The (old) Air America associated with the (old) Radio Free Europe and the (old) Radio Free Asia (updated).

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Vancouver Sun, 29 Aug 2011, Jonathan Manthorpe: "The dwindling band of veterans of one of the Central Intelligence Agency's most successful clandestine operations have again been rebuffed in their efforts to get pension and other government benefits. A report to the United States Congress by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) late last month argued retirement benefits should not be given to the 500 or so surviving employees of Air America, the CIA-owned air force that was an essential part of the agency's operations in wars in Southeast Asia from 1950 until 1975. ... [E]mployees of other CIA cover operations such as Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Asia Foundation were all credited with service time for federal benefit purposes." -- That's the old Radio Free Asia of the early 1950s, not connected to the present-day RFA. The CIA's funding of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty ended in 1971.

Update: RFE/RL historian A. Ross Johnson adds: "A section of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 [5 USC 8332 (b) (11)] provides that federal employees can under specified circumstances count time employed at 'certain overseas broadcasting organizations' (including RFE/RL, the original Radio Free Asia, and Armed Forces Network) toward federal civil service pension status." -- So apparently the Air America employees are not specified in such legislation.

Malaysian website honors Radio Free Sarawak as "force to be reckoned with."

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Nut Graph (Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia), 29 Aug 2011: "This week, as we welcome 54 years of Malaysian independence, The Nut Graph celebrates, in no particular order, 13 individuals, groups and initiatives [including] ... With articles and radio streams still being churned out about the Penan community and illegal logging activities, Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak are still going strong after the Sarawak Elections in April 2011. The state election, which saw the BN securing a two-thirds-majority win, may have been their focal point, but the team continues its work undaunted. Despite a small setup and operating from a distance, the team has proven themselves a force to be reckoned with. They got an international campaign going on Sarawak’s environmental degradation and corruption, and involved foreign news agencies in the action. Their campaigning and publicity blitz has borne fruit: the Swiss president has ordered the Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority to investigate Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s assets in Swiss banks, and there is now a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission probe on him." See also radiofreesarawak.org.

"The 9/11 Decade" on Al Jazeera English "focuses primarily on the search-and-destroy mission against Al Qaeda."

Posted: 30 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Daily News, 30 Aug 2011, David Hinckley: "I strongly suspect that many U.S. television viewers will rank the Al-Jazeera Network - even Al-Jazeera English, a different operation from the parent in the Middle East - as the last place they will look for a retrospective on the decade since Sept. 11. This is too bad, because 'The 9/11 Decade,' the first of a three-part series, discusses in a balanced way important and legitimate factors that are considered only peripherally in most U.S. productions. While U.S.-produced documentaries focus on America, for obvious and good reasons, 'The 9/11 Decade' turns its eye more to what has happened since 2001 in the Middle East. This reminds us, up front, that people there have suffered as well. It doesn't draw comparisons to New York or Washington. It merely reminds us that 9/11 has had worldwide implications and repercussions. 'The 9/11 Decade' focuses primarily on the search-and-destroy mission against Al Qaeda that America launched within hours of the attacks."

CNN, Global Public Square, 29 Aug 2011, Shashank Joshi: "In understanding how the fall of Tripoli will create its own ripples, we have to understand why Libya was affected in the first place. Longstanding political economy grievances were certainly present, but these had not suddenly worsened. And despite widespread accounts of the Twitter revolution, the answer is not social media. Only 5.5 percent of Libya enjoys Internet access and a pitiful 0.96 percent is on Twitter. Rather, much older media - satellite television - was more important. Since the middle of the 1990s, stations like Al Jazeera shattered the old state monopoly on information and supported what came to be called a new, vibrant and self-critical 'Arab public sphere'. Images of mass mobilization and brutal repression echoed around that public sphere. Few in Cairo could ignore Tunis' jubilation, and the shelling of Hama was felt in Amman - even if differences of religion, ethnicity and nationalism remain."

Arutz Sheva, 25 Aug 2011, David Lev: "Qatar is ... the home of Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, which the Foreign Ministry considers extremely anti-Israel. As a result, the Ministry has worked in recent months to prevent reporters from the network from operating in Israel, and has stopped giving them visas. Currently, the only way for an Al-Jazeera reporter to enter Israel is using a passport from a country that has full diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, but the Ministry is seeking ways to keep these individuals out of Israel as well."

Weekly Standard, 5 Sept 2011 issues, Lee Smith: "First there was Egypt, a longtime target of Al Jazeera, which prides itself on the role it played in bringing down Mubarak. And yet, when the Shia-majority opposition took to the streets in Bahrain, Al Jazeera remained silent. With Qatar keeping to the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council consensus, Bahrain has weathered the storm and put down its opposition. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is having a much harder time of it, partly because Al Jazeera is shining its spotlights on him and inviting opposition figures to air their grievances with his bloody regime."

CNN, 28 Aug 2011: "The Syrian Arab News Agency report said Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya once again proved 'to be part of the conspiracy plotted against Syria through their psychological and media war strategies.'"

FrontPage Magazine, 29 Aug 2011, Matthew Vadum: "Leftists are pushing to make Al Jazeera’s English language channel widely available on college campuses and cable TV networks throughout America in order to undermine public support for Israel."

Estonian president, alumnus of RFE, re-elected to second five-year term.

Posted: 30 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 29 Aug 2011, Ott Ummelas: "Estonian lawmakers re-elected President Toomas Ilves for a second five-year term, strengthening political stability in the Baltic nation. ... Ilves, 57, who was born in Stockholm, in 2006 became Estonia’s third elected president since the end of Soviet rule. Educated at Columbia University, he ran the Estonian desk of Radio Free Europe during communism and later served twice as foreign minister." For more about President Ilves's time at RFE/RL, see Cold War Radios, 30 Aug 2011, Richard H. Cummings.

Increased access to international broadcasts in Ohio and North Carolina (updated: and Utah).

Posted: 30 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
WOUB Public Media (Athens, OH), 21 Aug 2011, Bryan Gibson: On WOUB AM, 1340 kHz: "Between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., we'll have up-to-date news coverage from the BBC World Service ... . The BBC's World Have Your Say, a 'global conversation' hosted by Ros Atkins, Madeleine Morris and Rachel Harvey, airs at 1 p.m. ... Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., we'll continue to bring you the BBC Newshour."

WOUB Public Media, 23 Aug 2011, Kelly Martin: "Viewers with access to WOUB’s digital television services will have two new programming channels. September 1, World and MHz Worldview will begin airing on WOUB-TV. World will air on digital channel 44.3 from WOUB’s Cambridge transmitter and MHz Worldview will air on digital channel 20.3 from the Athens transmitter. MHz Worldview will offer international content from prominent broadcasters such as: Al Jazeera English, Arirang TV, Asian News International, Deutsche Welle, Ethiopian TV, euronews, FCI, France 24, Israel Broadcasting Authority, MAC TV, NHK World TV, RT and VTV4, as well as local & independent producers, global content providers and original MHz Networks productions."

WRAL (Raleigh), 23 Aug 2011: "Time Warner Cable is launching international channels to bring news and entertainment to the many cultures across North Carolina, officials said Tuesday. Hindi Passport offers a variety of selections of new south Asian programs and includes Sony Asia, TV Asia and Zee TV. Filipino Pass Plus offers high demand Filipino programming and includes GMA Pinoy, GMA Life, DWLS DZBB and The Filipino Channel. Mandarin Passport offers the most popular programming available in Chinese and includes CCTV-4, CTI Zhong Tian, Phoenix and Phoenix North America. Russian Passport offers convenient access to channels with Russian programming and includes C1R Worldwide, RTVi, RTN and TV 1000 Russian Kino. Time Warner Cable customers will also have the following International Premium channels ART (Arabic Radio/TV), TV Japan, Bollywood Hits On Demand, TV5 (French), SBTN (Vietnamese), RAI (Italian) and Deutsche Welle (German)."

Update: KCPW (Salt Lake), 25 Aug 2011: "In the evenings, KCPW will rebroadcast 'CityViews' at 8 pm, with programming from the BBC World Service rounding out the evening from 9 pm to midnight."

Wizbang, 30 Aug 2011, comment by Commander_Chico: "It's also odd and creepy that you can't get, at any subscription price, any foreign broadcast news sources on US cable and satellite services, with a few exceptions in places like DC and NYC. Don't tell me that at least some of the channels like BBC World, France 24 English, Deutsche Welle English, Russia Today or Al Jazeera English would not get a bigger viewership, with excellent high income advertising demographics, and make more money than some of the ten Bible-beating channels on cable and satellite. If you're outside the USA, you get to watch all of those, plus the US cable networks. But we're free here in the USA, aren't we?"

Radio Prague international service will mark its 75th anniversary with press conference and tent.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Prague website: "On August 31, 2011, it will have been 75 years since the Czechoslovak company Radiojournal launched its regular shortwave broadcast. We consider that day to be the beginning of Radio Prague. To mark the anniversary, Radio Prague will be doing some special programmes and preparing the following events. ... Wednesday, August 31, 2011: A press conference on the current state of international broadcasting will be held for Czech and foreign journalists in the Czech Radio building. Journalists will have the opportunity to see the 75 Years of Radio Prague exhibit and visit the international broadcasting workspaces. A Czech Radio 7 tent will be set up at Na príkope 15, Prague 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The staff at the tent will be distributing Radio Prague promotional materials and will be drawing attention to the Prague broadcast for foreigners on 92.6FM and 99.3FM. There will also be live broadcasts from the tent." With link to pdf document about the station's history. (Via Alokesh Gupta's RadioActivity, 29 Aug 2011.)

Another crackdown on satellite dishes in Iran.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 23 Aug 2011: "In the past week, Tehran Police Special Operations forces came together with plainclothes forces and, as part of a continuing operation, raided homes in Tehran’s Saadat Abad neighborhood and collected satellite dishes. 'During the raid, forces tried to intimidate and frighten the neighborhood residents and attempted to destroy satellite dishes on people’s roofs,' a neighborhood resident told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Police commandos used ropes to climb onto balconies and enter people’s private homes." With photos.

The Deutsche Welle Akademie's children's television project in Tanzania.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
IPP Media, 27 Aug 2011, Lydia Shekighenda: "German deputy head of mission to Tanzania Hans Koepple has stressed the importance of television programmes for children to help them develop learning skills and build self-confidence. Closing a 10-day training programme for Independent Television (ITV) programmes in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Koepple said TV programmes had an important role in educating children to be responsible adults. The 10-day training programme was meant to enable programme producers to improve the production of children’s programmes. It was organised by Deutsche Welle Akademie through the East African TV project for children. 'A TV programme can provide education and be a useful aid in pre-reading and acquiring mathematics skills. It also creates identities and role models,' Koepple said."

Texas Chinese Radio, home-grown competition for CRI and CCTV in Houston.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
KUHF-FM (Houston), 29 Aug 2011, Ed Mayberry: "Tuning up and down the AM dial in the Houston area, there's more than the usual mix of news, sports talk and Rush Limbaugh. Broadcasting on 1540, KGBC [Galveston] rebroadcasts China Radio International, the state-owned broadcaster from Beijing. ... The broadcasts are part of a $6.6 billion effort by the Chinese government to expand its worldwide influence. That includes television. On television, there's channel 55.5, branded as ITV — one of six HD channels on KTBU, mainly presenting round-the-clock news from China Central Television, in Mandarin. ... But there's also an AM station that targets the over 200,000 Chinese expats in the Houston area. It's AM 1320 Texas Chinese Radio. ... Judd Huang is with AM 1320 Texas Chinese Radio. 'Our programming is like a variety show, and our local programming (is) based on interviews. We talk about immigration, we talking about medical, we talk about sports. And then we also do local news reports.'" With audio.

"Sky, supposedly a UK domestic news channel, is much better source for international news than the BBC's international channel."

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, Organ Grinder blog, 29 Aug 2011, Patrick Foster: "As the Libyan rebels rolled into Tripoli, Sky News beamed a steady stream of live reports from Alex Crawford. The network's special correspondent led the way in last Sunday's rebel convoy advance, from the celebrations in Tripoli's Green Square, and, on Tuesday, from the confines of Colonel Gaddafi's freshly-liberated compound. Amid the events in Tripoli, the Gaddafi administration did not seem to be the only regime in danger of crumbling. The BBC was consistently a step behind, its correspondents not just in the wrong districts of the capital, but even in the wrong cities – or, even more frustratingly for the corporation, confined under armed guard in Tripoli's Rixos Hotel. While Sky had Crawford, the three-times Royal Television Society journalist of the year, on the scene, BBC big guns such as John Simpson and Jeremy Bowen were nowhere to be seen. It was an embarrassing week for the corporation, whose overseas budgets and staffing levels dwarf those of its commercial rivals. 'We have not exactly covered ourselves in glory,' one senior BBC executive admitted to the Guardian. One of the corporation's executive directors was more explicit, telling colleagues that the broadcaster had been 'creamed' by Sky."

Ibid, 29 Aug 2011, comment from HKGooner: "Sad to say, but BBC World News, which we get here in Asia is also very poor, I hardly ever switch it on anymore. Both CNN and Sky trump it on keeping on top of stories, and making their coverage engaging. Perhaps more disappointing for the BBC is that Sky's overall analysis and background explanation to events is much better, the upshot of which is that Sky, supposedly a UK domestic news channel, is much better source for international news than the BBC's international channel."

Syrian authorities prevent opposition figures' travel to Lebanon for Alhurra debate.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Tulsa World, 29 Aug 2011: "Syrian authorities pursuing a crackdown against President Bashar Assad's critics banned three prominent opposition figures from leaving the country Sunday, activists said. Michel Kilo, Loay Hussein and Fayez Sara were on their way to neighboring Lebanon to take part in a televised panel discussion when they were told by Syrian immigration authorities at the border that they were prohibited from leaving out of concern for their safety in Lebanon. Hussein denounced what he called an attempt to keep them from speaking on television. The debate was to be aired by the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra television."

US-based online BDeshTV adds news from state-owned Bangladesh Television.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 28 Aug 2011, citing BDeshTV: "BDeshTV, a new Online TV company based in the USA, has announced that Bangladesh’s National Television (BTV) has signed an agreement allowing BDeshTV to broadcast all BTV news and related items live from its online TV channels to audience worldwide. Viewers anywhere in the world can now watch BTV news instantly and freely at www.bdeshtv.com. Since its launch on 26 March 2011, BDeshTV has been very well received globally. ... The key objective of BDeshTV is to promote Bangladeshi art, culture and literature by utilizing cutting-edge technology. ... BDeshTV’s contents are focused towards the Non-Resident Bangladeshi (NRB) population living in the USA and worldwide." See also Bangladesh Television website.

8th Military Information Support Group activated at Fort Bragg.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, 27 Aug 2011: "The 8th Military Information Support Group (Airborne) was activated Friday at Fort Bragg. Col. Brian Cavanaugh uncased the colors of the group as part of a reorganization of all active-duty Army psychological operations forces. The ceremony was held on Meadows Field at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters. ... Military information support operations includes influencing foreign opinion on the battlefield and in disaster areas through print and broadcast. The 8th Group will have about 1,070 soldiers. ... The 8th Group will assume responsibility for the 1st, 5th and 9th Military Information Support Battalions. The 1st Battalion will operate in Latin America. The 5th will work in the Pacific, and the 9th is in charge of all tactical operations for military information support operations worldwide."

From RFI and TV5Monde: Learn French with the News in English. Somehow.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 26 Aug 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French-speaking TV and radio international broadcasters TV5Monde and RFI [Radio France International] are launching a new iPhone app which helps to learn speaking French language from news. Called Learn French with the News in English, the application offers to both inform oneself and learn or improve the language used by media. This service is operational into seven other languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Pers[i]an, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese. ... Free of charge, the new app can be downloaded from iTunes Store and shared with other users on Facebook. A complete version is commercialised for 4.99." See also RFI communiqué de presse, 25 Aug 2011.

VOA Southern Africa satellite radio channel actually covers all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
WRN Broadcast press release, undated(!) but WRN tweeted link to it on 26 Aug 2011: "WRN Broadcast, the international broadcast managed services company, has announced the launch of their transmission of a new satellite radio service for Voice of America - VoA Southern Africa. This direct-to-home (DTH) service will cover all of sub-Saharan Africa on a popular satellite but the programming will largely be tailored to audiences in Zimbabwe. The new radio channel will air 24 hours a day and will be free to listeners. Initially, prominent programming includes the news show ‘Studio 7', call-in programme ‘Live Talk', as well as other content in English, Portuguese, Shona and Ndebele. VOA Africa Division Director, Gwen Dillard, says home satellite use is growing around the world and this new service 'demonstrates Voice of America's commitment to bringing objective and reliable news programs to our audiences on platforms they are comfortable using.' Meanwhile WRN Broadcast added, 'we are pleased to provide another DTH satellite service for United States international broadcaster, VoA. Not only does DTH to small dishes have good audience penetration in countries such as Zimbabwe, it is also cost-effective compared with terrestrial alternatives'." -- Satellite dishes have become more popular in Zimbabwe, providing alternatives to the television monopoly within the country. Those Zimbabweans willing to listen to radio on their satellite television receivers can do so with greater audio quality than is usually possible via shortwave and transborder medium wave.

Amid mayhem in northern Nigeria, BBC Hausa is "widely trusted and listened to."

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 26 Aug 2011, Bashir Adigun: "A car loaded with explosives crashed into the main United Nations' building in Nigeria's capital [Abuja] and exploded, killing at least 18 people in one of the deadliest assaults on the international body in a decade. A radical Muslim sect blamed for a series of attacks in the country claimed responsibility for the bombing, a major escalation of its sectarian fight against Nigeria's weak central government. The brazen assault Friday in a neighborhood surrounded by heavily fortified diplomatic posts represented the first suicide attack to target foreigners in oil-rich Nigeria, where people already live in fear of the radical Boko Haram sect. ... A spokesman for Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack later Friday in a communique to the BBC's Hausa language shortwave radio service, which is widely trusted and listened to throughout Nigeria's Muslim north. The sect has made such claims before to the service."

NGO: BBC Pashto reporter may have been killed by US special forces during attack on Taliban-held TV station.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 25 Aug 2011, Ben Farmer: "A BBC journalist killed during a Taliban suicide assault on a television station may have been shot dead by American special forces soldiers trying to clear the building. ... Ahmed Omed Khpulwak was among at least 22 killed, mostly civilians, during a two-pronged militant attack on government buildings in Uruzgan province last month. ... Khpulwak, 25, was a reporter for the BBC Pashto service and had done freelance work for The Daily Telegraph. ... According to an investigation by the Afghanistan Analysts' Network, an independent Kabul-based research group, Khpulwak may have survived the initial assault only to be shot by coalition forces clearing the building. ... The BBC has asked the Nato-led coalition to investigate his death and the findings of that formal inquiry are expected to be released soon." See also Afghanistan Analysts Network, 24 Aug 2011, Kate Clark.

A new era of peace? VOA and RFE journalists enter Libya in the same car.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA Russia Watch blog, 25 Aug 2011, James Brooke, VOA Moscow bureau chief: "Leaving Tunisia’s Djerba Island, we stopped at Tatouine to stock up on necessities before crossing into Libya. We loaded up our minivan with bottled water, dried food and nuts. ... Tunisia border police stamped our passports out of Dehiba. Fifty meters away, rebels cradling automatic weapons welcome us to what they call ‘Free Libya.' They peered inside our car and waved us on – me, Elizabeth Arrott, VOA’s Cairo Bureau Chief, video journalist Japhet Weeks and Jamie Kirchick of Radio Free Europe."

The introvert shortwave listeners of Ely, Minnesota.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Minnesota Public Radio, 25 Aug 2011, Siobhan Heanue, journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, visiting Minnesota as a fellow with the World Press Institute: "I've been in Minnesota two weeks and this place just keeps getting wilder. Often, introverts make the best adventurers. They're the ones who watch and learn, who have the patience to look for patterns in nature, to perceive threats. They seek out alternative ways from point A to point B, when there doesn't seem to be a way forward at all. The small town of Ely, Minn., attracts adventurers and introverts. Those who come to get away in the summer, and those who choose to stay away and put down roots. ... Remote border towns like Ely used to have strong traditions of listening to shortwave radio, picking up news channels from around the globe. The imperative to tune in to the world is made stronger by the immediate isolation. Today, reams of fiber optic cable lie by the roadside, ready to be laid. Because the farther out you are, the more important it is to stay connected."

Caracol and Arirang: proof that for any two countries, there can be a TV coproduction deal.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 25 Aug 2011, Michael Pickard: "Colombian broadcaster Caracol Television has strengthened its ties in Asia, signing a coproduction deal with a Korean network. The pact will see privately-owned Caracol and Arirang TV - part of the Korean International Broadcasting Foundation - build copro links while also sharing arts, science, sports and news content. ... The deal comes after Caracol earlier this week hired Venevision exec Roberto Corrente as Eastern European and Asian manager for distribution arm Caracol Internactional."

"You can watch more live soccer on TV here [in the USA] than in Europe."

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
MLSsoccer.com, 24 Aug 2011, Greg Lalas: "This may be an apocryphal comment made by European visitors and remembered by American soccer fans always looking for the silver lining, but there’s a significant symbolism to it: You can watch more live soccer on TV here than in Europe. It’s probably true. Today, US audiences have their choice of three soccer-specific channels, a regular presence on the ESPN networks and four Spanish-language channels that regularly show live matches. Then there are the various satellite channels, such as RAI (Italy), TV5Monde (France), TV Globo Internacional (Brazil) and that glorious section of DirectTV dedicated to the beautiful game. Plus, starting in 2012, NBC and the new NBC Sports Network will join the party when they begin broadcasting MLS and US national team games. In a typical week these days, a US-based soccer fan gets to choose from upwards of 50 live matches on cable TV alone (i.e., not on satellite). Life was not always so clover-filled for soccer fans. Two or three decades ago, finding soccer on the tube was as likely as finding a baseball game in Uganda."

Elliott Abrams: "Al Jazeera’s influence does not come from what it broadcasts in English."

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link

Foreign Affairs, 24 Aug 2011: "As described in 'Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark,' the visceral documentary video produced by Al Jazeera English, the uprising in Manama was, 'the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.' With exhaustively dramatic scenes -- including footage of the 3 AM assault on Pearl Roundabout where police scattered protesters by opening fire, shooting hundreds -- the documentary pits the individual struggle of frustrated citizens on the street against the wider, high-stakes global maneuverings of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the powerful Saudi leadership, and the West, each of whom angle for influence over the fate of the strategically vital island. Not long after it was first broadcast, the Al Jazeera documentary ended up a victim of its own aggressive reporting. Reports surfaced early this month that the network, which is financed by the Qatari government, pulled the plug on subsequent rebroadcasts." With link to the video. See also Maclean's, 22 Aug 2011, Richard Warnica.

Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams, Elliott Abrams: "Al Jazeera has clearly been pulling its punches about events in Bahrain. But some comments have protested that on the contrary Al Jazeera has covered the troubles in Bahrain and even done a whole program on it. True — in English only. Bahrain did protest the show, called 'Shouting in the Dark,' but who is kidding whom here? When the owners of Al Jazeera–namely the royal family-decide that the protests in Bahrain are to be covered fairly by Al Jazeera English only, and slighted in Al Jazeera Arabic, they are doing a huge favor to the Bahraini authorities. Al Jazeera’s influence does not come from what it broadcasts in English." -- I hesitate to contradict a fellow Elliott, but: Al Jazeera English has, by now, enough of an audience, and is cited sufficiently often by other news media, that a fair proportion of Al Jazeera's influence comes from its English output.

"Al Jazeera English expects to broadcast in all US states within the next five years." And more Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
ArabianBusiness.com, 25 Aug 2011, Elizabeth Broomhall: "Qatar-based TV channel Al Jazeera English expects to broadcast in all US states within the next five years, its managing director said, after inking a deal with Time Warner to air in New York. The 24-hour station, the first English-language news channel headquartered in the Middle East, is in talks with cable and satellite distributors as it seeks to grow its overseas footprint. 'Conversations with all the big satellite and cable operators in the United States have been going on since we launched, they have been progressing very well in recent months and they are continuing,' said managing director Al Anstey. 'For me it is a question of when, not if, we make the break through onto other operators in other parts of the United States.'"

Metro (London), 24 Aug 2011, Andrew Williams interviewing Al Jazeera English news presenter Nick Clark: "Why would someone watch Al Jazeera English when other news channels are available? Clark: It offers a global perspective on news stories. Of course, it’s based in the Middle East and focuses on what’s going on there but it also gives a balanced approach to everything that’s going on in the world. We have stories from countries that other channels don’t touch."

Denver Post, 22 Aug 2011, Joanne Ostrow: "Cable television breathlessly tracked the progress of the Libyan uprising, while the whereabouts of Moammar Khadafy? remained unknown. That question provided a focal point for broadcasters, after the arrest of Khadafy's sons, and after a popular, gun-waving, Khadafy-supporting Libyan TV anchor also was arrested. But for TV viewers flipping through channels for solid information, one thing was clear: Al Jazeera English continues to deliver credible, timely coverage every bit as reliable as any competing broadcast or cable network — and often ahead of the curve. ... Developments in the neighborhood — the Arab League's updates and word from the U.N.'s emergency session — beamed through first on Al Jazeera English, making it the go-to resource for this breaking news."

MediaPost, 22 Aug 2011, David Goetzl: "Just as it did during the Egyptian uprising earlier this year, Al Jazeera's English version provided gripping, stellar coverage as the revolution marched in Libya over the weekend. Save the contributions from our oil dollars, it was all completely free -- streamed on the Internet non-stop with hardly an ad. The correspondents for Al Jazeera English seemed to always be a step ahead, notably in broadcasting from the Green Square in Tripoli as the rebel forces took over. And, while there, showing the massive, scary structure erected to display an image of Colonel Qaddafi that would be coming down."

Variety, 20 Aug 2011, Steve Clarke: "While many U.K. news outlets are expected to broadcast live from Ground Zero and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, with some traveling to Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera hopes to broaden the perspective. It's sending reporters to other, unspecified parts of the world (it declines to give details for fear of alerting rivals) to see how these countries are reacting to 9/11 10 years later."

paidContent.org, 16 Aug 2011, Ingrid Lunden: "Pulse, the news-reading app for iOS and Android devices, has signed up its first international partner, and it’s a biggie: Al Jazeera will become the first foreign news organization to partner with the company to deliver news and videos from its Al Jazeera English catalog of content. In the landgrab that we are seeing among news aggregators, reading apps and digital news-stands— they include Flipboard, Zite, Taptu and so many more—this is one move to attempt to differentiate and move into new markets. Al Jazeera is Pulse’s first international news partner, but it’s not the company’s first attempt to capture an international audience. In addition to English, the app is already translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, and Korean."

Globe and Mail, 22 Aug 2011, Gayle MacDonald interviewing Tony Burman, former managing director of Al Jazeera English: "Does the online dissemination of news matter more in the Arab world, than say, Europe and North America? Burman: In the Middle East, we’re dealing with a part of the world where more than 60 per cent of the population is under 25 years of age, which is far more than in this country. Although this is not a population blessed with millions of computers, they have millions of cellphones, and this is increasing. In Tunisia, where the 'Arab Awakening; began last December, it began with one dramatic incident, captured on a cellphone which was put on Facebook and then rebroadcast repeatedly on television throughout the region and the world. This is a ground-breaking example of the new cyclical relationship that is developing between new and traditional media."

CNN and Fox provided "decent" Libya coverage by tapping international partners. MSNBC had video of a bear shoplifting.

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Salon, Alex Pareene, 24 Aug 2011: "On Sunday, when there was huge, historic news breaking very suddenly in Libya, the best television coverage of the event available for Americans was, obviously, on al-Jazeera English -- which is still not available on most cable packages but streamable online -- though CNN acquitted itself pretty well primarily just by switching over to its CNN International arm. (Until Wolf Blitzer showed up late at night to ad lib atonal vowel sounds in his imitable style.) Even Fox did ok, by playing footage from their British pseudo-sister channel Sky News, which had an actual real-life reporter embedded with the Libyan fighters entering Tripoli. (Though Fox decided mustachioed neocon John Bolton would be the best person to put the footage into perspective for their American audience, a group largely unused to anything resembling unfiltered international news.) So thanks to CNN's international arm and Fox's decision to hand the reins over to their multinational corporate parent company's other, superior news network, two of America's three '24-hour cable news networks' had decent coverage and compelling firsthand pictures and videos from Tripoli as the anti-Gadhafi forces took the city. On MSNBC, there was video of a bear shoplifting. The bear was caught on camera! ... I trust MSNBC's cheap and trashy weekend programming is the result of a series of rational business decisions, but MSNBC is the cable arm of an actual major network news organization with real-life foreign correspondents and international bureaus."

Adweek, 22 Aug 2011, D.M. Levine: "According to sources at MSNBC who agreed to speak to Adweek on condition of anonymity, yesterday’s programming choices were a product of the network’s priorities. 'Part of the success of MSNBC is the huge ratings it gets on weekends with these long-form [documentary] shows,' they said. 'There are certain times, maybe three or four times a year, when that hurts you because something big breaks. If it happens on the weekends, this place is at a disadvantage. You don’t have people staffing every news desk; you don’t have everybody doing news.' Odd as it is for a news network to not have news desks staffed on a weekend, the programming strategy has paid off. Last weekend, for example, MSNBC’s Sunday installment of Caught on Camera was the network’s biggest draw of the weekend and its fourth highest-rated show for the entire week."

Media Bistro, 23 Aug 2011, Alex Weprin: "Yesterday, CNN International made a rather significant error while talking to Sara Sidner from Tripoli. The on-screen graphic showed a map highlighting the city of Tripoli in Lebanon, instead of the city of Tripoli in Libya, where the actual fighting continues to rage on."

Twitter, 23 Aug 2011, CNN Public Relations @CNNPR: "On 8/22 CNN mistakenly showed a map with Tripoli in Lebanon. We made the correction immediately and we regret the error."

International broadcasting in the Chin dialects of Burma.

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Chinland Guardian, 24 Aug 2011, Van Biak Thang: "At least five radio stations have made broadcast sessions in three Chin dialects across the globe, including Falam, Hakha and Tedim. The stations involved Chin Radio Programme aired in Falam dialect from Naypyidaw, Burma, Radio Free Asia in Falam, Chin Radio Programme of Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) in Falam, 3CR Chin Radio Program in Hakha from Australia and AWR Chin in Tedim from USA. AWR Chin of the Adventist World Radio, a mission radio arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, makes a daily broadcast session on the Christian gospel while the others mainly air a variety of programmes including political news, cultural entertainments and educational as well as literary issues."

Report of South Korean TV reception in northern North Korea needs some fine tuning.

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 24 Aug 2011: "South Korean TV programs can now be watched even in the northernmost part of North Korea if the channels are adjusted secretly, according to Open Radio for North Korea. The belief so far was that South Korean channels can be watched in areas close to the South Korean border, such as Hwanghae Province, but the radio station claims it is possible as far North as Onsong, North Hamgyong Province, which is just across the Duman (or Tumen) River from China. ... The source said the best reception for South Korean TV is between 9 p.m. and midnight, when the news is on [North] Korean Central TV. 'Some people remove the soldering on the receivers at this time and then put it back before they go to bed,' the source added. Open Radio speculated that this became possible only last year. North Koreans were astonished when they first encountered South Korean TV coincidentally, and had to try to hide their delight. But now watching South Korean TV has become so prevalent that even when security officials find it out, residents stand up to them, telling them there is nothing worth watching on North Korean TV."

We have to interpret cautiously the information from "sources" in North Korea, especially when it is just one source.

It's possible that North Koreans, who television sets adhere to the PAL transmission system, can receive degraded pictures from South Korean stations, which use the NTSC transmission system. It is also possible that North Koreans are acquiring Chinese-manufactured multi-system television sets, capable of receiving both NTSC and PAL signals.

North Hamyong Province, however, is 500 kilometers from the nearest possible South Korean television transmitter. Terrestrial reception over such a distance would be unlikely except during rare propagational skip conditions. A more likely explanation is that South Korean televisions shows are now available on Chinese television channels, especially those serving the Korean community in China. Reception of Chinese channels, which use the PAL system, is much more likely in northern North Korea. Another possibility is that someone in that part of North Korean has access to a satellite TV receiver.

South Korea is scheduled to complete its transition to digital terrestrial television by the end of 2012. This will make it impossible for North Koreans, still using analog sets, to receive South Korean stations. North Koreans might, however, bring in Chinese-manufactured television sets capable of digital as well as analog reception. Digital television reception is "fussier" than analog, so it will be more difficult for North Koreans to "DX," or achieve long distance reception of South Korean television.

The appetite for entertainment is infinite. North Koreans will go to great lengths to watch the shows they want to watch.

For Discovery Networks, increased international profits, elevated international job titles.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 23 Aug 2011, Robert Briel: "Discovery Networks International (DNI) has announced that, on a going forward basis, the managing director role in its four regional businesses will be named president and managing director. Mark Hollinger, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, made the change to more accurately reflect the roles and responsibilities of this position in the respective regional businesses – Asia Pacific, CEEMEA (Central & Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa), Latin America U.S. Hispanic and Western Europe, and the scale of the business overall. As recently reported, DNI’s second quarter 2011 earnings grew 20% to $368 million (€255.8 million), which contributed significantly to Discovery’s overall growth. ... The executives and their new titles are: Dee Forbes, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Western Europe; Tom Keaveny, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific; Kasia Kieli, president and managing director Discovery Networks CEEMEA (Central & Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa); and Henry Martinez, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Latin America and US Hispanic. The title change is effective immediately and their roles and responsibilities stay the same." See previous post about Discovery's international profits.

The RFE/RL sound archive will be subject of a presentation at the Audio Engineering Society convention.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcast Newsroom, 22 Aug 2011: At the Audio Engineering Society convention, 20-23 October 2011 in New York City: "Audio Archiving and Preservation 101 - Two Important Broadcast Collections: Presenter - James Sam, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University. The audio preservation program at the Hoover Institution Archives of Stanford University is a real-world implementation of archival best practices. Two large collections of the Archives are the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Commonwealth Club of California collections. These are eerily similar in their recording formats and time spans. Despite being generated on two different continents, their archival approach remains the same. Mr. Sam will discuss this approach and its implications for both legacy and new recordings. He will also describe preservation methods used, employing fascinating examples from the collections."

BBG's net circumvention efforts descend from previous decades' shortwave anti-jamming efforts.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Nextgov, 23 Aug 2011, Joseph Marks: "The agency that once set up transmitters in Europe to overcome the Soviet Union's attempts to jam Voice of America's shortwave radio broadcasts is now deploying advanced Web proxy and IP address shielding technology to jump online firewalls that block the country-specific websites for VOA, Radio Free Asia and other government-funded news agencies under the purview of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. In most cases, BBG's circumvention tools don't just ensure users can access the agency's news sites. They also create what its chief information security officer and director of Internet freedom programs, Ken Berman, calls an 'encrypted pipe' -- essentially a search bar at the top of the websites for VOA China, Persian News Network and other BBG outlets that allows users to go nearly anywhere on the Internet without alerting national Web censors. ... Ultimately, Berman said, while the circumvention tools have changed, the basic ideology has not. 'This really is just a continuation of this agency's attempts to overcome shortwave jams,' he said. 'Coping with jamming has been a way of life for this agency since the Cold War.'"

VOA News, 22 Aug 2011, Matthew Hilburn: "A new web technology being championed by China is allowing a short-term gap in its so-called 'Great Firewall,' which blocks Chinese Internet users from sites blacklisted by the government in Beijing. Experts say how the gap is closed could have ramifications for the entire world. The gap exists because of IPv6, the next generation of Internet protocol designed to replace IPv4. The change is needed because the old system is about to run out of IP addresses, the combination of numbers that identify your computer over the Internet. IPv6 will offer a nearly infinite number of IP addresses. ... To answer the shortage, China has been a leader in rolling out IPv6. But it’s only available to a small slice of the population, mainly in the big cities and around large universities. At least some of these users seem to be able to surf without blocking or filtering. ... 'Yes, I have used IPv6 to go around the firewall,' user 'Dxing' told VOA on Google +. 'For now, the firewall cannot deal with IPv6,' said user 'Brain,' a student in Heifei on Google +."

BBC Worldwide sells "Frozen Planet" to China's CCTV.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Realscreen, 24 Aug 2011, Adam Benzine: "The BBC has sold its blue-chip natural history series Frozen Planet into China, with state broadcaster CCTV acquiring the title at the second annual BBC Showcase China event in Beijing this week. ... It is a coproduction with Discovery Communications, ZDF in Germany, Antena 3 in Spain and Skai TV in Greece. BBC Worldwide, the UK public broadcaster’s commercial arm, hosted some 150 guests at the Showcase event, which took place during the Beijing TV Festival. ... Pierre Cheung, BBC Worldwide’s sales and distribution VP and general manager for Greater China ... [said] that the BBC had now sold five formats in total into China, including Top Gear, Dancing with the Stars and Tonight’s the Night."

VOA Somali audio now available on UK phones, both mobile and sedentary.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 22 Aug 2011: "Voice of America’s Somali Service, which has been providing extensive coverage of the devastating drought in Africa, is now being offered to mobile phone users throughout Great Britain. The new service is made possible by the partnership between VOA and AudioNow, a mobile distribution provider. The VOA Somali Service broadcasts are available on any phone, 24 hours a day, by dialing 020 3519 3010." -- "Any phone" presumably means also landlines. Speaking of landlines, just after the 23 August earthquake, while people outside were not getting their cell phones and Blackberries to work, I picked up the landline phone in my office and called my wife on our landline phone at home and got through immediately. One cheer for old media.

How to succeed in international broadcasting: allow viewers to buy stock shares online.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 23 Aug 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "CNBC Arabiya, the 24 hour Arabic financial and business TV channel, has entered into an agreement with UAE broker Al Ramz Securities to allow viewers to safely buy shares online. CNBC Arabiya will tap into Al Ramz’s Borsat online trading platform during its TV show Al Mahfaza. To be broadcast under the auspices of the UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), CNBC viewers will be able to monitor the markets and securely execute sales and purchase orders. ... CNBC Arabiya provides viewers with Middle East business news and stock market summaries, regional corporate news, personal finance updates, as well as economic and financial developments in Europe and America – and how they impact the Middle East." See also press release via AMEinfo.com, 22 Aug 2011. -- At the CNBC website, there are links to CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia, but none to CNBC Arabiya. Because of this, I think CNBC Arabiya, like CNBC Africa, is independently owned and has a license to use the CNBC name.

Chinese media expansion into Europe outsourced to a company in Tampere, Finland (updated: Radio86 on Rondo FM).

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Helsingin Sanomat, 12 Aug 2011: "An inconspicuous red-brick building stands next to the main library of the University of Tampere. Housed inside is a secretive media company whose 60 employees are basically working for the Chinese government. The building houses Radio86, which was set up by Chinese businessman Yinong Zhao. Radio86 produces audio programming about China for the internet, and buys programme time for the broadcasts from Finnish and foreign radio stations. Radio86 is run by Futuvision Media, which gets its financing from the Chinese government-owned China Radio International. China recently decided to outsource most of its European media activities to this Tampere-based company. ... There are more than ten target countries, and the number is growing. This year the company has established a strong foothold in a Greek radio station, and a similar project is planned for Turkey. ... A Helsingin Sanomat source says that the aim is to increase the programme flow and to set up separate radio stations. That is why the focus is now on Africa, Caucasia, and Eastern Europe – areas where broadcast licences are easier to acquire than in the West." See also radio86.com. -- Interestingly, the Radio86 website has very few mentions of China Radio International. On the other hand, the China Radio International portal page links for Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, etc., lead to Radio86 web pages.

Update: Helsingin Sanomat, 19 Aug 2011, Antti Järvi: "Radio86 is run by Futuvision Media, which gets its financing from the Chinese government-owned China Radio International. This week [Finnish radio netwok] Rondo FM started to broadcast programmes produced by the station. Each day, one and a half hours or programming by Radio86 is aired. ... Those working for Radio86 say that the station’s workers do not have liberties, only obligations. China Radio International exercises control over the story topics. Certain subjects - such as the Falun Gong movement, the situation with Tibet, or the rights of the Uyghur people - must not be broached when interviewing people. The employee turnover rate within Radio86 is high. ... Furthermore, Radio86 broadcasts its programmes from the Pori medium-wave station to the Baltic States and Northern Europe."

BBC America will join BBC World News on Cablevision digital cable in the USA.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC America press release, 23 Aug 2011: "Cablevision Systems Corp. today announced the addition of BBC AMERICA to iO TV digital cable on channel 101. The network is launching in some markets today and will be available in standard and high definition across Cablevision’s entire service area by Thursday, August 25. As part of the company’s agreement to launch BBC AMERICA, Cablevision has also extended its carriage agreement for BBC World News, currently found on iO TV’s channel 104. ... [Cablevision's] television operations provide a full suite of advanced communications services ... over state-of-the-art cable systems that pass nearly 6 million households and businesses across the New York tri-state area and throughout four Western states."

Top Gear episodes to be available to Facebook users: 48-hour access for 93p each.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 23 Aug 2011, Mark Sweney: "BBC Worldwide is make episodes of Top Gear available to Facebook users at a cost of 93p. The BBC's commercial arm has developed a video-on-demand app for Facebook that will allow users of the website to rent a limited number of Top Gear episodes using Facebook Credits. ... Once rented, episodes will be available to view for 48 hours. Facebook has about 700 million users globally, but the Top Gear episodes will only be made available for users in Europe, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand."

"Where is the Middle East equivalent to Radio Free Europe?"

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Commentator, 23 Aug 2011, Robert Halfon MP: "The last [UK] government, some of our universities and businesses, lost their moral compass when it came to dealing with the Libyan regime. Whilst senior new Labour Government figures hob-nobbed with Gadaffi and his family, our academic institutions accepted millions in blood money, whilst companies rushed to Libya to sign commercial deals. ... Liberty is a human right. Sometimes it requires military intervention, other times it requires hearts and minds. Rather than appeasement, our foreign policy should be directed at supporting resistance groups to dictators, funding radio, TV stations, and the internet, in the same way the CIA did in the Cold War to undermine Communism. Where is the Middle East equivalent to Radio Free Europe?"

If one is thinking of the latter, post-1956 Radio Free Europe, it concentrated on providing the credible news that was lacking in the state controlled media of its target countries. In that case, there are several Middle East equivalents of RFE, including Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Alhurra, BBC Arabic, and France 24 Arabic.

But Mr. Halfon writes about "supporting resistance groups." That's less of a journalistic and more of an activist enterprise. US and UK funding for such media outlets should be done quietly and at arm's length, with the resistance group handling the actual content and operations. And it should be realized that most of the target audience will tune instead to the station that provides real news.

Religious broadcaster FEBC's shortwave station on Saipan, already off the air, "will decommission" by the end of the year.

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Saipan Tribune, 24 Aug 2011, Clarissa David: "Far East Broadcasting Co., a non-profit, non-denominational missionary organization that broadcasts the gospel of Jesus Christ to many parts of Asia, will decommission its radio station on Saipan by the end of the year, after 27 years of broadcasting on island. Bob Springer, FEBC general manager, attributed their decision to government deregulation and advances in communications technology that he said have significantly reduced the demand for shortwave broadcasting. ... 'In the last two and a half years, FEBC has studied the trends in technology in the audience listening habits and the conclusion of this exhaustive study has been we should cease broadcast from Saipan while continuing shortwave broadcast from our facilities in the Philippines,' Springer said. ... At the height of its broadcasting efforts, FEBC broadcasted to about 15 different countries in 24 different languages and dialects, including that of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Ukraine." -- FEBC's KFBS shortwave station actually stopped broadcasting in April. "Decommission" probably means the actual dismantling of the facility. According to Wolfgang Bueschel in the DX Listening Digest Yahoo! discussion group, 24 Aug 2011, the transmitters from Saipan have already been moved to the Philippines. See previous post about same subject, with link to extensive information about KFBS.

Al Jazeera English correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin returns to NBC News. "Evidence of acceptance" of AJE?

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, Media Decoder, 22 Aug 2011, Brian Stelter: "Ayman Mohyeldin, a star Al Jazeera English correspondent, is rejoining NBC News, the news organization where he started 10 years ago. Ayman Mohyeldin, a star Al-Jazeera English correspondent, is joining NBC News. Back then he was a desk assistant for NBC in Washington; now he’ll be a foreign correspondent for NBC, based in Cairo and covering the whole of the Middle East. ... Mr. Mohyeldin’s reports helped Al Jazeera English gain visibility; GQ magazine earlier this year called him 'the closest the network has to some rough approximation of an Anderson Cooper.' Al Jazeera English has fought for cable and satellite carriage in the United States this year by citing the work of Mr. Mohyeldin and others. Though his departure is a setback, it may also be evidence of acceptance of the Qatar-based network by American networks." See also NBC Universal press release, 22 Aug 2011.

"America lacks a central voice in terms of both reporting itself to the world and the world to its diverse citizens."

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Market Watch, 22 Aug 2011, Kim Hjelmgaard: "Writing in the current issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, Emily Bell of Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism said that the BBC is 'omnipresent in the U.K. — an all-encompassing news website, eight national TV channels and ten national radio channels, dozens more local and international channels, [plus] outlets on each platform dedicated to breaking news.' ... [A]mid the litany of established and proliferating news operations tethered to public mandates as well as purse strings — PBS and NPR in the U.S.; China’s Xinhua News and CCTV; Russia’s RT; France 24; Canada’s CBC; NRK in Norway; Australia’s ABC — the BBC stands out, even in these heady days of social media, for its ability to reach 'over the course of the week,' as BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten said recently, 'every single person in the country.' ... Bell, a former journalist for the Guardian, said in her article that 'America lacks a central voice in terms of both reporting itself to the world and the world to its diverse citizens,' and that as a now U.S.-based news consumer she often feels like she has 'no such go-to broadcast news source when big stories break.' ... Time Warner Inc.’s CNN may share some of the same global, stentorian authority of the BBC, the National Public Radio complex may vaguely hew toward a similar political DNA at times, but the former is beholden to stock markets and the latter is in receipt of a paltry $1.43 per person in annual federal funding compared to over $80 per person in the U.K, according to data compiled by the Free Press media-advocacy group." -- I think this analysis sells short the news efforts of ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN. The United States does, nevertheless, need more world news. The trio of CNN International, BBC World News, and Al Jazeera English on more cable systems would help. So would more cooperation between US domestic and international broadcasting. See also the referenced article in Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 2011, Emily Bell.

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 24 Aug 2011, Mark Thompson, BBC director general: "If ... it's argued that, notwithstanding the breadth of choice, too many people choose to consume BBC News, then there are two other obstinate facts to confront. First, the BBC's charter calls for it to try to serve every household; if you want to abolish the BBC by all means advocate that, but if not, is it reasonable to criticise it for doing exactly what it has been asked to do? Second, the British public tell us that one of the key reasons why they use the BBC more than other news providers is because they trust it more than other news sources. If policymakers begin to regard high levels of public trust as a problem to be corrected, we really are in trouble."

nuvoTV, English-language channel targeting US Latinos, gets expanded Comcast distribution.

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RBR.com, 17 Aug 2011: "Comcast Corporation announced an expanded distribution agreement with nuvoTV, an English-language general entertainment network targeting American Latinos and fans of Latino culture. ... The agreement with nuvoTV (formerly Sí TV) is being called part of Comcast’s continuing effort to bring Latino-themed programming to its customers." See also mynuvotv.com.

Shortwave quickly fading: UK's Rampisham transmitting site will close after 70 years (updated).

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BECTU, 18 Aug 2011: "BECTU [UK media and entertainment labor union] members at the Rampisham transmitter site in Dorset run by Babcock Engineering were shocked to learn yesterday (17 August) of plans to close the facility by Christmas with the loss of 19 jobs. Staff across the UK had been expecting bad news after the decision by BBC World Service in January this year to sharply reduce the number of hours of shortwave broadcasting and to end it altogether by 2014. Despite this advance warning, yesterday's announcement still came as a shock. The company also plans to close three posts at the Woofferton site in Shropshire with four at Orford Ness in Suffolk also at risk of closure. An initial meeting between BECTU representatives and management took place yesterday; the consultation period is due to end on 19 September. Assistant general secretary Luke Crawley said: ' ... Transmission members will note with regret that this announcement will also end seventy years of shortwave broadcasting from Rampisham.'" -- According to the World Radio TV Handbook, the site has ten 500-kilowatt shortwave transmitters.

Update: Real West Dorset, 22 Aug 2011, Jonathan Hudston: "As well as being a significant part of Dorset life, Rampisham is also of national and international importance. Britain has three major sites broadcasting internationally on shortwave. The others are Woofferton in Shropshire and Skelton in Cumbria. Rampisham broadcasts more hours than they do, is more reliable, and has a wider reach across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. (It’s a little-known fact that the National Grid runs right through the Rampisham site, supplying 60,00[0] volts. I think it has only ever lost power twice in 70 years. Once was during the Great Storm of 1987, which shows it takes something pretty extreme). The three sites are all owned by Babcock Engineering."

BBC and VOA are "trusted sources of information" among Hazara community in Afghanistan.

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 22 Aug 2011, Sian Powewll: Refugees "[f]rom the Hazara ethnic minority [of Afghanistan] ... have lived in Kuala Lumpur for nearly four years, waiting for the magic letter inviting them to become Australians. ... A survey of Hazara men conducted in four Afghan provinces late last year showed a degree of ignorance about Australian policy. ... Some of the Hazara quoted in the survey had no access to the internet, some had no electricity in their homes, and many relied mostly on news from friends and family, although the BBC, Voice of America and certain Afghan broadcasters were also ."

Press TV says BBC Persian TV documentary admits that BBC Persian radio had a role in the 1953 Iranian coup.

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 21 Aug 2011: "The BBC Persian TV channel has at last acknowledged the role of the BBC Persian radio in the toppling of the democratically elected government of Iran in the 1953 coup. The coup overthrew the government of the then Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh leading to the restoration of absolute monarchy under dictator Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi who was later toppled in the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In a documentary aired on August 18 on the anniversary of the coup, BBC Persian channel admitted for the first time to the role of the BBC Persian radio as the propaganda arm of the British government in Iran. ... 'The British government used the BBC Persian radio for advancing its propaganda against Mosaddegh and anti-Mosaddegh material were repeatedly aired on the radio channel to the extent that Iranian staff at the BBC Persian radio went on strike to protest the move,' the Cinematograph narrator said."

Tehran Times, 24 Aug 2011, Persian Press Review: "Javan, in a news analysis, criticizes BBC Persian TV for twisting the truth behind the unrest gripping Britain and has drawn a comparison between its coverage of the turmoil in Britain and the political unrest that occurred after the Iranian presidential election of June 2009. The news report says that the BBC Persian service fanned the flames of unrest in Iran through blowing events out of proportion and acted as an agitator. ... The Persian service of BBC is labeling the protestors 'rioters' while it never used this term to refer to those who took to the streets of Tehran to protest the result of elections."

Head of Al Jazeera Afghanistan bureau arrested by Israel after vacation in Nablus (updated again).

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
"The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) Wednesday condemned the Israeli authority’s arrest on Tuesday of Samer Allawi, Al-Jazeera bureau chief in Afghanistan. The center considered the arrest of Allawi, as he was leaving the West Bank to Jordan through Al-Karama (Allenby) bridge after spending a vacation with his family in the city of Nablus, 'a blatant violation of freedom of speech and international law.' It called on the international community to immediately pressure Israel to release him. Musa’ab Allawi, Samer Allawi’s brother, said that the Israeli authorities called him Wednesday morning to inform him that his brother was arrested and that he will be transferred to al-Jalama prison for interrogation, without stating any reason behind the arrest." See also the MADA press release, 10 Aug 2011 (pdf).

Aljazeera.net, 16 Aug 2011: "Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera Arabic's Kabul bureau chief, has been brought before an Israeli military court, almost a week after he was arrested by Israeli officials when he tried to cross the border between Jordan and the occupied West Bank. Israeli authorities extended his detention by seven days and charged him with being a member of Hamas on Tuesday. ... Salim Waqim, Allawi's lawyer, told Al Jazeera that his client was interrogated about his work and management of Al Jazeera's Kabul bureau, his personal financial information, and his relationships with colleagues, friends, family and relatives. Israeli authorities took his computer login information and during his interrogation Allawi was accused of being a member of Hamas and having contact with its military leadership, Waqim said."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 17 Aug 2011: "The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by Israel's continued detention of Al-Jazeera journalist Samer Allawi, who has been held without charge for eight days. ... On Tuesday, a week after his arrest, he appeared before a military judge, Al-Jazeera reported. Although Allawi was not charged with a crime, the judge extended the detention for seven days, after which he must appear before the same court, his lawyer told CPJ. The lawyer, Salim Waqeem, said Allawi has been interrogated about his work, personal finances, and his relationships with colleagues, friends, and family. During the 25-minute court hearing, authorities cited a 'secret report by Israeli intelligence' accusing Allawi of membership in Hamas and having ties with its military wing, Al-Jazeera reported. During the hearing, Allawi disputed the allegations, called his detention arbitrary, and said authorities were 'fishing for information to convict me or Al-Jazeera.'" See also Ha'aretz, 17 Aug 2011, Gili Izikovich.

Canada Free Press, 17 Aug 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "Critics of Al-Jazeera have called upon Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, to hold hearings on Al-Jazeera’s involvement with terrorist organizations and whether that activity qualifies the channel to be officially designated by the U.S. Government as a global terrorist entity that provokes violence against Americans and American interests. Under such a designation, which has been applied to Al-Manar, an affiliate of Hezbollah, the channel could be banned from operating in the U.S. Al-Manar was labeled a global terrorist entity and banned from the U.S. in 2004."

Update: Rapid TV News, 22 Aug 2011, Rebecca Hawkes, : "Al Jazeera is calling for Israel to 'immediately release' its journalist Samer Allawi, who has now been held by the state without charge for 12 days. Mr Allawi, was arrested on 10 August, 'without reason while on vacation with his family in the occupied West Bank,' according to a statement from the Qatar-based satellite TV network."

China Radio International helps reunite Norwegian with her family photos.

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
China Daily, 22 Aug 2011, Liu Wei: "During a trip to the Panjiayuan flea market in Beijing in 1999, actor Wang Weiguo stumbled across 20 exquisite frames and was immediately attracted by the photos in them - beautiful photos of a blond woman's life from baby to young lady. Some were obviously family photos that included both the girl and her parents. ... 'I couldn't be at ease until I found the photos' owner. And I believed I would.' In 2010, Wang told TV host Zhang Zequn about the photos. He was touched by the story and suggested Wang try China Radio International (CRI), a network that broadcasts in 43 languages to a global audience. CRI made a video about the story and posted it on its website in English on Dec 27, 2010. Soon many Web users joined the search for the lady in the photos. On March 16, an Internet user noticed that one of photos was Norwegian actress Julie Ege and her daughter. ... The young girl in the photos turned out to be Joanna Syson, the elder of her two daughters, and a documentary filmmaker in Norway. The video was sent to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and eventually reached the Facebook page of Joanna's younger sister. Soon after, CRI got an e-mail from Joanna. 'It's a miracle, unbelievable. I never thought I was going to see them again,' she wrote." See also CRI, 30 Mar 2011 and CRI, 22 Apr 2011.

In Antigua, CNN and Turner channels moves from one cable provider to another.

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Antigua Observer, 15 Aug 2011, Tameika Malone: "Since a deal was struck between Turner Broadcasting System Latin America, Inc (TBSLA) and Karib Cable giving them exclusive rights to broadcast TBSLA programming, the cable provider is speaking for the first time, saying they did not double-cross [competing cable provider] CTV with the July agreement. 'We at Karib Cable would like to clarify that our deal with Turner to broadcast their channels exclusively in Antigua & Barbuda was concluded after Turner had decided to serve a Cease and Desist Order on CTV to stop the broadcasting of their channels. ... In the July 22 deal, CTV was left without the rights to broadcast programming from CNN, TNT, CNN Headline News, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and truTV to its subscribers. ... 'I paid for CNN and I want CNN. For too long now I have been receiving inferior service from CTV,' [a] blogger said. Meanwhile, Karib has upgraded several channels. For example, channel 11 now becomes CNN International, iSat is now available on 20, Space is on 70, Fox Soccer Plus is on 95, Ten Cricket is on 97, CNN en Espanol is on 107, and FX is on 124."

BBC Radio 1 no longer available on Sirius XM satellite radio in the USA (updated).

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Sirius Buzz, 10 Aug 2011, Charles: "Although it has not officially been announced by Sirius XM, it has recently been confirmed that BBC Radio 1 has been dropped from the Sirius XM lineup. After their six year run, a recent announcement from the press office of BBC Worldwide confirms the fans worst fears. 'The BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide has been in partnership with SIRIUS Satellite Radio to broadcast Radio 1 on their main network, since 2005. This agreement has now unfortunately come to an end and BBC Worldwide are in current discussions with the satellite radio station to find ways to continue to bring popular music channel, BBC Radio 1, to the US audience. We will keep you posted.' For the past 24 hours my inbox has been overflowing with irate fans who simply wanted an explanation or a little warning. Those same fans have since brought the fight to both twitter (#bringbackBBCR1) and the Sirius XM Facebook page (almost all the comments) to voice their displeasure.

Radio-info.com, 11 Aug 2011: "The Facebook page named 'Get BBC Radio 1 back on Sirius XM' already has over a thousand 'likes,' says the New York Times. The satcaster’s Patrick Reilly says 'We are proud of our relationship with the BBC, whose World Service we also broadcast. We will continue to explore programming opportunities to work with the BBC in the future.'"

Replacing BBCR1 is Studio 54 Radio.

Update: New York Times, 16 Aug 2011, Melena Ryzik: "Less than a week after it replaced BBC Radio 1 with a channel devoted to the disco hits of the Studio 54 era, Sirius XM, the satellite radio broadcaster, announced that the British music channel will return to its regular lineup — but only online."

Satellite Radio Playground, 19 Aug 2011, Demian Russian: "Following a very informative interview with Strategy Analytics Senior Analyst John Canali on Wednesday night’s Playground Radio program, I was expecting to discuss the usual topics of the market and Sirius XM’s stock chart with my co-host Spencer Osborne and our listeners. We were amazed to see the switchboard light up with call after call from listeners irate about the cancellation of BBC Radio 1. For close to two hours we heard passionate callers eloquently convey how important BBC Radio 1 was to them on Sirius XM’s Satellite Radio platform and how upset they were with the channel’s sudden removal, as well as the lack of communication from Sirius XM. Many said that BBC Radio 1 was not only their favorite channel, but in many cases was the only channel they listened to. ... While it is not publicly known what the programming cost of BBC Radio 1 was to Sirius XM, it is easy to assume that the in-house produced Studio 54's programming costs are substantially less."

RFE/RL exclusive: VOA interview with senior US diplomat Marc Grossman.

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 20 Aug 2011: "Marc Grossman, the U.S. senior representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, recently sat down at the State Department in Washington with Voice of America's Lina Rozbih to discuss a wide range of regional issues, from the future of Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network to India-Pakistan relations and the recent instability in Afghanistan as the United States begins to draw down its troops." Followed by transcript of the interview. -- I was not able to find this interview, at least by way of a search, at the VOA website. This is at least the second major VOA interview made available at the RFE/RL website. This inter-entity USIB synergy is an encouraging development.

NPR, The Two-Way blog, 19 Aug 2011, Mark Memmott: "There's word from Voice of America this hour that members of the Georgetown University men's basketball team and players from China's professional Bayi Rockets club have 'cleared up some of their differences ... a day after they fought on a basketball court in Beijing.'" With excerpt of VOA report.

Maybe he should apply for that new BBG speechwriter job.

Posted: 23 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital Journal, 19 Aug 2011, Ted Lipen: "[T]he BBG still wants VOA Chinese news to be available in China only on the Internet and claims to be able to pierce the Great Internet Firewall, which protects the regime that has the best cyber police and the best hackers in the world. ... If nothing is done to change the political patronage system that is killing U.S. international broadcasting, we may soon hear about new radio and TV programs being terminated as pro-democracy movements are crushed in key areas of the world. We may even learn about new BBG missions to negotiate with repressive regimes, perhaps this time in Cuba, Burma, or North Korea. Let us hope the U.S. Congress will put a stop to such nonsense. The American people want U.S. government-funded broadcasts to promote human rights and to put fear into dictators. They don't want to spend close to a billion dollars a year so that BBG members can travel around the world to meet with media censors, listen to their complaints, and then censor and fire Voice of America journalists. It is high time for the Obama Administration to wake up to the fact that those in charge of this dysfunctional agency, confused about their mission, have become a major embarrassment and a political liability, both at home and abroad."

In past years, VOA directors were appointed by presidents. Now they are appointed by the presidentially appointed bi-partisan Broadcasting Board of Governors. The "political patronage" has been shifted from content managers to the members of the Board. With that layer now between them and the administration, USIB journalists can concentrate on providing reliable and comprehensive news.

The BBG is most effective when its members are selected because of their experience as journalists and media managers. Furthermore, the Board should concentrate on macro issues and stay out of content, except to protect the independence of the journalists who produce that content.

The American people might want USIB "to promote human rights and to put fear into dictators." If USIB is willing to endure the inconvenience of having an audience, that audience wants something else: news that is more credible than the "news" they receive from their state-controlled domestic media.

Sky News Australia deal to distribute content into China boosts its bid versus ABC for the Australia Network contract.

Posted: 22 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Aug 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Sky News has trumped the ABC in the battle to win the $223 million deal to run Australia's official TV service in Asia by snaring a landmark deal for television broadcasts in China. The agreement signed with Chinese state television CCTV in Beijing yesterday means live and breaking news stories from Sky News, part owned by Rupert Murdoch, will be broadcast in China with reciprocal rights back into Australia. The deal makes it almost impossible for the ABC to match Sky News in the bid for the Australia Network to aggressively expand the audience in the China market. ... The contract is expected to be decided before mid-September after the government re-opened the tender. The deal does not provide a much sought-after permanent presence on Chinese TV screens - known as landing rights - but is a big boost in accessing the world's fastest growing economy. In addition to China's several English-language TV stations, Australian programs will appear on one of the state broadcaster's channels with Chinese captions. ... The live-to-air aspect of the Sky deal is a sign Beijing is coming to trust Sky News after agreeing to limited program sharing in April last year. Sky promised in its Australia Network bid to set up a separate channel for China as a way of expanding the audience and dealing with strict censorship. ... The ABC has an agreement to share footage with Chinese state television but has baulked at the prospect of sharing stories and programs. 'The ABC is not going to stick on a Chinese documentary about Tibet,' said an ABC source. 'Let's just say there is a cultural difference in what we see as objective.'"

The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Aug 2011, Pip Bulbeck: "The agreement will allow CCTV to provide its viewers with live pictures of events happening in Australia, including state visits by Chinese leaders and other material with a China angle. However, the agreement will have no effect on Chinese state control of news broadcasts."

Cobar Age, 19 Aug 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The ABC says its independence charter stops it getting too close to Chinese-state controlled media after its rival Sky News gained a strategic toehold in China in the contest for Australia Network. Sky News has signed with China's state television, CCTV, for live broadcasts into the world's most populous market - a deal central to its pitch for the $223 million contract to run Australia's overseas television service. The promise of greater access in China was key to a panel of public servants in May judging Sky News the better bid over the ABC, only for the Gillard government to intervene before its final decision and to change the tender rules. The ABC yesterday said it had its own arrangements with Chinese state broadcasters for exchanging news footage, including CCTV. But the deals do not extend to the exchange of live news."

This certainly complicates the competition between Sky News Australia and the ABC for the Australia Network contract. Sky News has found a pragmatic means for getting its content into China, with Chinese subtitles -- that's huge. However, if the content is relegated to some digital-only channel not available to most Chinese, it's not so huge. On the other hand, the ABC's adhering to principles and not allowing CCTV content on its channels speaks well for the ABC's bid for Australia Network. Ultimately, some sort of compromise will have to be worked out to allow Australian content into China.

Eldest son of Qaddafi calls Al Jazeera to grant interview while under rebel custody.

Posted: 22 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 22 Aug 2011, Max Fisher: "As rebels encircled Tripoli late on Sunday, Muammar Qaddafi's eldest son Mohammed did something unexpected: he picked up the phone and dialed al Jazeera. The network, which has effusively covered (and, at times, cheerleaded) the downfall of his family's four-decade rule, was an unlikely point of contact for the wealthy Libyan prince. But Muhammed had something to tell the world. ... [H]e offhandedly revealed that he was under rebel custody. 'Some people besieged my house. There were heavy sounds of gunfire and explosions. I just hope that security and stability come to Libya and the entire Muslim world. The rebels who apprehended me are very cordial and have not harmed me. This is a very positive sign, not only for me, but for all Libyans,' he said. ... Just as Mohammed was building toward his point, loud, rapid gunfire erupted on his side of the call. 'I'm being attacked right now. This is gunfire inside my house. They're inside my house,' he said, remarkably calm. He began praying, and within two or three seconds the line went dead."

News on News, 22 Aug 2011, Kevin Coy: "CNN and CNN Interational began simulcasting on Sunday afternoon as it became apparent that the Libyan Rebel movement had started to enter the country's capital city, Tripoli."

BBC News, 22 Aug 2011, Alexander, activist in Damascus: "In Syria, a minority of the population thinks that only traitors watch Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya, so if there's a television in a grocery store, it will show only State TV. But State TV is not telling the full story of Libya: it just focuses on how many people have died there. Syrians tend to get their news after work, when they go home and watch cable TV. Syrians thought that if Libyans couldn't topple Gaddafi despite having Nato support, we had no chance to get freedom. It's obviously a great moment for Libya and it's good news for Syria too."

"Axis Sally" biographer on NPR's "On the Media."

Posted: 22 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
NPR On the Media, 19 Aug 2011: "Fifty years ago this summer, Mildred Gillars was released from prison. Known more widely as Axis Sally, Gillars broadcasted pro-Nazi propaganda during World War II on German state radio. After the war, she became one of the only women ever convicted of treason in the United States. Brooke spoke to historian Richard Lucas, who wrote Gillars’ biography, about her broadcasts, her trial, and her quiet life in Ohio after her imprisonment." With audio. See previous post about same subject. -- Thanks to Amir Soleimani for the news tip.

BBC World Service, in transition, must still consider "the frame of mind ... of an international listener."

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
London Review of Books, 25 Aug 2011, Jo Glanville: "Where audiences can listen to the World Service on the better quality FM, they do so. But FM transmitters have limited reach beyond urban areas... . In some countries, the BBC is dependent on regulators for licences – in Nigeria the BBC isn’t allowed to broadcast any form of news on FM – or is subject to arbitrary government control, as illustrated recently when it was taken off air in Sri Lanka and Ivory Coast. In Rwanda in 2009, the World Service was accused of genocide denial and banned from FM when the government took exception to a broadcast. If it is considered an important part of the World Service’s mission to impart information to audiences in countries where the media are restricted, then shortwave surely wins out as the more reliable means of communication. It can be jammed, but it cannot be wholly disabled – as the internet and mobile phone networks were in Egypt earlier this year. ...

"BBC domestic staff and World Service staff have long regarded each other with mutual snobbery. The World Service is sneered at for its pedantry and high-minded interest in international affairs (‘Auntie Mabel doesn’t give a toss about Serbia’ is the sort of remark you could hear at some BBC news meetings), and World Service staff can be sniffy about the domestic BBC’s populism. They also worry that their approach to international affairs will not be appreciated in the wider BBC. ‘I suspect that the majority of people in the domestic BBC think that broadcasting internationally is just putting in a bit more foreign coverage,’ [former World Service managing director John] Tusa said. ‘The fact is that you have to think yourself into the frame of mind and approach of an international listener. It’s not a matter of distorting what the news is: you have to make the effort to ask what does the world look like from there? How do we broadcast independently without bias and keep an understanding of what the international listener needs?’"

Recommended reading. Jo Glanville provides a comprehensive look at the state of World Service as it prepares to depend on the license fee for funding.

BBC World Service reporter in Tajikistan tells court he was tortured while in custody.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 19 Aug 2011: "BBC World Service is concerned about the treatment of its correspondent, Urunboy Usmonov, after details of torture emerged during his trial which commenced this week in Khojand, Tajikistan. When questioned, Mr Usmonov told the court that he'd been tortured in custody following his arrest on 13 June this year, including beatings and security officers burning his arms with cigarettes. He also said he'd been forced to sign a confession which had been dictated to him. The BBC condemns the torture of Mr Usmonov and has asked the Tajikistan authorities to investigate these incidents. The BBC has consistently maintained Mr Usmonov's innocence and regards the allegations as completely unfounded. Meetings and interviews with people representing all shades of opinion are part of the work of any BBC journalist. The BBC has asked the Tajik authorities to drop all charges against Mr Usmonov so he can return to his work as a highly respected journalist and writer."

The Guardian, 16 Aug 2011, John Plunkett: "Urunboy Usmonov, a reporter for the BBC World Service, was arrested in June accused of being a member of Hizbut-Tahrir, an extreme Islamist organisation that is banned in the former Soviet republic. He was due to appear in court in Khujand city, according to the BBC."

CPJ, 17 Aug 2011: "The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Tajik prosecutors to drop the fabricated extremism charges against Urinboy Usmonov, the BBC World Service correspondent in Tajikistan, and acquit him."

Dutch cable provider UPC carries (almost) all domestic BBC channels.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 16 Aug 2011, Robert Briel: Dutch cable system UPC "carries all domestic BBC channels with the exception of BBC News 24. However, UPC carries BBC World News, until now the only international BBC channel available on the network. This will change as UPC also plans to add BBC Entertainment. ... And from Discovery Networks, UPC will replace Discovery Travel & Living with Investigation Discovery."

England nil: BBC World Service drama will be about England's failed World Cup bid.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 15 Aug 2011, Ben Dowell and Owen Gibson: "Radio 4 and the BBC World Service are developing a drama about England's failed bid to host the 2018 football World Cup. The drama documentary, which is expected to air on both radio stations later this year, will explore the three days in Zurich in December last year when English optimism turned to despair and the Football Association's bid crashed out in the first round of voting."

According to data, Monaco and Iceland are the most weird countries. Oh, sorry, the most wired countries.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 19 Aug 2011: "Nearly 2.1 billion people -- about 30% of the world's population -- use the Internet, according to the most recent data compiled by internetworldstats.com. That's more than five times the amount of people who were online at the end of the year 2000. The most Internet users are in China and the United States, but China's 485 million users account for only 36.3% of the country's population. The Internet is much more common in the U.S., where its 245 million users make up 78.2% of the population. The most wired countries in the world are Monaco and Iceland, where at least 97% of people are online. ... At the bottom of the list are mostly poor African countries, including Liberia, Ethiopia and Somalia."

AdAge, 16 Aug 2011, Edmund Lee: "According to ComScore, which will start publishing data on YouTube's channel partners tomorrow, 40% of YouTube's audience clicked over in July to watch music videos, more than any other category. ... Major media companies listed include Associated Press, with 6.6 million viewers, and Hearst Television, which owns 29 local TV stations, with 3.1 million watchers. BBC Worldwide had a YouTube audience of 2 million." -- BBC Worldwide is mostly entertainment output of the BBC (Dr. Who, Top Gear, etc) rather than BBC news output. One commenter to this article points out that ComScore is actually measuring networks of channels rather than individual channels. See also www.comscore.com/youtube

BBC Entertainment and FOX Crime part of English television expansion in India.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Indian Express, 19 Aug 2011, Dipti Nagpaul D'souza: "Guy Ritchie’s big-screen adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes got mixed reactions in India. But BBC Entertainment’s (BBCE) modern small-screen interpretation of the character, titled Sherlock, when it aired earlier this year, garnered a huge following. This did two things for them — it consolidated BBCE’s position among the English general entertainment channels in India and secondly, helped it narrow down their target audience to the Indian youth that is truly driving the market. ... If one goes by the recent programming trends on television, it is hard to miss that English entertainment channels are taking an aggressive stance to increase their share of viewership pie. ... Star network is planning an official launch of FX and various media campaign for FOX Crime both of which are a part of the Star bouquet. Himmat Butalia, Marketing Head, Sony PIX, says the channel is attempting to establish a personal connect with the youth through the digital medium."

The Independent and Ofcom look into BBC World News documentaries by company also on contract to the Malaysian government.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Independent, 17 Aug 2011, Ian Burrell and Martin Hickman: "The BBC has launched an investigation into how it broadcast to millions of people around the world programmes made by a company that had received millions of pounds in payments from the government of Malaysia. It has suspended all programming from the London-based production company, FBC, which since 2009 has made at least four BBC documentaries dealing with Malaysia and controversial issues such as the country's contentious palm oil industry and its treatment of rainforests and indigenous people. In a statement, the BBC said: 'FBC has now admitted to the BBC that it has worked for the Malaysian government. That information was not disclosed to the BBC as we believe it should have been when the BBC contracted programming from FBC.' ... In the Third Eye programme, one of several productions made on Malaysia for the BBC in the last three years, viewers were told of the key role of the Malaysian palm oil industry in meeting the growing demand for food in countries such as China and India. ... Only a brief reference was made to the reasons why the palm oil industry is the subject of fierce debate. Environmental groups complain that its spread has caused devastating levels of deforestation which harm biodiversity, threaten the livelihoods of indigenous people and put at risk the survival of the orang-utan."

The Independent, 18 Aug 2011, Ian Burrell: "Ofcom, the media regulator, is examining the circumstances surrounding the screening of programmes on Malaysia made by a London-based company allocated millions of pounds by that country to work on a global strategic communications campaign."

The Independent, 18 Aug 2011, leader: "More than any other media outlet, the BBC relies on a reputation for independence and impartiality. It is a status that is both the result of its public funding, and an implicit part of the bargain. ... That the producers of such programmes failed to disclose to the BBC that they were part of a media organisation that received millions of pounds from the Malaysian government must give cause for concern. So too is the fact the BBC did not have the means to discover this before programmes were broadcast."

Straits Times Indonesia, 19 Aug 2011, via Jakarta Globe: "The British Broadcasting Corporation has suspended all programming from an independent production company which made documentaries on Malaysia for the BBC, after the company admitted it had worked for the Malaysian government. This followed a similar decision taken two weeks ago by American broadcaster CNBC. It had pulled a weekend business programme, also made by British-based FactBased Communications (FBC), following allegations that FBC had been paid to produce programs to boost the image of Malaysian leaders."

Malaysia Today, 18 Aug 2011, Teoh El Sen: "'The issue has put another dent in Malaysia’s tattered image globally and attracted worldwide media attention. Surely Putrajaya and Kuching must now disclose their roles in this illegal public relations campaign,' [Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, communications director of Malaysia's People's Justice Party] said."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC Worldwide CBeebies app will keep Asia-Pacific "young children entertained on the go."

Posted: 20 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 19 Aug 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "A new Apple app to access content from the CBeebies pre-school children’s channel is being launched across the Indian subcontinent and wider Asia-Pacific region by BBC Worldwide. Parents in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Australia will now be able to keep their young children entertained on the go via their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch devices with enduring favourites such as ‘Charlie & Lola’, ‘In the Night Garden’, ‘Teletubbies’, and ‘3rd and Bird’."

International radio and the Soviet coup of 1991.

Posted: 20 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 16 Aug 2011, Will Englund: "Throughout the contentious summer of 1991, when the control and thus direction of the Soviet Union seemed to be up for grabs, the press here was pushing hard against the unwritten boundaries of glasnost. ... For a year, a small station called Ekho Moskvy, or Echo of Moscow, had been reporting and commenting on the news. Among reformers, in particular, it was a sensation. For the first time, they felt, they didn’t have to listen to the BBC or Radio Liberty to find out what was really going on. Ekho built a tremendously loyal audience — which it has retained to this day."

Washington Times, 19 Aug 2011, Jan Sherbin: "I happened to be visiting the Soviet Union during those historic days 20 years ago. ... Looking back, I recall that we Americans took the dramatic events more seriously than the locals. They wondered why we asked to watch TV. We said we wanted news. The locals laughed; they knew that when something unsettling happened, Soviet TV aired the “Swan Lake” ballet. We learned to garner information the same way the locals did - via shortwave radio. In Kiev the day the coup started, we joined the crowd at October Revolution Square, where people huddled around shortwaves, catching news from the BBC and Voice of America."

Kyiv Post, 18 Aug 2011, Marta Dyczok: "When I landed in Kyiv in the spring of 1991, an Oxford Ph.D. student coming to Ukraine to do research, I quickly decided that the best vantage point to see history unfolding was to become a journalist. So I got myself a job with The Guardian of London. ... Susan Viets, of The Independent in London, had a short wave radio, so like Mikhail Gorbachev, we followed the BBC News bulletins and hired a taxi to take us back to the capital. ... For me, Ukraine remains continually interesting, but for those living and working here, it can’t be easy, despite the fact that everyone has a cell phone now."

In this recording (mp3), Radio Moscow personality Vasily Strelnakov describes what happened in 1991, followed by a recording of Radio Moscow's North American Service at the time of the coup. As you can hear, Radio Moscow, at least briefly, went along with the putschists. However, on a US radio network interview, I heard Radio Moscow broadcaster Joe Adamov, who for decades followed the line of whatever Soviet regime happened to be in power, lambasting the coup leaders. The Radio Moscow audio comes from Radio Netherlands Media Network on 22 Aug 1991 (mp3), via Jonathan Marks's Vintage Vault.

"Dictators Can't Stop the Desire for Fun."

Posted: 20 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Dong-a Ilbo, 16 Aug 2011: "South Korean pop music, or K-pop, has reportedly started to gain popularity in North Korea. Despite a stern crackdown by the North’s security authorities, many people in the North led by the children of high-income families are learning the latest South Korean folk songs and dance, news reports say. Introducing this trend, the U.S.-based Radio Free Asia said Tuesday, 'Names of South Korean dance groups, such as Girls’ Generation’ and Big Bang are no longer unheard of in North Korea.' A Chinese trader who frequently visits North Korea told the broadcaster, 'South Korean dance fever is sweeping young people in Pyongyang,' adding, 'A homemaker of a well-heeled family asked me to get a Girls’ Generation CD to her recently.'"

allkpop, 16 Aug 2011, limabean17: "RFA also said that, according to a Chinese trader, 'Disco is all the craze among the youth of Pyongyang in their 10s and 20s. The wealthy North Koreans try to teach their children South Korean dances and songs instead of musical instruments. A renowned instructor has emerged to teach this choreography.'"

Chosunilbo, 18 Aug 2011, Park Hae-hyun: "The situation became so bad that the North Korean leader referred to North Pyongan Province as 'a playground for capitalist delinquents' after seeing the infusion of South Korean pop culture there during his recent visit and ordered a crackdown. But there is a saying that you can hide the truth or a yawn, but you cannot stop them. North Koreans love to have a good time just like everyone else. And no government will be able to repress the human desire to play."

The original RFA story, widely cited especially in the South Korean press, does not appear to be available in English at the RFA website.

"Cincinnati liars" transmitter building will be home to three museums, funds permitting.

Posted: 19 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 16 Aug 2011, president of the board of directors for the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting: Ken Rieser: "The Voice of America Bethany Station was built in 1944 on a wartime basis under the direction of broadcasting pioneer Powel Crosley. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was determined to broadcast radio messages overseas. Powel Crosley committed his innovative team of engineers in Cincinnati to building transmitters and antennae system capable of this. A 640-acre site was selected north of Cincinnati in the rural community of West Chester and not far from neighboring Crosley’s powerful WLW transmitter. Here, engineers set about building something that had never been built before. Intricate antennae systems would soon be scattered throughout the property and an impressive art-deco structure resembling a WWII airfield control tower was built to accommodate the six new 200-kilowatt transmitters (10 kW was the standard power at the time). The transmitters were designed and built by Crosley engineers with every component custom-made; and they would remain in service to the U.S. government for the next 50 years. The technology was top secret and perplexed Hitler and others as America’s Voice continued to permeate Europe and South America. Frustrated by the inability to block this powerful voice, Hitler referred to the facility as 'those Cincinnati Liars. ... With the advent of newer satellite-based technology, ground stations like VOA’s Bethany were no longer needed, and the facility was decommissioned in 1995. ... As [a museum on the site] took shape it was evident that the space was larger than needed for just the VOA Museum and West Chester Amateur Radio Association, which was operating an amateur radio station out of the building. At the same time two local museums were looking for new homes. They were the Gray History of Wireless Museum and Media Heritage. Both were excellent fits for the VOA Museum. The Gray History of Wireless Museum boasts one of the largest collections of antique radio equipment in the country and was assembled by Jack Gray, a former VOA Bethany Station engineer. Media Heritage is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and maintenance of historic broadcast recordings, photographs, scripts, film, printed text, oral histories and other media related to the history of radio and television in the Greater Cincinnati area, the Midwest and the nation. Both of these museums are now housed in the Bethany Station building. ... The goal is to raise $12 million to convert the Bethany Station into a museum that will preserve the rich history of VOA, wireless radio and Cincinnati broadcast history."

Washington Post: Pakistan's Geo TV accused of anti-Americanism but paid to broadcast VOA segments.

Posted: 19 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 19 Aug 2011, Karen Brulliard: "Pakistan’s largest media group, commonly referred to as the Geo-Jang group, ... is regularly criticized for using its four domestic television stations and two top newspapers to promote some very different ideas, including Islamist extremism, anti-Americanism and government loathing. ... So wide is Geo’s reach that the United States, despite its misgivings, subsidizes it. Geo is paid to broadcast a segment four nights a week from the U.S. government’s Voice of America, an arrangement that the U.S. Embassy sought to end in 2008 because of what it called the group’s 'blatant hate speech and intentionally inaccurate and irresponsible reporting,' according to a cable obtained by WikiLeaks. That plea fizzled, American officials said. 'We recognize them as . . . the biggest and most influential media outlet in the country,' said U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez. 'How can we not engage with them?'"

Burmese newspapers drop banners against VOA, BBC, RFA, DVB. At least for now.

Posted: 19 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 Aug 2011, citing Reuters: "Myanmar’s state-run newspapers dropped back-page banners attacking Western media for the first time in four years today, the latest indication its new government could be softening its stance towards opposition voices. Three official newspapers dropped half-page slogans that were running daily, accusing the Voice of America (VOA) and the BBC of 'sowing hatred among the people', and other Western media of 'generating public outrage'. ... Removing the slogans is seen as the latest gesture of openness since elections last year ended five decades of army rule and ushered in a civilian-led administration. ... State newspapers have also been less critical of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the figurehead of Myanmar’s democracy movement who was freed last year when her period of house arrest expired."

Democratic Voice of Burma, 17 Aug 2011, Joseph Allchin: "The removal of the slogans comes shortly after the government’s first-ever press conference last week, and a somewhat successful attempt to soften its draconian image. Despite the move, 17 of DVB’s video journalists remain behind bars, along with nearly 2000 political prisoners. The current figure is well above the average for political prisoners in Burma since a military dictatorship took power in 1962."

The Irrawaddy, 19 Aug 2011, Aung Lynn Htut: "Instances of disagreement and discontent among second-tier generals in the Burmese army have surfaced increasingly in the past few months. ... Since around 2009, foreign broadcasting stations such as the Voice of America, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Free Asia and Democratic Voice of Burma have highlighted the economic situation of families within the army. Consequently, officers and soldiers from army units in Yemon, Inndagaw and Hmawbi areas, which are under control of the Rangoon Command, stood up and called for better living conditions. It was reportedly quite effective as several top generals were shaken by the move."

On new Indonesian DTH satellite service, Al Jazeera English is in the basic package, CNN International in the premium.

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
MEASAT press release, 12 Aug 2011: "MEASAT Satellite Systems Sdn. Bhd. announced today an agreement with PT Central Tivi Digital to support Centrin TV’s Direct-to-Home (DTH) service in Indonesia. Under the agreement, which includes PT Patra Telekomunikasi Indonesia as a local partner, MEASAT will provide Ku- band capacity on the MEASAT-3a satellite for the platform. Centrin TV is a new DTH operator serving the Indonesian Pay TV market. Centrin TV focuses on bringing family orientated entertainment to its subscribers. It offers several basic packages and add-on packages, which includes channels like Disney, Nickelodeon, Universal, HBO, CNN International and Discovery." -- See also www.centrin.tv, where we learn that the basic package at 49.900 Rupiah (presumably per month) has Al Jazeera English. CNN International is in the premium package at Rp 89.900.

Comparing the internet freedom activities of the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (updated).

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The New Republic, 8 Aug 2011, Max Schulman: "An examination of the State Department’s record of its 18-month-old Internet freedom agenda reveals significant failures, both in overall funding efforts and in the omission of vital tools from its approach to helping activists crack through the layers of censorship imposed by repressive regimes. ... [The Broadcasting Board of Governors], an independent government agency responsible for Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, has been struggling for years to reach audiences restricted by government censors. Of late, this task has put the agency on the front lines of the Internet freedom battle in China, Iran, and elsewhere. In order to get around censorship, BBG board member Michael Meehan explained to me, the agency has spent millions of dollars on extra proxy servers for GIFC circumvention tools like Ultrasurf and Freegate. While fully aware of their upper-end limitations, BBG experts have concluded that these tools remain among the best options available. The RFA website maintains a page, entitled 'Getting Around Internet Blockage,' with well-updated advice for users and links to circumvention tools. 'The U.S. government does not spend enough money on this,' says Meehan. 'It’s probably off by a factor of ten.'"

Update: VOA Digital Frontiers, 12 Aug 2011: "While some in Washington had tried to portray this as a David-vs-Goliath intra-governmental battle (with the State Department being the Goliath), representatives for both organizations have downplayed such speculation. And both State and the BBG actively continue exploring new ways to pry open the digital locks governments like Burma, China, Iran and many others put on the Internet."

The Globe and Mail, 12 Aug 2011, Paul Koring: "'The bad guys have lots of tools,' said Ian Goldberg, an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo’s Cheriton School of Computer Science. A math genius, who won international acclaim while still in high school, Prof. Goldberg’s prowess as a cryptographer gained fame in cyberspace when he cracked Netscape’s supposedly unbreakable encryption. Now he is part of team that has come up with an anti-censorship system called Telex. ... Until a few days ago, when the joint University of Waterloo and University of Michigan team announced their Telex test running inside a computer lab in Ann Arbor, China’s cyber police may not have known there was a chink in their cyber wall." See previous post about Telex.

VOA News, 13 Aug 2011, Kurt Achin: "By mobile phone, Internet and shortwave radio, Tibetan exiles maintain a constant watch on their friends, contacts and relatives living in Tibet under Chinese control. China's increasingly sophisticated ability to conduct cyber-warfare is making the task more challenging, and pushing Tibetan exiles to develop training programs for keeping themselves secure online.

Arrest for listening to aircraft radio in South Africa compared to listening to BBC and VOA during WWII and Cold War.

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Business Day (Johannesburg), 12 Aug 2011, Vashek Korinek: "My parents risked their lives listening to BBC during German occupation in the Second World War, so did I listening to Voice of America and Radio Free Europe under a Stalinist regime. Now we risk our freedom by tuning, accidentally or otherwise, to an aircraft radio traffic on a receiver freely available over the counter. Over the past 25 years I have been held at a gunpoint and robbed several times. Not one criminal was apprehended for these crimes. So it is heartwarming to know that I am safe from criminals like Julian Swift who dared to tune a radio and listen to the natter of an aircraft crew. It is even more heartwarming to see that the law officials have finally found someone their own size to take on!"

Business Day, 7 Aug 2011, Chantelle Benjamin: "Aircraft-spotting enthusiast Julian Swift returns to the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court today to defend himself against several charges of interception of electronic equipment. Mr Swift appears to be the first aircraft spotter prosecuted in terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica) and the Electronic Communications Act." See also Business Day, 8 Aug 2011, Setumo Stone.

Pakistan's new Chinese-built satellite can transmit 150-200 TV programs and has "strong capabilities against ... jamming."

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NASASpaceFlight.com, 11 Aug 2011, Rui C. Barbosa: "China has launched a domestic communications satellite for Pakistan’s SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission) at 16:15UTC on August 11 from the Xi Chang Satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province. The launch of Paksat-1R was conducted by the Long March 3B/E (Chang Zheng-3B/E) launch vehicle. ... The satellite ... can support the transmission of 150-200 TV programs simultaneously to ground users using a 0.45m antenna device. The DFH-4 satellite also features strong capabilities against hostile interference and jamming."

Ahlul Bayt News Agency, 9 Aug 2011: "Lualua TV, a satellite TV station launched by 15 members of the Bahraini opposition on 17 July in London, has been jammed since the first day despite changing frequency regularly. According to Eutelsat, the jamming is being orchestrated from Bahrain. Lualua TV wanted to broadcast from Bahrain but it was repeatedly denied permission. It is still managing to broadcast on the Hotbird satellite." The Next Web, 14 Aug 2011, Nancy Messieh: "Launches on Livestation instead."

Euronews broadcasts "exclusive" interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 4 Aug 2011: "The era of hegemony, slavery and World War II has ended and all governments and nations must currently cooperate to help establish a 'better world,' said President Ahmadinejad in an interview with Euronews TV channel on Wednesday."

Gulf News (Dubai), 11 Aug 2011, Francis Matthew: "[I]n a rambling interview that Ahmadinejad gave Euronews ... he remained confident and defiant about Iran's nuclear programme, even if he wrongly picked on Germany and Belgium as examples of European countries with nuclear weapons."

Euronews, 4 Aug 2011: "Ahmadinejad – the full exclusive interview." Video and transcript of the interview by Jon Davies.

Head of planned news network says "he doesn’t intend his channel to become a pro-Israel station."

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Jewish Tribune (Canada), 10 Aug 2011, Avraham Zuroff: "Billionaire, philanthropist and founder of the WJC’s Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, [Alexander] Machkevitch announced earlier this year at the Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal conference in Washington, DC, of his plans to create an alternative news network. 'Every day and every hour people get negative information about Israel,' Machkevitch said. 'Therefore, the most important thing is to represent Israel on an international level, with real information.' ... At the recent WJC Board of Governors conference, Machkevitch told the Jewish Tribune that he doesn’t intend his channel to become a pro-Israel station. Nor is he sure where its headquarters will be. 'We’re conducting a feasibility study,' he said. 'The results will be available in September.' Machkevitch is looking for investors who will receive shares between 2 and 3 per cent. As for the network’s angle, 'we’ll be telling the truth,' he said."

Uzbekistan blocks, unblocks some news websites. International broadcasting sites remain barred.

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AP, 13 Aug 2011: "Internet users in authoritarian Uzbekistan say some international news websites that had been blocked this week are now accessible. Several major news sites, including those of Reuters and Bloomberg, had been blocked for two days. But three Uzbeks contacted by The Associated Press on Friday said the sites had been opened. ... A handful of Russian news sites made unreachable this week could still not be accessed. Uzbeks have been barred for several years from visiting the websites of the BBC and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which produces programs on Central Asia."

BBC World Service now available on FM in Benghazi and Misrata, Libya.

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BBC World Service press release, 12 Aug 2011: "The BBC is announcing the launch of World Service content on FM radio in the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Misrata. The BBC World Service exists to provide accurate, impartial and trusted news around the world – balanced and reliable news and information plays a particularly important role for audiences during times and in areas of conflict. BBC Arabic has an established audience in Libya on TV as well as SW and MW radio and we are pleased to be extending our availability to FM radio. The programming is principally in Arabic radio, with the addition of the World Service English Newshour programme once a day." On 91.5 MHz in both cities.

BBC Hindi website re-launches "with new design and features."

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Press Trust of India, 10 Aug 2011: "BBC world service on Wednesday re-launched its Tamil website, with new design and features, including enhanced content-sharing functions, a mobile version and an access to archived radio programmes. Revamped bbctamil.com has a wider format, featuring more convenient and detailed content categorisation. Enhanced with ability to host video stories, the site also features image galleries, a press release from BBC said. ... BBC Tamil is part of BBC world service. Its 30-minute daily radio broadcasts, between 15.45 and 16.15 GMT (21.15 and 21.45 IST), provide an essential global and regional insight and bring high-quality, accurate and impartial news to Tamil-speaking audiences in India, Sri Lanka and across the world. Every week, about 690,000 people listen to BBC Tamil broadcasts. The BBC’s special Tamil-language infotainment output for India’s FM market includes sports, business and showbiz bulletins and is available in Chennai via partner station, Big FM."

Xinhua occupies "prominent" advertising space in Times Square (updated again).

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 25 July 2011, Stuart Elliott: "One of the most prominent advertising spaces in Times Square is soon to be occupied by a Chinese brand. This is a rendering of how 2 Times Square will look with a new sign for Xinhua that will replace a sign for HSBC. Xinhua, the news agency operated by the Chinese government, is leasing a giant sign, known as a spectacular, on 2 Times Square, the building that is the northern anchor of the district. The new LED sign, 60 feet high by 40 feet wide, is being built for Xinhua (pronounced Shin-wa) and is scheduled to make its debut next Monday. Xinhua, which has recently expanded its business presence in the United States, is taking over the space on 2 Times Square that had been occupied for the last decade by the HSBC bank. The HSBC lease expired and was not renewed. ... Many media analysts, however, are skeptical that Xinhua will make much headway anytime soon in markets like North America and Europe, where residents are sophisticated and often look askance at information delivered by news agencies owned by governments — any governments. Also, reports by Xinhua on topics like Taiwan and Tibet, which are of considerable political concern to its government bosses, are not necessarily known for being objective."

The China Post (Taipei), 28 July 2011: "This artists rendering provided by Sherwood Outdoor shows a 60-foot by 40-foot sign for China's Xinhua news agency that is about to take a spot in New York's Times Square." -- It shows the Xinhua logo, but will it be instead something to do with Xinhua's CNC World television channel? Update: No...

Wall Street Journal, 1 Aug 2011, Aaron Rutkoff: "Xinhua, the news agency run by Chinese government, joined Time Square’s glowing pantheon of corporate iconography Monday, taking the second-highest position in a tower of flashing displays for Prudential, Coca-Cola, Samsung and Hyundai. The huge LED sign measures 60 feet by 40 feet and replaces a billboard at 2 Times Square that had been leased by HSBC for the last decade. ... The state-run news agency recently finalized a deal to move to the top floor of the 44-story skyscraper at 1540 Broadway — the same building that is now home to the huge Forever 21 store and near media giant Thomson Reuters. ... The billboard will bring new visibility to the news organization, but it won’t help spread Xinhua’s news to tourists and office workers hurrying through Times Square. In its current incarnation, the billboard does not carry headlines or news summaries, unlike many other displays controlled by media organizations in Times Square (including the Dow Jones ticker at 1 Times Square, which is run by the same company that owns The Wall Street Journal)."

Update: Washington Times, 9 Aug 2011, Dan Bloom: "The problem is that Xinhua is not a brand. It is rather the mark of branded disinformation and propaganda. Americans need to know that. Like the former USSR, today’s China thinks it can fool the Western world with glass skyscrapers, space flights and glowing Times Square signs. But the West knows better - or does it? Xinhua is merely flexing its public-relations muscles as it attempts to pull the wool over gullible eyes in America and Europe. Xinhua isn’t a news agency. Let’s be honest: It’s the propaganda arm of a one-party state in an undemocratic land ruled by fear and paranoia that uses trumped-up prison terms to keep dissidents in line. Xinhua is akin to the old Soviet propaganda machines of yesteryear that served Russia so well in the 1970s and ‘80s. Remember Tass? It’s one thing for Times Square to open its advertising space to private brands from across the globe, and surely Chinese brands like Haier and Lenovo are welcome to showcase their logos there. But a 'news agency' that prints blatant falsehoods about events inside China and in the West, and has the unmitigated gall to call its workers 'journalists'? Whoever let Xinhua into Times Square ought to have his head examined."

BBC, CNBC drop programs after report of alleged ties between producer FBC Media and the Malaysian government (updated).

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News on News, 4 Aug 2011, Kevin Coy: "The BBC has dropped shows produced by FBC Media, part of FBC Group Ltd, after it came to light that the business was operating on behalf of the Malaysian Government. The BBC have said in a statement to News on News: 'The BBC is committed to the highest editorial standards and takes these issues seriously. The BBC was not aware of some of the information provided and we are examining the claims made as a matter of urgency. All independent TV companies who produce programmes for BBC World News have to sign strict agreements to ensure programmes meet the BBC's editorial guidelines, including avoiding any conflict of interest. We have contacted FBC to seek further information. As a precautionary step, we will not broadcast programmes made by FBC whilst we look into these claims.' The blog which initially broke the story, the Sarawak Report, also claimed that the BBC were aware a week ago, and have appointed a team to investigate the activities of FBC Media. ... CNBC has also indefin[i]tely suspended the weekend current affairs show 'World Business', also produced by FBC Media. A CNBC spokesperson said; 'In light of serious questions raised last week, CNBC immediately initiated an examination of FBC and its business practices and has withdrawn the programme "World Business" indefinitely.'"

Today (Singapore), 5 Aug 2011: "FBC Media is also said to have dealings with US-based CNN."

Politico, 8 Aug 2011, Keach Hagey: "CNN International is in the hot seat over allegations that the host of one of its business shows used his platform to give sympathetic interviews to clients of a PR firm and television production company he led. Concerns about the activities of the UK-based company, FBC Media, led CNBC to yank its FBC-produced 'World Business' program a week and a half ago and BBC to pull any FBC-created content pending an investigation last week. But so far, CNN International has stood by its host, John Defterios, who it said left his job as president of FBC Media in March, when he signed on full time with CNN. ... Last week, CNN spokeswoman Lauren Cone told POLITICO: 'CNN’s recent interview with the Malaysian prime minister was set up solely by CNN with the PM’s office. John Defterios became a full-time employee with CNN in March, at which time he severed his affiliation with FBC.'"

Update: News on News, 10 Aug 2011, Kevin Coy: "CNN International is standing by presenter John Defterios amidst claims of his involvement with a communications company acting on behalf of the Malaysian and Kazak Governments. ... CNN spokesperson Claudia Coles told News on News that Defterios became a full time member of CNN staff in March 2011, at which point he severed all ties with FBC Media."

Asia Sentinel, 12 Aug 2011: "The Malaysian government appears to have abruptly dropped a controversial multi-million contract with a London-based media company that was designed to plant favorable news stories about Malaysia with some of the world’s leading television networks, according to a Kuala Lumpur news portal, Malaysian Insider. Publicity over the contract, first reported by the Sarawak-based blog Sarawak Report, has resulted in embarrassment to both Malaysia and some of the world’s biggest television networks. ... The story appeared to have escaped the notice of the media both inside and outside of Malaysia." See also Asia Sentinel, 11 Aug 2011

Al Jazeera Kiswahili begins hiring (updated).

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Daily Maverick (Johannesburg), 2 Aug 2011, Simon Allison: "Al Jazeera has started recruitment prior to the launch of Al Jazeera Kiswahili, a new channel in the Swahili language. The channel, which will stick with the news and current affairs shows familiar to viewers of Al Jazeera English, will broadcast across East Africa and be headquartered in the region – probably in Nairobi. This is big news for the East African media market, which is already the most vigorous in Africa, and is a huge step for the Qatar-based news outlet. ... [I]ts journalistic ethos is markedly different from the CNNs and BBCs of this world; eschewing 'parachute journalism', it believes in recruiting local journalists to report on local issues and has gained a reputation for incisive, fearless reporting – except if the topic is the internal politics of Qatar, on which the channel is conspicuously quiet. Its move into the Swahili market is part of a strategy of global expansion, which includes plans for a Turkish Al Jazeera and a Spanish Al Jazeera." -- A Spanish Al Jazeera? First I have heard of that plan. See also the Al Jazeera Swahili employment announcement.

Business Daily (Nairobi), 5 Aug 2011, Paul Wafula: "Qatar’s al-Jazeera Network and China Central Television (CCTV) are scouting for talent in the region that will support production of relevant content to compete with British Broadcasting Corporation and American Cable News Network that have dominated the international broadcast market in the region."

Update: Bizcommunity.com, 10 Aug 2011, Walter Wafula: "The Al Jazeera Media Network in Qatar is set to establish a regional news and current affairs media network in East Africa, the company said on 8 August 2011. The new network has been named the Al Jazeera Kiswahili and will be aired in the five East African Community Partner states including; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Kiswahili is the most widely spoken language in East and Central Africa and is the national language of Tanzania and Kenya. 'Al Jazeera Kiswahili Channel is expected to launch in 2012 and is currently recruiting,' said the company in an advertisement published in the East African newspaper on Monday. ... The recruitment drive by Al Jazeera comes a month after China Central Television (CCTV), the Chinese national broadcaster announced several vacancies for East African electronic media journalists and staff. The move set the stage for increased competition for the limited talent-base by both local and international news channels operating in the region."

Continued discussion about the recent addition of Al Jazeera Englsh to New York City cable TV.

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The Jewish Week (New York), 9 Aug 2011, Stewart Ain: "[A]fter being blacked out in virtually all of the United States, the Al Jazeera [English] television network owned by the Qatar royal family has come to New York. ... Don Irvine, chairman of the nonprofit Accuracy in Media, said he is 'disappointed' Al Jazeera was able to 'come in through the back door [on someone else’s channel] when it would otherwise not get on.' 'We call it terror television because it has been used as a mouthpiece for al-Qaeda,' he said. ... Asked about its coverage of Israel, [former Al Jazeera English managing director Dave] Marash said it 'clearly keeps its eyes on the interests and treatment of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, which gives them plenty of occasion to criticize the Israeli government. But in Israel they do try to report stories out, and to base them on facts or clearly attributed points of view. 'It may be anti-Netanyahu, anti-Likud etc. ... but it is not anti-Semitic.' He pointed out that during Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Al Jazeera English reported the attacks on Israeli civilians 'with as much outrage as it reported attacks on innocent Lebanese, which is typical of their approach.' 'The Arab Spring can, I think, be called the Al Jazeera Revolution,' Marash added, 'since the values of the revolution were promulgated to the revolutionary generation via Al Jazeera Arabic.'"

Huffington Post, 10 Aug 2011, E. Nina Rothe: "During my travels in the Arab world, I always hoped the journeys would time out just right with an episode of my favorite entertainment show on AJE: The Fabulous Picture Show hosted and produced by Amanda Palmer. Palmer, with her grace and professional strength, could cinematically unite the Arab and Western worlds but also bring to the forefront important international films that may never get a chance to be seen otherwise. On the latest episode of the FPS, now airing on AJE, Palmer spoke to Israeli filmmakers Tomer and Barak Heymann about Tomer's personal documentary titled The Queen Has No Crown, interviewed visionary French director Luc Besson and introduced audiences to Swedish filmmaker Göran Olsson's Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, a documentary particularly interesting in light of the recent people-power movements of the Middle East."

New Al Jazeera English documentaries include exploration of "the significant role we played" in the Al Qaeda conflict.

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Realscreen, 10 Aug 2011, Barry Walsh: "Al Jazeera English has announced plans for five documentary series premiering between this month and October, designed to delve deeper into the subject matter of some of the network’s top news stories. The 9/11 Decade, premiering August 30, will illuminate issues surrounding both sides of the al-Qaeda conflict that has shaped today’s world via three documentaries: The Intelligence War, The Image War and The Clash of Civilizations? 'The series uncovers that al-Qaeda lost the intelligence war, rather than the CIA winning it; that al-Qaeda had a remarkably efficient propaganda machine but threw it all away; and that far from a war of civilizations between the West and Muslim extremists, we now have democratic uprisings across the Arab world,' said Paul Eedle, director of programs for Al Jazeera English. 'Al Jazeera became part of the story, so we’ll be exploring the significant role we played, which resulted in accusations being slung at us by both sides of the conflict.'" -- Let me now sling an accusation at Al Jazeera English for boasting of becoming "part of the story." It really should be more of an admission.

Radio Netherlands, 10 Aug 2011, Mirjam van den Berg: "Picture this scenario: A wealthy holidaymaker checks their chiwawa into a ‘dog hotel’ before jetting off into the sun, meanwhile you have to work long hours doing a crummy job and your entire village back home expects you to pay for funerals, weddings and new jeans. That’s the European reality for hopeful African immigrants. Or so says television series ‘Surprising Europe’, which is being aired on Al Jazeera English starting this week until October." See also YouTube, 8 Aug 2011, Surprising Europe.

US television's limited coverage of US wars is "actually a national security issue."

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Nieman Watchdog, 10 Aug 2011, John Hanrahan: "As skimpy as newspaper coverage of the Afghanistan/Pakistan war has been, TV has been even stingier. The Tyndall Report, which monitors network TV news (but not Fox or CNN), reported that in 2010 the Afghan war received a total of 416 minutes of coverage out of some 15,000 minutes of news broadcast by ABC, CBS and NBC in their 30-minute weekday evening news programs. ... U.S. news junkies, of course, can also take the time to access, on the Internet or on television, other English-language news media that currently have reporters in Afghanistan: the BBC, Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Guardian newspaper of London, and Al Jazeera, among others. ... [University of Michigan professor Juan Cole] said Al Jazeera (accessible on the Internet and by a limited number of U.S. home television viewers) shows itself to be more interested in informing the public from many of the world’s hot spots than U.S. networks which, he said, view the Afghanistan war as a 'downer story' amid their frothy entertainment programming. As Cole said about Al Jazeera in his blog: '... Al Jazeera is not sympathetic to al-Qaeda or Muslim radicalism, but has a philosophy of reporting all sides of conflicts...Unlike U.S. network news, they don’t consider themselves our nannies, that they should filter the news for us and protect us from hearing the words of enemies.' The failures of U.S. television news coverage contribute to a poorly-informed citizenry – a state of affairs, Cole said, that is 'actually a national security issue.'" -- Extensive reporting of Afghanistan and Pakistan by RFE/RL and VOA is not mentioned in this piece. It's an example of how a partnership of US international and domestic broadcasting would benefit all the broadcasters, as well as the US audience.

Chicago Sun-Times, 8 Aug 2011, Laura Washington: "American television needs a news booster shot. Al-Jazeera could be the cure. There’s always room for more context and content. Too much of our TV outlets’ international coverage has been reduced to parachuting into countries in crises. We pretend to understand the dynamics of forever-brewing conflicts and controversies. Al-Jazeera knows the Middle East, from al-Qaida to Mubarak. No television outlet was better equipped to cover the Arab spring and its seismic developments in Syria, Yemen and Egypt."

Radio New Zealand International launches online archive of Pacific leaders remembering independence "from 1960 onwards."

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Radio New Zealand International press release, 8 Aug 2011: "On Tuesday 9 August Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) will launch a new online feature called 'New Flags Flying' (www.rnzi.com/newflagsflying) The online service will feature extensive archival audio and transcripts of 16 former Pacific leaders as they remember the move to independence and self government in the Pacific. From 1960 onwards, first in Polynesia, then in Melanesia and Micronesia, colonies became nations and millions of 'subjects' became citizens. The interviews on the website provide a unique record of Pacific history and reflect the views and memories of the most influential decision makers of their time. The project is the work of veteran New Zealand broadcaster/writer Ian Johnstone and former New Zealand diplomat Michael Powles who have both spent considerable time in the Pacific and have personal memories of many of the leaders."

In the Australia Network tender process, talk of "full investigation" and "formal complaint."

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The Age, 11 Aug 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The opposition is pushing for a full investigation of government interference in the public tender for Australia's $223 million official overseas television service. Coalition [of opposition parties] foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop last night said [ruling party] Labor's excuses for making late changes to the bidding rules to run the service, known as Australia Network, were implausible and said an investigation would need to look into any conflict of interest in the role of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. She confirmed the Coalition was considering a call for a probe by the Commonwealth Auditor-General into the handling of the fiercely fought tender between the publicly funded ABC and Sky News Australia, part-owned by Rupert Murdoch."

The Age, 12 Aug 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Sky News has lodged a formal complaint with the Department of Foreign Affairs over ABC chief Mark Scott's alleged lobbying of a senior cabinet minister in the fiercely contested contract to run Australia Network. In a move that raises the chances of costly litigation over the disputed $223 million overseas television service, Sky News - part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation - has also complained about a speech Mr Scott delivered in June in spite of rules that prohibit the bidders speaking out on the tender. Under tender guidelines the department must respond to the Sky News complaint, with the Australian government solicitor charged to guarantee probity of the process."

Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Aug 2011, Daniel Burt: "Sky [News Australia] is a hungry beast that eats itself. The format is news and news, followed by panel shows and then news again featuring clips from the last panel show. There are also half-hour blocks allocated respectively to American ABC News, CBS News and New Zealand Prime News. These make for a refreshing change from being spoken to earnestly, to being spoken to earnestly in a foreign accent. ... Sky is up against the ABC in a tender process for the Australia Network, a $230-million, 10-year contract to broadcast Australian television to the world. It's an important weapon in global diplomacy and the brief is to showcase Australia as versatile, mature, multicultural and dynamic. But it's hard to present all this with a short attention span."

See previous post about same subject.

CNN International MD on the cost of international news coverage: "You don't know the half of it."

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Broadcasting & Cable, 9 Aug 2011, George Winslow interviewing Tony Maddox, managing director of CNN International: Q: These big international stories have come at a time when a lot of U.S. news organizations have shut down many of their international bureaus. Where does that leave the U.S. TV industry in terms of covering international events? Maddox: It is always possible to fly into stories. We fly into stories. We are not always permanently based in some of the places that we go to. But frankly I think the audience cares about authenticity. I think they know whether or not you are committed to a story, whether or not you have the background knowledge and a genuine expertise. If they see [CNN's] Arwa Damon reporting on Syria, [its apparent that she speaks Arabic] and has grown up in that region and that she knows the region. There is an expertise and an authenticity there that is very difficult to achieve if your journalism consists of helicoptering into a place for 24 to 48 hours and then leaving again. Ultimately, that doesn't give you the same quality of coverage and the same level of intelligence, no matter how well-intended. ... Q: When you have a year like this with a lot of big international stories, has that really ramped up some of your costs? Maddox: You don't know the half of it. It has been a year of significant investment in our ongoing news coverage. But we want to invest in quality news coverage. It is what the brand is about, and we see increases in our audiences when we have those really big news stories. For our distribution partners, it also helps to reinforce the idea that CNN is a vital service and a distinctive service. That is an important message for us when we talk about renewing our distribution rates. Although it involves investment, it is ultimately good for business."

BBC.com says it is second largest news site in Canada, with "3.5 million uniques."

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Mediacaster, 9 Aug 2011: "BBC.com continues to build its digital presence in Canada, with word that it has appointed Reeshma Esmail as its new Vice President, Head of Digital Ad Sales for BBC.com and Lonelyplanet.com. ... BBC.com cites comScore ratings to show it's the country's 2nd largest news site, with an audience of over 3.5 million uniques. Globally, BBC.com's is ranked 1st delivering over 65 million unique users."

From the Heritage Foundation, confusion about US international broadcasting.

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Heritage Foundation, 10 Aug 2011, Helle Dale: "The Security Assistance Act of 2011 (Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2012, H.R. 2583), which authorizes appropriations for the State Department for fiscal year (FY) 2012, represents a strong, back-to-basics answer to the Obama Administration’s overly ambitious attempts at redefining U.S. foreign relations. ... Public diplomacy in the form of educational and cultural exchange programs as well as U.S. international broadcasting would be at slightly lower levels than last year. Noteworthy was the incorporation of the Middle East Broadcasting Network, along with Radio Free Asia, which effectively takes it off the table for the reorganization planned by the Broadcasting Board of Governors."

MBN and RFA have been incorporated since they were created. The language in the bill simply adds MBN to RFE/RL and RFA in the existing provision about civil liability in the International Broadcasting Act of 1994: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any and all limitations on liability that apply to the members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors also shall apply to such members when acting in their capacities as members of the boards of directors of RFE/RL, Incorporated and Radio Free Asia." The amendment strikes "Incorporated and Radio Free Asia" and inserts "Incorporated, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks." (I would like to like strike all three, and VOA, too, and insert USIB Inc.)

Internet cannot replace VOA radio broadcasts to China, she writes.

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Free Media Online, 9 Aug 2011, Jing Zhang, president, Women’s Rights in China: "As I grew up, I learned to listen to short-wave broadcasts. Democracy, freedom and human rights became my lifelong passion, which entailed the price of nearly six years’ imprisonment. ... In those days, massive numbers of radio listeners in Mainland China relied on Voice of America for a sneak peek of the outside world through a narrow but open gate. Through VOA, the Chinese public understood that 'Imperialist America' was not the monster the official propaganda made it out to be; that the Chinese should also enjoy human rights; that all men were created equal; that democracy was actually a good thing. Many of those who listened to VOA later became leaders and staunch believers who propelled the Democracy Movement — from Democracy Wall in 1979, Tiananmen in 1989, to today. The credit due to VOA, who accompanied the struggles of more than two generations of Chinese, could not be overestimated. ... The Internet offers undeniable advantages. However, it cannot replace radio broadcasting. In today’s China, foreign radio broadcasts in Chinese are still a crucial source of outside information for the majority of the population who lack access to the Internet. Voice of America not only provides indispensable and truthful news reporting, it also upholds the image of the United States and is a valuable antidote to the Great Foreign Propaganda Plan of the Chinese regime. Not only would the elimination of VOA’s Chinese language service be contrary to the spirit and values of America’s Founding Fathers, it would inflict irreparable harm on generations of dissidents and advocates of freedom and democracy, and silence the most vulnerable groups in Chinese society—the women and children." -- In modern China, access to internet is much greater than access to a shortwave radio. In fact, more people have an internet connection than any kind of radio set. And the gorilla in the room remains the fact that USIB has two stations dividing a very small audience in China between them. See my essay on USIB to China.

Journalism educator Dan Gillmor calls for Dish Network to add the big three global news channels.

Posted: 12 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
San Francisco Enquirer, 10 Aug 2011, Sarah Granger: "I ... caught three factual errors on national TV news networks, including a CNN anchor mistakenly naming the Prime Minister as Gordon Brown, not David Cameron. I don't expect all reporters to know all the details of the three previous riots in Brixton, but they should at least know who the sitting British Prime Minister is. ... Dan Gillmor, author of Mediactive and well-known journalist earlier this week called domestic news networks 'deliberately shallow' in a Google Plus post, while pleading with Dish Network to add BBC World News, Al Jazeera English and CNN International."

Wall Street Journal, 5 Aug 2011, Brigid Grauman: Frie Leysen, "a soft-spoken, steely willed Belgian arts curator who has been behind some of the most cutting-edge festivals of the past 30 years": "'Like people in Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Brussels, we all go on the Internet, we all can watch BBC World, CNN and Al-Jazeera,' she says. 'Even if our perspective is completely different, we have a lot of things in common. We share the time we live in. That is why contemporary art is an excellent entry point for starting to understand each other.'"

The future of international broadcasting includes Jollywobbles, Gigglebiz, and Zingzillas Zing Bop.

Posted: 12 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 9 Aug 2011, Kristin Brzoznowski: "A new round of commissions have been made by BBC Worldwide Channels for its portfolio of networks, with 112 hours of new content coming for 2011, including the murder mystery Dripping in Chocolate. In 2010, BBC Worldwide Channels commissioned 34 hours, with this year's 112 hours representing a substantial increase. Among the shows given the greenlight is Year of Adventures, inspired by Ben Fogle's Lonely Planet book of the same name. The 5x50-minute show will be produced by BBC Bristol, to air on international feeds of BBC Knowledge, BBC HD and BBC Entertainment in January 2012. ... In the way of kids' fare, new titles include Andy’s Wild Adventures, made by the BBC’s Natural History Unit; Baby Jake; Jollywobbles; season one of Zingzillas Zing Bop; season two of Gigglebiz; season two of ZingZillas; season three of Show Me Show Me; and season six of Nina & the Neurons."

Religious broadcaster TWR tests its new shortwave transmitter on Guam.

Posted: 12 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
KTWR Love Asia By Radio blog, 9 Aug 2011, dgregson: "We are pleased to report on 9 August 2011 we successfully accomplished an initial power up RF test. For about 10 minutes we aired a station ID test and music tone at 0500 UTC on 31M at 57KW." -- KTWR is the Guam station of religious broadcaster TWR, formerly known as Trans World Radio. More posts about the construction of the transmitter are available at the blog.

Internews supported radio stations in South Sudan "are the most important sources of information in their communities."

Posted: 12 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Internews Program News, 5 Aug 2011: "A network of FM radio stations in South Sudan established and supported by Internews are the most important sources of information in their communities, according to a new research report. Internews commissioned an extensive impact assessment of its five radio stations: in Malualkon in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Leer in Unity State; and Turalei in Warrap which broadcasts into the disputed region of Abyei. Two other stations are in the transitional areas of Kauda, in the Nuba Mountains of Southern Kordofan and Kurmuk in Blue Nile State. The network has an estimated audience reach of 1.7 million listeners. ... Internews’ project “Radio for Peace, Democracy and Development in South Sudan,” began in 2006 and is made possible by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development." With link to the report. -- It's actually a potential audience reach of 1.7 million, although the report indicates that large proportions of people in each community listen to the stations. See previous post about a BBG agreement to place FM transmitters in South Sudan to relay VOA and Radio Sawa.

Review of the BBC global iPlayer app.

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Irish Times, 7 Aug 2011, Ciara O'Brien: "[L]ast month, BBC Worldwide began offering a new global iPlayer to iPad users. I’ve been testing it, with a six-month subscription from BBC. So far, I’m impressed. There are a few things you should know about the global iPlayer service. First of all, disregard the name. The only thing it really has in common with the original BBC service of that name is a few of the programmes. While the UK iPlayer is a seven day catch up, live TV and live radio service, the global app is more of a mix of archive material and newer programmes. You can stream the content over 3G or wifi, though obviously wifi would be preferable. And you can also download shows to watch later, when you don’t have an internet connection or are outside the service area. It launched with 1500 hours of content, from Fawlty Towers and Last of the Summer Wine to Luther and Doctor Who. And about 100 hours will be added every month, so there’s plenty to work through. ... €6.99 a month may not be everyone’s idea of value. You do get a small amount of free content, and it’s intended to have some sponsor funding to bankroll this, but at the moment the free stuff is extremey limited. The good thing is though that you can browse the content without a subscription, so you can see what’s on offer and decide if it’s something that would be worth paying for before you pay a cent."

Will BBC/Storz TV programming deal "appeal to the perceived stupidity of the American audience"?

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 8 Aug 2011: "Starz Entertainment and BBC Worldwide Productions announced today an innovative multi-year partnership to develop, produce, and distribute premium television series. These series will be co-developed by Starz and BBC Worldwide Productions and will air on Starz's television networks. The new series will be one-hour dramas that appeal to the Starz and international audiences. BBC Worldwide Productions will produce the series, in close partnership with Starz's Original Programming team. The programs, to be announced at a later date, will be distributed by Starz in the United States and English-speaking Canada. BBC Worldwide will distribute the series internationally."

flick filosopher, 8 Aug 2011, Maryan Johanson: "If Miracle Day is any indication, these new projects will be the definition of 'lowest common denomination': dumb it down to . Don’t expect the American audience to show it is capable of enjoying something just a bit smarter... never mind that it has already demonstrated as much with the purely BBC Doctor Who and the purely BBC Torchwood doing well in the States. Dumb it down some more in order to grab the mainstream audience, which couldn’t possibly cope with timey-whimey and Welsh accents. *grrrr*"

This month, Iran will launch "intranet" to "replace the international Internet."

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 3 Aug 2011: "Communication and information technology minister Reza Taqipour Anvari announced at the start of July that the first phase of a 'National Internet,' also called 'Clean Internet,' will get under way at the end of August, offering an 8 Mbps speed broadband connection that will later rise to 20 Mbps and a national search engine called 'Ya Haq' (Oh Just One) to be launched in early 2012. The project’s aim is to 'better manage national emails and information gathering within the country and to improve security,' he said. Surveillance of dissidents’ email will inevitably increase. Online social networks are used in Iran to resist government repression and circulate independent news and information, despite the severity of the censorship system. This new project will reinforce censorship and surveillance of netizens. It consists of an Intranet designed ultimately to and to discriminate between ordinary citizens and the 'elite' (banks, ministries and big companies), which will continue to have access to the international Internet."

RFE/RL, 8 Aug 2011: "Radio Farda, RFE's Persian-language service, reported last week that the regime had opened a Facebook page mimicking its own to discredit it and confuse visitors." -- Doesn't every Facebook page mimick all other Facebook pages?

Shortwave broadcasting threatened by new media, budget cuts, and, now, solar flares.

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 9 Aug 2011: "A flood of reports came in during an RNW broadcast this morning; short wave reception was extremely poor and some listeners reported being unable to hear anything at all. A huge solar flare that started at around 0800 UTC was responsible for the reception problems and fade out. Solar flares disrupt the way a shortwave signal bounces off the ionosphere. Normally, a short wave signal bounces and, despite the fact that the Earth is round, can travel thousands of kilometres. RNW’s medium wave frequency – 1296 kHz – has not been affected by the solar flare as medium wave is not dependent on an ionosphere bounce during daylight hours. Around an hour after the solar flare started, shortwave reception began returning to normal." See also Space.com, 9 Aug 2011. -- The solar flares produce short-term disruptions but long-term improvements in shortwave propagation.

RT (Russia Today) reaches half a billion YouTube views, with the help of UFOs and a flying donkey.

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today) press release, 8 Aug 2011: "RT's total view count on YouTube has now exceeded half a billion, making the Russian news channel a world record setter. In terms of the total view count, RT is well ahead of other major media outlets - Al Jazeera English gets only half as many hits; Reuters and Sky News are viewed 12 times less; and CNN International receives 100 times fewer clicks. Thanks to its snowballing popularity, RT's revenue from YouTube has already exceeded half a million U.S. Dollars. 'It's a remarkable achievement, and I'm proud that we made it over such a short period of time,' said RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan. In 2007, RT was the first of Russia's channels to start uploading content to the world's largest video hosting service, YouTube. In March 2011, RT became YouTube's most viewed channel, beating the hugely popular music video website Vevo. As of today, RT's total view count on YouTube has exceeded 500 million and, according to YouTube Trends analysts, is growing at an average rate of 850 thousand views per day." -- See also the YouTube RT Russia Today channel and click on Most Viewed. Many of the top views have to do with Japan's tsunami, but stories about UFOs and one about a flying donkey are high on the list.

Perth Now, 11 Aug 2011: "Russia Today seems to have the lion's share of top videos on YouTube and this is the best of them. Eerie street scenes that makes London look like set of 28 Days Later? Check."

New York Times, The Lede, 11 Aug 2011, Robert Mackey: "Perhaps it should now be said that Vladimir Putin, the “Superman” of global politics, is now also its Indiana Jones. Self-styled, that is. As video from the state-run broadcaster Russia Today shows, even when the prime minister of Russia goes scuba diving, he does so with purpose and does not come up empty handed. The footage shows Mr. Putin on Wednesday in a stage-managed dive off the coast of the Taman Peninsula, combing the sand in very shallow waters of the Black Sea when, lo and behold, the camera pulls back to reveal two Greek urns poking out at photographically appealing angles from the sun-brightened bottom."

Perhaps there should be a proposed RFE/RL Baluchi service in addition to a proposed VOA Balochi service.

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, 4 Aug 2011, Abubakar Siddique, senior correspondent for Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty covering Afghanistan and Pakistan: "While Baluchistan makes up nearly half of Pakistan's 800,000-square-kilometer territory, its population accounts for less than 5 percent of the country's 180 million people. Baluchi separatist factions headed by young leaders are now perpetuating their fifth rebellion in Pakistan's 64-year history -- Islamabad crushed earlier insurgencies in 1948, 1958, 1962, and 1973 to 1977." See previous posts about proposed VOA Balochi and Sindhi services.

Protests against NATO bombing of Libyan TV: "Media outlets should not be targeted in military actions."

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 6 Aug 2011: "An international media safety group has joined calls Friday for the United Nations to investigate NATO's bombing of Libyan television, which reportedly killed 3 people and injured 15. The International News Safety Institute (INSI) asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to determine whether last week's airstrike amounted to a breech of a 2006 Security Council resolution that bans attacks on journalists. ... On Wednesday, the International Federation of Journalists also condemned the bombing and called for a probe. NATO has said the bombing was in line with its U.N. mandate authorizing airstrikes to protect the civilian population."

AP, 9 Aug 2011: "NATO has rejected growing international criticism of its airstrike on Libyan television last month, saying Tuesday it has no evidence the attack caused any casualties. ... On Monday, the head of the U.N.'s cultural and educational body echoed that criticism, saying the attack also violated the Geneva Conventions. 'I deplore the NATO strike on (Libyan TV) and its installations,' said Irina Bokova, director-general of the Paris-based body. 'Media outlets should not be targeted in military actions,' she said. 'Silencing the media is never a solution.' UNESCO — which sees itself as a defender of freedom of expression — is scheduled to discuss the airstrike at an upcoming conference in September."

See also International News Safety Institute, 5 Aug 2011. And UNESCO, 8 Aug 2011.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 8 Aug 2011, citing Almasry Alyoum: "A Libyan envoy arrived in Cairo today to discuss the broadcasting of satellite TV channels that support Libya’s current regime. A few weeks ago, Egyptian authorities instructed Nilesat to stop carrying 14 channels that support Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, as they incite against peaceful protesters. However, Nilesat did not carry out the instruction, and lodged an appeal. Ali al-Kilany, chief of Libyan state TV, arrived from Damascus on a brief visit to Cairo. Sources close to Mr Kilany said he will meet with several Egyptian officials to discuss the broadcasting issue."

Perhaps Washington PR firm Qorvis can help its client Bahrain find new ways to criticize Al Jazeera.

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Salon, 8 Aug 2011, Justin Elliott: "Bahrain is in the news again, this time for what appears to be the comically evil persecution of the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders. So, naturally, the ruling monarchy of the Gulf nation has hired a top Washington public relations firm to burnish (or attempt to salvage) its image, according to a new foreign agent registration filing. Qorvis Communications will be paid $40,000 per month, plus expenses, for the public relations work, according to a contract submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. ... Qorvis distributed a statement to American journalists writing about the incident, with the Bahrain Health Ministry claiming that Doctors Without Borders 'was operating an unlicensed medical center in a residential apartment building.' Qorvis, which promises clients 'integrated strategies to help you tell your story better,' did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its work for Bahrain. The contract is signed by Qorvis partner Matthew Lauer, who was previously a public diplomacy official in the Bush State Department and a spokesman for the South Carolina Democratic Party." -- Matthew Lauer is a former executive director of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

The Guardian, 7 Aug 2011, Ian Black: "Bahrain has protested to its neighbour Qatar about a film produced by al-Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite TV channel, which highlights continuing anti-government protests by Bahraini Shias. Bahraini papers attacked 'lies and slanders' in the 50-minute documentary, which shows how Facebook was used to target pro-democracy activists – 'unmasking Shia traitors' – and catalogues human rights abuses by the regime. The film was shown on al-Jazeera English, not its sister Arabic channel, which has been attacked for pulling its punches in coverage of the unrest in Bahrain compared with its sympathetic approach to revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria."

New York Times, 9 Aug 2011, Brian Stelter: "Al Jazeera English has quashed several planned rebroadcasts of 'Shouting in the Dark,' an hourlong documentary about Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that had its debut last week and brought complaints from Bahraini authorities. The decision this week to halt the repeats raised concerns among Al Jazeera’s staff members that the channel was succumbing to political or diplomatic pressure from Bahrain and its ally Saudi Arabia. In response to inquiries by The New York Times, a spokesman for Al Jazeera said Tuesday that the documentary would be rebroadcast on Thursday and would be paired with a round-table discussion. The episode illustrates the thorny issue of independence for Al Jazeera, one of the world’s biggest satellite news organizations, which is financed by the emir of Qatar and is perceived by some people to be a diplomatic tool of the country. Al Jazeera insists that the Qatari government does not interfere in the network’s editorial operations."

AFP, 11 Aug 2011: "The head of the Qatar-based satellite news channel Al-Jazeera English defended a documentary about this year's unrest in Bahrain, in comments published Thursday, after an angry response by Bahraini authorities. Al Anstey said in an interview with Qatar's Peninsula daily that the documentary, 'Shouting in the Dark,' did not include comment from Bahraini authorities because they refused to speak to the channel."

The Peninsula (Doha), 9 Aug 2011: "Bahraini authorities are so upset with Doha-based Aljazeera TV Channel that they are reportedly not allowing the Channel’s staff — both Qatari nationals and expatriates — into the country. There is an unofficial entry ban on Aljazeera staff into Manama, say social networking sites in Qatar as well as in Bahrain. The move might be fallout of a documentary English Aljazeera telecast on Wednesday, they suggested."

At Pyongyang airport, "boxes of South Korean-made Samsung TVs that North Koreans were lugging back from their travels."

Posted: 10 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Korea Herald, 8 Aug 2011: "Amid the general bleakness in inter-Korean relations, there are reports of some signs of change in the North. For one, Pyongyang has refrained from verbally attacking President Lee Myung-bak from the beginning of this month. Since the summer of 2008, North Korea’s official mouthpieces had called President Lee a variety of names in denouncing his shutting down economic and humanitarian aid programs for the North. ... Jean H. Lee, AP’s Seoul bureau chief, concluded that 'North Korea is a country in transition; you can see it on the streets.' At Pyongyang airport, 'we could barely get past all the . Cell phones jangled from everywhere,' she reported. More than 535,000 North Koreans now use cell phones, compared to 70,000 in 2009, though most of them can only make domestic calls." -- Presumably the Samsung's work with the North Korean PAL television transmission system, different than the South Korean NTSC system, both soon to be superceded by various versions of digital television in the region.

BBC World Service Trust uploads a stylish "Communication is Aid" animation to YouTube.

Posted: 10 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
YouTube, 25 July 2011, BBC World Service Trust: "In any emergency, be it natural disaster or man-made, long or short-term, people's lives are turned upside down. Knowing what's happening, where to go for assistance and who to call for help is crucial to their survival and recovery. The BBC World Service Trust is working with Internews to co-ordinate the 'infoasaid' project. The goal of the project is to help humanitarian organisations integrate two way communication into their emergency programmes, in turn improving the quality of humanitarian response. This new 'Communication is Aid' animation demonstrates the positive impact of two way communication with crisis affected populations." -- I wonder if this also might have something to do with arguments in favor in transferring money from the the UK's DFID (Department for International Development) to BBC World Service. Maybe not, as the Department for International Development, along with Internews and BBCWST, is credited at the conclusion of the video.

NHK World presenting 13 specials on "war, peace and nuclear weapons" during August.

Posted: 10 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Realscreen, 3 Aug 2011, Kelly Anderson: "In NHK World’s upcoming 'August Chronicles' series, war, peace and nuclear weapons will be examined over the course of 13 specials, to coincide with the August commemoration of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Programming begins on August 5 with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, the annual ceremony for world peace that marks the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and is followed by the docudrama Lost Innocence, Lost Lives on August 7. The special takes a look at the young boys who committed to fighting in the Pacific War. ... 'This March, Japan was hit by a huge earthquake which subsequently led to the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station,' said the network in a statement. 'While we acknowledge that the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the belligerent use of nuclear weapons are a different matter, this year, we feel it is imperative to reflect on the damage caused by nuclear war, considering the rising interest in the effects of radiation since Fukushima crisis.'" See also NHK World website.

France 24 celebrates launch in Israel with cocktails in Jaffa.

Posted: 10 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 4 Aug 2011, Greer Fay Cashman: "Francophiles will be pleased to know that they now have an additional news outlet accessible in Israel. As of last month, France 24, the international French news channel that broadcasts in the language, can be seen on HOT 143 [cable TV]. The service is available free for HOT subscribers. To celebrate the launch, Frank Melloul, the strategic development and external affairs director of France 24, and Yoram Mokady, content director at HOT, hosted a cocktail reception at the Cordelia restaurant in Jaffa." -- The usual question: France 24 French or France 24 English? Or both?

Report: Al Jazeera English denied credentials to cover the American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in New Orleans.

Posted: 10 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Capital Times (Madison, WI), 9 Aug 2011, Eric Carlson: "After filling out my registration form to receive press credentials, I was told by an alarmed ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council, meeting in New Orleans] intern to wait while she fetched her boss. The look on her face made me think that perhaps she had heard of the Center for Media and Democracy and our new project ALECexposed.org. A very stern-looking gentleman arrived and told me my application would be denied on the grounds that CMD was an 'advocacy organization.' ... My only comfort? Al Jazeera English was also denied credentials on the grounds that ALEC was not an 'international' conference — even though numerous international politicians were addressing the ALEC conference in rooms chock-full of global corporations." -- I searched aljazeera.net for "legislative exchange." Last I checked, it's still searching.

A review of Roger Tidy's "very logical and deliberate" book: Hitler's Radio War.

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The SWLing Post, 7 Aug 2011: "Hitler’s Radio War (Robert Hale, publisher, 2011) is a comprehensive history of the multi-language, insidious Third Reich initiative to brainwash their perceived antagonists, both prior to and in the aftermath of each invasion. Tidy’s complex and multi-faceted history unfolds in a very logical and deliberate manner. By placing his emphasis on the broadcasters, or radio talent, Tidy also presents a history of traitors, misguided expatriates, and political opportunists. Personalities such as the infamous Lord Haw Haw and Axis Sally (although there are actually two Sallies, as Tidy reveals) often had a passion for political change or their own self-centered achievement, and allegiances which were known to shift with the wind. Tidy describes how the Third Reich’s Gestapo became particularly adept at hunting this type of personality and turning any discovered talent into the 'friendly' voice of Fascism. Tidy’s comprehensive radio history is made particularly relevant to radio enthusiasts like myself in a number of ways. For example, his text frequently includes large sections of original broadcast transcripts, most fascinating in their revelation of the seductively crafted politicism of Hitler’s war machine. And Tidy’s mention of stations quite often includes specifics such as: »frequency information (i.e., the meter band), »a description of the interval signal or theme, and »the geographical transmission sites of broadcasts, particularly useful in understanding their efficacy."

Robert Hale Publishing website: "This book tells the story of Nazi international broadcasting during and before the Second World War. At its peak German radio stations broadcast in fifty-four languages to a worldwide audience. For the first time in an international conflict, citizens of the warring nations could hear enemy propaganda in their own living rooms. Many of the voices that they heard belonged to a new type of criminal, the radio traitor. The nickname Lord Haw-Haw is still famous internationally, but there were numerous other radio renegades speaking on behalf of the Nazis. The Nazis' propaganda was sinister enough, but they also ran a series of secret stations that spoke to enemy audiences in the name of 'patriotic' dissidents who claimed to be broadcasting from clandestine transmitters in their own countries. Using archival material, "Hitler's Radio War" dissects the message that Germany's overt and covert propaganda stations broadcast to their audiences, as well as the lives and motivations of the broadcasters."

Also recommended on the same subject: Horst J. P. Bergmeier and Rainer E. Lotz: Hitler's Airwaves: The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing, Yale University Press, 1997. And John Carver Edwards, Berlin Calling: American Broadcasters in Service to the Third Reich, Praeger, 1991.

Indian commentator: "The radio is gone forever to posterity except for a few diehard devotees like me."

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hindu, 6 Aug 2011, V. Natarajan: "Who can ever forget the excellent broadcast quality of the BBC World Service, and Voice of America and their coverage for any oversees news? ... Another popular station, Radio Ceylon, used to broadcast in many Indian languages — Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Telugu, besides Hindi. Five decades ago, Radio Ceylon was the most popular broadcaster for Tamil and Hindi film songs, and its popularity was more due to its impeccable style of presentation of programmes, which included a variety of songs — both old and new — to suit every listener's tastes. ... who still cling to it for whatever that is left of it. Of course, it has been resurrected in another avatar as FM (frequency modulation) ... which is no match to the erstwhile radio box with its three-band range in which one could 'surf and download' several national and international stations from America to Europe and from Beijing to Radio Australia in the far-east with a tiny knob for navigation of the dial!" See also letters to The Hindu, 8 Aug 2011.

DISH Network now offers Blue Ocean Network, its second English-language channel from China.

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
AsianWeek, 5 Aug 2011, onpassing apparent pres release: "DISH Network L.L.C. ... launched a new English channel called Blue Ocean Network (BON) as part of its International Basic Package on July 27, 2011. The channel offers 24/7 English programming that focuses on Chinese culture, lifestyle and business. BON (DISH Network Ch. 678) is independently-owned and privately funded English-language Television Network offering Americans unprecedented and comprehensive programming focusing on a contemporary and rapidly changing China. Until BON, Americans had limited access to quality programming and content that explored the multi-faceted Chinese world from their perspective. ... BON marks a new era of compelling, fresh and unbiased programming featuring exceptional production values that meet American audience standards. Produced in China by China’s most distinguished pioneering media company, BON covers the never-seen-before China with exclusive and original programs presented in Western style." -- BON thus becomes a competitor to CCTV News, another English-language channel from China available on DISH Network. The third English-language channel from China, CNC World, does not seem to be offered by DISH.

International operations pace increased 2Q profits for Discovery Communications.

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 4 Aug 2011, Jon Lafayette: "Discovery Communications posted higher second-quarter profits thanks to big gains by its international operations. ... 'Discovery continues to deliver strong financial results, particularly across our unique international platform, as the depth and breadth of our content assets have enabled the company to capitalize on the sustained ad market strength worldwide as well as take advantage of the evolution of pay-tv across the globe,' David Zaslav, president and CEO, said in a statement. ... Discovery's international networks registered a 31% increase in operating income to $173 million on a 20% increase in revenue to $368 million."

Discovery Communications press release, 4 Aug 2011 (pdf): "International Networks’ revenues for the second quarter increased 20% to $368 million primarily led by distribution revenue growth of 18% and advertising revenue growth of 25%. Excluding the impact of foreign currency fluctuations, revenues increased 14% led by 12% distribution revenue growth, mainly from increased subscribers globally and higher rates and subscribers in Latin America. Advertising revenue in local currency terms was up 17% during the second quarter primarily from higher pricing and sellouts across all regions."

Study: Al Jazeera English Twitter account has higher retweet rate than news competitors.

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Poynter, 5 Aug 2011, Steve Myers: "A new study by SocialFlow [indicates] that conversational tweets can spur clicks but headline-oriented tweets can be effective in sharing information regardless of whether users click on a link. For part of the study, SocialFlow looked at clickthroughs and retweets for four media brands: The New York Times, Fox News, The Economist and Al Jazeera English. ... When it came to clickthroughs, Al Jazeera’s @AJEnglish was the standout, with a retweet rate of more than twice the other media outlets. At the time, its feed was handwritten about 5 to 20 percent of the time (now it’s 15 to 30 percent); the rest was automated, according to Riyaad Minty, head of social media for Al Jazeera Networks."

Will young Indonesians grow into Radio Australia's "serious, talk-based content"?

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Jakarta Globe, 5 Aug 2011, Ismira Lutfia: "Syifa Merdekawati has her own recipe for getting the news: Take a couple hours of television viewing, add in a steady stream of Twitter feeds from news portals and top it off with several hours of poring over newspapers on the weekend. For the 20-year-old university student, Twitter is the medium of choice when it comes to getting instant news updates. ... Similar trends elsewhere have prompted traditional media outlets to adapt. Radio Australia, for instance, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s international radio and online service, has expanded its outreach by making its content available on mobile and digital platforms. Mike McCluskey, the chief executive of Radio Australia ... says Radio Australia’s programing appeals more to older people because much of what it puts out is serious, talk-based content, while the younger audience is more focused on entertainment and lifestyle. 'We do have to make content that appeals to younger audiences as well. You can’t rely just on the older demographic listening to traditional media forms,' he says. 'This is one reason why we’re making our media content available in digital online and mobile platforms.' McCluskey, who has been in radio for 28 years, says that while the trend may be shifting, people still have a tendency to become more interested in as they get older. 'I think one of the challenges is to maintain that high quality and news-focused content and to engage younger people by trying to make news and talk-based content more relevant and more stimulating, more interesting and dealing with issues that matter to younger people,' he says."

"BBC Worldwide will introduce its new programming season at the BBC Showcase Latin America" in Rio.

Posted: 08 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 5 Aug 2011, Iñaki Ferreras: "BBC Worldwide will introduce its new programming season at the BBC Showcase Latin America event from 28-30 August in Rio de Janeiro. The broadcaster’s new content library is made up of more than 50,000 hours. Among them, 2,000 content hours are in HDTV, 575 are in Spanish, and it also has a wide range of digital offerings. ... Among some of the BBC’s most popular productions in Latin America are Dr Who, Torchwood: Miracle Day and Frozen Planet."

A somewhat clumsy but interesting discussion about Alhurra (updated).

Posted: 08 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
WBEZ (Chicago), "Worldview," 27 July 2011, Jerome McDonald: Since the "U.S. government’s most expensive foreign broadcasting effort: the Arabic-language news channel Alhurra ... was founded in 2004, the U.S. has sunk close to a billion dollars into it. Alhurra, based in Springfield, Virginia, has garnered sharp criticism and allegations of mismanagement. But the station's also had some recent successes to point to during the Arab Spring uprisings. We speak with Philip Seib, lead researcher for a 2008 report on Alhurra and director of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California, about the news channel and public diplomacy efforts around the world." With link to audio (hint: I had to download the audio, because listening online did not work on my browser).

Recommended listening. The interviewer, however, equates international broadcasting with public diplomacy, even to the point that he seems to think that public diplomacy consists only of international broadcasting. In his introduction, he said "[t]he Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees all US public diplomacy." Some of us prefer to categorize international broadcasting and public diplomacy as separate, complementary, and sometimes adversarial activities.

Professor Seib kept bringing the conversation back to the need for reliable news. Listen to this audio excerpt (mp3 1:45) , including: "If you want an audience in the Middle East, the only way you're going to be able to capture and maintain that audience is if you report honestly and recognize what the audience is interested in. ... If the United States wants to do journalism it will have to do journalism. If it wants to do politics, it can do politics. And I think that is a decision that the policy makers need to make."

In this second audio excerpt (mp3 2:20), Professor Seib suggested Alhurra could complement Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, perhaps by using more content from American domestic television. "There is tremendous interest in the United States. That's the great asset that American public diplomacy officials have."

By my reckoning, there are at least three three possibilities for an Alhurra format:

1) Stay as a mostly news channel. Alhurra has enjoyed some success with its present format, achieving an audience that is a respectable fraction of that of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, and larger than that BBC Arabic and all the other Arabic news channels from non-Arab countries.

2) Become an "Americana" channel. This is what Prof. Seib thinks Alhurra should have been from the beginning. Indeed, an Americana channel could use centrally produced video and be versioned by USIB into several languages. The problem is that, from the many surveys that I am familiar with, audiences in most countries do not "have a tremendous interest in the United States." In fact, their interest in the United States is much less than we American would like to think that it is. An Americana channel would therefore have a niche audience, but perhaps large enough to be worthwhile.

3) Tie up with a US commercial channel. Alhurra could perhaps reduce expenses by tying in with a general-purpose US international commercial channel, such as Hallmark or Bravo, or with a sports network. At various times during the broadcast day would be Alhurra's own flagship news programs.

The WBEZ interview would have benefited from more specific audience data. In fact, Alhurra spokesperson Deirdre Kline added a comment to the WBEZ web page linked above with some of that audience data. Unless the BBG provides ready access to its audience research findings -- the taxpayers who fund USIB deserve to see it -- Alhurra will continue to suffer from, and might even be done in by, misinformation about its ability to attract audiences.

Update: John Paul Christy of the BBG Office of Public Affairs informs us that two recent studies on Alhurra performance are available at www.bbg.gov/reports/other-reports.

Gulf News (Dubai), 29 July 2011, Fran Mires, executive producer of "Al Youm" on Alhurra TV, as interviewed by Anupama Chand: "Al Youm is the brainchild of Joaquin Blaya, a former associate from the days when I first launched a Spanish-language show, Ocurrio Asi, in 1990. It ran for 11 years on Spanish language network Telemundo. Blaya believed that the Alhurra TV channel needed something along the lines of the The Today Show or Good Morning America on the American network NBC. They were looking for a person to helm the show. He knew I had the experience of launching a foreign language show [Ocurrio Asi] and so asked me if I was interested. This was definitely tougher for me but I took on the challenge. ... We believe that if we are true to our mission, and provide relevant content emanating from the region, aiming to be balanced, fair and accurate people will watch the programme."

Heritage Foundation and Fox News are apparently not the US international broadcasting efficiency experts.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, 2 Aug 2011, Janos Bako: "After the Cold War, building on the results of the Reagan era, there was no doubt about American leadership—its superpower status was indisputable and China was still considered only a rising regional power. Seeing today’s trends, the U.S. needs leadership as we have seen in President Reagan. The U.S. needs a firm foreign policy based on American national interests, not one influenced by China’s sensitivities. While China has launched a worldwide economic, public diplomacy and media and PR campaign, the United States is looking at a greatly reduced international media presence due to cuts in the budget of Voice of America. The United States should strengthen its public diplomacy, reverse the current trends, and send a firm message of strong American leadership again. Without this, neither U.S. allies nor American citizens may see 'the city on the hill' as the Founding Fathers imagined the United States 235 years ago." -- There goes the Heritage Foundation again. Always trying to maintain high levels of government spending. Actually, though, I don't think the Obama Administration proposed a reduction to the VOA budget for FY2012. Such a cut would be more the work of Republican members of Congress who are seeking cuts in government spending across the board. If only there were a conservative think tank in Washington: there are obvious opportunities for efficiencies in US international Broadcasting, so that a budget reduction, within reason, and tied to reforms, could actually result in improved performance.

Fox News, 4 Aug 2011, Judson Berger: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, argues that it only makes sense to go digital in a country with the largest Internet-using population in the world. Board officials claim the existing shortwave radio broadcasts don't have the audience they used to and that the Chinese government is jamming them anyway. In changing platforms, the board projects it will save $8 million and eliminate about 45 positions. But critics of the move, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., say the United States is setting itself up to cede vital territory in the battle of information abroad. 'We've used Voice of America to pump in Democratic messages for years,' Rohrabacher spokeswoman Tara Setmayer said. 'Now it's another area where it looks like we're succumbing to the wants of the communist Chinese.' A House panel moved last month to try and save those radio and TV broadcasts. The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted unanimously for a bill containing a provision that would allocate nearly $14 million exclusively for Voice of America's Mandarin and Cantonese radio and satellite TV stations. 'Such funds may not be used for any other purpose,' the provision says." -- So the Rohrabacher amendment would maintain the same delivery strategy to a country where USIB audiences numbers are dismally small. If there were a fiscally conservative member of Congress, he/she might want to look at the duplication between VOA and Radio Free Asia (mentioned only once, in passing, in this Fox News piece). Also see my essay on strategies for broadcasting to China.

Venezuelan based Telesur now available to Globecast WorldTV satellite homes in North America.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
"This week Latin American television network teleSUR expanded its distribution capacity to allow the Caracas-based news channel to reach over 100 million homes across the United States. In an agreement signed with Globecast WorldTV, teleSUR is now available free of charge to all viewers of WorldTV, a digital network that sells satellite radio and television to people across North and Central America as well the Caribbean. TeleSUR, which celebrated six years of non-stop programming last month, was first established in 2005 as an alternative to US-based programming on Latin American news and events. Before signing the agreement with WorldTV this week, teleSUR was already available to some 250 million viewers in all of Latin America, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. ... Founded by member states Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay, teleSUR uses the motto “Our North is the South” as part of a stated editorial policy of 'showing Latin America through the eyes of Latin Americans" instead of through U.S.-based networks such as CNN, Voice of America, and others." -- Available to 100 million homes if the home has a satellite dish, and the dish is pointed to the Galaxy 19 satellite used by Globecast WorldTV, and the occupants of the home speak Spanish.

The "conservative Republican" who works for China Radio International (updated).

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 4 July 2011, Tom McGregor: "With my first commentary as a China-World Affairs columnist for China Radio International, I make a bold declaration: I'm a U.S. Citizen who endorses China and the Republican Party. Yes, people from all political backgrounds can champion China's cause, while staying true to their convictions. ... As a conservative Republican, I support these reforms and urge Beijing to continue on with the brave journey. The GOP endorses a free market approach to improve an economy, and it appears Beijing is taking a similar stance. ... I've been observing China for over ten years, while I worked for the Seoul Times in South Korea, the Dallas Blog in Dallas, Texas U.S.A. and then when I moved to Beijing last October. ... Some critics of China contend that foreigners should not work for the Chinese government. They imply that those who do are traitors to their homeland. I disagree and insist that by working with Beijing, I'm doing my part to help China open up."

Update: The Daily Caller, 2 Aug 2011, Tom McGregor: "I often get asked these questions: 'Do you copy and paste your column from Chinese government propaganda documents? Do you worry about getting sent to a prison camp if you write a negative comment about the Communist Party of China? ... My answer to all these questions is 'no.' I actually stand behind everything I write and often I do criticize Chinese government policy or Chinese society. ... I will admit that some political editing occurs with my column, but the so-called political editing has not been as extensive as I anticipated before taking the job. ... I realize that China is not a perfect country, but no nation is perfect. I support its efforts to implement reforms and encourage Beijing to continue on this path. So long as the Chinese are sincere about the reforms, I’ll have a job at CRI. Considering the state of the U.S. economy, I truly appreciate having a job." See two of his recent commentaries at CRI English on 2 Aug and 3 Aug 2011.

Al Jazeera English reporter says Rep. Paul Ryan dismissed her questions, calling them "rude."

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Dane101, 4 Aug 2011, Jesse Russell: "Al Jazeera recently launched a program called Fault Lines. The half hour long news program analyzes the political and economic 'Fault Lines' that 'run through the world.' ... This week they released an episode called 'The Top 1%' which explores the growing equality gap in the United States that has expanded by leaps and bounds over the last 30 years. ... Wisconsin's very own Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, makes an appearance in the episode when the discussion turns to his budget plan. When the Al Jazeera reporter asks Ryan if his plan is undemocratic 'given the fact the majority of American people oppose cuts to so-called entitlement spending' and 'why he won't talk about tax burden for the richest in the country given the fact that wealth is so concentrated?' The reporter said the only answer Ryan gave was the her 'questions were rude.'" With video. See also Aljazeera.net, 2 Aug 2011.

Qatar survey of internet users shows success for bbc.com, aljazeera.net, and Radio Sawa.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
ictQATAR press release, 3 Aug 2011: "Individuals, businesses and the government in Qatar are widely accessing and using digital media in varied ways, and the digital content industry in the country seems poised for considerable growth based on the findings of the Qatar Digital Media Landscape Report 2011, which was published by ictQATAR. ... The report found that Internet users in Qatar primarily accessed websites in English, with only 29 percent accessing the Internet in Arabic, despite 42 percent of the population having Arabic as their first language. ... In terms of international online news outlets, BBC was the preferred choice for English speakers, while Al Jazeera was the preferred choice for Arabic speakers." With links to the full report in pdf and html formats. According to the full report: "Among radio channels, entertainment channel Radio Sawa, cultural channel Al Quran Al Kareem, and news broadcast station Al Jazeera are the most preferred Arabic language radio stations among Arabic speaking Internet users."

Al Jazeera English now has 30 minutes weekdays, plus 60 minutes Sunday, on Australia's SBS.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Spy, 4 Aug 2011: "SBS will begin broadcasting news bulletins from Al Jazeera English from next week, bringing the Middle East-based service to mainstream Australian free-to-air television for the first time. Announcing the move on Thursday, the broadcaster said that it would air a half-hour bulletin at 3:30pm on weekdays, along with a one-hour bulletin on Sundays at 2:00pm. The broadcasts begin [8 August]. Until now, Al Jazeera was available in Australia only to subscribers to the regional subscription television provider Austar, via online streams or on select community stations. ... The daily broadcast of Al Jazeera bulletins will join other international news programmes aired in SBS's afternoon line-ups, including Deutsche Welle's The Journal and the American PBS NewsHour." -- SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) is Australia's multilingual plus English public broadcaster for immigrants.

Critics of Australian Broadcasting Corporation cite Australia Network tender process as evidence.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Drum (opinion), Australia Broadcasting Corporation, Judith Sloan: "The tender process for the contract to operate the Australia Network, currently held by the ABC, has been pulled and the final decision has been transferred from the Foreign Minister to the Minister for Communications. The rumour is that the decision had been three to one in favour of Sky News Australia being awarded the 10 year contract. But due to 'changed international circumstances' – what, because international circumstances never change? – there has been a change of heart. It's now a shoo-in that the contract will be awarded to the ABC. The Friends of the ABC will no doubt be delighted, although they were absolutely aghast at the prospect of the Australia Network being taken over by those purveyors of hate-media, the Murdoch empire. The fact that News Corporation is only a minority shareholder in Sky News Australia is neither here nor there. For the ABC to be awarded the contract will be completely consistent with the ABC Managing Director's view that the (independent) ABC should be an arm of government peddling ‘soft diplomacy'. In this way, the ABC can help to 'co-opt people rather than coerce them' and to use the media to put 'our nation's culture, values and policies on show'. ... The ABC now needs to take a leaf out of the BBC's book and to wind back its areas of activities. In response to budgetary cuts and a freeze on licence fees, the BBC is shrinking. The BBC World Service is significantly refocusing its areas of interest and cutting its staff by 25 per cent, BBC Online is also narrowing its offerings and cutting its workforce and there are significant job cuts in the BBC itself."

The Australian, 4 Aug 2011, editorial: "Despite its many failings, the ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] has a large and loyal audience and deserves public support. As a public institution, however, it should and must do better, and should start by abandoning its fetish for form over substance. Its flagship evening current affairs show 7.30 was weeks late back on air after the Christmas break because a new studio set was still being built. The program employs two of the best TV journalists in the country, yet they have been let down by poor editorial judgments, and ratings have suffered. News 24 has struggled to compete with its nimbler commercial rival Sky News. Sky's ability to do more with less was recognised by a tender review panel that recommended granting it the contract for the government-funded Australia Network. Only the extraordinary intervention of the government saved the ABC's blushes. Meanwhile, staff resentment grows at the resources being sucked up by News 24 for little tangible benefit. In radio, there are plans to further downgrade Radio National, a station that should be the flagship of the corporation uniting the nation in intelligent conversation." See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL Iran blogger was on BBC's World Have Your Say, discussing Syria.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL in the News, 5 Aug 2011: RFE Senior Correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari, who writes the influential Iran blog "Persian Letters," joined two other bloggers to discuss international response to the deteriorating situation in Syria on the BBC World Service Television's "World Have Your Say" program. The Syria segment starts at the 25:40 mark in the program. -- The link is to the YouTube video of the program

The television version of World Have Your Say is on BBC World News, the 24-hour global English news channel. The radio version is on BBC World Service. While Golnaz Esfandiari blogs at RFE/RL about Iran, on this edition of WHYS she spoke only about the unrest in Syria. She was introduced as a "journalist and blogger in Washington. She's editor of Iran blog Persian Letters." No mention of RFE/RL.

The links to World Have Your Say from the BBC World Service and BBC World News (actually BBC World Radio and TV) websites lead to the WHYS blog. This blog does not have information about each program. For this, you must go to the WHYS Facebook page. I suppose the idea is for the program's web presence to be interactive, like the program itself. The Facebook interface is, however, very much inferior to a properly designed web page.

Chinese microbloggers out-report state television on rail tragedy, and are difficult to censor

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 28 July 2011, Michael Wines and Sharon LaFraniere: "China’s two major Twitter-like microblogs — called weibos here — have posted an astounding 26 million messages on the tragedy, including some that have forced embarrassed officials to reverse themselves. The messages are a potent amalgam of contempt for railway authorities, suspicion of government explanations and shoe-leather journalism by citizens and professionals alike. The swift and comprehensive blogs on the train accident stood this week in stark contrast to the stonewalling of the Railways Ministry, already stained by a bribery scandal. And they are a humbling example for the Communist Party news outlets and state television, whose blinkered coverage of rescued babies only belatedly gave way to careful reports on the public’s discontent. While the blogs have exposed wrongdoers and broken news before, this week’s performance may signal the arrival of weibos as a social force to be reckoned with, even in the face of government efforts to rein in the Internet’s influence. The government censors assigned to monitor public opinion have let most, though hardly all of the weibo posts stream onto the Web unimpeded. But many experts say they are riding a tiger. For the very nature of weibo posts, which spread faster than censors can react, makes weibos beyond easy control. And their mushrooming popularity makes controlling them a delicate matter." AFP, 2 Aug 2011: "The mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party on Tuesday urged more officials to go online and speak honestly with web users, in a sign of the growing importance of social networking sites in China. The comment piece in the People's Daily comes after Internet users flooded popular Twitter-like sites to vent their anger at the government's handling of the July 23 train crash that killed 40 people and injured nearly 200 more."

Update: BBC News, 7 Aug 2011, Michael Bristow: "These new ways of communicating - there are 480 million internet users in China - are proving to be a challenge for China's unelected leaders. For perhaps the first time, people have a tool to tell the government exactly what they think. ... Microblogs and the internet have not changed the fundamental nature of government in China, but they are forcing officials to change the way they operate."

RT (Russia Today) program host Alyona Minkovski will be guest on C-Span's Q&A on 7 August.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
C-Span website: On C-Span's Q&A, Sunday, 7 Aug 2011, on C-SPAN at 8pm/11pm ET: "Our guest is Alyona Minkovski, host of 'The Alyona Show'. Minkovski discusses her television program, shown weeknights at 6pm and 10pm on RT. Formerly known as Russia Today, RT is a Russian government funded media network. She talks about her program's goal of examining the news not typically covered by traditional media outlets in the United States. She comments on segments of her hour long program which include 'The Tool Time Award,' and 'Alyona's Happy Hour.' Topics range from media coverage of Sarah Palin, to the proposed length of US troop involvement in Afghanistan. She also discusses her parody of broadcaster Glenn Beck in one of her episodes."

Settlement reached in wrongful death lawsuit by widow of Radio Free Asia general counsel.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, The Crime Scene , 3 Aug 2011, Keith L. Alexander: "The wife of slain Washington attorney Robert Wone on Wednesday settled a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit against the three roommates who shared the Dupont Circle-area rowhouse where Wone was fatally stabbed five years ago. The agreement was reached on the fifth anniversary of Wone’s death. On the evening of Aug. 2, 2006, Wone, 32, was fatally stabbed in his chest and abdomen while spending the night at the elegant home in the 1500 block of Swann Street NW after working late at his job as general counsel for Radio Free Asia. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed."

The Blog of Legal Times, 3 Aug 2011, David Ingram: "Kathy Wone said. 'I’m happy to leave the defendants to their own devices. They can continue to rot from the inside-out with the secrets they keep.'"

See also the Who Murdered Robert Wone blog.

Success in domestic dissemination: BBC World Service audience grows in the UK despite budget cuts.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 4 Aug 2011, John Plunkett: According to Rajar radio listening ratings in the UK: "One of the biggest year-on-year gains was at the BBC World Service, which is axing staff and services after its funding was cut by the government. The station's UK audience grew just under 34% year on year to 1.72 million, a shade under the last quarter's record 1.79 million." -- In the UK, BBC World Service is heard overnights on the BBC Radio 4 longwave frequency, and 24/7 via DAB digital radio and internet streams.

Review of BBC2's "The Hour," whose storyline includes intrigue at BBC World Service in "post-rationing" London.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Herald.ie (Dublin), 3 Aug 2011: "We've reached the halfway point in The Hour and a sense of 'Mmm, I dunno,' has begun to take hold. As in, 'Is it working?' 'Mmm, I dunno.' The first episode was excellent, introducing us to the chief characters and brilliantly painting drab, seedy post-rationing London in muddy brown and greys. ... Anyway, the mysterious killer/spook Kish (Burn Gorman, late of Torchwood), who was lurking in newsreel footage of the murdered debutante (if you haven't seen any of this, there's no point in trying to keep up), has been seconded to The Hour. He's supposedly been working for the BBC World Service for eight years and has been parachuted in to act as a translator of Arabic, but no one can find evidence of him having worked on a single programme. ... Cue a chase through the corridors of the BBC, followed by the most unconvincing stairwell scuffle I've seen, after which Kish, having dropped a few more hints, throws himself over the banister to his death.".

Amendment to create VOA Sindhi service approved by House Foreign Affairs Committee (updated).

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Pakistan Observer, 28 July 2011, Hashim Abro: "Sindhi writers, intellectuals and broadcasters across Pakistan and around the globe thank the US Congressmen for their unanimous consent to the Amendment to Foreign Affairs bill for Sindhi language Programing. It is apt to to mention here that the US Congress’ Foreign Affairs Committee has approved the funds to the tune of $1.5 million ( on annual basis) for the Voice of America ( VOA) to be used only for Sindhi language programming. The Sindhis in Sindh, Balochistan, and in other parts of the Pakistan and the globe regard Brad Sherman and other Congressmen not only as their well-wishers and promoters of Sindhi language but also 'Messiah’ for their language. For this noble move, the people of Sindh and Sindhi diaspora will always remain indebted to them throughout the ages. However, on behalf of the Sindhi I can say only a big 'Thank You' to US Congressman for this landmark amendment."

Associated Press of Pakistan, 27 July 2011: "Sindhi are born sufis and moderate. These are global citizens and treat humanity as 'One Family' and who keep the humanity above all religions because they believe that to love an to be loved, to respect and to be respected is the key concern of all religions. ... Around two hundred writers, intellectuals, broadcasters, social and human rights activists, lawyers and others attended the meeting [House Foreign Affairs authorization markup] and all of them were all appreciative of this noble gesture of US Congressman."

See also final language of the amendment. But did this amendment get past the House Appropriations Committee? If it did, the Senate would have to go along. Adding language services without increasing an international broadcaster's overall budget reduces the resources available for each service. See previous post about a proposed VOA Balochi service.

Update: Pakistan Observer, 3 Aug 2011, Kyle B. King, VOA Senior Editor (PR): "This is in response to a recent letter in Pakistan Observer’s website 'VOA Sindhi programme' by Hashim Abro. The Voice of America is constantly searching for new and better ways to expand its global audience. Decisions about funding for new language services are made by the US Congress. While we await final Congressional action on the recent proposal to broadcast in the Sindhi language, the Voice of America will continue to use the best and most cost-effective ways to reach the people of strategically important countries like Pakistan with accurate and comprehensive news and discussion about the United States and the world."

"Ask Alan," in Persian, via the State Department's USAdarFarsi social media accounts.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
State Department media note, 2 Aug 2011: "The Department of State is pleased to announce 'Ask Alan,' a new effort to engage with the Iranian people through our Persian language social media brand, USAdarFarsi. USAdarFarsi is active on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Every month on Facebook and Twitter, we will be asking our fans for questions on a topic that we set in advance. Our Persian language spokesman, Alan Eyre, will then provide answers to the most popular questions in Persian in a 5-7 minute long video that will be posted on our USAdarFarsi YouTube channel and then advertised both on our Facebook page and Twitter feeds. The topic for August was visas, and we invite you to watch the August edition of 'Ask Alan' today at http://www.facebook.com/USAdarFarsi. ... We recognize 30 years without diplomatic relations has affected our ability to understand each other. We are increasing our use of social media outlets in order to expand our dialogue with Iranians."

Report: Al-Shabaab forces locals to turn their dishes from Thaicom, and its Somali-language channels, to Arabsat.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Suna Times, 2 Aug 2011, Mohamed Abukar: "The Al-Shabaab militia in Jowhar town, Middle Shabelle region, has banned locals from watching satellite-dishes, especially Thaicom-site that transmits TV channels broadcasting in Somali language. The militia ordered Jowhar town residents to refrain from watching channels transmitted by the Thaicom-site, compelling them to face their satellite dishes towards Arab-site. Several Somali channels like Universal TV, Horn Cable TV, Somali Notational TV, Royal TV and Somali Channel broadcast on the Thaicom-site to reach to the Somali population in Somalia and the rest of the world. ... All the Somali TV channels broadcasting on Thaicom-site feed the Somali people with news stories as they unfold in and outside Somalia, including Somali government military gains in the recent battle with the militia group. ... Earlier the Al-Shabaab banned the public from listening to the BBC and VOA, accusing them of carrying Western ideologies." -- I think "Thaicom-site" means Thaicom satellite, and "Arab-site" means Arabsat. The channels to Somalia are on the C-band transponders of Thaicom 5 at 78.5°E, whose "global" footprint stretches to reach East Africa.

Rapid TV News, 27 July 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "East Africa’s Wananchi Group has secured a revolving credit facility to help finance the roll out of its Zuku direct to home (DTH) satellite TV network. Already it has placed almost US$1 million worth of technical support orders with Canada’s International Datacasting Corporation (IDC). The vendor financing package, developed by IDC in cooporation with Export Development Canada (EDC) and an undisclosed Canadian financial institution, will help expand DTH delivery of Zuku, which already provides triple play broadcast, internet and telephony services via cable in Kenya. ... The financing deal will help enable the African digital media company to realise its plans for DTH rollout not only in Kenya, but in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia."

Newest net anti-censorship tool will require ISP cooperation.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Technology Review, 2 Aug 2011, Brian Krebs: "Current anti-censorship technologies, including the services Tor and Dynaweb, direct connections to restricted websites through a network of encrypted proxy servers, with the aim of hiding who's visiting such sites from censors. But the censors are constantly searching for and blocking these proxies. A new scheme, called Telex, makes it harder for censors to block communications. It does this by taking traffic that's destined for restricted sites and disguising it as traffic meant for popular, uncensored sites. To do this, it employs the same method of analyzing packets of data that censors often use. ... The Telex system has two major components: 'stations' at dozens of Internet service providers (ISPs)—the stations connect traffic from inside nations that censor to the rest of the Internet—and the Telex client software program that runs on the computers of people who want to avoid censorship. ... Bruce Schneier, a cryptography expert and chief security technology officer at BT, calls Telex 'well-thought-out and designed,' but says the system would not work without widespread adoption by ISPs around the world. 'There are two ways to deploy this system: ask nicely, or make it a law [for ISPs to implement it]." See also telex.cc. -- Not to be confused with the mostly outmoded telex switched network of teleprinters.

"Texting Is the Most Important Information Service in the World." "Mobile Subscriptions Outnumber Toilets."

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 2 Aug 2011, Jamie Holmes: "The 'feature' mobile phone is the globe's top selling consumer electronics product. For many of the world's poor, due to meager connectivity in rural areas and the costs of more advanced mobiles, these phones effectively support only voice and text (or SMS) functions. Feature mobiles have spread into some of the most remote areas of the globe, with 48 million people now with cell phones but no electricity, and by next year, 1.7 billion with cell phones but no bank account, according to one estimate. Skyrocketing phone subscriptions in the developing world account for over 70 percent of total subscriptions. In May, Coca-Cola's Director of International Media, Gavin Mehrotra, announced that "SMS is [our] number one priority" in mobile marketing. A mobile analyst called it "a true bombshell announcement" that shocked the large marketing conference at which it was made. ... Eventually, it seems, smartphones will drop in price, the necessary telecom infrastructure will expand and increase mobile Internet access, and feature phones will disappear from the global marketplace. For now, however, SMS services hold a world of untapped potential, transforming the text function into far more than a simple spinoff of the mobile phone."

TV Technology, 2 Aug 2011: "The ITU broke down Internet and mobile phone penetration regionally. Mobile phone penetration in Africa last year was 45.2 percent; the Americas reached 94.5 percent. Asia and the Pacific was at 69.2 percent, while Europe stood at 117.7 percent. Internet user penetration in Africa grew over 20-fold in the decade to 2010, from 0.5 to 10.8 percent. In the Commonwealth of Independent States, Internet penetration grew from 10.2 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2010. Internet user penetration in Asia and the Pacific grew from 3.3% percent in 2000 to 22.5 percent in 2010. By 2010, Internet user penetration in Europe had grown to 67 percent."

VOA press release, 4 Aug 2011: "Cell phone users in Liberia can now hear the latest Voice of America news headlines on their mobile devices. The new service is hosted on the Cellcom network in Liberia and is made possible by a partnership with AudioNow, a mobile radio distribution provider that has teamed up with VOA in other markets. Any phone user can access the English language news summaries in Liberia by calling a single national number. In an effort to take advantage of the explosive growth in cell phone use, Voice of America has been steadily expanding the availability of its news programs on mobile devices in Africa and elsewhere." See also VOA press release, 20 July 2011, about similar service for Guinea.

AudioNow press release, undated (no link available): "AudioNow announced today that British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VOA), and Radio France Internationale (RFI) have made their live and prerecorded content available to mobile listeners throughout Guinea and Liberia on AudioNow's proprietary mobile radio platform beginning August 1st . The service is hosted on the Cellcom mobile network. Listeners can access these broadcasters simply by dialing a local number. Cellcom subscribers also have the option of calling 'short access codes' which are available at a reduced flat rate. ... Cellcom is one of Western Africa's leading mobile providers and is distinguished by its innovative approach to global connectivity. The company operates telecommunications networks in Guinea and Liberia."

Is SMS a useful medium for international broadcasting and public diplomacy? SMS usually involve a cost, so it must be considered whether it's cheaper the send the content by a real mass, e.g. radio, or television advertisements. If the cost accrues to the recipients, the recipients will be annoyed, and their opinion of the originating country probably adversely affected. Free but unsolicited messages to the recipients, cluttering inboxes, can also provoke displeasure.

Sometime a mobile service provider will take on a news service as an added value for customers, involving no cost to the news provider or to the recipients. Such news must be considered by the customers to be relevant, reliable, and credible. Public diplomacy messages would probably not be considered an added value.

Another impediment to using SMS for international broadcasting and public diplomacy is that it usually involves a prominent gatekeeper, i.e. a business agreement with the mobile provider. This is probably why most international broadcasters opt for mobile versions of their websites, such as Deutsche Welle and VOA. This , however, requires less-prevalent mobile devices with internet access. News via SMS from international broadcasters is less common, but includes this from BBC World Service for Bangladesh (announced 2007) and from Al Jazeera to unspecified service areas (announced 2006). I don't know if either of these is still available.

As seen above, another way to send news via less-than-smart "feature" mobile phones is via audio -- sort of like a one-way telephone call. AudioNow is a significant player in this business. Its revenue comes from advertisements placed in the broadcaster's audio stream.

Finally, with the advent of smartphones, "feature phones will disappear from the global marketplace." SMS might, too, because smartphones will offer more choice in content and more media, e.g. video. Twitter via smartphones could replace the function of the old SMS, except, perhaps, for personal messages.

Voice of Russia recently opened a studio in Istanbul.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 1 Aug 2011, Chernitsa Polina: "A new studio for making programmes for The Voice of Russia has recently opened in Istanbul. The press-secretary of the Russian prime minister Dmitry Peskov has visited this studio. ... The conversation with the Russian prime minister’s press-secretary took place in the new studio which makes programmes for The Voice of Russia. This radio station actively broadcasts in Turkey. Its audience is millions of residents of five largest cities of the country: Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa and Antalya. Dmitry Peskov says that humanitarian relations between our countries will grow in the future and one of the oldest and most influential radio stations of the world will play its part in this."

Euronews Ukrainian launches on 24 August.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 2 Aug 2011: "Euronews and National Television Company of Ukraine have revealed the official launch of euronews in Ukrainian following an agreement signed in October 2010. NTU is one of euronews’ shareholder channels. This 11th edition will be aimed particularly at the Ukrainian market, as well as the Ukrainian community around the globe. Following its exclusive launch one week before online, the first broadcast will be made on August 24th 2011 at 14:00 CET – Independence Day in Ukraine."

Future of public diplomacy: State Dept will put world's 5 billion mobile users on speed dial.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Washington Diplomat, 27 July 2011, Jacob Comenetz: "Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation to Secretary Clinton, offered The Diplomat plenty of arguments to counter those who would discount the utility of Twitter as a diplomatic tool. He described it as a 'progressive agent of change' because, like other network technologies, it 'tends to distribute power away from large institutions and nation states and toward smaller institutions and individuals by elevating ideas and voices of all kinds.' Ross admited Twitter posed 'interesting challenges for large institutions because it is a community that privileges immediacy, interactivity and provocative creativity.' But he emphasized the value of the tool, and digital diplomacy more broadly, in allowing the U.S. government to interact with non-traditional audiences. 'In short, digital media allows more people to participate in diplomacy,' he said. But despite the growing buzz around Twitter in the United States, Ross also pointed to the perhaps more significant explosive growth of mobile phone use in the developing world, calling it a 'game changer' for foreign service officers. In fact, mobile subscriber penetration has reached more than 5 billion people worldwide out of a total world population of 6.9 billion, according to the United Nations, which estimates that by 2012, half the people living in remote areas will have one."

Notice how the most successful social media accounts are not very sociable? In our business of international communication, the BBC Global News Twitter account is followed by 893,889, but follows only 16. Radio Sweden has 3,977 followers, but follows only one. The biggest Twitterer of all is Lady Gaga, who is followed by 12,304,654. Her account says she follows 142,278. No she doesn't.

CNN International schedule includes 15 minutes a week about African business.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
East African Business Week, 31 July 2011, Emma Onyango: "The Cable News Network (CNN) through its flagship programme, Marketplace Africa has opened a window of opportunity to African businesses both on and off the continent to showcase their business prowess to the rest of the world. Launched 18 months ago, CNN Marketplace Africa offers viewers a unique window into African business. It is the destination for movers and shakers at the forefront of African business. Hosted by CNN's South Africa correspondent Robyn Curnow, the 15-minute weekly show involves the host chatting with major players and innovators changing the face of African enterprise and brings fresh, cutting-edge business news. It airs every Wednesday at 8.45pm CAT [Central African Time]), as well as weekend repeats on Saturday and Sunday."

Canadian CP-140s replace US EC-130Js for airborne broadcast psyop to Libyan forces.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Canadian Press, 30 July 2011, Murray Brewster: "Canada has joined an air war of a different kind in the skies over Libya, one where persuasion and sometimes insults are the weapons. Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes recently started broadcasting propaganda messages aimed at forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. It’s a psychological warfare operation, or PSYOPS, initially started by the Americans but now overseen by NATO — the kind of mission western militaries are reluctant to talk about openly. The Canadian broadcasts are relatively benign in comparison to some of the harsher messages NATO has aimed at Gadhafi’s troops, in which women’s voices are telling them to stop 'killing the children.' The Canadian messages, in English, are read hourly during patrols along the Libyan coast over AM/FM frequencies that Libyans usually monitor. 'For your safety return to your family and your home,' says the message, which can be heard over unencrypted frequencies the military uses to broadcast basic information. ... The messages are part of a stepped-up PSYOPS campaign which is sometimes referred to in the army as the 'black art.' Italian aircraft dropped propaganda leaflets over Tripoli last May as part of the increased pressure. At the beginning of the air war, the United States dispatched its secret, a specially outfitted C-130J transport plane known as 'Commando Solo,' to warn Libyan ships to stay in port or risk being destroyed by NATO. Although propaganda broadcasts have been around a long time and reached their zenith during the Second World War, the use of radio and sometimes television messages broadcast from aircraft to bend the mind of enemies goes back to the Vietnam War era." -- Are the Canadian messages only in English? No Arabic?

US-funded Shamla Voice is probably competing well with US-funded Radio Azadi and US-funded Radio Ashna.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Stars and Stripes, 18 July 2011, Neil Shea: "Shamla Voice [is] one of the few radio programs in Afghanistan — and possibly the only one outside Kabul — where residents call in with questions or comments addressed to a panel of government officials, [including] the police and army. ... This homegrown presence is part of what makes the weekly, hourlong Shamla program successful, said Capt. Andrew Miller, the man who initiated this experiment six months ago when he began taking calls himself — sometimes even from insurgents. 'It’s been very interesting,' said Miller, commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division, and of Combat Outpost Nerkh, where Shamla Voice is produced. 'Back at the beginning of this, we’d take 30 calls in an hour, and we’d miss like 80 more calls. It’s definitely made a mark.' The 29-year-old from Baton Rouge, La., never planned to step into direct media. Miller said the station was originally set up to play music and broadcast public service announcements and bulletins from coalition forces. ... Miller believes the program has given Afghans degrees of transparency and connection with security officials that were absent. It also made him a minor celebrity. Out on patrols, or when meeting local leaders, sometimes people would approach him and say, 'You’re the guy on the radio!'"

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 3 Aug 2011, citing IRNA: "Most of the Afghan television networks have been broadcasting Iranian religious films since the start of the fasting month of Ramadan in the country on 1 August. Afghanistan has more than 30 private TV networks as well as a state-run TV network which air religious films during Ramadan. Since the two countries are co-lingual and share numerous cultural commonalities, there is no need for dubbing the Iranian films."

Fellowships and honors for US international broadcasters.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Kudos & Awards, 1 Aug 2011, Sarah Adler: "Journalist Daud Khattak, who who will soon take up an assignment in our Washington bureau after working in Prague for RFE's Pashto-language Radio Mashaal, has been selected as a 2011-2012 Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow by the National Press Foundation. ... Fellows learn about the way bureaucracy works, developing sources, getting access to information and building relationships with Washington players and people in charge of public relations and information networks. ... Shaheen Buneri, Khattak's colleague at Radio Mashaal, has also been recognized for his work by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which awarded him a 2011 Persephone Miel Fellowship. The fellowship, a joint project of the Pulitzer Center and Internews, allowed Buneri to travel to his native Swat Valley where he produced a series of reports on lingering resentment two years after the Pakistani government deployed 25,000 troops to wrest control of the region from the Taliban."

Payvand Iran News, 4 Aug 2011: The Washington DC Chapter of PAAIA is pleased to honor two additional accomplished Iranian Americans at its Passing the Torch of Success Event on Sunday, September 18, 2011. Christiane Amanpour, Host of ABC News' This Week and former Chief International Correspondent for CNN and Ramin Asgard, Director, Voice of America - Persian, former Political Advisor to US Central Command, Former Director, Iran Regional Presence Office in Dubai will be honored at this event, which will be held at Lisner Auditorium of the George Washington University."

With French soccer deal, Al Jazeera seeks "to become the equivalent of a local European broadcaster."

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, Eric Pfanner, 31 July 2011: "Al Jazeera used to be known, somewhat unfairly, as the television network of Osama bin Laden. Now it wants to become the network of Yoann Gourcuff, Alou Diarra and Eden Hazard. Mr. Gourcuff, Mr. Diarra and Mr. Hazard are stars of the Ligue 1, the top division of the French professional soccer league. In June, Al Jazeera acquired the rights to show Ligue 1 matches in France, signaling an escalation in the broadcaster’s global ambitions. Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, has had a significant sports operation in the Middle East for several years, beaming World Cup and European professional soccer, American basketball and Wimbledon tennis across the region via satellite. It is also well known for its news and entertainment channels. But the deal with the French league, which is to take effect in 2012, is different: For the first time, Al Jazeera will broadcast a major Western sporting event in the league’s domestic market. Its goal is to become the equivalent of a local European broadcaster, no longer content to be seen as merely a niche news channel from the Middle East." See previous post about same subject.

BBC Hindi's special series Friendship beyond Borders "will bring together musicians from India and Pakistan."

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Hindi press release, 2 Aug 2011: "BBC Hindi is launching special programming which will bring together musicians from India and Pakistan. Every day, between 3 and 7 August, the Friendship beyond Borders series on the BBC Hindi FM programming, broadcast via partner FM stations across India, talks to some of the best known singers and musicians from India and Pakistan about music, mutual understanding and peace. ... The Pakistani singer, Shafqat Amanat Ali, tells the BBC that visa issues between the two countries should be relaxed so that people can meet their loved ones and families without any obstacles. The Friendship beyond Borders series concludes on Sunday 7 August with a special edition of the BBC Hindi popular weekly chat-show, BBC Ek Mulaqat, which brings together internationally acclaimed rock musicians - India's fusion band, Indian Ocean, and Pakistan's pop band, Strings. Talking from the BBC's Delhi and Karachi studios respectively, they discuss things that matter to them and that shape up their music. ... The Friendship beyond Borders series will be aired across India by BBC Hindi's FM partner radio stations. BBC Hindi will also broadcast the series on shortwave in the lead-up to India's Independence Day on 15 August. The website bbchindi.com will feature special stories based on the series as well as the audio of the music of the profiled artistes."

Did Radio Liberty employ "liberal Uighurs" to broadcast to Xinjiang?

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Eurasia Review, 1 Aug 2011, B. Raman: "When the Chinese occupied Xinjiang in 1949, a large number of the political elite of the province fled to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Some of them migrated to West Germany and were used by the CIA during the cold war for assisting it in the broadcasts of Radio Liberty directed to Xinjiang. These secular and liberal Uighurs in the diaspora ... are admirers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and interact closely with the Tibetan diaspora in the West."

Radio Liberty broadcast to Xinjiang? I asked RFE/RL historian A. Ross Johnson about this. He reminds us of this RFE/RL history page, with a link to this list of all RFE/RL language services, past and present. Uyghur is listed 1966 to 1979, beamed to "Russia". Radio Free Asia now broadcasts in Uyghur.

BBC Lonely Planet and Knowledge magazines launch in Taiwan, under licensing deal.

Posted: 04 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Licensing.biz, 1 Aug 2011, Samantha Loveday: "BBC Worldwide is teaming with Cite Publishing to launch two of its publications into Taiwan. Lonely Planet Magazine was released in the region today (August 1st) and will be followed by BBC Knowledge Magazine on September 1st. Both titles will be released monthly and will feature local content." See also BBC Worldwide press release, 1 Aug 2011. See Newtalk.tw, 27 July 2011, for a photo (click to expand) of the front covers. -- In classical Chinese characters.

BBCWS Africa editor "furious to be on strike." BBC WS Arabic staff end six-day strike today.

Posted: 04 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 1 Aug 2011, John Plunkett and Josh Halliday: During the BBC journalists' strike on Monday: "Picket lines were lightly staffed, with six people outside White City, the home of BBC Television, at lunchtime, and three at Broadcasting House, where the radio stations transmit from. However, the mood outside the World Service's Bush House HQ – where the dispute is centred - was more defiant. A 20-strong picket line held a giant sheet with the words, 'BBC kills World Service'. Martin Plaut, Africa editor at the World Service, said: 'I'm furious to be on strike today. I'm really not happy at all. In all my time at the BBC – I joined in 1984 – I've never seen the BBC in this state.'"

The Guardian, 1 Aug 2011, Josh Halliday: "Outside Bush House, the home of the World Service, ... [t]wenty strikers held aloft a white sheet emblazoned 'BBC kills World Service' in huge capital letters, with 'kills' written in blood red."

National Union of Journalists, 3 Aug 2011: "Journalists on strike at the BBC’s Arabic Service have produced their own news bulletin 'Strike This Evening' to cover their story. The strikers explain to viewers the background to their action against unfair working conditions. Management plans to introduce a new rota system which would add 26 days to the working year. The unprecedented six-day strike at the service is due to end ... August 4. The impact of the strike has been clear on the content of the BBC Arabic Service, which is dominated by documentaries. Main presenters in television and radio were replaced by freelances and unqualified journalists while some flagship programs were taken off air or replaced. A senior BBC Arabic manager has decided to leave the newsroom and join his NUJ colleagues on the picket line in a move welcomed by the journalists." With video.

See previous post about same subject.

Radio One, Indian joint venture with BBC Worldwide, increases revenues, actually reduces loss.

Posted: 03 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
afaqs!, 2 Aug 2011: "Radio One first quarter revenues for the current year stood at Rs 11.13 crore, a 14% growth over first quarter revenues of Rs 9.79 crore [97,000,000] last year. The loss before tax in the first quarter of the current year was lower by 79% when compared to the same period last year, thanks to a one off exceptional gain. ... Quote from Tariq Ansari, CMD Next Media Works : The first quarter of the year has been a challenging one for the radio industry, but I am happy to see that we have been able to grow our top line by 14% over the first quarter of last year. ... Radio One Ltd is a joint venture of Next MediaWorks and BBC Worldwide and runs FM stations under the brand 94.3 Radio One in 7 cities namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Pune."

Media Mughals, 3 Aug 2011, Nitesh Sharma: "Radio One promoters has decided to invest fresh capital into the company soon to participate in bidding for new frequencies that the government is opening for the private sector."

Report: Radio Free Asia is noting some hits from North Korean IP addresses.

Posted: 03 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Korea Herald, 2 Aug 2011, Song Sang-ho: "More North Koreans are apparently surfing the Web to find out about their country’s ties with South Korea and the U.S., and other issues affecting them, according to the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia. Questions have been raised over the surfers’ identities as the autocratic communist state has severely restricted Internet access for fear that it could be used as a conduit to share their democratic aspirations. According to RFA, six Internet protocols [IP addresses?] originating from the North have accessed its website via Google since early this year, and the number of hits to the website from the protocols has steadily increased in recent months with 24 times recorded this July. After tracking the IPs, RFA also found that the viewers used Microsoft’s Window XP operating system to search or gather information on subjects banned by the reclusive state. The surfers accessed the site mostly after 9 p.m., according to RFA. It also came as a surprise that the surfers used Windows XP rather than North Korea’s own operating system, called 'Red Star.' Information searched for included pieces on reunions of families separated across the border since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, North Korean people’s lives and other social and political issues. In the secretive state, only top-level government officials were previously able to use the Internet. But it has recently allowed several universities such as Kim Il-sung University to use the Internet for academic purposes. RFA was not ruling out the possibility that foreigners residing in the North could have used the Internet as it has found some signs of translation from Korean to Russian." -- I couldn't find the original report translated to English at the RFA website.

China Radio International in Boston: "hint of triumphalism," but also "ridiculing government spokesmen" about the rail disaster.

Posted: 03 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Boston Globe, 2 Aug 2011, Alex Beam: "Not enough people know that WILD-AM (1090) [Boston] has stopped broadcasting the loony rants of the Rev. Al Sharpton and is now airing a variety of loony, semi-normal, and just plain odd shows emanating from China Radio International in Beijing. The locution is dodgy - John Boehner is often 'Boner' or 'Bonner' - and the politics are occasionally suspect. Yes, I was listening when the State Council Information Office released its Assessment Report on the National Human Rights Action Plan of China. 'Thirty-five percent of the binding targets and over 50 percent of the targets concerning the people’s livelihood had been met ahead of time or exceeded,' I learned. Pip, pip! Yes, they have been savoring America’s embarrassing flirtation with default, but let’s be truthful - who hasn’t? And yes, the world’s next superpower can’t be blamed if a hint of triumphalism permeates its broadcasts. China refits an aircraft carrier, China launches its own network of GPS satellites, China’s growth rate 'slows' to 9.5 percent. It ain’t bragging if they done it. Did I detect some schadenfreude in CRI’s announcement that disgraced US Representative-sexual miscreant David Wu - the first Chinese-American to serve in the House - was born in the renegade republic of Taiwan? Chinese agitprop, you say? Sure. But what is propaganda, really? The United States spends $200 million a year blasting the Voice of America all over the world. So is the VOA desperately needed enlightenment for a world floundering for truth, or US propaganda? Have you ever read a corporate annual report, where the white guys in suits explain that their bonuses were necessary for the betterment of mankind? The State Council Information Office has nothing on them. CRI, intended for foreign audiences, plays it, well, almost straight in reporting on events in China. For a while, they were my only source of information about the July 23 bullet train crash that killed at least 39 people. CRI has returned to the story again and again, ridiculing government spokesmen and questioning the ultramodern technology of the country’s high-speed rail system. 'You don’t hear about bullet trains in Europe getting stopped by lightning and thunder,' announcer Brandon Blackburn-Dwyer said on 'Beijing Today,' alluding to the reported cause of the deadly crash. -- OK, I "excerpted" more of this than I should have, but it was all astute commentary. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English gets 24/7 cable access in New York City. Actually, make that 23/7.

Posted: 03 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Daily News, 1 Aug 2011, Richard Huff: "Al Jazeera English has finally found a place in New York City, but it's only a sublet. The news network began leasing space on Monday from WRNN, a privately-owned broadcast operation that provides news for its own channel RNN-TV and Verizon's FiOS 1 News operations. Al Jazeera hit the airwaves on WRNN's RISE, a cable channel available on Time Warner Cable systems Ch. 92. It will soon be available on Verizon FiOS, Ch. 466. Officials estimate Al Jazeera English will be available in upwards of 2 million homes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester and much of New Jersey. ... Al Jazeera will occupy 23 hours a day on RISE, with the remaining hour being programmed locally by RNN."

New York Times, 1 Aug 2011, Brian Stelter: "The country’s biggest cable and satellite companies each declined requests for interviews about Al Jazeera last week; most cited policies against talking about any specific carriage decisions. But they expressed no public concerns about Al Jazeera’s content. ... Al Jazeera is not the only international news channel seeking space; the BBC is trying to persuade the companies to carry BBC World News, too, so far with little luck. ... RISE will carry one hour of local programming a day, as it is required to do under its carriage agreements."

Huffington Post, 1 Aug 2011, Michael Calderone: "Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, told The Huffington Post that AJE's website receives more online traffic from New York City than from any other city around the globe –- evidence of high demand in the Big Apple. Now that the network will be reaching cable viewers, too, Anstey hopes to make further inroads into the media capital."

TPM, 3 Aug 2011, David Taintor: "It's only been a few days since Al Jazeera English launched in New York City, but a spokesperson for the network says the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. While most of the evidence has been anecdotal, more than 200 emails have come through the network's Demand Al Jazeera English campaign since the NYC launch."

The National (Abu Dhabi), 3 Aug 2011, Ben Flanagan: "[O]n Monday the English-language channel hit the airwaves in New York City - and said it was engaged in talks with numerous cable and satellite broadcasters over distribution in other parts of the US.

Tongan-language radio comes to southern California.

Posted: 02 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA), 27 July 2011, David Olson: "Every Saturday night, Salesi Paea stays up late to listen to Southern California's only Tongan-language radio program. It's a chance to hear familiar music from his South Pacific homeland and inspirational preaching from the Tongan minister who hosts the hour-long show. 'He gives us information on what's happening in Tonga,' Paea said. 'If there's a tsunami or something, you'll hear it on the radio.' The show is part of the trilingual programming on Corona's KWRM-AM, a radio reflection of the Inland area's increasingly broad diversity. During most of the day, the 5,000-watt KWRM broadcasts Chinese-language programs. Overnight and in the early morning, it switches to Spanish."

BBC America's first original scripted series is set in 1860s Irish neighborhood of New York City.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC America press release, 28 July 2011: "In its most significant original programming commitment to date, BBC AMERICA has announced its first original scripted drama series, Copper. The 10 episode series ... is set in the Five Points Irish neighborhood of New York City in the 1860’s. The series focuses on a rugged young Irish cop who has to navigate the unruly and sometimes violent currents of his immigrant neighborhood, while simultaneously interacting with uptown Manhattan high society and the emerging black community in Harlem. Copper will commence production in the fall of 2011 in Toronto and premiere on BBC AMERICA in Summer 2012."

Commentator compares VOA and BBC coverage of Kosovo border clashes.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Antiwar.com, 30 July 2011, Nebojsa Malic: "In 2004, when Albanian mobs rampaged across the province for days, the Western press described the pogrom as 'clashes.' The word was in use once again this week, shifting responsibility from the heavily armed Albanians backed by NATO armor to their Serb targets. Voice of America - an official mouthpiece of the U.S. government – said not a word about the Albanian takeover ploy, instead blaming the 'Serb mob' which was 'not loyal to Kosovo,' and sought to depict this as a deliberate Serb provocation of NATO, 'already stretched by wars in Afghanistan and Libya.' An example of more sedate reporting was the BBC, which also blamed the violence on 'Serbian nationalists' and made much of the torching of the checkpoint, but managed to mention that EU and the US have criticized [Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim] Thaci’s action as 'provocative' – albeit at the very end of the story." With links. See also RFE/RL, 26 July 2011, Ron Synovitz.

China Radio International's Tamil service receives 30% of the station's audience mail.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hindu, 30 July 2011, Ananth Krishnan: "S. Pandiyarajan was fiddling around with his shortwave radio set one hot summer evening at Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, when he stumbled upon a strange station. At first listen, it was a language he couldn't identify. It sounded like Tamil, but spoken in an accent he could not recognise. He listened on, straining his ears. To his surprise, he discovered that the voices were coming from faraway China. 'I could hear two Chinese people speaking in perfect Tamil!' he said. 'And this was Sentamizh [classical Tamil], which you never hear anywhere, anymore, even in Tamil Nadu.' That evening, Mr. Pandiyarajan became the latest member of China Radio International's fast-growing overseas fan base. ... Leading the station is Zhu Juan Hua, from Shanghai, who prefers to go by the Tamil name Kalaiarasi. Ms. Zhu has been with CRI Tamil since its launch, among the first group of students in this country who were trained in Tamil. ... Speaking in fluent Tamil, she says the station receives more than 450,000 letters every year, accounting for 30 per cent of all the letters CRI's more than 60 channels receive."

Radio Netherlands meets with Anglophone African partner stations.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 29 July 2011: "The first ever conference for Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s (RNW) partners in Anglophone Africa took place in Kenya this week, bringing together media organizations from 10 countries. The partners included a diverse range of professionals from commercial and state media outlets, community and university radio stations, as well as newspapers and magazines. ... High on the agenda was a discussion and debate about the productions made by RNW for its partners in Africa, and how ties between all participants can be strengthened. The two weekly radio shows Bridges With Africa and Africa in Progress were presented, as well as the website www.rnw.nl/africa , and the weekly comedy video What’s Up Africa that brought a good laugh among many partners. ... RNW Africa was also subject to some critical remarks during conference, particularly regarding a radio report that dealt with sexual taboos in Africa: 'A well chosen topic, but the presenter should have done her home work better.'" -- Will the announced budget cuts at RNW make RNW a different kind of "partner"?

RFE/RL media analyst shares social media expertise at TechCamps in Lithuania and Moldova.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 28 July 2011, Sigrid Lott: "Camilla Hawthorne, a new media analyst for RFE, was recently asked to share her expertise and skills in social media and online activism at TechCamp training sessions in both Lithuania and Moldova. ... About 80 activists from civil society organizations (CSOs) representing Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, the countries of the Balkan region, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine participated in TechCamp: Vilnius on June 29-30, where they focused on how technology can be used to facilitate citizen journalism and further their objectives for strong democracies and open societies. ... TechCamp is a global program under U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative, which is an effort to galvanize the technology community to assist civil society organizations around the globe by providing capabilities, resources and assistance to enable them to harness digital media and Internet circumvention tool (ICT) advances in order to build their digital capacity and online activism efforts. CSOs support the collective values and beliefs that non-governmental communities have for the promotion of a healthy democracy."

Silver Telly Award for documentary about the old VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting station.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 July 2011: "The video documentary 'America’s Voice,' produced for the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting by Murray Multimedia Resources in West Chester, has won a Silver Telly Award for 2011. The award is the highest award given by the Telly Awards, which honors outstanding local, regional and national commercials, programs, video and film production." See the documentary at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting website.

VOA executive editor discusses "extraordinary move" to pull story from the VOA Horn of Africa website (updated).

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Addis Voice, 29 July 2011, Letter from Steve Redisch, VOA Acting Director and Executive Editor: "I’ve been asked to react to the accuracy of the reporting about the situation involving VOA’s Horn of Africa service, so I decided now is a good time to clear up some misconceptions that have evolved over the past few weeks. Voice of America’s Horn of Africa service will not be shying away from reporting on Ethiopian politics. Freedom House rates the Ethiopian media as 'not free,' and our audiences there can rely on VOA to provide accurate, objective and comprehensive news and information about their government. VOA will provide an array of voices and opinions to allow Ethiopians to make their own decisions about what to believe and who to trust. That is our job and the job of a free media. ... The Government of Ethiopia has presented VOA with complaints about our Horn of Africa broadcasting. We are investigating those complaints as we would any complaints from any individual or government, including the US government. When the independent review of those complaints is completed, we will present them to the Ethiopian government, and then make them public."

YouTube, 28 July 2011, VOA executive editor Steve Redisch as interviewed by Henok Fente of the VOA Horn of Africa Service: "The report [on 23 June] that was on the Voice of America [Horn of Africa] website and on the Voice of America contained inaccuracies. And those inaccuracies were to the point where they could not be corrected and have the story remain on the website. So we took it off the website. It's an extraordinary move by any journalistic organization to take a story of a website once it's been published. We did it because we could not fix that story. It had many inaccuracies about it. It mischaracterized the visit [to Addis Ababa] by the BBG. It mischaracterized what the Ethiopian government was saying the the three members of the Board of Governors. ... David Arnold [former VOA Horn of Africa chief, reassigned to the VOA English desk] is a valued member of the Voice of America. As a US federal employee, he is accorded certain rights. We are looking into what happened as far as his involvement in the inaccuracies that were in the story as well as his involvement in the interview that was done. And once that review is over we'll make a decision as to what David Arnold does next."

Addis Voice, 26 July 2011, LJ Demissie: "Pandora’s Box was opened during an interview which one of the vesting [visiting?] team members — the VOA Horn of Africa Service Chief — David Arnold gave to VOA Amharic Service on June 23, 2011. Immediately after his interview was aired, it became absolutely clear that the purposes of a 42-pages document that was given to the visiting team was not supposed to be unveiled in public because it comprises names of the despotic Ethiopian government critics whom the government wants to silence and their valuable views against their tyrannical government which VOA Amharic Service broadcast from January 2011 to May 2011."

Free Media Online, 28 July 2011: “Free Media Online president Ted Lipien, who once served as VOA’s acting associate director, said ... 'It is outrageous that the Broadcasting Board of Governors executives arranged such a ill-defined trip and then, apparently with active involvement of some of the presidentially-appointed BBG members, dismissed a well-respected VOA journalist and censored news reports in a clear violation of the VOA Charter. BBG officials must apologize to Voice of America listeners, restore Mr. Arnold to his previous position, and stop all attempts at censorship and intimidation of journalists, including forbidding taking notes at meetings, a practice that’s identified with communist and other dictatorships and does not belong in America. The U.S. Congress should investigate this incident... .'"

Thilo Hoppe press release, 28 July 2011 (pdf): "According to reports from journalists at Voice of America and Deutsche Welle, the Ethiopian government is keeping a 'blacklist' of names of 'undesirable' journalists and 'subversive' critics. In this context, Thilo Hoppe, a Member of the German Bundestag who is himself amongst those listed, has made the following statement: 'The attempt to ban foreign media broadcasting in Ethiopia from conducting interviews with opposition activists and critical observers demonstrates once again the sorry state of freedom of expression in Ethiopia. ... If more than lip service is to be paid to this human-rights dialogue, these new cases of violation of press freedom must also be clearly and firmly raised in discussions with Ethiopian partners."

Addis Voice, 28 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: An Ethiopian who went to Bonn to work as a part-time freelancer complains about the conditions of his employment by Deutsche Welle.

YouTube, 29 July 2011, report by ESAT, television service to Ethiopia, about recent events at VOA and Deutsche Welle. -- It's in Amharic, but you can get a sense of the report from the photos, video clips, and one English audio excerpt.

Update: Critical Distance Weblog, 31 July 2011, Jonathan Marks: "VOA Newsroom Management would be wise to openly distance themselves from the discussion between the BBG and the Ethiopian government. The BBG may, thru diplomatic negotiation, secure deals with governments to permit enhanced coverage through local FM outlets. It has worked in other countries, and it has helped make media be more open in several countries. Indonesia is a good example. But whatever they negotiate should not be on the basis of an agreement by BBG to influence the current output from VOA in any shape or form. So, if the deal was to review or reduce coverage of any thinking other than the Ethiopian government line, in return for local relays of health information, then that's a rather weak BBG negotiation strategy."

Nazret.com, 1 Aug 2011, Alemayehu G. Mariam: "The VOA should learn that removing online programs, suspending employees for telling the truth, directing reporters not to take notes during meetings, delaying response until issues become critical and taking other acts that appear to be heavy-handed and create a climate of self-censorship are things that should not be repeated because they cast considerable doubt over the integrity and professionalism of the institution."

See previous post about same subject.

The restructuring of US international broadcasting, shifting from radio to the internet and social media.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 31 July 2011, Bill Gertz: "The Obama administration is sharply restructuring the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency in charge of all U.S. government broadcasting, while being urged to increase the spread of unfettered news and information around the world. Cuts in official U.S. radio broadcasting to Russia and the Middle East since 2001 and plans to end Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts to China in October have sown 'chaos and confusion' in the agency, one senior agency official said. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is shifting broadcasts from radio to the Internet and social media. ...

"A former BBG official said U.S. international broadcasting is in serious trouble because of a lack of focus and mismanagement - problems that have plagued the agency for several years. The shift to Internet and social media services is rife with problems, the former official said. 'The whole Internet strategy is bogus,' this former official said, noting that Iranian hackers shut down some 40 VOA Internet broadcast sites for five hours in February. ... The Iranian VOA hacking followed by two weeks the disclosure that VOA is ending all radio broadcasts to China this year in favor of Internet broadcasting and some radio through the heavily jammed Radio Free Asia. The decision was made after China refused to permit VOA to use China-based ground stations to transmit its programs, even though the Obama administration provided China with broad access to U.S. airwaves for its state-run media. ...

"A BBG report outlining the 'realignment strategy' for shortwave and medium-wave radio broadcasts stated that 'the process and transition will be as painful as they are necessary.' ... Plans to cut short- and medium-wave radio broadcasts are projected to save $75 million annually and be carried out in phases by closing VOA stations in the Philippines, on the Pacific island of Saipan, in Germany and in North Carolina, and scaling back Kuwait-based stations. The goal is to cut $82 million by 2014, the report said."

Although there are some inaccuracies, credit to Mr. Gertz for providing an overview of a complicated reorganization in what is already a complicated bureaucratic structure.

As recently as a quarter century ago, US international broadcasting would face media environments in target countries that would consist of a moribund state-controlled broadcasting monopoly, plus external broadcasts from VOA and/RFE/RL, BBC, and perhaps one or more other foreign shortwave stations. It was a time of information scarcity. Now, even in unfree societies, the websites and social media of US international broadcasting must compete with hundreds of domestic websites, tens of thousands of social media participants, and dozens of television channels. It is the present day overabundance of information and entertainment that is causing the "chaos and confusion" in US international broadcasting.

Competing in this environment will be difficult. The necessary first step is to transform US international broadcasting from its present feudal collection of entities that compete among themselves, to a single-branded multimedia entity that can cope with the real competition.

Mr. Gertz is incorrect in writing that "the Obama administration provided China with broad access to U.S. airwaves for its state-run media." China Radio International and CCTV were on US radio stations and cable channels during the George W. Bush administration and probably before that. It is the outcome of US press freedom, and the desire of some private US radio stations and cable channels, that might not otherwise have opportunities for profit, to make money by brokering time to international media.