Zimbabwe's "farce" in awarding radio licenses results in continued need for "offshore broadcasters."

Posted: 30 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
SAPA, 25 Nov 2011: "Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's office on Friday slammed the awarding of Zimbabwe's first independent radio licences to companies aligned with President Robert Mugabe as a 'farce'. Two licences were handed late on Thursday: one to a company owned by a vocal supporter of Mugabe; the other to a state-run media group regarded as his mouthpiece. ... They will be the first private radio stations in Zimbabwe, which has no independent television and bans foreign journalists from permanent work. Several radio stations such as Voice of America and Radio Voice of the People broadcast into Zimbabwe via shortwave, but do not operate from the country. Voice of the People, one of the unsuccessful applicants, has also seen its offices bombed." See also Radio Survivor, 28 Nov 2011, Matthew Lasar.

The Zimbabwean, 24 Nov 2011: "Soldiers living in army camps are not allowed to read private newspapers or tune into private radio stations, a senior army officer has confirmed. The army official, who cannot be named, said soldiers were only allowed to read state newspapers and tune to Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation radio and television programmes. Foreign television channels have been criticized by Zanu (PF) party as anti-Robert Mugabe. Radio stations such as Studio 7 broadcast through the Short Wave from Voice of America, or SW Radio Africa from South Africa, are also banned."

Radio Voice of the People, 30 Nov 2011: "Radio VOP Executive Director John Masuku has said ,the company’s board is discussing what action to take after it was denied a licence to operate a commercial radio station by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). Masuku said Radio VOP’s board was yet to come up with a concrete resolution on the way forward after the denial of an operating licence. ... As a result of government’s reluctance to open up the airwaves offshore broadcasters such as Radio VOP, VOA's Studio 7 and Shortwave Radio Africa are forced to broadcast on shortwave and have often been jammed by the government. Critics note that Zimbabwe is the only country in southern Africa without independent or private broadcasters despite being the first country in the region to have a television broadcast as far back as the early 1960s." -- "Offshore" is an interesting word to use in connection with a landlocked country.

VOA Persian's "Parazit" gets some static on Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 29 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Jazeera English, "The Stream," 17 Nov 2011: "Parazit: Voice of America or voice of the people? Can the VOA help Iran’s pro-reform movement, or is it peddling Washington’s agenda?" Video interview and discussion with Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi, host and producer of "Parazit" on VOA Persian News Network.

This episode of "The Stream" was uneven and at times chaotic, but overall it was an interesting discussion about the highly publicized "Parazit." Parazit's host and producer received their first tough questions since their appearance on NPR's "On the Media," 14 Jan 2011. The host of "The Stream" raised some of the issues I mentioned in the USC CPD Magazine, 22 June 2011.

During the program, questioners and critics noted that Parazit, as part of VOA, was funded by the US government. The obvious response (which I would have forgotten, too, in the heat of the moment) is that Al Jazeera is also government funded. Is "The Stream" therefore propaganda? Is BBC World Service propaganda?

The concept of news that is funded by a government but not controlled by that government is slightly difficult to explain. I attempted such explanations in the New York Times on 16 Nov 2002 and 4 June 2007.

Iranian.com, 26 Nov 2011, bahmani: The host of "The Stream" "said 'Millions of Iranians watch Parazit', and that the show is produced by the VOA. The truth is that the show is produced by Saman Arbabi, who like many Iranians is a technically gifted and creative one-man machine. If you watch the show, you can see this in action. Pre-set stand alone cameras pointed at the host, Kambiz Hosseini, an actor by trade, an angry Iranian by birth, and a gifted comedian by God, performs his well-timed pointed schtick with the green screen, animated edits, and sound effects courtesy of whatever meal Arbabi intends to serve us each week. The truth is that the show is merely BROADCAST by the VOA."

On C-Span, several interviews with the several directors of the several USIB entities.

Posted: 28 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
C-Span, The Communicators, 22 Nov 2011: "Carlos Garcia-Perez talked about U.S. government-sponsored broadcasts to Cuba. Radio broadcasts into the communist-ruled country began in 1985, television broadcasts in 1990 , and they are known as Radio and TV Marti. The broadcasts are jammed by the Cuban government and some in Congress argue that the future of TV Marti in particular is in question because viewership is small, compared with U.S. broadcasts to other countries, and news from other Western-based news operations appears to be available. This week 'The Communicators' airs the third in a series about U.S. Government-sponsored broadcasts to other countries. These broadcasts are services of the Broadcasting Board of Governors."

C-Span, The Communicators, 19 Nov 2011: "Brian Conniff talked about the mission of U.S. government-backed broadcasts into the Middle East via Alhurra and Radio Sawa. Topics included changes since their launch in 2004 and 2002, their role in the popular Arab uprisings during Spring 2011, and challenges to broadcasting into the Middle East. Alhurra and Radio Sawa are among the broadcast services of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The others are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and Radio and TV Marti. This week's 'The Communicators' is the second in a series about U.S. Government-sponsored broadcasts to other countries."

C-Span, The Communicators, 6 Sept 2011: "Director of the Voice of America (VOA) David Ensor discussed changes in the U.S. government-funded national and international news and information network. This week's 'The Communicators' is the first in a series about U.S. Government-sponsored broadcasts to other countries."

Are presidents of RFE/RL and Radio Free Asia next to be interviewed by C-Span?

BBC Global News exec: "We continue to deliver twice the audience for every pound invested than the American broadcasters."

Posted: 28 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
UK House of Commons, 22 Nov 2011, oral evidence before the Foreign Affairs Committee by Lord Patten of Barnes, chairman of the BBC Trust, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News, and Jim Egan, controller, strategy and distribution, BBC Global News: Lord Patten: "Both I myself and the director-general of the BBC have made it clear that we wanted to retain the funding of the World Service. We will have to explain clearly to licence fee payers why they should be paying for the World Service, rather than that cost being met by the taxpayer. I do not myself regard that as an excessively difficult job. We will establish an international committee in the Trust, which will be chaired by a newly appointed trustee, Lord Williams, whom members of the Committee will, I am sure, know. He is himself an ex-member of the World Service, an academic, a senior UN official and a senior adviser to Foreign Ministers and to a Prime Minister, so he is very well qualified for the task. When we become responsible financially for the World Service in 2014, we will set out an operating licence spelling out the objectives and purposes of the World Service, which we will agree with the Foreign Secretary. ...

"The BBC is hugely proud of the World Service. I have just come back from Washington, where, among other things, I spent a day with the World Service and our BBC bureau in Washington. In America and elsewhere in the world, the World Service is hugely well regarded, and I think that the Committee knows that in addition to the Committee being concerned about the cuts in the World Service last year, the State Department and our colleagues in America are very concerned about these matters as well. I do not think that all the Americans’ similar services, such as Voice of America, have an audience, in aggregate, as big as the World Service’s."

Peter Horrocks: "The audience level has dropped. It has not dropped as much as we originally thought it might, because we adapted the plans, but nevertheless it has dropped by about 15 million on previous years. It has actually dropped from 180 million to 166 million-that is 14 million."

Jim Egan: "I would not pretend that we do not have problems in some individual services in our audience, but overall, we continue to deliver twice the audience for every pound invested than the American broadcasters, for example, and much more than that compared with the budgets for the Dutch, German and French international broadcasters. ... Al-Jazeera has performed extremely strongly, particularly over the past few years and during the events in the Arab-speaking world. There is growing competitive intensity on the supply side, which comes from both the established international broadcasters I mentioned, plus new Government-funded broadcasters, with whom, frankly, we do not have the resources to compete. Part of my role involves seeking to place BBC programming on domestic radio stations, and we are just unable to respond to initiatives by the Chinese in particular. They will pay very significantly for their programming to be carried, rather than BBC programming, which we will never pay to have carried, because we believe in the underlying quality."

There are many more details about BBC World Service strategies and plans in this transcript.

As discussed in a previous post, the combined weekly audience of US international broadcasting (five entities in 59 languages) is 187 million, larger than that of BBC World Service (27 languages) at 166 million. The weekly audience for BBC Global News, adding World Service, BBC World News (the global English television news channel), and the international version of BBC.com, is 225 million. The annual budget of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors is $760 million, versus $338 million for BBC World Service. BBC World News is, in theory, self-funding through advertising, and the international BBC.com has already announced a profit.

Idea for graduate thesis: compare and contrast Central Asia Online with RFE/RL's Central Asian services.

Posted: 28 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, 22 Nov 2011, David Trilling: "Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight 'influence websites' funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy's rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats. ... [F]or a small outlet covering an obscure corner of the world, Central Asia Online does relatively well. The site has published an average of 71 stories per month this year, which, a SOCOM spokesman told me, garner some 168,000 article reads, 85,000 unique visitors, and 380 reader comments per month." -- RFE/RL's content might resemble that of Central Asia Online if US international broadcasting is "coordinated" in a US strategic communication framework, as advocated by some Washington think tank fellows.

Registan.net, 22 Nov 2011, Joshua Foust: "Trilling seems to misunderstand the role of Information Operations in modern military doctrine. The DOD does not do a good job in this arena (in fact, criticizing the DOD’s propaganda is a major, recurring topic of this blog). But that doesn’t mean you can remove these efforts from context. ... Still, Trilling is definitely on the right path. Central Asia Online is the worst sort of clumsy trainwreck that has, sadly, come to define the military’s IO efforts the last few years. ... This program [needs] to be evaluated from the outside, whatever their compartmentalization, and either unified, constrained, or shut down entirely."

VOA Croatian Service closes; was descendant of VOA Serbo-Croatian dating to 1943.

Posted: 28 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 23 Nov 2011: "Voice of America’s Croatian Service signs off for the last time Wednesday, after 19 years of broadcast history that began during the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and ends with Croatia’s emergence as a democratic member of the European community. VOA Director David Ensor called the service 'a model of journalistic integrity that provided the people of Croatia with fair and impartial news during the dark days of civil war in the Balkans.' Ensor commended the service, which he said, 'served as a vital source of independent reporting and insight into American policy.' Voice of America established its Croatian Language Service on February 20, 1992, a time when the most brutal war since World War II was raging in the Balkans. Spun off from the former Yugoslav Service which had been broadcasting to the area since 1943, VOA Croatian broadcasts began on radio, but were quickly expanded into television. The service was one of VOA’s first to establish an online presence." -- The closure of VOA Croatian has been included in recent BBG budget requests. See previous post. VOA Serbian continues.

Washington Post, 28 Nov 2011, Tara Bahrampour: "The news was not surprising to employees of the Croatian service. For six years in a row, they were told their program may be canceled. But fans in Croatia were taken aback by a note posted Nov. 22 on the Web site, announcing that the next day’s broadcasts would be the last. 'I can’t believe what I’ve just read,' one wrote in an e-mail. One called VOA 'the only light in the darkness.' Employees of the service said they worry about leaving their audience at the mercy of homegrown news sources."

RFE/RL reports on initial audience reactions to the new Al Jazeera Balkans.

Posted: 28 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 26 Nov 2011, Mirna Sadikovic and Daisy Sindelar: "[T]his month, the Qatar-based company went regional, launching a station broadcasting in local languages in the Balkans, with headquarters based in Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital Sarajevo. And its growth is set to continue, with similar channels planned for Turkey and East Africa. Al-Jazeera Balkans (AJB), which debuted November 11, offers six hours of daily programming to all of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, promoting itself as the Balkans' only 'regional' broadcaster. (RFE/RL's Balkans Service offers national and regional radio programming in Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia, in addition to national coverage in Kosovo and Macedonia.) ... One writer, 'Kenijada,' praised AJB's polish but quibbled with the station's purported claim to deliver the Balkans' 'untold' stories: 'The region is covered only with thematic pieces, and those come only after 15 minutes of bombings in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Tajikistan...as far as local news and information are concerned, you obviously won't find them on AJ Balkan.' But Dubravko Boban, a 40-year-old telecommunication engineer working in Sarajevo, expressed hope that Al-Jazeera would present a fresh alternative to local media, like the Muslim-Croat semi-public Federation TV and Bosnia's state-run BHTV, which are seen as deeply subjective. ... Although the editorial staff of AJB is almost exclusively local, the Al-Jazeera network employs synchronicity editors to ensure all of its stations follow a consistent news-gathering strategy. Such mechanisms have raised fears in some Balkan observers that Al-Jazeera may have set stakes in the region with the hopes of turning its focus away from Europe and closer to the Middle East. (Al-Jazeera did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for an interview.)" See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English, "channel of reference," now available on India's Dish TV, available to 11.7 million households.

Posted: 28 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hindu Business Line, 18 Nov 2011: "International news and current affairs channel, Al Jazeera English, has tied up with direct-to-home player, Dish TV, for its distribution in India. 'We are in talks with other direct-to-home players like Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV and Videocon and cable operators, but to begin with we will be available on the Dish TV platform,' said Mr Al Anstey, Managing Director, Al Jazeera English. It would be a free-to-air channel and is expected to reach 11.7 million households. Asked why it took Al Jazeera so long to firm up a partner after obtaining a licence to air in the country in December last year, Mr Anstey said, 'We are a five-year-old company and were not very well known at that point in time. It took us a while to build our reputation and have gradually come to be known as the "channel of reference".' The channel has a Delhi Bureau headed by Mr Anmol Saxena, with six to seven reporters and 60 stringers across the country. There would be both Indian and international coverage on the channel. ... The channel will be international in its outlook but will also cover local news with an international impact. Going forward, it does not rule out the possibility of a Hindi Al Jazeera."

TradeArabia, 20 Nov 2011: "Al Jazeera English has been launched across India on the country’s number one DTH platform. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh welcomed the channel in a meeting with managing director Al Anstey and India bureau chief Anmol Saxena. 'Al Jazeera is gaining quite a reputation worldwide. I wish them success for their launch in India,' he said. The channel announced the launch on Dish TV enabling Al Jazeera English to reach 11.7 million households across India and making it available to over 48 million individuals."

Media Mughals, 14 Nov 2011, Henna Rakheja: "The country direct series on BBC World News will be ‘India Direct’ this month. It will explore the everyday life of India, through a special series of reports and programming focussing on the country. The India Direct season will explore a range of issues and topics, from the economy and the challenges facing the local workforce, to standards of living for people at every level of society of a particular country."

In China, "shanzhai woks" (illegal satellite dishes) are cheaper than legal satellite receivers.

Posted: 26 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 18 Nov 2011, citing Itxinwen.com via marbridgeconsulting.com: "Wu Chunyong, chief editor of broadcast industry news site Dwrh.net, said today most 'shanzhai woks' (a term for illegal satellite dishes) cost between RMB 100 and 300, while legal direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) TV receivers cost approximately RMB 550. The difference in pricing has led provincial governments in Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, and Hebei to offer subsidies for the set-top boxes (STBs), with provincial financial authorities, broadcast authorities, and telecom operators each contributing more than RMB 100 per box, bringing the total cost to subscribers down to around RMB 200. Though sales of unlicensed satellite reception equipment have fallen, there are still tens of millions of devices on the market. Wu estimated an underground market with more than 100 mln customers."

Report: Syria confiscates satellite phones used by "terrorist groups" to contact "seditious and instigative TV channels targeting Syria."

Posted: 26 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Syrian Arab News Agency, 16 Nov 2011: "The authorities concerned confiscated a large number of highly advanced communication means and satellite devices found with the armed terrorist groups and the members working with the seditious and instigative TV channels targeting Syria. ... [It] included Thuraya satellite mobile phone sets which were used for satellite communication among the terrorists and those who work with them and between them and the misleading satellite TV channels and the external sides. ... The information found in these devices included the phone numbers of all the misleading satellite channels- al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, BBC, France 24 and others- and the phone numbers of Arab and foreign personalities involved in the events, in addition to tendentious and biased messages stored in advance. ... [The confiscated equipment also] included radios with advanced audio players that were used by the armed terrorist groups and saboteurs to create chaos and confusion. These devices store audio clips including recorded slogans and sounds to be replayed during the gatherings near the mosques and in the crowded markets to film them as anti-government protests."

India's Zee Entertainment seeks to expand distribution in the United States.

Posted: 25 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 17 Nov 2011, Brett Pulley and Ketaki Gokhale: "Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., India’s biggest publicly traded media broadcaster, is in talks with Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc. to expand distribution in the U.S. and plans to more than triple the number of homes it reaches in the country next year. Zee Entertainment’s programming now reaches about 10 million U.S. homes and the goal is to expand to 35 million to 40 million by the end of 2012, billionaire Chairman Subhash Chandra said. The company’s New York-based Veria Living network focuses on health and wellness. The plan comes as the company faces rising competition in India from Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV, Viacom Inc., Sony Corp. and Walt Disney Co., which this year said it would buy out its Indian partner. Expanding in the U.S. will also help Zee target the 2.8 million Indian Americans living in the country."

If the moon had nations, it could have international broadcasting, because apparently the moon has an ionosphere.

Posted: 25 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Space Travel, 17 Nov 2011, Tony Phillips: "How can a world without air have an ionosphere? Somehow the Moon has done it. ... Here on Earth, the ionosphere has a big impact on communications and navigation. For instance, it reflects radio waves, allowing shortwave radio operators to bounce transmissions over the horizon for long-range communications. ... The idea of an 'airless Moon' having an ionosphere didn't make much sense, but the evidence seemed compelling. ... For 40 years, the Moon's ionosphere remained a mystery until Tim Stubbs of the Goddard Space Flight Center published a possible solution earlier this year. The answer, he proposes, is moondust. ... An ionosphere made of dust instead of gas is new to planetary science. No one knows how it will behave at different times of night and day or at different phases of the solar cycle, or how it might affect future radio communications and navigation on the Moon."

Digital archive of shortwave pirate broadcasts now available.

Posted: 25 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Survivor, 16 Nov 2011, Paul Riismandel: "If radio tends to be an ephemeral medium, then shortwave pirate radio is especially ephemeral, heard by a very small audience, even if it is scattered across the globe. Shortwave pirate listeners tend to be dedicated, and recording airchecks is often part of the hobby. However, it’s one thing to record a shortwave pirate broadcast, and a whole other thing to catalog and preserve it. Luckily for us an enthusiast who goes by the name Sealord did just that, and then digitized the recordings and uploaded them to share. The collection spans the mid-90s through to September 2011."

Liberia's religious radio station ELWA "has been destroyed again" (updated with correction).

Posted: 25 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Mission Network News, 10 Nov 2011: "One of Liberia's oldest radio stations has been destroyed again. The Monrovia-based Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA) burnt to the ground Tuesday night. Lee Sonius with HCJB Global says, 'They lost everything. I've already seen some pictures of the building, and the destruction was quite widespread. They lost all of their equipment, programs, and music.' The fire started around 9 pm local time. As to its cause, 'The cause of the fire has not been completely determined yet, but it doesn't look like it was due to an electrical problem.' Several reports coming out of Liberia have been hinting at arson connected to political unrest. ... The good news is that the transmitter was in a separate building and is unharmed by the fire. Sonius adds that 'they actually had a small, emergency portable studio at the site of the transmitter. They are already back on the air in a temporary way.' ... The radio station daily broadcast eight hours of English programming and one and a half hours of Liberian language programming." -- ELWA is now a Liberian domestic station transmitting on FM and shortwave. From the the 1950s to the 1980s, it was a prominent international shortwave religious broadcaster. My 1987 World Radio TV Handbook shows the station broadcasting in Arabic, English, French, Hausa, Fulfulde, Ibo, Kanuri, Yoruba/Nupe, and "various." That iteration of ELWA was destroyed in 1990, during the Liberian civil war of that time. See previous posts on 9 Sept 2011 and 6 Aug 2008.

Update and correction: Glenn Hauser informs us that ELWA has been off shortwave for a few years. This was reported previously in his DX Listening Digest: "4760 kHz last reported to DSWCI DBS in June 2008 (Wolfgang Büschel, BC-DX Nov 18 via DXLD)."

International broadcasters step up Digital Radio Mondiale shortwave transmissions to and from Asia.

Posted: 24 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Mission Network News, 17 Nov 2011: "Striving to extend its strategic outreach in Asia, international Christian media organization Trans World Radio has upgraded its powerful shortwave transmission station on the island of Guam. The advancement gives TWR the ability to cover much of the spiritually-needy region--including China and southeast Asia--with a robust, quality signal. ... Two 250,000-watt, digital-capable Thomson transmitters have been installed to provide increased coverage to the Asia region. These revitalized transmitters join three existing 100,000-watt units. Digital shortwave capability will enable TWR to reach both rural areas and large cities with a strong signal. We asked [TWR President Lauren Libby] why digital is significant. 'Frankly it sounds just about like FM radio. And India, China and Russia are rebuilding all of their broadcast platforms right now to go digital on both shortwave and what we call the "AM band."'" See also TWR press releases on 17 Nov and 18 Nov 2011, the latter with a podcast of the dedication broadcast.

RadioActivity, 23 Nov 2011, Alokesh Gupta: "Starting with the new winter season effective 30th Oct, 2011 Vatican Radio has introduced new DRM broadcast beamed to India on 15190 kHz at 15:30-15:50 UTC, Sunday-Friday, in English; the same broadcast on Saturdays is 15:30-16:00 UTC and it carries the Mass in English.Vatican Radio started this DRM service to promote this standard in India considering the plan undertaken by the Indian Government to switch to digital."

Digital Radio Mondiale Newsletter, November 2011: "Indian state broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) has increased its DRM SW transmission by 8.25 hours to a total of approximately 16 hours a day. The new schedule is already on air." -- The AIR schedule (pdf) shows mostly international broadcasts, but one line is this: "0900-1200 on 6100 Vividh Bharati, DRM NVIS." This appears to be a domestic transmission for India. (It is also the only line that does not specify UTC, so 0900-1200 is perhaps Indian Standard Time.) The NVIS stands for near vertical incidence skywave, in which antennas are designed to reach nearby rather than distant targets. The relative propagational stability of NVIS could make it very suitable for DRM.

Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium press release, 17 Nov 2011: "DRM supporter company Spaceline Ltd, Bulgaria, has started a special broadcast in DRM mode, called DRM Mix. The project is intended to demonstrate reception quality to the listeners presenting variety of programmes from different broadcasters who wish to participate in this project. Spaceline will be transmitting DRM Mix every Saturday from its station Noratus in Armenia from 18.00 - 21.00 UTC on 7590 KHz and the target area is Europe. Broadcasts this Saturday will be of KBC Radio; TWR; AWR; Wavescan, HCJB World Radio and great music from the 70's."

YouTube video remembers the Deutsche Welle shortwave relay at Sines, Portugal, closed on 29 October.

Posted: 23 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
YouTube, 15 Nov 2011, Carlos CT4RK: "This video was recorded in the last transmission of Deutsche Welle shortwave station in Sines - Portugal. This modern and fine station, ready to run full DRM 30 transmissions are now in silence." Via Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 16 Nov 2011.

The end of October was also the end of the BBC (Babcock) shortwave transmitting site at Rampisham, England (see previous post). Kai Ludwig in Germany points out that the last minutes of Rampisham transmitted the last minutes Deutsche Welle's German service on shortwave (see previous post), "so you get the end of a radio station plus the end of a transmitter plant for the price of one."

RFE/RL redesigns its "English" website.

Posted: 23 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 22 Nov 2011, Luke Allnutt @lukeallnutt: "New design for RFE/RL English website. Check it out... rferl.org."

Seems more English oriented -- and more orange -- than the previous design. Still an excellent source of regional (and occasionally beyond) news coverage. As a multimedia consumer of international broadcasting, my preference is that an international broadcasting website should have links to all of its languages, in the language of each service, in the top half of the home page. The user should not have to pull down a menu labeled in another language to find content in the user's language, because the user might not understand the language of the label, and thus have no idea where the menu is. RFE/RL has separate URLs for each language service website, so perhaps the thinking is that speakers of those languages will go to their respective websites and won't use rferl.org as a portal. But, I think, there are some non-anglophones who will try to use rferl.org as a gateway. (By the way, BBC World Service has restored links to language services on its home page. I grumbled about the previous design on 7 May 2011.)

Discovery Channel won't show global warming episode of BBC's "Frozen Planet" in the USA, sparking heated discussion.

Posted: 23 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 15 Nov 2011, Andy Bloxham: "The BBC has dropped a climate change episode from its wildlife series Frozen Planet to help the show sell better abroad. British viewers will see seven episodes, the last of which deals with global warming and the threat to the natural world posed by man. However, viewers in other countries, including the United States, will only see six episodes. The environmental programme has been relegated by the BBC to an 'optional extra' alongside a behind-the-scenes documentary which foreign networks can ignore. ... Viewers in the United States, where climate change sceptics are particularly strong group, will not see the full episode. Instead, the BBC said that Discovery, which shows the series in the US, had a 'scheduling issue so only had slots for six episodes', so 'elements' of the climate change episode would be incorporated into their final show, with editorial assistance from the Corporation. ... A spokesman for Greenpeace, the environmental group, said: 'It’s a bit like pressing the stop button on Titanic just as the iceberg appears.'"

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 16 Nov 2011, Susanna Rustin: "That audiences invited to sit through five hours of groundbreaking natural history – including the first footage of killer whales tipping seals off ice floes (as Captain Scott said they could 100 years ago), and a hibernating polar bear nursing her cubs while half-asleep – could be sent away none the wiser as to the existential threat facing many of these species, seems ludicrous."

WJLA TV (Washington), Weather Blog, 17 Nov 2011, John Metcalfe: "[T]he polar regions and all their wonderful wildlife might not be around for much longer if the climate keeps warming up. Isn't that important enough to warrant airing the full episode? Doing it the current way seems like running a documentary on the wonders of a lush, mountaintop ecosystem without noting that bulldozers are coming through the next day to clear the land for strip mining."

New Statesman, 17 Nov 2011, Samira Shackle: "Caroline Torrance, BBC Worldwide's Director of Programme Investment, wrote in a blog that the first six episodes 'have a clear story arc charting a year in our polar regions', adding: 'Although it is filmed by the same team and to the same production standard, this programme is necessarily different in style. Having a presenter in vision requires many broadcasters to have the programme dubbed, ultimately giving some audiences a very different experience.'"

Columbia Journalism Review, The Observatory blog, 16 Nov 2011, Curtis Brainard: "While it is true that skepticism and apathy about climate change are problems in the US and that Republican presidential candidates have used climate change as a wedge issue, it’s hard to believe that the BBC and Discovery Channel, which have both produced mounds of climate coverage over the years, were afraid of offending skeptics. But this isn’t the first time in recent months that critics have charged that the Corporation has gone soft on climate coverage."

US public radio turns to BBC World Service for news of police sweep through Occupy Wall Street encampment.

Posted: 23 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 16 Nov 2011, David Tereshchuk: "New York City's police sweep through the Occupy Wall Street encampment, cannily timed for 1:00 a.m., did successfully catch much of the media on their back foot (or even perhaps asleep). Like a lot of news consumers, I first heard the story on the BBC World Service twenty minutes or so after the operation started. But even several hours later my hometown's own public radio station, WNYC, embarrassingly had to turn, during its The Takeaway breakfast show, to an on-site report from the BBC's reporter rather than from any of its own team. The Takeaway prides itself (mostly rightly) on being a national show with a New York edge, in contrast with the Washington-based Morning Edition from National Public Radio. It's merciful that The Takeaway (distributed by Public Radio International) can call on the BBC as a production partner, along with Boston's WGBH and the New York Times. (In full disclosure, I should say that I sit as an adviser to WNYC on one of its boards.) Slow responses also prevailed elsewhere across the US media."

Wait wait, isn't that NPR on the television?

Posted: 22 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 16 Nov 2011, Jill Serjeant: "The satirical radio news quiz show 'Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me' is coming to television for the first time in a year-end special with a British twist. National Public Radio (NPR) and BBC America said on Wednesday they had joined forces for a '2011 Year in Review' TV show in December that will look at the year's top stories from both American and British points of view. The December 23 TV show will feature host Peter Sagal, comedians Paula Poundstone and Alonzo Bodden, along with as yet unnamed British comedy talent. It also will be broadcast on NPR radio stations on the weekend of Dec 24-25. ... 'Wait Wait' has been a popular staple of NPR since 1998 with more than 3.2 million weekly listeners. The tie-up with BBC America is the latest in the cable TV channel's efforts to develop original programing to complement its menu of British TV imports."

Jewish News One (JN1) expands coverage with new satellite leases.

Posted: 22 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
European Jewish Press, 13 Nov 2011: "Almost two months after its historic launch, Jewish News One (JN1), the first international Jewish news channel, has widened its coverage and is now available in Europe, America, the Middle East and the European part of Russia, via Satellite reception, the European Jewish Union (EJU) announced. It said this was made possible by carriage agreements entered into with Astra4A, HotBird and Galaxy 19 Satellites. JN1 will soon also be available on the Internet and cable television. The English language 24-hour global independent news channel went on air on September 21 and was launched in Brussels, the capital of the European Union, where some of JN1’s offices are located. ... 'JN1’s main objective is to create a world class media platform dealing with important and relevant topics, alongside other international providers such as CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC World Service, France 24 and Russia Today,' EJU said."

Abu Dhabi's "capital, ambition, brainpower and internationalism" are "good news for media," he writes.

Posted: 22 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 11 Nov 2011, Colin Morrison: "Abu Dhabi's extended media operations are right at the heart of its global ambitions. Symbolically, what had started life as the Emirates Media Company, based in Dubai, is now the Abu Dhabi Media Company. This is the burgeoning group sprawling across TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, film and digital ops. It's the largest media owner in the Middle East and rapidly getting larger. ... The country's media-sports-culture strategy could almost have been written by Rupert Murdoch during one of his fawning trips to the sheikhdom. It is simultaneously a way of building industry, tourism, inward investment and strong links especially with western countries where media is, well, so important. And just as Al Jazeera (from Qatar) has been enjoying fast-growing Western audiences after a decade of being identified too closely with those Bin Laden video messages, guess what Abu Dhabi is doing next? Sky News Arabia - with Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB, coming to a transponder near you. ... You can either believe that this most admired city-state will go down in the flames set to destroy Assad's Syria. Or you can predict that, within a few years, Abu Dhabi will (among many other things) be one of the world's leading media operators. I, for one, believe the unrivalled combination of capital, ambition, brainpower and internationalism make Abu Dhabi the safest bet that ever came out of the Middle East. And good news for media too."

The future of international broadcasting is "Love in the Wild," "Freaky Eaters," and the like.

Posted: 22 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 21 Nov 2011, Amy Chozick: "American media companies may be cutting back on the domestic front, but they are shopping heavily overseas. The object of their desires? Reality shows like 'Big Brother,' 'Promzillas' and 'Freaky Eaters.' As giant companies like Time Warner and Discovery obtain a growing portion of their revenue from overseas markets, they are homing in on a handful of relatively small foreign production houses. They value these companies because they own what the industry calls 'formats' — entertainment concepts like reality or game shows that can be plopped down in almost any country and find audiences regardless of cultural divides. Though it is shedding assets in the United States, Time Warner made a $1.4 billion bid this month for Endemol, the Dutch production company behind reality stalwarts like 'Big Brother,' 'Wipeout,' and more recently 'Love in the Wild,' a dating show set in a jungle. Also this month Discovery Communications acquired an outside production company for the first time when it paid an estimated $16 million for Betty, which makes 'Freaky Eaters' and other British television shows."

Al Jazeera Balkans, now on the air, will find out if "people from one part of the Balkans are still interested in the others."

Posted: 21 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Jazeera English, 11 Nov 2011: "Al Jazeera has launched its Balkans channel and website, broadcasting across the region from the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. Al Jazeera Balkans (AJB) will tap into a regional audience of more than 35 million people as well as a large diaspora from each of the six former Yugoslav republics and beyond. It will broadcast in the common language spoken in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. Apart from its main studio in Sarajevo, the channel will have branches in Belgrade, Skopje and Zagreb, deploying 15 correspondents in 11 countries. The region's domestic media currently tends to cater for separate ethnic markets and the new channel hopes to tackle issues on a region-wide basis."

AP, 11 Nov 2011: "Filled with hate speech and nationalistic propaganda, media in the former Yugoslavia played a key role in turning ethnic groups against each other and spreading fear — this way mobilizing people to go fight. 'The war started with the media and media continue to fight it, it’s not over,' said Tanja Topic, a political analyst from the Bosnian Serb administrative center of Banja Luka. 'Now, Al-Jazeera is entering the space with their serious approach to information. This can be a challenge for the others here who could start being a bit more responsible toward the public,' she said."

BBC News, 11 Nov 2011: "The BBC closed its Serbian, Macedonian and Albanian radio services earlier this year to save money."

The Economist, 12 Nov 2011: "Tarik Djodjic, the managing director, says that €15m ($20.5m) has been invested in Al Jazeera Balkans. The channel’s editor, Goran Milic, is linked in the (older) public mind with Yutel, a state-run news station that sought, between 1990 and 1992, to keep Yugoslavia from falling apart. Also based in Sarajevo, the channel died in the shelling. But Mr Milic dismisses any comparison with Yutel. His new venture is privately run, he says: 'No one can tell us anything about our editorial decisions.' What is not clear is whether people from one part of the Balkans are still interested in the others. They might enjoy each other’s reality shows. But news broadcasts from Sarajevo, Banja Luka (capital of the Serb part of Bosnia), Belgrade and Zagreb are all utterly different. The channel faces another problem. Many Serbs and Croats will assume it is 'Muslim' television. ... What sort of influence Qatar may want, or gain, in the Balkans, is a good question."

Weekly Standard, 15 Nov 2011, Stephen Schwartz: "In entering the Balkans, Al Jazeera has opted for an attempted revival of a long-shattered Yugoslav cultural unity, combined with a gambit for greater Islamist influence. Its decision comes at a bad time for the region, with Wahhabi radicals agitating across Balkan borders, and the neo-fundamentalist Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan bidding for revived prestige in the former Ottoman provinces in Europe. It is doubtful that evocation of the long-gone, artificial nationality of the former Yugoslavia will make Al Jazeera’s investment in the Balkans profitable. However, the corrupt politicians dominating the ex-Yugoslav successor states may find it lucrative to have connections to Gulf petrobillionaires."

YouTube, 8 Nov 2011, AJBalkans: Half-hour promotional video about Al jazeera Balkans, with English subtitles.

Eutelsat Press Release, 10 Nov 2011: "Eutelsat Communications announces that its W3C satellite has been selected by Al Jazeera Balkans to broadcast its new network to viewers across Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro."

Media Mughals, 14 Nov 2011: "Al Jazeera has announced that it will launch two new TV channels in Turkish and Swahili in 2012."

Italy's RAI joins other international channels on Time Warner cable systems in the United States.

Posted: 21 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
International Media Distribution press release, 10 Nov 2011: "As one of the most respected broadcasters in Europe, Rai Italia promotes the rich culture of Italy through a unique blend of festivals, concerts, movies, cooking shows, game shows, documentaries, and news. Previously available in Charlotte, Syracuse, Rochester, and Albany, Rai Italia has now expanded into all parts of the Carolinas and the Northeast USA served by Time Warner Cable. ... Rai Italia is available from $9.95 per month... . International Media Distribution (IMD) has been a leading provider of in-language programming in the U.S. for over a decade. IMD represents over 30 TV channels including two SVOD services with content from a variety of international sources: Antenna Satellite (Greek), ART (Arabic), ATV (Cantonese), Bollywood Hits On Demand (Hindi), CCTV-4 (Chinese), CTI Zhong Tian Channel (Chinese), Channel One Russia, Deutsche Welle (German), Filipino On Demand (Tagalog), Mediaset Italia (Italian), MYX (English), Phoenix InfoNews (Chinese), Phoenix North America Chinese Channel, Rai Italia (Italian), RTN (Russian), RTN Plus (Russian), SBTN (Vietnamese), STAR India GOLD (Hindi), STAR India NEWS (Hindi), STAR ONE (Hindi), STAR India PLUS (Hindi), TFC & TFC-E (Filipino), Tele5 (Polish), TV Polonia, TVP Info (Polish), TV Asia (Hindi), TV JAPAN, TVK (Korean), TVK2 (Korean), TV5MONDE (French), VIJAY (Tamil)." -- RAI is, of course, in Italian, with no English subtitles that I am aware of. See the RAI Internazionale web page. See also IMD press release, 11 Nov 2011 about a free preview of TV Japan.

Vietnamese unlicensed shortwave broadcasters sentenced to two years.

Posted: 20 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 10 Nov 2011, Stephen Gregory: "The trial of two Vietnamese broadcasters whose shortwave broadcasts into China had drawn the ire of the Chinese regime concluded Thursday morning in Hanoi with both being found guilty in what witnesses say was a show trial. At 11.15 a.m. the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam sentenced Vu Duc Trung to three years and Le Van Thanh to two years, with both sentences counting time served. Since they have waited approximately 17 months in jail for trial, Trung must serve another one year, seven months, and Thanh seven months. ... The trial of two Vietnamese broadcasters whose shortwave broadcasts into China had drawn the ire of the Chinese regime concluded Thursday morning in Hanoi with both being found guilty in what witnesses say was a show trial."

Radio Free Asia, 11 Nov 2011, Quynh Chi: "Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement Thursday that it was 'appalled' by the sentencing, calling it 'harsh and outrageous.' 'The unlicensed transmission of programs that were not in Vietnamese nor aimed at a Vietnamese audience should not have been characterized as anything other than an administrative offense,' the press freedom organization said. 'This verdict shows the authorities were conveying the anger of their Chinese counterparts, who were the targets of the criticism expressed in the radio programs.'" See also AFP, 10 Nov 2011.

See previous post about same subject.

Nielsen: Southeast Asians "going online with gusto."

Posted: 20 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Nielsen Wire, 10 Nov 2011: "With increased access to broadband networks, a proliferation of WiFi sites and a burgeoning smartphone market, it is little surprise that residents of six countries in Southeast Asia are going online with gusto. But what is really raising eyebrows is the fact that in some of these countries Internet usage is now surpassing traditional media such as TV, radio or print. Nielsen’s new Southeast Asia Digital Consumer Report examined the digital media habits and attitudes of consumers in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Singaporeans led the region in online usage, spending more than a day (25 hours) online each week, while Filipinos and Malaysians came close behind, spending 21.5 hours and 19.8 hours a week online, respectively. Indonesians trailed the region, spending an average of 14 hours per week."

Iran's version of the UK's Marine Offences Act of 1967: no advertising on "foreign satellite TV networks."

Posted: 20 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 8 Nov 2011, Chris Forrester: "Iran’s state broadcaster has transmitted an interview with the country’s police commander warning companies, businesses and private individuals that they must not advertise on 'foreign satellite TV networks'. Officially, watching satellite TV in Iran is illegal and dishes and receiving equipment can be – and often is – confiscated. However, a growing number of channels are broadcasting in Farsi. MBC Persia is but one, and the BBC’s Persian service is frequently jammed. Nevertheless a growing number of channels, Arab-based and international, are targeting Farsi viewers in Iran, Afghanistan, the UAE and neighbouring countries. ... Nat-Geo Farsi’s advertising is sold via Dubai’s Broadcast Middle East. BME’s CEO is Zaid Mohseni, who told Abu Dhabi’s ‘The National’ newspaper that Iran’s total advertising market is expected to double to $1 billion over the next few years." -- This would also affect the popular Farsi1 entertainment channel. There are parallels between this Iranian directive and the UK's Marine Offences Act of 1967, which banned advertising on Britain's offshore pirate radio stations, putting most of them out of business.

BBC Caribbean archives handed over to the University of the West Indies.

Posted: 20 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Gleaner (Kingston), 9 Nov 2011, Howard Campbell: "Archival material from the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) Carib-bean Service programme has found a new home at the University of the West Indies (UWI). The catalogue, which comprises 3,000 hours' text of audio of Caribbean Service programmes from 1988 to 2011, was officially handed over recently at the UWI's Mona [Jamaica] campus. A statement from the UWI said the archive includes three of the Caribbean Service's popular features: BBC Caribbean Magazine, BBC Report and BBC Caribbean Specials. ... The Caribbean Services' pre-digital archives (1998-2004) have been stored on compact disc and are currently at the UWI's St Augustine campus in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Content from 2004 to its final programme on March 25 this year is currently being digitised and is expected to be posted on the UWI's website in 2012. The BBC cited economic challenges for closing its Caribbean department. ... The BBC first launched programming for Caribbean listeners in 1939. That show, 'Calling The West Indies', gave West Indian soldiers in the British army an opportunity to read letters on air to family in the Caribbean, during World War II."

Croatian cable/DTH provider provides international channels.

Posted: 20 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 9 Nov 2011, Chris Dziadul: "The leading Croatian cable operator B.net has added a record 21 channels to its offer while at the same time keep its subscription fees unchanged. Da Vinci Learning, Top Shop, Fight Channel. GINX. Al Jazeera Balkans, SBTV and DUTV are now part of the Extended package... . The latter are Al Jazeera English, BBC World News, Bloomberg Television, CCTV News, CNBC, DW, Fox News, France 24, N24, Russia Today, Sky News International and TV Espana. ... Besides being a cable operator B.net operates the DTH platform B.net Total TV."

Intelsat will add satellites for Africa, while SES CEO thinks there is excess satellite capacity over Africa.

Posted: 20 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
SouthAfrica.info, 9 Nov 2011: "African satellite service provider Intelsat has announced new contracts with customers using its video distribution neighbourhoods and broadband capacity, as well as plans to launch three new satellites to increase capacity to the continent. The launch of the Intelsat New Dawn in April this year has enabled the company to supply critical Ku-band communications infrastructure to African customers from a geostationary orbital slot at 32.8° East. 'From introducing direct-to-home (DTH) platforms, to supporting reliable broadband in remote regions, Intelsat's satellite network has been a springboard for technology advancement in Africa, supporting the continent's socioeconomic development,' Intelsat's Kurt Riegelman said in a statement this week. As part of its continued investment in infrastructure to serve Africa, Intelsat plans to launch three new satellites - Intelsat 20, Intelsat 22 and Intelsat 23 - within the next 10 months to increase capacity to the continent. ... South Africa-based Multichoice, one of the leading pay television platform operators and programming distributors on the continent, has expanded its commitment for capacity on Intelsat 904 for contribution services. This agreement complements Multichoice's DTH capacity on Intelsat 7, Intelsat's African media distribution neighbourhood at 68.5º East."

Satellite Today, 18 Nov 2011, Jeffrey Hill: "SES CEO Romain Bausch confirmed his company’s plans to reduce the number of satellites it has over the United States during the next several years to address a excess supply of capacity. ... SES will add a satellite in Asia and one in Latin America by 2015 or 2016 at the cost 250 million euros ($337 million) each. Bausch also identified what he believes is an excess capacity supply in sub-Saharan Africa, which will prevent the company from increasing its prices in the region through 2014."

New English-language radio station in Vienna will include news from BBC and NPR.

Posted: 20 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Austrian Times, 10 Nov 2011, Rebecca Musgrave: "The radio station, 'Danube International - The Voice of Vienna, [launched 11 November]. The new English language radio station, designed to serve the international community in Vienna, is the brainchild of radio legend, Paul Hollingdale. In August 1979 Hollingdale launched international station, Blue Danube Radio which closed in 2000 after a take over from FM 4. ... Danube International Radio (DIR) is initially being launched online with an official opening planned for 2012 after they obtain an FM licence. ... The station, Hollingdale anticipates, will be personality led with hosts from all over the world. The station is after all, 'Not all British but international'. This he expects will appeal to a wide listening local audience, aiming at a core demographic of between 30 to 60-year-olds. ... News on the station will also play an important role in radio’s bid to become 'The Voice of Vienna'. BBC world service and NPR in Washington will provide news reports throughout the course of the day with a dedicated news sequence between 7pm and 8pm." -- Amazing. For once I am not too old to be in a core demographic (though not for long). Anyway, audio archives are available, but no live stream yet, at www.danubeinternationalradio.com.

The Israel Project has plans for Alhurra.

Posted: 19 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hill, Congress Blog, 16 Nov 2011, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder & President of The Israel Project: "Our group, The Israel Project, a non-profit educational organization, has created a prototype website that combines an 'Online Jobs Toolkit' with information on coexistence between Arabs and Jews, between Israelis and their Arab neighbors. Our Arabic media program has 25 million hits on our Facebook page in Arabic and 200,000 Arab 'fans.' ... USAID and others could utilize existing technology to create an Arabic-language Monster.com. This program could record, translate, and make available online ongoing employment training seminars. These videos could be featured on USAID, Al-Hurra, YouTube and other sites. It’s easy to start this by simply taping existing programs already funded by Congress and putting them on the web with their Arabic-translated sound track kept in. Eventually original content would be created."

Foreign Policy, Turtle Bay, 9 Nov 2011, Colum Lynch: "Turtle Bay, decided to post a copy of the latest report on the Security Council's deliberations on Palestinian statehood. The report, which will be officially issued tomorrow, was first reported by Al Hurra."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 10 Nov 2011: "The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by Israel's continued detention of Hassan Ghani, a correspondent for Iran's Press TV. Ghani was arrested with four other journalists on Friday when soldiers boarded two humanitarian aid ships sailing toward Gaza, news reports said. The other journalists included Lina Attallah, of Al-Masry al-Youm's English edition; Jihan Hafiz, of Democracy Now!; Casey Kauffmann of Al-Jazeera English; and Ayman Al-Zubair of Al-Jazeera. The four journalists, a few of whom had equipment and footage confiscated by the Israeli authorities, have all been released and deported except Ghani, news reports said." Released after one week, per Press TV, 11 Nov 2011.

Conference and exposition in Sofia mark 60 years since creation of RFE's (since disbanded) Bulgarian Service.

Posted: 19 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Cold War Radios, 9 Nov 2011, Richard H. Cummings: "There was a conference in Sofia, Bulgaria on Friday, 11 November 2011, as part of the celebration of Radio Free Europe's first Bulgarian language news program broadcast from Munich, which took place on 17 October 1951. Some ex-RFE Bulgarian Service staffers gave short presentations about their experiences at RFE. Additionally, an exhibition 'The Ether War' opened the same day and contains a wealth of information and photographs not only of the Bulgarian Service of Radio Free Europe but also showing some of the other services affected by the 'Ether War.' Included were photos and information about the Free Europe Press balloon/leaflet programs, espionage cases and propaganda attacks affecting RFE, and the bomb attack in February 1981." See also Focus Information Agency, 11 Nov 2011.

Boston Globe, 10 Nov 2011, Shira Schoenberg: Vice President Joe Biden "recalled meeting former Polish president Lech Walesa, a leader in the movement freeing Poland from the Soviet Union, who thanked 'Radio Free Europe and the Holy Father' for bringing down the Berlin Wall."

Al Jazeera and "the unfortunate trend of disappearing independent journalism."

Posted: 19 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Monthly Review, 17 Nov 2011, Ahmed E. Souaiaia: "The majority of Arab and Muslim countries have had a cabinet position managing information. Such governmental agencies are generally in charge of exerting state control over the press and all media outlets. In the eyes of the Arab masses, then, 'Ministry of Information' became a euphemism for censorship and propaganda. When the Qatari rulers decided to enter the business of satellite television, they wanted their venture to stand out by capitalizing on this public sentiment. In fact, immediately before launching the channel, the Qatari rulers dissolved the Ministry of Information. Many of the employees who worked for the ministry were eventually hired by Al Jazeera and its various subsidiaries. ... The end of an independent Al Jazeera will be a traumatizing blow to the Arab street. The Arab masses may revert to their default position for finding reliable sources of information. They will, once again, follow the official media to learn about events but read between the lines for the truth. Alternatively, they may work harder to find and support independent, but financially struggling, voices of bloggers and YouTubers for critical information. As for the satellite television stations, we must recognize the unfortunate trend of disappearing independent journalism. Wealthy authoritarian regimes are reasserting their control over the means of communication and consolidating the tools of power and influence. This can only negatively impact peoples' access to information, the cornerstone for the foundation of civil society and responsible citizenry."

Huffington Post, 7 Nov 2011, Philip Seib: "From its beginning, Al Jazeera reshaped the Arab public sphere by discussing government corruption, the role of women in Arab society, and other matters long ignored by the staid government-run news organizations in the region. The network's effect on it audience was so profound that Al Jazeera's reporting has frequently been met by screams of protest from governments within and outside the region. That is a sign of effective journalism. Despite its now-established reputation as a media powerhouse, Al Jazeera will face tests during the next few years. One result of the Arab revolutions is the emergence of strong local news organizations in several countries. They are likely to cut into Al Jazeera's viewership, forcing the Qatar station to decide how much it wants to continue to rely on its regional approach to news."

The Algemeiner, 13 Nov 2011, Dovid Efune: "Al Jazeera has long been considered an independent instrument to measure the pulse on the Arab street, and although taking controversial positions on a number of internal Arab issues, it is almost uniformly anti-Western. Iskandar confirms that 'if Al Jazeera were to change its coverage, it would lose its following.' A former employee tells me that from Washington DC based program editors, there is 'very much a feeling of "let’s criticize what the US is doing now," and they often use the line "let’s hold their (American policy makers) feet to the fire."' The US government launched an Arabic media channel called Al Hurra, which according to a recent Zogby poll has captured less than 1% of the market." -- There's the Zogby poll again. Surveys in the Arab countries commissioned by the BBG are much better, but less accessible, than the Zogby study. The most recent survey in Egypt shows Alhurra viewed weekly by 16 percent of adults, amounting to about nine million people. Those are good numbers for international broadcasting.

Press TV, 12 Nov 2011: "Scores of Jordanian activists have rallied in front of the local offices of the Doha-based Al-Jazeera and Riyadh-based Al-Arabiya news channels in Jordan, slamming their sympathetic coverage of Syria's opposition. ... It is widely believed that the Emir of Qatar has direct influence on the nature of programs broadcast by Al-Jazeera, which has repeatedly been accused of an uneven coverage of the events of the 'Arab Spring.' Al-Jazeera is accused of blowing the opposition movement in Syria out of proportion while turning a blind eye to the Bahraini government's violent crackdown on peaceful anti-government protesters."

VOA tschotskes in the news.

Posted: 18 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Politico, 10 Nov 2011, M.J. Lee: President Obama "signed an executive order Wednesday to promote cut costs and Section 7, titled 'extraneous promotional items,' states that 'agencies should limit the promotional items (such as plaques, clothing and commemorative items), in particular where they are not cost-effective.' The White House called it swag. So where are the mugs, T-shirts, plaques and the like being handed out at taxpayers’ expense? ... At the Voice of America, an intern told POLITICO that the VOA has calendars and brochures, as well as T-shirts reserved for international guests. A spokesperson later confirmed this, adding, 'We are careful about what we have and to whom we give them (i.e., T-shirts to regular visitors, key chains to higher level guests).'" See also Washington Post, 11 Nov 2011, Ryan Kellett.

CNN International launches multimedia brand campaign in Hong Kong "to reaffirm CNN’s prominence in the region."

Posted: 18 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 18 Nov 2011, via asiamediajournal.com: "CNN International, the world’s leading global 24-hour news network, has announced the launch of a major multimedia brand campaign in Hong Kong, the most extensive the network has seen in one Asia-Pacific destination. Combining on-air, online, and on-the-ground efforts, this unique and innovative advertising initiative aims to reaffirm CNN’s prominence in the region, further raise brand awareness and, most importantly, celebrate Hong Kong as home to the network’s Asia-Pacific headquarters for more than fifteen years. Using the tagline 'Stay Ahead with CNN', the new campaign reinforces the message that CNN, like its audience, is constantly ahead of the game – ahead of the industry, ahead of competitors, and ahead of events happening around the world – in bringing intelligent and relevant news content to its viewers worldwide. ... CNN’s first ever terrestrial TV campaign in Hong Kong will run on the city’s biggest free English television broadcaster, TVB Pearl, reaching over 2.7 million Hong Kong people during its primetime evening program lineup, from November 15 to December 15. ... It also highlights the power of CNN anytime, its news content made easily accessible via multiple platforms on television, online, and on mobile. Acknowledging the fact that CNN’s Hong Kong viewers are predominantly native Cantonese-speakers, the TV advertisement is also available in local language and hosted as a banner ad on two of the most popular and high-traffic websites in Hong Kong – Yahoo! Hong Kong and TVB.com."

BBC Trust tells BBC World News that low-cost programs about Malaysia were no bargain.

Posted: 17 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 15 Nov 2011, Mark Sweney and Tara Conlan: "The BBC World News channel has been banned from buying certain programmes and accepting some sponsorship deals, after an investigation found serious breaches of the corporation's editorial guidelines in shows about subjects including Malaysia and carbon trading. A full investigation was launched by the BBC Trust into programming on BBC World News, a commercial channel distributed internationally, after it found conflict of interest and sponsorship issues with a show called Taking the Credit, about carbon trading, originally broadcast in 2009. The investigation by the trust's editorial standards committee (ESC) found a further 15 programmes broadcast on the channel in serious breach of the BBC's editorial or sponsorship guidelines. These programmes included eight containing sections about Malaysia made by a company called FBC Media, which had an 'apparent financial relationship' with the Malaysian government. ... International audiences must be able to rely on the same integrity and independence in the BBC's editorial decisions as audiences in the UK,' said ESC chair Richard Ayre. ... A BBC World News spokesperson said: 'We accept the BBC Trust's findings. We are committed to the highest standards of broadcasting and our editorial independence must always remain protected. There were breaches of BBC guidelines though we note that the trust report found no breaches of impartiality in any of the programmes. We are determined to learn any lessons from this process. ... We are now committed to bringing in a series of changes to tighten our systems and strengthen the protection of our editorial independence.'" See also BBC Trust press release, 15 Nov 2011.

BBC News, 15 Nov 2011: "Richard Porter, head of English at BBC Global News, said staff would pay heed to the findings. 'We must not damage the audience's trust in what we broadcast,' he wrote in a public blog post. 'We know we have some hard work to do to make up for this, but we are determined to do so.' Meanwhile, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has confirmed it is launching its own investigation into the programmes."

The Independent, 14 Nov 2011, Ian Burrell: "FBC Media claims in its promotional literature that it targeted Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, to be an 'ambassador' for its corporate client on programmes it made about the controversial palm oil industry in Malaysia. Mr Sachs, a special adviser to United Nations secretary general Ban-Ki Moon, was a prominent interviewee on a BBC World 'Third Eye” documentary about Malaysia which was produced by FBC. The Independent has established that FBC was paid £17m by the Malaysian government to work on a 'global strategic communications campaign'."

The Independent, 15 Nov 2011, Ian Burrell: "The findings uncover a disturbing culture of broadcasting documentaries - for which the BBC had paid next to nothing - on the corporation’s international channel BBC World. The BBC was also found to have made programmes with 'inappropriate' sponsorship funding from international organisations including UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP and UNFAO, in breach of the corporation’s guidelines."

The Independent, 16 Nov 2011, Ian Burrell: "In its report, the BBC Trust expresses concern over Third Eye: Egypt, a BBC documentary broadcast in March, which focused on Egypt's uncertain future at the height of the Arab Spring. The Trust's Editorial Standards Committee noted the programme's ferocity towards the Muslim Brotherhood, which was gaining popular support. 'Concerns focused on its attitude to women and how democratic it is,' said the report. 'The programme also examined the organisation's alleged links with the International Institute for Islamic Thought [and] reported that this Institute had been investigated, by the US government, for allegedly financing terrorism.' The committee's suspicions were aroused because FBC, the London production company behind the programme, went out of its way to link the Institute and the Brotherhood to Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the Malaysian opposition."

See previous post about same subject.

UK's £90m grant to BBC World Service Trust will provide only "modest indirect benefit" to BBC World Service.

Posted: 17 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcast, 14 Nov 2011, Catherine Neilan: "The World Service Trust is to receive a £90m boost from the government, targeted at specific countries for cross platform projects 'to help people cope during disasters and drive social change'. The funding, which comes from the Department For International Development, is to be spread over a five year period and will go to 14 countries where conflict, poverty, poor education and restrictions to personal freedom prevent people from accessing information. It will also target countries at risk from natural disasters such as earthquakes, famine and drought. The World Service Trust – the broadcaster’s charitable arm – will identify the countries, which are likely to include Pakistan, Burma and Occupied Palestinian Territories. It could include programmes such as local adaptations of Question Time, mobile phone health services and local radio networks. ... Broadcast reported back in March that the BBC’s World Service could receive DfID funding that would go some way to offsetting the £67m annual cuts made by the government. As expected the areas in which the money is spent will be rigidly controlled . As a result, the BBC has given it a circumspect welcome. Although World Service Trust director Caroline Nursey said the grant 'recognises the vital role we play', a spokesman for the broadcaster itself talked the benefits down. 'There will be a modest indirect benefit to the World Service as some programmes funded through this grant will be heard on language services of the World Service, complementing its core programming,' he said. The World Service Trust works with hundreds of different partners and broadcasters internationally, of which the World Service is one." -- BBC World Service Trust is not the same thing as BBC World Service, and in fact its name will change to BBC Media Action (see previous post). The charitable activities of BBCWS Trust can open doors in BBCWS target countries for program placement and reportage. See also BBC News, 13 Nov 2011.

Broadcasting Board of Governors announces a record USIB weekly audience of 187 million.

Posted: 17 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 15 Nov 2011: "U.S. government funded international broadcasters reached an estimated 187 million people every week in 2011, an increase of 22 million from last year's figure, according to new audience data being made public by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. ... The record numbers, released in the BBG Performance and Accountability Report (PAR), measure the combined audience of the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio and TV Martí, Radio Free Asia (RFA) and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa). The report details impact on audiences around the globe including people in the world’s most repressive media and political environments. ... This year there were significant audience increases in Afghanistan, where RFE/RL and VOA together reach 75% of adults weekly; in Egypt, where Alhurra TV doubled its weekly audience to 15% in tandem with the Arab Spring; and in Indonesia, where VOA’s aggressive affiliate strategy has boosted weekly audiences to some 38 million adults. Audiences in many other strategically relevant countries held strong. In Nigeria, VOA retains its position as a news source of record with 23 million weekly listeners. In Burma, VOA and RFA reach 26% and 24% of adults, respectively, amounting to a weekly audience of 10 million. Audience declines took place notably in Iran, where the government continues aggressive jamming of every BBG transmission platform, including satellite uplink jamming; and Pakistan, where the media market is increasingly fragmented and use of radio is declining. While radio remains the BBG’s number one media platform, reaching 106 million people per week, television’s growth puts it at 97 million people. The Internet audience was approximately 10 million, with the largest online audiences measured in Iraq, Russia, Indonesia, Egypt and Iran." Includes links to reports with additional details.

Compare this to the dour BBC World Service press release of 12 July 2011, which noted a reduction of its weekly audience to 166 million from 180 million the year before. It attributed the audience loss to budget cuts imposed by the UK government, but those cuts happened shortly before the press release was issued. Usually it takes audience research at least a year to reflect changes in output.

The BBC World Service estimate does not include the audiences for BBC World News (the global English television news channel) and the international version on BBC.com. Both are commercial ventures and not included in the BBC World Service budget. The most recent "BBC Global News" audience estimate, putting together all of those services, that I know of was announced in May 2010, and was put at 241 million. Perhaps the absence of a more recent BBC Global News estimate is that the number would be too good. Instead of restoring some of the money for BBC World Service, the UK government might instead encourage BBC to find new ways to fund its international broadcasting through commercial ventures. (NB: I just heard from the BBC press office that the BBC Global weekly audience is 225 million.)

For the USIB audience, Afghanistan and Iraq are first and second in terms of reach by percentage of population, and third and fourth by numeric size of audience. The suggests a strategy for international broadcasting: first, militarily occupy the target country, then set up a network of terrestrial radio and television transmitters in that country.

Winners of Association for International Broadcasting awards include some international broadcasters.

Posted: 16 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Association for International Broadcasting, 10 Nov 2011: "The Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) announced the winners of its annual global media excellence awards at a gala event in London on 9 November 2011. ... Most creative marketing strategy. Winner: France 24, France for 'The Birds' -- 'a fantastic campaign, combining video with print and online adverts to promote France 24 Twitter feeds' ... Best current affairs documentary – radio. Winner: Radio Taiwan International, ROC Taiwan for 'Freeing Taiwan’s Slaves' -- 'treated a highly sensitive subject, with excellent research and competently told.' ... The AIB/Yahoo! Maktoob People's Choice. Winner: Alhurra, USA for 'Egyptian revolution' -- 'with correspondents on the ground, Alhurra talked to many people throughout Egypt, uncovering their demands and their hopes.' ... International radio personality. Winner: Farshid Manafi [host of Radio Farda's satire show 'Pasfarda'] -- 'has been working in radio since he was 18 with a passion that is palpable when you listen to his programmes'" See previous post about France 24's "The Birds" campaign. See also RFE/RL press release, 10 Nov 2011, and Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 10 Nov 2011.

Does the future of international broadcasting include "innovative integration" of brands in "relevant environments"?

Posted: 15 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Realscreen, 8 Nov 2011, Barry Walsh: "Discovery en Español has announced a November 19 airdate for the premiere of its six-part series 2111, produced by Discovery Latin America and U.S. Hispanic. The series, first announced in May, combines CGI with testimony from futurologists to predict a vision of Latin America, 100 years from now. Over the course of six episodes, viewers will be transported to futuristic versions of Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. Each episode will have a particular focus, ranging from architecture and urban planning to health and well-being. In addition, Discovery Solutions worked with various brands to create innovative integrations within the series. Brands including American Airlines, Samsung, Oracle, Bridgestone and FedEx appear throughout, featured in 'relevant environments.'"

Writer suggests resumption of RFE or BBC Hungarian to counter "far-right media hegemony" in Hungary.

Posted: 15 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Politics.hu, 10 Nov 2011: “'A right-wing and at times far-right media hegemony prevails in Hungary, and I ever more often feel that Radio Free Europe or the BBC’s Hungarian-language service should be restored, to state the basic facts,' Hungarian-born writer Paul Lendvai said in an interview with Népszabadság on Wednesday." See previous post about same subject.

Lake County (CA) Record-Bee, 9 Nov 2011, Jim Hall: "As a very young man, some 60 years ago, I remember how proud and supportive we were for funding the Radio Free Europe program. ... Today, our mainstream media is owned and supported by the highly conservative and powerful. They have told the citizens of this great land that our daily news is under the influence and control of the liberal progressive thinking group of minds, which is not true, but, said often enough to have most believing it is. I wonder if it is not time for those who truly do share the belief in liberal progressive thinking to fund and support a program called Radio Free America, stationed offshore and across borders, to broadcast truly honest and fact-based information back into our country without the censorship of both our own government and corporate America that offer us talking heads, sound bites and downright lies... ."

Burmese media "perhaps a little bit more out in the open now."

Posted: 15 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Asia Times, 11 Nov 2011, Dan Waites: "[A] surprising and rapid expansion in press freedom conditions inside Myanmar itself has prompted questions over the future of the exile media in general. Will Myanmar's next revolution be televised - and if so, by whom? ... The Burmese regime's risible mouthpiece, The New Light of Myanmar, has dropped slogans accusing the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia - which beam Burmese-language radio programs into the country - of constituting a 'sky full of liars attempting to destroy [the] nation'. The websites of the DVB and The Irrawaddy have, following years of censorship, been unblocked - though less than 1% of Myanmar's citizens have access to the Internet.'"

Radio Australia, Connect Asia, 11 Nov 2011, Ross Dunkley, former publisher of the Myanmar Times, as interviewed by Sen Lam: "It's a parallel universe that people live in where they maybe listening to shortwave radio to The Voice of America, to the BBC, shortwave to Australian radio even, so they know what's happening. It's just perhaps a little bit more out in the open now."

The Faster Times, 10 Nov 2011, Preethi Nallu: "While the discussion of reforming media laws initiated by government officials such as Tint Swe is a welcome change for a country thirsty for basic freedoms, the difficult steps are yet to be made. Implementing swift media reforms in a country that was once known for its vibrant press is not a far fetched notion... ."

BBG will meet Friday to discuss Heritage proposal that "Congress should overhaul BBG management." Well, not really.

Posted: 15 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 7 Nov 2011, Helle Dale: "Options for Congress at this point include: Undertake much overdue oversight of the management practices and structures of the BBG with a view to rewriting the legislation that created the BBG. The U.S. international broadcasting desperately needs professional management and a transparent structure. Include an independent strategic overview of the entirety of the broadcasting entities of the U.S. government. This can factor in the BBG’s own strategic review but should also draw on outside media experts and audience research. Repeal the Smith–Mundt Act, which prevents international broadcasters from showing their products domestically here in the United States. Not only would foreign communities find much of interest and relevance; so would Americans interested in foreign affairs—and in how their taxpayer dollars are spent."

The key provision of the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 was the creation of the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors to protect the journalistic independence of the USIB entities. If "rewriting the legislation" conforms with a longstanding Heritage Foundation desire to bring USIB within a USG "strategic communication" apparatus, the baby will be thrown out with the bathwater.

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 14 Nov 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet on Friday, November 18 at BBG headquarters in Washington, D.C., with a focus on its strategic management of U.S. international broadcasting. The Board will consider recommendations from the BBG’s Governance Committee including the 2012 meeting schedule and receive briefings on the Agency’s Performance Accountability Report and global audience estimate. In addition, broadcast executives will update the Board on programming and coverage issues. The meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. [2100 UTC], will be webcast both live and on-demand, at www.bbg.gov."

Al Jazeera programming on Fiji's new state-owned TV station, at least for the test transmissions.

Posted: 15 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Spy, 13 Nov 2011, Timothy: "The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) has begun preparations for the launch of the country's first state-owned television service on 25 November. Test transmissions consisting of the rebroadcasting of Al Jazeera and Indian music channel Zing have already begun in Suva and other areas, and will be extended across almost all of Fiji prior to the official launch. ... FBC TV will be Fiji's third free-to-air television channel. Its competitors, Fiji One and Mai TV both show a mix of local and imported content, but rely heavily on rebroadcasts of Australia Network and TVNZ Pacific Service programmes."

Termination of the Australia Network tender creates volumes of news and commentary in Australia.

Posted: 15 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Canberra Times, 9 Nov 2011, Bruce Haigh: "Acting on advice from the Australian Government Solicitor, the Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy, has terminated the Australia Network process. The reason given is that due to leaks of confidential information to the media the tender process was compromised. Australia provides an excellent information service and window on Australia through the ABC's Radio Australia network. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd put Australia's international television service, Australia Network, also provided by the ABC, out to tender. When it looked like the tender might be awarded to the Murdoch-controlled Sky TV, the Government shifted consideration to cabinet, or so it was thought. ... Australia Network is a good service. It was well run and it is logical that it should run in harness with Radio Australia. It is a vehicle that conveys important information about Australia and the means by which the Government can get carefully crafted messages through to political, business and military leaders in the region. Australia's public broadcaster can be and has been the conveyor of subtleties, not possible with Sky TV. Sky TV showed its colours by signing a memorandum of understanding with the government of China. No doubt the Chinese couldn't believe their luck. This MOU represents a very silly act of self-censorship. It gives the Chinese the power of veto over content they do not agree with. ... At best, the Sky TV news service is sloppy and often Murdoch-biased. It is not independent. It does not rate against ABC news services, programming and staff professionalism. Why project the national discourse through a second-rate provider? How will this enhance our national image or bolster our prestige within the region?" -- He complians that Sky TV is "Murdoch-biased," but seems proud of the fact that that Australian Networks sends "carefully crafted messages." Another reason why Australia Network must decide if it's product is news or "soft diplomacy." It can't be both.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 8 Nov 2011, Meredith Griffiths interviewing Alex Oliver of the Lowy Institute: "AM," "How much damage do you think this latest news of cancelling the tender will do to Australia's reputation? I mean, you're saying this is very important for our soft diplomacy. Will this latest setback damage our reputation overseas? Oliver: Uh... I don't know if this sort of thing in domestic politics gets that much attention overseas, but certainly it looks amateurish. And within the international broadcasting arena and fraternity, yes, the word will get around that the ABC is in limbo. And there will be some raised eyebrows about and shaking heads about what Australia is doing with respect to the ABC and this contract."

AAP, 9 Nov 2011: "In Senate question time on Wednesday, Liberal senator Simon Birmingham asked [Communications Minister Stephen Conroy] to clarify an answer he gave on Tuesday that the government was considering 'a full range of options' and would announce a decision in March 2012. Senator Birmingham asked the minister several times to explain what decision would be announced in March - a new tender process or a successful bidder? Senator Conroy declined to elaborate on the answer he gave to parliament on Tuesday. 'The good senator is asking me to speculate,' he said. Senator Birmingham interjected: 'It's a dirty process.'"

Media Spy, 8 Nov 2011, Timothy: "In a statement, Sky News' chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos expressed his surprise at the government's "extraordinary action" and noted that Sky was 'considering its options'. ... Frangopoulous also took a swipe at the current Australia Network service run by the ABC, stating that it is 'clear the current service has failed in its task and we see an opportunity to vastly improve Australia Network within existing funding levels and make it a network that its target audience wants to watch.'"

Crikey, 8 Nov 2011, Bernard Keane: "When Labor was first elected in 2007, it was said [then prime minister] Kevin Rudd had big ambitions for the Australia Network, in keeping with his big diplomatic ambitions. This was entirely consistent with past practice. The revived version of the network was a vanity project of []revious foreign minister] Alexander Downer’s, and so it would be for Rudd, who despite the presence of Stephen Smith was his own foreign minister. But Downer, at least, was limited in his ambitions – he wanted to restore Radio Australia’s role in the Asia-Pacific and establish a broadcasting service to address the 'arc of instability' from the western Pacific around to Indonesia (this was the late 1990s, post-Asian financial crisis)."

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Nov 2011, Julie Bishop (deputy leader of the Opposition): "The ongoing uncertainty about the Australia Network and its operations sends a negative message to our region that Australia does not take seriously this broadcasting service."

ABC, 8 Nov 2011: "Prime Minister Julia Gillard has defended the Government's decision, saying it was the right thing to do. 'There's an Australian Federal Police investigation. We received very clear advice from the Australian Government solicitor and we've acted in accordance with it,' she said. ... The Opposition says it is another example of the Government's incompetence. The ABC currently hosts the service, which is designed to showcase Australia's democratic values to TV viewers in the Asia-Pacific, but it was competing with Sky News to retain it. The ABC will keep operating the service until August next year while the Government resolves the issue."

The Age (Melbourne), 9 Nov 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Sky News said it planned a global television network of five channels, reaching the Middle East, the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia - including China, seen as a key market by Foreign Affairs officials. It said it also planned to broadcast news after setting up 11 foreign bureaus, and increase local language programs and subtitling across Asia." Mr. Flitton is also interviewed by Radio Australia's Connect Asia, 10 Nov 2011.

The Age (Melbourne), 11 Nov 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Sky News is believed to be seeking compensation for a range of losses after preparing two bids over nine months for the $223 million contract to run Australia's overseas television service. ... The Age understands Sky News sent the letter seeking compensation of between $700,000 and $2 million for the cost of preparing the tenders."

AAP, 9 Nov 2011, Julian Drape: "The federal opposition says the Gillard government cancelled the tender process for the Australia Network contract because it knew the independent evaluation board had recommended it be awarded to Sky News. Labor returned fire by suggesting the coalition had a vested interest in making sure the ABC didn't win the tender. The issue dominated a heated question time in the Senate on Thursday."

ABC, The Drum, 11 Nov 2011: "Senator Scott Ludlam, communications spokesperson for the Australian Greens: 'The phrase "the national interest" is regularly abused, but by any reasonable interpretation of the phrase, keeping the Australia Network in public hands is in the national interest.' ... Tim Wilson, Director of the IP and Free Trade Unit and Climate Change Policy at the Institute of Public Affairs: ... '[T]he Government was right to go to tender and should have given the contract to the most competitive bidder - Sky News.'" See also the reader comments.

Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Nov 2011, Greg Hassall: "In trying to decide who should run the Australia Network, ... the federal government has managed to appear incompetent and sneaky, expose internal divisions, provoke News Limited and give a minor issue undue significance. Oh, and it still hasn't made a decision."

The Australian, like Sky News part of the Murdoch media empire, also had several news stories and commentaries about the Australia Network tender, but they are behind a paywall.

See previous post about same subject.

VOA Director David Ensor on C-SPAN's "The Communicators" at 0000 UTC.

Posted: 14 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
C-SPAN, 12 Nov 2011: "On The Communicators, Director of the Voice of America (VOA), David Ensor, discusses how the U.S. government-funded national and international news and information network is changing. Ensor discusses how VOA works, how it has changed since it was established in 1942, and the platforms on which it currently operates. VOA is gradually ending broadcasts to China and is planning to expand its internet and social media broadcasting instead. VOA is one of five broadcast services of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. The others are Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra, and Radio and TV Marti. The Communicators airs Saturday at 6:30 pm ET on C-SPAN and Monday at 8 am and 8 pm ET [0100 UTC on UTC 15 Nov] on C-SPAN." -- Also on-demand, if you can find the link.

Religious broadcaster FEBC may have to drop broadcasts in some Chin dialects of Burma.

Posted: 14 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Chinland Guardian, 8 Nov 2011, Van Biak Thang: "FEBC (Far East Broadcasting Company) has long sponsored gospel radio programmes in some Chin dialects as parts of its services in Burma. Aungling Dattui aka Aung Ling served as a radio broadcaster and preacher in Dai-Chin for about four years. ... 'We have three Chin dialects being broadcast and they are Asho-Chin, Dai-Chin and Khumi-Chin. Sadly, I am told that the Asho-Chin programme will be terminated very soon as a result of the lack of financial support and efficient people who want to take in charge for a long run. There is also a possibility that the Dai programme will end unless we have well-formed committee and sufficient fund because the Myanmar branch cannot simultaneously handle all the eight programmes any more.'"

Report: China's CCTV will originate six hours of content daily from its new Washington hub.

Posted: 14 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 8 Nov 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "China's state broadcaster CCTV is to provide original English language content by the middle of 2012 from a new US hub in Washington DC, according to the Financial Times. CCTV will reportedly produce up to six hours of original content a day from the US, while an additional studio in Nairobi will supplement the broadcaster's English language service in Africa. A further bureau is expected to be unveiled in Europe shortly. These follow the opening of a newsgathering bureau and studio equipped for live broadcast in Dubai in January. 'The big four Western news agencies dominate about 80% of the news flow, and if China wants to strengthen its soft power it must speak through its own media,' Dong Tiance, a journalism professor at Jinan University, told The Financial Times. 'The strengthening of international broadcasting allows the world to understand us more thoroughly and increases our influence.' As well as operating 16 national channels in China, CCTV also broadcasts across the world in English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Russian. It claims to reach a global TV audience of one billion." -- Well, maybe it is available in homes containing one billion people, possible if the English-language CCTV News is available domestically in China.

Financial Times, 7 Nov 2011, Matthew Garrahan and Kathrin Hille: "CCTV has also built a studio facility in Nairobi, from where it will broadcast its English-language channel in Africa, and plans to open a broadcasting centre in Europe, according to several people briefed on the plans."

The Independent, 14 Nov 2011, Stephen Glover: "I don't imagine CCTV will pump out crude propaganda, but it is certain to reflect the interests of the Chinese government. Meanwhile, the Coalition is cutting back the BBC World Service, which does not broadcast propaganda, and seeks to enlighten and inform people who may live in societies less free than our own."

BBC Persian documentary about Ayatollah Khamenei causes "most heated battle yet" with Iranian regime.

Posted: 14 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
WBEZ (Chicago), "Worldview," 7 Nov 2011: "Since its launch in 2009, the BBC Persian's television channel has been a thorn in Iran's side. The regime has tried jamming the station’s satellite signals and intimidating the families of journalists who work for the network. Despite these efforts, the news channel remains extremely popular in Iran. People often subvert government restrictions by recording productions off the Internet and passing them around on DVDs and flash drives. In September, the Iranian regime and BBC Persian had their most heated battle yet. The station aired a documentary called The Ayatollah’s Seal. It chronicles the personal and political life of Iran’s current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. After the documentary hit the airwaves, the regime immediately blocked the BBC’s satellite feed and arrested five documentary filmmakers and one film distributor – even though they had nothing to do with the making of the film. Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, a senior broadcast journalist with BBC Persian and the director of The Ayatollah’s Seal, tells us why he decided to shed light on the Supreme Leader’s power over Iran." With link to audio report.

UK Press Association, 14 Nov 2011: "The BBC has has attacked the Iranian authorities over a man who has reportedly been detained in Iran after broadcasting for the network's Farsi language service. Hasan Fathi was apprehended by security agents after he broadcast a live report on Saturday about an explosion at the Revolutionary Guard depot that killed at least 17 soldiers, according to Iran's Fars news agency. The BBC's Farsi language service is not authorised to operate in Iran, and working for the network is against the law. A spokesperson for the BBC said: 'BBC Persian has no correspondents or employees in Iran. The service spoke to Mr Hasan Fathi as an independent commentator, as it does to other independent journalists, academics and other public figures from Iran.' The network criticised the Iranian authorities for 'intimidating' its sources."

Local radio/TV personality will meet and greet at the Voice of America museum near Cincinnati.

Posted: 14 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Middletown (OH) Journal, 7 Nov 2011: "Bill Myers, a Cincinnati radio-TV host and local broadcaster whose career spans 60 years, will meet and greet visitors to the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting tours Nov. 19. Guided tours will be from 1 to 4 p.m. at the VOA building, 8070 Tylersville Road. ... The museum will also be open Dec. 10 before closing for roof replacement and other building restoration." -- The museum is in the transmitter building of the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station. See voamuseum.org.

Carlos the Jackal, who once targeted RFE/RL Munich, back in the news.

Posted: 13 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Maverick, 9 Nov 2011: "Carlos the Jackal ... appeared in a French court on charges of instigating four attacks in 1982 and 1983 that killed 11 people and injured more than 140 others. ... Reportedly, the notorious terrorist planned a series of attacks on European targets from his safe houses in East Berlin, including one on Radio Free Europe’s Munich headquarters in 1981, a bombing that caused many injuries but no deaths (and was, as per Stasi files opened after 1989, paid for by Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania)." See previous post about same subject.

"The beautiful susurration of Voice of America Pashto."

Posted: 13 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadway.com, 8 Nov 2011, Jefferson Mays, who now appears in J.T. Rogers’ Blood and Gifts at Lincoln Center Theater, a story of the secret spy war behind the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s, Mays plays British secret service agent Simon Craig, one of the many operatives who get involved in the conflict over the course of a decade: ... "It has been a joy throughout rehearsals to see my castmates so extending themselves. Bernie White, who plays the Afghan warlord Abdullah Khan, has worn the traditional Afghan shalwar kameez and pakol hat from the first day of rehearsal and goes to sleep every night to the beautiful susurration of Voice of America Pashto, letting the cadences of his adoptive language seep in."

Every year, around Halloween, the VOA Persian detractors emerge (updated).

Posted: 12 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
New English Review, 1 Nov 2011, Kenneth R. Timmerman: "The big news out of the Voice of America’s Persian News Network (PNN), the much troubled broadcasting service you would think would be bringing the 'voice' of America to Iran, was the firing ten days ago of CNN/FoxNews broadcasting star Rudi Bakhtiar. Just a few months ago, Ms. Bakhtiar was considered a treasured catch. Lured away from a prominent position as a public affairs spokesperson for a human rights campaign, she was escorted out of the Cohen building on a Friday afternoon by VOA security guards. It was a humiliating end to a short-lived career where by all accounts she succeeded in raising moral and raising the profile of this much troubled U.S. broadcasting service. What happened? For now, Ms. Bakhtiar is keeping mum – understandably so – as she undoubtedly consults lawyers and considers taking legal action against VOA. But PNN has been roiled by a seemingly incoherent set of personnel changes ever since Ramin Asgard, a former State Department diplomat, took over the reins earlier this year after a long search for a new director." -- Timmerman is a repeat VOA Persian detractor, and his facts need to be checked. See also Iranian.com, 22 Oct 2011, comments in English.

AEI Iran Tracker, 24 Oct 2011: "Following the dismissal of Kourosh Sehati, Ahmad Batebi, Jamshid Chalangi and Rudi Bakhtiar from Voice of America's Persian service, and news of tensions between the network management and ["Parazit" creators] Saman Arbabi and Kambiz Hosseini, Farda News writes that the United States does not know what it wants from its Persian broadcasts to Iran."

Right Side News, 3 Nov 2011, Arash Irandoost: "In a shocking interview with Voice of America, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, provided a window to the Obama administration’s fallacious and misguided policy on Iran. ... Regime agents, lobbyists, apologists and pro regime organizations such as NIAC, CASMII, AIC, VOA have masterfully conned Americans into thinking that Iranians care about Mousavi."

Update: Commentary, 9 Nov 2011, Michael Rubin. "I’ve written before about a lack of professionalism and aimlessness that afflicts American government broadcasting into Iran. Alas, at Voice of America, it seems that the situation has gone from bad to worse. Its director Ramin Asgard, a veteran of the Foreign Service, appears to have embraced the State Department’s mentality that Voice of America should be a tool with which to build bridges toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, rather than use information to try to undermine the regime or shed light on its dark corners, something that was the basis of the Voice of America mission during the Cold War?. ... Every coherent strategy should follow the so-called DIME paradigm: It should have Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic components, each of which should be undertaken in conjunction with the other rather than in any artificial sequence. (Military doesn’t mean bombing; it can mean preparing for containment, or at least preparing for any action of last resort.) I have attended panels in which VOA or Radio Free Europe officials have argued that self-criticism builds credulity and equated editorial guidance—or adherence to an overarching strategy—as equivalent to censorship. Clearly, the Obama administration and, frankly the Bush and Clinton administrations before it, has not had any comprehensive or coherent strategy. Given that the results of Asgard’s tenure are now clear, perhaps it’s time for the Congress to demand explanations and input: What is the purpose of VOA Persian?"

The purpose of VOA Persian might be encapsulated in the new BBG Mission: "To inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy." The wording could make members of Congress conclude that the mission of US international broadcasting is along the lines of what Michale Rubin is advocating. To add diplomatic, military, and economic components to what really should be a newsroom would create chaos, indeed. And it would chase away an audience seeking news that is more credible than the news they receive from the regime-controlled domestic media. At least there would still be BBC Persian.

AEI Iran Tracker, 9 Nov 2011: "A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by Ali Alfoneh, Ahmad Majidyar and Michael Rubin. ... 'Kayhan "predicts" more purges in Voice of America Persian Network: "Certain news sources have announced that following dismissal of Jamshid Chalangi, Mohsen Sazegara, Roudabeh Bakhtiar, Kourosh Sehati and Ahmad Batebi it is now the turn of [Setareh] Derakhshesh.'"

President of African Union praises Africa24, "the only Africa-led global broadcasting channel."

Posted: 12 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Republic of Equatorial Guinea press release, 5 Nov 2011: "Following meetings in Cannes where President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea met with heads of state from around the world at the G20 Economic Summit, he arrived in Paris today to inaugurate the expansion of news station Africa24's newsroom in the city. 'The creation of Africa24 has been an inspiration,' said President Obiang, who is also the rotating president of the African Union. He told a gathering following the inauguration ceremony, 'The station provides an objective vision and an authentic voice to African states.' President Obiang was accompanied by African Union Commission President Jean Ping who told the press, 'We are proud to say that this is an African media outlet. What concerns this important television station is the sole service to the African continent. ...' Africa24 is the first pan-African news channel and the only Africa-led global broadcasting channel that covers Europe, the Middle East and the United States." The Africa24 website is www.africa24tv.com, and the channels appears to be in French only.

For all its money, employees, bureaus, languages, and billboards, Xinhua does not seem to understand the concept of news.

Posted: 11 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 7 Nov 2011, Pascale Trouillaud: "'China's top propaganda official on Monday urged the state-run Xinhua news agency to better serve the Communist Party and become a 'world-class' multimedia organisation as it turned 80. In a speech at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing to mark the anniversary, Li Changchun -- number five in the party hierarchy -- urged Xinhua to play a stronger role in publicising government decisions. The government wants to use Xinhua to project its voice globally as part of a major 'soft power' push, and the news agency is due to expand its bureaus around the world from the current 162 to about 200 by 2020. ... In recent years, the news agency -- flush with government funding -- has sought to expand its footprint overseas, and has set up an expansive website. The agency currently employs 11,000 people, including 5,000 journalists, and produces news in eight languages including Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese and Japanese. In July 2010, Xinhua set up CNC World, a 24-hour television news station modelled on the American CNN and Britain's BBC, which aims to cover the news in about 100 countries. Li Congjun, head of Xinhua and a member of the party's powerful central committee, said ... 'We must fight for socialism with Chinese characteristics' and 'foster a Marxist news concept', he said."

Deutsche Welle describes placement of its English-language TV channel on Mongolian IPTV system as "huge step."

Posted: 11 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
OnScreen Asia, 4 Nov 2011: "Deutsche Welle’s (DW) Director of Distribution, Petra Schneider announced that it has signed a carriage deal with Univision, the operator of the first IPTV network in Mongolia. 'This is a huge step forward for DW in Asia. It’s not just about gaining ground in a fast-growing market, but also about gaining a dynamic new partner with which we can grow,' said Schneider. DW-TV ASIA+ will provide Univision’s IPTV network with a wide range of English language programming, including news, lifestyle, information, documentaries and in-depth features all of which are developed and produced in Germany and refreshed daily."

TV5Monde has new distribution deal in Brazil. France 24 available in 10m Asian homes.

Posted: 11 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 7 Nov 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French-speaking international channel TV5Monde Amérique Latine has inked a distribution deal with Brazilian platform GVT to join the new Ultimate HD offer. The Vivendi-owned platform is currently launching its HD, VOD and interactive pay-TV service that offers 140 channels including 30 HD ones. ... In Brazil, TV5Monde Amérique Latine is available to 1.8 million subs and subtitled in Portuguese." -- TV5Monde is a consortium of France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada, in French, with subtitles in some target countries.

Rapid TV News, 3 Nov 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French international news channel France 24 has passed the 10 million households mark across the Asian continent where it is available. Since January 2011, the channel has tripled its distribution in Asia and is now available in English and French via the Asiasat 5 C-band satellite. Major agreements have been concluded in various countries, such as in Hong Kong with NOW TV and HKBN (1.2 million subscribers), in Thailand and in India where France 24 distribution now exceeds 6 million households. Discussions with other major operators from Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, and in the Pacific region are ongoing."

World War II shortwave stories, including Canadian POWs recorded onto cardboard discs.

Posted: 10 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Globe and Mail, 7 Nov 2011, Adrian Morrow: "The voices of Canadian servicemen fade in and out, at times clear and booming, at others distant and muffled. But for their families, these scratchy, static-laden messages were the sound of hope. The men were prisoners captured during the Second World War by the Japanese army, which broadcast their messages home over Radio Tokyo. Short-wave radio enthusiasts on the west coast of the United States listened in, making a hobby of recording the messages onto cardboard discs and sending them to the soldiers’ families. ... The story of the POW messages was unearthed by a researcher at the Historica Dominion Institute’s Memory Project, which provided these sound files and photographs to the Globe." With audio of two the cardboard discs.

Logan (Ia) Herald-Observer, 9 Nov 2011, Mary Darling: "Ralph Ellsworth just celebrated his 90th birthday and also marked 68 years since he was a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II. ... All the time Ellsworth was a POW he said his family knew he was alive. 'They got the information from people that had a short wave radio,' he said. 'I also wrote to them.'"

CNN, 10 Nov 2011, John Torigoe: "Isao Oka, the oldest brother, was to ship out with the celebrated 442nd Japanese American Regimental Combat Team to Europe. Two days before, he heard the question, 'Who speaks Japanese?' He answered simply, 'I do!' and was also transferred into the MIS. Isao Oka served in the Philippines and became known as the 'voice of American propaganda.' Using shortwave radio, he broadcast Japanese music and read news and commentaries whose goal was to demoralize Japanese soldiers throughout the Pacific islands and urge the citizens of Japan to surrender. On July 27, 1945, a day after it was released, he broadcast the Potsdam Declaration -- the terms of Japan's World War II surrender. 'I don't know how the reception was, but I was really happy the war was over' he says."

President Obama announces nomination for undersecretary for public diplomacy, who would also attend BBG meetings.

Posted: 10 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
White House press release, 4 Nov 2011, via Chicago Sun-Times: "Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts: ... Tara D. Sonenshine - Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Department of State. ... Tara D. Sonenshine is the Executive Vice President of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Prior to joining USIP, she was a strategic communications adviser to many international organizations including USIP, the International Crisis Group, Internews, CARE, The American Academy of Diplomacy, and the International Women's Media Foundation. Ms. Sonenshine served in various capacities at the White House during the Clinton Administration, including Transition Director, Director of Foreign Policy Planning for the National Security Council, and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications. Prior to serving in the Clinton Administration, Ms. Sonenshine was an Editorial Producer of ABC News' Nightline, where she worked for more than a decade. She was also an off-air reporter at the Pentagon for ABC's World News Tonight and is the recipient of 10 News Emmy Awards for coverage of international affairs. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University.' -- If approved by the Senate, Ms. Sonenshine would represent Secretary of State Clinton on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, with one of nine votes.

BBC.com launches "immersive and localised" editions for Asia, India, and Australia/New Zealand.

Posted: 10 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 3 Nov 2011: "BBC.com, the number one international news website in Asia-Pacific and in Europe, today signals an exciting next phase in the BBC’s commitment to the Asia region, with the launch of three new editions - for Asia, India and Australia/New Zealand. Each will provide a more immersive and localised BBC.com experience and more bespoke news coverage that speaks to the audience’s needs and interests. ... In support of the increased localisation of the sites, BBC.com has recently built a new team in Asia-Pacific, focused on providing more locally-curated content. The team includes an increase of editorial support and reporters based in Singapore working alongside highly acclaimed journalists from the BBC’s international news service including Soutik Biswas, and Damian Grammaticas, who are already based within the region. BBC.com’s investment in Asia is mirrored in the TV space with BBC World News giving continued editorial focus on the region. In 2011 this has included the launch of new weekday programme Newsday, as well as a season of programming entitled The Power of Asia, which examines the economic growth of Asia." See also exchange4media.com, 4 Nov 2011, Faisal Ahmad.

Two more Iranian filmmakers accused of working for BBC released on bail.

Posted: 09 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 9 Nov 2011: "Two Iranian film-makers detained in September for collaborating with the BBC Persian service were released on bail on Wednesday, the ISNA news agency reported. 'Katayoun Shahabi and Mehran Zinatbakhsh, two documentary makers arrested for working with the BBC, were released on Wednesday after making bail,' the news agency said. Iran detained six filmmakers on accusations of working for the BBC Persian service. Naser Safarian and Mohsen Shahnazdar were released on October 8, the Fars news agency reported at the time, citing a statement by the Iranian Documentary Filmmakers Association (IDFA). Hadi Afarideh was released 'in recent weeks', ISNA reported on Wednesday. ... Iran bans any cooperation with foreign radio and television networks that broadcast in Persian, including the BBC and the Voice of America."

Tehran Times, 6 Nov 2011: "Iranian documentary filmmaker Hushang Mirzaii explained his reasons why Iranian filmmakers choose to collaborate with the BBC Persian in a letter submitted to the Persian service of Fars News Agency on Saturday. His letter entitled 'Why I sold my film rights to the evil BBC Persian?' tries to give details why he sold some of his docs to BBC Persian some years ago, mentioning that financial needs, the unfair response of the cultural officials, and lack of job security were the major motives of the young filmmakers to have been attracted to foreign TV networks. ... The letter begins, 'No doubt the evil channel of BBC Persian is making the best use of this shortcoming in our cultural management and tries to attract young talents through purchasing the rights to their film screenings. When a young filmmaker spends many years waiting to receive a trivial budget to make a film, it is natural that he goes after the foreign networks.' ... 'Is it fair to ignore a person who has produced over 2,000 minutes of programs on Iranian mosques and several issues related to the Iran-Iraq war, and not to forgive him for the unintentional mistake he had committed,' concludes the letter."

See previous post about same subject.

Founder of independent Belarusian-language TV channel Belsat looks to the internet.

Posted: 09 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Belarus Digest, 5 Nov 2011, interviewing Eduard Melnikau, founder of the first independent Belarusian-language TV channel Belsat: "BD: How effective are foreign broadcasts to Belarus? Melnikau: It is difficult to measure and I only know approximate figures for Belsat. According to various estimates there are around 700,000 Belarusians who regularly watch Belsat and around the 400,000 who watch it from time to time. Belsat is particularly popular outside of Minsk. Because people do not have well-developed cable networks, many purchase and install satellite dishes outside of major cities. Other broadcasters such as Euroradio, Radio Liberty and Radio Racyja also have several hundred thousand listeners according to various estimates. Given that the Belarusian population is over nine million people, much more needs to be done. BD: What can be done to improve the reach of independent media? Melnikau: I think the main focus should be on development of content for Internet with a particular emphasis on multimedia products such as video. According to a poll conducted by Genius, in February there were over 1.5 million ADSL users in Belarus. In October the number was already 2 million. The development of the internet is very rapid in Belarus." See previous post about Belarus.

More discussion of the Rohrabacher bill to require US/China parity in visas for "state-backed journalists."

Posted: 08 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, China Realtime Report, 7 Nov 2011, Brian Spegele: "[A] recent proposal by U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California and two other Republican congressmen ... if passed, would require the number of journalists from Chinese state-backed media organizations in the U.S. not to exceed the number of similar U.S. state-backed journalists issued visas in China. The U.S. in 2010 issued visas to 650 Chinese journalists working for state-owned news organizations, according to the proposal. Two U.S. journalists working for U.S. government-owned news organizations were issued visas in China. ... Examples of Chinese state-owned media, as listed by the proposal, include Xinhua and the English-language China Daily newspaper, among several others. The comparison is a bit of an odd one considering the U.S. doesn’t have a tradition of state-controlled press like China does. The two U.S. journalists in China working for U.S. government-owned media work for Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, Rep. Rohrabacher’s office says. ... Perhaps the proposal will be among the long list of House resolutions that never make it out of committee. On the other hand, an apparent growing anti-China sentiment in Washington could breathe it some life. Either way, one thing seems clear: Xinhua and other state-run Chinese media have an image problem abroad." -- It has been my understanding that RFA has no staff reporters in China. China has provided visas only to VOA reporters. Because most domestic media in China are government-owned, and most domestic media in the United States are not, the Rohrabacher bill could create a disparity in the other direction -- and result in fewer Chinese visas for correspondents of US private media. In China, Blue Ocean Network claims to be privately owned. If it were to apply for US visas, a US court might have to decide if BON is truly private. See previous post about same subject.

Zimbabwean exile SW Radio Africa reports being jammed as interview with ruling ZANU PF spokesman began.

Posted: 08 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
SW Radio Africa, 3 Nov 2011, Lance Guma: "SW Radio Africa’s shortwave broadcast on Wednesday evening was jammed by the Mugabe regime. Ironically jamming began after our news bulletin and just as an interview on Question Time was about to begin with ZANU PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo. In 2005 Mugabe’s regime began jamming SW Radio Africa frequencies, just before the controversial Operation Murambatsvina. It was reported that the jamming equipment and expertise was provided by China and at the time we spoke to a soldier who says he was sent to China to be trained in jamming techniques. The jamming has been intermittent since then and often targets our flagship Newsreel bulletin, using a loud and irritating noise to drown out the broadcast."

BBC and other international media providing localized editions for India.

Posted: 08 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Techcircle.in, 3 Nov 2011, J Preethi: "BBC Worldwide is readying to launch a new edition for India. According to a media statement, it has set up a new team of journalists in Singapore. BBC already offers versions of its site for Indian readers in Hindi and Tamil. It has an Asia page, under which are two sections – Asia Business and a section specifically for China as of now. But the media firm is advertising about BBC India Edition on this page. ... On TV too, the editorial focus has been ramped up. BBC World News has introduced two new programmes – Newsday and The Power of Asia – on TV. It will also showcase special features and reports titled India Direct and The New Middle Class. In the meantime, Financial Times has chosen to re-launch its India section. ... Recently, New York Times Company established a sub-site called India Ink, to showcase news, information, culture and conversations on the country."

Medianama, 3 Nov 2011, Anupam Saxena: "At the time of writing this post, the BBC.com edition that we were served offered little customization in terms of news articles and features. It did detect that we were in India and featured TV schedules for BBC’s India service as well as weather reports for Mumbai (we’re located at Delhi). It did offer the India Correspondednt section featuring editorials by BBC’s Delhi Correspondent Soutik Biswas. It also gave us an option to browse BBC’s Hindi, Urdu, Tamil or Bangla site. Perhaps, the complete localised version has not been rolled out yet, although the statement from BBC claims that it’s live. In comparison, the BBC Hindi edition is completely customized for India, with updated news reports." See also afaqs!, 4 Nov 2011.

So now Magyar Rádió should hold a conference on the Polish October of 1956.

Posted: 08 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Polskie Radio, 3 Nov 2011: "A conference on the 55th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising has been held at Polish Radio’s Warsaw HQ, which coincides with the launch of a new website produced by the public broadcaster devoted to the events of the autumn of 1956. The project has been co-organized by the Hungarian Cultural Institute and Radio Free Europe. In addition to Polish Radio archives, the web site contains Radio Free Europe recordings covering the three weeks of the Hungarian Revolution and have been painstakingly reconstructed from tapes deposited in the Federal German Archives in Koblenz which remained forgotten, until their rediscovery in the late 1990s. The reconstruction project was epic in scope as the 1956 log tapes contained a total of over 6,500 broadcast hours, recorded on sixty fourteen-track paper-backed tapes. The conference covered various aspects of the Hungarian Revolution, the role of Radio Free Europe in 1956 and Polish and Hungarian roads to freedom in later years. The conference brought together leading Polish and Hungarian historians, the Hungarian ambassador to Poland and former director of Radio Free Europe A. Ross Johnson." -- The website is in Polish and includes recordings of Polish-language international broadcasts from 1956. Even if you do not have Polish, the site is worth visiting. See also the Magyar Rádió 1956 page, which also has audio files.

Polskie Radio, 6 Nov 2011: "Polish Radio External Service has retained one SW frequency (3955 kHz) for the B-11 season but the offer of features and magazines has been greatly expanded." With audio report in English.

The Economist: BBG head of innovation says most Iranians don't know, or care, that "Parazit" is produced by VOA.

Posted: 07 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link

The Economist, 5 Nov 2011: "It is no surprise that a satirical television programme called 'Parazit' that delights in skewering Iran’s politicians is going down a storm. 'Parazit', meaning 'static' in Persian, itself a dig at the government’s tendency to block seditious broadcasts, came on the air shortly before the disputed presidential election of 2009. It is produced by Voice of America (VOA), the state-funded international broadcaster. Despite—or perhaps because of—its tie to the Great Satan, the programme has proved enormously popular in Iran. ... Raina Kumra, head of innovation at the broadcasting board of governors which runs VOA, says that most Iranians who watch the show either do not know it is produced by VOA—or do not care. 'We’re just the holding company', she says; 'Parazit' is its own creature. The producers insist that it is not a tool of American propaganda. 'Our job is to present the facts and highlight the hypocrisy,' says Saman Arbabi, one of the show’s presenters. 'We’re not here to lead any movement, to lead any regime change.' If the people of Iran want to topple the regime, he says, they must do it themselves." See previous post, third item, about Parazit.

Australian government scraps Australia Network tender process and extends ABC's contract for 6 months.

Posted: 07 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 7 Nov 2011: "The Federal Government has scrapped the tender process it had been using to decide which broadcaster should operate the Australia Network. The television world has been on tenterhooks for months as it waited to learn who would get the contract and be the voice of Australia overseas. The ABC, which is currently holding the contract, is competing with Sky News to retain it. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy says the Government has received legal advice that significant leaks have compromised the process. The Australian Federal Police has been called in to investigate the leaks. The ABC will keep operating the service until August next year while the Government resolves the issue."

AFP, 7 Nov 2011: "Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the process had been ended on the advice of the government solicitor after 'significant leaks of confidential information" meant a fair outcome could no longer be achieved. 'The government is extremely disappointed that such leaks have occurred and that the process has been compromised,' Conroy said in a statement."

The Australian, 7 Nov 2011, Stephen Brook: "'The government will now make a decision on the long term arrangements for the operation of the Australia Network no later than the end of March next year,' Senator Conroy said."

The Australian, 7 Nov 2011: "Late last month, The Australian's Mark Day reported that the tender process had for a second time recommended that Sky News be given the contract after an initial tender, also favouring Sky, had been overturned. ... Sky News is part-owned by the British broadcaster BSkyB, which in turn is 39 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, parent company of the publisher of The Australian."

AAP, 7 Nov 2011, Katina Curtis and Matthew Sadler: "ABC managing director Mark Scott said the broadcaster welcomed the government's decision. 'The ABC appreciates the opportunity to discuss with the government the future role international broadcasting can play across the region, providing insights into modern Australian life for audiences on radio, television and online,' Mr Scott said in a statement. He defended the corporation's role in operating the Australian Network. 'International broadcasting is in the ABC's charter,' Mr Scott said. 'We have delivered outstanding services through Radio Australia for over seven decades and for the last 10 years have expanded the reach and impact of Australia Network in the Asia-Pacific region.'"

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Nov 2011, Katherine Murphy: "The cancellation of the tender imposes yet another delay in the process, which is unlikely to be welcomed by the players."

ABC press release, 7 Nov 2011: "The ABC welcomes the Government’s decision to extend the Corporation’s contract to deliver the Australia Network for a further 6 months until August 2012. The ABC appreciates the opportunity to discuss with the Government the future role international broadcasting can play across the region, providing insights into modern Australian life for audiences on radio, television and online."

The Australian, 8 Nov 2011, Stephen Brook and Christian Kerr: "A government source said yesterday a new tender would not occur but that the government would make a decision about which network would run the service."

The Age (Melbourne), 8 Nov 2011, Katharine Murphy and Daniel Flitton: "Deputy opposition leader Julie Bishop said she was ''gob-smacked'' by the decision to terminate the tender. 'The government's conduct of this tender has been a disgrace since the moment it was stripped from the Department of Foreign Affairs for spurious reasons,' she told The Age. Ms Bishop accused Senator Conroy of a potential conflict of interest as the minister responsible for the ABC. She said she would again write to the Auditor-General demanding an investigation of the process."

The Australian, 8 Nov 2011, Dennis Shanahan: "This discarding of commercial process is another example of the Gillard government's contempt for how it is viewed on issues such as sovereign risk and cabinet and commercial processes. What is even more extraordinary is the excuse given - media leaks."

The Age (Melbourne), 8 Nov 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Communications Minister Stephen Conroy put on an extraordinary display of chutzpah last night and tried to blame a succession of 'significant' media leaks for terminating the tender. But leaks are merely the symptom of a flawed process. The cause was the government's decision to tear up the rule book when it looked likely Sky News would win the rights to run the network over the ABC. Media scrutiny has ensured the government didn't get away with it."

itWire, 7 Nov 2011, James Riley: "Greens Communications spokesman Senator Scott Ludlam said the tender should be abandoned entirely and that the ABC's Australia Network should be extended. 'The Australia Network service should not be tendered again – the idea that a commercial entity would represent Australian interests and culture to the region better than the national broadcaster was misguided from the beginning,' Senator Ludlam said. 'The Australia Network should remain with the ABC and be properly resourced. As some commentators have noted, the best outcome may be the amalgamation of Radio Australia and the Australia Network into the nation’s overseas broadcasting arm,' he said."

The Australia Network tender process should have been a reality television show. Then it would have been completely public and transparent, and leaks would not have been an issue.

But, seriously, the business plan for Australian Network should be similar for that of BBC World News and the other BBC commercial international channels. The government should provide money in the short term, with the goal of the channel to be self-funding or even profitable. Such a channel would consist of programs from the ABC and Australia's private channels, with domestic and international news programs interspersed. The challenge would be to get access to cable and satellite services around the world. However, increased use of internet-based television might provide another way to reach international audiences.

Plans for the channel should lose any notions of "soft diplomacy." Either it is in the news business or the propaganda business. The former is more in line with audience demand.

See previous post about same subject.

CNN en Español launches CNNEspanol.com and is "number one Spanish-language news account on Twitter."

Posted: 07 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 2 Nov 2011, George Winslow: "As part of a plan to expand its multi-platform efforts, CNN en Español has launched a new Spanish-language Web site, CNNEspanol.com, which will feature videos, exclusive interviews and news stories from around the globe. 'This is a new platform available to our audience to get all the breaking news they have come to expect from us and at the same time an invitation to establish an enhanced level of engagement with CNN en Español,' noted Cynthia Hudson, senior VP and general manager for CNN en Español and Hispanic Strategy for CNN/U.S. in a statement. 'Now our massive social media following has a space to interact directly with our network and gain privileged access to our content.' ... The company noted that CNN en Español (@CNNEE) already has the number one Spanish-language news account on Twitter with nearly 1.5 millions of followers, and that it has almost 850,000 fans on Facebook." See also CNN press release, 2 Nov 2011.

Bahrain International Channel starts "in the next few weeks" and will include "news both in Arabic and English."

Posted: 07 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Bahrain News Agency, 1 Nov 2011: "Bahrain’s new international channel -- the Bahrain International Channel -- will first beam into Western Europe when it starts telecasting in the next few weeks, said the President of the Information Affairs Authority (IAA), addressing a gathering of the International Advertising Association, Bahrain Chapter. The infrastructure for this venture is in place now, said Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Information Affairs Authority . In addition to western Europe, the spill over will be into Eastern Europe and Northern African countries. The IAA head told the Bahrain News Agency on the sidelines of the conference, 'Initially, the new channel will have the best of the main channels -- including the live channels, the news both in Arabic and English and live sports events. So it will be a combination of all the Bahrain channels -- Bahrain TV, Bahrain 55 and Bahrain Sports,' he added. Once the new channel has established in the first geography of its existence, then the expansion will be into Northern America and east of Asia, said Shaikh Fawaz. ... Turning from the new channel to the new media infrastructure being created, Shaikh Fawaz said that the Bahrain Media City is an interesting project 'We are working closely with the private sector to establish this project. The start will be with four buildings and negotiations are already on with a new television station to establish their presence in Bahrain,' he said and added that their decision was expected in a few weeks."

BBC World Service "is an interesting, and sometimes strange, listen."

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, TV & Radio Blog, 2 Nov 2011, Johnny Dee: "Despite sounding slightly as though it is being read by a 1930s butler, World Service news manages to light upon international events that I suspect go ignored elsewhere. Saturday afternoon's World Briefing, for example, included items on riots at a Metallica concert in India, the Kyrgyzstan elections and why Russia is not putting the clocks back this winter. ... The World Service is an interesting, and sometimes strange, listen. I loved it and will definitely return. But what do you think,? Have you ever tuned in at home [UK] or abroad – and are you happy that the licence fee will soon fund it?"

News on News, 29 Oct 2011: "BBC Radio has its highest listening hours for three years, according to data published by RAJAR. ... BBC World Service posted a UK reach of 1.50 million, from 1.32m last year, while BBC Local / Regional radio reached 9.50 million listeners per week – from 9.14m last year and 9.65m last quarter."

The Monitor (Kampala), 29 Oct 2011, John K. Abimanyi: "The deal you get from most Ugandan radio simply short changes you. Period. The idea is to give you more music (which is many at times off tune with your needs or tastes), and in between, loads of useless celebrity gossip. ... The BBC World Service however, offers a different experience of radio. If you are in doubt, you will need to catch the station's Afro-centric show, called African Perspective that airs on Saturday mornings at 11.30a.m. ... That feeling of satisfaction, the feeling of contentment after a radio show stands up to the challenge and beats your expectation, is one you will grow tired of experiencing after listening to African Perspective. As a senior colleague put it recently, 'It's going to be long before any radio does what the BBC does.'"

"Tweet at Comcast" for Al Jazeera English access, because "democracies need information to flourish."

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Change.org, 1 Nov 2011, Meredith Slater: "Al Jazeera English (AJE) is an internationally-acclaimed news network that broadcasts to over 250 million households in 120 countries on 6 continents, yet it is available in only 5 places in the entire U.S. (Washington, DC; Burlington, VT; Bristol County, RI: Toledo, OH; and New York City, NY). We believe that . In light of uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, floods in Central America, crashing markets throughout Europe, and political protests across the U.S., now--more than ever--we Americans demand to know what's going on around us, both at home and abroad. The Solution: Right now, Comcast subscribers in only a few select cities have full cable access to Al Jazeera: Comcast’s customers in other regions don't. This needs to change. As one of the largest cable providers in the U.S., it is time for Comcast Cable to get with the program and provide all of its customers with full cable access to Al Jazeera English. Your Role: Tweet at Comcast ... asking the company to provide its customers with full cable access to Al Jazeera English."

Time, 26 Sept 2011, Sam Gustin: "In September, nearly 10 years to the day after the 9/11 attacks, AJE became available through Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS in New York City, which sends more traffic to AJE's website than any other city globally. AJE also makes its way onto Chicago public television Oct. 31. (It has been available in small markets in Rhode Island, Vermont and Ohio as well as in Washington, D.C.) The broadening of AJE's reach is quite a feat for a news organization once branded a mouthpiece for al-Qaeda."

The Post Chronicle, 4 Nov 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "Broadcaster Jerry Kenney has just filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that RT and Al-Jazeera are both violating the law by not disclosing in their propaganda broadcasts that they are agents of foreign powers."

Al Jazeera English establishes unsupressed outlet for African investigative journalists.

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Shockya.com, 3 Nov 2011: "Al Jazeera English is putting the spotlight on Africa’s journalists in 'Africa Investigates.' The new series is intending on providing African journalists a megaphone from which to report their stories on corruption, abuse, and exploitation to the masses. The journalists who worked on the reports for the series worked undercover, using hidden cameras, and, of course, put themselves at risk in order to reveal the truth behind frauds, conspiracies, abuse of minorities, child trafficking, and high-level corruption. The series will consist of eight one hour episodes and begins Wednesday, November 2 on Al Jazeera English. Series producer Diarmuid Jeffreys said that investigative journalism in Africa is often stuffed down because of the political figures who can suppress reports. 'All too often in the past, African reporters have not been able to pursue wrongdoing because it involves powerful figures who wield undue influence over local media – financial, corporate or political – or because it is simply too dangerous,' Jeffreys said." See also Al Jazeera Africa Investigates web page

In new fiction, shortwave radio provides company at the end of the world.

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Cornwall Free News, 1 Nov 2011, Lorna Foreman: "Who would not want to read a book with the title '2012 Rabbits and the Happy Apocalypse on Shortwave Radio'. It certainly intrigued me."

CreateSpace website: "Stanley Brown has a problem. It's the end of the world and he doesn't have a date for Saturday night. A cataclysm of world events pushes Stanley out of his used book store into a lonely poisoned planet with only the buzz of shortwave radios and dogs for company."

Shortwave America, 23 July 2011, comment from Roy Berger: "When the sun goes down I'm often up and I find shortwave listening to have inspired me in many ways. I listen on a Grundig 800. There was many a night when it was just me and my Grundig and it led me to write this book. I hope you get a kick out of it. It's called, 2012 Rabbits and the Happy Apocalypse on Shortwave Radio."

Award for journalist at Nagarta Radio in Nigeria, supported by BBC World Service Trust and USAID.

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Trust (Abuja), 1 Nov 2011, Christiana T. Alabi: "A journalist with Nagarta Radio in Kaduna State, Mohammed Abubakar Mustapha has bagged a merit award from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), World Trust for his piece on 'Factors undermining credible elections in Kaduna State'. Country Director of the BBC World Service Trust, Linda Nwoke said her visit to the radio station was to consolidate and appreciate the existing relationship between the BBC and Nagarta Radio, which according to her is a key partner. The award according to her is part of their contribution in conjunction with USAID to the Media Support for Strengthening Advocacy for Good Governance and Empowerment (MESSAGE)."

MESSAGE website: "MESSAGE is the acronym from 'Media Support for Strengthening Advocacy, Good Governance and Empowerment', a project implemented by the BBC World Service Trust (BBCWST) and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria."

BBC Worldwide channels expand presence in Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia.

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 31 Oct 2011: "Jana Bennett, President Worldwide Networks and global BBC iPlayer ... set out the Channels business’s immediate priorities for Asia, including: New market launches: ●BBC Worldwide will launch BBC Knowledge, BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle and CBeebies in Thailand January 2012. ●In Taiwan, BBC Worldwide Channels has concluded a deal with Chung Hwa Telecom to launch BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and BBC Entertainment on MOD, the company’s IPTV platform. This is the first appearance for the channels in Taiwan, and they will be unveiled to press in Taipei on 23rd November. ●Growing the portfolio in existing markets: In Indonesia, BBC Lifestyle is now available on NexMedia, joining BBC Knowledge and CBeebies in that fast-growing market."

WorldScreen.com, 1 Nov 2011, Mansha Daswani: "Jana Bennett talked about the importance of editorial curation in the international version of the [BBC] iPlayer, noting: 'We’re not trying to be a big video store or a shopping market where everything is laid out on shelves. It’s about editorial selection, that's where the value can surface in an archive.'"

BBC Worldwide press release, 2 Nov 2011: "Kicking off with a new Top Gear special in early 2012, series 18 will follow a maximum of 14 days after the UK transmission of the series, on BBC Entertainment in India, Africa and Latin America and on BBC Knowledge in Poland and Asia."

Not only is Omar Sharif still alive, but he also faces legal action by an Alhurra reporter.

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Arabiya, 2 Nov 2011: "The woman that the prominent Egyptian actor Omar al-Sharif slapped at the Doha Tribeca Festival in Qatar is pursuing legal action against him. Aisha al-Douri, a correspondent working for the U.S.-owned al-Hurra TV channel, said in a phone interview aired in Dream Two, an Egyptian TV channel, that she was shocked when she received the slap from the famed actor, and that she tried hard to keep herself composed during the incident. The 79-year-old actor – who was nominated for an Oscar in 1962 for his role in 'Lawrence of Arabia' – lashed out at the woman in Arabic, telling her: 'My dear!' 'I told you come back later! I just said that and you’re standing here. Put something in your brain!' ... People in the blog[o]sphere blamed Sharif for slapping the woman, but also blamed the reporter for keeping quiet. She also said that she came to the festival as a reporter and not as a fan." See also Emirates 24/7, 3 Nov 2011.

Analysts analyze Al Jazeera as it marks its 15th anniversary.

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninisula (Doha), 1 Nov 2011, Francesca Astorri: "In its 15 years of existence, the Arab revolution is the moment in which Al Jazeera has recorded its highest success by reflecting the frustrations and ambitions of the Arab people. 'Al Jazeera meant the empowerment of the people of the region. The roots of the Arab Spring are in 1996 and Al Jazeera’s beginning' said Philip Seib, Director of USC Centre on Public Diplomacy. 'Al Jazeera ended the dominance of western media and has given more credibility to journalism. I wouldn’t say that the Arab Spring is Al Jazeera’s revolution, but the network contributed to this change' he added."

AFP, 2 Nov 2011: "The praise heaped on the network comes amid the shock resignation of its long-time chief, Wadah Khanfar, who stepped down in September after eight years at the helm. Khanfar’s departure was announced after whistleblowing website WikiLeaks released a US government cable suggesting that he had agreed to alter content on the channel’s website following a US request. He was replaced by a Qatari royal, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassem Al-Thani, an engineer by training. Two other senior posts were reassigned since Khanfar’s resignation, including the appointment of Sawaq, an Algerian, to the top position at the Arabic news channel and Egyptian Ibrahim Hilal to the head of the newsroom. The management shake-up has stoked speculation that Al-Jazeera is gearing up for a change in an effort to deflect criticism that its reporting takes on the Islamist cause. 'The latest changes at the network indicate a desire to re-balance the network’s editorial direction currently leaning towards certain political currents,' said Ahmed al-Rumaihi, chief editor at the Qatari daily Al-Arab, hinting at Jazeera’s Islamist leanings."

The Peninsula (Doha), 1 Nov 2011, Mohammed Iqbal: "Shawn M Powers, ... assistant professor at the Department of Communications at the Georgia State University ... [and] an expert on Al Jazeera as well as the Middle East said the channel had a positive impact on the American viewers 'who have been intrigued by the diversity of news and opinions it had presented about the world in general and the Middle East in particular.' Many American viewers had been skeptical about Al Jazeera Arabic but the English channel has changed their views, he added."

Die Welt, 4 Nov 2011, Silke Mülherr: "Ironically, it could be the very Arab Spring that Al Jazeera’s coverage pushed onto the agenda that could prove the broadcaster’s downfall. Before the revolutions, audiences depended on the station to circumvent government propaganda. Should democratic structures and journalistic freedom take hold in the region, Al Jazeera will have to share the fertile terrain of open information with other Arab media."

The Peninsula, 2 Nov 2011, Francesca Astorri: "The Qatari network has in fact introduced the Arab voice in the international discussion, putting on the screen Arab experts that have always been ignored by the western media and making the whole world [h]ear the Arab people’s opinions, frustrations and ambitions. But some argue that this was possible only thank to the Arab Spring, the media stage on which Al Jazeera played its best match, leaving behind the historical CNN and [BBC] that are now financially weakened by the financial crisis and turning back to internal politics more than to the international one. But the Arab Spring won’t go on forever, and the centre of the international political dynamics will shift to different countries and regions, it won’t be always focused on the Arab world where Al Jazeera has very few competitors. It will be a tough challenge for Al Jazeera to penetrate the Western countries where BBC and CNN have consolidated their presence, especially if the network keeps a political agenda that is so Arab oriented."

The Independent, 2 Nov 2011, Robert Fisk: "Unappreciated by Middle Easterners, perhaps – and by the West – is the degree to which Al Jazeera has taken African stories so seriously and Asian stories outside the China-the-Great economics reports. If a flood kills thousands in Africa, bet that Al Jazeera will get there first. Needless to say, when it all began, Al Jazeera was praised to the heavens by all the usual suspects – American politicians, Tony Blair and the rest – and the moment it showed itself a bit pesky rather than a beacon of free speech, democracy, liberty, etc., it became a 'terrorist' channel encouraging the murder of those brave US soldiers trying to protect the good people of Afghanistan and Iraq. In this sense, it grew up; matured. It was no longer a sixth-form newspaper, but a fully-fledged, credible teller-of-uncomfortable-truths, unless these happened to be Qatari truths, in which case they simply didn't quite make it on to the screen."

Financial Times, 4 Nov 2011, John Lloyd: "There are two big differences between Al Jazeera and competitors such as the BBC and CNN. First, it does not shy away from violence. The cellphone videos of the death of Gaddafi, which Al Jazeera got very soon after the event, were run again and again – a claimed exclusive, though others later caught up and also showed the footage repeatedly: the BBC was criticised by some of its viewers for doing so. Al Jazeera relishes scenes that will rouse and infuriate – when, in July last year, the Florida pastor Terry Jones declared he would burn the Koran publicly on the anniversary of 9/11, Al Jazeera planned to air the event live. Other networks, including – to many of its fans’ surprise – Fox, had decided it would be too provocative; Jones later dropped his threat. The second difference is in the relentlessness of its editorial slant, essentially anti-western lite, expressed through choice of interviewer, the attitude of the questioners and the selection of stories and images. The Slovenian radical philosopher Slavoj Zizek is a favoured guest: last month, on Talk to Al Jazeera, he told the station’s US producer/­presenter Tom Ackerman that the marriage between democracy and capitalism was over."

AlterNet, 30 Oct 2011, Russ Baker: "If you look carefully at [Al Jazeera's] recent coverage, you can see the extent to which it operates with the Emir’s interests in mind—more often than not, also in accord with Western objectives when they don’t seriously conflict with the Emir’s. ... Al Jazeera is itself a brilliant stroke in the disinformation battles—an 'alternative' to Western news that is still controlled ultimately by the same interests."

Huffington Post, 26 Oct 2011, Nehad Ismail: "I would argue that the Social media has definitely played a part in the Arab Spring Revolutions but its impact has often been exaggerated. But the role played by Al Jazeera Arabic has been more effective and devastating to the dictatorial regimes."

Article describes Radio Azadi's SMS news service in Afghanistan, but not its RFE/RL parentage.

Posted: 06 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Khaleej Times (Dubai), 2 Nov 2011, Allan Jacob: "Telecom major etisalat and Radio Azadi are pioneering citizen journalism in war-torn Afghanistan where Twitter and Facebook are yet to make their presence felt. An interactive SMS news service by and for people living in remote areas of the country is changing their lives for the better while addressing bread and butter issues. ... The service is free, and villagers who subscribe get news headlines from Radio Azadi in Dari or Pashto. SMS breaking news and emergency alerts are also sent to their phones. Listeners are encouraged to send local news reports which are checked for facts by Radio Azadi reporters, which are then read on the broadcaster’s weekly shows. ... Last month, Radio Azadi distributed 20,000 solar-powered, hand-cranked radios across the country to spread awareness, especially in villages. These devices have solar panels and hand-cranks for battery-free charging.They can also be used to charge mobile phones which is a boon for a majority of Afghans who live in the dark with no electricity amid the maddening boom of guns and mortars." -- The article does not mention that Radio Azadi is the Afghanistan service of RFE/RL and that it is funded by the US government. See the RFE/RL Radio Azadi/Radio Free Afghanistan web page. See previous post about same subject.

Useful in the "wild": a solar charger, ultrasonic insect repellant, and a shortwave band, all in one device.

Posted: 05 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
CNET, 1 Nov 2011, Jacqueline Seng: "If you're off the (power) grid often--and you don't own a rugged solar phone--you might need the mPowerpad, a charger that harnesses solar energy to charge up to two devices at a time. Launched by Singapore-based startup Third Wave Power, the mPowerpad is actually more than a solar charger. It also acts a reading light, flashlight, insect repellent (by emitting an ultrasonic frequency) and FM/AM/shortwave receiver. ... People in remote areas without a ready supply of electricity, such as hikers or those living in rural areas, may find this solar charger useful. Third Wave Power co-founder V.S. Hariharan says that the company is in talks with retail partners and NGOs about distributing the mPowerpad in Asia, India and Bangladesh, and that shipping should begin in early January next year. The device will cost US$80." -- The Third Wave Power website does not say what shortwave frequencies the mPowerpad receives.

Forbes, 1 Nov 2011, Rahim Kanani: "Lifeline Energy (formerly Freeplay Foundation) addresses energy poverty for women and girls through access to information, education and light. A not-for-profit social enterprise based in London, UK and Cape Town, South Africa, Lifeline Energy designs, develops and manufactures the solar and wind-up media players, radios and lights it distributes. ... Kristine Pearson [founder and CEO of Lifeline Energy] ... 'The initial obstacles stemmed from design of the radios. If wound counter-clockwise, they would break because of the original spring technology. I was working with children heading households in post-genocide Rwanda who received these original radios. They were devastated if they broke. The radios served as their only ‘lifeline’ to the outside world. They trusted the voices on the BBC and Voice of America as programs gave them practical advice that a respected adult would normally provide. I presented the idea to my husband for a rugged radio specifically designed for children and distance education that could be bi-directionally wound, with a practical feature set.'"

The future of international television could be Over the Top.

Posted: 05 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Mughals, 2 Nov 2011: "The CASBAA Convention 2011 in Hong Kong on November 1st saw some sharp debate on TV Everywhere and Over the Top Television (OTT) via the internet. The growth of new and global internet-delivered TV services like Hulu, Netflix and the BBC I-player as extensions of traditional cable, satellite and IPTV systems was declared as 'inevitable' by many speakers and delegates drawn from Asia and the rest of the world."

Infonetics Research press release, 1 Nov 2011: "Net new cable video subscribers continue to decline in North America and EMEA, and the small increases in Asia and Central and Latin America aren’t offsetting those declines. While we don’t expect OTT to have a significant impact on pay TV subscribers because operators are responding to OTT with their own enhanced delivery offerings, we do expect cable video’s share of pay TV revenue to decline as satellite video increases -- nearly catching up to cable by 2015 -- while IPTV services grow to 15% of the market,” notes Jeff Heynen, directing analyst for broadband access and video at Infonetics Research. ... North America remains the highest-value pay TV market, benefitting from the highest average revenue per user (ARPU), followed by Asia Pacific, which benefits from a pay TV subscriber base nearly 4 times the size of that of North America."

Multichannel (via cable, satellite or IPTV) systems, because they have capacity 200 or more television channels, provide opportunities for international channels such as CNN International, BBC World News, Discovery, Hallmark, etc. Because the number of channels is large but finite, multichannel television also provides a mechanism for winnowing channels that are competitive from those that would have less appeal. With the advent of OTT (over the top) television, any international channel with a website can have access to television sets worldwide. This allows more channels to compete in the global market, but could also dilute audience share to the point that some commercial, self-funding international channels might have difficulty surviving.

Broadband TV News, 2 Nov 2011, Robert Briel: "With more than 420 million non-terrestrial TV connections across the Asia Pacific, multichannel TV is now found in 53% of TV homes in Asia. There are more multichannel TV connections in the region than the rest of the world combined. ... [A]udience data and viewership shows a 12% industry growth in the past 12 months in terms of connected homes and an increase in dual subscription homes as channel choices increase. ... As technology evolves, most recent reports show pay-TV in all its forms embracing social media while building strong online communities and expanding its reach via new devices and channels as it delivers an intensity of experience and reach that other media struggle to match."

Asia Media Journal, 27 Oct 2011: "The Festival of Media, the world's first festival of media creativity and innovation, today announced the themes that will be tackled at The Festival of Media Asia to be held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center in Singapore. Spread over two days, there will be eight breakout sessions led by some of the most recognised brands in the world. The opening session will see themes such as the new realities of global businesses and changing consumer behaviour, and offer a glimpse into how Asia's business landscape will look in the very near future. The session will close with a discussion on the best strategies for brands to future-proof their businesses. Speakers include representatives from Virgin Galactic, HSBC Global Banking & Markets, Universal McCann and BBC World News."

Reports of raid on home of VOA correspondent in Cabinda.

Posted: 04 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 31 Oct 2011: "Authorities in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda should take all steps necessary to ensure the safety of independent journalist José Manuel Gimbi, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today following reports that unidentified armed men raided Gimbi's residence Thursday and threatened to harm him. Gimbi, a local correspondent for U.S. Government-funded international broadcaster Voice of America, is one of only two independent journalists based in Cabinda, a region holding most of Angola's oil wealth which is contested by armed separatists and the government. ... Gimbi reported the incident to police and went into temporary hiding, according to local journalists. VOA quoted Oliveira da Silva, director of the police's criminal investigations department, as saying that the journalist was not in danger. 'VOA is always concerned about reported incidents of harassment and threats to our reporters. We're currently looking into the incident,' David Borgida, VOA public relations director, told CPJ."

RFE/RL Ukrainian enters Guinness Book of World Records for participation in 52-hour TV talk show.

Posted: 04 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 1 Nov 2011, Deana Kjuka: "RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, Radio Svoboda, has officially entered the Guinness Book of World Records for participating in the longest television talk show ever. From August 23-25, Ukraine's leading news channel, 'Channel 5,' broadcast 'Ukrainian Independence,' a news-talk program for a record-breaking 52 hours. Two of those hours featured Radio Svoboda's own, Irena Shtogrin. The effort was done in connection with the 20th anniversary of Ukrainian independence. As a result, Radio Svoboda was honored with a certificate of participation by Guinness World Records, which follows and collects record-breaking achievements around the world."

Cablevision adds CTC and TeleKlub to its packages of Russian-language channels.

Posted: 04 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Cablevision press release, 27 Oct 2011: "Cablevision Systems Corp. today announced the expansion of iO International’s iO Russian package with the inclusion of two more Russian-language TV channels -- CTC on channel 1186 and TeleKlub on channel 1188. iO Russian will now include Channel 1 Russia, RTVi, NTVA and RTN in addition to the newly added CTC and TeleKlub. ... iO Russian is available starting at $29.95 per month to residential and commercial customers with a digital cable set-top box who subscribe to Broadcast Basic service and above. All channels in iO Russian can also be purchased on an a la carte basis for an additional $14.95 each per month, including CTC and Teleklub."

CTC Media press release, 28 Oct 2011: "CTC Media, Inc., Russia's leading independent media company, announces the further expansion of the international version of CTC ('CTC-International') in North America. In October 2011, the channel became available to Cablevision's iO TV digital cable television customers as a part of the iO Russian package. Cablevision is the fourth operator in the USA to broadcast CTC-International. CTC-International was first launched in the USA in 2009 through the DISH platform and by spring 2011, within two years of its initial launch, CTC-International also signed contracts with Time Warner Cable and Russian Media Group."

"The number of overseas-based websites glorifying the North Korean regime has been increasing rapidly."

Posted: 04 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Korea Herald, 30 Oct 2011, Shin Hae-in: "The number of overseas-based websites glorifying the North Korean regime has been increasing rapidly, a police report here showed Sunday. With their servers based in foreign countries, South Korean authorities have faced difficulties in dealing with the Korean-language websites legally. Police detected 58 such sites from 2007 until September of this year, and blocked South Korean Internet users’ access to 37 of such websites, according to documents submitted by the National Police Agency to an opposition party lawmaker. South Korea has also shut down some 140 social networking service accounts opened by people during the same period for praising the Pyongyang regime, according to the document."

The Chosunilbo, 1 Nov 2011: "Over the last three years, police closed down 281 pro-North Korean web forums and websites and blocked access to 44 overseas-based ones, bringing charges against 165 people for posting messages extolling the North Korean regime." -- South Korea should take no action against, nor lose any sleep over, these "pro=North Korean" websites. The best anti-North Korean propaganda is pro-North Korean propaganda.

Yonhap, 31 Oct 2011: "North Korea is stepping up propaganda aimed at young citizens in an effort to preempt a revolt similar to the one that recently killed Libya's longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, sources familiar with the regime said Monday. ... [T]he North's state newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Thursday carried a commentary urging young people to further uplift the nation's 'superior' way of life. It also stressed the need to continue so-called educational projects to defend against the 'decadent ideas and unusual lifestyles of imperialists.'"

North Korea Tech, 4 Nov 2011, Martyn Williams: "The Nautilus Institute contends in a new report that North Korea is on the cusp of digital transformation thanks to the increasing importance of cell phones and computers in the country. The report, which is available online (PDF), is a comprehensive and well-researched history and study of the emerging digital communications business in North Korea and was written by Alexandre Y. Mansourov, a senior associate at the organization. Mansourov specializes in Korean peninsula issues and once lived in Pyongyang studying for an Advanced Diploma in Korean studies at Kim Il Sung University. It’s recommended reading for anyone interested in North Korean IT issues."

New "multi-language" CRI website about Chinese cities seems to be Chinese only, for now.

Posted: 04 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 28 Oct 2011: "A website aiming to introduce Chinese cities through foreign eyes launched in Sanya, Hainan province on Oct 28. Run by CRI Online, chinesecity.com.cn aims to help foreigners better understand the culture of cities across China through a range of multimedia. China Radio International (CRI)'s Deputy Editor-in-Chief Ma Weigong said the launch of chinesecity.com.cn will offer a multi-language, multi-media platform for promoting Chinese cities internationally. During the launch ceremony, Sun Su, the minister of Sanya Publicity Department said they chose the city of Sanya for the launch because, aside from benefiting from the new site, it's also popular with foreigners." -- Multi-language? Perhaps not yet. At chinesecity.com.cn, if there is a link to English or to any language other than Chinese, I can't find it.

CNN International launches "Global Exhange," focusing on emerging markets.

Posted: 03 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 1 Nov 2011: "CNN International is expanding its business programming portfolio this autumn with the launch of ‘Global Exchange’, an hour-long weekday focus on the emerging markets looking at how emerging market news is framing the new world order. Alert to the huge impact that the BRICS and other emerging markets are having on the world’s economy, ‘Global Exchange’ will report, analyse and interpret the events, players, trends and indices that are impacting and influencing the global financial community, at a time when business has never been a more significant part of the news agenda. ... Anchored out of Abu Dhabiat the cross roads between east and west, ‘Global Exchange’ draws extensively on CNN’s network of international correspondents to provide a unique vantage point on the new dynamics at play in today’s business world. ... The show also features ‘Along the Silk Road’, a weekly five minute bespoke segment that will explore the burgeoning trade and investment links from the Middle East to Asia – Beijing, Mumbai, Istanbul, Kabul, Moscow, Hong Kong, Jakarta and Dubai. ... The new show will have a dedicated webpage at www.cnn.com/globalexchange featuring the latest facts and figures from emerging markets, plus expert analysis from contributors and presenters."

Broadcasting & Cable, 30 Oct 2011, Andrea Morabito: "CNN is planning to revamp its morning programming, creating a new four-hour morning show to be hosted by Soledad O'Brien, Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin, according to sources. And official announcement is expected as early as this week. ... Chief Business Correspondent Ali Velshi, who has been an interim anchor of American Morning along with Christine Romans and Carol Costello, will move to anchor a daily business show on CNN International, according to sources. It is not clear if Romans and Costello will have a role on the retooled morning program."

CNN press release, 3 Nov 2011: "CNN Chief Business Correspondent Ali Velshi is adding new roles across CNN Worldwide. Beginning next month, Velshi will provide business reporting and analysis for CNN’s domestic channel, launching signature segments that will interpret and explain a top story of the day. In addition, in 2012, he becomes an anchor of CNN International’s World Business Today, a daily global business news program. Velshi also continues as host of Your Money on weekends on CNN/U.S. ... Velshi is anchoring one-hour of CNN International’s World Business Today, which is broadcast live to over 200 countries across the world."

Report: Al Jazeera English will open a Chicago bureau, managed by ex-ABC Washington correspondent.

Posted: 03 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Chicago Reader, 28 Oct 2011, Michael Miner: "Word came to me Friday afternoon that the Al Jazeera English news service intends to open a Chicago bureau and has just hired a bureau manager—John Hendren, who for the past several years has been a Washington correspondent for ABC news. He previously covered the Pentagon for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio. Al Jazeera English, launched by Al Jazeera in 2006, has had trouble finding a foothold in this country. WTTW, Channel 11, recently announced that it will start carrying it a few hours a week beginning October 31." -- Hendren's bio is still at the ABC News website. See also Huffington Post, 30 Oct 2011 and previous post about AJE on WTTW.

New radio station for German minority in Poland will get Deutsche Welle news about Germany and Europe.

Posted: 03 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
PAP, 28 Oct 2011: "The German minority in the Opole region, southern Poland, is planning to set up a regional radio station which would go on air in 2012. The move comes off the back of an announcement by Parliament’s sole German minority MP, Ryszard Galla, who said that documents for the radio’s concession to broadcast are to be filed by the end of November. The station would be based in Opole, and would broadcast throughout the province as well as the western fragments of the Silesian province, including Gliwice, as well as eastern portions of the south-western Lower Silesian province. ... The radio’s creators have already signed a deal with German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which has been charged with providing news from Germany and Europe."

Information minister suggests VOA train Pakistan journalists. DW training course at Radio Pakistan concludes.

Posted: 03 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Pakistan Observer, 2 Nov 2011: "Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Tuesday said strength and stability of national institutions lies in continuity of democracy and present elected government is doing its best to promote democratic values in the country. Dr Firdous said this during a meeting with a delegation of senior officials of Voice of America (VOA) which called on her. The delegation comprised Director International Broadcasting Bureau VoA, David Ensor and Director Liaison IBB VOA Gary Thatcher. ... She said 'We must focus on exploring avenues of cooperation in the field of media' and proposed that VOA and Pakistani media may look into possibility of holding training for Pakistani journalists."

Pakistan Today, 29 Oct 2011: "An 18-day course on ‘Local Reporting and Training for Trainers’ organised by Radio Pakistan in collaboration with Duetche Welle (Voice of Germany) Akademie concluded here at National Broadcasting House, PBC Headquarters, on Friday. The courses, attended by 24 journalists, producers and engineers from all over the country, were conducted by senior experts from the Deutche Welle Akademie, including Jutta Vom Hofe, Marc Seidel and Florian Weigand. Speaking on the occasion, Radio Pakistan Director General Murtaza Solangi said PBC had been focusing on human resource development in the department. 'We might have financial constraints, but are highly rich in human resources and continue to further develop it in collaboration with international partners like Deutche Welle and Japan International Cooperation Agency,' he vowed. He said the training courses organised by the Deutsche Welle in the past were bearing fruit and those who had got training had shown tremendous improvement in their work which was visible in different Radio Pakistan programmes."

Pakistan Today, 13 Oct 2011: "The Government of Japan will help Radio Pakistan rehabilitate its medium wave transmitting network and studio facilities; this was stated by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Director Yasumichi Araki while speaking with Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) Director General Murtaza Solangi at National Broadcasting House on Thursday. Yasumichi said in this connection, JICA will help to replace aging transmitters at Faqirabad in the Attock district with a latest 500 kilowatt medium wave transmitter. ... 'Radio Pakistan broadcasts are now available to over 100 million people on their cellular phones as well.'"

New Zealand domestic media ignoring the West Papua crisis, but Radio New Zealand International is covering the story.

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Scoop, 29 Oct 2011, Alex Perrottet: "As tensions escalate in the Indonesian-occupied Melanesian region of West Papua, there is growing criticism over the lack of information in the mainstream New Zealand media about the troubled area. ... So far, only the public broadcaster, Radio New Zealand International, and independent media outlets such as Pacific Scoop have paid any attention. ... Director of the Pacific Media Centre and journalism educator Dr David Robie is even more critical of the current New Zealand media role in informing the public about events in the region. ... 'When a Middle East-based global news service like Al Jazeera find it important enough to send teams to cover New Caledonia and West Papua, for example, it is an indictment of our own coverage and news values that we fail to match this.' ... In the Australian media, Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald has been following the West Papua issue over the last few weeks. Its coverage has compared with Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat programme. Yet here in New Zealand, no mainstream media has taken it up apart from Radio NZ International. 'I think we are extremely fortunate that there are still a few state-owned broadcasting outfits like RNZI in this country and ABC in Australia that have dedicated Pacific programmes,' says [Dr Teresia Teaiwa, senior lecturer in Pacific studies, at Va’aomanu Pasifika Victoria University of Wellington]."

See also coverage by Al Jazeera English, 19 Oct 2011.

China's Caixin Media supplying content to Hong Kong's ATV, which broadcasts it back into China.

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Forbes, 30 Oct 2011, Russell Flannery: "Caixin Media, which publishes one of China’s top-circulated business magazines, said on Friday it has reached an agreement to provide business and financial news programs to Asia Television of Hong Kong, its first step into international broadcasting. Starting in January, nine daily programs produced by Caixin will air on ATV World. ATV reaches an audience of 100 million in Hong Kong, Macau, southern China and North America, according to a Caixin press release. The broadcaster has been facing controversy over feuding among its shareholders and the retraction of a report that former Chinese president Jiang Zemin had passed away." -- ATV is also a VOA affiliate, broadcasting a weekly segment provided by the VOA Cantonese Service.

New FCC ruling on broadband over power line (BPL) could mean a noisy future for shortwave.

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
TV Technology, 27 Oct 2011, Doug Lung: "Access Broadband over Power line (BPL) places broadband data on existing electrical wiring—outdoor distribution and to the home—using radio frequencies ranging between 3 MHz and 80 MHz. These are the same frequencies used for shortwave radio broadcasting, amateur radio communications, and the low VHF TV band (channels 2-6). ... Access Broadband over Power line (BPL) places broadband data on existing electrical wiring—outdoor distribution and to the home—using radio frequencies ranging between 3 MHz and 80 MHz. These are the same frequencies used for shortwave radio broadcasting, amateur radio communications, and the low VHF TV band (channels 2-6). ... Monday the [US Federal Communications Commission] issued the Second Report and Order (FCC 11-160). After this long proceeding, lasting over 7 years from the time the FCC adopted the Access BPL rules, the commission said, 'In this Second Order, we complete our action addressing the court's concerns and our proposals in the RFC/FNPRM. We find that the information submitted in response to the RFC/FNPRM does not warrant any changes to the emissions standards or the extrapolation factor. We are, however, making several refinements to our Access BPL rules.'" -- The refinements involve "notching" on the amateur radio frequencies, but apparently not the shortwave broadcast frequencies. Shortwave is the only frequency range allowing long distance communication without the assistance of a satellite or other man-made conveyance. With the advent of BPL systems, this unique resource is being polluted, and perhaps rendered useless for communication.

American Radio Relay League, 27 Oct 2011: “We were prepared to be disappointed, and we were,” commented ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, after reviewing the 76 page Second Report and Order. 'The increase in notch depth is a step in the right direction, but the value of the change is greatly diminished by the notches not being mandatory. The FCC acknowledges that a compliant BPL system will increase the noise floor below 30 MHz at distances of up to 400 meters from a power line, but characterizes that as ‘a relatively short distance.’ How many amateur stations are located more than a quarter-mile from the nearest power line?'"

Radio VOP still hopes to move from shortwave into Zimbabwe to FM within Zimbabwe.

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio VOP, 28 Oct 2011, Garikai Chaunza: "Radio VOP says being Zimbabwean motivated it to reply for a radio licence, despite having been denied a licence in 2005. David Masunda, the chairperson of the prospective broadcasting station of VOP FM, which participated in a public hearing on Thursday before the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), said in an interview after the hearing: 'We are Zimbabweans and we want to broadcast from within Zimbabwe. Yes we might be broadcasting from other countries on shortwave but its only two hours, that is one hour in the morning and another hour in the evening. If we are given the licence we will be broadcasting for 24 hours giving Zimbabwean citizens a chance to articulate issues that concern them.'" -- But, for now, Radio VOP is still transmitting into Zimbabwe via shortwave, using the Radio Netherlands relay facility in Madagascar.

The Mail & Guardian (Cape Town), 28 Oct 2011, Jason Moyo: In Zimbabwe: "Even in the poorest homes satellite dishes that access free foreign channels are seen as a necessity. Shortwave broadcasts by radio stations staffed by foreign-based Zimbabwean journalists also offer an alternative. Outside of the newspapers there are few alternative news sources. Years of media restrictions bred countless Zimbabwean news websites, but only a few are seen as credible. With internet usage rising -- a recent survey by internet browser firm Opera suggested Zimbabweans were among the heaviest web users on the continent -- more and more Zimbabweans are relying on social-media platforms for news. But like journalists working in Zimbabwe, local users of social media have to censor themselves."

At Life After Lukashenka forum, discussion of reaching Belarus after shortwave.

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Belarus Diguest 30 Oct 2011: "Belarus was one of the hottest topics at the United States-Central Europe Strategy Forum in Prague on 26-27 October 2011. Policy makers, government officials and analysts tried to resolve the Belarusian puzzle at a session called 'Belarus at the Brink: Planning for Life After Lukashenka'. The Forum speakers included Steven Korn, the President and CEO of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty... . The Forum participants noted the importance of effective media in Belarusian context where television and radio are tightly controlled by the authorities. They agreed that no matter how good the messages of the opposition or from civil society are, these messages will remain ineffective if they fail to reach the larger population. The participants praised the efforts by the Polish government, the main sponsor of the only independent Belarusian [television] channel Belsat. It is important to monitor the effectiveness of various media projects and pay more attention to the Internet as the main method of delivering information to Belarusians. Belarus has one of the highest degrees of Internet saturation in the region and the importance of Internet will grow further. So far Belarusians use the Internet primarily for entertainment. The important task is to make the Internet products more attractive to the wider spectrum of Belarusians. This could be achieved by better integrating video products and citizen journalism into traditional websites. It has also been noted that the Belsat website needs to be more user-friendly and easier to navigate, which would greatly improve its popularity. The new media age requires revision and evaluation of the current Belarus-focused media projects. That could include channeling funds used for short wave broadcasting to development of video media, social networks and other interactive content. While for some countries short wave broadcasting will remain important, in the countries with more Internet users such as Belarus, short wave will be replaced with more modern technologies."

In Colombia, dropping shortwave radios via parachute.

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
The Christian Post, 28 Oct 2011, Alex Murashko: "A persecution watchdog group from the United States is using a quasi-military style operation to reach out to FARC guerrillas in Colombia by parachuting packages filled with Christian materials from an airplane onto the jungles below. As one of its ministries, The Voice of the Martyrs supports the operation by partnering with a pilot and maintaining a plane. The items inside each package include a Bible, Christian literature, and shortwave radios pre-set to two Christian stations." -- It doesn't say which Christian stations, but EWTN is probably not one of them.

The global Catholic network that is not Vatican Radio launches a German TV channel.

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 31 Oct 2011, Robert Briel: "EWTN Global Catholic Network will launch a new television channel in Germany on Sunday, November 6. Called EWTN Katholisches TV, the new channel will air Catholic religious programming 24-hours-a-day on Astra 1H. It is available free-to-air and aims at German speaking viewers across Europe. ... EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 30th year, is available in over 160 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. With its direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM and FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, internet website, electronic and print news services, and publishing arm, EWTN claims to be the largest religious media network in the world."

Israeli documentary is "smart and savvy" public diplomacy because "it does no persuading, arguing or advocacy whatsoever."

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 30 Oct 2011, Rachel Marder: "The creators of the new documentary Israel Inside: how a small nation makes a big difference are looking to re-brand the Jewish state in America’s living rooms as an innovative, ethical country working tirelessly to find solutions to global problems of the day. ... David Coleman, JerusalemOnlineU’s vice president for video distribution, said he aims for the film to be shown on PBS across the US by the end of 2012. The documentary is a smart and savvy approach to hasbara (public diplomacy) because it does no persuading, arguing or advocacy whatsoever. Politics could not be further from this film. Rather, it’s an emotional, inspiring look at what makes Israel tick, what accounts for its technological and financial success over the last 63 years."

BBC World News and BBC.com claim success in reaching Asian "up-market elites" (updated).

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
BestMediaInfo, 24 Oct 2011: "The latest Synovate PAX survey (Q2 2011) shows another record viewing year for BBC World News and BBC.com, with the BBC being the number one international news brand consumed by Asia’s up-market elites. The BBC has the highest international news reach among loyal audiences (45.4%) and is the only news brand that’s growing within this highly engaged sector. The weekly and daily combined reach from the BBC is up 18 per cent from last survey, whilst the monthly and daily combined reach (31.9%) is up by 25 per cent. The BBC also holds the dominant reach among target audiences for Wealth Management, outperforming leading business media in Asia. BBC’s digital platform, BBC.com, impressively ranks as the #1 media website by PAX not only among up-market elites, but also among key target sectors such as Purchase Decision Maker, High Net Worth Individual, PMEB, Frequent Traveller and Opinion Leader." -- Synovate PAX data can be parsed in many ways, resulting in many winners. For example, what are "loyal audiences"? We may see press releases from other international broadcasters. Update: BBC World News press release, 1 Nov 2011 about same subject.

Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), 31 Oct 2011, letter from Lady Muck: "Watching BBC World News, I would like to put forward a plea for some improvements. The British used to be known for their decorum and correctness. The BBC used to be a prime example of this. Today presenters are seen without wearing a tie, lady presenters are visible as sex symbols and a free-agent chatterboxes with their own thoughts and opinions, gesticulating with their hands in the air as though they were orchestrating traffic in the centre of Paris. And listen to the speech. We suffer repeatedly 'yeah' all the time, and'yer-knows'. The endings of words are clipped off and speech is slurred. Pull your socks up BBC, set an example, send the presenters off to elocution lessons, get the gals to stop wearing deep-fronted blouses so that the eyes of the viewers are not gravitated to their assets area and cut out the heavy makeup and dangling earrings. Can we please have some British style, dignity and correctness!" -- If you can't see this item in Firefox, try Internet Explorer.

Broadcasting Board of Governors releases the "framework" of its new strategic plan.

Posted: 02 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 1 Nov 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors has released the framework of its new strategic plan to enhance the global impact of U.S. international broadcasting through innovation and integration. ... Entitled, 'Impact through Innovation and Integration,' the plan outlines a strategy for growth within an environment of scarce budget resources and profound, ongoing changes in audience media consumption habits. The goal is to be the world’s leading international news agency, working to foster free, open, democratic societies with an audience growth target of 50 million by 2016. ... The Agency will now study phased implementation plans to break down the organizational silos present in the BBG’s complex amalgam of broadcast entities, some Federal and some non-Federal, with different legal and administrative frameworks. ... A copy of the Strategic Plan is available here [pdf]. A companion BBG strategy website is hosting an ongoing discussion of the plan and the future of U.S. international broadcasting."

Free Media Online, 1 Nov 2011, (presumably by) Ted Lipien: "The BBG’s strategic objective: 'To become the world’s leading international news agency by 2016, focused on the agency’s mission and impact' appears highly unrealistic and has the potential of detracting from the mission of specialized news reporting and analysis for individual countries and regions. The BBG’s performance goal 'To reach 216 million in global weekly audience by 2016' also appears highly unrealistic — unless the BBG plans to include the U.S. audience in the count or to change its audience measurement methodology, and even then reaching the set goal is extremely unlikely."

See previous post about same subject.

Voice of Russia, ex-Radio Moscow, marks its 82nd anniversary.

Posted: 01 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 29 Oct 2011, Milena Faustova: "Voice of Russia ... one of the biggest radio companies in the world, is 82 today. Radio Moscow [its original name] first came on the air in German, followed by English and French broadcasts. BBC began to beam its signal to the world three years later, while the Voice of America, seven years later. ... It is safe to claim that Radio Moscow saved the world from a nuclear war. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the USSR-USA talks reached a deadlock, it was Radio Moscow that notified Washington of the Kremlin’s decision to order the Cuba-bound Soviet naval ships to return home from the Atlantic." -- If Radio Moscow came on the air in 1929, seven years later would be 1936. Voice of America was not created until 1942.

Voice of Russia, 31 Oct 2011, Lyudmila Morozova: "The International Congress of Russian-language broadcasters opened in Moscow on Monday. It features over 60 Russian-language media from 30 countries, including the Voice of Russia service, which came to Moscow to find ways to tackle various challenges they face."

VOA, "moving away from shortwave," reports on US religious broadcasters that "still believe in the medium."

Posted: 01 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 28 Oct 2011, Jerome Socolovsky: "With the rise of the Internet, some news broadcasters, including the Voice of America, are moving away from shortwave radio. But some religious broadcasters in America still believe in the medium. 'Our view is that there is a great future for shortwave,' says Charles Caudil, president of World Christian Broadcasting, which runs KNLS. He says its long-range signal is ideal for reaching rural areas in the developing world. Very few people there have the Internet available to them, or satellites. But they do have shortwave receivers.' ... The outlet is building a relay station in Madagascar, which will open a door the Muslim world. Egyptian-born Tony Tadros of the new Arabic service and his colleagues at World Christian Broadcasting say they respect Islam. But they argue that Arabs are now ready to embrace religious tolerance." -- KNLS has transmitters in Anchor Point, Alaska. It broadcasts to Asia in Mandarin, Russian, and English. See previous post about same subject.

In Iran, the perils of cooperating with BBC or VOA.

Posted: 01 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Amnesty International, 27 Oct 2011: "Three documentary directors - Hadi Afarideh, Naser Saffarian, Mohsen Shahrnazdar ; and producer and distributor, Katayoun Shahabi were arrested on 17 September 2011. All four are believed to have sold their films to a variety of broadcasters, including the BBC’s Persian service. The Iranian authorities say filmmakers cannot cooperate with foreign satellite channels without permission. Cooperating with the BBC or the Voice of America is particularly controversial. Police chief Esma’il Ahmadi-Moghaddam recently said it was tantamount to working with enemy security services and will be treated 'seriously'. Three of the group - Hadi Afarideh, Naser Saffarian and Mohsen Shahrnazdar- have since been released on bail, but Katayoun Shahabi is thought to remain in custody." See previous post about same subject.

Bloomberg, 30 Oct 2011, Ben Elgin, Vernon Silver and Alan Katz: "After his arrest early last year, [Saeid] Pourheydar, the opposition journalist, says [Iranian] police accused him of speaking to foreign media such as BBC and Voice of America. Their evidence: unbroadcast mobile phone calls captured, recorded and transcribed, he says. They also had transcripts of his e-mails and text messages. He never learned which companies provided the technology that made it possible."

CNN John King USA, 28 Oct 2011: "CNN's John King talks to the creators of Iran's news satire show." -- I.e. "Parazit" on VOA Persian News Network. Video report.

Winner of Deutsche Welle The BOBs blogging award detained in Egypt.

Posted: 01 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Ahram Online, 31 Oct 2011, Zeinab El Gundy: "Prominent Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah was summoned today to Cairo’s notorious C28 military prosecution headquarters to face charges of incitement to violence in the violent 9 October Maspero clashes between Coptic-Christian protesters and military police. Abdel Fattah, who rejects the notion of civilians being tried by military courts, has refused to be interrogated by military prosecutors as a matter of principle. He has also vociferously criticised the idea that the military prosecution should investigate the Maspero clashes, in which military police were directly involved. As a result, the military prosecution ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigation. ... Abdel Fattah is considered one of Egypt’s pioneer bloggers, along with his wife, Manal Hussein. Since 2004, both have been publishing their political opinions in well-known blog www.manalaa.net. Originally, as a software developer and activist, Abdel Fattah has supported initiatives that promote social media, freedom of expression and political activism. In 2005, Alaa and Manal won the Special Reporters without Borders Award in Deutsche Welle's Best Blogs competition."

Daily Maverick (Johannesburg), 31 Oct 2011, Khadija Patel: "Alaa’s detention has prompted a huge outpouring of support from activists around the world. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood also issued a condemnation of military trials in Egypt."

Twitter, 1 Nov 2011, The BOBs @dw_thebobs: "After 2006, we had really hoped to never have to watch this again. #FreeAlaa now!"

Sky News Arabia and Alarab "could provide the first serious challenge in years to Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya."

Posted: 01 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 30 Oct 2011, Eric Pfanner, via Ocala (FL) Star-Banner: "The market for Arabic-language television news, dominated for years by two satellite channels with close links to Arab rulers, is poised for a shot of new competition with the pending introduction of two 24-hour news channels backed by Western media conglomerates. Prince Walid bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire who controls the media company Rotana, provided details last month of one of the channels, which will be named Alarab and will operate in partnership with Bloomberg, the business news and information company. Meanwhile, British Sky Broadcasting, the pay-television provider, is moving ahead with plans for the introduction of another new channel, called Sky Arabia, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media Investment, which is controlled by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the ruling family of the Gulf emirate. Analysts say the new channels, which are set to start broadcasting next year, could provide the first serious challenge in years to Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, which have enjoyed a viewership duopoly for much of the past decade. ... To attract viewers, the new channels will also have to demonstrate editorial independence, an issue that has previously bedeviled Western news ventures with Arab partners."

In this contest of pan-Arab news channels, Sky News Arabia could have an advantage by the fact that it seems most intent to be self-funding through advertising. This will force the channel to develop the programming the audiences want. I hope that Sky News Arabia achieves success by way of a serious news channel more objective than Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, rather than populist and demagogic talking heads.

WorldNetDaily, 21 Oct 2011: "The controversial partnership [between Bloomberg and Alarab] raises new concerns about infiltration of the U.S. media by Islamists bent on institutionalizing Shariah finance and other Islamic laws in the West."

See previous post about same subject.