information to us, let alone foreigners.' ... Fox News Channel's Michael Clemente said he was 'surprised and kind of curious' by Clinton's remarks. 'We've got leadership issues there, the safety of people, the safety of our own people,' said Clemente, senior vice president for news. 'Some big issues. All of a sudden there are headlines about Al-Jazeera versus the news in this country? It's just surprising. Curious more than surprising.' Representatives from CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC news all declined comment Friday on what Clinton said."

New American, 6 Mar 2011, Alex Newman: "Rather than focusing on an 'information war' and using American taxpayer money to promote the government’s propaganda around the world with even more ferocity, the United States should concentrate on obeying the Constitution. ... Congress could take this perfect opportunity — America is in more debt than any country in the history of the world — to eliminate the unconstitutional propaganda budget entirely. But, judging by how things are going in Congress so far, it almost certainly won’t."

Huffington Post, 3 Mar 2011, Jack Mirkinson: "On his Friday radio show, Glenn Beck called Hillary Clinton's comments about Al Jazeera and U.S. media 'insanity,' and said she was 'promoting' a channel he called 'the propaganda arm of the Middle East and Islamic extremism.'"

RT (Russia Today), 3 Mar 2011: "Things have changed a lot since the days when Western media outlets, including BBC and CNN, had a monopoly on the coverage of world news. More and more viewers across the world tune into various foreign media to get a fresh take on events. It is all in the numbers. For instance, RT's presence on YouTube is a real hit: almost 300 million views, when CNN International is struggling to reach 3 million." -- I think this is because RT does more UFO stories.

Pravda, 5 Mar 2011, Artyom Gorbunov: "Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia Today TV channel, said that having no foreign-language broadcast in the modern world was similar to having no defense ministry. 'Apparently, Clinton thinks so too. This is why the States spend up to $800 million every year on foreign-language broadcast,' Simonyan wrote on her blog. At the same time, Simonyan added, Hillary Clinton used the Russian TV channel as an argument to increase the funding of American foreign broadcast under the conditions of extreme budget deficit."

MidEastPosts, 6 Mar 2011, Mondoweiss: "So what is it about Al Jazeera that’s won grudging praise from Hillary who admits that American news organizations are unable to inform and who implies that officials watch the network far more than they would admit? ... Al Jazeera producers, hosts, anchors, reporters—Arab, European, Asian, and African—do apply context and depth (as do American reporters who absorb Al Jazeera’s organizational culture and mission). They come from societies with a thousand year history; they get it. Consider Anderson Cooper’s enthusiastic reporting for freedom and good and anti-tyranny in Egypt and Libya. A great thing to be sure, but notable for its naivete, its form over substance, its lack of meaningful observation or insight, its inability to go beyond the surface, its reliance on in-house experts. This is typical of American media."

Heritage Foundation, 8 Mar 2011, Helle Dale: "In response to a question from Representative Russ Carnahan (D–MO) in her testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier in the day, Clinton made the same points, adding that she had spoken to BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson about the decline in U.S. global influence. If anyone could have a direct influence on the future of U.S. international broadcasting, it is her. Maybe Clinton should show up for some of the BBG’s monthly meetings and put her foot down."

Accuracy in Media, 3 Mar 2011, Don Irvine: "If Clinton wants the U.S. to really get back in the game, then she and others in the Obama administration need to muster up the courage to send real information, real (dare I say) propaganda overseas to counter misinformation from Al Jazeera, China amd Russia etc… We can’t rely on fluff programming to do the job for us."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 9 Mar 2011, Amy Goodman: "Clinton was asking for more funding for the overseas propaganda organs of the US government, like Voice of America, Radio Marti and the Arabic-language TV channel that is produced in Virginia for broadcast to the Middle East, al-Hurra. That arm of the state department is slated to receive $769m, almost twice the funding of the CPB. The US military's media operation has an annual budget exceeding $150m and distributes entertainment programming to overseas bases, and propagandistic content on its full-time US television platform, the Pentagon Channel. While Clinton's description of the failed US commercial media is correct, her prescription is all wrong. We need more genuine news and less propaganda."-- Dismissing the entities of USIB as "propaganda organs" is, well, a bit propagandistic.

See previous post about same subject.

By dint of dramatic irony, we learn why Chinese international broadcasting probably won't succeed.

Posted: 11 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 6 Mar 2011, Philip Seib: "As Secretary Clinton said, 'We are in a competition for influence with China; let's put aside the moral, humanitarian, do-good side of what we believe in, and let's just talk straight realpolitik.' China has designed a significant part of its public diplomacy as a means of courting countries that are sources of natural resources that China needs. Secretary Clinton pointed to Papua New Guinea, with its great reserves of oil and natural gas, as one of these targets. International broadcasting projects, along with programs such as the Confucius Institutes, are at the heart of China's strategic courtship campaign. Unlike the United States, China takes these matters seriously and has designed an approach to public diplomacy that is well-funded, imaginative, and fully integrated within its overall foreign policy." -- To succeed, international broadcasting must be credible, and to be credible, it must be independent. If Chinese international broadcasting is "fully integrated within its overall foreign policy" (and judging from its content, its seems to be), this might explain why I have generally seen only small to nonexistent audience numbers for China Radio International, CCTV News, and CNC World. See previous post about same subject.

Taiwan Today, 11 Mar 2011, Paul Rockower: "It is crucial Taiwan promotes its cultural relevance within the global community as a means of boosting the nation’s international visibility. As part of this push, the country is planning to engage in linguistic diplomacy through the Taiwan Academies initiative. Set to be created around the globe, these linguistic centers will become an alternative to the mainland Chinese-run Confucius Institutes, and an ideal way of showcasing local culture and teaching Mandarin. They should also help reinforce Taiwan’s reputation as a site of traditional Mandarin scholarship. The academies are intended to serve three functions: to help preserve traditional Chinese culture with Taiwanese characteristics; offer a window on the nation’s distinct society; and provide various outlets for cultural exchange activities. In the U.S., the centers will open in Houston and Los Angeles later this year. ... Another creative outlet for Taiwan to offer such classes could be via its international broadcasting arm, Radio Taiwan International. The U.S. and U.K. have long conducted linguistic diplomacy over the radio as a form of cultural outreach using Voice of America and the BBC, respectively. Since 1959, VOA has broadcast a program called “Special English” which is geared toward non-native speakers as a means to help teach American English. "

BBC Worldwide Showcase brings £40-50 million in international television sales.

Posted: 10 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Variety, 5 Mar 2011, Steve Clarke: "For more than 20 years, international program buyers have braved the gray skies and seaside chill of this out-of-season holiday town to check out the latest shows from the BBC and, lately, a fair number of programs made by third-party producers distributed by BBC Worldwide. The 35th BBC Worldwide Showcase market, which ran Feb. 26 through March 2, was no exception. With some 550 buyers at the mart, up 12% compared with 2010, sales topper Steve Macallister expected it to be a strong year for BBC Worldwide. 'Last year, we had a lot of new buyers from Asia, but this year we're seeing new delegates attending from Central and Eastern Europe,' he says. The importance of Showcase to the BBC's commercial arm is clear. The sales spree brings between £40 million-£50 million ($65 million-$81 million) of revenue, roughly a fifth of BBC Worldwide's total annual earnings from sales and distribution, last year worth $436 million."

BBC DG: "digital platforms do not mean that traditional shortwave radio services have had their day."

Posted: 10 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Indiantelevision.com, 5 Mar 2011, quoting BBC DG Mark Thompson at the Financial Times Digital Media and Broadcasting Conference: "In English and in other strategically important languages, our view is that a broadcaster can really only hope to have a significant impact with news if they are offering it on television and the web and radio and mobile. This is why in recent years we have launched BBC Arabic and Persian TV channels in addition to our radio and web services. It is also why the BBC will never retreat from delivering news online."

BBC Press Office, 2 Mar 2011, BBG DG Mark Thompson transcript of speech to the Financial Times Digital Media and Broadcasting Conference: "It's important to say that the choice now available in digital platforms does not mean that traditional shortwave radio services have had their day yet – we profoundly regret the current wave of BBC World Service closures which are the result of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review."

International Radio Serbia marks its 75th anniversary.

Posted: 10 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
International Radio Serbia, 8 Mar 2011: "On March 8 the International Radio Serbia marks the 75th anniversary of work. The importance on the short waves will be a topic of the round-table discussion entitled 'The future of world radio services and attitude of the state towards them', to be held on March 7 in the Serbian Parliament. Our reporter Sladjana Pavic talked to the host of the gathering, director and editor-in-chief of the International Radio Serbia, Milorad Vujovic. ... Asked about the future of the International Radio Serbia, he underlines that the functioning of the short waves represents a resource in the broadcasting field, and as such must be respected. 'In the world it is considered a strategic resource and economically powerful countries have that attitude, as they are able to articulate the requests directed at the intentions to present the stances and policy of the state to the listeners around the world.'"

International Radio Serbia, 8 Mar 2011: "The importance of the former Radio Yugoslavia is even greater when one knows that it is older than Voice of America and other short-wave stations in the world. The importance and rating of the International Radio of Serbia are confirmed in letters of listeners from around the world and our Diaspora, Vujovic said, adding that these reactions serve as guidelines for program policy. He added that the year 2010 was marked by introduction of new programs and additions to our website, such as interactive maps and video news in foreign languages."

At former VOA Bethany transmitting site: Chinese public diplomacy.

Posted: 10 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
West Chester (OH) Buzz, 9 Mar 2011: "A popular six-week course, 'Chinese for Business Travelers' is scheduled to begin March 22 at Miami University’s Voice of America Learning Center. The courses will take place on Tuesday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through April 26 and are geared to helping people reach the economic markets in China. ... Dr. Quanyu Huang, director of Miami’s Confucius Institute and an internationally recognized expert on Chinese-American cultural and educational comparison, will teach the six-week course." -- At the site of the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station.

Wikipedia: "Confucius Institutes (孔子学院) are non-profit public institutions that aim to promote Chinese language and culture and support local Chinese teaching internationally. The headquarters is in Beijing and is under the Office of Chinese Language Council International (colloquially, Hanban). Many scholars characterize the CI program as an exercise in soft power where China 'sees the promotion of its culture and its chief language, standard Mandarin, as a means of expanding its economic, cultural, and diplomatic reach.'"

Cincinnati, 9 Mar 2011, Jim Rohrer: The tower of WLW, 700 kHz, Cincinnati, "now sits virtually alone near Voice of America Park, since the forest of transmission towers that were once nearby and supported the VOA’s Bethany Relay Station were removed. It sits on one of the highest elevations in Warren County, which is why WLW owner Powel Crosley Jr. built it there."

BBG proposal to eliminate VOA Mandarin shortwave sparks comments and theories.

Posted: 10 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Politico, 4 Mar 2011, Joseph Bosco: "[R]evolutionary events in the Mideast demonstrate that a picture can be worth a thousand tweets. Television and radio are still the most effective media to convey dramatic images and descriptions, as well as to provide in-depth discussion, of contemporary historic events. They are also the only contact with the outside world for the millions of Chinese without Internet access. ... Washington should not make Beijing’s task even easier by removing or limiting the most important uncensored communications tool available to Chinese citizens. New technologies should supplement, not supplant, traditional communications that are often more reliable and effective — and sometimes the only international link. ... Today’s Pentagon budget must expend billions to cope with new Chinese weapons systems. But we can fund outlets of freedom like VOA and RFA that can eventually reduce that threat by fostering political reform in China for a fraction of the cost."

Shortwave America blog, 6 Mar 2011, Keith Perron: The head of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China has "called the cuts at the BBC World Service and the proposed cuts to the Voice Of America as a victory for 'the Communist Party of China and the fight against the West', in speech to members of his department. In the un-publi[c]ized speech he said with the Western media outlets losing the media war, it will give China a chance to dominate the international airwaves. Li Changchun also announced that China will spend 52 000 000 Yuan (8 million USD) starting this year to expand it's reach to international audiences. This includes satellite broadcasts, 'taking over AM/FM stations in the west', and expanding China's use of shortwave to the Americas, Europe, Africa and South East Asia. China will also be looking at taking over relay stations once used to broadcast to the PRC by the West 'who have mis-informed the people of China to create an un-stable society'." -- I do not have a second source for this statement by the propaganda chief.

Free Media Online, 2 Mar 2011, Ted Lipien: "While members of Congress are getting one side of the story from BBG executives eager to end Voice of America radio to China in favor of Internet-only VOA news delivery, [Sound of Hope president] Allen Zeng cites audience research data in support of Sound of Hope Radio strategy for China which contradicts some of their claims. Pointing out that during the recent pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt, the regime was able to censor the Internet, Mr. Zeng said that his radio network relies on a number of program delivery channels. ... Free Media Online analysts suspect that either China-based firms doing market research for the BBG are under the influence of the Chinese authorities or Chinese respondents are reluctant to tell strangers that they listen to shortwave radio, as this may indicate to the authorities that these individuals are listening to foreign broadcasts. It is highly doubtful that the Chinese government would use over 80 shortwave frequencies to reach 0.4 percent of the population." -- According to the World Radio TV Handbook, China does not use more than six frequencies at a time for domestic shortwave broadcasting .

The Messenger (Fort Dodge, IA), 8 Mar 2011, editorial: "VOA officials - who clearly don't want to dispute their boss, Obama - say the broadcasts will be replaced by more Internet activity. But they are fully aware that many Chinese who tune in to VOA broadcasts do not have access to the Internet. Why the change? 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." See previous post about same subject.

New Chinese media strategy: awful domestic broadcasting.

Posted: 10 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Times (Beijing), 3 Mar 2011, Pan Yan: "Nearly two months after Chongqing satellite television channel replaced all its entertainment shows with 'red culture' programming to highlight the benefits of socialism, the channel stopped airing commercial advertisements. The spots will be used to air revolutionary songs and public interests ads, Chongqing Evening News reported. ... Entertaining drama series were replaced with classic movies about the Red Army and anti-Japanese war films among others. An unidentified Chongqing Broadcasting Group official told the paper that the channel strives to promote socialist culture, common good, educate people and highlight good social values."

Global Times (Beijing), 8 Mar 2011, Li Xiguang: "In an attempt to follow the example of foreign state-funded channels such as BBC, PBS and NHK, Huang Qifan, the mayor of Chongqing, told the press, 'Chongqing Satellite TV has stopped airing commercials to provide its audience with more news, in-house cultural programs, public service announcements while reducing the time of soap operas with the aim of providing more educational programs and sophisticated culture to the public.' Among the 3,000 TV channels in China, Chongqing is taking a bold step in launching the country's first public TV channel without commercials. ... Most people in the West believe that the Chinese press is a business of propaganda. But the reality is that the Chinese media landscape is almost totally dominated by entertainment. ... For example, immediate but shallow 24-hour live news is replacing thoughtful, complete and in-depth reporting. A never-ending array of talk shows with celebrity hosts are replacing well-thought, well-researched, balanced and diversified opinions."

Global Times, 5 Jan 2011, Huang Jingjing: "Xiao Yu, a 24-year-old man in Chongqing, is among those welcoming the change. 'I was tired of similar entertainment programs and drama shows aired by most of the satellite stations across the country,' Xiao told the Global Times, adding that he will watch the new programming if it is in-structive and worthwhile. Chen Lin, 27, a copywriter in the city, holds the opposite view, telling the Global Times that the program shift isn't attractive to her at all. 'Though it is meaningful to learn from history and the CPC's spirit, I sometimes feel tired of being overwhelmed by "red preaching,"' she said. ... Yu Guoming, director of the School of Journalism and Communication at Renmin University of China ... noted that it could find a niche with the nostalgic, aging population. 'Different from the younger generation that prefers the Internet, the older generation prefers to stay in front of TV sets. So there is still a market for this kind of programming, which reminds them of the old days.'"

Global Times, 8 Mar 2011, Zuo She: "The real question is whether such government-led cultural promotion really does anything to help crackdown on crime and change people's attitudes, or is it just a waste of taxpayers' money?"

Epoch Times, 8 Mar 2011, Michelle Yu: "Independent writer Ran Yunfei told Deutsche Welle the red campaign reminded him of Mao and Nazi propaganda, and said he fears the campaign will be pushed to other parts of China."

AP, 3 Mar 2011, Christopher Bodeen: "The 'Sing Red Songs' campaign is the brainchild of Bo Xilai, a Communist Party boss with a rare flamboyant touch. In a country known for staid politicians, he is a publicity hound with an administrative flair that has captured the national imagination - and could propel him into the top echelons of party leadership next year. ... He personally led the singalongs at first, forcing city officials to join. He also promoted communist-themed dramas on Chongqing TV and public readings of stories promoting traditional values and describing the party's history - sort of a 'Chicken Soup for the Communist Soul.'"

China Media Project, 8 Mar 2011, David Bandurski: "One of the most interesting proposals reportedly made on the floor of China’s National People’s Congress yesterday came from delegate Fang Ming (方明), an anchor at China National Radio, who suggested advertising be prohibited on Channel 1 of China’s state television broadcaster, China Central Television. Fang said television programming was now too dominated by advertising, and he advised that CCTV1 concentrate exclusively on news content. In the course of his proposal, Fang Ming mentioned recent changes at Chongqing Satellite Television, which he said has 'opened a new chapter' in domestic television. So what changes was Fang referring to?"

If this tendency towards the promotion of the Chinese version of socialism continues, this could be a boon for US international broadcasting to China. Nothing encourages listening or viewing international broadcasts more than bad domestic media.

Is China developing an internet kill switch?

Posted: 10 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 9 Mar 2011, Xin Yu: "Chinese netizens have expressed concern that their government may only be months away from having the ability to cut them off from overseas websites altogether. Rumors were rife on the popular chat service QQ this week that China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was stepping up plans to funnel all Web traffic between China and overseas sites through a single route. In doing so, the government would have the option to 'cut off' China's Internet from the outside world entirely. Chinese technology analyst Li Li said that while the rumors were probably exaggerated, the government was more likely to be working on ways to limit overseas access to sites it hasn't approved in advance, however. ... 'It's very likely that they will find a way to cut off access via circumvention tools,' he said."

DPA, 8 Mar 2011, Bill Smith: "Strict censorship of state media and the internet means Chinese people also have limited knowledge of the recent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other nations. 'It's as if the entire Arab world simply didn't exist,' purged Communist Party official Bao Tong wrote in a recent commentary for US-based Radio Free Asia. 'They are effectively stripping 1.3 billion people of their right to information. This is outrageous,' said Bao, a former secretary to Zhao Ziyang, the premier who was sacked for sympathising with the 1989 democracy movement." See also Radio Free Asia, 24 Feb 2011.

International broadcasting informs Chadians about uprisings in Libya and Cameroon.

Posted: 09 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Irish Times, 5 Mar 2011, Mary Boland: "[A] large swathe of Chad’s 11 million population can pick up Radio France Internationale and in hotels in the capital, the Kempinski included, international TV stations such as Africa 24 and France 24 keep viewers informed. While state media remained silent, foreign-based channels also covered last week’s protests – quickly suppressed by police – in neighbouring Cameroon, where demonstrators called for the ousting of their president of some 30 years and [Idriss Déby Itno’s] close ally, Paul Biya."

Al Jazeera English in the USA: "legitimate news organization" or "terrorist entity"?

Posted: 09 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 Mar 2011, Marwan M. Kraidy: "Americans are missing out on sophisticated and consistent coverage of parts of the world that CNN and BBC remember only during crises, and then only for the duration of the news cycle. Al-Jazeera English's coverage of Africa, for example, is unparalleled in frequency, breadth, and depth. The channel's coverage of the recent Arab uprisings provided unprecedented local access for a global news organization. ... Viewers in most parts of the world have the option of watching Al-Jazeera English alongside BBC, CNN, and Sky News. We would simply be joining the rest of the world, to the benefit of America's education, interests, and national security."

DPA, 8 Mar 2011, Andy Goldberg: "'Al Jazeera is now at a pivotal moment,' [Professor Marwan Kraidy] said. 'It's no longer seen as Bin Laden TV or an anti-American propaganda machine, but as a legitimate and valuable news organization.' 'News organizations have traditionally benefited from conflicts,' he added, noting the boost given to Time magazine by World War II and to CNN by the first Gulf War. 'Now it's Al Jazeera's turn.'"

Accuracy in Media, 4 Mar 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "An analysis of the propaganda campaign to get Al-Jazeera carried by more cable and satellite systems reveals an interesting fact. The terrorist TV channel is already available through something called MHz Networks. And it turns out that the MHz Networks is supported by the American taxpayers at the federal and state levels. MHz Networks is a division of Commonwealth Public Broadcasting and receives over $2 million a year from federal and state governments. In this case, because Commonwealth is based in Virginia, the culprit is the state of Virginia. However, Governor Robert F. McDonnell has proposed eliminating state funding of public broadcasting by cutting $2 million in fiscal 2012 and $2 million in fiscal 2013. Even if state legislators go along with this proposal, that still leaves the federal subsidies for Commonwealth and MHz Networks."

Accuracy in Media, 6 Mar 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "Notorious for ignoring human rights problems in Qatar, Al-Jazeera has been forced reluctantly to briefly cover the case of a Qatari blogger imprisoned and possibly being tortured by security forces in that Arab country. Under the matter-of-fact headline, 'Amnesty: Qatari blogger detained,' Al-Jazeera English reports that Amnesty International is calling attention to how Sultan al-Khalaifi, a Qatari blogger and the founder of a human rights organization, was arrested on March 2 and is being detained incommunicado."

Christian Newswire, 8 Mar 2011: "America's Survival, Inc. (ASI) ... President Cliff Kincaid ... said that while he is not yet calling for the official banning of Al-Jazeera, federal authorities can and should investigate the channel to determine if it constitutes a 'global terrorist entity' that threatens national security. Kincaid said that Rep. King's Homeland Security Committee could hear testimony on the channel's relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has spawned various terrorist groups. The 'global terrorist entity' designation has already been applied to Al-Manar, the TV channel affiliated with the terrorist group Hezbollah. As a result, Al-Manar's broadcasts have been banned by the U.S. Government and those who have tried to broadcast the channel in the U.S. have been prosecuted and convicted of providing support to a foreign terrorist organization. ... ASI on Tuesday began running ads on WorldNetDaily, one of the most popular Internet sites, opposing further entry into the U.S. media market of Al-Jazeera English."

The Province (Vancouver), 6 Mar 2011, Jack Knox: "Two years ago, CNN was so ignorant that when Barack Obama paid his first presidential trip to Canada, it identified the red-serge Mounties as soldiers. Al Jazeera English bills itself as the only international network with a permanent bureau in Canada. The four-year-old, 24-hour news service, based in Qatar, began broadcasting as a digital channel in Canada last May. The Toronto bureau's staff are all Canadian, with Imtiaz Tyab, who had worked for the CBC in Vancouver, its on-camera face. In fact, the entire network has a strong Canadian flavour, including Tony Burman, former editor-inchief of CBC News. Although influential abroad, the network is having a hard time getting a toehold in the U.S., where the al Jazeera name conjures up images of bomb-happy radical Muslim clerics, and where there appears to be widespread support for exposing the public to a diversity of perspectives, as long as they're American. Al Jazeera isn't that readily accessible in Canada, either. Shaw carries it as a specialty channel in Victoria, up in the nosebleed section with the Knitting Knetwork and Lithuanian pay-per-view porn, or something like that. It's easiest to stream it live over the Internet."

Mashable, 5 Mar 2011, Adam Ostrow: "Director General of the Al Jazeera Network Wadah Khanfar spoke on stage at TED." With video.

Medill Reports, 8 Mar 2011, Sara Al-Farhan: "Members of the American Al Jazeera web audience are actively supporting Al Jazeera television using Meetup.com, a social media website that enables people to connect and organize meetings to support a cause. On March 23 Meetup members will have a nationwide 'Demand Al Jazeera Call-in Day' for supporters to call their local cable providers to demand Al Jazeera be offered in their towns."

See previous post about same subject.

Multivision brings DW-TV, CCTV, Discovery, Disney to more Cuban communities.

Posted: 09 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Solvisión, 5 Mar 2011, Singh Castillo: "Inhabitants of Guantanamo municipalities Niceto Pérez, El Salvador, Manuel Tames, Imías and Yateras are among the 102 localities of Cuba which will receive signal of Multivision channel this year. ... Multivision is an open signal channel of Cuban television, which broadcasts 24 hours from Havana, thanks to programs made by TV stations around the world, such as Telesur, TVes, CCTV, Venezolana de TV, Spanish TV, DW-TV Germany, Discovery Channel and Disney Channel, who have given free broadcasting rights."

On day of Sec. Clinton's internet freedom speech, Sen. Lugar calls for anti-censorship funds to be moved from State to BBG (updated).

Posted: 09 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Senator Dick Lugar press release, 15 Feb 2011: "U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today urged the Obama Administration to step up its initiatives to ensure freedom of the Internet around the world. 'I applaud the continuing efforts of Secretary of State Clinton and everything the Department of State is doing to counter authoritarian governments and their designs to control access to the Internet,' Lugar said, remarking on her speech on Internet freedom today. Lugar, however, expressed concern that the State Department has not been moving quickly enough to contract out the funding Congress appropriated for developing tools to counter Internet censorship. He called on the Secretary to transfer 'no less than $8 million' in unspent funds to the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and other international information services. 'Our international broadcast services are working everyday to counter Internet censorship,' Lugar explained, 'and should be the primary drivers in U.S. government efforts to develop and implement Internet censorship circumvention technology.'" With link to report.

Foreign Policy, The Cable, 15 Feb 2011, Josh Rogin: "On the same day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will give a major speech on protecting freedom of information, especially in cyberspace, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a report criticizing the U.S. government for failing to confront the Chinese government's Internet censorship policies." See previous post about same subject.

State Department, 15 Feb 2011. And fact sheet, State Department, 15 Feb 2011.

Update: Washington Post, 3 Mar 2011, editorial: "[Sixteen] months have passed since the State Department was allotted $30 million in funding for Internet freedom - and not a dollar of it has been spent. During that time Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has delivered two speeches stressing the importance of the issue and committing the department to an aggressive strategy. But while her State Department painstakingly hammers out its approach, oppressive regimes the world over are acting in real time to stifle dissent, strengthen firewalls and threaten online activists - most recently in the Middle East. ... If State fails to live up to its promises, a solution like the one proposed by the ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), would be appropriate. Mr. Lugar would divert at least $8 million of the funds from the State Department to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which has already spent $1.5 million to expand firewall circumvention capacity. State's policy is more balanced - but with democratic revolutions spreading and the Internet fast changing, Congress should not tolerate any more delays." -- What was editorial writer getting at with "more balanced"?

Politico, 9 Mar 2011, Tony Romm: "Top congressional appropriators tell POLITICO that State hasn’t spent the cash as fast as foreign dictators have shut off access to sites like Facebook, YouTube and Gmail. That’s why they’re now calling for the transfer of the money to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which has stewardship over Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. The provision is baked into Senate Democrats’ continuing resolution, which would fund the government until the end of September. It would transfer 'not less than' $15 million of State’s money to support censor-busting technology to the BBG."

"The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery," launches on CNN International and other CNN media.

Posted: 09 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 7 Mar 2011: "CNN is marshalling its global resources for a major initiative that takes on human trafficking with the launch of ‘The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery’, it was announced today by Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International. Throughout 2011, CNN’s reporting will expose the horrors of modern-day slavery, highlight the growing efforts to stop the trade and exploitation of human beings and amplify the voices of the victims. 'It’s our journalism-based assertion that this is the greatest uncovered breaking news story of today, and CNN plans to rip the lid off,' said Maddox. 'The inhumanity of those who trade humans is truly shocking and should be stopped. Our coverage will spotlight not just those responsible, but the many courageous groups and individuals on the frontlines doing genuinely admirable work.' ... Increasing the scope and reach of this work, ‘The CNN Freedom Project’ will air across CNNI and CNN.com in a powerful and distinct online collaboration which will embrace viewer involvement and first-hand accounts. ‘The CNN Freedom Project’ site on CNN.com will educate, motivate and unravel the complicated tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life. ... CNN en Español is marking the launch of ‘The CNN Freedom Project’ today with special reports and packages to air across its programming lineup."

There is probably no more commendable cause than the campaign against modern-day slavery. But should a news organization use terms such as "should be stopped," "genuinely admirable," "motivate," and the like? If the reporting on this issue is adequate, these conclusions should be self-evident. BBC Global News has a better way of dealing with commendable causes though its BBC World Service Trust. The good works are done in venues separate from BBC World Service, which sticks to its news function.

A good review for China's CCTV-9 documentary channel, but English-language CCTV News "a work in progress."

Posted: 09 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Times (Beijing), 7 Mar 2011, Harvey Dzodin: "Forgive me CCTV-9. I have bashed you unmercifully several times in these pages and elsewhere. I found you seriously wanting in terms of presenters, program content and even technical capabilities. Now you've literally had a renaissance and transformed yourself into something elegant, powerful and suave. You have found the right formula for ideal television seldom attained anywhere in the world as you now educate, entertain and inform. Even my beloved ABC Television Network [USA] where I spent more than two decades only achieved this once in a blue moon. No, I am not talking about the old CCTV-9, now recast as CCTV News, but the new, bilingual CCTV-9 Documentary Channel. The best and most charitable thing that I can say about CCTV News is that it is a work in progress and that it's inching its way forward in the right direction. I still find its quality to be amateurish and ponder why such a now powerful nation with so many fine graduates of educational institutions such as the Communications University of China and Beijing Film Academy has a third-world quality media outlet as its window to the world. The new CCTV-9 is truly a breath of fresh air by comparison. It is the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and the History Channel all rolled into one. It has every chance to be an international hit if properly nurtured and marketed."

I don't think we need to worry about China's soft power as long as its international broadcasting consists of a bewildering jumble of brands. (As an employee of U.S. international broadcasting, I am familiar with bewildering jumbles of brands.)

I had forgotten that what was CCTV9 has been renamed CCTV News, one of China's three global English news channels. (The other two are Xinhua's CNC World and the ostensibly private Blue Ocean Network.) I didn't know that the CCTV9 brand had been given over to a documentary channel.

Navigating the CCTV English channels on the web is confusing. You will likely end up at a website labeled CNTV, thus adding yet another brand to the mix. According to Wikipedia, "China Network Television (CNTV) is the online digital network archive for China Central Television (CCTV) of the People's Republic of China." I was not able to access a CCTV9 live feed, but on-demand archives are here. I enjoyed Goodbye Steam Locomotives, Part 1 (in Mandarin with English subtitles), with three more parts yet to watch.

Wall Street Journal, 8 Mar 2011, Loretta Chao: "China Central Television has launched its own online video platform, CNTV, which provides content from the monopoly broadcaster's 20 channels, as well as content from other online-video sites. ... CNTV, which was launched in 2009, has a 7.1% share of online-video ad revenue, ranking fifth in the market. The top two video sites, Youku and Tudou, have 21% and 17%, respectively, according to research firm Analysys International."

Wall Street Journal, China Realtime Report, 8 Mar 2011, Loretta Chao: "CNTV users complain that videos on the website are slow to load. 'It’s impossible to watch anything' on CNTV, one user on online forum Baidu Tieba said, complaining that videos frequently paused for 20 minutes or more. 'For state-developed software to be as bad as this is really a shame.'"

Will you park your toddler in front of the set to watch the new English-language Al Jazeera Children's Channel?

Posted: 08 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 7 Mar 2011, Ben Flanagan: "The Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC) plans to launch an English-language station for broadcast outside the Arab world. International versions of the station in English and Arabic will be available by the end of next year, said Mahmoud Bouneb, the executive general manager of JCC. 'We have an ambition to create an international feed for JCC that will benefit other markets, [such as] Asia and North America,' said Mr Bouneb. ... The Qatar Foundation owns a 90 per cent stake in JCC, with the news broadcaster Al Jazeera holding a small stake. ... '[W]e have so many requests from Asian countries to bring Al Jazeera [Children's Channel] in Arabic and to be dubbed in English,' he said. ... 'It is essential our international feed will cover North America. I don't think we will face the issues related to the distribution of Al Jazeera.' ... 'If we add the English, probably we have to pay three or four times more to acquire content. But I think it's worth it to try.'"

An extra 10 minutes of BBC World Have Your Say "to accommodate the large volumes of calls and social media traffic."

Posted: 08 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 4 Mar 2011: "A new BBC World News evening update bulletin, World Have your Say Extra, launches on Friday 4 March to accommodate the large volumes of calls and social media traffic generated by the interactive news discussion show World Have your Say . World Have your Say - the BBC's award-winning global interactive news discussion show - launched a weekly TV edition of the show on BBC World News last month which now broadcasts every Friday at 15:00 GMT. The special World Have Your Say Extra bulletin, airing at 19:30GMT, will follow the main programme. Hosted by Ros Atkins, the bulletin will cover a round-up of the best audience online, email and telephone interactions." -- The "Extra bulletin" is 10 minutes, whereas World Have Your Say itself is an hour.

"ISP of America" as "last-resort provider for connectivity" when regimes shut down the internet.

Posted: 08 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Network World, 2 Mar 2011, Andreas M. Antonopoulos: "Instead of glamorizing Facebook, perhaps the west needs to consider the serious implications of the ease with which these regimes are able to disconnect their countries from the world. Turns out the Internet 'was designed to survive a nuclear strike', but falls easily to BGP [border gateway protocol] null-routing or good old-fashioned garden shears on a few carefully selected cables. The countries that need communication redundancy and survivability the most have so few connections to the Internet that they can easily be turned off. There's a solution to this problem: satellite Internet uplinks providing local guerrilla-GSM with pico cells. During WWII and also the cold war, western nations broadcast pro-west propaganda into hostile nations with the Voice of America. Western intelligence services also provided short-wave radios to get information out of the country. Today's equivalent would be the 'ISP of America', a last-resort provider for connectivity to cell phones and satellite modems. Such a satellite service could be rapidly positioned over countries with communications blackouts providing an ISP-in-the-sky. Low cost satellite modems and GSM pico cells could be air-dropped, smuggled over borders or built locally out of consumer electronics by geek rebels." -- I'm no engineer, but it seems to me that a satellite that can be "positioned" over a country would have to be in geosynchronous orbit, thus not so cheap, easy, or rapid to launch. (LEOs and MEOs already in orbit might be more useful.) Also, it would take an awful lot of picocells to cover a country. Mobile phones are, with very few exceptions, not satellite phones, and cannot easily be converted for a satellite connection. Nevertheless, these are ideas worth exploring.

State Dept launches Twitter feeds in Arabic, Farsi, with Chinese, Russian, Hindi to be added (updated).

Posted: 08 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 16 Feb 2011: "Just days after launching Twitter feeds in Arabic and Farsi to communicate directly with people in the Middle East, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday that the State Department would begin sending messages in Chinese, Russian and Hindi."

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Feb 2011, Simon Mann: "The first messages were dispatched at the height of the Egyptian revolt. Within a couple of days, the department's Arabic messages had been forwarded to 570,000 people. Its Farsi language tweets reached 288,000 people 'within hours'. 'And it's not simply broadcasting our messages in the stodgy old way of governments,' the [State Department said]. 'We get to see responses from people everywhere - positive and negative - and then we are able to engage each other as equals. After all, no tweet can be more than 140 characters, whether you are the US Secretary of State, a protester in [Cairo's] Tahrir Square, or someone who wants to be heard in the streets of Tehran.'"

Newsweek, 20 Feb 2011, Reza Aslan: "Unlike in Egypt, where State’s Arabic tweets urged mutual restraint on both sides, the Farsi tweets have taken a firm stance against Iran’s government. Last week, when tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the regime, USAdarFarsi urged Tehran to allow people to peacefully assemble, Cairo style."

Gambit (New Orleans), 22 Feb 2011: "The U.S. government is learning the value of social networking. This month, the State Department set up two special Twitter accounts, @USAdarFarsi and @USAbilAraby, to broadcast news in Farsi to anti-government protesters in Iran — a 21st-century Voice of America."

Will these State Department Twitter accounts work in concert with the corresponding language pages of America.gov, the public diplomacy websites? And it will be interesting to compare and contrast the output of these State Department Twitter accounts with those of VOA, RFE/RL, Alhurra, Radio Sawa, and Radio Free Asia. Ideally, the State tweets should represent and advocate for US policies, and the broadcasters' tweets should stick to the news.

Update: O'Reilly Radar, 1 Mar 2011, Alex Howard: "The accounts in Farsi and Arabic are run by people in the Middle East, said Ross. The accounts operate within the policy confines of the State Department, but they have some autonomy. There may be some rough edges yet, however, around customizing the language used in the tweets to connect to the massive 'youth bulge' in the Middle East, where about 60% of the region's population is under 30. ... These new Twitter accounts represent both something old and something new. As new means for communication have become available throughout history, governments have harnessed them to broadcast to their citizens — and to the governments elsewhere in the world. In certain respects, Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels serve as a 21st-century complement to the more traditional broadcasts from Voice of America." -- Note, however, that VOA has been using Twitter and Facebook for the past few years. As discussed just above, the State Department Twitter accounts complement those of VOA by representing and advocating for US policies, whereas VOA provides an independent news service.

"Exit interviews" with Jeffrey Gedmin, departing president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Posted: 08 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Prague Post, 2 Mar 2011, Benjamin Cunningham, interviewing Jeffrey Gedmin, departing president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.: "'[D]on't be deceived by the name. We are not only in Europe, not only on radio and we are saying, "Wait a second, there are areas of the world that still need accurate, fair-minded news."' ... 'Someone could have said, "Can you prove that your broadcasts are having an impact?"' Gedmin says. 'And the answer would have been no.' Gedmin concedes that RFE/RL's source of funding, the U.S. Congress, presents an 'optical problem' - the Iranian regime, for example, refers to the station as 'CIA radio.' He is quick to add that a strong and necessary 'firewall' is in place to limit any political influence on editorial content. 'People aren't stupid. If you deliver news that stands the test of time and continually checks out as accurate, they notice,' he says. 'To be influential, you must be credible. To be credible, you must be independent.'"

Mlada Fronta Dnes (Prague), 7 Mar 2011, Martin Komarek interviewing Gedmin (translated by RFE/RL): "We need to react to the demands of the market; use more internet, organize videoconferences, make use of all new technologies. The most important is to have content, good content. Terrorists can also use new technologies: but we want to infuse these technologies with spirit and ideas."

RFE/RL, The Blender podcast, 25 Feb 2011, Bruce Jacobs interviews Gedmin.

BBC Hindi shortwave gets one-year reprieve while "sustainable commercial funding" is explored.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 7 Jan 2011: "The BBC Hindi radio service has won a temporary reprieve after a high-profile campaign opposing plans to end transmissions at the end of March 2011. The BBC World Service says it has been approached by a number of commercial parties about alternative funding. It has now agreed to keep a one hour evening broadcast in Hindi for another year while it explores these options." See also BBC World Service press statement, 7 Mar 2011.

The Guardian, 7 Mar 2011, Josh Halliday: "'Since the announcement, there has been much public discussion of the potential for retaining some of this service and the BBC has been approached by a number of commercial parties with alternative funding proposals,' the BBC said in a statement. The BBC has agreed to fund a one-hour short-wave news programme each day 'for an interim period' while commercial funding is negotiated. 'If sustainable commercial funding for this service cannot be found during the 2011/12 financial year, we regret that it will then have to close by March 2012,' the statement added. Negotiations are understood to be in the early stages, but a commercial partnership to reprieve one service could provide a framework to save other World Service broadcasts earmarked for closure. ... '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,'" an open letter by Mark Tully and others said." -- The "very poor" suggests why the commercial scheme might not work. I am not aware of a shortwave broadcasting service that has ever made a profit from advertising sales.

Alhurra's Al Youm news program marks second anniversary with three-day event.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc/BBG press release, 7 Mar 2011: "The Arabic-language television network Alhurra achieves a significant milestone on Tuesday, March 8, with the second anniversary of its acclaimed program, Al Youm ('Today' in Arabic). To mark the occasion, Al Youm will expand its broadcasts to include live reports from Libya, Jordan and Tunisia as part of a special three-day event, March 8-10, 2011. This will be in addition to reports from Al Youm’s hubs in Dubai, Beirut, Cairo, Jerusalem and Washington, DC. Over the past two years, Al Youm has made its mark with up close, on the ground reporting of current events shaping the Arab world and earning a reputation of providing the personal stories that go beyond the headlines. ... With a staff of 130 straddling five countries, Al Youm combines hard news and news magazine styles into one fast-paced, hard-hitting program offering balanced, in-depth journalism. It is co-anchored by Engy Anwar and Ahmed El Naggar in Dubai, Mona Wehbi in Beirut, Amr Khalil in Cairo and Eman Haddad in Jerusalem."

Reporters sans frontières, 1 Mar 2011: On 25 February, "[c]ameraman Imed Hamed, of satellite TV station Al-Hurra, and his assistant Mustafa Kazem were arrested by riot police in Baghdad and their cameras and recordings seized."

International version of BBC iPlayer will cost less than $10/month, initially only as iPad app.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 2 Mar 2011, Emma Barnett: "Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director general, has revealed that the international version of the BBC’s popular iPlayer service, will cost less than $10 (£6.13) a month, which works out at around £73 a year, compared to the annual licence fee which currently stands at £145.50. Speaking at the Financial Times Digital Media and Broadcasting conference in London this morning, he said that the service, which will initially only be available internationally via an iPad app, will definitely launch later this year and cost 'a small number of dollars per month, definitely fewer than 10'. ... The BBC has not made clear exactly what content will be available internationally via the iPlayer app, but the catch up service is expected to allow people abroad access to full seasons of BBC programmes, both past and present."

The Guardian, 2 Mar 2011, Tara Conlan: Thompson "warned that simplicity will be key, adding 'although lots of televisions are being produced with IPTV', 'virtually no one plugs them in ... no one gets to page 26 or whatever of the instruction manual!'."

ZDNet, 3 Mar 2011, Rachel King: "BBC iPlayer is actually available for Android-based tablets as well - at least across the pond [in the UK]. However, The Guardian article only addresses the iPad, so hopefully this oversight doesn’t mean that the BBC iPlayer won’t be popping up in the U.S. Android Market as well."

Non-UK access to the new UK Radioplayer ("iPlayer for radio") is up to each participating station.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 6 Mar 2011, Emma Barnett: "UK Radioplayer, the BBC-backed single online player for more than 200 UK radio stations, is set to launch on March 31. ... The internet radio player, which will allow users to listen to more than 200 BBC and commercial radio stations, has been in development for the last two years. ... The pop-up console, which has been dubbed the 'iPlayer for radio', will be able to stream in excess of 200 national and local radio stations when it launches. The service, financially backed equally by the BBC and commercial radio groups, is the first of its kind, as it will give web users a single access point to both commercial and BBC radio content. ... Any radio station, from community level to national, can join UK Radioplayer, as long as their content is digitally modified for the platform.

Radioplayer website Q&A: "Q: Will Radioplayer be accessible overseas? Every station in Radioplayer hosts its own pop-up console, stream etc., so just as now, some will block overseas access, and some will allow it." -- So if BBC domestic radio channels continue not to be blocked to non-UK listeners, we in the abroad can use Radioplayer to hear the BBC feature and entertainment programming that will no longer be broadcast by BBC World Service English.

For Time Warner, international cable networks are a top driver of cash flow.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Multichannel News, 2 Mar 2011, Mike Farrell: "Time Warner Inc. chief financial officer John Martin told an investor conference Wednesday that affiliate fees, advertising opportunities, and international cable networks will be the top drivers of cash flow for the foreseeable future. ... On the international front, Martin said that channels outside the U.S. are currently generating about $500 million in operating profit annually The goal is to double that number in the next five years."

Official says Kenya Broadcasting Corp was "pushed ... into buying obsolete medium and shortwave equipment from Japan."

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 3 Mar 2011, Judith Akolo: "The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation - KBC is being starved of public funding. Information and Communications PS Dr Bitange Ndemo says lack of funding is impacting negatively on the ability of the national broadcaster to execute its mandate as the main source of public information. Ndemo and Information Minister Samuel Poghisio who appeared before the Parliament departmental committee on Energy and Communication Thursday said the national broadcaster has been on its knees financially over lack of funding by the government. ... The PS said KBC is in huge debts after past governments pushed it into buying obsolete medium and short wave equipment from Japan. ... 'The corporation acted as a dumping ground for the Japanese government when they made the Corporation take medium and shortwave equipment, that has led them to incur debts,' said the PS."

Religious broadcaster dismantles its shortwave facility in favor of social media.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Christian Today, 2 Mar 2011: "A Christian media organisation has developed tools for the social web to equip Christians to naturally share their faith online. Acutely aware of the Internet age we live in, the former radio broadcaster [in 2010] dismantled its transmission site near Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory last year to exploit the exponential growth of social media. YesHEis.com launches today to bring together a categorised array of third-party content for Christians and then proactively delivers it to them so they can share it online. ... Mike Edmiston describes CVC Network Ltd’s latest project as a 'quantum leap' for the media organisation. 'Twelve months ago we were watching the decline of our shortwave radio services...now we’re seeing exponential growth in new media opportunities based on a drastic change of thinking,' he observes. CVC is the media arm of UK-based charity, Christian Vision, which was founded by billionaire entrepreneur Robert, Lord Edmiston, recently introduced into the British House of Lords." -- Another evangelical broadcaster, HCJB, continues shortwave operations from Australia. And CVC affiliates continue transmitting on shortwave from Chile and Zambia.

Shortwave broadcasting from Sweden returns, for one day.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 7 Mar 2011, Andy Sennitt: "The Swedish Post and Telecom Agency (PTS) has approved an application to operate a special radio station marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the offshore broadcaster Radio Nord. Tomorrow, 8 March 2011, at 0848 UTC the station, on 1512 kHz mediumwave and 6060 kHz shortwave, will start by broadcasting the opening of Radio Nord just as it was aired on this date in 1961. There will also make some short test transmissions on these frequencies before the regular programme starts." See also the Radio Nord Revival blog. First reported at the DX Listening Digest Yahoo! Group, 3 Mar 2011. -- Radio Sweden ended shortwave broadcasting on 30 Oct 2010. It continues as an internet service.

Botched balloon launch suggests there should be a video game based on Murphy's Law.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Neoseeker, 3 Mar 2011, Leo Chan: "To promote Homefront at this week's Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, THQ arranged to have no less than 10,000 red ballo[o]ns released at the Yerba Buena Gardens. The act was designed to be an homage to a propaganda campaign conducted by South Korea just earlier this week, where the military released millions of balloons into North Korean territory carrying information leaflets, cassette tapes and videos denouncing North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il and calling for the local populace to stand up against his dictatorship. ... THQ's balloon propaganda would come in the form of a promotional voucher good for an exclusive GameStop bonus for Homefront; a 'resistance multiplayer pack' with bonus in-game weapon. That's assuming anyone could get a hold of the balloons carrying the vouchers in the first place. In an unfortunate turn of events, bad weather forced thousands of the balloons to plunge straight into San Francisco bay, where no one could reach them outside of taking a dip on a rainy day. If gamers were disappointed they may have missed out an a chance to score free download content for Homefront, local environmentalists were downright incensed over the mess the balloons made in the bay."

Leaflet launchers face artillery from North Korean army, "physical force" from South Korean villagers.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 3 Mar 2011: Jung Ha-Won: "South Korea's government said Thursday it would not stop activists launching leaflets with news of Arab protests into North Korea, despite Pyongyang's threats to open fire in retaliation. A defector group has said it will float leaflets and video footage across the heavily fortified border next week, possibly on Monday or Tuesday if the wind is in the right direction. 'There is nothing illegal about the activities,' said Lee Jong-Joo, a spokeswoman for the South's unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs. Park Sang-Hak, leader of Seoul-based Fighters for Free North Korea, said the group would launch 200,000 leaflets plus DVDs and USB flash drives. He said the DVDs and flash drives were targeted at schools, colleges and public institutions that may have computer access. Second-hand DVD players are also brought in from China and are reportedly not uncommon in some areas. The disks and memory sticks would carry news of uprisings in Egypt and Libya and of a recent trip to Singapore by Kim Jong-Chol, second son of leader Kim Jong-Il, to attend an Eric Clapton concert." See also AP, 2 Mar 2011.

CNN, 2 Mar 2011, Paula Hancocks: "One DVD sent north on February 16 -- to commemorate Kim Jong-Il's birthday -- shows footage of the Egypt uprising with text on the screen that reads: 'The lesson to be learnt from the anti-dictator, pro-democracy struggles in Tunisia and Egypt is that freedom and democracy can only be won through physical sacrifice.' The DVD was made before the unrest started in Libya."

Yonhap, 6 Mar 2011: "South Korean residents of a town near the inter-Korean border called on the government and activist groups Sunday to refrain from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets in balloons to the North. The call comes after North Korea on Feb. 27 threatened to fire aimed shots at South Korean facilities involved in 'psychological warfare,' including Imjingak, a tourism pavilion located south of the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom, unless the South suspends its propaganda campaign. ... Some residents are determined to 'use even physical force' to block activist groups from sending anti-Pyongyang fliers from Imjingak, he said. A group of North Korean defectors is scheduled to float about 200,000 anti-North Korean leaflets in balloons across the inter-Korean border this week."

The Chosunilbo, 2 Mar 2011, editorial: "Cheong Wa Dae [South Korea's presidential office] apparently chided military officers recently for talking to politicians about their psychological warfare operations against North Korea, which caused the information to become public, and told them to keep quiet about them from now on. Information that the military sent 3 million propaganda leaflets to North Korea since the North's artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November last year came from a report it gave to Future Hope Alliance lawmaker Song Young-sun. ... North Korea is both an enemy and a partner in efforts to achieve stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Psychological warfare operations against such a counterpart must be based on thorough analysis. Crude methods against the North Korean people, who have very little knowledge about South Korea and the outside world, could end up stoking even more hostility toward the South. Psychological warfare operations must be carried out with great circumspection."

The Korea Herald, 4 Mar 2011, Kim So-hyun: "South Korea’s intelligence chief said Friday that North Korea was tightening control of information to keep its people from being influenced by the pro-democracy protests in the Middle East. 'North Korea is strengthening its ideological training through media statements, fearing domestic spread of the news' that uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia overthrew dictatorships and spread to Libya, Won Sei-hoon, head of the National Intelligence Service, told a parliamentary committee Friday. '(Pyongyang) is toughening crackdowns to keep its people from being swayed by outside information.'"

State Department, 1 Mar 2011, testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Stephen W. Bosworth, Special Representative for North Korea Policy: "We support increasing the flow of balanced information into the DPRK through independent broadcasters based in the ROK and in collaboration with the Broadcasting Board of Governors and its partners Voice of America and Radio Free Asia."

Community access FM station in Christchurch is relaying BBC World Service "as an emergency measure."

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Heritage Foundation press release, 1 Mar 2011: "Access to the ... radio studios of many Christchurch radio broadcasters continues to be denied by the civil defence authorities. ... Local community access Plains FM has studios at the Christchurch Polytech campus and is now using its transmitter to broadcast the BBC World Service from London as an emergency measure."

Fox News reports (at length) on "curious" United Nations TV deal with Livestation and Google.

Posted: 07 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Fox News, 1 Mar 2011, George Russell, executive editor: "The United Nations has struck an under-the-radar deal involving its video content that apparently offers financial benefits to a private British digital online rebroadcaster and the ubiquitous search engine giant, Google. Among other curious things, the deal was struck on the basis of a purely verbal agreement, according to a U.N. spokesman, even though the terms and conditions of use of U.N. video products expressly declares any sharing arrangement must involve a 'letter of agreement with specific terms and conditions. Under the verbal arrangement, the rebroadcaster, a London-based company named Livestation, transmits video from the U.N.’s television facility, UNTV, along with a variety of United Nations video productions hosted on Google TV’s YouTube. ... [I]n addition to traffic, the relationship also seems to be driving at least some revenue for Livestation and Google, since commercial advertisements are placed on Livestation’s version of the UNTV page and alongside selected U.N. videos in YouTube format that are also displayed on the Livestation page."

Iran in new crackdown against satellite dishes, which are "usually reinstalled after several days."

Posted: 06 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Trend News Agency (Baku), 1 Mar 2011: "The order to dismantle satellite antennas has not been amended and police is fulfiling this order. 'We urge the public and all government bodies to follow the law on dismantling satellite antennas,' Police Force Chief Commander Ismail Ahmadi Mugaddam was quoted as saying by the Iranian news agency ISNA. In February, Iran repeatedly prevented the broadcast of the Persian BBC. Prior to that, it suspended the broadcast of Voice of America TV and Radio Deutsche Welle. Iran said foreign television channels are trying to destabilize the situation in the country. The use of satellite antennas in Iran is prohibited by law. However, even official information suggests that more than 40 percent of households use them. Although the authorities have systematically carried out activities to dismantle antennas, they are usually reinstalled after several days."

AFP, 28 Feb 2011: "'The United States strongly condemns the Iranian government's organized intimidation campaign and arrests of political figures, human rights defenders, political activists, student leaders, journalists and bloggers,' the US National Security Council said in a statement by its spokesman. 'The Iranian government also continues to deny its citizens access to information by jamming satellite transmissions and blocking Internet sites,' the statement said."

Washington Post, 1 Mar 2011, Thomas Erdbrink: "An unidentified [Iranian] judiciary official ... accused foreign-based Farsi-language satellite channels, such as the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corporation, of spreading 'false news' in order to support the opposition."

RFE/RL website blocked in Kazakhstan blocked for 12 days. Testing shutdown capabilities?

Posted: 06 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 4 Mar 2011: "On the eve of Kazakhstan's Presidential election campaign, RFE's websites in the country continue to be blocked. All RFE websites, including its Kazakh, Russian and English language sites, have been inaccessible via connections through the country's largest Internet service providers KazTelecom and Nursat since February 21. In an unofficial conversation with RFE's Kazakh service, a member of Nursat's technical department admitted that the company is 'blocking' RFE and that they 'have to obey their bosses.' Nursat and KazTelecom are closely associated with the Kazakh government. ... n the meantime, RFE has set up a proxy link that enables users from Kazakhstan to connect to the Internet and RFE's websites despite the blockage. There seems to be no interference with Radio Azattyq's radio transmissions at this point." "UPDATE: As of March 4, access to all RFE websites has been restored."

RFE/RL Tangled Web blog, 2 Mar 2011, Luke Allnut: "With Internet shutdowns in Egypt and Libya, it's possible also that the Kazakh authorities are testing their shutdown capabilities, via the ISPs. Or maybe, ahead of the April 3 presidential election which the incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbaev is going to win by a mile, they're just trying to frustrate users interested in accessing the site, without being accused of actually blocking anything."

RFE's post-Cold-War activities in Hungary, Poland, and Czech Republic.

Posted: 06 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 24 Feb 2011: "RFE/RL's own A. Ross Johnson - also of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars - was recently published on wolnaeuropa.org with a piece entitled 'Fostering Independent Professional Media in the Transition; The Contribution of RFE/RL.' In the article, he discusses the recent release of an RFE-centric book he co-edited, as well as the larger issue of RFE's contribution to the development of independent media in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union."

Wolna Europa, 5 Feb 2011, A. Ross Johnson: "[I]n the immediate post-communist environment, in Warsaw and Prague (and also in Meciar's Bratislava and in Budapest, Bucharest and Sofia), RFE, by planting the American broadcast flag squarely on the still-smoking rubble of Soviet-sponsored regimes, not only provided a model of professional public radio journalism but helped to bolster public confidence -- and the confidence of newly elected governments -- that change was irreversible and democracy would prevail. ... Bureau-based reporting from Slovakia continued until 2004, but in 1993-1994 the U.S. Congress, as part of post-Cold War budget reductions, directed that RFE/RL end its broadcasts to Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. We believed that could make a further contribution to democratic transition in all three countries if we could transfer the RFE/RL approach, capabilities, and experience to local institutions. We were successful only in part. We found no local possibilities in Hungary, and RFE Hungarian broadcasts ended in 1993. In Warsaw, we provided start-up funding to a new entity, RWE, Inc., and director Peter Mroczyk and chief editor Andrzej Mietkowski put together what was widely considered to be an excellent news and information program. But RWE failed to attract private funding and was not able to secure a country-wide Polish transmission network, and so RWE ended in 1997. The Czech project was more successful. There, we established a Czech entity, RSE, Inc., which raised some private funds and entered in to a partnership with Czech Public Radio that led to the creation of RSE/CRo6. This channel, under the chief editorship of Pavel Pechacek, provided Czech listeners (on local transmitters) the best news and information reports of six broadcasters – RSE, Czech Radio, RFE/RL Slovak, VOA, BBC, and Deutsche Welle. The partnership ended in 2002, but the program it launched continues under Czech Radio as CRo6 and provides solid news and information from 6 pm to midnight daily."

See previous post about Ross Johnson's most recent book about RFE/RL.

Poland's consul general in Chicago: "I think that Poles should build a monument to [VOA's Willis] Conover."

Posted: 06 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Chicago Tribune, 28 Feb 2011, Howard Reich: "'Jazz existed in Poland before World War II, can you imagine?' says Zygmunt Matynia, Polish consul general in Chicago and an avid jazz devotee. 'Even behind the Iron Curtain, jazz existed. … In the (early) 1950s, it was underground – it was considered the enemy's music, because it was music from the West. So it was forbidden.' Yet young, adventurous listeners sought out the music in surreptitious ways, particularly through the 'Voice of America' radio broadcasts of Willis Conover, who penetrated the Iron Curtain with jazz. 'Through this we got much information about jazz, and we were listening,' says Matynia. 'I think that Poles should build a monument to Conover.'"

KCET Los Angeles adds morning hour of BBC World News and Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 05 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Beverly Hill Courier, 4 Mar 2011: "KCET expands its international news offerings with the addition of a daily one-hour block of morning newscasts beginning on Monday, March 7, with BBC World News, airing Monday through Friday at 6:00 a.m., and Al Jazeera English News, airing daily at 6:30 a.m. Encore broadcasts of BBC Newsnight will air Saturday and Sunday mornings at 6:00 a.m. The move continues KCET’s commitment to providing international news from some of the world’s most respected newsgathering organizations. In response to the uprisings in the Mideast, KCET began airing Al Jazeera English News on February 1 as part of an international news block from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. The programming consists of BBC World News (5:00 p.m.and 6:00 p.m.) and NHK Newsline (5:30p.m.); Al Jazeera English News (4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.) and Israeli Broadcast Authority’s IBA News (4:30 p.m.). In addition, KCET now airs Al Jazeera English News live at 11:00 p.m." See also KCET, 4 Mar 2011, Bohdan Zachary, KCET chief programmer.

Don't let UK and US international broadcasting reductions spread to Australia, he writes.

Posted: 05 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Mar 2011, Alex Oliver: "Australia's international broadcasters are potent tools but have weathered periods of government hostility or neglect. Radio Australia, a much-needed independent source of news in the region since 1939, was threatened with closure in the mid-1990s and its budgets halved. Yet in 1999 and 2000, Radio Australia's website was hit 2 million times by East Timorese and Indonesians seeking news on the referendum. In 1996, Papua New Guinea's then prime minister Julius Chan offered to return $1 million in aid to keep the service open to his country. Despite this distinguished history, it looks as if Australia's international broadcasters are about to weather another storm, if the federal government takes its cue from the US and Britain, cutting its public diplomacy programs and with them, Australia's voice to the region. History warns that letting everyone else speak louder than you is a perilous course."

The Future of Media, no less, will be in Toronto.

Posted: 05 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Mediacaster, 4 Mar 2011: The Future of Media, April 6 2011, Toronto, Ontario, "Future of Media events are panel discussions that explore how current trends, technologies, business practices and social media innovation affect both the media industry and its audience. ... The speakers scheduled to participate in the event include: Jamie Angus, Acting Head of News at BBC World News."

BBC Entertainment in Asia "now using pinks, reds and blue touches to illustrate our new vibrant personality." Seriously.

Posted: 05 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 3 Mar 2011: "BBC Entertainment in Asia has launched a refreshed on-air look, reflecting the evolving personality as well as the channel's new 'seriously entertaining' tagline. BBC Entertainment, which launched in 2006, showcases the best of British drama, comedies and light entertainment. It is popular with affluent PMEB males and females who enjoy the channel's award-winning and highly rated series like Spooks and Doctor Who, edgy comedies like Outnumbered, That Mitchell and Webb Look, and light entertainment like the award-winning Graham Norton Show and London Live. ... 'As the channel evolved, we felt that the new on-screen presentation should be richer, with a warmer feel and reflect our new set of brand values - so we are now using pinks, reds and blue touches to illustrate our new vibrant personality'. ... BBC Worldwide Channels worked with brand agency Heavenly in London to bring BBC Entertainment's on-air look to life."

BBC.com launches Asia Business Index section. CNN will cover business during "Eye on India" week.

Posted: 05 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Mughals, 3 Mar 2011: "BBC.com, the international version of the BBC's website on Thursday launched a new business section, designed for audiences interested in Asian business stories www.bbc.com/asiabusiness. The Asia Business Index will deliver 24hr Asia-focused business news coverage, exploring the impact of global and pan-regional business issues across the region. Editorial content will also interpret how business issues in the region affect the global economy. The website has recruited a team of BBC journalists based in both Asia and the UK to deliver the new Asia Business Index. Editor Ben Richardson and his team will be based in Singapore, using the BBC network of journalists across Asia to provide localised knowledge from experts on the ground. The new section will offer a new route for advertisers seeking to reach BBC.com's upscale audience of 54m monthly visitors, that includes 8.3m in Asia Pacific. Finnair are launch partners for bbc.com/asiabusiness. ... BBC.com introduced its first local edition for North America in 2010 and later that same year launched BBC.com/travel in partnership with Lonely Planet. BBC.com is managed by the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and BBC Global News."

Media Newsline, 5 Mar 2011: "New industries and rising business cities, high-profile interviews with industrialists and entrepreneurs and exclusive access inside corporate India make ‘Eye on India’, a must-watch week of business coverage on CNN. Beginning March 14, the network focuses on the world’s second most populous nation to bring global viewers a week of in-depth business coverage live from Mumbai and around the country. ... CNN’s EYE ON…takes you on journeys to different countries around the world, exploring the new, revealing the surprising and uncovering the unknown aspects of compelling destinations."

Gates Foundation donates $20 million to BBC World Service Trust for project in India's Bihar state.

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Seattle Times, 3 Mar 2011, Sandi Doughton: "A new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation illustrates the way lines have blurred between traditional media and new ways to communicate about health and development. At $20 million, the five-year grant to the BBC World Service Trust is the foundation's largest so far with a media connection. But foundation officials say it is not like previous grants to news organizations, including ABC and PBS. 'This grant does not support the news gathering capacity of the BBC,' foundation spokesman Chris Williams wrote in an e-mail. 'This grant is essentially public education.' The BBC World Service Trust is the British Broadcasting Corp.'s international charity. Its website says: 'We use media and communications to reduce poverty and promote human rights.' ... The new grant is focused on the Indian state of Bihar, one of the country's poorest."

BBC World Service Trust, with USAID funds, helps Nigerian radio stations replace "dilapidated equipment" (updated).

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The Nation (Lagos), 23 Feb 2011, Tayo Owolabi: "To further strengthen broadcasting in Nigeria, the World Service Trust of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Nigeria gave out state-of-the-art broadcast equipment to four partner stations in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The stations include the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Hot FM, Love FM and Vision FM. The presentation is part of the implementation of the Media Support for Strengthening Advocacy, Good Governance and Empowerment (MESSAGE) project which is managed by the BBC Service Trust and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Country Director of BBC World Service Trust, Ms Linda Nwoke who was represented by the Project Manager of MESSAGE, Mr. Tom Odemwingie revealed that it was discovered in 2009 that most stations had dilapidated equipment and, as part of its efforts to strengthen the broadcast industry in the country, the BBC deemed it fit to give out equipment to selected stations." See also USAID Nigeria Peace and Democratic Governance web page.

Update: The Nation (Lagos), 4 Mar 2011, Dr Ray Firkland is the Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission, interviewed by Evelyn Osagie: "What is the nature of your organisation’s partnership with British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC World Service Trust (BBCWST)? Firkland: Well, we have an agreement, a partnership with the BBC World Trust on the Media Support for Strengthening Advocacy Good Governance and Empowerment (MESSAGE). The United States is committed to supporting such broad-based participation. The promotion of a stronger participation requires responsive government and public participation with an unbiased media. Together, we have been presenting some equipment to some radio stations across the country, the recent ones were in Lagos. BBCWST is providing the technical expertise and airtime, and other contributions. We are providing financial assistance. So, it’s a real partnership . It’s not just a US programme."

BBC World Service closures and reductions: "radio was just no competition for the media monster that is the internet."

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Himal Southasian, March 2011, Daniel Lak: "Short-wave radio news in many of the countries losing BBC service will now come from China, the US, Iran, Israel and India – all fine countries, undoubtedly, but have any of them produced a Mark Tully? ... Sadly, more pitfalls lie ahead. Little noticed last year when David Cameron’s newly elected coalition began hacking away at public spending was a decision that ends the longstanding arrangement between the government and BBC, and makes the latter largely responsible for funding the World Service from its own revenues. That is a set-up that is bound to lead to even more cuts and damage to the language services, as cash-strapped programme makers choose between reality shows, situation comedies and news broadcasts that might be essential to Tamils and Iranians but matter not a whit in Little Britain."

BBC News, 28 Feb 2011: "The BBC's Albanian Service has made its last broadcast after nearly 20 years serving audiences in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. It is one of five language services closing after cuts announced by the BBC World Service in January. The Albanian Service first operated in 1940-1967, then resumed broadcasts in 1993 as Albania emerged from communism. The service came into its own as Albania was shaken by civil unrest in 1997, the BBC's Sean Fanning reports. Around 750,000 people listened across Albania, Kosovo and part of Macedonia. The service was a major source of information for people in the region during the Kosovo conflict in 1999. ... Critics argue that while local media is free, much of it is polarised and there is still a need for an independent voice in the region."

Caribbean Media Vision, 4 Mar 2011, Celestine Williams: "BBC Caribbean Report and BBC Caribbean Magazine morning and evening drivetime will air their last edition on March 25. ... Liliane Landor, Controller , Languages at BBC World Service described BBC Caribbean as 'The Caribbean Service, one of the oldest and most distinguished services that the BBC has provided in English.' The Caribbean Service Transmissions are part of the Caribbean stream on four FM relays such as Trinidad, Barbados etc as well as 48 stations across the Spanish, Dutch and English Caribbean. ... The Caribbean Service began in 1939 featuring its first programme called Calling the West Indies. From 1943 to 1958 Caribbean Voices was introduce which featured West Indian writers. ... We see Britain also came forth in 1949. The Service then closed in the mid 1970's and was later reopened in 1988 as a news and current affairs department."

Hispanically Speaking News, 2 Mar 2011: "BBC radio broadcasts in Spanish for Latin America have been canceled. BBC managers said it was a hard decisions, but cuts had to be made. ... The radio output had been reduced over the last few years, with the last of the mostly intended for Cuba, and the radio was just no competition for the media monster that is the internet."

BECTU (UK media and entertainment union), 2 Mar 2011: "Supporters of the World Service are encouraged to support the petition which calls upon the government to revisit plans which in the short term put 651 jobs at risk. Likewise, constituents across the country are being urged to seek their MPs support for Early Day Motion 1356. Massive support will put still more pressure on ministers to consider the disproportionate effect of the planned budget cuts. ... Gerry Morrissey, BECTU's general secretary. will give evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday 9 March; he will argue that the planned cuts to the World Service are proportionately much greater than the savings demanded from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a whole."

Left Foot Forward, 2 Mar 2011, David Taylor, chair of the Labour Campaign for International Development: "Conservative Andrew Tyrie MP, chair of the House of Commons Treasury select committee, has written to the foreign secretary demanding the Department for International Development foots the bill for the BBC World Service – and slammed his own party’s ring-fencing of the aid budget. Thankfully, despite other raids on DfID’s budget, responsibility for the World Service was spared from DfID at the Comprehensive Spending Review last October."

House of Lords Hansard, 1 Mar 2011: "Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, following developments in Egypt, they will ask BBC Arabic in the BBC World Service to reconsider their decision to close radio operations in Cairo, to reduce live news output on BBC Arabic television and radio, and to discontinue 40 journalistic posts. The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Under the broadcasting agreement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service, the BBC World Service has managerial integrity and independence, except in the case of opening or closing a language service. Therefore, for those language services which will continue, it is for the BBC World Service to decide how it will allocate the funds within its budget. However, given the current circumstances, we stay in close contact with the BBC World Service on the question of the Arabic service. We recognise the valuable work that the Arabic service has done in covering the recent events, and are in discussion with the BBC World Service about whether there are also ways the service in Arabic can be supported over the next few months. ...

"Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they discussed with the BBC World Service its reasons for reducing short wave and medium wave radio distribution in Azeri, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian; and, if so, whether the justification given by the BBC World Service was because those services can be accessed online or by mobile telephones. Lord Howell of Guildford: The reduction of these radio services are platform changes rather than language service closures. As such, they fall under the managerial integrity and independence of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service, as set out in the broadcasting agreement between the BBC World Service and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In all the cases mentioned, the BBC World Service will continue to reach its audiences through its on-line services and, where applicable, through mobile and television programmes."

Appeals court rules lawsuit by VOA translator, fired for making "anti-American" video, can continue.

Posted: 04 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Canadian Press, 2 Mar 2011, Nedra Pickler: "A former translator of U.S. broadcasts into Iran who was fired after making an Internet music video criticizing the Iraq War can continue her free speech lawsuit under a ruling Tuesday by a federal appeals court. Melodi Navab-Safavi said Voice of America terminated her contract in 2007 two weeks after the band she sang with in her off-hours posted its song on YouTube. She said the reason given was for making an 'anti-American' video. In the video, 'DemoKracy' by the band Abjeez, Navab-Safavi portrays a journalist singing about the 'hypocrisy' of the war's stated aim of spreading democracy while the video's images showed bombs exploding in the streets, war-wounded Iraqi children and flag-draped coffins of U.S. soldiers. Navab-Safavi argued she was speaking as a private person and the firing violated her freedom of speech. Government attorneys said allowing Navab-Safavi to continue translating could compromise Voice of America's journalistic integrity. ... The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed that the lower court judge, Ellen Segal Huvelle, was correct to reject the government's motion to dismiss the case. ... Navab-Safavi's suit said Republican Sen. Tom Coburn pressured the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, to punish those associated with the production. ... The suit also said Navab-Safavi's husband, Persian Service employee Saman Arbabi, was asked to resign for helping produce the video, but he refused." -- Saman Arbabi is the executive producer of the VOA Persian News Network hit satirical show Parazit. See also Leagle, 2 Mar 2011. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English has "good discussions" with Comcast, as debate about AJE in USA continues.

Posted: 04 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
MarketWatch, 1 Mar 2011, David B. Wilkerson: "Executives from Al Jazeera English met with Comcast, with more than 24 million subscribers the largest U.S. cable operator, last week, as well as Time Warner Cable Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp. 'We engaged in good discussions,' said Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, in a telephone interview. However, Comcast will have to see a lot more evidence that the channel can attract — and keep — a sizable audience before it commits to carriage for the 4-year-old network, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 'This is strictly a business decision,' the source said. A Comcast spokesman said it’s the company’s policy not to comment on negotiations with programmers. ... Asked if there could be a regulatory backlash if Al Jazeera is not carried on Comcast — especially since, during the run-up to its acquisition of NBC Universal, it promised to promote diversity — Al Jazeera English’s Anstey would not speculate on what actions U.S. lawmakers might undertake."

Fast Company, 2 Mar 2011, Neal Ungerleider: "Despite its campaign, gaining a slot on American cable could prove difficult for Al Jazeera English. Channel listings on Comcast and Time Warner are dominated by a handful of media giants such as Time Warner (again), Scripps, and Discovery Networks that very much run an old boys' network. Al Jazeera--though rich in influence with news professionals, academics, and politicians--is new arrival with little leverage and a potential market share that is small in numbers, with limited in television-watching hours. But the Arab Revolutions have turned it into a must-watch channel; if there was ever a time for Al Jazeera English to appear on American television screens, it is now."

Huffington Post, 24 Feb 2011, William Klein: "Ever since the uprising began in Egypt, and I discovered that my cable system was one of three in the U.S. that carried Al Jazeera English (the other two in Burlington, Vermont, which makes sense, and Toledo, Ohio, which is just weird), I've been glued to the channel on my TV and computer."

Jewish Exponent (Philadelphia), 3 Mar 2011, Laura Goldman: "Morton Klein, who has appeared on the network more than a dozen times, is opposed to Comcast adding the broadcast to its lineup. The president of the Zionist Organization of America said of his experiences: 'Every time that I have been on the network, the moderator is anti-Israel. Usually, I appear in a panel of three, and the other two guests are anti-Israel.'"

Right Side News, 28 Feb 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "Al-Jazeera has already been shown to play a role in radicalizing Muslims abroad to make Americans into terrorist targets. Is there any reason to believe its impact in America itself would be any different? Through Al-Jazeera English, the channel could further stir up and inflame the Arabs and Muslims inside the U.S."

Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA), 3 Mar 2011, editorial: "The depth of Al Jazeera English's coverage in a part of the world that is crucial to American interests should gain it a place on the American cable dial. Its representatives have met recently with large cable operators, including Comcast. Those companies should give Americans the opportunity - characteristic of the Western democracies that we want the Middle East to emulate - to decide for themselves."

Media Matters for America, 3 Mar 2011, Hardeep Dhillon: "On today's edition of his radio show, Glenn Beck attacked the media for relying on Al Jazeera for news about Egypt and other nations in the Middle East, stating: 'Sam Donaldson and everybody started praising Al-Jazeera. My gosh - look at Al-Jazeera. Even on the Drudge Report they are linked today to Al-Jazeera Live. Watch it on Al-Jazeera. You have to see it on Al-Jazeera. Remember, Al-Jazeera is not exactly U.S. friendly, not exactly Israel friendly. But let's get our information from Al-Jazeera.' ... Perhaps, Beck forgot that Fox News, the very station that carries his own TV show, relied on Al Jazeera in covering the protests in Egypt." See previous post about same subject.

Its director general says Al Jazeera "gives priority to the ... ordinary people."

Posted: 04 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 27 Feb 2011, Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al Jazeera: "At al-Jazeera we have spared no effort to search for the real actors, wherever they happen to be: whether in the cities, in the countryside, in camps, in prisons or in the blogosphere. We have been guided by a firm belief that the future of the Arab world will be shaped by people from outside the aging elites and debilitated political structures featured so disproportionately by most other news outlets. The real actors did not appear on most television screens or magazine covers, whether in the Arab world or in Western media. Cameras were not attracted to them; columnists rarely mentioned them. Yet that did not deter them. Al-Jazeera swam against that dominant current. We gave all the players the avenues they needed to communicate, providing diverse viewpoints on the issues. During the recent uprisings we were inundated with videos, pictures and writings from the new generation. We opened our screens to them; it is their voices that viewers found so compelling in our coverage. We refused to compromise on our editorial policy, which gives priority to the grievances and aspirations of ordinary people. Neither threats of punishment nor promises of rewards from information ministers, intelligence agencies or royal courts persuaded us to ignore or betray the oppressed and persecuted who demand nothing but freedom, dignity and democracy." -- I was with him until he wrote "gives priority to the grievances and aspirations of ordinary people." In order to protect Al Jazeera's credibility -- the most important commodity in international broadcasting -- I would have written "gives appropriately complete coverage to the grievances and aspirations of ordinary people."

PRI The World, 25 Feb 2011, Alex Gallafent: "Mokhtar Elareshi, a Libyan doctoral student currently based in Britain, said ... 'Many, many people in Libya believe that Al Jazeera is just propaganda' ... Elareshi’s friends back home have been warning him not to take everything at face value. They told me not to believe what you see on Al Jazeera, because they are noisy and exaggerate the news. Arab media expert Marwan Kraidy said Al Jazeera Arabic definitely played games. You could see it very clearly if you watched it when it shifted coverage from Egypt to Bahrain. In Egypt it was very hostile to Mubarak: it allowed all the dissidents on the air, intellectuals, poets, politicians, journalists criticizing Mubarak. As soon as it shifted to Bahrain it nearly turned into a propagandist for the regime. Kraidy said Al Jazeera English has remained consistent in its coverage but al Jazeera Arabic has tacked with the wind."

Bloomberg, 25 Feb 2011, Matthew Campbell: "Beaming images of the protests and interviewing key participants, Al Jazeera in particular has moved from being perceived as a Middle Eastern talk shop to a catalyst for change. Although the Arabic- and English-language broadcaster has sometimes acted like a participant rather than an observer of the uprisings, it is winning praise in Europe and the US, which may help it extend its global reach."

ABC Radio National "PM," 25 Feb 2011, Al Jazeera network's head of social media Riyaad Minty, interviewed by Mark Colvyn: "I mean obviously after Tunisia and Egypt we could see protests kind of rising across the region and we were able to kind of pull out a database of people and bloggers and online activists that we could reach out to directly, especially during times of the government clamp down on internet connectivity, because then (inaudible) information really isn't that high, but we were able to get in touch with people via telephone, record them on Skype, post it online or have these voices directly on air. So we used social media obviously to find contacts but then using traditional forms of media, just a simple telephone call in times when there's no access to social media tools has been very, very useful to us."

NPR, 1 Mar 2011, Deborah Amos: "Heather Allan, the head of news gathering, says that when government thugs were unleashed against her reporters in Cairo, they found new ways to report the news. 'I mean, the crowds were actually coming after us, they were coming for Jazeera,' she says. 'We went from safe house to safe house. And we did it the same way, cell phones, flip cams, small cameras, BlackBerrys, just small little devices and getting it out anyway we could.'"

Foreign Policy, Middle East Channel, 24 Feb 2011, Rashid Khalidi: "The importance of Al Jazeera in particular has been misunderstood. In the early days of satellite television it was certainly crucial in breaking the monopoly of the state broadcasting systems, and in introducing competition which forced even the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya and other stations to cover a great deal of news simply to avoid losing viewers. During the uprising in Tunisia and later during the Egyptian events, Al Jazeera riveted viewers all over the Arab world and in the Arab diaspora. But the insidious Islamist bent of its coverage is not reflective either of the protests themselves or of a large segment of its viewership. This bent was noticeable in its constant favoritism towards Hamas in covering Palestinian events, and during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions in its intensive coverage of the return to Tunis of the Tunisian Islamist Rashed al-Ghannouchi, or the prominence it has given to Egyptian Islamists in the wake of the fall of the Mubarak regime. Similarly, Al Jazeera highlighted the participation in the Algiers demonstration of February 13 of a leading Algerian Islamist, Ali Belhadj, but not the fact that many in the crowd called him an assassin. The point is that Al Jazeera is followed by Arab viewers for its gripping and often daring news footage, but not necessarily in the political line its executives push."

OilPrice.com, 24 Feb 2011, Raed El Rafei: "Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, the main satellite channels in the Arab world, have been focusing on the brutality of his regime, despite the dearth of images available. Al-Jazeera managed to get some very disturbing footage of people who had been burnt to death and others who had been mutilated. This has particular resonance in the Arab media, where images of people killed are usually associated with Israeli raids and attacks on Palestinians in Gaza or on Lebanon."

BBC and RFI taken off FM dial in Abidjan; les ondes cortes to the rescue.

Posted: 04 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 2 Mar 2011: "International radio stations such as the BBC and France's RFI have been stopped from broadcasting on FM in Ivory Coast. The body which regulates foreign broadcasts in Ivory Coast denied taking any action against the stations. The BBC said it did not know why the broadcasts had stopped and was investigating. ... BBC world affairs correspondent Mark Doyle says the BBC's FM transmitter in Abidjan is in a part of the city that has suffered badly from political unrest." -- VOA's FM transmitter in Abidjan is still on the air.

AP, 2 Mar 2011: "Two major foreign radio stations are no longer broadcasting in Ivory Coast in what appears to be a renewed clampdown on foreign media. The country's regulatory agency for television and radio couldn't be immediately reached for comment Wednesday morning, when Radio France International and the BBC stopped broadcasting. Both stations were cut off for more than a month late last year amid the country's political crisis."

Radio France International, 2 Mar 2011: "Depuis ce mercredi matin, les émissions de RFI et de la BBC sont interrompues à Abidjan, sans explications officielles. Pour nos auditeurs ivoiriens qui ne peuvent plus nous écouter en modulation de fréquence, vous pouvez nous suivre sur Internet, sur votre téléphone mobile ou votre smartphone. Si vous disposez d'un poste à ondes courtes, vous pouvez aussi nous écouter dans la bande des 31 mètres sur 9.790 kilohertzs entre 6H et 7H TU /// 18 H et 21 H TU. Dans la bande des 49 mètres, sur 5925 kilohertz entre 6 H et 7H TU. Dans la bande des 25 mètres entre 7 H et 8H TU et enfin dans la bande des 19 mètres, sur 15 300 kilohertzs entre 8H et 11H30 TU et de 12H a 17 H TU." -- "TU" is Temps Universel, or UTC, a.k.a. GMT. BBC Afrique, 3 Mar 2011, also lists its shortwave frequencies audible in Côte d'Ivoire.

Al Jazeera allowed to re-open Baghdad bureau.

Posted: 04 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network 4 Mar 2011, AFP via: "Iraq has given pan-Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera permission to reopen its bureau in Baghdad, a government official said yesterday, more than six years after it was originally banned. ... 'No restrictions have been placed on them, only what applies to all media in Iraq, not to provoke conflict.' ... On August 7, 2004, Iraq’s caretaker government ordered Al Jazeera to close its offices in Baghdad for 30 days following charges it was inciting violence by its reporting and broadcasting of claims by militant groups."

The cloud helped the Al Jazeera English live blog deal with a problem few international broadcasters have.

Posted: 04 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Forbes CIO Central blog, 2 Mar 2011, Dries Buytaert: "Al Jazeera’s English live blog site was a vital source for breaking news in Egypt. Bloggers were posting updates from the epicenter of the crisis and social media was often the only means of communication both inside and outside of the country. During the crisis, traffic to the Al Jazeera web site increased 1,000% and traffic to the live blog spiked 2,000%. This dilemma, normally a good one for news organizations, caused unpredictable performance and excessive page load times for site visitors. From an infrastructure standpoint, Al Jazeera had historically hosted its blog with a traditional provider but had increasingly suffered a variety of scalability issues brought on by surging demand – unacceptable for Al Jazeera or any similar content business. What might have been just a typical technical nuisance on a mundane news day quickly became unsustainable when Egypt erupted. Al Jazeera faced a mission-critical problem that needed a real-time solution. Where could it find performance hosting and support immediately and within a reasonable cost? Would it be secure and private? What about reliable? The answer: The cloud, the various data access, storage and hosting services available remotely over the Internet. Much discussed but often not fully appreciated by the business community, cloud services enable custom sites to perform well under varying, and sometimes severe, traffic conditions. Moving to a Drupal-supported cloud option allowed Al Jazeera to scale up quickly, dynamically render their content faster, and achieve a higher level of site reliability – issues that previously overwhelmed its physical hardware environments."

Hillary Clinton: "Frankly I wish we were doing a better job in our broadcasting efforts."

Posted: 04 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 3 Mar 2011, Joby Warrick: The Senate Foregn Relations Committee "ranking Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), asked [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton whether she would press for a more assertive role for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent agency that supervises Voice of America, Radio Liberty and other U.S.-funded international broadcasters. 'This is still a great force of diplomacy, to get our message across,' Lugar said. In her response, Clinton lamented the decline of the network of broadcast outlets that reached hundreds of millions of listeners in communist countries during the Cold War. After the Berlin Wall fell, dollars and transmitters were dramatically cut, and 'unfortunately we are paying a big price for it,' Clinton said. Since then, Arabic-language cable channels are filling the gap in the Middle East, shaping popular views of the United States held by millions of Arab-speakers, including many of those who are taking to the streets in Middle Eastern capitals, Clinton said. New English-language broadcasts by the Chinese and even the Russians are hitting the airwaves, and meanwhile 'we're cutting back. The BBC is cutting back,' she said." See video of the exchange at Mediaite, 2 Mar 2011.

Business Insider, 2 Mar 2011, Gus Lubin: Clinton "says a major reason the State Department needs money is because 'we are in an information war and we are losing that war.' Clinton said private media is not good enough to handle the job: 'Our private media cannot fill that gap. Our private media, particularly cultural programming often works at counter purposes to what we truly are as Americans. I remember having an Afghan general tell me that the only thing he thought about Americans is that all the men wrestled and the women walked around in bikinis because the only TV he ever saw was Baywatch and World Wide Wrestling.' Meanwhile she says Al-Jazeera, CCTV and Russia Today are killing it: 'Al Jazeera is winning. The Chinese have opened up a global English language and multi-language television network, the Russians have opened up an English language network. I've seen it in a couple of countries and it's quite instructive.'"

Yes, But, However! 3 Mar 2011, Laura Glendinning: "Clinton noted that Al Jazeera is gaining more prominence in the U.S. because it offers 'real news' and went on to compare mainstream American media to Al Jazeera. 'You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.'" With video excerpt.

The First Post (London), 3 Mar 2011, Alexander Cockburn: "Poor Mrs Clinton. She envisages a vast imperial communications network disseminating adroit propaganda for the American way. She hints that it should be financed out of public funds, a ramped up version of Voice of America, devotedly followed by audiences behind the Iron Curtain half a century ago. The world has moved on. One has only to watch US TV for 10 minutes to conclude that America’s communicators no longer have the intellectual resources to mount successful, well-informed propaganda. The Fox Channel is for home turf idiots. And besides, what would the state-subsidised propagandists be able to boast about? Predator raids in Afghanistan? Guantanamo? Thirty million on part-time or jobless in the Homeland? America is not the easy sell it once was."

Radio Netherlands, 2 Mar 2011, Andy Sennitt (commentary): "Mrs Clinton’s comments took the staff of Al Jazeera English by surprise, as they do not consider themselves to be 'at war' with media from other countries. It seems to me that Mrs Clinton is perpetuating the obfuscation that results from insufficient distinction between international broadcasting and public diplomacy. I can understand why she mentioned the Chinese and Russian channels, which do indeed have a propaganda role as well as an information role, but having watched Al Jazeera extensively over the past several weeks in addition to the BBC and CNN, I cannot see that the Doha-based channel poses any threat to getting US policies across. Indeed, I have seen more of Mrs Clinton on Al Jazeera than on any other channel! At a time when a growing number of people think Al Jazeera English should be more widely available in the US, I find Mrs Clinton’s remarks to be misleading and unhelpful."

Voice of Russia, 3 Mar 2011, Ananyan Artyom: "Experts believe that Ms. Clinton is overestimating US losses in the information war to solicit more money from the Congress. ... Hillary Clinton also urged the US media to expand their share on the Net as now more people turn to the Web for news. Thus, let there be no winners in the information war for people to form their own point of view using information from different sources."

Why did Senator Lugar ask Secretary Clinton about US international broadcasting? She has one vote on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, but does not have executive control over US international broadcasting. Perhaps the reason is that this was a hearing on the FY 2012 International Affairs budget, which does include the BBG.

Secretary Clinton's words of support for "old media," i.e. international radio and television, are appreciated. Nevertheless, there has not been a decline in international broadcasting since the Cold War. Spending on this activity is robust, $758 million in FY2010. The fact that US international broadcasting has two stations broadcasting much the same information in 20 languages indicates that there may be too much money to spend, rather than not enough. Audiences for US international broadcasting have remained large, 165 million weekly according to the most recent surveys. Priorities and target areas, however, have shifted.

She mentions the English international channels of Russia and China. Their audiences pale in comparison to the big three global English news channels: BBC World News, Al Jazeera English, and, the biggest of the big three in terms of audience even though it costs US taxpayers nothing, CNN International.

Mrs. Clinton seems to be implying that the BBG needs to start a government-funded global English channel of its own, which would compete with the privately funded CNN International. That idea would be so terrible that, knowing Washington decision making as much as I regret that I do, it has a very good chance of implementation.

As for Al Jazeera in Arabic, as an intra-Arab channel, it, along with Al Arabiya, has a natural advantage in attracting Arab audiences. Alhurra can and is attracting a smaller but significant portion of the Arab audience. Alhurra has a larger audience than the other non-Arab Arabic-language news channels, including BBC Arabic. And -- useful yardsticks -- its audience is also larger than those of Hezbollah's Al Manar, and of Iran's Arabic-language Al Aram.

At a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, also on 2 March, Mrs. Clinton lamented, "frankly I wish we were doing a better job in our broadcasting efforts. ... We should be by far the most effective in communicating." (Listen to mp3 excerpt.) By audience measures, the BBC world services are the most effective in communicating -- even though Britain spends less on international broadcasting than the United States. Reform of US international broadcasting should happen before we discuss budget increases which, given the deficit, probably won't happen. See also "Radio Free of Bureaucracy," New York Times, 13 July 2010.

"In comparison to the significance of Al Jazeera ... Twitter and Facebook are as two ticks on the rump of a water buffalo."

Posted: 04 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The First Post, 3 Mar 2011, "Millions of Arabs can’t tweet. Facebook is unfamiliar to them. But they all watch TV, which means they all watch Al Jazeera. In comparison to the significance of Al Jazeera in motivating Arabs to rush to the main square in town and demonstrate, Twitter and Facebook are as two ticks on the rump of a water buffalo. ... In the late 1970s, radicals in the United Nations was eagerly promoting the need for a 'New World Information Order' (NWIO) to counter the lock on world communications and hence propaganda by the advanced industrial countries, preeminently the United States. Ronald Reagan, campaigning for the presidency in 1980s, issued almost daily denunciations of the prospective NWIO, making it sound like a particularly sinister arm of the international communist conspiracy. Battered by this assault, the NWIO duly died and instead the world tuned into Ted Turner's CNN, founded in 1980, which swiftly became precisely the US worldwide propaganda vehicle the Third World countries had been complaining about in the UN. Enter the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khaifa, founding patron and financier of Al Jazeera, in 1996. It was an immensely significant moment in the history of the Middle East. Its power has long been tacitly acknowledged by the US government which has pressured US cable companies not to carry it." -- Mr. Cockburn's assertion about US government pressure on cable companies needs verification. Cable companies have probably made the decision not to carry Al Jazeera English on their own, for some combination of reasons involving revenue, public relations, and preemptive government relations. See previous post about same subject.

Cuban television documentary claims Radio Martí broadcast false report called in by Cuban agent.

Posted: 03 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 27 Feb 2011, Anne-Marie Garcia and Paul Haven: "Cuban television broadcast a program about the [Cuban dissidents Ladies in White] it said showed they were interested in getting money from the United States. Cuba maintains the relationship shows them to be mercenaries and common criminals. The program, which included taped phone conversations and grainy images of opposition figures meeting with U.S. officials, also revealed that a man thought to be allied with the dissidents, Carlos Serpa, was really a state security agent. Serpa even allowed himself to be filmed calling in a false report of mistreatment to the U.S. government backed Radio Marti in Miami, then showed how the false report went out on the air a short time later. The program said it was an example of how disinformation is spread."

Prensa Latina (Havana), 27 Feb 2011: "Serpa acted for the documentary filing in a report for Radio Martí, making up a fake story about his false detention by the Cuban police, and how the U.S. based station broadcasted the bogus piece of news."

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, 28 Feb 2011, Monica Medel: "Serpa also said he had invented news, and he accused Radio Martí of not confirming anything. Along with Serpa another agent was identified as having infiltrated dissident ranks, Radio Martí said."

Radio Cadena Agramonte (Camaguey), 26 Feb 2011, Alex López Almaguer: "Camaguey-resident José Gómez considers an insult to the ethics and the professionalism, the job of the inappropriately named Radio Martí, which spreads news items lacking in argumentation and veracity."

Ahora.cu, 1 Mar 2011, Deisy Francis Mexidor: Moisés Rodríguez Quesada, "who for more than 25 years was infiltrated inside the counterrevolution," "recalls several anecdotes about his visit to the United States. 'I was at the Radio Marti studios', he says. 'There I attended a meeting with Emilio San Román, who was then the head of all broadcasts to Cuba'. The topic for discussion at that meeting left no room for doubts: the main support for that anti-Cuban media was the amount of information that could came from the Island –the most distorted that information was, the better. When it comes to manipulations, they have traditionally been 'very good' at it, Moisés said. 'Besides, Radio Marti is financed with a budget allocated by the US government, destined to pay for the actions that may justify the aggressions against our country', he adds."

Fox News Latino, 28 Feb 2011, Elizabeth Llorente: "For all the repression in many Middle Eastern countries, [Cuban pro-democracy activist Gorge Luis Garcia Pérez] said, Cuba’s is far more suffocating. The vast majority of Cubans on the island do not have computers and cell phones, much less access to the technology that many in the Middle East used to feed the momentum for an uprising, say Cuban Americans. ... Still, there are signs that they are watching with concern, [Senator Robert] Menendez said. Cuban authorities, he said, have been scrambling the broadcasts of Radio Martí, which is financed by the U.S. government, more than usual. 'What Mubarak did in the middle of the turmoil, shutting down access to the Internet for a few days, is what happens in Cuba every day,' he said." -- I have not found independent verification of increased jamming of Radio Martí.

"South Asia's first supernatural detective series" will be broadcast in the UK.

Posted: 03 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 28 Feb 2011, Ben Dowell: "Bishaash, a 24-part drama made by the BBC World Service Trust for audiences in Bangladesh, will be aired in the UK for the first time on Asian channel Zee TV. The drama has been given for free to Zee TV by the World Service Trust, a charitable organisation that produces content with financial help from donors including the Department for International Development (DfID) as well as charitable trusts such as the Gates Foundation. It will begin broadcasting in March. Billed as south Asia's first supernatural detective series, Bishaash follows the journey of Zara, a young British-Bangladeshi woman who moves from London to Bangladesh after discovering she is the co-owner of an antique shop in Dhaka. Here she encounters supernatural investigator Abir and his world of mystery, magic and adventure. ... [The program is] part of English in Action, an initiative launched by [the UK's Department for International Development] to support the economic development of Bangladesh by raising the English-language skills of 25 million people across the country."

"Forget Facebook — this revolution fuelled by satellites."

Posted: 03 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Postmedia News, 28 Feb 2011, Matthew Fisher: "For every Twitter or Facebook user ricocheting his observations around Tripoli, Tobruk or Cairo, there are many more Arabs sitting spellbound before their televisions as the greatest drama of their lives plays out before them. As a result, this medium remains a far more powerful influence in informing ordinary people of what's occurring between the rulers and the rebels — and in determining their actions and reactions — than Twitter or Facebook. As some Canadians know from watching, what can be seen on Al-Jazeera's English service is blatant cheering for the underdog. The Arabic service is a little more nuanced, but for years it has been chiselling away at the legitimacy of almost every Arab government. Now, after years of concentrated focus on this issue, it is seeing a huge payoff in viewer numbers and impact. The notion of pan-Arab unity that was the dream of Nasser and so many others was total nonsense until Arabs everywhere could punch in the codes for the satellites transmitting Al Jazeera and its imitators. But Shias are still Shias, Sunnis are still Sunnis and tens of millions of people from Bahrain to Morocco still identify more with their co-religionists and their tribes and clans than they do as Arabs. Because of this deeply-rooted reality, it is still far from clear if pan-Arab unity will remain ephemeral and elusive, or whether the might of satellite television is such that this time will be different."

West Bengali listeners tell Radio Veritas Asia "we cannot be content only with shortwave."

Posted: 03 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
CathNews India, 28 Feb 2011: "Muslim listeners in West Bengal told a Catholic broadcast agency from the Philippines to keep pace with modern technology. Technology is far more advanced today, and we cannot be content only with radio programs on the short wave, said Asraful Haque, one of the 200 people who attended the annual meeting of the listeners of the Bengali service of Radio Veritas Asia. Bengali is one of the 14 language services the Manila-based radio broadcasts for one hour each day. Haque, 24, said the Catholic radio should also use the internet and mobile devices to broadcast its programs. Jesuit Father Joseph Pymbellikunnel, who directs Chitrabani (sight-sound) which produces the Bengali programs, said the service caters to 70 percent Muslims and 30 percent Hindus in Assam and Tripura states, besides West Bengal." -- "[T]he service caters to 70 percent Muslims and 30 percent Hindus," implying that there are no Catholics in the audience of this Catholic station's Bengali Service?

For news to a "popular uprising," shortwave and satellite rather than internet and mobile, he writes.

Posted: 03 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Ethiopian Journal, 27 Feb 2011, Michael Abraha: "[T]he civic and political opposition in the Diaspora will play a key supporting role especially in keeping a good flow of news and information into and from Eritrea. We know information is power and it will be crucial for the success of the popular uprising. Since the internet, mobile and phone connections will be cut off right away, shortwave and satellite radio and satellite TV may become the main source of news for the Eritrean people as the revolution unfolds."

Commentator claims that international channels are biased in coverage of demonstrations in Bahrain.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Gulf Daily News (Manama), 25 Feb 2011, Anwar Abdulrahman: "[B]ear in mind that we are living in an era where the international media is cruel and ruthless, faking facts to boost ratings - whether BBC, Sky News or Al Jazeera, their reporters have clearly been instructed to concentrate only on dramatically bad news. When four days ago more than 300,000 people rallied in support of our Royal Family, not a single phrase was broadcast, not a single picture screened. In fact a Cabinet minister rang me asking 'how do you explain such bias?' I personally telephoned the head of the BBC's Arabic World Service and asked him very politely why there hadn't been any coverage of the rally. He replied softly : 'I am not in the picture, but will let you know within 15 minutes'. He rang back and explained : 'It is because we have been very busy covering Libya's turmoil.' How untrue is this statement, because on the same day opposition groups rallied and the BBC, CNN. Al Jazeera, Sky News and others seemingly joined a race to uncover or invent the most sensational aspects of this event."

Radio Free Asia hopes for the best as it plans to move into VOA Mandarin's peak listening hours.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Taipei Times, 26 Feb 2011, J. Michael Cole: "Proposed budget cuts at Voice of America (VOA), which could spell the end of all its Mandarin shortwave broadcasts and cost dozens of jobs, are leaving Radio Free Asia (RFA), the US’ other main broadcaster to China, hoping for the best. ... 'The proposed cuts send the message that VOA is changing its strategic approach to Chinese distribution in a challenging economic environment,' RFA president Libby Liu said in an interview from Washington on Wednesday. ... 'The cuts of VOA, if approved, will create an opportunity for RFA to move our shortwave broadcast hours to higher listening hours, which is what is proposed in the FY [fiscal year] 2012 president’s budget submission' by the BBG, she said. However, the budget proposal does not altogether spare RFA, which would face constraints of its own. 'Even as RFA could benefit by moving to better listening hours, the RFA Mandarin effort would sustain significant reductions in both broadcast hours and frequencies,' Liu said. ... The Restructure Broadcasting to China plan, under which the transmission network and resources for broadcasts to China would be realigned, would result in a budget reduction of US$3.2 million for the [IBB Office of Technology], thus affecting RFA operations." See previous post about same subject.

Japanese drama should be allowed South Korean terrestrial TV, says ROK culture minister.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Yonhap, 25 Feb 2011: "Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Choung Byoung-gug, said it is time to open the broadcasting content market to Japanese dramas, which have been prohibited from airing on South Korea’s terrestrial television channels. 'Our cultural level has improved enough to accept Japanese dramas,' Choung told the press on Wednesday. 'Culture creates synergy when we open up our market and exchange with other cultures.' Korea blocked Japanese culture content, including music, dramas, animation and movies, following the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945) and only in 1998 did the government of President Kim Dae-jung open the door to allow some aspects of Japanese culture into the country. Japanese dramas were allowed on cable channels in 2004, but they are still prohibited from being broadcast on Korea’s three terrestrial broadcasting networks - KBS, MBC and SBS. 'When we opened up the market 10 years ago, there was initially fear of domination by Japanese culture,' said the minister. 'But it resulted in the spread of Korean Wave, and now we have gained the upper hand in terms of culture.' South Korean dramas have swept through neighboring countries during the past decade."

When the Crusade for Freedom was on the air, and in the air.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The Spectrum (St. George, UT), 24 Feb 2011, Thaya Gilmore: Dennis Garner, of St. George, Utah, remembers when, in 1955, his father, a newspaper circulation manager, was invited to travel to Munich to see the work of Radio Free Europe and the Free Europe Press. "The Free Europe Press, located in Munich, Germany, was made possible by contributions from American citizens for the Crusade for Freedom against aggressive communism. More than 250 million 6-by-9-inch miniature newspapers and other printed leaflets were sent into the communist countries. ... Newspaper articles reported on Oct. 19, 1955, that delivering of balloons to predetermined target areas required scientific plotting of balloon flights on the prevailing winds blowing to the east with accurate information on wind directions and speeds. Meteorologists compounded the ratio of paper payload and hydrogen required to lift the balloon. With the Westerly winds, the same procedure was implemented to high altitudes over desired target points. At these points, the balloons released their papers and thousands of leaflets streamed to the earth. As much as 2 tons of paper, amounting to 1,188,000 leaflets, were put into the air from one launching site in a 10-hour period."

Much more about early Radio Free Europe and Crusade for Freedom history is in Richard Cummings's Cold War Radios blog.

"More BBC Radio aired in the US every day than US radio aired in the UK every year."

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
James Cridland'S blog, 2 Mar 2011: "[T]the wealth of non-UK English-language programming has been ignored by the BBC. From WBEZ’s This American Life to WNYC’s RadioLab; CBC Radio’s excellent tech show Spark (a genre, incidentally, wilfully ignored by Radio 4) to PRX’s The Moth Radio Hour and WNYC’s On The Media, these programmes are relatively cheap to buy and represent significant additional choice to a UK listener. It’s a sad fact that there is more BBC Radio aired in the US every day than there is US radio aired in the UK every year. At a recent speaking engagement in the Netherlands, one delegate knowingly told me: 'Ah, yes, the BBC – the Big British Castle. Lots of walls: not very many windows.' To have ignored the wealth of topical, excellently-produced programming from across the world is a real missed opportunity."

Ibid, comment by Adam Bowie: "While This American Life might easily sit at home on the service, I think that – and other American series – are not easily going to find a place following the recent BBC Trust report that decreed that the BBC is already too American. My own personal belief is that we need to acknowledge America since its importance in world affairs is unparralleled whether we like it or not (Radio 4 could cover Europe and the rest of the world to a greater extent though)."

Internet adoption in Middle East increases 2,000 percent over decade by starting with small denominator.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
The National, 24 Feb 2011, David George-Cosh: "Internet adoption in the Middle East has soared by almost 2,000 per cent over the past decade as accessing the web becomes easier and more affordable. There are now more than 63 million internet users in the region - about 30 per cent of the entire Middle East population and an increase of 1,823 per cent since 2000, according to a recent report by the analyst Internet World Stats. The rapid take-up is mainly because personal computers have become affordable and advances in mobile devices that can access the web more commonplace, said Omar Christidis, the vice president of the International Business Alliance Group and organiser of the ArabNet technology conference. ... 'If you take something with a very small denominator, you're going to get a very high percentage,' he said.... But Mr Christidis said the key to driving up internet usage was making it easier for older people to use the internet, such as his 70-year-old grandmother. 'Laptops are still too difficult for first-time users,' he said. 'I set up my grandmother's e-mail on an iPad and she doesn't have to login or do anything too difficult. All she has to do is click the envelope icon and she understands that she's sending an e-mail.'"

Ups and downs for international channel cable carriage in Europe.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 21 Feb 2011, Chris Dziadul: "Russia Today has added a potential 7 million viewers to its audience in Europe by securing carriage on the largest cable networks in France and Belgium. In France, the 24/7 channel is now potentially available to over 3.6 million subscribers of Numericable, while in Belgium it can be received by a potential 3.5 million homes served by Telenet in Flanders and the Brussels region."

Rapid TV News, 25 Feb 2011, Iñaki Ferreras: "Spanish regional cable operator R has added new channels to its TV offering such as 13TV and laSexta 3. Yet at the same time it has closed down the in-the-clear broadcasts of some of its international signals. ... The channels that will cease broadcasting in-the-clear include Recor TV, CCTV Es, BBC News, CNBC Europe, France 24 Horas, Romania TV, Russia Today, Cubavisión Internacional and Telesur. These will be transmitted in encrypted from now on."

International channels can join NHK World on new 36.0°E satellite platform for Russia.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
LLC New Media Legend press release, 23 Feb 2011: "New Media Legend, one of Russia's principal suppliers of uplink services for pay-TV platforms and channels, has selected the 36degrees East satellite neighbourhood operated by Eutelsat Communications for a new broadcasting platform providing Russian and international channels to complement the NTV Plus and Tricolor TV platforms. ... Over seven million homes in Russia as far as the Urals are already equipped with antennas pointing to 36degrees East for Direct-to-Home reception of the NTV Plus and Tricolor TV platforms. Scene is opening a new opportunity for channels, that already include NHK World TV and Europa Plus TV, to reach into Russia's vibrant TV market."

Zimbabweans arrested for viewing Al Jazeera and BBC video of Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 21 Feb 2011, Celia W. Dugger: "Dozens of students, trade unionists and political activists who gathered to watch Al Jazeera and BBC news reports on the uprisings that brought down autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt have been arrested on suspicion of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. James Sabau, a spokesman for the police force, which is part of the security services controlled by Mr. Mugabe’s party, was quoted in Monday’s state-controlled newspaper as saying that the 46 people in custody were accused of participating in an illegal political meeting where they watched videos 'as a way of motivating them to subvert a constitutionally elected government.' The evidence seized by the police included a video projector, two DVD discs and a laptop. ... Munyaradzi Gwisai, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe’s law school, was an organizer of the gathering, which took place on Saturday and allowed activists who had no Internet access or cable television to see images from the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt."

Wired Danger Room, 25 Feb 2011, Sam Gustin: "Gwisai and five others were brutally tortured during the next 72 hours, he testified Thursday at an initial hearing. ... The videos included BBC World News and Al-Jazeera clips, which Gwisai had downloaded from Kubatana, a web-based activist group in Zimbabwe. Nine out of 10 people lack internet access in Zimbabwe, and cable TV is an extravagant luxury. DStv, the monopoly satellite provider, costs $70 per month –- out of reach for most people in a country where teachers make $150 per month. Gwisai’s meetings are an opportunity for the Zimbabweans who attend them to catch a rare glimpse of international media."

The Zimbabwean, 23 Feb 2011, Magari Mandebvu: "I didn't notice any satellite dishes being removed from the Shawasha, and Matapi flats after they had been purged of people judged not to be zealous enough Zanu bootlickers. The new occupants may have been selected for their ability to spew Zanu slogans for hours, but unless their heads are really empty echo-chambers, the attractions of foreign TV programmes will draw them from the narrow track defined for them by Mahoso, Manheru and Charamba. They don't have to switch to BBC or Voice of America; Al Jazeera will give them a more balanced picture - and it's not Western."

VOA correspondent shoved and detained by police in Beijing.

Posted: 02 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
CBS News, 27 Feb 2011: "For the second Sunday in a row, protesters in China gathered in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities to call for reform. ... CBS News correspondent Celia Hatton reports that internet calls for pro-democracy protests in 23 cities across China Sunday quickly turned into violent showdowns between foreign journalists and Chinese authorities. Voice of America reporter Stephanie Ho, was secretly taped by CBS News in China's capital screaming for police to stop beating her. She was pushed around, but eventually released."

VOA News, 27 Feb 2011, Peter Simpson: "In Beijing's main shopping and tourist district, close to Tiananmen Square, several foreign journalists were physically assaulted and detained. Many were ordered to destroy film footage and photographs. Among them were two Voice Of America reporters filming at the scene, including Beijing bureau chief Stephanie Ho. She was shoved into a shop by what appeared to be plain-clothed police. There is a point at which the incident could have turned more violent. But a uniformed officer intervened and ordered them not to hit woman. Ho was escorted out of the area and detained for an hour before being released. Several other foreign journalists said they were also accosted by authorities."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 Feb 2011: "'It was totally unprovoked,' Ho wrote."

International Press Institute, 2 Mar 2011: "Radio Free Asia reported that an American news videographer was kicked and beaten repeatedly in the face with brooms and taken into police custody. CNN said that two of its journalists, Eunice Yoon and Jo Ling Kent, were physically harassed by Chinese security. Deutsche Welle reported on the arrest of two journalists with the German public service broadcaster. The journalists were later released, the broadcaster said. BBC journalist Damian Grammaticas said he too was manhandled."

US monitors world news through Open Source Center, ex-FBIS, which sends items to World News Connection.

Posted: 01 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 28 Feb 2011: "Relying on a host of translators, World News Connection delivers the news online from 1,750 newspapers, broadcasts and blogs in 130 countries. The first-ever news analysis by U.S. monitors, then manning the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, reported on Japanese sentiment the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Since then, the FBIS has morphed into today's Open Source Center, housed in the Central Intelligence Agency. The OSC's Web site is classified but sends some 40,000 unclassified items a month to World News Connection. Below, take a look back at some of FBIS's telling transmissions, as collected in a 1971 history of the service."

Libya is apparent source of Nilesat jamming affecting Alhurra, Al Jazeera, Rusiya al-Yaum, etc.

Posted: 01 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 28 Feb 2011: "Alhurra Television’s broadcasts of the historic events in Libya have been jammed on the Nilesat satellite system since Feb. 23. The Nilesat system, one of the most popular satellite systems in the region, also carries Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. The radio signals on Nilesat of Radio Sawa (in Arabic), Radio Farda (in Persian), Radio Free Iraq (in Arabic) and Voice of America (in Kurdish) have also faced intermittent interference in Nilesat. ... Intermittent but sustained interference to Alhurra Television meant viewers first lost images and then their screens went black between Feb. 23 and 27. Radio channels continued to be jammed on Nilesat as of Feb. 28. Jamming this month has also affected TV and radio broadcasts to Iran for VOA’s Persian News Network and Radio Farda."

RT (Russia Today) press release, 28 Feb 2011: "RT's Arabic channel Rusiya al-Yaum, broadcast in Libya via the Nilesat (AB4) satellite, is being jammed. According to RRsat Global Communications Network, a satellite TV provider, several attempts have been made to jam the Rusiya al-Yaum signal, broadcast via the open channel of the Nilesat (AB4) satellite. The company says Libyan authorities are jamming the signal to deprive the people of Libya of access to independent and unbiased coverage of events in the country and wider Middle East. Rusiya al-Yaum, Russia's first news channel in Arabic, was launched in May 2007. It is freely available via satellite in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. According to Nielsen research, Rusiya al-Yaum has an audience of over 5 million viewers in Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates."

The National (Abu Dhabi), 22 Feb 2011: "Al Jazeera satellite television channel yesterday [21 Feb] accused Libya's intelligence services of jamming its broadcasts across the Middle East and North Africa. 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'.

Association for International Broadcasting press release, 28 Feb 2011: "The Association for International Broadcasting, the industry association for international TV, radio, mobile and online broadcasting, has expressed its concern at the continuing disruption to transmissions of a number of its members. Deliberate, harmful Interference has been noted to the satellite transmissions of Alhurra, Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle since unrest began in a number of North African and Middle Eastern countries. It is believed that much of the current jamming originates from the Tripoli area of Libya where the Gaddafi regime continues to control much broadcasting, intelligence and communications infrastructure."

Commentary, 1 Mar 2011, J.E. Dyer: "With Qaddafi jamming the Nilesat satellite broadcast, on which Libyan civilians are dependent for news and foreign Internet service, the people in Benghazi have had little access to news. The Voice of Free Libya [radio station] could be a remarkable source for foreign governments in the coming days; but to the Libyan opposition, it is likely to be something much more: not just a source of news but also a source of connection and shared hope."

Associated Baptist Press, 24 Feb 2011, Bob Allen: "A satellite television network for, and run by, Christians in the Middle East said Feb. 24 that programming thought to have been blocked by Libya has been restored. Officials at SAT-7, a network targeted to minority Christian communities in the Middle East and North Africa, said Feb. 23 they do not believe their programming was the target. Rather it is suspected the Libyan government wanted to scramble broadcasts from Al Jazeera, which shares a satellite with SAT-7, to block coverage of the country’s current political unrest." See also SAT-7 press release, 24 Feb 2011. And The Christian Post, 24 Feb 2011, Alison Matheson.

Mission Network News, 25 Feb 2011: "President of HCJB Global Wayne Pederson says, ... 'Some of the other satellite signals--Al Jazeera and SAT 7--have been blocked from time to time, but God has protected our signal, and it continues to beam strongly into that part of the world today.'"

Reuters, 24 Feb 2011: "Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co's services are being jammed by Libya, the UAE-based firm's chief executive said on Thursday, as a revolt continued against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. ... Based in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi, Thuraya provides satellite telephone and other services across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Emirates Telecommunications Corp is a main shareholder of the company."

Wireless Federation, 1 March 2011: Thuraya "added that the reason for being a target for this jamming is likely to be the success of the company's products and services in [Libya] and the wide availability of those in the market. ... At the time of issuance of this statement, voice services were restored over much of the country. Thuraya-2 network is operational as normal in most of the coverage area. However the most impacted spot beams are the one that are covering Libya."

Alhurra's news in the news (and tweets).

Posted: 01 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 28 Feb 2011: "Alhurra correspondents reported live from Libya’s borders with Egypt and Tunisia. Alhurra had 19 hours of live continuous coverage daily following the events in Libya. Alhurra’s solicited feedback from viewers in Libya asking them to call and report what they are witnessing. The network receives hundreds of calls daily. Al Youm [Alhurra's main news program] is also encouraging viewers to send video or still photographs from Libya to Al Youm’s Facebook pages."

Al-Masry Al-Youm, 24 Feb 2011: "US-funded Alhurra satellite TV channel reported Wednesday [23 Feb] that Mubarak had left Sharm el-Sheikh for the Saudi city of Tabouk where he was receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer. 'Mubarak left for Saudi Arabia a day ago for treatment at Tabouk Hospital as he had been severely ill lately,' Alhurra reported." See previous post.

Ahlul Bayt News Agency, 24 Feb 2011: "According to Al Hurra TV, youngest son of Gaddafi, Saif ul Arab, who was sent by his father to suppress the protesters in the east region of Libya, joined the revolutionists."

Twitter, 20 Feb 2011, krmaher: "Really amused Al Hurra seems to be only source on Libya (via @SultanAlQassemi). How do we like that whipping boy US network now?"

Twitter, 21 Feb 2011, eDipAtState: "RT @krmaher: The US 'mouthpiece' is proving its value? RT @SultanAlQassemi: I want to acknowledge the superb job Al Hurra has been..."

Twitter, 20 Feb 2011, Wa2elMansour: "@SultanAlQassemi beware alhurra is not a reliable source at all. History of many false news."

Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 18 Feb 2011, Farah Ali: Journalistic Freedoms Observatory awards for online investigative reporting winners include "Ziad Nihad of the Al-Hurra satellite channel for his report on the torture and killing of a prison detainee; and Raji Naseer, also from Al-Hurra, for his report on corruption on Najaf schools."

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." -- I trust Alhurra is not directly encouraging Yemenis to protest, although Alhurra's news coverage might lead some Yemenis to decide to protest.

See previous post about Alhurra.

North Korea threatens "direct, targeted firing attacks" against leaflet launches from South Korea.

Posted: 01 Mar 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 28 Feb 2011, Chico Harlan: "North Korea on Sunday threatened to fire cross-border shots if South Korea continues a leaflet-launching propaganda campaign, which aims in part to inform the hermetic North of popular revolts in the Middle East and North Africa. In a statement carried by its state-run news agency, Pyongyang called the leaflets - stuffed into columnlike balloons - a psychological plot to 'shake up our socialism and break the trust of our military and people.' Calling it a matter of self-defense, North Korea said it would 'launch direct, targeted firing attacks' on any area where South Korean activists or military members are seen releasing the balloons. ... A Seoul lawmaker said Friday that the military has recently been dropping leaflets into North Korea that describe the pro-democracy movement that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and has led to a bloody standoff in Libya. The balloons also contain DVDs about the protests and other basic supplies - food, radios and medicine."

The Chosunilbo, 1 Mar 2011: "The government has apparently told the military to keep quiet about psychological warfare operations against North Korea. A senior government official said Monday 'no government would confirm or deny whether its military is engaged' in activities like sending leaflets and goods attached to helium balloons to the North. 'But if the military is openly engaging in such activities, it would obviously need to be stopped.' But he added, 'It's up to private human rights groups to decide whether to send propaganda leaflets to North Korea. The government shouldn't interfere with this unless there are special circumstances. We have no plans to block such activities.'" -- How can one "keep quiet" about a communications activity that tries to reach the largest possible number of North Koreans?

The Chosunilbo, 1 Mar 2011: "The best way to reach North Koreans with news about the outside world is propaganda flyers from the South, the head of a defector radio station claimed Monday. Kim Sung-min (50) of Free North Korea Radio on Monday said, 'There are no better channels than South Korea's leaflets that deliver accurate news into North Korea's controlled society.' ... During military service in near the border in the 1980s and 90s, he saw many propaganda flyers and goods sent from the South. In the 1980s, North Korean officials gathered South Korean goods such as cigarettes, lighters, pantyhose, cookies, and candies, as well as flyers, and burned them. 'In North Hwanghae Province where I served as an Army officer in the 1990s, there were so many propaganda leaflets that they were heaped up like snow every day,' he recalled. 'Only soldiers who'd collected more than 1,000 leaflets were allowed to eat breakfast.'"

Yonhap, 25 Feb 2011, Yoon Sangwon: "Spokesman So Hyun-min of Open Radio for North Korea, a radio station specializing in North Korean news, said ... about 5,000 border-area residents use smuggled Chinese mobile phones by hijacking network signals to contact South Koreans, and while Open Radio for North Korea does not work with any 3G network smartphone user there, So assumes that 3G users there will soon rapidly increase. 'If open Internet access is available through 3G and more residents are able to communicate live with the outside world via Facebook or Twitter and uncensored e-mail, then maybe an upheaval is possible,' So said. 'Until then, from what we can grasp from our sources in North Korea, it takes three days for 1 percent, one week for 10 percent and one month for 30 percent of the entire population to know about outside news,' he added."

Korean Central News Agency (Pyongyang), 1 Mar 2011: "The United States has steadily conducted psychological campaign to bring down progressive countries. A democracy fund, a U.S. psychological plot-breeding organ, recently invested 450 000 dollars in the anti-DPRK propaganda campaign of media and other organizations of south Korea. According to Radio Free Asia on February 23, the fund allocated 10 000 dollars more to the three south Korean organizations as compared with the last fiscal year. ... Radio Free Asia is what it uses as an important means for psychological campaign against the DPRK and other Asian countries at present. The Radio is aimed to spread the U.S. style view of value and corrupt ideology and culture among the Asian countries in a bid to benumb the independent consciousness of the people there."

Wall Street Journal, Korea Realtime, 25 Feb 2011, Evan Ramstad: "Korea Central News Agency, the official voice of North Korea, on Friday formally announced the launch of its web site" www.kcna.kp.

Al Jazeera English, 101 East, 17 Feb 2011: "North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's love of film is well-documented, but few outsiders know that he is revered as a genius of cinema by his own people. Now, this groundbreaking film opens a window inside the world's most secretive country and an elite academy, where young actors are hand-picked to serve a massive propaganda machine. Filmmakers Lynn Lee and James Leong spent more than two years on this project, becoming the first foreigners to film inside Pyongyang's University of Cinematic and Dramatic Arts." With link to 25-minute video.

For information about South Korea, "KBS World Radio won't disappoint."

Posted: 28 Feb 2011   Print   Send a link
The Korea Herald, 27 Feb 2011, Lee Woo-young and Moon Ye-bin: "If you want to do a bit of research before taking a trip in South Korea, don’t settle for the standard Google search or hastily read travel books. ... The official international broadcasting station of South Korea KBS World Radio (http://world.kbs.co.kr) won’t disappoint. The station broadcasts news and information in eleven languages: Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesia, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, German, French and Spanish. Also, the site has great information on the locations, people, climate, culture and history of Korea. In addition, the site features several recipes for popular Korean dishes, and short language study options are available."