Hillary Clinton's interviews on BBC Persian and VOA Persian generate discussion and possible "lawsuit."

Posted: 31 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 29 Oct 2011, Golnaz Esfandiari: "A debate about whether the United States should actively support Iran’s opposition movement appears to have been reignited following recent comments by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. ... In her October 26 interview with BBC’s Persian TV, Clinton suggested that it may have been a mistake for the opposition inside Iran to not have appealed for international support in the state crackdown that followed the disputed reelection of Mahmud Ahmadinejad in 2009. The interviewer said that some of the BBC’s audience had criticized the U.S. for being slow to support the opposition movement. Others, however, had said that Washington's potential support would have given the Iranian establishment an excuse to pressure it."

Washington Post, 29 Oct 2011, Thomas Erdbrink: "In interviews this week with the Farsi-language channels of the Voice of America and the BBC, Clinton announced a U.S. plan to open a 'virtual embassy' for Iran that would provide online information about visas and student programs. But the initiative is likely to be thwarted by Iranian authorities, who are increasingly using filtering software to block access to sites such as CNN or to Web pages containing sensitive key words and phrases, such as 'sex' and 'velvet revolution.' At times, the Google search engine is blocked. Attempts to open such sites from Iran take the user to a page operated by the Communication and Information Technology Ministry that reads, 'Dear user, according to the law you are not allowed to visit to this bad Web site.'"

AFP, 29 Oct 2011: "Iran on Saturday dismissed a renewed US offer of dialogue by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the "contradictions" of pursuing talks at the same time as threats undermined the proposal. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made the comment at a joint media conference in Tehran with the visiting leader of the autonomous Kurdish region in neighboring Iraq, Massud Barzani. Salehi was responding to remarks Clinton made Wednesday to Farsi-language programs on BBC Farsi and Voice of America (VOA) in which she said Washington was 'prepared to engage' with Iran, even as it maintains sanctions. Salehi was quoted by Iran's state television website as saying: 'We have heard such remarks a lot but unfortunately they are full of contradictions.'"

Fars News Agency, 30 Oct 2011: "The Iranian Parliament is likely to require the government to file a lawsuit against the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, for her recent meddling remarks in Iran's internal affairs. ... Clinton, in interviews with the Persian language services of the BBC and Voice of America on Wednesday, said the United States plans to open a "virtual embassy" for Iran that will give Iranians online information about visas and student exchange programs despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties. Clinton used both interviews to pretend that the United States hoped to broaden contacts with regular Iranians despite tensions with the Tehran government, and described Iran's Islamic establishment as a military dictatorship. She also said the 'virtual embassy' website would be open by the end of the year and it would provide Iranians with information on visas and other programs. In her astonishingly interfering remarks, Clinton said the United States was providing both technology and training to help Iranians circumvent government limits on the Internet and other forms of communication while seeking to expand sanctions on Tehran." -- "Lawsuit" might be a poor translation for what really would be a formal protest.

See previous post about same subject.

Politico commentator pans RT (Russia Today) "warmongers" report.

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Politico, 26 Oct 2011, Ben Smith: "The Russian Government propaganda station Russia Today sometimes does something resembling news reporting, and sometimes offers something closer to ham-handed Soviet-style hit pieces. In this one, in which reporters mispronounce virtually every proper noun (and at one point refer to 'Ronald Rumsfeld') in exaggerating Ken Silverstein's story on an alleged anti-Russian conspiracy, is a classic of the latter genre, and a nice glimpse at how Russia seeks to shape the international and American debates. (I'm not really sure they're getting value for money, but that's another story.)" -- The reporter appears to have Russian as a first language. Given that, her English pronunciation seems to me to be very good. This RT piece has a point of view, and its reference to "warmongers" is certainly Soviet-sounding, but it's less "ham-handed" than the old Radio Moscow fare.

New South Korean news channel will include some English, content from Al Jazeera, Russia Today, and North Korean state media.

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Yonhap, 27 Oct 2011: "'news Y,' an all-news cable channel that Yonhap News Agency plans to launch later this year, announced on Thursday its future vision of becoming Asia's leading news outlet offering original programming. In a media explanation meeting held at a Seoul hotel for major local advertisers, news Y pledged to become a 'friendly and warm-hearted' broadcaster based on differentiated news programs produced with the help of Yonhap News Agency's 600 reporters worldwide, including 62 overseas correspondents in 35 countries. ... In addition, news Y will also offer English-language news for foreigners in and out of the country, North Korea news based on the communist country's state media and financial news from Yonhap Infomax, the financial news and information arm of Yonhap News Agency. Audiences will also be able to watch news content from Al Jazeera Satellite Network; Russia Today, a Moscow-based 24-hour news-only channel; and various news media for overseas Korean communities in about 130 countries around the world, news Y said."

Al Jazeera launches an Arabic sports news channel.

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The Guardian, 27 Oct 2011, Mark Sweney: "Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arabic broadcaster, is to launch a sports news channel across the Middle East and north Africa. The channel, called al-Jazeera Sports, will launch on Tuesday 1 November and broadcast hourly news bulletins and 20 sports news programmes. ... The channel will also run weekly programmes featuring a roundup of sports including basketball, athletics, tennis and motorsport. There will also be a focus on Arab sports news with two programmes dedicated to covering major sports events in the Middle East and north Africa." -- This seems to be the accompanying website: www.aljazeerasport.net.

ABC still waiting to see if it will receive 223 million AUD to be associated with Australian "soft diplomacy."

Posted: 31 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 27 Oct 2011, Christian Kerr: "ABC employees fear job losses if the broadcaster loses the $223 million Australia Network contract, sources at the corporation say, and they have not ruled out industrial action. The ABC ran the original incarnation of the Australia Network, Australian Television International, from its foundation in 1993 until 1998, when it was taken over by the Seven Network. It assumed control of the service again in 2002 after successfully bidding in a tender not contested by Seven, with news programming supplied by Sky News. The contract was renewed in late 2005, but the Sky content was dropped in favour of ABC-sourced content the next year."

The Australian, 26 Oct 2011, editorial: "Through its Australia Network, established under the previous Howard administration, the government directly funds satellite television broadcasts into 44 countries in our region and beyond. The service unashamedly devotes itself to 'soft diplomacy' -- advancing Australia's interests through sharing our cultural values and insights. In this sense, the government acts more directly than it does with the ABC, which it funds generously but keeps at arm's length. The Australia Network is encouraged to generate advertising revenue and also runs programs from commercial networks. Despite these clear divergences from the ABC's standard role, the national broadcaster was able to win the tender for a five-year contract in 2000, and again in 2005, when it had strong competition from Sky News Australia. The service has been broadly successful, providing access to Australian drama, sport and education programs in the crowded Asian satellite television market. It has also included a heavy dose of ABC news and current affairs, whose approach to border protection and asylum-seeker issues might not have presented Australia in the most advantageous light. ... The only explanation for the continuing government silence is that it is unhappy about removing this contract from the ABC's domain, and that it is considering yet another decision-making process in the hope that, third time lucky, it gets the answer it wants." -- If Australian Network is "soft diplomacy," then Australian authorities seem to think that a full-time commercial for Australia will be sufficiently attractive to audiences that it can sell additional commercial time. ABC might find that not being associated with "soft diplomacy" more than compensates for the loss of the $223 million contract.

The Australian, 26 Oct 2011, Christian Kerr and Mark Dodd: "The opposition has vowed to pursue the government over the Australia Network television tender, using Senate estimates to lodge written questions demanding explanations for the delay in awarding the contract. It also wants to know why Kevin Rudd's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was stripped of responsibility for the decision."

See previous post about same subject.

Auf Wiedersehen Kurzwelle: Deutsche Welle German leaves shortwave and most radio for internet and TV.

Posted: 29 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Today, I received this e-mail from Christian Schubert in Germany:

This night at 3:00 summer time (when clocks are set back to 2:00 in Germany, I'm not familiar with the time code the radio-people use) the shortwave transmission of the German service will be ceased.

Last 'Das Magazin' is a brief review of the DW history. You can find this hour as podcast here http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6649271,00.html and a friend of Kai did a recording of the original MP2 satellite stream in high quality. This should be downloadeable here: http://www.sendspace.com/file/7z1ky7

The attached audio is a cut out of this hour and a very late 'revelation' of the things happened in the hot summer of 2003 when Deutsche Welle moved from Cologne to Bonn. [Kimandrewelliott.com contributor Kai Ludwig], myself and some friends visited the old impressive tower building in Cologne only a few days before the German programme left Cologne. The main studio had been already abandoned and it is told that the digital mixing desk (a Klotz Digital Vadis console) had been removed and already sold. So it seems that this desk was not used in Bonn again. Last days of German programme in Cologne came from an old studio with analog desk from the early 80s, even the 1/4" tape recorders were used.

Transition from Cologne to Bonn on 4th of August 2003 11 o'clock started with the news from Bonn, followed by the weather report (up to 36° Celsius!) and a long delay filled with music. And here is something that seems to be a microphone recording (maybe from a camera?) of what happened: the presenter was in one room, the news presenter in the other room of the same studio. News went flawlessly, but the presenter could not hear himself and the microphones seemed to be muted (this is what I think is the reason). So the people in the control room (a lot of people at this moment I guess) tried to tell him to change the microphone first and later to change to the news room as his room was 'dead'. For a German-speaking person this sounds like some women lure an animal from one barn to another, quite funny.

The original satellite recording of the transition in 2003 you put in your broadcast [Communications World on VOA] was done by myself and Kai pointed you to the link.

Long time ago...

Kind regards, Christian Schubert

Even if you don't have German, I recommend listening to the last "Das Magazin." (The audio link is at the bottom of the above-linked web page.) You can get sense of what is being said. And you will want to hear DW Intendant Erik Bettermann insert "und last but not least" into his interview response. It also includes a few renditions of the Deutsche Welle interval signal. It is derived from "Es sucht der Bruder seine Brüder" from Beethoven's opera Fidelio. And, finally, there is a group "tschüss" at the very end.

See also Deutsche Welle press release, 26 Oct 2011, in German.

Deutsche Welle press release, 27 Oct 2011, in German: Ute Schaeffer is appointed the new chief editor of DW.

At a camp for Somali refugees, "the crackle of shortwave radios" and a VOA soccer ball.

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VOA News, 27 Oct 2011, Peter Heinlein: "As dusk falls at the Dollo Ado transit station on the Ethiopia/Somalia border, 5,000 new refugees settle in for another night of uncertainty. ... As evening settles in, the sound of children is interspersed with the crackle of short wave radios. This night, the foreign voices are telling of fighting in southern Somalia as the Kenyan soldiers advance, northward toward the strategic port of Kismayo, and of the arrests of suspected al-Shabab militants in Nairobi, where a cache of explosives was found. A walk through the camp attracts hordes of children, giving a visitor a Pied Piper-ish feeling. These kids have nothing else to do. I have brought a VOA soccer ball, and a bunch of young men who had been playing with a ragged rubber ball eagerly gather round and ask to have their picture taken."

Yahoo! Maktoob readers can vote for Arab spring coverage of Alhurra, Al Jazeera, DW, France 24, New Delhi Television, or Press TV.

Posted: 29 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
"The time has come for you, the readers of Yahoo! Maktoob, to cast your vote for the best Arab Spring television coverage. Your votes will go towards selecting the winner of the 2011 People's Choice Award, a competition run by Yahoo! Maktoob and the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB). The AIB has announced the shortlist for the AIB Yahoo! Maktoob People's Choice Award, which people can now view and vote for their favourite by visiting the Yahoo! Maktoob Arabic site. The selected entries are from Alhurra TV, Aljazeera English (AJE), Deutsche Welle's Arabic service, France24 English, New Delhi Television (NDTV) and Press TV. The topic for the 2011 People's Choice is 'Best coverage of democracy uprisings'." With link at the bottom to nominated videos, either in Arabic with subtitles, or vice versa. See also AIB, 5 Oct 2011.

Follow the advice of the host of VOA's Straight Talk Africa, and he might buy you lunch.

Posted: 29 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Independent (Kampala), 26 Oct 2011, Julius Mucunguzi, assistant spokesperson for Africa at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London: "On Sept.20, while in Washington DC for the annual meetings of Commonwealth finance ministers, I met two men who have been my professional mentors: Dr Shaka Ssali of Voice of America, and Andrew Mujuni Mwenda of The Independent Magazine. ... [S]ometime in 1995, Shaka Ssali came to speak to A level students at Kigezi High School. I was in the hall. Shaka took us through his own amazing story—of dropping out of school, joining the army, moving to America, and going back to school—to obtain a Degree, a Masters and a PhD! It was just one roll coaster of a story. Very inspirational. He was then an editor with the Voice of America. 'What do we need to do to be like you?' one student asked. 'Simply hit those books really hard. Make sure you always aim to be Number One. And always, always, Keep Hope Alive,' Shaka replied. ... [I]n May 2000, two months after graduating from Makerere, I got a scholarship to do an internship with a public policy institute in Washington DC, and true to form, I called Shaka and told him that I was in `downtown Washington DC.' He picked me up in his Mercedes Benz and took me for lunch and for a tour of Voice of America studios. I was later to be among the first guests on his Straight Talk Africa programme in August 2000."

Comment to ibid from musinguzi "Have you ever thought of making the Al Jazeera of Africa? Something like voice of Africa and people like you, Shaka Ssali, Jeff Koinange, Charles Obbo etc working on it and with Sub Saharan Africa coverage? I think that the continent needs heavy weights like you to help shape and change perception within and without this increasingly important continent."

See also the VOA Straight Talk Africa web page.

At House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Secretary Clinton hears proposal to add a VOA Sindhi Service.

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C-SPAN, 27 Oct 2011, video of House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on same date with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) argues for the establishment of a VOA Sindhi Service. "We already broadcast in Urdu into Pakistan, but the Sindhi language is spoken by far more people than the Urdu language." Listen to audio of Rep. Sherman's remarks (mp3, 1:21). -- Urdu, however, is spoken as a second or third language by most Pakistanis. As such, Urdu is useful for reaching all of the language communities of Pakistan. Separate broadcasts in each of Pakistan's main languages would dilute resources. And, of course, except for one vote on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Secretary Clinton does not have executive authority over VOA. See previous post about same subject.

In interviews with BBC Persian and VOA Persian, Secretary Clinton announces plans for US "virtual Tehran embassy."

Posted: 29 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 26 Oct 2011, Golnaz Esfandiari: "In her first ever interview with the Persian-language media, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that the United States will soon launch a 'virtual Tehran embassy' aimed at connecting with the Iranian people. Clinton made the announcement on Voice of America's (VOA) Persian TV and also in an interview with the BBC's Persian Service. ... Clinton also responded to questions submitted by the Iranian watchers of VOA's 'Parazit' program and the BBC's Persian TV, submitted via YouTube, video, or e-mail. A number of questions focused on U.S. sanctions against the Islamic republic, which Washington and its allies have enacted in response to the country's abysmal human rights record and questionable nuclear program."

State Department, 26 Oct 2011, transcript of Secretary Clinton's interview with Bahman Kalbasi of BBC Persian: "QUESTION: In fact, we have a question from Shada in Tehran. He sent us this question asking about the internet and the filtering that happens. And the question was: Some of these sanctions are making it harder to actually go around these filterings because some of these technologies that are now banned in Iran to be sold in Iran to the public. But also in wider sense, the fact that many people in Iran get their information from satellite television, like BBC Persia, and they’re being jammed. SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. QUESTION: Is there a role that America can play to help – more realistic than a box with a plug into the internet that was talked about, that something more – even more practical can be done to fight this kind of jamming and filtering and blocking? SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And we’re doing it. We’re doing a lot of work to try to come up with technologies that can circumvent the jamming and the interruptions and the tracking that the regime are engaged in right now. We are providing technology, some of which is more effective than others. We are certainly training people, both outside and inside, to be able to use the technology to circumvent. This is one of my highest priorities. I’ve spoken out repeatedly about the right of people to have access to the internet. It is freedom of speech and expression and assembly, values that we think every human being is entitled to. But we have also seen the regime in Iran impose what amounts to an electronic curtain. It’s the 21st century equivalent of the barbed wire and the fences and the dogs that the old Soviet Union used. Because they come at it from the same mentality; they want totalitarian control over what you learn and what you say and even what you think and how you worship, and all the things that go the heart of human dignity and human freedom. So yes, we are doing everything we can. Now, I will quickly add that we’re experimenting. Sometimes we think something will work. It turns out not to work. Sometimes we get maybe a year ahead of the regime’s efforts, and then they catch up, and we have to go back to the drawing boards. But I want to assure your viewers that we are committed to doing everything we can to provide as much communication freedom inside and outside of Iran to people trying to speak out for their rights as possible."

State Department, 26 Oct 2011, transcript of Secretary Clinton's interview with Kambiz Hosseini of VOA Persian News Network "Parazit": "QUESTION: ...as is customary for our show, at the end of the interview, we give our guests some time to talk directly to our audience. That is your camera, and you can directly talk to our fans and our audience in Iran. ... SECRETARY CLINTON: ... We would like to see your regime change."

VOA press release, 26 Oct 2011: "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Voice of America’s hit TV show Parazit Wednesday that Iran’s military is becoming increasingly involved in the Iranian economy. In an exclusive interview at the State Department with Parazit host Kambiz Hosseini, Mrs. Clinton said, 'The Quds force and other elements of the security establishment taking financial stakes or taking over certain economic enterprises – that’s part of what I mean about our seeing that there seems to be a moving toward a more military takeover in effect in Iran.'" -- Well, exclusive within USIB. See also VOA News, 26 Oct 2011. With video.

RFE/RL reporter in Turkmenistan released from prison.

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RFE/RL press release, 26 Oct 2011: "Turkmen authorities have released a correspondent for RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, who had been sentenced earlier this month to a five-year prison term in a case that drew outrage from the U.S. Congress, policymakers, foreign governments, and advocacy groups. Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev was pardoned on October 26 as part of a presidential amnesty marking the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence. Under the decree, some 1,700 prisoners are expected to be freed. Yazkuliyev was charged with encouraging the suicide attempt of a relative, accusations his family claim were brought in retaliation for his reporting. Family members said that they had been forced by police to sign statements against him, and that their efforts to retract them were ignored in the trial that ensued."

RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 25 Oct 2011, Deana Kjuka: "When Marat Nurumov submitted a blog post via smart phone from a prison in central Kazakhstan in August 2010, he baffled editors at RFE/RL’s Kazakh service, Radio Azattyq. 'He sent us an email saying he would write for us, and at first we thought it was a provocation, but we contacted his relatives and confirmed his identity,' Radio Azattyq director, Yedige Magauin, explains. How does a criminal imprisoned in Kazakhstan get access to a smart phone? Magauin says that mobile phones are illegal in prison, but due to widespread corruption, inmates find loopholes to obtain certain luxuries -- including, it seems, smart phones."

RFE/RL president Steven Korn on "the ability to let people make up their own mind based on accurate information."

Posted: 29 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Prague Post, 26 Oct 2011, Benjamin Cunningham: "It ... seems that organizational changes are ahead for RFE/RL and other Washington-financed broadcasters. Deloitte consulting has been brought on by the [Broadcasting Board of Governors] to advise how RFE/RL could share costs with similar broadcasters like Radio Free Asia. 'There are separate legal departments and so on; to me, that doesn't make a lot of sense and takes away from what we can spend on our mission,' [new RFE/RL president Steven] Korn says. Asked to summarize that aforementioned mission, Korn says it is 'bringing free press and unbiased information to people in countries where they don't have it.' While the BBG is meant to provide a buffer between the U.S. Congress and RFE/RL and prevent broadcasts from being influenced by politics, critics - including leaders in many of the 21 countries where RFE/RL broadcasts - nonetheless charge the organization and its journalists are merely a tool of U.S. foreign policy. While conceding that U.S. government would not fund RFE/RL if it didn't provide some benefits, Korn adamantly rejects such claims. 'In a broad sense, that is of course true, but it is sort of an enlightened self-interest point of view,' Korn says. 'The ability to let people make up their own mind based on accurate information is an unqualified good thing in the world. … That is also consistent with the broad interests of the United States.'"

With addition of Finland and Portugal, Discovery Communications' TLC channel will reach 100 million homes outside the USA.

Posted: 29 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Oct 2011, Georg Szalai: "Cable network powerhouse Discovery Communications' Discovery Networks International unit will as of Nov. 2 surpass its year-end target of getting TLC into 100 million households abroad. TLC launches in Finland and Portugal next month following a rollout in Africa, Denmark and Latin America. TLC will then be available in nearly 170 markets, making it the most widely distributed female-targeted entertainment and lifestyle channel brand in pay TV, the company said. ... 'TLC's brand strength and programming diversity has become a powerful complement to the Discovery Channel brand -- and the strong ratings generated by both TLC programming from the United States and original series created by DNI's production team are already attracting loyal audiences in multiple markets around the world.' ... TLC now ranks as the number one international travel and lifestyle channel in Asia Pacific and the top lifestyle channel in Poland in the key women 25-49 demographic. ... DNI contributes about a third of Discovery Networks' revenue and profitability and has a higher growth rate than the U.S. business... . Discovery Channel is the company's most widely distributed network around the globe, reaching about 210 million homes outside the U.S., followed by Animal Planet with around 160 million... ."

China's CCTV, in international expansion mode, will find that ¥45 billion can't buy credibility.

Posted: 29 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 28 Oct 2011: "China's state broadcaster CCTV plans to expand its global operations next year, state media said Thursday, as Beijing seeks to boost the country's influence overseas. China Central Television (CCTV) will increase the number of foreign correspondent positions to 80 in 2012 from the 66 it expects to have at the end of this year, the official Xinhua news agency said. It also plans to set up two studios in North America and Africa, each employing more than 200 people, the report said, without specifying where. ... The government has earmarked 45 billion yuan ($7.1 billion) to fund the expansion of state-owned media groups including Xinhua, CCTV and CRI radio, according to previous media reports. Communist Party chiefs agreed on a list of 'cultural development guidelines' at a secretive annual meeting in Beijing earlier this month, partly aimed at making Chinese media more competitive in foreign markets. In recent years, CCTV has launched channels in Russian, Arabic, Spanish and French in addition to its overseas Chinese-language and English service." -- The money is useful, but it is just one of the ingredients for success in international media. Even more important is credibility, which is priceless.

Xinhua, 28 Oct 2011: "Three China Central Television (CCTV) channels -- CCTV-4 (Chinese), CCTV-News (English) and CCTV-9 (Documentary) started launching in Myanmar Thursday in cooperation with Myanmar's semi-government MRTV-4 and Sky Net. MRTV-4 is operated by the state-run Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) with the cooperation of the private Forever media Group, while the Sky Net is run by the MRTV with the private Shwe Than Lwin company. ... The three CCTV channels' programs will be rebroadcast by MRTV-4 and Forever Media Group in Myanmar via Sky Net DTH Platform and Forever Group Digital Terrestrial Television System under a cooperative protocol reached among them." See also Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, 27 Oct 2011.

Reuters, 27 Oct 2011, Ben Blanchard: "The much-delayed but striking steel, concrete and glass headquarters for Chinese state television is expected finally to fully open in the new year, said Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, whose firm designed the building, on Thursday. The skyscraper, described by its chief architect Ole Scheeren as a 'loop folded in space', is two towers sloped together and joined by a gravity-defying canopy equivalent to 80 storeys in height."

The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Oct 2011: "The Motion Picture Association of America will host screenings of eight U.S.-China co-productions, in cooperation with the China Film Co-Production Corp. and supported by China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television's (SARFT) Film Bureau. The screenings will take place at venues in the Washington, DC area, including the MPAA screening room, from Nov. 1-10. The films set to be shown are the John Cusack and Gong Li-starrer Shanghai, Love in Space, Red Cliff Parts 1 & 2, Waiting in Beijing and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which will be attended by its producer, Wendi Murdoch."

China limits television programs that are "overly entertaining," e.g. "record the dark and gloomy side of society."

Posted: 28 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 26 Oct 2011, Christopher Bodeen: "China plans to limit reality TV shows and other light entertainment fare shown on satellite television stations as part of a drive to wrest back Communist Party control over cultural industries that are fueling more independent viewpoints. The order from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, known as SARFT, refers to shows that are vulgar or 'overly entertaining.' It singles out programs dealing with marital troubles and matchmaking, talent shows, game shows, variety shows, talk shows and reality programming. Such shows must be largely phased out by the beginning of next year by the country's 34 satellite TV stations, to be replaced with news and cultural programming. The order also bans viewership surveys and the use of ratings as the sole criteria for whether to broadcast a particular show. The changes aim to 'meet the public's demand for varied, multilevel, and high quality viewing,' said the order, published Wednesday." -- They are called "satellite" television stations because they are provincial stations that deliver their content to other parts of China via satellite. Most Chinese, however, don't watch these channels via their own satellite dishes, but through cable TV systems, or via cable within an apartment building delivered from a dish on the roof of the building.

Reuters, 25 Oct 2011: "China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television starting next year will restrict shows that 'record the dark and gloomy side of society', the Southern Metropolis Daily said. 'For every satellite TV station, no more than two entertainment programmes can be aired during prime time from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. every night,' the paper said, citing a directive from the national broadcasting watchdog. Instead, the newspaper said, the extra time slots would be filled with programmes that 'promote harmony, health and mainstream culture'."

Worldcrunch, 28 Oct 2011, excerpted and translated from the Economic Observer: "The regulations, however, are only applied to some 30 provincial satellite TVs. This excludes the state-owned CCTV. Some are therefore asking whether the origin behind this new directive is to counteract the declining popularity of CCTV’s news programs and recreational shows. Currently, at 7:00 p.m. every night, Chinese viewers who want a bit of information have no choice but to watch the so-called 'News Network' of the Chinese Communist Party, and the government’s propaganda machine. This is not only broadcast by CCTV itself, but also on a provincial-level by local stations that are obliged to air it."

Xinhua, 27 Oct 2011: "Under the new policy, channels will be required to broadcast at least two hours of news programs between 6 am and midnight. Between 6 pm and 11:30 pm, they must each broadcast at least two 30-minute news programs. ... The statement also noted that the SARFT welcomes the introduction of high-quality foreign TV programs if suitable for Chinese audiences and imported legally. If wanting to buy an overseas program, TV channels should apply to the provincial TV watchdog for approval and then report it to the SARFT two months before it intends to broadcast the show."

The National (Abu Dhabi), 27 Oct 2011, Daniel Bardsley: "There were indications last month the authorities were again losing patience with broadcasters when it was announced Supergirl, an American Idol-style talent show, would not be allowed to continue next year, supposedly because one episode of the 2011 series exceeded limits on the length of programmes." See previous post about same subject.

Wall Street Journal, 26 Oct 2011, Laurie Burkitt and Josh Chin: "China's new limits on broadcast media may force companies to pay higher prices for advertising time on the popular television shows that remain, media experts say, as the central government tightens its control of the nation's cultural landscape."

Dallas Blog, 26 Oct 2011, Tom McGregor: "Beijing claims that this restriction was ordered, based on allegations that many popular Chinese TV shows have been deemed 'too vulgar' according to China’s Communist Party officials. However, the Chinese state-run media often avoid news that involve thought-provoking topics and encourage 'soft news' which they perceive as real news. -- Tom McGregor is an American who broadcasts for the English Service of China Radio International.

China Daily, 28 Oct 2011, Craig McIntosh: "Having had Chinese television as my only source of entertainment for several months when I first arrived, I can honest say I think we should be encouraging producers to inject more entertainment, rather than take it out. When I surf through the channels all I see are costume dramas and old movies. However, rather than give a pat on the back to those who think outside of the box, channels are being told to instead commission shows that promote traditional virtues and socialist core values."

Times Daily (Florence, AL), 27 Oct 2011, Dale McFeatters: "In a nation that is a stickler for social control, you would think China’s communist rulers would be happy with television programming that kept most of its billion people inside, sitting slack-jawed and catatonic in front of their televisions, their brains atrophied by the kind of programming that has the same effect here. But the leadership feels shows that are 'overly entertaining' are leading the people away from 'core socialist values.' And what kind of shows would these be? The inquiring minds of American network programmers want to know; we can’t always be stealing our shows from the Brits."

New York Times, 27 Oct 2011, Sharon Lafraniere, Michael Wines and Edward Wong, via New Delhi TV: "The restrictions arrived as party leaders signalled new curbs on China's short-message, Twitter-like microblogs, an Internet sensation that has mushroomed in less than two years into a major - and difficult to control - source of whistle-blowing. Microbloggers, some of whom have attracted millions of followers, have been exposing scandals and official malfeasance, including an attempted cover-up of a recent high-speed rail accident, with astonishing speed and popularity. On Wednesday, the Communist Party's Central Committee called in a report on its annual meeting for an 'Internet management system' that would strictly regulate social network and instant-message systems, and punish those who spread 'harmful information.'"

Heritage Foundation, 18 Oct 2011, Helle Dale: "There is absolutely no doubt that the Internet presents a double-edged sword and a huge challenge to China’s censors, as it does to those of Iran and other closed societies. Controlling information has become that much harder in the age of the Internet. Yet, there is equally no doubt that Chinese officials will continue to do their level best to stay on top. U.S. policymakers must take into account documentation such as the CECC’s reports when reviewing U.S. communications strategy, an issue that came before the Broadcasting Board of Governors on Thursday. While the success of China’s microbloggers is to be congratulated, too narrow a focus on the Internet will prevent the U.S. government from getting reliable information through to the Chinese people. For optimal results, the U.S. needs all the communications tools at its disposal—including satellite television and short-wave radio as well as the Internet."

Advanced Television, 27 Oct 2011, Chris Forrester: "A few weeks ago it was widely reported that China had ‘banned’ entertainment-type programming especially that emanating from Taiwan and which frequently employed ‘Western’ presentation styles and fashions. ... Now a Chinese official at the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office [TAO], has stated that no such ‘ban’ is in place. Yang Yi, from the State Council, made the remarks when asked to comment on an alleged entertainment ban that would make it more difficult for Taiwan entertainers to perform in mainland-based entertainment shows."

Pan-Arab news channels cope with "one of the lowest per-capita marketing budgets in the world."

Posted: 27 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The National, 24 Oct 2011, Ben Flanagan: "Advertising revenue in the Arab world could take three years to grow, according to the head of one of the region's most prominent news channels. The total advertising market for the region amounts to less than US$5 billion (Dh18.36bn) a year - representing one of the lowest per-capita marketing budgets in the world. Zero growth, or even a decline, is likely over the next three years, said Mohammed Burhan, the general manager and acting chief executive at CNBC Arabia. ... CNBC Arabia is the region's only major 24-hour business-focused station in an overall news TV market dominated by Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, and Al Arabiya, which is broadcast from Dubai. The already competitive market is set to be shaken up next year with the launch of two high-profile Arabic-language news stations. Sky News Arabia is expected to launch in the spring, and Alarab, backed by the Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, is set to follow in December. ... Mr Burhan said he did not expect the arrival of two new stations to expand the overall advertising market."

Eutelsat's Atlantic Bird 7 goes into service: 400 channels to North Africa and Gulf states.

Posted: 27 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 24 Oct 2011, citing Eutelsat: "Eutelsat Communications has announced the full entry into commercial service of its high-capacity Atlantic Bird™ 7 satellite one month after its launch to 7 degrees West. The transfer of all television channels onto Atlantic Bird™ 7 at 7 degrees West from the Atlantic Bird™ 4A satellite was completed in the early hours of 23 October by Eutelsat’s control centre, working in close collaboration with broadcast clients and providers of uplink services. More than 400 TV channels are now broadcasting via Atlantic Bird™ 7 into almost 30 million homes located from the North African Atlantic coastline across to the Gulf states. ... With Atlantic Bird™ 7’s entry into service, Eutelsat is strengthening its relationship with Nilesat, the Egyptian satellite operator that also manages its own system of three satellites at the 7 degrees West neighbourhood. Nilesat is leasing new transponders on Eutelsat’s satellite in addition to leases transferred from Atlantic Bird™ 4A. The supplemental capacity will further anchor the 7° West neighbourhood in the satellite broadcasting market across the MENA region, enabling Nilesat and Eutelsat to boost resources for digital channels and HDTV which is rapidly making inroads at 7 degrees West, with 30 HDTV channels already broadcasting." See also the Lyngsat Atlantic Bird 7 page.

New commander of Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne).

Posted: 27 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Fayetteville Observer, 24 Oct 2011, Drew Brooks: "There's the chorus in Kosovo that's the pride of a community, the radio station that teaches women to read in Afghanistan and schools in Kenya that teach the children of former civil war combatants side by side. Those are just some of the accomplishments of civil affairs and psychological operations soldiers over the past few years. Hailed as being an integral part of America's future military, those soldiers welcomed a new commander Sunday. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey A. Jacobs took command of the Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) at a parade field on Fort Bragg. USACAPOC is an Army Reserve command that includes the bulk of the military's civil affairs and psychological operations soldiers - now known as military information support operations. The command oversees approximately 13,000 soldiers in more than 50 Army Reserve units across 30 states and Puerto Rico. It is the Army Reserve's most deployed force, officials said." See also USACAPOC(A) Public Affairs, 23 Oct 2011, Staff Sgt. Amanda Smolinski.

France 24 in the news includes resignation of its editorial director.

Posted: 27 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 20 Oct 2011: "The editorial director of news channel France 24, Jean Lesieur, has resigned. According to the AFP news agency, Lesieur resigned over differences with parent body Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France’s CEO Alain de Pouzhilac over the allocation of salary increases to editorial staff."

Digital TV Europe, 24 Oct 2011, Frank Melloul, France 24 head of strategy, development and public affairs: "Q: How does France 24 differ from other news channels? Melloul: From the very beginning, France 24 has positioned itself as a global media outlet covering international news from a French perspective. Its main values are honesty, diversity, openness to different points of view, bearing in mind that our network, although broadcast in three different languages, follows the same editorial guidelines and principles of programming on all three language channels. Whereas the international news market had been dominated for years by English and Americans on one side, and by Qatari on the other side, France 24 provides an alternative voice on world news in English, Arabic and French 24/7."

Tunisia Live, 22 Oct 2011, Imene Ben Ameur: A report of the Tunisian Elections Authority "cited international TV channels as being biased in their coverage. One of the main criticisms against foreign news outlets was that channels were allocating more airtime to some parties over others. France 24 allowed 64.7% of its Tunisian elections coverage to focus on unrecognised radical Islamic party Ettahrir. This disproportionate level of exposure came as a result of Ettahrir’s link to the demonstrations against the controversial ‘Persepolis’ animation on Nessma TV."

Cream, 25 Oct 2011: "While it is important not to get carried away - its worth remembering that it isn't Twitter that brought down governments, it is the messages and those posting them that effect political change. News channel France 24 has, perhaps somewhat provocatively, placed characters like Gaddafi and Mubarak on a series of advertisements that echo the artwork for Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 horror film, The Birds."

Retirement of shortwave broadcaster Harold Camping, whose predicted end of the world did not happen, may not happen.

Posted: 27 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Christian Post, Herbert Pinnock, 25 Oct 2011: "Harold Camping has reportedly retired, hanging up his hat on his radio ministry, but does that mean Camping will also retire his predictions? It has been a noteworthy career for Camping, who has built a devoted following of listeners through Family Radio Stations, Inc., which he founded along with two other men in 1958. ... Camping predicted that the world would end on May 21, 2011. After the failure of this event, the 90-year-old ... asserted that Judgment Day would occur on Oct. 21, 2011. ... The former owner of a construction business, which he began shortly after the end of World War II, Campaign became an evangelist and began a live weeknight call-in program in 1961 on Family Radio called 'Open Forum.' This program has been broadcasted on more than 140 stations owned by Family Radio in the U.S. The 'Open Forum' is also translated into many foreign languages and, together with other Family Radio programming, is broadcast worldwide via Shortwave."

Christian Post, 24 Oct 2011, Luiza Oleszczuk: "Harold Camping, who predicted Oct. 21 to be the day Christians would be caught up to heaven and that God would judge the world, said on Oct. 16 that he is no longer able to lead Family Radio Stations, Inc. or his ministry, and his wife has confirmed that the 90-year-old radio evangelist has retired, a documentarian close to Camping told The Christian Post in an exclusive interview."

Religion Dispatches, 20 Oct 2011, Jason Bruner: "[T]his is only part of the story; specifically, the Western part of the story. On the other side of the world, there were some for whom the Apocalypse not only came, it arrived early. In late April and early May 2011 thousands of Christians gathered to await a cataclysmic event. They had journeyed to a hilltop in the rural north-western highlands of Dien Bien, Vietnam. Translated short wave radio broadcasts sponsored by Camping's Family Radio told them that the land of the sinful would be destroyed. The righteous, those who had accepted God's forgiveness offered in Jesus Christ, would be saved in this radical reordering. That would give the Hmong what they have been waiting for — a land of their own. The promised apocalyptic reordering was good news. They did not have to look far to set their sights on who stood in the way of their promised land. Vietnamese government troops, ordered to put down the Hmong 'uprising', arrived in early May. What followed was a rare, violent confrontation between the Hmong and the Vietnamese government. ... [W]hile May's Apocalypse seems to have skipped over most of the world, it did land squarely on a hilltop in north-western Vietnam. It would behoove us to take notice of the complex and unexpected ways in which this spring's apocalypticism rippled across the world — in short radio waves, to be precise." See previous post (second item) about same subject.

WYFR began shortwave broadcasting in 1973, when it acquired the license of shortwave radio station WNYW, originally the historic WRUL. The WNYW/WRUL transmitters were located at Scituate, Massachusetts, but Family Radio moved the site to Okeechobee, Florida. The WYFR Okeechobee site relays broadcasts of Radio Taiwan International, in exchange for Family Radio transmitter time in Taiwan. This is probably how the Hmong of Vietnam heard the Harold Camping predictions.

How's your thematic portfolio? BBC Worldwide hires a VP for strategic development of same in EMEA.

Posted: 27 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 24 Oct 2011: "BBC Worldwide Channels has appointed Nina Laricheva as vice-president development for its EMEA [Europe, Middle East, Africa] business. Reporting to Ian McDonough, SVP & GM EMEA, BBC Worldwide Channels, Nina will be responsible for driving revenue growth and the strategic development of the business's thematic portfolio – BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Entertainment, CBeebies and BBC HD – as well as for BBC World News, the BBC's commercially funded international 24-hour news and information channel. Her role will involve developing the sales and business strategy for the channels in key markets across EMEA, negotiating multiplatform distribution deals in conjunction with local teams and establishing and maintaining relationships with internal stakeholders within BBC Worldwide." -- "EMEA' seems like an awfully large, multifaceted territory, ripe for breaking up, as in E and MEA, and, ultimately, E, ME, and A. Other BBC Worldwide territories are Asia and Americas.

Licensing.biz, 27 Oct 2011, Samantha Loveday: "Former Vivendi and Universal Music and Video executive, Soumya Sriraman has been appointed the new EVP of home entertainment and licensing at BBC Worldwide Americas. Starting on November 1st, Sriraman will be responsible for maximising revenues across the BBC's DVD and licensing business in the US and Canada. Her new role involves expanding the business through new product, maximising distribution, creating partnerships and developing brand platforms."

C21Media.net, 26 Oct 2011, Jesse Whittock: "BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) has expanded manager of German factual television Philipp Schmid's role to include coproduction duties in France. Schmid will take on the new job of copro manager for factual in Germany and France at the UK pubcaster's commercial arm. Based in London, his new duties will include finding and delivering factual copro investment across the territories and will work with UK factual prodcos to develop local content."

Editorial calls for shortwave and balloons to inform North Koreans of the fate of Gadhafi.

Posted: 26 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Dong-a Ilbo, 22 Oct 2011: "South Korea must broadcast short-wave radio programs and send balloons to the North so that its people will learn about the miserable end of Gadhafi`s rule after 42 years of dictatorship. To help North Korea democratize is true progressivism and South Korea`s duty. No matter how hard it tries, North Korea cannot avoid the global trend of democratization. The international community and South Korea should cooperate to advance the North’s democratization." -- Medium wave, and to some extent FM, might be more effective than shortwave to reach North Korea from South Korea.

BBC Trust orders independent review of "impartiality and accuracy" in BBC coverage of the Arab spring.

Posted: 26 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 26 Oct 2011, Tara Conlan: "The impartiality of the BBC's coverage of the Arab spring is to be examined by the former UN director of communications, Edward Mortimer, in an independent review for the BBC Trust. The trust's review will look at the BBC's coverage of events in Tunisia and will then focus in particular on reporting of events in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen. ... All coverage on BBC national TV and radio, online and from its World News operation will be examined and a report will be published in the autumn of 2012. ... Alison Hastings, BBC trustee and chair of the trust's editorial standards committee, said: ... 'The events that came to be known as the Arab spring were extremely fast-moving and complex. That makes it a difficult story to cover. The challenge for the BBC, as with all controversial areas, is to ensure that it maintains the high standards of impartiality and accuracy that audiences expect, both in the UK and around the world, where many rely on the BBC's international news services.'" See also BBC Trust press release, 26 Oct 2011, with terms of reference.

"Renowned" TV presenter Yosri Fouda: from BBC Arabic, to Al Jazeera, to ONTV (Egypt), to off the air.

Posted: 26 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Ahram Online, 21 Oct 2011, Hatem Maher: "ONTV presenter and prominent journalist Yosri Fouda puts his show 'Akher Kalam' (The Last Word) on hold for an indefinite period, citing censorship. Renowned TV presenter Yosri Fouda said on Friday he had decided to halt his famous show ‘Akher Kalam’ for an indefinite period in protest at what he called 'relentless censorship efforts.' Fouda was due to host staunch SCAF critic Alaa El-Aswany on Thursday night to comment on the interview two Egyptian army generals, Mahmoud Hegazy and Mohamed El-Assar, gave on Wednesday. Thursday’s episode was abruptly cancelled, fuelling speculation that Fouda, a highly-respected media figure, was pressured into shifting his plans by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). ... 'There is a fact that gradually came to prominence during the past few months, which makes us feel that there are relentless efforts to maintain the core of the old system,' Fouda, a former BBC Arabic and Al-Jazeera employee, said in a statement on his Facebook page."

London newspaper questions EU payment to BBC World Service Trust, soon to be BBC Media Action.

Posted: 26 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Sunday Express (London), 23 Oct 2011, Ted Jeory: "The BBC’s impartiality was questioned last night after a Sunday Express investigation revealed it has been pocketing millions of pounds in EU aid money. Its little-known international development arm has picked up £15.5million in EU grants since 2007, cash that boosts BBC’s global brand and helps employ hundreds of staff in London and overseas. The money has been handed to the BBC World Service Trust, a charity set up to run the corporation’s massive overseas aid operation. ... Although part of the BBC empire, [BBC World Service Trust] says it is independent, even of the World Service, and its remit is to promote journalism, human rights and education around the world. It plans to change its name by next April but, using the BBC World Service brand, it has delved into controversial subjects, such as using environmentalist Jonathon Porritt to promote climate change theories ­as unchallenged fact. Despite cuts elsewhere, the ­charity has ballooned in size since it was established in 1999. With an annual budget of £28million it employs 600 staff and even owns a broadcasting company in Iraq, although few details of what it does have been disclosed. The fact that the Trust is helping with EU projects has raised serious questions over BBC impartiality. Ukip deputy leader and MEP Paul Nuttall said last night: 'By accepting money from the EU in any way, the BBC compromises its neutrality on the most important issue facing this country: our membership of that organisation.'" -- The headline of the story is "Why is BBC funding Somali radio station?," but the body of the story makes no mention of a radio station, or anything else, in Somalia. In the BBC Executive Board meeting on 13 June 2011 (pdf), it was specified that BBC Media Action will be the new name for BBC World Service Trust.

In "America's Death Shame," BBC News investigates child abuse deaths in the United States.

Posted: 26 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 23 Oct 2011, Teresa Hulzar, executive director, National Children's Alliance: "In response to the recently aired investigative news report on child abuse fatalities in the United States by the BBC, I want to call attention to the importance of child advocacy in the U.S. This issue deserves our attention now more than ever before. This multimedia, 22-minute story, entitled 'America's Death Shame,' began airing Monday, Oct. 17 on BBC World News affiliates, including PBS and NPR stations in most American cities. The focus of the broadcast is on the magnitude of child abuse -- and particularly child-abuse-related deaths -- in America. The underlying sense of shock at the enormity of this problem is apparent throughout the broadcast and serves as a powerful reminder that this is not the norm anywhere else in the industrialized world and should not be accepted as such in the United States."

Commentator: "BBC is retreating from global news," while Al Jazeera "is expanding."

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Spectator, Coffee House blog, 20 Oct 2011, Fraser Nelson: "Now that Gaddafi has been killed, which television station will the world turn to? I suspect that, right now, Al Jazeera will be on in No.10 and the White House, and indeed television sets across Asia and India. At a time when the BBC is retreating from global news, its Doha-based rival is expanding — and this has harsh implications. ... [T]he BBC has come under fierce competition from Al Jazeera — and rather than respond, it’s caving in and going home. The Foreign Office is cutting the World Service budget by 16 per cent while the service's rivals are aggressively expanding. It is losing out in the ‘most trusted’ surveys worldwide. When the BBC World Service closed down its 21-man Serbian radio operation, Al Jazeera Balkans set about hiring 150 people in Sarajevo headed by the veteran Croatian journalist Goran Milic. That’s its formula: it doesn’t foist Anderson Cooper on the world, but has local television champions. When its reporters made enemies in Morocco and Gaddafi's Libya, its stature rose further. When Israel wanted to tool up in the global information wars, it’s telling that there were calls for a ‘Jewish Al Jazeera’ rather than a Jewish BBC."

The Spectator, Coffee House blog, 21 Oct 2011, Jon Williams, world news editor of BBC: "Yes the BBC is in the middle of change — some of it enforced by the Spending Review and our decision to freeze the cost of the licence fee, but some also by design. We want to ensure that we deliver real value for the licence fee payer when the BBC begins funding the World Service in 2014. That’s why we want to create a single reporting operation, working across the English & language service to join-up our journalism. That’s not retreat — quite the reverse. It’s an ambitious plan to innovate and deliver better value for those who pay for us — something I’d have thought CoffeeHousers would support." -- Presumably "world news editor of BBC" is not the same as "editor of BBC World News."

The Guardian, 21 Oct 2011, Josh Halliday: "BBC foreign correspondents have raised fears that the corporation's £7m cost-cutting exercise in its overseas newsgathering operation will make the broadcaster more vulnerable to bullying governments in the Middle East. The BBC plans to replace foreign correspondents in countries including Pakistan and Lebanon with locally-recruited reporters, who corporation insiders say are 'uniquely exposed' to pressure from authoritarian regimes. Local reporters will replace BBC foreign correspondents in Baghdad, Islamabad, Gaza, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon and Cuba."

The Observer, 22 Oct 2011, Peter Preston: "What have Indonesia, Nigeria, Cuba, Iraq, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Pakistan got in common? They're all countries, apparently, where Delivering Quality First, and £7m of cuts in the process, means that the BBC will be relying on local correspondents in future. Cue unnamed but non-local, more financially elevated correspondents worried about regimes bullying their journalist-citizens into pushing a locally convenient line."

See also The Editors Weblog, 24 Oct 2011, Katherine Travers.

Slightly confused CNN report about Iranian media linking Baha'is to BBC and VOA.

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 22 Oct 2011, Joe Sterling: "Iranian media outlets have 'systematically stirred up' widespread contempt toward the country's 300,000-strong Baha'i religious minority, the group says. ... The report says the Baha'is have instigated opposition to the regime, influenced 'anti-regime' Iranian human rights activists, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, controls or influences foreign broadcasters, such as the BBC and Voice of America, and helped plan and participated in the 2009 Ashura protests against the presidential elections earlier that year. -- No, the report says that Iranian media outlets have accused Baha'is of instigating opposition to the regime, etc...

Baha'i World News Service, 21 Oct 2011: "[T]he authorities disseminate ludicrous conspiracy theories including that foreign broadcasters, in particular the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America (VOA), are controlled by or under the influence of Baha'is because they report stories about human rights violations in Iran." With link to the report.

See previous post for another report of Iran linking Baha'is with the BBC.

Pakistani newspaper report probes US "comprehensive communications strategy" in Pakistan.

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Dawn (Karachi), 24 Oct 2011, Huma Yusuf: "According to a leaked diplomatic cable from November 2008, US embassy officials considered punishing a major media group for 'consciously publishing and broadcasting false and inflammatory stories' about US government policies by cancelling its lucrative contract to broadcast Voice of America programming. That measure, if it had been implemented, would have had financial repercussions for the group and would have amounted to an intimidation tactic. ... [T]he Obama administration in 2010 announced that it was allocating $50m for a ‘comprehensive communications strategy’ in Pakistan. The funds were allocated to strengthen moderate Pakistani voices, counter extremist media and monitor local media for anti-American sentiment. ... [This has] made Pakistanis fear an American attempt to infiltrate and co-opt their free press. Those fears became apparent during a recent controversy involving two Pakistani journalists filing news reports from Washington through a non-profit intermediary called America Abroad Media (AAM). The organisation was using US State Department funding up to $2m to finance reporting that could be of interest to the Pakistani public." See previous post about same subject.

LA Times editorial criticizes Radio/TV Martí "spam" text messages sent to Cuba.

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, 25 Oct 2011, editorial: "[I]t's disappointing that the U.S., which in recent years has taken steps to improve relations with Cuba, has opted to sustain and expand [Radio/TV Martí's] these anachronistic broadcasts that serve no purpose other than to placate Cuban exiles in Miami and stoke Castro's anti-American rants. Last month, an American company began sending thousands of unsolicited text messages a week to cellphones in Cuba under an $84,000 annual contract with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs the stations. The texts repackage Radio and TV Marti content, such as Major League Baseball scores and invitations to join Internet chats. The strategy is the cyber equivalent of dropping propaganda leaflets on the island. ... Surely Washington doesn't think that spam is going to threaten the Castro brothers' firm grip on power. And certainly it must know that Cuba isn't hermetically sealed from the outside world. More than 2 million tourists from Canada, Latin America and Europe pour into Havana each year, and pirate satellite dishes make U.S. television stations, including Univision, accessible to those Cubans with means and courage. Congress ought to stop pretending that Radio and TV Marti remain relevant. And if President Obama is interested in reaching the Cuban people, he should push Congress to lift the travel ban. Person-to-person contact, not spam, is the way to win the hearts and minds of Cubans."

BBG Watch, 24 Oct 2011, letter from Ted Lipien to the Los Angeles Times: "One can argue whether sending phone text messages is the best way of delivering U.S. news to Cuba, but to say that the U.S. should do nothing to provide uncensored news and instead allow more investments to help the repressive Cuban government is irresponsible. Someone has to stand up for human rights."

Miami New Times, 24 Oct 2011, Tim Elfrink: "The problem with the strategy is two-fold... . First, less than 10 percent of Cubans have access to cell phones and those that do are mostly in the better-off, government friendly sectors of Havana that aren't exactly going to be swayed by TV Marti's texting campaign. But worse than that, it's SPAM. Aren't we trying to convince Cubans that we're the good guys? ... The Cuban government has gone as far as calling the new program 'cyberwar.' Which might be a bit extreme, but yeah -- this seems more likely to inspire a tactical strike on U.S. cell phone towers than a counterrevolutionary movement against Fidel."

See previous post about same subject.

Miami Herald, 21 Oct 2011, Juan O. Tamayo: "The mystery of Radio/TV Marti’s encrypted broadcasts to Cuba, which fueled Havana complaints of a U.S. 'cyber war' against the communist government, has been solved. ... The mystery began Oct. 10, when a Web site that tracks U.S. government spending on Cuba programs reported that an Israeli firm had won a contract to broadcast Radio/TV Martí programs to the island via satellite. Worth up to $1 million, the agreement requires RRsat Global Communications Network to provide Radio/TV Martí with the capability of encrypting its satellite TV signal. ... It’s all much ado about nothing, said Radio/TV Martí director Carlos García-Perez and Tish King, spokesperson for the Board of Broadcasting Governors, with supervises all U.S. government broadcasters. The contract with RRsat Global is exactly the same as a previous contract with Hispasat for broadcasting the TV signal, free of charge to the receivers in Cuba, except it’s cheaper, they told El Nuevo Herald. As for the need for encryption, they added, Major League Baseball allows games to be broadcast from the airplane, free of cost to TV Martí because the audience is small — Havana and its surroundings. But Hispasat’s signal can be received in most of Latin America, the eastern and central United States, most of Europe and part of Africa. MLB would charge millions to broadcast the games on the satellite, they explained. And that’s why the need for encryption — usually referred to as scrambling the signal — so that unauthorized audiences cannot watch the games."

Subtracting the television audience: CNBC Arabic will launch internet-only shows.

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The National, 24 Oct 2011, Ben Flanagan: "CNBC Arabia is to launch two internet-only shows it says will bring an 'interactive' aspect to its offerings. The Dubai TV channel, which is associated with the US media giant CNBC, says Web-based shows about personal finance and Islamic finance will be launched next year. Mohammed Burhan, the general manager and acting chief executive at CNBC Arabia, described the shows as 'interactive'. 'You will be watching online and sending your questions,' he said. Mr Burhan said TV remained the broadcaster's dominant medium but that the internet was becoming more important. ... CNBC Arabia is also targeting smartphone users. 'Next month we will launch the BlackBerry and iPhone mobile applications,' Mr Burhan said." -- But television can be interactive, too. One can watch on television and send in questions. Perhaps the idea is that the viewer will be watching on a PC/tablet/smartphone and using that same PC/tablet/smartphone to send in questions.

Press release boilerplate provides good overview of CNBC Asia Pacific activities.

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
CNBC Asia Pacific press release, 18 Oct 2011: "In Asia Pacific, CNBC is distributed to over 70 million households and is uniquely positioned to speak to viewers from across the region. Headquartered in Singapore, the network provides eight and a half hours of live Asia-produced programming every weekday, which is complemented with coverage of live market action from Europe and the US. CNBC Asia Pacific's channels, which include CNBC Asia, CNBC-TV18 (India), CNBC Awaaz (India), CNBC Pakistan, Nikkei-CNBC (Japan) and SBS-CNBC (South Korea) are available in more than 21 countries across the Asia Pacific region. CNBC also has a strategic alliance with Shanghai Media Group, which wholly owns a subsidiary, China Business Network and a collaboration with China Central Television (CCTV). In China CNBC reaches 400 million homes via CCTV’s Business Channel programme, Global Connection Show. The channels are distributed via satellite, cable and terrestrial broadcast networks, as well as through digital platforms."

Al Arabiya managing editor compares Arab satellite TV talk shows with Egypt's Sawt al-Arab radio of past decades.

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Arabiya, 18 Oct 2011, Farrag Ismail, managing editor of Al Arabiya.net: "We still remember Sawt al-Arab (The Voice of Arabs), the radio station that was established by the [1952 Egyptian] revolution and soon became the model of a powerful and competent media that millions across the Arab world followed. There is a huge difference between Sawt al-Arab and the way it contributed to the grandeur and influence of Egypt and the talk shows aired on dozens of satellite channels and the way they destabilize Egypt and destroy its economy. Those shows offer nothing but daily chats that paint a bleak picture and frighten the audience into feeling like their revolution is lost and their future miserable. Hosts of those shows criticize and condemn, spread anxiety and instill fear while the world watching them is stunned at the terrifying situation in this country that had rediscovered it genius and power on January 25."

Al Jazeera marks its 15th anniversary with a slogan that gives news and opinion equal billing.

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 19 Oct 2011: "The Aljazeera Network has launched a slew of activities to mark its 15th anniversary under the slogan 'Aljazeera- 15 years of news, opinion and awareness.' ... During the key ceremony, the set up of which was inspired by the Newsroom, a 3D film about Aljazeera will be shown. The film, the first of its kind, is called 'To Be Continued'. It deals with pre-Aljazeera media in the Arab world and how the emergence of Aljazeera in 1996 has altered the scene. Aljazeera Studies Center is holding a seminar on the occasion, and a special website, in both Arabic and English, will be launched to cover all the activities and events: www.aljazeerastory.net. The artistic events are held in cooperation with the [Qatar] Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage. They begin on October 22, with an art symposium called 'Aljazeera...the Eighth Art.' ... 'The Poet of Freedom' is another highlight of the celebration. Five hundred Arab poets competed for the title and only 12 were chosen to go to the finals. ... Aljazeera Theatre Group will perform the play 'Marmara' for four days beginning November 11. The performance is a joint effort between Arab and Turkish actors and will be performed in three languages; Turkish, Arabic and English. It recounts Aljazeera’s coverage of the Freedom Flotilla which attempted to break the siege on Gaza; it also portrays the suffering of the activists on board the ship Marmara which was attacked by the Israeli forces. The events conclude on November 17, with the 'Freedom Operetta', a musical event in which a large group of famous Arab singers and musicians will perform, celebrating freedom and depicting the conditions in which Arabs lived before and after Aljazeera. ... A guide containing all the academic studies made about Aljazeera will be released as well."

"Brand name journalists mean something when people can't trust the accuracy of what they see online."

Posted: 25 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 19 Oct 2011, David Bauder: "Many pundits believed evening newscasts would become obsolete with the availability of news 24 hours a day on cable TV and the Internet. Instead, the curating function of the evening news has become more vital. 'We all work so hard and we all do so much,' said Patrick Burkey, executive producer of NBC's top-rated 'Nightly News,' which had its highest viewership since 2005 for the season that ended in September. 'I get to the point where I sort of have Internet fatigue going out there looking for all the material myself. It's nice to have somebody else do that work.' People follow news, 'but they want someone they trust at the end of the day to explain it to them, to show what it means to them. Somebody credible,' said Michael Corn, executive producer of ABC's 'World News' with [Diane] Sawyer. Brand name journalists mean something when people can't trust the accuracy of what they see online, said Dave Marash, a veteran journalist who worked at ABC News and Al-Jazeera English." -- This may be a lesson for international broadcasting entities planning to become online-only.

TV5 Monde now available in Miami, on Comcast Cable channel six cent quatre-vingt dix-sept.

Posted: 24 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 18 Oct 2011, Kristin Brzoznowski: "The French-language TV5MONDE USA is now fully available in Miami and its surrounding suburbs and Fort Lauderdale via Comcast Cable. The 24-hour service is available on Channel 697, bringing viewers first-run and classic French-language films, newscasts, sporting events, children's programming, travel shows, documentaries and more. Most of the prime-time programming is subtitled in English."

Radio Taiwan International chalks up agreement with ZIZ Radio, St. Kitts (population 35,000).

Posted: 24 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The China Post, 20 Oct 2011: "Radio Taiwan International (RTI), the national radio broadcaster of the Republic of China (R.O.C.), has signed a cooperation memorandum with its counterpart in Saint Kitts and Nevis for closer cooperation to better serve their audiences. RTI chairman Chang Jung-kung and Sam Terrence Condor, deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, inked the pact for RTI and ZIZ Radio. ZIZ Radio, the national broadcasting corporation of St. Kitts and Nevis, has become the 'Pulse of the Eastern Caribbean' since its establishment in 1961. ... RTI, established by the R.O.C. government in 1928, presently provides international broadcasting programs in 13 languages for audiences in all nations on major continents." -- Of course, in 1928, it was not called "Radio Taiwan International." The population of St Kitts and Nevis is 35,000. The Radio Taiwan International website is www.rti.org.tw.

Swedish Institute launches a public diplomacy web page in Arabic.

Posted: 24 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Local, 19 Oct 2011, Joel Linde: "Sweden's 'official gateway' on the internet launched an Arabic edition on Wednesday, in an effort to strengthen Sweden's dialogue with the Arabic speaking world. 'We’ve seen that this region is very important for Sweden in many ways, but that they have very little knowledge about Sweden,' Frida Roberts, Head of digital communication for sweden.se, told The Local. 'This is not just another language version of the site, it is locally adapted with everything from imagery, the content, and the technological aspects.' The Swedish Institute (Svenska institutet), Sweden's primary public diplomacy agency, initially launched the sweden.se website in 2002, choosing English as the default language. The website offers advice on everything from what to do while visiting, to information about working in Sweden and housing.Since the site was first launched, additional languages have been added, including Spanish, German, French, Russian, and Chinese." URL is ar.sweden.se. -- Presumably this site is the public diplomacy complement the Radio Sweden news-oriented Arabic website.

Satellite service provides learning channels to schools in Swaziland and elsewhere in Africa.

Posted: 24 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Swazi Observer, 19 Oct 2011, Nokukhanya Aimienoho: "As pupils’ final examinations draw closer, DSTV’s mindset learning channel is aimed at assisting them with revision. Multichoice Swaziland Marketing and Public Relations Officer Nontobeko Sibiya explained that pupils who were currently preparing for exam time could benefit from the wide range of revision topics available on the channel. ... Subjects and topics covered include:Science: Matter and Materials, Water and Air in Our Lives, Acids, Bases & Salts, Planet Earth and Beyond Is Earth part of something bigger?, Life science, Physical science, Doing Science, Observing and finding out about animals. ... Furthermore, she suggested that pupils could tune into National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, BBC Knowledge, BBC World, Animal Planet, Discovery and History which according to her are other great learning channels." -- DStv, owned by South Africa-based Multichoice, is a direct-to-home satellite service for sub-Saharan Africa. It provides a bouquet of free channels to schools in Africa." See also the Mindset website.

Iranian charges against filmmakers accused of working for BBC spur protests and call for boycott.

Posted: 24 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 18 Oct 2011: "A month after the arrest of five independent Iranian filmmakers on charges of working for BBC Persian, 21 Iranian filmmakers and actors living outside of the country signed a statement asking the international community to boycott official Iranian film and television organizations and impose sanctions on Iranian media officials."

BBC News, 20 Oct 2011: "The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has led Hollywood industry organisations in calling for the release of jailed Iranian film-makers." See also Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences press release, 19 Oct 2011.

Press TV, 21 Oct 2011: "Iran's police chief says the state-funded BBC and Voice of America channels are the media branches of the spy agencies of their countries. Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam said on Friday that working with such networks is tantamount to working with enemy security services and Iran's Intelligence Ministry will deal with such cases."

Radio Zamaneh, 21 Oct 2011: "The head of Iran’s security forces has announced that any Iranian wanting to do work for a satellite network first needs a valid licence from the Ministry of Guidance, and working with the BBC and Voice of America is considered cooperation with 'the enemy’s intelligence services.' ISNA reports that Commander Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the head of Iran’s security forces, said those who are inclined to work with satellite networks must coordinate with the Ministry of Guidance and receive permission. 'Anyone who doesn’t have the necessary permission cannot engage in productions inside or outside Iran or set up an agency office for these channels,' Ahmadi Moghaddam said. ... He insisted that the BBC and Voice of America are 'intelligence arms of the United States like the CIA' and emphasized that collaboration with these networks 'is not collaboration with the media but rather working with the security services of the enemy, and naturally it will be dealt with by the Intelligence Ministry.'"

See previous post about same subject.

"Putin Has Radio Svoboda On His Mind."

Posted: 24 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Transmission blog, 19 Oct 2011, Charles Dameron: "Putin provided Svoboda with a little backhanded publicity in a prime-time interview aired on October 17 with the heads of Russia's three largest television stations. Responding to a question from NTV's Vladimir Kulistikov about much-needed reforms to Russia's legal system, Putin prefaced his answer by chiding Kulistikov for having once served (1993-96) as a correspondent for Radio Svoboda [RFE/RL Russian]. ... 'When I worked for the KGB, we viewed Radio Svoboda as a branch of the CIA. Of course, it was only a propaganda arm, but still. Anyway, such an attitude toward that station was not unfounded. It was funded by the CIA and, what's more, it was even involved in spying activities in the former U.S.S.R.,' Putin said. 'Today, the situation has changed, but still, no matter how you look at it, Radio Svoboda is a media outlet that expresses the views of a foreign government. In this case, it is the U.S. government.' ... Putin is certainly correct that the CIA once covertly funded Radio Liberty, though by the time Putin joined the KGB in 1975, RFE/RL, a private organization, was funded directly by the U.S. Congress."

See also RFE/RL's series, "The State Of The Russian Media." It starts with this article, with links to the other five.

Bahrain is developing its Bahrain International Channel and will host a "media city."

Posted: 24 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Gulf News, 18 Oct 2011, Habib Toumi: "Bahrain is planning to build a media city and to launch a new channel to reach a higher and more diverse number of viewers, its top media official has said. Shaikh Fawaz Bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, the president of the Information Affairs Authority (IAA), said that Bahrain International Channel would cover large swathes of the world, in addition to the Arab region and the Middle East. ... The IAA has already sealed a deal with Eutelsat for Bahrain International Channel to start broadcasting on Hotbird Satellite, which covers most European countries, the Middle East and North Africa, the Bahrain News Agncy (BNA) reported." -- Presumably in Arabic only. None of the news items about this mention any other languages.

Report: Kevin Rudd forced tender process for Australia Network despite government review that commended ABC operation.

Posted: 23 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Oct 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Kevin Rudd rejected plans to allow the ABC to keep operating Australia's official TV service in Asia, despite a confidential government review that gave a gold star to the public broadcaster for running the Australia Network. The detailed 'mid-term' report by the Foreign Affairs Department was never released to the ABC but prepared last year to help decide the future of the $223 million taxpayer funded service. But Mr Rudd - toppled from the prime ministership only days before the report was finalised - decided, on taking over as Foreign Minister after the election, to demand a more intense process. The service was put to tender in February and Sky News, part-owned by News Corporation, entered competition with the ABC for a new 10-year contract. A final draft of the official review, obtained by the Herald, states the ABC 'consistently met or exceeded' the performance markers set out in the existing contract. 'The quality of the programming was assessed as good, credible and timely and provided far better coverage of the region [than] other international broadcasters,' the report states."

ABC Radio National, "Breakfast," 24 Oct 2011, Mike Woods: "The tender for the 10 year, $233 million Australia Network contract is a contest between Sky News and the ABC - Australia Network is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, managed by the ABC and beamed to 44 countries in the Asia pacific region. During the drawn out tender process for the service, there have been claims of political interference and deliberate leaks of the recommendations of the panel advising the government on who should win the contract." With audio report (7 min 38 sec).

See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL's Radio Azadi "is so credible that even the Taliban competes to get its message across on the network."

Posted: 22 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 17 Oct 2011, Deana Kjuka: "For now, one of the international radio stations pressing for change is Radio Azadi, RFE/RL’s Afghan service. What distinguishes Radio Azadi from other international broadcasters is the fact that the radio focuses on the local issues and problems of ordinary Afghans. 'The main agenda is the people. Everybody is reporting on the president’s meeting, a bomb exploding, but you need to do a story that is about people,' [Akbar Ayazi, regional director of RFE/RL's broadcast services to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Iraq] says. 'We go to the people, to the villages. We talk about daily life, so Radio Azadi has not only become like a source of information for the people, it has become sort of like an institution for them. They connect to Radio Azadi and Radio Azadi has also created a platform for the listeners to engage in debate and discussion.' ... However what makes Radio Azadi the most listened-to radio is its credibility. Ayazi says that although many Afghans watch TV during the daytime, they will switch on the radio when the news comes on to listen to Radio Azadi’s news, or to confirm what they’ve heard elsewhere with the information coming from Azadi. Over half the country listens to Azadi on a weekly basis, according to audience research surveys. 'When you have over 50 percent of the entire population listen to you [and] trust you that means you have established credibility no matter who funds you,' says Ayazi. Radio Azadi is so credible that even the Taliban competes to get its message across on the network." -- Among the "other international broadcasters" is, presumably, VOA's Radio Ashna, which shares time with Radio Azadi on medium wave and FM transmitter in Afghanistan.

The Hoot, 19 Oct 2011, Paromita Pain: "Working with local mobile provider Etisalat, Radio Azadi started its SMS service in October 2010 to connect the station more directly with its audience, especially villagers in remote, inaccessible regions who are often cut off from news and information. During its first year of operation, the service has garnered nearly 400,000 regular subscribers of all ages, genders and walks of life."

Radio Free Asia journalist who interviewed Burmese censorship chief is interviewed by Chicago public radio station WBEZ.

Posted: 22 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
WBEZ (Chicago), "Worldview," 18 Oct 2011: "Recently, journalist Kyaw Kyaw Aung of Radio Free Asia published an unprecedented interview with Tint Swe, the powerful head of Burma’s Press Scrutiny and Registration Department. In it, the official pledged to end press censorship. We talk to Kyaw Kyaw about this surprising revelation and what it holds for Burma’s political and civic future." With audio interview (4 min 54 sec). See previous post about same subject.

In VOA interview, son of Iranian cleric accuses President Ahmadinejad of involvement in banking scam.

Posted: 22 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily Beast, 19 Oct 2011, Omid Memearian: "Speaking in an interview with Voice of America, Mehdi Khazali, the son of a high-ranking conservative cleric in Iran, recently accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being directly involved in a $2.6 billion banking scam in Iran. ... This is the first time the son of a high-ranking cleric close to Iran’s Supreme Leader has given an interview with a satellite television network outside Iran. The Iranian regime considers the Voice of America a medium that aims to overthrow the Tehran regime. Iranian citizens are barred from interviewing with satellite television stations, in particular with Voice of America and the BBC Persian Service, which are both very popular throughout the country. Over the past two years, there have been several cases of arrests and months-long imprisonment of individuals who have interviewed with such networks." -- The interview was on the VOA Persian News Network program Parazit.

Al Jazeera English to be included in the schedule of Chicago public TV station WTTW.

Posted: 22 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Chicago Tribune, 19 Oct 2011, Robert Channick: "Public television station WTTW-Ch.11 is bringing a new voice to its early Saturday morning lineup. Starting October 31, Al Jazeera English will air its global news programming from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. ... 'It's covering issues in parts of the world that we don't often hear from,' said Dan Soles, who heads up programming for WTTW. 'We thought it would be a service to give people in Chicago a chance to view this broadcast, which is seen all over the world.' ... Additional time slots for the leading Arab broadcasting network will be considered going forward based on 'demand and reaction,' according to Soles."

WTTW press release, 19 Oct 2011: "WTTW is the most-watched public television station in America, serving more than 65% of Illinois’ population, as well as sections of Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. ... AJE will air for 30 minutes at 6:30 am and 11:00 pm Monday-Friday on the WTTW Prime channel and from 5:30 am-6:30 am on WTTW11 on Saturdays. Additional time slots for AJE on WTTW11 will be available beginning in early 2012, which will mean even more exposure for AJE and provide viewers with more opportunities to see the program. ... Dan Schmidt, President and CEO of WTTW added, 'WTTW is excited to be adding this important programming to our schedule. Our station has a long history of providing quality public affairs programming and, by adding broadcasts from Al Jazeera English, we are providing a broader perspective on critical global issues.'"

PBS UK will debut on 1 November, focusing on nonfiction programming and including the previous day's "Newshour."

Posted: 21 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 16 Oct 2011, Dan Sabbagh: Forty-two years "after PBS was founded, the broadcaster is finally coming to the UK, with a new channel [to] 'give people here in the UK a sense of how news is reported in the United States' and 'through the investigative journalism, a real sense of some of the issues in the States'. ... [T]his is intended to be a commercial venture. PBS has gone down the road of signing up a pay deal with Sky, and would like another with Virgin Media, which means there will be no prospect of the channel appearing on Freeview. ... Viewers can tune in to PBS UK from 1 November (Sky channel 166), and the schedule will focus on "non-fiction programming". A science show, Nova, will air on weeknights at 7.50pm; current affairs will be served with Frontline on weeknights at 9pm, followed by history programming – a series called American Experience comes just after 10pm. ... Is Newshour, which rather unhelpfully is going to be aired the next day in the UK after it has been 'complied' with Ofcom rules, designed as an antidote to Fox News? Or even, if we are going to be balanced about this, is it an antidote to the Democrat-oriented MSNBC? 'No, we consider ourselves to be a broadcaster that serves both points of view,' ... impartiality (not a requirement in the US) is 'profoundly important; there has to be a space where you can get the facts'. Except the next day timing may mean that Newshour will struggle to catch on." -- Do Ofcom rules force all news from international television channels to be delayed? See previous post about same subject.

North Korea denounces South Korean Unification Ministry broadcasts.

Posted: 21 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 17 Oct 2011, citing VOA News: "North Korea has called on South Korea to halt its broadcasts on unification, saying they are insulting and provocative. North Korea's government-run news agency KCNA, in an article Friday, denounced the South's Unification Ministry for launching broadcasts, which it said were meant to tarnish the communist country. The article quoted the North Korean committee which handles inter-Korean affairs as calling the move a grave provocation. South Korea's Unification Ministry, which is in charge of relations with North Korea, recently launched weekly television broadcasts and daily online radio broadcasts to try to raise public awareness on potential unification with North Korea."

Stars and Stripes, 29 Sept 2011, Jon Rabiroff: "South Korea’s Unification Ministry plans to start an Internet, television and radio campaign Saturday promoting the benefits of a reunification of the two Koreas. ... the South’s Unification Ministry has for the past year been preparing Korean-language programming about reunification — including situation comedies, news reports and interviews with North Korean defectors — to air starting Saturday at http://unitv.unikorea.go.kr/web/ and http://uniradio.inlive.co.kr/. Ministry spokesmen denied that the broadcasts are any sort of propaganda campaign."

Daily NK, 20 Oct 2011, Lee Seok Young: "North Korea has used the fixed-line ‘3rd Broadcast’ system to issue propaganda describing last year’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island as a great military victory for Kim Jong Eun in the face of direct U.S.-South Korean military threat. With characteristic bravado, the attack was today called 'The greatest victory, as Comrade General Kim Jong Eun fought and defeated 70 American soldiers all alone.' Ordinarily, propaganda aimed at the North Korean people is delivered via Chosun Central Broadcast, the state radio broadcaster, and TV, but when the state prefers outside ears to hear less of what it is saying, 3rd Broadcast is employed." -- The "3rd Broadcast" is delivered by wire to North Korean homes, and this cannot be heard over the air in South Korea and elsewhere outside North Korea.

House bill would "correct a large imbalance between" Chinese official media in the US and US official media in China.

Posted: 21 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 17 Oct 2011, Wei Tuo: "A bill recently introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to correct a large imbalance between the official Chinese media presence in the United States and the official U.S. media presence in China. H.R. 2899, the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011, was introduced in mid-September by Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Randy Forbes (R-VA), and Ted Poe (R-TX). ... Rohrabacher pointed to the fact that during 2010, approximately 650 Chinese citizens entered the United States on international journalist visas, whereas only two American journalists who work for outlets run by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) were granted permission to be stationed in mainland China. The BBG manages media outlets run by the U.S. government, such as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia." -- If the bill is approved and signed, will China retaliate by withholding visas for correspondents of US private media? How many visas has China granted to US private-sector journalists? See previous post about same subject.

From the successor to Radio Moscow, a Radio Moscow-like commentary from a former Radio Moscow correspondent.

Posted: 21 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 15 Oct 2011, Valentin Zorin: "In the early 1960s I worked as a Radio Moscow correspondent from Chicago and had the pleasure of experiencing the niceties of US democracy, such as tear gas, police clubs and other “souvenirs” in the form of bruises left by the butts of rifles used by the army to disperse the crowds. A sad story! ... Protests rolled all over the country from New York’s Wall Street, which has been associated with American big business for two centuries because of a large number of major banks concentrated there. It was Wall Street that started a chain of economic downturns that struck the global economy and left millions of Americans broke. This autumn, millions became aware of the fact that both the US political system and the powerful 'brain-washing machine' had given a dangerous glitch. US policy-makers had exerted maximum efforts to take the blame off the greedy-for-money Wall Street bankers responsible for ravaging millions of US citizens. But they have failed to heal this open wound as millions of Americans have to come to understand where the evil lies and who to blame for it." -- Voice of Russia is the successor to the old Soviet-era Radio Moscow.

Cablevision in the US launches package of Spanish-language channels "from a diverse collection of countries," including Cuba.

Posted: 21 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 17 Oct 2011, Lindsay Rubino: "Cablevision has launched iO en español, a programming packaging that features 45 Spanish-language channels and content from Puerto Rico, Cuba and Peru, as well as On Demand content at no additional charge. ... 'With 45 Spanish-language channels, iO en español offers a full array of local news and entertainment programming from a diverse collection of countries.' ... Channels in the new package include international fare including Cbeebies, Cuba Play, Discovery Familia, Latin American Sports, Multimedios, Puerto Rico Network, Semillitas, SUR PERU and Vme Kids. The package is available to subscribers, using a digital cable set-top box, starting at $8.95 per month." See also the iO TV website.

The Poblete DC Dispatches, 17 Apr 2011, Jason Poblete: "If there were any reciprocity by the regime in Cuba, a U.S. company’s effort to start broadcasting Cuban television in the United States would not be much of big deal. If people want to pay to watch communist television, with programs produced by state sponsor of terrorism, so be it. But why can’t we do the same in to Cuba an broadcast U.S. shows and newscasts? It’s a rhetorical question and you know the answer. Late last year a Miami-based company, Olympusat, announced the launch of a new network that would broadcast 'carefully-selected content, free of any political affiliation or ideological influence from the Cuban government.' Really? Olympusat’s statement is propaganda. The Cuban regime has a Ministry of the Arts that controls all television and artistic work."

Olympusat list of its Hispanic networks: "CubaPlay Televisión - The only network featuring 100% Cuban-produced television programming. CubaPlay Televisión features carefully-selected Cuban content, free of any political affiliation or ideological influence from the Cuban government. It’s programming is entirely original, never seen before in the U.S., and provided by all six Cuban broadcast stations. The network’s programming genres ranges from sports, movies, documentaries, children´s programming, telenovelas and comedy, to live and simultaneous programming in the U.S. and Cuba- such as same-day film premieres and music shows." -- The link to www.cubaplaytelevision.com is wrong. It should be cubaplaytelevision.tv.

New web histories of US Armed Forces Radio stations in the China Burma India Theater of World War II.

Posted: 21 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Heritage Foundation press release, 18 Oct 2011 (pdf): "The Radio Heritage Foundation releases six new features celebrating AFRS radio stations in India and Burma during the 1940's at its global website www.radioheritage.com. 2011 is the 70th anniversary of American Armed Forces Radio broadcasts, and the six new features look at AFRS radio in a part of the world that few people today know once had these temporary radio stations. AFRS India-Burma looks at the network of 16 stations set up in what are now India, Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka to entertain and inform US forces during WWII and the campaigns to both protect India and help the Chinese war effort." At the radioheritage.net home page, follow the center column down to the items about AFRS India-Burma.

Zambia will host Malawian opposition satellite TV station.

Posted: 20 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 Oct 2011, citing Zambian Watchdog: "Newly elected Zambia President Michael Sata has granted Malawi’s opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) a television broadcasting licence, UDF presidential aspirant Atupele Muluzi has confirmed to Malawian media. The development means Joy-TV, which Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) denied local television broadcasts in 2007, will be beaming its programmes from Chipata in Zambia via satellite. In an interview on Sunday, Atupele, who is son to former President Bakili Muluzi, said he forwarded his request when he had gone to congratulate President Sata on his election. 'When I went to convey my congratulations for the election, as you know that he is a long time old friend to former president Dr Bakili Muluzi, I was extremely well received by His Excellency [Sata] who knows well how the situation is here. I [therefore] did ask him if it was possible to allow us to be broadcasting from Chipata, a television which he accepted... .'"

RT (Russia Today) joins the MiND digital terrestrial bouquet in Philadelphia.

Posted: 20 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today) press release, 19 Oct 2011: "RT, a global news channel with studios in Moscow, Russia and Washington, D.C., has started round-the-clock broadcasting in Philadelphia, adding 2 million households to the channel's U.S. audience reach. RT is partnering with MiND: Media Independence, a Philadelphia-based independent public TV station. RT is broadcasting on digital channel 35.4, and is also available on cable systems throughout the region, including, Comcast and Cablevision. As a result, RT programs are now available in 2 million households in Philadelphia and its suburbs. ... The overall number of potential RT viewers in the U.S. has almost reached 50 million. Beyond Philadelphia, RT is available on cable in Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, San-Francisco, San Diego and Chicago. RT programming is also accessible across the U.S. via the GlobeCast WorldTV satellite platform. Nielsen Media Research* found that residents of Washington, D.C. and New York prefer watching RT to other international news channels. Nielsen found RT's average daily audience in Washington, D.C. is bigger than that of Euronews, Deutsche Welle, France 24, and CCTV News, the English-language Chinese news channel. In New York, Nielsen research indicates that RT's daily audience exceeds the average daily audience of Deutsche Welle, Arabic Al Jazeera English and CCTV News." See also the MiND channel list, showing NHK World and France 24 in addition to RT.

Press TV, 16 Oct 2011, Patrick Henningsen: "Following the strength of Press TV, in August 2007 Russia Today (RT), another 24 hr global news network that offered an incredibly diverse band of news and opinion, not seen before on TV, arrived. Before long, RT became the second most-watched foreign news channel in the United States, after the BBC, and also set a TV News Channel record after exceeding a view count on YouTube of half a billion. Like Press TV, the staff at RT remained committed to delivering an even more challenging slate of programming, with it's strap-line, 'RT: question more.' It has kept its overwhelmingly anti-war, anti-globalist and pro-humanity agenda, and is generally resistant to the usual propaganda lines which are streamlined through the Murdoch media press, routinely churned out of the Whitehall, Tel Aviv, White House and US State Department. I found myself becoming RT's number one fan, so I did not hesitate when I was invited to contribute on air. I didn't know anyone in the organization, had no contacts and no introductions. They simply liked my writing and were willing to give me a shot on live TV. To date, no editor at RT has ever censored or attempted to censor anything I have said, or even ask me to alter my opinion on any subject."

Report: Al Jazeera considering bid for Premiere League matches on UK pay-per-view.

Posted: 20 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Goal.com, 15 Oct 2011: "Al Jazeera is poised to enter the bidding for the rights to host live Premier League TV matches, The Sweeper can disclose. The Middle East-based media giant is keen to get a foothold in the Premier League market and is prepared to enter the auction to screen games from the start of the 2013-14 season when the tender process begins early next year. It is understood that Al Jazeera’s main priority is to bid for the exclusive Middle East and north Africa broadcast rights package, which is currently held by the Abu Dhabi Media Company. But the TV channel is also considering a shock entry into the pay-per-view UK market, where the live rights are currently shared between Sky, who hold five of the six 23-game packages, and ESPN."

Rapid TV News, 17 Oct 2011, Rebecca Hawkes. "Al Jazeera has declined to comment on the speculation. ... Earlier this year, Qatar Government-backed Al Jazeera also made a surprise entrance into the French football arena, after winning not only the rights to broadcast La Ligue matches across the Arab world, but to also share the domestic coverage with Canal+."

See previous post about Al Jazeera and Ligue 1.

New Belgian public TV sports channel may be paid for by the closure of Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal shortwave.

Posted: 19 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 17 Oct 2011, Robert Briel: "Belgian public broadcaster VRT has said it is ready to launch a third channel in 2012. ... The broadcaster owns so many live sports rights, including the 2012 London Olympics, the Tour de France and the 2012 European Football Cup that a third channel is needed. ... Like most public broadcasters in Europe, the VRT is also facing budget cuts. The funds for the new channel might come from the abandoning of the international short wave broadcasts of Radio Vlaanderen Internationaal, according to local news reports." See previous post about the closing of RVI.

New strategic plan "aims to make BBG the world’s leading international news agency by 2016." With comments.

Posted: 19 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 14 Oct 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), at its meeting on October 13, adopted a new five-year strategic plan designed to grow and reform U.S. international broadcasting. ... BBG’s 2012-2016 strategic plan aims to make BBG the world’s leading international news agency by 2016 ... ." See previous post with more of the press release and comments.

The press release does not specify by what measure USIB will become the world's leading news agency by 2016. Whatever it is, the competition is formidable: it includes Reuters, AP, BBC, CNN, New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and News Corp, among others.

Some of these news agencies are US-based. Is the BBG planning to compete domestically as a news provider? This would explain why the elimination of the domestic dissemination prohibition of the Smith-Mundt Act is part of the strategic plan. And this would follow on to Lee Bollinger's proposal that the United States have a government funded "American World Service," serving both US and international audiences, based on the premise that private sector cannot keep up with the financial demand of global reporting.

For the moment, let's explore if USIB can, at least, overtake the BBC, which is undergoing a major budget cut and loss of language services. In my New York Times op-ed on 13 July 2010, I noted that US international broadcasting, with a weekly audience of 171 million, was close to catching up with the BBC World Service weekly audience number, which is 180 million if we do not count the BBC's commercial international broadcasting efforts such as BBC World News (USIB does not do commercial international broadcasting) and if we do not count the BBC's audience in the United States (USIB does not target the United States, at least not yet).

Compare, however, the budgets to achieve these audiences: $757 million per year for US international broadcasting versus $420 million for BBC World Service. USIB does not need more money. It needs to be more efficient. The language in the new BBG strategic plan addressing consolidation and the elimination is duplication is promising. But there is more involved...

The BBC is renowned for its credibility. This credibility attracts audiences directly and it opens the doors to affiliation deals. The BBC achieves its credibility by fiercely guarding its independence, even at the cost of public disagreements, every few years, with the UK government. In the BBC's list of six values, the first is: "Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest." Its journalists ask tough questions, and will aggressively follow up, even if UK officials are the interviewees. BBC World Service delves into a diverse array of controversial, sometimes even discomfiting, subjects. Its news output covers UK foreign policy fully, but is not obsessed by it. It is an important source of news about its target countries, but it provides more than just the bad news about the target country and its leaders. Can USIB match these factors?

Another advantage of BBC World Service is its corporate connection with the domestic BBC. Although BBC World Service must pay the domestic BBC for administrative services, the journalism output of the domestic BBC is available to World Service, and vice versa. This synergy will be solidified when BBC World Service journalists move into the BBC domestic newsroom next year.

USIB, if it aspires to be the leading news agency, must form an alliance within US domestic media. US private news organizations, to protect their credibility, would initially be loath to take money from the government. Any such deal between USIB and US private media must therefore be carefully crafted.

One way to accomplish this would be through a fixed-term franchise. One or more private US media companies would be responsible for the output of US international broadcasting for five years, during which there would be no interference, no kibitzing, by any branch of the US government. Any unhappiness by the USG would be manifest by non-renewal of the contract at the end of the term.

In my Foreign Service Journal paper (October 2010) (pdf), I proposed a consortium of the US broadcast news organizations: ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC. Each would send an executive to form a board that would hire or dismiss the senior management of USIB. The board would also provide guidance and serve as the "firewall," fending off any attempts to interfere with the journalistic independence of USIB and evaluating any complaints from government circles.

A similar arrangement could be made with the Associated Press. The AP is a cooperative owned by contributing newspapers, radio and television stations, with ownership spanning the partisan spectrum. As such, it would, in the words of the VOA Charter, "represent America, not any single segment of American society." USIB could help AP become more multilingual, and to offer its output at subsidized rates to media outlets in poorer countries. The AP could help USIB in many obvious ways.

Former VOA director resurfaces to "Save Syria's post office." Syria, Virginia, that is (updated).

Posted: 19 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Madison (VA) Eagle, 13 Oct 2011, Gene Pell, "director of the Voice of America in the Reagan administration and President and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for eight years," guest columnist: "The U.S. Postal Service is currently conducting studies of several Madison County post offices to determine whether they should be closed. One of them is in Syria. Postal officials will conduct a public meeting about this office on Oct. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Madison Post Office to discuss their findings and listen to community concerns. They should carefully consider following. The Syria facility is not just a local post office. In the last several years post offices in Etlan, Banco, Criglersville and Aylor have been shuttered. Syria provides postal services to many people from those communities, sending and receiving mail, shipping packages, supplying money orders, etc. Closing the Syria office will deprive this entire part of the county of all such services. ... I do not believe in government bailouts for failed businesses, be they auto makers or banks. But the post office is not a for-profit business; it is a public service." -- Gene Pell was director of VOA for only a few months before being offered the presidency of RFE/RL. Such talent raids on VOA by the "surrogate" corporations were common, as the latter were not subject to civil service pay levels.

Update: Former RFE director A. Ross Johnson writes: "[T]alent raiding (we could also call it non-discriminatory equal employment opportunity) between VOA and RFE/RL did occur – in both directions. But not because a grantee could offer higher pay for the same job. RFE/RL executive salaries were limited by legislation and tied to USG SES scales. Considering pay, benefits, foreign allowances, taxes, etc., RFE/RL compensation in Munich was roughly comparable to VOA compensation for positions abroad. There are a number of USG studies on this subject."

"Chinese public diplomacy could communicate the hope and confidence needed to lift Europe and the US out of their financial crisis."

Posted: 19 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
China Daily, 17 Oct 2011, Alistair M Michie: "Presented in the right way Chinese public diplomacy could communicate the hope and confidence needed to lift Europe and the US out of their financial crisis. China has a great story to tell. But polls show the message is not getting across. ... If China is to successfully use public diplomacy two issues need to be addressed. The first is that there is a vast lack of Chinese international communications skills. ... The second issue is that China has become greatly dependent on foreign communications groups. ... It does not make strategic sense for China to depend on foreigners to communicate internationally. China could quickly and easily deal with this by supporting and building up Chinese communications companies. In turn that could rapidly advance Chinese public diplomacy." -- How could Chinese public diplomacy "lift Europe and the US out of their financial crisis"? Maybe this would be it: As the US economy gets softer, wages will continue to decrease. They may decrease to the point where people will pay (rather than get paid) for the privilege of having a job. You know, to maintain job skills and keep the blank spots off the résumé. Now, China has specialized in providing products at prices cheaper than those produced in the United States. Chinese public diplomacy would show how US workers would have to pay less to work for Chinese companies than what they would have to pay to work for US companies. Just a hypothesis.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 19 Oct 2011, citing Xinhua: "A Chinese education channel had found a shortcut to push its productions directly to US audiences after reaching a cooperation deal with its US counterpart on Tuesday. According to the deal, China Educational Channel (CEC), a Hong Kong-registered station dedicated to the promotion of Chinese language and its culture, may share all the subscribers and platforms of the to-be-launched Sky N Earth Television (Sky&Earth TV) in key markets. Sky&Earth TV is expected to end its years-long test run and transit into a formal operation in the US market on 23 January, New Year’s day on the Chinese lunar calendar, said the press release sent out Tuesday. It also highlighted its forecasted capability to deliver programs to over 80 million viewers in the US through satellite broadcasting and DirecTV’s cable [sic] network. Both CEC and Sky&Earth TV disclosed their respective plans to launch broadband online video streaming services on the Internet. China’s soft power would be recognized only when its cultural products successfully entered the key markets and attracted mainstream audiences, said Li Shiqiang, president of CEC, at the signing ceremony. On the other hand, Dr Susan Pattis, chairperson of the Sky&Earth TV, viewed the cooperation as chance to offer people in the western world more exposure to pure and original Chinese culture, so as to erase misunderstandings between the east and west." -- How about offering people in China exposure to "pure and original" American culture? This is another example of Chinese NRPD (non-reciprocal public diplomacy). By the way, I can't find a website for Sky&Earth TV, nor do I see it in any DirecTV channel list.

BBC commercial international broadcasting: CBeebies on FiOS, Lonely Planet on BBC Knowledge.

Posted: 19 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 12 Oct 2011: "BBC Worldwide Channels announced today the launch of its Spanish-language preschool channel, CBeebies, on Verizon FiOS TV. Now available on FiOS TV Channel #1727, the BBC’s educational children’s channel will expand FiOS TV's extensive Spanish-language offerings, which currently include 45 of the most popular channels available. CBeebies is now available in all FiOS TV markets in the La Conexion and Spanish Language packages and will be in FiOS TV’s video-on-demand offering in November. ... CBeebies invites Spanish-speaking children in the US to 'learn through play' encouraging their early development through content that emphasizes reading, thinking, drawing, math and other basic skills, as well as programming that promotes self-confidence and stimulates their imagination." -- FiOS is a multichannel service distributed by fiber optic lines.

Realscreen, 26 Sept 2011, Adam Benzine: "The BBC is to roll out Lonely Planet-branded programming blocks on its international BBC Knowledge channels from November 1, building on previously announced plans to integrate the travel brand into BBC Worldwide’s (BBCWW) international channel portfolio. The Lonely Planet block on BBC Knowledge will provide a dedicated home to the channel’s travel programming, including Free Rein, a new title commissioned by BBCWW Channels from Lonely Planet’s production arm and Freehand. ... The new block will roll out across all of BBC Worldwide’s localized BBC Knowledge feeds around the world – Poland, Africa, Italy, the Nordic Region (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), Australia, New Zealand and Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea). In India, the block will feature on BBC Entertainment, as part of the multi-genre schedule that airs in that market. The news comes after BBCWW took full ownership of the Lonely Planet brand in February this year, having held a 75% stake in the firm since 2007." See also BBC Worldwide press release, 26 Sept 2011.

Wadah Khanfar, ex Al Jazeera DG, "looking to establish a project ... for the cause of media."

Posted: 19 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 14 Oct 2011, Susanna Rustin: "Three weeks ago, at the age of just 43, [Wadah] Khanfar left one of the best jobs in the world. As director general of al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster that made its name in the aftermath of 9/11, he led the transformation of Arab television that some believe enabled the Arab spring to take place. ... Is he looking for a job? 'No, I'm not looking for a job, actually, but I'm looking to establish a project with colleagues from various parts of the world, to work together collectively for the cause of media, to protect our profession and advance its status.' A united nations of media? 'We cannot unite everyone but people who are like-minded and have a sense of mission. We need media to put people in the centre.'" -- The worthiness of this project depends on what the "mission" is.

The UK's Monocle magazine "has launched a 24-hour internet radio station styled on the BBC World Service."

Posted: 18 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 18 Oct 2011, Emma Barnett: "Monocle magazine, a monthly publication that focuses on global affairs and lifestyle, has launched a 24-hour internet radio station styled on the BBC World Service. At a time when the BBC World Service faces deep cuts, Monocle founder and editor-in-chief, Tyler Brûlé, believes there is a gap in the market to produce a new radio service, Monocle 24, for a similar global audience. 'From the point of view its ambitions for global reach and coverage of world affairs, Monocle 24 will probably resemble and sound like many commonwealth public service broadcasters, including BBC World Service, as well as shades of ABC and Canada’s CBC,' he said. 'We are hoping to create a station which follows the tradition of the great Commonwealth broadcasters. It’s no surprise that we have drawn a lot of great people from the BBC World Service.' Monocle 24 launches this week and is a mix of speech and music audio. It has four live shows a day, hourly foreign news from provided by Sky and ABC Australia, and global weather reports. ... Brûlé isn’t phased about radio’s declining advertising revenues, saying Monocle 24 is 'profitable from the start' having managed to persuade luxury brands such as Rolex and J Crew to sponsor shows and advertising breaks." See also the station's website, www.monocle.com/24/. Via RNMN news tip.

One applicant for a Zimbabwe commercial radio license is Voice of the People, now using the Radio Netherlands Madagascar relay.

Posted: 18 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 18 Oct 2011, Studio 7 reporters: "In the first public hearing by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe to vet applicants for the two commercial radio licenses the regulator has promised to issue, representatives of shortlisted applicant Kiss FM said Tuesday that it will initially rely on the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation for its news coverage. ... But some people in attendance questioned why Kiss FM would get news from ZBC which has often been accused of a bias in favor of the long-ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and against the Movement for Democratic Change. ... A second applicant, state-controlled print media group Zimbabwe Newspapers, will come before the broadcast regulator. AB Communications and Voice of the People, which now broadcasts from Madagascar courtesy of [Radio Netherlands], will appear next week." See also Radio Voice of the People, 18 Oct 2011.

The Zimbabwean, 14 Oct 2011: "South African Broadcasting channels 1-3 and Botswana television are available in Zimbabwe via satellite. Irate villagers told The Zimbabwean that [Zimbabwe government broadcaster] ZBC mostly screened historical material which was irrelevant to their lives today. 'We are tired of propaganda by ZBC. Although we are poor we have seen it fit to sell some of our livestock and subscribe to foreign media where there is better programming. We don’t eat history,' said Misheck Mwonzora of Ruwangwe village who has subscribed to [direct-to-home satellite service] DS-TV. 'We are missing a lot from what is happening in our country because some people have turned a national broadcaster into private property. We rely on foreign stations such as Voice of America, Studio 7 and SW Radio and newspapers such as The Zimbabwean which keep us well informed and updated,' said Rudo Kamanga, a vendor."

From the unexpected news file: National Geographic Channel launches a Farsi version.

Posted: 18 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 18 Oct 2011, Ben Flanagan: "National Geographic has launched a Farsi-language version of its channel, which it says will be available to 15 million viewers across the Middle East. It is understood that the channel will be broadcast from Abu Dhabi, although the US-based media company did not confirm this. Like its English-language counterpart, National Geographic Farsi features nature, science, culture and history and shows. The channel went live on Saturday, but was not accompanied by any public statement or publicity. However, a National Geographic Channels spokesman confirmed the launch in a statement sent to The National. 'This past Saturday, National Geographic Channels launched a free-to-air Farsi language service, the first documentary or non-news service of its kind,' the spokesman said. 'It will have the potential to reach 15 million viewers across the Middle East. With this new launch, National Geographic Channels' global reach now includes 165 countries around the world with content available in 38 languages.'"

The Broadcasting Board of Governors' new five-year strategic plan, with comments thereto.

Posted: 18 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 14 Oct 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), at its meeting on October 13, adopted a new five-year strategic plan designed to grow and reform U.S. international broadcasting. ... BBG’s 2012-2016 strategic plan aims to make BBG the world’s leading international news agency by 2016, focused on both mission and impact, and targeting a 50 million worldwide audience gain. Titled 'Impact through Innovation and Integration,' the plan calls for the establishment of a global news network and development of new delivery and anti-circumvention technologies. It also recommends streamlining management, evaluation of the possible consolidation of the three grantee networks into one organization, exploring possible de-federalization of the federal agency components, ending language duplication, modernizing distribution mechanisms to reflect the media audiences prefer, and repealing the ban on domestic dissemination of BBG programs contained in the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act. The plan calls for the agency to focus not only on generating outstanding content but also embracing content generated by our audiences and creating an interactive environment in which they can converse with us and each other. To reflect the dual focus, the Board adopted the following new mission statement: 'To inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.'"

A few comments on some provisions of the strategic plan...

● "Aims to make BBG the world’s leading international news agency by 2016." As in ahead of Reuters, AP, BBC, CNN, New York Times, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, and News Corp? Ambitious. I will discuss this in a separate post.

● "Focused on both mission and impact." It is not the purpose of a news organization to achieve "impact." As for mission, it depends on what the mission is. If the mission is "accurate, objective, and balanced news," that would be a good focus. If it is "support of freedom and democracy," that would be a mission more suited to other US government agencies, as well as certain NGOs.

● "Targeting a 50 million worldwide audience gain." USIB will lose tens of millions of listeners as the worldwide audience for radio, especially shortwave, softens. It must recoup those through other media, and add 50 million. I will discuss this in a separate post.

● "Establishment of a global news network." This will be necessary if USIB is to become "the world’s leading international news agency by 2016."

● "Recommends streamlining management." Goodness, yes.

● "Evaluation of the possible consolidation of the three grantee networks into one organization." VOA should be added to this. I began writing about consolidation of USIB with "Too Many Voices of America," Foreign Policy, Winter 1989/90.

● "Exploring possible de-federalization of the federal agency components." Yes, because it's really not possible for a government agency to be a news organization. After the transition, employees of VOA would lose their Civil Service job security, and perhaps other benefits. The new USIB corporation will need a good labor union.

● "Ending language duplication." At present, USIB is structured so that each entity has an assigned deficiency. The Radio Free stations are deficient in their coverage of world and US news. VOA is deficient in its coverage of target-country news. If duplication is ended without restructuring, the surviving entities will retain their deficiencies. Presumably, each entity will instead become "full service," covering target-country, world, and US news in proportions desired by each target audience. If this happens, why have entities? Why have a confusing array of brands? They will all be doing the same thing.

● "Repealing the ban on domestic dissemination of BBG programs contained in the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act." Why? If it is to allow US citizens a chance to see the content sent out by their tax-supported international broadcasting effort, good (although they really can do that already). If it is to allow ethnic US media the ability to use USIB non-English-language content, good. If it is to enable content barter deals between USIB and US domestic media, good. If it is to facilitate USIB becoming a US domestic media player, not good. If it is to allow an administration to use the resources of USIB "in support of" a domestic policy goal, definitely not good.

● "Focus not only on generating outstanding content but also embracing content generated by our audiences." This is oxymoronic. Have you ever seen content generated by audiences? Most of it is not outstanding, much of it is dreck. Much editing and curating will be needed to sift the worthwhile from the dubious. It should be done, but the time required for this task should not subtract too much from that needed for "generating outstanding content."

● "Creating an interactive environment in which they can converse with us and each other." By way of the miracle of international airmail, listeners were conversing with VOA and other international broadcasters decades before the internet came along. Comments and, yes, listener-provided news items, were read on the air. Other listeners responded. Listeners who were regular contributors came to know each other through the program. To be sure, the internet now allows this to happen much more quickly. Pictures and audio can be attached to e-mails and social media entries, although they also were also enclosed in envelopes during the airmail years.

● The new mission statement: I will discuss this in a separate post.

"Digital Radio and the Future of Shortwave ." (With DRM shortwave audio sample.)

Posted: 18 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 16 Oct 2011, James Careless: Digital Radio Mondiale's "DRM30 is meant to replace interference-prone analog AM broadcasting [on shortwave, medium wave, and longwave] with a reliable digital signal that delivers high quality audio plus a host of data features. However, the system has been stymied by a limited availability of receivers. DRM’s progress to date has been 'very little in Europe and North America,' said Andy Sennitt, longtime shortwave radio watcher and editor in charge of the Radio Netherlands 'Media Network' website. 'Most emphasis now seems to be on India, China and South America.' ... While DRM30 theoretically has what it takes to resurrect shortwave into a digital radio band, the real culprit behind shortwave’s decline is the Internet: After the Web arrived, many shortwave listeners had a better, far more reliable way to get the content they wanted. In the developed world, this killed much of the demand for shortwave broadcasts from international broadcasters. In the developing world, however, the need for shortwave radio remains, but listeners do not have the money to buy expensive DRM receivers. ... In response to these doubts, the DRM Consortium’s Ruxandra Obreja poses a question of her own: 'Is there a demand for digital radio or will analog do? The obvious answer is that in a digital world, with very congested and limited spectrum resources, analog will be eventually replaced.' Under such conditions, 'digital radio will thrive,' she predicted."

That's a strange question from Ms. Obreja, given that DRM typically uses more spectrum space than an analog signal. Furthermore, the one remaining advantage of shortwave is that it can be received, degraded but intelligible, under adverse conditions such as a weak signal or interference. DRM is much less forgiving under these circumstances, thus potentially denying shortwave its last remaining advantage.

In fairness, though, DRM can overcome some sorts of interference, up to a certain level. Lately, I have been enjoying great DRM reception of Radio Exterior de España via Costa Rica, 0000-0200 UTC, on 9630 kHz. Listen to this audio sample. (Note the occasional dropouts, typical of DRM reception even with a huge signal.) In this audio sample is the local noise interference in my neighborhood, heard at the same time on frequencies up and down from 9630 kHz. The REE DRM signal was able to overcome that.

International broadcasters, and perhaps the DRM Consortium itself, should be looking into the digital transmission of text and data via shortwave. It would be very efficient in terms of transmitter power and spectrum occupancy, and it has circumvention potential.

See also the DRM Consortium website and Digital Radio Mondiale North America.

HCJB press release, 14 Oct 2011, Ralph Kurtenbach: "Ecuador’s telecommunications authorities have agreed to explore and test the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) international digital radio standard with help from two organizations based in the small South American country. Radio Station HCJB and the Unión Nacional de Periodistas (UNP or National Journalists’ Union) representatives agreed with the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (SUPERTEL) to offer training and assist in testing the DRM standard that Ecuador is considering. SUPERTEL will also evaluate other digital radio standards. ... HCJB Global Voice’s roots run deep in Ecuador’s broadcasting history, beginning regular radio broadcasts in 1931." -- Is Ecuador testing DRM on medium wave, shortwave, or FM?

Reports: Advisory panel again recommends that Australia Network contract be awarded to Sky News over incumbent ABC.

Posted: 17 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Oct 2011, Lenore Taylor: "Senior federal ministers are angry about a leak they believe was designed to pre-empt a cabinet decision on the long-running saga of the $233 million Australia Network television contract. The Herald has confirmed that a four-person high-level bureaucratic advisory panel recommended the tender be awarded to Sky News, over the ABC, which runs the service at present. ... While cabinet is not obliged to follow the advice of the panel, the leak is seen by government sources as an attempt to make it more difficult for the tender to be awarded to the ABC. Sky is owned by the Seven and Nine television networks and London-based BSkyB, part owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation."

The Australian, 17 Oct 2011, Mark Day: "The Gillard government is in a pickle over the future of the Australia Network. What should have been a straightforward decision has become a political bunfight for all the wrong reasons. While the key characters are playing their cards close to their chests, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd favours the Sky News bid to run Australia's 'window to the world' for the next 10 years at a cost of $223 million to taxpayers. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy reportedly favours the status quo -- a continuation of the ABC's current programming arrangements. ... The anticipated tender win by Sky was not welcomed by some powerful forces in Canberra. First, they argued, the nation's international service should be provided by the national broadcaster, just as the BBC or Deutsche Weller provide international services for the governments of Britain and Germany."

The Australian, 17 Oct 2011, Mark Day and Dennis Shanahan: "The second tender process to award the $223 million Australia Network contract has again recommended Sky News. The assessment panel was due to reach its decision on the second tender by September 16. It is understood the four-member assessment panel unanimously supported the Sky News tender over the ABC, citing its superior plans to establish special programming for services to China and the Middle East. ... If it loses, the loss of $20m a year will severely impact on the ABC. The Australia Network money is used to support several overseas news offices that contribute to the broadcaster's news-gathering pool. Withdrawal of these funds at a time when the ABC News 24 channel is putting its resources under great pressure will almost certainly mean office closures and staff cutbacks. The ABC has operated the Australia Network for the past 10 years."

BBC reporter in Tajikistan sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, but freed on amnesty.

Posted: 17 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 14 Oct 2011, "A BBC reporter in the northern Tajik province of Sughd has been sentenced to three years imprisonment -- but set free under an amnesty law, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports. On October 14, Urunboy Usmonov was found guilty of failing to inform the authorities about his contacts with the banned Islamic organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir. The journalist denies the charges and is expected to appeal the verdict."

BBC World Service press release, 14 Oct 2011: "BBC World Service strongly condemns the guilty verdict against its correspondent in Tajikistan, Urunboy Usmonov. Mr Usmonov and the BBC have consistently maintained that all allegations of association with Islamic extremists are completely unfounded and that Mr Usmonov is innocent of all charges. The BBC believes that no evidence of wrong doing whatsoever emerged during the trial, and that only a complete exoneration of our correspondent is acceptable."

CPJ, 14 Oct 2011: "The Committee to Protect Journalists is relieved by today's release of two Tajik journalists, but condemns their convictions on extremism and insult, among other charges, and calls for the quashing of the convictions on appeal."

See previous post about same subject.

When Harold Arlin's voice was "more familiar to the British people than that of any other American." And more shortwave items.

Posted: 17 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Mansfield News Journal, 13 July 1975 (reprinted 16 Oct 2011), Virgil Stanfield: "The first commercial broadcasting station in the U.S. was KDKA, Pittsburgh, which went on the air for the Harding-Cox election returns in the fall of 1920. The announcers who broadcast the returns then was Harold W. Arlin, who was a Mansfielder for about 50 years. Arlin was among the first radio announcers and has been honored many times by the radio industry. A London newspaper once said his voice was more familiar to the British people than that of any other American. His broadcasts were heard there by means of short-wave transmission. ... Despite the growing popularity of radio, newspapers here didn't start listing programs regularly until about 1924. Because listeners then liked to turn the dials to pick up distant broadcasts, the papers included stations on the west coast and Cuba in their program listings. Fans soon came to recognize station PWX in Havana by its use of a metronome to tick away the seconds between musical numbers." -- Westinghouse was a shortwave pioneer and relayed its AM station KDKA on shortwave. See also ExplorePAHistory.com.

The Lawrentian (Lawrence University, Appleton, WI), 7 Oct 2011, Rachel Young: "Assistant Professor of Government Arnold Shober says he 'isn't really from anywhere,' but has lived in Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Colorado and Ecuador. ... AS: 'My parents were missionaries. We went there when I was six or seven years old, and I lived there for five or six years. My mom was big into shortwave radio, so we worked with a shortwave radio station. Of course, no one listens to shortwave radio anymore because of the web.'" -- No doubt the shortwave station is HCJB, now with only a 10-kilowatt shortwave transmitter still operating in Ecuador.

Radio Survivor, 12 Oct 2011, Paul Riismandel: "The October issue of Wired magazine features an article on the station and the mystery surrounding it, as well as an interview with blogger and tech entrepreneur Andrus Aaslaid who decided to start streaming the station. ... Reading that makes me want to stay up late with the lights off, wearing headphones, scanning the shortwave dial." -- Interestingly, "late" is not always the best time to listen to shortwave. Dawn and dusk are probably more interesting. At dusk, you can hear stations on the nighttime frequencies (below 12 MHz, more or less) half way around the world to the east, and on the daytime frequencies to the west. At dawn, it's vice versa. There is an exception: from about 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the eastern United States, African stations signing on for their morning can be heard. See previous post for link to the Wired article.

FBC Media, connected to Sarawak's chief minister, CNBC, BBC, CNN, and "Republican bloggers," "has pulled back."

Posted: 17 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Free Malaysia Today, 15 Oct 2011: "UK-based FBC Media, which [Sarawak] Chief Minister Taib Mahmud commissioned for RM5 million to counter global reports against him in the run up to the April 16 state election, has pulled back on its online network which was spewing out ‘feel good’ reports on Sarawak. FBC Media had allegedly commissioned a team of Republican bloggers in the United States to write a series of attacking articles. Among the websites FBC allegedly sponsored were the New Ledger, Malaysia Watcher and the infamous Sarawak Report(s) with an ‘s’. ... In a direct deal with Taib, FBC’s chairman, Alan Friedman had promised the CM 'a series of opportunities to improve his poor reputation on human rights and the environment.' Among these ‘opportunities’ was a report on CNBC’s Business World which reported that '80% of Sarawak’s forests have been left undamaged and untouched' by Taib’s logging and oil palm plantations. More reports in a similar vein were also produced for other leading global networks such as BBC and CNN. After Sarawak Report broke the scandal, both BBC World and CNBC terminated its contracts with FBC Media, pending investigations." -- FBC (FactBased Communications) has a website, www.fbcmedia.com, but it consists only of a home page, with no contact information.

Alhurra targeted by flak from the left and right flanks.

Posted: 17 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Axis of Logic, 14 Oct 2011, Martin Iqbal: "Referring to Alhurra as a ‘news network’ constitutes the most egregious misuse of language; funded by the US Congress, Alhurra is nothing more than an Arabic-language extension of the US State Department’s propaganda mill, the Voice of America. As is customary for such Orwellian propaganda mainstays, Alhurra is Arabic for 'The Free One'."

Family Security Matters, 16 Oct 2011, John Hajjar: "There is much more to As’ad AbuKhalil than his faculty position at the California State University (CSU) Center for Public Policy Studies. The self-described 'Marxist-Leninist'-turned-'anarchist,' 'feminist,' and 'atheist secularist' is also an America-bashing, jihad-promoting, anti-Semite. ... [H]e certainly was sought by Arab TV across the region including al Arabiya, the national channels in Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Emirates, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq and more, in addition to the Arabic services of BBC, France 24, Russia al Yom and, of course, al Hurra TV out of the US."

Newt Gingrich calls for "a Radio Free Iran, a Television Free Iran, an Internet Free Iran" (updated: others opine about broadcasts to Iran).

Posted: 17 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Fox News, "On the Record," 11 Oct 2011, former Speaker Newt Gingrich interviewed response: We should be actively funding every dissident group in Iran. We should be actively providing them with communications mechanisms. ... You look at what Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II were doing, they were bringing pressure to bear from every angle -- psychological pressure, information pressure, economic pressure, helping dissidents organize, providing them resources, developing, for example, a Radio Free Iran, a Television Free Iran, an Internet Free Iran." -- Speaker Gingrich seems unaware of VOA Persian News Network and Radio Farda. If he prefers a station operated by the dissident groups themselves, several such privately-funded channels already exist. As much as he is intent upon increasing US government spending, there is, in this case, no need.

Update: Washington Examiner, 16 Oct 2011, James Carafano: "[I]t is time for the administration to expose the regime's horrifying human rights record, and keep up the drumbeat of condemnation. This will require extensive public diplomacy to document and publicize abuses and to aid victims. It also entails stepping up VOA broadcasting and supporting independent Iranian broadcasters outside the country who have proved adept in exposing the regime's corruption and lavish aid to terrorists."

WorldNetDaily, 15 Oct 2011, Larry Klayman: "It's a shame if not a tragedy that Republicans in Congress do not have the courage or the guts to investigate what may be Irangate. For years ... I (and others) have prodded them to look into the outrage inside the Persian News Network of Voice of America, where ... the son of a mullah who advises the supreme leader, largely controls broadcasting content. As a result, Voice of America has not been used effectively – as President Ronald Reagan used it to help bring down the Soviet communist empire – to undercut the mullahs in Tehran and foment revolution in this most important country in the Middle East."

Western media taking note of apparent relaxing of information censorship in Burma.

Posted: 17 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 15 Oct 2011, staff reporter: "Myanmar residents knew something unusual was afoot this August when state-run newspapers suddenly dropped their regular slogans denouncing the BBC and the Voice of America for 'sowing hatred among the people,' followed by moves to unblock their websites in the country. ... In recent years, Myanmar residents have been able to use the Internet and have had access to some foreign media, including CNN in hotels and some foreign news publications online. But the websites for many foreign news sources deemed overly critical of the government, including the BBC and Reuters, were customarily blocked, along with YouTube as well as dissident publications that reported closely on Myanmar affairs from outside the country. With the latest steps to unblock sites, Myanmar residents now have access to a wide array of foreign news sources, as well as dissident publications such as the Irrawaddy, which is based in Thailand and regularly publishes scathing criticisms of Myanmar's government."

The Globe and Mail, 14 Oct 2011, Mark Mackinnon: "The country’s top censor suggested this week that the country needs a free press and that his own office should be abolished. Again, read that over. Even more surprisingly, Tint Swe made his comment that 'press restrictions should be abolished in the near future,' in an interview with the U.S.-government funded Radio Free Asia, previously derided by the regime as 'lies from the skies.'" See also The Irrawaddy, 14 Oct 2011.

Mizzima, 13 Oct 2011, Phanida, interviewing Thet Oo, arrested in 1997 and recently released under amnesty: "Q: Why were you arrested? A: I compiled information about events in the country and sent them to the ABSDF [All Burma Students' Democratic Front] led by Moe Thee Zun. ... Q: You said you compiled information inside the country and sent it outside the country? What kind of information? A: In 1994, 1995 and 1996, I tried to compile obscure information. In the prison, I heard that the flow of information was good. Before I was arrested, [Burmese] media had not been developed. At that time, Radio Free Asia [Burmese Service] had just started. Moe Thee Zun built links with AP and sent our information to it."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC America claims "highest ratings growth in prime time among television networks for Sept 2011."

Posted: 16 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC America press release, 14 Oct 2011: "BBC AMERICA registered the highest ratings growth in prime time among television networks for September 2011, up 55% year on year. The channel also recorded its best ever quarter in Q3 prime and total day, up 18% and 23% respectively. ... The channel’s top-rated shows in Q3 included iconic sci-fi series, Doctor Who, and the world’s biggest car show, Top Gear." -- Notice that they provide the amount of increase, rather than the absolute audience size, which is small, though large enough to attract advertisers interested in a certain demographic. In a press release on 25 April, BBC America specified a rating of .72 for Doctor Who: that's 0.72% of the audience."

Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific introducing new on-air look: "clean," "contemporary," "refreshed," "revved up."

Posted: 16 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 13 Oct 2011, Marissa Graziadio: " (DNAP) is launching a new on-air look across 34 countries in the region beginning October 17. Discovery Channel’s new look will premiere in India on October 17, followed by the rest of the region on October 30. The channel’s signature globe icon is now merged with the 'D' in Discovery. ... Tom Keaveny, the president and managing director of Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, said, 'Discovery Channel has brought the wonders of our world to viewers in Asia Pacific for nearly two decades. The new look reflects a clean, contemporary feel and the evolution of the brand aligns with our strategy of constantly evolving to remain relevant and exciting to our audience through our programming.'"

Media Mughals, 14 Oct 2011: "Rahul Johri, Senior Vice President and General Manager, South Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, said, 'With the new refreshed feel and revved up look, Discovery Channel continues to fulfill its commitment of providing the finest television entertainment through its path-breaking programming and a great environment for our trade partners.'"

C21Media.net, 6 Oct 2011, Clive Whittingham: "Major players in global television face an awkward problem. In India, China and to some extent Latin America, colossal audience figures are waiting to be tapped - but you have to work hard for your money. In India, for example, distribution is complicated by a system that includes about 60,000 cable operators, added to which the population speaks a myriad of languages and dialects. In Latin America, many countries have strict rules about the number of locally produced shows that must be included in a channel's schedule before it can launch, preventing a blanket roll-out of US channels with purely US content."

Radio Sawa FM relay in Benghazi, Libya, signs on.

Posted: 16 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 13 Oct 2011: "Today residents of the Libyan city of Benghazi heard for the first time Radio Sawa on their FM dials. Radio Sawa began broadcasting on 100.0 FM with its signature mixture of more than six hours of daily news combined with popular Arabic and Western music." See previous post about BBC's FM transmitters in Benghazi and Misrata, and Monte Carlo Doualiya press release, 2 August 2011.

Deutsche Welle, DW Akademie, 15 Oct 2011: "Libya has been experiencing a political and social upheaval since Muammar al-Gaddafi’s regime was overthrown and the National Transitional Council (NTC) assumed power. The media could play a decisive role in a process aimed at restructuring the country as a democratic and civil society. In September, Carsten von Nahmen, head of DW-AKADEMIE’s Africa division, and project manager Martin Hilbert visited local broadcasters in Bengasi to get a sense of the situation and to look at perspectives for new media in the country’s east. One result is that DW-AKADEMIE will be training journalists from four radio stations in Bengasi starting in mid-October."

North Korea's KCNA providing "reasonable account" of Occupy Wall Street protests. South Korea cracking down on "pro-North Korean" websites.

Posted: 16 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
International Business Times, 14 Oct 2011, Ashley Portero: "The Korean Central News agency, North's Korea official news provider that acts as Pyongyang's official mouthpiece, has began covering the Occupy Wall Street protesters like the rest of the world. However, the surprising part is the agency -- known for sometimes presenting outrageous information as 'facts' and promoting the regime's propaganda-speak -- has actually presented a reasonable account of the movement. ... North Korea's willingness to describe American uprisings is also interesting since the country attempted to suppress any news of the Arab Spring revolts from reaching the public, fearing massive demonstrations." With KCNA report.

North Korea Tech, 14 Oct 2011, Martyn Williams: "South Korean prosecutors are launching a crackdown on websites and users judged to be posting 'pro-North Korean' material, according to several local press reports. ... North Korea’s state-run media outlets have spent the last year launching several propaganda-filled sites that report on aspects of life in the country and extol the benefits of the country’s political system and its leaders. The outlets have also expanded onto social media with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels. The ease with which such information is now available has led to an increase in the amount of North Korean material getting re-posted on blogs and other Internet sites run by South Koreans and those overseas. The government in Seoul has already reacted to some of this with website blocks and, in some cases, arrests. Now the government feels the content of some sites goes 'beyond what can be tolerated within the freedom of expression,' reported Yonhap."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 13 Oct 2011, Mark Willacy: "With favourable wind conditions, and after a quick chant, South Korean activists release ... balloons near the border and then watch them float peacefully into the hermit kingdom. The balloon launches enrage Kim Jong-il's regime, which likes to starve its downtrodden populace of any information about the outside world." See also ABC "AM,' 13 Oct 2011.

The Korea Herald, 12 Oct 2011: "Park Sang-hak, an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist, left his reclusive country, North Korea, in 2000 to seek freedom in the capitalist South, but he is anything but free when he leaves his house for daily activities. A recent target of assassination by North Korea, Park is protected and watched by several police officers and guards throughout the day. ... Park ... is involved in launching cross-border leaflets fiercely critical of the North’s regime... ."

See previous post about same subject.

Ghanaians meet to discuss CNN Freedom Project. And more Turner Broadcasting news.

Posted: 15 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Modern Ghana, 13 Oct 2011, World Bank: "Over 100 Ghanaian and international media, government officials and civil society leaders gathered at the 9th Citizen Kofi Media Dialogue Series on 30 September 2011, in Accra, to discuss the issue of modern-day slavery and the media's role in addressing it. The theme of the event was: Dealing with Modern-Day Slavery: A Case Study of the CNN Freedom Project and the Role of the Ghanaian Media. ... Many international media networks have taken up the challenge of modern-day slavery, one example being the CNN Freedom Project. A statement made on the issue of human trafficking by Tony Maddox, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of CNN International, was read out to encourage the participating media to take action: 'CNN will use the full range of our international resources to track and champion this story. We will be in the countries where people are abducted, traded and passed into the hands of the smugglers. We will follow the routes as people are ruthlessly moved to areas where they can generate the highest return on investment. And we will be at the end of the line where men, women and boys and girls are over-worked, raped and abused, and when no longer of value, discarded.'"

Broadband TV News, 13 Oct 2011, Robert Briel: "SES has announced that Time-Warner’s Turner Broadcasting System has signed capacity renewal agreements for nearly seven transponders on four satellites to enable the distribution of news and entertainment channels and content throughout North America and Europe. TBS relies on more than ten transponders on SES satellites for global coverage. ... Direct-to-Home (DTH) viewers across the UK and Germany are receiving a variety of programming from Turner Broadcasting System, including CNN International, TNT, Boomerang and Cartoon Network, over Ku-band capacity on two of SES’ Astra satellites located at 19.2 degrees East and 28.2 degrees East."

Press TV, 12 Oct 2011: "A number of feature-length Iranian productions have been nominated for the 2011 edition of the annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA). ... The Asia Pacific Screen Awards is a collaboration involving CNN International, UNESCO and the FIAPF -- International Federation of Film Producers Associations."

In Africa, video content downloaded by mobile phone as a teaching aid.

Posted: 15 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Jazeera English, 12 Oct 2011, Laila Ali: "It is estimated that by 2015 sub-Saharan Africa will have more people with mobile phone network access than electricity access at home. ... While schools in the developed world enforce strict policies to keep mobile phones out of the classroom, African schools and universities are now exploring the use of mobile technology to assist teaching. ... Under the BridgeIt initiative, known locally as Elimu kwa Teknologia or Education through Technology, teachers download video content using Nokia N95 mobile phones, which are connected to TVs in their classrooms, allowing rural schools and communities access to a digital catalogue of locally-developed or adapted educational content. Videos are typically four to seven minutes long and take one to two minutes to download from the server. Each video comes with a lesson plan designed to allow teachers and students to interact with the ideas introduced by the video. ... 'Watching videos makes it easier to understand the teacher, especially during the science lessons because I see what she is trying to explain. During examinations I remember what I saw in the class and it helps me answer the questions,' said Sia Idrisa, 13, from Kinondoni primary school."

In Nigeria, international channels on a digital terrestrial system with Chinese backing.

Posted: 15 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
PM News (Lagos), 11 Oct 2011: "NTA Star TV Network Limited, owners and operator of StarTimes, have recently provided additional channels on its bouquet to ensure that subscribers get more value for their money. ... It also offers uncompromising news on ... Aljazeera, BBC, France 24; all encompassing family entertainment channels, including Nta Entertainment, Nickolodeon, Kidsco, Discovery World, among others." -- I can't find an NTA Star website or any full channel list.

Vanguard (Nigeria), 21 Aug 2011, Dotun Ibiwoye: "NTA-Star TV Network Limited has invested $70 million in the Digital Terrestrial Television, DTT, project and plans to expand its operations across the country within the next two years. NTA-Star TV’s Chief Executive Officer, Sofia Zhang, said this ata briefing in Lagos on the firm’s first anniversary. Zheng said the money was mainly used for transforming analogue broadcasting to digital and ensuring that Nigeria joins the rest of the digital world by 2012. Last year, the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, partnered with Startimes of China to establish NTA-Star TV Network Limited to commence DTT operation in the country."

Leadership (Abuja), 7 Aug 2011, Bethrand Nwankwo: "A pay television operator, NTA-Star TV said it planned to increase its channels to 50 by the end of this year. Chairman of Startimes Networks of China, the major investor in the Pay TV, Mr Pang Xin Xing, who disclosed this at the one year anniversary of the firm in Abuja, stated that his company had invested $17 million (about N2.6 billion) since the commercial launch of the Pay TV in 2010. ... Xing also disclosed that the pay television has over 400,000 subscribers since it started operation last year. Speaking through an interpreter, the investor promised that the service of the Pay TV would be deployed in many other states across the country. Also speaking, the director-general of NTA, Usman Magawata said that the Pay TV, which started service in Abuja and Lagos, has extended it services to 10 more states in Nigeria."

Today is Global Handwashing Day. BBC World Service Trust is participating.

Posted: 15 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Voices, 15 Oct 2011, Juliana Rincón Parra: "Do you know how to properly wash your hands? Through songs and dances, people from different parts of the world are teaching others the right way to wash their hands to promote health. October 15th 2011 is the Global Handwashing Day and with the slogan Clean Hands Save Lives, it puts the spotlight on a simple action that helps decrease child mortality due to preventable diseases. ... In this next [BBC World Service Trust] ad for handwashing in Cambodia, a young boy who is excluded from childrens' games until he washes his hands asks a very important question: what if he doesn't have soap? The answer? Just use ash." With link to video. -- The ad is in Khmer, even though BBC World Service does not even have a Khmer service. Now excuse me while I, well, you know... .

BBC's global iPlayer expands to Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

Posted: 14 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 13 Oct 2011, Andrew McDonald: "BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) has launched the global iPlayer in Finland, Sweden and Demark, two weeks after the on-demand service went live in Australia. The pilot subscription service, which is currently available only as an Apple iPad app, debuted in 11 southern European countries in July. Now it's headed north to the Nordic region. Viewers can use the app to watch new and catalogue English-language BBC content, including recent episodes of shows such as Eastenders, Top Gear and Doctor Who, and classic comedies such as Fawlty Towers and Only Fools and Horses." See previous post about same subject.

Report: Difficulties for an Alhurra journalist in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Posted: 14 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Arab Media & Society, Summer 2011, Alice Hlidkova: "Srwa Abdulwahid ... expects frequent office visits from government security forces. Threatening phone calls are not abnormal after she became Kurdistan’s leading journalist in 1996. Employed by the independent television station al-Hurra in Suleymaniyah, Srwa covers politics for her daily evening report at 8 p.m. During her coverage of last year’s regional elections on July 25, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) accused her of reporting false information. The claims were later dropped. Recently, after her brother’s radio and television station, Nalia Radio Television, was burned down, soldiers from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party continue to call her office and look for her. Representatives from neither of the big political parties in the coalition are willing to discuss the incident."

France 24 claims audience ratings success in Tunisia and Libya.

Posted: 14 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 12 Oct 2011: "A year on from France 24’s launch of its 24-hour Arabic channel, the news broadcaster is celebrating various landmarks for the channel. In Tunisia, France 24 has become the second most widely watched international news channel by opinion leaders on a daily basis after Al Jazeera, according to Tunisian institute Sigma Conseil, and the third most widely watched by the population as a whole. In Libya, the channel has a daily audience rating of 4.3% of opinion leaders."

France 24 communiqué de presse, 9 Oct 2011: "D’après l’institut tunisien SIGMA Conseil, FRANCE 24 se positionne même au deuxième rang des chaînes d’information internationale les plus regardées quotidiennement par les leaders d’opinion tunisiens derrière Al Jazeera (13.9% vs 17%), et se classe troisième sur l’ensemble de la population."

Sky News Arabia will concentrate on "speed and accuracy of breaking news."

Posted: 14 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 12 Oct 2011, James Drummond: "It is not, however, as though Arab viewers lack choice when it comes to television news. Besides well-known names such as Qatar’s Al Jazeera and Dubai-based Arabiya, the BBC, France 24 and Russia Today run Arabic-language news outlets. That is besides a series of national stations, each offering more or less independent versions of events but with increasingly high production values. Last month, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire investor, announced that he was launching Alarab, a news channel for which Bloomberg will provide several hours of economic and business coverage. ... Sky News Arabiya will operate from 13 bureaux including London, Washington and Riyadh. The station has had 13,000 applications, all of them via its website, for the 370 posts that will staff the operation. ... The intention is clearly to take on the opposition on the speed and accuracy of breaking news coverage. There will be no magazine programmes, documentaries or spots for media clerics. ... Crucial to the success will be advertising revenues. ... [T]he best estimate according to Sky News is that total advertising spending in the Arab world, where the population is roughly 300m, is less than that of Turkey with a population of 75m."

4RFV.co.uk, 13 Oct 2011: "A Vitec Group brand - a leader in robotic camera support systems - has been selected to equip the newly created headquarters of the Arabic language TV station, Sky News Arabia, with a range of its advanced robotic and manual studio products."

Harris Corp press release, 12 Oct 2011: "Harris also won a contract to provide Sky News Arabia, the new 24-hour Arabic language news channel, with an integrated solution for part of the playout automation facility at the broadcaster’s Abu Dhabi headquarters."

See previous post about same subject.

Turkish Airlines will offer live TV on transatlantic flights, including BBC World News, BBC Arabic, and Euronews (updated: Gulf Air, too).

Posted: 14 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Flightglobal, 23 Sept 2011, Mary Kirby: "Turkish Airlines will take delivery of the first Boeing 777-300ER with Panasonic Avionics' Ku-band satellite-supported Global Communications Suite (GCS) - including in-flight Internet and IPTV - from Boeing on 23 September, marking a return to Ku connectivity linefits by the US airframer. The move comes over five years after Boeing famously ceased offering its own Ku-band supported connectivity solution, Connexion by Boeing, to carriers. ... In a statement today Turkish boasted that it will be the first carrier to offer live, in-flight television on transatlantic flights when it puts the new 777 into revenue service. The Panasonic eXTV television network uses the IFEC giant's eXConnect Ku-band pipe to deliver programming to passengers. 'It will provide live, uninterrupted content to aircraft flying all over the world, even over oceans. The service will offer several channels [such] as BBC World, BBC Arabic and Euronews on available Turkish Airlines flights,' said Turkish." See also Turkish Airlines press release, 23 Sept 2011.

Update: The National (Abu Dhabi), 13 Oct 2011, Tom Arnold: Gulf Air, "[t]he national carrier of Bahrain yesterday announced it had taken delivery of the first aircraft in the world to feature live television satellite streaming across continents. The development means passengers will no longer have to wait until they land to find out their sports team's score or the latest breaking news. ... Apart from the live TV service, the airline's entertainment system, called Sky Hub, will offer broadband connectivity to access internet and mobile phone services. ... The carrier yesterday received its first A330-200 aircraft fitted with the technology and plans to roll out the service across its entire fleet progressively. ... Passengers can tune into IMG Media's television offering that includes EPL coverage, other sporting events and news channels such as BBC World News, BBC Arabic and Euronews." See also BBC World News press release, 13 Oct 2011.

In "rare interview" to Radio Free Asia, head of Burma's censorship board calls for press freedom (updated).

Posted: 14 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 7 Oct 2011, Kyaw Kyaw Aung: "The head of Burma’s powerful state censorship body called Friday for press freedom in the country, saying his own department should be closed down as part of reforms being pursued by the new nominally civilian government. 'Press censorship is non-existent in most other countries as well as among our neighbors and as it is not in harmony with democratic practices, press censorship should be abolished in the near future,' Tint Swe, director of the Press Scrutiny and Registration Department told RFA in an interview. But, he said, newspaper and other publications should accept press freedom with 'responsibilities.' ... Tint Swe said it was just a matter of time before all publications are 'free from any kind of censorship' and for the first time, private groups would be allowed to establish daily newspapers under a new media law, a draft of which is before parliament."

Asian Correspondent, 8 Oct 2011, Zin Linn: "The director of Burma’s authoritarian state censorship board – the Press Scrutiny and Registration Department – gave a rare interview to the Washington DC based Radio Free Asia (Burmese Branch) Saturday. Tint Swe, a retired major and head of PSRD, said that he believes press freedom will come in accordance with democratic norms within an appropriate time in Burma, which has been ruled by a nominally civilian government since March this year." This RFA interview was also reported by AFP, 8 Oct 2011 and AP, 8 Oct 2011.

Update: Eurasia Review, 12 Oct 2011, South Asia Analysis Group: "By giving an interview to Radio Free Asia (RFA), an US government propaganda radio station, presidential advisor Ko Ko Hlaing gave a clear signal to Washington that Naypyidaw meant change, and did not hesitate to declare that the West’s most valued person in Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would be of signal importance to the country’s foreign interlocution because of her international standing."

The Irrawaddy, 12 Oct 2011, Wai Moe: "Sein Kyaw Hlaing, a veteran Burmese journalist who previously worked in exile for the BBC Burmese Service and is currently a contributor to Radio Free Asia, issued a statement over the Internet on Sunday denying that he had taken any airplane flight to Rangoon or been detained at the airport and then interrogated by Burmese authorities at the Aung Tha Pyay interrogation center." See previous post about same subject.

Qatar-based Libya TV, which "began in the Radio Free Europe model," ponders its future.

Posted: 14 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 12 Oct 2011, Haley Sweetland Edwards: "When I first visited the offices of the Libyan rebels' television channel, tucked into a corner of the old souk in Doha, Qatar, I expected a ramshackle operation run by a scrappy young crew with jerry-rigged equipment. Instead, what I found was a small but state-of-the-art TV studio surrounded by a series of bustling offices, littered, like any good newsroom, with doodled-on rough drafts, rattling Blackberries, and cartons of leftover fries from Hardee's. ... The scene at Libya TV -- efficient, professional, lively -- was just business as usual at Libya's first and only independent satellite channel, which launched last March as the revolution began to gain steam. The operation is funded and hosted by the government of Qatar - the tiny, energy rich state that has made itself an ally to the Libyan rebels -- and began in the Radio Free Europe model, broadcasting both tactical and humanitarian messages to aid the rebels on the ground in ousting Muammar Qaddafi. ... Over the last six months, Libya TV has become the most-watched channel in Libya -- out-stripping the wildly popular Al Jazeera, the management at Libya TV claims. ... [Senior Producer Mohammed] Mseek says there are two options on the table: either move the whole production to Tripoli and make it a Libya-only channel, by the people, for the people; or keep it in Doha, and make it a channel for the whole Arab world, 'with a priority on Libya.' The station's founder, Mahmud Shammam, a prominent Libyan expatriate journalist, is expected to make the decision soon, Mseek said."

Gather, 12 Oct 2011, Andrea Buginsky, summarizing an episode from the television drama series NCIS Los Angeles: "When a reporter was murdered just as she was getting ready to break a story about a Libyan freedom fighter, the NCIS: Los Angeles team was called in to investigate. The investigation led the team to a small group of Libyan freedom fighters whose leader, 'El-Libi,' was broadcasting live feed for radio-free Libya over the Internet. He was reaching out to other patriots to fight against the government. The program began after Ghadafi shut down the Internet. During the investigation, the team found the reporter's contact, who turned out to be a friend of 'El-Libi.' While questioning him and investigating the signal that was broadcasting the feed, the team learned that 'El-Libi' was actually broadcasting from L.A., using the friend's closed restaurant to do so." See also the episode,"Deadline," at the NCIS Los Angeles website.

US AM broadcasters can now use a cost-saving transmission method pioneered by shortwave broadcasters.

Posted: 14 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 12 Oct 2011, Ernie Franke: "The FCC has formally approved a 'green' technique for AM radio stations that want to reduce their operating costs. The technique is known as Modulation Dependent Carrier Level, or MDCL. Public notice was issued on Sept. 13, extending what had been an experimental program in Alaska to all U.S. AM stations. International broadcasters have been familiar with the concept for many years under the name of Dynamic Carrier Control. ... Using DCC, during periods of low or no modulation, power consumption can be significantly lowered by automatically reducing the carrier level and restoring the carrier level when modulation later increases. ... DCC was pioneered by the broadcasting giant British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) and AEG Telefunken in the late 1980s. As the cost of electricity steadily increased, others such as Voice of America (VOA), Trans World Radio (TWR), HCJB (Voice of the Andes), Radio France Internationale (RFI), Deutsche Welle (DW), Radio Canada International (RCI), Far East Broadcasting Co. (FEBC), Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC Radio Australia), Radio New Zealand (RNZ) and Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) quickly joined the fray."

In non-reciprocity news, two English channels of China's CCTV now available 24/7 in Washington.

Posted: 13 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 11 Oct 2011, Matthew Robertson: China Central Television (CCTV) "began broadcasting in English on Oct. 1 on MHz Networks, a public broadcaster based in Northern Virginia. ... MHz Networks will carry two of CCTVs channels—CCTV News and CCTV Documentary—through digital broadcasts and on Verizon and Comcast, 24 hours a day. ... CCTV is one of the main propaganda organs of the Chinese Communist Party. Administratively, it is a deputy ministry of the national government, directly subordinate to the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, according to that agency’s website. ... CCTV’s broadcasts in D.C. will take on a more moderate tone than the hard-knuckled form of propaganda that appears on TVs across China. 'There is a difference between external propaganda and internal propaganda,' He Qinglian said. 'If they used the Chinese approach, they would fail completely. In English, they use a kind of soft-packaging to make it not look like propaganda.' CCTV is establishing a news bureau downtown that is bringing in a fair-sized production and editorial staff with attractive packages. It will field reporters and host programs from the office on 13th street. ... Luke Murray, a senior legislative assistant for [Rep.] Ted Poe ... thinks the way CCTV is broadcasting in the United States without any commensurate demands for reciprocity is questionable. 'We have some serious concerns about communist TV being allowed to broadcast here, while our media is censored or blocked there. This is not surprising for the Chinese regime; they’ve been doing this for a long time,' he said. 'It’s time the U.S. started to hold them accountable.'" CCTV replaces Metro Chinese Network, which now gets 14 hours a week on MHz Networks 1. See MHz Networks, 28 Sept 2011.

People's Daily Online, 13 Oct 2011: "People's Daily Online conducted an interview with U.S. journalist Andre Vitchek, who recently wrote 'The West Perfecting Its Techniques to Hurt China', in which he criticized the role the Western press plays in bashing China. ... PD Online: Nowadays, the western media still holds a bigger voice in the international community. What China may do to gain a bigger power of discourse? If so, what kind of responsibility should the Chinese media bear in this regards? Vitchek: ... [F]rankly, China needs to do much more. Look at RT (Russia Today). Many people are switching to it, from the BBC and Al-Jazeera. Even where local cable and satellite programs do not carry them life, RT is watched on line. For many people who are disillusioned with Western media, RT is like some dissident channel. They have brilliant talk shows with people like Stiglitz or Chomsky appearing on them. And RT is very respectful, very objective towards China. ... China’s voice on airwaves and in print should be more assertive and sharper."

China Daily, 13 Oct 2011, Wu Jiao: "Worldwide political uncertainties and economic weakness might increase the chances of China being targeted by politicians in some countries, public diplomacy experts warned on Wednesday. Attending a forum on 'Public Diplomacy in the Age of Globalization', Alistair M. Michie, honorary secretary of the 48 Group Club of Britain, said that the urgent need for China to boost public diplomacy comes from the financial crisis in Europe and the United States."

And how critical were the winners in this competition to critically analyze Al Jazeera?

Posted: 13 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 13 Oct 2011, Fazeena Saleem: "Ten winners of an international research competition held to review Al Jazeera’s reporting on important issues, was announced yesterday. The contest was first of its kind held for young scholars around the world and allowed them to critically analyse Al Jazeera’s reporting and its regional and global appeal. Research contest was held in partnership between the Al Jazeera Centre for Studies and the Qatar University to mark the 15th anniversary of the Al Jazeera network with an aim to create a platform for the young researchers and make their voice heard. ... Papers were submitted in English or Arabic with a focus on research and critical analysis of Al Jazeera, addressing such topics as Al Jazeera’s relationship with new media, its impact on Arab youth, its coverage of recent major regional and world events, and its regional and global appeal. Many research papers had been submitted by youth from North African countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. Five winners of the competition will be present their papers at a conference in commemoration of Al Jazeera’s 15th anniversary on October 31 and November 1 in Doha. All ten winners of the competition will receive financial rewards each US$ 1000 and their papers will be published in a book, on the website of the Al Jazeera Center for Studies and in other journals."

Bernama, 11 Oct 2011: "The people were today told to be aware of the tactics of certain quarters in trying to influence national politics for their own vested interests. International Movement For A Just World president Prof Dr Chandra Muzaffar said if the people wanted to protect the country's sovereignty, harmony and independence, they must be wary and wise in gauging certain groups' every move. ... On Syria, Chandra said it was a peaceful country but certain quarters were trying to portray it as facing a huge conflict. 'Syria is generally peaceful, but perhaps there are unrests in certain cities involving a section of the people. However, the situation has been blown out of proportion by the mainstream media. I do not mean the western media only, but others including Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya...whose role seems to be serving the agenda of the west,' he said."

Asian Tribune, 12 Oct 2011, S.H. Moulana: "As Al Jazeera has risen to prominence, Qatar, for decades politically dormant, has become increasingly involved in international affairs. As the state’s strategic interests change, the network’s owners – the Qatar Royal family – will be re-evaluating Al Jazeera’s role in the region too. Last month a Wikileaks report surfaced that appeared to show that Khanfar had submitted to US pressure to edit the network’s output. It looks like that he was asked to resign rather than he resigned of his own will. Al Jazeera watchers are already seeing a gradual change in its telecasts. We hope that it will not finally turn out to be another CNN or BBC!"

Press freedom groups condemn Egyptian military raid on Alhurra studio.

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Reporters sans frontières, 13 Oct 2011: "Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the Egyptian army’s use of violence against news media and journalists during a demonstration by Coptic Christians on 9 October, in which a total of 24 people were killed. ... The headquarters of Al-Hurra and Channel January 25, two TV stations located in Cairo’s Maspero neighbourhood, were stormed by soldiers during the night as they were broadcasting reports on the violent clashes between Copt demonstrators and soldiers that were taking place in Maspero. The soldiers suspended their broadcasts until 1 a.m. and threatened journalists at gunpoint. The incident was followed live by thousands of viewers."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 12 Oct 2011: "Footage from the raid, which occurred during a live studio broadcast, shows a tense presenter who remained on the air as he tried to calm the soldiers who stormed the office, brandishing automatic weapons as they searched the studio, harassed staff, and disrupted the broadcast." -- The link is to a YouTube video of Alhurra's Alyoum during the raid. See previous post about the raid on Alhurra.

Ahram Online, 10 Oct 2011, Zeinab El Gundy: "Egyptian state media has come under fire for what many considered to be distorted coverage of Sunday evening's bloody clashes that took place in Cairo’s Maspero district off Tahrir square between thousands of Coptic demonstrators and Muslim supporters who were peacefully protesting recent church burnings and calling for equal rights for Egypt's 8 milllion Christians, and military and police forces armed with tanks, tear gas and live ammunition. At least 21 protesters, mainly Copts, were killed as army tanks ran over several young people and police shot rubber, and live bullets according to multiple eye witnesses, into the crowd. ... A number of critics say that Egyptian state television not only failed to calm matters, but actually played a role in aggravating an already tense situation. In an unprecedented move, broadcasters on state television at one point called on the Egyptian public to head to Maspero en masse to defend Egyptian soldiers from what they described as 'angry Christian protesters'."

The Economist, Newsbook blog, 10 Oct 2011, M.R.: "Unhelpfully, state television repeatedly broadcast news that armed Copts had shot and killed several soldiers, fanning a wave of calls for Muslim citizens to 'protect' the army from this menace. State organs also incited Muslim anger by reporting, falsely, that America's secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, had offered to send troops to protect Coptic churches. Hard-line Islamist groups quickly picked up on the baseless news, declaring that this was evidence of a foreign conspiracy to undermine Egypt."

Digital Journal, 12 Oct 2011, Bradley Axmith: "Minister of Information Osama Heikal released a statement apologizing for state television’s anti-Coptic message, attributing it to the stress of the moment. 'Announcers reported that Christian protesters had attacked the army only because they were under emotional stress,' Mr. Heikal stated. He urged caution and restraint on the part of both government and private news bureaus when delivering the news."

One prescription for the future of international broadcasting comes in tablet form.

Posted: 13 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
ReadWriteWeb, 11 Oct 2011, Jon Mitchell: "A new study from BBC.com and Starcom MediaVest finds that tablets do wonders for news consumption. Tablet owners report reading more stories from more sources on more topics than non-tablet users, they enjoy the experience more, and they go straight to the source more often, rather than relying on aggregators. ... As far as the content consumed on tablets, the study concentrated on news, a media category that has a ways to go to recover from the disruptions of the digital age. It found that 78% of tablet owners follow more news stories, in terms of both volume and variety, than they did before. Respondents reported that tablets substantially improved many aspects of the news experience. 81% reported that 'tablets make following the news more interesting and enjoyable,' and 78% felt that 'tablets substantially improve the news experience overall.'" -- Search this website on iPad to see the many reports we have onpassed about international broadcasters adopting iPad apps as a means of transmitting their content.

Twenty-five years ago, Radio Moscow and WKTI Milwaukee broadcast from each other's studios.

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WTMJ Radio (Milwaukee), 10 Oct 2011, Gene Mueller: "Bob Reitman and I were four years into our run at WKTI when our boss, Dallas Cole, approached us with his latest brainstorm: radio shows from the heart of the Soviet Union at the height to the Cold War in the 1980's. He envisioned a people-to-people exchange, one that would have us doing live shows from Radio Moscow while offering up our facilities to our Soviet counterparts. Politics would not be discussed--no debate about the virtues of capitalism vs. communism, no haggling over the fate of Soviet Jews. Ours would be a cultural endeavor, giving those on each side of the ocean the chance to talk about their daily lives, fears, needs and hopes. ... The radio shows were a blast--I still owe famed Soviet commentator Vladimir Posner $5, having lost a World Series (yes, even a commie knew better than to take the Red Sox back then) and I remember the Radio Moscow workers listening to our every word. They were especially fascinated by the music we played (we still had to get in a couple of songs an hour to appease the Milwaukee crowd) and even more so by the commercials (they, of course, aired no such thing). ... Radio Moscow aired shows from our old auditorium at Radio City. ... It doesn't feel like 25 years since we walked the streets of Moscow."

CNN debuts Marketplace Europe, with much fanfare for 15 minutes a week.

Posted: 13 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 11 Oct 2011: "A set piece interview with President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso is to mark the launch of CNN Marketplace Europe on 13 October 2011. The new weekly business programme will focus on the increasingly complex world of business in Europe at a time of what the channel calls unprecedented upheaval for the European Union and its immediate neighbours. ... Commented Deborah Rayner, CNN International Vice President and Managing Editor for Europe, Middle East and Africa: 'At a time when Europe’s most senior business decision makers are looking for intelligent reporting and insight of crucial European issues, they are turning to CNN in large numbers. CNN Marketplace Europe meets their needs with a dedicated weekly show to help them stay ahead of the business news that matters most to them.'"

CNN Press Room, 10 Oct 2011: "‘CNN Marketplace Europe’ is a new weekly quarter-hour business programme from CNN International. ... Hosted by CNN’s award-winning business anchor Richard Quest with dedicated ‘CNN Marketplace Europe’ correspondent Juliet Mann (both pictured), this programme will put the spotlight on one of the world’s most influential and interconnected continents as Europe faces up to the economic challenges and opportunities of the next 10 years. Using CNN’s unparalleled access to business leaders and decision makers, its global reach and its unique line up of seasoned business correspondents, ‘CNN Marketplace Europe’ will deliver intelligent and unmissable features as it analyses the European business scene." See also the CNN Marketplace Europe web page.

Broadcasting Board of Governors meets today, with live webcast at 1900 UTC.

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Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 11 Oct 2011: "At the October 13 meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the Board will focus on its plans to restructure international broadcasting. The Board will consider recommendations based on the year long strategic review as well as other Board operations including committee membership and the 2011 Board schedule. The International Broadcasting Bureau Director and directors of the Office of Technology, Services and Innovation, and the Office of New Media will update the Board on agency operations and innovations; broadcast executives will update the Board on programming and coverage issues. There will also be discussion of BBG journalists who have been harassed or jailed as a result of their work. The meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. [EDT], will be webcast both live and on-demand, at www.bbg.gov."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 12 Oct 2011: "The public is invited to join the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) for its first ever PopTech event on Friday, October 21, 2011 in Washington, D.C. The BBG celebrates Parazit’s appearance Live from Poptech and will also feature Live Ignite Presentations from iStrategyLabs, Heritage Foundations, RFA, RFE, MBN, OCB and VOA!"

Is Occupy Wall Street "the world's first genuine social-media uprising"? And is RT the go-to channel for coverage?

Posted: 13 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Economist, Democracy in America blog, 11 Oct 2011, G.L.: "While the so-called 'Facebook revolutions' in the Arab world were nothing of the sort, what's going on in America right now may be the world's first genuine social-media uprising. Besides the standard channels of Facebook, whose Occupy Wall St page now has nearly 170,000 fans, Twitter, where the hashtags #occupywallst and #ows spew out dozens of tweets a minute, and of course a dedicated website, Occupy Together, protesters are also organising via Meetup, which at the time of this writing shows events planned in over 1,300 cities worldwide."

The Guardian, Occupy Wall Street news blog, 11 Oct 2011, Adam Gabbatt: "On the Occupy Boston Facebook page – which has over 20,000 likes – protesters are lamenting the fact that they have to turn to foreign media for coverage of last night's events. Russia Today is among those who appear to have been in the crowd as arrests were made at the demonstrators attempted second camp."

Examiner.com, 10 Oct 2011, Deborah Dupre: "According to the New York Observer and a news video by Russia Today, FOX News correspondent Geraldo Rivera was run out of Occupy Wall Street Sunday by thousands of protesters chanting at him, 'FOX News Lies.' While applauded by the protesters and supporters, the reporting of this by the alternative news source that captured the event on video has raised questions in an ongoing controversy about the global multilingual television Russia Today. ... The event and Russia Today reporting it has opened floodgates of accusations against Russia Today. A typical example of such come from a writer to Video Cafe's Crooks and Liars that posted the RT video on its site: 'This form of reporting harks back to the times of the USSR, when Soviet "news" focused more truthfully on the "oppressed" in America, while virtually all internal news about domestic affairs were a whitewash. Sure, their stories about America or the EU are true in many ways, but they are also little more than propaganda used to justify the existence of a repressive regime by constantly highlighting the "flaws" of its enemies.'" See also Mediaite, 10 Oct 2011.

RT, 13 Oct 2011: "RT’s Anastasia Churkina takes a look at media coverage of Occupy Wall Street. 'Step 1 – Ignore. Step 2 – Ridicule. Step 3 – Undermine. That’s the approach some media outlets seem to have been taking when it comes to Occupy Wall Street.'" With video.

Radio Veritas Asia meets with listeners in Pakistan, looks to add social networking to shortwave.

Posted: 13 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Union of Catholic Asian News, 10 Oct 2011: "More than 80 people from all over Pakistan attended the 11th listeners’ conference of Radio Veritas Asia (RVA)’s Urdu language service in Lahore October 9. Father Roberto Ebisa, general manager of RVA, joined a retired archbishop and two other priests for the event at the National Catholic Recording studio in Lahore. Participants offered poetic tributes, praised RVA programs and said they appreciated the club visits. A listener’s club also presented a six meter long fan letter to Father Nadeem John Shakir, the studio director. ... [Liaqat Ali] Awan hails from Dera Ismail Khan, which has in the last few years experienced the highest ratio of Shia killings in the country. 'Our listener’s club has 25 Muslim members who listen and review Church radio every day. Its best feature is that the programs speak [to everyone] irrespective of religions', he said. ... The program concluded with a Q&A panel discussion in which the listeners complained of poor reception in winter and delay in postage of newsletters and replies to fan mail. They also suggested longer transmissions and inclusion of live calls in the 27 minute daily transmission. 'As short wave radio, we are dependent on atmospheric conditions', replied Father Ebisa, adding that the service will soon make use of social networking websites to engage more listeners." Radio Veritas Asia is based in the Philippines. See its Urdu Service web page. RFA Urdu transmits ate 0100-0127 UTC on 15280 and 17860 kHz shortwave, and at 1439-1457 on 15260.

BBC longwave service on 198 kHz may not be long for this world (updated).

Posted: 12 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 9 Oct 2011, Dan Sabbagh: "BBC Radio 4 long wave, which transmits on the 198 kilohertz frequency, relies on ageing transmitter equipment that uses a pair of the valves – no longer manufactured – to function. The valves, at Droitwitch in Worcestershire, are so rare that engineers say there are fewer than 10 in the world, and the BBC has been forced to buy up the entire global supply. Each lasts anywhere between one and 10 years, and when one of the last two blows the service will go quiet. Last week, Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, signalled the beginning of the end for the 198 long-wave service, which is still used by 90,000 homes in Britain to receive Radio 4 in areas where short-range FM does not penetrate. ... Radio 4 was traditionally broadcast on long wave, using frequencies used by the BBC since the 1930s, but the station has long been aired on FM and digital radio and online. More recently, the long-wave service has been used to carry a handful of traditional programmes deemed unsuitable for FM, while the range of the long-wave signal also ensured that ships could pick up shipping forecasts. The best-known programme broadcast on long wave is Test Match Special, which would otherwise dominate vast chunks of the Radio 4 schedule. ... [T]he signal is strong enough to be audible in parts of the Netherlands, Ireland, France and Germany. The BBC began national transmission with the National Programme, the predecessor of Radio 4, in 1926. Transmission moved to 200 kilohertz in 1934, when the BBC moved its transmission to Droitwitch, and has remained at that frequency, allowing for a slight shift to 198Khz ever since. Built under the leadership of Sir John Reith, his last act as director-general after being forced out in 1938 was to personally close down the National Programme at Drotwitch before signing the visitors' book and leaving."

See also Critical Distance Weblog, 3 June 2008, Jonathan Marks. And BBCeng.info, December 2006, John F. Phillips.

Update: Radio Times, 10 Oct 2011, William Gallagher: "Nobody remembers frequencies any more. Radio stations are listed by names on DAB or by URLs online. They're a tap of your finger away if you're listening over an iPhone app. And if you choose to burn up electricity by listening to radio on your TV set, then stations are arranged by spurious, unfeeling channel numbers. But back in the old days, frequencies mattered. Frequencies were your home. Now it's like when your parents start talking about selling the family house and downsizing: we're going to lose BBC Radio 4 on 198 longwave. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But sometime - and the BBC isn't quite sure when, because it depends when the equipment next breaks down. There's something so very British about that. ... We could still bond together over 198 longwave. All of us. Everywhere. Everywhere. Forget your online rubbish, I've sat in the centre of Paris listening to BBC Radio 4 longwave, amazed that the signal could reach that far and distraught only because I wanted Woman's Hour and it was the cricket instead."

The Mirror, 11 Oct 2011, Simon Boyle: "The traditional sound of summer could be lost for ever as Beeb bosses consider the future of Radio 4’s famous Test Match Special. Generations of cricket fans have tuned in to keep up with the action since the show was first broadcast in 1959. But the Corporation’s decision to axe the long-wave service after 77 years leaves TMS without a home and bosses have yet to decide whether it will be replaced on the airwaves or become digital-only. ... A Radio 4 spokesman yesterday assured listeners the switch-off would not be before 2017, and added: 'While it is still too early to say exactly where TMS will be broadcast in many years’ time, we will ensure that it is available right across the country.'"

When the last valve blows, perhaps a newer, more efficient, lower powered transmitter using Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) should take over 198 kHz.

In the African market, BBC Global News exec notes TV closing gap on radio, internet access via mobile.

Posted: 12 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
ipTV News, 10 Oct 2011, interviewing Richard Porter, controller of English at BBC Global News" "[W]e continue to see TV closing the gap on radio. In many cities TV attracts a bigger audience than radio and that trend is continuing to spread to smaller cities and even in some cases rural areas. TV tends to be dominant in the evening. Mobile phones are increasingly being used to listen to radio and to access internet. In many countries more people are accessing the internet on their phone than they are on a PC. It’s also worth noting that broadband has reached a number of countries in Africa, though the average person has not been able to benefit from this yet (that is to say there is limited streaming of audio and video as most people have slow connections). In terms of the industry itself, there’s been more investment in vernacular stations, which are becoming more dominant in their markets. In certain markets, [South Africa-based DTH satellite service] DSTV is getting competition from cheaper satellite and digital operators like Smart TV and Zuku TV and on an international level, there are new players entering the market, like Al Jazeera Swahili, and an increased emphasis on local programming (like Africa Business Report on BBC World News)."

Egyptian military attacks Alhurra office on Cairo, keeping "Alyoum" off the air (updated).

Posted: 12 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Ahram Online, 9 Oct 2011: "The Egyptian military attacked Alhurra TV office in Cairo tonight preventing its daily night program 'Alyoum' from going on air, according to Egyptian official TV. Also the office of TV 25, which broadcasts from the Maspero area, was also attacked by the Military Police. Both channels were transmitting live coverage of the clashes in Maspero between protesters, mainly Coptic, and the army." -- This is why I think Alyoum should originate from Dearborn, Michigan.

The New Yorker, 9 Oct 2011, Wendell Stevenson: "State TV reported that it was the protesters who had attacked the Army and that several soldiers had been killed. Reports called on civilians to come and help them defend Maspiro against the Copts. Two independent television stations located in a building nearby Maspiro, TV 25 and Al Hurra TV, were stormed by authorities and their live broadcasts of the events outside were shut down."

Twitter, 10 Oct 2011, Tom Gara @tomgara: "[A] US-funded army storming the offices of a US-funded TV network in Cairo."

Update: Ahram Online, 10 Oct 2011, Zeinab El Gundy: "Notably, live broadcasts by the privately-owned 25 Channel were cut after military police stormed its headquarters, located in the Maspero district and overlooking the site of the bloody battle, three different times between 7pm and 10pm. ... The 25 Channel was not the only news network with offices in Maspero to be stormed by military police. The offices of the US-based Al-Hurra news channel were also stormed while covering Sunday’s events. One Al-Hurra reporter said later that the network had been forced to halt its coverage of the clashes 'for security reasons.'

Daily News Egypt, 10 Oct 2011, Omnia Al Desoukie: "Presidential hopeful Bothaina Kamel, who joined the protesters on Sunday, said she sought shelter at Al-Hurra channel’s office along with some protesters once the violence started, adding that they could hear attackers in the building saying 'Allah Akbar (God is Great).' 'By the time we got out, we found the stairs were broken. To pass by any of the street checkpoints we had to prove that we were Muslims,' said Kamel."

Ahram Online, 10 Oct 2011, Yasmine Fathi: "Amr Hamzawy, leader of the Freedom Egypt Party ... condemned recent restrictions on press freedom and Sunday’s attack by the army on news station Al-Hurra TV."

Daily News Egypt, 10 Oct 2011, Mai Shams El-Din: "The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) accused state TV of 'sectarian incitement,' saying in a statement that anchors urged the Egyptian people to go to the streets to support the armed forces, saying they were being attacked by Coptic protesters. 'State TV masterminded an incitement campaign against Coptic protesters in the name of protecting the armed forces, claiming that Coptic protesters were armed and started the attack which was denied by eyewitnesses,' ANHRI said in a statement released Monday. ANHRI also condemned the army's crackdown on the headquarters of 25TV and Al-Hurra news channels, which were airing the clashes live before military police stormed their offices near Maspero."

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information, 10 Oct 2011: "Hany Hathout, a presenter at 25 TV, said that the security forces looked for the videotape that recorded the events, and also held the team of the channel inside the building. Simultaneously, the headquarters of Al-Hurra channel was raided as well, for the studios of the two channels are next to each other. Security forces searched Al-Hurra channel in full, this time under the claims of searching for anonymous individuals who rioted in the area around Maspiro."

Canadian report explores how international broadcasters can get through to "countries where content is pervasively blocked."

Posted: 12 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 11 Oct 2011, John Markoff: "A detailed study of Internet censorship in China and Iran shows that blocking techniques are changing rapidly and are becoming significant new obstacles for news organizations, governments and businesses. The study [pdf], ... published on Tuesday, focuses on Internet blocking faced by Iranian and Chinese visitors to BBC Web sites during periods of political unrest in the two countries over the last two years. 'This problem of Internet control is becoming an issue for more than human rights concerns,' said an author of the report, Ronald Deibert, the director of the Canada Center for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab, a University of Toronto organization that focuses on Internet security. 'The fact is that you have dozens of countries not just filtering for porn, but political filtering and key events as well.' The study, by the BBC and Dr. Deibert’s center, acknowledges that the Internet accounts for only about 13 percent of the broadcaster’s global audience, which totaled 225 million people in 2010-11. But it is increasingly important in authoritarian countries; for example, there are now 500 million Chinese Internet users, many times the number that listen to shortwave broadcasts."

University of Toronto press releae, 11 Oct 2011: "The report, entitled Casting a Wider Net: Lessons Learned in Delivering BBC Content on the Censored Internet ... sheds a bright spotlight on what is typically a shadow game: the race among government censors to block content, and those determined to sidestep those efforts. China and Iran are among the world’s most pervasive filters of Internet content, and present a special challenge to global media broadcasters who are often targeted by governments for blocking. BBC’s Mandarin and Farsi services are normally subject to intense blocking efforts by both countries. From 2009 to 2011, the BBC worked with Psiphon in a series of trials designed to test how readily content could overcome Chinese and Iranian blocking efforts, using a range of delivery methods, including social networking sites like Twitter, traditional radio broadcasts, and special email lists. ... The result is an unprecedented and detailed peek into the 'cat and mouse game' of Internet censorship evasion: what works, what doesn’t, and why?"

From the report [pdf]: "Circumvention technology can be useful for delivering content to an audience that cannot access a broadcaster’s content, but based on the experience of the BBC studies these tools are usually effective for disseminating content to only a relatively small, but interested audience. In countries where content is pervasively blocked a large portion of the potential audience may be unaware of the existence of the broadcaster’s circumvention service. Attempts to grow the BBC audience in China showed that the web-proxies were reaching a small audience, but audience feedback sent directly to the BBC Chinese service suggests that the proxies were being accessed by users who were interested in news content and grateful for the accessibility."

Free, take one: Bins of China Daily appear in London, Washington, probably elsewhere.

Posted: 12 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter.com, 11 Oct 2011, Richard Sambrook @sambrook (former director of BBG Global News): "China's soft power advance reaches Victoria Station: free copies of China Daily being given out..."

A bin providing free copies of China Daily is also at the Federal Center SW Metro station, the one used by most VOA employees. Probably other such bins elsewhere in Washington. This is in addition to the copies distributed as an advertising supplement to the Washington Post. And pages purchased in the Washington Express free tabloid.

This brings up the subject of lack of reciprocity, as discussed in my strategic proposals for international broadcasting to China.

BBG among "most improved" in employee viewpoint survey.

Posted: 12 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Federal News Radio, 12 Oct 2011, Emily Kopp: "[F]aced with poor ratings year after year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other international broadcasting, decided to do something about it. Their efforts paid off in this year's employee viewpoint survey, officials said. The survey, conducted by the Office of Personnel Management, named the agency one of the two most improved, based on employee ratings of leadership, work culture and talent management."

Federal News Radio, BBG Watcher, comment to ibid. "Once again, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) solidly maintains its position as one of the worst work environments in the Federal workplace. Here are some of the highlights: 33rd of 37 in job satisfaction; 35th of 37 on results-oriented performance culture; 36th of 37 on talent management; and, 37th of 37 on leadership and knowledgeable management."

See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera claims "resounding vindication" after Ofcom ruling on its publication of "Palestine Papers."

Posted: 12 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 10 Oct 2011: "The United Kingdom's broadcasting regulator has thrown out a complaint against Al Jazeera for its publication of the so-called Palestine Papers in January 2011, ruling that the coverage was fair and in the public interest. Monday's verdict by Ofcom, the UK parliament's communications watchdog, followed an investigation into a complaint lodged by Saeb Erekat, the former Palestinian chief negotiator, on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Erekat claimed that Al Jazeera's English language channel (AJE) had violated his privacy and that of the PLO by publishing more than 1,600 confidential documents detailing Israeli-Palestinian talks over the past decade. ... Al Jazeera, however, had defended its reporting practices, stating that the journalists who revealed the secret files obtained them from an original source and had checked their veracity. Those involved in the coverage maintained that they offered sources within the PLO chances to respond to findings in the reports. In its official ruling on the complaint, Ofcom agreed, writing: 'Dr Erekat was given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to the criticisms of him in the programmes.' The ruling continued: 'To the extent there was an infringement of privacy in relation to obtaining and using documents, the infringement was warranted, given the significant public interest, both in the Middle East and globally, in the issues looked at in the programmes.' In minutes released in The Palestine Papers, Erekat was found to be frequently critical of Al Jazeera. In an August 18, 2008 meeting, he accused the network of being a tool for unnamed adversaries intent on ruining negotiations with Israel. Erekat resigned from the PA in the aftermath of the leaked papers in February. Ahmad bin Jasem Al Thani, Al Jazeera's director-general, said: 'This is a resounding vindication of our journalism, our decision to release the papers, and our handling of it.'"

Aljazeera.net, 12 Oct 2011, Clayton Swisher (originally in The Guardian): "Nine months ago, when Al Jazeera and the Guardian jointly published the Palestine Papers, revealing the scale of concessions secretly made by Palestinian negotiators in a decade of talks with Israeli leaders, we were accused of biased, agenda-driven coverage. As head of the investigative team that produced the papers, I was accused on live television by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, of being a CIA agent on a mission to destroy the chances of Palestinian statehood. Today Ofcom, which was asked by the PLO to investigate whether our coverage had been unfair to both it and to Erekat, published a 19-page ruling that unequivocally vindicates our coverage."

New York Review of Books, 27 Oct 2011 issue, Hugh Eakin: "Al Jazeera’s English-language service, which was started in 2006, has been praised in the West for its aggressive and comprehensive reporting on the recent revolts—even in the Gulf. (It is now available in several US cities, including Washington, D.C., and New York.) In July, the network produced Shouting in the Dark, a fifty-minute documentary about the uprising in Bahrain whose blunt examination of the crackdown caused the Bahraini government to lodge a formal protest with Qatar. Yet unlike Al Jazeera’s Arabic service (which did not show the documentary), Al Jazeera English is not watched by tens of millions of Arab viewers in the Middle East; its audience is predominantly elite, Western, and international—people who do not pose a direct threat to Qatari or regional stability."

"Let's extensively raise goats in all families!" Propaganda to and within North Korea.

Posted: 11 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Yonhap, 10 Oct 2011: "Several dozens of North Korean defectors floated tens of thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets from the South Korean side of the heavily fortified border with North Korea on Monday as they brushed off the North's latest threats of retaliation against their psychological warfare. The latest campaign came as North Korea celebrated its 66th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party. Just a day before, North Korea threatened to launch 'direct fire' against South Korea over its propaganda leaflets, calling their release 'an undisguised war action.' ... Still, Park Sang-hak, who has led a high-profile campaign to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets for years, vowed to proceed with his plans despite a botched assassination attempt on him. 'I will keep sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets to help promote democracy and human rights of North Koreans,' Park said after sending some 200,000 leaflets."

KCNA, 8 Oct 2011: "The military warmongers and other puppet conservative forces of south Korea, however, are getting frantic with the moves to escalate the confrontation with the DPRK as evidenced by intrusions into the north side's waters in the West Sea of Korea and the scattering of leaflets over areas along the front, a blatant challenge to the national aspiration and the demand of the times. ... The south side should face up to the prevailing situation and take a wise option on the crossroads of reconciliation and cooperation or physical confrontation. The south side would be well advised to think twice over the final notice of the Korean People's Army."

North Korea Tech, 11 Oct 2011, Martyn Williams: "Reporters Without Borders has published a detailed report on the North Korean media landscape. The report is the result of of a fact-finding trip to Seoul in July by an RSF staffer and concludes that North Korea is no longer as sealed off from the outside world as it used to be. Shortwave radio broadcasts from foreign stations, CDs and DVDs of South Korean TV broadcasts, data smuggled over the Chinese border and USB keys dropped by balloon are all creating cracks in the wall of isolation that has surrounded North Korea for decades, said the report. It also called on the South Korean government to provide more support for private radio broadcasters that target North Korea." See also the report, "North Korea: Frontiers of censorship” (pdf).

Business Insider, 10 Oct 2011, Robert Johnson: "As conflicting reports on food shortages pour from North Korea, the most telling indicator that troubles may actually loom are the introduction of two new propaganda posters. The release of the new banners coincides with the beginning of the country's harvest season and are a stark contrast to actual North Korean life."

Voice of Russia launches London-originated programming transmitted on DAB to London.

Posted: 11 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
WRN Broadcast press release, 10 Oct 2011: "WRN Broadcast (WRNB) has worked with Voice of Russia, the oldest Russian broadcasting company, to launch Voice of Russia from the World Radio Network, a new DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) radio service providing a wide range of programmes about Russia and Russia’s viewpoint on world events to listeners in London, ranging from the most important political events on the global agenda to arts, culture, science and sports. The new service, broadcast in English, is available on DAB throughout London. ... WRNB is the licence holder of Voice of Russia from the World Radio Network and in common with other news and current affairs based channels there will be segments from other world broadcasters to provide a rounded view of world affairs. Voice of Russia is in the process of setting up studios and production facilities at WRNB’s London base, which will house dedicated production staff and journalists in order to increase the London-based content of the channel. Additional material will be produced in Moscow and WRNB will schedule and playout the channel."

Radio Pakistan revives relationship with Deutsche Welle through DW Akademie training course.

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Associated Press of Pakistan, 10 Oct 2011: "Secretary Information and Broadcasting Taimur Azmat Osman said Monday that Radio Pakistan is the foremost broadcasting institution of the country and it should catch up with other [media] through innovation and modern ways of production. He was addressing the opening ceremony of ten-day training course on Local Reporting organized jointly by Radio Pakistan and DW Akademi[e] for PBC correspondents and technical staff at PBC Headquarters here. ... He appreciated Radio Pakistan for realizing the need of training for its correspondents and technical staff and arranging such a course with the collaboration of Deutsche Welle. He expressed the confidence that participants of the course will gain knowledge from the rich experience of DW trainers. He hoped that such a partnership and cooperation between Radio Pakistan and DW will continue in future Speaking on the occasion, Director General Radio Pakistan Murtaza Solangi said collaboration between Radio Pakistan and DW started way back in 1972. It remained frozen for quite sometime but now we are again on the path of reviving that relationship."

German contractor plugs his amateur transceiver into giant rotatable Voice of Nigeria antenna.

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Amateur Radio Newsline, 7 Oct 2011, Bill Pasternak: "In down to Earth DX news, DL3OCH will be active as 5N7Q from Abuja, Nigeria, through October 15th. His operation will be on 40 through 10 meters using one of the largest fully rotatable short wave broadcast antennas in the world. It has a gain of over 20 dbi on all bands." This German radio amateur is in Nigeria "for maintenance of broadcasting station in Abuja. ... I have not more than 100W" See QRZ.com, 8 Oct 2011.

Voice of Nigeria, 6 July 2011: "Director-General, Voice of Nigeria, Malam Abubakar Jijiwa, who conducted the minister around the site, said the facility stood on 120 hectares of land. ... The VON Boss, said that all the equipment procured were digitally compliant. [I]n his words; 'the facility is yet to be officially handed over by the contractor since full payment has not been made for the job done.' He noted that the Ministry of Finance had approved the payment of the next stage of the project and that VON was in the process of paying."

QRZ.com, 21 Jan 2011, Bodo Fritsche: "It's a fully rotatable curtain antenna with 32 stocked dipoles. Each 16 for lowbands (6-16MHz) and highbands (16-26MHz). Its 80m high, more than 20dBi gain on each band, weight 280 tons, rotated by 20kW motors, completely remote controlled."

Radio Free Sarawak returns: "small outfit ... aims to pack a big punch."

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Free Malaysia Today, 10 Oct 2011, Clare Rewcastle Brown: "The team from Radio Free Sarawak have had their first week back on air after their break from broadcasting and the general feedback is that although it has been exhausting the comeback was also fun. RFS is a small outfit, broadcasting out of the United Kingdom in defiance of Sarawak’s licencing authorities. The station aims to pack a big punch. The experienced journalists behind the show are managing a double workload, but loving the freedom of being able to chase real stories on merit, instead of churning out boring propaganda. The existing state-approved Sarawak media only allows programmes which fawn over the elderly Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and his cronies and deny their opponents a fair platform. So, RFS makes sure that the station covers all the issues that the Taib stations have been busy suppressing all these years and speaks frequently to the other political parties. Land grabs, corruption and the many forms of oppression in Sarawak form a large part of the story. ... Radio Free Sarawak can be heard daily from 6-8pm [1000-1200 UTC] on 17560kHz (shortwave) and also via podcast available online on www.radiofreesarawak.org from about the same time." See previous post about same subject.

From Malta, a case study in how international broadcasting helps people learn from other countries' democracies.

Posted: 10 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Times of Malta, 10 Oct 2011, Lino Spiteri: "At a more general level, in the way our [Maltese] democracy works, there are shortcomings that no changes in the Constitution can eradicate. Try to still the partisan genes for a moment and watch objectively the way our political class does politics. Spin and shouting are the order of the day, not an effort to convince with sound arguments. A wider perspective shows that up more acutely. In the UK, the three main political parties have just finished the annual conferences cycle. We could watch the leaders’ speeches on the BBC World and Sky News channels. It was a breath of fresh air. They took digs at each other, of course they did, that’s politics. But they generally wrapped that in cutting humour. And the main thrust of the speeches was on how they viewed society, where they wanted to take it. The three leaders’ spoke calmly, only building up to a crescendo once or twice, if that in the case of one or two of them. I wonder if our leaders were watching. Constitutional provisions cannot alter that."

Iranian culture minister says "journalists have been punished" for alleged cooperation with foreign media (updated).

Posted: 10 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Trend News Agency (Baku), 6 Oct 2011, T.Jafarov: "Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini considers baseless the accusations of the BBC World Service Director Peter Horrocks that the relatives of staff working for BBC incur pressure from the government in Iran. BBC promoted the colonial policy of Britain, caused a controversy in society, and therefore, its activity in Iran has been stopped, Hosseini told Trend. According to Horrocks, after BBC displayed a documentary film about the Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran, six documentary filmmakers were arrested, also the families of ten Iranian staff working for BBC incurred pressure. The journalists who cooperate with some foreign media outlets were warned to be attentive with the media outlets, of which activities run counter to the interests of the Iranian state. Some journalists have been punished, the minister said in an interview with Trend."

Radio Zamaneh, 8 Oct 2011, via Payvand Iran News: "Iranian documentary makers were arrested because of a complaint from Iran's national broadcaster, Seda va Sima, says a relative of one of the detainees. Kamnoush Shahabi, the sister of detained Iranian filmmaker Katayoon Shahbi, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran 'It appears that she has been arrested for the sale of one or two films to the BBC.' In the past month, the Islamic Republic has detained six of its filmmakers on charges of 'collaborating with Persian BBC.' Kamnoush Shahabi, who lives in Canada, reported yesterday: 'My sister has been in custody for 20 days, but no one has been allowed to visit her, not even her lawyer.'"

Press TV, 7 Oct 2011: "Iran's police chief has warned against enemy scheme to target the cultural values of the Islamic Republic through cyberspace and media outlets. ... 'Behind the curtain, these media [outlets], including the Internet and satellite [television ], are [backed by] he enemy intelligence and spy agencies,' he said, describing the state-funded BBC and VOA as the intelligence tools of the US."

Radio Zamaneh, 5 Oct 2011: "The Fars news agency reports that House of Cinema chief Mohammad Mehdi Asgarpour wrote that the Iranian judiciary and cultural institutions regard these networks as part of the 'enemy’s media empire,' which is trying to 'destroy Iranian religious, national and cultural values through the soft war.' ... Asgarpour also called on those who have already sent their work to such networks to recall the works and end all collaboration. He went on to confirm that the documentary makers recently detained in Iran had collaborated with such networks. But he added that their activities were due to 'a lack of familiarity with the true identity' of these channels and 'a lack of knowledge about the legal regulations.' He added that the House of Cinema will continue trying to resolve the the detained filmmakers’ situation."

Wall Street Journal, 7 Oct 2011, Roxana Saberi: "At least 28 of Iran's prisoners of conscience are journalists, according to the media rights group Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Iran the third largest jail for journalists in the world after Eritrea and China. In addition, six Iranian filmmakers were recently arrested for allegedly cooperating with BBC Persian. (The station insists no one in Iran works for it.) ... International pressure might not always result in their freedom, but at least they will know they are not alone and can gain courage to carry on. And it can help Iranian authorities realize that the many faces of their justice system will only continue to isolate the Islamic Republic among the family of nations."

Update: Trend News Agency (Baku), 10 Oct 2011, A. Tagiyeva and T. Jafarov: "Two of eight documentary film-makers detained in Iran were released, the website of the organization of documentary filmmakers said. 'Our colleagues Naser Safarian and Mohsen Shahrnazdar were released,' a statement said. However, no details were announced on this issue."

See previous post about same subject.

Euronews achieves big time international channel status by being blocked in Kyrgyzstan.

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Central Asia Online, 8 Oct 2011: "Broadcast of a number of Western news channels, including the BBC, Euronews, and CNN have been blocked by Kyrgyz authorities ahead of the country's October 30 presidential election, Fergananews.com reported October 8, citing Taty Mambetalieva, a member of the election monitoring team of the Citizen's Initiative: Internet - Politics NGO. She said the channels have been blocked because the companies carrying the signals do not know which information to block. Kyrgyzstan has a law that requires foreign news and information programming to be taped during election campaigns, and any derisive information about political candidates to be deleted before broadcast." -- Judging from regional news items that mention the channel, Euronews appears to have a following in Central Asia. This may be due to the fact it has a Russian language audio stream -- unlike CNN International or (on television) BBC World News. See previous post about same subject.

This proposed VOA "hard news" to Pakistan could hardly be called news.

Posted: 09 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Forbes, 2 Oct 2011, Richard Miniter: About Pakistan, "there is a lot that a creative Administration could do. ... Direct the Voice of America to focus on corruption in Pakistan. Hard news reporting of payoffs to politicians and generals in Islamabad would electrify the opposition in Pakistan. America’s government-funded news service could also interview responsible opposition leaders, who would call for an end to military rule and the return of civil rights for women and minorities. This means working with Pakistan’s secular Left and its reformist lawyers. Again, the Obama Administration should feel at home championing the same message as the president outlined in his famous Cairo speech." -- No doubt, VOA is already doing such "hard news reporting." But if the news agenda is at the direction of the president, it isn't much of a news service. And the audience will certainly notice that something is askew. The Broadcasting Board of Governors was created to prevent such kibitzing.

TV soap operas and other cultural exports "will only increase Turkey’s clout on the world stage."

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Toronto Star, 7 Oct 2011, Anita Li: "Gümüs (Noor in Arabic), a Turkish television melodrama ... received a lukewarm reception [in Turkey], but it became wildly popular in the Arab world — and it’s raising Turkey’s profile in the Middle East. MBC, a pan-Arab network, began broadcasting Noor in early 2008. The final episode in August 2008 attracted 85 million Arab viewers, according to Variety magazine. The show remains popular today, most recently airing in the Balkans. ... To Canadians, Noor may be standard soap opera fare, but the comparatively decadent lifestyle it shows appeals to Middle Eastern viewers. ... Viewers are attracted to Noor’s Turkey — a modern, secular nation with an Islamic culture and history, says Murat Yasar, a specialist in Near and Middle Eastern history at the University of Toronto. ... The show’s appeal is not only attracting waves of Arab tourism to Turkey, it’s also affecting social dynamics in more conservative Arab countries. ... Cultural exports such as Noor will only increase Turkey’s clout on the world stage, says Daryl Copeland, a former Canadian diplomat and international relations expert. More than entertainment, he adds, they are a source of 'soft power' that will help Turkey spread its influence."

"North Korean authorities’ ... sense of crisis regarding foreign broadcasts targeting North Koreans."

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Daily NK, 7 Oct 2011, Kang Mi Jin: "North Korea ratcheting up its criticism of radio broadcasts aimed at the North Korean people shows that these radio broadcasts are having an influence on the North Korean people’s awareness. Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) released an editorial on the 5th in which it stated, 'The action of sending anti-Republic broadcasting by invading frequencies is a criminal act aggressively violating international law and order.' It added, 'They are trying to affect the overthrow of socialism by raising complaints within our people.' KCNA asserted, 'We have already demanded several times that the puppet factions put away their anti-Republic psychological maneuvers,' before threatening, 'We warned them very seriously that their base of operations will not be able to escape merciless punishment if it continues.' Elsewhere, in a statement released by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications issued on October 1st, North Korea added, 'Deliberately invading not just our radio but also television frequency bandwidth is an ill-advised anti-national act in flagrant violation of international treaties and order driving inter-Korean relations to extremes.' The North Korean authorities’ menacing reaction seems to imply a sense of crisis regarding foreign broadcasts targeting North Koreans. As a matter of fact, North Korea has recently added strength to its crackdowns on the circulation of external information." See also the KCNA editorial, 5 Oct 2011.

AFP, 8 Oct 2011: "North Korea's military on Saturday threatened retaliation against 'provocative' acts from the South including the scattering of anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border. The warning came as activists in South Korea opposed to the secretive regime plan to float balloons carrying the leaflets across the border in time for the 66th anniversary of the North's ruling communist party inauguration on Monday."

The Daily NK, 6 Oct 2011, Lee Seok Young; "North Korea has imported cellular phone listening devices from Russia and distributed them to teams operating along its northern border, according to information received by The Daily NK today. A number of people caught by agents wielding the new devices are already under interrogation by the National Security Agency. According to a North Hamkyung Province source who spoke with The Daily NK yesterday, 'In mid-September, a provincial NSA team deployed Russian cellular listening devices sent by the national NSA. Seven people caught by the new devices calling South Korea are under investigation at the team’s interrogation office now.' ... Sources suggest that the introduction of the listening devices was done on the instruction of Kim Jong Eun at the end of August, and that they were brought in by Maebong General Trading Co. which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces."

Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting formed, supports "journalism in defense of media freedom and human rights."

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BBG Watch, 5 Oct 2011, BBCWatcher: "BBG Watch has learned that individuals associated with U.S. human rights, labor, and media freedom organizations have formed the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) with the aim of working with the Administration, Congress and media to promote free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries in which journalists are threatened or lack sufficient resources. Many of CUSIB members have been active in defending Voice of America radio and TV broadcasts to China, which the Broadcasting Board of Governors tried to eliminate until it met with strong bipartisan opposition in Congress. The CUSIB website — http://cusib.org/cusib or http://cusib.org — describes the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments. CUSIB supports journalism in defense of media freedom and human rights and intends to work closely with the executive branch, Congress, and media to promote effective multi-channel delivery of news and information to overcome press censorship." -- OK, but I'm concerned about "in defense of media freedom and human rights." As noble as those causes are, real journalism informs rather than advocates. This ambiguity on the matter of information versus advocacy has been, over the decades, a major factor in preventing US international broadcasting from reaching its potential.

Syrian pro-Assad backlash includes anti-Al-Jazeera posters.

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PBS Newshour, 7 Oct 2011, P.J. Tobia: "Pro-Assad websites, like the 'Syrian Martyr Family Fund' have also sprouted up with videos of 'what really happened in Hama' and pictures of piles of automatic weapons that they assert were used by protesters who have been portrayed by Western media as peaceful. Another site features some creative anti-Al-Jazeera posters, the network is seen by regime loyalists as a tool of anti-Assad powers in the region." Direct link to the anti-Al-Jazeera posters. Also the original Arabic page.

Syrian Arab News Agency, 7 Oct 2011: "An informed source told SANA that an attack by an armed terrorist group on a law enforcement forces patrol in the countryside of Douma city in Damascus Countryside resulted in injuring a number of the members of the competent authorities which confronted the gunmen, killing three of them. The attack took place an hour after al-Jazeera TV broadcast a news report on shooting in Douma at the time when the city was quite calm and life was normal. ... Governor of Tartous province, Atef al-Naddaf, dismissed the news broadcast by al-Jazeera TV on the besieging of mosques in the city of Baniyas by the security forces, stressing the news is 'completely baseless' and aims at creating chaos and discord inside the society. Al-Naddaf confirmed that the inhabitants of Baniyas and its villages performed Friday Prayers as usual. In Lattakia province, SANA correspondent reported a Police Command source as saying that al-Jazeera reports which said that the city's mosques are being besieged are 'totally baseless', confirming that the citizens are living normal life in Lattakia. Mufti of Hama, Sheikh Abdul-Basit Suleiman refuted what al-Jazeera reported that security forces are blocking prayers from reaching the mosques to perform Friday Prayers, affirming that the Prayers were held as usual and there was no presence of security personnel near the mosques in the city of Hama. The Mufti said that the purpose behind broadcasting such news is to hit the national unity and the atmosphere of stability prevailing Hama and Syria in general. SANA correspondent in Deir Ezzor also refuted reports by al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya channels on the besieging of mosques in the province. Economic and trade activities in al-Zabadani city in Damascus said the news broadcast by al-Jazeera on killing protesters is 'a complete lie', stressing that no protests were witnessed in the city which is perfectly calm and the people are pursuing their habitual activities normally."

Syrian Arab News Agency, 7 Oct 2011: "Sheikh Fawwaz al-Bashir, cousin of Sheikh Nawwaf al-Bashir, denied al-Arabiya news claiming that Sheikh Nawwaf was tortured to death. In a phone call with the Syrian TV on Friday, al-Bashir said 'We were shocked at a news broadcast by al-Arabiya claiming that Sheikh Nawwaf was killed under torture. It was a real calamity his family and friends.' Al-Bashir added that he visited on Friday Sheikh Nawwaf and ascertained that he is safe and sound and the news completely baseless. Al-Bashir condemned, in the name of al-Bashir family and al-Bakkara clan, the fake news broadcast by al-Arabiya. 'I've been trying to contact al-Arabiya by phone since 09:00 a.m. and they told me that they will call me soon, but it didn't happen,' said al-Bashir."

In Western Sahara prison, "radio became a kind of intellectual nourishment."

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Pambazuka News, 5 Oct 2011, Nikolaj Nielsen: Brahim Sabbar, recalling his detention in the Seguiat al Hamra prison in Western Sahara: "We created a lot of committees, committee of theatre, of culture, of coordination with the leaders, and tried to emulate the organized structure of the Polisario from inside the prison. Finally we got the right to get a radio with a single medium wave. However, we figured out how to get short wave so we could listen to the BBC and Radio France Internationale. The radio became a kind of intellectual nourishment."

"More democracies participate in network interventions than authoritarian regimes" but latter do so "with greater frequency."

Posted: 08 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Nextgov, 7 Oct 2011, Joseph Marks: "An analysis by Brookings Institution scholars has found 606 incidents of governments interfering with some portion of their citizens' web content since 1995. Overall, 45 percent of the incidents occurred in democracies or emerging democracies while 52 percent occurred in authoritarian regimes, according to the study titled The Dictators' Digital Dilemma: When Do States Disconnect Their Digital Networks? significantly higher proportion of Web-interference incidents come from authoritarian and failing states after around 2000, likely a result of the earlier adoption of Internet technology in many democracies. 'We find that overall more democracies participate in network interventions than authoritarian regimes,' the study's authors write. 'However, authoritarian regimes conduct shutdowns with greater frequency.' ... Old-fashioned web censorship has been surpassed in many oppressive regimes by what scholars call censorship 2.0 practices, such as distributed denial-of-service attacks that shut down websites by flooding them with more operations than they can handle and malicious patches that change a Web page's content."

Government Computer News, 3 Oct 2011, William Jackson: "A focus on securing legacy IT architectures rather than on developing secure technology has created an untrustworthy environment that eventually will drive users offline, said Purdue University professor Eugene Spafford. 'Most of what we are doing today isn’t working' Spafford said. 'We aren’t stepping back to see that overall, things are getting worse. We will reach a tipping point where we won’t do online business because it isn’t trustworthy enough. People move out of neighborhoods when they are not safe.'"

Un-fact-checked commentary states Radio Free Europe "blatantly parrots Obama campaign rhetoric."

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The Daily Caller, 7 Oct 2011, Rick Manning: "While Radio Free Europe was once covertly supported with taxpayer dollars, it is now openly funded by congressional appropriations to the U.S. Information Agency within the State Department. Given the organization’s traditional mission of supporting the U.S. free market system over oppressive communist regimes, it was somewhat disconcerting to read the latest missives by this Obama administration-directed propaganda vehicle related to the Occupy Wall Street movement. In the latest Radio Free Europe article distributed throughout the world, the former freedom-fighting information arm of the United States government blatantly parrots Obama campaign rhetoric bemoaning economic disparities in the United States and legitimizing a small Astroturf movement largely driven by failed leftists from ACORN, the SEIU, and the AFL-CIO. In a section of the anti-capitalism hit piece entitled 'Widening Gap,' the formerly pro-free market Radio Free Europe repeated the socialist canard of income disparity, writing, 'The numbers paint a stark picture: Today the richest 1 percent of Americans owns nearly one-quarter of U.S. wealth, while the bottom 40 percent owns just 0.3 percent.'" -- The US Information Agency has not existed since 1999, and, in any case, RFE was never funded through USIA. It was never funded through State, either. RFE is funded through the Broadcasting Board of Governors, created in 1994 to protect RFE/RL and other USIB entities from being forced to broadcast news in the fashion that Mr. Manning advocates. By the way, The Daily Caller was founded by Tucker Carlson, son of Richard W. Carlson, director of VOA, 1986-1991. Update: RFE/RL historian A. Ross Johnson writes: "RFE and RL were briefly funded from the USIA and then the State Department budgets in FY 1972 and FY 1973 during the transition from CIA to BIB."

Former Al Jazeera DG Wadah Khanfar: "unacceptable for the media to become mere tools of governments."

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Middle East Monitor, 8 Oct 2011, Shazia Arshad: "The former Director General of the Al-Jazeera Network became the first Muslim and non-Western journalist to deliver the annual James Cameron Memorial Lecture at City University in London on Thursday. The anticipation buzzed through the crowd waiting to hear from Wadah Khanfar, one of the most influential figures in world journalism who had been at the helm of Al-Jazeera for 8 years, as the lecture theatre filled to capacity. A number of significant figures were in the audience, including journalists from the Guardian and the Financial Times as well as lecturers and media pundits. The high calibre of the audience highlighted just how significant Al-Jazeera under Khanfar's leadership has been in the development of journalism in the Arab world and beyond. ... Through some clever manoeuvring, Wadah Khanfar did not offer a full explanation for his departure from Al-Jazeera, despite being asked directly by a member of the audience. He referred back to his belief that people are at the heart of journalism and that this would have to be reflected in the editorial policies of the network under the new leadership (a member of the Qatari royal family). If it isn't, he warned, 'then what Al-Jazeera has achieved in 15 years could be wiped out in 15 days'."

The Guardian, 7 Oct 2011, Roy Greenslade blog: "He also spoke about the 'new positive spirit' generated by new media, which he 'would rather call the peoples' media'. He said: 'The world of the internet, peoples' media, social network sites, WikiLeaks and others, has undermined the ability of the centres of power to monopolise what is presented to public opinion.'"

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 7 Oct 2011, Wadah Khanfar's James Cameron memorial lecture: "It is only natural for states to seek to serve their best interests and for armies to endeavour to win their battles. The same might apply to corporations. But it is unacceptable for the media to become mere tools of governments or states; to the extent of failing to rely on their vision and analysis of events and approach where the people remain the frame of reference and point of departure. Most of the coverage provided by many world media of the events of the last decade reveals that there had been a defect prevalent in the role and self-perception of the media. Or else, what turned the media from an authority whose role is to keep an eye on the other authorities into a power centre that is congruent with the other political and economic power centres, united with them in objectives and purposes?"

Middle East Monitor, 3 Oct 2011, Daud Abdullah: "Wadah Khanfar was in a sense a casualty of the democratic forces he helped to unleash in the region. He said on the night of his resignation that after eight years at the top the time was ripe for new blood. This may be true but there is clearly more to his standing down than he is letting on. Was he targeted for his perceived "Islamist" credentials or his staunchly independent professionalism? The answer is, probably both."

An item about R.E.M.'s "Radio Free Europe" that actually refers to Radio Free Europe.

Posted: 08 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Long Island Herald, 6 Oct 2011, Scott Brinton: "Then there was my favorite group, R.E.M. The alternative-rock band was formed in 1980 by four 20-something University of Georgia undergrads –– lead singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry. Their first hit single, 'Radio Free Europe,' was released in July 1981, when I turned 14. It caught my attention during my junior year of high school, in 1984. I wasn’t sure what Radio Free Europe was at the time, but I loved the song’s frenetic, jangly sound, and the group performing it appeared normal to me. That is, the four seemed nerdy, and they weren’t promoting sex and drugs as an integral part of rock ’n’ roll. I later learned that Radio Free Europe was the news/propaganda broadcast that the U.S. government beamed from West Germany to Eastern Europe during the Cold War to encourage people to overturn communism and seek democracy. In 1991, at 24, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps. I count listening to Radio Free Europe in a democratic Bulgaria, where I served in the corps, as one of the great moments of my life. Now turning 60, Radio Free Europe is based in the Czech Republic and still going strong. But I digress."

I've heard "Radio Free Europe" [see YouTube video] a few times over the years, and could never understand why it was a hit. But that's just the geezer in me. And as for the lyrics, my reaction would be similar to that of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect in Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, tied up on a Vogon spaceship, forced to listen to Vogon poetry ("the third worst poetry in the Universe"), then compelled to offer a critique of the poem in a bid to save their lives: "Ford: I liked it… Vogon Captain: Good… Arthur: Oh yes, I thought that some of the metaphysical imagery was particularly effective. Vogon Captain: Yes? Arthur: Oh…. and um, interesting rhythmic devices, too, which seemed to counterpoint the, er… Ford: Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor of the, um… Arthur: Humanity of the er - Ford: Vogonity. Arthur: What? Ford: Vogonity. Arthur: Oh. Oh! Vogonity. Sorry. Of the poet’s compassionate soul which contrived through the medium of the verse structure to sublimate this, transcend that and come to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other. And one is left with a profound and vivid insight into… err… Ford: Into whatever it was … Ford: …that the poem was about… Arthur: That the poem was about!" -- But that's just the carbon-based ape-descendant in me.

President Topi of Albania recalls listening to "real news" on VOA during communist era.

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President of Albania website, 6 Oct 2011, President Bamir Topi's speech marking the 20th anniversary of the re-opening of the United States Embassy in Tirana: "Of course, those years when hope came back to Albania are unforgettable. Close to me there is a voice which has been engraved in the memory and minds of the Albania, an unmistakable voice, that of Dr. Biberaj who through the Voice of America wavelengths awoke among the Albanians that feeling of hope which they had looked forward for about fifty years. I was a small boy when I watched my father at home, [in] a confidential setting, placing his ear close to the radio to listen to the real news broadcasted by the Voice of America. We heard the real news about what was happening around the world; we listen to the most important events of world politics. I remember very well when we heard about the first man setting foot and landing on the Moon and other events as well. But the events accompanying the establishing of democracy in the former communist countries enabled us to fly and wonder around that space that was forbidden to Albanians: on the space of freedom. This is the reason why we are so grateful to the United States. -- Elez Biberaj, originally of the VOA Albanian Service, is now director of the VOA Eurasia Division.

Iran says it can jam and "redirect" military and espionage satellites.

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Zawya, 5 Oct 2011, citing Tehran Times: "Iran unveiled three new types of electronic warfare (EW) equipment -- an EW simulator, a radar system tester (RST), and a satellite jamming system -- on Tuesday. All of the new equipment has been designed and manufactured by Iranian engineers. ... Farzad Ismaili, the commander of the Khatam-ol-Anbiya military base ... Ismaili said that Iran is now capable of jamming satellites used for military and spying purposes. Iran can also redirect military and espionage satellites, the commander added." -- "Redirect," as in move them to a different orbit? Or out of orbit? This news item pertains to satellites used for other than broadcasting, but the technology can probably apply to broadcast satellite jamming.

Irish online TV service offers Irish channels plus RT (Russia Today) and France 24.

Posted: 08 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Silicon Republic, 6 Oct 2011, Laura O'Brien: "New Irish TV service Aertv.ie has launched, which offers users the ability to watch live TV online on a PC, smartphone or tablet. It is also launching an Irish live music channel. The service was formerly known as Magnet WebTV. It’s now registration-free, with a simpler interface. Users with an internet connection and either a PC, smartphone or tablet can access the service. Its free channels include RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3, TG4, 3E, RTÉ One + 1, RTÉ News Now, RTÉ jr, France 25 [sic, should be France 24], Russia Today and Dáil Eireann." According to aertv.ie, "The service is free to all users within the Republic of Ireland."

From recent surveys in Egypt, Al Arabiya says it's top rated news channel, Alhurra notes doubling of its audience.

Posted: 08 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Arabiya, 8 Oct 2011, Mustapha Suleiman: "Al Arabiya topped the list of most watched news channels in Egypt in 2011, a poll from TNS showed on Thursday. The poll found that Al Arabiya was the top-rated Arabic-language satellite news channel in the country. It came in 26th place in the list of the most watched channels in general. Al Jazeera was listed in 39th place, while the Nile News channel came in 57th place. Egypt’s al-Hayat channel came on top of the most-watched channels list. The poll result reflects Al Arabiya’s commitment to professionalism, unaffected by any kind of political pressure, especially in its successful coverage of the Arab Spring, according to media experts. Mahmoud Youssef, professor of media at the Cairo University, said ... that Al Arabiya places 'news value' as its first priority. 'Having a huge number of correspondents and reporters in the hot spots also makes a big difference. Al Arabiya is characterized by its high professionalism and respect when it comes to freedom of speech,' he said." -- Those of us in the audience research biz would like to know more, e.g. what was the sample composition (national, urban, elite?), how the question was worded, etc.

Broadcasting Board of Governors, 21 Sept 2011: "Alhurra’s weekly audience in Egypt jumped to nearly 8 million viewers according to the international research firm ACNielsen. The network’s viewership in Egypt rose from 3.9 million (7.5 percent) in 2010 to 7.7 million (14.7 percent) in 2011. Ninety-three percent of network’s audience said they found the news to be credible. ... The audience growth follows Alhurra’s extensive coverage of the Egyptian revolution and the Arab Spring. When asked what television sources viewers followed during the Egyptian revolution, 21.9 percent named Alhurra as one of the stations they used. In January and February, Alhurra’s team of journalists in Cairo and Alexandria provided 18 days of live continuous coverage and broke the news of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. ... The survey was conducted among Egyptian adults, age 15+ in June and July of 2011."

BBC cuts: "Can the World Service and BBC News get along?" And will medium wave and longwave survive?

Posted: 08 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 6 Oct 2011, Kate Holton and Georgina Prodhan: "The BBC is set to axe over 10 percent of staff in its management, programing and news divisions after Britain's cash-strapped government imposed deep spending cuts on the world-renowned, publicly-funded broadcaster. The corporation set out the changes Thursday in response to a 20 percent cut to its annual 3.5 billion pound ($5.4 billion) budget imposed by the government a year ago as part of the deepest public spending cuts in decades." -- The recent announcement pertains mainly to BBC domestic operations, but World Service is affected... See also BBC documents.

The Guardian, 6 Oct 2011, Mark Sweney: "In terms of the impact of the cuts on BBC News and the BBC World Service, he said that there would not be a big change in the number of bureaux the corporation will maintain worldwide. 'A lot of this is not about shutting bureaux, but can the World Service and BBC News get along? It is an opportunity to work closer together, it is about getting the BBC's news operations working much more collaboratively,' [BBC director general Mark] Thompson added. He admitted that one of his deepest regrets over the past year of planning and implementation was the scale of cuts the World Service has suffered. 'The level of reductions and cuts in the World Service … are very, very deep,' he said. 'Much deeper than what we are talking about today. It is a matter of regret.'"

The Guardian, 6 Oct 2011, Message from Mary Hockaday, head of BBC multimedia newsroom, on the effects of 'Delivering Quality First' savings: "All of daily World Service English journalism will now be part of the Newsroom. I know personally the strength and talents of these teams, and I am very pleased they are joining us. This means we will have all the global daily news services - TV, radio and digital - in one building and one department. This is a real opportunity to make the most of our firepower in global news, to strengthen the BBC's international offer as a whole and share content across platforms as appropriate. I will be looking for ways to strengthen editorial coherence and shared ambition between platforms, and find ways for our global teams to work as efficiently as possible together, as well as in partnership with domestic teams. In that context it is important to note that in a separate announcement today, World Service News colleagues at Bush House will be hearing details about savings to be made from April 2012, because of the recent Comprehensive Spending Review and cuts to the Foreign Office budget for the World Service. As we all look for efficiencies – in licence fee, grant-in-aid, and making the most of our commercial budgets – we will do better by audiences if we join together to find the best new ways of working to reduce duplication, share the best of our content and focus on the quality of what we do, even if we do less." -- Does anyone have information about the "separate announcement" to World Service staff? Email to kimweb (at) verizon.net

Huffington Post UK, 7 Oct 2011, Scott Bryan: "The BBC World Service, ... which until only a few years ago could be rarely heard domestically, is now fully under the BBC's wing and accountable to licence fee payers. This real 'crown jewel' can really now be marketed more towards domestic radio listeners as something like an upmarket Radio 5 Live with a truly international agenda. And before you become snarky and suggest that wouldn't work, may I suggest that you spend an afternoon listening to it yourself? Its brill."

Irish Time, 8 Oct 2011, Mark Hennessy: "Significant cut to the BBC’s foreign coverage will be sustained following the decision to impose over £2 billion worth of cuts and 2,000 redundancies over the next four years, though coverage from Brazil and China is to be increased. From next year, the BBC’s world news gathering department will lose £7 million of its £35 million annual budget, which will force the closure of some foreign bureaus and the hiring of cheaper local staff rather than British. 'It will mean by 2017, we will look and sound very different to the way we do now,' world news editor Jon Williams told staff by e-mail, though the mood among the corporation’s foreign team is said to be incendiary. Over the next six years, 44 foreign posts – one-quarter of the total will go – though 22 new jobs will be created: 13 of them overseas on full UK contracts and a further nine on local staff terms."

BBC document: "Changes to the BBC's radio stations: ... Making savings in radio distribution costs through long term changes to Medium Wave and Long Wave." -- These BBC MW and LW transmitters are for domestic broadcasting, but they are often heard outside of the UK.

Psyop soldiers jump out of a Chinook, plant unit flag.

Posted: 07 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Patriot-Ledger (Mechanicsburg PA), 6 Oct 2011, Barbara Miller: "Paratroopers jumping out of a Chinook helicopter Wednesday along Blue Mountain [west of Harrisburg] were from an Army unit from Fort Bragg, N.C. The 7th Military Information Support Battalion chose the site because it is near the now-closed Fort Ritchie, Md., where the unit was founded, said Sgt. Josh Edson, spokesman for the unit. Previously the Gettysburg battlefield had been used for jumps, but Edson said the National Park Service has asked them to use another site. The mission here was not only for training, but symbolic, Edson said. The 7th MISB was recently activated, so one of the jumpers planted the unit’s colors when he landed. There were 40 soldiers on the Chinook, with three series of four jumps, six parachuting at a time. ... The 7th MISB’s theater of duty is Africa. It engages in information dissemination through leaflet drops, radio and TV broadcasts. The previous term for the unit was psy-ops, of psychological operations, which Edson said is no longer used by the Army."

"Iran Warns of Facebook's Soft Power."

Posted: 07 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Transmission blog, 6 Oct 2011, Hossein Aryan: "An Iranian official warned this week that the expansion of social-media networks is harming society and called the country's 17 million Facebook users a threat to the country's Islamic values. Mehdi Jafari, who heads the technology and intelligence section of the Pupil's Basij militia -- which runs programs for 12-17 years olds -- told a gathering of teachers in the northern town of Amol on October 3 that the effects of the blogosphere on Iranian society can no longer be ignored. Some 300,000 Persian websites are engaged in activities aimed at undermining the national and religious beliefs of Iranians, he said. ... Characterizing the blogosphere as one of the 'most effective elements of soft war' against Iran, Jafari said arrogant and imperial powers (meaning the United States) are using social-media sites to push their own values and agendas. ... Amin Sabeti, an information-technology expert and a blogger, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that Facebook never said how many Iranian users it has, but after the disputed 2009 presidential election, use of the site soared as people vented their frustration with the regime."

New news agency Afrik.TV "offers images and reports on Africa."

Posted: 07 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 6 Oct 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "Recently launched before the summer, the Young pan-African TV press agency Afrik.tv has been officially introduced. Targeting the worldwide newsrooms, as well as producers of documentaries and magazine formats, Afrik.tv offers images and reports on Africa. Based into 15 countries across the continent, Maghreb included, Afrik.tv produces a hundred subjects each month for TV channels or prodcos, covering politics, economy, society, music and sport, celebrities and leisure. First partners are CFI, TV5Monde, France 24, Africa24 and Canal+ Afrique. Headquartered in Paris, the company is part of press and media holding L’Afrique sur internet SA, which has already initiated websites Afrik.com, beauteafrik.com, afrikcuisine.com and afriK-foot.com."

Afrik.tv, 20 Sept 2011: "Totally independent, AFRIK.TV captures the daily reality on the field and the practices of the people, with various perspectives to communicate on their ways of seeing, thinking and living." With video "teaser."

New from TV5Monde is Epicurie Fine (as in "feen") with chef Guy (as in "ghee") Martin (as in marTAN).

Posted: 07 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Monsters & Critics, 6 Oct 2011, April MacIntyre (onpassing apparent press relase): "Tune in alert for Epicerie Fine - a new documentary series, hosted by three-star Michelin chef Guy Martin, which debuts Sunday, October 16 at 7:30 pm ET only on TV5MONDE USA. TV5MONDE USA is available in all major markets via Dish and your local cable provider. To find channel information, please visit www.tv5monde.com/usa. ... In the premiere episode, Guy Martin examines the history, production and preparations of Tricastin truffles, from the origin of its name, its natural flavors, the varieties and evolutions in its use, to the current cultural, economical and environmental issues affecting the production of the product. Southwestern black pig and Saint-Brieuc bay sea scallops are featured in the following episodes." -- I think this program is in French, with English subtitles.

BBC and Discovery Channel collaborate on new series "History of the World," no less.

Posted: 07 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Business Journal, 6 Oct 2011: "The Discovery Channel’s latest co-production with the BBC sounds like its most ambitious, documenting the history of the world, from 70,000 B.C. to 2011 A.D. in an eight-part series set to air in 2013. The series, appropriately titled "History of the World," will cover topics such as the early settlers in Mesopotamia, the wonders of Babylon and Egypt, the earliest Chinese dynasties, the ancient Greeks and the Roman Empire, the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors, the Industrial Revolution, the Opium Wars and World War II, according to the Discovery Channels." See also Discovery Communications press release, 5 Oct 2011.

Chinese publication criticizes US media coverage of the Wall Street protests.

Posted: 07 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
China Daily, 30 Sept 2011, Chen Weihua: "One of the best-kept secrets in the United States over the past two weeks seems to be the protest on and near Wall Street in New York. More than 1,000 people protested on the first day, September 17, marching and chanting slogans. Yet the demonstration, known as Occupy Wall Street, did not appear on the major networks' evening news or in major newspapers the next day. The protest, now in its 14th day, only got limited coverage last Saturday when heavy-handed police arrested close to 100 people and pepper-sprayed several female demonstrators. But most coverage that day was not in-depth."

China Media Project, 6 Oct 2011, Yang Hengjun: "In fact, while many Americans had voiced anger over meager coverage by major media groups, reports had already been on a four-day upswing by the time Chen’s editorial appeared."

The Herald (Harare), 5 Oct 2011: "[W]hen Occupy Wall Street, an uprising that has a bearing on the globalised world happens, it is as if an uprising in the US is different from the ones in North Africa or Zimbabwe. To start with, it's no secret that countries such as the US are operated by interest groups. ... So, the Occupy Wall Street won't be a big story like the Tahrir Square uprisings in Egypt early this year, which resulted in president Hosni Mubarak's ouster, until the interest groups give the nod. Only then will satellite TV stations such as CNN, BBC, Sky News, France 24 and Al-Jazeera carry it. When they do, what angle will they take? In North Africa they cheered and the leadership of Western countries encouraged the demonstrators to carry on until their demands were met. Who will cheer on the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators?"

Financial Times, 7 Oct 2011, Dina Iordanova: "Just a few days ago I wanted to learn more on the Wall Street protests in New York. Besides the occasional banner travelling across the bottom of the screen, there was barely anything on this on the BBC News channel, nor on CNN, for that matter. Courtesy of Sky, I also have access to a host of other 24-hour English language news services such as Euronews and Al Jazeera. These two had some reporting on the protests. To my surprise, the most extensive coverage on the Wall Street dissent was on Russia Today. What an irony. I did not think I would ever be turning for independent news to a Russian-controlled media outlet."

See also RT (Russia Today) report, 6 Oct 2011. A search at voanews.com finds seven reports on the subject, the most recent on 6 October.

US diplomats were worried about the establishment of an "al-Chavezeera" from Venezuela.

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 4 Oct 2011, Nikolas Kozloff commentary: "While researching my second book [circa 2008], I had the opportunity to interview Telesur's General Manager, Aram Aharonian, personally in Caracas, and asked him whether he was concerned that the Bush administration might react negatively to any Al Jazeera-Telesur collaboration... . . Aharonian dismissed any such preoccupations, remarking: 'Look, we collaborate with Al Jazeera just as we do with Voice of America. A delegation from Voice of America came to our offices last month, and we came to an agreement to exchange news and images.' To [US Ambassador William] Brownfield and US diplomats, however, Al Jazeera and Telesur seem to have represented a common hostile front. Indeed, in his communication to Washington, Brownfield even conflated the two, remarking at one point that Telesur could represent 'the birth of al-Chavezeera,' or 'Chavez's own CNN.'" -- For obvious reasons, "Chavez's own CNN" would have a difficult time competing with the real thing: CNN en Español.

New news channel JN1 "will not necessarily be pro- or anti-Israel" (updated).

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 27 Sept 2011, Luke Browne: "The world's first Jewish 24-hour TV news channel has launched with the aim of offering not just 'news for Jews' but attracting viewers interested in world events from a Jewish perspective as an alternative to leading networks such as the BBC, CNN, Sky News and al-Jazeera. ... Eytan Gilboa, a communications professor at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, said that JN1 was part of a growing trend of independent global news channels set up by governments and non-state organisations dissatisfied with coverage offered by leading international TV news networks of their countries and interests. 'France has France 24, Russia has Russia Today, China has CCTV news,' he said. 'Israel should have had a channel like this long ago, though I'm glad JN1 is a private venture because government channels have no credibility.' Coverage of Israel by existing news networks like BBC World and CNN International – as well as al-Jazeera – was biased against the Jewish state, said Gilboa. The point was echoed by Zanzer, who said JN1 would 'give more voice to Israel'. ... But Zanzer was keen to point out that the channel was independent from the state of Israel and 'will not necessarily be pro- or anti-Israel; we'll let the public hear the Israeli perspective and it'll be up to the viewers to decide whether they're right'."

Rapid TV News, 27 Sept 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "Currently broadcasting on Astra 1G in Europe and available on Israel's Yes direct to home (DTH) satellite network, Jewish News 1 expects to be available online within a month. TV coverage is also promised across North America and the Middle East in the coming weeks, once carriage deals are agreed. The rolling news outfit, which is headquartered in Brussels, also has bureaux in Kiev and Tel Aviv. Additional facilities are planned for Washington DC, Paris, London, Berlin and Moscow."

The Mark, 27 Sept 2011: "The network intends to provide a Jewish perspective to cable news, adding to the growing list of 24-hour news channels such as Al Jazeera, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Sky News, BBC ... really, let's just hope JN1 is the last of these networks. The world has enough."

Update: Kyiv Post, 4 Oct 2011, Rina Soloveitchik: "A Jewish perspective however does not mean a 'unified Jewish vision' the channel’s Kyiv-based chief editor, Peter Dickinson, told the Kyiv Post. 'We rather see the channel as a platform on which the voices of different Jewish communities are raised and their viewpoints are presented,' he added. As an example, Dickinson named the channel’s reporting of Palestine’s attempt to gain membership of the United Nations. 'Whereas most channels focused on the Palestinian perspective on the issue, we reported the viewpoints of different Jewish groups within Israel. We did not demonstrate a unified standpoint but reported on Peace Now actions (an Israeli group of activists known for defending Palestinian interests), as well as on the opinions of settlers,' he said."

The National, 30 Sept 2011, Ferry Biedermann: "An upbeat Alexander Zanzer, the Brussels coordinator for the station. known as JN1, short for Jewish News One, said: 'We hope to be as popular as Al Jazeera and CNN, well actually Fox News, they're even more popular.' ... Despite the mission statement, the word "Jewish" in its name raises the question of ties with Israel. But the channel was not going to be engaged in advocacy, said Mr Zanzer. 'We are not an activist station, like some others are. We're neither left nor right, not pro-Israel or anti-Israel. It's the news that takes the lead.'"

See also the JN1 YouTube channel. See previous post about same subject.

HFCC frequency coordinating group expands scope beyond shortwave.

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 4 Oct 2011: "The High Frequency Coordination Conference is expanding its scope. September’s meeting in Dallas marked the first time the group convened in the United States. The meeting was hosted by the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters and transmitter maker Continental Electronics. According to a summary of the conference, membership voted to expand the scope of the HFCC. 'There are some compelling reasons for doing this,' stated Chairman Oldrich Cip. 'TV and radio organizations for home listeners and their unions are busy discussing the future of distribution of the media content and the use of new — mainly digital — technologies. We would like to become a forum for such debate in international broadcasting.' In other words: We ain’t just shortwave no more. 'We believe that the debate should help develop a stable and effective system of content delivery and the synergy and cooperation between the old and new technologies.'" See transcripts of speeches at the September meeting at the NASB Facebook page.

HFCC website: "HFCC is a non-governmental, non-profit association, and a sector member of the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva in the category of international and regional organisations. It manages, and co-ordinates global databases of international shortwave broadcasting in keeping with International Radio Regulations of the ITU. The HFCC provides representation, tools and services to its members for the resolution or minimisation of instances of mutual interference among shortwave transmissions."

BBCWS "World Have Your Say" visits Naples. As in Florida, not as in Italy.

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Naples (FL) Daily News, 4 Oct 2011, Lance Shearer: "If the world is a global village, 'World Have Your Say' is the town square. And Thursday, that town square will be in Naples. The worldwide BBC radio call-in show broadcasts five days a week to 45 million listeners worldwide, and takes calls from around the world on a vast array of diverse topics. Thursday, they’re doing it from Sugden Plaza on Fifth Avenue South. ... Can people really walk up and get on the air? 'We hope they will, or we won’t have a show,' said [host Ros] Atkins, speaking by phone from London."

Vietnam postpones trial of Falun Gong unlicensed shortwave broadcasters.

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 6 Oct 2011, Stephen Gregory: "The postponement, for the second time in six months, of the trial of two Vietnamese broadcasters who had been arrested at the prompting of the Chinese Embassy was announced on Thursday morning in Hanoi. International attention focused on a case that involves both freedom of conscience and freedom of the press may have led to this second postponement. Vu Duc Trung, a 30-year-old tech executive, and Le Van Thanh, his 35-year-old brother-in-law, had, prior to their arrest in June 2010, broadcast by short wave into China programming critical of the Chinese regime and supportive of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. ... The lawyer for Mr. Trung, Mr. Tran Dinh Trien, said that as parties involved in the case arrived at the courthouse Thursday morning they were told the trial had been postponed. No date was given for resuming the trial and Trung and Thanh were not present. In response to Trien’s question as to the reason for the postponement, the court said it had decided the day before to postpone the trial due to a request made in a memo from the Bureau of Radio Frequency Management."

Epoch Times, 5 Oct 2011: "On Tuesday, New York Falun Gong practitioners gathered across from the Vietnamese Consulate General on United Nations Plaza to support the two men. They were protesting the prosecution, saying it was a result of pressure on Vietnam by the Chinese regime. 'Please do NOT follow the instructions of the Chinese government and sentence innocent Vietnamese citizens to jail for their courageous deeds,' said a letter the practitioners delivered to the Consulate General in New York."

See previous post about same subject.

Canadian journalist will use his Nieman Fellowship to study "stateless news organizations."

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
This Magazine, 4 Oct 2011, Paul McLaughlin: David Skok, the managing editor of GlobalNews.ca, checked into Harvard University in September to begin a one-year Nieman Fellowship. The 33-year-old is the first Canadian digital journalist to receive the prestigious award. He’ll be studying 'how to sustain Canadian journalism’s distinct presence in a world of stateless news organizations.' He spoke with This two weeks before heading to Boston. ... THIS: What do you mean by stateless news organizations? SKOK: Ones that are based in a country but whose target audience is not that country. Al Jazeera, for example. Its target audience is not Qatar, where it’s based or Dubai or even the Arab world. I watched Al Jazeera and BBC World and CNN International on my iPad during the Arab Spring demonstrations. I didn’t need to be watching a Canadian news organization. Do we even need a national news organization anymore?"

Alhurra acquires "N2K," featuring "the most talked about stories from across the web (and) Twittersphere."

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Realscreen, 4 Oct 2011, Adam Benzine: "UK-based distributor MercuryMedia has inked a deal with Washington DC-based Middle Eastern broadcaster Alhurra TV for N2K, an ITN-produced magazine show, which will air in the Middle East from January 2012. The deal marks Mercury’s first move into magazine shows. Made by UK-based ITN, the show will feature the most talked about stories from across the web, and in the Twittersphere in a weekly half-hour format. ... Mark Kozaki, Alhurra’s program acquisition and scheduling officer, added: 'N2K is a perfect fit with Alhurra’s commitment to social media, both on the air and through its social media platforms.'" -- I assume Alhurra will translate this from English to Arabic.

Mercury Media N2K web page: "In each episode - Most Wanted: The 3 most watched videos on YouTube – it could be Charlie Sheen’s manic rant against his producers, Lady Gaga’s latest crazy performance, or a Chinese teenager doing an Elvis impression."

Former VOA Bethany transmitter building is "three separate museums under one roof."

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
TV Technology, 4 Oct 2011, James E. O'Neal: "Cincinnati is something of a U.S. broadcast Mecca, with a great deal of pioneering taking place in the region. Located just north of the city in the former home of the VOA's Bethany shortwave transmitting plant is a relatively new entry in broadcast equipment collections—it's actually three separate museums under one roof. The first of these is the Gray Museum of Wireless History, which contains artifacts that trace the evolution of radio from its 19th century beginnings. Its holdings include a number of television artifacts, including a klystron that powered Washington, D.C. station WDCA in its early years, racking up nearly 48,000 hours of service before it was retired. The National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting, while devoted strictly to HF [shortwave] broadcasting, features a remaining 250,000 Watt Collins transmitter and the control room used until the facility went dark in 1994. The third entry, the Media Heritage Museum, is devoted to Greater Cincinnati and Ohio radio and television broadcasting and houses such artifacts, including an Ampex quad videotape machine, RCA studio camera, Grass Valley switcher and monitoring gear, as well as a good representation of audio equipment. This collection is unusual in that it's more focused on the 'software' side of broadcasting—the content or programming without which the 'fifth estate' would never have succeeded." See previous post about the VOA Bethany site.

Biography of Steve Jobs by BBG chairman Walter Isaacson is "highly anticipated."

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, Media Decoder, 5 Oct 2011, Julie Bosman: "For months, a biography of Steven P. Jobs has been one of the most highly anticipated books of the year. Mr. Jobs’s death on Wednesday will only intensify interest in the book, which was written by Walter Isaacson, the author of biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger. Mr. Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, cooperated with Mr. Isaacson in the book about his life, agreeing to more than 40 interviews over two years. Mr. Isaacson, the chief executive of the Aspen Institute, also conducted interviews with Mr. Jobs’s family members and colleagues at Apple." -- Walter Isaacson is chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Foreign Policy, Passport blog, 5 Oct 2011, David Kenner: "The portability and connectivity of Jobs's products also made them a superb tool to watch international news, and connect with people abroad. Al Jazeera English may be blacked out in most of the United States, but American viewers can watch it with a click of the button on their iPad or iPhone. And the Skype app on my iPad has allowed me to connect with people in Syria and Jordan who are leery of government-monitored phone lines."

In David Frost interview, Donald Rumsfeld is "delighted" by Al Jazeera. In another AJE interview, not so much.

Posted: 06 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 30 Sept 2011, Lucas Shaw: "The presidential administration of George W. Bush was never an advocate of Al-Jazeera, if anything, it viewed the network as a propaganda arm of radical Islamists. But one of Bush’s principal foreign policy advisors has changed his tune. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld granted an interview to Al Jazeera English on Thursday, which will air Friday, and complimented the network for its service. 'It can be an important means of communication in the world and I am delighted you are doing what you are doing,' Rumsfeld told Sir David Frost on 'Frost over the World.' This statement stands in stark contrast to the tone Rumsfeld struck back in 2004 when he accused the network of lying and deemed its actions 'vicious.'" See video at AJE Frost Over the World, 29 Sept 2011.

Update: Daily Mail, 5 Oct 2011: "[A] newly-released interview with the Arabic network's English channel shows former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld giving an explosive critique of D.C. bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara. Mr Rumsfeld, asked by the journalist about the Iraq war, at one point fumed: 'Do you want to yell or do you want an interview?' ... Mr Foukara repeated his question, asking for a 'straight answer'. However, Mr Rumsfeld accused Mr Foukara of asking him 'pejorative' questions and said it was in his 'being' to do that. 'This is not about me,' Mr Foukara said. 'If you want to attack me personally, fine, but give me the answer to the question.' After several rounds of banter, Mr Rumsfeld asked: 'Why should I do everything you want and you won't do anything I want?' 'Because I'm the interviewer!' Mr Foukara said. Mr Rumseld concluded the interview was 'worthless' - a sharp turn from his interview that same day with Sir David Frost on 'Frost over the World'." With video. See also The Atlantic Wire, 4 Oct 2011, Uri Friedman; Politico, 4 Oct 2011; and Huffington Post, 4 Oct 2011, Jack Mirkinson.

Huffington Post, 6 Oct 2011, Anthony Amore: "Memo to Foukara: 1. You're not a military strategist. You don't know what the correct troop levels should have been, even as you sit there today. 2. Coalition forces fought to liberate Iraq, not kill innocent civilians. War is ugly, and innocents do pay heavy prices. But that doesn't make Secretaries of Defense killers in the sense that you are trying to insinuate. 3. So don't harangue the interviewee. Stick to asking questions. 4. Condescending laughter isn't a good way to draw out answers."

Iran's campaign against BBC Persian now includes police intimidation of broadcasters' relatives in Iran.

Posted: 05 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC The Editors blog, 5 Oct 2011, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News: "We are seeing the levels of intimidation and bullying as well as attempts to interfere with our independence reaching new levels - particularly since a documentary about the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei was aired. In recent weeks the jamming by the Iranians of international Persian language TV stations, such as BBC Persian TV and the Voice of America's Persian News Network has intensified. The jamming prevents Iranian audiences viewing a vital free service of information. In the past week alone, hundreds of Iranian viewers have sent emails and used social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to reach out to us. They tell us how much they value us as a source of reliable independent news, ask us to persevere and to look for other - not prone to interference - ways of broadcasting BBC Persian TV. ... The second category of direct action by Iran is aimed not at our audience but the BBC's own staff. Many of our Iranian employees who live in London are fearful to return to their country because of the regime's attacks on the BBC. But although those journalists are beyond the direct reach of their government they are now subject to a new underhand tactic. Iranian police and officials have been arresting, questioning and intimidating the relatives of BBC staff. We believe that the relatives and friends of around 10 BBC staff have been treated this way." -- For "other - not prone to interference - ways of broadcasting BBC Persian TV," is BBC simulcasting its Persian TV on shortwave, on as many frequencies as possible, from as many transmitter sites as possible, and reminding its audience of this shortwave availability, with frequencies and times?

The Guardian, 5 Oct 2011, Josh Halliday: "A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the government "condemns utterly" pressure on the BBC from Iran, and has directly raised the issue with Iranian authorities. The FCO said in a statement: "The blocking of BBC Persian signals and arbitrary arrest of documentary makers not directly connected to the BBC by the Iranian regime should also be condemned. This action follows on from the arrests of scores of film-makers, artists and writers as part of a widespread crackdown on freedom of expression in Iran over the past two years. 'We will work with the EU to end the unacceptable situation of electronic interference and the lack of a right to freedom of expression.'"

See also New York Times, The Lede, 5 Oct 2011, with links. See previous post about same subject.

"Turkmenistan Convicts RFE/RL Correspondent In 'Bogus' Trial."

Posted: 05 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 5 Oct 2011: "A Turkmen court has convicted Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev, a stringer for Radio Azatlyk, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Turkmen-language service, and sentenced him to five years in prison. The trial was conducted after normal business hours, behind closed doors, and Yazkuliyev was not represented by a lawyer during the proceedings. Yazkuliyev was detained on September 27 by regional police in Turkmenistan's Akhal province on charges of 'influencing or abetting' an attempted suicide by a family member. ... RFE/RL President Steven Korn called the case against Yazkuliyev 'an outrage,' noting that, 'This was a bogus trial and a predatory sentence that shows that Turkmenistan authorities respect no law and no standards when it comes to their treatment of the media. RFE/RL protests the sentence vigorously and calls on others in the international community to condemn it as well.'"

Reporters sans frontières, 5 Oct 2011: “'We are dismayed and shocked,' Reporters Without Borders said. 'Yazkuliyev’s fate was decided in just a few hours and in violation of all normal judicial procedures. It is still too soon to say with certainty whether lawyers and journalists attended today’s hearing of whether they were banned, as they were yesterday.'"

See previous post about same subject.

European Court of Justice allows purchase of foreign decoder cards to watch soccer.

Posted: 05 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 3 Oct 2011, Mark Sweney: "Football fans will potentially be able to watch cut-price Premier League matches, after the European Union's highest court ruled on Tuesday that it is not illegal for individuals to buy set-top box decoder cards from foreign broadcasters. The European court of justice ruled that the FA Premier League cannot stop individuals from seeking better deals for TV sports subscriptions than that offered by BSkyB – which paid more than £1bn for the UK broadcast rights for Premier League matches – from foreign broadcasters. The ECJ said attempting to prohibit the 'import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services and cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums". However, the court ruled against the bid by Karen Murphy, the landlady of the Red, White and Blue pub in Portsmouth, to be allowed to use a Greek decoder card to show live Premier League matches to pubgoers at much cheaper rates than BSkyB charges commercial premises in the UK on copyright grounds. The ECJ said the transmission in a pub is a 'communication to the public', which means that without the permission of the Premier League Murphy is in breach of the copyright directive. This directive would not stop individuals buying foreign decoder cards for domestic use."

Recent North Korean defectors "recalled listening to South Korean propaganda radio broadcasts."

Posted: 05 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 5 Oct 2011: "Nine North Koreans who drifted into Japanese waters aboard a small wooden fishing boat on Sept. 13 arrived at Incheon International Airport from Fukuoka on Tuesday. ... The Japanese daily reported that one of the defectors had a regular income but decided to flee for the sake of his children's future, while others recalled listening to South Korean propaganda radio broadcasts beamed at the North at night and hearing about a group of defectors who had drifted to Aomori before they were handed over to South Korea in 2007." -- Uncertain whether these are authorized broadcasts from South Korean soil (KBS or the ROK Defense Ministry's Voice of Freedom) or DPRK exile shortwave stations using transmitters in other countries.

The Korea Herald, 5 Oct 2011, Song Sang-ho: "The Yomiuri Shimbun, [a] Japanese daily, said that one of the nine defectors made international calls with a mobile phone to contact relatives who had already escaped from the North. It also said that some of them used shortwave radios to keep informed of the overall situations in the South."

Yomiuri Shimbun, 5 Oct 2011: "In North Korea, reception of foreign TV and radio programs is illegal, but the defectors reportedly told the officials that they listened to the radio while hiding under bedding in the middle of the night when the children were asleep. The radio program is believed to have been broadcast from South Korea to North Koreans by defectors from North Korea. The latest defectors were aware that four North Korean defectors aboard a small boat found off Fukauramachi, Aomori Prefecture, in June 2007 were brought under Japanese protection. The defectors included a person whose relatives had defected from the country to China. The person reportedly said cell phone reception in North Korea becomes easier near the Chinese border. The person said it was possible to talk with the relatives by cell phone and even received letters from them, the source quoted the person as saying. The defectors included at least one person who actually carried a cell phone, according to the source."

AFP, 1 Oct 2011: "North Korea blasted South Korea on Oct. 1 for propaganda broadcasts into its territory, saying the 'despicable psychological campaign' could provoke a serious military clash. A spokesman for the Ministry of Post and Communications threatened 'merciless punishment' by the army against broadcasters if the campaign persisted. The unidentified spokesman, quoted by the North's official news agency, said anti-Pyongyang broadcasts began in mid-August from an island near the Yellow Sea border and used the same frequency as the North's TV. ... The statement said the South had also intensified its radio propaganda on the same radio frequency used for the North's broadcasts. ... The North has frequently threatened to open fire across the border at sites where South Korean activists launch anti-Pyongyang leaflets, DVDs and small radios. But it has not previously made much mention of the broadcasts. The two sides agreed in 2004 to halt state-level cross-border propaganda. But the South resumed 'Voice of Freedom' broadcasts after accusing the North of torpedoing a warship in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives."

North Korea Tech, 6 Oct 2011, Martyn Williams: "The KCNA article didn’t name any specific broadcaster and there doesn’t appear to have been any recent change in targeted broadcasts so it’s unclear if this is in reaction to something new or a random rant about the radio stations. If nothing has changed, the publication of the commentary might be an indication of growing influence of the overseas broadcasts. The stations claim a growing audience but that’s impossible to verify."

Strategy Page, 4 Oct 2011: "For many years, South Korea had large loudspeakers on their side of the DMZ. But in a peace gesture in 2004, the speakers were shut down and removed. The peace gesture didn’t work, so last year, the speakers were reinstalled at 14 locations along the DMZ. At that point, North Korea threatened to open fire if the speakers were used again. At night, the speakers can be heard some 20 kilometers into North Korea. The speakers deliver a combination of music and news. It's the news that bothers North Korea, especially accurate reporting about what is going on inside North Korea. In response to the North Korea threats, South Korea has not turned on the speakers yet. Instead, more weapons and sensors were moved forward to try and defend the speakers."

Euronews launches its Ukrainian version and expands English distribution in East Africa.

Posted: 05 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Mughals, 4 Oct 2011: "euronews and Ukraine's National Television Company (NTU) officially celebrates on October, 5 the launch of the Ukrainian edition of the channel, as well as the imminent opening of a permanent bureau in Kyiv. Eagerly awaited since NTU and euronews signed an agreement in Paris in late 2010, the event created quite a buzz among the country's television viewers. The Ukrainian enthusiasm for the non-stop international news channel is a great inspiration to the 700-strong team located at euronews' head office in Lyon, France and indeed at every euronews office around the world (Brussels, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Doha, Cairo…)."

National Radio Company of Ukraine, 5 Oct 2011: "The establishment in Ukraine of the Euronews Ukrainian editorial office will promote democracy and freedom of speech, President Viktor Yanukovych has said on Wednesday during his meeting with Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Euronews Pier Luigi Malesani and Euronews Managing Director Michael Peters."

Digital TV Europe, 5 Oct 2011: "African pay TV platform Zuku has added the English version of news channel Euronews to its line-up. Zuku DTH is currently available in Kenya, where it has 10,000 subscribers. It will launch in Uganda later this month and in Tanzania in November, where Zuku operator Wanachi is predicting 50,000 subscribers by the end of 2011. Across sub-Saharan Africa, Euronews is broadcast to 20 million homes via satellite, cable, terrestrial and IPTV platforms."

Portada, 3 Oct 2011: "Venezuela Tourism has selected Euronews to broadcast four 30 second ads to encourage Europeans to visit the country."

Hospitalitynet, 5 Oct 2011: "Philips, the market-leading vendor of TVs for the hospitality industry, brought together 230 professionals from more than twenty countries last week ... for the official product launch of Philips' latest innovations for hotel TV... . For catch-up TV, Philips partnered with known local broadcasters across multiple markets, as well as global news channels such as Euronews and CNBC, to maximize international appeal."

WETA video report examines the 1942 Ben Shahn mural in the "otherwise unremarkable" VOA headquarters building.

Posted: 05 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
WETA-TV (Washington), "Around Town". Peter Winant: Video report (1 min 35 sec) about the "remarkable" Ben Shahn 1942 mural "The Meaning of Social Security" in the "otherwise unremarkable" VOA headquarters building. -- The 1930s era Wilbur J. Cohen building may be "unremarkable," but it's built like a tank. It sustained only cosmetic damage from the August earthquake.

See also VOA's Ben Shahn mural page.

US public TV network PBS opens UK venture, offering "intelligent" content to complement "dumbed down" BBC.

Posted: 05 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 4 Oct 2011, Amy Thompson: "The Public Broadcasting Service, the U.S. broadcaster of Britain’s 'Downton Abbey,' will unveil its U.K. venture on Nov. 1 with an episode of the 'Nova' science show, part of an effort to add earnings abroad. PBS’s U.S.-made television programs, including documentary series 'Frontline' and 'American Experience,' and content from its archives will be available to U.K. customers on British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSY)’s Sky service, said Rebecca Edwards, head of PBS’s marketing in the U.K. The company is still in talks with Virgin Media about carrying the channel, she said. PBS U.K. was formed as a partnership between the U.S. TV network’s distribution business and David Lyons, head of energy company Orca Exploration Group. Richard Kingsbury, a former executive at satellite-channel operator UKTV who is general manager of the venture, said he sees PBS’s U.K. channel as a complement to the British Broadcasting Corp., catering 'intelligent' content from the U.S. to British audiences. 'The people that have the feeling that some shows have been dumbed down a little bit,' Kingsbury said in an interview in London. 'These are the people PBS will appeal to.' ... Spokesmen at the London-based BBC didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed message seeking comment."

PRWeek, 4 Oct 2011, Sara Luker: "PBS is a US-based non-profit TV and radio network, funded by 354 American TV stations and the federal Government. The broadcaster will launch a commercial, advert-funded UK channel in November, the first time PBS has launched an operation outside of the US."

Radio/TV Martí sending "up to 24,000 text messages a week" to Cuban cell phones.

Posted: 05 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Miami Herald, 3 Oct 2011, Juan Tamayo: "Cuba alleged Monday that Radio/TV Martí is violating the country’s laws and may disrupt its cellular text-messaging system with a computerized system that can send up to 24,000 text messages a week to cell phones on the island. Developed for mass marketing campaigns, the system makes it almost impossible to block the texts because the computer makes them look as though each individual message, or SMS, was sent from a different telephone number. Radio/TV Martí is using the text messages to deliver the same kind of news and information that the U.S. government-run stations already broadcast to the island, said stations director Carlos García-Perez. Cuba’s government controls and censors all the mass media on the island as well as access to the Internet. But at the end of last year, Cubans owned 1 million cell phones that could receive SMS, according to official figures. ... [T]he details of Radio/TV Martí’s effort came to light only after the contract for the computerized SMS services was published in Cuba Money Project, a Web page that tracks U.S. government spending on Cuba-related programs. The contract between the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which runs all U.S. government TV and radio stations, and Washington Software Inc. is for $84,000 for one year starting Sept. 15. One-year extensions could bring the total to $464,000. It requires the Maryland-based firm to be ready to send up to 24,000 text messages per week to telephone numbers that the BBG will provide, 'using a variety of tools to counter foreign government-sponsored Internet censorship controls.'"

ACN Cuban News Agency, 3 Oct 2011: "The software must include the ability to add unique changes to each message instance sent to each individual subscriber to avoid detection of messages being sent in bulk to many subscribers, the contract reads. Additionally, it may include keyword substitutions, where potentially provocative keywords which are likely to be censored are replaced with other words or characters which leave the meaning intact but foil automated keyword detection. This ciberwar operation is sponsored by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an entity responsible for all US government and government sponsored, non-military, international broadcasting, that is also responsible for the radio and TV aggressions against Cuba."

Cuba Money Project, 3 Oct 2011: "Washington Software, based in Germantown, Md., has 11 employees and reports annual revenue of $560,000. Federal documents list it as an 'Asian Pacific American owned business.'"

For Belarusian musicians who lack official approval, RFE/RL's "Night Liberty" provides an outlet.

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 27 Sept 2011, Kristyna Dzmuranova: "Alexei Znatkevich is a journalist, but he understands that music can affect people on deeper levels than straightforward journalism. Originally from Belarus, the country led by Europe’s last dictator, Alexander Lukashenka, Znatkevich is the Prague-based host of a nightly talk show, 'Night Liberty,' on Radio Free Europe’s Belarusian service, Radio Svaboda. His show, started in 2006, brings in live guests -- musicians included -- to discuss political, cultural and social topics, and Znatkevich has seen firsthand how providing a platform for humor, sarcasm, and irony can help to leaven the pressures of life in an autocratic society. ... Those musicians who do not conform to state-approved standards are blacklisted and banned from playing on official music channels or organizing concerts. Radio stations that go against the grain lose their license to broadcast. In fact, stations are under obligation to meet state music quotas: 75 per cent of the music they play has to be produced by government-approved Belarusian artists. For those Belarusian artists who lack government approval, Radio Svaboda presents a powerful alternative. Radio Svaboda has helped supply the country with free information via shortwave radio since 1954, and now offers its programming through online podcasting, an increasingly popular medium."

RFE/RL stringer in Turkmenistan will go on trial, faces five years in jail.

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 4 Oct 2011: "An RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan is to go on trial for allegedly urging a relative to attempt suicide, in a case his family says is retaliation for his journalistic activities, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports. Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev faces up to five years in jail if convicted in a trial due to start on October 4. ... Yazkuliyev was one of the first journalists in Turkmenistan to cover deadly explosions at a weapons depot in the town of Abadan, near Ashgabat, in July, which official media initially downplayed as a minor incident. ... RFE/RL President Steve Korn called the case outrageous, saying, 'Authorities made no secret of their displeasure with Yazkuliyev after his independent and unscripted reports on Abadan this summer, and these charges seem deceitful and intended to silence him for good.' Yazkuliyev, 43, has been working as an RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan since 2007."

RFE/RL, Journalists in Trouble, 3 Oct 2011: "Yazkuliyev received a stern warning from security officials in July after blogging about deadly explosions in the city of Abadan. He was told he would be charged with "disseminating defamatory information through the media" and "causing national, social, and religious provocations" if he continued to blog about sensitive information."

For this international broadcaster, shortwave will continue "until the final end of everything," ie 21 October "probably."

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Survivor, 3 Oct 2011, Jennifer Waits: "Now that it’s October, my thoughts have turned to the pronouncements by Family Radio that the end of the world will take place on October 21. As we reported, the worldwide Christian radio network spent a fortune advertising the May 21, 2011 'Judgment Day,' and its founder Harold Camping had to back pedal after the predicted rolling earthquakes and rapture didn’t pan out. Although Camping had included an end of world prediction of October 21, 2011 in his original discussions about May 21; he was forced to reconsider his biblical interpretation of the rapture and after May 21 described the events of that day as 'spiritual,' rather than physical. On June 9, Camping suffered a stroke and has been off the Family Radio airwaves ever since. ... [His audio message] posted on September 23, providing an update about his recuperation and delving further into his teachings about October 21. In the 6-minute message Camping says, ... 'We would have not been able…to bring about the tremendous event that occurred on May 21 of this year, which probably be finished out on October 21 that’s coming very shortly. That looks like it will be at this point it looks like it will be the final end of everything.'" See also the WYFR Family Radio website.

"China’s Arab Spring Cyber Lessons."

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Diplomat, 3 Oct 2011, Richard Fontaine & Will Rogers: "As China and other regimes fine tune their Internet controls, they appear to have discerned at least four specific lessons from the Middle East revolutions. First, there are real economic costs to Internet repression. According to OECD estimates, Egypt’s five-day Internet shutdown cost the country at least $90 million. ... Second, Beijing’s more nuanced approach to monitoring and censorship works far better than the blunt tactics – including full shutdowns and extreme bandwidth restrictions – that have been employed by some Middle Eastern governments. ... Third, online dissent produces significant political change only if it results in offline protest. ... Finally, and most fundamentally, there’s emerging evidence that these new communications technologies can, in fact, facilitate political change. A recent report in Technology Review, for instance, found that the Internet provided the right conditions to those agitating for democratic change in Tunisia: anonymity, meaningful connections and, perhaps most importantly, a voice. In light of this year’s developments, Beijing appears to have devoted ever greater resources and energies to regulating every aspect of the Internet, from managing content to producing online propaganda. ... Chinese cyber dissidents are sure to have a much more difficult time wielding the Internet to foment political change than did their Arab counterparts. This alone suggests the importance of the United States’ Internet freedom efforts. As they pursue an array of complex but productive ties with Beijing, the democratic countries of the world should stand up for the value of online freedom – especially as the autumn turns to winter."

Al Jazeera "short-listed" for a Nobel Peace Prize?

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Views and News from Norway, 3 Oct 2011: "Kristian Berg Harpviken, who leads the peace research institute PRIO in Oslo, and Asle Sveen, who has written a landmark book on the history of the Nobel Peace Prize ... think the Nobel Committee has been impressed by the role played by the media and especially social media in pro-democracy movements. They mentioned the Qatar-based network Al Jazeera as another candidate, with Harpviken saying he’d be surprised if Al Jazeera wasn’t short-listed."

In Syria, a pronounced demographic trend in the choice of TV channels.

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Ocala (FL) Star-Banner, 1 Oct 2011, Anthony Shadid (New York Times): "In Alawite villages, only government television is watched. To do so in Sunni neighborhoods amounts to treason. There, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are the stations of choice."

Syrian Arab News Agency, 1 Oct 2011: "Members of an armed terrorist group killed on Saturday four citizens in al-Qadam neighborhood in the capital Damascus in an attempt to terrorize the inhabitants. ... Relatives of the martyrs refuted the allegations of al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya channels on the circumstances surrounding the death of the martyrs, stressing that the martyrs were killed at the hands of the armed terrorist groups."

Bloomberg Businesweek, 3 Oct 2011, Meghan L. O'Sullivan: "In Syria, Qatar has lent the weight of al-Jazeera to those seeking to end the Assad regime."

Syrian Arab News Agency, 3 Oct 2011: "French writer Thierry Meyssan said that the Qatar-based al-Jazeera channel was conceived by two French brothers: David and Jean Friedman , who hold the Israeli nationality. The French writer said in an article published on his website, Voltairenet.org, that Qatar has financed the channel with USD 150 million loan for five years before it became the only financer. He added that the goal of al-Jazeera was not saying the truth and that the involvement of al-Jazeera channel in provocative acts aiming at toppling the Syrian and Libyan regimes was not due to circumstances, rather they were long-prepared goals by people who knew how to hide their personal interests."

NHK World takes its singing contest to Taiwan, where they sing Japanese songs "better than the Japanese."

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Kyodo, 3 Oct 2011: "Nearly 1,500 Taiwanese entered a talent contest sponsored by Japanese broadcaster NHK World in Taipei on Sunday, competing to be named the best there at crooning Japanese songs. The taping, for broadcast on the international arm of Japan's national broadcaster, will be shown in Japan, Taiwan and about 150 other areas and countries on or around Oct. 29. The Taipei show is the 12th NHK has taped overseas since the singing contest -- known as NHK Nodojiman -- began on radio 65 years ago. It has been a television staple since 1953. NHK began holding the contests overseas in 1998 and the Taipei taping is the first outside Japan since a show in Mexico City in 2005. Contestants have also tried their hand singing Japanese songs in Beijing, Singapore and Seoul in the past. ... Special guest on Sunday's program Sachiko Kobayashi said she was surprised to see how much Taiwanese love singing, adding they sing Japanese songs 'better than the Japanese.'"

How Fox News forced CNN to become less like CNN International.

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Chicago Sun-Times, 29 Sept 2011, Abdon M. Pallasch: "'[Fox News] certainly altered the landscape of cable news,' said Larry Stuelpnagel, a professor of broadcast journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. 'Before Fox came along you could watch CNN and see a lot of news from around the world. Fox came up with a formula for talking about the news, instead of reporting it. They started talking and they made a lot of money. That model has been picked up by both CNN and MSNBC.' That forced CNN to turn inward and scale back its ambition of focusing more American attention on the outside world, Stuelpnagel said. 'I’m in the business of training journalists,' Stuelpnagel said. 'Here we train them to be "fair and balanced" in every sense of the words. You can only get that sort of perspective when you’re physically there. When all you’re doing is pontificating on events you haven’t witnessed, and throwing your own spin on it, I think the American people get shortchanged. When I travel and see CNN International, you get much different news than you get here. You get the worldview. I miss that.'"

Arirang TV seeks to "fire interest in Korea" with more US access, daily show in Guangdong.

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Korea Herald, 2 Oct 2011, Kim Yoon-mi: "Arirang TV plans to strengthen its digital TV channels to reach broader audiences in the U.S. and cooperate with a Chinese TV station to prompt interest in Korean content, its new chief said on Friday. 'Almost everyone on the planet can get Arirang content if they have the right dish. But in addition to that, we want to be specifically on a platform, to be a part of a DTV package sold in the U.S.,' said Sohn Jie-ae, president and CEO of the Korea International Broadcasting Foundation, which operates Arirang TV and Arirang radio stations. 'We will probably strengthen the U.S. market to target more major cities.' Currently, the state-run English-language station based in Seoul is available in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and Atlanta. Sohn and Arirang staff recently went to Guangdong, the richest region in China, to participate in a first-ever joint live production with Guangdong TV. Under an agreement between the Korean and Chinese TV stations, Arirang TV’s program 'Showbiz Korea' will be aired on Guangdong TV for one hour every day. 'We’re going into markets with specific programs that we make so that we can fire interest in Korea,' Sohn said. ... She made it clear that Arirang TV and KBS World have different audience targets. While KBS World brings content from KBS, subtitles it and brings it overseas for first-generation Koreans who want to know what their Korean counterparts are watching, Arirang TV mostly makes original content for the non-Korean speaking audience. According to an Arirang TV spokesperson, 70 percent of programming is original content." -- In addition to the cities above, Arirang TV is also available in Washington via the MHZ Networks digital bouquet. See also the Arirang website.

Radio Free Sarawak is back on the air. (I didn't know it was off the air.)

Posted: 04 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Free Malaysia Today, 3 Oct 2011: "Radio Free Sarawak is back after an almost four months hiatus. It is re-launching this week with an expanded team and greater ambitions. It kicks off with a two hour daily timeslot from 6 – 8 pm [1000-1200 UTC] on the shortwave 17560 kHz bandwidth. Broadcast is also available online via the website www.radiofreesarawak.org . According to its media release, the RFS 'will continue to focus on the concerns and interests of the ordinary people of Sarawak, mainly rural folk, who currently have no access to an independent news source.'"

Borneo Post, 4 Oct 2011: "A political observer, who declined to be named, said the state government looks set to be bombarded again with accusations against it as RFS did prior to the April state election. 'Expect them to again attack the state government on various issues, and also expect police reports against them,' he said."

"UK TV sales to Russia are growing faster than sales to any other country."

Posted: 03 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 2 Oct 2011, Ben Dowell and Shiv Malik: "[F]igures from the UK Television Exports survey show that the world's appetite for British television is booming. ... The annual TV export report, published by the TV producers' alliance Pact and the government trade body UK Trade & Investment, shows that UK TV sales to Russia are growing faster than sales to any other country. Revenue climbed 54% to £13m in 2010. The report also showed a 20% growth in Canada and 13% in the USA for 2010 compared to the year before."

Dubai (the favorite), Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain vie to become HQ of new Alarab Arabic news channel.

Posted: 03 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 3 Oct 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain are each being considered to house the headquarters of the latest 24 hour Arabic TV news station, Alarab, which is due for launch in December 2012. Alarab, backed by Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, will be supported by business news specialist Bloomberg, according to Abu Dhabi's The National. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who will manage the channel, told the newspaper that the decision on where to base operations will be made in the coming two weeks – with Dubai considered the current favourite. ... There are also a proliferation of international news services in Arabic, such as BBC Arabic, France 24, Russiya Al Yaum, Iran's Al Alam, CCTV from China, and Al Hurra from the US." See previous post about same subject.

Not exactly news, but Alhurra and VOA Persian News Network make use of social media.

Posted: 03 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Nextgov, 30 Sept 2011, Joseph Marks: "As social media becomes a primary tool for communication, organization and subversion across the Middle East, the U.S. government's foreign broadcasting arm is increasingly relying on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to communicate with its audience. The weekly program Eye on Democracy, which runs on the Arabic language Alhurra station, has had a social media presence since it went on the air in 2006 and has done significant reporting on the Arab world's use of social media both before and after the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. In the early days, using social media meant posting content to the show's Facebook page and encouraging discussions there, the show's host Mohamed al-Yahyai said. As time went on, though, the show's producers began accepting video clips and story ideas through Facebook and Twitter and began mining other Facebook accounts and 'influencer blogs' to figure out which news topics were most important to their audience. ... MBN [Alhurra parent corporation] has spent the past several months on a companywide 'new media listening campaign,' the company's new media director Ahmad AbouAmmo, said. That means AbouAmmo mines Facebook, Twitter and YouTube posts outside the show's own pages to assess the public mood on a certain topic or to find out what news is trending in certain countries and passes that information along to producers, he said. AbouAmmo also is trying to raise the social media profile of MBN shows and reporters. In some cases, he's succeeded in raising unique visitors to the company's Facebook posts by up to 500 percent, he said, with some posts getting as many as 120,000 unique views. ... Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi who run Parazit, a Daily Show-style Persian language news parody rely on Iranians' Facebook comments and video links for most of their content. The issues and the content are coming from the people,' Hosseini said. 'The Internet is the only way they can reach out. We're doing commentary on it that they can't do themselves and projecting it back into society.'" -- Amid all this social media frenzy, overlooked is the fact that international broadcasters were soliciting, and receiving, and using comments, questions, suggestions, and feedback from the audience decades before the internet came along. This was via international airmail, a miraculous and underrated means of communication. Some listeners used to send me audio cassettes, excerpts of which which were sometimes inserted into my weekly VOA program.

This probably means that Roy Greenslade won't be appearing on Press TV.

Posted: 03 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, Roy Greenslad Blog, 1 Oct 2011: "I have just received this email... 'Dear Sir, This email serves as a formal invitation to you to participate in our occasional satellite/phone interviews mainly focusing on British domestic or international affairs. Press TV is a 24-hour English-language global news network. It carries news analysis, documentary talk shows and sports news worldwide. The channel is available in most parts of the world via 14 satellites, as well as cable and internet in the United Kingdom (Sky channel 515).' ... What the email does not say is that Press TV is funded by the state of Iran and is a division of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). ... It does not say that Press TV broadcasts news reports and analyses which are close to the official position of the Iranian government (see Press TV pantomime). It also fails to mention that its programmes are monitored and regulated by the Iranian state and that the 1979 constitution of the Islamic Republic mandates that 'all broadcasting must exclusively be government-operated.' Finally, the email does not mention that in May this year Press TV was censured by Ofcom for a serious breach of UK broadcasting rules."

NATO TV produces a report about Libya Al Hurra TV (updated: "our target is to be like the BBC").

Posted: 03 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
NATOchannel.tv, 30 Sept 2011: "Broadcasting A Free Libya. Controling what people heard, watched and read was key for Qadhafi to keep control over the Libyan people. Now, with the regime gone, Libya Al Hurra TV is playing a big part in the new free media." With video (2 min, 36 sec). -- There is apparently no URL link to this individual report, so start at NATOchannel.tv and look for "Broadcasting a Free Libya." As discussed previously, Libya Al Hurra TV is not associated with USIB's Alhurra.

Update: NATO Newsroom, 30 Sept 2011: "New channels like Libya Alhurra will be vital in providing the coverage and informing the people of the events unfolding in their country. 'We hope, our target is to be like the BBC,' says [station executive] Omar, 'we’ll be a national TV station, it is not with the government, will never be under the umbrella of the government. We are a national TV station, this is our plan.' Whether this wish for balance would extend to offering criticism of some of the excesses of the National Transitional Council forces is unclear, but the sentiment is certainly a positive one. As the media in Libya find themselves in the brave new world of pluralism and democracy they’ll need to find their feet fast in order to keep up."

Deutsche Welle, 26 Sept 2011: "Libya has been experiencing a political and social upheaval since Muammar al-Gaddafi’s regime was overthrown and the National Transitional Council (NTC) assumed power. The media could play a decisive role in a process aimed at restructuring the country as a democratic and civil society. In September, Carsten von Nahmen, head of DW-AKADEMIE’s Africa division, and project manager Martin Hilbert visited local broadcasters in Bengasi to get a sense of the situation and to look at perspectives for new media in the country’s east. One result is that DW-AKADEMIE will be training journalists from four radio stations in Bengasi starting in mid-October." -- DW really needs to put dates on its articles. The date at the top of this item is today's date, not the date the piece was published (the 26th, as determined by a search on the DW website).

See previous post about Libyan media.

VOA Korean reporter travels to North Korea, where officials tell him "VOA is very important."

Posted: 02 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 28 Sept 2011: "Voice of America journalist Sungwon Baik, who just completed a rare reporting assignment to North Korea, says officials there appeared to be conveying a message that they want to improve strained relations with the United States. Baik was granted access to North Korea earlier this month, after receiving an unprecedented written invitation by North Korean officials, to cover the 17th International Taekwon-Do World Championships in Pyongyang from September 6th through the 12th. North Korean officials at the event said on a number of occasions that they were familiar with VOA broadcasts and that the news programs are well recognized. 'The first time I thought they were just trying to be polite to me,' Baik said, 'but then it was like 6 or 7 times a day they would say that VOA is very important and you can come back.'" See also VOA News, 27 Sept 2011, Sungwon Baik, with video report.

BBG Watch, 1 Oct 2011, BBG Watcher criticizes the the VOA press release and report. -- BBG Watcher labeled the VOA report a "North Korean propaganda video." Just because it was not an anti-North Korean propaganda video does not make it pro-Pyongyang. Arguably the report could have provided some more context contrasting the festivities and modern features of Pyongyang with conditions in the rest of the country. Sungwon Baik's report, however, focused on what he saw during his travels in North Korea, and in this regard I think he did a fair job of it. Goodness knows there is plenty of information about the more unpleasant aspects of North Korean life in other VOA reports. (It was interesting to see the man walking down the street talking on a cell phone. A report from the raw video showing those unscripted instances of life in Pyongyang might be worthwhile.)

Yonhap, 29 Sept 2011: "South Korea's Army beefed up its military arsenal to cope with a potential attack by North Korea's special forces on propaganda loudspeakers set up along the tense border with the North, military officials said Thursday. ... To help thwart a possible attack by North Korea, the South's Army has flown unmanned surveillance aircraft equipped with infrared cameras and deployed more weapons such as anti-tank missiles, the K30 Biho self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and AN/TPQ-36 mobile radar systems, officials said. The Army has also drawn up case-by-case contingency plans to deal with possible North Korean attacks on the loudspeakers, according to the officials."

Strategy Page, 29 Sept 2011, Hans Johnson: "The South Korean military has ... established a psyops unit. It resumed transmissions of the Voice of Freedom, an FM propaganda network. Voice of Freedom is produced in Seoul and then relayed via the military’s Mungunghwa 5 satellite to six FM transmitters along the DMZ. Programs include plenty of pop music in the popular (in North Korea) “trot” style. The station plans to expand to AM, a better choice as there are few FM receivers in North Korea. The military has joined the dissidents in distributing leaflets via balloons. Five ton trucks with printers aboard can produce up to 80,000 leaflets a day. The trucks receive the design and layout of a particular leaflet via a roof-top satellite dish. The leaflets are chosen from a database of 1,300 that are jointly produced by American and South Korean psyoperators. There can be as many as three launches a month if the wind and weather are right. A new leaflet is tried each month. Some South Korean lawmakers have objected to the military targeting North Korean civilians, but the effort continues. Another outlet is loudspeakers. Four have been set up in the DMZ. Measuring 4 by 3 meters, they can be heard 12 kilometers away during the day and twice as far at night. Each cost about $165,000. But they have yet to be turned on as North Korea threatened to shell any speaker that starts broadcasting."

Financial Times, 29 Sept 2011, Victor Cha: "Defining [Kim Jong-il's] dark path is ... the only credible way for Mr Obama to ensure a different outcome this time. The first step should be to make clear that, if North Korea fails to meets its denuclearisation obligations, relevant parties would launch an aggressive campaign – using everything from the internet to short-wave radios and leaflet-dropping balloons – to push information into North Korea that delegitimises the leader and regime in the eyes of the people."

WAMU (Washington), "Latitudes," 30 Sept 2011, Michael Rhee: "North Korea has been called the most-isolated country in the world — so little information is allowed out of the country that conditions inside the country are largely unknown. And inside North Korea, people do not have much access to news of the outside world since the government provides the only legal media. But a group of defectors living in South Korea is trying to change that with their own radio station that broadcasts over the border." Audio report.

North Korea Tech, 30 Sept 2011, Martyn Williams: "The Associated Press has signed a deal with North Korean state television that gives it exclusive rights to high-definition video of major news events in the country. The deal comes as AP and its biggest competitor, Reuters, race to expand their access to North Korea ahead of the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth — an event that is expected to see large scale celebrations and events in Pyongyang around April 15."

In OPM job satisfaction survey, response rate from BBG is up, but satisfaction ratings are still near bottom.

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Washington Post, 24 Sept 2011, Joe Davidson: Want to know how federal departments and large agencies fared in a broad survey of federal employees? Check out this table from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey [especially pp. 41 and 45]. The Office of Personnel Management conducts an annual survey of the workforce to learn how federal employees feel about their workplaces. ... OPM also was one of two agencies that improved in three of the four areas. The Broadcasting Board of Governors was the other. Its improvement needs to be encouraged because it continues to perform below the government-wide average." See also BBG Watch, 23 Sept 2011.

Evidence that the BBG might remain at the bottom of the job satisfaction ratings is that the BBG is advertising a job vacancy for digital research analyst, responsible for digital media and web metrics. It's a GS-14. The BBG is also advertising for a research analyst, responsible for direct radio, radio placement, satellite television, television placement, and digital media, as well as sample design, fieldwork, survey questionnaires, and web metrics. It's a notch lower at GS-13. The supposedly platform-agnostic BBG is placing digital media higher in a new audience research pecking order. Perhaps this is because digital media audience, which accounts for only a very small fraction of the total BBG audience, is more difficult to find through research.

Washington Post, 29 Sept 2011, Al Kamen: "Seems it was only yesterday — actually it was a few months ago — that we wrote that longtime State Department employee Diane Zeleny was going to get a new job as director of communications and external relations at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all government broadcast operations for Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio and TV Marti. 'I just got here, that’s true,' she said in an e-mail this week announcing her departure Oct. 7 to be vice president for strategy and communications for the Legatum Institute, a London-based free-market-oriented think tank." -- The previous president of RFE/RL, Jeffrey Gedmin, was named the chief executive officer of the Legatum Institute. For some reason the institute's leadership page does not mention Gedmin.

Radio Free Asia marks its fifteenth anniversary with a special website.

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Radio Free Asia press release, 29 Sept 2011 (pdf): "Radio Free Asia (RFA) today commemorated the 15th anniversary of its first broadcast on this date in 1996. RFA President Libby Liu stressed RFA’s critical role of 'bringing free press to closed societies' through its nine language services that provide accurate, objective news and information for people living in six Asian countries that restrict free speech and media freedoms. ... RFA’s many highlights over the years include interviewing high-ranking North Korean defectors, breaking the news to the world about the Tibetan uprising in March 2008, launching the first weekly listener Q&A program with Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after her release from house arrest last year, obtaining exclusive interviews from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei about his recent imprisonment, covering the landmark Khmer Rouge trial, and first reporting the incident that led to the Uyghur ethnic unrest in China’s Xinjiang region in the summer of 2009." See also the RFA 15th anniversary website (includes the game: "You are a Uyghur tightrope walker. Test your balancing skills and try to stay on the rope as long as possible.") and the BBG's resolution commemorating the anniversary.

In North and (less) in sub-Saharan Africa, more channels are allowed to compete with "Mr President TV."

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Balancing Act, 29 Sept 2011: "The Arab Spring has provided much needed momentum for Free-To-Air broadcast liberalisation in North Africa. The pace of change has been matched in Sub-Saharan Africa where the domestic airwaves are opening up to something more than Mr President TV and satellite Pay TV for the well-heeled elite, with the exception of North Africa where Satellite TV is a more democratic affair. Russell Southwood looks at those that have now got their foot on the accelerator and at the traffic jam at the back of the queue. 'Free-To-Air TV broadcast liberalisation is one of the litmus tests of freedom of expression and the desire to see a country’s economy develop. Allowing more than one mass channel for sending and receiving information and allowing commercial advertising into the market both change the communications dynamic in a country. ... [T]he roll-call of those with only one Government Free-To-Air TV station is shortening but not quickly enough. It currently stands at 19 countries: Algeria; Cape Verde (private TV station piloted); Chad; Central African Republic; Comoros; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia (reports of 8 new private TV stations in 2011 but no sign yet with only 3 months to go); Eritrea; Gambia; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Lesotho; Libya (assumed to be coming soon); Mauritius; Rwanda; Sao Tome; Seychelles; and Zimbabwe.'"

Hezbollah's Al Manar TV criticizes EU decision to ban Syria's Al-Dounia Satellite channel.

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Al Manar TV, 28 Sept 2011: "Following the European Union decision to impose sanctions against Syrian Al-Dounia Satellite channel to ban its broadcast via European satellites, Al-Manar TV Channel issued the following statement. Al-Manar Channel underlines the following: 1- This decision contradicts with the principle of freedom of speech and the freedom of the press as stipulated in the international rules and conventions and which the European Union brags about adopting them and propagates its principles. 2- This decision proves – one more time – that the freedom and democracy principle is just a slogan used by EU States as long as it serves their policies and interests."

According to Wikipedia, "Al-Manar is a Lebanese satellite television station affiliated with Hezbollah... . Al-Manar was designated as a 'Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity,' and banned by the United States in December 2004. It has also been banned by France, Spain and Germany... ."

Iranian police step up confiscation of satellite dishes because they are "introducing new role models."

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Radio Zamaneh (Amsterdam), 30 Sept 2011: "Iran’s top police official has slammed the effects of satellite TV programming on Iranian society and says police have intensified efforts to confiscate receiver dishes in homes. 'Satellite networks are a base of operations against our country,' said Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam. 'Our country is not too vulnerable to the political activities of the satellite programming,' he said. 'It is the moral aspect of this issue that is proving more destructive.' ... [He] said satellite programs 'corrupt the foundation of the family and defuse the effects of morality and religion by introducing new role models.' The Iranian police chief previously had reported that a campaign to confiscate satellite dishes had become three times more effective in recent months. Six years ago, the Iranian government passed a law banning satellite dishes, although many homes are still equipped with one. A judicial spokesman recently highlighted efforts to eradicate satellite dishes and announced that police officers can enter homes without a warrant to enforce the ban." -- This indicates that Iranian officials may be more concerned about the entertainment programming from Farsi1 than the informational programs of BBC Persian and VOA Persian News Network, though these latter channels remain jammed.

Livestation, online platform for international channels, reports 53 million visitors so far in 2011.

Posted: 02 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
GigaOM, 28 Sept 2011, Janko Roettgers: "U.K.-based live video news platform Livestation has seen its number of unique visitors grow close to tenfold, thanks in part to the popularity of Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the Arab Spring. That’s great news for the video startup and the networks it’s carrying, but it also makes one wonder how much other news networks are missing out by not making their programming freely available online. Livestation CEO Lippe Oosterhof wrote in a blog post today that 53 million unique users have visited Livestation.com in 2011. That’s already close to 10 times as much as all of 2010, and the year isn’t even over yet. ... He added that many viewers come for one of the more popular channels like BBC or Al-Jazeera, but then discover other news channels on the site. 'We try to foster an experience that allows viewers to have access to all points of view,' Oosterhof said. ... The company is providing most of its content in a free, ad-supported format, and Oosterhof told me that Livestation has seen great success with pre-roll advertising in Europe and the U.S., and is hoping to extend that to the Middle East and Southeast Asia as well." The URL is livestation.com. -- Unique users might not be so unique, depending on the extent to which cookies are stored on the users' PCs.

According to these two, VOA reports only about the USA and should be reintegrated with US foreign policy.

Posted: 02 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 28 Sept 2011, John Lenczowski: "The BBG argues that broadcasts will continue to China by Radio Free Asia (RFA). Fine and good. But RFA has a different mission than VOA. It, like Radio Free Europe, is designed to serve as a 'surrogate domestic free press' whose programming concerns developments within China itself - news and information suppressed by the communist regime. The VOA has a separate and equally important mission. It explains U.S. policy and helps foreign audiences understand America. Both missions are essential and cannot effectively be melded into a single station."

Heritage Foundation, 30 Sept 2011, Helle Dale: "Close congressional oversight would be a good beginning, and the long-term objective should be reintegration of the BBG into the U.S. government’s foreign policy strategy and organization. The firewall of independence from day-to-day political influence that the BBG was designed to represent has too often become a justification for rebuffing legitimate congressional concerns or even State Department priorities. As the BBG moves forward with its strategic review and planning, it is clear now that Congress should be a partner."

If Dr. Lenczowski's description of VOA were true, VOA would have a much smaller audience than it does now. If Mrs. Dale's vision for USIB is fulfilled, even that small audience would disappear.

A bit of research would have revealed that VOA's Chinese output is hardly limited to U.S. policy and information about America. VOA Chinese provides extensive coverage about China, and, in fact, has entire programs devoted to the subject. VOA must provide news and information about China, or, otherwise, it would not have an audience in China.

RFA, of course, also provides news and information about China. It was founded on the incorrect premise that VOA does not do so. The result is a great deal of duplication between VOA and RFA. A possible solution would be to force VOA and RFA to stick to their nominal specialties, but that would force the Chinese audience to tune to two stations to get all the news.

BBC World Service, with a smaller budget, has a larger audience than all of USIB combined. It manages to provide news about its target countries, the world, and Britain, "effectively melded into a single station."

As for Mrs. Dale's "reintegration of the BBG into the U.S. government’s foreign policy strategy and organization," an overseas example of this type of structure would be China Radio International. CRI is firmly in line with Chinese foreign policy. It also has a very small audience to show for all of its costly media investments. The audience for international broadcasting seeks credible news above all else.

The status quo, for now preserved by Congress, is inadequate to the problem of tiny audiences for USIB in China, caused by massive Chinese interdiction efforts, and more so by the vast and competitive domestic media environment of China. More about this in my strategy paper about US international broadcasting to China.

See previous post about same subject.

Its US detractors want Al Jazeera subject to a Rep. Peter King hearing.

Posted: 01 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Right Side News, 28 Sept 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "In a major blow to Al-Jazeera’s drive for acceptance and respectability in the West, the government of Israel says that one of the channel’s correspondents has confessed to acting as an agent of the terrorist group Hamas. The Israeli government also claims to have uncovered a network of Hamas operatives using Al-Jazeera as a cover. ... The Allawi incident confirms what Accuracy in Media has been saying for years—that the channel functions as a mouthpiece for terrorist organizations ranging from al-Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah. Nevertheless, Al-Jazeera continues to maintain that it is a legitimate news-gathering operation that deserves carriage on major U.S. cable and satellite systems. It operates out of studios in Washington, D.C. and has a major presence at the United Nations in New York. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even praised it for offering 'news' to viewers. ... [C]ritics 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. Such a designation could lead to the banning of the channel’s broadcasts, the closing of Al-Jazeera bureaus in the U.S., and perhaps the expulsion of its correspondents."

Israel Prime Minister's office, 28 Sept 2011, via Pajamas Media: "Samer Farik Muhammad Allawi, born in 1966, from Sebastia (West Bank), who resides in Pakistan and serves as Al Jazeera’s Afghanistan bureau chief, was arrested on 9.8.11 at the Allenby Crossing, on suspicion of involvement in Hamas activities. During his investigation by the Israel Security Agency, Allawi admitted that was recruited in 1993, while in Pakistan, to Hamas. Until 2004, he served there as a member of the 'Supreme Palestine Committee', which supervises and directs Hamas institutions. He also collected donations for Hamas-affiliated organizations such as 'Al-Aqsa Association' and the 'Palestinian Information and MediaCenter.'"

The Peninsula (Doha), 29 Sept 2011: "Aljazeera yesterday strongly denies the malicious accusations made by Israeli authorities against its reporter Samer Allawi that he acted as a Hamas operative. The recent release of Allawi is a clear indication that the accusation was baseless, said a media release issued by the Aljazeera Network. ... A spokesman for Al Jazeera said, 'While Samer has been released, the grounds for his extended detention are inexcusable: the false accusations made against him changed over the weeks as one accusation changed to another, finally settling upon an assertions that a Hamas official made a request to him at an open press conference.'"

See previous post about same subject.

If a shortwave consumer receiver could do what this shortwave milspec transceiver can do, shortwave broadcasting might rebound.

Posted: 01 Oct 2011   Print   Send a link
Rohde & Schwarz press release, 28 Sept 2011: "The new software version 7.0 for the R&S M3TR and R&S M3SR Series 4100 radio families from Rohde & Schwarz significantly simplifies communications in the shortwave band. ... The quality of shortwave links heavily depends on ambient transmission conditions such as solar radiation and atmospheric ionization. The software automatically adjusts the transmission rate to accommodate prevailing conditions. ... For exceptionally poor conditions, Rohde & Schwarz offers a last-ditch voice transmission method. Last-ditch voice enables reliable voice transmission even when the noise is stronger than the voice signal, i.e. with a negative signal-to-noise ratio."

Tokyo High Court ruling on case involving the closing of the VOA Okinawa relay station in 1977.

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Yomiuri Shimbun, 30 Sept 2011, editorial: "'It cannot be denied [papers related to a secret pact on the 1972 reversion of Okinawa from U.S. control to Japanese sovereignty] were secretly discarded,' the Tokyo High Court said Thursday. The high court made the statement in a ruling on a civil suit filed by plaintiffs including former Mainichi Shimbun reporter Takichi Nishiyama, who was convicted of instigating a leak of classified documents indicating the existence of the secret pact between Tokyo and Washington. A lower court decision in favor of the plaintiffs was reversed by the high court, handing a victory to the government, which has denied the existence of documents related to the secret pact. However, the high court criticized the sloppy handling of diplomatic documents by the Foreign and Finance ministries. Nishiyama and the other plaintiffs had demanded the government disclose documents on Japan's agreement to pay 4 million dollars for the restoration of land occupied by the U.S. military and 16 million dollars for the transfer of a U.S. shortwave radio relay station out of Japan." Refers to the VOA Okinawa relay station, closed in 1977. See previous post about same subject.

Falun Gong unlicensed broadcasters to stand trial in Vietnam. Group's FM affiliate closed in Indonesia.

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Epoch Times, 29 Sept 2011, Mimi Li: "The trial of two broadcasters in Hanoi next week calls attention to an escalating campaign in Vietnam to suppress the practice of Falun Gong, adopted in response to pressure by the Chinese Communist regime. Thirty-year-old tech executive Vu Duc Trung and his brother-in-law, Le Van Thanh, 35, are to stand trial Thursday, Oct. 6, for unauthorized broadcasting. Their short-wave broadcasts into China aroused the ire of Chinese Communist Party officials because the two were downloading and airing Sound of Hope Radio’s (SOH) Chinese-language programming. SOH provides listeners in the mainland with an independent media voice—all media inside China are controlled by the CCP—and covers such topics as human rights abuses, protests, official corruption, and the persecution of Falun Gong."

Epoch Times, 28 Sept 2011, Helena Zhu: "After having been deprived for two weeks of what they referred to as the radio station 'that has accompanied them for six years,' fans of the Indonesian Radio Erabaru took to the streets on Sept. 26. The protesters gathered outside the headquarters of Sing FM, the radio station that took over Radio Erabaru's 106.5 FM frequency immediately after a government raid on Sept. 13 had shut down the station. They urged Indonesian authorities to stop bowing down to the Chinese regime. Radio Erabaru is an affiliate of the Sound of Hope radio network, which has earned the enmity of the Chinese Communist Party by offering independent shortwave radio broadcasts into mainland China, all of whose media is controlled by the CCP. Radio Erabaru regularly reported on human rights abuses in China, in both Indonesian and Chinese language broadcasts. ... The station's staff believe the shutdown was inspired by a 2007 letter the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta sent to several Indonesian government departments and a visit embassy officials paid to the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, which called for the termination of the radio's broadcasts, lest China-Indonesia relations be affected." -- The Epoch Times and the Sound of Hope are affiliated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement, banned in China.

Human rights group cites 2009 Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting report about BBC Persian and independent Iranian filmmakers.

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International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 28 Sept 2011: "Almost two week after the arrests of documentary filmmakers Naser Safarian, Mojtaba Mir Tahmaseb, Hadi Afarideh, Mohsen Shahrnazdar and Katayoun Shahabi by intelligence and security forces in Tehran, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran acquired an internal document from the Iran’s state broadcasting network, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), revealing the network’s role in the government persecution of independent filmmakers and film critics. ... The internal document of the Political Division of IRIB, prepared on 21 October 2009, was titled 'Film Festivals: the soft war and underground Iranian films.' ... [T]he report refers to 'the BBC Persian television network’s attention' to the works of Iranian filmmakers ..., stating 'some foreign networks including BBC Persian and MBC (Munhwa Broadcasting Center) whose clear hostility towards the Islamic Republic has become known by all … have also fallen into step with the political goals of these festivals and thus notice such underground Iranian films.'"

Ahlul Bayt News Agency, 29 Sept 2011: "Member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Seyyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini says that culture is used as spying tool by the western hegemonies and British BBC TV is playing the same role in this regard. In an interview with ICANA on Wednesday, Hosseini said: 'misusing the media and culture institutions including newspapers, TVs and news networks has been one of the methods of the colonialists over the last century.' ... He further noted: 'this time media outlets like BBC Persian TV is used to fulfill the colonialist objectives of British colonial hegemony.' A number of media professionals have been arrested by iran's ministry of information over cooperation with foreign spying agencies."

Tehran Times, 30 Sept 2011: "The deputy culture minister for cinematic affairs has said that Iranian filmmakers must receive cultural officials’ permission to export their films. ... The ban on film sales to foreign TV networks came into the spotlight on September 17 after a number of Iranian media outlets announced the arrest of six documentary filmmakers who were accused of 'collaboration with BBC Persian' in Iran. ... 'It is possible that a certain critical documentary could be screened here and would receive permission for distribution in the country, but it may not necessarily be licensed for airing on foreign TV networks, particularly those networks that are subversive to our government and are hostile to the Islamic Revolution,' he added. Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini deemed all those filmmakers who have collaborated with the BBC Persian TV service to be subversives working against the system."

Radio Zamaneh, 27 Sept 2011: "A number of Iranian government supporters have called for the House of Cinema to be shut down for its support of documentary makers recently arrested for allegedly collaborating with the BBC. ... Iran's largest professional organization for filmmakers in Iran, the House of Cinema was founded in 1987. It is funded through the allotment of two percent of all cinema revenues in order to improve the situation of all people involved in the business of filmmaking. A House of Cinema official rejected these statements and expressed dismay that 'a simple professional defence of the most obvious rights of the members of this organization has turned into a great political dispute.' He added that if all legal procedures are properly followed, the House of Cinema board has every hope that the filmmakers will be acquitted of all charges."

State Department, 30 Sept 2011, press statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: "Iran’s government continues to arrest journalists and filmmakers. They are restricting access to information by jamming incoming satellite broadcasts and filtering the Internet."

Variety, 30 Sept 2011, Elsa Keslassy: "France's top film institutions have joined to launch an international petition to free the six Iranian filmmakers jailed since Sept. 18 by Iran's authorities. The petition was initiated by the Cannes Film Festival, the French Cinematheque, the French Directors Guild, the Guild of Authors, Composers and Directors, sales company Wide Management and distributor Kanibal Films."

See also BBC News, 30 Sept 2011, video report by Karen Zarindast. See previous post about same subject.

Ethiopia and its "pressure to bear" on VOA and Deutsche Welle.

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The Guardian, 29 Sept 2011, Caelainn Barr via Greenslade Blog: "Both Voice of America (VOA) and Deutsche Welle (DW) have had their radio and internet services jammed within [Ethiopia]. This occurred particularly during the May 2010 elections and in 2011 against the backdrop of the revolt in North Africa. A VOA spokesperson said: 'Three VOA stringers have had to flee Ethiopia because they were harassed for reporting VOA's Horn of Africa service during the 2005 national election. Another stringer fled Ethiopia because she was being repeatedly harassed, even after she stopped working for the service.' Ludger Schadomsky, head of DW's Amharic service, said: 'The government is putting a lot of pressure to bear on DW and VOA to have certain opposition people removed from the airwaves.' DW have allegedly been told by Ethiopia's minister of communications, Shimles Kemal, that the jamming of their services was 'owing to interviews DW had conducted with "terrorist organisations."' It is alleged that this relates to an interview with the Ginbot 7 political opposition leader, Berhanu Nega. Schadomsky said: 'We have made it clear we will not be arm twisted into self-censorship. The present climate of fear leads many of our prospective partners in Ethiopia, and even in the Diaspora, to decline our interview requests. "We have family back at home" is the standard line.'" -- VOA and DW are the two most popular Amharic-language services broadcasting to Ethiopia. DW's shortwave relay station in Rwanda provides a good signal into Ethiopia. BBC World Service does not have an Amharic service.

New Arabic news channels face "diminishing advertising pie" and subsidized competitors.

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The National (Abu Dhabi), 29 Sept 2011, Ben Flanagan: "Television viewers are notoriously trigger-happy with the remote control. With more than 500 satellite channels beamed across the Arab world, television stations face an increasingly tough battle for the attention of fickle audiences. That may be especially true for the two new Arabic-language news stations set to hit the airwaves next year. Observers say the newcomers will have to work doubly hard to be noticed by viewers and advertisers. ... [T]he two new 24-hour news stations have missed out on the surge in interest in countries experiencing the so-called Arab Spring. Yet both face a battle for a slice of the Middle East's diminishing advertising pie. ... One complicating factor for the launch of Sky News Arabia and Alarab is that not all existing Arabic-language news stations are run on purely commercial terms. The Qatari government props up Al Jazeera with millions of dollars a year. Many smaller Arabic stations are linked to governments or, as in the case of the BBC, receive taxpayers' money. These include the US-funded Al Hurra and BBC Arabic. Matt Duffy, an assistant professor of journalism at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, says several Arabic news channels exist for political rather than commercial reasons. 'Sometimes, it isn't about … audience. It's about the owners wanting to make sure that their perspective is out there,' he says. 'It comes down to not necessarily what the market will bear but how much money the owners are willing to lose.'" -- Recommended reading. This is a good overview of the often neglected commercial aspect of Arabic news channels.

The National (Abu Dhabi), 29 Sept 2011, Ben Flanagan: "Dubai is a strong contender to host the headquarters of Alarab, the Arabic TV news station backed by Prince Al Waleed bin Talal that is set to launch in December next year. ... Matt Duffy, an assistant professor of journalism at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, said that newcomers Alarab and Sky News Arabia were likely to face unequal commercial pressures. 'It's important to note that only one of these two new stations is necessarily in it for the money,' said Prof Duffy. Sky News Arabia is 'more interested in making sure that they turn a profit at the end of the year' - in contrast to Prince Al Waleed's operation, he said. ... Although Alarab will have a strong business slant given its tie-up with Bloomberg, potential rivals played down the threat posed by the new channel. 'Bloomberg has not had a significant impact on ratings or viewership vis a vis CNBC on a worldwide basis,' said Zafar Siddiqi, the founder and chairman of CNBC Arabiya. 'I expect that trend to continue.'"

AMEinfo, 28 Sept 2011: "Sky News Arabia, a 50-50 joint venture between Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp (ADMIC) and British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), has recruited 70 full time staff in the past six months, with a further 100 under mobilisation joining shortly, and another 200 people to be recruited by the end of this year, BroadcastPro Middle East has reported. Technical, IT and broadcast infrastructure is now being deployed at the planned station's main studio which was handed over in June 2011."

FrontPage Magazine, 29 Sept 2011, Ryan Mauro: "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s news company is teaming up with Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to launch 'Alarab' next year, a 24/7 news network that is sure to reflect Alwaleed’s anti-Israel viewpoint."

See previous post about Sky News Arabia and previous post about Alarab.

Before Al Jazeera, Arabs depended on BBC, Radio Monte Carlo, "or, if they were really desperate," VOA.

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The National (Abu Dhabi), 30 Sept 2011, Claude Salhani: "Al Jazeera's management and journalists should be recognised for setting four major precedents in Arab journalism. First, Al Jazeera banished the monopoly held by Arab governments on television news. ... Second, Al Jazeera introduced competition among Arab stations, a very healthy development for journalism in any region. Since its inception, 250 other Arabic channels have launched across the region: Al Arabiya, Middle East Broadcasting Company, Nile TV, Future TV, the US-funded Al Hurra, Hizbollah's Manar TV (which includes a programme in Hebrew) and many others. Third, by introducing variety in opinion and programming, Al Jazeera managed to kick ajar the door to democracy and free speech in the Arab Middle East, while admittedly not being allowed to criticise the Qatari government. ... And fourth, Arabic audiences were finally able to get relatively independent information from an Arab rather than a western perspective. Until Al Jazeera came along, viewers depended on the Arabic services of the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) or Radio Monte Carlo, or, if they were really desperate, the Arabic service of the Voice of America."

Huffington Post, 28 Sept 2011, Joshua Hersh: "[T]he network has been accused by some governments of blurring the line between news agency and advocate -- that they did not just cover the revolutions, but helped to spur them on. This is a criticism [Wadah Khanfar, who recently stepped down as magaing director of Al Kazeera] does not appreciate. 'I don't like to say that we have been leading [the Arab Spring],' he said. 'We are a media organization. ... We did not create revolutions, but we did cover them.' Instead, Khanfar said, to the extent the network took sides, it was in the interest of transparency and openness, forces that he acknowledged may have 'empowered' the popular movements."

Columbia Journalism Review, 28 Sept 2011, William Stebbins, former AJE Washington bureau chief: "Khanfar was transformed from the managing director of the [Al Jazeera] Arabic channel to the director general of a global network, with a diverse portfolio of channels broadcasting in both Arabic and English. He immediately set about bridging the chasm between the two news channels. One of the first steps was to change the name of Al Jazeera International to Al Jazeera English, to make it clear that both channels shared the same perspective and were animated by the same spirit, while being separated only by language. Achieving coherence between the two was a long process, and it involved some key personnel changes along with the rebranding, but the universally celebrated coverage of the recent uprisings in the Middle East is a testament to his ultimate success."

The Atlantic, 30 Sept 2011: "Khanfar's 'main battle' as Al Jazeera's top chief for eight years, throughout the course of four wars in the Arab world and the ongoing Arab Spring, was to keep the news room 'independent from the Americans, from the Arab governments, and from any other governments,' he said. ... Khanfar leaned forward on the couch and took a sip of his tea. 'Look,' he said. 'Let me tell you something. Because of Al Jazeera, Qatar was placed on the map of the Arab World and internationally as a great force of soft power in the region. Of course. Al Jazeera put the name of Qatar everywhere. And I think this is the greatest. What did Al Jazeera give Qatar? Al Jazeera gave Qatar a name, branding, a position, and Al Jazeera gave Qatar a window to the world. So definitely Qatar benefitted from Al Jazeera, definitely. But all that was done without Qatar using Al Jazeera as a political tool. If Qatar were to use Al Jazeera as a tool, that's it. Al Jazeera is over, and the Qataris know that. That is why they don't push to take over Al Jazeera's editorial. Once they use Al Jazeera as a political tool, Al Jazeera is down. What we achieved in 15 years could be abolished in 15 days.'"

BBC News, 1 Oct 2011, Hugh Miles: "[The Emir of Qatar's] first priority has always been the security of Qatar, which is one of the reasons he established al-Jazeera in the first place. Like most Arabs, he views US policies in the Middle East as the biggest threat to regional security, so influencing Washington is a major objective, which for a small country like Qatar is a formidable challenge. But al-Jazeera is the ideal tool for provoking an international reaction and the kind of aggressive coverage the network produced under Wadah Khanfar served him well. Now as the forces of change al-Jazeera has helped unleash across the region look increasingly out of control, it seems the Emir is intent on bringing the network to heel. But no matter who heads al-Jazeera, they will not be able to turn back the clock or stuff the information genie back in its bottle."

See previous post about Al Jazeera and Wadah Khanfar.