Vote on creation of Israeli channels in English and Arabic postponed.

Posted: 30 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link

Jerusalem Post, 26 June 2011, Gil Hoffman: "The ministerial committee on legislation decided to delay a vote Sunday on a bill that would have required the government to form a 24-hour satellite television station in English and Arabic. The bill, submitted by former Israel Broadcasting Authority chairman and current Kadima MK Nachman Shai, would have forced the IBA to come up with a plan for the formation of such a station within a month of the bill taking effect and get the channel on the air within six months. But the ministers said they needed more information from the IBA and the Prime Minister's Office before they could vote, so they postponed their decision by a month."

Rapid TV News, 27 June 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "The bill has cross party support, and has been signed by 25 lawmakers. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has also previously expressed support of such a move – which has been on the cards since 2001. The IBA has already published its intent to recruit a head for a new international TV station, a role which the broadcaster’s head of English News Steve Leibowitz has already put himself forward for."

Los Angeles Times, 26 June 2011, Edmund Sanders: "Whereas the U.S., Britain and France launched Arabic-language news channels in recent years to speak directly to Arab populations, Israel let its Arabic-language satellite station go dark in most of the region. The hasbara-focused Public Diplomacy Ministry employs plenty of English speakers but no one fluent in Arabic, its top official said. ... Proponents of an Arab world campaign say the next priority is the launch of an Arabic-language news channel, which they bill as an Israeli version of Al Jazeera or CNN Arabic. Years ago, the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the nation's public television provider, beamed such a channel throughout the Mideast, but over the years the channel lost funding and focus, Edelstein said. Unfortunately, he added, Israel lost interest in the channel just as satellite television exploded in the Arab world. Now the IBA is developing a plan to spend more than $30 million to double its Arabic-language programming to eight hours a day and next year launch a new satellite that can beam its signals to the entire region."

Having a satellite that can cover the region is one thing, but convincing Arabs to point their dishes to that satellite is a more difficult matter. If the new Israeli Arab channel is not granted access to the popular Arabsat and Nilesat satellites, it may have to settle for smaller, niche audiences. Another reason pan-Arab news channels succeed is their ability to cover news within the Arab countries. This task will be more problematic for an Israeli channel. And the content must be news, not hasbara. If it must be hasbara, Israel is better off purchasing 60-second spots on already existing channels. All told, an Israeli international television effort faces many impediments. So, as they say, !בהצלחה .

Guardian vs Mail vs BBC: "The newsonomics of the British invasion" of the US online market.

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Nieman Journalism Lab, 30 June 2011, Ken Doctor: "With the United Kingdom one of the countries suffering the economic doldrums more than the U.S., maybe it’s no surprise that we’re witnessing a British online invasion. In short order, the Guardian, Mail Online, and the BBC, among others, are targeting American eyeballs and wallets in the urgent search for growth. ... The Guardian’s new plan follows on a failed one, the Guardian America plan, tried and abandoned over several years. The new idea: Don’t put an American face on the trusty Guardian; keep the British face, but offer more British perspective on and from the U.S. The thinking: The Guardian’s very Britishness is why American readers come to its site. ... All the newbies face hyper-competition in the world’s most competitive digital marketing marketplace, one built both on the seemingly paradoxical tricks of leveraging long-term buyer/seller relationships and satisfying the dreaded '23-year-old' media buyer, one who may never have heard much about these foreign brands. Here, give a big lead to the BBC. It’s got a couple of years’ head-start on U.S. sales, and the brand that is most recognizable — and it can sell multi-platform, TV, and digital."

"Whatever small hope there was for postponing drastic cuts at Radio Netherlands Worldwide is now gone."

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Radio Netherlands Media Network, 30 June 2011, Andy Sennitt: "Our political editor John Tyler has just tweeted from The Hague: 'Whatever small hope there was for postponing drastic cuts at RNW are now gone. By October, RNW must have a plan to cut 2/3 of organization.'" -- At twitter, search on the #wereldomroep hashtag.

Radio Netherlands, 30 June 2011: "The Dutch parliament has voted against three motions which might have blunted the effect of the budget cuts facing Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The most important motion called for a separate debate devoted to the future of RNW. Previous debates tackled the cutbacks facing all public broadcasting. The other two motions criticised the decision-making as hasty and called for a postponement. Effectively, this vote means that the cabinet's plans to move RNW from the education, media and culture ministry to the foreign ministry and cut the budget from 46.3 million euros to 14 million will definitely go ahead. RNW's management will now draw up a redundancy plan, which is expected to be completed in October."

See previous post about same subject.

France 24 added to Time Warner cable in New York metro area.

Posted: 30 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 27 June 2011, Kristin Brzoznowski: "France 24's English-language service is now part of Time Warner Cable's channel roster, adding an additional 1.5 million subscribers throughout the New York Metropolitan area to its U.S. reach. The English-language service is now part of Time Warner's basic package, which is also available in many hotels as well as other sites—companies, national and international institutions—in the New York area. The channel is already available in the U.S. on DISH World in both English and French." See previous posts about international channels on Time Warner on 16 May and 31 May 2011. See also the Time Warner channel lineup for New York, which includes RT (Russia Today) and CNN International.

Leaflets: North Korean defectors launch them from South Korea. South Korean arrested in Malaysia for distributing them.

Posted: 30 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 25 June 2011, Jung Yeon-Je: "North Korean defectors launched 100,000 leaflets across the tense inter-Korean border urging the toppling of the communist regime to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. About 10 members of the Fighters for Free North Korea floated the messages on Saturday, slung under five large gas-filled balloons, defying threats from the North that its military would respond with 'merciless retaliations'. The giant balloons were inscribed with anti-Pyongyang slogans including one calling for the overthrow of leader Kim Jong-Il and his youngest son Kim Jong-Un's 'hereditary dictatorship.' ... Timing devices were attached to scatter the bundles of leaflets north of the heavily fortified border. ... The balloons also carried hundreds of DVDs and one-dollar bills, an incentive for North Koreans to overcome fears of punishment and pick up the leaflets." AFP photo of the leaflets at Vancouver Sun, 26 June 2011.

Yonhap, 22 June 2011, includes photo of "[o]ne of the leaflets scattered by South Korea and U.N. forces urging the Korean War to encourage North Korean soldiers to defect to the South with promises of good treatment."

Bernama, 29 June 2011: "Johor police have arrested 39 people, including a seven-year-old, in the [Malaysian] state for distributing leaflets on the illegal rally scheduled for July 9. Johor police chief Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said they were detained at several locations in the state between last Friday and Monday. ... A total of 5,567 leaflets were seized from them, he told reporters at his office, here, Wednesday. ... 'Two of them are foreign nationals, one from the Philippines and the other from South Korea,' he said, adding that 1,435 leaflets on the illegal gathering were seized from them."

Poor Pororo the Little Penguin, stuck between conflicting news stories by Radio Free Asia and VOA.

Posted: 30 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Korea Times, 29 June 2011, Lee Tae-hoon: "Questions have been raised as to what extent Washington will ban imports of inter-Korean products, following news reports that the U.S. will ban Pororo, a popular animated cartoon series jointly produced by South and North Korea. ... On June 22, Radio Free Asia (RFA), a U.S.-based nonprofit radio and Internet news service, said the hit animated series 'Pororo the Little Penguin' will be on the list of items that Washington will prohibit from being imported. It reached the conclusion based on its own interpretation of a provision in Executive Order 13466 that states 'the importation into the United States, directly or indirectly, of any goods, services, or technology from North Korea is prohibited.' ... However, Voice of America, an arm of the U.S. Information Agency, refuted the claims Wednesday, saying films and publications are exempted from the sanction. It noted that a clause in Executive Order 13560 states that certain cultural items and means of recording information or music are not subject to the ban." -- The U.S. Information Agency has, of course, not existed since 1999. VOA is now, along with RFA, an "arm" of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. See previous post about same subject. is new portal to various Vatican news media.

Posted: 29 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Vatican Radio, 28 June 2011, via "Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday will be launching a new Vatican portal, offering an exclusive, multimedia presentation of all the other communications websites of the Holy See. The portal, to be found at includes the best of our own Vatican Radio site, but also the latest news from the newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano, from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, from VIS, the Vatican’s Information Service and from the Misna missionary news agency.Available initially in English and Italian, the new site uses some of the latest digital technology to offer audio and video streaming, plus high quality images and a twitter feed providing instant news headlines to smart phones and other mobile devices." Includes links to a Vatican Radio liove stream and to news on demand. -- But will it eventually replace Vatican Radio?

Why the BBG owns SUVs.

Posted: 29 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Government Executive, 23 June 2011, Charles S. Clark: "The sums the government spends buying and leasing 'nonessential' motor vehicles would shrink by 20 percent under a bill introduced on Wednesday by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. The proposal, originally offered by the fiscal commission appointed by President Obama, could save $500 million if enacted by 2012, the lawmakers said. ... The senators acknowledged the importance of mission-critical and national security-related vehicles, but they asked why SUVs are needed by the National Science Foundation, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Small Business Administration."

I don't think I've seen a government-owned SUV parked in front of the VOA/IBB/BBG headquarters in Washington. IBB does have two transmitter sites on US soil, and additional transmitter sites abroad. These are typically the size of a county park. (In fact, the old VOA shortwave transmitting site near Bethany, Ohio, became a county park.) Getting around these sites to tend to antennas requires travel on dirt paths, or driving through the bush. The vehicle also needs room for antenna parts. This is no job for a family sedan, hence, I'm guessing, the BBG's need for SUVs.

Judith McHale describes the State Department's social media team.

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National Journal, 29 June 2011, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale as interviewed by James Kitfield: "People talk of a `technological revolution,’ but it’s now 20 years old, so this new world is here to stay, and it requires us to react to events very quickly. We’ve had to move beyond just pushing out press releases, for instance, to engaging proactively and broadly across both traditional and social media. If we don’t respond quickly to an inaccurate story, for instance, we will never get beyond it, because they live forever on the internet. I have a 16-person Center for Strategic Counter-Terrorism Communications, for example, that rapidly responds to any message from al-Qaida that we see online, and is willing to explain and debate the American position on violent extremism. The larger point is that in the world of social media, if you don’t provide a context for what you’re doing, other people will interpret your actions for you. That’s why this morning I met with 30 plus bloggers from around the world, who have an expectation that I will engage with them in dialogue. I have 200 folks at the State Department focused solely on social media, and around 1,000 employees worldwide who have social media as a large component of their jobs. We produce 100 foreign language Twitter feeds. That’s the character of 21st century diplomacy."

Heritage Foundation, 28 June 2011, Helle Dale and Jessica Zuckerman: "It took the State Department more than three years to allocate the $50 million given to the department by Congress for its global Internet freedom efforts. In this year’s Continuing Resolution, Congress gave another $20 million to the State Department and $10 million to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to further pursue their Internet freedom agendas. This time around, the funding must move more speedily and efficiently to invest in proven technologies and fill gaps in private-sector investment. At the same time, the U.S. government should call attention to those countries that are the worst perpetrators of Internet censorship."

Kenyan print journalist takes top CNN MultiChoice African Journalist award for series about Somalia.

Posted: 29 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN Press Release, 25 June 2011: "Fatuma Noor from Kenya has been awarded the top prize at this year’s CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2011 Awards Ceremony. Fatuma Noor, who works for The Star Kenya, won for her investigative three-part series on the ‘Al-Shabaab’, which was chosen from among 1407 entries from 42 nations across the African continent. The series tells the story of the young men who give up their freedom abroad to return and fight for the ‘Al-Shabaab’ in one of the world’s most dangerous places on earth –Somalia." Other winners also listed.

Tony Maddox on CNN International's decision to "partner on the side of humanity."

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Politico, On Media, 27 June 2011, Keach Hagey interviewing CNN International EVP Tony Maddox: "Earlier this year, at the urging of CNN International executive vice president Tony Maddox, it launched 'CNN Freedom Project' to shine a spotlight on modern-day slavery stories in the course of CNN International’s programming. ... Maddox: Obviously, it’s important for CNN to be perceived as being politically objective, and not taking a partisan approach to stories, because we just don’t. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t partner on the side of humanity, or that we haven’t got values that the company operates by. I think we can say, we’re going to do this story, and we want things to change. We’re not just going to do the two-side, they say, they say, and leave it. No. We want to do this, because this is wrong, and we want it to get better. This is a mission. ...

"Hagey: CNN is under a lot of pressure domestically to give up its nonpartisan stance, at least in primetime, because audiences seem to want opinionated programming during those times. What effect would that have on CNN International? Maddox: Our brand internationally is not wildly different from our brand domestically. The core values of the brand are the same. Any move that we make domestically would have a similar impact internationally. ... That’s part of our calling card. If we are perceived as a partisan channel within the U.S., that wouldn’t do us any favors internationally. ...

"Hagey: BBC World and Al Jazeera English are both, essentially, government-funded. What’s it like to function as a private broadcaster when your main competitors are not private? Maddox: Al Jazeera does not have to work on the same economic principles that we do. It’s underwritten by one individual, is the truth of the matter. Similarly, the BBC is subsidized through the license fee – although they say it isn’t, it clearly is. We have to pay our own way in the world. And frankly, I think the discipline of the marketplace makes for better programming. You need that sense of market awareness. A lot of people who are praising Al Jazeera and BBC World don’t watch it for a very long period of time. It’s very worthy, and sometimes can make a day last a long time."

Recommended reading. This interview includes substantive discission of the immensely important CNN International, and its competition with the other big three global English news channels: BBC World and Al Jazeera English.

I did not see, at least not in print, a question from Hagey about the CNN's decision to engage in advocacy, even if it is for a good cause. Maddox seems, instead, to volunteer his view about this controversial matter, as if expecting such a question. There is no universal definition of "humanity," so when a news organization declares its can "partner on the side of humanity," it proceeds down a slippery slope.

Raining on the parade, as is my wont, I am negative about the CNN Freedom Project in USC's PD Magazine, Summer 2011, "In International Broadcasting, Even the Static Must Be Credible." That issue should be available soon here.

Media Bistro, 27 June 2011, Alex Weprin: "Sometime in the next 48 hours, the embattled president of Yemen will make his first public appearance since being wounded by shrapnel when his compound was attacked. ... As the world watches, only two cable news channels are in-country to cover the news, CNN and Al Jazeera English."

UNAMID programs will be heard on Sudan public radio stations.

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African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) press release, 27 June 2011: "UNAMID Communications and Public Information Division (CPID) on 26 June 2011 signed an agreement with the National Public Radio Corporation (NPRC) for the broadcast of UNAMID Radio programmes on Al Salaam Radio and Darfur state radio stations. This is an interim arrangement whilst the Government of the Sudan reviews the Mission’s application for a radio broadcasting license, in conformity with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the Mission and the Government of the Sudan. According to this interim arrangement, UNAMID Radio will broadcast for two hours daily, on Al Salaam Radio, with repeat broadcasts at appropriate times on Darfur state radio stations, starting on 03 July 2011."

VOA Africa Health Network will soon launch. Nigerian VP has plans for VOA.

Posted: 29 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 27 June 2011: "The Voice of America’s African audience will have greater access to health information through the soon-to-be launched VOA Africa Health Network. BBG Governor Dana Perino announced the new initiative today during a speech before representatives of the Nigerian Government and the media in Abuja, Nigeria. She made her remarks at a town hall meeting sponsored by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and Radio France Internationale. ... The VOA Africa Health Network will take advantage of new technologies spreading throughout Africa along with radio and television. Nigeria alone has more than 70 million mobile phones and more than 40 million Internet users. VOA will use these technologies to more effectively provide information to its urban and rural audiences in Nigeria and throughout all of Africa. ... VOA Africa Health Network programming will reflect the varied health concerns of all Africans. Periodically, VOA will hold Town Hall meetings to bring together government representatives, health experts, and private citizens for a public discussion of critical health issues."

Here, VOA is moving into the territory of a "GNGO (governmental non-governmental organization)." The task is similar to something that BBC World Service Trust might take on. But BBCWST is funded through charitable donations. Will the VOA African Health Network be paid for from VOA's limited resources? Or will the money come from the State Department and/or USAID, which have already provided funds for VOA projects? Most health care advice is not controversial, but occasionally it can be. Will VOA be able to maintain its journalistic independence when reporting about African health matters?

Daily Trust (Abuja), 28 June 2011, Mohammed S. Shehu: "Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo has asked the Voice of America (VOA) to develop more educational programmes that will assist in the quest to develop the education sector and enlighten the listeners on how to reduce maternal mortality in the country. Sambo made the appeal yesterday when he received the Governing Board of the VOA in his office at the State House, Abuja. ... Sambo said: 'We want good educational programmes by the Voice of America as we want to develop our education sector at all levels. We need people to know what the Federal Government is doing in the power sector as we are building thermal power plants. We want Nigerians to know how to manage this sector.'"

WFAA-TV (Dallas), 28 June 2011, Chris Hawes: "Ugoo Anieto grew up in Nigeria, a loyal listener of the Voice of America. As a sixth grader, Anieto sent the radio station a letter. 'They sent me this map of America, with all these illustrations, the Civil War,' he recalled. ... last month, Anieto checked the lottery Web site. He was one of those chosen to be a new American. 'It was a nice time,' he said. 'I felt happy that I won.' But that red-white-and-blue feeling ended less than two weeks later. 'Apparently there was a computer problem,' Auman said. 'It wasn't random enough.'"

Remembrance of Elena Bonner recalls a message by President Reagan on VOA, New Year's Day 1987.

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RealClearPolitics, 23 June 2011, Cathy Young: "Soviet dissident Elena Bonner -- widow of the great physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov -- left us on Sunday at the age of 88. ... [she] fondly recalled Ronald Reagan, who mentioned Sakharov in several speeches, including his 1987 New Year's Day radio message to the Soviet people broadcast over the Voice of America." -- Shortly after arriving at VOA in 1985, I suggested that VOA broadcast a presidential message on New Year's Day, having heard, on my shortwave radio, other international stations doing similar broadcasts.

Actually the $64 million question is how we can get another $64 million for broadcasting to Iran.

Posted: 29 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, "PM," 28 June 2011, Stephen Long interviewing Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the the American Enterprise Institute: "Long: The prospects of dissent in Iran don't look particularly good at the moment. So what are ways then that the West could intervene to support those who want change, the dissidents, without actually provoking some kind of larger conflagration, without it actually becoming a military conflagration potentially? Rubin: Well indeed and that's the $64 million question if you will. But there are certain strategies we can do. We've already discussed the labour union movement. One of those other issues has to do with independent media platforms. What are we doing to broadcast in Iran with a strategy? What I would argue is outside broadcasters, whether it's BBC Persian, whether it's Voice of America, they should be reporting what Iranians aren't allowed to report because of self-censorship." -- Which, of course, is what BBC and VOA have been doing all along.

TV5MONDE to Vietnam: Are subtitles the future of international broadcasting?

Posted: 29 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Saigon Times, 4 Apr 2011, Binh Nguyen: "TV5MONDE has launched a third satellite feed for Asia Pacific on MeaSat-3 to cover the Southeast Asian region where they will further localize content and subtitle Vietnamese, among other languages. ... TV5MONDE Asie, TV5MONDE’s channel for Asia, was previously free-to-air from AsiaSat-3S with embedded English subtitles. The new feed on MeaSat-3 enables operators to select the subtitling language(s) they want to bring to their subscribers. Vietnamese is the first local language to be subtitled on TV5MONDE Asie, which is available on all major platforms in Vietnam, on cable networks of VCTC, SCTV and HTVC as well as satellite digital terrestrial broadcasting by K+, VTC and VASC to some five million households in the country. This volume of coverage makes Vietnam the second largest market for TV5MONDE after India which is beamed out to 10 million homes. Representatives of TV5MONDE said all Vietnamese platforms that have the TV5MONDE Asie channel had agreed to switch to the new signal. ... TV5MONDE is hoping to have 10 hours per day of Vietnamese subtitles on TV5MONDE Asie by early next year." -- Sorry about this somewhat dated item, but it may be an important indicator of the future of international broadcasting. In contrast to neighboring China, Vietnam has been remarkably open to international channels on its cable and DTH systems. See, however, the previous post about new Vietnamese regulation of international channels.

Not everyone is a fan of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Today's Zaman, 26 June 2011: "Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has complained about Al Jazeera coverage over Turkey's Libya policy during a meeting with the emir of Qatar, a Turkish news report published on Sunday said. ... On Thursday, Al Jazeera said it had found Turkish military ration packs in three abandoned Gaddafi bases in Nafusa, western Libya, saying Turkey may have thus breached a UN embargo on Libya."

Canada Free Press, 27 June 2011, Don Irvine: "KCET-TV, which had been a PBS affiliate for more than 40 years, cut its ties at the end of 2010 due to declining ratings and increased dues that were set to eat up 25% of the station’s budget in 2011. To fill the programing gap left by their departure from the PBS system, the station started to carry programs from Al Jazeera English just as the political situation in Tunisia and Egypt started to erupt. ... KCET's decision gives the channel its largest toehold in a major city and could open the door to other stations or cable systems reversing course and adding the channel to their respective systems, which could provide an additional challenge in our efforts to fight terrorism. I never thought I would say this but I hope that KCET will change its mind and rejoin the PBS network, if the alternative is to continue with Al Jazeera English."

NPR, 27 June 2011, Corey Flintoff: "Pollster Ahmed Nagui Kamha says [Egyptian] State TV lost the public's trust because of its role as a government mouthpiece during the revolution. He says viewers switched to international channels, such as Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera, as well as a host of independent Egyptian channels that sprang up after the revolution."

Syrian Arab New Agency, 26 June 2011, H. Sabbagh: "People of al-Zabadani area in Damascus Countryside refuted on Sunday the rumor spread by Al-Arabiya channel which claimed that the army is surrounding the area and closing off its streets. In statements to the Syrian TV, the people of al-Zabadani affirmed that the biased channels' continuing promotion of lies and fabrication of videos is part of the conspiracy targeting Syria's national unity. The locals affirmed that the area is secure and stable and that they’re living their lives normally without any discomfort, thanking the army for watching over citizens and protecting them from armed terrorist groups."

Syrian Arab News Agency, 26 June 2011, H. Sabbagh: "People of al-Zabadani area in Damascus Countryside refutred on Sunday the rumor spread by Al-Arabiya channel which claimed that the army is surrounding the area and closing off its streets. In statements to the Syrian TV, the people of al-Zabadani affirmed that the biased channels' continuing promotion of lies and fabrication of videos is part of the conspiracy targeting Syria's national unity."

"Often impossible to find CNN, yet Al Jazeera, France 24 and Russia Today are ever-present."

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Huffington Post, 26 June 2011, Vivian Norris: "We in the English-speaking West are no longer the focus of documentary filmmaking, nor are we dominating the international news. The monopoly of information and history shaping is pretty much over. Just check into a hotel in Eastern Europe or even some parts of Western Europe, much less anywhere outside of the U.S., and you will find an increasing number of Middle Eastern, Asian, and Latin American channels. Often it is impossible to find CNN, yet Al Jazeera, France 24 and Russia Today are ever-present. But once again, we have not lost the 'information war' we simply have to learn to be more respectful of the rest of the world, and frankly, learn to share. This is not to say that other sources of news and information are better, and yes, there will always be political and economic agendas at work behind the scenes editorially, but this new reality is forcing us to have to understand and accept diversity, because not doing so means being left behind."

Much ado for $22m per year: Australia delays decision on Australia Network contract until September (updated).

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Australian minister for foreign affairs, 25 June 2011, joint press release with the prime minister and minister for communications: "The Government today announced an extension to the existing Australia Network contract, while additional information is sought from tenderers. In the light of changed international circumstances since the Australia Network Request For Tender (RFT) was issued, the Government has decided that national interests should be addressed more broadly. Tenderers have been asked to submit amended bids to specifically address how their operation of the Australia Network service would meet Australia’s national interests in the light of the increasing influence of key emerging markets on the global economy, significant political transformation occurring across the Middle East and North Africa, and the need identified during recent consular crises for strengthened associated information services through a range of sources. The current contract with the ABC expires on 8 August 2011. Accordingly, the Government will exercise its option under the existing contract to extend the service operated by the ABC for six months until 8 February 2012. The amended Australia Network Request for Tender will be released shortly and a decision on Preferred Tenderer is expected to be taken by September 2011. In making this decision, the Government also considered the significance of the service to Australia’s foreign interests and concluded that the decision on the Preferred Tenderer will be referred for Cabinet consideration."

The Age (Melbourne), 25 June 2011, Katharine Murphy: "The delay, and the effective sidelining of Mr Rudd, was confirmed by the government last night after significant speculation through much of Friday about the looming announcement. The ABC now runs the international broadcasting service, and wants to keep it. The contract has sparked a vigorous contest between the ABC and the News Limited-controlled pay television player Sky News which wants to expand its regional presence. The long-running competition for the contract is a point of significant sensitivity between the government and News.

The Australian, 25 June 2011, Sid Maher: "Industry insiders suggested yesterday that the new process would favour the ABC."

ABC News, 24 June 2011: "The ABC's contract has been extended for six months until the renewed tenders have been considered. Australia Network, the country's international television broadcasting service, has been running since 1993. The new contract period has been extended to 10 years to provide 'greater certainty to the service provider'."

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), 26 June 2011, Jane Hansen: "Axed Sky News anchor John Mangos has hit out at claims he is a racist and insists he still has the full support of the Chinese community despite his controversial on-air remarks earlier this month. ... It is understood Sky News executives were worried the comments would derail its multi-million-dollar bid to win Asia-Pacific rights for the Australia Network. The ABC has had the contract to run the service, which reaches more than 34 million homes in 44 countries across Asia, the Pacific and India."

Australia should join forces with public broadcasters in New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, as well as non-English speaking countries such as the Netherlands willing and able to produce English-language television, even if only an hour a week, along with perhaps the UK's ITN, and possibly one or US commercial networks, to form a global English channel with content good enough to attract an audience, this attracting advertisers, and perhaps eventually paying for itself.

Update: The Australian, 27 June 2011, Michael Bodey: "ABC and Sky News were awash with rumours that Mr Rudd was using the Australia Network as his 'personal plaything' due to his desire to help solve the Middle East crisis. 'The ABC was confident that it would have won it but you have to ask why it is taking so long,' an industry source said. Another source said the delay was due to the government trying find a way to avoid admitting Sky had won the tender. Both agree the delay gave the ABC a chance to refine its tender in areas where Sky might have been superior."

The Age (Melbourne), 28 June 2011, Daniel Flitton: "A new key adviser to the ABC on funding and the future of the media industry is the former chief of staff for Stephen Conroy - but the ABC insists he will have nothing to do with its bid to retain Australia's $220 million overseas television service. Senator Conroy, the Communications Minister, was suddenly made responsible late on Friday for deciding the outcome of the already overdue tender process that has pitched the public broadcaster against rival Sky News Australia for the lucrative government contract."

The Age, 29 June 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Television station Sky News hired a former top adviser to Kevin Rudd to boost its bid to strip the ABC of a $220 million government contract to run Australia's official TV network into the Asia Pacific. Annie O'Rourke had worked for Mr Rudd when he was prime minister for two years until 2009, first in charge of staffing and later directing online media, such as blogs and Twitter."

AAP, 28 June 2011, Adam Gartrell: "Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the government needed to explain why a service aimed at lifting Australia's international profile was being decided by the communications minister instead of the foreign minister. ... 'It gives rise to a potential conflict of interest for the minister who has responsibility for the ABC,' Ms Bishop said. But a spokesman for Senator Conroy said the government's advice was there was no conflict of interest."

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 June 2011, editorial: "The problem created by the government's handling of the Australia Network tender invites the further question of whether, given the importance of the television service, commercial tendering is the best way of deciding on the provider. Radio Australia is part of the ABC, and the quality of its service over many decades can scarcely be denied. Why should not Australia's international television service be provided in the same way?"

Is the Corp. for Travel Promotion a model for US international broadcasting?

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Advertising Age, 27 June 2011, Nat Ives: "How would you market Brand USA? A pair of job openings are going to require the answer to that question: the CMO slot at the new Corp. for Travel Promotion, a public-private partnership created by Congress with a potential $200 million budget; and the undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs post at the State Department, whose current occupant plans to step down July 1." See also Corporation for Travel Promotion website.

I think a public-private partnership could work for US international broadcasting. Imagine a Corporation for International Broadcasting. I floated a version of this idea in Foreign Service Journal, October 2010 (pdf).

Many recent mentions of Al Hurra. Just not *our* Al Hurra.

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Middle East Online, 27 June 2011, Andrew Beatty: "These days the place to be seen in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi is, without doubt, the freshly renamed Tahrir (Liberation) Square. ... Libya's post-revolution media are also out in force, with Libya Al-Hurra (Free Libya) television filming an endless stream of debates and projecting them live onto the wall of the courthouse."

The Telegraph, 27 June 2011, Richard Spencer: "'It makes me sick to think of [foreign Libyan foreign minister Moussa] Koussa swanning around the [Doha] Four Seasons,' said one Libyan who helped set up Al-Hurra, the Free Libya radio station based in Qatar. 'He has so much blood on his hands.'"

The Arab American News, 24 June 2011, Ziad Abu Fadel: "Even the covertly sectarian website, 'Free Syria,' (Suriyya Al-Hurra), devotes page after page of livid, purplish-prose with detailed coverage of Rami Makhlouf's business ventures as though he were some soap opera star; a J.R. Ewing with visible horns."

"Al Hurra" means "the free one." Many broadcasting organizations like to include the word "free" in their names. Another example is Radio Free Sarawak, not affiliated with US international broadcasting.

BBG joins protest against Tajikistan's detention of BBC World Service reporter.

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 27 June 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) joins in solidarity with its colleagues at the BBC to protest the detention of Urunboy Usmonov, a reporter for the BBC World Service's Uzbek service, who has been held in Tajikistan for alleged ties to Hizb-ut-Tahir, an Islamic movement that is banned in Central Asia. 'International journalists suffer this kind of outrageous repression all too often. Our colleagues at Radio Free Europe know Urunboy as an independent-minded journalist who could be expected to cover sensitive issues with professionalism and detachment,' said Walter Isaacson, chairman of the BBG. 'His reporting on Hizb-ut-Tahrir, among other subjects, was journalism, not a crime.'" See previous post about same subject.

"Satellite TV revenues to overtake cable this year."

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 26 June 2011, Robert Briel: "Based on Digital TV Research Ltd’s forecasts for 73 countries, pay-TV revenues will climb to $173 billion (€121.9 billion) in 2016, up by $49 billion on 2006 but only up by $18 billion (12%) on 2010. The Digital TV World Revenue Forecasts report stated that on-demand revenues will increase much faster than subscription revenues, though on-demand will only reach $5.7 billion (or 3.3% of the total) by 2016. 'DTH [DBS] revenues will overtake cable TV revenues in 2011. DTH revenues will reach $86 billion in 2016, up from $71 billion in 2010. DTH will command nearly half the total revenues by 2016, up from 43% in 2006.' The US will remain DTH market leader, though its share of the total will fall from 54% in 2006 to 41% in 2016. Brazil will add the most DTH revenues ($3.1 billion) between 2010 and 2016 – more than doubling its total in the process. Cable TV will begin its slide this year, with revenues falling by $7 billion between 2010 and 2016 to $69 billion. ... IPTV revenues will climb to $17 billion in 2016, up from $6 billion in 2010 and less than $1 billion in 2006. The US will remain the largest IPTV revenue earner by taking a quarter of the 2016 total (down from a third in 2010)."

BBG and BBC execs meet -- and, no, the protective gear is not in case disgruntled employees fling overripe fruit.

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors Highlights, 27 June 2011: "BBG Governor Dennis Mulhaupt met with senior BBC officials in London on June 9 and toured BBC's historic Broadcasting House facility, which is undergoing massive reconstruction and expansion. ... Governor Mulhaupt met with Peter Horrocks, director of BBC's Global News Division, who directs the BBC's international news services on radio, television and new media. They discussed ways to further cooperation between the BBG and BBC and other members of the so-called DG ('Directors General') 5. The DG5 also includes Germany's Deutsche Welle, France's Audiovisual Exterieur de la France (AEF), and Holland's Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW)."

Dutch parliament delays until Thursday vote to reduce Radio Netherlands to a GNGO.

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 28 June 2011, Andy Sennitt: "The Dutch parliament was due to vote today on three motions affecting RNW that were submitted during yesterday’s debate on public broadcasting. The government opposes all three motions, the most significant one being from Martijn van Dam of the PvdA (the Dutch Labour Party). In the motion he denounces the abrupt manner of the proposed cuts to RNW’s budget and suggests that 'no irreversible decisions' be taken until there has been a further debate on the future of RNW after the summer recess. This morning, the parliamentary clerk informed RNW that the vote will now take place on Thursday, rather than today. The reason(s) for the delay are not clear. More information as we get it."

Critical Distance Weblog, 27 June 2011, Jonathan Marks: "The Netherlands Minister for Culture, Marja van Bijsterveldt-Vliegenthart, stuck to the line in her media letter to the Dutch parliament of 10 days ago. In it she proposes that BVN (the Duitch language satellite TV service) and the broadcast services to Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba, Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten will be retained. But they will be taken out of the Radio Netherlands portfolio and put somewhere in the Netherlands Public broadcasting system. Their funding is not in question. Radio Netherlands as an independent foundation will be taken out of Dutch media law, and its budget at the Ministry of Culture effectively moved from 46 million to zero as from 1st Jan 2013. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last Friday that it will continue one task of the Wereldomroep (stimulating free speech in countries without free media) for which it has found 8 million Euro from foreign affairs and 6 million from the overseas development aid budget. I'm guessing they will turn what's left into an NGO, since I didn't hear anyone say the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wants to run a broadcasting outfit." -- NGO? Or GNGO (governmental non-governmental organization)?

VOA International Edition, 28 June 2011, Doug Bernard interviews Jonathan Marks, former chief editor at RNW. With audio: interview at the end of the 30-minute program.

Radio Netherlands, 27 June 2011: "Prior to Monday's parliamentary debate on public broadcasting, the RNW Action Committee handed in several petitions to the House. More than 11,000 people have signed a petition to preserve the Dutch service. Among the international petitions are 7,000 signatures from listeners who depend on programmes in one of the other nine languages in which RNW broadcasts??. There are also petitions from former ambassadors, as well as business and journalism organizations." With video.

See previous post about same subject.

Plaudits in Ghana for BBC World Service Trust radio drama with USAID funding.

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Guide, 25 June 2011: "Weekends can be very stressful especially if you are an urban dweller who works during the week and has social responsibilities as well. The task of combining all the social responsibilities that compete for our time over the weekends, as well as relaxing, isn't an easy one. It's for this reason that Hitz 103.7 FM, Ghana's premier entertainment station, has introduced 'Story Story', the popular BBC's drama series, for the pleasure and relaxation of the station's listeners on Sundays. 'Story Story' is aired every Sunday from 2 to 2:30 pm. The series discusses social issues in a humorous manner, looking at a transport union's elections and the issues surrounding such elections. There are also other sub plots and character stories that will keep listeners glued to their sets."

BBC World Service, 22 June 2011: "Set in a Nigerian market place, this is the story of everyday folk as they struggle to survive and thrive in their employment, education and their emotional lives in one of the continent's most populous nations. Story Story is currently off-air."

Story Story is (or was) a project of MESSAGE, "acronym from 'Media Support for Strengthening Advocacy, Good Governance and Empowerment', a project implemented by the BBC World Service Trust (BBCWST) and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria." See specifically the Story Story web page, which offers ring tones.

Obit: Norair Pahlavouni (1924-2011), VOA Armenian broadcaster (1982-2003).

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 24 June 2011: "Community leader, political activist, intellectual, writer, editor, and broadcaster Norair Pahlavouni, the third of his parents’ four children, was born in Samarkand, Turkestan on Jan. 27, 1924, where his father, Yeghishe Pahlavouni, had taken refuge to avoid the relentless persecutions of the notorious Soviet state security organization Cheka. ... In 1982, he was invited to join the editorial staff of the Voice of America, Armenian section, as editor and broadcaster, a position which he held until his retirement in 2003."

Seattle Times reports alleged terrorist plotter left comment at VOA website.

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Seattle Times, 25 June 2011, Hal Bernton, Mike Carter and Steve Miletich: "Federal officials last week arrested ... Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif [of SeaTac, Washington], as they once again unraveled an alleged plot developed not in some distant al-Qaida haven but by what appear to be homegrown radicals embracing a militant Islamic doctrine. ...'Sacrifice is necessary in order to achieve success in anything in life, and sometimes it requires us to die,' said Abdul-Latif in a website comment he left on Voice of America about the death of bin Laden."

Seattle Times, 24 June 2011: "Less than a week ago, he left a comment on a Voice of America story posted on the Web that featured various reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden." -- I can't find the comment at And how do the reporters know the comment was actually posted by himself?

Space Weather Prediction Center discontinues its plans to discontinue Geo-Alert broadcasts on WWV and WWVH.

Posted: 28 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, undated but recent: "SWPC is no longer planning to discontinue the broadcast of its synoptic Geo-Alert products on the WWV and WWVH radio stations. SWPC plans to continue this service for the foreseeable future. Additionally, updates to the content of this product are underway as a result of the feedback process." See also, though from this page, see if you can find information about WWV and WWVH, especially about the frequencies.

WWV (Colorado) and WWVH (Hawaii) serve as frequency standards (2.5, 5, 10, 15, and 20 MHz), provide exact time, and offer other services. See also this page, explaining that "geophysical alerts provide information about the current conditions for long distance HF [shortwave] radio communications."

"The White House finally ended its boycott of VOA," she writes.

Posted: 27 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, 24 June 2011, Helle Dale: "The White House finally ended its boycott of Voice of America (VOA), the government’s own international broadcasting service, on Wednesday, hours before the President’s speech on U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Though every President since VOA’s creation in 1942 had appeared on air with VOA, Barack Obama had not; Obama preferred to reach the world via BBC World Service, Al-Arabaya, and others. Given the fact that the Administration has requested $767 million for international broadcasting, this omission was odd, to say the least. Not only that, but at White House briefings and especially prime time presidential news, VOA has been actually barred from asking any questions. Has the Obama Administration shunned VOA as a hold-over from the days of the Cold War? ... Though the merit of the President’s decision can certainly be debated, it would be encouraging if the White House finally realized that it has a strategic asset in U.S. international broadcasting, which it will have to rely on increasingly if and when it starts withdrawing from Afghanistan." -- Most presidents have not been interviewed by VOA. All, since FDR, have "appeared on air with VOA," mostly through speeches or speech excerpts. By that definition, Barack Obama has "appeared on" VOA since his inauguration day. When a president considers USIB to be a "strategic asset," USIB is screwed. How can a "strategic asset" provide a comprehensive, reliable, and independent news service, which is the main reason for the audience to tune in? See previous post about same subject.

At DW Global Media Forum, BBG executive director discusses internet blocking and shortwave/satellite jamming.

Posted: 26 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum, 20 June 2011, Jeff Trimble, Broadcasting Board of Governors executive director: "[W]e as journalists have to be able to deliver our product, or none of what we do can make a difference. The basis for this of course is Article 19 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration, which enshrines the right to receive information regardless of borders. We must stake out a united front to hold governments and other groups to this commitment. We must continue to protest controlled access to the Internet or interference with access to content through blockage of web sites. Specifically, we must continue -- as the DG 5 broadcasters [BBG, Deutsche Welle, BBC Global News, Audiovisuel Extérieur de France, and Radio Netherlands] have done – to protest in any way that we can the jamming of radio and, more recently, satellite television, which Iran in particular continues to do regularly, in flagrant contravention of international law. We must also combat internet censorship by countries such as China and Iran – U.S. international broadcasting has just received $10 million from the U.S. congress to expand our efforts in this area, and we are eager to work with our international colleagues to do all we can to further internet freedom.", 25 June 2011, Obang Metho, addressing Deustche Welle Global Media Forum: "[T]here is less Internet penetration in Ethiopia (0.5%) than nearly anywhere else in the world other than in Burma and Cuba. Internet sites are blocked and there is no independent media. The only media are either government-controlled or must severely censor themselves. This includes the lack of independent newspapers, radio stations, and television stations. The only ones which are independent are broadcast from outside the country like Deutsche Welle and Voice of America; both which are continually being jammed. In light of this tightly-controlled repression of information, the media is more needed now than ever; not only within the country, but also on the outside as foreign-based media are needed to expose the truth to the outside world."

Channel News Asia "gets under the skin of" Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore -- in 3D.

Posted: 26 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, 21 June 2011: "Singapore's regional broadcaster, Channel NewsAsia, today launched a 3D documentary produced in Singapore for television at Asia's largest broadcast technology trade fair, BroadcastAsia 2011. Called ‘24 Hour Asia', it's a co-production between Channel NewsAsia and InFocus Asia, and is only the second made-in-Singapore 3D documentary for television. ... The one-hour programme gets under the skin of three cities in Asia - Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore. The programme showcases a day in the life of each city, capturing the unique tapestry of Asia's dynamism and revealing each city's secrets within 24 hours."

BBG trip to Africa yields South Sudan rebroadcasting agreements for VOA and MBN.

Posted: 26 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 24 June 2011: "Today in Juba, South Sudan, the Broadcasting Board of Governors reached an historic agreement with the new nation on a wide range of activities to advance media development. Three Board members, Michael Meehan, Dana Perino, and Susan McCue, established a broad agreement on new FM licenses, affiliate access, journalism training and technical support. ... The Ministry of Information pledged to grant licenses for FM broadcasting for Voice of America (VOA) and other BBG broadcasting including Arabic-language programs from the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). In addition, the BBG will have access to government-run FM stations as radio affiliates. The BBG agreed to provide technical assistance and journalism training as well as evaluate the avenues for broadcasting in additional languages." -- MBN is the parent entity of Radio Sawa and Alhurra TV. See previous post and

GSA schedule consultancy Winvale adds yet another layer of bureaucracy to the USIB audience research process.

Posted: 26 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
PRWeb, 24 June 2011: "Winvale, a leading GSA Schedule consultancy and government contractor, announced last week that its client InterMedia has been awarded a GSA Schedule contract effective June 8th 2011. The contract allows InterMedia, a leading research-based consultancy active worldwide, to offer its cutting-edge research products and services to the federal government more quickly and more efficiently. ... InterMedia has already been working with a variety of federal government clients since its founding in 1996. Major clients include the Department of State, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Department of Defense. InterMedia is a member of ESOMAR, the premier industry organization for global research, and adheres to ESOMAR’s strict quality standards. ... Establishing a GSA Schedule Contract requires a solid understanding and in-depth knowledge of government contracts and regulations. With the guidance and support of Winvale, InterMedia was awarded their GSA Schedule Contract in record time with terms, conditions and discounts that will help the company achieve success in growing its government business." -- Things were easier when InterMedia was its predecessor, the RFE/RL Office of Research. InterMedia exists mainly now to serve the various entities of US international broadcasting. If US international broadcasting were to be consolidated, it could have its own in-house audience research office, as does BBC Global News. No further need for Intermedia, nor for Winvale.

With some help from Jay Leno, CNBC Africa has 300,000 unique weekly viewers in South Africa.

Posted: 26 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
NewsTime (Johannesburg), 24 June 2011: "Statistics released by Telmar this week show that CNBC Africa reached 300000 unique weekly viewers between 6 and 12 June 2011. This represents the highest viewership for any dedicated local or international business news channel in the country [South Afica]. The channel’s content is also setting the pace in the online video download space through ABN Digital, where more than one million videos have been downloaded by business news consumers. With CNBC Africa available on all six DStv Bouquets, the channel has netted a wider audience – not to mention the corporate packages in hotels, airports and other out-of-home centres where it is also freely available. Quinton Scholes, the channel’s Head of Sales, says while this is a contributing factor to the high number of viewers compared to other channels, it’s the unique content mix of the channel which is attracting viewers. 'The return of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is certainly one of the key factors to the spike in figures this year', says Scholes. ... Although the viewership figures only reflect audiences in South Africa, CNBC Africa’s viewing in the rest of Africa is expanding rapidly, particularly in West Africa. The channel remains the most widely distributed channel on the continent, reaching 50 countries and territories across Sub Saharan Africa. The social media space is also proof of the channel’s growing audience with the official CNBC Africa twitter page reaching almost 3000 followers. CNBC Africa is distributed via DStv Channel 410 and channel content is also available on terrestrial networks such as NTA in Nigeria." -- Unlike CNBC Europe, Asia, etc., CNBC Africa is not owned by NBC, but has a license to the CNBC name and to some CNBC and NBC programming.

Not-so-great moments in international broadcasting: Mexican stereotyping complaint against Top Gear upheld by BBC.

Posted: 26 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 24 June 2011, Josh Halliday: "The BBC has upheld complaints against Top Gear over Richard Hammond's comments that Mexicans are 'lazy, feckless [and] flatulent'. A ruling by the BBC's editorial complaints unit found that while the remarks were meant to be humorous, they gave 'the impression of reinforcing, rather than ridiculing, the stereotype'. The ECU received complaints from 11 viewers and the Mexican section of the Latin American Studies Association about the comments, made during an edition of Top Gear broadcast on BBC2 on 30 January. ... However, Top Gear was cleared of breaching Ofcom's broadcasting code, with the media regulator ruling that the Mexican comments had the potential to be 'very offensive' but were justified by the programme's 'irreverent style and sometimes outspoken humour'. ... [Hosts] Hammond, Clarkson and May's comments were later cut before the show was screened in the US." See also BBC Complaints, 2 June 2011.

Living Green joins the VOA family of blogs.

Posted: 26 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 24 June 2011, Rebecca Ward, @VOARebecca: "May I take a moment to shamelessly plug my new blog?"

The Living Green blog does not indicate that Rebecca is the host. Nor do any VOA blog posts list the author -- helpful if a blog has more than one contributor. Another VOA blog, Digital Frontiers, is also "anonymous" (Doug Bernard is the host). Other VOA blogs do specify the host, e.g. Science World (Rick Pantaleo). A list of all VOA blogs is at

Al Jazeera English exec on reports of selective coverage: "do a content analysis."

Posted: 26 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 24 June 2011, Jonathan Gornall: Salah Negm, Al Jazeera's head of English news content "thinks 'this is a little bit of hypocrisy to talk about Al Jazeera and independence because it is government-owned, while the BBC, Radio Netherlands, Voice of America, all of them are owned by the state ... and the level of independence varies between all these stations.' He denies point blank that his news agenda has ever been influenced by pressure from above, or that the station has exercised self-censorship. As for going easy on Bahrain: 'I don't know how they get this conclusion ... if you want to have such conclusions you should do a content analysis. Give me figures. These are impressions.'"

Using a Chinese cell phone in North Korea could cost you the equivalent of a half ton of rice.

Posted: 25 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
North Korea Tech, 26 June 2011, Martyn Williams, citing AsiaPress (with links): "AsiaPress has detailed the fines North Koreans face if they get caught using Chinese mobile phones. The use of such phones is prohibited in North Korea, but some citizens secretly use them to make uncensored calls to contacts in China, South Korea and other countries. Among them are a handful of North Korean 'citizen reporters' that feed information to AsiaPress. The agency says a fine of 1 million North Korean won is levied on anyone caught calling South Korea. The fine for a phone call to China is between 400,000 won and 600,000 won, it reported. Additionally, violators face up to a week in custody. A second article by AsiaPress puts the real exchange rate at about 2,540 NK won to US$1 so the fine to call South Korea is around US$393. To put that a little more in context, the price of a kilogram of rice is about 2,000 won. That makes the fine for calling South Korea equivalent to the price of about half a ton of rice. Use of Chinese mobile phones is possible in a region from the border to several kilometers inside North Korea. Authorities patrol the area with detector vans and attempt to locate people making secret calls."

Mixed use facilities: China Radio International plans 8 regional bureaus to gather news and promote Chinese culture.

Posted: 25 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 22 June 2011: "Founded on December3, 1941, China Radio International is a national radio network in China that broadcasts around the world. It is also an international media organization that uses the most languages in its coverage of both national and international affairs. Its daily accumulated radio programs have amounted to over 1,500 hours. To better cover news events taking place abroad, CRI began to establish overseas correspondent bureaus in 1980. The first two were set up in Tokyo and Belgrade. So far, CRI has founded 32 overseas bureaus all over the world and dispatched over 400 correspondents throughout the years. ... CRI also plans to build eight overseas regional bureaus in Europe, America, Oceania, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These regional bureaus are CRI’s representative organizations in the respective continents and regions. They are responsible for management and coordination of CRI’s overseas correspondents, and takes charge of news gathering, program making and distribution, international communication, and promotion of Chinese language and culture."

Moneyweb, 23 June 2011, Jackie Cameron: "The Chinese state's primary English language mouthpiece, the China Daily newspaper, is set to launch an Africa edition across the continent soon to add to its China, European and US versions . This move will complement other efforts in recent years to expand the Chinese government's network of information gatherers and disseminators across the continent. The focus on African hearts and minds also includes a media strategy in which it aims to increase China's share of voice across the international radio airwaves in Africa - China Radio International has a radio station in Nairobi, Kenya and has shows in English, Swahili and Mandarin. Confucius Institutes, that promote Chinese culture and language, are mushrooming on the continent."

Proposed 70% budget cut for Radio Netherlands awaits vote Monday by Dutch parliament.

Posted: 25 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 24 June 2011: "The budget for Dutch world service radio is to be slashed from €46m this year to just €14m, foreign affairs minister Uri Rosenthal said after the weekly Friday cabinet meeting. In addition, responsibility for RNW is being shifted from the culture ministry to the foreign office, and €6m of its funding will come from the development aid budget, Rosenthal said. The focus of RNW's activities will shift from informing Dutch citizens abroad and presenting a 'realistic image' of the Netherlands to providing independent information in countries without a free press. Earlier this month, RNW attempted to head off far-reaching cuts by publishing its own reform plans based on a 25% budget reduction."

Radio Netherlands, 24 June 2011: "RNW presently broadcasts in ten different languages. Multiple language services face closure. Last week’s cabinet statement was vague: 'To increase cost-effectiveness, there will be fewer and smaller-staffed language desks.' Listeners in Africa, Asia, South America and an island in the Pacific Ocean who tune in through short wave will no longer receive RNW. All short wave broadcasting will cease, a move affecting people at sea or anyone who doesn’t have access to internet or satellite. All Dutch-language radio programming will stop. Several service websites for Dutch people abroad, including military personnel, sea-faring crews and diplomats are to be scrapped. ... On Monday 27 June, parliament will vote on the cabinet’s proposed public broadcasting cuts. Radio Netherlands Worldwide will listen with bated breath to see what kind of future is in store."

Radio Netherlands, 24 June 2011: "General Director Jan Hoek and Editor-in-Chief Rik Rensen say the cutback is unprecedented: 'In today's international world, each self-respecting country has to live up to its responsibilities. The Education and Culture Ministry (OCW) is making it impossible for us to do this. Without any preliminary research, nor any consultations, a decision has been taken that will leave a global audience of millions out in the cold, and will cost 250 jobs. ... On 7 June Radio Netherlands Worldwide indicated it was prepared to deliver a proportional amount of the planned government economies in public broadcasting, that proportion being 22 percent of its budget and a loss of 100 jobs. General Director Jan Hoek said, 'We put forward a plan outlining our new direction to the Education and Culture Ministry, but they never even responded. It is unbelievably slapdash of the minister to take such far-reaching decisions without any consultation.'"

Radio Netherlands, 24 June 2011: "Messages of support are pouring in from all corners of the world. We hear from a number of prominent citizens of the world." With examples.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 24 June 2011, Andy Sennitt: "On Monday 27 June Radio Netherlands Worldwide will have a six-hour live radio broadcast in Dutch from The Hague. From a studio at the entrance to the Dutch parliament, all ten language departments of RNW will be represented in a special programme reporting on the parliamentary debate about the government’s cost-saving proposals for public broadcasting, including the decision to slash RNW’s budget. Personalities from politics, media and the cultural world will also be taking part in a live debate about the value of RNW. On this day only, RNW will be broadcasting continuously on mediumwave 1296 kHz via the high power transmitter at Orfordness [England, but audible in the Netherlands] between 0600 and 1200 UTC. In addition, the broadcast will be available online via our Dutch website, via satellite and partly also on shortwave according to the regular schedule. The show will include interactive audience response via SMS, email and telephone. During the broadcast our Dutch Facebook page, Twitter account and website will be reporting on the debate in the House as well as the discussion in the radio studio."

See previous post about same subject.

RT (Russia Today) launches RTД, its new documentary channel.

Posted: 24 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 23 June 2011, Robert Briel: "Russia Today is launching RTDoc [RTД], a TV channel featuring documentaries about Russia, broadcasting 24/7 in English, and available as a free-to-air channel on Eutelsat Hot Bird. The bulk of RTDoc programming will consist of documentaries about Russia, produced in-house by RT, among them films that have won international prizes such as Media Excellence and New York Festivals Awards. ... The new channel will feature a documentary series on Russian cities (Discovering Russia), customs and traditions of the peoples of Russia (Faces of Russia), science and technology (Technology Update) as well as a series on the environment (Meeting with Nature). Historical Faces explores the history of Russia and Culture Fair will broadcast films on culture, art and fashion. Inter-program section will diversify the content. A Little Bit of Russian will help English speaking viewers learn the basics of the Russian language. RT correspondents, editors and presenters will play the role of teachers."

RT website, "About" page: "RT’s launching a new project – an English language documentary channel about Russia. The project team worked for over five years making documentaries about the world’s largest country and taking viewers to its farthermost and little-known corners. Today, they are ready to present all of their findings. RT’s new channel will feature RT-made unique documentaries which received high appraisal from industry’s professionals, were distinguished by Media Excellence Awards, and won a New York Festivals prize. Discovering Russia will offer a tour of Russia’s most beautiful and interesting cities and towns. Meeting with Nature will take viewers to Russia’s unique nature reserves. Technology Update will report on advancement in science and technologies. Faces of Russia will introduce the audience to culture, arts and crafts of Russia’s ethnic minorities. Culture Fair will report on culture, arts and fashion, while history fans will learn a lot about Russian history from the Historical Files series." The home page for RTD is, with links to live (On Air) and on-demand video. See also YouTube, 23 June 2011.

Thanks to the news tip from Sergey in Moscow, who wrote on 23 June: "For now it's only on Hotbird with no North America coverage. But you can watch it online at President Medvedev participated in the ceremony of RTД's launch today. It sounds like RTД will be more like a cultural VoA as opposed to RT being more like old VoA News and RT-America functioning as a surrogate broadcaster similar to RL/RFE."

-- No mention of, or link to, RTД from the RT home page -- unless I just can't find it. In any case, documentaries have traditionally been the best part of the original RT, and what I have seen so far of RTД looks very good.

Cal State San Bernardino domestically disseminates VOA as teaching aid in Persian language classes.

Posted: 24 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, L.A. Times blog, 22 June 2011, Carla Rivera: "Cal State San Bernardino has received a $195,000 federal grant to teach Persian, the national language of Iran, which is also widely spoken in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and other Central Asian counties that have become critical to U.S. business and security interests. ... The Persian program will emphasize current affairs, with students listening to Persian broadcasts of the BBC and Voice of America, analyzing newspaper headlines, viewing Persian-language movies and taking field trips to cultural venues in Southern California’s large Iranian American community, where Los Angeles is frequently referred to as 'Tehrangeles.'"

Comcast in New Jersey offering 25 new international channels -- but no Al Jazeera.

Posted: 24 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Jersey Journal, 20 June 2011, Rhea Mahbubani: "Starting this week, Comcast will be offering its cable customers 25 new international channels. With the introduction of channels such as Channel One Russia, STAR India NEWS, the Israeli Network and Deutsche Welle, customers will be able to access a wider selection of news, movies, music and popular entertainment shows, Comcast officials said. 'We of course want to offer programming that on one hand has a wide appeal, and on the other, satisfies the interests of select groups of customers,' said Jeff Alexander, a company spokesman. 'Across our region, we had heard from customers who were interested in more international choices.' ... Pricing starts at about $10 a month for the additional channels, officials said." -- But apparently no Al Jazeera, in English or Arabic, despite reports that the Qatar-based broadcaster had been in talks with Comcast. See the list of Comcast international offerings.

"Russia’s voice comes from Washington" (updated again).

Posted: 24 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 10 June 2011: "This Thursday saw a presentation of the Voice of Russia Radio Station’s new project in Washington, DC. Voice of Russia is launching its broadcast in the United States, airing two daily shows from its brand new state-of-the-art studio in downtown Washington, just steps away from the White House. ... The most recent news, in-depth analysis and vast variety of opinions and professional assessments from Russian, U.S. and international experts are brought to the American audience in New York City and Washington, DC on 1430 AM and 1390 AM respectively. AM is one the most popular formats of broadcast in the USA. It is usually received in good quality both by home and car radios. ... The Voice of Russia’s branch in Washington will be headed by Dmitry Gornostaev, who has plans of creating a network of journalists all over America. Our team of young, but professionally matured broadcast journalists will help you get a broader vision of international news, as well as U.S. national and local events during every morning and evening rush hour. We wake you up at dawn with all the important news from our 6-9 a.m. morning edition, and guide you down the road back home from 4 p.m. till 7 p.m." --Listen to this mp3 of the first minute of the morning program as heard here in northern Virginia on 1390 kHz AM. (Reception is good, partly because my house is just a few blocks from the transmitter.)

Radio World, 10 June 2011, Paul McLane: "Voice of Russia, descendant of Radio Moscow, is now originating content for U.S. listeners from studios in Washington, a development that in the Cold War days might have been considered far-fetched. ... VoR is the successor to Radio Moscow and is funded by that country’s government. It came into being after the fall of the Soviet Union and is owned by All-Russia State Television and Radio Co., the state-run national broadcasting company."

Voice of Russia, 10 June 2011, Jessica Jordan interviewing Rüdiger Lenz, former Bureau Chief of Deutsche Welle: "[F]rom the very beginning [Voice of Russia from Washington] needs to be a credible station, it needs to tell the truth, needs to try to be objective, and needs to hit the perception of the people, the aspirations of the American people to get additional information about Russia. There is certainly a market out there, there is certainly a niche out there. How big it is – nobody knows at the moment."

Voice of Russia, 11 June 2011, Frolova Inessa: "Without a doubt, a mere Voice of Russia presence on US radio waves does not guarantee immediate interest and trust from American listeners – this needs to be earned."

Top Secret Writers, June 16 2011, Ryan Dube: "Normally, I’d be pretty excited about any new radio station being established in the Washington DC area, a place where some of the most powerful and influential policy-makers in the United States live and conduct business. However, I’m a little bit leery about the establishment of a new radio station in DC called the 'Voice of Russia' that claims to deliver, 'Russian news and perspectives to Americans.' ... The good news is that the station doesn’t appear to be set up primarily as a propaganda machine in the U.S., however listeners should be careful about any significant anti-American claims made on the station without any solid supporting evidence."

Update: Huffington Post, 22 June 2011, Andrei Bystritsky, chairman of Voice of Russia: "Our opposing perspectives and interests have matured over time into mutual respect for differences based on geopolitical interests rather than ideologies, similar to that of the U.S. and France, where two partners come to the table with different perspectives and with an understanding of historical and cultural differences. Our panel discussion did not gloss over the fact that our two countries have different cultural and political approaches. However, our focus was on how best to present the Russian perspective to an American audience and hopefully to reach a large audience through online streaming options. The goal of the discussion was not to persuade as much as to provide context for understanding the audience."

France 24 (French version) now available in Brazil via Tim TV mobile TV service.

Posted: 24 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 23 June 2011: "International news channel France 24 has extended its presence in Latin American through a distribution deal with a Brazilian mobile operator. France 24 is already available free-to-air in South America on Intelsat 9 and CablePlus in Uruguay. It has now signed up with Tim Brasil to make the French version of its channel available via the operator's new Tim TV service, which currently has 300,000 subscribers."

Money from Foreign Office and within World Service sustains BBC Hindi shortwave and BBC Arabic (updated).

Posted: 24 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Trust press release, 22 June 2011: "The BBC Trust has today welcomed the Foreign Secretary's announcement that an additional £2.2m per year will be provided to the BBC World Service over the next three years. Separately, the BBC Trust has approved the reallocation of £9m of existing World Service funding to editorial investment over three years, to mitigate the impact of recent funding cuts, following lower-than-expected restructuring costs and pension contributions. Together, this additional funding will help provide support to some priority frontline services, including sustaining the Hindi short wave service, the Somali service and services for the Arab world. It will also allow a small amount of investment in new activities, in particular on new platforms and in emerging markets."

BBC News, 22 June 2011, quoting BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten: "I am delighted that we have been able to work with the Foreign Secretary to direct some more funding to these services. The additional money will help protect BBC services in the areas where they are most valued and needed. However, it does not mean that we will be able to restore all of what has been lost, and there will still need to be some cuts to the World Service as we have known it. We are determined that, when we take full responsibility for funding of the World Service after 2014, it will have the priority it deserves."

The Guardian, 22 June 2011, Jason Deans: "This slightly reduces the impact of a controversial 16% cut in the World Service's FCO grant, announced as part of the government's comprehensive spending review in October. The controversial World Service cuts have prompted sniping between the government and the BBC, with each blaming the other. However, in recent weeks the new BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten, has been lobbying Hague about reducing the impact of the cuts on the World Service's Arabic, Somali and Hindi broadcasts. ... However, wide-ranging cuts will still be implemented, with five language services – Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa, Serbian, and English for the Caribbean – due to close. In other areas, World Service radio broadcasts in languages including Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Turkish and Vietnamese will cease, with output switching to a mix of online, mobile and in some cases TV distribution.", 22 June 2011, Rachel McAthy: "The National Union of Journalists, which has criticised the level of cuts facing services and staff as a result of the funding reductions, said the additional funding was 'an opportunity to undo some of the damage'. 'It is vital that money to be made available is now used to restore confidence in the BBC World Service as a world-class public service broadcaster,' NUJ broadcasting organiser Sue Harris said in a statement. 'It must be used to ameliorate the impact of the cuts programme rather than ploughed into new ventures'. She added that it is hoped that the BBC will consult fully with trade unions before any further developments occur."

Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 22 June 2011, William Hague's written ministerial statement: "My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Development has recently stated that his Department is discussing placing its relationship with the BBC World Service Trust on a longer term and more strategic footing. Any support to the World Service Trust provided by the Department for International Development (DFID) will be classed as Official Development Assistance (ODA) in line with the internationally agreed standard laid down by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). I believe that a proportion of the activities carried out by the World Service itself may also be eligible to be classified as ODA. The FCO is working with DFID to agree that any future ODA spend reported by the World Service is fully consistent with the OECD definition." See also FCO press release, 22 June 2011.

The Guardian, Organ Grinder blog, 20 June 2011, Dan Sabbagh: BBC Trust chiarman Lord Patten "seems keen to argue that the World Service should be a priority, broadcasting for foreigners funded by licence fee payers in council estates. Of course, he doesn't quite put it like that: he wants William Hague to give a bit more Foreign Office grant in the short term, so that when the World Service is funded by the licence fee from 2015 it comes in that bit more expensive, requiring a few more savings. Perhaps the service is worth it, but, frankly, it would be much more attractive, if the BBC wants to preserve its Hindi radio service (one of those highlighted by Patten for salvation), for it to do so by finding a commercial solution through BBC Worldwide. India, after all, is a fast developing economy, and it would beat spending licence fee payers' money on the service."

Update: Voice of Russia, 23 June 2011, Sergei Sayenko: "Evidently, the coalition government of David Cameron needs the BBC’s propaganda support in the Arab world, where the Corporation has a TV and radio audience of more than 20 million people. The Arabic Service is a powerful tool for shaping the minds of the people of North Africa and the Middle East in a way that meets London’s needs. And it remains to be seen which is more effective in, say, Libya: the NATO bombings of Muammar Gaddafi troops or a weighty Arabic word across the radio waves."

Press TV, 22 June 2011, Roshan Muhammed Salih: "[C]ritics say that Britain's influence is slipping in the region with the downfall of several dictators that it used to back. They argue that the BBC is a vital part of the UK's so-called 'soft power' strategy in the Arab world." With video report.

The Spectator, Coffee House blog, 22 June 2011, David Blackburn: "Opposition to cuts to the World Service budget came from across the House; but it originated from Tory backbenchers, who were very confident that they would secure a concession. The subsequent climb down suggests that Downing Street is prepared to consult with and act upon the wishes of the often recalcitrant Right. Away from Westminster, the decision to preserve the Arabic service specifically is clearly a response to al-Jazeera’s dominant coverage of the Arab Spring, which has come at the World Service’s expense."

CBC News, 22 June 2011: "The Arab Spring happened just a few months later and British MPs of all political stripes questioned the cuts, in light of apparent evidence the World Service was having an impact. Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service, welcomed the announcement that funding for the Arabic service would be maintained at its current level." See also BBC News, 22 June 2011, video interview with Peter Horrocks.

New Chinese TV satellite is said to be able to deter jamming attacks.

Posted: 23 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 19 June 2011, Rui C. Barbosa: "China has launched the ZX-10 ZhongXing-10 – also designated ChinaSat-10, Sinosat-5 or Xinnuo-5 – domestic communications satellite on Monday (16:13 UTC) from the Xi Chang Satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province. The launch was conducted by China’s Long March 3B (CZ-3B/E Chang Zheng-3B/E) launch vehicle. The new satellite – which will be positioned at 110.5 degrees East – was manufactured by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), after being ordered in 2006. The launch was announced well in advance by the Chinese media, given the mission is civilian, unlike a large amount of Chinese launches. ... The satellite is equipped with 30 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders (provided by Thales Alenia Space), three receiver antennas, and two transmission antennas. The DFH-4 can support the transmission of 150-200 TV programs simultaneously to ground users using a 0.45m antenna device. Strangely, Chinese media reported the DFH-4 satellite can also deter 'telecommunication disturbances' – such as hostile jamming attacks." -- Not so strange. In the past, China has accused the Falun Gong movement of jamming or replacing content on Chinese broadcast satellites.

Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association press release, 16 June 2011: "The Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA) has demanded that China put an end to its complicity in jamming the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and other reputable broadcasters such as the Voice of America and Deutsche Welle Amharic Services. ESAT, which recently resumed transmissions to Ethiopia after nearly two months of interruption, drew the attention of the EFJA to the fact that the People's Republic of China has been providing technology, training and technical assistance to the regime in Ethiopia to enable it to jam ESAT's transmissions to Ethiopia. After investigating the matter, EFJA has confirmed the veracity of the allegations from many credible sources inside and outside of Ethiopia."

House committee report says some Pentagon information operations are "duplicative of" activities by State and other agencies.

Posted: 23 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 22 June 2011, Walter Pincus: "Congress is slowly but surely trying to get the Pentagon to cut back on its overseas information operations, most of which end up being done by contractors. The latest hint has come from the House Appropriations Committee, which has sliced about $125 million from the $300 million that was being sought in the fiscal 2012 Defense Appropriations Bill for what is now known as Military Information Support Operations (MISO). ... 'The Committee remains concerned that many of the activities being conducted under the guise of ‘information operations’ or ‘military information support operations’ do not represent traditional or appropriate military roles or responsibilities,' the panel wrote in a report. 'Many of the activities being funded under information operations are duplicative of, or operate at cross purposes with, other federal agencies’ activities, particularly the Department of State.' Exactly how the remaining funds are to be used under the House committee’s plan remains classified. While the administration requested that the $300 million be used for both base and overseas funding, the panel said in its report that the entire amount is to be used in overseas operations."

Radios Farda, Sawa, and Free Asia win medals at the New York Festivals.

Posted: 23 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 21 June 2011: "RFE's Persian Service, Radio Farda, has won two silver medals from the 2011 New York Festivals Radio Program & Promotion Awards, an annual competition recognizing excellence in international broadcasting. 'Pas Farda,' the station's signature satire show, won in the categories for "Best Regularly Scheduled Talk Program" and 'Best Announcer Presentation.' Host Farshid Manafi is the first Iranian radio personality to win an award in these categories. Airing five nights per week in Iran, Manafi -- who is officially banned from the Iranian airwaves -- uses his show to skewer political and social mores inside Iran, providing a breath of fresh air in a media climate devoid of critical voices. Despite frequent jamming by Iranian authorities, the show is immensely popular and can generate hundreds of phone calls and comments with each broadcast."

Radio Free Asia press release, 21 June 2011 (pdf): "Radio Free Asia (RFA) Korean service broadcaster John Hyun-Ki Lee won a gold medal and RFA Mandarin service broadcasters Zhang Min and April Wang were named finalists at this year’s New York Festivals (NYF)."

MBN Inc press release, 21 June 2011: "Radio Sawa’s program Sawa Magazine was named a finalist for the New York Festivals® International Radio Program and Promotion Awards for its insightful report on a movement that is effectively using the Internet as a platform to raise awareness about oppression of women."

Among the 200-or-so other winners listed at the New York Festivals website are programs of international broadcasters BBC Afghan Education Projects, BBC World Service, Radio Sawa, Radio Farda, Radio Free Asia, Radio Netherlands, and Deutsche Welle. Each winner is eligible to order a certificate for $89, an embedded world medal for $215, or an art deco radio trophy for $469.

Visit by three BBG members to three African countries has its own Tumblr and Twitter accounts.

Posted: 23 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 21 June 2011: "Three members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Dana Perino, Susan McCue, and Michael Meehan, will visit Ethiopia, South Sudan and Nigeria to broaden the Voice of America's reach and impact in Africa. Updates, observations, and photos about the trip will be posted via Twitter (hashtag #usib) and in a weblog Board members will meet with high-ranking government officials, VOA journalists and broadcasting affiliates to address challenges and opportunities in the region. ... In Ethiopia, they will meet Ethiopian Minister of Government Communications Bereket Simon and other senior government officials as well as representatives of state and private media to seek greater market access. ... At their final stop, in Abuja, Nigeria, Governors Perino, McCue, and Meehan will join First Lady Patience Jonathan of Nigeria at a town hall meeting co-sponsored by VOA and Radio France Internationale on public health issues. The Governors will meet with Vice President Namadi Sambo and U.S. Ambassador Terence McCulley to discuss ways to capitalize on VOA’s listenership (21% of adults)." -- "Capitalize"?

Via smuggled DVDs, North Koreans can probably even view the 18 episodes of Pororo the Little Penguin banned in the USA.

Posted: 23 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily NK, 21 June 2011: "The ‘Korean Wave’ first came to North Korea, much like everything else, from China. In cities like Yanji, Dandong and Shenyang, where many Koreans reside, internet cafes have satellite TV, so many young Chinese-Koreans go there to watch South Korean TV. Illegal recordings of South Korean TV are then made into CD and DVDs, which are sold to North Korean smugglers. This was how Kim Sun Hwa started watching South Korean things, she says, 'I first experienced watching South Korean TV from an acquaintance who crosses the Chinese border often, and since then, I have even bought a DVD and VCD player from China.' ... Meanwhile, with the South Korean media growing increasingly widespread, the means of access has changed, too. In the early 2000s, tweaking a TV antenna to gain access to Chinese-Korean TV or using a Chinese DVD player was the only way to watch South Korean material. However, in 2005 DVD players became legal, and computers started being used to watch them, too. Recently, USB memory (known to North Koreans as ‘memory’) has also become widespread, helping people avoid confiscation. ... Some get access to South Korean materials through satellite TV or the short wave radio from South Korea, too. According to Kim Sun Hwa, 'I listened to Radio Free Asia in North Korea once.'" See previous post about Pororo the Little Penguin.

Wall Street Journal writer suggests Radio Free Asia "dressed up" report about Pororo the Little Penguin.

Posted: 23 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 23 June 2011: "The popular South Korean animated series 'Pororo the Little Penguin' could fall victim to new U.S. sanctions against North Korea, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday. The U.S. government announced a new set of sanctions against the North that bans not only imports of finished goods produced there but also products made using its technology. Eighteen of the 104 episodes of the 'Pororo' series, which is hugely popular among children in South Korea, were made by North Korea-based subcontractor Samcholli General Corp. between 2002 and 2005. ... The show has been sold to around 110 countries, mainly in Asia and Europe."

Wall Street Journal, Korea Realtime, June 22 2011, Evan Ramstad: "Pororo, the cartoon penguin that’s one of South Korea’s top cultural exports, is learning that being a star means being used by people. ... Radio Free Asia on Wednesday dressed up a report about a recently-published document about U.S. trade restrictions with North Korea by noting that the rules would prohibit Pororo cartoons in the U.S. The rules weren’t new, but the report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service provided background for a change announced in April to their implementation. There’s no actual sign of a Pororo ban in the U.S., but no matter. On Wednesday afternoon, South Korean TV stations were using the Radio Free Asia report to splash out images of Pororo with headlines that said he was unwelcome in the U.S. And the story was a top item on Korean Web portals and news sites. ... Perhaps the company will be forced to pull the 18 episodes that were done with help from the North Korean firm."

See also Radio Free Asia, 6 December 2006.

VOA finally gets an interview with President Obama.

Posted: 23 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
On Wednesday afternoon, President Obama recorded an interview with Voice of America correspondent Andre Denesnera. (The interview was not listed in the White House schedule.) That 12-minute interview has been embargoed until Thursday morning (US time) -- well after President Obama's speech Wednesday at 8:00 pm EDT (UTC Thursday at 0000 UTC) about the future of America's military commitment in Afghanistan . (Andre Denesnera's 2001 role in VOA's coverage of Afghanistan is summarized in History Commons.)

VOA media advisory, 22 June 2011, 2332 UTC: "President Obama discussed his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan this year and his views on talks with the Taliban in an exclusive White House interview with VOA Senior Correspondent Andre DeNesnera. In the interview, Mr. Obama also discusses the future of the NATO alliance, the cost of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and strains in ties between the United States and Pakistan. The interview will be available for viewing at 9:30 AM (13:30 UTC) Thursday. It is available for VOA's international audiences on" -- The embargo to 1330 UTC corresponds with the time of the VOA Afghan television program (Ashna TV).

VOA press release, 23 June 2011: "In his first interview with VOA, President Obama defended his decision to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan this year, saying the numbers he announced Wednesday 'strike the right balance,' and remaining U.S. troops will ensure 'Afghan security forces are able to handle the security needs of the country.' In the exclusive interview conducted before his Wednesday night announcement, Mr. Obama answered a series of questions about the plan, relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, and ways to repair ties with Pakistan. The exclusive television interview was conducted in the Map Room at the White House with Senior VOA Correspondent Andre DeNesnera.", 23 June 2011, VOA Public Relations, @VOABuzz: "#PresObama to #VOA in exclusive interview: 'We are transitioning from a position of strength.'"

RFE/RL, 23 June 2011: Video and transcript of President Obama's VOA interview. Comment to the RFE/RL item from Frank T. Csongos in Fairfax, VA: "In all my years with RFE/RL, I have never seen a VOA item featured on its newswires or, later, on its web pages. Certainly, not so prominently. Is this a new trend? Congratulations, it's a nice interview, but I think RFE/RL should have given an opportunity to conduct it. After all, RFE/RL is said to be the most popular international broadcast entity in Afghanistan." The VOA report (with video) is VOA News, 23 June 2011, André de Nesnera.

Also reported by USA Today, 23 June 2011, David Jackson ((the present USA Today reporter, and not, I think, the former VOA director), with VOA's YouTube video of the entire interview.

Syrian news agency lashes out at Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, France 24, BBC, and Alhurra.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Syrian Arab News Agency, 21 June 2011, R.Raslan and H.Said: "The instigating TV satellite channels continue their broadcast of fabricated lies and media blackout of what is really taking place in Syria, insisting on their stance biased toward those seeking to destabilize Syria ignoring the marches of millions of Syrians who went out to the streets in all the Syrian provinces to support the comprehensive reform program led by President Bashar al-Assad. Going on with their biased coverage which lacks professionality and credibility, al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya channels aired photos of those millions demonstrations taken from narrow angles as not to show the real numbers of gathered people, dimming the voice of the million chanters who voluntarily streamed into the main streets and squares of the Syrian provinces to stress their adherence to national unity under President al-Assad's leadership. While al-Jazeera blackout continues regarding pro-Syrian leadership government demonstrations, full time coverage is dedicated for alleged anti-system protests supposedly taking place in the alleys of some Syrian areas shown in shaky and blurry pictures reflecting the views of the agendas they are connected with. ... Walking the same line, France 24, BBC and al-Hurra channels insisted on relying for their news information on what they called eyewitnesses and human rights activists who never let them down in fabricating false news that serve those channels' agendas."

The Weekly Standard blog, 17 June 2011, Lee Smith: "Bashar al-Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf, or the man even the New York Times is calling Syria's 'Mr. Five Percent,' has decided to give back to the community, somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion dollars. The regime in Damascus may hope to impress Washington, which has sanctioned Makhlouf, but it's not to keep the opposition at bay. Among Makhlouf's other holdings, there's his so-called "independent" TV station, Al Dunya, which of late the regime has used to insult Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the media holdings of Arab rivals Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

France 24, 13 June 2011: "While opponents to Bachar al-Assad’s regime seem determined to pursue their all-out efforts despite violent repression, supporters of the Syrian President are stepping up their online propaganda campaign. The aim being to discredit international media and their coverage of the situation on the ground. Several short animations, made by supporters of Al Assad targeting foreign press have appeared online in recent days. Here we see a man trampling the logo of the Al Jazeera news channel, which remains stuck to the sole of his foot like a piece of discarded chewing gum. A logo which ends up in the bin, on top of those already present of the BBC and France 24, as well as photos of Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy." With video.

Syrian Arab News Agency, 15 June 2011: "It would seem that the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who expressed their rejection of the conspiracy against Syria on Wednesday failed to impress those in charge of the instigating channels, which decided to show their true colors as enemies of the Syrian people by limiting their coverage of the raising of the largest Syrian flag to a few short segments shown briefly. These channels, which had doggedly pursued and featured shaky footage and blurry images uploaded by people of unknown identities on well-known hostile sites during the past few weeks, remained unmoved by the Syrian people's voluntary expression of national stances regarding what is happening in Syria, reducing the event of raising the largest Syrian flag in al-Mazzeh Highway, an event which took place on Wednesday and lasted several hours, to a few seconds of footage or even images without any context, images that they might use later and label as protests, as they did more than once before. ... After long consideration, France 24 showed less than 20 seconds of the event many hours after it took place, while the rest of the report was dedicated to a questionable photo taken from websites. They also decided to question the identity of those who organized the event, who gave permission, and whether the law of demonstration applies to it. BBC and al-Arabiya fared no better, matching the coverage of al-Jazeera and France 24 in terms of length and style, clearly showing that they only want their audience to know what they want them to know."

Syrian ambassador in Paris files legal action against France 24 over interview with her impostor (updated).

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Syrian Arab News Agency, 17 June 2011: "The Syrian Embassy in Paris on Friday issued a Communiqué stating the following: At 19:20 exactly on 7 June, Paris Time, TV channel France 24 aired a live interview with a woman who had assumed the identity of Mrs. Lamia Chakkour, Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic in France, on English-language, French-language and Arabic channels and on its Internet site, spuriously announcing her resignation. Such a blatant case of identity theft should have attracted the attention of any conscientious and rigorous journalist. Immediately after the broadcast of this false report, Mrs. Chakkour issued a live statement from her office at the Syrian Embassy in Paris, for the attention of the French and foreign media, firmly and categorically refuting her resignation. Moreover Her Excellency told several TV channels & Radios (France 2, BFM TV, La Satellitaire Syrienne, Al Dunya, Al Jadeed, Al Arabiya, Al-Jazeera and Radio BBC, which had interviewed her live at the Embassy in Paris) that she was instituting legal proceedings against the persons behind this false report. Accordingly, on 15 June 2011, Mrs. Lamia Chakkour lodged a complaint with the State Prosecutor at the Court of First Instance in Paris, requesting a charge of indictment for the false report. Any newspaper or web sites broadcasting a report of her alleged resignation will be sued." Refers to France 24 interview with impostor "ambassador": see previous post.

Update: Syrian Arab News Agency, 20 June 2011, H. Sabbagh: "The French authorities are diligently searching for those responsible for the scandal of impersonating Syria's Ambassador in Paris Lamia Shakkour on a political program on France 24 following the debacle caused when France 24 announced false news about Shakkour's resignation who refuted the news immediately afterwards. ... Informed source close to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs say that the authorities are currently investigating four possibilities; first is the involvement of political figures in the so-called Syrian opposition or someone working for them, while the second is the involvement of Syrians working for France 24 in coordination with the Syrian opposition, as there are Syrians working for the channel who also work part-time as consultants for opposition figures. The third possibility is that the scandal is caused by internal differences within France 24 and a battle for influence, which is an issue that French press discussed before when the channel was under the influence of former French Minister of Bernard Kouchner via his wife Christine Ockrent. The fourth possibility involves a potential US role due to the US influence over the internet."

France 24, in French and English, available on New Zealand satellite service.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Voxy, 21 June 2011: "FRANCE 24 has signed a new distribution agreement with SKY NEW ZEALAND, the leading satellite operator in New Zealand. FRANCE 24 is an international news channel broadcast 24/7 in English and French and will bring you the latest news every half hour. FRANCE 24 will give viewers in-depth analysis of current affairs across the globe through interviews and debates. The economy, investigative reports, technology, culture and weather forecasts complete the programme schedule. Starting July 1st, FRANCE 24, French and English versions, will be available throughout New Zealand on channels 100 (English language) and 101 (French language). With 800000 subscribers and a penetration rate of 50% across New Zealand, SKY will distribute FRANCE 24 English version as part of the Basic SKY package on channel 100, whilst the French version will be available on channel 101 as part of a premium offer for 7 NZD per month."

IBB "very much interested in negotiating a new lease" for Northern Mariana shortwave site(s).

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Saipan Tribune, 21 June 2011, Haidee V. Eugenio: "The Department of Public Lands said the International Broadcasting Bureau 'is very much interested in negotiating a new lease' with DPL for the same property it's been leasing. Acting DPL secretary Pedro I. Itibus said this in a response letter to Rep. Stanley Torres (Ind-Saipan), who was following up on the status of the IBB lease. Torres had said DPL has been losing out on IBB’s low rental rate. Back in February, the House passed a resolution requesting DPL to 'officially investigate and rectify the flawed lease agreement' between DPL and IBB, and renegotiate the agreement 'and seek back payment for previous years of rental at a lower than appraised rental value that IBB has been paying since the lease expired in 2006.' Itibus told Torres in a June 9 letter that representatives from the Broadcasting Board of Governors/U.S. IBB 'presented their proposed additions/revisions of the first draft of the lease agreement DPL provided to the BBG/IBB.'" -- IBB has two shortwave transmitter sites in the Northern Mariana Islands, one on Saipan, and one on Tinian. Unsure if this refers to one of the sites (Rep. Torres represents Saipan), or both. See previous post about same subject.

Exile media groups, "product of the criminalisation of independent reporting," use shortwave and satellites.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Asian Correspondent, 21 June 2011, Francis Wade: "Exiled media groups have sprung up across the world, a product of the criminalisation of independent reporting. Organisations beam news, often via shortwave radio and satellite television, across borders into Burma, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and dozens of other countries that carry the distinction of being among the world’s most repressive media environments." With link to RSF report.

Epoch Times, 20 June 2011, Nicholas Zifcak: "One large media-in-exile that is highly influential in its home country is the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), which has been able to operate stably because its headquarters is in distant Norway. Before DVB, other radio stations tried to operate across the border in Thailand, but poor quality transmitters and local armed groups prevented them from being effective. The Norwegian government provided support to establish DVB in 1992, just one year after Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the station has developed TV programming and shortwave radio broadcasting. It broadcasts back to Burma (also known as Myanmar) by satellite."

China has Confucius Centers worldwide, but BBC has Igglepiggle centers in China.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 20 June 2011, Amanda Andrews: "BBC Worldwide has struck a deal to roll out 50 In the Night Garden-themed pre-school teaching centres in China, confirming the hit status of Igglepiggle – or Yigu Bigu as he is known locally. The idea is to use the pre-school characters from the British toddlers' television programme, which was launched in China two years ago, to create so-called 'edutainment' centres. Under a membership scheme, pre-schoolers will visit the centre for two hours and take part in a range of activities, such as reading and dancing. ... In the Night Garden has topped television ratings in China since it launched on state broadcaster Chinese Central Television (CCTV) in May 2009. More than 1m DVDs, 1.2m plastic toys and 1.6m books have been sold in China."

Ratings up for Al Jazeera English via KCET Los Angeles, but still trails BBC World News.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 19 June 2011, Elizabeth Jensen: "KCET-TV, the [Los Angeles] public broadcaster that quit carrying PBS programming on Jan. 1 to avoid paying dues, began broadcasting Al Jazeera English on its main channel on Feb. 1, as the political landscape in Northern Africa and the Middle East started to unwind. Viewers responded, and the newscast has now found a home on KCET four times each weekday, from early morning to late nights, and once a day on weekends. In its main weekday slot at 4 p.m., ratings jumped 135 percent from February through May, the station said, and over all, the newscasts are drawing more than 285,000 viewers each week. Within the three-hour block of international newscasts that KCET broadcasts from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays, the two Al Jazeera segments far outpace broadcasts from Japan’s NHK and the Israel Broadcasting Authority, but trail the long-established BBC World News." See previous post about same subject.

New VOA Chinese iPhone app will presumably be subject to China's iBlock app.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 20 June 2011: "Voice of America’s new Chinese language iPhone app delivers the latest VOA news programs – plus, it enables citizen journalists to upload news tips and photos from their phones. The app uses both simplified and traditional Chinese characters and is now available for free at the iTunes store. It works with the iPhone, the iPod Touch and the iPad, for users that have iOS 4.0 or later. With the new app, users can access VOA Chinese video, text and audio content, including podcasts and blogs. The app also lets users bookmark VOA articles or create video and audio playlists. ... Smartphone use in China has exploded in recent years and the new iPhone app is one of many tools Voice of America has developed for its Chinese speaking audience."

Dave Lee Travis: still the former international broadcaster of the week.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Mail, 22 June 2011, Jan Moir: Dave Lee "Travis is also still rather miffed that A Jolly Good Show was axed in 2001. Although hugely popular all over the globe, it fell victim to a World Service directive to broadcast less music. Aung San Suu Kyi's words of praise might today give DLT a sense of grim vindication, but it still hurts. 'Someone made a decision that light-hearted was not good. Someone ignored the people. The show was valued by the listeners, but hey, who cares about the listeners? We are the BBC. We can change things.'" With video.

The Sun, 22 June 2011, Dave Lee Travis: "I knew the show played a big part in many people's lives but I'm really pleased to know it influenced someone like Aung San Suu Kyi. In the dire consequences she found herself in, it's lovely to know she found solace in what I was doing. That is what is so great about radio. If someone is having a dark time, they can tune in and forget their problems. It lightens the load, however slightly. I believe radio is a much more important medium than television. You don't just slap it on and sit watching the corner of a room. You tune in to the radio and form your views about the content as you potter about. It is unique."

The Guardian, 21 June 2011, editorial: "Aung San Suu Kyi is right that the constant news pumped out by today's World Service does not have enough light and shade. Decades of house arrest has made her an ardent listener. Being informed is important, but so is being entertained. As Travis's fan reminds us, it would be a poor diet that did not include some cheese."

The Independent, 22 June 2011, Matthew Norman: "Could DLT build on his Burmese efforts with an undercover mission to North Korea, to rally resistance to Kim Jong-Il, with help from Tony Blackburn and Arnold the dog?"

The Guardian, 21 June 2011: "That's funny – he doesn't look like a pillar of the Burmese democracy movement."

See previous post about same subject.

Bush House vigil for BBC World Service reporter detained in Tajikistan (updated with photo).

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 20 June 2011: "It has now been a week since our colleague Urunboy Usmonov was detained by the security services in Tajikistan. The BBC issued a statement on the 14 June, condemning the detention and demanding his immediate release. Despite similar statements from the British and American Embassies and many other respected international organisations the Tajik authorities have not responded. Moreover, over the past week the BBC reporter has been denied regular and confidential access to his lawyer, and has not been allowed any access to his family and colleagues, which is against the norms of both international and Tajik law. The recent interview arranged by the security agencies and subsequent article published by agency on Saturday 18 June, accusing the BBC correspondent of being a member of Hizbut-Tahrir represents a breach of legal practice and a serious violation of presumption of innocence. We strongly reiterate that these allegations are unfounded and the BBC sees them as a serious threat to professional journalism and to freedom of expression in Tajikistan. Urunboy Usmonov, as a BBC journalist, is expected to cover all sides of any story and in the course of his work it is only natural that he would meet and interview people representing all shades of opinion. ... On Wednesday 22 June at 13:00 on the steps of Bush House, there will be a vigil of support for Urunboy by BBC staff. Senior BBC management will be available for interview." -- Presumably 13:00 British Summer Time, same as 12:00 GMT/UTC. See previous post about same subject.

Update:, 22 June 2011, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News: "Hundreds of BBC World Service journalists, and former detainee Alan Johnson, called for the release of Urunboy Usmonovposts photo of the event." With photo of the event.

RFE/RL, 18 June 2011: Fayziniso Vohidova, who has the legal papers for the defense of Usmonov, told RFE/RL that she spent all day waiting for an investigator to give her official permission to meet with Usmonov. She said the investigator did not appear and his colleagues told her he is busy with other criminal cases and would not be in the office until June 20."

Career of headline writer for Foreign Office website experiences massive U-turn.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 22 June 2011: "Whitehall officials have been embarrassed after a decision to provide an £2.2million of funding for the BBC World Service was announced as a 'massive u-turn'. The Foreign Office's own website initially headlined the announcement: 'Massive U-turn on BBC World Service funding.' The headline was later changed to: 'BBC World Service Funding Review.' ... A spokeswoman for the department said the headline did not reflect the views of the Government, and disciplinary action was being taken against the staff member involved."

Conferences with international broadcasting connections include DW Global Media Forum.

Posted: 22 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 20 June 2011: "Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum begins in Bonn, Germany / 1,500 delegates expected to attend from 100 countries. ... The three-day conference in Bonn is devoted to the topic 'Human Rights in a Globalized World – Challenges for the Media'." Conference resources: Photos: Audio recordings: Twitter: YouTube

Deutsche Welle press release, 21 June 2011: “'Media do not have sufficient resources to report occurrences with the required depth', said renowned U.S. filmmaker, U. Roberto Romano on Monday 20 June at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn. His latest work, 'The Harvest', is about child labor in the United States."

Deutsche Welle press release, 20 June 2011: Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisia) has received The BOBs blog award at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn on Monday, 20 June 2011. A Special human rights blog award went to Esra'a Al Shafei (Egypt).

Deutsche Welle press release, 22 June 2011: "The theme of next year’s conference, from 25 - 27 June 2012 will be education and culture."

RIA Novosti, 20 June 2011: "A special session of the International Future Media Forum titled 'Russian and Foreign Media: Past, Present, Future' will open on June 23, 2011. The session, organized by RIA Novosti in association with the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP Russia), will be held in RIA Novosti’s New hall [in Moscow]. ... Vadim Massalsky, a web editor for the Voice of America Russian Service, will speak about VoA and other foreign networks broadcasting in Russia."

The Gulf Today (Sharjah), 21 June 2011, Mohan Vadayar: "The Middle East’s first 'Belief in to host the Dialogue: Science, Culture and Modernity' conference at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) will extensively deal with a number of serious topics closely associated with this 'contentious issue,' organisers said. ... A debate hosted by the BBC World Service is set to be a conference highlight and will invite a global audience to participate in the spirited exchange that will take place over the course of the event."

Gulf Today, 22 June 2011, Mohan Vadayar: "Patrick Brazier, regional director, MENA, British Council, also addressed the opening ceremony of the conference being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, supreme council member, ruler of Sharjah and founder and president of AUS. He noted that the council would be organising similar events in different places around the world. 'And with our partners from the BBC World Service, we will be making sure that the conversations continue, over the airwaves and over the internet,' he added.", 20 June 2011: "Coventry University and The BBC College of Journalism [held] an international conference looking at the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. ... [It inluded] a representative from the BBC’s Arabic Service, Al Jazeera Television and a frontline foreign correspondent from the BBC ... ."

Press TV reports that UK bank froze accounts of Press TV.

Posted: 21 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 20 June 2011: "Earlier in the week, The National Westminster (NatWest) Bank froze the accounts of London-based independent television production company Press TV Ltd. NatWest, which is part of Royal Bank of Scotland Group, blocked GBP 200,000 of Press TV Ltd's income without explanation. Under British law, freezing the accounts of clients requires a court order or a request from the Bank of England. Press TV has condemned the illegal step taken by the UK government, arguing that it has not received a court order classifying Press TV Ltd's programs as being in violation of British regulations. ... The move is another step in a systematic approach to effectively shut down Press TV's operation in London as openly pursuing this objective would run counter to the Freedom of speech and press principals that the UK pretends to uphold. This comes after British media regulator Ofcom (Office of Communications) announced that it seeks to issue statutory sanctions against Press TV for what it calls 'breaching Ofcom's Broadcasting Code' after one individual filed a complaint against the network. This one individual is of course, Mr. Maziar Bahari, who was interviewed by Press TV and other media outlets while in detention in the Iranian capital." See previous post about same subject.

Press TV, 19 June 2011, compiles audience messages of support.

Its post-election coverage "damaged people's trust" in Iran state broadcaster IRIB.

Posted: 21 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 21 June 2011, Maryam Sinaiee and Michael Theodoulou: "A respected Iranian human rights group claims to have acquired a confidential internal report conducted by a subsection of the IRIB [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] apparently intended for its senior managers. The document argues that miscalculations by the state broadcaster on election day and its tumultuous aftermath 'damaged people's trust' in the network and were partly responsible for the post-election unrest. ... The leaked report, titled 'Analysis of the IRIB's Conduct and Audience Trust Before and After the Presidential Election', was disseminated by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. ... Private television and radio stations are banned in Iran, but many people tune in to the Persian-language channels of the BBC and Voice of America. The two western agencies are feared, reviled and outlawed by Tehran's hardline regime."

Oye! Times, 20 June 2011, Cyrus Green: "Iranian authorities have released one of the twelve political prisoners on hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin prison. Prominent human rights activist and journalist Emadeddin Baghi was released from prison on Monday, the third day of hunger strikes in Evin prison's ward 350. ... Baghi was arrested on 28 December 2009, a day after the massive Ashura protests in Tehran and other cities across the country. [He] was jailed after the broadcast by the BBC Persian Service of a two-year old interview he had conducted with the late Gran Ayatollah Montazeri, considered by many to be the spiritual leader of the Green Movement prior to his death."

Aung San Suu Kyi: "The World Service is not what it was." Dave Lee Travis: "Daft of BBC to change World Service."

Posted: 21 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Times blog, 21 June 2011, Paul Jones: "In an interview in the latest edition of Radio Times, [Aung San] Suu Kyi tells Eddie Mair how important radio can be for those in confinement - 'it's really our only line to the outside world' - but says the content of the BBC's global radio station has narrowed over the years. 'I think the World Service has changed since my first bout of house arrest, which was from 1989 to 1995,' says Suu Kyi. 'Then I remember there were so many more different programmes on the service… now the programmes don't seem so varied.' 'The first six years [under house arrest] I could be in touch with everything. With culture, with art, with books, with music. You know, I haven't heard any music on the BBC World Service in a long time. Maybe I'm listening at the wrong times. But not one single piece of music.' Suu Kyi's nostalgia for the World Service as it was in those days reveals a penchant for one broadcaster in particular - Mr Dave Lee Travis. 'I would listen to [his programme A Jolly Good Show] quite happily because the listeners would write in and I had a chance to hear other people's words. It made my world much more complete.' 'I'm not surprised that Aung San Suu Kyi listened to my show, but I'm touched she remembers it,' says DLT. 'At one point, if not in most of its 20 years, it had the single biggest postbag of the entire World Service. It was daft of the BBC to change the World Service. It was mainly for learning, but you do need fun, too. Learning and fun do fit together.' Read the full interview with Aung San Suu Kyi - in which she talks about house arrest, sacrifice and why she's not a saint - in the latest issue of Radio Times, on sale now." -- Unfortunately, not living in the UK, I can't rush to my newsstand to buy that latest issue of Radio Times.

BBC News, 21 June 2011: "Travis told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he was delighted his show had made such an impact. 'We take radio, like the Today Programme, as extremely serious, well there's a few obviously funny bits in it as well but generally it's quite serious. And then you have currently other radio stations playing pop music and never the twain shall meet. I think it's rather nice - and it came as a pleasant surprise to me - that a leader of a country in the world, especially one that's been very repressed, listened to my programme, to get a bit of jollity in her life.'" With audio of the Radio 4 interview with Travis.

The Telegraph, 21 June 2011, Anita Singh: Travis said, “It was daft of the BBC to change the World Service. It was mainly for learning, but you do need fun too. I loved some of the letters. I got sent a photo of a guy next to a camel with a ghettoblaster slung over it. The message said, 'Hi Dave, this is me listening to you in the desert'. One letter was addressed to 'Daily Trousers' - maybe reception wasn’t so good then."

This shows that music can be appropriate content for shortwave if the audience can't receive the desired variety of music by other means. Even more so, it demonstrates the tremendous appeal of audience participation programs on a radio station that is global, especially in a language (in this case, English) that is also global. Such programs, in Aung San Suu Kyi's words, provide "a chance to hear other people's words" -- words from people all over the world. BBC World Service was among only a handful of international radio stations with the global shortwave capacity to reach such a disparate audience. Now, internet radio stations can do the same, but they compete with thousands of other internet radio stations.

The Independent, 21 June 2011, Ian Burrell: "The Burmese opposition leader and general secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) has recorded two speeches for the annual BBC Reith Lectures, which were smuggled out of Burma last week. In the first, which will be broadcast on Radio 4 next Tuesday, Ms Suu Kyi compared the 23-year struggle to win democracy in Burma to the fast-moving revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and said that the widespread availability of internet-based technology in the Arab world had been a crucial factor in the success of those movements. The lecture was broadcast yesterday to an invited audience at Broadcasting House in London. ... During the live session, Aung San Suu Kyi was in the company of the BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson. She said that in making her broadcasts she was 'exercising my right to freedom of communication'. ... In a passionate address she quoted Czech dissident Vaclav Havel, the English poet William Henley and the Russian poet Irina Ratushinskaya, finishing with lines from Rudyard Kipling's The Fairies' Siege. In the second lecture, which will be broadcast on 5 July, Aung San Suu Kyi will speak of the forces aligned against her National League for Democracy." See previous post about same subject.

Broadcasting to India? Radio is down. Internet, cable and satellite are up.

Posted: 21 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 18 June 2011: "Radio is one sector, which, despite of buzzing with activities, is continuously seeing a negative growth in reach compared to the sequential quarter. As per the IRS [India Readership Survey] 2011 Q1 data, Radio sector total reach has gone down by 8.3 per cent CAGR [compound annual growth rate]. Radio total reach is down at 161.49 million, from 163.91 million in Q4 2010. Meanwhile, the other sectors like C&S [cable and staellite], Internet and TV are seeing robust growth as per the Indian Readership Survey (IRS) Q1 report released by Media Research Users Council (MRUC) and Hansa Research. Other salient figures from the report: C&S total reach up by 17.9% CAGR, to 416.51 million; Internet up by 32.5%, at 25.92 million; and TV total reach up by 5% CAGR to 522.44 million."

BBC Trust seeking member to be responsible for international services.

Posted: 21 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Department for Culture, Media and Sport website: "The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is seeking an exceptional individual to join the BBC Trust and help deliver a strong and independent BBC. The individual will have a specific responsibility with regard to the BBC’s international public services, including oversight of the BBC World Service. ... [Criteria include:] An understanding of global broadcasting trends and the potential public value that can be delivered through the BBC's international public services."

Time for the BBC World Service annual midwinter broadcast to Antarctica.

Posted: 21 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service, 20 June 2011: "Produced and presented for an audience of just 43 - the brave and hardy scientists and technical staff who keep the Antarctic bases of the British Antarctic Survey running through the long, cold darkness of the polar winter - the Antarctic specials are possibly the World Service's most unusual broadcasts. Once a year, on 21 June, in the dark days of the southern winter, staff at the four Antarctic bases - Rothera, Halley, King Edward Point and Bird Island - cluster round their short-wave radios to hear the BBC present half an hour of music requests and special messages from their loved ones back home." With audio.

RT (Russia Today), when described as "state-run," says "consider the pond we’re all swimming in."

Posted: 20 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today), 16 June 2011: "[L]et’s look at the mission and funding of the BBC. According to its charter, its goals include representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities and bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK. ... France 24’s mission is 'to cover international current events from a French perspective and to convey French values throughout the world' and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the public-funded holding company Audiovisuel Exterieur de la France (AEF). The German Deutsche Welle’s goal is to 'promote understanding of Germany as an independent nation with its roots in European culture and as a liberal, democratic, constitutional state based on the rule of law.' It’s budget is made up of funds allocated by the federal government from German tax revenues, according to its website. ... And outside the US, it’s the Broadcasting Board of Governors that transmits its message. The board encompasses all U.S. civilian international broadcasting: Voice of America(VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL),Radio Free Asia (RFA), Radio and TV Martí, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN)—Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television. It broadcasts in 59 languages to an estimated weekly audience of 165 million people via radio, TV, the Internet and other new media. While its principles include being 'consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States, and the capability to provide a surge capacity to support United States foreign policy objectives during crises abroad,' according to it’s website. So call RT 'state-funded' if you must, but if you want to “call a duck a duck,” as NPR’s host so eloquently put it, you might want to consider the pond we’re all swimming in." -- Almost all international broadcasters are subject to some governing document that ties the international broadcaster to the policies or goals of its funding government. International broadcasters succeed in attracting audiences to the extent that they ignore such language.

ABC or Sky News Australia will win the "arduous, frustrating and potentially unrewarding" Australia Network contract.

Posted: 20 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
On Line Opinion, 15 June 2011, Malcolm Colless: "Kevin Rudd may no longer be Australia’s Prime Minister (perhaps, in his mind, just a temporary aberration) but he has clearly not surrendered his role as the country’s leading political control freak. His strategy to dramatically upgrade Australia’s standing in middle power diplomacy through a rebirth of the Government owned international television service, Australia Network, puts this beyond doubt. Rudd has overseen a highly complex revision of the operational base for this service which, should we be surprised, involves positioning himself as Foreign Minister, at the centre of day to day programming. The successful tenderer for a new ten-year $223 million contract to operate this service, which is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is scheduled to be announced publicly next month. ... But complying with the management demands of 'Rudd TV' is going to be so arduous, frustrating and potentially unrewarding that it is puzzling to understand why anyone would want to commit themselves to the new contract, which, apart from anything else, is non-exclusive. ... One can only imagine how they would react to the spectra of the Foreign Minister peering over the shoulders of ABC journalists and editors as they prepare news broadcasts." See previous post about same subject.

BBC Worldwide exec: "American cable companies love our drama."

Posted: 20 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 19 June 2011, Matthew Garrahan: "In her first interview since being appointed to run [BBC Worldwide's] commercial Hollywood production arm 2½ years ago, [Jane] Tranter says she plans to develop programmes in line with the BBC’s ethos – even if they are not set in Britain. 'There’s this British obsession that American dramas are better than British ones,' she says, citing examples such as AMC’s Mad Men or HBO’s new fantasy epic Game of Thrones. 'But American cable companies love our drama.' She has sold several scripts she hopes will make it to the screen, including an adaptation of Amanda Foreman’s book A World on Fire, an account of the Anglo American relationship during the American Civil War. So far, US cable channels and broadcasters have been receptive: along with more than 20 script development deals struck with US partners, BBC Worldwide Productions also has 17 unscripted series – non-fiction shows or reality programmes – in 'different stages of production'."

Reporters sans frontières: Alhurra reporter and cameraman attacked in Yemen.

Posted: 20 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 18 June 2011: "The Yemeni Union of Journalists reports that on 8 June a soldier threatened Abdul Karim Al-Khaiwani, a leading journalist who used to edit the online pro-democracy newspaper Al-Shoura and won Amnesty International UK’s award for Human Rights Journalism under Threat in 2008. ... Al-Hurra’s correspondent and cameraman were physically attacked by security forces the same day as they were covering a sit-in outside the vice-president’s home."

Egyptian-American comedian offered a VOA Parazit-inspired one minute to "say anything you want."

Posted: 20 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 17 June 2011, Ari Siletz: "Ahmed Ahmed is an internationally known Egyptian-American comedian who has directed the new documentary Just Like Us. The film features thirteen international comedians performing during a recent tour of the Middle East. Iranian standup comedians, Maz Jobrabi and Omid Djalili are among the artists featured in this film. Other performers have backgrounds such as Greek-Canadian, African-American, Italian-American, German-American, and Egyptian-Saudi. ... Ari: We Iranians have a successful satire show on Voice of America called Parazit—beamed into Iran to keep up the resistance spirit. Parazit gives its guests one minute to say anything they want, totally uncensored. Borrowing the Parazit tradition, please say anything you want for one minute. Ahmed: Well, My name is Ahmed Ahmed. I am an Egyptian-American. I am happy to be doing this interview. I don’t want to be too open with my speech, because you never know who’s reading or listening [laughs]. I am very grateful to be able to go to the Middle East and bring smiles and laughter to people. .... We hope to continue to go back to the Middle East to open up doors to social change and cross-cultural dialogue. We hope that one day we can bring some of our comedy shows to Iran. I don’t know if that’s possible, but if you have anything to do with it, I’ll be right at your side. Let’s go!"

¿Puedes oír la Voz de América ahora? VOA Spanish news available on mobiles.

Posted: 20 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 17 June 2011: "Mobile phone users from Mexico to Peru can now listen to Voice of America’s Spanish language news bulletins, thanks to a new VOA partnership with AudioNow and its patent-pending technology that can stream radio content to any phone. By simply dialing up the free service, mobile phone users can listen to VOA’s latest five minute Spanish language newscast in Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Access numbers for mobile subscribers in each country are posted on the VOA Spanish Service website. ... Users of the new service do not have to download any software. The service is free, although some mobile operators may apply phone service charges, so users should check their mobile plan for details."

Zimbabwe's defense minister says VOA's "crimes" are not the same as BBC's "crimes."

Posted: 20 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 19 June 2011, Colin Freeman interviewing Zimbabwe defense minister Emmerson Mnangagwa: "CF: Are you hopeful of sanctions being lifted against your party? EM: All three political parties in Zimbabwe have agreed to campaign for their removal, but so far we have drawn blanks on this matter from Brussels and London. It seems they are still inclined to impose sanctions on us. There are also still foreign broadcasts into Zimbabwe in our local languages that are spreading hate speech, which agitate for regime change. CF: Are you referring to the BBC? EM: No, I mean the likes of Voice of America. The BBC has its own crimes, but not that one."

BBC Trust chairman says BBC Hindi "will resume broadcast bulletins in the morning and evenings."

Posted: 19 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Press Trust of India, 17 June 2011: "Terming the BBC Hindi Service as 'very important', Lord Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust and chancellor of the University of Oxford, today said the service will survive the major funding cuts that had severely affected its future. Patten, who recently took over as chairman of the BBC Trust, told PTI here that due to the importance of the Hindi Service and increasingly deeper relations India, he was making all efforts to ensure its survival amidst funding cuts. 'We will ensure that an alternate funding model will be in place to ensure its future beyond March 2012. The Hindi Service will resume broadcast bulletins in the morning and evenings.' Patten, who opened the first Oxford-India Day here [at Oxford], said." -- BBC Hindi has already gained a reprieve for its evening shortwave transmission. See previous post.

National Union of Journalists urges strike vote after compulsory redundancy of BBC Bengali broadcaster.

Posted: 19 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 17 June 2011, Tara Conlan: "Industrial action at the BBC could be on the cards after the corporation made a journalist at the BBC World Service take compulsory redundancy. The National Union of Journalists called it a 'provocative act' and is urging its members to vote for industrial action. On Wednesday a Bengali member of the World Service was dismissed on the grounds of compulsory redundancy, according to the NUJ." See previous post about same subject.

Dutch cabinet announces reductions at Radio Netherlands, whose editor asks "Is our country really going back behind the dikes?"

Posted: 19 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link

Radio Netherlands, 17 June 2011, John Tyler: "The Dutch cabinet has announced plans to cut back the activities of Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The Dutch world service will no longer provide information for Dutch people living abroad, or provide the rest of the world with a realistic image of the Netherlands. Instead, Radio Netherlands Worldwide is to concern itself solely with providing information in countries where free speech is suppressed or threatened. ... The cuts to RNW are part of a widespread austerity programme the current centre-right government is implementing to bring the national budget into balance. In the wake of cuts to higher education, the arts and defence, the government today announced a reorganisation of the entire public broadcasting system. As part of that reorganisation Radio Netherlands Worldwide will no longer fall under the media budget, but become the responsibility of the Foreign Ministry. ... RNW Editor-in-Chief Rik Rensen said: 'Our country is known as an important and reliable trading nation. Radio Netherlands Worldwide makes a unique contribution in ten languages, 24 hours a day. For tens of millions of people around the world, RNW is an important source of information and a journalistic calling card for the Netherlands. Is our country really going back behind the dikes?'"

Radio Netherlands, 17 June 2011: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s Dutch-language editorial desk and programming are to be discontinued."

Critical Distance Weblog, 18 June 2011, Jonathan Marks: "The Netherlands cabinet has decided to follow the lead of Scandinavian countries. It is proposing to dismantle and wind-up its international broadcasting foundation. Radio Netherlands Worldwide will cease to be statutory broadcaster under Dutch Media Law by 2012. The organisation has €46 million for this year to make programmes in 10 languages. It will probably get around €10 million next to wind down its operations completely, sell any assets it owns (like the building in Hilversum and the relay station in Madagascar currently being fitted out with refurbished transmitters). The relay station in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles is already slated for closure. According to the [cabinet's] letter, before being shut down in its present form, the Dutch government will take away two elements of current activities from Radio Netherlands Worldwide which will continue. ●The BVN channel, a satellite TV channel targeting Dutch speaking abroad and partly financed by the Flemish. This is a low-budget compilation channel. ... ●The other service to be cherry-picked away from RNW is the Caribbean radio and web service (which also targets Surinam). ... I expect the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to come up with more projects in 2013 to encourage digital freedom in selected countries. These new projects will both improve technical access for citizens as well as empower the voiceless to get their story heard, either in their own country or by the international community who cares. It will be assisting others with their programmes rather than making programmes for others. It's the YouTube approach. Create space and the locals will fill it. Remember, all this is before the parliamentary debate on June 27th 2011. What really happens next will become clear after then." See previous post about same subject. Jonathan also analyzes changes to Dutch domestic public media in his Critical Distance Weblog, 18 June 2011.

Radio Netherlands, 18 June 2011, Sergio Acosta: "Speaking at the 20th World Congress for Sexual Health held in the Scottish city of Glasgow, [Mariela Castro Espín, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro] praised Holland’s sex education, including Love Matters, Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s website that informs young people on sex and sexual health in a clear and simple way. It is a model that can and should be exported to other countries, says Ms Castro... ."

NRK's live 134-hour webcast of a Norwegian coastal cruise.

Posted: 19 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 19 June 2011, Robert Briel: "Norwegian public broadcaster NRK seems to have struck the right chord with a five-day long Hurtigruten live broadcast covering the famous sea route along the Norwegian coast. In what is probably the best example of ‘slow TV’, NRK broadcasts the whole trip live minute by minute for 134 hours. People have travelled along the Norwegian coastline with Hurtigruten since 1893 in a journey known as 'The World’s Most Beautiful Sea Voyage'. As NRK claims: 'Now everybody can travel along in the world’s longest TV programme! Spectacular fjords, midnight sun and genuine Norwegian scenery make the setting for a trip from Bergen to Kirkenes.' ... The broadcast began at 19.54 CET on June 16 in Bergen. ... The live broadcast of the Hurtigruten can also be followed live on a special web TV stream put online by NRK."

Notes on the lack of reciprocity in the placement of international radio.

Posted: 19 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Public Diplomacy Council, 14 June 2011, Alan Heil (former VOA deputy director): "Particularly since the end of the Cold War, government funded international broadcasters have been compelled by fiscal constraints and shifting audiences to pursue new media at the expense of the old. They also have sought to extend their radio reach via national networks or local stations on FM and AM in other countries, in addition to traditional long-distance shortwave transmissions. This has happened in Africa, the Arab world, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Balkans, and some former Soviet republics. ... [I]n societies where information is heavily censored, or where accurate, objective news is still denied to citizens by authoritarian regimes, such relays are prohibited. Not so in the United States. It’s open season here for stations funded by the Kremlin or the Chinese Communist Party. On June 9, Radio Russia launched live radio programming in two principal U.S. media markets, Washington, DC, (1390 AM) and New York City (1430 AM). Moscow’s official international broadcast station also opened a production center of 15 reporters in the nation’s capital, and now reaches American audiences in English via mobile links in 16 states. China Radio International also broadcasts in English in the U.S., with radio relays in Washington (1120 AM), Philadelphia (1540 AM), and Galveston, Texas (1540 AM). ... This is ironic, because a post World War II ban prohibiting VOA and other U.S. government media from distributing programs in America means VOA cannot be heard here."

VOA can be heard in the United States, easily, via internet, because the prohibition of domestic dissemination provision of the Smith-Mundt Act is not observed. That prohibition could be observed, easily, by preventing US IP addresses from accessing any VOA web content. The domestic dissemination ban should be repealed to allow access to VOA in the United States, but in a way that discourages VOA from cultivating audiences in the USA.

"Shadow" internet and mobile phone systems may overcome censorship by repressive governments (updated).

Posted: 19 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 12 June 2011, James Glanz and John Markoff: "The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy 'shadow' Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks. The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype 'Internet in a suitcase.' ... The Obama administration’s initiative is in one sense a new front in a longstanding diplomatic push to defend free speech and nurture democracy. For decades, the United States has sent radio broadcasts into autocratic countries through Voice of America and other means. More recently, Washington has supported the development of software that preserves the anonymity of users in places like China, and training for citizens who want to pass information along the government-owned Internet without getting caught."

RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 15 June 2011, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Iran has warned the United States over efforts to deploy shadow Internet services in repressive countries such as the Persian Gulf state, where the Internet is heavily censored, and said it would lead to a backlash against the U.S."

Update: Deutsche Welle, 17 June 2011, Kerry Skyring: "The rooftops of Vienna may seem like an unlikely site for tech innovations. However, FunkFeuer, an obscure Austrian wireless mesh networking project that plants WiFi antennae across some rooftops is now a key element in a large 'liberation technology' program by the American government. This new group projects is designed to circumvent and thwart Internet filters, censorship and surveillance in authoritarian regimes around the world. The Austrian project, called FunkFeuer - or 'network fire' in German - is an experimental mesh network in Vienna and other cities that has been underway for five years."

Louisville Courier Journal, 17 June 2011, editorial: "The technology for 'shadow' Internet networks was created by hackers who rely on stealth to continue their projects, but it's being used as a tool for democracy now. Though a lot about projects being funded by the Pentagon and State Department is veiled in secrecy, this is an encouraging step toward access to information for all. It's a continuation of programs like Voice of America, which has been broadcasting into closed-off countries for decades, and it has the promise of promoting the U.S. and its democratic message in a new age of technology."

An assortment of views about the role of the social media and international TV in the Arab Spring.

Posted: 18 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Arabiya, 16 June 2011, Anne Allmeling: "According to the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center’s report 'Egypt from Tahrir to Transition,' the uprisings in Egypt were 'not a Facebook revolution.' While media sources have widely credited online activists for igniting the recent uprisings, the report concludes that the role of social media as a key factor in mobilizing millions is likely overstated. According to the center’s research, based on a nationally representative survey of about 1,000 respondents in Egypt, only 8 percent said that they relied on Facebook and Twitter to get news on the protests. Some 81 percent named Egyptian state TV as their source for news, 63 percent named Al Jazeera."

AFP, 16 June 2011: "Unlike in most other Arab countries, Bahraini protesters were blacked out by the main pan-Arab satellite televisions -- Qatar's Al-Jazeera and Saudi-financed Al-Arabiya, both from fellow Sunni-run Arab states in the Gulf.The protests in Bahrain which broke out on February 14 'started on a Facebook page and became a real revolution,' said one Bahraini activist who requested anonymity. 'Satellite channels, including Al-Jazeera, did not support our movement for political reasons and mainly to avoid upsetting Saudi Arabia,' she said, although the channel had played a major role in supporting uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Bahraini protesters resorted to uploading to the Internet footage of their demonstrations, of speeches delivered at Manama's Pearl Square protest epicenter and of casualties at the hands of security forces. And in the absence of Al-Jazeera, Iran's Arabic-language channel Al-Alam and Lebanon's Hezbollah's Al-Manar stepped in to provide full coverage of the protests dominated by their Shiite co-religionists. Libyan rebels also relied on YouTube to broadcast footage of their revolt, which broke out in mid-February in the eastern city of Benghazi, while Arabic news channels complained of jamming by Libyan authorities."

The Spectator, Night and Day blog, 14 June 2011, Wael Khairy: "The state police tried to prevent the reporting of truth in many ways. They gave international media a hard time by detaining reporters and shutting down Al Jazeera offices. The world had a difficult time grasping the truth of what was happening. Eventually, international news agencies knew that Twitter was the best source to turn to. Egyptians searched keywords such as ‘Zamalek’, ‘Mohandessin’and ‘Tahrir’ to find out what was happening in given areas. Meanwhile, tweeters were not only making news by protesting but also essentially reporting it too. This led international news agencies to set up Twitter streams on their websites, where all tweets hashtaged #Egypt or #Tahrir appeared on their main pages. If I were to pick one mass communications theory to best describe how the government manipulated media, it would be the agenda-setting theory. Their actions fit this theory perfectly. ... When Egyptian composer Ammar El Sherei appeared on Channel One on a Wednesday afternoon, he famously criticized the anchor for representing the channel that tried to deceive the public. ... 'Why is Egyptian TV not a source of information? Why did you force us to turn to al-Jazeera, Al Arabiya and CNN?'"

Emirates News Agency, 14 June 2011: "Arab and Western journalists, academics and experts gathered at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi today to address the role of the media in Arab societies. Organised by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a German think tank, and the College of Communication and Media Services of Zayed University, the conference aimed at exploring the reciprocal relationship between societal changes and the media. .... In the first panel 'Western and Arab News Media: a comparative approach, ... Dr. Jan Keulen from the Center for Media Freedom in Doha ... [said] 'There is no Arab or Western journalism,' Keulen said. 'There is only good and bad journalism.' During the discussions on the recent coverage of developments in the Arab world, Michael Peel from the Financial Times explained just how difficult it was to get access to reliable information, particularly where governments stop journalists travelling to countries or try to control their movements while they are there. He added, 'relying on the social media as an information source is not possible as you need to be able to verify the source as authentic and reliable.' Bill Spindle, Middle East Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswire agreed. 'There are many false leads by people who use social media,' he said. 'Hence, there is still a strong need for professional journalists to be on the ground and report directly from the hotspots.'"

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 15 June 2011, Wadah Khanfar: "This historic moment enabled al-Jazeera to soar. When the Tunisian revolution broke out we didn't have reporters or cameramen there, but we had a tool that cannot be controlled by the authorities: active young people reporting live from the squares, sending video footage and calls for freedom. This people's media couldn't have played the vital role it did on its own, but by reaching out to us it was able to reach millions around the world. There are difficulties, of course. We try to use people who are known to us: we know their names and phone numbers, and we know whether or not we can trust them. But recently in Libya, Syria and some other countries, our contacts' phone lines have been hijacked by secret services, and imposters have tried to feed us lies so that we might lose our credibility. When this has happened, the country's state-owned media have attacked us and told the world that we are deceitful. The most notorious example was when someone claiming to be from the Yemeni opposition turned out to be the president's media officer. And of course among all the people we contact, a few might be unprofessional, over-emotional or prone to exaggeration. But the solution is to direct our journalists to extract whatever information they can, put it into its proper context and try to verify it using other sources. ... The only time we did transmit false pictures was when we showed torture in a prison that we were told was in Yemen, but turned out to be in Iraq. We immediately apologised to our audience. However, we cannot allow things like that to stop us – and we have to remember that the people's media is a hundred times more honest than the official state media. And so in today's revolutionary atmosphere, with so much to play for, the people are our most valuable assets. We have our Twitter and Facebook followers, and we have the people on our side – people who marched in the liberation squares, people who risked their lives to send us pictures and videos – and we cannot let them down. We must stay close to the people and never let these glorious revolutions turn into a tool of dictators and murderers."

Euronews opens Brussels bureau. EU Commission VP encourages channel to "have differences" with EU.

Posted: 18 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Mughals, 16 June 2011, Nitesh Sharma: "European news channel euronews is set to open a new bureau in the city of Brussels in the European capital. The move follows the agreement signed in December 2010 with the European Commission. The new office (600 sq. m) will be the largest international new bureau located in city. The channel will commission a strong team of 20 people and will set up a studio consisting the latest in production facilities. The euronews teams will report on European affairs and international news in 10 languages, soon to become 12."

Euronews Brussels blog, 15 June 2011, Paul Hackett: "To much fanfare, Vice President of the [EU] Commission and Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding led proceedings. 'Finally you came where you always belonged,' she said. 'Because in your name there is Euro and News, which is undeniably true, and here in Brussels is where the news from Europe is born.' She also encouraged us to ‘have differences’ with our new neighbours at the EU Commission and EU Council, insisting it was a sign of independent journalism. Thank you Madame Reding, it is a goal all of us here in Brussels and also Lyon intend to achieve."

Radio Australia reports about new radio stations of Thailand's Red Shirt movement.

Posted: 17 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, Connect Asia, 17 June 2011, Jared Ferrie: "Thailand's Red Shirt movement is taking to the airwaves to support the opposition Puea Thai Party. After last year's violence in Bangkok, the government declared a state of emergency and shut down media aligned with the movement. But the Red Shirts are opening up new radio stations to broadcast political messages." With audio report.

RT (Russia Today) claims more than $500,000 in advertising profits from its YouTube pages.

Posted: 17 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today) press release, 15 June 2011: "Advertising profits derived from YouTube pages hosting RT's news stories and videos on a dedicated channel have exceeded $500,000. This figure places RT among an elite few in the history of the video hosting service. RT's videos have been viewed over 450 million times on YouTube and are now getting an average of 850,000 views per day, YouTube Trends reports. The Russian international news channel gained a solid position in the Top 100 Most Viewed All Time channels in the history of YouTube, leaving behind international and national TV news channels such as Fox, ABC, Sky, CNN International, Al Jazeera and Reuters. In March of this year, RT was ranked first in the month's top viewed channels lineup, surpassing the major pop music video hosting channel Vevo. ... RT is a global TV news leader, providing news and information not covered by the mainstream media, in English, Spanish and Arabic, 24/7."

RT's YouTube page is, which includes this video from 16 June 2011: "RT's film crew in the southern Russian republic of North Ossetia discovered a device attached to their car. It was thought to be a bomb, but turned out to be something more mysterious."

France 24 system can create text from video, then translate the text to other languages.

Posted: 17 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Exalead Case Study (pdf): "In partnership with Exalead, Yacast Media and Vecsys, FRANCE 24 Lab decided to launch a new feature on its broadband video player that could automatically transcribe texts from the last 24 hours of programming. ... Once a transcript has been extracted from a video stream (which happens automatically and in near real-time), it becomes available for a host of processing possibilities, including subtitling and automatic translation. Imagine a translation tool that could be automatically applied to a transcript of a live broadcast. Even if the translation was not perfect, it would still provide an invaluable aid to comprehension." -- I've seen reports that international channels on cable television in Vietnam are subtitled into Vietnamese. Perhaps the Vietnamese cable company is using this or a similar system.

World Screen, 16 June 2011, Kristin Brzoznowski: "Continuing its European rollout, Crime & Investigation Network is headed to the Netherlands on Ziggo, with the cable operator launching the service to 2.1 million subscribers as of July 4. Crime & Investigation Network will be Ziggo's "Channel of the Month" in July. The service will be subtitled in Dutch, airing programs such as Snapped: Women Who Kill, The First 48 and Steven Seagal: Lawman. A fully localized companion website is also launching July 4. The channel is programmed and operated in the Netherlands by AETN UK."

Radio Free Sarawak's "DJ Papa Orang Utan" now living in exile in the UK.

Posted: 17 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Borneo Post, 16 June 2011, Churchill Edward: "Controversial figure Peter John Jaban who used the pseudonym ‘DJ Papa Orang Utan’ over Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) has claimed that he is living in political exile in the UK. He said he did not dare to come back home to Sarawak because of what the Home Ministry had stated recently – that he was a potential subject under the Internal Security Act. When contacted yesterday, Peter said he was making a living as a deejay for RFS and that he reported to another controversial figure – Clare Rewcastle – who runs RFS and Sarawak Report blog. Rewcastle is the sister in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown. ... In February this year, Chief Political Secretary to Chief Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said RFS was all out to run down the state government but admitted there was nothing they could do to stop them from telling lies. ... 'The best way to counter the radio now is to educate the public by telling them not to listen to RFS programmes and be critical when analysing their news.'" -- Radio Free Sarawak transmits via a leased shortwave facility outside of Malaysia. See previous post about same subject.

In Baku, BBG member Victor Ashe discusses Azerbaijan's ban on international broadcasters.

Posted: 17 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 16 June 2011: "At a ceremony Wednesday in Baku, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Member Victor H. Ashe presented Musa Efendi with the Oxu Zali ('Reading Room') literature award. Efendi, 20, was recognized for his short story, 'Taken Away,' which bested over 200 other submissions in a writing competition judged by the online audience of RFE’s Azerbaijani Service, Radio Azadliq. ... While in Baku, Governor Ashe met with Azerbaijani officials and media representatives to discuss Radio Azadliq broadcasts and other BBG-related issues. During his meetings, Ashe invited Azerbaijani officials to visit RFE's offices in Prague and the offices of the BBG and Voice of America in Washington 'to see firsthand what we do'. Ashe also attended a dinner for representatives of the media in Azerbaijan, including a blogger who was recently released after spending 17 months in prison. In a meeting with Nushiravan Maharramli, Chairman of the National TV and Radio Council, the governmental body responsible for licensing and regulating media, Ashe discussed a government-imposed ban on international broadcasters in place since January 2009. The ban on broadcasts over government-regulated airwaves profoundly affected distribution for both RFE/RL and Voice of America in the country and was roundly condemned by the BBG, the U.S. State Department and other media organizations."

RFE produces video to mark 60th anniversary of its first broadcast to Czechoslovakia.

Posted: 17 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 15 June 2011, Sigrid Lott: "On May 1, 1951, the first director of the 'Voice of Free Czechoslovakia' vowed that RFE’s programs would 'smash the communist monopoly on speaking to the Czech nation.' Sixty years later, BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson addressed a celebration of the anniversary of RFE’s first broadcasts to communist Czechoslovakia at an event co-hosted with the Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. 'We have to always remember that the idea of credible information is on the side of individual liberty and democracy,' he said. 'That’s what Radio Free Europe has stood for – and that’s what we hope to uphold in the future.' To mark the anniversary, RFE staff produced this video on the history of RFE's Czechoslovak broadcasts." With link to video: 4 min 45 sec.

David Ensor sworn in as new VOA director, but won't "join" VOA until 1 August.

Posted: 17 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 16 June 2011: "BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson swore in David Ensor as the new Director of the Voice of America. Isaacson highlighted Ensor's distinguished career as a journalist and broadcaster for NPR, ABC and CNN as well as his recent work as Director for Communications and Public Diplomacy of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ensor took the opportunity to express his appreciation for the effectiveness of the VOA programs he observed first-hand in Afghanistan as well as the courage and commitment of VOA journalists he has encountered worldwide. Ensor will join VOA in Washington, DC on August 1."

Construction has begun at Sky News Arabia's multimedia facility in Abu Dhabi.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
AMEInfo, 15 June 2011: "Sky News Arabia has taken over the studio complex at its new headquarters ahead of the launch of the 24-hour Arabic language channel in the Spring of 2012. Construction work at the site, at the twofour54 Intaj facility in downtown Abu Dhabi, has already begun. The channel will be based in an expanded three floor facility designed to house a multimedia newsroom, craft edit suites, live graphics production and the news operations centre which will manage Sky News Arabia's international network of thirteen bureaux. The channel's main studio will be in a completely redesigned space within the complex. 'Sky News Arabia's studios will offer state of the art facilities. Our team will enjoy the most advanced infrastructure available within the industry to ensure world-class news delivery to all our viewers across the MENA region,' said Nart Bouran, Director of News, Sky News Arabia. Sky News Arabia will be using the latest in broadcast technologies to cater for the increasing demand in the region for a truly multi-platform news network across TV, mobile and online. The channel's systems integration contractor, TSL, has already been appointed to deliver the technical fit-out of the studios, production and broadcasting functions. Other critical contracts will be announced in the coming months. Available in both HD and SD formats, Sky News Arabia will broadcast free-to-air across 50 million households across the MENA region and will also be available on the Sky platform in the UK."

AMEInfo, 30 May 2011: "Sky News Arabia, the joint venture between BSkyB and the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation (ADMIC), has officially launched a custom careers website to help drive its ambitious recruitment plans. Sky News Arabia intends to employ more than 300 journalists and media professionals in its Abu Dhabi headquarters and in news bureaux across the MENA region and worldwide."

BBC demands release of its World Service reporter detained after alleged links with Islamic organization.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 16 June 2011: "The BBC has learnt with very great concern of the detention of its reporter in Tajikistan, Urinboy Usmonov. Mr Usmonov, who has worked for the BBC Central Asian Service for the last 10 years, was reported missing by his family on 13 June 2011 when he failed to return home after work. At 12:00 BST on 14 June 2011, after increasingly desperate searches by family and work colleagues, Mr Usmonov appeared at his home accompanied by members of the Tajik security services. Mr Usmonov's family reported that he appeared to have been beaten up. A search was conducted of his home by the officers and he was then taken away. He has been denied access to his family since then. The BBC now understands that Mr Usmonov has been accused of having links to the Hizbi Tahrir party – an Islamic organisation which is banned in Tajikistan. Whilst Mr Usmonov has reported on the judicial trials and activities of the Hizbi Tahrir party in Tajikistan at the request of the BBC, the BBC has no reason to believe these allegations. The BBC deplores the alleged treatment of Mr Usmonov whilst detained, in particular the denial of access to a legal representative. The BBC demands that Mr Usmonov is released with immediate effect."

AP, 16 June 2011: "The U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan on Thursday voiced concern over the detention of a BBC radio correspondent in the ex-Soviet nation. In a video statement, U.S. Ambassador Ken Gross urged the Tajik authorities to adhere to transparent judicial standards and investigate Urumboi Usmonov’s alleged mistreatment by security forces. 'We believe journalists shouldn’t endure physical abuse or imprisonment for what they write,' Gross said."

Under new Russian media law, foreign TV and radio channels must register as legal entity in Russia.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Russia Profile, 14 June 2011, Svetlana Kononova: "The Russian State Duma and the Federation Council have approved amendments to the law 'On Mass Media,' which will define in greater detail the procedure by which television and radio channels are licensed. ... According to the draft, foreign TV and radio channels will only be able to broadcast in Russia if they are registered as a legal entity in Russia. They should apply for a license and hire staff for Russian-based offices to produce content on location. After registering, foreign channels would work under the same regulations as Russian mass media and they would be responsible for their content under Russian law. ... Another controversial aspect of the amendments is the legal status of Web sites. Authors of the draft initially proposed compulsory registration of Web sites as media outlets. But after the project was criticized, this was changed to voluntary registration. Experts doubt that most Web site owners would be interested in such registration." -- VOA, RFE/RL, and BBC already have virtually no access to Russian domestic FM and television channels. The new provisions probably pertain to international commercial channels such as Disney and Discovery.

Ethiopian Satellite Television asks Beijing to stop assisting Ethiopia's shortwave and satellite jamming.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 15 June 2011: "The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), which resumed transmissions to Ethiopia last week after nearly two months of interruption, has urged the government of the People’s Republic of China to desist from providing technology, training and technical assistance to the regime in Ethiopia to enable it to jam shortwave radio and satellite transmissions to Ethiopia. The Meles regime is currently blocking independent news websites and jamming the Amharic services of the Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, and the Ethiopian Satellite Television, among others, with the help of technology and technical assistance provided by the Chinese government. Since its launch in April 2010, ESAT has faced intense and persistent signal interference that has disrupted its transmissions six times in its short span of life. ESAT’s management has investigated the matter thoroughly and confirmed from reliable sources inside Ethiopia that the government of China has been actively working with the Meles regime to jam ESAT’s transmissions."

DStv Mobile in Nigeria includes CNN International, Skyy+ in Ghana includes BBC World News.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Businessday, 7 June 2011: "Nigerians can now truly enjoy television ‘anywhere’ at ‘anytime’ with the launch of the Drifta – an innovative new mobile decoder from DStv Mobile. The launch follows a long line of technology innovations such as DStv Mobile, High Definition decoders and integrated customer services tools for which DStv has become known. ... he channel line-up on the DStv Mobile bouquet includes entertainment channels such as – Africa Magic, Africa Magic Yoruba, E! Entertainment Mobile and BET, Free to Air channel NTA Plus, music channel Channel O and Trace Urban, sports channels SS Blitz, SuperSport 9, SuperSport 10 and SuperSport 3 Nigeria (for DStv Premium subscriber only), news from CNN and NN24 and children’s programming on Cartoon Network Mobile." See also the DStv Mobile channel list.

Peace FM (Accra), 14 June 2011: "Skyy+, the latest bouquet from Skyy Media Group, is a package that offers a variety of exciting channels which are appealing to the entire family. ... [It includes] BBC World to keep viewers abreast with news across the globe... ." -- Seems DTT rather than DTH. See and see if you can figure it out.

Via VOA, President Obama calls on Sudan and South Sudan leaders to end violence.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
UPI, 15 June 2011, Christophe Schmidt: "Fresh violence in Sudan has broken out, throwing up a roadblock just short of what had been expected to be the finish line for years of US efforts to help end the country's civil war. After 10 days of clashes, President Barack Obama stepped in on Wednesday to personally urge the North and South to end their hostilities, three weeks ahead of the scheduled independence for the South. 'There is no military solution,' Obama said in an audio message recorded late Tuesday for the US-funded Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting network. 'The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan must live up to their responsibilities.'"

Reuters, 15 June 2011, Alex Dziadosz and Jeremy Clarke: "'There is no military solution,' Obama said, appealing directly to leaders on both sides in an audio message issued through the U.S. government-funded Voice of America network."

VOA News, 14 June 2011, Dan Robinson: "President Obama took the unusual step of recording an audio message directed to the people of Sudan and its leaders, immediately after his return from a visit to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico." With audio.

Radio Netherlands staff launch petition for support against planned budget cuts (updated).

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 10 June 2011: "In the face of imminent cuts, staff at Radio Netherlands Worldwide have launched petitions for support from the international press, business and the public. They want to convince the Dutch government and parliament that they should indicate what The Hague expects from its international broadcasting service in the coming years, before it starts sticking a pricetag on its activities. Staff are concerned that the overall cuts to the tune of 22 percent in the Dutch public broadcasting sector will also be imposed on the media organisation before the government has decided on the function it wants RNW to fulfil in the future. They are also demanding clarity with regard to the transfer of responsibility and funding of the organisation from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the Foreign Ministry in 2013." With links to the petition and to a video. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Netherlands, 9 June 2011: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide and the Free University of Amsterdam have joined forces to produce voter compasses for elections in young democracies around the world. These will give voters an opportunity to go online and discover which party comes closest to their own political viewpoints. The first version with be an Arabic and English voter compass for the forthcoming elections in Tunisia and Egypt. In 2012 we will present versions for Morocco, Senegal and Kenya."

Update: Radio Netherlands, 16 June 2011: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide staff have launched an online petition via a campaign website in all ten languages at Here listeners and readers will be asked to sign a petition to the Dutch parliament. The petition stresses the importance of the Netherlands’ international service to the regions it broadcasts to. Meanwhile hundreds of messages of support are pouring in on RNW's various language sites and on Facebook and Twitter. Dutch listeners in particular are calling for Dutch-language broadcasts to continue."

With cut in state funding, northern California's KHSU drops BBC World Service, but it and (update) KERU Dallas add Radio Netherlands.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Times-Standard (Eureka, CA), 12 June 2011, Kaci Poor: "Local public radio station KHSU, which broadcasts from the campus of Humboldt State University, will be eliminating programs and rearranging others come July 1 in an effort to cope with cuts to state funding. ... Most of the changes to KHSU's line-up will occur on the weekends. Almost half of the scheduled programs will be rearranged, extended or replayed. For most listeners, however, the biggest changes will be the elimination of old favorites like 'A Prairie Home Companion,' 'Mountain Stage' and the early-morning BBC World Service. ... Even with targeted fundraising, the station was unable to break even and raise enough money to air the program[s]."

KHSU website: "On July 1, 2011, KHSU will make some changes to its program schedule. These changes are designed to save KHSU money in the face of cuts to our state funding, while expanding some shows and launching new programs that KHSU's listeners will enjoy. ... Weekdays Midnight to 3 a.m. a number of programs will move and we will add four new programs: Philosophy Talk, European Jazz Stage, Hear the World from Radio Netherlands and The State We're In from Radio Netherlands. ...The BBC is an expensive program service that aired at a time when there was very little audience. In today's economy, we just can't afford to pay large fees for programs that few people can listen to. We still have BBC news on 'The World,' which airs weekdays from 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM." See also KHSU schedule, with BBC World Service (for now) Monday through Thursday 2 to 6 am, Friday 3-6 am.

Update: Dallas Observer, 15 June 2011, Robert Wilonsky: "Over the last couple of days I've received a handful of emails from KERA-FM [Dallas] supporters wondering what the heck happened to 90.1's lineup in recent days. Because as of Saturday, there's been a significant shakeup to the programming schedule: Out, for instance, are Tell Me More, To the Point, The Splendid Table and On the Media. And in are such shows as Earth Beat and The State We're In -- both Radio Netherlands Worldwide imports dealing with 'economics [from] a world perspective,' as Christopher Wagley, KERA's communications and marketing director, put it when we spoke this afternoon. ... 'Part of it comes from a yearly review dealing with monetary and programmatic concerns,' he says."

Misdelivered NATO leaflets tell Libyan rebels to "stop fighting."

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Toronto Star, 14 June 2011, Rosie DiManno: "How confused is NATO? While air strikes have apparently been surgically accurate, pilots Tuesday managed to drop leaflets warning about impending helicopter attacks — on the rebels in Dafniya, just west of Misurata. 'NATO will use all possible means to destroy all armour used against civilians,' the Arabic-written warnings declare, part of a psy-ops initiative to put the fear of low flying combat helicopters into government troops. 'Stop fighting. When you see these helicopters, it means it is already too late for you.' But rebel fighters bombarded by the mis-delivered leaflets could only read ’em and wonder: Huh?" With photo of leaflet.

The Scotsman, 15 June 2011, Chris Stephen: "The leaflets feature a picture of an Apache attack helicopter and a burning tank, and bears the legend in Arabic: 'If you go on killing the children and families you will be destroyed.' On the reverse the alliance adds: 'When you see this aircraft your time will be finished.'"

Free Speech Radio News, 14 June 2011: "About an hour’s drive from this border in the nearby Nefusa mountains is the Libyan city of Nalut. In February, it was one of the first towns to free itself from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's control. The rebels have since held on to the town despite ongoing shelling by Gaddafi troops but most of Nalut’s 25,000 residents have fled to neighboring Tunisia. Among those remaining in the town are a few hundred rebels, a small medical staff, and two radio hosts. Nalut’s radio station had long been the voice of the Gaddafi regime. Now, it heralds the revolution." With audio report.

Shortwave broadcast frequency coordinators will meet in Dallas.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 14 June 2011: "The National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters will team with Dallas-based transmitter maker Continental Electronics to host the first U.S. meeting of a High-Frequency Coordination Conference/Arab States Broadcasting Union conference, Sept. 12–16, in Dallas. Officially the B11 HFCC/ASBU conference, the gathering of shortwave broadcast professionals is expected to pull approximately 100 delegates from 40 countries. The NASB is encouraging shortwave professionals in the U.S. to attend to make a good showing. These twice-yearly conferences rotate among various countries. According to a release: 'This will be an excellent opportunity … to meet with the world’s shortwave broadcasters, and to discuss some of the new platforms of delivery for international broadcasting, such as the Internet, satellites, podcasts, etc. Topics dealing with programming, audience research and others are also being planned for the agenda.'"

China Radio International's predecessor broadcast from a cave, 1940-1945.

Posted: 16 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 14 June 2011, Lance Crayon: "Yan'an is a small city with a very big history. Located in Shaanxi Province, it boasts a population of two million. It has come a long way since the days when a younger Mao Zedong and other founding members of the PRC made this town the cradle of Chinese revolution in 1937. It was also the final destination of The Long March. ... [M]e and my fellow colleagues were taken to the original Yan'an Xinhua Radio Station. The sight of this place was unlike anything I expected, especially in terms of a media headquarters. The radio station was in full operation between 1940 and 1945. But what's surprising is that the facility is built in the side of a mountain, which is not unheard of in this part of China. The Yan'an Xinhua Radio station eventually split into two entities, one became China National Radio, and the other became China Radio International. This original site, which has been well-preserved considering it is still in its original location, is a spectacle to behold especially when you consider that modern Chinese media started here, in caves." -- Along the way to becoming China Radio International, it was called Radio Peking, later Radio Beijing.

Dallas Blog, 13 June 2011, Tom McGregor: "I can’t blame my Chinese coworkers at China Radio International for having a sense of humor and playing a practical joke. Knowing full well that I’m the last person in the world to promote Marxist ideology, they assigned me to take a special tour of the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party. Before my visit, one person joked, 'Tom it was nice knowing you,' while laughing about my ironic twist of fate. Anyway, it’s not everyday a conservative Republican blogger from Texas gets an opportunity to visit high-level Chinese government officials inside the Chinese Communist Party headquarters building, so I willingly agreed to go."

Bernama, 13 June 2011, Zabidi Ishar: China Radio International vice president, Wang Minghua, "told Bernama that he hoped cooperation between the Malaysian news agency and CRI would strengthen, benefitting the industry and generating income for both countries. ... There are 20 employees working on the Malay language segment at CRI, three of whom are Malaysians."

UK Foreign Affairs Committee welcomes comments by BBC Trust chairman on World Service budget cuts.

Posted: 15 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
UK Parliament, 13 June 2011: "The all-party Foreign Affairs Committee Monday welcomed the new BBC chairman's commitment to reduce the impact of government budget cuts on the corporation's World Service and especially his plans to prioritise the Arabic Service. Committee chair Richard Ottaway said he was also very pleased to hear that Lord Patten 'recognises the extraordinary value to the UK of the BBC World Service, and that he plans to take up its cause with the Foreign Secretary (William Hague)'. 'I'm particularly pleased that Lord Patten plans to prioritise the Arabic Service, at a time when the need for it couldn't be more evident or more important,' Ottaway said." Refers to Lord Patten's interview with The Telegraph: see previous post., 13 June 2011, Joel Gunter: "National Union of Journalists general secretary-elect Michelle Stanistreet welcomed Patten's comments: 'The NUJ welcomes the commitment by Lord Patten to put a stop to the damaging cuts at the BBC World Service. We are pleased he has recognised the international protests against the cuts which echoed everything that BBC journalists have said about their concern for the service they provide.'"

Stabroek News (Georgetown), 14 June 2011, editorial: In pointing to the the World Service’s Arabic, Somali and Hindi networks as being 'at the core of what the BBC is doing' Lord Patten is clearly seeking to send a signal that there is a strong nexus between the role of the BBC World Service and its wider global interests. The battle to save what Britain and much of the rest of the world regards as reflecting the finest tradition in free, independent and informative media would appear to be well and truly enjoined., 15 June 2011, Joel Gunter: "BBC journalists will begin a strike ballot on Friday following the threat of compulsory redundancies across the corporation. The National Union of Journalists confirmed this morning that all union members at the broadcaster will be balloted, with the results expected in a month's time. ... According to the NUJ, more than 100 people are now at risk of compulsory redundancy at the BBC World Service and union members are at risk in BBC Monitoring, BBC Scotland, and potentially at BBC Wales, BBC 4, BBC Sport and TV Current Affairs."

Ellana Lee is named Vice President of Asia. Of CNN, that is.

Posted: 15 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
afaqs!, 13 June 2011: "CNN announced today that Ellana Lee is moving into a new position at the network’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong. Currently Managing Editor, her role as Vice President of Asia will expand her responsibilities to encompass all of CNN’s operations and award-winning on-air and online news and feature programming from across the Asia Pacific region. ... Through her managerial responsibility for CNN’s correspondents and newsgathering teams across nine Asia Pacific editorial operations, she has overseen a remarkable six months of coverage since the turn of the year, from the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami in March, ongoing unrest in the Middle East to the death of Osama bin Laden. Lee has also been instrumental in the launch of a new Asia Primetime programming line-up, a new Hong Kong-based show called News Stream and four weeks of extended regional coverage in Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia."

Yes, back in the years 1645-1715, it was difficult to find *any* stations on the shortwave dial.

Posted: 15 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 15 June 2011, Hugh Stegman @UtilityWorld: "Maybe bad news for HF [shortwave]: 3 different solar studies agree Cycle 25 will be late, or not at all."

National Geographic Daily News, 14 June 2011, Victoria Jaggard: "Enjoy our stormy sun while it lasts. When our star drops out of its latest sunspot activity cycle, the sun is most likely going into hibernation, scientists announced today. Three independent studies of the sun's insides, surface, and upper atmosphere all predict that the next solar cycle will be significantly delayed-if it happens at all. Normally, the next cycle would be expected to start roughly around 2020. The combined data indicate that we may soon be headed into what's known as a grand minimum, a period of unusually low solar activity. The predicted solar 'sleep' is being compared to the last grand minimum on record, which occurred between 1645 and 1715. Known as the Maunder Minimum, the roughly 70-year period coincided with the coldest spell of the Little Ice Age, when European canals regularly froze solid and Alpine glaciers encroached on mountain villages." -- Sudden, intense solar activity can disrupt shortwave transmissions, but the higher end of the 11-year sunspot cycle is generally good for shortwave, opening up propagation on frequencies from 12 to 30 MHz.

China Radio International launches partnership with Happy Radio, 93.2 FM in Athens. CRI is now happy, too.

Posted: 15 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 15 June 2011: "China Radio International (CRI) and Greek 93.2 Happy Radio channel officially launched on Tuesday a partnership for a daily ten-hour transmission of programs about China and Chinese culture in Greece. Starting from June 1 this year, the state-run Chinese radio broadcaster begun providing the Greek channel with a wide range of informative and entertainment material for the production of programming broadcast in Greek for Attica prefecture's five million residents every day." -- Looking at and its format, the CRI programming might not be a perfect match. (Also no mention of CRI, that I can find.)

China's CNC World looks at Denver as possible hub to help it "challenge CNN."

Posted: 15 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Denver Post, 15 June 2011, Greg Griffin: "China's state-run news agency is considering Denver for a production facility and studio employing as many as 300 as it builds an international English-language news channel to eventually challenge CNN. A delegation of six Chinese officials representing the CNC World channel visited Colorado on Sunday and Monday, meeting separately with Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor-elect Michael Hancock. The delegation also is visiting New York and at least one other U.S. city during its trip, said David Thomson, director of global development for Colorado's Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The officials also met with representatives of Douglas County-based Dish Network. 'They're looking for a U.S. base to have a production facility and studio where they can be centrally located in the U.S.,' Thomson said. 'That's why they're considering Denver.' Hancock told The Denver Post that the Chinese officials told him the U.S. facility could employ 300 people. Thomson said the officials envisioned basing correspondents throughout the U.S., with the facility serving as a base of operations. China's news agency launched the CNC World channel last year. The British newspaper The Guardian reported that Chinese authorities said the purpose of the channel is to promote the country's image and viewpoint, and ultimately to challenge the BBC and CNN. 'According to plan, CNC global news network will cover some 100 countries and regions and will acquire overseas media market shares by 2014,' the network says on its website. 'It is expected to grow into a TV news terminal with global influence by 2020.'"

BBC iPlayer begins international rollout on iPad in Europe. Other regions and platforms later.

Posted: 15 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 14 June 2011, Dan Sabbagh: "Doctor Who and Fawlty Towers will be made available to Europeans armed with an iPad from later this year, as the BBC begins the process of introducing its international iPlayer to overseas audiences. Diehard BBC fans living in western Europe will have to pay somewhere under $10 (£6) a month – the fee is still to be decided – in return for a mix of contemporary and archive content on the Apple tablet, all of which will be in English. ... A cautious BBC plans to move slowly with its global subscription experiment, a funding model that some rightwing critics of the corporation have long argued in the UK could be the basis of an alternative funding model to the compulsory £145.50-a-year licence fee. Even Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, has privately wondered how much a voluntary licence fee paid by foreign viewers could raise. However, no date has been set for a US launch. ... At some point, the international iPlayer will also become available on other devices and via the open internet, as it is domestically, where viewing can be conducted through the PlayStation3 games console as well as online."

BBC Worldwide press release, 14 June 2011: "Jana Bennett will today set out her future vision and priorities for BBC Worldwide’s network of international channels and announce that a major international season of programming about London is to be taken to TV screens around the world. In her first major speech as President of Worldwide Networks and Global iPlayer, she will also announce that BBC Worldwide is deepening its development of original Lonely Planet programming that will bring the best of its travel expertise to BBC Worldwide’s international channels."

Al Jazeera English has "less pressure to be profitable than networks like CNN face."

Posted: 14 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 13 June 2011, Andrew Hampp: "Unlike Al-Jazeera English, Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language service has more than 20 channels -- specializing in kids, documentaries and sports as well as news -- and some of the highest-rated programs across the Middle East. And the Arabic-language channels carry more ads. In 2010, spending on Al-Jazeera's channels reached almost $650 million, but just $29 million was from Al-Jazeera English, according to data from market-research firm Ipsos. ... With backing from the emir of Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based, there is less pressure to be profitable than networks like CNN face. Of Al-Jazeera's 70 global bureaus, 35 are dedicated to English. He expects to open as many as five more in North America, in addition to others in Latin America, South Korea, Africa, Malaysia and Australia." -- A 2008 document lists 33 international bureaus for CNN. Of course, a "bureau" can be defined in different ways. But it is interesting to consider whether a government subsidy will be needed to sustain a competitive international broadcasting effort, or if self-funding (and profit) through advertising can work. For the sake of credibility, I would prefer the money come from a wide assortment of advertisers than from a single government (or emir).

The Independent, 11 June 2011, Robert Fisk: "[T]he great thing is that on al-Jazeera English, you can say what you want, tell the truth in other words – and thank God nothing much actually happens in Qatar, home of al-Jazeera, because I somehow doubt that the Emir, who funds this extraordinary shooting match, would be subjected to quite the same serious interrogation by its titans of journalism. But then again, both the English and the Arabic versions of al-Jazeera are, in their less than odd way, a state project, part of the nation's diplomacy, an extension of Qatar's foreign policy, an institution that helps Qatar (I hate these British clichés because they remind me of William Hague) to 'punch above its weight'."

MediaSource press release, 13 June 2011: "Al Jazeera’s English-language television channel is the most followed Middle East media brand on Twitter (@AJEnglish), according to a new website which tracks tweets from media, journalists and bloggers in the Middle East & North Africa. The Qatar-based news organisation operates three of the four most-followed twitter handles according to, with Al Jazeera Arabic (@AJArabic) second and Al Jazeera English’s breaking news feed (@AJELive) fourth. Dubai-based news channel Al Arabiya (@AlArabiya) is ranked third overall... ."

Middle East Events, 14 June 2011: "New York Press Club has awarded Al Jazeera English the 'Best News Videography of a Breaking Story by an Individual or Crew' in the Spot News Video category. The award will be presented to Al Jazeera journalists Cath Turner, Alessandro Rampietti and Geoff Mills for their piece on 'Haiti Cholera Protests.'"

Discovered: recordings of World War II broadcasts by the Czechoslovak government in exile.

Posted: 14 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Prague, 14 May 2011, David Vaughan: "A couple of years ago, someone at the Czech Foreign Ministry stumbled upon a large trunk. It turned out to contain more than 700 old gramophone records. It was clear from the labels on some of them, that the recordings were made in Britain during the Second World War, but nobody was quite sure what they were. How they came to be at the ministry remains a mystery to this day. After some negotiation, the recordings, most of which are in excellent condition, were transferred to our own archives here at Czech Radio. Our sound archivist, Miloslav Turek, is now busy sorting them out, and it turns out that they are a very exciting find. It had long been thought that the wartime broadcasts made by the Czechoslovak government in exile, independently of the BBC’s own Czechoslovak service, had nearly all been lost, but it turns out that they are preserved on dozens of the records found in the ministry. On top of this, there are numerous BBC recordings, including a number of fascinating propaganda broadcasts in English about the contribution to the war effort being made by the Czechs and Slovaks serving in Britain’s armed forces." With audio including one of the English broadcasts.

Newt Gingrich wants to expand the federal bureaucracy.

Posted: 14 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Newt2012, 12 June 2011, Newt Gingrich's address to the Republican Jewish Coalition: "We must also re-establish the United States Information Agency as a robustly funded worldwide anti-terrorism and pro-freedom communications and advocacy system. The USIA fought for our side in the war of ideas during the Cold War and helped us win. In 1999, this agency was dismantled because we thought the war of ideas was over. We discovered on 9/11 that it was not. ... The USIA helped America win the Cold War and it can help us win the war against evil terrorist organizations and dictatorships. But to do this we must ensure that the USIA once again has independent board of governors reporting to the President and coordinating with the State Department but not controlled by the diplomats."

So Newt Gingrich would roll back the action initiated by the late Republican Senator Jesse Helms to combine USIA into the State Department. Senator Helms did this to streamline the foreign affairs bureaucracies: much of USIA's work was done in conjunction with, and within the facilities of, and with the approval of the State Department and its embassies. Recreating USIA would have excellent boondoggle value. It will establish an entire building full of high level plum jobs.

USIA never, as far as I know, had an "independent board of governors." It has always had an advisory commission, but its role has always been, well, advisory. If USIA coordinates with, but is not be controlled by, the State Department, it can make statements at odds with those of the State Department, or say things the State Department would not say at all. International publics could then choose from the contending messages of the growing family of foreign affairs agencies. Sounds like a situation as chaotic as, well, the Newt Gingrich presidential campaign.

Pakistani shortwave listener reports "shortwave broadcasting has gained a new life in Pakistan."

Posted: 14 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
DX Listening Digest Yahoo! group, 7 June 2011, Aslam Javaid in Lahore: "A few years back it was being thought that shortwave broadcasting in Pakistan is going to end soon in line with international trend where more and more state broadcasters had opted for closure of shortwave transmission and switched to internet live broadcasting. The regional services of Radio Pakistan from Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Radio Pakistan's News Channel were discontinued on shortwave. Similarly the Balti and Sheena language services for Gilgit Baltistan area from Islamabad were no more available. The external language services were reduced to Hindi, Dari, Pushto, Farsi, Chinese, Gujrati, Bengali and English. The duration of world service on shortwave in Urdu was also reduced. However the authorities at Radio Pakistan had second thoughts in subsequent period and decided to retain shortwave for the coming years. Accordingly Radio Pakistan initiated the project of installation of two 100 kW shortwave transmitters at Karachi for external service and a new shortwave transmitter at Islamabad. Now Nepali, Sinhala and Tamil language service has been resumed and there are plans to resume Russian, Arabic and Turkish language broadcasts as well. Similarly Balti and Sheena language broadcasts for Gilgit Balitistan has been resumed. Azad Kashmir Radio Trarkhal has been provided new transmitter. Live audio of five channels is available on Radio Pakistan website. The new shortwave transmitters at Karachi are at the final stages of installation. In fact shortwave broadcasting has gained a new life in Pakistan."

Video ad for France 24's Twitter presence dramatically detracts from the channel's news mission.

Posted: 14 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Mashable, 11 June 2011, Tad Wasserman: "Twitter‘s power to dislodge dictators is dramatized in a TV ad promoting French international news channel France 24. The two-minute ad shows the animated, Gadaffi-like ruler and his underlings attacked by righteously angry birds representing freedom. The scene, of course, is an allegory for the Arab Spring, in which Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media contributed to the ousting of rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, along with civil uprisings in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen — not to mention a civil war in Libya. Creativity Online notes that France 24 has grown its Twitter followers five-fold during its Arab Spring coverage. Ironically, France has forbidden its TV and radio personalities from saying the words 'Twitter' and 'Facebook' on air, unless it’s during a news story about those specific companies. It’s unclear whether this spot, which explicitly directs viewers to follow France 24 on Twitter, runs afoul of that decree." With video.

As dramatic as this ad is, it's off message for France 24. A credible news channel does not exalt the toppling of dictators. Instead, it reports the cold, hard facts about dictators and about the activities of their regimes. The audience can draw their own conclusions.

The two-minute ad ends with the caption "France 24 is now on Twitter." Only just now on Twitter? And the ad does not provide the France 24 username. The viewer might guess that it's @France24 -- correct -- but the all-English version, given that the ad is in English, is @France24_en.

Comment from Matt Armstrong: "Speaking for myself, I disagree w/ Mashable’s and your comment about the video. This isn’t exalting France24’s power, but an ad for Twitter and its ability to expose and share information and ultimately (in some cases) facilitate action. The lone bird at the beginning symbolized the limited power of the individual. I agree on the point the English Twitter handle should have been there. Regarding the focus on Twitter, I’m guessing somebody made this animation and somebody thought it was cool and they ran with it. It could be modified to include other social media platforms (they’re on Facebook) but sometimes keeping it simple is better."

"Stoush" between ABC and Sky News for Australia Network contract jeopardizes satellite access to India.

Posted: 14 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Age (Melbourne), 13 June 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The stoush between the publicly funded ABC and the partially Murdoch-owned Sky News Australia over the lucrative deal to broadcast the Australia Network - as the official channel is known - is causing headaches for the government. A May 2 deadline for a decision has passed, with the Foreign Affairs Department believed to have referred the issue to cabinet for discussion because of the political sensitivities surrounding the deal. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd will return from overseas this week when the contract is expected to be decided. At present the ABC runs the service, which reaches more than 34 million households in 44 countries. Sky News is bidding for the rights to broadcast the service after missing out in 2005. But with the present contract due to expire in August, leases with third parties for the channel to be carried on satellite signals are also running out and cannot be renewed until the contract is finalised. Among these is a lease with Intelstat, which owns the satellite named PAS-10 that broadcasts Australia Network into South-East Asia and India. The service into India is especially competitive with hundreds of channels competing for rights to prime satellite spots."

Aung San Suu Kyi will deliver 2011 BBC Reith Lectures, broadcast by World Service and Radio 4.

Posted: 13 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 10 June 2011: "Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, will deliver the 2011 BBC Reith Lectures. Her two lectures will discuss the themes of dissent and liberty and will be broadcast on BBC Radio from 28 June. The lectures are part of a wider series, entitled 'Securing Freedom', reflecting on global events of the past year. ... Aung San Suu Kyi said: 'When I was under house arrest, it was the BBC that spoke to me - I listened.' ... Aung San Suu Kyi's lectures will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service on Tuesday, 28 June and 5 July." With link to audio.

Fox, CBS, and BBC are players in India's English TV "deluge."

Posted: 13 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Hindustan Times, 11 June 2011, Yashica Dutt: In India: "Last year ... most English content viewers were craving quality entertainment. Repeated re-runs, ancient seasons and old shows were all they could see. But the screen looks much brighter this year. There are several new channels in the category, and much more variety. Fox Network came to town in July last year bringing fresh blood with Fox Crime, FX and NGC Wild. It was followed by CBS, which came under the aegis of the Reliance network – named Big CBS, with three channels – Big CBS Prime, Big CBS Love and Big CBS Spark. Then there’s BBC Entertainment, not to mention WB and the new Discovery channels. ... What has caused this English channel deluge? The answer, as for everything else, is India’s success story. Says Deepak Shourie, South Asia head, BBC Worldwide Channels, 'The English viewing audience has grown in numbers, with about 72-75 million viewers around the country. No one wants to miss out on that.' Saurabh Yagnik, general manager and senior vice president, English Channels, Star India, says it has to do with the reach of the language. 'Currently about 30 per cent of India’s population converses in English and hence the scope of this category is tremendous. It will grow at least two-three times in near the future,' he says."

Unable to verify his claims, Radio Farda did not broadcast interview with Iranian who infiltrated opposition.

Posted: 13 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 10 June 2011, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Iran's Intelligence Ministry has claimed it infiltrated the Iranian opposition outside the country and prevented a plan to create what has been described as a 'government in exile' supported and promoted by Iran's enemies. The claim was made first in a documentary titled 'A Diamond For Deceit,' aired on state television on June 8. The Iranian agent who had the lead role in the show was introduced as Mohammad Reza Madhi. Madhi is said to be a former member of Iran’s security organs who was involved in the trade of precious stones in Thailand before infiltrating the opposition. Mahdi introduced himself as a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards in interviews published and aired last year by a number of media, including Persian-language television, radio, and websites. RFE/RL’s Persian service, Radio Farda, also spoke with Madhi at that time but decided not to air any interviews because the editors felt Madhi was not credible and they were not able to verify his many claims."

Libyan media news, and a correction to Libyan media news, in the news.

Posted: 13 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
NPR, 10 June 2011, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson: "There's a war Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is waging in addition to the one against Libyan rebels and NATO: a propaganda war on the airwaves. His goal is to persuade Libyans to support him, and his top commander in that effort is a U.S.-educated political scientist. The Libyan pundit hosts a nightly show broadcast from Tripoli that he claims is styled after some of America's most popular television programs. The show, called Ashem al-Watan, or 'Hope of the Nation,' isn't your usual Libyan television fare. Instead of lengthy anti-NATO diatribes by commentators or images of Gadhafi accompanied by patriotic songs, the program's host, Yosif Shakeir, prefers to get his message across using a talk show format. ... [F]ollowing the February uprising in Benghazi, Shakeir says he felt he had to do something to combat what he and other Gadhafi supporters believe is biased reporting in the foreign media, especially on Arabic-language channels like Al-Jazeera and the U.S.-funded Alhurra. ... He says he's tried to adopt the styles of Larry King, Ted Koppel and Johnny Carson to deliver his message to Libyans who tune in."

Al Arabiya, 13 June 2011, Noora Faraj and Jovan Djordjevic: "Amidst the ongoing conflict that struck Libya four months ago, the media industry in Benghazi has been thriving and drawing strength from the chaos that ensues. Rebel-run TV and radio stations have all witnessed rapid developments throughout the city, as both foreign and domestic demand for news grows. The residents of Benghazi themselves have gotten used to watching Libya Alhurra, a Qatar-based news station that reports news from the front-line every day. Libya AlHurra has recently expanded, and since May, it has diversified its programs to include talk shows and political reviews amongst other features. Recent statistics from National Transitional Council's media center have shown that there are currently 64 registered media outlets in Libya, compared to the pre-conflict total of four." With video report.

AP, 11 June 2011: "In a story May 31 about the Libyan rebels' first homegrown rebel satellite television station, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Libya Alhurra TV is an extension of the Internet video streaming site The Internet site is a separate entity from the TV station. The story also reported that Libyan businessman Mohammed al-Nabbous was shot as he was filming video. Al-Nabbous was killed as he was broadcasting a live audio feed."

Obit: Jaehoon Ahn, founding director of Radio Free Asia Korean service.

Posted: 13 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 10 June 2011, Emma Brown: "Jaehoon Ahn, a Washington Post researcher for more than 25 years who went on to become founding director of Radio Free Asia’s Korean-language service, died June 1 at a hospital in Virginia Beach of complications from a bleeding ulcer. He was 70. ... [In 1997, he helped] congressionally funded Radio Free Asia start a new Korean-language service. He began from scratch and within six weeks had helped hire five reporters and get a half-hour broadcast on the air. His team soon built a longer program and a reputation for reporting from North Korea, one of the world’s most closed countries. Mr. Ahn retired from Radio Free Asia in 2007."

Nigerian politician recalls Radio Kudirat, opposition shortwave station of the 1990s.

Posted: 13 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Nation (Lagos), 12 June 2011: "Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was a June 12 activist, recalls the establishment and operation of Radio Kudirat during the campaign to actualise the mandate of the late Chief M.K.O Abiola: ... 'In 1993 when the election was annulled ... we ... wanted to achieve three broad objectives: provide an alternative to the heavy dose of propaganda of the then military regime, empower the people and also reach the military class by promoting dialogue as the most viable option out of the political quagmire. ... [T]he FM reach was not impressive enough. We discovered we could go on Short Wave, without being on the ground in Nigeria, but that was expensive. ... The World Radio Network was able to assist us in obtaining 6205 kilohert on the 49-meter band. Time of broadcast was 8pm Nigerian time. ... Days before we launched the radio, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was gunned down on the street of Lagos. Her assassination came as a shock. This made us to change the name to Radio Kudirat to bestow honour on Alhaja Kudirat. ... The Radio Kudirat broadcast in 14 Nigerian languages. We had a Jumat broadcast on Fridays and one for Christians on Sundays."

Is Lord Patten, new chairman of BBC Trust, the World Service's peer in shining armo[u]r?

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 12 June 2011, Jonathan Wynne-Jones: "Lord Patten said the corporation will 'not be the same' after it introduces changes later this year as part of a cost-saving initiative to cut 20 per cent from its budget. However, he will urge William Hague, the foreign secretary, to protect the World Service, describing the Arabic, Somali and Hindi networks as 'at the core of what the BBC is doing'. ... 'I hope that with the Foreign Secretary we can successfully mitigate the effects of some of the decisions which were taken,' he said. 'I'll be talking to him reasonably soon. I know he regards the World Service as an important part of this country's soft power and I'm sure that with goodwill and without megaphones we'll be able to sort it out.' He continued: 'I'm hoping on Arabic services we will be able to protect that as something that is at the core of what the BBC is doing. I'm very keen on the Somali and Hindi services as well. The issue is can we restore some of what was going to be lost and I hope we can.'"

BBC News, 12 June 2011: "The last Governor of Hong Kong told the paper: 'If you want to know how good the BBC is, just spend time somewhere else. If you took anyone from any other country who comes here or listens to the World Service or looks at some of the BBC services, they think it's a fantastic organisation.' He said he planned to lobby Foreign Secretary William Hague over the government's funding of the World Service, which is due to end in 2014. 'I'm hoping that on Arabic services [we] will be able to protect that as something that is at the core of what the BBC is doing. I know what regard he [Hague] has for the World Service. I know he regards it as an important part of this country's soft power and I'm sure that with goodwill and without megaphones we'll be able to sort it out.'"

Sunday Express (London), 12 June 2011, John Baron MP: "Britain is extremely fortunate to have two superb examples of soft power: the BBC World Service and the British Council. The former broadcasts in more than 30 languages and has a weekly audience in excess of 180 million. It is politically independent, non-profit and commercial-free. It is widely respected for its quality journalism and the independence of its news reporting. It has great credibility yet the coalition is attempting to cut its funding as part of its deficit reduction plans. Audiences of 10 million in India are being lost for a trivial saving of less than £1million. Cuts are being contemplated to the BBC Arabic Service at a time when it is more desperately needed than ever."

Press Trust of India, 12 June 2011: "Lord Chris Patten, the new chairman of the BBC Trust, considers the Hindi Service as one of the 'core services' of the BBC World Service and wants to save it from deep funding cuts that threatens its existence from March 2012."

Iraqi official uses Alhurra to ask US Rep. Rora Bakher to leave. Now. Please.

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Aswat al-Iraq, 11 June 2011: "The Iraqi government has demanded the American Embassy in Baghdad to ask a U.S. Congress delegation, now on a visit for Iraq, to leave the country 'in protest for statements by the delegation members in support of (the anti-Tehran) Mujahedin E-Khalq Organization and their demands for compensations by Iraq for what they described as US sacrifices in Iraq,' its Official Spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh said on Saturday. 'The Iraqi government has demanded the American Embassy in Baghdad to instruct the U.S. Congress delegation, now visiting the country, to leave Iraq, in protest to the said statements by its members,' Dabbagh told al-Hurra Satellite TV Channel. ... The U.S. Congress delegation member, Rora Bakher, has demanded the Iraqi government to 'pay part of the U.S. aids, spent by the United States for Iraq over the past 8 years, when the economic situation in Iraq improves.' Bakher, in a statement at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had said that 'the united States was facing difficult economic conditions, and it, of course shall appreciate the support by its friends, the same way it had supported them when they have been in need,' adding that he had discussed the issue with the Iraqi Prime Minister, during their said meeting."

McClatchy Newspapers, 11 June 2011, Roy Glutman: "After a 'very frank' exchange with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a prominent House Republican announced his subcommittee is investigating whether forces under al-Maliki's command had committed a 'crime against humanity' when they killed 35 Iranian dissidents at a camp north of Baghdad on April 8. Responding to the assertions by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., al-Maliki asked the U.S. Embassy to remove the U.S. delegation from Iraq immediately, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said on Alhurra television. It is highly unusual for a congressional committee on an official visit to another country to announce an investigation of the host government's actions on its own territory, and it's equally rare for an official delegation to be told to leave. In effect, Rohrabacher's move propelled an incident that the U.S. Embassy and State Department had sought to play down into a dispute between the two countries."

Newsmax writer describes VOA as "propaganda agency," and probably meant it as a compliment.

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 11 June 2011, Charles J. Little: "As the government's Voice of America broadcasting services undergo a 21st-century digital makeover, some proposed moves away from radio transmission to Web-casting and Facebook are causing static on Capitol Hill, The New York Times reports. Walter Isaacson, the veteran D.C. journalist who now runs the propaganda agency, is discovering that traditional VOA affiliates such as Radio and TV Martí and Radio Free Asia have powerful defenders in Congress. a recent effort to shut down shortwave U.S. broadcasts to China, for example, ran smack into Rep. Dana Rohrabacker, R-Calif., who said that using only digital media to reach the Chinese would signal weakness to a global adversary. Isaacson expects similar resistance from the Cuban-American constituencies that back Radio and TV Martí."

Eurasia Review, 11 June 2011, Kourosh Ziabari: "If you’re familiar with the conventional double standards and hypocrisy of the American type, you might have heard about the US Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, popularly known as the Smith-Mundt Act. This discriminatory and indefensible act which was first signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on January 27, 1948 after getting approval by the 80th Congress is, in a nutshell, a regulation which allows the United States to establish and initiate media outlets which are aimed at non-American audiences in order to further the diplomatic and political objectives and interests of the U.S. overseas; however, these media outlets, including radio and TV stations, are unavailable to the U.S. citizens, and to put it more succinctly, it’s forbidden for them to have access to these media channels. ... The American people are deprived of listening to the propaganda of Radio Farda and VOA; however, it is vital for them to know that their government does not really represent a 'beacon of freedom' nor does it have the features of a 'pioneer of democracy' but is more of a propaganda machine programmed to wage wars and win profits." -- Any American can access in English and other languages, and probably would not dismiss as a "propaganda machine."

In the news: plight of five persons reporting for, or associated with, US international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Journalists in Trouble, 8 June 2011: "Addressing participants at the Conference on Journalists' Safety in the OSCE Region in Vilnius, Lithuania, US State Department official Thomas Melia underscored the responsibility of governments to ensure the safety of journalists in their country and foster an environment that is conducive to the functioning of independent and pluralistic media. ... In his remarks, Melia singled out the cases of Abdumalik Boboyev, an Uzbek stringer for Voice of America, and Amangelen Shapudakov, a contributor to Radio Free Europe's Turkmen service." With link to speech transcript.

RFE/RL Watchdog, 7 June 2011, reporting by RFE/RL Kazakh Service: "Arshidin Israil, a Uyghur refugee from China and a contributor to Radio Free Asia (RFA), RFE/RL's sister organization, was extradited on May 30 from Kazakhstan to China, where he faces charges of terrorism. In court documents, Israil wrote that he believed the charges were politically motivated, issued by the Chinese government in response to his reporting for RFA on Uyghur protests in western China in 2009." See also Radio Free Asia, 8 June 2011, Shohret Hoshur and Joshua Lipes. And Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, 8 June 2011, with links., 8 June 2011, Syarhey Pulsha: "At least three people were arrested during Tuesday`s protest staged by motorists in central Minsk against a fresh increase in motor fuel prices, human rights defenders said. Hundreds of motorists blocked traffic on Minsk’s major thoroughfare, Independence Avenue, for two hours on Tuesday evening. One of the arrested people was Pavel Hruzdzilovich, whose father Aleh is a reporter with the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty."

Update: Iran Independent News Service, 12 June 2011: "The Islamic Revolutionary Court has sentenced Fariborz Raiis-Dana, a renowned economist to one year jail term, Aftab news reported. ... Mohammad Moghaysseh, the judge of the IRC ... blamed the economist, writer and social activist for giving interviews to foreign media such as BBC and Voice of America."

Africa No 1 chairman praises Gabonese authorities and shareholders for restoring the radio station's broadcasts.

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Africa No. 1 (Libreville), 9 June 2011, via BBC Monitoring, via Radio Netherlands Media Network: "[H]ere is a message from the general management of Africa No 1 Radio to its listeners and to the Gabonese government. After more than one month of interruption our programmes have been back on the air since this morning as you have noticed. Bachir Aboubakeur, the chairman and managing director of the radio, took the opportunity to pay homage to the Gabonese authorities and to all its listeners. Let us listen to the chairman and managing director of the radio. [Aboubakeur] Ladies and gentlemen listeners of Africa No 1, some four months ago, while addressing you on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Africa No 1 I deservedly recalled how much Africa was linked to the African radio. The link has remained strong as we have been given the opportunity to witness since the interruption of the signals of Africa No 1. As Africa No 1 is resuming its programmes, I would like to pay a glowing homage to the Gabonese authorities and shareholders of Africa No 1 who made it possible to put an end to this long and sad interruption. We remain convinced that this hitch will in no way put into question the spirit and the letter of the radio and audiovisual cooperation existing between Gabon and Libya. Long live Africa No 1." -- Was this monitored on an Africa No. 1 shortwave frequency? Or an audio stream of one of its FM frequencies?

Huffington Post, 11 June 2011, Michelle Faul: "[T]he financial tentacles of Moammar Gadhafi's regime are far-reaching and little known across the continent. They include the first pan-African communications satellite and the continent's only pan-African radio station. ... hanging in limbo is the future of the only continentwide radio station, Africa No. 1, which has been broadcasting from Libreville, Gabon, since the 1970s and reaches some 20 million listeners in a score of countries via satellite and shortwave. Its satellite provider cut its signal last month saying it was owed some 300,000 euros. Libya owns 52 percent of the station." See previous post about same subject.

In Quetta, 1983, juxtaposition of VOA and Radio Moscow on the shortwave dial, with "very peculiar" results.

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Niles (MI) Daily Star, 8 June 2011, Michael Waldron: "When I lived in Quetta, Pakistan, in 1983, I used my grandfather’s shortwave radio to learn what was going on in the world. That shortwave radio was invaluable because in 1983 Quetta was extremely remote. I would tune in 'Voice of America' while I ate breakfast. On some mornings, the announcer had some very peculiar things to report. Usually after five minutes, I would retune the radio and discover I was listening to Radio Moscow and not VOA. The frequencies were very close together. The VOA transmitter was in Sri Lanka; I have no idea where the more powerful Radio Moscow transmitter was. In 1983, I was sympathetic to the Soviet people, who were subjected to news management by their media. ... I like the marketplace of ideas concept. I have confidence that Americans will select good journalism over biased journalism. That leads me back to my grandfather’s shortwave radio. I only knew then of two frequencies to hear the news. It would have been much better if there had been 10 or 20 or a hundred English radio stations available. I don’t need a gatekeeper to decide for me what I need to know. Thank God for cable TV and the Internet."

However, "Strictly Come Objective News Reporting" probably won't soon be adopted in China.

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
China Daily, 10 June 2011, Zhang Xi: "More localized TV shows based on previously developed shows are marching into Chinese homes, with at least 10 such programs being broadcasted by satellite TV stations this year. Satellite TV stations started to import foreign program formats around 2006. But it wasn't until China's Got Talent hit the airwaves in 2010 that the import model skyrocketed, says Rebecca Yang, co-founder of the International Program Content Network Ltd. The British distribution company introduces foreign program formats to Chinese TV stations. The first season of China's Got Talent, the Chinese version of Britain's Got Talent, was often the top-rated prime-time show on Sundays in 2010. According to CSM Media Research, a TV ratings analyst company, the finale attracted 5.7 percent of Chinese audience on Oct 10, 2010. Its broadcaster, Shanghai's Dragon Satellite TV Station, started airing the second season in May, which have received a lot of attention as well, with 3 percent of the Chinese audience watching the latest first-round selection on May 22. ... BBC Worldwide has licensed five formats to Chinese broadcasters over the last five years, says Pierre Cheung, BBC Worldwide's executive for Greater China. Among them, Strictly Come Dancing (known internationally as Dancing with the Stars and licensed to more than 35 global broadcasters), has been a very successful entertainment show in China, becoming the country's top rated show in its first two seasons in 2006-2007. One reason for the success of British formats may be because they are sold to the US first. TV producers there then tweak the formats to create internationally popular programs."

BBC News Android app, now available for international users, includes live BBC World Service audio.

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 10 June 2011, Chris Parsons: "Android users had to wait quite a while for the official BBC Android app to arrive, when it did -- it was only made available in UK respectively. Now, BBC has taken their offerings Global by making the application available to all Worldwide. We're not exactly sure, what stopped them from doing so previously -- licensing agreements we suppose but either way we're glad to see it finally available to all. If we could now get the BBC iPlayer that would be great but one step at a time."

Android Market: "Download the official BBC News app for international audiences. Get the latest world and regional news from the BBC’s global network of more than 2000 journalists. From breaking news, to business, politics, entertainment, technology, the arts and sport, all divided into clear sections, this free app lets you watch video reports, listen to live radio and read the latest updates wherever you are."

The Doha Debates have become an international broadcasting phenom.

Posted: 12 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 8 June 2011, Sara Hamdan: The Doha Debates are "shown on a BBC program that reaches 400 million viewers worldwide. ... 'When I set up the Doha Debates seven years ago with the help of Sheikah Moza of Qatar, the condition was that there would be absolutely no interference of any kind from authorities,' said Tim Sebastien, a television journalist, writer, and chairman and moderator of the Doha Debates. 'It’s very simple. If there is ever any pressure, we will leave.' He hasn’t left yet. The Doha Debates is in its seventh year, freely tackling topics that may not please the governing authorities in Qatar or in the many countries from which participants are drawn. ... The show is broadcast once a month for eight months of the year on BBC World News and is also broadcast on PBS in the United States, GEO TV in Pakistan, TV BiH in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Real News Network in Canada. Usually, one show is filmed in an international location other than Qatar each year in order to broaden the program’s reach. But this year, two shows were filmed outside Qatar, the first in Tunis on Feb. 22 and the second in Cairo on March 14 as the Arab Spring took hold across the Middle East." See also the Doha Debates website.

Vietnam regulates foreign channels on pay TV, including translation and advertising.

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio the Voice of Vietnam, 10 June 2011: "The content of foreign channels’ broadcasts on pay TV in Vietnam must be edited and translated by a licensed agency. This is one of the recently approved regulations on pay TV management discussed at a seminar hosted by the Broadcasting, Television and Electronic Information Management Department under the Ministry of Information and Communications. The contents of programmes must be suitable for people’s healthy needs and not violate Vietnamese laws or regulations. The translation of contents is compulsory when a foreign TV channel wants to broadcast in Vietnam. Advertising, if any, must be carried out in Vietnam and follow Vietnam’s regulations on advertising. Providers of pay TV contents must be responsible for advertisement content on their channels."

Sai Gon Giai Phong, 9 June 2011: "The new regulation is approved by the Prime Minister and is effective from March 24 this year. Any foreign program must meet the required conditions before broadcast on Pay TV. ... Moreover, the program's form and genre must be reasonable, palatable to larger audiences and sustain the country's long-term interests, besides being approved by the ministry. ... If the advertisement has been created in a foreign country, it should be re-edited to suit Vietnamese press and advertisement criteria. However, live foreign television programs such as popular sporting events, closing and opening ceremonies of games in the region and the world cannot be edited."

In the past few years, Vietnam has been surprisingly wide open to international television (e.g. Disney, Discovery, CNN International) on its cable and direct-to-home satellite systems. Some of these channels are apparently subtitled into Vietnamese.

VietNamNet, 10 June 2011: "The world’s first 3-dimension scientific reportage is about Vietnam’s Son Doong cave and it will be broadcast in 60 countries on June 25. The 3D reportage was produced by Japan’s Kyodo Film and will be broadcast on Japan’s NHK World TV in 60 countries, according to officials from Quang Binh province, the home to Son Doong, which is classified as the largest cave in the world."

New Tang Dynasty TV presses to stay on Taiwan satellite to reach China mainland.

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Central News Agency (Taipei), 8 June 2011: "Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's biggest telecom operator, said Wednesday that it has found a new carrier to broadcast New Tang Dynasty TV's (NTDTV) signals to the same areas as Chunghwa's first commercial satellite had been doing. Based in New York City, NTDTV is known for its anti-Communist Party stance and extensive news coverage of human rights abuses on mainland China. NTDTV's contract with Chunghua expires in August. Chunghwa informed the television channel in April that it will not continue the contract because their new ST-2 satellite, which was launched on May, does not have enough broadband to carry NTDTV signals. NTDTV asked [Taiwan's] National Communications Commission (NCC) to intervene. Chen Cheng-tsang, NCC spokesman, said Premier Wu Den-yih wanted Chunghwa to find a carrier for NTDTV so the latter's services will not be disrupted. Chunghwa said it has found another satellite that can provide similar services to NTDTV. But on Tuesday, NTDTV said that it still wants to use ST-2's services."

Radio Free Europe leaflet campaigns of the 1950s: poking holes in the idea of balloons for propaganda.

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Ars Technica, 8 June 2011, Matthew Lasar: "Sixty years ago this August, one of the strangest information wars ever fought raged over the skies of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland. From that summer month onward, thousands of balloons with compact, car-sized payloads floated across the Iron Curtain landscape, dropping tens of millions of newspapers, political leaflets, and stickers into cities and villages. Launched by Radio Free Europe and Free Europe Press, these documents urged peasants to refuse to cooperate with collective farms. They exhorted Slovaks and Czechs to boycott national elections. They included embarrassing secret memos suppressed by Communist governments. ... In November of 1956, the West abandoned the crusade. Why did this bold action fail? Because while Prospero and its subsequent versions cut a huge hole through the Iron Curtain's information wall, Radio Free Europe wasn't always sure what to tell the people of Prague, Budapest, and Krakow. For its time, the medium was powerful, but the message was ineffective, one-sided, and unclear. In our age of Facebook and Twitter revolutions, it's worth taking a critical look at the Cold War's Battle of Balloons. ... The millions of balloons launched by Radio Free Europe and Free Europe Press annoyed Communism, but did little more. The truth by itself does not set people free. It must be accompanied by other kinds of power." -- Recommended reading.

Pray that this recommendation is not part of some future legislation affecting US international broadcasting.

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 8 June 2011, Joseph K. Grieboski, founder of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, from his testimony to the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights: "While the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) was meant to help alleviate the potential and actual suffering of millions of people around the globe based on their religious and belief choices, the situation of religious freedom has in fact deteriorated since Congress's unanimous passage of the bill in 1998. Sadly, the great spirit of IRFA was never fully incorporated into the letter of policy. ... There needs to be much more interaction and integration (which the legislation begins to foster) between State and other federal agencies on religious freedom. ... International broadcasting is one platform that could be used far more effectively to promote religious freedom." -- Successful international broadcasting entities provide value and attract audiences because they provide a credible news service. To preserve that credibility, these entities must not promote anything, not even something as commendable as religious freedom. A more prudent recommendation would be for US public diplomacy to step up its attention to religious freedom, to the point that it becomes part of the news agenda. US international broadcasting would then, almost certainly, cover the topic.

Australian politicians discuss public diplomacy and stereotypes -- stereotypes other countries could only hope for.

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, 7 June 2011, reporter Joanna McCarthy: "A conference on public diplomacy has heard that Australia needs to do more to promote an international image that moves beyond narrow stereotypes. Opposition senator Russell Trood says the Department of Foreign Affairs lacks a coherent strategy to influence how Australia's seen by the rest of the world. He says investing more resources in public diplomacy would help Australia attract more investment, tourists and international students. But the Department says projecting a positive image of Australia has always been part of its core business." With audio report, in which Senator Trood mentioned "sunshine, koalas, open space, freedom, laidback, sports obsessed" etc.

The international broadcasting of the NBA finals (US professional basketball) now includes Al Jazeera Arabic.

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Dallas Morning News, 8 June 2011, Jim Rossman: "The 2011 NBA Finals, featuring the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, will be the most widely distributed in league history. The games will be available live globally on TV, Internet, and mobile devices, as well as in movie theaters and at public viewing events. The Finals will be televised live in 215 countries and territories in 46 languages. In addition, all games will be available live online and for the first time on mobile devices in 200 countries and territories. ... Sina, NBA China's official website operator, will stream all games live while Tencent, the official online community partner of NBA China, will have a correspondent onsite utilizing LiveU technology to report from courtside and behind-the-scenes live to millions of online viewers. Both Sina and Tencent will engage the millions of followers on their respective NBA official micro-blog accounts. CNTV, the digital arm of CCTV will also stream all games live. ... Al Jazeera will travel to The Finals to call the games live in Arabic for the first time. In Africa, 23 free-to-air stations will televise The Finals, up from 15 last year, in addition to long-time partner ESPN. To tip off The Finals, the NBA is launching a new website in Africa that will provide news, stats and photos and information about NBA events taking place on the continent."

Dallas Morning News, 7 June 2011, Michael Granberry: "'It's a great place to be,' [Al Jazeera sports present Paul] Fadel said of Dallas, whose sizzling temperatures he compared to the weather in Al Jazeera's host country, Qatar. The NBA is big throughout the Al Jazeera broadcast territory, Fadel said, calling it 'the second-most popular sport in the region after soccer.'"

Observer thinks the "new VOA" web page about Bahrain is biased.

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Bahrain Independent, 6 June 2011, Scott Finch: "VOA Middle East has now set up a website entitled 'Bahrain Behind the Wall' attempting to reach out to 'citizen journalists' (post-June 1st ) to get stories that presumably the mainstream media isn’t covering. Even the very set-up of the homepage shows bias in favor of the anti-government opposition, with a map showing color codes for various incidents, ranging from 'Civilian killed by military/police' to 'military/police shooting into a peaceful crowd' to 'military/police throwing teargas into a peaceful crowd'. To be fair, there is also a color for 'riots' and 'police/military killed by civilian' but there is no color code for death threats, destruction of public property and vandalism, blocking access to public areas or instigating police response. This is what I have a problem with. VOA assumes that the anti-government opposition is the victim in Bahrain and is pulling the same stunt they have been using in Cuba with Radio Marti since the 1970s: meddle in a sovereign nation’s internal politics via VOA. Recently I had a twitter exchange with someone from the VOA after I referred to them as a notorious American propaganda tool. I was informed that this is not the 'old VOA', but rather a 'new VOA' where censorship hardly ever happens. It’s not really censorship that worries me though; it is blatant propaganda and a meddling foreign policy aimed at shaping other countries to the benefit of the USA." -- I can't find "Bahrain Behind the Wall" at the VOA website, which, in any case, would be an ambitious undertaking for an international broadcast station that does not have an Arabic service.

VOA News, 7 June 2011: "U.S. President Barack Obama has reaffirmed the strong U.S. commitment to Bahrain, and says he supports efforts by the Gulf nation to ease its political crisis."

Press TV: "British government cannot tolerate a tiny but heavyweight English news channel airing from Tehran."

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 10 June 2011: "The British government has mobilized all its communications and media facilities in a desperate attempt to force Iran's English language news channel Press TV off-air. ... All this comes as British authorities have failed in their efforts to point to any problems with the quality or content of programs broadcast by Press TV. ... Press TV's website has carried out a survey, based on which a majority of almost 6600 respondents believe the UK government is bent on silencing the news network for its reports exposing London's misguiding policies. ... In 2008, BBC launched a Persian channel, BBC Persian Television, which is critical of the Islamic Republic's establishment and its policies. Yet, the British government cannot tolerate a tiny but heavyweight English news channel airing from Tehran." -- Refers to opinion by UK regulator Ofcom against Press TV. See previous post.

Russia "ready for cooperation" with Iran on satellite television and internet.

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Islamic Republic News Agency, 9 June 2011: "Head of Aerospace Organization of Iran said here Wednesday in a meeting with Russia’s Telecom Minister manufacturing IranSat satellite is one of Iran’s greatest requests from Russia. Hamid Fazeli made the comment in a meeting with Igor Shchegolev held at the headquarters of the Aerospace Organization of Iran. ... The Russian official at the end stressed his country’s advanced and active research works on space technology, pointing out that Russia can assist Iran in manufacturing its small satellites... . He added, 'Russia is also ready for cooperation with Iran in such fields as satellite TV stations and the Internet.'"

Al Jazeera compared to Thomas Paine, and Al Jazeera English described as "borderless journalism."

Posted: 11 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 2011, Lawrence Pintak: "The ability of Arab autocrats to control the message first began to weaken in 1996, with the arrival of Al Jazeera, which was always more than a news network. Al Jazeera shook up the region by providing an electronic soapbox for voices long marginalized by state-run broadcasters. The channel’s aggressive style inspired viewers across the region. The revolutions rocking the Arab world are the inevitable outcome. ... The notion of a TV network as a change agent may be jarring to some US news people. Still, journalist-activists like Thomas Paine played a key role in America’s own revolution, and oppressive leaders—whether a King George, a Tsar Nicholas, or a Joseph McCarthy—tend to breed journalists agitating for reform. A survey of six hundred Arab journalists in nineteen countries that I conducted three years ago found that 75 percent said their mission was driving political and social change. ... The precise role of Arab media in this era of transition is at the heart of the bitter rivalry between Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the other main pan-Arab news channel. Al Arabiya is owned by Saudi interests close to the royal family, and argues that its news culture is more objective. Journalism 'is not about supporting the revolution,' says Nabil Khatib, Al Arabiya’s executive editor. 'It’s not about trying to act as a political party who’s trying to be activist rather than to offer information.' Al Jazeera, he says, is 'trying to be part of the conflict.'"

Columbia Journalsm Review, May/June 2011, Lawrence Pintak: "[A]side from less focus on US and European news, Al Jazeera English feels much like its main rivals, BBC World television and CNN International (a parallel CNN operation rarely seen in the US). While Al Jazeera Arabic proudly wears its Arab identity on its sleeve, Al Jazeera English is arguably the closest thing to borderless journalism in the world today. Its staff is the media equivalent of the UN, many of them refugees from Western television channels. ... [T]he political skew that colors some stories on Al Jazeera Arabic seems largely absent from Al Jazeera English. The likely reason: the emir of Qatar is a savvy guy. He wants Al Jazeera English to do for him on a global scale what Al Jazeera Arabic has done for him in the region: make him a player. If Al Jazeera English is seen as a mouthpiece, his money will have been wasted." -- For the BBC world services, independent, objective news helps develop deomocracy abroad, and is generally beneficial for the already existing family of democracies. Qatar, however, is not much of a democracy, so what is the incentive for an objective AJE? It does speak well for, and enhance the prestige of, Qatar. That may well be sufficient. See also CJR editorial about AJE via previous post.

Al Jazeera English, 10 June 2011, via YouTube, explains how its covers Syria without being able to send reporters into the country.

The National (Abu Dhabi), 9 June 2011, Ben Flanagan: "In the wake of the unrest in some parts of the region, Middle East news channels have come under the spotlight as never before. Correspondents have put their lives on the line to cover the uprisings, as the region’s top TV news stations Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya led coverage of events happening in their own backyard. But while the presenters are familiar faces within the region, there is an army of employees working behind the scenes to help deliver the news 24 hours a day. The National met some of them at the studios of Al Arabiya, which is part of the Dubai-headquartered MBC Group."

France 24 files charges after interview with phony Syrian "ambassador."

Posted: 10 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 9 June 2011: "A French television network said Thursday it has filed a complaint with the Paris public prosecutor alleging identity theft and impersonation related to an interview it broadcast Tuesday with a woman the network identified as Ambassador Lamia Shakkour, Syria's ambassador to France. During the telephone interview, the woman said she was resigning her post because of the ongoing violence in Syria. ... Shortly afterward, Shakkour denied to CNN affiliate BFM-TV that she had made any such statement, alleging in an on-camera interview that she had been impersonated. ... 'France 24 has no doubt that Ambassador Shakkour and the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic in France, who were swift to report the manipulation of which they, like France 24, appear to have been the victims, will give their total support to this complaint and collaborate fully in the ensuing investigations,' the network said. In her interview Tuesday night with BFM, Shakkour had threatened to sue the network. 'I am filing a complaint to the French tribunal and also to the international tribunal, and there will probably be some measures against France 24,' she said."

France 24, 10 June 2011: "FRANCE 24 has commissioned voice comparison analyses, which concluded that the voice on Tuesday night interview was different from the voice which later issued the denial broadcast on the French channel, BFM TV."

AP, 9 June 2011: "The network's statement said the phony interview was conducted on a telephone number provided by the Syrian Embassy in Paris."

YouTube, 7 June 2011, video of the phony interview.

US court rejects lawsuit against Al Jazeera by victims of Hezbollah rocket attack on Israel.

Posted: 10 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 9 June 2011, Basil Katz: "Victims of 2006 rocket strikes on Israel cannot sue Al Jazeera on grounds the broadcaster intentionally helped Hezbollah attack civilians by reporting the sites of explosions, a U.S. judge ruled this week. The Israeli plaintiffs, who were asking for $1.2 billion in damages from Al Jazeera, said the Qatar-based news network helped Hezbollah militants target their rockets more accurately during the 34-day war with Israel. Their lawsuit, filed a year ago, argued that a Manhattan court had jurisdiction over the case because U.S. citizens had been harmed. In her opinion dismissing the suit, Manhattan federal court Judge Kimba Wood said the victims had failed to show Al Jazeera had the specific intention of aiding Hezbollah."

Courthouse News Service, 9 June 2011, AdamM Klasfeld: "In the complaint, the plaintiffs darkly suggested an Al Jazeera spokesman declared common cause with Islamic radicalism by saying '[m]oney is not of paramount importance. We believe we have a mission.' The judge agreed with Al Jazeera that this statement could simply refer to 'a news organization's "mission" to accurately report the news.'", 10 June 2011, Gavriel Queenann: "The case is Kaplan et al v Al Jazeera, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No 10-05298."

China Radio International in Boston on a frequency formerly famous for R&B.

Posted: 10 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Bay State Banner, 9 June 2011, Yawu Miller: "Radio One, the Washington, D.C.-based corporate owner of WILD [Boston], has leased 1090 AM to China Radio International, a Beijing-based Chinese government-sponsored media aimed at fostering better understanding between the people of China and the rest of the world. Radio One’s Washington, D.C. office did not return phone calls for this story. If community reaction to the format change is any indication, Roxbury-Beijing relations may have just taken a hit. ... WILD was a local, black-owned station from 1973, when it was acquired by the late Kendall Nash, until 1999, when his widow Bernadine Nash sold the station to Radio One. Ask any Roxbury native who grew up in the ‘70s, ‘80s or ‘90s, and you’ll get an earful about what for many was the prime source for R&B. ... China Radio International’s foray into the Boston market is part of a $6.6 billion initiative undertaken by the Beijing government to burnish China’s image in the international community. Arguably, the mix of Chinese government-approved news, mindless banter ... does not replicate the urban format of Radio One or the Boston-focused content provided by Nash Communications in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. ... 'We now have robot stations where there’s no one in the studio.'"

BBG technology plan, obtained via FOIA, reveals shortwave "sun-setting strategy" (updated).

Posted: 09 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Boing Boing, 6 June 2011, Rob Beschizza: "A strategic technology plan prepared by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency responsible for Voice of America, Alhurra, Radio Free Asia and other international stations, concludes that it should end many shortwave broadcasts in favor of 'more effective' media such as internet radio. 'The intrinsic high cost of operating high powered shortwave stations is constantly being weighed against the rapidly diminishing effectiveness of shortwave within a growing number of countries,' the report states. '... the cost effectiveness of shortwave transmissions continues to wane and is expected to be circumscribed to a very small number of target countries in the relatively near future.' The 'sun-setting strategy' proposed will reduce the number of stations owned by the BBG in favor of lease or sharing arrangements with—or outsourcing to—independent broadcasters. A 'long-term analysis' of each country and language, and in-house research on shortwave's effectiveness in each, would determine which areas retain service. The report, released following a Freedom of Information Act request by Government Attic, took six months to surface and it isn't clear to what extent its recommendations have been implemented. In February, however, Voice of America ceased shortwave broadcasts in China. ... Titled 2010-2012 BBG Technology Strategic Plan, the report claims that BBG-funded broadcasts reach 101.9m people worldwide by radio, 81.5m by television, and 2.4m via internet. Internet broadcasts accounts for 1.4 percent of the unduplicated total audience." With links to the documents on this page from Actually, VOA shortwave broadcasts to China are not slated to end until October 2011, and Congressional objections could postpone or cancel this decision.

Update: Radio World, 7 June 2011, Paul McLane: "André V. Mendes set out a two-year plan of how to 'transform' technical and IT operations for U.S. government international broadcasting. ... Mendes lays out several possible paths for shortwave. In the second year of his plan (which would be starting now, June 2011), Mendes wrote that the organization should initiate deployment of the sunsetting strategy by reducing BBG-owned and operated global SW assets, or outsourcing more transmission operations; or exploring resource sharing agreements with other broadcasters, or leasing additional time and frequencies with third parties, or a combination of the above. So whether a 'sunsetting' strategy means the BBG has a real 'end date' to shortwave in mind would be a dubious conclusion. But again, the direction is clear. Shortwave is just one part of his report about technical challenges at the agency, though. ... Mendes noted the proliferation of platforms — AM, FM, satellite radio, satellite TV, Internet and telephone-based content distribution — without cuts elsewhere. He describes a 'silent but ever-growing burden of a burgeoning distribution methodologies portfolio.' ... I never met André V. Mendes; indeed I learned only after writing this article that he is a former contributor to Radio World’s sister publication TV Technology. But based on my own limited exposure to the technical people and facilities that support U.S. international broadcasting, his report seems an intelligent discussion of real problems. His comments about engineer morale are poignant."

Radio World, June 8 2011, note from André Mendes: "[T]he BBG is platform-agnostic. The Board is constantly assessing the effectiveness of its media platforms, and is fully committed to using the transmission medium most effective in a given country or region. The Tech Strategic Plan recommends that the Agency continually monitor the effectiveness of its shortwave transmissions and then make pragmatic decisions about whether or not that is the best use of taxpayer funds."

Rep. Rohrabacher et al want to "fence off" $15 million of BBG budget for VOA Mandarin and Cantonese.

Posted: 09 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 8 June 2011, Helle Dale: "Proponents of U.S. international broadcasting to China got some reason for hope last month when a group of congressmen, led by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R–CA) produced a letter in support of continued funding for communication to the vast Chinese populace. The congressmen propose to fence off a portion of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) budget (part of the state and foreign operations appropriations bill): 'Of the total amount in this heading, $15,000,000 shall be provided to Voice of America Mandarin and Cantonese language radio and satellite television. Such funds may not be transferred, reprogrammed, or expended for carrying out any other activity.' This approach makes sense. Millions of Chinese outside the major cities are able to access shortwave transmissions and satellite television broadcasts, and new digital technology allows shortwave to become a far more effective medium than it has been in the past." -- While Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) shortwave transmission can eliminate background interference and fading, once the interference reaches a certain threshold (a likely occurrence amid Chinese jamming), the DRM signal disappears. DRM shortwave might therefore not be a good candidate for broadcasting to China. See previous post about same subject.

Complaints about Al Jazeera's (and other channels') coverage of Bahrain and Syria.

Posted: 09 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Arab American News, 4 June 2011, Nick Meyer: "A string of rallies for Bahrain earlier this year in downtown Detroit, Dearborn, and in Washington, D.C. from locals were supplemented by an event at the Islamic Center of America on Thursday, May 26. ... Speakers noted that both the Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya TV networks were 'silent' at key times during the events unfolding in Bahrain and that the people were peacefully rebelling against a ruling family that has been in power for more than 200 years."

Syrian Arab News Agency, 4 June 2011: "Mahmoud Abdul-Kader, a false witness from Homs, born in 1985, admitted that he made several phone calls with biased TV channels which sparked confusion in several Syrian cities. ... Abdul-Kader said he had called al-Jazeera more than three times, B.B.C. and Al-Arabiya 4 times and France 24 and Orient twice."

Reuters, 7 June 2011: "Al Jazeera aired footage on Tuesday of what it said was a defecting Syrian lieutenant calling on other soldiers to stand up against President Bashar Assad and stop repressing protests against his rule., 8 June 2011, Florence Pichon: "The establishment of the page has been especially timely, as the Arab Spring proved that Facebook could be a serious tool for spreading news. Riyaad Minty, the head of social media at Al-Jazeera English explained that Al-Jazeera used Facebook while covering the unrest in order to track protests and connect with people involved."

NYT's Bill Keller: "There's a kind of Arab Spring going on within Al Jazeera."

Posted: 09 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Esquire, 6 June 2011, Scott Raab interviewing recently retired New York Times executive editor Bill Keller: "SR: Al Jazeera is a great story in its own right, but Comcast cable won't carry Al Jazeera-English. BK: You can stream it on their Web site. SR: I do. They've done great journalism, and they've been hugely influential in helping to create the Arab Spring. BK: They have. One of the most interesting things about Al Jazeera is, it is the property of the government of Qatar, which has its own interests, and there have been occasions where the masters were not all that happy with what Al Jazeera was up to. Over time, the editors and reporters have wanted to establish that they're not hand puppets. There's a kind of Arab Spring going on within Al Jazeera. I think the cable companies should be a little ashamed of themselves that they won't carry Al Jazeera."

Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 2011, editorial: "[W]e are a country that badly needs more information and perspective on the rest of the globe. As a wave of popular unrest and reform sweeps across the Arab world, [Al Jazeera English] has proven its mettle, and its contribution would be all the more valuable as fragile gains solidify or evaporate. And people are hungry for it: as crowds filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square, some 1.6 million US viewers streamed AJE online. That so many so easily bypassed the cable distributors suggests these gatekeepers’ coming obsolescence, and along with it, their ability to so dramatically shape America’s television diet. But that day, if it comes, is some way off. The complications of the world mean we really shouldn’t wait any longer to make this vital channel available on our television sets. It’s time to lift the shroud, and time to see another angle on the world beyond our shores."

New Vision, 7 June 2011, Opiyo Oloya in Canada: "It was in the spirit of getting alternative programming that my household finally decided to go boldly where many North Americans have not gone before—we now subscribe to Al Jazeera English (AJE). Now, this may come as news to those in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where the Qatar-based broadcast is a household name. In North America, Al Jazeera is still a best kept secret. ... Al Jazeera is now the reality in our house. We might check CNN and the other channels once in a while, but quickly retreat into the comfort of Al Jazeera because it offers a different world view, one that allows the centre of the world to be somewhere else rather than the USA."

At Al Jazeera English, weather is news. "They don’t want weather presenters, they want meteorologists."

Posted: 09 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Swindon Advertiser, 8 June 2011, David Wiles: "TV weatherman Richard Angwin ... of Wanborough ... has jetted off to Qatar’s capital, Doha, to work at Al Jazeera English. As part of a team of four meteorologists, he will forecast, report on and explain some of the most extreme weather across the world for audiences in Asia, Europe and the Americas. ... He claims he was approached by Al Jazeera English because the channel is seeking meteorologists rather than just TV presenters. He said: 'They don’t want weather presenters, they want meteorologists. They are very interested in weather stories, they are very interested in environmental stories. When you are dealing with world weather and you are talking about more and more floods, there’s always a question of whether it’s linked to things like climate change. And they are trying to expand environmental stories so they wanted experts and meteorologists to be able to comment on such issues.'"

Al Jazeera Balkans editor said viewers will find the channel "even better than CNN."

Posted: 09 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
FENA (Sarajevo), 7 June 2011: "When program for Balkans 'Al Jazeera' starts airing soon with head office in Sarajevo, it will try to be the best and most relevant, not with most viewers and most commercial in the region, famous TV reporter and editor of News of this Qatar network Goran Milic said in interview for Radio of FBiH. ... 'When you say “Al Jazeera”, then there are a lot of people here who think it is some kind of TV 'Al Qaida' and when they see the program then they conclude it is similar to CNN.' Many believe that "Al Jazeera" which has 65 spots in the world with over thousand reporters working for it, is an even better global TV network than CNN because it gives the other side’s point of view. Viewers here will be able to see that for themselves when they watch us on their TVs in their languages', Goran Milic said. Editorial staff of 'Al Jazeera' for Balkans is still being completed. Some reporters already transferred to this TV network from other TV stations, and others are coming from neighboring countries."

South Korea's Yonhap, starting cable news channel, signs content exchange with Al Jazeera.

Posted: 09 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Yonhap News Agency (Seoul), 9 June 2011: "Yonhap News TV, an all-news cable channel to be launched later this year, signed an agreement with Al Jazeera Satellite Network on Thursday for exchanges of video news content. Signed between Park Jung-chan, president and CEO of Yonhap News TV, and Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al Jazeera Satellite Network, the Reciprocal News Access Agreement allows the two companies to use each other's news content on television. ... 'Al Jazeera is a necessity. It provides a balanced flow of news,' Park said after signing the agreement."

Participatory international broadcasting: RT (Russia Today) host arrested during Jefferson Memorial dancing flash mob (updated).

Posted: 09 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today), 29 May 2011: "An RT America television host Adam Kokesh was violently slammed and choked by police who arrested the host after he took part in a flash-mob at the publicly-funded Jefferson Memorial. On May 28 Adam and other activists were arrested seconds after they started silently dancing in what they say was a celebration of the first amendment's champion. The police officers slammed some of them; others were handcuffed and thrown to the ground in what seems to be a clear violation of their right to free-expression. A video was captured of Adam Kokesh being body slammed and placed in a chokehold for his dancing crime." With videos.

Update: RT (Russia Today), 7 June 2011: "Tonight on Adam vs. the Man with Adam Kokesh: Adam returns to the Jefferson Memorial along with his supporters where he stared down the police state and they apparently accepted his challenge to a dance-off. In the end Adam and his dancing friends were victorious with their non-violent message." With video. -- The program contains humor at the expense of the government of the target country. Would US international broadcasting do such a thing?

GOPUSA, 7 June 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "An employee of Moscow-funded Russia Today and a camera crew from the channel were part of an effort last Saturday that closed down the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. in the name of free speech. One can guess at the reaction by Moscow authorities if employees of the Voice of America had disrupted access to Lenin’s Tomb in Red Square. The incident demonstrates that the Cold War is back, and that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has become increasingly aggressive in using a state-funded TV channel as a weapon of the information war."

NY Times piece about US international broadcasting covers the bases, but includes some disinformation.

Posted: 08 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 8 June 2011, Mark Landler: "As part of its yearlong review, [the Broadcasting Board of Governors] is seeking ways streamline and modernize Voice of America and its sister networks: Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra, and Radio and TV Martí. Each service has its protectors in Congress — Cuban-American lawmakers fiercely defend Radio Martí, for example — and they are likely to view any change as a threat. 'It’s going to take some tilling of the ground,' acknowledged Mr. Isaacson, who brings the perspective of both a media executive and an aspiring diplomat (he has been in line for senior jobs at the State Department). While the need for the United States to get its message across to an often hostile world is greater than ever, Mr. Isaacson said, digital technology risks turning these services into relics of a bygone era, when dissidents in closed societies huddled over their transistor radios for scraps of information from the West. ... [One of Mr. Isaacson’s solutions] sounds like the blueprint for a state-owned CNN: create a state-of-the-art global newsroom that would gather all the programming generated by the five networks and send it out via television, the Web, social-media services, mobile phones — even shortwave, where it still makes sense."

This piece covers all the bases of today's US international broadcasting, but it does not drill down into some of the more important issues. For example, Mr. Landler refers to "the need for the United States to get its message across," which is typical of US domestic media's dismissal of US international broadcasting as something other than a group of news organizations. The growing debate about whether USIB should do news or get messages across will increasingly be in the news.

Mr. Landler was taken in by disinformation apparently provided by an official of US international broadcasting. He wrote, "Radio Free Asia — a so-called surrogate service that focuses on delivering news about China rather than the United States — will take over some of Voice of America’s better shortwave frequencies." This implies that VOA's content focuses on the United States. As anyone who listens to VOA knows, this is not true. In order to attract an audience, VOA also provides a great deal of news about its target countries. VOA and the Radio Free stations therefore often cover the same stories. The resulting duplication is another of the important issues that Mr. Landler overlooked. It was the subject of my July 2010 op-ed, which happened to be published in the New York Times.

I think this article is the first US media mention of the BBG's planned global newsroom. With all the entities using each other's news, USIB becomes more like General Motors. Chevrolet and Pontiac shared basic platforms and engines, covered by somewhat different sheet metal. As GM eventually learned, Pontiac had to go. Of VOA and Radio Free Whatever, which will be the Pontiac, and which will be the Chevy?

Radio Netherlands plans to focus on freedom of speech, while facing a 20% (or maybe more) budget cut.

Posted: 08 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 7 June 2011: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide is adjusting its journalistic focus to concentrate more on informing people in countries where press freedom is not a given. In addition, RNW will serve as the journalistic calling card of the Netherlands. The new focus 'Free speech, Dutch values', comes ahead of a cabinet decision about budget cuts to public broadcasting. RNW expects that a final, detailed version of the coalition's plans for the media will be published in mid-June. The coalition agreement states that 'RNW will focus on its core tasks including freedom of speech while funding will be provided by the foreign ministry.' Director General Jan Hoek clarifies: 'This is a logical step. Many of our activities mesh seamlessly with foreign ministry policies, including the promotion of free speech and propagating Dutch values. This makes RNW an important journalistic calling card for the Netherlands as a trading nation and a champion of international law. ... We are reducing our budget from 46 million euros to 36 million euros, or about 20 percent.' If RNW's new focus meets with government approval, the reduction would be realised by winding down Dutch-language activities and short-wave broadcasts (by closing two transmitting stations in Bonaire and Madagascar, for example). About 100 jobs will probably be lost in Hilversum and on these two islands."

The RNW strategy shift is described in detail in Free Speech Dutch Values Powered by de Wereldomroep (pdf), in Dutch.

Radio Netherlands' plans are somewhat perplexing. The "promotion of free speech and propagating Dutch values" are not actually exercises of press freedom. Radio Netherlands will have to decide if it will be a news organization, or an organization that advocates for independent journalism. If its activities include the latter, it cannot be the former.

Radio Netherlands' plans to eliminate the remainder of its shortwave facilities might not mesh with its free speech campaign. One of the impediments to free speech and independent journalism is the growing tenedency of countries to censor or even shut down the internet. One of the few ways to work around net censorship is shortwave, which can drop information wirelessly into denied nations. To be sure, people are not listening to shortwave to the extent that they used to, but motivated newshounds will recognize shortwave as a means to obtain information under difficult conditions. (See previous post about Radio Netherlands purchasing Sweden's recently-decommissioned shortwave transmitters for use at its Madagascar relay, a move that contradicts the above-mentioned plan to close that site.)

When Radio Netherlands was primarily a shortwave broadcaster, it was the only shortwave broadcaster from the Netherlands. An an internet-based news provider, Radio Netherlands will have a fair amount of company from Netherlands-based news sites, especially in English, but also in some other languages.

Radio Netherlands, 7 June 2011: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide was surprised on Tuesday evening by unconfirmed reports that government cuts will leave the Netherlands' international broadcasting service with less than a quarter of its current budget. In response to the reports from commercial television broadcaster RTL, RNW Director General Jan Hoek said, 'If this is so, it appears decisions are being taken without due care. I can't imagine this happening.' ... RTL says its sources are close to the Dutch government, which is due to make key decisions on public broadcasting funding soon. It is presumed cutbacks to Radio Netherlands Worldwide will be one of a raft of measures."

New Jersey Gov. Christie sells public TV network, compares government ownership with Soviet Union.

Posted: 07 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
WTXF (Fox Philadelphia), 6 June 2011: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says the government should have left the public broadcasting business two decades ago. Christie spoke with reporters at length on Monday after he announced a deal to sell New Jersey's public broadcasting network to public stations in Philadelphia and New York. ... 'It ... meets our goal of making sure government is out of the broadcasting business. In my view that should have ended with the Soviet Union. It's ending here in New Jersey a little later than the fall of the wall in Berlin, but we're getting there.'" With video.

Weibo, like Twitter but with added Chinese regulation feature, will add English version.

Posted: 07 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 7 June 2011: "Sina's Chinese-language Weibo product was launched about two years ago and claims more than 140 million users. Technology blog TechWeb reported on Monday that Sina was going to launch an English microblog in the United States in a few months to rival Twitter. Access to Twitter from within China is blocked by the Chinese government. Sina's spokesman Liu Qi said an English microblog was in the works but its release was not catered to a particular market. 'We won't be launching it in one particular market, the idea is to have the English version to cater to our many overseas users,' Liu told Reuters, adding that more than 10 percent of Weibo's users are based overseas. The English version will launch by the end of the year and will be subject to Chinese regulations, Liu said."

In the news: Western companies' alleged activities against internet freedom.

Posted: 07 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Laogai Research Foundation (Washington) press release, 6 June 2011. "Today, with the financial support of the Laogai Research Foundation, three Chinese dissidents filed a lawsuit against Cisco Systems, Inc. in the United States District Court in Maryland. Mr. Du Daobin, Mr. Zhou Yuanzhi, and Mr. Liu Xianbin are suing Cisco Systems, Inc. and several senior management personnel... . The plaintiffs are prolific writers who promote democratic reform and increased freedoms for the Chinese people through articles published on the internet. It was through network surveillance technology provided by Cisco that the Chinese Ministry of Public Security was able to track the Plaintiffs down for exercising their right to free speech. This led to their harassment, arbitrary detention and arrest, and physical, mental, and emotional torture and abuse. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages for injuries and are requesting that the defendants be held accountable for their actions."

The Mark, 7 June 2011: "Authoritarian governments in the Middle East have been using software developed in Canada to block access to websites they find politically objectionable, says the head of an organization that studies human rights in the internet era. Netsweeper Inc., a Canadian company that specializes in internet content filtering, is helping Middle Eastern governments limit access to information, according to Ron Diebert, director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs. The company’s website openly promotes software it says can block websites 'based on social, religious or political ideals.' Helmi Noman at the Open Net Initiative reported last month that the microblogging site Tumblr was blocked in Yemen using Netsweeper software. In email correspondence with The Mark, Noman confirmed that the site continues to be blocked. Netsweeper won't comment on dealings with foreign governments but a company document describes dealings with ISPs in Qatar, Yemen, and UAE." -- That company document seems no longer to mention Qatar, Yemen, and UAE.

Are tablets "an amazing opportunity" for international broadcasting?

Posted: 07 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
BeetTV, 2 June 2011, Andy Plesser: "The iPad has 'truly become the fourth screen,' says Daniel Heaf, Digital Director of the BBC Worldwide, in this interview with Beet.TV. He says that session time on the device matches the time spent with traditional media such as periodicals and television. He says the BBC has had over 10 million Apps downloaded worldwide for the iPad and other devices. This includes Apps for travel guides, magazines, games and news. While Apps are popular, making them of enduring value to consumers is a critical challenge, he states." With video, in which Mr. Heaf says, "some people try to lump tablets and mobiles together, whereas I think they are two very distinct experiences. ... The table is an amazing opportunity to get our content to audiences."

This project might also be useful to locate shortwave broadcast jamming sites.

Posted: 06 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Military & Aerospace Electronics, 5 June 2011, John Keller: "Surveillance and reconnaissance experts at the U.S. Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) in Washington will brief industry June 23 on a project to enhance signals intelligence capability to pinpoint high-frequency (HF) [shortwave] radar and communications systems anywhere in the world. ... HF radio waves -- as any Ham radio operator or shortwave radio listener can tell you -- are particularly difficult because they not only follow line-of-sight paths, but they also bounce off of layers Earth's upper atmosphere called the ionosphere and come back to the Earth's surface where antennas tuned to HF frequencies -- roughly 2 to 30 MHz -- can pick them up. ... The IARPA HFGeo program seeks to capitalize on advances in high-dynamic-range receivers, antenna techniques, adaptive signal processing, and ionospheric ray path prediction, and improved measurement and modeling techniques to geolocate HF emitters around the world, as well as determine if these signals are involved with benign commercial activity, or are part of hostile communications and radar systems."

VOA director Dan Austin departs this week.

Posted: 06 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 6 June 2011, VOA Public Relations @VOABuzz: "Farewell today to #VOA Director Dan Austin. This week Austin wraps up more than 4 ½ years as VOA’s 27th director!" -- Over the years, VOA directors have swung the pendulum between journalism and something less salubrious. Dan Austin will be remembered for keeping VOA on the journalistic side.

See another Twitter, 6 June 2011, from @VOABuzz, with twitpic.

Dittohead wants more US propaganda via internet. A job for the Whatchamacallit for Public Diplomacy?

Posted: 06 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3 June 2011: "CALLER: My comment is about the global implications of the Internet that Friedman talked about. He said that productivity, of course, was dramatically increased for business and services and all that, which I agree. I think he was probably also right that we've missed the global implications of the Internet because the American exceptionalism that, like, won World War II or executed the Berlin airlift, the Marshall Plan and all that has been somewhat blotted out by Obama's apologetic trips he's taken around the world, while the North Koreans and the Arabs and these countries have actually used the Internet to control the aggression of their people if nothing else, while we've let (unintelligible) such things as Radio Free Europe or (unintelligible) and all this (unintelligible) American flag, so it seems that the White House (unintelligible) still bowing to Hugo Chavez or PLO, and Al Jazeera is getting more global currency than we are because we don't use the Internet. We're reluctant to use it for the propaganda of freedom. And in that case Friedman may be correct about some things that we are missing, that they are not. Using it against us. ... RUSH: Are you saying that other countries are creatively properly using the Internet and we aren't? CALLER: Right. That as a country we're not using it, but as a country, the North Koreans and the Middle Easterners are using it, and to great effect. Which again -- RUSH: How so? North Korea is using the Internet productively how? CALLER: Oh, not productively as far as industry is concerned, but in controlling their social environment. RUSH: So you want the federal government to control our social environment with the Internet? CALLER: Absolutely not. But to advertise us, the beacon of freedom, to the rest of the world as a country. RUSH: Oh, oh, oh. I see. CALLER: Just as Al-Jazeera and the Middle Easterners -- RUSH: We are not using our Internet effectively as a propaganda tool? CALLER: Exactly, for freedom. RUSH: Ah. I got you. CALLER: We instead use it, or the White House to let the PLO and everybody else know that we're just as bad as they say we are. RUSH: Well, does this not sort of make sense, given who's running our country right now? CALLER: Absolutely. RUSH: You got a guy, you have a president who's running around apologizing for the country. You have a president with a chip on his shoulder about this country and its illegitimacy as a superpower, does it sorta stand to reason, therefore, that this guy would not want to start using the Internet to sing your version of the praises of America, 'cause he doesn't see it that way."

To respond to this, I need to discuss the public diplomacy activities of the State Department. The problem is that there is no Bureau of Public Diplomacy or Division of Public Diplomacy within the State Department that I can refer to. There is the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, but that is a person, not a bureaucratic entity. (No wonder people are nostalgic for USIA: at least it had a name.) So, for lack of a name, I will have to call whatever it is the Department of State's Whatchamacallit for Public Diplomacy.

Under the State Department's Whatchamacallit for Public Diplomacy are, for example, Arabic-speaking members of the Digital Outreach Team who respond to blog posts in the region. Now that social media have become fashionable, the State Department has developed its own Twitter and Facebook accounts in Arabic, Persian, and other languages. Responding to internet trends, the Whatchamacallit has even decommissioned, its set-piece public diplomacy website, in favor of social media efforts. (See previous post.)

In order for flat-out propaganda to succeed, it needs content that appeals to the prejudices of the audience, just as Rush Limbaugh appeals to the liberal-disliking proclivities of America's midsection. A propaganda website by the Whatchamacallit for Public Diplomacy targeted to the Middle East might have to include anti-America, anti-Israeli, anti-other-than-Muslim-religion themes. I doubt Rush and the dittohead would want their tax money paid for such an endeavor.

But, then, how do Rush and the dittohead know that the United States does not already have such an anti-American, anti-Israel internet propaganda effort? If such a thing exists, it would be operated not by the Whatchamacallit for Public Diplomacy but by some other unnamed agency. This internet effort would eventually insert some subtle twists designed to sow discord within the terrorist and radical communities. It's called black propaganda, and it might be effective until the audience, soon enough, detects that something is amiss.

Probably best to stick to straight news. That service is not provided by the Whatchamacallit for Public Diplomacy, but by the various entities under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which acts as a firewall, to protect the independence of the journalism from dittoheads and the like.

Commando Solo's magic-bullet, hypodermic, direct appeals to Libyan forces move into an amateur radio band.

Posted: 06 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 5 June 2011, Andy Sennitt, citing "Commando Solo, the US airborne radio station operating above Libya on behalf of NATO, was heard on 1 June using a new shortwave frequency, 10125 kHz, USB mode, to transmit messages intended for Gaddafi’s forces. This frequency is in the 30 metre amateur band, but is also used by the Libyan army. Commando Solo has previously used 6877 kHz and 10404 kHz. The change in frequency is probably due to the jamming by the Libyan army noted on 10404 kHz the previous day, and reported here."

IW0HK, 5 June 2011, Andrea Borgnino has audio samples of the 10125 kHz broadcasts, the first one in the clear, the second one jammed. -- The sample audio is in English only, but the broadcasts also include Arabic.

New contract keeps VOA's TV Ashna on Afghanistan government TV for another five years.

Posted: 05 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 2 June 2011: "Voice of America’s popular nightly news program TV Ashna will stay on the air in Afghanistan for another five years under the terms of a new contract signed this week by VOA and Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA), the government broadcasting organization. VOA Director Designate David Ensor told reporters at the signing ceremony in Kabul that he was 'delighted that there is a new contract' that extends the partnership between VOA and RTA. Under the agreement, RTA broadcasts the VOA program. TV Ashna, a one-hour VOA news broadcast in the Dari and Pashto languages, has gained a growing audience in Afghanistan with its dynamic interviews, news and sports reporting. The program airs six nights a week, Saturday through Thursday. Ensor, who is currently Director of Communications and Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, thanked RTA for its cooperation with VOA, saying both organizations are committed to freedom of the media and quality reporting on issues that matter to Afghanistan."

Remembering the defiant broadcaster on on Radio Beijing's English Service, 22 years ago.

Posted: 05 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
LBReport (Long Beach, CA), 3 June 2011: "We provide access below to the work of a courageous broadcast journalist. It aired almost exactly 22 years ago today. His shortwave radio broadcast, captured on tape by us as well as by others at the time, has become part of the history of the events it describes. Like many Americans, this writer spent much of June 3-4, 1989 watching CNN's live coverage of events in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. That night, I wondered how Radio Beijing's English language shortwave radio broadcast (a one-hour program beamed nightly to North America) would describe those events. At 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time in the 25 meter shortwave band, I recorded what you can hear below. Because the radio signals were on shortwave (bouncing off the ionosphere on sometimes slightly differing paths), you'll hear occasional fading and phase distortion. For reference, the text is transcribed ... . In our opinion, this man is the radio counterpart to the visually iconic Tiananmen 'Tankman.' Like the 'Tankman,' his fate is uncertain. There are conflicting accounts over who he is and what happened to him. In our view, it remains for journalists worldwide to find out who he is and to use every opportunity to try and speak with him. If that contact isn't possible, all of us should insist on knowing what happened to him and on whose orders." With audio. -- I listened to that same Radio Beijing broadcast, on shortwave, during the morning hours on the US east coast. It was one of the most dramatic moments in international radio.

London conference discusses international broadcasting to China.

Posted: 05 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Liberal Democrat Voice, 4 June 2011, Marlene Emerson, chair of Chinese Liberal Democrats: "I am writing this on the 22nd anniversary of ‘Six Four’ (the codename for the Tian An Men incident that occurred on 4th of June 1989). Perhaps no better day to reflect on the subject of media censorship in China and to question the role of international broadcasters? Only yesterday I was with some 200 people at a talk organised by BBC Chinese Service at Chatham House. ... Of the native Chinese speakers, we had the eminent Jing Zhang, MD of E Asia and Pacific Div of Voice of America who urged western media to ensure high standards of delivery, authoritative sources and quality analysis. Prof LiGong Yu of Shih Hsin University of Taiwan advised that Western media can exert influence over China if it is fair and balanced. Attacks on China motivated by protectionism would not only serve to be counter-productive but may even strengthen China’s internal cohesion. ... The raison d’etre for the debate was provided by Raymond Li, Head of BBC Chinese. In many ways the organisation was at its cross roads, having been forced by funding cuts to axe its radio service in China and is continuing to search for its audience and market influence in a very difficult economic climate. A member of the audience asked him to consider who BBC Chinese was, and who was its boss. It does makes one think that if BBC Chinese is ultimately answerable to the British taxpayer, then where should the organisation be heading in its outreach to a Chinese audience in China and worldwide?"

Defense News, 5 June 2011, Vago Muradian video commentary: "The Voice of America’s plan to stop broadcasting its Chinese language programming over radio will inhibit some in China from receiving uncensored news, Vago says." See previous post about same subject.

At first public meeting, Broadcasting Board of Governors notes steps to increase efficiency of US international broadcasting.

Posted: 05 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 3 June 2011: "At the first ever public meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Board ... outlined a series of Board actions taken during their first year to drive greater efficiency, and to reform Board operations and governance including merging staff components of the Agency. Board members highlighted changes in leadership and programming at Radio and TV Marti, the Persian News Network of the Voice of America and the International Broadcasting Bureau. ... To watch the webcast of the full Board meeting, including questions and answers with attendees, click here. Copies of additional information and Board resolutions presented at the meeting will be available in the coming days here."

RT (Russia Today), 3 June 2011: "There’s ... a battle as to whether the BBG’s mission is to influence abroad. 'For Radio Free Europe and Al Hurrah, which I know firsthand, we are looking to influence the influential,' said [former RFE/RL president Tom] Dine. But [BBG member Dana] Perino said the BBG’s mission is only to inform – 'Our mission is what it is and we firm to it.'" Includes video interview with Venezuelan-American lawyer and author Eva Golinger. She says, "Voice of America is not a major international media." On the other hand, "CNN, which broadcasts in Spanish all throughout Latin America, is the reference of news throughout this entire region."

International Republican Institute press release, 5 June 2011: "Today the International Republican Institute released its first survey of public opinion in Egypt (PDF) along with analysis of the poll’s findings (PDF). This poll marks one of the first major releases of public opinion research in Egypt since the departure of Hosni Mubarak, under whose rule survey research was forbidden." -- I've seen results of several surveys in Egypt conducted during Mubarak's rule. In answer to the question, "Which television station did you watch to get your news in the last three months?," 28% responded Al Jazeera, 22% Al Arabiya, but only one percent each for Alhurra and BBC Arabic. However, the table indicates "first response," indicating that respondents were able to provide additional responses to the question. All those responses must be combined for this to be a meaningful measure.

London calling North America -- in Hindi.

Posted: 04 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 3 June 2011: "BBC has tied up with mobile phone radio distribution in North America, AudioNow to provide BBC Hindi radio and audio news content available for its listeners [in the] US. As part of this new service, Hindi-speakers in the US can access BBC Hindi audio in two formats. By calling 712.432.6586, they can listen to the BBC Hindi one-hour radio news programme which brings news, analysis and interviews on a range of issues, from current affairs to showbiz and sport. Plus, two-minute audio news bulletins in Hindi, updated twice a day, can be accessed by calling 712.432.6585. BBC Hindi head Amit Baruah said, 'This is an exciting development. More than one in 10 weekly users of our website ... The BBC World Service radio content is available in English, Arabic, Persian, Somali and Urdu."

Budget of Channel Africa, South Africa's international radio, set at US$7 million.

Posted: 04 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
South African Department of Communications, 31 May 2011: "R41m has been allocated to Channel Africa whose future role and social obligations will be discussed as part of the Broadcasting Policy review process." -- Channel Africa is the international radio station of South Africa, broadcasting in Chinyanja, Silozi, Kiswahili, English, French and Portuguese. The 41 million Rand is about seven million US dollars.

Fox News: Peruvian intelligence report says Telesur is a source of Venezuelan political influence in Peru.

Posted: 04 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Joel Hirst, 2 June 2011, Fox News Latino: "[A]n investigation concluded in 2009 by Peru’s intelligence directorate DIGIMIN leaked to the national paper El Comerica showed the extent of the penetration of [Hugo] Chávez’s financing and political influence in the country. This report outlines a fourfold Venezuelan infiltration into Peru since 2006. .... [The fourth of which] is the propaganda arm, run by TeleSur – the ALBA governments official television outlet whose president is the Venezuelan Minister of Propaganda, Andres Izarra."

Al Jazeera English exec hopes his channel "frightens American networks to pull up their socks and provide better coverage."

Posted: 04 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Mark, 3 June 2011, Tony Burman, current head of strategy for the Americas, Al Jazeera English, notes in video that AJE is "taking advantage" of the absence of any US television network to cover the world seriously.

Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2011, Joshua Kucera: "Al-Jazeera English, which promotes itself as the voice of the global South and would seem a natural ally of [Hugo] Chávez, has been highly critical of him for his support of the dictators rather than the people of the Arab world."

Democracy Now!, 2 June 2011, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales interview Al Jazeera English reporter Dorothy Parvaz, who was detained in Syria and Iran for 19 days. With audio.

Foreign Policy in Focus, 1 June 2011, Paul Mutter: "Pakistani authorities detained Al Jazeera journalist Sami al-Hajj on December 15, 2001 when he and a colleague attempted to leave Afghanistan as a result of the deteriorating security situation following Operation Enduring Freedom. The Pakistani police held him for a month before turning him over to U.S. forces as a suspected 'enemy combatant.' He was eventually sent to Guantanamo Bay, where he arrived on June 14, 2002. He then spent the next six years there, until he was cleared of all charges in 2008. ... However, new evidence has come to light that now shows the U.S. government hoped to use al-Hajj as an intelligence source, perhaps even an informant, to spy on Al Jazeera’s operations, or to track down Taliban and al Qaeda leaders.", 3 June 2011, Rachel McAthy: "The two winners of the European Union's Samir Kassir Award for Freedom of the Press were announced this week, including a previous winner of the awards from its very first year. Lebanese journalist Habib Battah was named the winner of the Investigative Report category for his article Return to the Valley of Jews. The article was published on Al Jazeera's English language website in December last year."

ITProPortal, 3 June 2011, Stewart Meagher: "Al Jazeera has posted a Twitter Dashboard which tracks tweeting activity relating to countries throughout" North Africa and the Middle East.

State Department official outlines US spending on broadcasts to North Korea.

Posted: 04 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
State Department, 2 June 2011 (pdf), testimony of Robert R. King, Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, to the House Foreign Affairs Committee: "Given the closed nature of North Korean society, broadcasting is one of the more effective means of sharing information about the outside world with residents of the country. To increase the flow of independent information into, out of, and within the country, the U.S. government funds Korean-language broadcasting into North Korea by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and supports independent and defector-run broadcasts through the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor . In FY 2010, the BBG expended $8.5 million for a ten-hour-daily schedule of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasts, transmitted via shortwave and medium wave during peak listening hours. RFA broadcasts 3.5 hours of original programming and 1.5 hours of repeat programming; VOA broadcasts four hours of original and one hour of repeat programming with daily news updates. With the FY 2009 ESF appropriation, the Department of State provided approximately $1 million from the Human Rights and Democracy Fund to support independent broadcasts into North Korea. These broadcasts are produced by North Korean defectors, now living in South Korea, and provide news and information with a more authentically North Korean voice. The BBG continues to explore avenues to expand broadcast capability into North Korea, and the Department of State is exploring opportunities using new media to reach North Koreans. Reports indicate that North Koreans are listening to foreign broadcasts in increasing numbers, even at serious risks to their personal safety."

Shanghaiist, 31 May 2011, Jessica Colwell: "China is the happiest place on earth(!!) according to a new global happiness index released by North Korea's Chosun Central Television. China earned 100 out of 100 points, followed closely by North Korea (98 points), then Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela. Coming in at 203rd place is America (or rather 'the American Empire', 美帝国), with only 3 happiness points. South Korea got a measly 18 points for 152nd place."

VOA and Radio Free Asia Tibetan services get celebrity endorsement.

Posted: 04 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 3 June 2011: "Hollywood actor Richard Gere took his fight for Tibetan rights to the U.S. Congress on Thursday (02Jun11), urging President Barack Obama to increase pressure on China over the matter. ... The star also called on officials to continue funding broadcasts such as Radio Free Asia and Voice of America in the country. Gere explained, 'When the Dalai Lama met President Obama in the White House in February 2010, monks in Amdo lit off fireworks to celebrate that the world's greatest democracy still cared for the plight of Tibet. How did they know the new president would be meeting with their spiritual leader? By listening to Voice of America.'"

House Foreign Affairs Committee, 2 June 2011 (pdf), testimony by Richard Gere: "I know that budgets are tight, but U.S. government Tibet programs are as small as they are effective. For example, because of congressional initiative, the Tibetan language services of Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America broadcast information every day into Tibet. This is almost the only source of independent news available on the Tibetan plateau, and it works."

New YouTube Creative Commons remix thing includes VOA video.

Posted: 03 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 2 June 2011, Joe Mullin: "YouTube has introduced a new feature that will be a boost for aspiring videographers looking for the 'perfect clip' for a video. The video-sharing service has a new feature that lets video owners apply a Creative Commons license to their videos that allows for greater sharing and re-mixing. The program is being kicked off with a group of more than 10,000 videos that’s already CC-licensed, from groups like C-SPAN,, Voice of America, and Al Jazeera. Videographers who want to use clips from that content will be able to edit directly in YouTube’s editor. They’re required to credit the original, but YouTube’s editor conveniently takes care of that, with a tool that automatically displays the source videos. ... Of the four big contributors listed here, two are non-profits already dedicated to public openness—C-SPAN and Public.Resource.Org—and VOA is part of the federal government, and its content isn’t copyrighted in any case." See also the YouTube VOA Video channel.

Czech foreign minister announces fellowship for journalists in RFE target countries.

Posted: 03 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 3 June 2011: "At celebrations ... marking the 60th anniversary of RFE's broadcasts to Czechoslovakia, an expert panel discussed the role of a free media in promoting democracy and civil society around the world today. ... Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg called RFE 'a crucial partner' in the promotion of freedom of speech and of information. Schwarzenberg also announced a new fellowship program to support journalists in RFE's broadcast areas who are under pressure or in danger in their home countries. The program is to receive core funding from the Czech Foreign Ministry, which will seek additional funds from other donors. Citing the 'spirit of freedom, the spirit of democracy' Schwarzenberg added, 'We have to show our strength to the founding fathers of RFE as their worthy successors.' The event took place at Johns Hopkins SAIS and was jointly hosted by the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in the U.S., and RFE."

RFE/RL, 2 June 2011, Charles Recknagel: "RFE/RL has marked the 60th anniversary of its first broadcast service with an event hosted by Johns Hopkins University in Washington. Those first broadcasts were to a country that no longer exists today: Czechoslovakia. ... The Czechoslovak Service was the first of the Radio Free Europe stations to go on the air as a response to the Soviet Union's occupation of Central Europe following World War II. The station's first broadcast was on July 4, 1950, from an office in the Empire State Building in New York City. The shortwave station signed on with the pledge of delivering news 'in the American tradition of free speech.' Within less than a year, the station had moved to Munich, where it began beaming regular programs across the Iron Curtain. The programs challenged the communist government's monopoly on the media and its myth of delivering a better life while in fact depriving people of their freedom."

Steven W. Korn, ex-CNN, named new president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Posted: 03 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 3 June 2011: "Steven W. Korn, former Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of CNN, has been named RFE/RL President and CEO by the board of directors of RFE/RL. ... Korn will take up his duties on July 11 and will be based at RFE/RL's headquarters in Prague. ... Steven W. Korn served as Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of CNN from 1996-2000, where he oversaw all operational, financial, technological, and other non-editorial functions for the CNN News Group on a global basis. In addition, he served on the supervisory board of German television news channel n-tv and on the board of CNN Plus, a Spanish language news service based in Madrid. Previously, Korn served as the Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc. (TBS), where he was responsible for all legal affairs of TBS and its subsidiaries worldwide. Following his 17 years at Turner Broadcasting, he assumed the role of publisher of the Daily Report, a legal newspaper, and GC South magazine, both located in Atlanta, Georgia. Before joining Turner in 1983, he was an attorney specializing in civil litigation involving media, entertainment and telecommunications issues."

International broadcasting terms you should know: "over-the-top television" and "pursue other projects."

Posted: 03 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
SatNews Daily, 1 June 2011: "GlobeCast has appointed Lisa Coelho has acting CEO of GlobeCast America, based in New York. Ms. Coelho replaces David Justin, who has stepped down from this role to pursue other projects. GlobeCast chairman and CEO Olivier Barberot said, 'David Justin successfully planted the seeds for new lines of business throughout the Americas while weathering the difficult economic climate in the broadcast world. I have now given Lisa Coelho a mission over the next few months to increase the level of development at GlobeCast America so that it can fully realize its ambitions as a media management company in this key region.' Coelho will be charged with further strengthening the company's sales and technical expertise in the Americas and continuing the improvement of quality of service for the company's clients in this region and around the world. Additionally she will be leading the implementation of a forthcoming over-the-top television offer in the United States. Previously vice president of GlobeCast WorldTV, Lisa Coelho has held senior management positions at GlobeCast since 2003, and prior to that, as one of the company's clients in her role as at a leading Portuguese broadcaster, where she drove consumer marketing and channel development for the network's U.S. distribution."

"Over-the-top television" refers to (per Wikipedia) "content, services, and applications in a video environment where the delivery occurs over an alternative means than the main video delivery infrastructure." Often, this means internet television delivered to the household television set. It's one of the ways to receive international television. In our house, we used an under-the-bottom mini-PC to watch live coverage by Irish public broadcaster RTÉ of the visits to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth and President Obama.

"Pursue other projects" can mean many things, including spending more time at home watching over-the-top television.

GlobeCast North America is now identifying itself WorldTV.

Broadcasting Board of Governors will hold its "first ever public meeting" today (webcast available).

Posted: 03 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
A live video webcast of the Broadcasting Board of Governors public meeting, in VOA auditorium today at 1300 UTC, will be available at, and later on demand.

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 24 May 2011: "You are invited to join the Broadcasting Board of Governors for its first ever public meeting on Friday, June 3, 2011 in Washington, D.C. About a year into their appointments, Governors will outline initiatives to reform U.S. international broadcasting, provide an update on the BBG strategic review, announce the Burke Award winners to recognize courage, integrity and originality of BBG journalists, and take questions from the public on U.S. international broadcasting."

See also previous post for "a celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Radio Free Europe's First Broadcasts to Czechoslovakia and a discussion: No Freedom Without Media Freedom. June 2, 2011. Program: 4:30PM - 6:00PM" at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington.

Commentary commentary complains about VOA Persian report on entry visas for Iranians.

Posted: 03 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Commentary, 1 June 2011, Michael Rubin: "How disappointing it was ... to read this entry on Voice of America Persian’s website. The entry — about the Obama decision to grant Iranians multiple entry visas, is something I wrote about here at Contentions. The VOA report, however, reads like a press release for [the National Iranian American Council] and ignores many other Iranian American groups involved in this initiative. The author ... quotes me as if he talked to me. Sadly, I never spoke with him. He simply quoted portion of a blog entry many months old."

VOA press release, 20 May 2011: "State Department spokesman Alan Eyre said Friday on Voice of America’s Farsi language TV program Parazit, the United States is easing travel restrictions for Iranian students and will now issue multiple entry visas."

Heritage Foundation sets off the error detector again (re RFE/RL radio in Russian).

Posted: 03 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry blog, 1 June 2011, Helle Dale: "Notwithstanding these facts, the U.S. has been willing to turn a blind eye as it developed its communications strategy. In 2007, the U.S. ended transmissions from Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Liberty to Russia to focus entirely on the Internet platform. (A similar decisions has been made about China broadcasting in the fiscal year 2012 budget.) While the argument can and is often made that the growth of Internet users in countries like China and Russia gives Web-based platforms great reach—Russia has 33 percent Internet penetration, according to Freedom House—it is also true that servers can be controlled by the government, content is vulnerable to hackers, and users can be tracked by censors if they have the right software. According an independent expert evaluation of the VOA Russian news Web site content, ordered by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the VOA Web site is confused about its mission and fails to counter the Kremlin’s propaganda. Furthermore, it deliberately downplays human rights news in order to avoid impressions of an 'anti-Russian' bias. One could indeed argue that the 'reset' between the Obama and Medvedev governments has had the consequence of toning down content in the interest of blandness and good relations." -- Radio Liberty still has extensive Russian radio broadcasts. Click on "Waves" on this RFE/RL Russian schedule page to reveal fifteen hours a day on shortwave. Her comments about the VOA Russian website are probably similarly authoritative. (Moscow), 29 May 2011, translated by BBC Monitoring, via Russian businessman Aleksandr Lebedev speaks about his discusses his Novyye Media holding company: "'In the Novyye Media holding company there will be ‘Nora’ – the Novoye Radio talk radio channel, so that Radio Liberty, which is currently on medium wave, and the BBC’s Russian Service, which has run out of money for broadcasting, can also broadcast on its frequency,' Aleksandr Lebedev told Gazeta.Ru. To launch Novoye Radio a new license is needed. ... Lebedev says that he 'has informed President Dmitriy Medvedev, Vladislav Surkov, first deputy leader of the Presidential Staff, and US President Barack Obama' about his plans to launch talk radio and to create a new talk show. 'That line- up was chosen because currently a "reset" with the United States is under way, and we believe that the proposed broadcasting format will facilitate this,' Lebedev said." -- All very confusing, but would this put BBC Russian back on radio?

Russia's CTC International expands US distribution, including Time Warner Cable in NYC.

Posted: 02 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 31 May 2011, Michael Pickard: "Russia's CTC Media has expanded its reach in North America through carriage deals with two pay-TV providers. The company's family entertainment channel CTC International has joined the line-up on Time Warner Cable in New York. It has also been added to the bouquet of satellite TV service Russian Media Group, which provides Russian-language TV services in the US. CTC International first became available in the US on the Dish satellite network in December 2009. The new agreements will allow the net to reach 175,000 viewers across North America."

Radio Netherlands and Deutsche Welle will share internet content in Arabic, Chinese and Indonesian.

Posted: 02 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands press release, 1 June 2011: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide is to intensify its cooperation with Deutsche Welle as of 1 June 2011. In the coming two years the two international news organisations will share their internet content in Arabic, Chinese and Indonesian as well as other languages, and make a number of joint productions. ... The editorial teams in Hilversum (Radio Netherlands Worldwide) and Bonn (Deutsche Welle) will periodically discuss which news issues can be covered jointly and which audio and video reports can be co-produced. The two media organisations will also look into how they can combine efforts to better protect internet users and social media platforms. This is in response to developments in which press freedom is increasingly coming under threat across the world. To avoid putting internet users in countries with little or no press freedom in danger (for instance in countries where they could face imprisonment or worse) the two broadcasters will look for ways to enable their readers to visit websites without risk. This will be done by developing software which protects the ‘footprints’ of internet users."

Radio Netherlands, 31 May 2011, Wim Jansen: "Freedom of speech in the Netherlands and a prison cell in Chile were the main sources of inspiration for the Dutch-Chilean journalist José Zepeda Varas. Now he has been awarded with an honorary doctorate by the University of Encarnación in Paraguay. Mr Zepeda and Radio Netherlands Worldwide were named as major players in the battle for press freedom and dialogue in Latin America. Mr Zepeda was praised for decades of journalistic effort promoting democracy and the observance of human rights. As head of RNW’s Latin American department, he oversaw the reporting of abuses, interviewed presidents and brought opposing opinions together."

Deputy director Christine Ockrent will remain extérieur to Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (updated).

Posted: 02 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio France International, 27 May 2011: "The deputy head of France’s world broadcasting organisation, of which RFI is part, has left the organisation, vowing to pursue a claim of constructive dismissal. Christine Ockrent has been locked in a long and much-publicised battle with chief executive Alain de Pouzilhac. ... In December about 300 of TV channel France 24’s approximately 550 employees voted in favour of a motion of no confidence in Ockrent. Nearly 350 of RFI’s almost 1,000 employees on Tuesday approved a vote of no confidence in de Pouzilhac. The creation of the Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (AEF) has been dogged with problems, including strikes and legal challenges at RFI. Although Ockrent worked on the creation of the group, she fell out with de Pouzilhac over the merger of the editorial teams of France 24 and RFI.", 23 May 2011, Michael Hedges: "Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (AEF) deputy director Christine Ockrent isn’t coming back to work, she revealed in an interview with Le Figaro (May 25). She hasn’t been to the office since March as a war of wills with AEF president Alain de Pouzilhac grew ugly. 'After nine months of schemes that have sullied my honor and reputation, I recognize the disguised dismissal without reason,' she said. AEF is the umbrella organization created to fuse – streamline, some believe – French government international broadcasting, including France24 and Radio France International (RFI). Almost everything about AEF, including Ms Ockrent’s position, has been controversial." -- Yes, nothing streamlines a media organization like the two seniormost managers bickering with one another. See also Le Figaro, 26 May 2011.

Update: Monocle, 31 May 2011, Roland Lloyd Parry: "It was meant to be a new face for France in the world – a multilingual rolling news channel to compete with CNN and the BBC. But five years since its launch, France 24 is limping along, shamed by a chaotic feud between its two top managers that drove its number two, Christine Ockrent, to quit last week. The rivalry of Ockrent, 67, a formidable former news anchor, and Alain de Pouzilhac, 65, the tough executive appointed to launch the state enterprise, broke out into war last summer. There were sackings, counter-sackings and allegations of spying. 'It was an absolutely absurd situation. They were like children in the playground,' says Virginie Herz, head of the Société des Journalistes, a staff ombudsman at France 24."

Rome Hartman leaving BBC World News America to produce new NBC news magazine.

Posted: 02 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 2 June 2011: "NBC News is bringing a veteran CBS and BBC journalist on board to run Brian Williams' new newsmagazine, which it hopes to get on the air this fall. The network said Wednesday it has hired Rome Hartman to be executive producer of its newsmagazine, which doesn't have a name yet. Hartman most recently developed and produced 'BBC World News America.'" See also NBC press release, 1 June 2011.

Mediaite, 1 June 2011, Mark Joyella: "Hartman has been a critic of the broadcast and cable news networks, telling Mediaite last December last his mission at the BBC was to provide American viewers a window on the world, not just Washington, New York and Hollywood. 'Our real reason for living at BBC World News America is to bring to an American audience a smart, sophisticated view of events and issues in the world beyond U.S. shores,' Hartman said. 'That’s frankly a view that TV viewers in the U.S. have a hard time finding anyplace else, because the cable nets are so relentlessly focused on domestic events and issues. We think that there has never been a time when it’s more important for Americans to understand the wider world, nor a time when it’s harder to do that based on the standard fare of Amercan networks.'"

The Economist: BBC "labours under the weight of bureaucracy and self-praise."

Posted: 02 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
The Economist, 2 June 2011: "In the upper echelons of BBC management, most acknowledge that it has grown too big. Changing a lifetime’s habit of empire-building will not be easy, though. Some light pruning of the over-heavy top management has begun but ... the corporation still has too many overpaid chiefs. Indeed, in its expansionary phase it spawned platoons of executives with bizarre titles like 'change management lead' and 'rewards director'. The BBC, at its best, does more to enhance the quality of life in Britain, and the country’s image abroad, than any number of government initiatives. It offers viewers a varied broadcast diet of news, current affairs, documentaries and the arts which is the envy of other countries. But it has grown too big for its own and its competitors’ good. Like that other hard-to-reform institution, the NHS, it labours under the weight of bureaucracy and self-praise."

Press TV, 31 May 2011: "As a state-run media outlet to which an enormous amount of annual budget is allocated by the UK government, BBC is naturally expected to be a messenger of truth and reality; however, it acts quite the opposite and spreads biased falsehood and fabrication simply to please the United States and Israel." -- Press TV is still unhappy about the ruling of UK regulator Ofcom: see previous post.

UK's "pope of soap" now creates TV series in Cambodia to support US policy goals.

Posted: 02 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 1 June 2011, Robert Turnbull: "Dubbed 'the Pope of Soap' by the British newspaper The Sun, [Matthew] Robinson was a longtime executive producer of the British series 'EastEnders,' now in its 26th year. Arriving in Cambodia in 2003, he applied the same formula to create three groundbreaking series for Cambodian television, with a fourth now in the works. Why Cambodia? He saw an advertisement for an executive producer to set up a drama there and responded. 'After 37 years hacking at Britain’s TV coal face,' Mr. Robinson said recently in Phnom Penh, 'I relished the chance to combine my acquired creative skills with teaching a public service project in a faraway country of which I knew little.' ... In 2006 a ... series, 'AirWaves,' was commissioned by the U.S. State Department with the aim of discouraging Islamic fundamentalism and improving relations between the country’s majority Khmer and small Cham Muslim communities. The United States was also seeking to create a template that might serve other Southeast Asian nations."

Phnom Penh Post, 1 June 2011: BBC World Service vacancy notice for a research officer to "work primarily on audience research, informing and measuring the impact of The Trust’s programming in Cambodia."

BBC World Service Trust film for India, derided by some MPs, honored at the Centre Pompidou.

Posted: 02 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
afaqs! (Mumbai), 1 June 2011: "The much popular 2008 campaign for Condom Normalisation by the BBC World Service Trust, which urged people not to shy away from talking about condom usage, has now found international recognition. The 'Kabaddi' film from the 'Jo Bola Wohi Sikandar' campaign has been chosen as an exhibit for a prestigious and comprehensive show of Indian modern art titled Paris-Delhi-Bombay. The show began on May 25, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. ... The campaign was produced by the BBC World Service Trust, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and adopted by the Government of India." See previous post about same subject.

News One, 31 May 2011: "BBC World Service Trust implemented a media training initiative in India with the overarching aim of increasing the quantity and quality of media coverage of tobacco control issues at both state and national levels. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids supported project was designed to give media professionals a better understanding of the dangers of tobacco use, so that they are motivated to cover these topics. The initiative was also intended to help policy and decision-makers, and those responsible for enforcing relevant legislation."

Higher cancer rate in Antigua due to the shortwave relay there? Or is it due to the small denominator?

Posted: 02 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Caribarena Antgua, 1 June 2011: "In 1975, the Caribbean Relay Station was constructed in Antigua. The station's purpose was to broadcast international radio content, like the BBC World Service, to most of the western hemisphere. The station was a monster when compared to cell phone towers, with six radio towers operating at 250 kW. The station had the ability to broadcast shortwave AM radio far beyond the Caribbean region, well into South and North America. This station was, by far, the largest operating transmission station in the entire Caribbean. According to PAHO (Pan-American-Health-Organization) the cancer mortality rate in Antigua between 1992-2002 peaked at 176 cases for every 100,000 people. This is higher than anywhere in Latin America, according to the same study. Interestingly enough, no other Caribbean island had such radio towers, operating at such power levels as 250 kW. In Barbados, shortwave transmission sites peak at 0.5 kW strength, and in Grenada, the strongest towers come up at 5 kW; the same is true for Jamaica. In our initial publication, we noted that the health effects of EMFs have a 10-20 year delay."

Measures of incidents-per-100,000 are very nonlinear. Small denominators, such as the populations of small island republics, can produce distortedly high results on such a scale. This might explain why Antigua has a higher cancer rate than the rest of Latin America, but it does not explain the increase from 1996 to 2002. Looking at Pan American Health Organization cancer data for small Caribbean nations, the cancer rates of Antigua do not seem higher than those of the others.

The BBC Antigua relay station, which operated from 1975 to 1995, had four 250-kilowatt shortwave transmitters. It was the most important transmitter site for shortwave reception of BBC World Service in North America.

In the news: people who were influenced by music from VOA and other US shortwave stations.

Posted: 01 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 1 June 2011, Tom Nolan: "Arturo Sandoval, the Cuban-born trumpet virtuoso [was] granted political asylum in the U.S. in 1990. ... Mr. Sandoval said, the main chance Cuban jazz aficionados had to hear the music he calls 'a cure for your soul, a balm for your spirit' was the daily Voice of America broadcasts hosted by Willis Conover: 'That was our salvation. We listen to him every single day. . . . He got such a deep, big voice, you know: "THIS—IS WILLIS—CONOVER!"' Conover's show was also a lifeline in the 1960s for trumpeter, composer-arranger and leader Valery Ponomarev, then a resident of Moscow and now living in New York. 'It was—incredible revelation,' Mr. Ponomarev told a panel audience Friday morning. 'I was in Soviet Union; I was a kid, living . . . with all that pretension and artificiality imposed on zillion of people, of Soviet ideology . . . which all was not true. But here's real thing: real emotion, real people playing that fantastic genius music.'"

Evening Telegraph (Kettering, Northamptonshire), 31 May 2011: "Ted Grove, of Kettering, wrote to Retro with his memories of The Centralians band, which featured in a recent article. He said: 'The local band, in which I was the drummer, was The Centralians, not The Old Centralians. It started as a school musical group and became semi-professional in the 1930s. At this time one of the teachers, Robert Braithwaite, took a keen interest in the band’s future and drew together the talents of those who would help this. He spent quite a lot of time listening to shortwave radio from America, hearing the new music that had become popular there and made sure it was ordered for use in this country so we were able to play the popular music at the same time as any of the well-known British bands were playing it." -- This would have been from private, pre-VOA US shortwave stations.

Ethiopia: Criticism of VOA Amharic. Nigeria: VOA reporter takes job with Imo State government.

Posted: 01 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Abugida Information Center, 31 May 2011, Hindessa Abdul: "VOA is also falling victim to the agenda of the Ethiopian government. Its recent activities are geared towards the promotion of the latest cliché of Transformation and the Millennium Dam in Ethiopia. While it should be commended for some of its insightful interviews from different perspectives, it is also on the verge of falling to the trap of the regime in that the Station is increasingly sounding like the dreaded state media. VOA Amharic has to work hard to restore its credibility and serve as a forum for all the different news and views. But compromising their principles in the face of pressures will lead them to lose both their credibility and audience that has taken decades to build."

Vanguard, 31 May 2011, Chidi Nkwopara: "Imo State [Nigeria] Governor, Mr. Rochas Okorocha has, within the first 24 hours of his inauguration, approved the appointments of Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff and Principal Secretary. ... Voice of America, VOA, reporter, Mr. Chinedu Offor, is the governor’s Senior Special Assistant, SSA, (Media)." -- And presumably Mr. Offor will no longer be reporting for VOA.

BBC World News on MSNBC? No, but why not ITN World News on MSNBC?

Posted: 01 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Salon, 31 May 2011, Alex Pareene: "Ed Schultz should be back on MSNBC this week following his suspension for calling conservative pundit Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut" on his radio show. But even after his apology and suspension, it would not be surprising if the occasionally liberal cable network and the populist Midwestern radio talker parted ways. Schultz isn't a great fit at MSNBC. They have left him out of promo campaigns, unnamed staffers have leaked embarrassing stories about him, and network golden boy Joe Scarborough mocked him on-air. If he doesn't get fired, he still might quit. But that would leave MSNBC, already suffering from the loss of Keith Olbermann, down another hour of liberal punditry. Who could they get for 10 p.m. who'd actually be worth watching?" [Among the suggestions:] "The BBC World Service. Just air the BBC World Service every day. Yeah, it's on most PBS stations, but how revolutionary would it be for an American 24-hour cable news network to have a full hour of reported international news every night? (Alternatively air an hour of al-Jazeera English, as a public service.)" -- By "BBC World Service," he probably means "BBC World News," the English global news television channel. Its program, "BBC World News America," is already broadcast by many PBS stations in the United States, so there could be contractual issues putting BBC World News content on MSNBC. But why not a newscast from the UK's other news broadcaster, ITN (Independent Television News)? During the 1980s and 90s, ITN World News with Daljit Dhaliwal was a staple on many US PBS stations -- until BBC news displaced it. ITN, like MSNBC, is a commercial broadcaster, making ITN a better fit than BBC on MSNBC. Despite the possibilities here, MSNBC, to obtain higher ratings, would probably replace Schultz with another outspoken talking head.

Al Jazeera English in Burlington, Vermont: "cultural jihad" or "cosmopolitanism"?

Posted: 01 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Arab Media & Society, Summer 2011, William Youmans: "Al Jazeera English gained carriage on Burlington Telecom and survived efforts to remove it as the result of several factors. ... This story of AJE in the United States illuminates the division between the nativistic nationalism of wartime America and the embedded internationalism of media globalization. The stated positions in the public debate seem congruent with the distinction between nativism and cosmopolitanism in reactions to globalization. Nativism may be inherent to the anti-globalization views that asserted the need to preserve a sort of inherent and monolithic cultural purity that is threatened by foreign cultural invasion. Nativists argued that foreign media interventions harmed the receiving nation’s polity and cultural institutions. However, cultural imperialism was a term used by underdeveloped nations to describe the influx of powerful western, corporate media and cultural products promoted by the political and economic power of western, industrialized states. Perhaps instead, cultural jihad, as it was termed above by an opponent of AJE’s carriage on BT, is more appropriate to describe the perceived threat they mobilized against. Cosmopolitanism, as demonstrated by the winning party in this debate, seeks to get beyond the fear of infiltration and conflict along essentialized cultural and political differences. They embraced AJE as a globalized media product that could be useful as an educational tool and help bring together peoples who know little about each other. AJE is quite aware of these tensions, and is trying to position itself as a cosmopolitan network, one that shares 'the voices of the voiceless' and bridges cultures."

North Korea again complains of "psychological warfare" from South, and again threatens "blah, blah, blah."

Posted: 01 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 31 May 2011, Paula Hancocks: "North Korea's National Defence Commission issued a statement Monday saying it 'will never deal with traitor Lee Myung-bak and his clan' referring to the South Korean president and accusing Seoul of 'psychological warfare.' The North said it would launch an 'all-out offensive' against Seoul for allowing anti-Pyongyang propaganda to be sent by human rights groups and some politicians in balloons across the border.Pyongyang has often made such threats in the past through its state-owned news agency KCNA."

New York Times, 30 May 2011, Mark McDonald: "With relations between North and South Korea still tense and limited, the North threatened Monday to abandon a military hot line with the South and close a jointly operated office where officials from both Koreas interact. ... 'They keep repeating these same kinds of threats, saying, "We will do blah, blah, blah,”’ said an official with the Unification Ministry who asked to remain anonymous, citing ministry protocols. 'The hot line they’re talking about will have no impact on inter-Korean relations. They know this.' Three other communications links between the Koreas remain operative, including a telephone line at the truce village of Panmunjom. That line, according to one senior government official, is used every day."

AP, 30 May 2011: The KCNA "Statement renewed a warning that the North will take unspecified 'physical actions' against the South over its propaganda campaign, which includes radio broadcasts."

DPRK, 30 May 2011: "As already warned by the DPRK, it will take a physical action without any notice any time against any target to cope with the anti-DPRK psychological warfare persistently perpetrated by the group with a foolish aim." -- No specific mention of radio broadcasts.

PBS NewsHour, 26 May 2011: "In her documentary, 'Kimjongilia,' filmmaker N.C. Heikin tells tales of life in North Korea from the perspective of those who have managed to escape the country and its regime. This excerpt is part of a series of independently produced films from around the world aired in a partnership with The Economist magazine."

Whether in spoken Mandarin or subtitles, will CNBC avoid bad news about Chinese business?

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CNBC press release, 3 May 2011: "CNBC ... announce that it will now be providing Mandarin language international market analysis and financial news updates into China Central Television’s (CCTV) Business Channel programme, Global Connection Show. Prior to today, the business news updates were broadcast in English with Chinese subtitles. 'We are excited about this announcement as it reinforces our commitment to China and our long standing strategy of delivering global business news with local relevance whenever and wherever possible,' said Satpal Brainch, President and Managing Director, CNBC in Asia Pacific. ... This announcement is one more step forward in the strengthening of the relationship between CNBC and CCTV."

Workers' Collective of Radio del Sur blames Venezuela's information minister for "wholesale firings."

Posted: 01 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link, 30 May 2011, Workers’ Collective of the Radio of the South (Radio del Sur): "The Workers’ Collective of the Radio of the South denounces political persecution and wholesale firings at the station. After the disgraceful action against Professor Cristina González earlier this month, removed from the presidency of Radio del Sur in an abrupt and unexplained manner, this past Tuesday, May 24th, a group of the station’s workers were simultaneously fired. ... We denounce this persecutionary act against these communication comrades, people with lengthy careers based on professionalism, people who have repeatedly proven their commitment to the Bolivarian Revolution and the struggles of the peoples of America. ... We hold Venezuela’s Minister of Information and Communication, Andrés Izarra responsible for this new attack against the workers at Radio of the South, and we demand an end to the workplace persecution against those who he 'has had his eyes fixated on for a long time,' as ex station president Cristina González recently said." See previous post about same subject.

"America Calling China: A Strategy for International Broadcasting."

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Public Diplomacy Council, 31 May 2011, Kim Andrew Elliott: "For the first time in nearly seventy years, VOA may stop broadcasting to China, in Mandarin, via shortwave. This proposal in the BBG budget request for fiscal year 2012 would convert VOA Mandarin to an internet-only service, and reduce its staff from 76 to 38. ... There will probably be Congressional pushback to the BBG plan, perhaps saving some of VOA’s shortwave output in Mandarin. The problem, however, is not that the BBG proposal goes too far, but that it is insufficiently radical. Extremely small audiences, coupled with the need for all Federal agencies to identify efficiencies and savings, require a thorough restructuring of U.S. international broadcasting to China."

Public Diplomacy Council, 1 June 2011, David S. Jackson: "As a former Director of the Voice of America, I worry that this strategy will leave VOA too vulnerable to censorship or blocking. To be fair, the BBG’s technology experts are among the best in the world at evading blocking efforts, and they’ve had to be, since the Chinese have thrown up roadblocks to VOA’s Mandarin language website since it went public in 1997. Unfortunately, the Chinese are just as good at coming up with new ways to block us. ... No one denies that shortwave radio is a dying medium in much of the world, or that the Internet and mobile platforms are increasingly popular even in developing countries. The bigger question is whether we’ve reached the point where we can risk putting all of our bets on these new technologies in a country whose government is determined to block us." See previous post about same subject.

If I have this right, Deutsche Welle TV and France 24 go to your smartphone, then into your home entertainment system.

Posted: 01 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Bianor press release, 31 May 2011: "Bianor and Deutsche Welle join forces to bring the German broadcaster’s on-demand videos to the connected TV screens around the globe. Deutsche Welle produces news, background information and cultural highlights worldwide, creating a platform for intercultural dialogue. Its on-demand video library is now part of iMediaShare’s video channel lineup - available both in English and German. Bianor's iMediaShare is a mobile solution that enables users to personalize their TV experience. It provides easy access to video and audio content from various sources to let people enjoy their favorite content on any connected TV. iMediaShare transforms the mobile handset into a personal all-in-one media manager that combines content portability with seamless media streaming and TV remote control functionality."

Bianor press release, 5 Apr 2011: Bianor has added the first news on demand channel to its content streaming and TV playback platform iMediaShare for the US and Canada. France 24 is a 24/7 international news channel, covering international current events from a French perspective through diversity of opinions, debate & confrontation of viewpoints. The channel offers a European perspective on world events, and provides a key to understanding ever more complex events through in-depth analysis.

Bionor iMediaShare web page: "iMediaShare allows you to stream and control multimedia content from smartphone to home entertainment systems using only Wi-Fi connectivity."

Israel's foreign-language Radio Reka observes its 20th anniversary.

Posted: 01 Jun 2011   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 31 May 2011, Greer Fay Cashman: "When Radio REKA, Israel Radio’s foreign language station, a Hebrew acronym for Immigrant Absorption Network and the Hebrew word for background, was established 20 years ago, it was met with mixed reactions. Many new immigrants who found it difficult to grasp the essentials of Hebrew were thrilled to be able to hear news and other broadcasts in their native languages. Others complained about the time allocations for each language, or the fact that certain languages were omitted. ... In view of the fact that Israel Radio’s shortwave foreign language service was being eased out at the time, some predicted a short shelf life for the radio frequency. But REKA is still here, and on Thursday will celebrate its 20th anniversary, broadcasting neither from Tel Aviv nor Jerusalem, but from a special studio to be set up in the Rami Naim Auditorium in Ashdod, where it will broadcast from noon to 6 p.m. in Russian, Amharic, English, French, Mugrabian and Georgian." See also the IBA World/Radio Reka website.