Book and blog post examine "Deutsche Welle in the Framework of Public Diplomacy."

Posted: 31 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Justrecently's Weblog, 26 Dec 2011, JR: "In Die Deutsche Welle im Rahmen von Public Diplomacy (Deutsche Welle in the Framework of Public Diplomacy), Christian Michalek, in 2008 and 2009, tried to assess journalists’ self-image (or self-concept) on the one hand, and the Welle’s political mandate (politischer Auftrag) on the other. ... Michalek points out that the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media – not the foreign office – is exercising control of legality over Deutsche Welle. This arrangement puts some distance between the Welle and the foreign office (the latter of which, after all, is likely to be the one within government to take the greatest interest in the station as a tool for public diplomacy). That said, Michalek also refers to non-binding, formal and informal intercommunication ('unverbindliche, formelle und informelle Austauschprozesse') between Deutsche Welle and the political arena, particularly the foreign office, which were hoped to serve a congruent international German appearance."

Let's hope Al Jazeera is better at preparing news reports than it is at preparing joint stipulations.

Posted: 31 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Courthouse News Service, 23 Dec 2011, Joe Celentino: "A federal judge has scrapped a misleading court stipulation from Al Jazeera in a suit that claims the international news network owes a construction company $1.4 million for a state-of-the-art television studio and office space built in Washington, D.C. Al Jazeera was previously ordered to pay $1.4 million to Winmar, a Washington-based construction company, as well as 12 percent prejudgment interest set to run from March 2006 and 0.25 percent interest since the September 2010 judgment. The court granted Al Jazeera a supersedeas bond in anticipation of an appeal, based in part on a so-called 'joint stipulation' filed by the Dohar, Qatar-based network, stating that both sides had agreed on the amount of such a bond. But, the court soon discovered, Winmar never conceded to the bond amount. 'Al Jazeera's "joint stipulation" was neither "joint" nor a "stipulation,"' U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler wrote, 'It should never have been filed.' (Emphasis in original)"

National Geographic Al Arabiya's "1001 Inventions" will "raise awareness of the Middle East's scientific and cultural heritage."

Posted: 31 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
AMEinfo, 27 Dec 2011: "National Geographic Al Arabiya magazine and the internationally renowned educational initiative '1001 Inventions' have formed a strategic alliance to raise awareness of the Middle East's scientific and cultural heritage, through the development of a number of high quality educational projects targeting the Arab world. The two parties plan to develop a number of regional education projects, starting with the launch of the '1001 Inventions' Middle Eastern exhibition tour, and a highly anticipated Arabic language educational book- '1001 Inventions - Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World'."

Iran's Spanish-language HispanTV launches with movie "Saint Mary."

Posted: 30 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Tehran Times, 24 Dec 2011: "The Iranian-run Spanish language TV channel Hispan TV was officially launched on [21 Dec] airing 'Saint Mary' by Iranian director Shahriar Bahrani in Spanish, depicting the life of Saint Mary and the birth of Jesus Christ from an Islamic point of view".

Fox News Latino, 27 Dec 2011: "[S]ome analysts see HispanTV as part and parcel of a political strategy towards the Spanish-speaking world."

Hudson New York, 22 Dec 2011, Soeren Kern: "Two radical Islamic television stations will begin 24-hour broadcasting to Spanish-speaking audiences in Spain and Latin America from new studios in Madrid. The first channel, sponsored by the government of Iran, will focus on spreading Shiite Islam, the dominant religion in Iran. It began broadcasting on December 21. The second channel, sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia, will focus on spreading Wahhabi Islam, the dominant religion in Saudi Arabia. It will begin broadcasting on January 1. The inaugural broadcasts of Islamic television in Spain were deliberately timed to coincide with the Christmas holidays, and represent yet another example of the gradual encroachment of Islam in post-Christian Spain. The new Iranian channel, Hispan TV, will focus on news and television series produced in Iran and dubbed into Spanish. ... The new Saudi channel, Córdoba Televisión, will broadcast documentaries and debates on religion with the aim of propagating the extremist Wahhabi sect of Islam to audiences in the Spanish-speaking world." See also Ahlul Bayt News Agency, 22 Dec 2011.

See previous post about same subject.

CNN exec remembers 2011 "as the year that CNN’s international reporting reasserted its dominance."

Posted: 30 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Bistro, 23 Dec 2011, Alex Weprin, quoting year-end note to staff from CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton: "I think I’ll remember 2011 as the year that CNN’s international reporting reasserted its dominance on the media landscape. Through an extraordinary news cycle, we told global stories of natural disaster, political upheaval, war and human failing with breadth, authority and timeliness. We worked together and across our platforms. Our journalism set us apart. Our work made a difference to millions who count on us."

Huffington Post, 21 Dec 2011, Michael Calderone: According to Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism Year in News 2011 study: "CNN, which has a larger global footprint and a sibling in CNN International, devoted 34 percent of its coverage to "international events and matters that concerned U.S involvement abroad," according to the study. That's more than Fox News (20 percent) and MSNBC (14 percent). In fact, CNN's biggest story of the year was the Middle East uprisings, which ranked third on Fox News and MSNBC."

TV Guide, 22 Dec 2011, Stephen Battaglio interviewing CNN International reporter Sara Sidner: "TV Guide Magazine: We don't see a lot of people who look like you on CNN International or as foreign correspondents in general. How does it play out in the field? Sidner: It's good to be brown. Whether it's in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, people assume there is a connection there, that a parent or grandparent is from North Africa or from South Asia. People think, 'Oh, she understands something about what we've been through.' I am a child of the world. My mother is British. My father is African-American. For me It's been an advantage...Being this color, I can kind of blend in, and I don't get the kind of unwanted attention you might get if I walked in and everyone has dark hair and olive skin and I have blonde hair and blue eyes."

Report: Al Jazeera will hire "large number of Qataris" who are "less than 30 years old."

Posted: 30 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Gulf News, 26 Dec 2011, Habib Toumi: "Al Jazeera, the Doha-based channel that has helped change the Arab media landscape, is moving ahead with plans to recruit a large number of Qataris. Under a strategy launched by its news head, the pan-Arab channel will hire Qataris who hold a university degree, preferably in media or communication studies, be thoroughly knowledgeable about regional and international developments and be less than 30 years old, local daily Al Sharq reported on Monday. Well-known Qatari media people will oversee the project, launched as part of the changes promoted by the channel since the appointment of Shaikh Ahmad Bin Jassem Al Thani as its head."

Tim Sebastian, previously of the Doha Debates, now moderates the New Arab Debates on DW-TV.

Posted: 30 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily News Egypt, 23 Dec 2011, Amir Makar: "Sixty-two percent of an audience of 150 supported the motion that “the Egyptian revolution was failing” at the New Arab Debates last Tuesday, a significant climb from 54 percent in a poll conducted before the debate began. ... The New Arab Debates are a new series moderated by [Tim] Sebastian, modeled after his previous Doha Debates, and broadcast by German network Deutsche Welle and local providers around the region."

Deutsche Welle, "New Arab Debates," 28 Dec 2011: "Your spotlight on the Arab revolutions - your right to speak out, asking the vital questions, insisting on answers. The New Arab Debates invite a new generation to get involved in politics."

Good example of international broadcasting: "Morning Edition" at 10 pm in Wodonga.

Posted: 30 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Border Mail (Wodonga, Victoria), 26 Dec 2011, Peter Batson: "Border and North East listeners received an early Christmas present last week, a 24-hour news radio station. ABC NewsRadio airs continuous news and current affairs at 100.9FM from a mast on Mount Baranduda, near Wodonga. ... ABC NewsRadio broadcasts rolling news, sport, finance and current affairs, specialist news and sports programs and offerings from overseas broadcasters such as the BBC, Germany’s Deutsche Welle and National Public Radio in the US." -- The ABC NewsRadio schedule shows generous amounts of BBC and NPR (presumably paid for) programming on weekdays, plus some DW programs on weekends. Also coproductions with Radio Australia, ABC's international service.

Boxing Day listening to Premier League updates on BBC World Service "was pure magic."

Posted: 29 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 26 Dec 2011, Simon Burnton: "'My favourite Boxing Day memory would be from around 1991 when my in-laws gave me a vintage short wave radio,' writes Allen Ford. 'Back then, following the game here in Canada still meant waiting for week-old highlights. To be sitting in my living room listening to the BBC World Service as they hopped from ground-to-ground for goal updates was pure magic.'"

The Northern Echo, 29 Dec 2011: "Sunderland’s New Year’s Day home fixture against league leaders Manchester City will be the first live commentary of 2012 for the BBC Swahili flagship football programme, Ulimwengu wa Soka. It is the first time the BBC Swahili weekend football show will have been broadcast from the Stadium of Light."

VOA Chinese, marking 70th anniversary, predates VOA.

Posted: 29 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 27 Dec 2011: "The Voice of America is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first U.S. radio broadcasts to China, which began the 28th of December 1941, just weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of World War Two. Voice of America was still months away from being officially established when the first Chinese language shortwave broadcasts were transmitted from studios in San Francisco. U.S. government broadcasting operations to China were eventually moved to New York and then Washington under the Voice of America. ... VOA programs in Mandarin, Cantonese and Tibetan are delivered on radio, television, the Internet, mobile platforms, satellite, and by proxy servers designed to circumvent Chinese Internet blocking." See previous post with items about VOA Chinese, including the BBG's plans to eliminate its radio component.

New Arabic news channel Alarab will be located in Bahrain.

Posted: 29 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Bahrain News Agency, 27 Dec 2011: "Information Affairs Authority (IAA) President Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa today announced that Al-Arab News Channel and Rotana Media Group would establish their headquarters in Bahrain starting next year. He described the move as value-adding to the march of the media in Bahrain, stressing the freedom of expression and opinion which are prevailing in the Kingdom., explained that 'The IAA reached an agreement on December 12 to launch Al Arab news channel from Manama', Shaikh Fawaz told journalists. Under the deal, senior executive management of Rotana channel group will move from Riyadh to Manama on completion of Media City legal and organizational framework, which is in its final stage. ... Meanwhile their studios will remain in Cairo and Beirut. As for the Al Arab News Channel, it employs around 300 people. ... He affirmed that the IAA is committed to prepare and qualify national media cadres and arm them with modern skills in journalistic and media work.In this matter, he pointed out that the IAA contracted with 3 renowned international institutions: the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America, the French National Institute of Audiovisual, besides contracting with one of the biggest media figures in France as a consultant in development and training in the IAA."

The National, 28 Dec 2011, Ben Flanagan: "Alarab is set to launch in December next year. The 24-hour station is being launched in conjunction with the US media giant Bloomberg, which will support the business news output of the channel. The Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who is managing Alarab, told The National last month that the news station was choosing between Bahrain and Dubai as a base for the channel. Mr Khashoggi declined to comment on the decision to base the station in Bahrain when contacted by The National. The Arabic TV news market is currently dominated by Al Arabiya, based in Dubai, and Al Jazeera, which is funded by the Qatari government. Another Arabic TV-news station, Sky News Arabia, will launch in Abu Dhabi in Spring of next year."

This is a controversial choice of location, as Bahrain went through its own Arab spring demonstrations earlier this year. They did not succeed in changing the government, and Shia-majority Bahrain continues to be controlled by a Sunni-minority monarchy.

Press TV, 29 Dec 2011: "Scores of people have been killed in the government-sanctioned crackdown on the Bahraini protesters, with the involvement of the foreign forces reportedly contributing to increase in the violence against the protesters. The Saudi prince had, however, asserted that the network would put 'an emphasis on freedom of speech and freedom of press.'"

Seventy years of BBC Bangla.

Posted: 28 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily Star (Dhaka), 25 Dec 2011Sabir Mustafa, editor, BBC Bangla: "Although BBC Bangla is celebrating its 70th anniversary in December, it was on October 11, 1941, that the BBC's Bengali-language programme was launched, with a 15-minute talk written by the author George Orwell. At that time it was just a weekly programme. Seventy years later, BBC Bangla broadcasts two morning and two evening programmes every day. These programmes are no longer the musings of one man, no matter how brilliant, but packed with news reports on latest important events from around the world. There are hard-hitting interviews, radio documentaries on a wide range of subjects, long radio and online features, and live phone-in programmes where listeners have their say. ... Over the years, the BBC has developed close transmission partnership with the state broadcaster, Bangladesh Betar, to relay English and Bengali programmes on FM in major cities across the country. The first was FM 100 in Dhaka in 1994, which developed into a 12-hour service with 10 hours of English output from BBC World Service, and two hours of Bangla programming. ... The shift from short-wave listening to FM -- which we have observed in developed as well as many developing countries -- is beginning to take shape in Bangladesh as well."

Friday prayers were the social media of the Arab spring, he writes.

Posted: 28 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Inter Press Service, 23 Dec 2011, Emad Mekay: "[S]ome 10 months later, Western circles now give little or no credit to the indigenous Arab social change mechanisms that have so far kept Arab revolutions raging for a year now. The tools Arabs used were not mainly Google, Facebook or Twitter. They were simply their own I-Revolt apps. ... Friday noon prayers where hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people customarily gather every week, have been the most shared feature of the Arab Spring uprisings. The weekly congregations were in fact the main hub for bringing protesters out to the streets – not because of their spiritual value but because of their ability to gather people with no or little extra effort. ... A second ergonomic, user-friendly Arab-gadget was the good old A-4 white-paper flyer, handwritten or on rare occasions typed, designating places to assemble and protest. ... Another tool I saw used to keep the fervour going was the simple word of mouth over landline telephones from mostly panicky family members reporting to their loved ones how unfit Mubarak's brutal ways had become. You add to that mix the role played by the 24-hour pan-Arab TV news, especially from the Mubarak-bashing Aljazeera, BBC Arabic, Al-arabiya and even the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra, in spreading the word and you'll get a realistic sense of what a limited role social media outlets had on the ground. In fact, the entire internet was made useless when Mubarak cracked down and cut off all communications - without that denting people's ability to plan and organise one bit."

These comparisons of Al Jazeera, VOA, and BBC need some fact checking.

Posted: 28 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Newsmax, 23 Dec 2011, Arnaud De Borchgrave: "Al-Jazeera's global television network has long surpassed the Voice of America in the number of bureaus and correspondents it has deployed all over the world. Its English-language programs and newscasts have even overtaken the world's one-time leader BBC, shrunk by government cutbacks. ... Al-Jazeera's coverage of domestic Qatari affairs is limited but it never misses an opportunity to tweak the beak of fellow Arab leaders who crackdown on dissent." -- Better to measure the "number of bureaus and correspondents" of all of the BBG entities, not just VOA. Al Jazeera probably still has the advantage. And by what measure has Al Jazeera English "overtaken" the BBC? I'm sure that BBC World News still has a larger audience, and that CNN International (at no cost to US taxpayers) has the largest audience of the "big three" global English news channels.

Al Jazeera allowed to re-open its Kuwait office.

Posted: 28 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Arab Times, 23 Dec 2011: "Minister of Information Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali announces that the office of Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel would be reopened in Kuwait, following approval of the station’s request in that concern, reports Al-Rai daily. Sheikh Al-Ali said the decision to re-open Kuwait’s office of the Qatari owned TV station stems from the authority’s responsiveness to the importance of media in the Gulf region. He said Kuwait is in an election year and there is need to allow for a transparent, credible and neutral coverage. He urged the media must be responsible in its practices, even as he promised freedom on its behalf."

KUNA Kuwait News Agency, 25 Dec 2011: "On re-opening office of Al-Jazeera television channel, the minister indicated that it would resume its work in the country following completion of some paper works. 'Kuwait will witness a new and unprecedented era of media openness,' he added."

Balloons rise up from South with leaflets telling North Koreans to "rise up."

Posted: 28 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 27 Dec 2011, Sangwon Yoon: "South Korean civic groups and defectors from the North said they launched balloons today that will float across the border to deliver leaflets containing criticism of the late Kim Jong Il and his son and successor, Kim Jong Un. Forty activists set off 10 balloons that also carried dollar bills, said Jang Se Yul, head of the North Korea People’s Liberation Front, a Seoul-based group of former North Korean soldiers and officers who defected to the South."

Bernama, 28 Dec 2011: "The activists from two defector groups -- Fighters for Free North Korea and the NK People's Liberation Front -- launched 200,000 leaflets from Imjingak pavilion in the northern border city of Paju that urged their compatriots in the North to 'rise up' against the Pyongyang regime, reports Yonhap News Agency."

AFP, 27 Dec 2011: "The internet is virtually banned, there's no free press and listening to foreign radio is illegal - if any country can build a Stalinist-style personality cult in the digital era, it's North Korea. ... Social media helped to galvanise Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, but under the world's last remaining communist dynasty, surfing the web is impossible for most ordinary people. There is a nationwide intranet system called Kwangmyong but it is tightly controlled and does not provide a window to the outside world. ... But information from outside is slowly seeping in, through smuggled mobile phones which connect to Chinese networks near the border and South Korean DVDs and videotapes imported clandestinely."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation "AM," 23 Dec 2011, Stephen McDonell: "Accompanied by soothing music that locals would recognise immediately Free North Korea Radio sails through the airwaves and into the illegal short wave radio sets in the north of the Korean Peninsula. The programs deliver news and analysis of events in North and South Korea from an anti-Kim Jong-il perspective. The people who work at the station are North Korean defectors who've escaped and made their way to Seoul - usually via China. The death of former leader Kim Jong-il has kept them busy this week."

See previous post about same subject.

Report: VOA content on FM in Bahrain will adhere to both BBG standards and local "sensitivities."

Posted: 28 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Gulf News (Dubai), 26 Dec 2011: "Bahrain has agreed on deals with international audio-visual companies to boost local skills and enhance the media landscape. Shaikh Fawaz Bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, the president of the Information Affairs Authority (IAA), on Monday said that the contracts with major international media organizations have been completed and that they would 'contribute to training and providing programming in an effort to improve the services provided through the Bahrain Radio and Television Corporation (BRTC).' The accords were with the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA), Broadcasting Board of Governors for Voice of America (BBG/VOA) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Shaikh Fawaz, who was given the information portfolio in July 2010, said. ... The Broadcasting Board of Governors has agreed to provide the IAA with programming through the Voice of America (VOA) in both English and Arabic that will be broadcast on FM radio. The contract stipulates that content will be consistent with both the BBG standards and practices, and the national, cultural, religious and social sensitivities of Bahrain. BBG will also provide an annual training seminar to participants selected by the IAA. The contract with the BBG is, in addition to the one with the BBC, to supply radio programming that includes concerts, pop documentaries, features, dramas, readings and comedies. The IAA said that it also renewed its contract with SOMERA, a Parisian broadcasting corporation for radio programming in French and Arabic, through 2016." -- Presumably, the Arabic programming will be Radio Sawa, as VOA does not have an Arabic service.

VOA obituaries: Ferdinand Ferella, Pat Gates Lynch Ewell (updated), Paul Blair.

Posted: 28 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Inside VOA, 14 Dec 2011: "VOA French to Africa reporter Ferdinand Ferella, one of the most respected and well-known journalists in Central Africa, passed away December 13 following a battle with lung cancer. He was 59. Born in Rouen, France in 1952, Ferdinand worked at Radio Canada International before joining VOA in the late 1980s. As a reporter for VOA he traveled frequently to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his dedication to balance and accuracy built credibility and a loyal audience. Friends called his influence in the Democratic Republic of Congo 'astounding.' Many journalists held him in such high regard they named their children after him. One of his listeners once wrote he should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his reporting. ... VOA’s French to Africa Service has established a memorial page on their website for Ferdinand, already including many appreciative audience comments in French and English, along with audio tributes and photos from his career."

BBG Watch, 8 Dec 2011: "Celebrated Voice of America Breakfast Show host Pat Gates Lynch died after a struggle with cancer Sunday at her home in Fort Belvoir. From the mid-50s until 1969, Pat served for about 15 years as host and interviewer on the VOA Worldwide English Breakfast Show, which drew significant audiences around the world that even surpassed at times those of jazz impresario host Willis Conover. She interviewed presidents, prime ministers and many famous figures in the arts and music during those years. After VOA, Pat served as First Lady Pat Nixon’s press aide for radio and television from 1969 until 1974, and later was U.S. ambassador to Madagascar in the 1980s. After returning home from her post in Africa, she became Director of Corporate Affairs at RFE/RL headquarters in Washington, retiring from that job in the late 1990s. Pat Gates Lynch wrote a book on her experiences, 'Thanks for Listening: High Adventures in Journalism and Diplomacy,' Countinghouse Press, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, 2008." -- Her name was just "Pat Gates" on the air. Along with co-host Phil Irwin, she recorded The Breakfast Show, which was then played out during the morning hours in each part of the world. See also

Update: Washington Post, 26 Dec 2011, Matt Schudel: "Patricia Gates Lynch Ewell, 85, a onetime disc jockey who had a long career as a popular radio host for the Voice of America and served as the U.S. ambassador to Madagascar, died Dec. 4 at her home at the Fairfax at Fort Belvoir retirement community. ... On the VOA’s 'Breakfast Show,' Mrs. Ewell became known for her sign-off at the end of each program: 'If you meet someone without a smile, give him one of yours.' She wrote in a 2008 memoir that she received letters from people all over the world remarking on how they were touched by her simple statement."

E-mail to VOA/IBB/BBG employees: "Former [VOA] Daybreak Africa host, writer and jazz lover Paul Blair died suddenly in New York on December 6th, just a month short of his 70th birthday. The cause of death was a heart attack. Between 1985 and 1988 Paul was host and editor of English to Africa’s morning radio program and he had visited his old colleagues in the African Division as recently as October of this year. During his time at VOA Paul also worked on a music program for Nightline Africa, playing mostly jazz, a subject that was his passion. Most recently Paul was editor of Hot House jazz magazine and in 2001 he founded SwingStreets, conducting walking tours of jazz-related sites throughout Manhattan and the other boroughs. Earlier in his life, Paul taught English as a Peace Corp volunteer in Malawi, and worked as a freelance journalist in Indonesia for a decade." -- Because Africa accounted for the largest concentration of VOA English listeners, and because morning was the most popular listening time, Mr. Blair no doubt was one of the most well-known VOA broadcasters. See also Jazz Journalists Association, 8 Dec 2011, Howard Mandel. And Mr. Blair's own

BBG member Victor Ashe says it's "serious mistake" to close the Greenville shortwave facility.

Posted: 28 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BBG Watch, 20 Dec 2011: "Victor Ashe, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), has called for keeping open the radio broadcasting facility on U.S. territory that is capable of transmitting shortwave radio programs to China. Some Obama Administration officials want to shut down the last remaining U.S.–based international broadcast station located in North Carolina. Ashe also called for urgent reforms in the way the federal agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting operates. ... Ashe has become an outspoken critic of the permanent BBG bureaucracy in charge of planning and day-to-day operations of U.S. international broadcasting. He has made his displeasure known by visiting broadcasting services and technical facilities that some of the other BBG members wanted to eliminate based on the recommendations they had received from their executive staff. ... In his statement, Ashe calls for keeping open the Edward R. Murrow Greenville Transmitting Station in Greenville, North Carolina, which he had recently visited despite objections from some of the BBG executives who want to close it down. Ashe said in his statement that this facility is the only one on American soil where the U.S. government has jurisdiction. He pointed out that a similar station in the Philippines, operated by the BBG, is barred from transmitting radio programs to China due to the Philippine government’s reluctance to upset the Chinese government. 'That could not happen on American territory,' Ashe noted in his statement."

Actually, the Tinang site in the Philippines is used for VOA Mandarin transmissions to China. Radio Free Asia is not allowed to use relay sites in the Philippines and in Thailand, which will be an interesting predicament if RFA, as the BBG wishes, becomes the only USIB radio service in Mandarin. Furthermore, there are two BBG transmitting sites in US possessions much closer to China than Greenville. They are on Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Mariana Islands.

I have advocated that the United States should retain a global shortwave broadcasting capability for future emergencies. It's too late for that now, with the closure of the IBB relays in Greece and Morocco, and at Delano, California. Greenville should stay open. It will be needed in future crises. In a pinch, it can reach the Middle East, e.g. Iran. China is probably a stretch, though. Greenville can also be used to experiment with shortwave digital text modes, which could prove helpful as a net circumvention tool.

Metro Pulse (Knoxville), 28 Dec 2011: "Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe is not endearing himself to his fellow Broadcasting Board of Governors, the bipartisan group that governs what used to be called the Voice of America broadcasting to totalitarian counties." -- Actually, the Voice of America is still called Voice of America.

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 19 Dec 2011: "Marking a series of international broadcasting milestones, BBG Governor Victor Ashe and VOA Director David Ensor congratulated the staffs of VOA language services in Washington, DC. Ashe noted, for example, that early broadcasts in Cantonese and Mandarin by what is now VOA’s China Branch actually predated the 1942 establishment of VOA itself. 'VOA Mandarin and Cantonese continue to inspire innovation and demonstrate team work and professional journalism as we look to the next seventy years,' said Ashe, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 9 Nov 2011: "BBG Governor Victor Ashe toured the last remaining U.S.–based international broadcast facility recently, noting the historical significance of the base which is named for an icon of U.S. international broadcasting. During his December 8 visit to the Edward R. Murrow Greenville Transmitting Station in North Carolina, Ashe met with employees and discussed the installation’s mission, which includes shortwave broadcasting to Latin America, Cuba, the Caribbean, and Africa."

Broadcasting Board of Governoras press release, 16 Dec 2011: "BBG Governor Victor Ashe met with Alhurra and Radio Sawa staff during a visit to the headquarters in Northern Virginia. Governor Ashe discussed the challenges facing the broadcasters, as well as the changes in the region since the Arab Spring. Ashe, pictured with Alhurra staff, spent all day with the journalists and support staff and addressed the new opportunities for outreach in the region."

BBG Watch, 23 Dec 2011: "BBG Watch is releasing a full transcript of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s special video statement on the 70th anniversary of Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting to China. While her statement did appear on the VOA Chinese website, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Public Affairs Office refused employee requests to issue a press release on the 70th anniversary reception hosted on Capitol Hill by Congressman Dana Rohrabaher on December 6, 2011 and on the statement by the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs."

OneNewsNow, 18 Nov 2011, Charlie Butts: "Dr. Barrett Duke of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention agrees with other human rights groups who view VOA as a tool for 'young fighters for democracy.' 'In this day and age now, where closed countries are working even harder to prevent their citizens from getting news from democracies, it's even more important that we engage in vigorous democracy promotion,' Duke contends. 'VOA is one way that we can do that.'" -- The problem with "vigorous democracy promotion," rather than broadcasting news, which is what VOA really does, is that democracy promotion, commendable is it may be, is pretty much the same thing day after day. The audience, having heard it before, falls off. News, on the other hand, provides some new (hence "news") every day. And news is an essential ingredient in the development and maintenance of democracy.

National Review, 21 Dec 2011, Jay Nordlinger: "This little item suggests that new management at the Voice of America and related agencies wants to purge those places of 'old white guys.' After reading it, I said something to John O’Sullivan, who is just leaving Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty: Is there anything stupider than age? Is there anything stupider than race? Is there anything stupider than the combination of age and race? But the whole world is in love with both age and race."

Al Jazeera English reaches 250 million homes -- including 5 million in the USA.

Posted: 27 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, "Show Tracker," 22 Dec 2011, Yvonne Villarreal: "It's a week of achievements for Al Jazeera English. In addition to receiving a duPont Award, the network announced Thursday that it now reaches 250 million homes — 5 million of those being in the U.S. Five years after its launch, there are 130 countries that carry Al Jazeera English, but in the U.S., the channel has limited availability; it can be found on cable systems in Washington, D.C.; New York; Burlington, Vt.; Toledo, Ohio; and, recently, Chicago and in Los Angeles on KCET. And while the U.S. makes up a fraction of the quarter-billion households, it is a major source of AJE's Web traffic, totaling 40%, according to the network." -- "Reaches 250 million homes" means AJE can be seen in that many homes, not that it is actually watched in all those homes.

Toronto Star, 24 Dec 2011, Tony Burman, former head of Al Jazeera English: "As we wind down this very busy news year of 2011 — nurtured by a plethora of lists marking 'This Year’s Top News Stories' — here’s a thought that will knock your holiday socks off. Imagine a 'list' that doesn’t include the conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan, or the dubious ambitions of Iran’s mullahs or their counterparts in the American Tea Party. Imagine a 'Good News' list, or more specifically, a 'Good-And-Largely-Unreported-News' (GALUN) list. I’d bet the winners would come from the most surprising places. Africa and Latin America perhaps? ... [H]ere are mine for the First Annual 2011 GALUN Awards... "

If an all-Christmas-music radio format comes to China, it will probably be year-round.

Posted: 27 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
China Daily, 23 Dec 2011, Pang Li: "A couple of decades ago, a few of the really wealthy or well positioned would take a trip to Hong Kong to enjoy the holiday lights. Now, every day is a holiday in China's metropolises. Colorful lights adorn shopping arcades and busy streets all year round. During my early years in the United States, I used to lament the removal of decorations after New Year's Day. Later, I learned one would receive a financial penalty if they were not taken down by Jan 10. Here, in China, my juvenile prayers have been answered. One conspicuous absence is the Christmas carols. While I was an undergrad in China, a pal of mine recorded a bunch of them off Voice of America, and they were played non-stop in the dormitory. But no disc jockey in China went through this schooling. Instead, some of the songs trickled into China as regular pop numbers. So, do not be surprised if you hear a school radio system blaring Jingle Bells in the heat of summer. By the way, this is one of the earliest American tunes that seeped into China after it opened up and in the process was stripped of its holiday trimmings."

The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Dec 2011, Paul Bond: "More and more radio channels have been switching their formats to all Christmas, all the time -- a consistent winner for radio even during a brutal 2008-2009 revenue downturn, which ended last year when the U.S. radio industry took in $20.1 billion, up 8 percent from the previous year. Arbitron says it's not unusual for ratings to double once a channel makes the temporary switch to Christmas music. KOST-FM in Los Angeles, for example, saw its share rise from 4.6 to 9.2 last year after it switched, and WLTW-FM in New York jumped from 6.0 to 12.3.", 23 Dec 2011, Sarah Bryan Miller: "St. Louis's NPR station, KWMU-90.7 FM, is abandoning a long-standing custom this year, at least in part: They will not be broadcasting the BBC's annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols live from King's College, Cambridge. The weekly lineup of chatty shows will not be disturbed just because it's Christmas Eve. ... KWMU has not publicized the change much, if at all. Those who expect to be able to turn on their radios at 9 a.m. as usual and hear an ethereal treble sing the first verse of 'Once in Royal David's City' are going to be in for a major disappointment."

RFE/RL reports on Dozhd TV, "a hip new Internet station" in Russia.

Posted: 27 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 22 Dec 2011, Tom Balmforth: "Dozhd TV, a hip new Internet station that has been in existence for less than two years but has already attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers seeking an alternative to the scripted, monochrome, and heavily censored programming offered by the Kremlin-controlled channels. The venture's success illustrates both the public's hunger for unfiltered news and information as well as the degree to which the Internet has cut into the Kremlin's traditional dominance of electronic media. ... Editor In Chief Mikhail Zygar has indicated that he hopes the station's example will help shake up Russia's drab media market. 'We are trying to change things,' he says. 'We make good television. People say we’re an opposition station, but that's not true, we're a good station... We allow everyone to speak out and we believe that all channels should do the same. Unfortunately, that's not the case, but we hope that our example will catch on, and that gradually they will all start working like that.'" See also the station's website (in Russian):

Al Jazeera sports channel will have a "more neutral brand" than Al Jazeera Sport.

Posted: 26 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 21 Dec 2011: "Al Jazeera’s sports division will launch a dedicated sports channel for French viewers to broadcast its newly acquired football pay-TV rights. More channels might follow provoking a direct challenge to establish pay-TV sports broadcasters. Al Jazeera outbid a number of rivals earlier in December in order to win the French rights for four out of the five bundles of European Champions’ League games covering 133 matches from the 2012-2015 seasons. Al Jazeera reportedly paid some €60 million per season for its bundles, about twice that offered by its nearest rival. ... The channel will not be called Al Jazeera Sport; management would like to create a more neutral brand, with a name that can be pronounced in every country. The channel should in theory be distributed on all platforms (IPTV, Cable, Satellite, DTT). Bietry explained that Al Jazeera intends to be present 'not in every single country but certainly in every continent'. He also stated that Al Jazeera in France would not bid for the 2012 European Championship, or for the Europa League rights."

France 24 will trial HbbTV, "the convergence of broadcast and the Internet."

Posted: 26 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 21 Dec 2011: "GlobeCast and France 24 announced today that they will launch a Hybrid Broadband Broadcast Television (HbbTV) trial in early 2012 with the support of Orange and SES. The service, to be offered to satellite viewers of France 24, initially in Western Europe, will add a layer of interactivity to satellite TV programming by harnessing the capability of connected TVs. Throughout 2012, participating satellite TV viewers will use their connected televisions to interact with France 24's linear and non-linear programming via their broadband connection. No additional equipment or hardware will be required. This will demonstrate HbbTV’s ability to enhance the quality of DTH users’ viewing experience. It will also provide valuable insight into how broadcast offers can combine the power and reliability of traditional broadcast delivery with the new possibilities offered by the latest technical solutions open to ISPs. ... Frank Melloul, Head of strategy, development and public affairs at France 24 said 'France 24 is present on five continents, reaching tens of millions of households around the world in three different languages. With this project, we’ve taken a step towards ensuring that all of these viewers have the same ability to interact with our programming.' Philippe Rouxel, Chief Marketing Officer of GlobeCast said, 'We’re now finally seeing the convergence of broadcast and the Internet. As a next-generation provider of broadcast services, GlobeCast will remain at the forefront of this movement. In this new ‘connected’ world, we are helping our broadcast clients offer an interactive, high-quality experience to their viewers worldwide, regardless of delivery method.'" -- See the Wikipedia article on HbbTV, but probably we will actually have to use it to understand what it does.

Retro-Fi app: Your iTunes collection as it might have been heard on Radio Luxembourg.

Posted: 25 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
prMac, 21 Dec 2011: "ONYX Apps today is pleased to introduce Retro-Fi 1.0 for iOS, their Music app that transforms music through real-time DSP, adding variable amounts of vintage AM radio effects. Listeners can enjoy nostalgic sounds from their iOS Music app, an online radio station, or a Podcast, as Retro-Fi alters the pristine digital audio into the authentic sound of noisy, low-fi, analog, AM radio. On launch, the app significantly reduces the frequency response and dynamic range, and two sliders control the amounts of static and IM distortion added. For those who loved listening to rock'n roll on tiny transistor radios, those who find modern digital audio too clean, and those who want to create a retro mood with music, Retro-Fi is the solution. Retro-Fi is not an audiophile app designed to restore to digital the warmth and smoothness of analog recordings. Rather, it is a time machine, constructed to take listeners back to a time when the most common way of hearing the latest hit music was AM radio. The music of that time included many styles and sounds, but the way the music sounded was always the same, owing to the limitations of the medium. Now, Retro-Fi brings back that classic sound, allowing any music or programming to be heard as it was in the days before color TV, the Walkman, home computers, and handheld mobile devices. At launch in portrait orientation, the app displays an extreme close-up of an antique, circa 1940 AM/Shortwave radio receiver, glowing with golden light. Immediately, any audio playing on the iDevice takes on the characteristic AM sound. Frequency response is reduced from 20 - 20,000 Hz down to 300 - 3,000 Hz. Dynamic range drops from 100 db down to 40 db. ... Static adds the crisp, intermittent sound of raw electricity, AM's rendering of lightning, compressors, and car ignitions."

SW Radio Africa: 10 years of broadcasting to Zimbabwe.

Posted: 25 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Nehanda Radio, 21 Dec 2011: "London based SW Radio Africa on Monday celebrated a major milestone in reaching 10 years of independent broadcasting into Zimbabwe via shortwave and the internet to the rest of the world. A statement issued by station manager Gerry Jackson said they started broadcasting Wednesday 19th December 2001 and 'had no idea that 10 years on we’d still be here – or that the crisis in Zimbabwe would still be dragging on, with no solution in sight.' ... SW Radio Africa’s daily broadcasts on shortwave have given Mugabe’s regime many sleepless nights. With the help of Chinese jamming equipment, the regime has resorted to jamming broadcasts from the station at regular intervals, particularly towards election time and other significant events. ... In 2000 the station, then called Capital Radio, challenged government’s broadcasting monopoly and won its case in the Supreme Court. But after just 6 days of broadcasting from a local hotel the station was shut down by Mugabe using his presidential powers." See also

The Zimbabwean, 19 Dec 2011: VOA's "Studio 7 is listened to by half the population every day, even though it only broadcasts for a short period each evening – the main reason is that it is broadcast on Medium Wave from a station in Botswana and is difficult to jam. Chinese supplied jamming equipment has made life very difficult for short wave listeners."

The Standard (Harare), 24 Dec 2011), Dumisani Nkomo: "State control of the public media will have minimal effect as most Zimbabweans no longer watch or listen to the ZBC which has become an appendage of the former ruling party. Most people watch South African television and listen to short wave radio even in the most remote rural areas."

Association of private shortwave stations in USA rearranges management chairs.

Posted: 25 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 21 Dec 2011: "No, it’s not quite a power struggle at the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters but there is a shifting in jobs among its officers. Longtime Secretary-Treasurer Dan Elyea of Okeechobee, Fla.-based shortwave broadcaster WYFR is retiring. This has precipitated a change at the top with current NASB President Jeff White of Miami’s WRMI resigning to become the new secretary-treasurer. Succeeding White as president will be current Vice President Glen Tapley of shortwave broadcaster WEWN, based in Irondale, Ala." See also the NASB website.

Work of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists funded by foundations, disseminated by BBC world services, etc.

Posted: 25 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Nieman Watchdog, 20 Dec 2011: "The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has added 41 new members to its roster, expanding the network’s reach to 158 news professionals working on an array of media platforms in 60 countries. ICIJ is a global network of reporters who collaborate on in-depth, cross-border stories and is a project of the Center for Public Integrity. ... With financial support from international foundations, ICIJ brings together journalists from around the world to investigate cross-border crime, corruption and other issues of regional and global importance. To release its findings, ICIJ partners with leading news organizations worldwide. Recent investigations have been published with BBC World Service and BBC World TV, Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Le Soir (Belgium), Novaya Gazeta (Russia), the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)."

"Radio Remains the BBG Champ." For now.

Posted: 25 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 19 Dec 2011, Paul McLane: "The BBG recently said that its aggregate weekly audience via radio (including shortwave, FM and AM) is 106 million people, while its TV audience is 97 million and its Internet audience is 10 million. I find it notable enough that radio remains the medium with the largest reach among BBG’s efforts, given the commonly heard sentiment (and not only in government-funded circles) that radio in general is 'yesterday’s technology.' ... [T]hese totals and percentages suggest to me that radio’s role as part of Uncle Sam’s face to the international community is understated and underappreciated."

Keep in mind, however, that as recently as twenty years ago, almost all of the audience for US international broadcasting was via radio. The long term trend is towards television and away from radio -- and especially away from shortwave radio. Within a few years, television will probably overtake radio as the number one source of audience USIB. This depends on USIB entities getting (and keeping) their programming placed on domestic television channels in the target country. As the domestic television product in target countries improves, those channels will become fussier about what they will take from abroad. The internet portion of the USIB audience will also increase, but as the number of internet users increases, so does the number of internet content sources, making it difficult to attain audience share. The internet numbers for USIB will probably be achieved via searches for, and links to, news.

Have the VOA Persian News Network "Parazit" partners gone the way of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin?

Posted: 25 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link, 19 Dec 2011, Ari Siletz, interviewing Ramin Asgard, director of VOA Persian News Network: "Q: Is there any basis to rumors that Parazit staff hasn’t been getting along? Should we expect Mr. Kambiz Hosseini to continue his 'anchor' role at Parazit? Asgard: Thank you for this question. I am sure your readers noticed that Parazit aired an original program on Friday, December 16, with Kambiz Hosseini hosting. We at VOA-PNN are very proud of the success of Parazit, which is among the most successful shows in VOA history, as well as among the most influential programs in the Persian language anywhere. We look forward to Parazit continuing its amazing success into 2012 and beyond, and have plans to actually expand Parazit in 2012 - more details on this soon. ...

"Q: Parazit’s Kambiz Hosseini recently claimed on Aljazeera that VOA does not censor the content of this popular program. On the other hand, former VOA translator, Melody Navab-Safavi, has alleged that VOA fired her for expressing anti Iraq War sentiments in her privately produced music video, Demokracy. In light of VOA’s purpose to comply with the 'broad foreign policy objectives of the United States,' how can VOA also follow its mandate to be 'accurate, objective and comprehensive,' without running into contradictions? Asgard: We are greatly honored to have both of these talented individuals working alongside their dedicated and gifted colleagues at VOA-PNN. We work daily to reconcile the challenges of operating a media organization which is also a U.S. government entity. Our goal is to offer as broad and uncensored a range of viewpoints as possible to our viewership in Iran. In so doing, we use our mission goals, the broad foreign policy objectives you note, as well as journalistic standards as guidelines." -- Recommended reading, because Mr. Asgard responds to, or at least is asked about, many of the criticisms of VOA PNN leveled in the past several months. He mentions that Kambiz Hosseini returning to Parazit, but not his apparently now-previous partner, producer Saman Arbabi.

Boston Globe, Ideas, 25 Dec 2011, Noy Thrupkaew interviewing Parazit producer Saman Arbabi: "IDEAS: What kind of oversight does VOA have over your work? ARBABI: I’ve never seen a State Department official or senator say what we should or shouldn’t do, not even once. Within VOA, we’ve become our own little satellite. VOA has never ever meddled; they were very proud and supportive. They didn’t know we existed, because we flew under the radar--well, before we got in The Washington Post and on the 'Daily Show.' IDEAS: Some critics of “Parazit” say your show is a mouthpiece for the US government and that you’re insufficiently critical of the United States. What is your response to that? ARBABI: They raise some very valid points. Any time you have a government sponsoring a TV show, the first thing that crosses your mind is propaganda. But I don’t look at it that way at all anymore, because I know what we’re doing with it. We talk about the United States when there’s a direct relationship with what is happening inside Iran. We criticized [President] Obama jumping in late on what was happening in the country, for example, and talked about the sanctions and nuclear program inside Iran with Hillary Clinton. But the show is not about correcting the United States, because that’s not what people care about inside Iran. We talk about human rights in Iran, which is what their priorities are--living under a dictatorship, child executions. If promoting nonviolence and defending human rights is propaganda, I’ll stand by that one."

Jerusalem Post, 20 Dec 2011, Felice Friedson: "An elegant Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park provided warmth and safety for American reporters representing four news agencies to speak directly with four Iranians facing drastically different circumstances. ... All four of the distant voices were disheartened by the failure of the Voice of America radio to step up to the plate. 'VoA might as well be staffed by agents of the Iranian government,' they all agreed. Although communicating with foreign journalists can cost one his or her life, it will not come as a surprise that the flow of reliable information remains atop the list of 'must haves.' Hence, the profound disappointment with VoA. But it will no doubt surprise many that all of the Iranians named Israel Radio’s Farsi channel as the 'best radio in Iran.'" See previous post with similar story.

Epoch Times, 18 Dec 2011, Tom Ozimek: "Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi "alleges that Eutelsat bowed to Iranian government pressure and took two Persian language satellite television channels, the BBC and Voice of America, off Hotbird and moved them to some remote satellite that practically no one in Iran can access. A bit tangentially, perhaps, this seems oddly similar to what happened to independent Chinese language TV broadcaster New Tang Dynasty (a media partner of The Epoch Times). They also got booted off Hotbird and many are convinced it’s because the Chinese regime didn’t like them broadcasting news about human rights violations into China and knew which strings to pull and how. Ebali blasted the satellite company. Since the French state owns about a quarter of Eutelsat (Ebadi said 40 percent but latest Bloomberg figures from November 2011 show 25.62 percent), Ebadi blasted Paris for complicity. 'So my question to the French government is why are you helping the Iranian government to censor these channels?'" See previous post about same subject.

Commentator offers Radio/TV Martí as candidate for "biggest government boondoggle."

Posted: 24 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
FOXBusiness, 20 Dec 2011, John Layfield: "I have undertaken ... the attempt to find the biggest government boondoggle and waste -- and to offer solutions. I have a leading candidate in the Office of Cuban Broadcasting (OCB), Radio and TV Marti. ... The current budget of Office of Cuba Broadcasting is $60.6 million ($54.2 million public cost and $6.4 million intra-government cost) as part of a larger strategy of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) budget of $798.3 million. ... The Cuban vote is a swing vote in a swing state (Florida) and as such no politician wants to appear soft. So, we treat Cuba differently than every regime in the world and keep implementing the same policies that have achieved virtually no results in an effort to get the Cuban vote in Florida. ... TV Marti is effectively blocked throughout Cuba -- a survey done by International Broadcasting Bureau showed less than 2% of Cubans listen to Radio and TV Marti and only a third of 1% in another survey watch TV Marti. Both radio and TV are blocked in Havana and in most of Cuba. ... A 2009 GAO report stated that 30% of Cubans had watched CNN in 2005-2006. CNN has an audience in Cuba and we spend over half a billion sending a signal that is blocked?"

These thoughts about US international broadcasting to Cuba: 1) Cuba needs some source of independent, outside news. 2) It is impossible to get an adequate estimate of audience size in Cuba, but two percent is fairly typical in international broadcasting. The quality (i.e., opinion leading ability) of the audience might make up for the lack of quantity. 3) "Martí" would be a predictable name for an anti-Castro clandestine station, but it was a poor choice of name for a station that has any intent to establish its credibility. 4) The move to combine the efforts of Radio/TV Martí and VOA Spanish should continue. 5) It's unclear whether CNN's audience in Cuba is watching its satellite channel, or seeing CNN reports on Cuban television. If CNN en Español is successful in attracting audiences in Cuba, then USIB should not compete with it. 6) US international broadcasting to Cuba should combine radio, internet (keeping in mind that internet access in Cuba, even via mobile phones, is still very limited), and not more than an hour a day of programs on a television channel that is viewed in Cuba via satellite. A 24-hour television channel was a bridge too far. If elements of the Cuban American community want a 24-hour channel, they are certainly free to fund it themselves. They should also be welcome to take the name Martí off the back of USIB.

Is Malaysia's new free satellite service a counter to the shortwave Radio Free Sarawak?

Posted: 23 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Free Malaysia Today, 20 Dec 2011, Syed Jaymal Zahiid: "Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has upped the tempo in his fight for urban poor votes pivotal to regaining key urban constituencies by providing free satellite TV service as part of his 1Malaysia campaign. The launch of Astro’s NJOI by Najib at the Cochrane Perkasa flats here will also kickstart Putrajaya’s much needed 'counter-information' programme in a bid to fight what he perceived to be pro-opposition news published by the alternative media. Apart from that, the NJOI venture is also seen as a business expansion effort by Astro to penetrate the Malay community and eventually sell its other channels to those getting a free decoder box and a satellite dish. Astro has only managed to capture less than half of the 6.6 million TV households in the country and is escalating efforts to expand among the Malays. ... NJOI was seen as a way to counter a short-wave radio service by Radio Free Sarawak that was campaigning against the ruling coalition especially long-serving Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud."

The Malaysian Insider, 20 Dec 2011, Jahabar Sadiq: "The move came about as [the Barisan Nasional government] wanted to counter a short-wave radio service by Radio Free Sarawak that was campaigning against the ruling coalition especially long-serving Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. 'The government discovered that many longhouses and settlements did not get access to national news because there weren’t any transmission towers or even television sets for the dwellers,' [a] source added."

Alhurra (with McNeil/Lehrer Productions) and Al Jazeera produce Arab Spring documentaries.

Posted: 23 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 19 Dec 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "A new series of documentary programmes has been produced by Alhurra Television in conjunction with MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. The first, focusing on the Tunisian Revolution in December 2010 following the self-immolation of fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, premiered on the channel this weekend, while the second will be aired in January to mark the first anniversary of the Egyptian uprising. ... Subsequent episodes of the Arab Spring documentary series will focus on other countries in the Middle East and will be televised in spring 2012. 'Each episode will capture the pulse and sentiment of the people on the street, in the cities, and around the battles that have marked this past year of profound and dramatic change, while seeking insight into the future,' said a statement from Alhurra."

Realscreen, 14 Dec 2011, Kelly Andreson: "Al Jazeera English will wrap ‘Gaddafi: The End Game,’ its series of docs on Libya, with Moonbeam Films’ State of Denial (pictured) on December 22, a documentary which charts the disintegration of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Produced and directed by Moonbeam’s Anne Reevell and exec produced by Oscar-, Emmy- and BAFTA-winner Jon Blair, State of Denial examines how Gaddafi managed to hang on to power for as long as he did, and features accounts from insiders, defectors and military advisers who helped bring about his downfall."

With new regime, defectors send leaflets to North Korea, pundits send advice to Washington.

Posted: 22 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 21 Dec 2011, Sung Hui Moon: "North Koreans who fled harsh rule for South Korea have set off giant balloons with tens of thousands of leaflets into North Korea condemning the dynastic succession in the hardline communist state following the death of Kim Jong Il. The leaflets, launched two days after the North announced that its leader had died on Saturday of a heart attack, also called for an Arab spring-like uprising in the nuclear-armed nation, which rights groups call the world's most oppressive nation. ... The leaflets are expected to infuriate Pyongyang, which tightly controls news from outside and has previously warned that it would fire at South Korea in response to such actions."

AFP, 21 Dec 2011: "Pyongyang tightly controls access to the Internet and attempts to block other sources of information. The regime also fixes the tuning dials of radio and TV sets so that households can only receive official channels. Phone calls from South Korea are blocked and until a few years ago North Koreans faced prison camp if they were caught with a mobile phone. That rule was jettisoned and the North had more than 800,000 registered mobile phone subscribers as of the end of September as citizens snapped them up despite grinding poverty levels. However, Seoul-based activists say it is still difficult for cellphone-owners to make or receive overseas calls because of limited service and tight oversight. Observers of the hermit state say the North's control of information about Kim's movements was so effective that the outside world could resort only to [surveillance] satellites."

The Journal (Dublin), 21 Dec 2011, Gavan Reilly: "As a totalitarian state, North Korean media is entirely produced and controlled by the State – and by its ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, which effectively controls all power in the country. Without prevalent access to the internet (North Korea instead offers a censored intranet, the ‘Kwangmyong’) the most exposure that any person within the republic can expect is through the more established means like TV, radio and newspapers. ... Broadcast media – though ownership of TV sets is still very limited – provides the best way for the government to communicate with the public in the cities and beyond, however. All TVs and radios sold in the country are distributed without tuning features – all equipment is pre-tuned to the approved TV and radio stations – and broadcast manipulation so frequent that some stations even claim to broadcast from a jealous South Korea, when in fact they are based just north of the border." -- Actually, television ownership is fairly widespread in North Korea. Tunable televisions and radios are getting into the country, mostly via Chinese merchants.

The Commentator, 20 Dec 2011, Evan Moore: "Promote popular pressure against Pyongyang by disseminating as many radios and cell-phones into the North as possible; increasing funding for broadcasts like Radio Free Asia, and improve the quality of that programming to give North Koreans badly-needed news and international perspective, provide hope for the future, and inspire revolution against the Kim regime."

The New Republic, 21 Dec 2011, Tom Malinowski: "So contrary to my usual instinct in such cases, I’ve believed that the more the West engages the North Korean government the better. North Korea’s self-isolation has been a deliberate defense mechanism against a political awakening by its people. Anything that brings information to them — whether radio broadcasts from the outside, or getting diplomats, aid workers, and journalists inside — anything, in other words, that helps to bring North Korea out of solitary confinement, can only help. ... [I]t’s worth noting that the last time the North Korean government staged a dynastic transition, when Kim Jong Il replaced his father in 1994, North Koreans were far less aware of how anomalous their country was in the world. Today, thanks to movement across the border with China, more widespread ownership of radios that receive foreign broadcasts, and the spread of smuggled DVDs and flash drives, many more North Koreans are conscious that something different and better is possible. Will they accept as easily as before that a young man utterly unknown to them is entitled to perpetuate their suffering for another generation, simply by virtue of his family name?"

Channel 4 News (UK), 19 Dec 2011, John Sparks: "Inexplicable as it seems with its food shortages and basket-case economy, North Korea has been revolution-proof up till now. Increasingly, however, the citizens of the DPRK know a better life awaits them – if they can get out. Mobile phones are now commonplace and the men and women who smuggle out citizens, smuggle in televisions and DVDs and DVD players. They know there is a better life to be had as an illegal migrant in China, or a legitimate one in South Korea,if the can get there of course – and roughly 20,000 have already done so. So, Kim Jong-un takes over a country that is similarly repressive, yet no longer in the dark."

Reporters sans frontières, 19 Dec 2011: "An 'Enemy on the Internet', North Korea continues to be the world’s most closed country and for the past 10 years has ranked last or second from last in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index. The news media are all state-owned and exclusively serve the anachronistic and paranoid regime’s propaganda needs. After visiting the South Korean capital of Seoul last July to investigation the situation of the media and freedom of information in North Korea, Reporters Without Borders issued a report entitled 'North Korea: Frontiers of censorship.' It found that there had been an increase in the flow of news and information into North Korea thanks both to foreign radio stations and NGOs that send multimedia content across the border. Since 2009, Reporters Without Borders has been supporting Seoul-based radio stations such as Free North Korea Radio, Radio Free Chosun and Open Radio for North Korea, which are the main sources of independent news and information available to the North Korean population. Operating since the mid-2000s, they are the first radio stations run by North Korean refugees to broadcast to the population in the north. As part of a campaign against Kim Jong-il as a Predator of Press Freedom, Reporters Without Borders and several independent media gave a news conference in Seoul on 16 February, his last birthday. The aim of the campaign was to urge the South Korean authorities and civil society to increase their support for the North Korean refugee radio stations that try to break through the wall of propaganda and political control."

USA Today, 20 Dec 2011, Calum McLeod: "'Kim Jong Il is an animal, he never cared about his citizens,' said Cha Suk Joo, 50, who fled south through China in 2005, and works for Free North Korea Radio in Seoul. Despite the risks to North Korean citizens of being caught listening to foreign broadcasts, they grow increasingly popular both in China and North Korea, Cha said. 'They trust this radio show as it’s done by real defectors,' said Cha."

This Day (Lagos), 22 Dec 2011, Olusegun Adeniyi: "The tragedy though is that most of the [North Korean] people have no access to radio or television or newspaper (forget internet) so invariably they do not know of any other life beyond a paranoia for 'American Imperialism' and the idolisation of their dear and great leaders. But then we have to begin the story from the beginning. [In 2001], I joined the delegation of National Assembly led by Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim on an eight-day official trip to Pyongyang, North Korea... . We arrived Pyongyang airport after spending two days in transit and following a brief ceremony we were driven straight to the Protocol House, their own Presidential Lodge located in the middle of a thick forest. Before we left the airport, however, we had been asked whether anyone brought a radio which we gathered is not allowed for reasons that will be explained later. ... The people are also ignorant (or perhaps for security reason pretend to be ignorant) of what is happening even within their country that when I told our guide, a university professor, that their leader was on a train ride to Russia, he shouted: 'who told you that? It is not true. The Dear leader is in the country'. He was so agitated that I regretted telling him when the story was already on the CNN and other international media. The whole world knew their President was abroad but in his country everybody believed he was at home.'"

New York Times, 21 Dec 2011, Nicholas D. Kristof: "On my first trip to North Korea in 1989, I made a nuisance of myself by randomly barging into private homes. I wanted to see how ordinary North Koreans actually live, and people were startled but hospitable. The most surprising thing I found was The Loudspeaker affixed to a wall in each home. The Loudspeaker is like a radio but without a dial or off switch. In the morning, it awakens the household with propaganda. (In his first golf outing, Comrade Kim Jong-il shoots five holes-in-one!) It blares like that all day. ... Government propaganda is shameless."

See previous post about same subject.

Recalling Václav Havel's support for US international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 22 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 18 Dec 2011: "RFE/RL President Steven W. Korn made the following statement on the death of Vaclav Havel: 'Friends of democracy, free media and the fundamental dignity of all people have lost a great friend today, with the passing of Vaclav Havel. In everything that he did as an artist, campaigner and statesman, he championed the rights of the powerless and of all who believed as he did that, "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate." RFE and its Czechoslovak Service were honored to air Havel’s works during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s, and gratified when he invited RFE/RL to move its operations to Prague in the early 1990’s, after the “Velvet Revolution” he did so much to spark and lead. Havel embodied the principles that guide our organization, and we hope that, in return, we represent to our audiences the values that guided his life and work. We will miss him deeply."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 19 Dec 2011: "Havel was a frequent contributor to and ardent supporter of U.S. international broadcasting. 'Like the citizens of Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia,' he commented in the New York Times in May 2009, 'I know what it is like to live in a country where the state controls public discourse, suppresses opposition and severely curtails freedom of expression.' As President of the Czech Republic in 1994, Havel was instrumental in offering to house Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcast operations in the former Czechoslovak Federal Parliament building in Prague for the symbolic rent of one Czech crown a day. In the wake of a decision by the U.S. government to cut RFE/RL’s budget by two thirds, Havel’s offer helped make possible the organization’s survival in the post-Cold War era. 'It was with great satisfaction that we could welcome RFE in Prague after the fall of the Iron Curtain and thus start to repay our debt for its credible work,' said Havel in a statement in May 2011 on the 60th anniversary of RFE’s Czech and Slovak language broadcasts. 'I hope that RFE continues to pursue its mission in today's postmodern and politically unstable world: defense of human rights, civic rights and human dignity.' Havel championed the freedom of the press and its important role in a democracy. On a visit to the Voice of America in February 1990, Havel, left with then VOA Director Richard Carlson, observed 'You (VOA) have informed us truthfully of events around the world and in our country as well, and in this way you helped to bring about the peaceful revolution which had at long last taken place.'"

RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 19 Dec 2011: "Three days before Vaclav Havel passed away, he penned a letter of encouragement to eight Belarusian political prisoners. A gift to RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service, Radio Svaboda, the letter is a testament to the cease-less support and advocacy for human rights -- especially in Belarus -- for which Havel was known. Though he never got the opportunity to send the letters to the Belarusian political prisoners, on the day of his death, December 18th, Radio Svaboda broadcast his words on the Belarusian airwaves."

Washington Post, 18 Dec 2011, J.Y. Smith: For more than two decades, beginning in the 1950s, his books and plays were banned in Czechoslovakia. They nonetheless reached a large audience through the underground publishing network and broadcasts by the BBC and Voice of America."

Novinite Sofia News Agency, 18 Dec 2011: "During the first week of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, Havel provided a commentary on the events on Radio Free Czechoslovakia in Liberec."

-- Not asasociated with RFE, but a domestic clandestine station.

Radio Prague, 19 Dec 2011, Daniela Lazarová: "The death of Vaclav Havel stopped Czechs in their tracks on Sunday. A hush fell over the country as thousands of people gathered to light candles and pay a silent tribute to the hero of the Velvet Revolution. At 6 pm bells around the Czech Republic tolled in memory of the man who showed endless courage in the face of oppression and who led his nation on the road to freedom and democracy." With audio. More coverage at the Radio Prague English web page.

Update: RFE/RL, Transmission blog, 22 Dec 2011: "In honor of former Czech and Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel, who died on December 18, RFE/RL has projected an image of his face on the front of its headquarters in Prague. Havel's image will be visible for the entire three-day mourning period declared in the Czech Republic. A longtime listener of its Czechoslovak broadcasts, Havel invited RFE/RL to move to Prague from Munich in the early 1990s, which it did in 1995."

Cold War Radios, 21 Dec 2011, Richard H. Cummings: "On 4 July 1994, US President Bill Clinton formally accepted an offer from Czech Republic President Havel to relocate Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty /(RFE/RL) from Munich to Prague. 'With this move,' President Clinton said, 'the radios begin a new chapter in the continuing struggle for democracy throughout the former Communist bloc.' The first broadcast from RFE/RL's new headquarters in the former Czechoslovakian Federal Parliament building took place on 10 March 1995. Vaclav Havel officially welcomed RFE/RL to Prague, 8 September 1995, saying, 'I am not sure that I would not have been in prison for another couple of years were it not for a certain amount of publicity which I had because of these radio stations.'"

Foreign Policy, 19 Dec 2011, Jeffrey Gedmin: "Havel was linked to Radio Free Europe, heart and soul. When communism came crashing down in 1989, he said he had learned about the United States during the Cold War from the Voice of America and about his own country through the 'surrogate broadcasts' of RFE. When RFE/RL moved its headquarters from Munich to Prague in the mid-1990s, Havel thought of the most delicious of ironies: He saw to it that the U.S. broadcaster would inhabit the old communist-era parliament building next to the National Museum at Wenceslas Square -- for the price of just one Czech crown a year. Independent journalists working in the name of freedom took over the offices of party hacks and apparatchiks."

Why did Václav Havel have to tune to two different stations to learn about the United States and about his own country? After 35 years in the practice of international broadcasting audience research, I know of no audiences that are interested in news about their own country to the exclusion of the rest of the world, or vice versa. BBC World Service, the most successful international broadcaster, has no trouble providing news about the target country, about the UK, and about the rest of the world, all in the convenience of one station. Back in the Cold War years, VOA had a larger audience in Czechoslovakia than did RFE. This is because VOA had access to a powerful medium wave relay near Munich (ironically, also, then, the location of RFE's studios). VOA had the transmitter, but RFE had the superior resources to cover news about Czechoslovakia. Then, as now, US international broadcasting was an unassembled kit. It's wonderful that Prague experienced its "spring." I look forward to the day when US international broadcasting liberates itself from its multi-management boondoggle, and thus experiences a "spring" of its own.

Prince Alwaleed, planning to launch Arabic news channel Alarab, invests $300m in Twitter.

Posted: 22 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 19 Dec 2011, Ben Flanagan: "Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has invested $300 million in the microblogging site Twitter, according to a statement posted to the Saudi Arabian stock exchange. The Saudi Arabian billionaire made the investment jointly with his Kingdom Holding Company, according the notice issued by the company. ... Prince Alwaleed has boosted his share in media investments over the years. He controls Rotana, one of the biggest broadcasters in the region, which runs Rotana Cinema, the second most lucrative channel by advertising revenues. The Prince also has a 7 per cent stake in Rupert Murdoch’s troubled News Corp empire. Prince Alwaleed also plans to launch Alarab, an Arabic-language news station. The channel, due to launch at the end of next year, will be based in either Bahrain or Dubai."

AP, 21 Dec 2011: "Alwaleed is in the process of launching a new Arabic news channel that will challenge established players such as Qatar's Al-Jazeera and Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya. The channel, which will be called Alarab, is expected to begin operations next year and will feature reports from business news service Bloomberg LP. Alwaleed has said he hopes the new network will focus on the shifts taking place across the Arab world, with an emphasis on freedom of speech and of the press."

See also Kingdom Holding Company press release, 19 Dec 2011.

See previous post about Alarab.

RT (Russia Today) film crew came under (rubber bullet) fire on Israeli-Palestinian border.

Posted: 22 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
TASS, 19 Dec 2011, via Voice of Russia: "A film crew of the Russia Today TV channel came under fire on the Israeli-Palestinian border. The journalists were covering the discharge of the second group of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit when the servicemen tried to placate the unrest in the meeting crowd with rubber bullets and tear gas. No one suffered as a result of the incident." -- Even TASS calls the channel "Russia Today" rather than RT's preferred "RT." And sister station Voice of Russia went along with it.

How its equipment landed on a Cairo sweet potato cart, and more Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 21 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 17 Dec 2011, Maggie Michael and Sarah el Deeb: "Hundreds of Egyptian soldiers swept into Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday, chasing protesters and beating them to the ground with sticks and tossing journalists' TV cameras off of balconies in the second day of a violent crackdown on antimilitary protesters that has left nine dead and hundreds injured. ... In one case, plainclothes officers charged up the stairs of a hotel from which Al-Jazeera TV was filming the turmoil below and demanded a female hotel worker tell them where the media crew was or else they would beat her up, a member of the Al-Jazeera crew said. ... The soldiers threw the Al-Jazeera crew's equipment from the balcony, including cameras, batteries and lighting equipment to the streets, landing on a sweet potato cart whose stove started a fire."

Montreal Gazette, 17 Dec 2011, Laila Al-Arian, writer/producer for Al Jazeera English in Washington, DC: "Like many of my Al Jazeera colleagues, I was hunted by the [Egyptian] police who conducted sweeps of hotels to detain and silence journalists. The Egyptian government shut down the Internet, detained our reporters, took away their accreditation, and killed journalists like Ahmed Mahmoud, who wrote for Egypt's Al Ahram newspaper, simply because he recorded video of a protest on his mobile phone."

Bikya Masr, 11 Dec 2011, Manar Ammar: "An Egyptian man filed a lawsuit in Cairo against ON TV, a privately owned television channel, and few of its hosts as well as al-Jazeera, demanding that the two channels stop their transmission over allegations that they are 'inciting people against each other' and 'hurting the relationship between the people and the police,' arguing that the channels are spreading chaos."

Ha'aretz, 16 Dec 2011, Akiva Eldar: Al Jazeera English managing dierctor Al Anstey "swears he has never received directives from local authorities regarding what he should or should not broadcast. As far as he knows, all of the 1,000 employees, operating out of 43 countries and 70 bureaus around the globe, enjoy absolute journalistic freedom. Al Jazeera correspondents and news editors who asked to speak anonymously offered more complicated accounts about the network's connection to the Arab uprisings. 'It is true that the chief news editor does not tell correspondents in Egypt, Tunis or Libya how to cover events,' explains a veteran network reporter. 'But everyone lives in these areas; the correspondents have relatives demonstrating or friends imprisoned or killed. All are educated, enlightened people who are tired of the dictatorships that oppressed their brethren for years.' Another correspondent adds, 'I have never faced pressure or external censorship. The problem is internal censorship.' He recalls an incident when a producer cut off a talk-show caller who was criticizing a minister close to Qatar's ruler; the producer told the correspondent to call it a technical problem. ... Nobody knows when and how the uprisings will end. In Doha, commentators fear the uprisings could prove to be a Pyrrhic victory; associates of Al Jazeera point out that liberal-democratic regimes have their own independent news outlets, whereas radical-theocratic regimes will at some point kick Al Jazeera out."

Financial Times, 16 Dec 2011, Camilla Hall: "Operating in the Middle East, a region known for its government control over the media, Al Jazeera has managed to break the age-old model of censorship, often using local journalists to get closer to the story. How it manages its relationship with the government at a time of increased scrutiny will determine whether it will be perceived as an independent media operator on the global stage."

Poynter, 21 Dec 2011, Jeff Sonderman: "Al Jazeera English has won its first Alfred I. duPont award for excellence in broadcast and digital journalism, one of 14 the Columbia School of Journalism announced this morning, a marker of the Qatar-based news network’s expansion into the United States. The duPont award recognized excellent reporting by 'Fault Lines,' AJE’s weekly documentary program that primarily examines the United States’ role in the world; the winning program highlighted the struggles and slow recovery in Haiti six months after the earthquake."

Christiane Amanpour will be disseminated domestically on ABC, internationally on CNN International.

Posted: 21 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, Media Decoder, 15 Dec 2011, Brian Stelter: "Christiane Amanpour’s new dual anchor jobs, with ABC and CNN, seem to come with an unusual condition: territorial exclusivity. In the United States, Ms. Amanpour’s appearances will be (almost) exclusive to ABC; outside the United States, they will be (almost) exclusive to CNN. Television shows are often sold this way — but not television anchors. ... [R]epresentatives for the networks said that Ms. Amanpour would appear only occasionally on CNN in the United States, largely to promote her prime time specials on ABC. She is expected to have several specials a year, and she could be on CNN in the United States to promote each one. ABC News programs are primarily seen in the United States. Outside the country, she will be seen on CNN International, where she will anchor a weekday newscast. It’s unusual, but at least in theory, beneficial to both networks and to Ms. Amanpour, who lives in New York within walking distance of both CNN’s and ABC’s offices." See previous post about same subject.

Management change at Euronews, and praise for the channel from the Philippines.

Posted: 21 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 20 Dec 2011, Robert Briel: "The shareholders of Euronews have appointed Paolo Garimberti, current chairman of RAI, as the new chairman of the supervisory board and Michael Peters as the new CEO. ... Michael Peters, until now the managing director of Euronews, was appointed CEO. He succeeds Philippe Cayla. ... The supervisory board also decided to create a new subsidiary for Euronews, known as Euronews Development, which will be led by Philippe Cayla. The mission of this new entity will be to provide Euronews SA with media business development services."

Philippine Daily Inquirer, 17 Dec 2011, Nestor U. Torre: "These past couple of months, we have found ourselves gravitating more and more to the Euronews channel (ISS on SkyCable). The move hasn’t been intentional on our part, we’ve just noticed that, whenever we switch to that channel, the programs we get tend to be less giddy and shallow than other networks’ offerings. It also helps a lot that it’s a European channel, because it provides a welcome alternative to the generally American point of view that we get on the more popular networks. By the way, the difference in point of view can be quite significant, because Europeans tend to be more reflective compared to the more 'instant' and 'breaking news' proclivities of the US TV networks. In addition, Euronews gives more time not just to the day’s or hour’s news, but to the analysis of issues and trends. It must be because, in quite a number of European countries, the TV system in place is not the US system, which is commercials-oriented. In countries like England, the TV system requires viewers to pay an annual fee, which is then used by the governing television body to fund more worthwhile and educational shows. Among the Euronews features we like is the cable channel’s 'no comment' segment, which lasts for only three or so minutes per pop, and is completely reliant on its visuals, not its soundtrack."

Iran's Spanish-language HispanTV launches today.

Posted: 21 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Tehran Times, 17 Dec 2011: "The Iranian-run Spanish language TV channel Hispan TV will be officially launched on Wednesday to provide a variety of programs for the Spanish-speaking countries around the world. The TV channel has been launched with the aim of reinforcing cultural ties with the Spanish-speaking nations and helping to introduce traditions, customs and beliefs of the Iranian nation, the Persian service of Fars News Agency reported on Saturday. Hispan TV has employed a group of reporters out of Iran to better cover the news and is working 16 hours a day and will soon extend its working hours to 24 hours. ... All the reports, news and interviews collected by international reporters are available on the website of the channel, and ... A selection of top Iranian movies, historical TV series, documentaries, comedies and dramas are among the programs arranged for the channel."

Press TV, 18 Dec 2011: "As a large part of the world's population speaks Spanish, we will start a network (in Spanish) within the next few months, IRIB chief, Ezzatollah Zarghami announced. 'This new Spanish network will have a major role in reflecting the ideological legitimacy of our system to the world,' he noted. The channel will be broadcast from the IRIB studios in Tehran. Hispan TV is the third specialized channel broadcasting by IRIB after the Arabic language Al-Alam television network and the round-the-clock Press TV English television news network."

North and South Koreans should "be able to freely listen to whichever broadcasts they choose."

Posted: 21 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily NK, 17 Dec 2011, Mok Yong Jae: "Calls have again been made for civilian short-wave broadcasters focusing on North Korea issues to be allocated frequency in South Korea for the purpose of enhancing efforts to improve North Korean human rights. A senior researcher with the Hansun Foundation for Freedom and Happiness, Lee Young Hwan [said] 'Those currently broadcasting on North Korean issues in this country have never been assigned a frequency, and as such they rent frequency abroad,' before emphasising, 'We need to make it so that these civilian broadcasters on North Korea actually have a frequency to use.' He also spoke of the need to 'Overcome difficulty and be patient in pursuing liberation of broadcasting in both countries, and finding a route for the peoples of North and South Korea alike to be able to freely listen to whichever broadcasts they choose.'" -- There are several stations, operated by defectors and other opponents of the Kim dynasty, broadcasting into North Korea. These include Free Radio North Korea, Radio Free Chosun, and Open Radio for North Korea. (Some of these stations receive funds from the National Endowment for Democracy.) They all use leased shortwave transmitters located in countries other than South Korea. Mr. Lee is probably calling for the allocation of one or more medium wave frequencies from inside South Korea to reach North Korea. FM frequencies could also be assigned, but they would only be able to reach 100 km or so into North Korea.

Experiments in public diplomacy: Is.Real TV and Hip Hop Ambassadors.

Posted: 20 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 18 Dec 2011: "[F]our 20-something Israelis agreed to be followed around on camera this summer, not as part of a reality show but for Is.Real, a video project launched in early August by 23 Tel Aviv University students. 'Through this project, we intend to show millions of our peers around the world Israel's true, beautiful face as never seen before,' says project coordinator Or Shahar, 27. 'We gave four young Israelis 90 minutes to tell their stories.' Each stars in five short episodes released through YouTube, the Is.Real website and Facebook. ... Is.Real was the culmination of a yearlong diplomacy and leadership fellowship program sponsored by StandWithUs. The non-partisan group works with students on six university campuses in Israel to train them in making a positive impact on global public opinion through the use of innovative technologies."

Huffington Post, 17 Dec 2011, Maytha Alhassen: "Remarkable Current, the musical collective founded by Anas Canon launched a cultural envoy and musical exchange program called 'Hip Hop Ambassadors.' The initiative is consciously modeled as a 21st century update to an earlier century's 'Jazz Ambassadors' run by the State Department that emerged out of the Cold War context of the mid-1950s to the 1970s. Led by jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Quincy Jones, the productive outcome of these tours were concerts and 'jam sessions' of intercultural dialogue and musical exchange. ... For example, Tunisian rapper El General, ... one of those suspicious of Western intentions, surprisingly agreed to collaborate [on] a melodic and linguistic version of Arabic and English stylings called 'Pick Up the Pieces.'"

Some US television content is getting through the Great Rebroadcasting Firewall of China.

Posted: 20 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Variety, 17 Dec 2011, Clifford Coonan: Foreign television program production companies "have always found Chinese TV a tough nut to crack (Rupert Murdoch tried for years with Star TV before switching his focus to India). Some U.S. orgs have succeeded in getting into China, however. L.A.-based Metan Development Group has signed various deals to bring content to China, including a pact with Fusion TV to provide action sports and adventure travel content, and a deal with the Associated Press to furnish fashion TV coverage in Mandarin on China's digital and broadcast markets. Zhu Danhong, project manager at Shanghai Wings Media, a unit of Shanghai Media Group, said Chinese companies are keen to buy foreign product but also want to sell Chinese content to neighboring countries in Asia, such as Korea and Japan, as well as other countries with strong Chinese cultural links, which includes most nations in Southeast Asia.", 16 Dec 2011, Clive Whittingham: "The executive producer of Japanese broadcaster NHK’s World Documentary strand hopes the country’s first factual pitching session will help to stimulate international sales for local filmmakers. Ken-ichi Imamura acted as an adviser to this week’s Tokyo TV Forum, organised by the Association of All Japan TV Program Production Companies (ATP), which aims to support the country’s production companies."

"Pay What You Want" for VOA content via language learning company's website.

Posted: 20 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Edulang press release, 17 Dec 2011: "Pay What You Want, a new offer by Edulang allows learners, teachers and schools to determine the amount they contribute for Edulang’s web applications. Fifty percent of their contributions go to the charitable organization, Room to Read, making this both a unique and disruptive business model for English-learning products. ... Edulang’s applications provide students with progressive and pedagogically sound ways of refining their English for international communication. English Addicts focuses on vocabulary and comprehension via handpicked news podcasts from Voice of America. With over 1500 lessons, 13 international accents and a new lesson every day of the week, students and teachers can tailor their learning to individual needs and preferences. ... How does Pay What You Want work? A client chooses among the three web applications, orders one or multiple user access licenses, enters a contribution for those accesses and 50% of their payment goes to Room to Read. There is a one-dollar/euro charge for server costs, processing fees and taxes." See also

"Kim Jong Il’s death – How DPRK websites broke the news."

Posted: 19 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
North Korea Tech, 19 Dec 2011, Martyn Williams: "A familiar newscaster dressed in black appears on screen and makes a tearful announcement: Kim Jong Il is dead. When North Korean state TV and radio broke the news at noon on Monday they had already given advance notice that a major announcement was coming. Its delivery was an attempt to set a national mood of mourning. On the Internet things were a bit different with the news being carried as if it was any other story. North Korea’s state media ventured online last year when a new Internet connection was brought to Pyongyang. The state-run news agency, the major national daily and the international radio outlet all have websites and steadily churn out daily propaganda about economic growth, scientific breakthroughs and the trips of Kim Jong Il across the country. The audience is purely international — almost no one in North Korea has Internet access — and the subject matter not one that lends itself to breaking news. So perhaps it’s not surprising that North Korea’s media didn’t immediately replace their sites with somber pictures, banner headlines, or breaking news tag. First word came shortly after midday — after the news had broke on TV and radio — with bulletins on the KCNA website." See also North Korea Tech, 19 Dec 2011, Martyn Williams: "Kim Jong Il’s death – monitoring North Korean TV and radio."

North Korea Tech, 19 Dec 2011, Martyn Williams: "The Voice of Korea, North Korea’s international radio service, made its first broadcast in English after the announcement of the death of Kim Jong Il. The broadcast was dominated by a news bulletin that attempted to carry some of the emotion being seen and heard on domestic media, but the announcer didn’t reach tears. The 55-minute long broadcast was recorded on 6285kHz shortwave at 1000 GMT." With audio. See also Voice of Korea (Pyongyang) English transmission schedule at PCJ Media.

Twitter, 19 Dec 2011, Steve Herman @W7VOA: "NHK subtitled video of the KCTV noon announcement of Kim Jong-il's death" With video.

Follow @W7VOA and @martyn_williams and Martyn's @northkoreatech for more coverage.

RFE/RL, Tangled Web blog, 19 Dec 2011, Luke Allnutt: "With so many slick, Internet-savvy despots around, it's interesting to see how a country responds when the Internet is so devalued, so irrelevant. While earlier this year there were some signs that North Korea was becoming more savvy with its Internet propaganda and tentative forays into social media, those were clearly baby steps -- all of the official sites look like Geocities knock-offs from the late 1990s and are certainly not going to convince anyone abroad that North Korea is a forward-thinking regime. What will be interesting is to see whether 'the successor,' Kim Jong Un, will allow a more open Internet -- that of course is tied to the larger question of whether he will open up North Korea at all."

France 24 available via Boxee, which is -- well -- je ne sais quoi.

Posted: 18 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 15 Dec 2011, Robert Briel: "France 24 has concluded a distribution agreement with Boxee, an ‘over-the-top’ TV offer available via software, set-top boxes or applications for tabs and mobiles. Mainly used in the United States and in Canada, but also available in a number of European countries, the Boxee platform will now include a dedicated Boxee 24 application in its global catalogue, allowing users to get access to the channel’s programmes in English (reports, talk shows, debates, etc.). With more than one million users throughout North America, Boxee will soon offer the complete Boxee 24 VOD catalogue, including all the programmes in French and Arabic. This feature will be added during the first semester of 2012." See also

Now I get it: international broadcasters want fewer crazy uncles in their audiences.

Posted: 18 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Esquire, The Politics Blog, 15 Dec 2011, Charles P. Pierce: "[T]hey're going to have to treat Ron Paul as something more than just the crazy uncle who listens to the short-wave, collects Jack Chick tracts, and has four tons of tinned beef stashed away in the root cellar. Paul is more than competitive in Iowa. He's got as good a chance as anyone does at winning the [Iowa Caucuses]."

Radio Australia "renovating" its website, and adds a shortwave frequency due to Papua New Guinea crisis.

Posted: 18 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia website: "We've been busy renovating our website over the past six months to be more relevant and immediate in our coverage of breaking news, major stories, activities and events as they occur around Asia, the Pacific and Australia. Thus far we've implemented new, improved services for sharing, participating and collaborating, as well as a new look, style and feel. Please explore and play around with what we've developed over the past few months. In early 2012 we'll be launching our new interactive multilingual website. Accessing our stories and radio streams will be easier than ever, and you'll be able to tailor your Radio Australia experience. You'll also be able to share our stories with your friends using your favourite social media tools as well as share your stories with us through our new online communities."

Radio Australia, 16 Dec 2011: "Papua New Guinea's elder statesman Sir Michael Somare is refusing to step down amidst a political crisis over the leadership of the country. His rival Peter O'Neill said on Friday afternoon his government's occupation of the prime minister's department should end uncertainty over the legitimacy of his government. ... Radio Australia has increased its shortwave broadcasts to Papua New Guinea, to help inform people about developments in the PNG political crisis. Between 0930 and 1700 Port Moresby time, an extra frequency, 17750 kHz, will be added to the broadcast services for PNG. This is in addition to the current shortwave services and Radio Australia?s 24-hour FM services in Port Moresby (101.9FM) and Lae (102.1FM)."

Zimbabwe's defense minister lashes out at "pirate radio stations" broadcasting from abroad.

Posted: 18 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Bulawayo25, 16 Dec 2011, Sehlule Zondo: "Defense Minister Emerson Munangagwa has said that the United States of America, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are funding Non Governmental Organisations that are working day and night to remove President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Zanu PF from power. ... 'In addition, pirate radio stations such as Short Wave Radio Africa (SWRA), [VOA] Studio 7 and Voice of the People (VOP) continue to illegally beam hostile and false propaganda against Zanu PF and President R.G Mugabe,' wrote Ngwena as he is fiery called in political circles."

VOA News, 16 Dec 2011, Peta Thornycroft: "Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has condemned the recent allocation of two new radio licenses, both of which went to operators with records of partisan reporting. The 2008 agreement that brought the inclusive government to power said the airwaves should be opened up beyond media that support President Robert Mugabe. ... In particular, Tsvangirai criticized the awarding of broadcast licenses to two new operators which have strong links to ZANU-PF. The Broadcast Authority of Zimbabwe was set up without reference to the MDC, and several political analysts say this is a contravention of the global political agreement, or GPA."

BBC World Service staff preparing for "farewell to Bush House" party.

Posted: 18 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
London Evening Standard, 14 Dec 2011, Gideon Spanier: "Such is the parsimony of the BBC that, despite the huge salaries of its top brass, it's likely past and present members of staff at the World Service will be expected to contribute to funding its 'farewell to Bush House' party. The World Service is quitting the Aldwych site for other BBC sites next year. Staff are expected to contribute on a sliding scale, with top executives paying £20 a head, the middle ranks £10 and junior members £5." -- I would gladly pay £20 to attend that party, even though I'm more of a £5 functionary on this side of the Atlantic. I have good memories of past visits to Bush House and, of course, of listening to World Service during its shortwave heyday in the 70s and 80s.

Twitter, 18 Dec 2011, Andrea Borgnino @aborgnino: "Incredible set of photos of BBC Bush House in London, home of the BBC Worldwide Service." With link to Flickr.

Tennessee company installs medium wave systems for cross-border broadcasting.

Posted: 18 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Kingsport (TN) Times-News, 14 Dec 2011: "Located in a non-descript building on the outskirts of Bristol is Kintronic Labs, which for more than 60 years has been 'Bringing Radio to the World.' ... Kintronic Labs is currently working on a project for the Sultan of Oman in the Middle East. This includes designing, building and installing three high-powered facilities. As a Christian-based company, Kintronic Labs works a lot with the Christian broadcast community and Voice of America to provide services to Third-World countries. They have provided a one million kilowatt transmitter to an undisclosed location that broadcasts to countries like Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have a 50,000 watt AM transmitter packed and ready to be shipped to Columbia, South America, that will provide ministry into Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela."

Shortwave helps spread news in Afghanistan's Zabul province, with the help of the Virginia Army National Guard.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Defense Video & Imagery Distribtion System, 15 Dec 2011, Sgt. Francis O'Brien: "Soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard’s 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are deploying technology in a revolutionary way in Afghanistan using a short wave radio transmitter that can reach almost every radio in Zabul province. This is the first time a province-wide transmitter has been used in Afghanistan. The transmitter allows the Zabul provincial and district government to send messages to rural Afghan homes. ... Radio and word of mouth are the primary means of spreading news and information in rural Afghanistan. Listening to the radio – thousands of which were distributed by NATO-ISAF - is a cultural norm for Afghans, many of whom follow both the BBC and Voice of America. ... 'The government was looking for ways to communicate with people on a greater scale, but there were gaps in the coverage. Short wave radio is the solution we came up with.' ... The transmitter owes its success to a technique called NVIS – Near Vertical Incidence Skywave – which involves bouncing radio signals off the ionosphere – a layer of the atmosphere. Two NVIS antennas are placed horizontal to the ground unlike a traditional vertical transmitter. The second part of the NVIS antenna is called a ground wire and helps to boost the signal by forcing it to go straight up instead of outward and limited by the curve of the earth. ... 'Using NVIS and our reflector wire, the signal goes up at a very steep angle and straight back down which can penetrate deeper into mountain valleys. When we were looking at this system, it was a no brainer,' he added. ... 'It has resulted in a savings of around 3,100%,' said Fix. 'It would take 30-32 FM systems to cover the same area.'" -- Well, OK, as long as enough Afghan households have radios with shortwave bands to make this worthwhile.

Remembering Pepe del Río, host of VOA's Buenos Días América.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 15 Dec 2011, George Gonzalez: "For many Spanish-speaking people throughout the world, Pepe del Rio was a trusted voice for news. Known across Latin America for his reports and smooth delivery, del Rio spent 25 years as a broadcaster and host of 'Buenos Días América,' the morning radio show for the Spanish branch of the Voice of America. Although he was mostly unknown to English audiences within the United States, del Rio did much to shape international coverage of the major political and social events of the second half of the 20th century. Del Rio, who died Feb. 13 at age 84 from a blood disorder, was born in Tampico, Mexico, where he ran errands at a nearby radio station before emigrating to Texas as a teenager. In 1961, he was recruited by Voice of America producers away from a Spanish-language radio station in San Antonio." See previous post about Pepe del Río.

Burma agrees to air VOA programs -- sent in advance -- on state-run radio stations.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Irrawaddy, 16 Dec 2011, Wai Moe: "Burma's information minister, ex-Gen Kyaw Hsan, has agreed to air programs produced by Voice of America (VOA) on state-run radio stations, according to the head of the VOA's Burmese-language service. Than Lwin Tun, the chief of the Washington-based VOA Burmese Service, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that Kyaw Hsan agreed in principle to broadcast some VOA programs using local FM and medium-wave stations totally or partly run by the Ministry of Information. 'The minister agreed to broadcast some programs, such as international news, English education, health, science and technology programs, on MRTV and local FM stations,' said Than Lwin Tun, who visited Rangoon and Naypyidaw in the first week of December. 'We will have to send the programs in advance and then they will air them,' he said. ... Than Lwin Tun said that during his meeting with Kyaw Hsan, he presented a copy of the VOA Charter to him because, in an earlier meeting with VOA editor Khin Soe Win, the minister referred to the slogan, 'fighting the media with the media.' 'He may have the wrong idea about the media. That's why I wanted to explain about VOA’s professional stand,' he said. 'I wanted him to know that VOA is a public service, not a government mouthpiece.'"

"Cuba is ... a time-warped place where millions of young people have never been online."

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
NPR, 14 Dec 2011, Nick Miroff: "Cuba is one of the least-connected countries in the world, a time-warped place where millions of young people have never been online and a dial-up Internet account is the stuff of dreams. An undersea fiber-optic cable linking the island to Venezuela was supposed to change that this year. But six months after its completion, frustrated Cubans are still starved for Web access. ... Some Cubans have brand-new laptops bought on the black market or sent from relatives abroad, but no Web access. So they stand outside condo buildings that house foreign businessmen, trying to catch an open Wi-Fi signal. ... Cuba's lack of Internet access is now a central theme in the 50-year standoff with the United States. First the U.S. trade embargo kept the island cut off, Cuba says, and now Washington wants to use the Internet as a tool of subversion. A U.S. government subcontractor, Alan Gross, has been in jail here for two years for trying to set up satellite Web access on the island outside of government control."

Al Arabiya to launch a second channel "specialized in following events."

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Arabiya, 14 Dec 2011: "Sheikh Walid bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, chairman of MBC Group, announced the imminent launch of a second Al Arabiya channel that promises to follow in the footsteps of the first one as far as keeping Arab audiences constantly updated, especially in the light of the latest events in the region The idea of the new channel, which will be called Al Arabiya 2 al-Hadath (Arabic for 'the event'), came into being with relentless changes that happened, and are still happening, in the Arab world and the dire need to offer a complete view of all their aspects. ... Launching a new channel, the MBC chairman added, was also important in the light of the increasing popularity of the channel even among non-Arabic speakers. 'The new channel will be specialized in following events and will complement the original Al Arabiya.' ... Al Ibrahim also unraveled a plan to launch another channel under MBC Group. This channel, he explained, will specialize in economic and financial news. ... Al Arabiya News Channel began broadcasting on March 3, 2003, and is watched in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Southeast Asia, North Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Australia. Al Arabiya is headquartered in Dubai." -- Seems that Al Arabiya 2 al-Hadath will compete with Al Jazeera Mubasher. The reference to non-Arabic speakers may have something to do with the fact that interrupted video coverage of momentous events can be appreciated even if one does not have Arabic.

Al Jazeera English video and Twitter feed now available on Google TV and Google Chrome.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 13 Dec 2011: "Al Jazeera English has unveiled its presence on both Google TV and Google Chrome. Its updated Google TV application allows users to read the latest news headlines, and watch the latest Al Jazeera programmes in HD quality. Rotating at the bottom of the screen are updates from the Al Jazeera twitter feed, providing convergence between catch up services and real time events. Future updates to the app will include a livestream of Al Jazeera’s coverage and additional social features."

Radio France International in Israel, "first international radio station to be aired on the country's cable and satellite channels."

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link

Globes, 13 Dec 2011: "Israel's 800,000 French speakers are a coveted target audience, and DBS Satellite Services (1998) Ltd. (YES) and HOT Telecommunication Systems Ltd. already provide several French language stations, and French newspapers and magazines are readily available. Shows by French performers draw large audiences. Radio France Internationale (RFI) has launched local cable and satellite service aimed at this audience." Yaniv Pohoryles interviews RFI CEO Genevieve Goetzinger: "[A] claim that could arise is that you are government owned. Doesn’t this make a mouthpiece for the government? Goetzinger: Possibly in contrast to other places in the world, in France, we make sure that except for funding, there is no government intervention. We are completely independent, and except for the guiding line of a French perspective, there is no intervention from above. Public broadcasting is completely free."

Ynetnews, 5 Dec 2011, Eran Baron: "Radio France Internationale began broadcasting in Israel on [4 December], becoming the first international radio station to be aired on the country's cable and satellite channels. ... RFI is a public radio station broadcasting international news and other programs from France to the entire world, 24 hours a day. The station was founded in 1975 for the French-speaking audience, but began offering foreign language services over the years. The station will now provide some 700,000 French speakers in Israel with news, updates and programs on politics, economy, health and sports broadcast from Paris. Yes subscribers can listen to the station on Channel 71, and HOT users – on Channel 87. RFI Director Geneviève Goëtzinger, who arrived in Israel to launch the station, said that 'from a strategic point of view, it's very important for us to be the first international French radio station in Israel. Our goal is to cover international and local news from a French point of view, while distributing French values and culture in an independent, decent, reliable and pluralistic way.'" -- France has had international radio, in multiple languages, since the 1930s. The Radio France International name was created in 1975. Before that, international broadcasts went out under the awkward and difficult-to-translate name of Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF).

See also RFI communiqué, 5 Dec 2011.

BBC Lifestyle now in Indonesia via Nexmedia pay-TV platform.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link, 12 Dec 2011, Marissa Graziadio: Marissa Graziadio: "BBC Lifestyle is launching in Indonesia on the new digital pay-TV service Nexmedia. BBC Lifestyle features programs on home and design, food, fashion and style. The channel is home to Gordon Ramsay’s latest series, as well as Grand Designs, where architect, best-selling author and presenter Kevin McCloud follows people attempting to design and construct the home of their dreams. Nexmedia is owned by PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi (EMTEK Group). BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and BBC Entertainment launched in Taiwan three weeks ago. 'Indonesia is a major market for us in Asia with the pay-television market there offering enormous room for growth,' said Mark Whitehead, the senior VP and general manager of BBC Worldwide Channels Asia. 'Two of our other channels, BBC Knowledge and CBeebies, already in the market, are doing extremely well, with both channels consistently rating among the top three among the factual and preschool genres respectively. We are confident that BBC Lifestyle will be just as popular.'" -- "Enormous room for growth" is a nice way of saying that the multichannel market in Indonesia is small per capita. Most people watch television terrestrially. Actually, Nexmedia appears to be a digital terrestrial platform.

BBC Worldwide partners with Hulu to distribute "Mongrels" in the USA.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link, 13 Dec 2011, Marissa Graziadio: "Seasons one and two of the BBC puppet comedy series Mongrels is now available to U.S. audiences through Hulu and Hulu Plus. BBC Worldwide America and Hulu partnered to bring British comedy to the U.S., following the U.S. debut of the hit sci-fi series Misfits. ... 'After the incredible success of Misfits with Hulu, we knew that Hulu is the absolute best partner to premiere Mongrels for an American audience,' said Beth Clearfield, the senior VP of digital distribution and business development at BBC Worldwide Americas. 'This series is a multi-layered, bold comedy with cutting-edge appeal—a perfect fit for Hulu’s audience.'"

Slate, 14 Dec 2011, June Thomas: "Happily, you can create your own Commonwealth viewing station by seeking out the best of the Australian, British, and Canadian shows available on Hulu. With my guidance, you can cross 'find something to watch' off your holiday to-do list—and add new swear words to your vocabulary."

Alhurra in the news includes an "entirely normal, modern and healthy" conversation about politics.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Now Lebanon, 13 Dec 2011, Hussein Ibish: "I've been appearing on television talk shows for more than 12 years and I've never found them to be an emotional experience, until last Sunday, that is. During a routine program on Al-Hurra reviewing recent events in Tunisia, I was suddenly overwhelmed by an astonishing realization: For the first time in my life, I was having a conversation about politics in an Arab state that was entirely normal, modern and healthy. ... It was just plain old squabbling between MPs from different factions about legislation, procedure, who does or does not have a mandate, and whether backroom deals or open debate is propelling the new laws and the formation of the new government. It was ugly, as politics always is, but it was also stunningly beautiful. It's been many decades since any Arab society has found itself in this position: building a real, genuine democracy."

Jordan Directions, 12 Dec 2011: "Barely a year old, [QF Radio] is becoming one of the biggest project developments in Qatar and the greater GCC countries, especially due to its interaction with numerous ministers, ambassadors, and top officials from the oil and gas trades, such as Qatari Minister of Energy and Industry, Dr. Mohammed Saleh Al Sada, during the WPC. ... Broadcasting 70 percent of the Arabic news bulletins and 30 percent of the English news bulletins, QF Radio is giving the QF community and Doha a large spread of news on a wide range of topics. ... The percentage of the Qatari citizens that work for the QF Radio is nearly 70 percent. Many of them have great media talent, and a lot of them have even worked for Al Jazeera Network. Furthermore, many of them have also worked for regional channels such as SAMA Dubai, Al Hurra Channel, or have received media experience from the United States and the United Kingdom."

RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal continues to be a pan-factional intercom in western Pakistan.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 16 Dec 2011: "A pro-Taliban religious group in northern Pakistan says it is mediating between the government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to end the two sides' 'differences,' RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports. Muhammad Shah Abdali, chief of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Islam group in Pakistan's South Waziristan region, told RFE/RL that his group has already forwarded three main conditions from the TTP to the Pakistani authorities. ... 'I want to inform through Radio Mashaal that negotiations between the government of Pakistan and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are under way. And [the Taliban] has given us three conditions that we want to inform...about.' Abdali added that efforts were also under way to bring all the Taliban groups together for the cease-fire talks. Maulana Naseeb Khan, the chief of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Islam in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, confirmed to RFE/RL that his group is mediating between the two sides." See previous post about a call to Radio Mashaal to claim responsibility for the attack on Shias in Kabul.

National Geographic, News Watch, 13 Dec 2011, Ken Banks: "Zydrone Krasauskiene, Editorial Manager of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, explains how they try to prevent those extremists from robbing the people of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan and Afghanistan of their voice. By broadcasting in Pashto to the people of the FATA through their station, Radio Mashaal, they have taken back the airwaves, making a place where listeners can finally have the chance to articulate and discuss the real problems, debates and events that make up their everyday lives. But the station doesn’t just provide information. FrontlineSMS software has opened up new frontiers for Radio Mashaal – literally – by creating a completely new and unorthodox way of making interactivity possible for the people of the FATA."

"Long after the Cold War, Voice of America continues to have an important mission."

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Crescent-News (Defiance, OH), 12 Dec 2011, Arthur Cyr: "In early 2009, near the Kremlin on a sunny day on a public street, activist attorney Stanislav Markelov was murdered. Journalist Anastasia Baburova was killed as well while trying to aid him. The hit man was a practiced pro, his pistol equipped with a silencer. ... In a dramatic interview with Voice of America after the killings of Baburova and Markelov, Novaya Gazeta representative Nadezhda Prosenkova stated that the newspaper's staff literally risked their lives simply by endeavoring to do their jobs. The killings reconfirmed in bloody manner Russia's ruthless repression, especially of the media. While print journalists occasionally have been gunned down, the Kremlin has been more systematically repressive regarding television, which has been brought back under direct state censorship. ... Long after the Cold War, Voice of America continues to have an important mission. Coverage of Russian abuses should be sustained." -- RFE/RL might argue that it's its job to cover Russian abuses.

Radio/TV Martí in the news, though it probably wishes it weren't.

Posted: 17 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Miami Herald, 14 Dec 2011, Juan O. Tamayo: "The board that supervises Radio/TV Martí failed to provide sufficient information to the U.S. Congress about its costs and audience in Cuba, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said Tuesday. In a strongly worded report, the GAO also recommended that the Broadcasting Board of Governors study 'sharing resources' between the Martí stations and the Voice of America’s Latin America division. ... The BBG plan argued that it could not estimate its current audience on the island because Cubans live under a dictatorship and often fear admitting that they listen to foreign broadcasts, according to the GAO report. But GAO noted that from 2003 to 2008, the broadcasting board nevertheless conducted telephone surveys of Cuban households to estimate audience size. Those surveys indicated that less than 2 percent of Cuban adults in households with land telephone lines acknowledged that they listened to or watched Radio/TV Martí on a weekly basis, the GAO report added."

US Government Accountability Office, 13 Dec 2011, cover letter from David Gootnick Director, International Affairs and Trade: "For more than two decades the United States has broadcast news and information to Cuba to promote democracy on the island. To assist Congress in its oversight of these activities, congressional conferees directed BBG to provide detailed information in its strategic plan. However, the plan submitted by BBG does not include some key information. While BBG faces challenges obtaining some of this information, such as estimates of audience size, BBG officials can develop and provide some information that could further assist Congress. In particular, BBG could provide an analysis of the cost savings opportunities of sharing resources between Radio and TV Martí and Voice of America’s Latin America Division, such as estimating the costs associated with moving staff from Washington, D.C., to Miami, Florida, and the savings associated with sharing production studios. Congress has expressed its desire to receive this type of information, which could assist in more effectively allocating resources for U.S. international broadcasting activities." -- Genuine news does not "promote democracy," or anything else. News and information are necessary for the development and maintenance of democracy.

Washington Post, The Federal Diary, 13 Dec 2011, Joe Davidson: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has been taken to the woodshed by an arbitrator who gave the agency a good spanking. It’s a lesson to bosses all across the government. At first glance, the case involving the BBG’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting appears to be a routine one about the level of involvement the agency allowed a labor union when layoffs were ordered. ... But as arbitrator S.R. Butler makes clear in a 94-page Nov. 19 decision, this case has more sinister overtones. It involves the use of a manager’s power to demote or terminate certain employees in the guise of a reduction in force, or RIF in Washington parlance. That’s particularly relevant now as government agencies seek ways to reduce staff and as larger cuts loom. ... Butler was blunt in concluding that a 2009 Cuba Broadcasting RIF 'was engineered and targeted at certain employees for reasons personal to them.' Her opinion says Pedro Riog [sic, should be Roig], the former Office of Cuba Broadcasting director, 'knew that, by sequencing certain reassignments of certain employees ... he could shield employees whom he regarded as supporters and punish, maybe even get rid of, other employees who had spoken critically to GAO [Government Accountability Office] investigators — all under cover of a probably-upcoming budget reduction that could be used to justify a RIF — and no one would ever be the wiser. (He was wrong.)'"

American Federation of Government Employees, Local 1812, 12 Dec 2011, press release (pdf): "On November 25, 2011, the FLRA dismissed the Broadcasting Board of Governors exceptions to Federal Arbitrator George E. Marshall’s decision in an arbitration over the failure to give priority to U.S. citizens in hiring for government positions. Arbitrator Marshall in Washington, D.C. ruled that the Broadcasting Board of Governors has been violating federal law and the parties’ Negotiated Labor Management Agreement by forcing U.S. citizens to be equally or better qualified than non-U.S. citizens in order to be hired. ... 'This dates back to 1983 when VOA sought to change the restrictions on hiring non-U.S. citizens contained in the Smith-Mundt Act but Congress declined to do so. The Agency applied the change anyway and their decision has finally caught up with them,' said AFGE Local 1812 President [Timothy] Shamble."

Latest salvo against VOA Persian News Network calls for it to be "public" rather than "government."

Posted: 16 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
PBS Frontline, 12 Dec 2011, Mehdi Khalaji, commentary: "It is no accident that the most successful foreign television news broadcasts to Iran are produced by an independent government-supported entity, the BBC. While the BBC's foreign services are funded by the British government, the BBC is not a government agency. The majority of those who have satellite in Iran indisputably watch BBC Persian TV. According to the most recent surveys, BBC Persian has at least twice as many viewers as PNN. BBC Persian was launched in 2008, years after PNN started broadcasting to Iran. BBC Persian has almost the same annual budget as PNN (more than $20 million). BBC uses the money to gather news, with many more correspondents around the world than PNN. By contrast, PNN has a much larger staff at headquarters than BBC Persian -- just what you would expect from a government agency. ... PNN is run like a government agency. The PNN director is required to have a security clearance, so selection of the director is heavily influenced by factors other than experience in journalism. Poorly qualified TV producers were recruited at high salaries and now in practice cannot be dismissed. While the average age of VOA employees is 64, the age of average Iranians is 32. In order to solve the problem, it seems that the only option is to convert PNN from a government agency, transforming it to a public media that follows the most successful examples in American public broadcasting like National Public Radio. A public PNN would be able to receive funds from the government and also from non-government sources and advertising."

Mr. Khalaji states that the "average age of VOA employees is 64." Perhaps he means the average age of the VOA PNN employee, but I still find this hard to believe. And the clearance process does not keep VOA from hiring qualified journalists. As for the comparative size of the BBC and VOA Persian television audiences, the intensity of satellite jamming is an important factor. I agree, and have long advocated, that VOA should be defederalized in order to bolster both the perception and praxis of its journalistic independence. Furthermore, VOA should be merged with the other USIB entities, forming a single, global, multimedia brand. This would put an end to the ridiculous duplication, fragmentation, and infighting that prevent USIB from reaching its potential.

New York Post, 16 Dec 2011, Benny Avni: "Three men and one woman, hiding in front of their home computers in the Iranian night, risked their lives to conduct a Web-based talk with a small group of reporters gathered at a Central Park West apartment. (Iman Foroutan, an Iranian-American TV entrepreneur who founded The New Iran, an anti-regime, US-based group, emceed and translated their voices from the Farsi.) ... The dissidents ... say America can do much more than it currently does to help them change the regime. 'The Voice of America needs to be the voice of freedom,' but instead 'it seems that the Iranian government' runs its Farsi service, said 'mobarez.' By contrast, he praised Israel Radio’s Farsi service for broadcasting detailed news and for constantly conducting interviews with dissidents from inside Iran." -- And, then, there are those who have no patience for mere news. They want USIB to Iran to engage in rollicking anti-regime, pro-dissident advocacy. Perhaps there should be two US television channels broadcasting to Iran: one devoted to news, and the other rather more opinionated. Let the Iranian audience decide which channel they prefer.

Satellite channels from and to Iran create gulf in the Gulf.

Posted: 16 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 14 Dec 2011, Firouz Sedarat: "Satellite television channels are widening the divide between Arabs and Iranians by airing alleged calls by Iran for revolt in Gulf states and what Tehran sees as Western-driven cultural propaganda aimed at toppling its Islamic theocracy. ... Launched in 2003, Al Alam has become popular among the Shi'ite majority in Bahrain and their brethren in Saudi Arabia for its hard-hitting coverage of unrest in the two countries. Al Alam often airs amateur footage of alleged police brutality. Many Shi'ites say they watch Al Alam because mainstream Arab channels such as Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera pay little attention to the protests. ... For Iran, steamy Hispanic tele-novellas and popular Korean and U.S. shows - all dubbed into Persian and aired by Murdoch-backed channels out of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates - pose the biggest threat, along with Western-style news from the BBC Persian and U.S.-funded Radio Farda (Tomorrow) services. ... Launched in 2009, Farsi1 is popular among many Iranians, and its Murdoch-backed broadcaster this year launched Zemzemeh (Murmur), a channel targeting female viewers in Iran."

Al Jazeera English using SMS for "first-ever large-scale survey of Somali citizen sentiment."

Posted: 16 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Co.Exist, 9 Dec 2011, Neal Ungerleider: "The ongoing--and some would say confusing--chaos in Somalia is regularly overlooked by American media. And unlike other recent conflicts in the Arab world, Somalia lacks the Internet infrastructure to broadcast out updates about what is happening there. There aren’t a lot of tweets coming out of Mogadishu. However, Al Jazeera English is betting that mobile phones are the best bet to help understand events on the ground. The Qatar-based network just launched Somalia Speaks yesterday. It’s the first-ever large-scale survey of Somali citizen sentiment. Due to the fact that Somalia has not had a stable government since 1991, no large-scale citizen surveys have taken place in decades. Rather than using traditional surveying methods, Al Jazeera decided to instead poll Somalis on their quality of life via SMS text messages. ... Thanks to the project, Al Jazeera has already discovered stories overlooked by the international press. Respondents repeatedly mentioned a major fire in the provincial city of Bosaso that destroyed the town market." See also the Al Jazeera English Somalia Speaks web page.

Dump the Peace Corps, but keep US international broadcasting, he writes.

Posted: 15 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Boston Herald, 10 Dec 2011, Matias A. Sueldo: "[A]ccording to Peace Corps data, 10 percent of volunteers do not even hold a bachelor’s degree. Those who do are mostly recently out of college and have little transferable experience. No wonder then that roughly six out of 10 Peace Corps volunteers work in education, teaching English to elementary school students; in youth development, running weekend camps and cleanup days; and in public health, setting up hand-washing stations, to name a few typical activities. These volunteers have good intentions, but they’re hardly pulling countries out of poverty. ... There are existing public diplomacy programs that operate more effectively than the Peace Corps, such as the Broadcasting Board of Governors. It distributes programming in 59 languages to an estimated weekly audience of 165 million people across a variety of media to decision-making elites in strategic countries. Other federal programs bring key foreign officials, technocrats and educators to America for training and immersion."

CCTV expands, but without independence and credibility, China's "cultural aircraft carrier" will sink.

Posted: 15 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 8 Dec 2011, Tania Branigan: "China's state broadcaster is launching a major expansion in pursuit of an international audience, increasing its overseas staff fivefold by the end of next year and almost tenfold by 2016. China Central Television hopes to win millions of viewers in the US and Africa with English-language services produced in Washington and Nairobi. It is the latest in a multibillion-pound soft power push, as Beijing searches for a 'cultural aircraft carrier' to extend its global influence. ... China's state broadcaster is launching a major expansion in pursuit of an international audience, increasing its overseas staff fivefold by the end of next year and almost tenfold by 2016. China Central Television hopes to win millions of viewers in the US and Africa with English-language services produced in Washington and Nairobi. It is the latest in a multibillion-pound soft power push, as Beijing searches for a 'cultural aircraft carrier' to extend its global influence. ... CCTV has hired Jim Laurie, a former ABC and NBC broadcaster turned consultant, to advise it and has offered generous salaries for local staff."

CNBC Asia-Pacific and Europe merge to form "more effective" CNBC International.

Posted: 15 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
News on News, 6 Dec 2011, Kevin Coy: "CNBC has merged its operations in Asia Pacific, and Europe to form CNBC International, effective immediately. The two networks, based in Signapore and London respectively have been operated as seperate entities since their formation and merger with Asia Business News and European Business News in the mid-nineties. Starting today, the networks will be run as a single entity according to a memo to CNBC staff from network chief, Mark Hoffman. Hoffman went on to explain some of the reasoning behind the move, stating that 'We will achieve better overall coordination with a single P&L focused on one set of common goals and objectives.' He also went on to say; 'We will be more effective as we make editorial and commercial decisions. Coordinated decision making, streamlined communication and shared goals can only make us stronger.' Satpal Brainch, President of CNBC in the Asia Pacific region will become the President of CNBC International effective immediately. ... It is not immediately known what the effect on current staffing in London or Singapore will be, nor what effects, if any, will be seen across CNBC International's programming or on-screen appearance and scheduling, however it isn't expected that viewers will see any noticeable changes in output according to a News on News source."

Media Bistro, 6 Dec 2011, Chris Ariens: "Last month the New York Post reported CNBC Europe was prepared to make cuts after not making budget. 'Wide-ranging consequences,' would result an insider told the Post. Additionally, British newspaper The Independent reported last month that CNBC Europe allowed production company FBC to produce its 'World Business' show for more than six years. That was until this summer when the paper revealed that FBC 'was being paid millions of pounds a year by Malaysia to promote its national interest.'"

There are still separate web pages for CNBC Asia Pacific, CNBC Europe, and something called CNBC World.

CNBC press release, 8 Dec 2011: "CNBC ... has announced that anchor Karen Tso will move to the network’s regional EMEA headquarters in London. Tso, who is currently based in Singapore and co-anchors CNBC Asia’s flagship programme Squawk Box Asia and The Call, will move to London in the middle of January. Tso will work across CNBC’s business day programming in EMEA and will also provide reports and analysis into CNBC and MSNBC in the United States."

News on News, 9 Dec 2011: "CNBC has announced that anchor Lisa Oake will re-join the network’s regional Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore. Oake, who is currently a freelance journalist with CNBC based in Singapore, will officially re-join the network as co-host of CNBC Asia’s flagship programme Squawk Box Asia at the beginning of January. She replaces anchor, Karen Tso, who moves to CNBC’s EMEA headquarters in London."

News on News, 9 Dec 2011: "CNBC received three nominations and took home an award at the 16th Asian Television Awards (ATA). Bernard Lo won the Best Current Affairs Presenter award for Straight Talk with Bernie Lo. ... Based out of CNBC’s Hong Kong studios, Bernie is a pillar of CNBC's business day programming including the flagship programme Squawk Box."

BBC World News adds 15 million US homes via Comcast, "an important foothold for the BBC."

Posted: 14 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 13 Dec 2011: "The BBC today announced a new deal to launch the BBC’s award-winning 24-hour international news channel, BBC World News, in major markets across the US through Comcast’s Xfinity TV. By the end of 2011, the channel will be available in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Portland, as well as across Northern California, Michigan and Western New England. BBC World News will launch in additional Comcast markets next year. BBC World News has the largest audience of any BBC channel in the world, broadcasting in over 200 countries and territories worldwide with access to more than 70 international newsgathering bureaus globally. BBC World News is expected to be in nearly 15 million US homes by end of 2012." BBC News, 13 Dec 2011: The BBC World News schedule "includes an award-winning daily US-focused programme, World News America, hosted by Katty Kay."

New York Times, 13 Dec 2011, Brian Stelter: "The channel also believes that the United States can be a crucial component of its commercial revenue going forward. While the BBC is subsidized by British taxpayers, BBC World News is commercially supported through ads and distribution fees, just like its bigger sister channel in the United States, BBC America. ... While [the 15 million homes] represents just a fraction of the 100 million American homes with cable or satellite subscriptions, it is an important foothold for the BBC, which wants to meet a perceived need for impartial international news. ... The way some at the BBC see the television world, Fox News and MSNBC are occupying partisan poles; CNN is struggling to choose between substance and sensationalism; and another foreign import to the United States, Al Jazeera, is tainted by its host country, Qatar. 'We’re very deliberately saying, "We’re not going to tell you what to think,"' [director of BBC Global News Peter] Horrocks said. Broadcast into more than 200 countries and territories, the 24-hour BBC World News is sober and hard-nosed by American standards."

The Wrap, 13 Dec 2011, Lucas Shaw: "'The BBC is renowned for its journalistic integrity and audiences are increasingly hungry for an impartial view on global affairs,' Sandy Ashendorf, EVP of Network Distribution for BBC Worldwide America, said in a statement. That would suggest the other news networks are not providing the American viewer what it wants. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but either way, isn’t 'an impartial view on global affairs' supposed to be CNN’s job? Perhaps, like its fellow British news outlet The Guardian, which recently expanded in the United States, the BBC believes Americans are ready to hear a global take on the news.", 13 Dec 2011, James R. Hood: "What's appealing about the BBC, other than the accents, is that it emphasizes international news, downplays sensationalism and celebrity gossip. It also eschews injecting opinions into its coverage, a change many viewers find welcome after being put off by the open editorializing of MSNBC and Fox."

See previous post about BBC World News America moving off of BBC America, which became all-entertainment, forcing BBC World News to develop its own cable affiliates in the United States.

Christiane Amanpour to return to CNN International, but will still do specials on ABC.

Posted: 14 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Politico, 13 Dec 2011, Keach Hagey: "Christiane Amanpour is leaving 'This Week' and returning to her roots at CNN and in foreign reporting in a new arrangement that allows her to appear on both ABC News and CNN International, the two networks announced Monday. ... Christiane Amanpour is leaving 'This Week' and returning to her roots at CNN and in foreign reporting in a new arrangement that allows her to appear on both ABC News and CNN International, the two networks announced Monday. ... Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, cheered the move. 'Christiane Amanpour has been synonymous with international reporting and with CNN for many years,' he said in a statement. 'We could not be happier that through this unique arrangement with ABC News her experience and global perspective are returning to a nightly news broadcast for our international audience.'" See also CNN Press Room, 13 Dec 2011.

Media Matters for America, 14 Dec 2011, Jill Fitzsimmons: "Delegates at the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa surprised many when they reached an agreement over the weekend that sets the stage for emission targets and a global fund for climate change adaptation. ... But CNN has yet to report on the agreement during any of its U.S. television broadcasts. Meanwhile, the Durban conference has been covered by NBC, CBS, MSNBC and even Fox News -- although much of Fox's coverage has been deeply flawed. And apparently the story is considered newsworthy by CNN International, which has devoted 6 segments to the UN summit since it began on November 28, and has mentioned it on several other occasions, according to a Nexis search. CNN International airs in over 200 countries and territories around the world. ... Apparently CNN's American viewers have to change the channel to stay informed on this important story."

Award, praise, brickbat for CNN International.

Posted: 14 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Asian television Awards press release, 8 Dec 2011: "The winners of the 16th Asian Television Awards were announced tonight at a spectacular gala dinner and awards ceremony held at the Shangri-La Hotel. ... CNN International was named Cable & Satellite Network of the Year with wins for Bangladesh Begging Boy, Nepal's Stolen Children and Anna Coren for World Report. Highly commended in the Cable & Satellite Network of the Year category was Discovery Networks Asia Pacific."

NewsOK, A Virtual Unknown blog, 11 Dec 2011, Jim Willis: "In looking at world news impact, you could also make a strong case for CNN... , especially if you’re talking about CNN International and not Domestic. The former has a lot of non-Western correspondents."

Florida Today, 10 Dec 2011, Raymond J. Land: "While on a recent business trip in Paris, I watched CNN International news, which is an important face of the United States around the world. Here were CNN’s stories from 8:30 to 9 a.m. that morning: WikiLeaks CEO Julian Assange is presented as a hero protecting the rights of all people. CNN simply showed Assange’s interview after a British court announced he would be able to appeal to the country’s highest court. CNN confirmed Iran had brought down an intact U.S. drone and will give the technology to China. The United States is characterized as an incompetent fool and CNN shows videos of the Iranian army on parade celebrating the victory over the 'devils.' A CNN correspondent at the Durban climate talks completed an interviewee's sentence by saying opponents of climate change caused by humans are followers of 'junk science,' and, finally, the same CNN correspondent lumped the U.S. and China together and said they are blocking change and, as a result, some countries will be flooded out by 2015. With 'news' like that, it's no wonder the United States is hated by many overseas."

Middle East/North Africa: 500 free-to-air channels, 64 million satellite TV homes.

Posted: 14 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
CABSAT press release, 7 Dec 2011: "According to the latest research by Informa Telecoms and Media, there are 80 million television households in the Middle East and North Africa market. Today satellite television reaches 65% of them, but by 2016 that proportion will rocket to 80%. Already there are more than 500 free to air channels in the region, with the big players pushing ever harder."

International channel Jewish News 1 launches its website.

Posted: 14 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 9 Dec 2011: "Jewish News 1, the 24-hour international news channel launched in September, is now available on the internet. The channel is available on the web at Jewish News 1 is currently also available in English over Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and European Russia via the Astra 4A, Hotbird and Galaxy satellites. The service also plans to broadcast in other languages in the future." See previous post about same subject.

Shortwave is not dead. It's still reportedly used to confound Russian Mars probes.

Posted: 14 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today), 24 Nov 2011: "Russian space experts are struggling to decode fresh telemetry signals received from the stricken Phobos probe. Meanwhile, rumors are circulating that America’s ionosphere research site in Alaska caused the spacecraft’s failure. On Wednesday night, the European Space Agency’s station in Perth, Australia, established communication with Phobos, which has been rotating helplessly around the Earth since its engines failed to fire two weeks ago. ... Meanwhile, a retired Russian general believes that the glitch which prevented Phobos from carrying out its space mission was caused by American radar sites in Alaska. General-Lieutenant Nikolay Rodionov, who used to command the country’s ballistic missile early warning system, told Interfax that 'the powerful electromagnetic radiation of those sites may have affected the control system of the interplanetary probe.'" -- The general was apparently referring to the High Frequency [shortwave] Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) site located in Gakona, Alaska. See also Alaska Dispatch, 14 Dec 2011, Doug O'Harra. And the HAARP home page.

New US Virtual Embassy Tehran panned by Tehran regime and by Washington thinktankery.

Posted: 13 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
State Department press statement, 6 Dec 2011: "I am delighted to announce the online opening of the Virtual U.S. Embassy Tehran as a new and exciting engagement opportunity between the peoples of Iran and the United States. Because the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations, we have been deprived of opportunities for dialogue with the citizens of Iran. But, using new technologies like this website and our linked social networking sites, we hope to bridge that gap and promote greater understanding. ... The Virtual Embassy site can be viewed in English at: and; and in Persian at"

State Department, 6 Dec 2011, briefing with Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs: "Many people already have private networks, virtual private networks that allow them to go through and around efforts to stop them from getting internet access. ... We think we have the technical capability to get it back up even if it gets disrupted, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to make sure the information gets through."

VOA News, 7 Dec 2011: "The United States has condemned Iran's blockage of an interactive online 'Virtual U.S. Embassy Tehran,' less than 24 hours after it was officially launched in Washington. In a statement Wednesday, the White House said that 'through this action, the Iranian government has once again demonstrated its commitment to build an electronic curtain of surveillance and censorship around its people.'"

AFP, 12 Dec 2011: "A website the United States touts as a 'virtual embassy' for Iran is really an 'espionage trap,' the Islamic republic's spy chief said in media reports Monday. Heydar Moslehi warned Iranians that the website was 'a bait to lure them into an espionage trap,' the Shargh daily reported. ... The US website offers policy statements in English and Farsi, gives information on US visas, and provides news from the US-funded Voice of America." -- In the English version, there is news (in the media relations definition of "news") from the State Department, and directly under it news (in the news defition of "news") from VOA. There should be a gear-shifting disclaimer of some sort between the State Department and VOA news items.

Heritage Foundation, 8 Dec 2011, Helle Dale: "The content of the website is not in question. It contains appropriate information about the United States, scholarships, and student programs, and has a section countering disinformation about the United States circulating in the Iranian media. It also has a video clip of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cheerfully greeting Iranian visitors to the site. So, is this Virtual Embassy Tehran endeavor worth it—or a waste of U.S. taxpayer dollars? As a matter of principle, U.S. public diplomacy policy should not be dictated by who is trying to block American content. Broadcasting to Cuba, China, North Korea, and Iran runs into jamming routinely. Yet when it comes to the airwaves, some broadcasts do get through despite the efforts of the jammers. The Internet is a different story. Here, technologically sophisticated dictatorships can pull the plug, and do, rendering the effort moot. Accordingly, one would have to conclude that in tight budgetary times, the State Department’s money and man hours could have been better invested. Additionally, the prompt Iranian response should offer caution to those who advocate moving U.S. international broadcasting increasingly to digital platforms. Why make enemy censorship easier?"

Family Security Matters, 9 Dec 2011, Michael Ledeen: "The State Department has launched a 'virtual Embassy' to Iran, a website with some useful material about the Iranian regime’s systematic distortion of America, and American policy towards Iran, a collection of old speeches and statements from Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama, links to Hillary herself doing TV interviews, and 'news' from the Voice of America. ... I think the tone is all wrong, and her message strikes me as coming from some other planet, a happy planet where Iranians are not dying every day because the regime doesn’t like people who go online and send chatty messages to the American secretary of state."

The National Interest, 12 Dec 2011, Trevor Thrall: "Excitement over the Internet aside, however, the Virtual Embassy Tehran is a product of the same failed public diplomacy paradigm that the United States has pursued since 9/11. As such, it reflects the persistent inability of the U.S. government to recognize the basic tenets of the modern global communications landscape and the unwillingness of officials to acknowledge the limits of persuasion. ... Officials appear to think that the virtual embassy (along with similar efforts in the region such as Radio Farda, Radio Sawa and Al-Hurra) will replicate the glory days of Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. The theory is straightforward: the Iranian public is suffering from oppression and censorship at the hands of a totalitarian government. Starved for information about the world, Iranians will seek information from alternative sources. When they realize that the alternative sources (i.e. Virtual Embassy Tehran) provide more accurate and useful information than that available from their own government, Iranians will begin to trust those sources and turn to them in ever greater numbers. Eventually this will give the United States the ability to shape the marketplace of ideas in Iran. During the Cold War, the United States did indeed have some success with Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. The circumstances, however, differed in three critical ways that made influence possible in the first case but unlikely if not impossible in the current case. First, the global media system has become infinitely more dense and diverse. It is more difficult to make an impact. Soviet publics had no serious alternatives to the information provided by the United States. Iranians, on the other hand, have access to a myriad of Middle Eastern media outlets. The millions of Iranian households with illegal satellite dishes already have access to Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and Al Manar, not to mention the BBC Persian channel and CNN International. An Iranian family with access to the web through a Virtual Private Network (the access mode of choice in oppressive regimes) has the entire world’s media at their fingertips. With so many voices competing for attention, the importance and potential influence of the virtual embassy is vastly less in the modern era than during the Cold War, or even what it would have been in 1979 when the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Iran." -- The writer does not mention VOA Persian News Network, one of two Persian-language satellite television channels from outside of Iran, which has been successful in attracting Iranian audiences.

Press TV, 8 Dec 2011: "Iran's Foreign Ministry says Washington's latest move to open the United States' virtual embassy for Iranians is indicative of America's failure to receive the Iranian nation's message decades after a US coup in Iran. ... The US-sponsored coup in 1953 overthrew the government of the then Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, leading to the restoration of absolute monarchy under dictator Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi who was later toppled in the Islamic Revolution in 1979. [Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin] Mehmanparast also described the recent White House move as a confession of a 'big mistake' by the US administration to sever relations with Iran and overlook the Iranian nation, IRIB reported."

Iran jams satellites, so satellite companies should not carry Iranian channels, human rights activists write.

Posted: 13 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 9 Dec 2011, Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi: "Iran leads the world in illegal jamming of international satellite broadcasts, but it is a prolific user of international broadcasting platforms for its own programming. European satellite companies like Eutelsat, Intelsat and Arqiva provide extensive services to the Iranian state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), including for domestic Iranian radio and television broadcasts, and for Iran's growing list of foreign-language channels, like the English-language PressTV and the Arabic Al-Alam. But Eutelsat also hosts many of the stations whose programming Tehran jams. It has not stopped carrying IRIB channels on its satellites, which are facilitated through Arqiva, even though the Iranian government is effectively destroying the products of its other clients. Over the past two years, during which Iran increased its jamming of Persian-language broadcasts from abroad, Eutelsat and Arqiva have done little to hold the Iranian government accountable. Either company could have contractually required Iran to stop its jamming, which is politically motivated censorship, or refused to carry IRIB. Instead Eutelsat's response was to discontinue broadcasting BBC Persian and VOA Persian on the most accessible and popular satellite, Hotbird6, and to move them to less accessible satellites. Providing continuous service to the IRIB as long as extensive jamming of Persian-language media is taking place is essentially a gift to the Iranian government from European satellite companies. ... The European Union and U.S. should take immediate and decisive action requiring that these satellite companies end their cooperation with Iranian censors. Given the IRIB's integral role in widespread human-rights crimes in Iran, European and American companies should not be allowed to provide it any services."

VOA News, 9 Dec 2011: Hadi Ghaemi "spoke to VOA's Persian News Network on Friday, saying Iran uses its state-run media outlets to defame anyone who speaks out against the state. 'The Iranian radio and television actually work very closely with the intelligence and security forces to the point that we have many testimonies of former detainees that have been interrogated by cameraman and so called staff of the IRIB.'"

See previous post and another previous post about the same subject.

Melinda refused to marry Bill Gates until he installed an indoor toilet. Or maybe I should read that again.

Posted: 13 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 8 Dec 2011: "Health experts in India have come up with a new way of delivering health education - through a Bollywood TV soap. To encourage people to use toilets, for example, producers have dramatised a story where a woman refuses to marry her fiancee until he builds her an indoor toilet. The series has a huge influence in the country, attracting over 145 million viewers." Reported on: "The Health Show is broadcast on BBC World News on Saturdays at 1010 and 2010 GMT and on Sundays at 0710 and 2310 GMT. The programme is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation."

Analysis: "The Role Of New Media And Communication Technologies In Arab Transitions."

Posted: 13 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Eurasia Review, 10 Dec 2011, Manuel Manrique and Barah Mikail: "Autocratic governments have long sought to remain in power by controlling public opinion through the monopoly of traditional print and broadcasting media; however, they have begun to lose this comparative advantage in the Internet. Similarly, the spread of satellite networks has reduced government control over information. Arabic language satellite channels have mushroomed in the region and beyond: the US (Al-Hurra), the United Kingdom (BBC Arabic), Iran (Al-Alam), Russia (Russia Today) and China (CNTV-Arabic). These channels also have their own websites and forums to complement them. Rising Internet penetration rates have reinforced the battle between users and states seeking to control them. Behind authoritarian and transitioning regimes’ efforts to control the media is their desire to preserve their monopoly in setting the agenda and limit hostile foreign influences; China’s ‘great firewall’ is a prominent example. But regimes also seek to control which domestic images are broadcast to the outside world. Leaks that particularly harm the regimes’ reputation, such as the images from Beijing’s Tiananmen square, the Iranian 2009 protests, or the more recent Syrian and Bahraini violence against protesters, spark efforts to limit further exposure. Al Jazeera’s live coverage of Tahrir contributed to the revolution’s success, as the private channels Channel 5 and Rustavi 2 did for Ukraine and Georgia respectively. But this has earned it massive harassment from the military authorities trying not only tightly to control the transition, but also to limit Qatari influence."

Ebenezer Kim says bah, humbug, commence fire.

Posted: 13 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Mail, 12 Dec 2011, Richard Shears: "Atheist North Korea has threatened to shoot out the lights of a giant Christmas tree-shaped tower that South Korea plans to illuminate near the tense border. The Communist North warned its southern enemy of ‘unexpected consequences’ if it went ahead to turn on the lights, saying Seoul would bear the ‘entire responsibilities’. South Korea plans to illuminate about 100,000 lights on the 100ft-tall steel tower in the shape of a Christmas tree at the top of Aegibong Hill, located some two miles from the border with North Korea. Officials in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, say that switching on the Christmas lights is an act of propaganda because they will be visible with the naked eye from the major northern border city of Kaesong."

Gizmodo, 12 Dec 2011, Casey Chan: "The 'unexpected consequences' would have to do with some sort of 'psychological warfare' on South Korea. What does that even mean? I'm thinking NK has no idea what that means but as long as it's provocative (shout out: Will Ferrell), it's completely fine with them. ... What's really great is that South Korea doesn't give a hoot about NK's psychological warfare because they're planning on lighting two more trees along the border this year."

AFP, 11 Dec 2011, Nam You-Sun: "From his office in Seoul, former North Korean soldier Lim Young-Sun runs a website offering a rare glimpse of state television in the North to show what the country he fled two decades ago is really like. Lim's Unification Broadcasting (SPTV) streams Korean Central Television, a risky business in Seoul where disseminating North Korean propaganda could see him fall foul of South Korea's tough National Security Law. While the site (, the only one of its kind in the South, so far has an audience just in the thousands, Lim has a dream of attracting millions of viewers curious about life on the other side of the last Cold War frontier."

The Chosunilbo, 28 Nov 2011: "A new online radio station relays recorded programs from a North Korean propaganda station to South Korea and around the world. The website posted a total of 23 50-minute-long English-language propaganda programs broadcast by Voice of Korea from June 2009 to July 2010. Voice of Korea broadcasts from Pyongyang in Chinese, French, Arabic, English and Korean."

AFP, 8 Dec 2011: "South Korea has tightened monitoring of popular social networking sites to curb illicit content including an upsurge in North Korean propaganda, officials said Thursday. The Korea Communications Standards Commission said an eight-member team was launched on Wednesday to examine Facebook and Twitter posts and smartphone applications. ... 'Postings and sites that praise North Korea or glorify its leaders are also the target of our work as they increased rapidly this year,' team leader Han Myeong-Ho told AFP."

AP, 7 Dec 2011, Foster Klug: "Since a conservative government took power in 2008, indictments have shot up under a South Korean security law that makes it a crime to praise, sympathize or cooperate with North Korea. More than 150 were questioned and 60 charged in 2010, up from 39 questioned and 36 charged in 2007, officials say."

The Guardian newspaper launches content in Arabic.

Posted: 13 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Next Web, 7 Dec 2011, Nancy Messieh: "The Guardian has just launched several new sections of its site in Arabic. The translated sections include articles on politics and current events in the Middle East as well as entire series of articles on football. All of the content available in the Arabic section has been translated from the English edition of The Guardian and, at the moment, consists of just over 63 articles."

The Guardian website: "The Guardian in Arabic is a selection of articles from the Guardian translated into Arabic, and some specially-commissioned articles for an Arabic-speaking readership."

With newspapers starting to translate their content into various languages, who needs international broadcasting?

The importance of "brand value" in international television.

Posted: 13 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 30 Nov 2011: "As user-generated and web-based content become more pervasive, many channel providers increasingly emphasise quality as a key brand value. 'Our core brand value is to offer content of the highest quality, across all our channels and in all genres,' says Jesús Perezagua, president, Fox International Channels Europe and Africa. 'We combine this with strong scheduling and marketing to create channels that we believe are very attractive to operators and audiences. I think operators and viewers trust that Fox and National Geographic will bring them quality.' ... Similarly, A+E Networks International, with a channel that traditionally has appealed more strongly to a male audience – History – and another, Bio, with a slightly broader appeal, has branched out further with Crime & Investigation, and is planning within the next year to launch international versions of Lifetime, a US channel that appeals strongly to a female demographic. ... Building on the strength of brands developed in the US and complementing that with local production is a tried and trusted path for a number of channel providers, and A+E is no exception. ... For newer entrants to the international channels market, a common strategy is to concentrate on one or two flagship channels rather than launching larger portfolios. US-based channel operator Scripps Networks Interactive operates six channels in its domestic market but is focusing on two of its brands internationally. The Food Network launched first and has established itself in several key markets. It was followed by the launch of Fine Living Network." Also discussion of France 24 and Euronews.

Dr. Elliott was a crackpot even back in 1995, but apparently correct about the future of shortwave.

Posted: 12 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
IX1CKN blog, 10 Dec 2011, Christian Diamoz: "It hasn’t been amazing to find a 1995 WRTH at a recent hamvention for two bucks, but reading one of the stories it featured in its last pages. Named 'Shortwave broadcasting begins its long slow fade (but International broadcasting endures)', it’s a visionary although sharp picture of what would happen in the following fifteen years by Dr. Kim Andrew Elliott, a personality that in radio domain needs no introduction, who nowadays still analyzes and research communication issues on his often updated website. What was in the picture taken by Dr. Andrew Elliott in 1995? Basically, the fact that, even if in the shoes of an avid shortwave listener for thirty years he was disturbed by repeated claims of HF [shortwave] dying, 'as an international broadcasting audience researcher, however, I cannot deny that shortwave has begun to decline as a medium for international broadcasting'. However, his long experience allowed him to see the glass only half empty: 'the good news is that shortwave broadcasting is declining slowly. […] it has at least a decade or two to go, time enough to do many good things. And International broadcasting, with many technologies to choose from, has a bright future'. In a few words: 'The decline of shortwave is not an avalanche, but we can see the rocks starting to tumble'. Biggest (and most noticeable) ones, in our reputed colleague vision, were in those days: Trans World Radio shutting down its Bonaire facility; KGEI religious station in San Francisco signing off permanently in 1994; Voice of America reducing Hungarian, Estonian, Spanish and Portuguese broadcasts; Radio Netherlands dropping programs in French, Arabic and Portuguese. Others symptoms of the decay were highlighted in Brown Boveri deciding to get out of the HF broadcast transmitter business, and 1995 Radio Shack catalog showing only five shortwave radios, down from nine in 1994."

"State-run" China Radio International marks its 70th anniversary with a "high-profile ceremony in Beijing."

Posted: 11 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 3 Dec 2011, Zhang Xu: "State-run broadcaster China Radio International (CRI) held a high-profile ceremony in Beijing on Saturday, marking the 70th anniversary of its founding and the establishment of the Chinese people's overseas broadcasting cause. More than 700 people, including the country's major publicity officials, foreign ambassadors in China, foreign audience representatives and CRI employee representatives attended the ceremony held at the Great Hall of the People. Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, praised CRI's 70 years of service in a congratulatory letter which read: 'CRI has become an important window for China to know the world and for the world to understand China, and has become an important platform for China's overseas publicity.' Li also urged CRI to build a top-ranking international media group. ... On December 3, 1941, the Yan'an New China Radio Station started a radio program in Japanese, marking the birth of China's overseas broadcasting cause. As China's only state-owned overseas broadcaster, CRI currently boasts the greatest number of language services among international media around the globe. CRI disseminates information in 61 languages via a wide range of means, including radio, television, newspapers, internet and mobile phones." -- If CRI is willing to accept the status of "state-run," and if CRI believes that it is in the business of "publicity," then there is not much hope for it to become a "top-ranking international media group" -- at least in terms of audience size. And aren't the international CCTV channels and Xinua's CNC World also state-run?

Pakistan Today, 2 Dec 2011, Syed Ali Nawaz Gilani: "In Pakistan, CRI listeners are actively working for the promotion of CRI programmes, since establishment of Urdu service in 1966; this year it was 45th anniversary of Urdu service and was celebrated across Pakistan in befitting manners. CRI also appreciates the listeners’ participation at club level and their reports were also acknowledged properly. Like Urdu service of CRI, present Incharge Ms Zhao Qiao (Mahvesh-her Urdu/Pakistani name), along with CRI Pakistan Bureau Office Reports, Ms Sun Lingli and Ms Wang Qainting (Ms Musrat-her Pakistani name) are actively working for the promotion of CRI and its objective to successfully enhance CRI-China education and social and cultural interaction programme."

See previous post about CRI English 70th anniversary.

Tri-lingual Malaysian channel will offer content from "selected news and current affairs television stations worldwide."

Posted: 11 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 6 Dec 2011, citing Bernama: "A new television news channel in Malaysia, Worldview Broadcasting Channel (WBC) that is expected to launch officially in April next year, has started airing test transmissions in the Klang Valley since 1 December. The test transmission from 7pm to 10pm can be viewed by tuning to UHF Channel 39 with magazine programmes as well as local and foreign documentaries on air. A statement from the station said that its core content would be news with 70 per cent international news coverage, with the rest comprising a range of current affairs programmes and documentaries. 'WBC local viewers will be able to watch live news reports from various locations around the world, presented from a Malaysian perspective, in three languages, Bahasa Malaysia, English and Arabic,' the statement said. The statement said WBC’s approach to vary its news sources via cooperation with selected news and current affairs television stations worldwide will offer viewers a fresh experience in news watching. More information can be accessed through the website, it said." -- That URL is now working during today's check.

ABC plans for merger of Radio Australia and Australia Network. Debate about Australia Network contract continues.

Posted: 11 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 7 Dec 2011, Amanda Meade: "ABC managing director Mark Scott said yesterday parts of Australia Network and Radio Australia will be merged along the lines of the BBC, a day after control and funding of the overseas television service was handed permanently to the public broadcaster. Mr Scott said the ABC was no longer compelled to separate Australia Network and Radio Australia, after the cabinet decision on Monday to hand the contract worth $223 million over 10 years to the ABC forever. 'We've been offering Radio Australia for 70 years, and what this decision now allows us to do is to bring these two very closely together to basically create a seamless international broadcasting arm for Australia in much the same way that the BBC does it for the UK,' Mr Scott said in an interview on ABC News 24. He said the two 'fragmented brands' could combine back office functions to save on resources and the networks would take advantage of the expansion of mobile services across Asia and the Pacific by offering apps and online services. ... Mr Scott said a single branding for the international TV and radio services would make it easier for audiences to 'find and use our services in a format that best suits their needs at any given time'. 'While we will create content exclusively for international audiences, we will be able to showcase ABC radio, television and online, and make the most effective use of ABC News 24 and News Radio.'"

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Dec 2011, Clare Kermond: "'What you've seen is a remarkable expansion of online and extraordinary growth of mobile phones and mobile technology … we need to create a converged international broadcaster, like the way we are here at the ABC; we deliver it on radio, we deliver it on television, we deliver it online, we deliver it on mobile,' [ABC MD Mark Scott] said. With 600 million mobile phones in China and 500 million in India, a mobile strategy was a key to the ABC's long term effectiveness as an international broadcaster. Mr Scott also said the new arrangement would allow the ABC to present more coherent branding and achieve efficiencies by sharing resources. A spokeswoman for the ABC confirmed that the national broadcaster would continue to have commercial advertising on the Australia Network."

ABC "PM," 6 Dec 2011, ABC MD Mark Scott as interviewed by Matt Peacock: "International broadcasting is now charter."

The Australian, 7 Dec 2011, Christian Kerr: "A former adviser in the foreign affairs portfolio who wished to remain anonymous said much of the ABC's depiction of Australia was regarded with 'suspicion'. Former foreign minister Alexander Downer is even blunter. 'Although there are some good news shows, the Australia Network still runs an awful lot of rubbish,' he said yesterday, 'and of course the ABC is naturally anti-Australian. Australia is always portrayed in a negative light, the government is full of hard-hearted human rights abusers, be it our government or for that matter the present government.' Downer says the Howard cabinet was horrified when he recommended at the time of the last tender in 2005 that the ABC's contract be renewed. He summed up the view around the table as 'The ABC is pumping out negative propaganda about Australia and the Australian government to the region and we're paying them to do it. Surely we should give Sky a go?' But when he made it clear to his cabinet colleagues, he continued, that the tender panel had backed the ABC, due process prevailed -- unlike this time."

ABC, The Drum, 9 Dec 2011, Bruce Dover, chief executive of Australia Network, responding to Christian Kerr: "The Australian is entitled to its views about the Australia Network process, but its hysteria about the outcome should not obscure the facts. ... With a budget of about $20 million a year, Australia Network ranks just 14th in the hierarchy of G20 international broadcasters. Yet its distribution across 46 countries and territories of the Asia-Pacific is unrivalled by any other government broadcaster, with the exception of the BBC."

The Age, 10 Dec 2011, Hamish McDonald: Radio Australia, the "overseas shortwave service, broadcasting in 10 languages to Asia and the Pacific, has been arguably Australia's most effective soft-power vehicle since the Second World War, reaching millions of people directly, sometimes against the objections of hostile or oppressive governments. With a mix of popular music, news, commentaries and responses to letters from listeners, its broadcasters like Peter Russo (in Japanese) or Alan Morris and Joe Coman (in Indonesian) built up a huge trust that became invaluable in times of crisis. The Department of Foreign Affairs once tried to guide its commentary, through a dedicated liaison officer, but many years ago gave up. ... [T]he government should follow up by making the Australia Network's annual allocation directly to the ABC instead of through the DFAT [Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] 'soft power' budget. In this tender, DFAT has shown naivety or incompetence (or both), and an eagerness to manipulate the message. The network would do better at a distance."

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Dec 2011, Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Opposition: "The message this sends to anyone contemplating a public tender involving this government is simply deplorable. And if, as is widely assumed, this whole charade is part of the Prime Minister's plan to further undermine Kevin Rudd and his authority, then her government's integrity has suffered a mortal blow."

The West Australian, 9 Dec 2011, Andrew Probyn: "Putting it ever so bluntly, Mr Rudd's enemies suspected the former prime minister was using the leverage he had as portfolio minister for the Australia Network to curry favour with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation which, through its 39 per cent of BSkyB, has a part-share in Sky News Australia, the other bidder.

ABC "PM," 6 Dec 2011: "The Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was aware that Cabinet was going to make a decision last night about the awarding of the Australia Network TV contract."

AAP, 6 Dec 2011, Ed Logue: "Sky News has every right to be aggrieved about its failed bid for the Australia Network and it should seek compensation from the federal government, Opposition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says."

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Dec 2011, Phillip Cooey: "Sky News has demanded up to $2 million in compensation following the termination of the tender process for the Australia Network and the decision to leave the service with the ABC forever. The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said yesterday the government had not received any applications for compensation following the messy year-long process, but 'if we do, then of course they'll be properly considered'. But industry sources said Sky had requested compensation a month ago when the government terminated the process and called the police in to investigate leaks it was about to be awarded to Sky."

The Australian, 7 Dec 2011, editorial: "Taxpayers have every right to be appalled by what has unfolded. The Australia Network is an international television service funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to project a positive image overseas. Some in government have worried that, by focusing on claims about racist undertones in Australia's immigration and indigenous policies, ABC current affairs programs can be counterproductive as a soft-diplomacy tool."

The Australian, 7 Dec 2011, Richard Gluyas: "The botched Australia Network tender could further fuel investor perceptions of heightened sovereign risk, affecting the availability and cost of capital in this country, a prominent company director said yesterday. Wesfarmers director and former Telstra board member Charles Macek said the nation's reputation as a safe haven for investment had suffered in recent years after a series of policy reversals and missteps, including the minerals resource rent tax and the carbon tax. 'This (the Australia Network tender) looks like a fiasco,' Mr Macek said. ... 'Investors can live with most policies as long as they know the rules; what they hate is the chopping and changing.'"

The Australian, 7 Dec 2011, Lauren Wilson: "The Australian Federal Police has launched its investigation into media leaks surrounding the $223 million Australia Network tender process, after more than a month of initial inquiries. But The Australian understands the AFP is yet to make contact with three key journalists who reported on the tender."

The Advertiser (Adelaide), 7 Dec 2011, Mark Kenny: "Since the decision was taken to invite tenders in March 2010, a process that purported to be objective and commercial has been tainted by politics. Among its many elements have been the increasingly harsh rivalry between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard; leaks from the tender evaluation committee; more than six months of delay, amid rumours of ABC favouritism by the Government (now borne out); and finally a straightforward political decision to scrap the commercial call and award the 10-year contract to the ABC. Not merely for a decade mind you, but permanently."

The Australian, 7 Dec 2011, Paul Kelly: "The decision to make the Australia Network a permanent feature of the ABC is good for the ABC and bad policy process. It defies performance evaluation, accountability and cost efficiency. It defies the experience when this service has been decided by tender. The saga leaves one narrative: the government wanted the ABC to retain this service and was not prepared to see Sky News win the bid."

The Australian, 7 Dec 2011, Dennis Shanahan and Leo Shanahan: "The ABC is facing a campaign within cabinet to ensure the national broadcaster doesn't just absorb the $223 million earmarked for the Australia Network into other programs and services. ... [S]enior ministers discussed in cabinet on Monday night the need to ensure the funding was kept separate from general ABC funds, with Senator Conroy arguing the case for separation."

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Dec 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Will the ABC charter be amended to include overseas television broadcasting? Will the funding for Australia Network be dedicated or part of general ABC revenue, leaving it vulnerable to competing priorities? Will the government, through the Foreign Affairs Department, still set goals for the network or will this now be under ABC control? ... The ABC has donned the halo of an independent broadcaster while being more than willing to run a tough campaign for a commercial contract. It wanted the cash, yet complained bitterly that its charter was an obstacle to delivering what Foreign Affairs wanted. Sky was a willing mercenary, happy to do whatever was asked. And, in the end, even that wasn't enough."

The Canberra Times, 7 Dec 2011, editorial: "By handing the Australia Network contract (worth $223million over 10 years) to the ABC - which had successfully carried it since 2002, and before that between 1993-98 - the Government can reasonably expect that the service will continue to be delivered efficiently and competently to audiences throughout the Asia-Pacific. However, the fiasco has underlined one of the enduring weaknesses of the Gillard Government: its lack of Cabinet solidarity and confidentiality."

The Australian, 8 Dec 2011, letter from Owen Eather: "I travel on business to Asia, visiting seven large cities over the past year. When I switch on the Australia Network, it shows consistently grim and almost unwatchable programs. A relentless negativism pervades its programming, with Australia presented, largely, as a sovereign failure, flailing impotently as it oppresses a downtrodden people. ... Any watcher, if they could stomach the dreary output of pessimism for more than five minutes, would imagine that Australia is a country to be avoided. It is a relief, almost, to switch over to the blatant propaganda of a China Central TV newscast. At least the presenters smile." And other letters on the same subject.

The Australian, 8 Dec 2011, editorial: "[O]n ABC television news the government's dog-ate-my-homework excuse was reported with a surprising lack of curiosity. Its report said: 'The process was nobbled by leaks of secret tender rankings, so serious, police were called in.' It then cut to the Prime Minister: 'This tender has been profoundly compromised as a result of these leaks.' This is a spurious government line because, as we made clear yesterday, the leaks came after the tender panel's decisions were made. Julia Gillard does herself no favours making the argument. And the ABC owes more to its viewers than to accept such nonsense."

The Daily Telegraph, 8 Dec 2011, Patrick Lion: "[T]he TV channel at the centre of the federal government's foreign diplomacy debacle is a mish-mash of ABC news, cliched Australiana, old drama re-runs and obscure foreign documentaries, The Daily Telegraph reported. Even the government's preferred operator of the Australia Network, the ABC, admitted the channel's current schedule was short of fresh local programming."

Brisbane Times, 7 Dec 2011, editorial: "Since 2001 it has been back with the ABC and has steadily built an audience of more than 100 million in 44 countries, principally in Asia and the Pacific, partly relying on a strong symbiosis with the ABC's international news-gathering network, its children's and other special-interest programs, and English-language teaching - along with a strong dose of sport, a key element of Australian culture. At a little more than $20 million a year in government funding, it is a modest call on public revenue compared to vastly bigger budgets devoted to overseas TV by China and several European nations. ... Murdoch is still free to start an Australian-flavoured TV channel if he wants, without Canberra's subsidy but also without its supervision - not a bad outcome for a free-enterprise mogul with billions in ready cash."

ABC, The Drum, 8 Dec 2011, Sinclair Davidson: "It isn't clear why Australia needs to have a soft propaganda message broadcast to the region. But I'm happy to concede that reasonable people might disagree on that point. Why would the government put that program out to tender when it already has an agency to do the work? To my mind the ABC should be performing that function. That isn't to say that the government shouldn't put the whole of the ABC out to tender – but that is a far more controversial proposition."

Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Dec 2011, Richard Ackland: "Frankly, it would have been inconceivable for the government to award a $223 million contract to a Murdoch-run broadcaster. ... If Sky had triumphed, we would have had to contend with the shadow of Murdoch's record as a foreign broadcaster. Rod Tiffen reminds us that at the time Murdoch was keen to expand his business in China and the BBC was on the nose with the authorities in Beijing, the great British public broadcaster was suddenly dumped from Rupert's Star TV and replaced with a music channel."

The Australian, 9 Dec 2011, Rowan Callick: "The Australia Network, which has this week been permanently placed in the hands of the ABC, has failed to screen controversial Australian-made film The 10 Conditions of Love, about the exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. The film's producer, Melbourne-based John Lewis, said yesterday the network's two-year licence for it had now lapsed. Lewis, a former ABC journalist, said: 'Is this what they call soft diplomacy? Don't tell me that the network is going to become the Radio Australia of TV, with its firmly neutral news stance, because it's not.'"

The Telegraph (Sydney), 9 Dec 2011, Graham Richardson: "There is no doubt that a reasonable intellectual case can be made to have the national broadcaster run the Australia Network. While any such decision overlooks cost effectiveness, you could maintain that if the government is using the network for soft diplomacy then the government broadcaster is better equipped to handle the task."

The Telegraph (Sydney), 9 Dec 2011, Piers Akerman: "How was Sky's boss Angelo Frangopolous to know that Gillard is taking the Asian Century concept a little further and was prepared to embrace the shady and corrupt practices in some of our Asian neighbours?"

The Conversation, 9 Dec 2011, David John Brennan: "When it comes to the Australia Network, no doubt the realpolitik – which features prominently in both internal Government tensions and the relationship the Government has with the News Corporation media conglomerate, of which Sky News is a part – might explain much of what has transpired. But that realpolitik is unlikely to supply the Government with an excuse for contractual breach."

Sydney Morning Herald, 10 Dec 2011, Lenore Taylor: "Early next year, federal cabinet will consider a submission about how it can impose any kind of performance requirements on the ABC in return for giving it $223 million over 10 years to run the Australia Network - the 'soft diplomacy' news service portraying Australia to the world. It will be a joint submission, keeping good officers of the departments of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister and Cabinet, Finance and Communications busy over the summer break. Perhaps they will write guidelines, perhaps they will follow the 'BBC model' and set up a process for the ABC and DFAT to chat about the 'alignment of their goals'. ... The decision [to give the Australia Network contract permanently to the ABC] is now being justified on the basis that most countries see their overseas service as a natural fit with their public broadcaster, in Britain the job is done by the BBC and in Germany by Deutsche Welle. That argument may be right, but surely we need some explanation as to why this was not the assessment made by the government at the outset."


Herald Sun (Victoria), 10 Dec 2011, Laurie Oakes: "Most Australians couldn't give two hoots who runs the Australia Network. It is of no importance to them. Whether the ABC or SKY News is in charge of the television service this country projects into Asia makes no difference to most. Just the same, the spectacular botching of the tender process during the week has a political impact because it reinforces the impression of government incompetence."

See previous post about same subject.

Phone call to RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal claimed responsibility for attack on Shias in Kabul.

Posted: 11 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 6 Dec 2011, Jon Boone and Saeed Shah: "At least 55 people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a crowded Kabul shrine on the most important day in the Shia calendar, raising fears that radical insurgent groups are attempting to unleash a sectarian war in Afghanistan. ... A Pakistani militant group with close ties to al-Qaida said it had carried out the attack, although security sources could not confirm the group's involvement. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami claimed responsibility in a phone call to Radio Mashaal, a Pashto-language station set up by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty." -- Also cited by many other news outlets: see RFE/RL, "The Rundown,' 8 Dec 2011 (Thanks to Zach Peterson news tip.)

RFE/RL, 7 Dec 2011, Abubakar Siddique: "Shortly after the midday attack in Kabul, a man claiming to be a spokesman for Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami contacted RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal to claim responsibility on behalf of the Pakistan-based militant group. It was impossible to independently verify the claim made by the man, who identified himself as Qari Abubakar Mansoor. The man first contacted a Radio Mashaal correspondent in Pakistan who covers the western Kurram tribal district, where the group is believed to be headquartered. A man going by the name of Qari Abubakar had previously contacted Radio Mashaal to provide information regarding the Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami. Following RFE/RL's report tying the group to the attack in Afghanistan, various media reported receiving similar claims from the same spokesman."

VOA Burmese Service chief was granted visa to cover Hillary Clinton visit to Burma.

Posted: 11 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Irrawaddy, 6 Dec 2011: "Journals running front-page photos of the meetings between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Burmese pro-democracy Aung San Suu Kyi quickly sold out as Burmese readers were caught up in the excitement over Clinton’s visit and the discussions between the two prominent women. ... During his meeting with Clinton at the Presidential Office in Naypyidaw on Thursday, Burmese President Thein Sein commented on the increased press freedom during his administration. 'With regard to the media sector, freedom of media was being granted step by step in conformity with freedom and accountability,' Thein Sein was quoted as saying in The New Light of Myanmar, a state-run-newspaper. The Burmese government granted visas to foreign journalists covering Clinton’s visit to Burma, including the chief of the Voice of America’s Burmese Service, Than Lwin Tun, who is a former student activist who left the country following the Burmese army’s brutal crackdowns on demonstrators in 1988."

AFP, 11 Dec 2011: "Myanmar has loosened restrictions on dozens of business and crime publications, local media reported, but kept news titles in the grip of strict censorship rules. A total of 54 journals, magazines and books will no longer have to submit their content to censors before publication, according to a report in the Myanmar Times, after changes introduced on December 9. News media will continue to be subject to pre-publication censorship that is criticised by press freedom groups as among the most restrictive in the world, although officials told the newspaper that this would ease in time." See also VOA News, 7 Dec 2011.

YahLive, planning to become Middle East "satellite broadcaster of choice," adds MBC channels.

Posted: 11 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital Production Middle East, 5 Dec 2011, Chris Newbould: "MBC Group, the largest free-to-air satellite broadcaster in the Arab World, and YahLive, the UAE based satellite operator, have announced a partnership to broadcast seven of MBC’s channels in HD through YahLive’s satellite service. The partnership agreement means that viewers of YahLive, which broadcasts at 52.5ºE, across the Middle East, North Africa can now access MBC Group’s top rated channels: MBC 1; MBC 2, MBC 4; MBC Action; MBC Drama; MBC MAX; and Al Arabiya News Channel, all in the highest quality HD. ... [Mohamed Youssif, CEO of YahLive said:] 'Ensuring that our customers have access to the number one channels and programmes is of paramount importance to us, and it is clear that MBC’s offering is amongst the most popular in the region. We are embarking on an extremely important stage in our development to become the region’s satellite broadcaster of choice and are preparing to make more announcements shortly, which will continue to strengthen our customer offering.'" -- YahLive's offerings for now can be seen at the Lyngsat Yahsat 1A page. See also

Al Jazeera English opens Chicago bureau and launches "Inside Story" from its Washington studio.

Posted: 10 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Jazeera press releaee, 5 Dec 2011, via Poynter: "Al Jazeera English is proud to announce today the opening of a new Chicago bureau and the addition of AJE correspondent, John Hendren. AJE programming became available for the first time across Chicago in October on WTTW, the most-watched public television station in America. This bureau adds to Al Jazeera English’s American bureaus in Washington, DC, New York, Miami and Los Angeles. John joins the more than 150 Al Jazeera English staff based in the U.S., and will be part of Al Jazeera’s expanded coverage from the U.S. heading into the election year. John Hendren starts with Al Jazeera on December 5th as correspondent for the channel’s new bureau in Chicago. John has been at ABC as its White House correspondent since 2006, and previously worked with NPR and the LA Times. ... As part of its commitment to enhancing coverage of the U.S. ahead of the elections, Al Jazeera English’s Americas bureau begin airing the discussion show Inside Story out of Washington D.C. Starting on December, 12, the show will air every weekday at 6:30am and 7:30pm EST."

Deutsche Welle penetrates the great rebroadcasting wall of China with "repackaged" Euromaxx.

Posted: 10 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen, 1 Dec 2011, Marissa Graziadio: "Deutsche Welle’s daily European lifestyle magazine euromaxx is getting repackaged by CNCDP China for the Chinese market and other Mandarin-speaking audiences. Under the co-production agreement, CNCDP China will create a Mandarin version, with 78 hours of programming. CNCDP will have broadcast rights for all of its channels and distribution rights to other broadcasters in China. Deutsche Welle (DW) will distribute the Mandarin edition to the rest of the world. euromaxx features European fashion, design, food, culture, arts, architecture and music. Last year, 26 episodes of the series were co-produced with Xinya Media in Singapore for broadcast on its regional channel." -- But who is CNCDP? Is it part of Xinhua's China Network Co. Ltd (also connected to the Xinhua global English news channel CNC World)? If so, it could be "repackaged," indeed. In any case, access to China's domestic is a big deal in international broadcasting.

Deutsche Welle press release, 1 Dec 2011: "Deutsche Welle officially launched 'Destination Europe' on December 1. The multimedia project ( will examine the challenges and opportunities associated with migration and present a realistic picture of life in Europe. The project is being supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and is especially targeted at young people in Africa. ... 'Destination Europe' is available in English, French and Arabic, with a special in German. The 15-part series was written by an African author and looks at topics like living conditions in a refugee camp, the asylum process and examples of successful integration. The video portraits provide interesting insights into the world of migrant workers. Users should experience their hopes, fears and worries."

Ha'aretz columnist: Many Israeli journalists "forgot the difference between public diplomacy and journalism."

Posted: 10 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Ha'aretz, 4 Dec 2011, Gideon Levy: "For many years, until just recently, Israeli journalism enjoyed great liberty. Military censorship contracted significantly; unacceptable institutions like the Editors' Committee effectively ceased to exist and the pressures placed on journalists were negligible. In addition, most branches of the media were in good shape economically. It is ironic that Israeli journalism is falling down on the job precisely in such excellent circumstances. Come the day of reckoning it will be found wanting for these years of blindness, complacency and extreme nationalism. Israeli journalism censors itself to the point of harm. Part of it has become a means of entertainment while inciting our more base passions. Part of it now appeals to emotions, not reason, and deals with trivial rather than important issues, taking part in the campaigns of denial and obfuscation. No one asked this of it, it did so on its own. It often turned propagandist, too. Journalism hasn't been conscripted. It signed up itself. The journalistic tom-toms were beating before the most recent wars, calling in unison for another ferocious assault. The media lined up in support of every war, offering no criticism. That came only afterward, when it was too late to repair the damage. Israeli journalists authorized nearly every transgression, and many forgot the difference between public diplomacy and journalism."

BBC World Service better than the FCO's "pinstriped mandarins" but not worth the sacrifice of Radio Merseyside.

Posted: 10 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
UK Press Association, 1 Dec 2011: "The MP for Great Grimsby said he was an admirer of the BBC, calling it 'an institution of which we in Britain can be proud'. But, he said that institution was now threatened as the licence fee settlement was the 'worst in the BBC's history', frozen at £145 for six years, plus a requirement to finance the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring from 2014 - a previous responsibility of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He said: 'BBC World Service does a better job for Britain in the world than the Foreign Office and all its pinstriped mandarins put together.'" See also House of Commons Hansard, 1 Dec 2011.

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News, 8 Dec 2011, Oliver Clay: "Campaigners have been collecting signatures in Widnes to protect Radio Merseyside. Peter and Kathy Krig said proposed changes to BBC funding could lead to the station’s closure. They said cash could be diverted to pay for the BBC World Service, which is paid for by the Foreign Office but will switch to licence payers’ money."

Winners of this year's Sky Women in Film and TV Awards are all women.

Posted: 10 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 2 Dec 2011, Maggie Brown: "Three female correspondents – Alex Crawford of Sky News, Sara Sidner of CNN and Zeina Khodr of al-Jazeera – have shared the achievement of the year prize at the 2011 Sky Women in Film and TV awards in central London. WFT said the three women won the award for setting an example to their colleagues, because they were on the streets with the rebels, reporting under fire, while others seemed to report from their hotel rooftops in Tripoli." See also WFTV website.

Global BBC iPlayer expands access to include iPhone, iPod Touch, and Canada.

Posted: 10 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 6 Dec 2011: "BBC Worldwide today announced the arrival of the company’s on-demand Global BBC iPlayer trial service on Apple iPhone and Apple iPod Touch which will become available on Thursday 8th December. Previously available on Apple iPad, the pilot subscription service will now reach millions of new viewers in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. ... In a keynote speech to the Digital TV Summit this morning, Jana Bennett, President Worldwide Networks and Global BBC iPlayer, said: 'This platform extension shows how Global iPlayer isn’t just about moving TV to tablet devices, it’s also about a mobile strategy – about truly getting TV everywhere in a way that it hasn’t been before. We also want the global BBC iPlayer to be truly representative of the whole gamut of British creative output, to represent everything that is great about British content – not just the Best of British TV but the Best of British Culture.'"

informitv, 4 Dec 2011: "The global BBC iPlayer app for the Apple iPad is now available in Canada, although it has yet to launch in the United States. It offers a remarkable range of current and classic BBC programming for a little less than nine dollars a month or $84.99 for an annual subscription. So informitv asks how many subscriptions worldwide would the BBC need to sell to make this worthwhile, and why is it not available in the United Kingdom? ... [I]f we assume that the global BBC iPlayer were to be as successful as Netflix, with say 20 million subscribers across a wide range of devices, resulting in a lower retailer margin of 20%, that would produce a gross revenue of over a billion pounds and a return to the BBC of say £320 million. While significant, in the context of the annual BBC turnover of £3.6 billion it represents less than a tenth of total BBC income, which is less than the corporation needs to find in efficiency savings to balance its budget over the coming years."

Montreal Gazette, 2 Dec 2011, James Berkow: "Daniel Heaf, executive vice-president of BBC Worldwide's digital division, said during a pre-launch demonstration of the Canadian iPlayer app he wasn't trying to pick a fight with the Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming-video juggernaut. 'Netflix is a very different type of service, it is very broad' Mr. Heaf said. 'It offers tens of thousands of titles across several genres, whereas [iPlayer] is a branded service where we aggregate a very deep type of content; TV content as opposed to film.'"

mUmBrella, 7 Dec 2011: "Dental brand Oral B is the first advertiser on the Australian edition of BBC Worldwide’s iPlayer. The three month deal, which kicks off on January 1, was negotiated by Mediacom in Sydney on behalf of Oral B’s parent company P&G. Scott Hamilton, BBC Worldwide’s regional director of ad sales for Australia and New Zealand said: 'Through this sponsorship deal, P&G gain access to early adopters who enjoy quality BBC content on an innovative and expanding platform. It’s a superior product, a great fit for their target audience and provides an uncluttered user experience delivering Oral B exceptional cut through.'"

ATV Today, 9 Dec 2011: "Series 6 of the world’s longest running science fiction TV series Doctor Who has become 2011’s most downloaded show on iTunes in America."

Complaints after BBC World News is removed from Pakistani cable TV systems.

Posted: 09 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Dawn, 4 Dec 2011, Kalbe Ali: "In a rare show of solidarity among business competitors, cable operators in Pakistan blocked the transmission of BBC for airing a documentary about the Taliban on November 28. ... Meanwhile, on their part the local cable operators in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad said that the decision had been made by their association due to public pressure. 'Nobody forced us to block or take the BBC off air – this was our decision based on our love for the country. A significant majority of our subscribers also asked us to tell the foreign media that we as a nation stand united,' a cable operator in Rawalpindi said, but declined to give his name on the grounds that it was against the policy of their association."

Daily Times, 3 Dec 2011: "The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has termed the unofficial banning of the foreign news channels, including BBC, across the country through cable operators a violation of the freedom of expression and citizens’ rights to get information. In a statement issued on Friday, the commission called the banning of the BBC and other foreign news channels in the last few days as arbitrary, futile and violation of the basic human rights."

The News (Karachi), 2 Dec 2011, editorial: "The BBC remains available to anybody with a satellite dish connection. Given the limited number of people who might have viewed the programme, and there not being any reports of formal complaints either to Pemra or cable operators themselves, one is led to wonder where the ‘push’ for the ban came from. Of course we have the right to disagree completely with what any channel is saying, and the documentary has already been criticised for its lack of even the basic elements of objective reporting. But at the same time people must have the right to decide what they watch and how they interpret events. It is true channels like the BBC are at times responsible for propaganda. Misinformation is also spread through all kinds of other means. But the right of people to know and to gain access to different views must not be curbed. Blocking their access to what some others may be saying is a crude, unintelligent way to deal with the problem and can only be counterproductive in this age of an unprecedented flow of information."

Dawn, 5 Dec 2011, Hajrah Mumtaz: The fact, sadly, is that the main news coming out of Pakistan is bad, and the only thing this move achieves is restricting Pakistanis` access to international news.

Dawn, 8 Dec 2011, letter from Saad Khosa: "The allegations that BBC has been involved in ‘maligning’ and defaming Pakistan by distorting facts about the actual ground situation are entirely baseless, groundless and unfounded. ... Besides, there is no denying the fact that BBC World News is a vibrant news channel that airs many educational programmes as well."

See previous post about same subject.

As Flemish Belgian international radio prepares to close, audio of its English-service raconteur becomes available.

Posted: 09 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 2 Dec 2011, Andy Sennitt: "As we reported earlier this week, Radio Vlaanderen International will close on 31 December. For the past few years, RVi broadcast only in Dutch, but in what Keith Perron of PCJ Media calls ‘the golden era’, the station had just as big a following as many other international broadcasters. One aspect of the International Service that people remember well was when David Monson hosted Brussels Calling. David could just sit in front of the microphone and make anything come alive. During his time as host of Brussels Calling he released an album of some of his best monologues. ... They include what is widely considered to be the best of all David’s broadcasts, entitled ‘In Flanders Fields (To those who fell)’. He did not have a script - he rarely ever did - and what you hear is completely spontaneous. At the time, this type of live international broadcasting was a rarity." With link to audio archive. See previous post about the closing of Radio Vlaanderen International (the international radio service of the Dutch speaking community in Belgium).

Zimbabwe government newspaper accuses VOA Studio 7 of "dirty work."

Posted: 08 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Herald (Harare), 5 Dec 2011, Stephen Mpofu: "'Hurt your country, everything in it and you will live comfortably (here) in exile.' This probable statement appears to be what makes Zimbabweans working for some radio stations overseas join their anti-Zanu PF, anti-President Mugabe propaganda that tarnishes Zimbabwe's image. ... Listen, for instance, to the Voice of America Radio Station which set up 'Studio 7 for Zimbabwe' which daily broadcasts to this country and has employed Zimbabwean men and women to do its dirty work against Zimbabwe, using American taxpayers' money with the Americans themselves probably unaware of the abuse of their hard-earned money. Then there are other private radio stations mounted on roof or tree-tops in Zimbabwe to complement those foreign radio stations that fall over each other trying to besmirch Zimbabwe's image in the eyes and ears of the world at large to protest the empowerment of the black masses in Zimbabwe through land reform. The propaganda onslaught has done a great deal in promoting competing even contradictory, visions of the country's future with no hint or sign of their convergence for the good of this nation."

VOA Studio 7, 7 Dec 2011, Tatenda Gumbo & Sandra Nyaira: "Zimbabwean legislators are set to discuss a motion calling for the removal of the board of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and to initiate a fresh start to the process of issuing licenses for new commercial radio stations under media liberalization. Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya of the Movement for Democratic Change party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai advised Parliament on the pending motion following the recent award by the Broadcasting Authority of radio licenses to Zimpapers, a state publisher, and AB Communications, a group with close ties to ZANU-PF."

Moneyweb (Johanneburg), 4 Dec 2011, Cathy Buckle: "Shock, intrigue and controversy came with an advert for chicken pieces that was aired on DSTV, a South African satellite television broadcaster that is available in many countries in Africa. The advert came from Nando’s, a South African fast food chain which has a Zimbabwe franchise and outlets in many centres around the country. The advert shows Robert Mugabe standing alone at a Christmas dinner table, holding place name cards of absent guests. To background music of 'Those were the days my friend,' and with actors playing the characters, Mugabe is shown having a water pistol fight with Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi, whose is using his trademark golden gun. ... Of course, anyone that hadn’t seen the advert by that stage, made determined efforts to see it and find out what all the fuss was about. Things reached absurd levels midweek when the Short Wave Radio Africa broadcast was jammed just as a news report about the Nando’s advert began. The jamming continued for the next two hours and no one was in any doubt about who was behind the radio’s signal interference."

See previous post about same subject.

New head of China's CCTV has no problem with strategic communication.

Posted: 08 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, The Lede, 5 Dec 2011, J. David Goodman: "The new president of China’s largest television network, the state-run organization known CCTV, drew fire over the weekend from Chinese press advocates and others online over comments urging journalists to drop their pretensions of professionalism and submit to being mouthpieces of the government. ... 'The first social responsibility and professional ethic of media staff should be understanding their role clearly and be a good mouthpiece,' Mr. Hu was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying to a press association gathering this year, months before he took the helm at CCTV. His remarks, including a warning to journalists who do not take 'up the position of mouthpiece' that they 'will never go far,' were reported by China’s Xinhua news agency but attracted little notice at the time. ... Quotes from Mr. Hu were shared more than 10,000 times on microblogs and Twitter, the Voice of America China reported, and elicited sharp criticism as well as dispirited comments from those Chinese who still view of journalism as a professional enterprise."

Eutelsat denies that it is jamming its own satellites (updated).

Posted: 08 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Eutelast Communications press release, 17 Nov 2011: "Eutelsat categorically refutes recent reports that claim it is generating interference to its own satellites in order to prevent reception in Iran of international Farsi satellite channels. These allegations are in total contradiction with reality. They are also totally inconsistent with the statement issued in September by the BBC which associates Eutelsat with their renewed appeal for action by regulatory authorities to combat this violation of international rights. Over more than two years Eutelsat has publicly condemned intentional jamming of its satellites by third parties, organised to prevent reception of international Farsi channels including BBC Persian, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle. We have identified the location of the jamming from within Iran, and since May 2009, have filed multiple complaints with the relevant French and international regulatory authorities to denounce hostile jamming operations and to prompt the International Telecommunication Union (a United Nations Agency) to address this illegal practice as a priority issue. Eutelsat maintains a constant dialogue with international Farsi channels and service providers affected by deliberate jamming. The company has repeatedly organised transmissions of these channels through other satellites in its fleet in order to provide the continuity of service that we constantly endeavour to deliver." -- I can't find any of the reports that Eutelsat was jamming its own satellites.

Update: Reuters, 1 Dec 2011, Leila Abboud and Georgina Prodhan: Eutelsat "has faced pressure from European governments for carrying Libyan state-owned TV channels during the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, and from Iran, which has scrambled its transmissions of the BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle. The developments have put Chief Executive Michel de Rosen in the position of having to negotiate with heads of state and diplomats to assert Eutelsat's independence and neutrality as a wholesaler of satellite capacity. 'We receive a lot of pressure, a lot of letters, a lot of demands to police the content on our satellites,' said Michel de Rosen at the Reuters Global Media Summit on Thursday. 'But we cannot respond to such pressure, nor discriminate against some content and not others.' ... In Iran, Eutelsat has come under fire from both the government and the opposition. Some of its signals have been jammed by Iran since May 2009 because they carry Farsi versions of foreign news channels like the BBC, while opposition figures like Iranian Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi have slammed the company for carrying the state-run Iranian channels. De Rosen said the company was cooperating with the BBC and Voice of America to look for solutions to the jamming, including tweaking the satellite's position and lobbying various national governments for support."

Article 19 press statement, 19 Nov 2011: "ARTICLE 19 is deeply concerned by the growing number of cases where reception of television and radio services by citizens in one country is deliberately prevented by the use of various "jamming" mechanisms. One example is the ongoing satellite jamming of LuaLua TV - a London-based Bahraini current affairs television station - which had its satellite signal jammed only four hours after the channel was launched on 17 July 2011. ARTICLE 19 is issuing this statement to bring renewed attention to jamming, a practice thought to be confined to the cold war having disappeared with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In fact, deliberate government intrusion of broadcaster satellite signals (or “jamming”) is far more common than is widely acknowledged and reported, and a growing cause of concern for broadcasters around the world. The case of Lualua TV is just the tip of the iceberg. The satellite signals of a number of media outlets, including BBC World Service, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and Al Jazeera have been persistent targets for governments keen to censor critical reporting and voices."

See also Radio Zamaneh, 26 Nov 2011.

International broadcasters note increase in satellite jamming.

Posted: 08 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 7 Dec 2011: "Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Deutsche Welle (DW), Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (AEF) and Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) – have condemned the deliberate interference of satellite broadcasting signals to silence independent media and prevent free access to information. Meeting in London, the Directors General of these broadcasting organisations issued a statement, noting, 'We have seen an escalation this year in the number of pressure tactics that have been used on the media being accessed by audiences in Iran and other countries.' In particular, they noted an increase in deliberate interference – known as 'jamming' – of international satellite programming in Persian. Satellite operators indicate interference originates from Iran. According to the five international broadcasters it is intended to prevent Iranian audiences from seeing foreign broadcasts the Iranian government finds objectionable. 'We call upon the regulatory authorities to take action against those who deliberately cause interference to satellite signals on the grounds that this is contrary to international conventions for the use of satellites. We specifically ask national telecommunications authorities to take up the issue at an upcoming meeting of the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva. We also call upon satellite operators and service providers to recognise the importance of the role they play in ensuring the free flow of information.'"

"Will Voice of America's Persian Service Survive?"

Posted: 08 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Commentary, 5 Dec 2011, Michael Rubin: "During the past several months, I have criticized Voice of America’s Persian Service which, even at the best of times, has been aimless and ill managed. Rather than unite around a particular mission — for example, voicing the news which Iranian journalists are unable to because of censorship and oppression —VOA Persian’s management has allowed its staff to become partisan in the American context. Its head, Ramin Asgard, appears to have adopted the State Department’s goal of promoting diplomacy with Tehran, without concern for its place in a broader, comprehensive strategy. In recent weeks, the service has been in free-fall with firings, lawsuits, and figurative knife fights among factions. It is never a good thing for American broadcast strategy when, having lost sight of the forest through the trees and having no sense of mission, employees leak the latest gossip to the Islamic Republic’s state press. Alas, in speaking to others working for American broadcasting overseas, it appears others have taken notice of VOA-Persian’s weakness and may indeed be hastening its demise. Unable to maintain ratings among Iranians inside Iran, a merger between VOA and the Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) may be in the works, with VOA-Persian ultimately being closed down in Washington, and folding its operations completely into the RFE/RL. If that’s the case, fine: The duplication of efforts was a drain on limited budgets. A reorganized and rejuvenated Persian service might provide hope, wherever it is based, so long as it has a clear mission and operates as part of a coherent American strategy." -- Mr. Rubin's two mentions of "strategy" lead me to suspect that uncensored news is not really what he is after. It is what the audience is after -- in case having an audience is any part of this "strategy." VOA Persian News Network has been successful in attracting audiences in Iran, though less so recently, apparently because of Iran's satellite jamming efforts.

State Department, 1 Dec 2011, Testimony of Wendy Sherman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "We assist those Iranians who want to hold their government accountable by offering training, media access, and exchange programs. We will be opening Virtual Embassy Tehran to provide Iranians with accurate information about our policy, visas, and U.S. educational opportunities. We also engage Iranians through social media, including a Farsi Facebook page and a Twitter account, and through our broadcasting tools, Voice of America Persian and Radio Farda. We are taking measures to prevent Iran from jamming satellite signals, and to approve software licenses that facilitate the free flow of information. These actions make clear our sincere desire to engage the Iranian people and further expand the internal debates among the Iranian leadership."

Connection (Alexandria, VA), 30 Nov 2011, Gale Curcio: "Using the voice of Alice Roosevelt (Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter), [Elaine Flynn] takes us through the ages, telling colorful stories about some of the more interesting and colorful First Ladies. ... She has spoken on Voice of America — though her talk was dubbed into Farsi, so she’s not sure what she said, but she’s confident it was fascinating."

Is Al Jazeera in a category with BBC and CNN, or with France 24, RT, and Press TV?

Posted: 07 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 29 Nov 2011, Torin Douglas: "The former director of Global News at the BBC, Richard Sambrook, is now global vice chairman of the Edelman PR agency. He says Al Jazeera does a good job maintaining its independence and played a crucial role in its coverage of the Arab Spring. 'Al Jazeera was a very important platform… through the first part of this year, particularly around the protests in Egypt, for reflecting what was happening on the ground, as against state television particularly in Egypt and other countries as well, which was refusing to accept the full depth of what was happening.' Now, as Hillary Clinton observed, more global services are launching in the English language, such as Russia Today. Often they look - and sound - very much like their western counterparts. The state-run China Central Television is opening new studios in Washington and, according to some reports, has plans for Europe too. Sambrook says that, as technology costs come down, more countries want a voice in the global dialogue, and they have different editorial values from, say, the BBC or CNN. 'There's no question that Press TV is trying to push the voice of Iran, for example. Russia Today is absolutely representing a Russian perspective, France 24 was set up to represent France's voice in the international arena, and of course Al Jazeera is very open about representing the voiceless and the Arab street into this global dialogue.'"

New Statesman, 7 Dec 2011, Mehdi Hasan: "Al Jazeera is plagued by accusations of bias. But, to the network's credit, they come from all sides: Islamists, secularists, dictators, democrats, Sunnis, Shias, Israelis, Americans - none can decide for sure whether the network is friend or foe. ... It would be a mistake to underestimate Al Jazeera and, in particular, its durability. Its energy and dynamism this year have left its western rivals looking slow-footed and lacklustre. The Doha-based broadcaster will continue to be a thorn in the side of tottering dictators and despots across the Middle East."

Metro (London), 30 Nov 2011, Tariq Tahir: Al Jazeera "broke many taboos, such as discussing women’s rights in the Arab world and even airing interviews with Israelis. Regimes it got on the wrong side of paid it the compliment of trying to block transmissions. Young people grew up watching Al Jazeera and began to form views very different to their parents. Ultimately, they took those views to the streets of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya."

Huffington Post, 29 Nov 2011, Rebecca Shapiro: "Wadah Khanfar, the former head of Al Jazeera who stepped down in September, said on Monday that many Middle Eastern governments pressured his network to alter its coverage. ... He reportedly said that 'other countries feared "they would be next" and that the Al Jazeera's coverage would help "train people in their countries about how to revolt."' Khanfar also said that Al Jazeera had experienced pressure 'for the past 15 years,' but that pressure increased in 2010."

The Jordan Times, 7 Dec 2011, Khetam Malkawi: "The region’s satellite channels and media outlets played no part in driving the recent protests and revolutions in the Arab world, but did face difficulty covering them professionally and objectively, media experts said on Tuesday. 'I do not claim that Al Jazeera contributed to the revolution in Tunisia; we were not expecting that the revolution would reach that point. The same thing happened in the Egyptian revolution,' Waddah Khanfar, former director general of Al Jazeera satellite channel, said. 'We were accused of taking the side of the people… [but] we did not incite the revolution. It came. We knew for a protest we had an ethical responsibility, and our coverage had to be professional,' he added at the Media Freedom Defenders in the Arab World Forum yesterday. Mohammad Shabaro, a news editor at Al Arabiya satellite channel, agreed with Khanfar. 'I don’t think that media incited the revolutions, but rather were reporting the developments that took place in streets,' he said, adding that the role of the media as an instigator of these revolutions has been 'exaggerated'."

Rapid TV News, 6 Dec 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "Satellite TV has played a significant role in driving the uprisings in the Arab world according to two thirds of Jordanians. Of almost 2,000 people surveyed for a poll conducted by the Centre for Strategic Studies, 53% believed Al Jazeera played a role in inciting the Arab Spring protests, while 26% thought MBC's Al Arabiya news channel did too."

International Business Times, 2 Dec 2011, Anissa Haddadi: "A South African human rights organization has announced its intention to file a law suit against Qatar and its broadcaster Al-Jazeera after a journalist was deported from the Gulf state because he was HIV positive. A South African journalist had to relocate to Qatar after being hired by Al-Jazeera in October 2010. According to Section 27, the organisation now in charge of the case, upon his arrival the journalist was asked by the Doha-based television network to undergo a medical examination. Once the tests results came back the journalist said he was asked to come to the network's offices to have a meeting - instead he was driven to a prison."

Heritage Foundation commentary notes lack of media reciprocity between Russia and the United States.

Posted: 07 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 28 Nov 2011, Anatoliy Khomenko: "[T]he Russian government reconfirmed the prohibition of foreign media outlets on its territory so that it can continue to rely on state-controlled media while its own Russia Today TV channel is broadcasting anti-American propaganda within this country." -- Perhaps the prohibition refers to ownership of media in Russia. Similarly, only citizens can hold broadcast licenses in the United States. Foreign channels (although no Russian-language equivalent of RT) are available on multichannel TV systems in Russia, e.g. Kosmos TV. RFE/RL and VOA access to domestic terrestrial channels in Russia is very much limited, but RFE/RL, BBC, RFI, DW, etc, are available via medium wave leases in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

And the new South Korean news channel News Y includes North Korean state news why?

Posted: 07 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Yonhap, 30 Nov 2011: "'news Y,' an all-news cable TV channel run by South Korea's key news service Yonhap News Agency, will begin its broadcast service on Thursday, promising to provide 'differentiated news content' produced with the help of Yonhap News Agency's 600 reporters worldwide. ... news Y also aims to provide viewers with uncut but solid content rather than pursuing profits or jumping into a competition to draw more viewers. It will focus more on live broadcasts and dispatches via telephone and broadcast vans rather than refined studio shots and pre-taped reports, so as to make the news feel more real. ... In addition, news Y will offer English-language news for foreigners inside and outside the country, and North Korea news based on the communist country's state media. Viewers will also be able to watch news content from Al Jazeera Satellite Network; Russia Today, a Moscow-based 24-hour news-only channel; and various news media for overseas Korean communities in about 130 countries around the world."

The Korea Herald, 5 Dec 2011, Shin Hae-in: "News Y, which had boasted it would be an 'all-day news channel,' drastically reduced its broadcasting hours due to the lack of file pictures and equipment. It currently airs Korean-language news five hours a day, followed by two five-minute slots of English-language news. 'It’s not due to the lack of content,' an official at the news channel said over the telephone, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue for his firm. 'We are just waiting for some more equipment to arrive to start airing news 24 hours.' A staff at the English-language service, who also asked not to be named, admitted there hadn’t been enough time for preparation."

Russian businessman Viktor Bout, in US prison, can't listen to Chekhov plays on the Voice of Russia.

Posted: 07 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 30 Nov 2011, Olga Pshenitsyna: "Until recently Russian businessman Viktor Bout who faces life in a US jail, could listen to the 'Voice of Russia' radio in his prison cell. Now he has been deprived of it. ... [H]is wife is preparing documents for the International Court and the Court for Human Rights to restore Justice."

The Hindu, 30 Nov 2011, Vladimir Radyuhin: "Russian classical literature is now brought to Indian audiences across air waves in a revival of a Soviet-era project of building cultural bridges between the two nations. The Voice of Russia has begun producing and broadcasting radio dramas based on the works of famous Russian playwrights. It has already aired several plays by Anton Chekov, including his most famous Cherry Garden. ... 'I think I grasped the Russian soul when I listened to the Cherry Garden,' an Indian fan of the Voice of Russia wrote. ... The Voice of Russia has picked from where Radio Moscow, as it was known in the Soviet days, left. Radio drama was then a staple feature of broadcasts from Moscow, but was taken off the air when funding dried up after the fall of the Soviet Union. The revived project will be discussed at the fifth all-India conference of the Voice of Russia Listeners’ Clubs in New Delhi on December 1-2."

Voice of Russia, 3 Dec 2011, Lyudmila Morozova and Natalya Benukh: "The Sixth All-India Conference of the Voice of Russia listeners’ clubs has drawn to a close at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in New Delhi. There are 150 such clubs currently, but chances are there will be more of them shortly. The Voice of Russia has won confidence of listeners, for the station reports the latest international news, social events in Russia, as well as scientific and cultural achievements, the Voice of Russia Chairman, Andrei Bystritsky, said in an interview with the Russia & India Report newspaper. ... Meanwhile, Voice of Russia listeners in other countries have followed in the footsteps of Indians, and there are as many as 50 VOR listeners’ clubs in the neighbouring Pakistan, for example."

Voice of Russia, 2 Dec 2011: "Until last year The Voice of Russia broadcast on the short waves and now, due to the partnership with the local radio station FEVER 104 FM, Moscow programmes can be listened to in the FM range in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore, and also be received by mobile phones. The number of users of the Voice of Russia website in India and other countries is growing steadily, the Indian media report. Video from the 6th All-Indian Conference of the Voice of Russia Listeners is available on YouTube." See also VOR, 1 Dec 2011.

Tass, 24 Nov 2011, via Voice of Russia website: "Many local journalists, politicians, businessmen and public activists gathered at the Russian science and culture center in Vienna on Wednesday to attend the presentation of the world’s oldest international broadcaster, the Voice of Russia. ... These days the Voice of Russia is broadcasting in 38 languages to 160 countries and regions across the globe, including to tens of thousands of dedicated listeners in Austria." Berlin, too: VOR, 26 Nov 2011.

Germany to India would certainly be "distance education."

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
India Blooms, 30 Nov 2011: "Radio can be an effective means of distance education due to its low cost, opined the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Deutsche Welle (DW) experts. The Director General of DW, Erik Bettermann visited IGNOU and had detailed discussion with the IGNOU’s Vice Chancellor, M. Aslam. ... [Aslam] stressed the need for IGNOU and DW to explore possibilities of working together as to how radio broadcast can become an effective tool of learning. The DW experts welcomed the suggestion and agreed to further explore its possibilities."

Qantas pilots listen to Radio Australia, which scooped Qantas management on news of the airline's grounding.

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 26 Nov 2011, Steve Creedy: "Qantas did not supply the Civil Aviation Safety Authority with enough information to allow the safety watchdog to independently decide whether the carrier's reasons for its shock grounding last month were justified. ... Qantas boss Alan Joyce has maintained that the airline was forced to ground the airline because its safety case showed there was an increased risk that pilots would become distracted by news the airline was going to lock out staff. ... Qantas revealed this week in answers to questions on notice by the committee that it had 66 flights in the air at the time of the announcement. It said it decided it was inappropriate to contact crew and notify them of the grounding because of the distraction it was likely to cause. But knowing that some crew often tuned in to Radio Australia and communicated with other aircraft, it chose a weekend announcement because the least number of services would be airborne. A prepared statement was read to those pilots who did inquire, confirming that the airline had been grounded but saying this did not pose a safety concern for their flight. They were told to continue to their destination where they would be met on arrival with an explanation."

NPR's executive editor departs to join "the greatest newsgathering operation in the world" as head of BBC news in the USA.

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 30 Nov 2011: "NPR Executive Editor Dick Meyer is leaving the public radio network to lead BBC News America. ... Since 2009, he has been NPR's executive editor, managing all news operations. His resignation follows the departure of NPR's top news executive Ellen Weiss in January. ... Beginning in February 2012, Meyer will lead the BBC's U.S. newscast 'BBC World News America' and its American website. In a statement, he says the BBC has 'real opportunity for growth' in the U.S. as American news organizations struggle."

Broadcasting & Cable, 29 Nov 2011, Lindsay Rubino: "Dick Meyer has been named executive producer of BBC News America, it was announced Tuesday. He replaces Rome Hartman, who left to join NBC's Rock Center With Brian Williams as executive producer. Effective Feb. 2012, Meyer will have editorial oversight of BBC World News America and the U.S. version of BBC News' Web site. In addition, he will advise on the strategy and production of BBC's other U.S. news content, including the 24-hour channel BBC World News and BBC World Service radio productions. Meyer will work alongside BBC's Newsgathering Bureau in Washington, D.C., and BBC News in London. ... 'I am honored and humbled by this new responsibility,' said Meyer. 'The BBC is simply the greatest newsgathering operation in the world today. As American news organizations undergo difficult change, the BBC has an important role in this country and a real opportunity for growth.'" See also BBC World News press release, 30 Nov 2011.

Shocker: Mass media use Twitter as a mass medium.

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Nieman Journalism Lab, 18 Nov 2011, Mark Coddington: "The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a report this week on the way news organizations use Twitter, and the results weren’t pretty: News orgs, they found, were using Twitter predominantly as a way to simply broadcast their stories online, not taking much advantage of Twitter’s interactive capabilities or its ability to link readers to a wide variety of sources. PEJ said the behavior was reminiscent of the link-phobic early days of the web, and the Lab’s Megan Garber called it a 'glorified RSS feed.'" -- Actually, Twitter is the best, unclunkiest RSS feed. A tweet with a link is a brilliant news medium. Note the Deutsche Welle English breaking news Twitter account pictured with this post. Is @dw_english supposed to follow the 6,931 Twitter accounts who follow @dw_english? No one can follow 6,931 Twitter accounts. On the other hand, DW reporters probably follow a couple of hundred each, seeking news leads.

Radio Free Asia potluck, "one of the hottest multicultural tickets in town," includes hot yak butter tea.

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 29 Nov 2011, Bonnie S. Benwick: "In pursuit of home-cooked recipes from abroad, I scored an invite to one of the hottest multicultural tickets in town: Radio Free Asia’s semiannual potluck, held the week before Thanksgiving. The scope of the fall event has grown over its seven-year history, says the nonprofit agency’s director and potluck advocate, Libby Liu: 'It’s gone a long way toward uniting the [agency’s nine language] news services.' Space at RFA’s downtown Washington headquarters gets understandably elbow-to-elbow once the buffet tables are laden and 300 employees and guests slide in and out of tortuous queues. Nobody seems to mind. ... Grand total: more than 100 dishes. Highlights: Uyghur stuffed breads and a whole roasted lamb; Tibetan tsampa (ground barley grain) and hot yak butter tea; Cambodian-inspired salmon curry and Burmese tea leaf salad."

Despite media reforms, Democratic Voice of Burma journalists remain in Burmese prisons.

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 30 Nov 2011, Jean-François Julliard, general secretary of Reporters sans frontières: "[I]n September, and following a visit by the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma, access to a number of previously banned foreign news websites including Youtube, BBC, Reuters, The Bangkok Post, Straits Times, Radio Free Asia, Irrawaddy, DVB, and the Burmese service of Voice of America has been unblocked. Internet connections nonetheless continue to be very slow. Meanwhile, on September 14 this year, a Rangoon court imposed an additional 10-year prison sentence on the jailed Democratic Voice of Burma reporter Sithu Zeya, 21, on a charge of circulating material online that could 'damage tranquility and unity in the government' under the Electronic Act. His combined jail sentence is now 18 years. Fourteen video journalists employed by DVB are still being held after receiving long jail sentences. The detained DVB journalists include Hla Hla Win, who is serving a 27-year sentence, and Sithu Zeya. His father, U Zeya, is serving a 13-year sentence for supervising DVB's team of video journalists."

The Irrawaddy, 29 Nov 2011, Lalit K Jha: "Congressman Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and a senior member of the Asia Subcommittee, said that any stepped-up US engagement with Burmese leaders should be outweighed by engagement with civil society leaders and the Burmese people through Radio Free Asia broadcasts and other programs."

Comparative analysis of federal agencies' tweets about Occupy shows why VOA is not like the others.

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Wired, Epicenter, 29 Nov 2011, Andy Biao: "Since the Occupy protests started in mid-September, nearly 15,000 [Twitter] messages [about Occupy] were posted by the 126 federal Twitter accounts. Of those accounts, only three have mentioned the Occupy protests in any way — Voice of America, the Smithsonian, and the White House. For those unfamiliar with it, VOA is a radio and television news network broadcasting in 100 countries in 59 languages, but banned from airing in the United States because of propaganda laws. As part of their daily news coverage, they’ve tweeted about Occupy nine times since the protests began. (Here’s the most recent.)"

Within one sentence, "VOA," "news," and "propaganda" are mentioned. This is a demonstration of VOA's identity problem. And it shows why, as a news organization, VOA should be defederalized. The other federal agencies have no need to report about Occupy, and their tweets properly stayed out of the Occupy public debate.

American in China watches PBS Newshour, via VOA-TV, via AsiaSat 3, via C-band dish.

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Lincoln Journal Star, 28 Nov 2011, JoAnne Young: "Ron Kurtenbach, 68, a pioneer in local public access broadcasting and known by many as a Lincoln legend in political activism, is teaching now at Zhoukou Normal University. His wife, Maria, a Portuguese woman he met in Hong Kong, teaches there, too. ... On their satellite TV, they watch Chinese channels, Al Jazeera, public television from Japan and Germany, a Russian station and the PBS NewsHour through the Voice of America."

They are probably watching VOA-TV and the other mentioned channels via Asiasat 3, C-band. VOA-TV is a feed channel, consisting of VOA broadcasts in various languages. Much of the remaining time of the channel is filled with programs from US public television, such as "Newshour," and other "acquired" programs. (See schedule.) In China, expats are less restricted in their access to satellite television receivers, and they tend to receive satellites with programming in languages other than Chinese.

Pan-Arab survey shows internet gaining on TV as main source of international news.

Posted: 06 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Brookings Institution, 21 Nov 2011: "On Monday, November 21, Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and nonresident senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, released the 2011 Arab Public Opinion Poll, which is produced each year in conjunction with Zogby International. This year’s poll surveyed 3,000 people in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates in October 2011... . Aljazeera Television continues to be identified as the number one source of international news among those polled (53%) followed by Al-Arabiya (14%) and MBC (12%). There is a marked increase in the percentage of Arabs who identify the Internet as their main source of international news, with 20% saying that the Internet is their primary source of international news, in contrast to 8% in 2009."

In the accompanying survey presentation, it is interesting to note that 14% state that Al Arabiya is the network watched most often for news, compared to 3% in 2010. Al Jazeera's gain from 2010 to 2011 is less dramatic: 38% to 43%. Professor Telhami's "watch most often" question is unhelpful to, and is often used to advocate the elimination of, non-Arab Arabic news channels such as Alhurra and BBC Arabic. International broadcasters are typically used by audiences as a supplement to domestic broadcasting, and thus usually do not do well in a "watch most often" question. (Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are effectively domestic channels within the Arab "nation.")

Citing data purchased from BBG, BBC World Service announces "record high" BBC Arabic audience of 33.4 million.

Posted: 05 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 5 Dec 2011: "People across the Middle East have increasingly turned to the BBC during the ‘Arab Uprising’ with a record rise in audiences, according to independent research published today. Overall audiences to the BBC’s Arabic services have risen by more than 50% to a record high of 33.4 million adults weekly - up from 21.6 million before the ‘Arab Spring’. BBC Arabic TV’s audience has risen to 24.4 million from 13.5 million – up by more than 80 per cent. Weekly reach across Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabic, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco has nearly doubled to a weekly reach of 18.4% from 9.8%. The weekly audience estimates are based on an independent study that was carried out by the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ International Audience Research Program (IARP). Surveys were conducted in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabic, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco. Biggest increases were seen in Egypt, where the BBC Arabic TV audience quadrupled to a weekly reach of 16.2%, reaching 9.3 million people. ... The weekly audience estimate for BBC Arabic’s radio services fell from 11.5 million to 10.1 million, reflecting wider changes in the region in how audiences are consuming news via other technologies. ... The surveys were purchased by the BBC after completion of the fieldwork." -- In this document, the BBG states that the audience for US international broadcasting in Egypt is also 9.3 million weekly. It would be interesting to see the comparative audience sizes for the various non-Arab Arabic channels, but the broadcasters' press releases provide only their own numbers.

Australian cabinet, in "policy decision," will keep Australia Network within the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Posted: 05 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, 5 Dec 2011: "The Federal Government has decided that the contract for the Australia Network international television service will remain with the ABC. The Government scrapped the tender process last month, citing damaging leaks to the media. ... Sky News was competing against the ABC for the contract. ... Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said ... 'Having reflected upon the process to date, and what the service really needs to provide, the Government has determined that Australia's international broadcasting service should be delivered by the national broadcaster.' And the ABC's managing director, Mark Scott, says he is delighted with the Government's decision to keep the television service with the national broadcaster. He says the ABC will combine the resources of the television service with Radio Australia to expand the corporation's reach into the region. ... Australia Network, the country's international television broadcasting service, has been running since 1993. It broadcasts news, drama and sport to 44 countries in Asia and the Pacific, as well as programs to teach English language skills. 'The ABC has been performing well in the role and the Government believes the national broadcaster will maintain and further enhance the Australia Network in the years ahead,' Senator Conroy said. 'The Government also believes the ABC is well-placed to explore the opportunity to combine the Australia Network with its current international radio service, Radio Australia, and potentially with new online services to provide a multi-platform international media operation to embrace the converged media era.'"

The Australian, 5 Dec 2011, Christian Kerr: "Australian News Channel, owner of Sky News, said the company would want to be reimbursed for its costs following the government's decision. Chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos said the decision was extraordinary considering there were two investigations into the tender. 'We expect to be fully compensated,' Mr Frangopoulos said in a statement. ... Deputy Opposition Leader Julia Bishop tonight said Julia Gillard needed to explain the 'ongoing and unacceptable political interference in its handling of the $223 million Australia Network tender'."

AAP, 5 Dec 2011: "The Australia Network was the nation's equivalent of the UK's BBC World Service and Germany's Deutsche Welle, Senator Conroy said. He said the service to provide a major public diplomacy platform to the region should be delivered by the national broadcaster."

The Age, 6 Dec 2011, Ketherine Murphy: "The ABC will hold onto its prized international television service - and keep it in perpetuity - with cabinet last night ruling commercial broadcasters will not get access to the Australia Network service. The cabinet decision, taken while Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd was overseas, has enraged News Corporation, part-owner of Sky television, which had tendered for the Australia Network. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who blamed leaks for what has become a compromised and botched multimillion-dollar tender process, said cabinet's ruling was a 'policy decision' ensuring the Australian Network stayed permanently with the ABC. The decision effectively brings the Australia Network quarrel full circle - with the service bouncing back to the ABC, wasting millions of dollars, and generating, in the end, unnecessary acrimony between the Gillard government and the Murdoch empire."

The Australian, 6 Dec 2011, Dennis Shanahan: "The Gillard cabinet's decision to award the ABC the Australia Network contract in perpetuity is another startlingly illogical, self-induced demonstration of bad process, bad practice, bad faith and bad politics. This actually amounts to corrupt decision-making. The simple facts, undisputed by the government, spell out a distorted and tortured self-justification that demonstrates a Labor institutional bias to the ABC and a political campaign to destroy Kevin Rudd using public policy as a smokescreen. ... This is not the way to run a modern government; this turns Australia's political process into that of a banana republic."

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Dec 2011, Phillip Coorey: "The decision is likely to infuriate the Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, who was out of the country and missed cabinet. ... The tender was opened in December last year and was supposed to be awarded by May. But in June the government extended the process and stripped responsibility for the decision from the Department of Foreign Affairs and handed it to the Communications Department. At the time, it was rumoured that Mr Rudd was favouring Sky News. When it was leaked on November 7 that an independent panel would recommend Sky, the government cancelled the process and called the Federal Police."

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Dec 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The Australia Network debacle has produced a bad outcome for all involved - the Gillard government, Sky News, even the ABC. The tender was not compromised by leaks, but by the Gillard government's horror at the realisation that $223 million of funds could be stripped from the ABC - by a mechanism Labor had itself created. All the meddling since has been to fix that perceived mistake. ... There was always an argument to leave this public diplomacy service with the ABC, but that was one to have before it went out for tender. Now the public broadcaster wins the prize, but with a thin mandate from government as to its purpose. Foreign Affairs will wash its hands of the service, having effectively lost control. Over time, an already stretched broadcast will wither further and be lost among competing priorities in the ABC. Time to switch off."

See previous post about same subject.

Radio France International journalists on strike, resisting merger with France 24.

Posted: 05 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 30 Nov 2011, Max Colchester: "Journalists at Radio France Internationale went on strike for a third day running Wednesday to protest cost-cutting measures that come with France's effort to create an international broadcasting heavyweight akin to the BBC or Voice of America. Staff wrote a letter to the French foreign minister to urge the government to reconsider a plan to merge the state-funded international radio station with multilingual round-the-clock news channel, France 24. 'This is a merger with no strategy,' said RFI union representative Marc Thiebault. To cut overhead, the French government wants RFI, which is broadcast in more than 20 languages, to merge with France 24." -- In an increasingly complex and competitive global media environment, fragmentation of international broadcasting resources is no longer an option.

Committee to Protect Journalists, 30 Nov 2011: "The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned by the ongoing detention of a radio journalist in Burundi since Monday. Security agents with the country's National Intelligence Service arrested Hassan Ruvakuki, a reporter for private station Radio Bonesha FM and Radio France Internationale's Swahili service, while he was covering a regional summit in the capital, Bujumbura, local journalists told CPJ." See also RFI, 29 Nov 2011.

Euronews in the news includes possible end of its partnership in Portugal.

Posted: 04 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 25 Nov 2011, Branislav Pekic: Portugal's Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Miguel Relvas, said a "working group has also proposed the closure of the news channel RTP Informação and the merger of international services RTP África and RTP Internacional. Relvas has also anticipated that RTP might not renew its partnership contract with pan-European news channel Euronews, which expires on 31 January 2012, saving E2 million per year in translating costs. For its part, Euronews claims that Portugal pays the 'cheapest price' for the service and that the future of the 17 Portuguese journalists at Euronews may be at risk, adding that a new Portuguese-language partner will have to be found, possibly even in Brazil."

News.Az, 19 Nov 2011: "Chairman of the Supervisory Board Peter Luigi Malesani and CEO of the Executive Board of Euronews Michael Peters have visited the Public TV and Radio Broadcasting Company of Azerbaijan, reports. ... For his part, Peter Luigi Malesani noted that the latest meeting of the Supervisory Board discussed the issue of broadcasting in more languages and a number of countries have made appeals in this regard. But Azerbaijan is attached more importance among them. Malesani noted that Euronews will help Azerbaijani people to get to know Europe more closely and news programs and several other programs of Euronews will start broadcasting in Azerbaijan through the Public TV."

Broadband TV News, 21 Nov 2011, Robert Briel: "The English version of the international news channel Euronews has been added to the Zuku DTH platform, which was launched in September 2011. Already available in Kenya, where 10,000 subscribers enjoy Zuku DTH, Euronews is now available in Uganda and Tanzania. The operator Wanachi predicts 50,000 subscribers by the end of 2011. Euronews is also available in English to 80,000 subscribers of DSTV Africa, as well as 12,000 subscribers of the Zuku cable network in Kenya. This agreement marks a new development and reinforces Euronews’ presence in East Africa. Across sub-Saharan Africa, Euronews is broadcast to 20 million homes via satellite, cable, terrestrial and IPTV systems."

Police called to intervene when TV Martí reporter tries to interview Cuban diplomat speaking at Youngstown University.

Posted: 04 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Jambar (Youngstown State University), 17 Nov 2011, Chad Travers: "Youngstown State University's global education program, in conjunction with the visiting diplomat series and the Dr. James Dale Ethics Center, sponsored a lecture by Cuban Ambassador Jorge Bolanos on Friday. Bolanos has served as chief of the Cuban Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Washington since 2007. ... After answering several questions from students and faculty, the secretary was immediately and aggressively approached by a camera crew from TV Marti, a television station based in Miami, Florida. The secretary refused to speak with the interviewer before members of YSU's political science department asked Youngstown Police to remove the camera crew from the room." See also Radio/TV Martí, 21 Nov 2011, Ricardo Quintana, with video.

Global Voices, 23 Nov 2011, Ellery Roberts Biddle: "I interviewed City University of New York (CUNY) Professor of Sociology, Ted Henken, a Cuba expert who is the author of El Yuma, a blog that explores social currents in contemporary Cuba and closely follows the Cuban blogosphere. I discussed with Henken his recent appearance on Radio Martí where he helped facilitate a dialogue between several of the most prominent Cuban bloggers writing today and his students at Baruch College in New York City. This was a unique event for Radio Martí. Funding and oversight of the station come from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a US federal agency devoted to broadcasting radio and television into countries where media outlets independent of the state are either scarce or heavily censored. Much of Radio Martí programming is explicitly anti-Castro and supportive of US policy towards Cuba; the station is seen by many as a symbol of the political gridlock that has defined US-Cuba policy for decades. Henken shared his perspective on the political nature of Radio Martí: 'You can describe their goals in different ways. You can say that it’s intended as a way to overthrow the Cuban government, or as a way to get information to people.' ... In our conversation, he explained that while he had never wholly dismissed Radio and TV Martí, he has long been wary of the program. 'In a perfect world, Radio Martí wouldn’t exist,' he told me. 'But the world is not perfect.' ... According to Henken, under the Obama administration, Radio Martí producers are making greater efforts to diversify political viewpoints in their programming."

Prensa Latina, 20 Nov 2011: "The work of the Cuban press is affected by serious limitations, being a target of the measures derived from the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. government against Cuba for more than 50 years. Jose Reinaldo Fernandez Vega, president of the Association of National Press Executives in the Union of Journalists of Cuba (UPEC), narrated his experiences to Prensa Latina, and regarded this policy against the Cuban press and people in general as brutal. ... Fernandez said the blockade limits access to modern technologies, affecting the possibility to get specialized information from foreign TV and radio stations, networks, programs and databases."

Radio Cadena Agramonte, 25 Nov 2011, Yamylé Fernández Rodríguez: "Geraldo Vivanco and his wife Josée Bellamare arrived in Cuba some days ago from Quebec province (Canada), to take part in the 7th International Colloquium for the Release of the Cuban Five and against Terrorism recently held in Holguin, an eastern Cuban province located approximately 750 kilometers from Havana. [They] left the meeting with new ideas on how to continue the struggle for the absolute release of the five Cuban anti-terrorists imprisoned in the United States since 1998 for attempting to uncover plots against Cuba by Miami-based terrorist organizations.... 'A few months ago, Radio Canada International broadcast a piece of information about the Cuban Five. The country’s mainstream media had remained silent on this issue, but all solidarity groups insisted so hard that we could transmit a three-minute story in that important radio station', [Geraldo Vivanco] stated."

China Radio International marks 70 years of English broadcasting.

Posted: 04 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 25 Nov 2011, Zhang Xu: "China Radio International (CRI) held a ceremony on [25 November] to mark China's first English radio broadcast at Shexian County of north China's Hebei province, as part of CRI's activities marking its 70th anniversary. During the War of Liberation (1946-1949), the Central Committee of Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) moved the Xinhua Radio Broadcast Station in March of 1947 from Yan'an of northwestern China's Shaanxi Province to Shahe village in Shexian County. To present the true picture of the Chinese people's struggles for freedom at that time, on September 11, 1947, the Shanbei Xinhua Radio Broadcast Station launched its first English language program, the predecessor of CRI's English service. This marked the beginning of China's English broadcasting to overseas listeners." -- Other previous names of CRI are Radio Peking and Radio Beijing.

CRI, 25 Nov 2011: "An activity with the theme of learning English by seeing the world was held at the auditorium of the NO. 1 Middle School of Shexian County, north China's Hebei Province on Thursday. The activity was hosted by China Radio International to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of CRI."

AFP, 24 Nov 2011: "Beijing on Thursday named a new head of the government-run China Central Television (CCTV) network, state media reported, a month after the Asian giant said it wanted to increase its soft power abroad. Mr Hu Zhanfan, chief editor of the state-run national newspaper the Guangming Daily, will lead an expansion by the flagship broadcaster, the official Xinhua news agency said. Mr Hu, whose appointment is the latest in a string of recent leadership changes in organisations controlled by China's ruling Communist party, takes the helm weeks after reports the broadcaster of 37 channels was planning a major global expansion."

Turner Broadcasting regionalizes its Asia Pacific region.

Posted: 04 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BestMediaInfo, 25 Nov 2011, apparent press release: "More than two decades after launching with the pan-regional CNN and Cartoon Network services, and having grown its business to 23 channels and 29 websites in nine languages, Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific (TBSAP) is realigning its structure to reflect its considerable business outside of Hong Kong. The large, geographically-diverse Asia-Pacific region has over the years become a combination of distinct sub-regions, each with its own characteristics, business imperatives and growth challenges. In order to pursue the network’s ambitious new goals, TBSAP is rebalancing its resources to better seize the exciting opportunities in these territories of North Asia, South Asia and South-east Asia/Pacific, each of which will come under a new management structure."

CNN press release, 29 Nov 2011: "CNN International is launching a pan-EMEA advertising campaign designed to underline its credentials as the world’s leading international news channel. The campaign seeks to build the profiles of its individual anchors, cementing their relationships with existing viewers and growing the channel’s core audience. The creative uses hyper-real portrait photography of CNN International’s key presenters, including Richard Quest, Hala Gorani, Dan Rivers, Pedro Pinto and Becky Anderson, alongside lines such as 'Richard. Your competitive advantage is my business'; 'Pedro. Behind every sporting hero, there’s a story'; and 'Hala. When we know it, you know it.' Each of the executions uses the campaign line, 'Go beyond borders, wherever you are.' Posters will form the backbone of the campaign, running across airports in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Stockholm, Abu Dhabi and Johannesburg. Print ads will supplement the posters in key markets, as well as digital executions across a number of major online portals and promos on CNN International itself."

Sky News Arabia precedes its launch with a video blog "to inspire young journalists."

Posted: 04 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Mughals, 23 Nov 2011, Anthony Mawrie: "Sky News Arabia has put up a weekly video blog to provide viewers with an insight into how things work in establishing a new international channel. Sky News will be launching its Arabic edition early next year. The video blog is titled 'Diary of a start-up', and is available at . Scott Hicks, commercial and marketing director, Sky News Arabia, said that the company wants to inspire young journalists and media professionals through the video. Sky News Arabia, is co-owned by BSkyB and the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation."

Rapid TV News, 22 Nov 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "Earlier this month, Sky News Arabia launched the first of its annual broadcast training courses at Dubai Women's College to encourage Emiratis to join its staff base, which is expected to reach 370."

openDemocracy, 24 Nov 2011: Paul Hockenos: "Arabic-language television news is preparing for new competition in the form of two new twenty-four--hour news channels backed by Western media conglomerates. A Saudi billionaire will launch Alarab TV which will operate in partnership with Bloomberg. British Sky Broadcasting is launching Sky Arabia, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media Investment, which is controlled by a member of the ruling family of the Gulf emirate." Jean-Pierre Filiu: "You already have a satellite market that is quite lively. It is not just al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera. There is France 24 and BBC Arabic Television. Al-Hurra is financed by the United States government, and there are Chinese, Russian, and Iranian Arabic-language channels."

Sierra Leone government will investigate breach of logging moratorium reported by "Africa Investigates" on Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 04 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Sierra Leone government press release, 24 Nov 2011: "The attention of the Government of Sierra Leone has been drawn to a documentary programme aired by Al Jazeera English in its current series entitled 'Africa Investigates'. Government has critically reviewed the said documentary with a view to instituting a detailed investigation of the several issues raised that suggest a serious breach of the ongoing moratorium on the logging industry in Sierra Leone."

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 29 Nov 2011: "Journalists working for 'Africa Investigates' and Al Jazeera English posed as businessmen to meet with Sierra Leone’s vice president Samuel Sumana and two men who claimed to be his official advisors. Later the two men, Alex Mansaray and Momoh Konte, sought and accepted cash payments from the undercover reporters, which they claimed would help secure the vice president’s support for a timber export business that the reporters wished to establish. Al Jazeera’s report also reveals illegal felling of rare hard wood in several parts of the country."

Newstime Africa, 25 Nov 2011, Ahmed M Kamara: "The manner in which the investigation was carried out raises serious questions of incompetence about Al-Jazeera. As a major news organisation, when you embark on an investigation of this magnitude, that has the potential to destroy a country’s image, you must tread carefully and get all the facts right from the onset."

See previous post about Africa Investigates.

Al Jazeera "keeps numbers away from journalists," preferring "curiosity" to "eyeballs online."

Posted: 04 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link, 28 Nov 2011, Rachel McAthy: "Focusing first on the Arab spring, Al Jazeera English’s head of online Mohamed Nanabhay told the conference that social media 'amplified' the voices of those involved and helped citizens 'reach out', and once the media started reporting 'people felt braver' to do so. ... Interestingly, in following his comments on curiosity in journalism, he said that when it comes to traffic Al Jazeera 'keep numbers away from journalists', explaining that the broadcaster does not seek to measure stories based on traffic results, so as not to influence the stories journalists wish to cover and to let their curiosity be decided by the need for stories to be told, rather than those which may appeal to more eyeballs online."

Public Radio International, "Here and Now," 25 Nov 2011: "It's hard to find Al-Jazeera English on American TV systems. But on the web, the network is a burgeoning news competitor. So what did the network do? They created a social media show that has a TV component. Meet The Stream. The Stream is a self-described 'social media community with its own daily TV program.' It has a number of hosts, including American Derrick Ashong, an orange couch, and producers with lap tops on air bringing up Twitter feeds, Facebook, Skype and YouTube. They cover everything from the death of Moammar Gadhafi to a debate in Australia over a possible carbon tax." With audio report.

Commentators grumble about Al Jazeera. And its former DG admonishes journalists to "check facts."

Posted: 04 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, Comment is Free, 28 Nov 2011, Hayder al-Khoei: "Arab broadcasting has never been renowned for neutrality but the events of the past week in Saudi Arabia have revealed some interesting – if not surprising – bias. On 20 November, 19-year-old Nasser al-Mheishi was shot dead in Qatif, Saudi Arabia. When the authorities refused to hand over his body to his family, protests ensued the next day and security forces shot another young man, Ali al-Felfel. ... On Thursday, al-Jazeera Arabic did mention those two deaths but it simply echoed the Saudi authorities' claims that the security forces were fired upon and shot back in self-defence. The casualties were merely caught in the crossfire. End of story. ... Al-Jazeera English has been better than the Arabic channel. It didn't cover the initial murder of Nasser al-Mheishi but it did report the protest on Monday which led to the killing of Ali al-Felfel. It also covered the demonstration on Wednesday that led to two more deaths. ... But although its coverage is better relative to its Arabic sister channel, there was no real follow-up of the events in Qatif, no camera crews on the ground to film the violence and certainly no interviews with human rights activists for context. The bias on the English channel may be more subtle than on the Arabic channel but can be plainly seen on its YouTube pages. Take, for example, the report on the human rights violations that occurred during the uprising in Bahrain. Al-Jazeera English disabled comments on all five videos uploaded on Bahrain yet no such restriction was placed on the videos about Syria, Yemen and Egypt uploaded on the same day. ... For obvious reasons, the trouble in Qatif was glossed over by the Saudi-based al-Arabiya, which merely acted as a mouthpiece for the interior ministry, but it is disconcerting to see that the events have also been overlooked by major western media outlets such as the BBC and CNN. Had these deaths occurred in Libya, Egypt or Syria, the world would be paying attention."

Gulf News, 23 Nov 2011, Osama Al Sharif: "Unlike its English language sister, Al Jazeera International, the 24-hour Arabic news channel has departed from the universally accepted professional and ethical codes by taking the side of protesters and running uncorroborated footage taken mostly from the internet or supplied by anonymous sources. That is why last month a number of Jordanian supporters of the Syrian regime rallied in front of the local offices of Al Jazeera in Jordan, slamming its sympathetic coverage of the opposition. Over the years the station’s offices were closed in a number of Arab capitals including Damascus, Kuwait City and Bahrain. In Cairo last summer and following the triumph of Egypt’s uprising, Al Jazeera’s office was ransacked by pro-government protesters." -- "Al jazeera International" was the planned name for what eventually became Al Jazeera English. I have never before seen "Al Jazeera International" used as the name of the Arabic-language channel.

Media Mighals, 25 Nov 2011, Anthony Mawrie: "Al Jazeera's documentary on Bahrain's uprising has bagged the Media Award for TV feature/documentary by the Foreign Press Association. The documentary, 'Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark' was broadcasted by Al Jazeera English on 4 August 2011. The documentary followed events from the beginning of the demonstration at Manama’s Pearl Roundabout to injured protestors flooding the Salmaniya Medical Complex. The Qatar based network claims that it was the only international broadcaster present in Bahrain during the security clampdown.", 28 Nov 2011, Rachel McAthy: "The former director general of Al Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, told the Global Editors Network summit today of the pressures placed on the broadcaster from governments across the Arab world as it reported on revolutions over the past year. Addressing the conference in Hong Kong, Khanfar, who stepped down as director general in September, said the broadcaster has experienced pressure 'for the last 15 years', but added that when uprisings broke out in Egypt in late 2010 other countries feared they 'would be next' and that the Al Jazeera's coverage would help 'train people in their countries about how to revolt'. ... Later in his speech he made a passionate call on all journalists to 'check facts' and not to 'fall into the trap of immediacy' in the online world. 'Sometimes we journalists are lazy. We don't want to check our facts ... we pretend we know exactly what we're talking about.' He also added that news outlets need to 'facilitate the dialogue' within the 'informed' community: 'as it is, not the perception of it, not as our prejudice sometimes'."

Deutsche Welle says "successes are beginning to add up" for its relaunched DW-TV Arabia.

Posted: 03 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 28 Nov 2011, via Zawya: "DW-TV ARABIA was re-launched on September 12 with a new schedule offering a block of programming in Arabic during primetime and a focus on establishing a dialogue between Europe and the Arab world. In the first two months, the successes are beginning to add up. More than 3.6 million viewers were tuning in to each episode of Shababtalk in the show's first three weeks. Shababtalk is just one of the new programs available on DW-TV ARABIA. The talk show is a coproduction with Egypt's market leader Al Hayaht that brings together young representatives from the democratic movement in Egypt with their German counterparts from youth organizations, political parties and other associations. ... The new channel from Deutsche Welle offers Arabic programming in primetime and English programming to complete the channel's 24-hour line-up."

TV5Monde adds TV5Monde+ catch-up platform, available worldwide minus US, UK, Japan.

Posted: 03 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 24 Nov 2011, Robert Briel: "This Friday, November 25, the French international television channel TV5Monde will launch an international catch-up TV platform. On TV5Monde+ viewers worldwide will be able to request programmes up to seven days after the original broadcast on the international French language channel. The platform, available at, will also provide access to a number of French language video archives and exclusive content. Users, location based on their connection, will automatically gain access to catch up on the grid corresponding to the TV5Monde version distributed where they are. The global platform TV5Monde+ will be available across the world except in the US, UK and Japan."

Cox Communications adds international channels for Virginia cable homes.

Posted: 03 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Cox Communications press release, 28 Nov 2011: "Cox Communications continues its commitment to provide a wide range of International programming options for its Hampton Roads customers. With the expansion of the new digital international programming offerings, Cox customers now have access to more than 25 international channels. The new lineup offers a diverse range of content including the South Asian (Zee TV and Set Asia), Russian (Channel 1 Russia), French (TV5MONDE) and Italian-language (RAI) programming."

Nashua Telegraph, 27 Nov 2011, Georgi Hippauf: "For current accounts on world affairs, I turn to PBS, BBC, Deutsche Welle Journal and Al-Jazeera. Pundits are rare on these channels, there are no commercials and the newscasts are riveting. Reported by anchors from their own countries, what you see is reality TV."

Mario Monti, Italy's new prime minister, was a "passionate" shortwave listener (updated).

Posted: 03 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 14 Nov 2011: "Italy's Mario Monti, the sober economist nominated to replace the larger-than-life Silvio Berlusconi, is a former European commissioner who is markedly different from the outgoing premier. Affable but reserved, the professorial 68-year-old heads Milan's prestigious Bocconi University - the breeding ground of Italy's financial elite - and has admitted he cannot tell a joke unlike the famously colourful Berlusconi. ... Asked about any acts of rebellion in his youth, he conceded that there really were none and said he just studied hard, enjoyed cycling and was passionate about listening to foreign news on his short-wave radio. 'I'm not very sociable... ' he said in the candid interview with Italian news weekly L'Espresso." -- Alas, he becomes prime minister just four years after Italian public broadcaster RAI abandoned its extensive international shortwave broadcast schedule.

Update: Andy Lawendel of writes: "In the original interview mentioned in the AFP flash, published by the weekly newsmagazine L'Espresso in 2005, Mr. Monti was somewhat more detailed: 'Le serviva per evadere? No. E' stato utile un po' per conoscere le lingue e molto per capire il mondo. Ascoltavo trasmissioni dall'Australia, dai Paesi dell'Est e dall'Africa. Nel 1958 ho capito da parole in codice che era scoppiata la ribellione in Algeria. Nel 1960 ho sentito in diretta il discorso di insediamento di John Kennedy'. Which translates to: 'Was that a form of evasion? No. It was quite useful to gain some linguistic skill and much more for a better understanding of the world. I was listening to broadcasts from Australia, Eastern European countries, Africa. In 1958 [when he was 15] a few coded words told me a rebellion had exploded in Algeria. In 1960, I followed live John Kennedy's acceptance speech.' Thanks for picking it up. Monti's short waves are refreshingly better than Berlusconi's short skirts... ."

"Radio spotters" in the news: RT's take on The Buzzer, aka UVB-76, aka MDZhB (updated).

Posted: 03 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today), 15 Nov 2011: "The monotonous sound, more reminiscent of the endless signal of a ferry lost in the fog, has been gripping the imagination of radio spotters worldwide for over three decades. The mysterious UVB-76 also known as The Buzzer. ... The Buzzer features a short, monotonous buzz tone, repeating at a rate of approximately 25 tones per minute, 24 hours a day. The station has been observed since around 1982. ... Yaroslav Raguzin, a radio spotter from the Moscow Region, has been a radio fan since his childhood. He has also had his share of The Buzzer. ... 'This sort of connection is extremely reliable. It will shut down in case of a large nuclear explosion, but only for a few hours. It's not dependent on anything that's why it's still widely used today by the army,' Yaroslav says." See also the Wikipedia article on UVB-76.

Update: Rimantas Pleikys in Lithuania kindly provides this information about the Buzzer: "Frequency - 4625 kHz. Emission mode - R3E (full upper sideband, reduced carrier, suppressed lower sideband). Schedule - 24/7. Tentative transmitter location - Pskov or Novgorod administrative region, western Russia. Channel operator - HQ of the Western military district, MoD of Russia. Transmitter operator - MoD of Russia. Purpose - point to multipoint radio communications network. Estimated transmitter power - 20 kW. Callsigns of the recipients of the circular messages - MDZhB, KZJT, LNR4, V6BY, IA6N, OEUN and other. Transmission content - channel marker (buzzer 20 times per minute) and coded voice messages in Russian. Previous location - Povarovo, 40 km NW of Moscow. Previous channel operator - HQ of the former Moscow military district Previous transmission content - channel marker (buzzer 21...34 times per minute) and coded voice messages in Russian. Previous callsign of the collective recipient - UZB76 (not UVB76). Previous (and possibly existing) number of the radio network - 43. Previous schedule: 10:50-10:00 MSK in A3E mode from Povarovo site, 10:00-10:50 MSK in R3E mode from unknown site (daily maintenance of the main transmitter)."

DIY, 19 Nov 2011: "Zulu Winter released their latest single 'Never Leave’/ ‘Let’s Move Back To Front’ this week via Double Denim Records, and after hearing that we have our own online radio station, they put us together a list of their Top 5 [radio] shows for inspiration. ... Five: UVB-76"

Newest Silicon Labs tuning chip for car radios includes -- get this -- the shortwave bands.

Posted: 02 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Austin American-Statesman, 21 Nov 2011, Kirk Ladendorf: "Silicon Labs has jumped full-force into a market your grandfather would have loved: car radios. ... Judging by a demonstration in the audio lab, it makes plain old AM and FM radio sound lots better. The chip delivers a signal that results in a fuller, richer sound than competing solutions. It also makes new digital radio signals sound great. And it also pulls down radio data transmissions for auto navigation systems, NOAA weather radio and even shortwave." See also Silicon Laboratories press release, 21 Nov 2011, and the specs, which show the shortwave coverage to be 2.3-30 MHz.

Now your neighbor's flat-screen TV can do what this huge Soviet antenna used to do.

Posted: 02 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Southgate Amateur Radio News, 21 Nov 2011: "This video shows the impressive antenna system used by the Soviet Union for their 'Woodpecker' HF over-the-horizon radar system. The ABM-2 or DUGA-3 900 metre-long radar system is based just outside Chernobyl and was used during the cold war to detect anti-ballistic missiles from thousands of miles away. The signal it transmitted sounded like a woodpecker, hence the nickname. It was so strong that it resulted in worldwide complaints following massive interference to other shortwave users." See also video via Jonathan Marks, ibid, 3 Dec 2011.

Head of English at BBC Global News on being "most trusted" rather than "most watched."

Posted: 02 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link, 23 Nov 2011, Gill Moodie: "Richard Porter, the head of BBC global news [actually controller of English at BBC Global News], was in South Africa recently to attend a conference on broadcasting. Porter, whose division includes the BBC World Service (in English), BBC World News satellite TV channel and the international BBC News international website, told how his people are adopting new platforms, integrating radio, TV and online plus responding to audience demands for more breaking news - and why he's more concerned about BBC World News being the most-trusted broadcaster on the planet, rather than the most-watched. ... Q: We all know the BBC World News Service as the great post-war radio service that covered Africa so comprehensively, and many South Africans listened to it on short wave during the apartheid years to get accurate information about our own country. But where is the World Service today? ... 'With the World Service (English) globally, we've had an extremely good year. Audiences are up more than 10% for the year and some of our biggest audiences do come from the African market. And TV and online are similarly expanding, so the evidence is that there is more demand.'"

Was: "very unidirectional" shortwave. Is now: citizens using circumvention software to "communicate among themselves."

Posted: 02 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 22 Nov 2011, Ivan Watson: "Psiphon is a surveillance-busting networking system designed by a Canadian company with funding from the U.S. State Department. The company's CEO told CNN the software had been 'aggressively' introduced to Syria just three weeks ago. Since then, thousands of people had begun using it. 'What we're doing is not much different to what the airwaves provided during the Cold War to provide those citizens living behind the Iron Curtain with an ability to get information which otherwise they were not getting from their state,' said Rafal Rohozinski, CEO of two companies involved in developing Psiphon. 'Whereas shortwave radio during the Cold War was very unidirectional ... with the Internet these technologies are by definition bidirectional, meaning that it gives an opportunity for citizens within these states to also communicate amongst themselves and with the outside world.'"

Cambodian prime minister is critical of "critical coverage" by the RFA and VOA Khmer services.

Posted: 01 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 28 Nov 2011, Kong Sothanarith: "In recent month, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has made a number of public speeches against broadcasters VOA Khmer and Radio Free Asia for critical coverage of his government. 'Go ahead, broadcast my speeches,' he said at a ceremony to inaugurate a bridge in Kampot province earlier this month. He asked the crowd to point out the RFA reporter present. 'Go ahead, insult me,' he said. 'I won because you insulted me. The more you insult, the more you make a mistake.' Cambodia’s broadcast media environment is overwhelmingly favorable to Hun Sen and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. There are few independent outlets, and media experts say it is difficult to get a license for non-party aligned broadcasters." -- VOA and RFA Khmer are rebroadcast by FM radio stations in Cambodia, and VOA Khmer has some placement on Cambodian television. "Critical coverage" is a problematic term in the discussion of journalism.

Lord Haw Haw, Axis Sally, and more radio history in the news.

Posted: 01 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Belleville (IL) News-Democrat, 29 Nov 2011, Roger Schleuter answering a question from S.B.: "Q. I am old enough to remember a Lord Haw-Haw. He became the German equivalent of Tokyo Rose as he broadcast Nazi propaganda in English to Allied countries during World War II. But I'm trying to tell my grandchildren about him and I can't recall many details -- his real name, what happened to him, etc. Can you help? A. You can tell your grandkids there definitely was nothing funny about Lord Haw-Haw (or Lord Hee-Haw, as he was called for a while by Britain's Daily Telegraph.) Starting on Sept. 18, 1939, Germany's Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda began transmitting English-language programming to Great Britain by medium-wave radio and to the United States by shortwave. The goal was to demoralize the Allies and convince them to agree to peace terms that would leave the Nazi regime in place, according to 'Nazi Wireless Propaganda' by Martin Doherty. The reports of downed planes and torpedoed ships may have been exaggerated, but Allied listeners often tuned in to see if they could pick up clues about the fate of friends and relatives who were missing in action. The man behind the microphone picked up his British-style nickname when a radio critic for Britain's Daily Express wrote of him, 'He speaks English of the haw-haw, dammit-get-out-of-my-way variety.'" -- I believe that Lord Hee Haw was a separate broadcaster directing his talks to North America.

Houston Chronicle, 28 Nov 2011, Leon Hale blog: "My friend Mel has scolded me for letting Veterans Day go by this month without writing something about Our War, as he calls World War II. ... The other day after Mel had fussed at me about WWII, I heard Glenn Miller’s old number, Moonlight Serenade, on the car radio. Made me think about the time I heard that record when I was most glad to hear it. It was spun on short-wave radio by the Nazi propagandist, Axis Sally, while our old B-24 squadron was flying over the Adriatic, probably on the way to Munich, or maybe Vienna. She was an American, and was eventually caught and tried and convicted of treason. Her broadcasts were intended to demoralize U.S. troops, make us homesick. But thousands of us listened to her music and enjoyed it. We were already homesick anyway, and where else were we going to hear Glenn Miller?" See previous post about "Axis Sally."

Doncaster (UK) Free Press, 22 Nov 2011: "More than 30 members of the [Epworth Men's] Society turned up for a talk entitled the Secret Wireless World War Two at their Monday, November 7, meeting, held in the hall adjacent to the town’s St Andrew’s Church. It was given by John Allen, himself an amateur radio enthusiast, who explained that in the 1930s one of Britain’s big weaknesses was a lack of speedy interchange of intelligence. He said that both Germany and the USA were then the leaders in the field of short-wave radio. 'The Government then sought the aid of the 1,500 short-wave radio enthusiasts belonging to the Radio Society of Great Britain and got them to start listening to and writing down encrypted Morse messages coming out of Germany. The messages were then sent for decoding.'"/p>

Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 25 Nov 2011, Val Javin: "Secret radio transmissions between British Intelligence and the European Resistance movements in the Second World War feature in a landmark new music piece which will be heard in Huddersfield tonight. New York-based composer-performer Annie Gosfield has created a new work for the Danish ensemble Athelas Sinfonietta which will play her piece at Bates Mill tonight (10.30pm) as part of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Gosfield says that when she was asked to write a piece, her thoughts turned to her first piano teacher who had been involved in the Resistance during the war. ... Her new piece, Floating Messages and Fading Frequencies, features electronic sounds inspired by radio static, shortwave oscillations and popular music of the time alternating with purely acoustic music."

Southgate Amateur Radio News, 29 Nov 2011: "The Scots, Crocodile Rock Amateur Group (CRAG) will be operating the special event callsign GB2PG on 3/4th Dec and 10/11th Dec 2011 from Ardrossan, Scotland. This event is to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the first shortwave transatlantic radio signals being received in Ardrossan by the American Paul Godley in December 1921."

New BBC Worldwide commissioning VP will develop programs for global or local distribution.

Posted: 01 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 24 Nov 2011: "BBC Worldwide Channels has taken a major step in the creation of high quality and distinctive original content for its international portfolio with the appointment of UKTV executive Tracy Forsyth in the newly created role of Vice President, Commissioning. [She] will oversee the commissioning and co-production of programmes for BBC Knowledge, BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC HD and UK.TV, BBC Worldwide’s general entertainment channel in Australia and New Zealand. Her role will involve working with independent producers in the UK and internationally, as well as the BBC’s own production departments, to create a stream of programme content. This might be global productions which run in all markets, or local projects developed in conjunction with BBC Worldwide Channels’ programming teams in EMEA, Latin America, Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand."

Australian auditor-general will investigate the amendment and eventual cancellation of the Australia Network tender.

Posted: 01 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
The Canberra Times, 24 Nov 2011, Ed Logue: "Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has asked the Auditor-General to investigate the aborted tender for the Government's Australia Network. Sky News and the ABC both bid for the 10-year, $223 million contract to broadcast the Australia Network to 44 nations in Asia and the Pacific. But the Federal Government announced on November 7 it had cancelled the tender and called in the Australian Federal Police to investigate media leaks which had suggested the evaluation board had recommended the contract be awarded to Sky. The ABC will continue to provide the service until August 2012. 'Any scrutiny of this procurement process is best conducted by an independent expert, such as the Auditor-General,' Senator Conroy told the Senate yesterday. Opposition Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the Coalition welcomed the decision by the Auditor-General to investigate the Government's 'mishandling' of the $223 million network tender. It was unacceptable for the Government to intervene in the tender process and then allow it to collapse, Ms Bishop said."

The Age, 24 Nov 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The inquiry by Auditor-General Ian McPhee will examine both the initial and amended tender, and whether they were effectively administered."

The Australian, 25 Nov 2011, Christian Kerr: "Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been forced to fend off opposition claims he misled parliament over the scrapped $223 million Australia Network tender, already the subject of both an Australian Federal Police and Auditor-General inquiry."

See previous post about same subject.

VOA's "Beyond the Headlines" switches from Geo Network to Express News on Pakistan cable TV.

Posted: 01 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 29 Nov 2011: "Beyond the Headlines, Voice of America’s Urdu language TV news magazine, will be aired on Pakistan’s Express News cable channel starting December 1st. The program, called Khabron Se Aage in Urdu, had aired on Pakistan’s Geo Network until this week. The Director of VOA’s South Asia Division, Spozhmai Maiwandi, said 'Geo News has been a helpful partner and I look forward to new opportunities to work together in the future.' A spokesman for Express News calls the VOA show a 'good addition to its programming lineup.' Spokesman Sumaira Latif says the cable network’s partnership with VOA 'will provide a great opportunity to utilize resources and talents through our co-production.' Beyond the Headlines is the flagship television news program from VOA’s Urdu Service, broadcasting in-depth reports about issues in the news and features about life in the United States. The half-hour show, which is broadcast Monday through Friday from Washington, has been entertaining viewers since 2005 with popular segments such as How America Works, Melting Pot, and Campus, a look at issues affecting university students."

Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov 2011, Alex Rodriguez, via STLtoday: "Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. stepped down Tuesday after accusations that he engineered a memo to the United States urging Washington to help rein in his country's powerful armed forces, becoming the first casualty in a scandal that has exposed the growing chasm between the Asian nation's civilian and military leadership. ... [Husain] Haqqani, 55, was an analyst at a Boston University think tank in 2008 when he was appointed as ambassador to the U.S. His work in government was preceded by an eight-year career in journalism in the 1980s, covering the war in Afghanistan for Voice of America radio and writing about Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Far Eastern Economic Review."

BBC World News taken off cable systems in Pakistan after "Secret Pakistan" documentary.

Posted: 01 Dec 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 30 Nov 2011: "Pakistani cable television operators have begun blocking the BBC's international news TV channel, BBC World News. The operators say that the move is in response to a documentary broadcast by the channel, entitled Secret Pakistan. Other foreign channels broadcasting 'anti-Pakistan' material have been warned that they too will be blocked. The BBC said it was deeply concerned by the move, and called for its channel to be speedily reinstated. ... Cable Operators Association spokesman Khalid Arain said that no anti-Pakistan foreign channel would 'ever' be broadcast in the country. He said BBC World News would only be put back on air if the corporation offered assurances that it would not broadcast anything 'against Pakistan'."

VOA News, 30 Nov 2011, Kurt Achin: "Pakistani cable subscribers who watch the BBC World news TV channel have had nothing to look at since Tuesday night but a graphic still shot of a satellite with a red 'X' drawn over it. Accompanying text says 'Service is currently not available, sorry for the inconvenience.' In fact, it was Pakistani cable operators who caused the inconvenience, when they deliberately cut the BBC World News shortly before midnight local time."

Christian Science Monitor, 30 Nov 2011, Issam Ahmed: "While an official in the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority told the Monitor that the ban has was undertaken by private cable operators without official sanction, the move reflects deepening public hostility toward the West and raises concerns about censorship amid an overall opening up of media, particularly broadcast."

The Independent, 30 Nov 2011, Omar Waraich: "The clampdown comes on the heels of the closure of Express 24/7, Pakistan’s only English language news channel. Now, Pakistan has no sources of television news in English, yielding a monopoly to its often-sensationalistic Urdu language equivalents. The BBC is held in high esteem across Pakistan since the country’s founding. During the dark days of Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorship, it was relied on as the chief source of independent news. 'When Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was deposed, tried and hanged by a military dictator, Mark Tully of the BBC was a household name as the only source of correct, uncensored reporting,' said Aitzaz Ahsan, a prominent politician."

Wall Street Journal, India Realtime, 30 Nov 2011, Tom Wright: "The demise of English-language media is sad because it often features more 'sober' discussions of Pakistan’s troubles, says Feisal Hussain Naqvi, a Lahore-based lawyer and newspaper columnist. In Pakistan, Urdu-language TV often promotes anchors and panelists who parrot the country’s military. Nightly chat shows on these channels are packed by former spies and military officials. The same difference is true of English and Urdu newspapers. The circulation of the English papers are tiny, focused on the country’s urban elite."

AFP, 30 Nov 2011: "Saad Haroon wrote on Twitter, 'They have taken BBC off the air in Pakistan, great, now we will be the LAST to know when they bomb us.'"

DiploPundit, 30 Nov 2011, Domani Spero: "The two-part documentary is, of course, now available on YouTube for everyone to see and unless pulled by BBC for copyright issues, available to anyone with access to the web. [With links.] Since it is inevitable that some clips of this documentary will bleed into prime time news, I suspect that a host of foreign channels will also be banned for 'propagating information harmful to the country.' Perhaps, the cable operators would like to use the following programming filler - a music video, titled "Zindagi Hai Yahan." This has been created to showcase the treasures of the beautiful valley of Swat and promote it as a premium tourist destination in Pakistan, with assistance from USAID and the people of the United States of America:" With link to the video.