Al Jazeera commentaries and reports provoke America with alternative views re US wars, climate change, and Glenn Beck.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 27 July 2011, Ted Rall: "Americans don't see the brutality of their wars in the newspaper, on the nightly news, in their weekly newsmagazines, or at the movies. They don't even see them in books, where educated people turn for nuance and breadth. Coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, such as it is considering that most such books are written by American reporters embedded with US forces, is decidedly Americentric, such as Dexter Filkins' bestseller 'The Forever War'. ... American citizens are morally responsible for the wars and the war crimes committed in their name. The sad truth is, however, that they don't know what's going on - and they don't lift a finger to find out.", 27 July 2011, Dahr Jamail: "Achim Steiner from the UN Environment Programme said last week that climate change would 'exponentially' increase the scale of natural disasters, and that it 'threatens peace'. Steiner warned that an increase in the frequency of natural disasters across the globe could prove a major challenge in the coming decades. He said recent crises, such as the famine in Somalia, show that 'our capacity to handle these kinds of events is proving a challenge, particularly if they occur simultaneously and start affecting, for instance, global food markets, regional food security issues, displacing people, creating refugees across borders'. The most recent assessment report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2007, reached some key conclusions. The report found that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and that world temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4C during the 21st century. ... [A Gallup Polls finds] that 43 per cent of Americans think the media exaggerates the seriousness of climate change. How Americans view climate change varies widely depending upon their political beliefs, the poll found." Compare to...

Forbes, James Taylor, 27 July 2011: "NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed." See also MSNBC, 29 July 2011, Stephanie Pappas., 24 July 2011, Ahmed Moor: "The Norwegian terrorist who murdered more than ninety innocent civilians - many of whom were teenagers - did not act alone. Or rather, he acted within a cultural and political context that legitimises his fearful and hate-infested worldview. It is now clear that Anders Behring Breivik was exposed to large amounts of right-wing propaganda. ... Anders Behring Breivik, Mohammed Atta and Baruch Goldstein are all cut from the same rotten cloth. Anwar Al-Awlaki and Glenn Beck - the peddlers of the faith - all share the same core afflictions. These men are insecure, violently inclined, and illiberal. The outside world scares them."

In Maine, Al Jazeera Washington bureau chief attracts small protest. Together they help raise $50,000 for General Knox Museum.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Bangor Daily News, 28 July 2011, Heather Steeves: "Al-Jazeera’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief drew parallels between an uprising in the Arab world and America’s own revolution during a fundraising speech for the General Henry Knox Museum on Thursday night. The appearance by Abderrahim Foukara drew protesters as well as a capacity crowd of about 350 to the Strand Theatre. A handful of people stood outside with signs saying his news network is a microphone for terrorists. The protesters were outnumbered by supporters 3 to 1. ... The moderator of the evening’s events, Mac Deford, made light of the protests outside the Rockland movie theater, saying the sign holders raised awareness for the event and increased ticket sales to the sold-out speech, which likely raised about $50,000 for the museum, according to executive director Ellen Dyer. ... Foukara’s speech mostly focused on the Arab Spring, the recent pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East. ... 'Democracy might not be a panacea for all ills, but so far it’s the best doctor in town,' he said. 'Americans know a thing or two about breaking the shackles of tyranny. They did it when they voted for an African-American president. Many people in this country say the breaking of shackles began way back in 1776 when the British were told what young Tunisians have told their dictators recently,' he said."

Village Soup, 29 July 2011, Shlomit Auciello: "He said differences between China and the U.S. could give the U.S. an advantage as new governments form in the Arab world. He mentioned China's suppression of the Internet, and said the U.S. had an edge when it came to democracy. China can not export democracy, he said. 'You cannot give what you do not have,' said Foukara. He reminded his audience that Morocco, an Arab nation, was the first country to recognize the newly formed United States in 1777."

Maine Public Broadcasting Network, 29 July 2011, Keith Shortall: "'We recognize right of him to come and speak or for the museum to invite him. This is an issue of very poor judgement,' said one man, who gave his name only as 'Ted.' He held a small placard with the Act For America emblem. 'I'm just a private citizen who is here trying to bring this to people's attention, that this is very poor judgement giving credence and a platform for an organization that is dedicated to destruction of the United States and Western civilization,' Ted said. ... But the critics were well-outnumbered by counter-protestors, who also held signs. 'It's an embarrassment to our state--these people don't stand for us,' said Jeffrey Evangelos, of Friendship. Evangelos is holding a sign that reads, 'Attention Tea Party! Stop Embarrassing Maine With Your Hate and Ignorance.'" Also from MPBN, audio of his talk.

See previous post about same subject.

Difficulty and controversy for Radio France International in Guinea, Burundi, and Senegal. And a new FM relay.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Preotect Journalists blog, 28 July 2011, Mohamed Keita: "On Monday, Guinea's state-controlled media regulatory agency imposed a 'temporary' ban on media coverage of the July 19 attack on the private residence of President Alpha Condé, silencing private radio and television talk programs in which critical questions were being raised about the episode. In such circumstances, Guinean listeners turn to foreign media outlets such as France's state-funded international broadcaster, Radio France Internationale (RFI), the most popular station in Francophone Africa. With programs such as 'Appels Sur L'actualité,' a daily news call-in show, RFI is considered by millions of African listeners to be an essential source of news and information. Wednesday's 'Appels Sur L'actualité' began with an ominous statement read by host Juan Gomez. 'We had planned this morning to debate the attack last week against the residence of the Guinean president, but yesterday the National Communications Council of Guinea decided to temporarily suspend any program or article about the attempted assassination against the head of state as well as all call-in programs.' Gomez told listeners they would have to debate another topic. Squeezed between the expectations of listeners and the conditions set by governments leasing the local frequencies it needs, RFI found itself in a difficult position. 'We are not submitting to a censorship measure; we regret it and we hope that it will be temporary.' RFI Deputy Director Geneviève Goetzinger told CPJ today. RFI has suffered for its critical reporting on current events in Africa. The station has seen its reporters expelled from Chad, Rwanda, and Senegal, its local correspondent jailed in Niger, and another correspondent killed in the Ivory Coast. RFI has had its broadcasts temporarily banned in a number of countries, most recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the government of President Joseph Kabila sought the removal of RFI senior reporter Ghislaine Dupont, the station's DRC specialist who was expelled from the country in 2006. Nevertheless, RFI management remains adamant the station will continue to report without interference. 'Our editorial line is set in Paris, in complete independence from all the governments in the world,' Goetzinger said."

Amnesty International, 28 July 2011: "The Burundian government should immediately release two prominent lawyers jailed amid an ongoing dispute with the government, Amnesty International said today, as a national lawyers' strike continues. Head of the Bar Association Isidore Rufikiri was arrested on 27 July after speaking at a rally in the capital, Bujumbura. Burundian lawyers are on strike this week to call for the release of their colleague, Suzanne Bukuru, who was arrested on 15 July on charges of 'complicity in espionage' after speaking to French journalists about a case of alleged rape. ... The prosecution also questioned Edras Ndikumana, a correspondent for Radio France International (RFI), about his role in putting French journalists in contact with Bukuru."

African Press Organization, 29 July 2011: "After questioning Ndikumana about his report, the prosecutor confiscated his mobile phone for several hours. He also asked Ndikumana to remain available for further questioning."

RFI press release, 14 July 2011: RFI adds its third FM relay in Burundi, at Mt. Mutumba in the north of the country, for French and Swahili broadcasts.

BBC Sport, 28 July 2011: "Blackburn Rovers' El-Hadji Diouf has been banned from all football-related activities in Senegal for five years. The Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) handed the ban to the forward after remarks he made in the media about corruption in African football. ... Diouf reacted angrily to the FSF's claims that he had failed to appear for a disciplinary hearing last week. The committee wanted to ask the Blackburn striker about comments he had made on Radio France International, claiming that 'the whole system of African football is corrupt'."

BBC Worldwide chief lists China, Vietnam and India at the top of "his plans for further international expansion."

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 30 July 2011, Amanda Andrews: "Of the BBC's 2,950 pieces of individual intellectual property, [BBC Worldwide chief John] Smith earmarked five power brands. These are Top Gear, Doctor Who, Lonely Planet, Dancing with the Stars and BBC Earth, and they account for 27pc, or £308.1m, of total turnover. The most controversial has been the BBC's investment in Lonely Planet. ... 'Just from a brand-building point of view, is essentially a news machine. You just have to look at the adjacency of news and travel and natural history. If you're going anywhere in the world, or if you're curious about the world, you want to know what's in the news and you want to know about the politics.' ... 'The next thing we are doing with it [Lonely Planet] is to get it onto television. And when we've done that, we've completed the journey we set out for it,' says Smith, who says a channel could join other international TV channels, which include BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge and CBeebies. ... Worldwide's biggest markets are currently English-speaking – the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand. But Smith has identified a list of countries where he sees significant growth within the next few years. Top of the list are . The other likely revenue drivers are Turkey, Indonesia, South Korea, Russia, Chile, Brazil, Malaysia, Colombia and Argentina."

It's interesting that Vietnam is listed in Mr. Smith's top three. Vietnam has become robust multichannel market (cable and DTH satellite), with many internatioinal channels participating, including CNN, BBC World News, and Discovery. TV5Monde has begun subtitling in Vietnamese. But the party may soon be over for international channels in Vietnam, as the Hanoi government has announced its plans to regulate their content.

Meanwhile, can US government funded international broadcasting, under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, compete in Vietnam? Perhaps not, with most of the energy spent on VOA and Radio Free Asia competing with each other in Vietnamese, splitting scarce resources, and duplicating coverage.

RFE/RL's Radio Azadi fifth on unenviable list of media suffering violence in Afghanistan.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Journalists in Trouble, 29 July 2011: "The death of Ahmed Omaid Khpalwak in Afghanistan's southern Oruzgan province this week is a cruel reminder of the dangers that continue to confront journalists in Afghanistan. ... Internews, a media training organization, and its local partner, Nai Supporting Afghanistan Open Media, have released an extensive report on violence against journalists in Afghanistan that is the result of a 10-year monitoring project. The report analyzes data in terms of location, gender, type of attack and motive and includes an interactive map. Among the media organizations suffering the most violence over the last decade, RFE’s Radio Azadi is fifth."

Financial Times reports on UK roots of incoming VOA director David Ensor.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 29 July 2011, Annie Maccoby Berglof: "Three-and-a-half years after taking a private sector job as head of public relations at Mercuria, an energy company, Ensor was [in January 2010] tapped for a new senior US government post in Afghanistan: director of communications and public diplomacy for the US embassy. The job of communications 'tsar' included a hefty budget to build up Afghan television, telephone and radio infrastructure and programming: '[The late diplomat] Richard Holbrooke asked me to go. I wanted to do my part to make sure Afghanistan moved into the modern world and never became a base for terrorist camps again,' says Ensor, 60, tanned from his time in Kabul. ... While Ensor is American, his English/British family roots run deep. His father, an oil executive, was a British bomber pilot and squadron leader during the second world war... . Soon Ensor will be packing up with his family again to assume a new post as director of Voice of America in Washington."-- David Ensor has already been sworn in as VOA director. He will arrive in DC and begin work in August.

Iranian blogger for Deutsche Welle freed on bail in Tehran.

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 27 July 2011, Bayat Parsa: "After two weeks, Deutsche Welle blogger Pegah Ahangarani has been released from Iranian custody. But the charges against her still aren't clear. Hamid Hekmat, the expatriate uncle of Pegah Ahangarani confirmed on Wednesday that his niece has been released on bail for 58,000 euros ($83,000). ... It is ... unknown whether the Iranian judiciary will pursue the case further. Ahangarani was allowed no legal representation during her detention. The 27-year-old was supposed to blog for Deutsche Welle's Farsi service about the Women's World Cup in Germany. On the night of July 12, one day before her departure from Tehran, she received a subpoena from the Information Ministry. There, she was threatened with arrest. Ahangarani didn't travel to Germany the next day. So as not to endanger her, Deutsche Welle discontinued the joint blog project. Despite this, she was arrested a little later." See previous post about same subject.

Appeal for jailed Vietnamese dissident who "called for a multi-party regime" and was interviewed by VOA and RFA.

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VietNamNet, 28 July 2011, Tuoi Tre: "The appeal hearing for Cu Huy Ha Vu, 54, who has been given a 7-year jail term for writing many articles against the Vietnamese State and Government, will be opened on August 2, said the Supreme People’s Court. Pursuant to Article 88, Section 1 of the Penal Code, Vu is charged with 'conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.' ... Lawyer [Tran Dinh] Trien told VTC News that Vu has appealed the entire verdict handed down against him by the first instance court. According to the indictment from the Hanoi People’s Procuracy, from 2009 to October 2010, Vu wrote many anti-State articles and posted them on the Internet. Vu answered interviews from the Voice of America and the Radio Free Asia, in which he distorted and maligned Party and State guidelines and policies, defamed the administration and State institutions, and blackened the Vietnamese people’s resistance wars. He also called for a multi-party regime in Vietnam and demanded that Article 4 of the Vietnam’s Constitution be abolished."

Voice of Russia originates some programs from Washington, but "how to overcome questions about credibility?"

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
USC CPD Blog, 28 July 2011, Kimberly DeGroff Madsen: "Voice of Russia, Russia’s state-funded radio station, is taking a new approach to informing Americans: using American and Russian voices to broadcast international news from American soil. For the first time since its beginnings in 1929, Voice of Russia will broadcast to Americans from Washington, D.C. instead of Moscow. Russia has everything to gain from an improved image in the world’s eyes, but Voice of Russia (VOR) has some major obstacles to overcome if this project is to be a success. The first obstacle is one that faces any news venue: how to attract listeners. The second is more difficult and very pertinent given the history of media in Russia: how to overcome questions about credibility."

Australia Network bidders offer "economics" versus "goodwill."

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 July 2011, Harold Mitchell: "[W]ho will run the Australia Network? On the one hand, the ABC wants to continue its good work. On the other, there has been a very strong bid from a commercial partnership of News Ltd, the Seven Network and the Nine Network. It's probable that the commercial service has put in a stronger bid in terms of the economics of the deal. The ABC, on the other hand, would argue that it has decades of goodwill in the region. ... I hope that the government resolves the issue quickly." See previous post about same subject.

Columbia Journalism Review issues correction to its story mentioning VOA website's corrections policy.

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Columbia Journalism Review, 27 July 2011, Justin D. Martin: "The websites of The Economist, Foreign Policy, the Singapore Straits-Times, The Times of India, World Politics Review, The Moscow Times, Voice of America and Foreign Affairs have neither visible corrections pages nor prominent corrections policies, to list a few. Voice of America does at least have an accuracy policy on its site, stating that 'VOA corrects errors or omissions in its own broadcasts at the earliest opportunity.' ... Correction: This article originally reported that the website of Voice of America contains no statement regarding its online corrections policy. In fact, such a statement is available here, under 'Corrections': CJR regrets the error."

State Department official calls for return of VOA and RFE/RL access to FM dial in Azerbaijan.

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Turan, 27 July 2011: "'U.S. is concerned about state of fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan', said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Melia, who recently returned from his visit to Azerbaijan. Melia spoke at the House Foreign Affairs Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee hearing on 'Eastern Europe: The State of Democracy and Freedom' July 26, TURAN’s Washington DC correspondent reports. ... He said that the Azeri government should allow the National Democratic Institute and Human Rights House in the country, to resume their activities, and permit Voice of America and RFE/RL to use national FM frequencies." See also Mr. Melia's testimony (pdf), which also contains several mentions of media freedom throughout eastern Europe.

BBC global iPlayer content will be $10 a month, but the app will be free (updated).

Posted: 29 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcast, 22 July 2011, Catherine Neilan: "BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith has revealed details of the subscription service that will be used for the soon-to-be launched Global iPlayer. Users will be able to download the iPad app for free, but will pay a subscription of $10 (£6.20) a month to access content. Smith told Broadcast that content would remain on the device for an unlimited period of time for users to watch offline. Users will be able to watch their downloads more than once, he added. ... The service will go live as a pilot in Western Europe this summer. As first revealed by Broadcast, the Global iPlayer will be a ‘Best of British’ proposition, which will include both archived content and new programmes."

Update: The Guardian, Apps blog, 28 July 2011, Stuart Dredge: "'This is not a catch-up service: this is a video-on-demand service. We will have content from the last month, but also the best from the catalogue stretching back 50 to 60 years.' Users will be able to search for specific shows or browse genres including comedy and drama, but BBC Worldwide has also hired a team of editors to curate the international iPlayer."

iPadinCanada, 27 July 2011, Gary: "The service will offer some free ad-supported content, but their main model is based on subscriptions coming in at €6.99 a month or €49.99 a year. The global version of iPlayer will work over 3G and support downloading of shows for offline viewing via overriding the iPad’s ability to sleep, a move they said Apple has no issue with."

PC Magazine, 28 July 2011, Peter Pachal: "The global iPlayer has some differences from other iPad video apps like Hulu Plus or ABC's video player. Notably, it can stream shows over 3G connections as well as Wi-Fi, and users will be able to download and store shows for viewing while offline. The BBC is said to have worked closely with Apple to make this possible. ... Subscribers won't have access to the entirety of BBC's on-air offerings, however. BBC Worldwide is said to have hired a team of editors to "curate" the content on the iPlayer, picking which shows to put on the app."

How private US shortwave station WRUL, in 1940, helped keep Norwegian ships out of German hands.

Posted: 29 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldNetDaily, 26 July 2011, Barry Farber: "With only 3 million people at the time [1940], Norway had the third-largest merchant fleet in the world; behind only Britain and America. Hitler salivated at the thought of that prize. When the Germans invaded Norway, special German units rounded up all the ship owners and hustled them down to the radio station in Oslo and handed them prepared statements ordering their entire fleet to head immediately for the nearest German, Italian or Japanese port 'to enter Norway's glorious new future as Germany's partner.' Norway's ambassador to the United States, Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstjerne, put in a call to the owner of a short-wave station, WRUL, with transmitters in Scituate, Mass. He asked permission to make an announcement to all Norwegian ships to ignore the gunpoint order from Oslo and, instead, head for the nearest British, American or neutral port. WRUL's owner, Walter Lemon, agreed. The effort was not 100 percent successful. It was MORE than 100 percent successful. Not a single Norwegian ship went to an Axis port, and one that was already in an Axis port (Tokyo) heard the Morgenstjerne message and successfully steamed out!" -- It might be a stretch that the ship at Tokyo heard WRUL's transmitter in Massachusetts. In the Atlantic, more likely. This is, in 1940, when U.S. shortwave broadcasting was still a collection of private stations. In the 1960s, Barry Farber had a talk show on WRUL, later WNYW.

Journalists at BBC Arabic begin a one-week strike over "anti-social and unsafe shift times," etc.

Posted: 29 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Ahram Online, 28 July 2011: "Journalists at the BBC’s Arabic Service are to strike this week in a dispute over working conditions. The action begins from midnight on Friday night (29 July), and continues until midnight on Thursday 4 August. Management plans to introduce a new rota system which would add 26 days to the working year. A majority of the 162 National Union for Journalists (NUJ) members among the Arabic Service staff voted in favour of the six-day strike. NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: 'The current proposals for the Arabic Service will result in increasing the number of anti-social and unsafe shift times. This will drastically disrupt people's lives and will lead to dramatically increased levels of work-related stress and sickness.'" See also National Union Journalists, 28 July 2011.

National Union of Journalist, 29 July 2011: "Last week an NUJ member in BBC Monitoring was escorted out of the door and within hours there were 3 new jobs advertised he was qualified for. Three people have been forced out of the BBC to date, and more are due to leave in the next few weeks. In response, journalists at the BBC are going ahead with Monday’s 24 hour strike action starting at midnight on Sunday 00.01 August 1 and a work to rule will commence as journalists return to work on Tuesday August 2." -- The one-day strike applies to all BBC journalist, not just those in BBC Arabic.

Minute of silence today at 1100 UTC for BBC Pashto stringer killed in Taliban attack.

Posted: 29 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 29 July 2011, Nathalie Malinarich, @nmalinarich: "BBC holding a minute's silence at noon [1100 UTC] to mark the death of Omed Khpulwak, killed in #afghanistan."

BBC Press Office, 28 July 2011: "The BBC can confirm the sad news that its stringer in southern Afghanistan's Urozgan province, Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, was killed in an insurgent attack earlier today. Afghan security officials say that up to six suicide bombers had stormed the provincial governor's compound and other government offices in the provincial capital, Tarin Kot. Ahmed Omed was in the local Radio/TV building when it came under attack. Ahmed Omed was 25 and joined the BBC on 1st May 2008, as a stringer. He was also working for Pajwak Afghan news agency. Peter Horrocks, Director BBC Global News, said: 'The sympathies of the BBC and all of his colleagues go to Ahmed Omed's family and friends. Only this morning he was reporting on BBC Pashto about another Taliban attack that happened last night. The BBC and the whole world are grateful to journalists like Ahmed Omed who courageously put their lives on the line to report from dangerous places.'"

BBC The Editors blog, 28 July 2011, Peter Horrocks: "The BBC World Service has a deep and extensive commitment to the country of Afghanistan. To the world at large that is represented by the News correspondents who broadcast in English to the UK and the globe. To the people of Afghanistan that commitment is represented by the reporting and voices of the BBC teams in Afghanistan broadcasting in the languages of Pashto and Dari. At the last count the BBC was listened to by 40% of the population and is by far the most trusted international news provider in the country. That trust has been earned over many years by the commitment to fair reporting and the bravery of dozens of reporters and stringers across the country. Ahmed Omed Khpulwak was one of those brave reporters who have created that bond of trust with the people of Afghanistan."

BBC News, 28 July 2011, Dawood Azami: "Omed is the third BBC reporter to be killed in Afghanistan. Merwais Jalil died in Kabul in the civil war in the 1990s. Abdul Samad Roohani was killed by unknown gunmen in Helmand province three years ago."

Because All India Radio "chose not to" have greater impact, Indians put up with the "positive ordeal" of foreign radio via shortwave.

Posted: 28 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Frontline, 30 July 2011, Bhaskar Ghose: "For almost the whole of the 20th century, the media in India meant the print media – newspapers and magazines – apart from the state-run radio service, All India Radio (AIR). Perhaps radio could have had a greater impact on the media world, but it chose not to. One says ‘chose not to' deliberately. It stayed a rather formal purveyor of carefully chosen information presented in its news bulletins and what were called features and spoken word programmes, and of entertainment, for which it soon came to be valued among its large number of listeners. The classical music that it presented through programmes such as the National Programme of Music was not only appreciated but created an awareness of music among many. The large following that Hindustani and Carnatic music now has in the country owes a great deal to the regular broadcasts of classical music on AIR for decades. Its information-based programmes were, however, rather conservative. The news broadcasts never carried live reports from the field even when it was technically possible to do so using a telephone; field reports were confined to features on different ‘socially relevant' programmes meant to enlighten rather than inform. This was, of course, owing to the fact that AIR was state-owned and -controlled, and the initial identity given to it by the British was carried on for a fairly long time before some radio professionals began to bring in changes – nothing major, because they needed government approval, and the government saw radio as a propaganda tool more than anything else. Foreign radio channels were available, but only on the frequency called short wave, which soon became crowded and was, in any case, a channel full of static, which made listening, on occasion, a positive ordeal."

Discovery Networks International will air "Norway Massacre" special around the world, but maybe not in the USA.

Posted: 28 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 25 July 2011, Georg Szalai: "Discovery Communications' Discovery Networks International said Monday that it has commissioned ITN Productions to produce a one-hour news documentary about the Friday bombing and shooting spree in Norway. The special, called 'Norway Massacre: The Killer's Mind,' will air on Discovery Channel across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region beginning in August. The company didn't immediately mention the U.S. as a market where the program will air. ... CBS, NBC and ABC did not break into their regularly scheduled programming to cover the situation in Norway."

Work for BBC Greek during WWII spurred film career of "Zorba the Greek" director.

Posted: 27 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
ΕΞΠΡΕΣ (Athens), 26 July 2011: "Internationally acclaimed film director, screenwriter and producer Michael Cacoyannis died in and Athens hospital in the early morning hours on Monday at the age of 89. The director of the award-winning films 'Zorba the Greek' and 'Stella', Michael (Michalis) Cacoyannis was born in Limassol, Cyprus, and was sent by his father to London in 1939 to become a lawyer, but after producing Greek-language programmes for BBC World Service during WWII he developed an interest in film instead, ending up at the Old Vic school and enjoying a brief stage career as 'Michael Yannis', before beginning to work on films."

In Pakistan's tribal areas, international broadcasts are more "local" than Radio Pakistan.

Posted: 27 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
KUT (Austin), 25 July 2011, Tayyeb Afridi: "The people in FATA [Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas] are very used to radio broadcasting and they prefer Pashto news bulletins from VOA Pashtu Service, BBC Pashtu, Radio Azadi Afghanistan Pashtu Service, and Radio Mashaal Pashtu. The literate people of FATA also listens BBC Urdu Service, VOA Urdu Service, Voice of Germany Urdu Service, Radio Veritas Asia Urdu Service, Radio China Urdu Service, Radio Tehran Urdu Service and Delhi Radio Pashtu Service. How could Radio Pakistan compete with that much news broadcasting? If you have a news service that only provides information about the government -- what the President said, what the Prime Minister said and what the Information Minister said – then you are just ignoring community problems. You can’t compete in the tribal areas when there’s so much other, reputable, news broadcasting. The government has lost an important potential audience to Radio Deewa and Radio Mashaal. ... When I asked Shandi Gul, an office boy who works at Radio Razmak, North Waziristan why he listened Radio Mashaal, his reply was simple: he just wanted to know what was going on in his surroundings. This proves that days of centralized information dissemination has been gone and people are now more concerned about local news."

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 26 July 2011, citing Dawn: "The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Monday cancelled the licences of six TV channels. The authority cancelled the licences of Aaj Entertainment, Geo English, Mirror TV and Roze TV, as they failed to 'launch their transmission/operations, as required under the terms & conditions of the licence,' said a statement. A channel is required to be operational within one year from the award of licence."

Sen. Kirk says US international broadcasting should be used for "undermining the Assad dictatorship."

Posted: 27 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily Caller, 26 July 2011, Jamie Weinstein: "Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk lambasted Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich for his recent trip to Syria in an extensive interview with The Daily Caller in his Capitol Hill office last week. ... Kirk said America should speak out clearly against the Assad dictatorship, but not deploy military force. 'I think this is an area where the limitations of U.S power and the lack of any overarching, compelling U.S. national security vital interest mean that we should say Assad is a dictatorship, reach out and support dissident groups, make sure that Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and all other Internet means of undermining the Assad dictatorship are used,' he said, 'but it should not involve the U.S. military or any boots on the ground.'" -- VOA does not broadcast in Arabic. "Radio Liberty," or RFE/RL, has Arabic only to Iraq, through its Radio Free Iraq. It's easy to be confused by the mishmash of USIB brands. Reliable, independent news can play an important role in "undermining" dictators, but perhaps Sen. Kirk is thinking of a more direct approach.

Advice for BBC: World Service impartiality is good, but don't short-change "the people who pay for domestic services."

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 25 July 2011, Philip Stephens: "The [BBC] has an enviable global reputation. This provides an important slice of what policymakers call Britain’s soft power. Objectivity and impartiality are commodities in short supply in much of the world – hence the high standing of the BBC’s World Service. But preserving an international reputation does not mean trying to compete with Google – nor short-changing the people who pay for domestic services."

The Drum (Glasgow), 25 July 2011: "The National Union of Journalists has once again claimed that the ‘disastrous’ BBC licence fee deal should be reassessed in the face of reports that the Conservative Party altered its stance at the behest of James Murdoch. ... 'The decision to freeze the licence fee for the next six years has led to the axing of vital language services at the BBC World Service and the imposition of 20 per cent spending cuts across the BBC.'"

BBC America developing content specifically for US audiences, including series that "helps the shy and retiring to man up."

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Variety, 25 July 2011, Sam Thielman: "With a rising profile among viewers and advertisers, BBC America has begun creating content specifically for U.S. audiences: The network has greenlit two new series all its own and has five more in development. The Beeb's Stateside sister net has bought six hourlong episodes of 'Hard Drive With Richard Hammond,' based on the BBC's 'World's Toughest Driving Tests' and starring 'Top Gear' host Hammond, as well as 13 half-hours of 'Would You Rather With Graham Norton,' a gameshow shot in New York that pits comedians against each other. Both are working titles. ... It's also developing 'James May's Man Lab,' a U.S. version of the Brit show of the same name, in which 'Top Gear' host May ."

BBC America press release, 25 July 2011: "The move comes on the back of BBC AMERICA’s highest rated quarter ever. In second quarter 2011, the channel beat all previous records and was up 30% year-on-year in prime and 31% in total day."

egmCarTech, 25 July 2011, Omar Rana: "No matter how appreciative we are of the History Channel bringing us the American version of Top Gear, there is still something that makes the UK Top Gear better than the rest. While we will probably never get Jeremy Clarkson, James May or Richard… actually, wait – we’re getting Richard Hammond in the states?"

In "new focus for Latin America," Deutsche Welle will expand Spanish television from 2 to 18 hours daily.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 21 July 2011: "Erik Bettermann, Director General of Deutsche Welle, is using a business trip in Latin America to present the expanded television line-up for the region. He is visiting six different countries from July 14 to 29, 2011. Starting in February 2012, DW will expand its Spanish-language programming from two hours to 18 hours daily."

Newsroom Panama, 25 July 2011: "Local viewers of the German State television network Deutsche Welle, will be happy to hear that the company is looking to set up a Latin American headquarters in Panama. Deutsche Welle broadcasts around the world in German, Spanish and English and its European broadcasts are currently available on CableOnda. They have a high cultural content. The possibility of a Panamanian base was raised this week during a meeting between Erik Berrermann head of the German radio and television organization, Erik Bettermann, and President Ricardo Martinelli."

DW Spanish press release, 26 July 2011: Bettermann: "Un aspecto fundamental me deja insatisfecho: la dotación económica de Deutsche Welle. Sinceramente esperaba que el Gobierno reconociera, no solamente de palabra, el significado de una presencia medial fuerte en el exterior, sino que también le facilitara los medios de capital adecuados. Me decepciona que el presupuesto federal aumente y que a la vez se reduzcan nuestros medios."

CCTV sponsorship of "Opening Night Gala Dinner" at Eurovision's News Xchange might "excite" some comment.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
News Xchange news, undated: "Here is some exciting news about this year's News Xchange 2011 in Cascais, Portugal. Great networking opportunities! We have just confirmed that our Opening Night Gala Dinner will be sponsored and hosted by CCTV News Content, a new service provided by CCTV for global news content exchange ( CCTV News Content distributes political, social, economic and cultural news produced by the CCTV Newsgathering team for use by broadcasters worldwide. CCTV News Content will host all News Xchange delegates to a very special dinner and set the stage for what we believe will be our best News Xchange ever." -- I might just get through life without attending a gala anything.

IRIN radio for Somalia is under new management, ergo name change to Radio ERGO.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 25 July 2011, Andy Sennitt: "The IRIN radio service for Somalia has taken on a new name – Radio ERGO – as of 1 July 2011, as the service has been taken over by IMS Productions Aps, a non-profit organization with headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. A branch office of IMS Productions Aps has been opened in Nairobi, Kenya, to support and administer Radio ERGO. The radio will continue to broadcast daily humanitarian news and information in Somali. The word Ergo has great significance in the Somali language. It carries the essential meaning of mediators or envoys in the interest of people in need, and can also refer to those who mediate in conflicts. ... The one-hour daily broadcasts of Radio ERGO are heard across Somalia and the region, including the Kenyan refugee camps on shortwave [0830-0930 UTC on 13685 kHz via Dhabayya], and are rebroadcast by seven local FM stations." With links to IMS Productions and IRIN.

News Corp-backed company plans second Farsi channel, targeting female viewers; third channel by year-end.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Arabian Business, 24 July 2011, Elizabeth Broomhall: "Broadcast Middle East, the News Corp-backed broadcaster, said plans to launch a second Persian satellite channel would be unaffected by the widening scandal surrounding its parent firm. ... Broadcast Middle East, which is 50 percent owned by Rupert Murdoch, said the channel would tap into rising demand for Farsi-language television shows and would specifically target female viewers. Existing channel Farsi 1 draws in between 20 and 30 million viewers a day, [CEO Zaid] Mohseni said, airing shows such as ‘24’, ‘Prison Break’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’. 'We had a pretty great response for Farsi 1. We got a huge viewership,' he said. 'Based on this and surveys we did, we found there was demand for a second channel.' The company plans to hire 35 employees to staff the launch, bringing its total staff count to 85, and is eyeing a third channel by the year-end."

One of two planned Arabic news channels might be a business channel, and Bloomberg partner.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Arabian Business, 25 July 2011: "Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed is in talks to launch an Arabic-language business news channel with financial data company Bloomberg, Arabian Business has learned. It is understood the Kingdom Holding chairman and Bloomberg could announce the new venture within the next two months, in a deal that would see Bloomberg directly compete with news channel CNBC Arabia. The 24-hour channel could also prove a rival for planned news service Sky News Arabia, British Sky Broadcasting’s (BSkyB) first foreign-language channel, due to launch in early 2012. ... Details of Prince Awaleed’s likely tie-up with Bloomberg are unclear. A source close to the project told Arabian Business: 'It’s along the lines of what Bloomberg already does on English broadcasting. If that formula of high-end business news can be repeated in Arabic 24/7, it could prove very successful.'" See previous post about same subject.

CNN International MD says CNN spends more on original content, so it has less third-party content.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
JoongAng Daily (Seoul), 23 July 2011, Shin Ye-ri and Yim Seung-hye" "Tony Maddox, 50, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, based at CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta, believes that not many people sit in front of the television to watch scheduled news and that is why CNN doesn’t feel threatened by the introduction of social media but 'embraces them.' ... Maddox arrived in Seoul on Thursday on a three-day trip to hold meetings with jTBC, JoongAng Media Network’s new broadcast channel. ... Under Maddox’s direction, CNN has been spending 'enormous sums of money' since 2007 to add more correspondents to cover the world, which he said was in contrast to other media companies that have been reducing the number of foreign correspondents to cut back on expenses. This is a move, Maddox said, that CNN has taken to 'distinguish itself in the marketplace' in such an era in which everyone can say they are a reporter by having a mobile phone in hand. 'We spend more money on original content at the expense of third party content,' Maddox said. 'We invested the money in our own content so people would have a distinct reason for coming to CNN as opposed to coming to CNN and finding stories that they could find anywhere else,' he said."

Al Jazeera launches initiative to protect its staff from threats "across the globe."

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 25 July 2011: "Wadhah Khanffer, Director of Al Jazeera, announced an initiative to protect and reinforce rights of Al Jazeera staff in collaboration with various international human rights organisations. The initiative is to be conducted and followed up by the public freedom department and human rights department. Al Jazeera aims to plan and launch campaigns to defend its staff across the globe by following up with their problems with regional and international human rights organisations. ... The new initiative has been launched at a time when reporters throughout the world are facing many threats. Since eruption of the so called radiant revolution spring, Al Jazeera staff was victims to detention, physical harassment and torture in Egypt, Yemen and Libya. Also in Syria, they were, under threats by many messages online."

National Press Club press release, 22 July 2011: "The Aubuchon Press Freedom Award honors people whose actions embody the struggle to advance press freedom and open government. Each year, the Club selects one domestic and one international figure to receive the award. ... For 2011, the domestic winner is [Laura] Logan, the CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent and also a correspondent for '60 Minutes.' ... The international winner is al Jazeera's [Dorothy] Parvaz, also a reporter who had to face terrifying conditions merely to do her job. ... She was detained on April 29 upon arriving in Syria and placed in a jail where she heard the sounds of savage beatings, before being sent to Iran. All told, she spent 19 days in detention and out of touch with her family and colleagues."

Ethiopian-Americans stage noisy rally at VOA, expressing their concerns re VOA Horn of Africa controversy.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Addis Voice, 25 July 2011: "Washington DC–Hundreds of Ethiopian Americans and supporters of press freedom held a protest rally Monday at Voice of America headquarters. The protesters braved heat wave to demand VOA and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to make sure that the Horn of Africa section operates freely without undue pressures and censorship. 'No censorship, VOA remain true to your missions,' chanted the protesters. In a letter they submitted to VOA and BBG executives, the protesters demanded investigation into reports of censorship and mismanagement. ... The crowd was angered by the failure of VOA to cover the rally properly. VOA Amharic service sent a reporter after the rally was dispersed." With videos.

Addis Voice, 25 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "Hours after hundreds of protesters demanded Monday top executives of Voice of America (VOA) and Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to stop censoring and putting undue pressures on the Horn of Africa section, VOA Acting Director and Executive Editor, Steve Redisch, gathered the section’s staffers and told them to continue their work without any restrictions or self-censorship. In the brief meeting, Mr. Redisch said that he felt sorry for not meeting them sooner and thanked the section’s staffers for the 'marvelous' job they have been doing. He also expressed VOA’s trust on them and their professionalism, informed sources told Addis Voice. 'I have no problems with your shows,' Redisch was quoted as saying. He told them to perform their duty as they used to before regardless of the complaints of the government of Ethiopia. He said that VOA had never asked anyone to give less priority and airtime to political coverage."

Free Media Online, 24 July 2011: "Free Media Online ( president Ted Lipien, who once served as acting associate director of the Voice of America, said that 'siding of some of the Broadcasting Board of Governors members with the repressive Ethiopian regime against a highly respected VOA journalist represents an appalling new low in the history of this failed body... '"

Addis Voice, 23 July 2011, Yilma Bekele: "The question becomes is VOA abiding by its code? The fact of the matter is abiding by the code is the only currency VOA got. Its credibility should never be brought into question. The report shows biased attitude and impartiality."

Addis Voice, 25 July 2011, Elon Samson: "Almost all critical Ethiopian websites are crammed up with articles about the VOA saga. ... I dare to state that our cacophony is worthless for the following reasons: First VOA is not an Ethiopian radio. It is funded by the American government and has its own missions and objectives, which is to serve the interest of the American government. ... ESAT [satellite TV to Ethiopia] has captivated the minds of everyone in Ethiopia to the degree unparalleled in the Ethiopian media history. Our people at home have never lamented for the jamming of VOA as they did for ESAT. ... VOA has never been a radio of freedom. It is a professional media exercising professionalism, but Ethiopia needs more than that. Ethiopia needs a media that envisages and propagates freedom and professional reporting. As a media of freedom it should advocate and call for freedom and democracy with vigour and tenacity; as a professional media it should make a balancing reporting. The media we need should make a balanced and truthful news and news analysis, at the same time advocating for freedom and democracy in the rest of its programs. VOA meets the first requirement, i.e. it is a source of good news, but not a force for change, freedom and democracy. To my understanding it is ESAT which combines the two essential ingredients that our country needs right away- being a media of freedom at the same time a media of profession. I don’t wonder if people cry for ESAT, but makes no sense for me to cry for VOA." -- If VOA is a source of "good news" -- presumably meaning good-quality news -- then it is very much a "force for change, freedom and democracy." Advocacy for freedom and democracy is also a commendable activity, but it and good journalism don't really mix. They should be done by separate organizations from separate buildings.

See previous post about same subject.

Old VOA content (Alan Shepard and Jim Reeves) in the news.

Posted: 25 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 24 July 2011, Cecilia Peterson: "Folkways issued [a] documentary album in 1964 chronicling space exploration called Man in Space: The Story of the Journey (FX 6201). Originally a Voice of America radio program, it tells the story of the the first manned Mercury mission in May 1961 where Alan Shepard became the first American in space. I find the second track of this album especially poetic, so I will present the transcript here in full: 'Our story begins on the morning of Friday, May 5th, 1961, at 34 minutes past the hour of ten, at Cape Canaveral in the state of Florida. A man touches a button, the touch ignites the engines of a powerful rocket standing not too far away, gleaming white in the powerful light of the tropical sun. With a roar and a blast of flame, the rocket starts to lift straight up. For the hundreds of men and women who usually work at Cape Canaveral the launching of a rocket has become almost routine, but not in this case. For at the top of the rocket, inside a strange looking vehicle that looks something like a child's toy top, there was a man. ...'" -- With the Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination prohibition certainly in effect in 1964, I wonder how Folkways obtained access to this VOA content.

The Tennessean (Nashville), 24 July 2011, Anita Wadhwani: "'Gentleman' Jim Reeves was a velvet-voiced country crooner famous for his tuxedos, his clean-cut good looks and lovelorn lyrics such as: 'Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.' ... In his 11 years as a Nashville musician, Reeves had 11 No. 1 hits in the U.S. A staple of Voice of America broadcasts, he also developed a huge fan base overseas, particularly in northern Europe, where devoted Jim Reeves fan clubs still operate. Today, there are also active fan clubs in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa."

China's CNC World global English news channel officially launches, with plans to expand into French, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, etc.

Posted: 25 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
News on News, 24 July 2011, Kevin Coy: "A new television news channel operated by the Chinese Xinhua news agency has been launched worldwide. The China Xinhua News Network Corporation has been set up to provide an alternative news service to television stations across China, and also operate a second worldwide news channel, alongside CCTV News. In a statement, CNC said; 'To build CNC as a brand, the English and Chinese language channels will make full use of CNC reporters stationed across the world and deliver the latest world news as it happens. We’ll strive to make CNC a viewers’ favorite. CNC will gradually develop its and other language news programs. Feature channels such as the Confucius channel and Environment channel will also be set up.' The statement continued; 'CNC is dedicated to objective reporting of information and news to the world. Although based in China, it is designed to focus on the world news, not merely covering the country’s events. Following industry standards commonly practiced, it aims to be an unbiased global news network that offers objective, comprehensive, in-depth and multi-dimensional news coverage and an alternative source of information for the global audience. CNC World presents breaking news, in-depth analysis of global events, and exclusive coverage of China's top stories. CNC World reporters are stationed in more than 120 bureaus across the globe, bringing viewers quality coverage on local issues." See also the CNC World website.

However, for news about the Chinese officials being sacked after the fatal high-speeed rail crash, I see nothing at the CNC World website. For that news, see Al Jazeera English, 24 July 2011. See also The Atlantic Wire, 24 July 2011, Ujala Sehgal. Does CNC World want to be a competitor in the world of news channels? Then it should offer, in its own words, "objective, comprehensive, in-depth and multi-dimensional news coverage" of this story.

China flatters the United States by emulating the latter's system of fragmented and duplicative international broadcasting entities. CNC World will have to compete with the English-language CCTV News and the English-language Blue Ocean Network. If it has any energy left after that, it can try to compete with the likes of CNN International, BBC World News, and Al Jazeera English.

Radio Free Asia, 25 July 2011, Fung Yat-yiu: "In a regular directive sent to news editors setting out the guidelines for coverage of major stories, the Communist Party's powerful central propaganda department set the angle to be adopted in covering the crash. 'The major theme for the Wenzhou bullet train case from now on will be known as "in the face of great tragedy, there's great love",' the department said. The directive was posted on the 'Ministry of Truth' website, which regularly posts copies of government orders that are leaked by journalists. 'Do not question, do not elaborate,' it said. ... 'I’m very curious to see how this accident will be reported on CCTV News this evening,' wrote [a online commentator], in comments translated by the China Geeks blog."

Sky News Australia should withdraw from Australia Network tender process, she writes.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
On Line Opinion, 22 July 2011, Tania Penovic: "The ABC has been engaged in a tender for a service which it currently operates, Australia's publicly-funded overseas television network known as Australia Network. The service offers our nation's culture, values and perspectives to an international audience. All comparable international services are delivered through public broadcasters. These include the iconic BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America. Such services present a diversity of human stories and promote cross-cultural understanding. In their provision of news, guided by ethical standards and uncompromised by commercial imperatives, such services demonstrate the host nation's commitment to human rights and democracy. ... An outsourced international voice of Australia would inevitably be muffled or modified if commercial imperatives so dictate. News Corp has demonstrated a willingness in the past to exploit business opportunities by compromising broadcasting. News Corp's link with Sky is not as tenuous as its copy has asserted. Sky should now withdraw from the tender process, as News Corp has (at least for the moment) from its BSkyB takeover bid."

AFP, 22 July 2011, Amy Coopes: Rupert Murdoch "is a dominant media player in Australia, his home country and the birthplace of his News Corp empire, owning two-thirds of the nation's newspapers and a stake in broadcasters Sky News and Fox Sports. The British scandal has sparked growing calls for an inquiry into ownership and regulation of the Australian media, which may overshadow Murdoch's bid to run the international public TV station the Australia Network."

Reuters, 21 July 2011: "An independent panel set up to decide the A$223 million Australia Network tender unanimously backed Sky over the incumbent ABC, a source with direct knowledge of the decision told Reuters, but The Age said the panel was later overruled by the government which imposed a new 'national interest' hurdle. [Communications Minister Stephen] Conroy declined to comment on the confidential tender process, but said News Ltd's anti-Labor agenda had been obvious to senior ministers since executives attended a recent meeting at Murdoch's US property at Carmel in California. 'This is a democracy. It is entitled to choose to go down the path it's going, and equally people like myself and (Treasurer) Wayne Swan are entitled to point out their coverage is biased,' Conroy said."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC World News has new health show called (how many focus groups did it take to come up with this?) The Health Show.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 21 July 2011: "BBC World News will broadcast a new weekly magazine programme, The Health Show starting on 23 July 2011. The 26 part series will cover a range of important global health issues. The series will report from around the world and focus on regions where people are vulnerable to specific health issues. It will examine the latest scientific and technological advances, as well as explore new medical insights into the biggest health challenges and dilemmas. ... Emma De'Ath , Commissioning Editor, BBC World News says, 'Health is an area that we know our global audience wants more of, so we're really excited to have this new weekly show coming to the World News Channel. The team will be actively seeking the audience's response to these health stories which have global relevance and offer a window into the future of medicine.'"

BBC World Service celebrated at festival in Daventry, home of its first transmitter site, 1932-1992.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 24 July 2011: "'Radio gave us the power to get under a cell door and get to someone who had literally disappeared for years,' says broadcaster John Waite, discussing his historic broadcast on the World Service for his cousin Terry Waite while he was held in captivity in Beirut. John, Terry and Sir John Tusa, who was managing director of the BBC’s World Service from (1986 to 1992), visited the iCon Centre in Daventry, for a special event celebrating the history of the World Service in town this week, as part of Daventry’s first Arts Festival to celebrate the Cultural Olympiad. The service has a long history in the town starting as the BBC Empire Service (now the BBC World Service) in 1932, where broadcasts were transmitted from Borough Hill until 1992, having been chosen for its central location in the country. The radio announcement of 'Daventry calling' made Daventry familiar to millions of listeners across the world, especially during the Second World War, where crucial information was broadcast. ... Sir John Tusa, said: 'People need to know what is going on in the world and the World Service does that correctly and fairly. Daventry has an important part of the World Service’s history, and is one of those historic names which will always be associated with it.'"

"BBC World Service is a gift of incomparable value" even if "a bit slow off the mark sometimes."

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Sunday Nation (Nairobi), 23 July 2011, Gerry Loughran: "When you get on in years, sleep can be a patchy business so by my bedside these days a radio is tuned permanently to the BBC World Service. ... I have been listening to the World Service for years. Often this consisted of standing on a hotel balcony in some godforsaken city on a Saturday evening, waving a short-wave radio in the air to catch the football results and hearing, 'Aston Villa 2, Manchester United 1, Birmingham 1, Newcastle United hiss/crackle, rattle/pop …' I suppose that would not happen today with all the technology but it certainly gave a touch of authenticity to the 'foreign' part of my job description. The BBC World Service has a well-deserved reputation for objectivity and accuracy, even if this means being a bit slow off the mark sometimes. Generally, I would not dispute this claim, though I do remember once crouching behind walls in Amman with guns firing all round me and hearing the BBC man in far-off Beirut tell the world that all was quiet in Jordan that day. But, hey, anybody can make mistakes, right? And if Britain never gave nothing else to the world, its 365-days-a-year, 24/7 BBC World Service is a gift of incomparable value."

Iran's Islamic Guidance Ministry warns Iranian journalists not to cooperate with BBC and VOA Persian.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Rooz Online, 22 July 2011, Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah: "The press deputy at Iran's ministry of Islamic Guidance called the BBC Persian Service and Voice of America news organizations 'antagonistic media' and warned Iranian journalists and media activists to 'seriously refrain' from 'giving them interviews, engaging in news cooperation with them' and generally establishing 'any contacts' with them. ... The press official's statement also accused BBC Persian Service and Voice of America of "pursuing an inappropriate policy and position" towards Iran and of 'publishing false reports and fake analysis on events in the Islamic republic.' He asserted that the goal of these activities was to 'destroy the realities taking place in the country and hurt the foundations of the Islamic regime.' ... Responding to the question on why Iranian officials were negative towards the BBC, [head of BBC Persian Jamshid Barzegar] said, 'Unfortunately there is such a view, but it has no bearing on the BBC's professional, free, fair and accurate work. We have repeatedly announced our readiness to interview officials of the Islamic republic who have refrained from doing this.'" -- Similar to Burma's recent warning to its journalists.

Rep. Rohrabacher amendment would maintain funding for VOA Chinese, keeping it on radio and TV.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Taipei Times, 24 July 2011, J. Michael Cole: "The battle to keep Voice of America’s (VOA) Mandarin and Cantonese radio and TV broadcasts to China alive continued in the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday with a unanimous vote for a proposal that would secure money for the embattled China unit. The authorization bill, sponsored by US Representative Dana Rohrabacher during a markup hearing, reserves US$13.76 million from the total budget for government-sponsored broadcasting next year to be strictly used for Mandarin and Cantonese radio and TV broadcasts. That amount is equal to this year’s operational budget for VOA’s China unit. ... The BBG in February announced cost-cutting measures that would cancel VOA radio and TV broadcasts to China from October next year, while expanding other digital media efforts. That measure, which sparked accusations that US President Barack Obama’s administration was seeking to remove irritants to Beijing, is expected to cost about 40 jobs at the VOA China unit." See also the text of the amendment (pdf). And another Rohrabacher amendment (pdf) that would issue Chinese media no more US visas than the number China grants to reporters of US international broadcasting. -- The House Appropriations Committee is next to decide on these funding issues, with a State and foreign operations markup scheduled for 27 July at 10:00 AM EDT.

Ethiopian exile media keep up heat on VOA Horn of Africa controversy. Rally Monday in front of VOA HQ.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link

Addis Voice, 22 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "The controversy over censorship and maladministration at the Voice of America (VOA) took a bizarre twist yesterday as the Director of Africa Division, Gwen Dillard, forbid staffers from taking notes at a meeting she held with employees at VOA Horn of Africa section, reliable sources told Addis Voice. ... Dillard said that VOA would like to focus more on nonpolitical matters and gave some instances. According to her, programs and reporting focused on education, health and development would be more beneficial to listeners. As an example, she said that a schoolgirl must have a chance to talk about her interests and future aspirations. Dillard also said that training would be made available to help journalists produce such people-focused programs and stories."

Addis Voice, 18 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: VOA Horn of Africa chief David Arnold "was suspended in a letter written by BBG Governor Michael Meehan, a member of the delegation that met with Ethiopian government officials last month. While the official VOA position on the report in question is that it contained unacceptable inaccuracies, it emerged that no single factual error was found in the report."

Ethiopian Review, 24 July 2011: "Ethiopians residing in the Washington DC Metro Area will hold a rally at the VOA on Monday morning, July 25 starting at 9 PM to protest against recent attempts by the khat-addicted dictator in Ethiopia and his paid ($50,000 per month) lobbyists in the U.S. to censor news broadcasts to Ethiopia. The protesters also speak out against the squandering and mismanagement of Ethiopia’s resources that is currently exposing over 10 million Ethiopians to famine. Place: VOA, 330 Independence Ave SW, Washington DC Time/Date: 9:00 AM, Monday, July 25, 2011."

ethiopiantimes, 22 July 2011, Eskinder Nega/: "Come Monday, July 25, 2011, a protest rally by Ethiopians on 330 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC will most likely draw the keen interest of a southern Republican Senator, Tom Coburn. Here at last is the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the US government agency which has oversight authority over the VOA, at the center of a brewing controversy. Coburn is the junior Senator form Oklahoma who was first elected to Congress in 1994. ... He is celebrated for his battles against pork-barrel and the expansion of the federal government. And no government agency than BBG irks him more. 'The BBG is the most worthless organization in the federal government,' he has said in an interview with The Cable in 2010. 'All they are doing is spending money.'" -- But Sen. Coburn's "Back in Black: A Deficit Reduction Plan," suggesting $9 trillion in federal budget savings, does not mention the BBG except for its 53 SUVs. See previous post., 23 July 2011, Alemayehu G. Mariam: "Just as the VOA has a duty to become a voice for the voiceless, on July 24, 2011, the VOA has a duty to listen intently to the voices of the voiceless who will appear to register their concerns. the vast majority of Ethiopians in the U.S. are fully supportive of the VOA and its mission. We have great respect and admiration for the professionalism and integrity of VOA journalists, reporters, editors and management. Above all, we fully support the VOA for being a beacon of not only information and knowledge for the people of Ethiopia, but also a voice of democracy, human rights, moderation and reconciliation."

It would be helpful for news organizations outside of the partisan Ethiopian exile press to have a look at this controversy. Is VOA really backing off of hard news to facilitate its growing NGO-type activities?

Cambodian PM denounces VOA and Radio Free Asia, put praises Radio France International.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 22 July 2011: "Cambodia's prime minister denounced two U.S.-funded radio stations Friday for what he described as inaccurate and unfair reports. Hun Sen said that reports broadcast in the Cambodian language by Voice of America and Radio Free Asia were groundless. The stations carry news and analysis sometimes critical of the government on subjects such as human rights and corruption. ... However, Hun Sen praised Radio France International, a French station, for its broadcasts. 'Radio France International, aired in the Cambodian language, their news and analyses, are accurate. I always save their analyses as part of my basic information,' Hun Sen said. ... Hun Sen said he would offer paid jobs to staff members of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia if they wanted to work with local radio stations. 'You are Cambodian, you speak Cambodian, you ought to do everything according to Cambodian value,' he said." -- VOA and RFA broadcast via domestic FM radio stations in Cambodia. RFI has its own full-time FM transmitter in Phnom Penh.

TV5Monde introduces Android app.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 22 July 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "TV5Monde’s mobile TV app, formerly only available on the iPhone and iPad application is now available to all smartphones and tablets on Android Market. The app is available free of charge from the French-speaking international channel list of Android Market. Functions include VOD, schedules, personalised alerts, and access to TV5Monde’s main website and mobile portal." -- French-language TV5Monde partnership of public broadcasting entities in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada.

Deutsche Welle says that Iranian actress, who is also a DW blogger, is in custody in Tehran.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 21 July 2011: "The Iranian filmmaker, actress and blogger, Pegah Ahangarani, has been taken into custody in Tehran. She was supposed to come to Germany and write a blog for Deutsche Welle about the Women's World Cup. ... The editorial team from DW’s Farsi service also learned that she has been denied legal counsel from Ahangarani’s friends and acquaintances. Deutsche Welle has reported the incident on its Persian language radio programs and website and has strongly protested against the arrest of the actress, demanding her immediate release. Ahangarani had written a DW blog for the Berlinale film festival and had also come to Bonn to attend the Deutsche Welle Blog Awards – The BOBs – in 2009." See also RFE/RL, 21 July 2011. See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL reporter fined in Belarus, another warned in Turkmenistan (updated).

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 11 July 2011: "A RFE/RL correspondent in western Belarus has been found guilty today of taking part in an illegal protest and fined the equivalent of about $200. Mikhal Karnievich, a correspondent with RFE/RL's Belarus Service, Radio Svaboda, was detained on July 3 while reporting on protest events in Hrodna. ... RFE/RL President Steven Korn denounced the trial outcome and the pressure Belarus authorities have placed on journalists who have been covering weekly 'silent protests' organized by Revolution Through the Social Network."

Update:, 22 July 2011: "Eleven people who were arrested in Minsk on Wednesday evening during a so-called silent protest were sentenced the following morning to jail terms, which ranged from 10 to 12 days. ... Those sentenced to jail terms included Alena Likhavid, the mother of Mikita Likhavid, a 21-year-old member of the Movement for Freedom who is serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence over participation in the December 19, 2010 post-election protest. Ms. Likhavid and some other women were reportedly grabbed when they started to clap their hands in response to the arrest of Dzmitry Buyanaw, son of Radio Free Europe/Radio Europe correspondent Lyubow Lunyova."

RFE/RL, 21 July 2011, Claire Bigg: "Some [Belarusian protesters] also chanted 'Peremen' (Change), after a popular song by Soviet rock icon Viktor Tsoi's band Kino that heralded the Soviet Union's collapse. The song, adopted by some protesters as a rallying cry, has recently disappeared from the airwaves of the country's radio stations." With video.

RFE/RL, 15 July 2011: "An RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan has been warned by the authorities about his reporting on the deadly explosions at a weapons depot near the country's capital last week, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports. ... RFE/RL correspondent Dovletmurad Yazguliyev, who reported on the event, was summoned by security officials on July 14 to appear at the police department in the small town of Annau, a suburb of Ashgabat, where he lives. ... Yazguliyev, who is in his 40s, said he was treated well and in a polite manner while being questioned. But he said he was warned that if he is summoned by security forces again because of his blogs he will be charged with 'disseminating defamatory information through the media' and 'causing national, social, and religious provocations.' Yazguliyev, who has worked for RFE/RL for about three years, would face prison sentences of two and five years for those charges, respectively, if tried and found guilty."

MTV buys BBC Radiohead concert video.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 20 July 2011, Kristin Brzoznowski: "MTV Networks has tapped into the music catalogue of BBC Worldwide America to bring Radiohead: The King of Limbs—Live From the Basement to U.S. audiences. The intimate concert features the English rock group as they perform their eighth studio album in full, for the first and only time, on the music show From the Basement."

National Geographic expedition to Swan Island recalls the radio station that broadcast from there to Cuba.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
National Geographic News Watch, 20 July 2011, Andrew Howley, describing day three of an expedition to Swan Island: "Hiking along the island’s air strip gave us perspective on the island’s history, as we could see the foundations of cement buildings and the extended runway gave us visions of an island bustling with activity during World War II and for a brief time with the CIA’s Radio Free America broadcasts. But now most of the island has fallen into disrepair and decay, with only seven [Honduran] soldiers assigned to the island."

The station was called Radio Swan, later Radio Américas, and it broadcast mainly to Cuba from 1960 to 1968. I remember hearing the station on 6000 kHz shortwave and on the medium wave split channel of 1165 kHz (it was nominally on 1160 kHz). See the Swan Island DX Association web page and the station's Wikipedia entry.

VOA labeled as "propaganda mouthpiece" and (same day) "official broadcasting service of the USG."

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Gizmodo, 20 July 2011, Sam Biddle: "Iranian's propagandist media mouthpiece is claiming an American spy drone's been bagged over a nuclear enrichment plant. The US' propagandist mouthpiece, Voice of America, says it didn't happen. But who to believe!"

NPR, The Two Way blog, 20 July 2011, Eyder Peralta: "French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé expressed a bit of a softer stance on a surrender and cease-fire deal with embattled Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi. ... The Voice of America, the official broadcasting service of the United States government, reported negotiations were ongoing in France and Moscow." -- "US funded" will suffice.

Montenegrin-American pianist is another VOA (and AFRS) jazz alumnus.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
KALW (San Francisco), 20 July 2011: "Born in the former Yugoslavia, jazz pianist Larry Vuckovich first heard jazz over Voice of America radio during World War Two. Later, after his family immigrated to San Francisco, he continued to learn jazz by listening to the radio, and attending shows at area jazz clubs. You can hear this acclaimed musician Sundays at the Bliss Bar in San Francisco's Noe Valley." With audio selection.

According to his biography, Mr. Vuckovich was born in 1937, so he could have listened during World War II as a very young boy. I doubt that VOA, preoccupied with the war, broadcast much jazz during those years. The biography says he was "drawn to jazz music he heard on Armed Forces Radio and Voice of America during World War II and the Communist regime that followed." That makes more sense: jazz (probably mostly big band) on US Armed Forces Radio during the war, and on AFRS and VOA after.

Qatar's embassy in Damascus closes after attacks by anti-Al Jazeera crowds (updated).

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Post, 19 July 2011, Annasofie Flamand and Hugh Macleod: "Infuriated by what they see as Al Jazeera’s exaggerated coverage of the regime’s crackdown on protestors, pro-Assad mobs have twice attacked the Qatari embassy in Damascus in the past week, hurling tomatoes and rocks, just as they did at the US and French embassies a few days earlier. Qatar and Syria had long enjoyed cordial relations, but recently Al Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite news channel with both Arabic and English versions, has come under strong criticism by the Syrian regime for its coverage of the popular revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship. ... A resident of Damascus told Global Post he had noticed Al Jazeera’s logo painted onto the sides of skips [waste bins] across the city, seemingly in protest that Al Jazeera’s news was 'rubbish.' ... Now Qatar’s ambassador to Damascus, Zayed al-Khayarine, has packed his bags and left Syria with the embassy suspending its work, an official from the Qatari delegation told AFP."

Update: Syrian Arab News Agency, 21 July 2011: "Tens of citizens gathered in front of the Justice Palace, filing a lawsuit against al-Jazeera satellite channel for its fabrications and incitement against Syria, which resulted in the martyrdom of civilians and army members. Head of the coordination committee between the popular campaign for collecting the complainants' signatures and the Syrian Bar Association, Lawyer Ammar Bilal, said the campaign aims at holding these channels accountable for their participation in the killing of large numbers of citizens through reporting misleading information and sowing sedition. He added that al-Jazeera TV will be prosecuted through the channel's office in Syria while the prosecution of the channels outside Syria will be through a legal committee formed for this purpose."

Asharq Alawsat, 21 July 2011, Layal Abou Rahhal: "Given the significance of the role played by the media in highlighting the reality of popular movements taking place in Syria since mid-March, a new television channel entitled 'Syria al-Shaab' began broadcasting last Friday, via the Nilesat satellite network [Nilesat 11393v SR 27500 3/4], with plans to broadcast on other frequencies at a later stage."

Coming soon to US TV: shows about Muslim-Americans in Dearborn and rich Iranian-Americans in LA.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, Show Tracker, 20 July 2011, Joe Flint: "Call it 'Muslim Modern Family.' Cable channel TLC is hoping to do for Muslims what it did for polygamists and Sarah Palin -– put a new spin on controversial subjects that people often make judgments about without knowing the whole story. The reality show 'All-American Muslim' will follow the lives of five Muslim American families, some of whom are related, who reside in Dearborn, Mich., a suburb of Detroit that has a large Muslim population. The show will debut in late November. The people participating in 'All-American Muslim' seem to run the gamut from very religious to more casual, and all struggle to find a balance between their American home and their Muslim background."

The Hollywood Reporter, 20 July 2011, Lacey Rose: "Much as MTV did with 20 and 30-something Italian-Americans on the Jersey Shore, Bravo will offer its viewers a peak into the world of young and moneyed Persian-Americans living in Los Angeles. The docu-series, tentatively titled Shahs of Sunset, centers on the opulent lives of young adults who together navigate their post-college lives, careers, families and traditions. The project, which will feature family gatherings as well as Real Housewives-esque shopping sprees on Rodeo Drive, hails from Ryan Seacrest Productions, and will count Seacrest as an executive producer.

China's news service to Africa may not be "propaganda-free," but it is cheaper than the competition.

Posted: 21 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Conversation (Melbourne), 21 July 2011, Prakash Mirchandani: "The nature of influence is changing, yet Governments, particularly in Australia have yet to absorb it. Influence is no longer wielded by pronouncements through traditional media sources. New media has now taken hold. The strategic interests of Australia could depend on embracing these new technologies. ... When the US state department starts direct messaging online in Arabic to protestors in Egypt clamouring for regime change, we need to sit up and take notice. When that same department extends twittering in Persian when Iranian protestors follow Egypt’s example, we might glimpse that the nature of international diplomacy has a new finesse. When the Chinese government spends vast amounts in Africa to set up communications infrastructure for dictators to flood the populace with their messages, public diplomacy has a new dimension. China is also offering this same region a propaganda-free news service, at a vastly cheaper cost than traditional Western news services. This is a sign of soft power and strategic influence are now going online."

"Propaganda-free" is a stretch, but the writer does have a point. African news outlets may be tempted to subscribe to Xinhua because it is much cheaper than Reuters or AP. Xinhua content is certainly more news-like than Pravda of the Cold War era. But propaganda can be accomplished in more subtle way. Some newsworthy topics can be ignored. Other subjects can receive more attention than is warranted. Certain details can be left out of the stories that are transmitted. And it is interesting how similar Xinhua stories are to Reuters stories that are issued a few hours earlier.

Shocker: Senator's report finds that the nine BBG members have access to 53 SUVs.

Posted: 21 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Senator Tom Coburn website, 18 July 2011, "Back in Black: A Deficit Reduction Plan": "Since 2006, the federal vehicle fleet has grown by five percent. Meanwhile, the cost of maintaining and servicing those vehicles has grown over 25 percent, to $4.6 billion.33 It is unclear why some agencies need many of the vehicles they own. For example, the National Science Foundation, which issues grants and does no outdoor field research and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which counts only nine members, each have 53 SUVs."

Somebody on Senator Coburn's staff apparently thinks the Broadcasting Board of Governors consists only of the nine members of the board, rather than five entities with 3,791 employees. As discussed in a previous post, the SUVs are probably used mostly at transmitter sites.

Other than that, Senator Coburn's plan to save $9 trillion in federal spending leaves US international broadcasting remarkably unscathed, even though there are obvious opportunities for greater efficiency. On the other hand, his report takes particular aim at every agency, entity, and facet of US domestic public broadcasting.

UK study finds radio makes people happier than TV or internet.

Posted: 21 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 20 July 2011, Lucas Kavner: "A new study commissioned in the U.K. by the Radio Advertising Bureau concluded that listening to the radio makes people happier than watching TV or surfing the Internet. ... Radio is a kind of 'lifestyle support system,' the authors wrote, which helps people feel better as they go about their days. Many respondents didn't realize how important radio was in their lives until they had participated in the exercise."

Huffington Post, 20 July 2011, Gazelle Emami: Five recommended radio programs.

OIG inspects the IBB Botswana relay station and determines that it is "well run."

Posted: 21 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 20 July 2011, State OIG @StateOIG: "OIG posts @StateOIG @BBGgov Inspection of International Broadcasting Bureau Botswana Transmitting Station."

US Department of State and Broadcasting Board of Governors Office of Inspector General, June 2011 (pdf), "The Botswana Transmitting Station (BTS) is well run. The station manager has improved station operations and cut costs. He has renovated and repaired station facilities, and implemented energy-saving initiatives to offset increased energy costs."

This MW + SW relay station is an important facility for USIB, transmitting to a large audience in Zimbabwe, and to still-large shortwave audiences through Africa.

Death of Ernesto Betancourt, Castro ally who later became director of Radio Martí.

Posted: 21 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 19 July 2011, T. Rees Shapiro: "Ernesto F. Betancourt, 83, a Cuban-born former ally of Fidel Castro who quickly became disenchanted with the autocratic leader and led a decades-long publicity campaign against him, died June 20 at his home in Bethesda after a heart attack. As a Castro opponent, Mr. Betancourt found his greatest platform as director of Radio Marti, a federal government station that broadcasts to Cuba and is named for Cuban independence seeker Jose Marti. Mr. Betancourt joined the radio station in 1985, shortly after its inception, and served as its director until 1990. Later, he co-hosted a biweekly program on Radio Marti and wrote scores of newspaper opinion essays assailing Castro’s leadership."

Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal, of Belgium's Dutch-speaking community, will close.

Posted: 21 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 18 July 2011, citing RS/RadioWereld.NL: "The Flemish government has reached agreement on a new strategy for VRT for the next five years. ... Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal (RVi), the Flemish Worldwide service, will disappear, but as an alternative Radio 1 and Radio 2 will be broadcast worldwide via satellite, and all radio channels will also be available worldwide via the Internet. It’s not yet clear exactly when RVi will close."

The English service of RVI, which closed in 2005, included some of the most talented and popular international radio broadcasters, such as David Monson and Frans Vossen. RVI dropped shortwave in 2009, continuing on internet and satellite since then. Flanders thus follows the Netherlands in discontinuing a dedicated radio service for Dutch-speaking countrypersons abroad.

Jonathan Marks adds: "I think you'll find that RVI in Dutch has been simply a relay of domestic channels for some years with very little of their own production. What I find significant is that they will pull out of BVN. RNW has grabbed quite a lot of material from domestic radio sources but still hired presenters and newsreaders to put into a different form. None of that is needed now." -- BVN is an international Dutch-language television, a joint project of Dutch and Flemish public broadcasters, including Radio Netherlands.

Flandersnews, 16 July 2011: "The Flemish public broadcaster [announced a] new policy agreement for the VRT [Vlaamse Radio en Televisieomroep, public broadcaster of the Dutch-speaking community in Belgium] which will apply for a five-year period, from 2012 to 2016. ... The policy agreement also contains a specific goal linked to foreigners living and working in Flanders. The VRT wants to make sure that they are well informed about what's happening in Flanders. The focus will be on news and culture, but concrete plans still have to be worked out. The aim is to have this ready by the end of next year. There will be talks about the feasibility of such programmes on different channels: online, TV and radio." -- Flandersnews is an English-language service of VRT, demonstrating that English continues from VRT even six years after the demise of the RVI English service.

Indian analyst compares roles of Radio Free Asia with those of RFE and RL in previous decades.

Posted: 20 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
South Asia Analysis Group, 20 July 2011, B. Raman: Of "concern to the Chinese was the reported visit of His Holiness to the Washington Headquarters of the US State Department funded Radio Free Asia (RFA), which was started under the Bill Clinton Administration to make broadcasts, inter alia, to the people of Tibet and Xinjiang. The Chinese remember the role played by the US-funded Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in encouraging political dissidence in the erstwhile USSR and other communist countries in East Europe. Radio Free Asia has been allegedly broadcasting to the people of Xinjiang and Tibet not only the latest news about developments in their region to which they are denied access by the Chinese censors, but also instructions on how to circumvent the various curbs imposed by the Chinese authorities on microblogging and other social media networks to prevent a copy-cat emulation of the Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia and Egypt by the people of not only Xinjiang and Tibet, but also other parts of China." See previous post about same subject.

Netanyahu gives his first pan-Arab interview to Al Arabiya because it "has more of a tradition of straight news" than Al Jazeera.

Posted: 20 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 20 July 2011, Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon: "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ... gave his first pan-Arab interview on Tuesday, sitting down in his office for 30 minutes with the Saudi-owned, Dubai based network Al Arabiya. ... The decision to do the interview was an effort by Netanyahu to get his message directly to a massive Arab audience, officials in the [prime minister's office] said. Although Al Jazeera is the largest and most influential network, it was decided to go with the competitor because it 'has more of a tradition of straight news, less incitement,' one official said. He said Al Jazeera has played a negative role in its coverage of Israel and the region."

Al Arabiya, 20 July 2011: "In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya TV, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of his readiness to talk to the Palestinians anywhere – in Ramallah or occupied Jerusalem. Mr. Netanyahu sat down to talk to Hasan Muawad on a host of issues including the on-going crisis in Syria and the challenges it posed to its borders as well as the situation in Gaza. 'Everything is on the table. But we need to get to the table,' he said in reference to negotiating with the Palestinian leadership." See also YouTube videos of the interview: Israeli PM on Palestinian State, Israeli PM on Peace, Israeli PM on Security, Israeli PM on Syria.

Guineans can now listen to VOA news on mobiles "at reduced rates" -- in addition to shortwave for free.

Posted: 20 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 20 July 2011: "Voice of America has launched a new mobile service that makes daily news summaries available to cell phone users in Guinea. The new service is made possible by a partnership with AudioNow, a mobile radio distribution provider, and is hosted on the Cellcom network in Guinea. Any phone user can access the VOA French language news bulletins by calling a single national number. Cellcom customers can dial a short special access code, which is available at reduced rates."

VOA's Studio 7 has a new satellite feed to Zimbabwe, if Zimbabweans can find it.

Posted: 20 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 19 July 2011: "Voice of America’s popular radio programs to Zimbabwe are now available 'direct to home' on satellite. The free satellite feed on Intelsat-10 includes the VOA news program, Studio 7, which broadcasts to Zimbabwe in English, Shona and Ndebele, and Live-Talk, the Zimbabwe Services’s call-in program. ... In addition to Studio 7, VOA’s popular English to Africa programs, as well as VOA French to Africa and Portuguese language programs are also available on the new 24-hour a day satellite feed, which can be received on virtual channel (VC) 23, throughout Southern Africa. ... For more on the VOA’s Intelsat-10 feed, visit"

More information than "virtual channel 23" will be needed to receive VOA Studio 7 on Intelsat 10. The link "for more ... on the feed" leads to a page that has no information about the feed. Here is the information: Intelsat 10 at 68.5°E. 12602 MHz, vertical polarization, symbol rate 26.6, FEC or forward error correction is 1/2. The SID (virtual channel) is 23, and it may be identified on the menu as “VOA Southern Africa.” See also this VOA Studio 7 web page.

The Ku-band channels of Intelsat 10 include several channels that are free to home and therefore somewhat popular in Zimbabwe. Many of those channels are religious, but Iran's Press TV is among them. Few dish owners listen to radio via satellite. VOA should frequently let its medium wave and shortwave radio listeners who also have satellite dishes (28% of Zimbabweans do) know that the satellite listening option is now available and may offer better reception. This notification will have to be accompanied by complete and clear tuning information -- not something that VOA is famous for.

Newsday (Harare), 15 July 2011, Ropafadzo Mapimhidze: "Some [female Zimbabwean] broadcasters like Brenda Moyo, Praxedes Jeremiah and Caroline Gombakomba started freelancing for Voice of America because, like everybody else, they had to eke a living and raise their children. They eventually had to go to the United States of America as it was becoming dangerous to report from Zimbabwe. Gombakomba unfortunately passed on in the US a couple of years ago, but her body could not be buried in Zimbabwe as she had been allegedly declared an enemy of the State."

Plans for Sky News Arabia continue despite hacking scandal rocking News Corp (updated).

Posted: 20 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The National, 18 July 2011, Ben Flanagan: "Sky News is pressing ahead with plans to launch an Arabic-language station based in Abu Dhabi, despite the phone hacking scandal in the UK rocking Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire. The broadcaster's joint venture in Abu Dhabi, Sky News Arabia, said the launch next spring of the 24-hour news station had not been derailed. Last week, News Corp announced it had dropped a plan to buy out BSkyB, which operates Sky News, in the wake of the phone hacking crisis. 'Sky News Arabia is a 50/50 joint venture with BSkyB and the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation (Admic). Both organisations remain committed to the launch,' Sky News Arabia said in a statement. News Corp already owns a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB. But last week it abandoned a US$12.6 billion (Dh46.27bn) bid for full control of the company."

Huffington Post, 16 July 2011, Maan Al-Majali: "Sky News will be launching its Arabic affiliate (Sky News Arabia) out of Abu Dhabi before the end of the year. It remains to be seen a reaction from Abu Dhabi regarding the whole story...considering all of the above and also UAE based media being one of the most tightly controlled in the region if not the world. Let's hope that Sky News can somehow distance itself from this print press mess, I think it can and will. However, the question remains, have Abu Dhabi just turned their backs on this scandal, plugged their ears and whistled away unconcerned at how powerful liberal media can operate? Fu[r]thermore, Sky News Arabia will have to put up a great fight in a TV market saturated with the giants of Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, BBC Arabic and Saudi Prince Waleed BinTalal's soon to be launched pann-Arab news channel (which is slightly weird, considering he is also the second largest shareholder in News Corp). Considering Waleed Bin Talal's shareholder status, he spoke out against Brooks on BBC Newsnight last week, however keeping firm his allegiance with the Murdoch's."

Update: Al Jazeera, 20 July 2011, Dahr Jamail: "During a recent interview on his yacht with the BBC's Newsnight, Prince Walid declared himself to be a 'good friend' of Rupert Murdoch and his son James, and staunchly defended the men amid the ongoing NewsCorp scandal. It is noteworthy that,while Prince Walid is the second largest shareholder in News Corp, Murdoch is also a major shareholder (ten per cent) in Prince Walid's Rotana Media Group based in the Middle East. As recently as this May, Murdoch's conglomerate took a significant stake in Prince Walid's film, TV, and music business, a move that deepened the financial relationship between the two men. Rotana television broadcasts in Saudi Arabia and via satellite to the Arab World and Arab Diaspora, and includes Fox (Middle East), a Fox film channel - and is better known for broadcasting US films, television and music videos."

According to Burmese newspaper, BBC and VOA are the "sowing hatred" stations, while RFA and DVB are the "generating outrage" stations.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Democratic Voice of Burma, 19 July 2011, Ahunt Phone Myat: "Burmese journalists have been told by a senior government minister not to pass information to exiled media outlets whom he claims are tarnishing perceptions among the public of the Thein Sein administration. The warning came on 16 July during a meeting between Myint Swe, Rangoon division cabinet minister, and local reporters. ... A number of exile Burmese media groups exist, including The Irrawaddy Magazine, Mizzima and Shan Herald Agency for News, mainly operating out of Thailand but feeding information back into Burma. The BBC, Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) also broadcast daily news into Burma via satellite television and shortwave radio. A space is reserved on the back page of the New Light of Myanmar daily newspaper accusing the BBC and VOA of 'sowing hatred among the people', and RFA and DVB of 'generating public outrage'."

Emirates Airlines offers iPhone app that receives radio stations in its 97 destination cities. BBCWS is default station.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, In Transit blog, 18 July 2011, Danielle Belopotosky: "On Monday, Emirates airlines released a new radio app aimed at those who want to explore before traveling or simply want to discover new places. The new app, Destination Radio, is free and available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The app streams live radio from local stations in 97 cities that Emirates flies to. The London station, for example, is Heart 106.2, while in Dubai, listeners can tune into AME Info. There’s one station per city, and if the connection fails, you can listen to the default station, BBC World Service."

VOA editorial excerpts Judith McHale on the latest methods of US public diplomacy.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA Editorial excerpts Judith McHale on methods of US public diplomacy Voice of America, 17 July 2011, editorial: "'In a world where power and influence truly belongs to the many, we must engage with more people in more places,' U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale said in a recent speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. '[This] is the essential truth of public diplomacy in the internet age.' ... If we want to be part of the deliberations, we must go to them. We must be out there in as many ways as possible, and at every hour of every day," Secretary McHale concluded. 'Being in the marketplace of ideas means using the same venues and platforms that communities and activists use. . . To proactively engage with global media, and to push back against inaccurate information. To tell our own story where others are telling stories about us.'"

Deutsche Welle interviews founder of Open Radio for North Korea.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 18 July 2011, Anke Rasper: "The North Korean regime suppresses all forms of free information within the country. Open Radio for North Korea broadcasts international news via shortwave and FM from neighboring South Korea for the North. World in Progress talked to the radio station's founder, Tae Keung Ha, about the role of outside broadcasters for the people of North Korea. Tae Keung Ha: 'I find the human rights situation and the media control in North Korea, I think, the most severe, the most serious in the world. Radio is very special for the North Korean people to get outside news, because in North Korea they don't have any Internet connections. Social network services, Facebook, Twitter are impossible inside of North Korea. Also, all the calls in North Korea are monitored, strictly wired by the North Korean regime. And their TV system is different from the South Korean system - they cannot watch South Korean TV. ... In North Korea, if you buy a radio, you have to report it to the police. Then the police control it. They fix it to just one channel. So if your radio is not reported and detected by the police, you are investigated. If you are arrested listening to our program, then you might go to a political prison camp. Listening to outside radio programs is a political crime in North Korea.'"

Does Huffpost have "symbiotic relationship" with Al Jazeera? And more Al Jaz in the news.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Snapshots blog, 14 July 2011, Mark Malone: "[A] facet of the Huffington Post's brand of journalism is its symbiotic relationship with Qatar's state-financed news organization Al Jazeera. In early 2011, the Huffington Post ran a series of pieces supporting Al Jazeera's efforts to convince major American cable companies to carry its newscasts. From Jan. 30 to 31 alone, Huffington Post published four pieces promoting Al Jazeera, including one by Jeff Jarvis titled 'We Want our Al Jazeera English Now' which calls the decision not to carry Al Jazeera 'un-American.' Another piece by Wadah Khanfar, the Director General of Al Jazeera, was a full page promotional piece for the network, citing its 'Journalism of depth.'"

Huffington Post, Huffpost Hill, 15 July 2011: "Hank Johnson [D-GA], laying it down for all time in the congressional record: 'Thanks to the reporting of Al Jazeera English network, Callum Maccrae and John D. McHugh, who risked their lives to tell the truth, we have shocking evidence of war crimes committed by the Sudanese armed forces against Nuba civilian's in Sudan's south Kordofan province.'"

University of British Columbia press release, 18 July 2011: "The University of British Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s International Reporting Program (IRP) has partnered with Al Jazeera English to produce Freedom From Pain, a half hour documentary that will air on the program People & Power at 6:30 PM EDT (3:30 PM PDT) on Wednesday, July 20. The documentary will also stream on The journalism graduate students and faculty members working with the IRP discovered that more than half the countries in the world have little to no access to morphine, the gold standard for treating medical pain. They traveled to India, Ukraine and Uganda to investigate how countries around the world deal with suffering patients."

Al Arabiya photo of Libyan rebel fighters also shows jets in rather too perfect formation.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
NOW (Beirut), 18 July 2011, Angie Nasser: "So my pro-intern Nicolas Esugerra had a hunch this photo posted alongside an article on Al-Arabiya’s English news website today was photoshopped. The immediate giveaway: those fighter jets look just too perfectly placed, not to mention identical (the jets on the left and right are probably copy and pasted). Al-Arabiya attributed the pic as a 'File photo.' But after a quick image search in Google, I found the original pic from AFP photographer Marco Longari. ... (Note: The doctored photo that originally accompanied the Al-Arabiya article, 'Russia refuses to recognize Libya rebels as legitimate government, clashing with West' has now been replaced.)"

Atlantic Wire, 13 July 2011, Uri Friedman: "A Tour of the World's Worst Photoshop Propaganda."

NHK World part of joint English portal of Japanese media covering ASEAN meetings.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Kyodo, 16 July 2011: "The Japan Times, the Mai-ni-chi Daily News, NHK World, Nik-kei and Kyodo News said Friday they will jointly launch an English portal web-site Saturday to provide news reports, transcripts, official documents and other information on a series of ASEAN-related meetings later this month in Bali, Indonesia, including the ASEAN Regional Forum on July 23. The five major news organizations will also provide their respective top stories about Japan, along with information related to the ASEAN meetings, until July 24 on the Japan Press Pool Service site. It is the first time the five news organizations have teamed up to offer such a service. ... The site's address is

South Korean analysts catch "glimpse of candor" on North Korean radio about food for the military.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, Korea Realtime, 18 July 2011, Evan Ramstad: "One of the most tedious jobs in South Korea, if not the world, must be listening to the broadcasts of North Korea’s state-run media and analyzing its steady stream of propaganda for differences and the occasional slip-up. Two weeks ago, North Korea’s authoritarian government staged a series of rallies in various cities that its media portrayed as protests against South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his refusal to treat the North the same way that the South’s two previous presidents did, with few-questions-asked humanitarian aid and financial payoffs. Now, government analysts in the South say they noticed in a radio broadcast tied to one of those protests something could be called a glimpse of candor about the North’s drive for food or, less charitably, a gotcha moment. On a radio broadcast on July 4, a North Korean official said, 'Our farming laborers will, with rifle in one hand and a scythe in the other like in the war for independence, make a decisive change this in year in agricultural production and serve to send more rice for our military, which will strike open the head of the traitor and enemy, Lee Myung-bak.' The same quote citing the same official made it on to North Korean TV and its state-run news agency later in the day. But the part about sending more rice to the military and striking open Mr. Lee’s head was deleted."

BBG chairman, pressed, says that he will "take up the issue of adding Balochi" as a VOA language.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 16 July 2011, Ahmar Mustikhan: "The chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency that operates the Voice of America, has said the VoA will put the adding of a Balochi language service on its agenda. Walter Isaacson ... was a guest speaker at a National Press Club luncheon Friday hosted for world-renowned blogger and his old friend Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group, and Tim Armstrong, chairman and CEO of AOL. After the event, to a question from this correspondent, Isaacson said he will take up the matter of adding Balochi language service in real earnest. He repeated his promise he will take up the issue of adding Balochi language as he left the NPC building." -- Note that is more "citizen" than "journalism." Balochi is spoken in adjoining regions of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. Advocacy for a VOA Balochi service was first reported here in January 2010.

ABC managing director sent a government "reminder" about the terms of the Australia Network bid process.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 20 July 2011, Dennis Shanahan: "ABC managing director Mark Scott was sent a government warning last week about the conditions of the $223 million tender for Australia's overseas broadcasting service. The written 'reminder' of the undertaking Mr Scott signed in March was sent after Resources Minister Martin Ferguson publicly said last Thursday that Mr Scott had made an inappropriate approach to him regarding the Australia Network bid. The reminder of the conditions of the bid was sent to both the ABC and Sky News last week from the Department of Foreign Affairs' independent public service committee, which is considering the bid. The ABC is vying with Sky News for a taxpayer-funded contract to send Australia's views and information to 44 countries over the next 10 years in an increasingly contentious bid. ... The ABC and Sky are competing for the contract, which the ABC has held since 2006. Sky is part-owned by the Seven and Nine networks and the British broadcaster BSkyB, which is 39 per cent owned by News Corporation, whose Australian arm, News Limited, publishes The Australian."

The Australian, 16 July 2011, Dennis Shanahan: "Tony Abbott has demanded the Gillard government ensure the necessary standards of probity are applied to the $223 million contract to broadcast Australia's overseas television service. The Opposition Leader said yesterday that high standards had to be maintained in commonwealth tender processes, after it was revealed two cabinet ministers reported to their colleagues there had been 'inappropriate' approaches from ABC executives to them about the Australia Network tender. 'It is up to the government to ensure the highest standards are maintained,' Mr Abbott said. But Greens leader Bob Brown said the Australia Network should not be out to tender and should remain with the ABC. Senator Brown said it was fair for the ABC to lobby because private industry lobbied all the time in Canberra."

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 July 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Sky and the ABC have been asked to resubmit their bids with further information on operations in the Arab world. This will again require an undertaking to comply with the rules of the tender process. The Foreign Affairs Department declined to answer questions about whether the ABC had breached the rules."

See previous post about same subject.

New issue of USC CPD PD Magazine is devoted to international broadcasting.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
PD Magazine, Summer 2011, of the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, is devoted to international broadcasting. Its contents include:

Alan Heil, "VOA and BBC at a Crossroads"

Shawn Powers, "R.I.P., Broadcasting"

Philip Seib, "Al Jazeera English in Focus"

Oliver Zollner, "International Broadcasting in the Social Network Era"

Interviews with former members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors James Glassman and Ted Kaufman and current members Michael Meehan and S. Enders Wimbush

Philip Wang, "Transformation of Radio Taiwan International"

Alex Oliver and Annmaree O'Keefe, "Struggling to be Heard: Australia's International Broadcasters Fight for a Voice in the Region"

Kim Andrew Elliott, "In International Broadcasting, Even the Static Must be Credible"

Also available is the pdf version.

BBC analysis of its (and VOA's) Persian TV: "Remaining impartial ... will achieve more impact ... in the longer term."

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Trust, Annual Report and Accounts Page 2010/11 page, find link to BBC Persian TV research report: "A portion of the feedback to the channel from its audience is asking for a more campaigning BBC, one that is less cautious about the way it reports the official state line. ... While this view is understandable, it is neither the BBC’s role, nor in line with its values, to campaign for particular issues or viewpoints and the BBC must continue to resist pressures from parts of its audience to do so. We believe that the BBC’s approach – remaining impartial, able to bring a range of views on issues and stories, offering a forum for debate - will achieve more impact among its audience in Iran and beyond, particularly in the longer term. ...

"We also analysed the frequency of mentions of political leaders on [VOA Persian News Network and BBC Persian TV]. The majority of mentions on both channels was of key leaders and politicians in America, Iran and Afghanistan, although VOA focused more heavily on the Iranian leader Ahmadinejad, with more than twice as many mentions as BBC Persian TV. ... During the first period of coding, around half of BBC Persian TV’s news output was political/politics based with a broad spread of other news (economic, nuclear, cultural, religious and human rights, each accounting for more than 5 per cent). This reflects the channel’s remit to meet audience needs by including political news within the context of a broader palate of news output. In contrast, the VOA’s output was more heavily politics focused (62 per cent), while a greater proportion of its references were of nuclear issues (10 per cent compared to 7.5 per cent on the BBC)."

"American World Service" would combine "propaganda media " of USIB with "respected journalism" of NPR and PBS.

Posted: 19 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 2011, Lee C. Bollinger: "To be sure, CNN provides one home-grown model of a successful American news broadcaster with global editorial reach. Along with a small handful of our national newspapers and wire services, it continues to have bureaus and correspondents abroad while our three major broadcast networks largely have withdrawn from the field. When there is major breaking news either in the US or abroad, CNN and CNN International have frequently excelled at providing live coverage. But we know that commercial pressures, as well as loss of domestic audience share to more explicitly ideological competitors on the right and left, have caused CNN’s international news coverage to become more reactive and less committed to sustained, in-depth reporting. While natural disasters or violent conflicts typically bring out the best in CNN’s reporting, American viewers and listeners must turn to our own public broadcasters, NPR and PBS, for day-to-day insight into important but more routine political and business news stories from around the world. The ironic fact is that, in addition to NPR’s own high-quality international coverage, these US public broadcasters are providing American audiences with the news reporting of the BBC and the BBC World Service, which comes to us largely courtesy of British taxpayers. ...

"[F]or reaching global audiences, the US has a series of government-sponsored broadcasting entities set up primarily during the Cold War to combat Communist propaganda by communicating the position of the United States. Voice of America and Radio Free Europe are the legendary institutions of this group, which also includes Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti (for Cuba), and Alhurra (for the Middle East); collectively, these entities receive nearly $750 million in government funding annually. ...

"[An interesting problem] is why the US would continue to maintain and fund this dual system of respected journalism in NPR and PBS, on the one hand, and the international propaganda media, on the other, when what we — and the world — need more than anything is truly global journalism capable of reporting the news in an independent, objective, and professional manner.

"That is why I propose something new, an American World Service: a media institution with sufficient funding to bring the highest-quality American journalism to the global public forum."

1) Mr. Bollinger is on to something. One element of the UK's success in international news broadcasting is that it is consolidated into one organization, BBG Global News, unlike US international broadcasting, which is dysfunctionally fragmented. The other is that BBC Global News can tap into the resources of the formidable BBC domestic organization. Conversely, BBC domestic can make use of BBC Global journalism and expertise.

2) He sells CNN International short. CNN International is the most successful single element of US international broadcasting, even though it is not under the Broadcasting Board of Governors and costs the US taxpayers nothing. It has the largest audience of any global English news channel, and it is profitable. Americans would have access to more world news if CNN International were available on more US cable systems. (Even better, cable systems should offer all of the big three global English news channels: CNN International, BBC World News, and Al Jazeera English.) As for "commercial pressures," keep in mind that much of BBC's international English-language output is also commercial, e.g. BBC World News, BBC America,, etc.

3) BBC no longer comes to US audiences "largely courtesy of British taxpayers." That was true when BBC World Service was transmitted on shortwave to North America. Now, however, public stations pay for the BBC content. (If Republican efforts to defund public radio stations succeed, we might be hearing less BBC on the FM band in the United States.)

4) Mr. Bollinger's description of US international broadcasting as "propaganda media" is ham-fisted. For all the broad scope of his proposal, it needs to be researched more thoroughly.

5) In the present deficit-cutting mindset, it may be several years before Congress is willing to fund any new entity. And, because enough members of Congress are convinced that public broadcasting has a left-wing bias, a merger of US public and international broadcasting is unlikely.

6) In Foreign Service Journal, October 2010, I proposed an international-domestic partnership. The main commercial US broadcast news organizations -- ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC -- would collectively manage US international broadcasting for a fixed period, say five to ten years, with a renewable contract. The domestic and international elements would share resources. The excellent journalism and analysis of US public broadcasting notwithstanding, America's newsgathering horsepower still belongs to the private networks.

See previous post about Lee Bollinger.

Maine tea party movement knocks Knox Museum speech by Al Jazeera Washington bureau chief.

Posted: 18 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Bangor Daily News, 12 July 2011, Abigail Curtis: "A controversy is brewing over the selection of an Arabic news network journalist as this year’s keynote speaker at a gala fundraiser for a museum that honors an American Revolutionary War hero. Some people are upset that the selection serves to legitimize Al-Jazeera, which they believe is a mouthpiece for Islamic militants and terrorists. 'I think it’s very insulting that the museum would even consider inviting a person like that,' Pete Harring, a member of the Maine tea party, said Tuesday afternoon. Abderrahim Foukara, Al-Jazeera’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief, will speak at the Strand Theatre in Rockland on July 28. General Henry Knox Museum Executive Director Ellen Dyer said that a supporter of the Thomaston museum knows the journalist and helped to make the connection. 'The museum saw the opportunity for a very timely discussion about what is going on in the Arab world right now,” Dyer said Tuesday afternoon. “Of course, the whole world has been watching, and having a very interesting discussion about modern foreign relations — and what it means to fight for freedom and revolution.' But some others are seeing the opportunity to advocate against a group that they associate with militant Islam and which they feel may even be a front for recruiting home-grown terrorists."

Maine Public Broadcasting Network, 13 July 2011, Jay Field: "Controversy was the last thing on Ellen Dyer's mind when a museum supporter and acquaintance of Abderrahim Foukara suggested bringing the journalist to Rockland. Dyer is executive director of the General Henry Knox Museum. 'His appearance is not about Al Jazeera per se. We saw a really interesting opportunity to deal with a very timely and worldy topic,' Dyer says. 'The entire world is looking right now at the situation with the "Arab Spring."'"

Right Side News, 14 July 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "The treasurer of the Major General Henry Knox Lodge says he nearly went 'ballistic' when he heard that the General Knox Museum in Maine was going to honor the Al-Jazeera Washington bureau chief, Abderrahim Foukara, by having him as a speaker at a gala fundraiser on July 28. Brad Chase explains, 'I telephoned the museum, talking to a woman, and told her I want to ask the following questions: Why are you having the Al-Jazeera Washington bureau chief as your speaker? Don’t you know that it is funded by the Emir of Qatar, and is a propaganda arm of the Islamists? Have you ever heard of the Muslim Brotherhood? Why don’t you have an American General for a speaker?'"

Bangor Daily News, 13 July 2011, Abigail Curtis: "The hue and cry over a coming speech by an Arabic news network journalist at a history museum’s fundraiser has sparked ticket sales, attracted promised protesters and led to long online debates about national security, patriotism and free speech. But police in Rockland, where the speech by Al-Jazeera’s Washington, D.C., Bureau Chief Abderrahim Foukara will take place on July 28, said Wednesday that they’re not worried about the event at the Strand Theatre getting out of control. ... Tickets for the 2011 General Henry Knox Museum gala are $35 for general admission and $25 for museum members. The event helps raise money to maintain a replica of Montpelier, the Thomaston mansion that was home to Gen. Henry Knox."

Village Soup, 14 July 2011, Shlomit Auciello: "During the American Revolutionary War, Knox served as Gen. George Washington’s chief of artillery. He was the first U.S. secretary of war. Lynn Athearn of Union said Al Jazeera was a radical left group and that it would be more appropriate for Foukara to appear in Washington, D.C., than in Midcoast Maine."

Portland Press Herald, 15 July 2011, Bill Nemitz: "Knox was a freedom fighter -- and a pretty darned good one at that -- before he came to Maine to live out his life as a businessman. Hence it made sense, at least to the museum's board, to look at the popular uprisings in recent months in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, Algeria and various other Arab nations and consider the obvious connection between what happened here more than 200 years ago and what's happening over there right now. And who better to shed a little light on that than Foukara, who earned his Ph.D. in African studies from the University of Glasgow before working for 12 years with the British Broadcasting Corp. and then joining Al Jazeera in 2002?"

The Progressive, 17 July 2011, Amitabh Pal: "Seriously, there are deeper undercurrents here. Anti-Islam and anti-Middle East prejudice (the religion and the region are perpetually confused in the mind of bigots) have hampered the free flow of information in the United States."

Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME), 18 July 2011, letter from Jared Bristol: "Let me see ... the head of a media outlet that supports terrorism has been invited to Maine to speak at an event honoring a great Maine general of the Revolutionary War. Does anyone find that disturbing? I do." See also comments.

One cheer for Rupert Murdoch for helping to bring international channels to New Zealand.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
New Zealand Herald, 16 July 2011, Fran O'Sullivan: "A visitor to our 'islands' this week would have been hard-pressed to know from the news headlining the television bulletins or the front pages that Italy was on the verge of joining the troubled eurozone economies or PIGS - Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain - and that the United States Government will default (an unthinkable scenario five years ago) if Obama can't get the debt ceiling lifted. Thank God for Rupert Murdoch. He may have employed a bunch of journalistic predators to feed his 'gotcha' tabloids. But at least Murdoch invested in Sky. If you really wanted to know what was happening outside our islands this week it was Sky TV [DTH and DTT] with its access to Sky News, France 24, Russian TV, CCTV, CNBC, Fox, CNN, BBC World, and Al Jazeera that had all the critical angles."

That old-time circumvention: Southern Baptist specialist favors BBG over State for net freedom funds.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Baptist Press, 15 July 2011, Tom Strode: A Southern Baptist public policy specialist, Barrett Duke, calls for the "the spread of Internet firewall-breaching technology to enable people in such countries as China, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Vietnam to have access to online information. ... The effort needs greater resources that could come by transferring the prime responsibility for the effort from the State Department to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Duke said. The BBG is responsible for civilian broadcasting overseas, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia. The State Department now has the responsibility, Duke said, 'and quite frankly, folks, they're falling down on the job.' Congress moved $10 million from the State Department to the BBG in this year's spending but should transfer at least $5 to $10 million more, he said."

Nigerian commentator takes stock of world media, compared to that of his country.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
This Day (Lagos), 16 July 2011, Dele Momodu: "Every serious nation and government must manage information well. This should be obvious from the premium America and the United Kingdom place on mass communication. Just imagine America without CNN, ABC, FOX, Voice of America, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, New York Times, Ebony, etcetera, or United Kingdom without BBC, Sky News, Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Independent, ITV, Hello, OK, The Economist, Financial Times, and so many other big media names! The Arabs have stunned the world with the ambitious expansion of Aljazeera. The Chinese are coming with theirs like bullets. South Africa is already the African leader, especially with the dominance of DSTV [DTH satellite service] in many countries. It therefore worries me that beyond attempting to, or actually, compromising some journalists from time to time, our government cannot see the necessity to aggressively develop the media business in our country. All government-controlled media organisations in Nigeria are in terrible states."

Iranian actress, also a Deutsche Welle blogger, held at Evin prison (updated).

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 14 July 2011, Sharam Ahadi: "According to information obtained by Deutsche Welle, the Iranian actress and documentary filmmaker, Pegah Ahangarani, has been missing for several days in the capital Tehran. The Farsi-language service of Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcasting service, has learned from people close to the actress that Ahangarani has been arrested. Deutsche Welle had set up a blog for Ahanagarani, who enjoys broad popularity in Iran, to report on the Women's World Cup soccer championships currently being held in Germany. Ahangarani, last year, had written a DW blog for the Berlinale film festival and had also come to Bonn to attend the Deutsche Welle Blog Awards. She was supposed to come to Germany this year to attend a few Women's World Cup games, but a day before she was set to leave Tehran friends said she was summoned to the Iranian Information Ministry. It was apparently suggested that she forego the trip, or face arrest. ... Deutsche Welle has reported the incident on its Persian language radio programs and Internet site and has strongly protested against the arrest of the actress, demanding her immediate release." See also RFE/RL, 14 July 2011.

Update: AFP, 17 July 2011: "Iran has arrested another female reporter wanting to cover the women's football World Cup in Germany, a press report said on Sunday, saying she was being held in Tehran's notorious Evin jail. Pegah Ahangarani, 27, who is also an actress and film-maker and said to be a supporter of the Iranian opposition movement, was arrested earlier this month in her flat and has not been seen since, the Spiegel weekly said."

BBG official briefs PD commission on efforts to repeal ban on domestic dissemination.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 12 July 2011: "BBG Executive Director Jeff Trimble briefed the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy today about the Board's position on Smith-Mundt, particularly seeking to repeal the ban on domestic dissemination of BBG broadcasts. The meeting was held on the Hill and was an excellent opportunity to discuss the administration-backed amendment to the Smith-Mundt Act that was recently sent to Congress. In a diverse media environment, adhering to Smith-Mundt is increasingly difficult. For example, in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, BBG worked with Sirius satellite radio on a proposal to make VOA Creole products available on radios to be donated by Sirius to Haitian citizens. This required Congressional approval as these broadcasts were then also available to U.S. audiences although they were not targeted to them. Trimble outlined the Board's view that in a global media environment where U.S. international broadcasting stories go viral, are picked up by media competitors and aggregators, and often are played back to the U.S. public, a new examination of Smith-Mundt is very much in order."

NAFSA, 14 July 2011, Ursula Oaks: "In Dearborn, Michigan, where the country’s largest concentration of Arab-Americans and a significant diaspora from the Arab world live, there’s a great demand for Arabic-language news. Al Jazeera is a readily available option; Alhurra Television and Radio Sawa, produced by the U.S.-funded Middle East Broadcasting Networks, are not. In Minneapolis, a Somali-language FM radio station that serves a community from which many young men have been recruited to the Islamist extremist group Al-Shabab was turned away when it inquired about airing Somali-language content from the Voice of America. Radio Marti broadcasts from its Miami studios to the island of Cuba – but it cannot legally be aired on the radio in Florida. What’s going on? Within the borders of the United States, American citizens have no legal access, via traditional broadcast and print media, to programming developed by their own government for non-U.S. audiences. This is because of the Smith-Mundt Act, otherwise known as th e U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, or Public Law 80-402."

Pundit Wire, 13 July 2011, Dan Whitman: "At a hearing on Capitol Hill this past Tuesday, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy acted to dismantle a 1985 provision which stated that 'No program material prepared in the United States Information Agency shall be distributed within the Unites States' (P.L. 99-93.) ... No one argued against the measure, and a member of the Commission had to ask three times what possible arguments there might be against it, to get ready just in case. What was all the fuss about, and what do we lose by canning Smith-Mundt? Global information is here to stay, and anything going up on the internet is and should be available to all. ... At the hearing July 12, Jeff Trimble, the able administrator of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (a bipartisan group that oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other U.S. government broadcast entities) said convincingly that U.S. government broadcasters would 'make no particular effort to disseminate in the United States.' Well, that was the point – and the modern meaning – of Smith-Mundt.One audience member said, 'Let’s say we trust Jeff Trimble totally, but don’t want to give carte blanche to all of his successors.'" See also Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy website.

First, the internet does not make the domestic dissemination prohibition unenforceable. On the contrary, it makes it, after all these years, enforceable, because US international broadcasting and public diplomacy entities can use IP geoblocking to prevent US internet from accessing their content. By not imposing such IP blocks, US agencies are flouting Smith-Mundt.

Second, the Advisory Commission did not "act" to dismantle the domestic dissemination provision. Unlike the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which has decision making authority, the Advisory Commission can only, as its name indicates, advise.

Third, the domestic dissemination prohibition is a nuisance. Repealing it, however, is not so simple. It must provide a means to stop the process halfway down a slippery slope. Yes, a Somali-language program on a Minnesota AM radio station should be able to use VOA content if it wants to. But, no, future administrations must not purloin the resources of US international broadcasting and public diplomacy to rally domestic support for their policy goals. No money should be spent on domestic dissemination other than very small amounts for the administrative costs of handling domestic redistribution requests.

Agreement gives Azerbaijan Public TV access to Euronews content.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
News.Az, 14 July 2011: "An agreement has been signed between Azerbaijan`s Public Television and Euronews international multilingual news television channel. ... The document enables the Public TV to join Euronews, so the Azerbaijani broadcaster can use all capabilities of this international channel. ... The signing of the agreement is a great chance for Public TV to improve the level of its professionalism."

CNN International will broadcast NHK tsunami documentary on 24 July.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 14 July 2011: "CNN International will air the NHK-produced documentary 'Surviving the Tsunami' on 24 July at 4:30 pm. Utilising Japanese broadcaster NHK's footage and amateur videos, Surviving the Tsunami gives viewers a look at the destructive power of the catastrophic tsunami on 11 March 2011 and the tales of human survival. ... Surviving the Tsunami shows exclusive NHK footage on ground and from the air in the badly-hit Tohoku region, only minutes after the earthquake, following the event closely as it unfolded. Together with invaluable videos recorded by local residents, the documentary provides an in-depth analysis of the mechanism of the tsunami and reveals how some people made narrow escapes."

Deutsche Welle co-hosts first jazz concert in Gaza -- and it's an all-female ensemble.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Ma'an News Agency, 13 July 2011: "A German jazz orchestra is due to perform in the Gaza Strip on July 14-15, becoming the first ever jazz ensemble to play in the coastal enclave. The Goethe-Institut, in cooperation with Deutsche Welle and the Heinrich Boll Foundation, will host the concert as part of a 'Gender Kicks' program, a statement said Wednesday. The all female jazz orchestra will perform in Gaza and Birzeit after having toured the Middle East, playing to audiences in Beirut, Amman, and Erbil, Iraq earlier this week. ... 'We worked on this for several weeks and hope that everything works out fine.'"

Xinhua, 15 July 2011, Ahmed Aldabba: "The concert had been unexpectedly widely attended by hundreds of Gazans who seek some solace out of the post-war traumatic conditions they have been suffering from. The place where the concert was held only has dim lights and humid weather conditions. However, the gleeful faces of the middle- class audience showed excitement. The colorful laser disco lights dancing around the stage added more western flavor to the concert. Such parties are rare in Gaza which is ruled by Islamic Hamas movement that disapproves music entertainment in general. But music-thirsty audiences have enjoyed the very special atmosphere of the party where music composed by the band leader Angelika Niescier was played professionally."

Deutsche Welle, 24 June 2011, Louisa Schaefer: "The German Women's Jazz Orchestra hopes to set an example for aspiring female musicians as it gears up for shows in the Arab world this July."

Al Jazeera English is "news channel of the year" for third year in UK's Freesat Awards.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 14 July 2011: "Global television news network Al Jazeera English last night picked up two honours at the annual Freesat Awards, held in London, including a third successive title of ‘News Channel of the Year’. 'Fearless and determined journalism' in its coverage of the recent uprisings across the Middle East, dubbed the ‘Arab Awakening’, meant Al Jazeera English retained the award of ‘News Channel of the Year’ for the third year in a row with one judge acknowledging that 'Al Jazeera has genuinely come of age'. The channel also won the ‘News Events Coverage of the Year’ category. The channel’s independence and impartiality were highlighted by the judges as key reasons for Al Jazeera English’s victory in both categories. ... Al Jazeera English beat BBC News, CNBC, France 24 and NHK World TV to clinch the award for ‘News Channel of the Year’; and pipped BBC Radio 5 Live, France 24, NHK World TV and ITV 1 to the award for ‘News Event Coverage of the Year’." See also the Freesat Awards 2011.

France 24 reaches more Finns, and other Europeans.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
France 24 press release, 13 July 2011: "In Northern Europe, FRANCE 24 has doubled its distribution in Finland following its launch on the country's two main cable offers: on the new offer resulting from the Welho and DNA merger (total 630,000 subscribers), as well as on Elisa (330,000 subscribers). Having obtained a license to broadcast on DTT in the Helsinki region, the English version of FRANCE 24 will be accessible in January 2012. Further east, in Russia, FRANCE 24 has met with success, concluding five new major contracts. The English version of the channel has been launched on three new IPTV operators: Rostelecom (200,000 subscribers), Stream TV (82,000 subscribers) and JSCTV (20,000 subscribers) as well as on the mobile offer BeelineTV including 400,000 3G subscribers who can now access FRANCE 24 live 24/ 7. Finally, FRANCE 24 has signed an agreement with the CrystalTV portal, a mobile TV application already downloaded by 1,750,000 users mainly in Russia. Throughout Europe, FRANCE 24 has concluded many other agreements in the last six months: in Bulgaria, on the Blizoo platform (300,000 subscribers), in Slovenia on Telemach (70,000 subscribers), in Austria on Liwest (40,000 subscribers), in Macedonia on Makedonski (30,000 subscribers), and in Romania and Telemach Digital Cable Systems (50,000 subscribers)."

Shortwave broadcasting included in discussion of "obsolete" media that live on.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Ars Technica, 13 July 2011, Matthew Lasar, in his essay "Dead media walking? 'Obsolete' communications systems live on" (page 2): "As for international short wave radio, the Dutch government dealt it a blow last month with the announcement that, as part of an austerity plan, it would cut the budget of Radio Netherlands Worldwide. RWW will no longer function as the voice of the Netherlands in the style of Voice of America and similar services. ... The Netherlands isn't the only government making this move. BBC World Service is cutting back by around 25 percent, as is Radio France International, Deutsche Welle, and even the Voice of America. As for Radio Australia, the service is shifting its stream to the 'Net. But it's hard to imagine that shortwave will disappear. Shortwave radio literally bounces comparatively short electromagnetic waves (200 meters or less) off the ionosphere. The technology represents a powerful means of sending information or propaganda around the world, which is why the Ethiopian government blocked shortwave broadcasts in April. As the RNW announcement suggests, shortwave is a free speech tool that won't go away any time soon."

VOA thanks South Korean weather agency for help in providing forecasts to North Korean listeners.

Posted: 17 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Korea Herald, 14 July 2011: "Voice of America, a U.S.-funded radio broadcaster, awarded Seoul’s weather agency a certificate of appreciation for its collaborative weather broadcasts into North Korea, according to officials on Wednesday. The Korea Meteorological Administration’s partnership, which started in 2010, offers residents of the hermit kingdom weather forecasts and other relevant information segments through the radio news service. The VOA found through defector testimonies that the weather forecasts provided by the KMA and VOA offer much help, as the country lacks other forms of meteorological forecasts. ... The Korean broadcast is largely targeted to North Koreans, but the demographic also includes ethnic Koreans living in China."

Death of Pastor Pete Peters, controversial example of what shortwave broadcasting has become.

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Coloradoan, 15 July 2011, Trevor Hughes: "Peter 'Pete' Peters, 64, was pastor of the I Street Church of Christ in LaPorte and also ran the Scriptures for America radio service and website and published the 'Dragon Slayer' newsletter. He died of natural causes at his LaPorte home west of Fort Collins on July 7, according to the Larimer County Coroner's Office. ... 'Though Peters had a small following as pastor of the LaPorte Church of Christ, and as head of Scriptures for America, he attempted to reach a larger audience through Internet and shortwave radio, Internet videos, newsletters, DVDs and yearly gatherings,' said Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the [Anti-Defamation League's] Center on Extremism. 'Peters used the technology available to him to spread his propaganda and Christian Identity - a virulently racist and anti-Semitic religion - teachings.'" -- I've heard Pastor Peters occasionally on private US shortwave station, most recently WTWW in Lebanon, Tennessee. He was unabashedly racist and antisemitic.

BosNewsLife, 14 July 2011, Stefan J. Bos: "Vietnamese security forces beheaded pastors and shot to death 'many' other Hmong Christians who gathered to await Jesus Christ's return after a false prophecy by an American preacher, according to a leading advocacy group's leader. James Jacob Prasch, executive director of Moriel Ministries (MM), said Thursday, July 14, that the massacre was the horrific aftermath of shortwave broadcasts by Harold Camping of California-based Family Radio."

TakePart, 15 July 2011, Megan Bedard: Daniel Klein "travels 12 miles into a Utah canyon to meet with a pair of brothers who are growing organic vegetables and giving tours of the Anasazi ruins in the area. ... 'Bill and Bob were awesome guys, but they did spend a fair amount of time listening to short-wave radio where disaster scenarios run thick. As far as how organic plays into that, I think they are very afraid of pesticides (rightfully so) and have come to not trust anything mainstream.'"

This year's Daventry Arts Festival will celebrate "the town’s heritage as the place where the BBC World Service was born."

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 15 July 2011: "Daventry, July 22-23: Visit Daventry Arts Festival, a week-long celebration of the arts culminating in a poetry/cartooning event, carnival procession and all-day open air music concert on July 23. A special event celebrating the town’s heritage as the place where the BBC World Service was born."

Daventry Arts Festival 2011 web page: "Our special BBC World Service event features Terry Waite and his cousin, broadcaster John Waite, who made programmes specifically to be heard by Terry Waite, knowing he was able to listen to the World Service in captivity. They will talk about the importance of the World Service to them both."

About Daventry web page: "In 1925 both destiny and the BBC stepped in and suddenly the towns importance became international! The huge BBC transmission station on Borough Hill relayed radio signals via the World Service around the Empire, and many famous people including Winston Churchill had their voices shot into the ether from this site. Indeed the radio announcement of "Daventry calling" made Daventry well-known across the World."

BBC World News is charged for an error.

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Mediaite, 14 July 2011, Jon Bershad: "Last week, there was a bit of an on-air flub on BBC’s World News channel that somehow escaped the blooper-happy eye of the Internet. However, today, the clip went viral and it went viral hard. For good reason too. You haven’t seen hilarious until you’ve seen Michael Wolff, intending to be interviewed in his role as Rupert Murdoch biographer, instead getting caught up in a segment about baseball. ... In the clip, the BBC anchor attempts to throw to a live feed of Ben Walker, baseball editor for the Associated Press talking Roger Clemens. Instead, Wolff pops up. Understandably, Wolff stays silent for a few seconds. The anchor, thinking there’s a satellite malfunction, attempts to apologize to the audience. Wolff, realizing what’s going on, informs him the problem is a bit larger." With video.

Listening to "those familiar BBC pips" on the slow boat to Mandalay.

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The Telegraph, 15 July 2011, Michelle Jana Chan writing about her travels in Burma: "My next journey was a slow boat to Mandalay, something I have dreamed about since I could first read. ... One of the crew took me up to the bridge where I found three men who all called themselves captain. One was listening to the BBC World Service on his hand-held radio. When I showed interest, another tuned into the station on the boat's radio and the entire cabin was filled with those familiar BBC pips. The third captain gave me a thumbs-up. 'Tell your friends to come,' he said. 'If there are more tourists, we will have more business.'"

Survey in 11 Asian markets shows CNN with a larger audience than BBC World News, CNBC, and Bloomberg.

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 15 July 2011: "In an emphatic endorsement of CNN's coverage of a remarkable news cycle in 2011, the latest Pan Asia Cross Media Survey (PAX) (2010 Q2 to 2011 Q1) shows that once again CNN has delivered a substantially larger audience than all other international news and business channels in the Asia Pacific region: ●Each day 74% more viewers tune into CNN than the next placed channel (BBC World News). ●CNN's weekly and monthly audience totals are 65% and 56% greater than the next placed channel. ●CNN has 21% more viewers each week than the combination of CNBC and Bloomberg TV deliver over a whole month. ... ●Online, CNN maintains the top position as the leading regional media website overall, with more than twice as many Top Managers visiting CNN than BBC websites. ●CNN is generating 39% more out-of-home viewing than any other international channel, and more than twice as much as any sports channel. ●Forty-five percent more travellers watch CNN in hotels than any other international channel. ... PAX is a syndicated, cross-media survey conducted by Synovate, which measures TV viewing, print readership and website audience across 11 major markets in Asia Pacific, covering Australia (Sydney & Melbourne), Bangkok, Hong Kong, India (Delhi, Mumbai & Bangalore), Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo."

Radio Free Asia and VOA mentioned in reports that Coca-Cola and KFC would start operations in North Korea.

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Arirang, 15 July 2011: "Coca-Cola has denied reports that it is planning to open offices in the North Korean capital Pyeongyang. Reports surfaced Thursday that the beverage retailer and the fast food restaurant KFC had agreed to to move into the North Korean market. Refuting the claims on Radio Free Asia, Coca-Cola spokesperson Kent Landers said that no representative from the brand has discussed or explored launching a business in the North Korean capital. However, an unnamed expert told RFA that if Coca-Cola had struck a deal with the North, it is unlikely that either side would make the news official, considering the current tensions between Pyeongyang and Washington. KFC has yet to make a statement, but South Korea's Yonhap News says the North's state-run foreign investment department has also strongly rejected the reports."

The Korea Herald, 15 July 2011: "Park Chul-soo, president of Chosun Daepoong Group also denied the rumor that Coca-Cola and KFC would enter North Korea. 'It is nonsense that Coca-Cola and KFC will open a store in Pyongyang,' he said in an interview with a Yonhap correspondent in Beijing. Chosun Daepoong Group is North Korea’s major channel for attracting foreign investment. However, other reports say that North Korean business delegations expressed interest in opening a branch in Pyongyang. The North Korean team dined at KFC during their visit to the United States in April, Voice of America reported."

International Busioness Times, 16 July 2011: "[A]ccording to an unnamed expert in Radio Free Asia, if Coca-Cola had struck a deal with the North, it is unlikely that either side would make the news official, considering the current tensions between Pyongyang and Washington. ... Other reports say that North Korean business delegations expressed interest in opening a KFC's branch in Pyongyang. The idea is reported to have come up during a North Korean business delegation's trip to the U.S. in April, says VOA."

Arirang, 15 July 2011: "Voice of America, meanwhile, says the possibility of bringing in KFC is reported to have come up during a North Korean business delegation's trip to the US in March."

VOA Korean, 16 July 2011: Coca-Cola says it will not open a branch in North Korea.

RFA Korean, 15 July 2011: "No representative of the Coca-Cola Company has been in discussions or explored opening up business in Pyongyang, North Korea."

Report: VOA Horn of Africa chief "will be transferred to another section."

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Addis Voice, 14 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "The Voice of America (VOA) has faced fresh controversy over its decision not to air news coverage on a high profile public meeting held Sunday at the Sheraton National Hotel, in Arlington, Virginia. Despite the fact that VOA Horn of Africa section, including the Amharic service, had sent reporters to cover the public event that was focused on the future of Ethiopia, the decision to censor a report on the event was made by senior VOA bosses, informed sources told Addis Voice. ... “It appears now that Bereket Simon, an arch enemy of free press, has become the editor-in-chief of VOA by proxy,” [one participant]said. According to [him], Ethiopians will petition US Congress to look into complaints of malpractice and censorship at the VOA that seems to be willfully bending itself too much to lullaby insolent dictators that do not understand the rights and liberties of others. ... VOA has first raised eyebrows among Ethiopians when it decided to suspend its Horn of Africa chief, David Arnold, who has now been reinstated, over critical comments he made on a June 23 VOA report, which was deleted from its website without any explanations, apologies or corrections. But it has emerged that Mr. Arnold will not serve as Horn of Africa chief as he will be transferred to another section, our investigation can reveal.", 15 July 2011, Ephrem Madebo: "[A]s recently as last week, the VOA suspended its Horn of Africa chief, Mr. David Arnold; and this week, in a very dramatic shift of events, the VOA reinstated Mr. Arnold. I see deeply troubling multiple events here. Why was Mr. Arnold suspended? Who suspended him? Is the VOA really censoring itself in defense of a ruthless African dictator? ... This week, on his written message to Addis Voce, VOA’s acting Director and Executive Editor, Mr. Steve Redisch said: 'There have been inaccurate reports about the tone and substance of an official meeting on June 22 between members of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors and Ethiopian Communication Affairs Minister Bereket Simon'. Mr. Redisch, did you say inaccurate reports? Are you telling me that the report aired on June 23 on VOA Amharic Program and appeared on its website [eventually removed] was inaccurate? This is either a joke of the week or a cover up to appease the Ethiopian dictator. You better tell me which one it is!" See previous post about same subject.

Committee to Protect Journalists, 15 July 2011, Mohamed Keita: "This week, the Human Rights Committee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights reviewed Ethiopia's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including its press freedom record. ... With videos of the sessions available on the Internet, Committee Vice Chairman Yuji Iwasawa expressed concern about Ethiopia possibly preventing domestic Web users from accessing the recordings. 'We have allegations that the broadcasting of Voice of America and Deutsche Welle is jammed in Ethiopia. Let's hope that our webcast is available in Ethiopia to the viewers, not only the live webcast but the video archives.'"

World Magazine, 30 July 2011 issue, Jamie Dean: "A series of reports by news agency Voice of America (VOA) painted a dire picture. A Dec. 14 article — 'Ethiopia Plans Crackdown on Baby Business' — said Ethiopian officials planned to close dozens of orphanages they said served as transit homes for adoptions."

BBG says it will soon issue "recommendations for a transformed international broadcasting agency."

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) met on July 14 to further the ongoing, comprehensive strategic review of U.S. international broadcasting. 'We have an important opportunity and profound responsibility to position U.S. international broadcasting for the future. These ongoing consultations will lead shortly to recommendations for a transformed international broadcasting agency,' said Richard Lobo, Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB). 'Today, more than ever, we need to be wise stewards of every tax dollar. What we do has to have impact.' Governor S. Enders Wimbush, who chairs the Strategy and Budget Committee, echoed Lobo’s remarks. ... 'We have described for the Board a variety of ways in which the elements of US international broadcasting can be brought together to increase efficiency, sharpen our strategic impact, and make the BBG one of the largest and most important sources of news, information and audience engagement in the world.'" See also link to on-demand video of the meeting.

BBG chairman Walter Isaacson opened the meeting by saying, "this is an open meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Government." (Audio excerpt, mp3, 14 sec.) It was an ironic slip of the tongue because the Broadcasting Board of Governors acts as the firewall between USIB and the US government.

Former VOA director argues that US international broadcasting *is* a "strategic asset."

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Public Diplomacy Council, 8 July 2011, David Jackson, former VOA director: An "argument could be made for whether VOA is a 'strategic asset.' Helle Dale, a Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a staunch believer in the value of Voice of America, recently posted a comment on Heritage’s The Foundry blog that took the president to task for, among other things, waiting so long to give an interview to the Voice of America. '…It would be encouraging,' she noted, 'if the White House finally realized that it has a strategic asset in U.S. international broadcasting….'

"Her comment provoked an immediate (and prickly) response from Kim Andrew Elliott, an audience research analyst at the International Broadcasting Bureau, a support agency of VOA under the BBG, who wrote on his own blog: 'When a president considers USIB (U.S. international broadcasting) 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?' The answer to that question is easy: VOA not only can be 'comprehensive, reliable, and independent' and also be a 'strategic asset,' it has been for nearly seven decades. Just ask the millions of people in countries around the world who have relied on VOA – and the country that supported it – as the only source of information they trusted. ...

"I don’t know of any U.S. president – or any U.S. diplomat, for that matter – who doesn’t consider that a 'strategic asset.'"

This interesting essay is recommended reading. David Jackson is correct that an entity providing "comprehensive, reliable, and independent" news to countries that do not have such a news service domestically could be considered a strategic asset. Such an external news service makes it more difficult for the dictator in charge of such a target country to engage in pernicious activities.

I was prickled, however, because I don't think this is what Helle Dale and some of her colleagues at the Heritage Foundation mean by strategic asset. They want an international broadcasting service whose content would be "coordinated" by a new strategic communication superbureaucracy. It would broadcast more of this, less of that, in line with US policies.

The audience for international broadcasting, which is collectively smarter than Washington's decision makers and distinguished think tank fellows, would immediately notice the change of tone. The credibility of US international broadcasting would disintegrate. The United States would be left with a strategic asset that has no audience.

Earlier in his essay, Mr. Jackson states that US international is, in addition to being a strategic asset, A. a tool of American public diplomacy, and B. An editorially independent news organization. My view is that international broadcasting and public diplomacy should be separate and complementary activities. Take this recent example of an Alhurra reporter asking Secretary of State Clinton a tough question about Syria. Such a question could only be asked by an independent journalist, not by a practitioner of public diplomacy. The question was international broadcasting, the answer was public diplomacy. Additionally, Reuters recently cited an Alhurra report about South Sudan establishing diploatic relations with Israel. Would Reuters do that if it thought Alhurra to be nothing more than an outlet of US public diplomacy?

In BBC Radio 4 documentary, Alhurra is described as 1) funded by the US Defense Department and 2) a failure (updated: MBN response).

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Radio 4, 11 July 2011, "Soft Power Hard News": This audio excerpt (mp3, 2 min 8 sec) begins with the assertion that Alhurra is "funded by the US Department of Defense" (which, of course, it isn't). Later, Harvard professor and coiner of the term "smart power" Joseph Nye said "since it's regarded as American government propaganda, they [Nye's friends in the Middle East] don't watch it. ... I think the fact that the BBC is viewed and has credibility indicates that there is some possibility there." Another interviewee said Alhurra "was a complete failure in the Arab world." He also suggested a continuation of the VOA Arabic Service would have been "a better vehicle for disseminating the US point of view." (In part two of the series, which will discuss BBC World Service, will it be described a "vehicle for disseminating the British point of view"?)

It is to be expected that Alhurra will have audiences smaller than the intra-Arab news channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. But wouldn't it be interesting if audience research from the region were to show that Alhurra has an audience larger than that of BBC Arabic and the other Arabic news channels from non-Arab countries? See previous post about the documentary.

Update: The documentary prompted this response from Deirdre Kline, director of communications at the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc, parent entity of Alhurra:

"The BBC Radio 4 documentary “Soft Power Hard News” makes reference to Alhurra, the U.S.-funded Arabic-language television network. Unfortunately, the information contained in the documentary about Alhurra was erroneous. I am disappointed that a reputable news organization such as the BBC did not meet the basic standards of journalism, by simply checking the facts. First of all, Alhurra is not funded by the Defense Department. It is funded by Congress through a grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors ; there is no funding from the Pentagon.

"Secondly, the report claims that Alhurra did not achieve its goals. However, according to international research firms such as ACNielsen, Alhurra has a weekly reach of 26 million viewers, which is more than all other non-indigenous Arabic-language news networks (including BBC Arabic and France24) combined. Additionally, a majority of those who watch Alhurra say that they find Alhurra to be credible. The network is frequently cited in the Arabic and Western press. When protests broke out across Egypt, 25 percent of respondents in Cairo and Alexandria said they tuned into Alhurra to follow the uprisings.

"By any standards of media measurement, Alhurra is a success."

Friday strike by BBC journalists affected World Service operations.

Posted: 16 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 15 July 2011, Ben Dowell: "The strike by BBC journalists on Friday leaves the corporation's TV and radio services without star reporters including Nick Robinson, Robert Peston and Laura Kuenssberg on one of the biggest days so far in the phone-hacking story following the resignation of Rebekah Brooks. ... The BBC World Service's English-language service will be running five-minute news at the top of the hour and two minutes on the half hour."

BBC press release, 15 July 2011: "World Service – of 27 language services 21 are operating normally. English, Arabic, Persian, Azeri, Russian and Turkish language services are running bulletins, summaries and pre-records in lieu of normal operations. All BBC World Service online services, apart from Azeri, are being maintained"., 15 July 2011, Joel Gunter: "According to the [National Union of Journalists], more than 100 people are at risk of compulsory redundancy at the BBC World Service alone, with staff in BBC Monitoring, BBC Scotland, BBC Wales, BBC 4, BBC Sport and TV Current Affairs also potentially at risk."

National Union of Journalists, 14 July 2011: "Ahead of strike action being taken at the BBC tomorrow, the National Union of Journalists has called for the Government to re-examine the licence fee deal in light of revelations made around News International in recent weeks. The NUJ, whose members will take 24-hour strike action tomorrow against compulsory redundancies being made at the BBC, has questioned the influence of Rupert Murdoch on the Government while agreeing the licence fee deal."

Press TV, 16 July 2011, reports on the BBC journalists' strike.

Despite plans to eliminate shortwave, Radio Netherlands continues with repairs and installation of transmitters at its Madagascar relay.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 14 July 2011, Andy Sennitt: "Rocus de Joode of RNW’s Programme Distribution Department writes: Despite the uncertain future, RNW’s shortwave broadcasts are continuing as normal for the time being. This also applies to the relay stations in Bonaire and Madagascar. In Madagascar, a special project worth mentioning was completed last week. You may recall that on Christmas Day 2009 a fire broke out in the high voltage protection equipment at the station, and the equipment was completely destroyed. Since that time, the high voltages needed for the transmitters have been switched manually. This of course is an undesirable and dangerous situation because we are talking about 20 kv. Hence, a project started in early 2010 to replace the equipment. Led by Andrianatrehina Fanjaniaina, this project was successfully completed last week. ... In addition to our own programmes, Madagascar plays an important role in radio broadcasts to Africa from organisations such as NHK-Radio Japan, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Free Press Unlimited and Vatican Radio, as well as other Christian organizations that provide radio broadcasts to Africa. ... The next project for Madagascar is now in full swing, i.e. the installation of some second-hand transmitters. Again, this may seem odd given the uncertain future of the station and staff. But we acquired these transmitters, previously used by Radio Sweden, for a bargain price last year. And because these channels are much more energy efficient, the investment can be recouped in a very short time. Therefore, this project can play an important role in a possible relaunch of the station." See previous post about the sale of the Swedish shortwave transmitters to Radio Netherlands.

DRM digital shortwave "receiver solutions" will be displayed at IBC Amsterdam, 8-13 September.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 14 July 2011: "The DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale] Consortium will have its strongest presence ever at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC), being held in Amsterdam from 8 -13 September 2011. IBC is considered the leading global tradeshow for professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of broadcasting media and entertainment. ... Videos and new receiver solutions will give these events a 'hands-on', unique feel." See also comments.-- "Receiver solutions" may not be the same as actual receivers, as in available for sale, now. See also the DRM Newsletter, July 2010.

International reaches profitability two years ahead of schedule.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 14 July 2011, Ingrid Lungen: "BBC’s push to make money from its overseas businesses, particularly online, had a good boost this morning, when the international site,, announced that it has reached profitability—two years ahead of schedule. But there is still no specific date for the much-anticipated international launch of the BBC’s online VOD and catchup service, iPlayer. While the BBC refrains to give actual revenue and profit figures for, it does provide some other good stats in a blog post from Luke Bradley-Jones, the MD of and Global iPlayer. These underscore how well the not-for-profit has picked up the baton on being a commercial entity since first launching the site in 2007. ... Bradley-Jones notes in the blog that the BBC has been conscientious of getting the right balance between local content and global news—an area where its reputation has traditionally been strongest outside the UK, with the radio’s BBC World Service leading the charge."

Media Bistro, 15 July 2011, Betsy Rothstein: "This week BBC Worldwide Americas announced the appointment of Claudia Milne to editor of’s news North America edition. Milne is expected to expand and drive a team focused on increasing video content, an enhanced social media presence surrounding news and commissioning original news features from North America.", 15 July 2011: "In a new venture for BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm is offering a series of digitally remastered Doctor Who stories to rent via Facebook. ... The episodes will be available for Facebook users in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand."

Broadcast, 14 July 2011, Catherine Neilan: "BBC Worldwide is hoping to get the greenlight from the BBC Trust to access more capital in order to drive growth, following this week’s record profits. ... But chief executive John Smith is pinning his hopes on indications made by Trust chairman Chris Patten that Worldwide could be restructured to 'bring in external investment and promote growth'. ... Smith said greater working capital would enable Worldwide to better promote both the BBC’s content and a range of UK-produced programmes throughout the world."

Zattoo provides international TV via PC, but seems mainly a European thing.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Forbes, 13 July 2011, Jennifer Hicks: "Zattoo lets you watch real TV on your PC. Real TV, as in live TV from major channels in Europe just like on cable or satellite or even over the air. Channels like CNN, EuroNews, MTV (in German) and France2. How the heck can they do that? Zattoo retransmits live TV channels via licensing agreements for each country they launch in. Right now the majority of the channels are German, followed by Spanish, French, English and Polish. They have one Arabic channel, Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English. ... Zattoo carries more than 200 channels, but due to geographical content licensing issues that dominate the TV and content landscape today, they can’t show all channels in all geographies." -- E.g., very few channels available via Zattoo here in the United States.

Will statements and alleged lobbying by ABC execs scuttle its bid for Australia Network?

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The [Australian Broadcasting Corporation's] chief, Mark Scott, has risked scuttling the broadcaster's bid for Australia's $223 million overseas television service. He complained about government funding for Australia Network in the face of rules that ban public comments by the bidders. Mr Scott made a pitch to a Canberra audience last month, stating that the ABC was best able to deliver international broadcasting over its commercial rivals. ... Mr Scott's speech was at the Australian National University on June 7 and had not been previously reported. He acknowledged legal requirements that forbid the bidders making any public statements on the tender process. But he went on to say Australia Network could greatly expand its reach if money was made available to subtitle programs in local languages. Bidders are required to obtain written approval from the Foreign Affairs department before making public comments."

The Australian, 14 July 2011, Dennis Shanahan: "Federal ministers have reported to cabinet what they consider 'inappropriate' personal lobbying by ABC bosses during the public tender process for the $223 million contract to broadcast Australia's overseas television service. At least two ministers have declared to Julia Gillard and their cabinet colleagues that they were approached directly by ABC executives during the public tender bid between the ABC and Sky News Australia for government funding to broadcast Australian news, views and information globally over the next 10 years. Both ministers told cabinet they had refused to discuss the tender for the Australia Network and had rejected the approaches. ... The only bidders for the tender are the ABC, which now broadcasts the overseas television service, and Sky News Australia, part-owned by the commercial television networks Seven and Nine and News Limited, publisher of The Australian."

The Australian, 15 July 2011, Dennis Shanahan and Stuart Rintoul: "Martin Ferguson has publicly contradicted ABC managing director Mark Scott's version of a phone call between the pair, declaring it was obvious the media executive was inappropriately lobbying a cabinet minister. The Resources Minister confirmed a report in The Australian yesterday that he had complained to cabinet about an ABC approach to him about the contentious tender for the $223 million contract to broadcast Australia's overseas television service, and said that the ABC would 'rightly hound out of office any minister' who interfered in the tender. 'A telephone discussion occurred and it was very obvious that the chief executive of the ABC was lobbying for a particular outcome in terms of the Australia Network,' Mr Ferguson said yesterday."

Australian Broadcasting Corpration, 15 July 2011, Ashley Hall and staff: "Mr Scott has confirmed he phoned the minister but denies discussing details of the tender. Mr Ferguson said, however, that he rebuffed the approach and regarded it as inappropriate because there was a tender process underway. 'I also indicated to him that his own agency, the ABC, would hound out of office any minister who sought to interfere with a tender process, to determine it by political considerations,' he said." see also ABC "AM," 15 July 2011.

WA Today, 13 July 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The independent panel set up to judge the $223 million battle on Australia's overseas TV network gave unanimous backing to Rupert Murdoch's Sky News over a rival bid by the taxpayer-funded ABC. But as the phone hacking scandal engulfing the Murdoch empire in Britain continues to grow, the Gillard government's late intervention in the tender process to include a new 'national interest' test could scupper the Sky bid."

Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2011, Michael Pascoe: "There’s more than a passing suspicion that Sky would follow the current ABC practice of effectively using the Australian [sic] Network to subsidise its other activities. While Murdoch hacks and executives here and in the UK dutifully rail against public broadcasting, they desperately would like a slurp from the tax trough themselves. It might be reasonable to wonder though, in the wake of the spreading corporate stain, whether a Murdoch organ could be a fit and proper representative of Australia. But, as Media Watch reported, the Federal Communication Minister’s office says there is no 'fit and proper person' criteria in the Australia Network tender process."

Sydney Morning Herald, 16 July 2011, Hamish McDonald: "The ABC's Scott will no doubt shrug off the latest tirade as a compliment to his success in levering up the public broadcaster's reach through digital TV. Murdoch and his son James, who runs BSkyB in London, have complained long and bitterly at the unfairness of having to compete against government-funded media like the ABC and BBC that reflect the tastes of a 'narrow elite'. Which makes it strange that his organisation is so avidly chasing a $22 million-a-year government subsidy. If Murdoch truly believes he can reach out beyond a 'narrow elite', why don't Sky and News start a new Australian-brand international service with their own funds?"

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Media Watch, 11 July 2011: "For the ABC, the money involved is significant - for News Corporation, it's small change. But if Sky News doesn't get the contract, stand by for fireworks. Mind you, the Gillard government may well have calculated that the heat from News Ltd can't get hotter."

See previous post about same subject.

Some history of USCGC Courier, the ship that transmitted VOA to Europe, 1952-1964.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Cold War Radios, 30 Nov 2010 (but with recently updated content), Richard H. Cummings: "Long before the glorified 'Pirate Radio' station in the middle of the North Sea in the 1960s, there was a vagabond ship afloat: the United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Courier that roamed far and wide relaying broadcasts of the U.S. Government’s Voice of America (VOA). Well, far and wide might be stretching it a little as the ship was mostly anchored in the harbor of the Greek Island Rhodes, By broadcasting within the territorial waters of a country that gave her permission to do so, she could not be branded a 'pirate' radio broadcasting ship. ... The Courier’s call sign was 'Vagabond-Able' and she was commissioned on February 15, 1952, in Hoboken, New Jersey. She normally carried a Coast Guard crew of 10 officers and 80 men, plus some engineers from the United States Information Agency responsible for the Voice of America. ... The Courier continued VOA relay broadcasting until 1964, when the transmitting equipment was transferred to a land-based permanent transmitting site." -- And go to the Cold War Radios home page for interesting stories, especially about the history of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

Deutsche Welle trying to reach Chinese official who said that Germans have a "hard time accessing the internet."

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Shanghaist, 13 July 2011, Kenneth Tan: "According to unconfirmed reports now widely circulating on Sina Weibo, Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster, has been trying, but failing, to get in touch with the office of Xiamen Vice Mayor Zang Jiebin (臧杰斌) who claimed recently that Germany's commonfolk "have a very hard time accessing the Internet" and that Germany's control of the internet exceeds that of China's. To find out how Zang came to arrive at those conclusions, Deutsche Welle has attempted to get in touch with the Xiamen municipal government, Zang's secretary, and the propaganda department. When contacted, Zang's secretary, a man surnamed Luo, said that the vice mayor was not at work and would not be able to answer those questions."

Take that, Smith-Mundt: At State Department, Russian foreign minister notes that "Voice of America" is broadcasting in English in Washington.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
State Department, 13 July 2011, remarks by secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov: "Lavrov: This was a very useful visit and very busy visit. I met Mr. Obama in the White House, and I had negotiations with the State of Secretary yesterday. Yesterday, I had a meeting with the Senate of the United States of America, and yesterday, I also met Russian Americans who have a lot of interesting projects that aim to promote closer cooperation of our countries and also went to the broadcaster who is a Russian broadcaster, Voice of America, and they are starting broadcasting in English in Washington. So we thank you very much for all the cooperation." Also reported (with audio) by Voice of Russia, 14 July 2011. -- It's actually Voice of Russia that is broadcasting in English in Washington, a point that one might think VOR would want to clarify. This might actually have been a mistaken translation, easy enough to do when the translation is simultaneous.

Planned shift of VOA Mandarin from radio to online is mentioned in report about fewer Chinese websites.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
eWeek Europe, 14 July 2011, David Jamieson: "China lost nearly half of its websites last year, a Chinese government think tank has revealed. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reported yesterday that there was a 41 percent drop to 1.91 million websites on the Chinese mainland between the end of 2009 and the end of 2010. Independant experts blamed government censorship campaigns... . The government report said ideological safety was a priority in the age of the Internet, and in light of the US government’s Voice of America shifting propaganda from radio to online."

To reach Iran, better to circumvent satellite jamming than internet blocking, he writes.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Slate, 12 July 2011, Omid Memarian: "In Iran, only 38 percent of the population is even connected to the Internet. Almost 90 percent of these people use sluggish dial-up-modem connections; sometimes it takes one minute to open a page. In contrast, satellite TVs have very broad outreach. But the Iranian government jams satellite TVs, including the Voice of America and the BBC. The United States would make far more of a difference by investing in technology to circumvent Iran's satellite-jamming process. Last year, I tried to emphasize the importance of this strategy when I testified before the Senate judiciary committee's subcommittee on human rights and the law. I emphasized that the commercial carriers are reluctant to broadcast reform-oriented Iranian TV content because of the jamming. Using new technologies that jam the jammers, so to speak, would be a wise investment for the U.S. government. This approach would give millions access to TV channels that fight back against the Islamic Republic's incessant propaganda. The U.S. would also be wise to invest heavily in the underfunded Voice of America TV channel, which is popular in Iran. VoA Persian could be the most powerful tool to fight Iran's anti-American propaganda. If authorities can find a way to unblock VoA Persian, the U.S. will be able to reach beyond the middle-class and city dwellers. And this approach would not place people in danger: Millions are already tuning into satellite TV, even in small villages, even though it's illegal. On occasion the police have gone door to door in big cities to intimidate people into not using it, but once they are gone people merely cover their dishes and turn the TV back on."

See also video of New American Foundation, 13 July 2011, "How to Ignite, or Quash, a Revolution in 140 Characters or Less."

BBC says Iran is again jamming BBC Persian TV.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service Press Release, 13 July 2011: "BBC Persian TV is again being jammed from within Iran. The deliberate interference began on Tuesday morning and is affecting the TV channel on the Hot Bird satellite. Eutelsat, the satellite owner, have validated the geolocalisation of the source of the interference as being in Iran. The BBC and Eutelsat condemn this deliberate interference that is clearly contrary to international conventions for the use of satellites. Eutelsat have confirmed that they will be submitting a new complaint to the French Regulator, ANFR, for filing with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). BBC Persian TV continues to stream live online and on satellites T12 (15 degrees West), W3A (7 degrees East) and EB2 (25.5 degrees East)."

Kurdish Aspect, 12 July 2011, Soran Khedri: "In response to BBC Persian defamatory statements." Cites a Press TV story.

"Hitchhikers Guide to DXing" radio parody re-released.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 13 July 2011: "Jonathan Marks writes 'It is thirty years ago since I wrote a rather silly parody on international radio broadcasting and based on my favourite radio series at the time, the Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. There seemed to be so much to make fun of at the time…the boring propaganda at the height of the Cold War, jamming, the waste of energy shouting from one country to another, and the variable quality of reaction from listeners.' Parts one and two of this classic series are now available to download from the Media Network Vintage Vault. The rest will follow shortly."

Urunboy Usmonov, BBC World Service reporter jailed in Tajikistan, freed on bail.

Posted: 15 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 14 July 2011, Richard Orange: "Tajikistan has freed the BBC reporter jailed last month for belonging to a banned Islamic group. Urunboy Usmonov, 59, was freed on bail on Thursday evening after signing a written pledge to remain in Tajikistan to face criminal charges. The release follows a month of mounting pressure on the Tajik authorities from the BBC, the European Union, the OSCE, and human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, and Reporters without Borders. Mr Usmonov was arrested at the start of June charged with belonging to Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group which is illegal in Tajikistan, although permitted in the UK and the US. Peter Horrocks, the BBC's Global News director, said the BBC was 'encouraged that Tajik authorities have considered our appeals. As we have said all along, we believe Urunboy is innocent and all he was doing was his journalistic work for the BBC.'" See also BBC The Editors blog, 14 July 2011, Liliane Landor. And BBC World Service press release, 13 July 2011.

Vague reports about Al Jazeera becoming a "private institution of public utility."

Posted: 14 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 13 July 2011, Khalid Al Sayed, editor-in-chief: "Al Jazeera is set to change its legal status to become a 'private institution of public utility' — the exact translation of the Arabic terminology. The story was broken yesterday by our sister daily Al Sharq. Quoting their sources, the front page report said the change was intended to give Al Jazeera more flexibility and facilitate quick decision making since the media outlet was expanding its reach to other areas. There has been no official confirmation yet, but it has been not denied either which leaves little doubt about the veracity of the story. The move raises several questions. First, the purported reason for the change is not convincing since Al Jazeera already enjoys the freedom and flexibility to report on controversial issues like no other channel in the Arab world. The need to change its legal status to enable flexibility, therefore, makes little sense. ... This is the first time that we’ve heard of a media company, which is profit-based, being turned into a public utility. Besides, it will become a private institution." -- "Profit-based," but apparently not (at least the news channels) actually making a profit, hence the need to be a public utility. But what funding source could be more effusive than the purse of the Emir of Qatar?

Gulf News (Dubai), 13 July 2011, Habib Toumi: "According to [an unidentified] expert, the meaning of the phrase ‘private organisation devoted to public interest' is that the channel would not deal with issues that are harmful to national security or stability of the country."

The Peninsula,13 July 2011: "Once its status is changed, the network has plans to launch a host of regional channels such as Al Jazeera Balkans, Al Jazeera Turkey and Al Jazeera Swahili, among others. Besides, the channel would be able to get actively into media activities like social networking sites, mobile and Internet-based news services, the daily [Al Sharq] said."

Broadcasting Board of Governors meeting today will discuss "its ongoing reform process." Webcast at 2000 UTC.

Posted: 14 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 8 July 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet on July 14 to continue its broad strategic review of U.S. international broadcasting and to advance its ongoing reform process. The Board will consider recommendations regarding the reorganization of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and BBG staffs, the revision of Agency grant agreements, and regional review studies. The BBG will receive reports on recent activities and trips by individual governors and the Director of the IBB; the Board’s Strategy and Budget Committee and Governance Committee; and programming coverage updates from BBG broadcast networks."

VOA "exclusive" on defection of Burmese diplomat cited by Washington Post, but unmentioned by rival Radio Free Asia.

Posted: 14 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 13 July 2011: "Voice of America has learned in an exclusive interview that Burmese diplomat U Soe Aung has asked for political asylum in the United States. He is the second high-ranking Burmese diplomat in Washington to defect this month. VOA's Burmese service learned of the defection directly from the diplomat, who said he sent a letter to the U.S. State Department Wednesday morning announcing his decision. U Soe Aung told VOA that he made the decision after being ordered to return to Burma as part of an investigation into the July 4 defection of the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission."

Washington Post, 13 July 2011, William Wan: "Soe Aung confirmed his defection in a brief interview with the Burmese Service of the Voice of America."

The Irrawaddy, 14 July 2011, Wai Moe: "According to Voice of America’s Burmese Service in Washington, Soe Aung wrote to the US State Department on Wednesday requesting asylum, citing fears for the safety of his family and himself."

Radio Free Asia, 13 July 2011: "Another senior diplomat at the Burmese embassy in Washington has defected and applied for political asylum in the United States, a dissident familiar with the case said Wednesday. Embassy First Secretary Soe Aung Wednesday morning expressed to the U.S. State Department 'his desire to apply for political asylum in the United States,' Aung Din, the executive director for the U.S. Campaign for Burma, told RFA."

The Dalai Double: Dalai Lama gives separate interviews to Radio Free Asia and VOA.

Posted: 14 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia press release, 11 July 2011 (pdf): "Radio Free Asia (RFA) today hosted His Holiness the Dalai Lama at its Washington, DC headquarters. The Tibetan spiritual leader made remarks on RFA’s 15th anniversary year to staff from all nine RFA language services, commending them for delivering a free press to closed societies. Also during the visit, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was interviewed by RFA’s Mandarin service, with questions submitted from RFA’s Tibetan, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Uyghur services. ... The Dalai Lama said RFA is 'extremely helpful' and lauded its services for their contribution in working to 'educate people who have no freedom of information.' ... RFA’s exclusive interview was webcast live on its Mandarin and Tibetan sites, and made available online and via shortwave and satellite to listeners in China. The Nobel laureate is in Washington for the 11-day Buddhist Kalachakra ritual, which concludes this week." See also video of RFA English-language interview, 11 July 2011.

Voice of America, 12 July 2011, Sean Maroney: "Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has been in Washington since last week, celebrating his birthday and guiding followers of Tibetan Buddhism in a multi-day prayer and meditation ritual. He sat down with VOA to discuss his first visit to the nation's capital since stepping down as the exiled Tibetan government's political leader." With links to video and transcript of English-language interview by Xin Chen.

While we have seen some some USIB inter-entity cooperation in recent weeks, e.g. Alhurra and VOA working together on a documentary in Teaneck, New Jersey, and some VOA content appearing in the RFE/ERL website, there seems to have been no cooperation whatsoever between archrivals VOA and RFA in covering the Kalachakra and the Dalai Lama's stay in Washington. See previous post about same subject.

Euronews income up, and business plan confirmed, so its governance will be restructured.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 11 July 2011, Julian Clover. "Euronews has announced plans to restructure its governance and organisation from December 2011. The company says the moves are necessary in order to support its continued development and to fully equip it to meet future challenges."

Rapid TV News, 11 July 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "Lyon-based European news channel euronews has posted a 2010 operating income of €60 million, up 14% year-on-year. All of this was done with a 10% growth in headcount growth to reach nearly 700 staff, including 400 journalists, at the end of last year. Not surprisingly, euronews’ annual general meeting of shareholders, comprising 21 public broadcasters and to whom results were presented, approved the 2010 accounts. The meeting also confirmed the validity of the news organisation’s Euronews' business model based on a multicultural and multi-platform editorial offering reaching 350 million homes worldwide, and the expansion strategy embarked upon in 2008. It has thus been decided that the company's governance and organisation should undergo reform in December 2011."

Rapid TV News, 11 July 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "The new head of the Ukrainian language service at euronews launching on 24 August will be Fidel Pavlenko. The 48 year old will be responsible for building and supervising a team of 16 journalists who will soon join the newsroom in preparation. A British journalist of Ukrainian origin, Pavlenko graduated from the National University of Kiev and the journalism school of the BBC. He speaks Ukrainian, English, Russian and German. Before joining euronews, Fidel Pavlenko was a producer for the Ukrainian section of the BBC in London, since 1995. Euronews in Ukrainian will be the 11th language service for the European news channel. The new service will broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, live and on all of euronews’ multimedia platforms. It targets the Ukrainian market as well as the entire Ukrainian community around the world." -- Fidel?

Global growth of DTH satellite TV.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Research, 11 July 2011: "Digital TV Research forecasts that the number of pay DTH homes will be 195 million across 73 countries by end-2016, up from 139 million at end-2010. The Satellite TV Forecasts report estimates that penetration was 10.3% of TV households at end-2010, and will reach 13.1% by 2016. India will lead the sector with 45 million pay DTH homes in 2016, followed by the US with 36 million. However, penetration will be highest in South Africa (47%) and Ireland (41%). The number of FTA [free to air] digital DTH homes was 97 million by end-2010, with another 22 million to be added by end-2016. Penetration was 7.2% of TV households at end-2010, and will be 8.0% by 2016. FTA DTH is very popular in the Middle East and North Africa."

Digital TV Research, 4 July 2011: "Global IPTV penetration was only 2.6% of TV households at end-2010, but will climb to 10.5% by end-2016. IPTV penetration will reach 12% in Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and Western Europe. By 2016, penetration will be highest in Cyprus (42%)."

BBC Radio 4 documentary: Funds for soft power "make no difference without credibility and some semblance of independence."

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Radio 4, 11 July 2011: "In this two part series, Rajan Datar examines how organizations in China and the Middle East are flexing their media muscle and spending billions of dollars to win the hearts and minds of people around the world. He'll investigate who the key players are, who the winners will be and why it matters to us. In part one, Rajan explores the roots of the term Soft Power, and examines how the Middle East has wholeheartedly embraced the notion that news brings influence. ... On the other side of the globe, China's CCTV is fast expanding, and now has a vast newsroom in London, and operations around the world. Like France 24, Russia 24, Press TV (Iran), Al Jazeera, and many more, CCTV is the latest attempt for a nation to make the world see things through their eyes, and it's backed by serious government fund. But, as Rajan discovers in part two, those funds make no difference without credibility and some semblance of independence. ... Former media superpowers like the BBC World Service are shrinking, and increasingly wealthy and powerful new ones are vying for their place." With audio. Second in the series will be available 18 July.

New schedule for Radio Dabanga shortwave to Darfur.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 12 July 2011, Andy Sennitt: Dutch-based Radio Dabanga, which broadcasts to the Darfur region, will have a revised schedule as from Monday 18 July 2011: 0430-0527 UTC on 15550 kHz (Dhabayya 500 kW) and 13620 kHz (Madagascar 250 kW); 0430-0459 UTC on 13730 kHz (Madagascar 250 kW); 0459-0527 UTC on 13730 kHz (Wertachtal 250 kW); 0527-0557 UTC on 13620 kHz (Nauen 500 kW) and 13730 kHz (Wertachtal 250 kW); 1529-1627 UTC on 15720 kHz (Wertachtal 500 kW) and 13730 kHz (Madagascar 250 kW).

YouTube comedy sketch about Syrian uprising portrays BBC, Al Arabia, Al Jazeera, and France 24 as hallucination pills.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
NOW Lebanon blog, 12 July 2011, Angie Nassar: "A new comedy sketch channel on YouTube called 'Freedom Only' (from the ubiquitous revolutionary slogan 'God, Syria and Freedom Only') is creating a lot of buzz with its bold attempts to find humor in the otherwise hard times faced by Syrians under the brutal oppression of President Bashar al-Assad. ... It’s a smart, nuanced take on the absurdities and propaganda pushed by Assad and his thugs. ... Salesman: 'Hallucination pills!!...Hallucination pills!! Come buy [them]! Come buy! We have all flavors! BBC, ARABIA, JAZEERA, FRANCE 24!'" With video.

Al Arabiya, 11 July 2011, Martin Jay: "The role of the foreign media though cannot be overlooked and disregarded as irrelevant though. I would go as far as to say that if it wasn’t for the cowardly attitude of BBC, France 24, Euronews, and CNN which has produced, in part, a regime capable of such cold-blooded murder in the streets of provincial towns across this vast country." -- Referring to Syria. "Vast"? More like mid-sized. Also, the second sentence seems unfinished.

VOA is now on the FM dial in Bangui (updated).

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 30 June 2011: “Voice of America’s popular French and English language news and music programs will air 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Central African Republic’s capital city, Bangui, with the launch of VOA’s new station 101.7 FM. … VOA FM 101.7 will carry a mix of French and English language programs produced in Washington, including Daybreak Africa, Africa News Tonight, African Music Mix, Aujourd’hui L’Afrique Centrale and Le Monde Aujourd’hui–Edition pour L’Afrique Centrale. Other popular VOA French programs include Washington Forum, L’Amérique et Vous, and Antenne Libre.”

Update: Twitter, 12 July 2011, VOA Public Relations @VOABuzz: "Spiffy new billboard" in Banqui publicizes the new FM relay. With twitpic.

International broadcasting sports presenters in the news.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 7 July 2011. "Former Major League great and Cuban defector Orlando 'El Duque' Hernandez will provide color commentary during the live Radio/TV Marti broadcast of the 82nd annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game from Chase Field, in Phoenix on July 12. ... Radio and TV Marti will broadcast the All-Star game as part of their ongoing cooperation with Major League Baseball, which includes broadcasting three games a week, plus the playoffs and World Series."

Gulf Times (Doha), 9 July 2011: "The Al Jazeera English TV news channel has a new sports presenter, Robin Adams, who has this week begun anchoring sports bulletins on the English-language global news channel. Adams joined the Al Jazeera team from in South Africa where he previously worked as a presenter for both news and sport, before becoming sports editor for both and their 24-hour news channel."

BBC press release, 7 July 2011: BBC World Service language services will broadcast special programs on 27 July, one year before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Libyan government channels taken off Nilesat after they accuse rebels of Al Qaeda and "Christian missionary" links.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 12 July 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat must cease transmission of 14 Libyan state television channels, a court in Cairo ordered on Monday (11 July) - according to Egypt’s official news agency MENA. The Cairo Administrative Court made its judgement following lawsuits filed by Libyan nationals and Egyptian lawyers who said that Muammar Gaddafi has exploited the channels to incite hate and violence against Libya’s rebel forces. ... One of the newly barred channels, Al-Libiyah TV, which is affiliated with Gaddafi's son Sayf-al-Islam, accused the opposition of broadcasting 'Christian missionary messages' from Benghazi last month. Nilesat had refused to comply with the NTC’s request prior to the court case as, it said, Egypt does not recognise the party as the legitimate government of Libya. ... [Libyan lawyer Issam Al Mawy] claimed that by labelling the rebels ‘terrorists’, with links to Al Qaeda, the state broadcasts have helped split Libya in two."

Record profits for BBC Worldwide, with the help of fast cars and a time-traveling humanoid.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 12 July 2011, Mark Sweney and Tara Conlan: "BBC Worldwide has reported record underlying profits, up 10% to £160m in the year to the end of March, with its chief executive, John Smith, taking home a remuneration package up more than 9% year on year to £898,000. The BBC's commercial arm reported record revenue of £1.16bn, up 7.8% year on year in the 12 months to 31 March, helped by strong performances from its international TV channel business and exploitation of brands including Top Gear and Doctor Who. International sales increased by 9.6% to account for 55% of total revenues, with a particular focus on 'the English-speaking markets of the USA and Australia'. ... The channels business, which operates an international network of 41 TV services including BBC America, saw sales rise by 19% year on year to £312m thanks to growth in subscriber revenues in the UK, US and Scandinavia. Ad sales rose 27% and profits were up by 2.3% to £40m."

The Guardian, 12 July 2011, Mark Sweney: "The top five individual TV series sold internationally by BBC Worldwide in the year to the end of March were Doctor Who series five, the debut series of Sherlock, the 15th and 16th series of Top Gear, and Human Planet. The Doctor Who franchise made the biggest value leap last year with revenue climbing 49%, thanks to significant growth in the US. BBC Worldwide has seen a 45% increase in DVD and download-to-own sales, with Doctor Who the third-biggest seller in the US iTunes chart behind Mad Men and Glee."

See previous post about BBC Worldwide.

Former VOA director marks tenth year as president of Goucher College.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Towson Patch, 12 July 2011, Tyler Waldman: "Few of the students at Goucher College call the school's leader President Ungar. Or even Mr. Ungar. They just call him Sandy, and he's on a first-name basis with many of them. More than a president, Sanford J. Ungar is a mentor and friend to Goucher's population of nearly 1,500 students. This month, he marked 10 years at the college. ... A journalist by trade, Ungar hosted NPR's 'All Things Considered' in the early 1980s and took the helm at Goucher in 2001 after two years as director of Voice of America. In between, he spent 13 years as dean of American University's School of Communication. ... In 2006, the college became the first (and, to date, only) college in the country to require that students take a study-abroad program." -- Goucher College is in Towson, Maryland, just north of Baltimore.

Report: "VOA quietly reinstates Horn of Africa chief."

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Addis Voice, 12 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "The Voice of America (VOA) has reversed its decision to suspend its Horn of Africa chief, David Arnold. After Addis Voice published a disturbing story on censorship and questionable actions taken against Mr. Arnold for comments he made in a June 23rd VOA report, VOA bosses held a series of crisis meetings and decided to reinstate him, sources disclosed. Addis Voice briefly talked to Mr. Arnold who confirmed that he got his job back. But Mr. Arnold declined to make comments on the issue. He directed any inquiries on this matter to VOA’s public relations office... ." See previous post about same subject.

If anyone has Amharic: Deutsche Welle Amharic, 12 July 2011.

A touching story about cooperation between two USIB entities. The one about the mayor and dep. mayor is interesting, too.

Posted: 13 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Bergen Record, 9 July 2011, Mike Kerwick: A "crew is shooting a documentary on Teaneck [New Jersey]. It is a collaboration between Alhurra TV – a U.S. government-sponsored network that broadcasts in the Middle East – and Voice of America. The 22-minute documentary is expected to air during the weeks leading to Sept. 11. At the crux of the story, the filmmakers hope to capture the mayor’s relationship with Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen. Hameeduddin is Muslim. Gussen is Jewish. They are lifelong friends."

Teaneck Suburbanite, 13 July 2011, Howard Prosnitz: "[I]n July 1951 Teaneck was the subject of a documentary when a journalist from Voice of America came to town to write about the interdependence of an American community and its police department. The resulting article was translated and published throughout Southeast Asia. Exactly 60 years later to the month, Voice of America is back in Teaneck... ."

BBC World Service records 14 million reduction in its weekly audience.

Posted: 12 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 12 July 2011, Rachel McAthy: "The BBC World Service's global audience has dropped by 14 million in the past year, according to the broadcaster. Overall audience for the year has been estimated at 166 million, down from 180 million last year. However, it claims online the World Service's audience has risen by 40 per cent in the past 12 months. In the BBC World Service annual report, published today, the broadcaster blamed the overall fall on the numerous service closures and changes which were implemented following cuts to its funding. In January, the broadcaster warned that budget cuts at the World Service would ultimately cost the broadcaster more than 30 million listeners, as it announced the planned closure of five of its foreign language services."

BBC World Service press release, 12 July 2011: "World Service online audience figures have risen by 40% over the past 12 months. The 2010/11 figures indicate that there are 10m weekly unique users of World Service websites, a 3m increase from 2009/10." With link to BBC World Service 2010/11 annual report. -- After 35 years of international broadcasting audience research, I've learned that it takes about a year before shifts in broadcasting output are reflected in audience surveys. The major BBC WS cuts were announced in January, so perhaps the biggest drops in audience size await next year's annual report. Also, I don't think "World Service websites" includes the English-language international-facing website. Note that the annual report is black on white, with no flashy graphics, befitting the times.

<Radio Netherlands Media Network, 12 July 2011, citing St Helena Herald/St Helena Independent: New three-channel radio service on St. Helena will include one FM frequency devoted 24/7 to BBC World Service. -- Good, but won't recoup many of the 14 million lost listeners.

VOA televised Dalai Lama's birthday celebration worldwide. Then he visited Radio Free Asia.

Posted: 12 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 6 July 2011: "Tibetans around the world were able to watch live VOA coverage of the Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday celebration in Washington Wednesday, as the spiritual leader made his first major speech since announcing he was stepping down as head of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Voice of America’s special two hour broadcast from the Verizon Center, which was carried live on radio, television and streamed on the Internet, included a 25-minute Tibetan language address by the Dalai Lama to the people of his homeland." See also Radio Free Asia video about same event.

Radio Free Asia press release, 11 July 2011: "Radio Free Asia (RFA) today hosted His Holiness the Dalai Lama at its Washington, DC headquarters. The Tibetan spiritual leader made remarks on RFA’s 15th anniversary year to staff from all nine RFA language services, commending them for delivering a free press to closed societies. Also during the visit, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was interviewed by RFA’s Mandarin service, with questions submitted from RFA’s Tibetan, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Uyghur services. ... RFA’s exclusive interview was webcast live on its Mandarin and Tibetan sites, and made available online and via shortwave and satellite to listeners in China." Video of the interview (in English) available on this page.

Al Jazeera wins rights to broadcast Ligue 1 football (soccer) games within France. Now it needs a channel in France (updated).

Posted: 12 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 24 June 2011, Inti Landauro And Hugo Lieber: "Qatar-based television company Al Jazeera won some of the broadcasting rights to France's top soccer games in an auction Thursday, challenging the quasi-monopoly of French pay-TV company Canal Plus in the sport. Al Jazeera agreed to pay €90 million ($129. million) a year for the right to broadcast two live premium games a week and for other associated rights over four seasons between 2012 and 2016... . Al Jazeera's foray into France's soccer broadcasting market comes as Qatar is ramping up its focus on soccer ahead of 2022, when it will host the soccer World Cup. ... With some French soccer TV rights in hand, Al Jazeera now needs to buy or set up a TV platform to broadcast the games, analysts said. The TV group has already approached French telecommunications carrier France Telecom SA to buy its Orange Sport TV channel, a France Telecom spokesman said. Al Jazeera declined to comment on the matter." -- I believe this will also be Al Jazeera's first foray into French-language broadcasting.

Broadband TV News, 24 June 2011, Robert Briel: "It is not quite clear on which channel Al jazeera will broadcast the games.

Update: Dow Jones Newswires, 11 July 2011, William Horobin: "France Telecom Chief Executive Stephane Richard Friday said the telecoms group is in discussions with Qatar-based television company Al Jazeera over a possible deal to sell its Orange Sport channel. ... Al Jazeera recently agreed to pay EUR90 million a year for the right to broadcast two live premium soccer matches a week and for other associated rights over four seasons between 2012 and 2016. ... Al Jazeera's foray into France's soccer broadcasting market comes as Qatar is ramping up its focus on soccer ahead of 2022, when it will host the soccer World Cup."

Report: Chief of Deutsche Welle Bulgarian compares target country's PM to Zhivkov, Castro, Chavez, Lukashenko.

Posted: 12 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 10 July 2011: "The actions of the current Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, bring back memories of his teacher and example, Communist Dictator, Todor Zhivkov. The comparison was made by journalist, Alexander Andreev, Editor-in-Chief of the Bulgarian section of Deutsche Welle, who spoke in an interview for the Bulgarian news agency BGNES. Andreev accuses Borisov in skillfully dividing the Bulgarian society into a minority of intellectuals, deprived of any means of influence and the rest, which under Zhivkov was called the class of workers and peasants, who like Borisov and want to spend every day with him on the news. The journalist further says that such manipulations of the public system are the trademark of people such as Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Alexander Lukashenko, and should not be mistaken for pure populism." -- DW's Bulgarian radio broadcasts and FM relay in Sofia are being phased out. I'm not sure if DW Bulgarian will continue as a website.

France 24 adds a Windows Phone 7 application.

Posted: 12 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 9 July 2011, Robert Briel: "French international news channel France 24 is launching a new application especially designed for Windows Phone 7. The broadcaster already claims more than two million downloads for mobile phones and tablets (iPhone, iPad, Android, smartphones). Completely free and available in three languages (English, French and Arabic), the new France 24 application makes full use of the ergonomics of the Windows Phone 7 operating system thanks to a panoramic format that gives quick and easy access to all the information."

Great moments in shortwave, 1961: At least one resident of Phillipsburg heard "A Salute to Phillipsburg" on HCJB.

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The Express-Times (Harrisburg PA), 9 July 2011, Pete Brekus: On 9 July 1961: "A program entitled 'A Salute to Phillipsburg' was broadcast last evening over radio station [HCJB], Quito, Ecuador. At least one resident of the area, Emily Flynn, Ferry Street, heard the program. Arrangements for the program were made by Paul Ackerman, Chambers Street, Phillipsburg, and the Phillipsburg [PA] Chamber of Commerce, but the date of the broadcast was not known in advance. Ackerman, who listens to shortwave broadcasts on a tiny portable radio, wasn't tuned in for the broadcast. Miss Flynn said the station, known as the 'Voice of the Andes,' described the town, its location, its industries and other information. The station is heard throughout the world."

Australia Network debate: "A broadcaster that is seen as a mere mouthpiece of Government is next to worthless."

Posted: 12 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Lowy Institute for International Policy, The Interpreter, 8 July 2011, Alex Oliver: "[O]ur report last year on the public diplomacy value of international broadcasting emphasised the imperative of editorial independence for Government-funded broadcasters. Without that independence, credibility is lost and the broadcaster's value as a public diplomacy vehicle is irredeemably compromised. While it's legitimate for Government to have a say on the general mix of programming, and it's essential that Government and broadcaster have a close working relationship so that regional priorities and concerns are well understood, a broadcaster that is seen as a mere mouthpiece of Government is next to worthless. It's clear that, while the Australia Network has a potentially very valuable contribution to make to Australia's international interests, both the contract for the service and the tender process itself are severely flawed."

The Age (Melbourne), 12 July 2011, Alan Knight: "Watching the Australia Network is a bit like sitting next to an Australian diplomat at an Asian dinner party. It's mostly informed, often intelligent and entertaining, yet cautious and constrained. It can be a tad too stuffy as the party hots up. ... What it really offers is a sprinkling of ABC entertainment and information programs, leavened by commercial soapies and English language learning. It is really just ABC-rather-light. In fact, if international television broadcasters were placed on a scale with those featuring high-quality news, current affairs and documentaries at one end and soft program mixes at the other, the BBC and al-Jazeera would be among the heaviest hitters and China's anodyne state television and the rather pedestrian Australia Network would be at the bottom. By comparison, Sky News seems hard core. A study last year of international television showed Sky News programming consisted almost entirely of news bulletins. But a closer look showed these were heavily padded with sport, and its customary mix of calculated subjectivity, prurient celebrity and commercial huckstering. ... [Sky News part owner] News Corp has never been particularly backward in linking its journalism with naked self-interest, a philosophy that still makes the Murdochs attractive to deal-seeking politicians. As far back as 1994 Murdoch dropped BBC World Service Television from the Hong Kong-based Star satellite network after Chinese officials complained about critical reporting. Murdoch described it at the time as 'just a business decision'."

See previous post about same subject.

Arms explosion at Cyprus naval base cuts power to BBC relay transmitters.

Posted: 12 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 11 July 2011, Richard Spencer: "At least 12 people were killed when a depot containing seized Iranian arms exploded at Cyprus's main naval base, destroying the island's biggest power station resulting in widespread blackouts. ... Also affected by the power outage was a BBC relay station, six of whose transmitters, broadcasting English-language services to the Middle East, were disrupted." -- Those transmitters, located at Zygi, are used for more than English. Indeed, the explosion of the seized Iranian arms might be affecting BBC Farsi transmissions from the site.

Texas website Radio Free Liberty Hill: more than just a conflation of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Posted: 11 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 7 July 2011, Sarah Adler: "There blooms in Texas a news website inspired by the ideals of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and manned by a dedicated group of young journalists. Radio Free Liberty Hill publishes weekly in the small town of Liberty Hill, just outside the state capital of Austin. With the help of about a dozen local high school students and a civic-minded couple, the site aims to inform residents while teaching the basics of journalism. Charley Wilkison and his wife Shelly co-founded the Radio Free Liberty Hill website in 2008 with the legacy of RFE/RL in mind. 'Radio Free Europe was the truth teller and they were the people that got the real facts to the story,' Wilkison said of RFE's and RL's broadcasts to countries of the Warsaw pact and former Soviet Union."

VOA executive editor says deletion of VOA Horn of Africa web content was for "accuracy," not "self-censorship."

Posted: 11 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Tadias (New York), 11 July 2011: "Voice of America’s Acting Director and Executive Editor, Steve Redisch, has told Tadias Magazine that the recent controversy surrounding the removal of a June 23rd content from the broadcaster’s Amharic website was 'consistent with VOA’s standards of accuracy.' Redisch also said VOA’s characterization of a meeting on June 22nd, 2011 between members of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors and Ethiopian Communication Affairs Minister Bereket Simon was ‘inaccurate.’ Abebe Gelaw had reported last week on his regular column on Addis Voice, quoting 'informed sources' inside the VOA, that the suspension of David Arnold, VOA’s Horn of Africa Chief, was a result of a dispute related to his comments in a news report that was broadcast on VOA Amharic service on June 23rd. Mr. Redisch did not specifically deny Mr. Gelaw’s reporting. ... Mr. Redisch said. 'Contrary to the VOA report, at no time did Ethiopian government officials ask the Board members to prohibit any individuals from appearing on VOA programs … Consistent with VOA’s standards of accuracy and not for reasons of self-censorship, the report was taken off the website.' Mr. Redisch adds: 'The inaccurate reporting of the meeting has overshadowed the intent of the Governor’s mission. Simply put, it was an opportunity to advance VOA’s mission: to provide reliable, accurate and balanced information to our audiences. And those audiences will be the barometer of our future success.'" See previous post about same subject.

VOA coverage of South Sudan independence celebration (updated: no internet audio stream, but heard on shortwave in Argentina).

Posted: 11 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 8 July 2011: "Voice of America will provide live coverage of South Sudan’s independence celebrations on Saturday, with reports from the new country and Washington, including interviews with key leaders who have guided the historic transition. Sudan in Focus, VOA’s popular English language radio program to the region, will be renamed South Sudan in Focus to mark the occasion. ... VOA reporters in South Sudan will contribute to the special live broadcast, which will be hosted by John Tanza in Washington and Charlton Doki in Juba. VOA broadcasts to southern Sudan on shortwave, FM affiliate stations and is streamed on the Internet. VOA language services broadcasting to neighboring countries will pre-empt regular programming to broadcast Saturday’s Independence Day ceremony. ... Other U.S. international broadcasting coverage will include live reporting of the July 9th events on Alhurra TV's Arabic-language satellite broadcasts as well as expanded radio newscasts on Afia Darfur, broadcasting to Darfur and Eastern Chad. -- From this page, we learn that the a South Sudan in Focus with "highlights of the independence ceremony" will be 9 July at 1500 to 1600 UTC, on 15480 and 17895 kHz shortwave, "or tune to VOA's Africa live stream." (A link to the VOA Africa live stream is at the top of This implies that live coverage will occur earlier, at some time, on VOA English. We'll just have to listen to the live stream Saturday and see what happens. (Presumably the VOA FM relays in South Sudan, per the BBG deal reported in the previous post, are not yet on the air.)

Update 1: Disregard all of the above. I heard no live coverage on VOA before 1500 UTC. Now, 9 July at 1530 UTC, when the South Sudan in Focus special should be on, I'm hearing "Hip Hop Connection" on the VOA Africa live stream. At the Sudan in Focus web page, the audio links lead to yesterday's program, still called "Sudan in Focus." Today's South Sudan in Focus may well be transmitting on shortwave, but I can't find a live internet stream. See also this post.

Update 2: Ernesto Paulero in Argentina sent to Glenn Hauser this audio (mp3, 36 sec) of his reception of VOA South Sudan in Focus, 9 July, 1515 UTC, on 15480 kHz.

Another former employee sues RFE/RL.

Posted: 11 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
News.Az, 9 July 2011: "Journalist Aygun Muradkhanli has sued Radio Liberty, her former employer. The journalist claims she sued the radio as it violated her labor rights. 'At the end of last year they signed a three-month contract with me unlike other journalists and said they will extend the contract later. But they declined to extend the contract after it terminated and dismissed me on 31 December without indicating any reason,' the journalist said. ... Muradkhanli said she has filed a suit with the Yasamal District Court adding that she will demand the Radio Liberty to pay $150,000 in compensation."

BBC, VOA, DW Urdu still reach audiences in "Urdu speaking belts" of India.

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Indo-Asian News Service, 4 July 2011, Abu Zafar: "Overcoming technical and commercial challenges, Urdu media in India is now trying to re-invent itself as big corporate houses enter the market. ... Rehana Bastiwala of BBC Urdu said: 'For a better Urdu media, the standard of Urdu schools should be improved'. However, the situation in the electronic media is better. According to Rashtriya Sahara more than 90 million people speak Urdu in India, of whom 40 million are television viewers. There are at least five Urdu news channels, including Doordarshan Urdu, ETV Urdu, Aalmi Sahara and Munsif TV, apart from some others dedicated to religious content. 'The reach of Urdu news channels is massive. A person who knows Hindi can easily understand Urdu,' ... . As far as radio services is concerned, BBC Urdu, which was started in 1940, has a big impact in India. Apart from BBC, Voice of America, Radio Deutsche Welle and All India Radio's Urdu services are also popular in Urdu speaking belts."

RFE/RL journalist arrested in "unprecedented" Minsk crackdown (updated: BBG condemns).

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Press Release, 5 July 2011: "One RFE/RL journalist was arrested and another had her video camera confiscated as security forces in Belarus conducted what a RFE/RL journalist described as an 'unprecedented' crackdown on July 3 while hundreds took to the streets in nationwide protests of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's government." See also RFE/RL Journalists in Trouble, 22 June 2011.

Update: BBG press release, 8 July 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) condemns the violence, arrests and prosecutions that have targeted journalists for RFE and other media outlets trying to cover peaceful protests in Belarus."

RFE/RL, Transmission blog, 7 July 2011: "Belarusian police have arrested hundreds of protesters and bystanders since the latest wave of antigovernment demonstrations began on July 6. RFE/RL Belarus Service correspondent Oleg Hruzdzilovich was among those detained. In this video, shot from inside the police van, he gets to know the stories of some of his fellow passengers."

All India Radio external services will "be strengthened through digitalisation of shortwave transmitters."

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deccan Herald, 8 July 2011: "The government plans to launch a 24-hour news broadcast channel of All India Radio (AIR) as part of its sweeping modernisation programme in the next five years. ... While the reach of the national channel is proposed to be extended to the whole of the country, the external services of the AIR will also be strengthened through digitalisation of shortwave transmitters." -- No mention here of AIR's previous plans to provide an all-news service to all parts of India, no matter how remote, using DRM digital shortwave. Whether for Indian or international audiences, there will have to be digital shortwave receivers, at reasonable cost, which do not deplete a set of batteries each day, if DRM digital shortwave is to be a viable medium.

afaqs!, 8 July 2011, Nandana Das: "The Indian government has finally given a nod to the clearance of the much-delayed FM radio expansion Phase III, which will allow private radio channels (FM) to broadcast news of All India Radio (AIR). The cabinet has also increased foreign direct investment (FDI) and foreign institutional investment (FII) limits in FM radio broadcasting companies, from 20 per cent to 26 per cent. Though this is a very minor increase, the expansion of the medium to 300 cities will make it a truly pan-Indian medium, with proposed 839 new FM radio channels. However, radio operators do not seem very enthusiastic about broadcasting news from AIR as they are unlikely to fit into the tones and renditions of the private FM stations. Prashant Panday, chief executive officer, Entertainment Network India, says, 'We are all large and responsible media houses. It is ironical that we have to take news from AIR.' 'This is not a comment on AIR's news quality - it is just that we believe this policy is anachronistic with the times.' However, Vineet Singh Hukmani, managing director, Radio One, a Mid-day Multimedia and BBC Worldwide joint venture, comments, 'We have waited for so long for doors to open - so we are satisfied that at least a window has opened.' Hukmani echoes Panday's views of letting the radio stations package the news bulletin in "the channel's way". He adds, 'Each FM station follows a particular style. We should have been allowed to abide by it.'" -- So, while newscasts of AIR will be allowed on private Indian FM stations, those of international broadcasters will not, for the time being. International bradcasters have been yearning for access to Indian FM stations as a way to compensate for lost shortwave audiences. Nevertheless, as private Indian FM stations become increasingly commercial, the appeal of most international broadcasters' content may not be much greater than that of AIR.

Would an NPR affiliate in the Netherlands help fill the void caused by the demise of Radio Netherlands Worldwide?

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Survivor, 7 July 2011, Paul Riismandel: "As the BBC and Deutsche Welle have phased our their broadcast service to North America, Radio Netherlands Worldwide has remained one of the stations that I could reliably tune in for high-quality world news in English on the shortwave band. Admittedly, shortwave radio is not a primary information service for me at this point in time, nor is it for most people in North America. However, I’ve appreciated the service in times when I was traveling and there wasn’t another good news source on the AM or FM dial, or when there’s been a power outage and I’m tired of hearing 'traffic and weather on the 8s.' I suppose it is a good thing that the Dutch government seems to want to maintain broadcasts to the developing world and regions where it wishes to promote free speech. However, it is hard not to lament that the era of ubiquitous global shortwave broadcasting is coming to an end." See previous post about same subject.

-- I'm not sure that "broadcasts" will describe what RNW -- or whatever it will be called -- will do in the future. In any case, RNW is now only partly shortwave, and has become truly multimedia.

But an idea came to me while reading the above. With so many medium wave channels recently vacated in the Netherlands, could this be an opening for an English-language radio station in the Netherlands to serve the expats and other anglophones (there are many of them) in the Benelux? The same radio could be heard worldwide by internet audio stream, and portions of it rebroadcast on affiliate stations in other countries (such as "The State We're In" is broadcast on many US NPR affiliates).

In fact, this Dutch radio station could become an NPR affiliate, to help fill its day with programming. The station could correspondingly hold the pledge drives which Benelux listeners will find as annoying as we do, but could provide the funds that the Dutch government probably won't. And, like NPR stations in the United States, BBC programming would fill part of the schedule.

Radio Netherlands, 7 July 2011: "Two Dutch journalists who planned to cover protests at Tel Aviv airport and in the West Bank town of Ramallah have been refused permission to fly to Israel. Israeli security personnel at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport barred cameraman Bud Wichers and photographer Ettora Hesseling from boarding their flight. ... Radio Netherlands Worldwide reporter Eric Beauchemin was also to have sailed with the flotilla."

VOA News, 6 July 2011, Tatenda Gumbo: "The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe says it has received 15 applications for radio licenses in response to its announcement in late May that it would license two commercial stations in response to calls for liberalization of the media. Applicants include the Voice of the People, which already broadcasts to Zimbabwe from a Madagascar transmission station under Radio Netherlands sponsorship."

China's CCTV hiring East African journalists, competing with other international channels for "the limited talent base."

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 5 July 2011, Walter Wafula: "China Central Television (CCTV), the Chinese national broadcaster has announced several vacancies for East African electronic media journalists, setting the stage for increased competition for the limited talent-base. According to the CCTV recruitment team in Kenya, the media house is looking for a team of TV anchors, journalists, reporters, cameramen, studio technicians, editors, and commentators to support its international broadcasting service. The recruitment drive is part of CCTV's effort to become a global media network with increased international influence. The broadcast house currently operates six international channels in six different languages, including; Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. ... In Africa, CCTV's international news channel is currently aired via several pay television platforms such as; StarTimes, and MultiChoice Africa's DSTV for free, just like other 24-hours news stations including; BBC, CNN, Sky News, Aljazeera and France24. ... China Television's recruitment drive comes at a time when more international television houses are firming up their presence on the African continent. For instance, India's United Television recently launched its international movie channel in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa as it moves to strengthen its presence on the continent."

USAID mobile news project will help Afghan media compete more effectively with US international broadcasting.

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Nextgov, 5 July 2011, Joseph Marks: "The U.S. Agency for International Development is promoting a project to give Afghan mobile phone users free nationwide access to Afghanistan's newspaper, radio and TV news stories. The project -- called Mobile Khabar, which roughly translates to 'mobile news' in Pashto, Dari, Arabic and other regional languages -- is based on two beliefs. First, a wider audience and higher revenue will improve Afghans' ability to produce in-depth, well-sourced journalism, and, second, most Afghans have the ability to discern truth from fiction when given the opportunity to consult a variety of sources. ... [A]t least initially, USAID advisers will screen the information sent to subscribers to ensure broadcasters aren't promoting militant propaganda or inadvertently endangering themselves or subscribers. ... Revenue will come from commercials, which will be broadcast between every third or fourth news report or blog post, and from companies and aid organizations that will use the platform to offer brief, paid surveys -- either market research for companies interested in expanding into Afghanistan, such as Coca Cola, or polling by political candidates... . The project could ... be stymied if funding from USAID and other donors doesn't continue for Afghan's existing slate of independent radio stations, most of which were spawned by and remain dependent on outside backing to stay afloat. That funding could begin drying up as U.S. troops begin withdrawing from Afghanistan this year."

Lord Patten: BBC Worldwide won't be privatized and can be used to subsidize World Service.

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
World Screen, 7 July 2011, Mansha Daswani: "In his first speech as chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten said that certain core commercial activities must stay within the organization, including program distribution, branded channels and digital services, rejecting calls for BBC Worldwide to be privatized. Discussing the BBC's commercial activities during the RTS Fleming Memorial Lecture, Patten stated: 'If we get it right, [BBC] Worldwide can continue to generate international commercial profits that both support and effectively subsidize the BBC's public-service content. Including, in future, the World Service. It makes no sense to sell Worldwide. ... [T]here is a core of commercial services that the Trust believes must stay completely within the BBC because they are central to the future of the corporation strategically, reputationally and commercially. They include program sales and distribution, all BBC-branded channels, digital services and the new international iPlayer, and BBC World. We will not be willing to consider any proposals for privatization either in whole or in part of any of these core elements.'"

BBC Trust, 6 July 2011, RTS Fleming Memorial Lecture by BBC Trust Chairman, Lord Patten of Barnes: "[W]hile American radio was developed primarily through private enterprise, the BBC was to develop as a great public monopoly. [BBC founder Lord] Reith himself was very keen on monopoly. He referred rather fondly to the 'brute force of monopoly' as one of the four fundamentals of broadcasting. The others being public service, a sense of moral obligation and assured finance. He was wrong about monopoly. But he was right about the rest. And the clarity of his vision has carried the BBC through the subsequent eighty years of technological and creative development. Through those eighty years the BBC's security of funding has helped to protect its independence as a part of the public realm that is beyond the control of the State."

CNN International, BBC World News, Eurosport, FT claim victories in EMS survey of European elites.

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 7 July 2011, Julian Clover: The Synovate EMS summer survey, "the only means of determining audiences on a pan-European basis, show Eurosport to be 12 percentage points ahead of nearest rival MTV. Looking at the combined reach of TV channels, online and mobile services, Eurosport had a monthly reach of 55%, followed by MTV (43%), Discovery Channel (40%), CNN (39%) and National Geographic (38%). Leading news channel CNN was ahead of BBC World News (37%), Sky News (32%) and Euronews (30%). ... The EMS Survey, published twice a year (Summer and Winter) by the Amsterdam-based Synovate Research Group, measures audience reach among the main income earners in the top 20% of households across Europe."

CNN Press Room blog, 7 July 2011: "The latest results demonstrate that CNN International offers the highest monthly combined reach (TV, online and mobile) of all international news brands. CNN’s cross-platform leadership spans key target groups among both EMSand EMS Select: Business Decision Makers, C-Suite, High Income Earners, Opinion Leaders and Business Travellers."

BBC World News press release, 8 July 2011: "EMS Europe Summer 2011 has confirmed the BBC's television, online and mobile services now reach an unprecedented 16.3 million affluent Europeans each month. According to EMS Europe, is the most popular news website in Europe, with 5.9 million affluent adults accessing the website each month (UK excluded) - more than any other news broadcast website. BBC World News continues to grow its audience with 12.3 million , which equates to 1 in 4, affluent Europeans watching the channel every month. BBC World News monthly audiences have continued to grow year-on-year** compared to the channel's leading competitor, which has seen a decline every year since 2009."

Media Week, 7 July 2011, Oliver Luft: "The Financial Times is the pan-European paid-for daily newspaper title most widely read by high-earners across Europe, according to the EMS Survey 2011."

CNN reports on Voice of Russia to the USA. And VOA to Russia. And is that *the* Angela Davis? (updated: apparently not)

Posted: 10 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 4 July 2011, Jill Dougherty: "Changing American hearts and minds about Russia has been Voice of Russia's mission since it first went on the air in 1929, broadcasting from Moscow via short-wave radio. It still does use short wave but with the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, that seems like a blast from the past. Undeterred, VOR is turning to that American classic, morning and evening-drive AM radio. It broadcasts from a new studio in downtown Washington. It's the first time VOR has produced programming directly from the United States rather than from Moscow. But don't expect to hear shock jocks and in-you-face AM fare. VOR is soft mix of American and international news and culture, delivered in English by young American hosts such as Diana Ray. ... Meanwhile, VOR's traditional rival, the Voice of America, has gone totally digital, reaching out to Russians on the Internet with its Russian-language website and on Facebook and Twitter. On YouTube, VOA gets a quarter million monthly viewers for its videos, says Irina Van Dusen, managing editor of VOA's Russian Service." See also corresponding CNN video report. -- Inconveniently, there is no link from the text report to the video report. Finding it on the site requires a separate search.

On the Voice of Russia AM-band service for Washington and New York City, I have been hearing the program "Capital to Capital," i.e. Washington and Moscow. The presenter in Moscow is Angela Davis. The Angela Davis? As in the former leading light and twice vice presidential candidate of the Soviet-affiliated Communist Party USA? Frequently reported about on Radio Moscow from the 1960s to the 1980s, though rarely mentioned in the US media? If it is she, at age 67, Davis sounds youthful and energetic. Granted, her gig on Voice of Russia only involves a few minutes of microphone presence per weekday. (Listen to mp3 audio excerpt, 1 min 38 sec, from 8 July.)

See previous post about same subject.

Update: Sergei in Moscow writes: "Thanks for bringing up 'Angela Davis' issue :) It appears that an English-speaking lady in Moscow had a not very bright idea of picking up this formerly famous name as her on-air name. I noted that Ms. 'Davis' from Moscow pronounces all Russian names very well and doesn't have much of a southern accent (the real Angela Davis is from Alabama). For voice comparisons here's Angela Davis' interview to Al-Jazeera from 2008:

"RT [Russia Today television channel] reported on Davis, too: Pretty balanced report. I disagree that Soviet women wanted her haircut, though. Actually from my childhood memories it was quite the opposite. - The women would jokingly say: 'Sorry, I look like Angela Davis today.' Meaning, 'I'm having a bad hair day...' Note that RT didn't manage to get Angela Davis' interview.

"According to Wikipedia, the real Angela Davis is currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Women's and Gender Studies Department at Syracuse University. She's mentioned here:

"I did some googling in Russian. Acc. to Russian state TV Rossiya report from June 20, 2011, 'Angela Davis' is the on-air name for Linda Heward-Mills who is 'half Russian, half American' ( She has been working at VoR since December, 2010. Her Facebook account:

"Interestingly, in the same report TV Rossiya is quoting VoR's Chairman Andrei Bystritsiy as saying: 'Radio audience in the U.S. is growing, not declining. This is a rather curious phenomenon because, as a rule, the audience of traditional media is decreasing.'"

Thanks to Sergei for the research. From the Al Jazeera interview, Angela Davis's voice and that of the "Angela Davis" I'm hearing on Voice of Russia are not dissimilar. However, I think Sergei is correct about the VOR "Angela Davis" actually being Linda Heward-Mills. Sergei is also spot on about it being a "not very bright idea" to purloin the Angela Davis name.

If Angela Davis is still at Syracuse University, she can't be found through the faculty/staff directory at the website. Also, this item from October 2010 stated she would be distinguished visiting professor for one month.

Owner of News of the World owns 39% of BSkyB which owns 1/3 of Sky News Australia, whose bid for Australia Network might be sinking.

Posted: 09 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Age (Melbourne), 8 July 2011, Tony Wright and Daniel Flitton: "The fallout from Britain's phone-hacking scandal is threatening to reach Australia, where Rupert Murdoch's Sky News is bidding to operate the nation's $223 million overseas television service. ... Executives and journalists from Mr Murdoch's News of the World are under criminal investigation for hacking the telephones of celebrities, and allegedly a murder victim and the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. The scandal has threatened Mr Murdoch's pay television ambitions in the UK. In Australia, the part-Murdoch-owned Sky is trying to wrest the contract to run the Australia Network from the ABC. An independent panel favoured Sky, but the Gillard government has sidelined the findings, extended the deadline and issued new tender requirements. ... Meanwhile, the Greens sided with Labor in the Senate to quash a Coalition bid to force Labor to hand over tender documents. The motion would have required Labor to produce ministerial correspondence on a move to strip the tender decision from Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd's department. Liberal deputy Julie Bishop accused the Greens of 'rank hypocrisy'. She said they were favouring the ABC and helping cover up improper interference in a tender to achieve an ideological goal."

Sydney Morning Herald, 8 July 2011, Tim Dick: "News Corp owns 39 per cent of the British pay TV broadcaster, BSkyB, and is trying to win regulatory approval to take over the rest, but is facing increasingly hostile opposition in light of the scandal on top of previously existing fears from others that whole ownership would give Rupert Murdoch too much power. BSkyB owns a third of Australia's Sky News, which is bidding against the ABC in the federal government's controversial tender process to run Australia Network, the overseas television service funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade."

AFP, 9 July 2011: "[A] call from Australia's influential Greens party for an inquiry into local Murdoch firm News Limited could put a similar deal for the Aus$223 million Australia Network, an international television service, into doubt. Greens leader Bob Brown lodged a notice in parliament late on Thursday that he intended to call for an official inquiry into News Limited to satisfy the Australian public that its work practices did not echo those used in London."

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 July 2011, Tim Dick: "Senator Conroy declined to comment on either the News of the World scandal or on an ongoing tender process, but his office said there was no 'fit and proper' criteria in the [Australia Network] tender."

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 July 2011, Ben Butler and Colin Kruger: "While Mr Murdoch has attempted to contain the damage from the debacle by shutting the disgraced Sunday tabloid, public outrage has also cruelled News Corporation's takeover bid for British broadcaster BSkyB and all but killed off the Sky News tender to run the federal government's Australia Network. ... Before the phone-hacking scandal blew open, the Australian government had already changed rules in the tender process for its overseas broadcast arm Australia Network, making it more difficult for Sky News, one-third owned by BSkyB, to win the $223 million contract. The new rules do not include a 'fit and proper person' test, but they do include a 'national interest' test that could exclude Sky News. ... At an average of $22 million a year, income from the contract would provide a much-needed boost to Sky News's revenue, which last year was $47 million."

Crikey, 5 July 2011, Stephen Mayne: "If the Gillard Government is looking for an excuse not to give Sky News the $223 million Australia Television contract, it should come straight out with a probity argument based on the News of the World phone hacking scandal."

The Australian, 5 July 2011: "Sky News, which is part-owned by News Limited, publisher of Australian, was reportedly recommended by an independent panel of senior public servants as having a better bid than the ABC. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the government's handling of the tender raised legal issues and questions of probity. ... Ms Bishop said Senator Conroy faced a conflict of interest over his role in the process as the ABC fell within his portfolio -- a charge the minister dodged when challenged during question time. 'I am the approver because from a legal perspective the cabinet is not an individual and it is required for an individual to be the approver,' he said."

AAP, 7 July 2011: "Liberal senator Simon Birmingham attempted in the Senate on Thursday to order the government to produce documents for the tender process. 'This is a terribly botched process surrounding the Australia Network tender,' he said. 'It is in desperate need of having some transparency applied to it.'"

The Age, 7 July 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The Gillard government seems to have given the ABC a leg-up in its stoush with Rupert Murdoch's Sky News over Australia's $223 million overseas television network - asking the two bidders to detail operations in New Zealand in case of another Christchurch-like earthquake. The government has also botched the dates for submitting revised tenders, listing both July 25 and July 27 as deadlines, raising further doubts about the management of the process. ... Australia Network has never broadcast into New Zealand - having been established to target Asia - and the ABC does not have TV rights in the country. But Sky News does offer its service in New Zealand."

Lowy Institute for International Policy, The Interpretor, 8 July 2011, Alex Oliver: "The Australia Network is the Government's primary vehicle for public diplomacy: its means of engaging with foreign publics, of providing reliable news in information-starved regions, of communicating with Australians living and traveling overseas, and of projecting Australia's culture, ideals, values and expertise to the region. These functions are integral to Australia's international relations, and decisions about such a vehicle belong with the Government ministry responsible for the conduct of Australia's foreign affairs. The reasons the Government gave in its press release to justify turning over the decision-making power to Cabinet were: *The increasing influence of key emerging markets on the global economy. *Political transformation in the Middle East and North Africa. *The need for strengthened information services in times of consular crisis. ... But all those interests are squarely in the foreign affairs arena. Why would the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy be the person best-equipped in Cabinet to guide that process, particularly when the decision directly concerns commercial interests within his portfolio?"

See previous post about same subject.

Difficultés for France 24 reporters in Gaza and Bahrain.

Posted: 09 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Palestine News Network, 7 July 2011: "The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) has reported today that it monitored 13 violations against journalists during the month of June. ... The internal security of the Hamas government in June, summoned Salameh Atallah, a France 24 TV correspondant several times for investigation during June. Atallah was in Gaza creating a report about the armed fundamentalist group ‘Taliban Palestine’."

Ahlul Bayt News Agency, 7 July 2011: "Nathalie Gillet, a correspondent for France 24 TV, and Bradley Hope, a correspondent for The National newspaper, were detained by Bahrain police officials at 4pm on Sunday while they were walking on the street in Manama, where a protest was planned. They were taken to a police station near the village of Sanabis, where they were questioned and the recorded video and photographs of Gillet were downloaded and inspected by police officials. After a brief meeting with a senior officer, the pair was eventually released after being held for two hours."

Syncback, the technical details of which might boggle, could bring international channels to more US households.

Posted: 09 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
TvNewsCheck, 7 July 2011, Harry A. Jessell: "Syncbak, the technology company backed in part by the unlikely tandem of NAB and the Consumer Electronics Association, is working with several TV station groups on an over-the-top TV (OTT) platform that will enable stations to deliver programming via broadband to interconnected TV sets, tablets and smart phones, according to Syncbak CEO Jack Perry. ... One source of programming, he says, will likely be MHz Networks, a Falls Church, Va.-based broadcaster that delivers 10 channels of international programming, including Al Jazeera English, in the Washington market over two TV stations, WNVC and WNVT. 'We have a great relationship building with [CEO Fred Thomas] and we expect great things out of that,' says Perry. Thomas could not immediately be reached for comment."

China Radio International, reciprocating, hosts Pakistani media delegation's tour of China.

Posted: 09 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 7 July 2011: "Deputy Director-General of China Radio International (CRI) Madam Wang Dongmei hosted a dinner reception for the visiting Pakistani delegation in Beijing on Monday evening. ... The Pakistani journalists' visit is in response to a group of Chinese journalists led by Madam Wang who toured several cities in Pakistan in May this year. ... Led by Director Mohammad Iqbal, delegation comprises, (Coordinator): Adnan Akram (PTV) Mohsin Goraya, Mohammad Ali Balti, (PBC) Riaz Hussain (APP) Humaira Sharif, ( GEO TV) Arshad Waheed, Ayesha Bakhsh, (Daily Mail) Makhdom Babar,( Dawn News) Shoaib Ahmed, (Nawa-e-Waqt) Jamal Nizami and (Nihao-Salam) Muhammad Arif."

Report: Iran's Al Alam has big audience in Bahrain. Lack of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya coverage the reason?

Posted: 09 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, The World blog, 7 July 2011, Gideon Rachman: "One of the unusual aspects of the Bahrain uprising in February and March this year was the fact that it did not dominate the broadcasts of Qatar’s al Jazeera (the Arabic language channel) and Saudi Arabia’s al-Arabiya. ... According to a reliable source, an internal government survey of public opinion in May sampled an equal number of Shia and Sunni and found that 90 per cent of Shia were getting their news from al-Alam, Iran’s government-backed Arabic language channel. I don’t watch al-Alam but I imagine that it would have been zealously cheering the protesters and condemning the ruling family and its Saudi backers. And guess what else? 82 per cent of Bahrain’s minority Sunni population too were watching al-Alam, which would have reinforced their paranoia about the majority Shia – that they are tied to Iran, that they are not loyal to Bahrain, that they want to create an Islamic republic on Sunni lands (claims that Shia politicians rubbish)."

International media brand licensing news: Owner of CNBC Africa launches Forbes Africa.

Posted: 09 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
NewsTime (Johannesburg), 7 July 2011: "ABN Publishing has officially announced the launch of Forbes Africa with its first edition scheduled to be on shelves in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya from 1 October. The launch of Forbes Africa is a derivative of the vision of the Founders of ABN Media Holdings, Zafar Siddiqi and Rakesh Wahi to build a multi-dimensional business media conglomerate in Africa. Co-Founder and Publisher, Wahi said on the occasion 'our vision is to build Africa’s most comprehensive reservoir of business content and roll it through world class brands. The launch of CNBC Africa in 2007 saw the first part of the venture to cover the broadcast media. The natural progression is to print. There is no better global brand than Forbes and we value our partnership with the brand and the Forbes family.' ... Forbes is the world’s leading business media brand, reaching more than 4.3 million influential readers via publications in ten languages in more than 100 countries. Forbes Africa is its sixteenth local-language edition with English-language distribution in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. The magazine will feature editorial content from across the continent, as well as relevant content from its partners in the US."

Women24, 7 July 2011: Interview with CNBC Africa presenter Bronwyn Nielsen.

See previous post about CNBC Africa.

Was Aung San Suu Kyi listening to "Anything Goes" rather than "A Jolly Good Show" on BBC World Service?

Posted: 09 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 24 June 2011, letter from Oliver Jones: "Sorry to possibly spoil a good story (In praise of… Dave Lee Travis, 21 June), but I suspect that Aung San Suu Kyi may have got BBC World Service programmes muddled up. DLT did indeed present A Jolly Good Show on what he rechristened The Wild Service, but I think that her description better fits a show that ran at the same time – Anything Goes, presented by Bob Holness. The show invited listeners from around the world to write in and request anything at all – music, poetry, archive recordings, vintage commentary, anything they wanted to hear. This would seem to chime more precisely with her comment that she 'had a chance to hear other people's words'. DLT was music requests. Anything Goes was extremely popular until the BBC World Service decided – as DLT said – to move towards 'rolling news', and it was axed. I produced the programme with Bob Holness for many years. I probably shouldn't contradict a Nobel laureate, but I think it's highly likely that she might have been thinking about Bob's programme." -- "Anything Goes" was quintessential World Service. People from all bcakgrounds wrote from all parts of the world, requesting all types of music and other content. "A Jolly Good Show" was less eclectic, but also brought letters from all over the world, and it may still be what Aung San Suu Kyi was listening to. Likely she listened to both.

The Guardian, 24 June 2011, Marina Hyde; Dave Lee Travis "somehow managed to reduce the entire pro-democracy struggle to a mere plank of a far more important argument: namely, a decade-old BBC staffing decision with which he disagreed." See previous post about same subject.

Live coverage of South Sudan independence ceremonies elusive but available on Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 09 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
On 9 July, I woke up early -- well, okay, I usually wake up early -- to witness the South Sudan's independence ceremonies. The official proclamation was supposed to be at 0845 UTC, but that has been delayed.

At 0706 UTC, I heard on BBC World Service (via WAMU, 88.5 MHz FM in Washington), a special combined edition of "The World Today" and "Network Africa." At the beginning of the program, the presenter said something about independence being "seconds away." Towards the end of the program he noted that the independence ceremony has been delayed. But because it was still 45 minutes away, how did he know? Was he perhaps confused by the bizarre time notation at the top of the BBC World Service website home page, which provides not GMT, but GMT + 1?

During the 0800-0900 UTC hour, BBC World Service broadcast "The Forum," this program an obviously pre-recorded discussion about divorce, rather tenuously drawing parallels to the separation of Sudan and South Sudan. Briefly after 0900, BBCWS was back in live mode, covering events in Juba, but recorded and off-subject "Witness" took over after 0915.

VOA had advertised live coverage of Sudan's independence ceremonies, but, on the VOA Africa Live stream, during the 0800-0900 UTC hour I heard the very-pre-recorded "Jazz America." More pre-recorded music programming after 0900 UTC.

Now desperate to see the independence ceremony, I went downstairs, turned on the television, and switched the channel to Al Jazeera English, available here via the MHz Networks digital terrestrial service. Here, finally, I could see live video of the independence festivities. AJE was ready at 0845 UTC, but the dignitaries were not. AJE live coverage continued after 0900. It was spoiled by a bit too much commentary covering up the actual speeches and music from the site, and breaking away to news about other subjects.

What I really wanted was a C-Span-like uncut feed of the independence ceremonies, and I even tried the C-Span website. Unfortunately, several Google searches turned up no such live television feed.

BBC journalists will hold one-day strike 15 July over compulsory redundancies at World Service, Monitoring, etc.

Posted: 08 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 8 July 2011, Rachel McAthy: "Journalists at the BBC have announced they will take strike action next week in a dispute over compulsory redundancies. Members of the National Union of Journalists voted in favour of strike action earlier this week, with 72 per cent of those who voted saying they would be prepared to strike. According to the NUJ, more than 100 people are at risk of compulsory redundancy at the BBC World Service. Union members are also said to be at risk in divisions including BBC Monitoring, BBC Scotland and potentially at BBC Wales, BBC 4, BBC Sport and TV Current Affairs. Today the union confirmed a one-day walk out will take place on 15 July."

Irish Times, 8 July 2011: The National Union of Journalists "said its members had a 'long-standing commitment to the policy of no compuslory redundancies at the BBC'. ... Two NUJ members at BBC Monitoring will be forced to leave their jobs next week and the week after, despite what the union said was its offer of 'viable solutions'."

Report: VOA Horn of Africa chief suspended and VOA Amharic news about BBG meeting in Addis deleted.

Posted: 08 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Addis Voice, 7 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "The Voice of America (VOA) has been accused of censoring itself and suspending its Horn of Africa Chief, David Arnold, over fallout with the Ethiopian government. The suspension of Mr. Arnold was directly related to his comments in a news report that was broadcast on VOA Amharic service on June 23rd, informed sources told Addis Voice. Mr. Arnold was part of a seven-member delegation headed by three Board of Broadcasting Governors (BBG), Susan McCue, Dana Perino, and Michael Meehan, who met officials in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Southern Sudan from June 21 to June 28. BBG, an agency of the US government, oversees all of its civilian international broadcasts in 59 languages to an estimated weekly audience of 165 million people across the world. Arnold had revealed that the Ethiopian government demanded VOA to deny platform to its vocal critics as a precondition to cooperate with VOA. ... In what appears to be an unprecedented move in VOA’s history, bosses ordered the removal of the audio as well as text files of the news report in question from VOA’s website and archive pages in less than 24 hours after Ethiopian officials lodged complaints about the report on 'confidential' matters, it was learned. ... In an email sent to Addis Voice, VOA’s Director of Public Relations, David Borgida denied allegations of censorship." With links. See previous post about same subject. -- More sources needed. A clash, perhaps, between those who conduct themselves as diplomats, and those who conduct themselves as journalists?

RT Deutsche Welle's @dw_scitech re Shuttle launch: "Honestly, I have tears in my eyes."

Posted: 08 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
DW | SciTech Twitter account, @dw_scitech, 1533 UTC: "What an emotional moment." 1535 UTC: "Honestly, I have tears in my eyes." 1536 UTC: "Safe trip and Godspeed." @dw_scitech is DW | SciTech: "Science and Technology News and Information from Deutsche Welle, Germany's Intl. Broadcaster / Editor: Cyrus Farivar." -- It had extensive coverage of the final Shuttle launch.

Makes perfect sense: Al Jazeera English via Hispanavision in Yakima. Nebraskan music via Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 08 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Yakima (WA) Herald-Republic, 29 June 2011, Mai Hoang: "Grupo Hispanavision, a Yakima-based media company known for its Spanish-language channels, is making a leap into English-language programming as an affiliate of Al Jazeera English. ... The network is broadcast on digital channel 39.4. Grupo Hispanavision co-owner Ron Bevins said he found the network online while looking for news concerning the recent Arab uprisings. ... 'It's reminiscent of the BBC,' he said. ... Grupo Hispanavision has plans to offer more English-language programming in the next year in the other sub channels made available by the station's conversion to a digital signal, he said. ... Last year, Grupo Hispanavision begin broadcasting Mexicanal, a station that offers regional programming from Mexican states, such as Michoacn and Jalisco, on channel 39.2."

North Platte (NE) Telegraph, 6 July 2011, Heather Johnson: "Andrew Norman, originally from Imperial, is the founder of Hear Nebraska, a non-profit organization designed to cultivate the state's art and music community by providing a voice for bands, artists and other members of Nebraska's creative class. ... About three weeks ago, that dream moved a step closer to reality, when Hear Nebraska was featured in a documentary by news and current affairs TV channel Al Jazeera English. 'Two producers from Washington, D.C., were originally planning to come out to do a story on the TransCanada pipeline,' said Norman. 'An editor suggested they do a music story while they were here. They did a Google search, turned up Hear Nebraska and within five minutes, were calling me on the phone.'"

Wired, 28 June 2011, Eric Steuer interviewing Mohamed Nanabhay, Al Jazeera English head of online: "Wired: Why won’t American cable networks carry Al Jazeera English? Nanabhay: That’s a question they need to answer. One of the responses I’ve heard is that there’s not demand in America for another 24-hour news channel. I think over the last few months we’ve seen that argument blown out of the water—nearly 10 million people in the US are regularly watching our content online. That’s more than a lot of cable news shows."

The Guardian, 2 July 2011, Simon Hattenstone: "When [David Frost] went to Al Jazeera he was thought past his sell-by date. But he says it has been a great experience and opened up his world view. 'When Al Jazeera English started five years ago, it was 50 countries and 80m households, and now it's 125 countries and 250m households, which is fantastic.' He pouts triumphantly, like a boxer who has ducked a savage blow. More coffee. He says he has not received a single editorial directive in all that time."

The Jewish Chronicle, 30 June 2011, Jennifer Lipman: "A British-born Israeli army reservist, attacked as a terrorist and a liar while participating in a debate on Al-Jazeera TV, has said it was worth it - and that he would like to do it again. Josh Mintz, 26, is one of the founders of, set up last October to show the world the IDF's human side. ... Comments aired during the show became so hostile that Al-Jazeera even tweeted to justify why they had invited him. But Mr Mintz said that there was also positive feedback."

Toronto Star, 6 July 2011, Cynthia Vukets: "After an influential three years with Al Jazeera English, during which the Qatar-based news network doubled its audience and saw a sharp increase in international credibility for its in-depth coverage of the Egyptian revolution, Tony Burman is coming home to Toronto. ... Burman will be writing a weekly column for the Star beginning in September. The theme hasn’t been nailed down yet, he said, but he hopes to explore Canada’s place in the world and the Canadian media’s role within that. ... He’ll also be teaching a course on journalism and politics at Ryerson University, where he will be the Velma Rogers Graham Research Chair. ... During Burman’s two years as managing director for Al Jazeera English based in Doha, Qatar, the network’s audience reach expanded from 100 million households to more than 200 million worldwide. In 2010, he moved to Washington as the AJE’s chief strategic advisor for the Americas, with the goal of extending the network’s reach into American homes.", 6 July 2011, Al Diamon: "The General Henry Knox Museum ... holds an annual fundraising gala that includes a guest speaker, dinner and reception. This year’s event is scheduled for July 28 at the Strand Theatre in Rockland and will feature a talk by Abderrahim Foukara, the Washington bureau chief of Al Jazeera. Before working for the Arab-owned network, Foukara earned his journalistic chops at, among other news organizations, the BBC World Service and WGBH in Boston. ... Accuracy In Media, a conservative news-coverage critic, caught wind of the event. AIM posted a piece on its Web site claiming the Knox museum was 'honoring a representative of Al-Jazeera, the channel associated with various terrorist organizations.' That prompted much blathering on the As Maine Goes Web site ('General Knox must be turning in his grave at the very thought of this'), along with threats of a boycott aimed at the business headed by the president of the Knox museum’s board. If Accuracy In Media had lived up to its name, it wouldn’t have claimed the Maine institution was 'honoring' Foukara. Nothing in any press materials from the museum mentions any honor." See also The Free Press (Rockland, ME), 6 July 2011, Thomas McAdams Deford.

NPR, Tell Me More, 5 July 2011: "Al Jazeera English was a leader in covering the Arab Spring. In April, its own reporter Dorothy Parvaz spent days in Syrian detention before being handed over to Iranian authorities. She was released after about three weeks. Host Michel Martin speaks with Parvaz about her detainment in two countries with track records of imprisoning journalists."

New American Media, 26 June 2011, Jalal Ghazi: "[W]hy did Qatar’s royal family muzzle the once independent Al Jazeera and drop a number of its popular [Arabic] shows? It seems the family was worried that the shows’ blunt hosts might suggest that there should be a political change in Qatar as well. But with all the changes to the network, whose offices are only 12 miles from the largest American military base in the Middle East, Al Udeid Air Base, it looks like Al Jazeera’s policies are now more in line with those of its owners. The journalists who once propelled it to popularity are no longer there."

Al Jazeera Balkans begins test transmissions as it plans to provide "Yugo" regional news.

Posted: 08 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 7 July 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "Al Jazeera’s Balkan service has commenced test transmissions across Bosnia and Herzegovina following the issue of a broadcast license by the Bosnian Regulatory Agency for Communications (RAK). The satellite broadcaster, which is headquartered in Qatar, hopes to launch Al Jazeera Balkans in September and establish itself as a regional news hub from its base in Sarajevo. It will be broadcasting to an area of central and south east Europe which has not had a region-wide TV news service since the 1990s when the former Yugoslavia broke up into the six separate states of Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia, plus the disputed territory of Kosovo. Seasoned Croatian journalist Goran Milic has been appointed to head the Al Jazeera Balkans operation, which will reportedly employ around 170 journalists, technical and administrative staff, and be high definition (HD) capable. ... Qatar newspaper The Peninsular, quoted Mr Milic as explaining: 'In the region there are currently more than 100 stations that broadcast news. We cannot compete with them on the level of local news and won’t be able to for a long time. But,' he added, people 'are still interested in what is going on the other side of the border. No local television dares to make a regional programme treating topics relating to bordering countries, for fear of being accused of "Yugo-nostalgia,"' said Mr Milic. 'Our advantage will be also to compare information on an event in one country with a similar situation in another.'"

"Netflix and Hulu have made international television more accessible than ever."

Posted: 07 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 27 June 2011, Jake Coyle: "Netflix and Hulu have made international television more accessible than ever. Now, one's favorite 'new' show is often phrased as a 'discovery.' And often, viewers' interests lead beyond borders. Broadcast television, of course, offers many cable stations from abroad. But in the vast digital repositories of Hulu and Netflix, shows aren't segregated by country of origin. Instead, programs are discovered and rediscovered through word of mouth and recommendations from friends, often through social media or those sites' own recommendation engines. American networks have long looked across the Atlantic for programming to copy — for example, franchised hits such as 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' and attempted remakes such as 'Coupling.' Many shows also end up on BBC America or PBS, such as the recent, acclaimed upstairs-downstairs drama 'Downton Abbey.' But often, such hits as 'Downtown Abbey' send viewers back to Netflix, where they scour for more top-notch British costume drama. Viewers need not wait for what often turns out to be dumbed-down, Americanized remakes, but can instead seek out the original series. ... Japanese anime and Korean dramas are also thriving on Hulu."

Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2011, Ben Fritz: "Expanding its reach from two countries to the entire Western Hemisphere, Netflix Inc. will launch its successful online film and television subscription service across Latin America in a bid to maintain its sky-high subscriber growth and stock price. The Los Gatos, Calif., company, which boasts more than 23.6 million subscribers and has become the nation's No. 1 movie rental provider, announced Tuesday that this year it will expand into 43 countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean but not Cuba."

No, an idea uttered by an interviewee on a USIB entity does not imply American support for the idea.

Posted: 07 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Rudaw, 6 July 2011, Wladamir van Wilgenburg: "Iraqi Parliament Speaker Usama al-Nujafi shocked the Iraqi political establishment when he declared that Sunni Arabs may consider seceding from Iraq if they are not given more power. The comments, made during an interview with US-government backed Al-Hurra television while Nujafi was touring the US, led to speculation that America could support the idea."

Tracing the media of international broadcasting from shortwave to FM rebroadcasting to internet.

Posted: 06 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 7 July 2011, Michael Hedges: "Fifty years ago shortwave radio bands were dotted with voices from afar. The appeal was to the sympathetic, at most, and the curious, at least. Where radio receivers were communal or even risky they were highly valued. International broadcasting thrived on the shrinking of the post-World War world and generous government funding. In tune with the times, those governments have switched off the lumbering shortwave transmitters in favor of satellite television and local FM radio rebroadcasting. More recently, the move to internet distribution has changed the face of international broadcasting. The 'soft power' message is also undergoing transformation. German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) ended radio broadcasting to Russia July 1st. DW isn’t the first major international broadcaster to shut down a language service, to Russia or elsewhere. The Voice of America (VOA) ended radio broadcasting in Turkish the same day."

Ban on export of sensitive technology to Iran lacks sensitive technology to ban.

Posted: 06 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Cryptome, 30 June 2011, onpassing GAO report: “The U.S. government is establishing procedures to implement the procurement ban, such as issuing an interim rule to federal agencies prohibiting procurement from firms that export sensitive technology to Iran. However, as of June 24, 2011, the U.S. government had identified no entities subject to this ban. Moreover, based on our review of credible open source information, we did not identify any firms that export technologies to the Iranian government for monitoring, filtering, and disrupting information and communications flows. … specialized equipment is not needed to disrupt or block satellites for television and radio broadcasts and cell phone use. The same technology used to transmit broadcasts can be used to disrupt it. According to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Iran engages in two types of satellite jamming, neither of which requires specialized equipment. First, uplink or satellite jamming is done by sending signals from ground stations to the satellite using the same frequency as the service the government may want to disrupt. Second, downlink or terrestrial jamming targets the receiving satellite dishes by sending jamming signals from ground or mobile-based transmitters into dishes located in cities such as Tehran.”

Chinese police tell Professor Mao not to talk to VOA about Chairman Mao.

Posted: 06 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 1 July 2011, Jeremy Page: “On Wednesday, Beijing police visited the home of Mao Yushi, an 83-year-old liberal economist who isn't related to Chairman Mao Zedong and has been highly critical of his policies, as well as of an increasingly vocal campaign to rehabilitate his memory in the last few months. The police told him he had to cancel a planned interview with the Voice of America that evening and was no longer permitted to give interviews about the founder of Communist China, Prof. Mao said.”

Awards for two correspondents at "dream employer" Radio Tavisupleba (RFE/RL Georgian).

Posted: 06 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Kudos & Awards, 1 July 2011: "Two correspondents for RFE's Georgian Service, Radio Tavisupleba, won awards from the Public Defender Office (PDO) of Georgia for journalistic excellence and contributions to reporting on critical social issues. Goga Aptsiauri and Eka Kevanishvili were recognized in the category of 'Best Radio Program or Report' for their reporting on human rights, specifically on internally displaced persons and those who have suffered from conflict. ... Not only does RFE’s Georgian Service practice award-winning journalism, but it's a dream place to work as well. According to 'The Financial,' a survey of business school students at the International Black Sea University ranked Radio Tavisupleba as one of the top 'dream employers' in Georgia. Radio Tavisupleba began broadcasting in March 1953 as part of Radio Liberty broadcasting to the Soviet Union."

News about Sofia FM frequencies vacated by BBC World Service and Deutsche Welle.

Posted: 06 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 1 July 2011, Michael Hedges: In Sofia: "There were eight applicants for the 90.1 FM license, vacated by the BBC World Service, and six applicants for the 93.4 FM frequency, currently occupied by Radio Melody and once occupied by Vibe FM. Later this year [Bulgaria's Council for Electronic Media] will take applications for a Sofia frequency vacated by German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. More than 30 stations, including public channels, serve the Sofia market." -- I believe to maintain a full-time FM license in Bulgaria, an international broadcaster must have at least some Bulgarian-language programming.

New Zealand documentaries will be broadcast by BBC Knowledge, at least as far as Australia.

Posted: 06 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Worldscreen TV Real, 1 July 2011, Kristin Brzoznowski: "Through a joint initiative between BBC Knowledge and New Zealand's Screen Production and Development Association (SPADA), five short-form documentaries from young producers across the country have been selected to air on the channel later this year. BBC Knowledge NZ launched the initiative in February, coinciding with the channel's debut, seeking out five true stories from New Zealand factual producers under the age of 30. Five grants were awarded at NZ$5,000 each." -- I have no knowledge as to where BBC Knowledge will transmit these documentaries. One quote says "both in New Zealand and Australia," another says "to the world."

Zimbabwe media news includes Radio VOP report, with no byline, that its website correspondents will start using bylines.

Posted: 06 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Bulaweyo 24, 5 July 2011, Nare Msupatsila: "One of Zimbabwe's unlicensed radio stations Radio VOP, has applied for an operating licence, the Executive Director, John Masuku, has confirmed. Addressing Radio VOP website and radio Correspondents gathered in Harare for a one-day workshop, Masuku advised that they have applied for an operating licence and are waiting to see what will happen. ... Radio VOP is among three independent but unlicensed Radio and Website stations currently operating in Zimbabwe today. Only the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Holdings Limited (ZBC) has the monopoly for the airwaves in Zimbabwe. The two other unlicensed radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe are Studio Seven (7) from Washington DC in the United States of America (US) and SW Radio from South Africa. Studio Seven is currently led by former Senior Reporter for The Standard newspaper, Ray Choto based in Washington DC, while SW Radio is currently led by Jerry Jackson a former journalist with the cash-strapped ZBC. It could not be independently established whether or not SW Radio and Studio Seven had also applied for operating licenses to broadcast their programmes from inside Zimbabwe." -- By "operating in Zimbabwe," the article acually means transmitting to Zimbabwe. The three "unlicensed" stations use transmitters in other countries that are licensed or authorized by those countries. Radio VOP (Voice of the People) now uses the Radio Netherlands shortwave relay station in Madagascar, slated to close as a result of RNW's 70% budget cut. Studio 7 is a service of VOA.

Radio VOP, 5 July 2011, no byline: "Radio VOP Website Editor, Millie Phiri has called for professionalism at the Radio station and urged correspondents to shun partisan reporting, bias and inaccuracies to ensure credibility. ... Phiri added that correspondents will also start using their bylines; a new feature in this station that will bring more responsible journalism. ... 'We get about 3000 unique visitors every day,' Phiri said. ... Radio VOP Board member, Nhlanhla Ngwenya said he would be 'very happy' on the day the Radio Station was voted the best in Zimbabwe. 'We are coming second best to Studio Seven (7),' he told the Correspondents. ... Studio Seven (7) broadcasts about Zimbabwe from Washington DC in the United States of America (US)."

The Zimbabwean, 30 July 2011: "Cleopas Shiri, the Democratic Councils Forum Training Manager who was rounded up by police and had his office ransacked on allegations that he had illegally imported wind up radios, has been acquitted by a Gweru magistrate. During the raid on 12 October last year, police took away 862 windup radios that Demcof intended to distribute to rural areas in the Midlands province where thousands of people have no access to information due to poverty. The wind up radios work on solar energy. They are powered through manual action on the case and were designed in 1991 by British inventor Trevor Baylis for use in developing countries. However, Zanu (PF), which views rural areas as its stronghold, strongly opposed distribution of the radios on the basis that masses would listen to stations critical of the party’s policies – such as Voice of America’s Studio 7, Radio VOP and SW Radio Africa. The state, led by prosecutor Bonwell Balamanje, wanted to nail Shiri on the basis that he had smuggled the radios into the country, thereby contravening the Customs and Excise Act." -- Perhaps the radios are powered by both solar and wind-up ("clockwork") power.

Two RFE/RL journalists (and one from VOA) in the "rarified air" of the Foreign Policy Magazine Twitterati 100.

Posted: 05 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 21 June 2011: 'RFE Chief Washington Editor Christian Caryl and correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari are breathing rarified air reserved for the top echelons of the foreign policy Twitter community. Both were (hash)tagged in 'The FP Twitterati 100,' a list of top tweeters covering global events and issues. Caryl (@ccaryl) examines American foreign policy on his 'Outpost Washington' blog, while Esfandiari (@GEsfandiari) specializes on Iran, editing the 'Persian Letters' blog." -- The correct link to the FP Twitterati 100 is here. Twitterati 100 also includes VOA correspondent Steve Herman, @w7voa.

RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 28 June 2011: "RFE Washington Chief Editor Christian Caryl has contributed to an E-book by 'Foreign Policy' on the Japanese tsunami and its aftermath. Tsunami: Japan's Post-Fukushima Future examines the political and economic prospects for Japan after the March tsunami and ongoing nuclear disaster, and assembles an exclusive collection of leading journalists and scholars who are working in Japan today or have covered the country in the past. Caryl previously served as Tokyo Bureau Chief of 'Newsweek' from 2004-09. Caryl's chapter is titled 'Looking Out on the World.'"

RFE/RL In the News, 30 June 2011: "RFE web editor Luke Allnutt reviews Eli Pariser's new book, 'The Filter Bubble: What The Internet Is Hiding From You' for the 'Christian Science Monitor'."

RT (Russia Today) and "the strangest prime time news line-up on cable television."

Posted: 05 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Slate, 27 June 2011, David Weigel: "[T]he strangest prime time news line-up on cable television. It's a block of TV news that's professionally produced, widely distributed—20 million American cable subscribers can watch it if they like—and basically immune to market forces. In 2005 RT [Russia Today] was hatched, as the Columbia Journalism Review put it, as 'a soft-power tool to improve Russia's image abroad, to counter the anti-Russian bias the Kremlin saw in the Western media.' Reset button or no, we Americans are not the biggest fans of Russian propaganda. ... If no one else wants to create a TV channel for the despondent, here it is." See previous post about RT.

Aussie rules: "Extraordinary intervention" by Gillard government to stop Sky News from winning Australia Network contract.

Posted: 04 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link

The Age (Melbourne), 4 July 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The Gillard government has made an extraordinary intervention in an official tender process to stop Rupert Murdoch's part-owned Sky News Australia winning a $223 million contract to broadcast Australia's overseas television service. An aggressive bid to expand Australia's presence in China helped push Sky News over the line in a fierce contest with the ABC to win the rights to the station, known as Australia Network. An independent panel of public servants set up to evaluate the competing tenders saw Sky's as the better bid, only for the government to baulk at the prospect of stripping the contract from the publicly funded ABC to hand it to a company part-owned by Mr Murdoch's News Ltd, Channel Seven and the Nine Network. Labor then made late changes to the tender rules, sidelining the role of the independent panel and throwing the legitimacy of the process into doubt. ... It is understood Sky News proposed setting up a dedicated channel for China to run separately from the rest of the network as a way of expanding Australia's reach in the Asian powerhouse, where censorship limits foreign news broadcasts. No licences to broadcast into China have been granted in recent years but the Foreign Affairs Department has said it is keen to gain access for Australia's public diplomacy channel. The China proposal was only part of the reason Sky was favoured, with the full tender details still secret. The winner of the contract remains in doubt after the government used the cover of recent upheaval in the Middle East and Africa to request more information from the ABC and Sky News. Canberra has also asked the bidders to explain their operations 'in light of the increasing influence of key emerging markets on the global economy' - a phrase often used to describe China."

Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The ABC is also believed to have made overtures towards Beijing as recently as late last year to gain access to the lucrative China market, but ran afoul of strict limits on foreign broadcasters. China wanted the ABC to agree to exchange programs for locally produced Chinese content and limit broadcast of news and current affairs, but the proposal was seen to contravene the ABC charter of independence. Sky News has proposed to set up a separate channel for China as a way of reaching the Asian powerhouse economy. ... [O]position foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said Labor's interference raised serious questions over whether the tender process had been compromised."

AAP, 4 July 2011: "[P]rime minister Julia Gillard denies anything untoward. 'The tender process is working appropriately, it will work to conclusion,' she told reporters in Canberra. 'Some things have changed about our world during the course of this tender period. We want to weigh all of that into our tender process. We're talking about the voice of Australia to the world, it pays to do it comprehensively and carefully and we are.' Asked if she believed Mr Murdoch's News Limited treated her government fairly, Ms Gillard said: 'My only view as prime minister is that news reports should be accurate and they should be balanced.' Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the government would have framed its original request for tenders differently if it could have predicted the upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa."

The Spy Report, 4 July 2011, Cyril Washbrook: "Responding to the reports on [ABC} Radio National's Breakfast programme this morning, the foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd defended the Government's handling of the tender process. He added that it was appropriate for the cabinet to adjudicate on an area pertaining to the national interest. 'I think it's important to emphasise that over the last six months, since the original guidelines for tender have been issued, that we also face in the international environment some change in circumstances - most particularly in relation to what is happening in the Middle East,' he said." See (listen to) also ABC Radio National "Breakfast," 4 July 2011.

ABC, The Drum, 4 July 2011, Annabel Crabb: "So, the reason the Australia Network has been shifted away from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is that a number of complicating diplomatic challenges have arisen. Which would obviously intuitively require the immediate involvement of the Minister for Communications. I wonder how many foreign policy experts would have seen that one coming."

Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 2011, letter from David Risstrom, president, Friends of the ABC (Vic): "The national public broadcaster is clearly best suited to represent Australia overseas. The ABC has a long and esteemed history in international broadcasting. Its charter requires it to make programs of integrity that reflect Australian life and culture."

See previous post about same subject. -- Thanks to Barry Hartley news tips.

China Radio International on the US AM band: 1090 kHz in Boston, 1040 kHz in Tigard.

Posted: 03 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Boston Globe, 1 July 2011, Johnny Diaz: "Tune in to WILD-AM 1090 these days, and you can learn to speak Chinese, hear Beijing pop songs, and follow breaking news out of China. That's because the station that catered for decades to the local African-American community with talk and news programs sold all of its airtime last month to China Radio International, the English-language news service produced by the Chinese government. Although China Radio has placed programs on local stations for years, WILD is one of only a handful nationwide to go all-China Radio, all the time. ... What you won't find on China Radio is actual news, said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch in Washington, D.C. 'It's not news, it's propaganda', she said. 'This is a state-run press in the truest sense of that term.' ... Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, called the radio service's US presence valuable. 'It's kind of a cultural exchange,' he said." See previous post about same subject., 29 June to 3 July 2011: Portland, Oregon, radio listeners are hearing China Radio International programming on KPXD, 1040 kHz, Tigard. See also CRI website for information about the "China Now" program and (apparently not yet updated) list of affiliates.

NPR, 29 June 2011, Juan Forero: "There's a model for China, of course — the United States, which has sponsored programs worldwide, like those of the Peace Corps. And then there are icons of American culture, such as bluejeans and Hollywood. The Chinese government is now trying to play the same game, educating thousands of Africans in Chinese universities, providing medicine to fight disease in poor countries, and stepping up broadcasts of China Radio International in foreign tongues." -- But China is not following the US model in one important way: the United States allows programs of China Radio International, Voice of Russia, BBC World Service, Radio Netherlands, Deutsche Welle, etc., on its domestic radio stations. China, on the other hand, allows no such access to international broadcasters on its domestic stations. This is why publicizing the lack of reciprocity in US-Chinese media flow is an element in my strategy for US international broadcasting to China.

InterMedia, survey research firm with RFE/RL ancestry, opens Nairobi office.

Posted: 03 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 28 June 2011: "US media research agency InterMedia has opened its third office in the world - after Washington and London - in Nairobi, Kenya. The launch of InterMedia Africa comes in conjunction with the AITEC Broadcast & Film Africa 2011 conference. ... InterMedia specialises in finding out how people gather, share and shape information. A survey last year in Tanzania by AudienceScapes, a division of InterMedia, revealed radio continues to be the main go-to source for news and entertainment for most of the population, with 83% stating it as their main source of information. Family and friends were the next main source, followed by TV, and then SMS/ text messages."

InterMedia has its roots in the old Radio Free Europe audience research office in Munich, and the old Radio Liberty research office in Paris. The two were eventually combined in Munich. In the 1990s, with the creation of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and RFE/RL's move to Prague, InterMedia was founded in Washington as a non-profit corporation, with many of its managers and analysts coming over from the the RFE/RL Munich research office. InterMedia is the main audience research contractor for the BBG and its entities.

InterMedia press release, 16 June 2011 (pdf): "InterMedia (, a leading research-based consultancy active worldwide, today announced that it has been awarded a GSA Schedule contract, effective June 8th, 2011. The contract allows InterMedia to offer its cutting-edge research products and services to the federal government more quickly and more efficiently." See previous post about same subject.

Xinhua may be largest news agency, but "propaganda is propaganda."

Posted: 03 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA Chinese Blog, 24 June 2011, HE Qinglian (in Chinese followed by English translation): "The Chinese government has been feeling quite satisfied with its 'great external propaganda plan' lately, for a few reasons: Earlier this year, the BBC had to end its Mandarin broadcast because of insufficient funds; the question of whether the Voice of America Chinese broadcast can continue remains uncertain; and only [Xinhua News Agency], with the full support of the Chinese government, is spending a considerable amount of money attempting to take over the [Chinese] media market, just at the time when Western media is being forced to leave. ... Mao Zedong once said, 'Let Xinhua News Agency rule the earth.' Such a daydream has since encouraged the Chinese government agency. Nowadays, judging both by the size of Xinhua News Agency and the number of people it employs, the agency has become the largest of its kind in the world. With the advantage of being allowed to spend huge amount of money, the agency’s propaganda campaign is targeting every corner on earth. Yet, propaganda is propaganda, without the backing of power, the agency cannot force the world to buy into its lies. It’s predictable that China’s 'great external propaganda plan', with Xinhua News Agency as its main body, can neither change the rules of the world’s media nor obtain the credibility that media should have. The contribution it has to the world will only be in providing new jobs for unemployed foreign journalists and giving opportunities to those domestic media practitioners who want to emigrate."

In Ethiopia, BBG delegation was "given a lecture" and asked to censor VOA Amharic, Tigrigna, and Afan Oromo.

Posted: 03 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Ginbot 7 press release, 28 June 2011: "Just last week, in one of the most dramatic move unseen and unheard anywhere, the regime in Ethiopia shamelessly asked the VOA board of governors to censor the Voice of America Broadcasting to Ethiopia in three different languages. In its verbal and written request submitted to the VOA board of governors, the regime of Meles Zenawi made an official request to the Voice of America to censor interviews, opinions and news analysis of opposition parties in its broadcasting, or face jamming of its radio and satellite signals. It is well remembered that just one year ago, PM Meles Zenawi compared the VOA Amharic program to Radio 'des Mille Collines', the hate media that incited genocide in Rwanda; and vowed that he would order jamming of VOA broadcasts., 2 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "VOA Amharic reported on its June 23rd broadcast that during the meeting the BBG delegation was given a lecture on the history of the Tigray People Liberation Front by Bereket Simon, Government Communication Affairs Minister. David Arnold, Chief of VOA’s Horn of Africa, said that Bereket Simon demanded VOA not to give platform to well-known critics such as Dr. Merara Gudina, Dr Birhanu Nega, Siye Abreha, Professor Beyene Petros, Professor Petros Milkias, Girma Moges, Getachew Metaferia and Ali Abdu. 'The list goes on,' Arnold disclosed."

See also VOA On the Road Africa, 22 June 2011. -- But no mention of Ethiopian jamming anywhere in the VOA On the Road Africa tumblr.

Is China helping Ethiopia jam VOA, DW, and ESAT? Beijing spokesman "does not understand the question."

Posted: 03 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Computerworld, 29 June 2011, Michael Malakata: "The Chinese government is facing accusations that it has helped block news websites in Ethiopia and jammed Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and other broadcasters, including the Voice of America and German's Deutsche Welle Amharic services. ... In Ethiopia, the People's Republic of China been providing training, technology and technical assistance to the regime to enable it to jam ESAT's transmission, according to Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA) President Kifle Mulat. ESAT has just resumed transmission to Ethiopia after nearly two months of interruption. ... Chinese government officials in Beijing and Africa declined to comment when asked for their reaction to these accusations. When asked to comment, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said he did not understand the question." See previous posts on 26 June and 23 June 2011., 2 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "A couple of weeks ago, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an agency of the US Government that oversees all civilian international broadcasting of the United States, sent a delegation to Ethiopia to discuss with senior government officials issues related to the jamming of Voice of America Afaan Oromoo, Amharic and Tigrigna transmissions to Ethiopia. The jamming of all independent broadcasts including the Ethiopian Satellite Television has particularly intensified after Mr. Zenawi told reporters in March 2010 that he would authorize jamming."

Iran ponders "revolutionary hackers" to counter "internet in a suitcase."

Posted: 03 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Persian Letters, 30 June 2011, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Iranian officials appear to be increasingly worried about the U.S.-funded 'Internet in a Suitcase' project that aims to deploy shadow Internet and telecommunication networks in repressive countries. ... 'Sobhe Sadegh,' the weekly publication of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), blasts the U.S. initiative in its latest issue, saying Iran should hire 'revolutionary hackers' and create a cyberbase from which to counter it." RFE/RL item cited by Nextgov, 30 June 2011. See previous post about same subject.

Fall of the first domino: BBC World Service dropped shortwave to North America ten years ago.

Posted: 02 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 1 July 2011, Andy Sennitt: "As cuts in international broadcasting continue, we note that it’s exactly 10 years ago today (1 July 2001) that the BBC World Service dropped its shortwave broadcasts to North America and the Pacific Rim. At that time, Radio Netherlands still had a sizeable shortwave audience in North America, and we took the opportunity to exploit the fact that many listeners were probably unaware of the BBC’s decision, and for a couple of weeks our English service broadcast additional transmissions on frequencies that had just been vacated by BBCWS. A listeners’ coalition was formed to urge the BBC to reconsider its decision to end shortwave broadcasts of the World Service to North America and the South Pacific. To my surprise, the website they created,, is still online. ... Looking back, I remember saying at the time that the BBC’s decision in 2001 was not necessarily going to start a domino effect, but I guess I was being over-optimistic. I still maintain, as I did at the time, that the BBC switched off shortwave to North America too soon."

Journalists held hostage in Somalia and Afghanistan depended on international radio, even if a got "a little repetitive."

Posted: 02 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 29 June 2011, Colin Freeman, foreign correspondent of The Sunday Time: "Abducted at gunpoint in the pirate port of Bossasso in the Puntland region of Somalia, my photographer Jose Cendon and I were imprisoned in a mountain cave, surviving off goat meat and rice, receiving occasional death threats, and dodging bullets one day when our captors had a gunfight with a rival gang. As the days turned into weeks, our fears of succumbing to illness of either body or mind grew ever greater. The worst part, though, was the crushing boredom of Stone Age life. Our only distraction, apart from talking to each other, was a short wave radio, and much as I love the BBC World Service, listening to it all day gets a little repetitive."

Committee to Protect Journalists blog, 1 July 2011, Jean-Paul Marthoz: "Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, the two France 3 journalists held captive by the Taliban for 547 days ... calmly described their captivity ('we were not abused'), complained about the 'Afghan mountain cuisine' ('please no more rice and red beans') and underlined their addiction to two small radio sets that were tuned to the BBC and RFI, their flimsy links to the real world. 'We heard about bin Laden's killing. We discussed it with our captors who first thought it was U.S. propaganda and then said, when they had to accept the truth, "We are not Al-Qaeda, we are Taliban!"'"

AP, 2 July 2011, Angela Charlton: "The Taliban gave each journalist a radio at some point, they said. Taponier was able to listen to Radio France International, which was broadcasting regular messages of support to the two men in hopes they were listening. 'That warmed our hearts,' Taponier said. But Ghesquiere was only able to get a signal from the BBC, and said he was largely unaware of the large support movement in France campaigning for their release."

"Russia can be divided into two nations: the 'television nation' and the 'Internet nation.'"

Posted: 02 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
American Enterprise Institute, June 2011, Leon Aron: "●Russia can be divided into two nations: the 'television nation' and the 'Internet nation.' Although most Russians still get their daily news from television, the minority who rely on the Internet are more politically engaged. ●The Internet is the backbone of civil society in Russia--giving people both a voice and the tools to self-organize--and it is a growing force against authoritarianism. ●Russian authorities allow social and political movements on the Internet that are not permitted in real life, perhaps to allow people to 'let off steam.' The Internet is already a major factor in Russian politics--and its influence is growing almost daily. ... In the last week of March and the first week of April, LiveJournal and were repeatedly shut down by distributed denial of service (DDoS) hacker attacks ... . With the DDoS attacks, Russia has joined a small group of the most repressive Internet regimes such as Bahrain, Belarus, Burma, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Tunisia, and Vietnam, where similar attacks have occurred in the past two years. Recalling previous attacks on opposition websites, one of the theories bruited about in Moscow was that the shutdowns of LiveJournal and could have been rehearsals for an emergency crackdown by the authorities. In this scenario, the Kremlin would attempt to shutter nyetizdat in a political crisis similar to the Arab Spring antiauthoritarian uprisings earlier this year, in which social media played a central role."

Georgia's Kanal PIK "challenging Moscow's dominance in Russian-language news."

Posted: 02 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
GlobalPost, 29 June 2011, Miriam Elder: "PIK (short for Perviy Informatsioniy Kavkazkiy, or First Caucasus Information) is a small satellite television company with the biggest of ambitions — namely, challenging Moscow’s dominance in Russian-language news. 'We’re not an anti-Russian channel,' said Rob Parsons, the British head of the station. 'We’ve got no negative feelings about the Russian people, Russian culture, Russian history or anything else. We want to present an honest picture of this country to people who are starved of information,' he said. ... PIK launched in January, and now boasts 275 employees. Parsons, who first visited Georgia in 1980 for PhD research on Georgian nationalism, worked for nearly a decade as the BBC’s man in Moscow, before joining Radio Free Europe’s Georgia service and then working as international affairs editor in Paris for France24, another start-up. ... 'It really is the most open objective channel in the region,' Parsons said. Considering the region, that’s not saying a lot. But it’s an interesting start." See also About Kanal PIK (in English) at the channel's website. -- It would seem that Kanal PIK is also challenging RFE/RL's challenge to Moscow's dominance in Russian-language news.

Radio Free Asia remains DXer friendly with the release of its 37th QSL card.

Posted: 02 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RadioActivity, 29 June 2011, Alokesh Gupta: "Radio Free Asia (RFA) announced the release of 37th QSL card. This is the second QSL card commemorating 2011 as RFA’s 15th anniversary. RFA’s first broadcast was in Mandarin Chinese on September 29, 1996 at 2100 UTC. Acting as a substitute for indigenous free media, RFA concentrates its coverage on events occurring in and/or affecting the countries to which we broadcast. Those countries are: Burma, Cambodia, Laos, North Korea, Peoples Republic of China, and Vietnam. This QSL card will be used to confirm all valid reception reports from July 1 - August 31, 2011. The four pieces of artwork were created earlier this year by the children of RFA’s personnel. This card not only commemorates RFA’s 15th anniversary but also helps capture the spirit of the RFA’s family and friends around the world while promoting peace, freedom and democracy." -- Want one? First listen to RFA by referring to its Broadcast Frequencies page, then send a reception report to the address at the bottom of that same page. See previous post about same subject.

Tajikistan reduces charges against BBC World Service reporter.

Posted: 01 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Central Asia Online, 30 June 2011: "Tajik authorities have withdrawn charges of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) membership and recruiting against detained BBC reporter Urunboy Usmonov, the BBC’s Russian service reported June 29. However, charges that he failed to notify authorities of HT activities remain in effect."

RFE/RL, 28 June 2011: "The lawyer for detained BBC journalist Urunboy Usmonov says she expects the charge of belonging to a banned Islamic organization will be dropped by Tajik authorities, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports."

BBC News, 28 June 2011: "A BBC reporter being held in Tajikistan is both physically and psychologically frail, according to a colleague who was allowed to visit him in prison. Hamid Ismailov, from the BBC Central Asian service, said he was 'horrified' to see Urunboy Usmonov in a detention centre in the northern city of Khujand."

BBC The Editors blog, 29 June 2011, Behrouz Afagh, head of Middle East and west/central Asia at BBC World Service: "His essays and novels, and his reporting for the BBC has recorded the great social and political upheavals in his country with compassion and understanding, informed by his broad and sophisticated view of the world. This is why from day one we all believed he is innocent, and we will do everything we can to get him released. We hope very much that he will soon be able to return to his family, and to continue writing and reporting."

Reporters sans frontières, 29 June 2011: "Reporters Without Borders today joined a renewed call by BBC staff worldwide today for the immediate and unconditional release of the BBC’s correspondent in Tajikistan, Urinboy Usmonov, who has been held since 13 June in the northwestern town of Kujand and said it was very concerned about his plight."

See previous post about same subject.

Evolution of Swiss international broadcasting: 1) Shortwave. 2) Website. 3) Smaller website.

Posted: 01 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link, 28 June 2011: "The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC),’s parent company, has announced plans to reduce the budget and staff at the online platform by one third., formerly Swiss Radio International, will continue to provide in-depth information about Swiss politics, economy, culture and society in nine languages. A tenth language, Russian, will be introduced in 2013. One of the SBC’s five units, has fulfilled a federal government mandate to provide information in nine languages outside Switzerland through the internet for the past ten years. As part of the cost-cutting programme’s annual budget will be reduced from SFr26 million ($31.3 million) to SFr17 million and the number of full time equivalent positions will be reduced from 126 to 86 by the end of 2012. ... According to a statement issued by the SBC,’s three national editorial departments for the Swiss official languages – German, French and Italian – will be combined into one new national editorial department and downsized. When the next federal mandate comes through at the beginning of 2013, will be reporting in English, German, French, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish Portuguese and Russian."

World Radio Switzerland, 1 July 2011: "About 800 of you, a record number, have been incredibly generous with your time by completing our lengthy questionnaire. ... 78 percent enjoy the fact that we offer you a mix of our own programs and our partner’s programs. With a special fondness for The National and its World Business Report segment, Gadget Guru, the BBC’s World Briefing and News Hour and NPR’s Fresh Air." -- World Radio Switzerland, not associated with SBC or Swissinfo, is an FM station for expats in the Geneva area.

VOA crowdmaps for Syria, Bahrain, Yemen provide "exact location of any given incident."

Posted: 01 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Next Web Middle East, 29 June 2011, Nancy Messieh: "With social media now coming to the fore over traditional media channels, it’s fair to say that a few organizations are sitting up and taking notice. Voice of America in particular has been hard at work providing a series of crowdmaps featuring videos, images and reports emerging from regions with political unrest. The project, dubbed Behind the Wall, has produced three maps so far, one for Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. If you’re wondering how this differs from Twitter or Facebook, there are several factors that set VOA’s service apart from regular social networking sites. All of the user-generated content is plotted out on a map, so you know the exact location of any given incident. ... VOA encourages Syrians, Bahrainis and Yemenis to submit their first hand reports to YouTube, and share them via email or with a specific hashtag on Twitter." -- Are Alhurra and Radio Sawa making use of this information?

Will cloud computing in China unblock the internet and "bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers"? Probably not (updated).

Posted: 01 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Times (Beijing), 23 June 2011, Liu Linlin: "The construction of China's first international cloud computing hub is progressing apace in Chongqing, a local official told the Global Times Wednesday, adding that the zone will be free from any Internet content oversight. ... The special zone, covering about 10 square kilometers, is the only area in China that is directly connected to the outside Internet through optical fibers without being filtered, according to the Southern Weekend. ... Cao Yujie, consultant director of CCW Research, an IT market research and consulting agency in Beijing, told the Global Times ... 'A special optical cable directly connected to the outside Internet is not necessary to run a cloud zone, but its installation in Chongqing could be attributed to demands of foreign companies as some websites are blocked in China.'" See also "The Cloud" by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Update: Computerworld, 29 June 2011, Michael Kan: "A cloud development zone being constructed in the Chinese city of Chongqing has drawn scrutiny for an alleged plan to offer uncensored Internet access, but only for foreign businesses. ... That has sparked an uproar among some Chinese Internet users, because the unfiltered Web access will be available only to foreign companies, according to the reports. People commenting on social-networking sites have slammed the zone as a throwback to the days of 'No dogs and no Chinese allowed,' a reference to how local Chinese were prohibited in the early 20th century from entering certain foreigner communities. ... 'It goes beyond ironic,' [Phelim Kine, an Asia researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch] said. 'The Chinese government is marketing an uncensored, unfiltered Internet connection as a selling point, while they so blatantly and purposely deny that right to the vast majority of their citizens.'"