Court ruling will affect international satellite TV viewing in Zimbabwe and across southern Africa.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
New Zimbabwe, 28 Feb 2012: "Millions of Zimbabweans will lose free access to South African TV channels by mid-May after a court closed a signal loophole that had also been exploited by half a dozen other regional countries. South African TV signal carrier, Sentech, was last week found by the Johannesburg High Court to be 'wrongful, negligent and in breach' of its 'duty of care' to regional TV channels for failing to encrypt its signal. Botswana TV channel, eBotwana – a sister organisation to South Africa’s first free-to-air commercial television station e.tv – went to the High Court in Johannesburg last June to challenge Sentech’s apparent reluctance to secure the encryption on its Vivid digital satellite platform. Sentech, which is state-owned, introduced Vivid decoders for South Africans who could not access its subscription-only terrestrial signal. But millions of Zimbabweans, Malawians, Namibians, Angolans, Tswanas, Swazis, Sothos and Mozambicans were able to tap into the free channels by buying decoders supplied by two companies – Philibaos and Wiztech. ... Millions of Zimbabweans forced to watch only the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation TV channel had bought the cheap decoders which allowed them access to three SABC channels and to follow popular programmes such as Generations, Muvhango and Zone 14. Zimbabweans still can access South African TV channels by subscribing to DTSV through MultiChoice, but few can afford the charges which start from US$10 per month rising depending on the number of channels."

In Afghanistan, 1981, "men listened to BBC, sometimes to VOA (and) laughed at Radio Moscow."

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Daily Beast, 28 Feb 2012, Jere Van Dyk: "In 1981, I was a young freelance journalist living with the Mujahideen, America’s allies in Afghanistan in their war against the Soviet Union. In every village I passed through, someone, it seemed, had a battery-powered radio. In the morning and at night, men listened to the BBC, sometimes to the Voice of America, in Pashtu or Dari, for news on the war. They laughed at Radio Moscow. They didn’t know where America was, or what an elevator was, or a skyscraper or an ocean, but they followed the news. In 2008, when I last slept in Afghan villages, in the mountains, on the Pakistani border, I saw small radios that said 'A gift from ISAF,' the American-led coalition, stamped, on them. Today, there are many news outlets in Afghanistan. Every Afghan will know, through radio and the grapevine, the news that Americans burned the Quran. ... In 2008 I was kidnapped by the Taliban in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Every day my jailers listened to the Voice of America."

Role of media in Balochistan, "most dangerous region of the most dangerous country" for journalism.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The News (Karachi), 27 Feb 2012, Umar Cheema: "The Balochistan media has been sandwiched between the military and militants and has gone into a phase of dead silence, reveals a report bringing into sharp focus the unattended agony of journalists in the troubled province. The report declares it ‘the most dangerous region of the most dangerous country for practising journalism’. A report compiled by Intermedia, an outcome of the assessment mission to Balochistan, paints the plight of journalists working in the conflict-hit province where repression is present in its worst form. ... A BBC Urdu journalist, Ayub Tareen, was questioned by the FC [Frontier Constabulary] for interviewing Baloch leader Dr Allah Nazar in hiding. Journalism may be the fourth pillar of the state elsewhere but in Balochistan, said Ayub. 'If the poor do something wrong, the media drags him through muck but the powerful and influential gets away with murder.' ... Again, the agenda setting of media groups expose their journalists to varied kind of threats as for international media is concerned. The Voice of America (VOA) focuses more on Talibanisation especially in Quetta, Ayub explained, and don’t follow the Balochistan story all that much but the BBC concentrate on the latter. The VOA correspondent, Naseer Kakar, has relocated in US after receiving threats from Taliban. ... In absence of proper coverage of national media, there is a big audience for international media such as BBC and VOA in Balochistan, notes the report. With the international media like BBC’s focus on human rights, people look to them for their voices to be heard that also serve the interest of pro-independence groups that want to gain international sympathy."

PCWorld, 26 Feb 2012, John Ribeiro, IDG News: "Pakistan has floated a request for proposal for a system to filter and block websites, some months after curbing the use of encryption on the Internet, and toying with the idea of filtering and blocking SMS (short message service) messages in the country. With the country scheduled to hold elections in 2013, the Internet is likely to be a key casualty, said Shahzad Ahmad, country coordinator for Bytes for All, Pakistan, via email on Sunday. Bytes for All is a human rights organization focused on Internet freedom. The proposed National URL Filtering and Blocking System should be capable of URL (uniform resource locator) filtering and blocking, from domain level to sub-folder, file levels and file types, and each hardware box in the modular architecture should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds, according to the RFP posted on its website by the National ICT R&D Fund of the country's ministry of information technology."

Radio Okapi, "radio for peace" in Democratic Republic of Congo, marks 10th anniversary.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
followthemedia.com, 27 Feb 2012, Michael Hedges: "Radio Okapi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) celebrates this month its tenth year of broadcasting. The United Nations Mission in the DRC (MONUC) and the Swiss media development NGO Fondation Hirondelle launched the station in February 2002 as an independent news and information source. ... The station, now a network covering the entire country, and its story are legends in post-conflict media development. Fondation Hirondelle, founded by Swiss journalists and funded through several sources including the Swiss government, specializes in 'radio for peace', largely in French-speaking Africa. Noting the tenth anniversary, it calls Radio Okapi 'the most ambitions project ever undertaken by the United Nations and Fondation Hirondelle.' The station reaches more than 20 million listeners each week, about 30% of the DRC population, with programming in French and local languages."

Fondation Hirondelle press release (undated): "This anniversary year will be a time to question what we are doing and the role that our radio station is playing right now. To give meaning to the occasion, we need a slogan, a signatory phrase. We have often used 'Radio Okapi, the radio for peace'. Of course, Radio Okapi remains the media outlet contributing to stabilisation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but it is not just that. It also brings humanity in a context scarred by history. Radio Okapi is 'people together', a statement of faith in the future."

India's History TV18, joint venture with A&E, adds Urdu version.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Indiantelevision.com, 24 Feb 2012: "History TV18, a joint venture between A+E Networks and TV18, is launching its eighth regional-language feed, this time in Urdu. In another major move, the factual entertainment channel has readied a local show to air for the first time. Titled The Greatest Indian, the show will be in conjunction with CNN IBN and BBC Worldwide from whom the format rights have been bought. ... A+E Networks TV18 president Ajay Chacko believes that Urdu is not a small market; 27 million people watch Urdu content. ... History TV18 channel has the widest regional language spread. The other language feeds include Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi, English and Gujarati."

Radio Australia launches new website and social media services.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia press release, 29 Feb 2012 (pdf): "Radio Australia – the international broadcasting service of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) - launches new multi-lingual web and social media services. Targeting audiences in Asia and the Pacific, the new digital services bring greater immediacy in coverage of breaking news, major stories, activities and events as they happen in and around Asia and the Pacific including Australia. New multi-lingual web sites featuring Burmese, French, Indonesian, Khmer, Mandarin, Tok Pisin and Vietnamese will be accompanied by three English language web sites, tailored for Asian, Pacific and the wider international audiences. As well as continuing to offer high quality news and current affairs radio programs in multiple languages, Radio Australia’s new web services encourage the sharing, participation and collaboration of stories of interest and relevance among audiences in Asia and the Pacific. English language learning content is also available in five languages. ... Radio Australia’s new web site is located at www.radioaustralia.net.au." -- Interesting that the branding is Radio Australia, given that there are, apparently, plans to consolidate the work of Radio Australia and Australia Network in a new Australian international media effort.

BBC World Service marks its 80th anniversary today with special live programming.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 28 Feb 2012: "Audiences are to be given unprecedented behind the scenes access as part of a special day of live programming on February 29, to mark the BBC World Service's 80th birthday. Highlights from the day will include a special global audience with Sir David Attenborough and The Strand - the WS global arts programme - will be edited by guest artist and music producer William Orbit. Audiences will be able to join a special debate about what they want from the World Service, both on air, online and across social media forums. (#bbcws80) The day will give audiences around the world a unique insight into production of their favourite programmes and multilingual videos will be produced of all the broadcasts throughout the day online at bbc.co.uk/worldservice."

BBC World Service Newshour, 29 Feb 2012: "Lyse Doucet chairs a debate with a panel of renowned journalists and broadcast executives on the future of international broadcasting and on what audiences expect from international news providers. The debate will include a critical examination of the current state of the global news market and will look at the varying perspectives of some of the leading news providers. We will have a live audience with us in London who will contribute their questions and thoughts to the debate. The programme will also include some special interviews about the impact the BBC World Service has had on some of our listeners, as well as some guests from the worlds of comedy and music. Panelists include: Former Al-Jazeera Director Wadah Khanfar, Editor-in-Chief of RT (formerly Russia Today) Margarita Simonyan." Today (29 Feb) at 2105 UTC.

See also the BBC World Service 80th anniversary web page. Live video of today's events at bbc.co.uk/worldservice.

BBC News, 29 Feb 2012: "The BBC World Service has been housed in Bush House since 1940. By summer it will be empty as its 27 language services relocate to Broadcasting House in the West End of London. To coincide with this week's 80th anniversary celebrations of the World Service, staff members past and present have been reminiscing about their time spent in the iconic building." With video.

BBC News, 28 Feb 2012: "The BBC World Service - which marks its 80th birthday on Wednesday - was broadcast only on shortwave back in 1932. Today, audiences on FM, digital radio and the internet are growing fast while shortwave is in decline, but for millions it remains a lifeline. Shortwave listeners catch a signal that travels thousands of miles across international boundaries, sometimes eluding censors, by bouncing off the turbulent gases of the ionosphere, the layers of electrified gas several hundred kilometres above the earth. It's a signal that can be capricious - subject to interference from electrical storms and other atmospheric disturbances and, mysteriously, often best at sunrise or sunset. But even when heard against a background of electronic warbling, whistling and hissing, shortwave has reliably delivered the news for 80 years. Four listeners tell their stories."

The Telegraph, 28 Feb 2012, editorial: "Often, it has appeared that Britain does not value the World Service’s work. After a succession of budget cuts, the Foreign Office has palmed off its future funding on the BBC, which shows little appreciable zeal for its work. Celebrations of the anniversary have been shoddily organised, with former staff excluded to make space for BBC mandarins. The service’s short-wave transmissions are being cut back, despite objections. This is, we believe, alarmingly short-sighted. At a time when other nations are scrambling to create media outlets to present their values to the world, Britain already has the pre-eminent example. We trust that this anniversary – and the move from Bush House to Broadcasting House – will be accompanied by a new appreciation of, and dedication of resources to, the World Service’s noble work."

BBC says its audience in Iran "has nearly doubled," and sets global audience target of 250 million.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 29 Feb 2012: "New figures published today reveal the reach of BBC Persian TV has nearly doubled in Iran - rising by 94 per cent from 3.1 million in 2009 to 6.0million - despite an intensifying campaign of censorship and intimidation by the Iranian authorities. Overall global weekly audience estimates for the BBC’s international news services in Iran (including TV and radio) have risen by 85 per cent from 3.9million in 2009 to 7.2 million, according to independent research. The figures reveal that more than one in 10 Iranians now watch BBC Persian TV each week. This rises to more than one in four amongst those with satellite at home (28 per cent). These figures could be significantly higher if it wasn’t for the persistent and repeated blocking of BBC Persian TV, which returned to the Hotbird satellite of Eutelsat Communications last week, following persistent jamming. The research also excludes those who come to the BBC Persian website from inside Iran - the internet is heavily censored and figures are difficult to measure. ... The BBC also today announced a new target to reach 250 million people each week across all its international news services - current reach is at 225 million – and the ambition to remain the world’s most trusted broadcaster. ... The new data follows recent research that showed that BBC Arabic TV's audience has also risen to 24.5 million from 13.5 million - up by more than 80% - as audiences across the Middle East turned to the BBC for accurate and unvarnished news during the Arab Uprising. ... The Iranian weekly audience estimates is based on an independent audience measurement study that was carried out as part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors' International Audience Research Program (IARP). The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency responsible for all US government-supported, civilian international broadcasting." See also BBC News, 29 Feb 2012.

Press TV reporters held by Libyan militia.

Posted: 28 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
AFP, 28 Feb 2012: "A Libya militia holding two journalists working for Iran's Press TV should immediately release them or transfer them to the authorities, a rights group said Tuesday. 'British journalists and their Libyan colleagues held by a Libyan militia must be set free immediately or transferred into government custody,' Amnesty International said. The Suweihli militia of Misrata, which also has operatives in Tripoli, seized Nicholas Davies and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson 'while they were reportedly filming in the capital,' the watchdog said."

The Observer, 25 Feb 2012, Peter Preston: "I wish I didn't feel quite so queasy about the disappearance from UK television sets of Press TV, the Iranian-financed outfit that Ofcom dumped a few weeks ago (because it hadn't paid a fine and because it didn't re-register from Tehran to London). Television news by satellite is a very broad church, from Russia Today to Fox. Press TV wasn't the greatest. You could see its slip or burqa showing rather too often. But it was a voice out there, peddling its own perspectives, a part of the spectrum. Banning it on bureaucratic grounds looks a mite self-serving. ... And the argument that this isn't censorship because you still get it on your laptop is pretty daft."

New York Times, The Lede, 27 Feb 2012, Robert Mackey and J. David Goodman: "A report on Iran’s state-financed satellite news channel, Press TV, showed an Iranian filmmaker accepting an Academy Award on Sunday night, but did not allow his speech to be heard."

In addition to the "usual nominees," Al Jazeera nominated for the 2012 Nobel peace prize.

Posted: 28 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Irish Examiner, 27 Feb 2012: "Television news channel Al-Jazeera has been nominated for a Nobel peace prize. A list of 231 nominees has been published which also includes former US president Bill Clinton, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the EU and US soldier and WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning. The Nobel institute said the long list includes the 'usual nominees', some newcomers, some famous and some unknowns, hailing from the four corners of the world. Thousands of people are eligible to submit nominations, including members of governments worldwide, university professors, past laureates and members of several international institutes. The winner will be announced in October."

Netflix will provide Univision programming to US Hispanics.

Posted: 28 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 24 Feb 2012, Andy Fixmer and Cliff Edwards: "Netflix Inc. is nearing an accord to provide U.S. online customers with Spanish-language programming from Univision Communications Inc. (UVN), said two people with knowledge of the situation. The deal, when concluded, is expected to include programs from Mexico City-based Grupo Televisa SAB (TV), the world’s largest Spanish language broadcaster, said one of the people, who wasn’t authorized to talk publicly. Netflix is adding shows from the most-watched U.S. Spanish-language network to reach an audience of 50 million U.S. Hispanics. Hulu.com added Univision in October. The accord represents an expanded relationship for Univision, which already provides shows to Netflix in Latin America."

Pay-TV provider Digiturk will make MTV available with Turkish subtitles.

Posted: 28 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 27 Feb 2012, Robert Briel: "Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) has announced the signing of a new deal with satellite platform Digiturk that will see six of its channels air across the Turkish market for the next six years. Digiturk, which serves the majority of Turkish pay-TV subscribers, will commence broadcasting MTV and MTV Live HD on March 1. This will be the first time that MTV’s HD channel has been made available in the Turkish market. The MTV flagship channel will be broadcast with localised Turkish language subtitles. As part of the deal Nickelodeon will be broadcast exclusively on Digiturk, with the Nickelodeon flagship channel airing from March 1, and pre-school channel Nick Jr. and HD channel Nickelodeon HD scheduled to launch in the coming months. Digiturk will continue to exclusively air classic music channel VH1 in the region."

Obit: Stanley Leinwoll, RFE/RL shortwave frequency manager.

Posted: 28 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
National Asociation of Shortwave Broadcasters Facebook Page, 22 Feb 2012: "Dan Elyea of WYFR informs us that renowned shortwave engineer and frequency planner Stanley Leinwoll passed away on February 21, 2012. During his long career in international broadcasting, Stanley worked as frequency manager for the Voice of America, director of engineering for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and as an independent shortwave frequency consultant based in New York. He did frequency planning for at least two members of the NASB -- WEWN and WYFR. He wrote a well-known book titled 'From Spark to Satellite: A History of Radio Communication.' Stanley was a strong supporter of the idea of holding an HFCC (High Frequency Coordination Conference) in the United States -- a goal that was finally realized by the NASB in 2011." See also New York Times, 27 Feb 2012.

Smith and Mundt go to London: BBC adopts its own version of the domestic dissemination ban.

Posted: 27 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 22 Feb 2012: "BBC.com today unveiled the latest of its new sections - Future – to offer audiences outside the UK a host of universal topics focused on future trends in the worlds of science, technology, environment and health. The new pages will be rooted in robust research to ensure they are informative yet entertaining and complement the technology, science, environment and health news pages already available on the site. At launch, Future will comprise of 12 columns, specially commissioned features from leading writers in science and technology... At launch Future will be supported by commercial partner LEXUS in America."

Not even Lexus spells Lexus LEXUS. I went to BBC.com to find BBC Future, but saw no link, nor any mention of this new section. So remember this URL: bbc.com/future.

The press release specifies "audiences outside the UK." Will BBC Future not be domestically disseminated?

NB: James Cridland informs us that this is what is visible to UK internet users:

BBC Future (international version)

We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at www.bbcworldwide.com.

If you are looking for health, technology, science and environment news in the UK, please visit: Health, Technology, Science and Environment.

How did China's Blue Ocean Network get an invite to the Multicultural America forum?

Posted: 27 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Multicultural media for Multicultural America press release, 23 Feb 2012: "Manuel Abud, President of Telemundo Station Group, will deliver the keynote address at the 12th Annual Multicultural Media for Multicultural America Forum on March 21, 2012 at New York's Marriott Marquis. ... The Forum's theme this year is "The Power of Community": how the concept of community impacts programming, marketing, and advertising geared toward America's new multicultural audiences—the new 'general market.' ... Other confirmed speakers include Tim Boell, Group Head of Distribution, Asia TV USA; Jorge Consuegra, Principal of Fearless Multicultural; Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, EVP, Multicultural Markets & Engagement, AARP; Todd Cunningham, SVP, Strategic Insights and Research, Viacom Media Networks; Ed Gordon, Senior Director, Distribution and Audience Research, ESPN; Dr. Justin Ku, Co-Founder & Chairman, Blue Ocean Network; Rubén Mendiola, the recently-appointed VP & General Manager of Multicultural Video Services for Comcast; Melvin Perez, President of MGM Networks Latin America; David Saldarriaga, Director, Marketing & Sales, Charter; Jaime Vasquez, VP, Consumer Marketing, Cricket Communications; and Michelle Webb, Executive Director, Content Acquisition & Programming, Verizon FiOS." -- This seems to be a meeting of US multicultural media concerns, but Blue Ocean Network is an English-language channel from China and about China.

On Brunei satellite TV provider, China's CCTV News is in the cheap package; CNN, BBC, AJE cost more.

Posted: 27 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Brunei FM, 22 Feb 2012, James Kon: "Kristal Astro Sdn Bhd will be introducing its revised packages from March 1. The $24.95 Family Package comprises channels like ... CCTV News ... . For the $41.95 Sapphire Package, subscribers will get ... CNN, BBC World News, Al-Jazeera English, CNBC Asia, Bloomberg TV, Australia Network TV... ." -- A Brunei dollar is worth about 79 cents US.

BBC World Service journalists will join colleagues in "giant new, glass-fronted newsroom," as Media Café diners look in.

Posted: 27 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Independent, 24 Feb 2012, Ian Burrell: "The new Broadcasting House building will feature a Media Café for up to 450 people, who will be able to drink cappuccino while looking into the BBC's giant new, glass-fronted newsroom, the biggest in Europe. Staff from the BBC World Service will begin moving into the new offices at the end of this month. The historic Bush House building will be refurbished by its Japanese owners when the BBC's lease runs out at the end of the year, and may re-open as a hotel. The World Service, which celebrates its 80th anniversary in December, will work more closely with other parts of BBC News when it is incorporated into the new 12-storey multimedia Broadcasting House complex at Portland Place in London. The large newsroom will be a 'fantastic melting pot', said Helen Boaden, the director of BBC News. 'Simply being in the same building should encourage our ambition. The Today programme will have language service colleagues from the World Service in the same building. When there's a breaking foreign story, those World Service colleagues will be able to give the context for the Radio 4 audience.' ... The World Service hopes its presence in a 'state-of-the-art newsroom' will help it expand its audience, said Peter Horrocks, its director. 'Access to independent and high-quality news remains scarce. In many parts of the world, impartial and trusted news is almost becoming an endangered species,' he said. 'A tight financial climate does not mean we need to shrink our ambition – we want to reach more people, deliver greater impact and remain the most trusted broadcaster in the world.'"

Digital Spy, 22 Feb 2012, Andrew Laughlin: "Jeremy Paxman has hit out at the BBC's decision to sell its Television Center base in London, saying that the corporation is akin to the British Empire before decolonisation. ... Staff working at the base, which has been home to the BBC since the 1960s, will move to the revamped Broadcasting House in Central London, or the new BBC North headquarters in Salford. But Newsnight host Paxman, who presented a five-part series on the British Empire for BBC One last autumn, questioned the logic of the move. ... 'What organization - at a time when it has no money, allegedly - would move from cheap square footage in West London to Oxford Circus?' ... The 61-year-old argued that the UK Foreign Office should be scrapped and instead other routes used to spread British influence around the world, including BBC World Service. ... 'We could spend the money on expanding the British Council, funding scholarships in Britain and developing the World Service of the BBC. That's the way you spread influence in the modern world.'"

FT Magazine, 24 Feb 2012, John Humphrys" "Gawp at the BBC’s iconic buildings: the majestic prow of Broadcasting House, its statues of Prospero and Ariel created by the great Eric Gill as God and Man. No false modesty here. Or Bush House: marble-pillared and porticoed. Even the unlovely Television Centre, dominating the wastelands of White City and flaunting the technology that we really thought had the papers licked. We were at the cutting edge. Well, up to a point."

Australia is largest market for BBC's global iPlayer (not yet available in the USA).

Posted: 26 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 23 Feb 2012: "Australia is the biggest market for global iPlayer to date and is providing some unique consumer insight, according to Matthew Littleford, General Manager for BBC Worldwide’s global BBC iPlayer, who presented today at the 10th annual Australian Broadcasting Summit. Launched in Australia in September 2011 as part of a pilot, the global BBC iPlayer is available on iPad, iPod and iPhone in 16 markets in Western Europe, Canada and Australia. In terms of subscription numbers Australia’s global BBC iPlayer is now larger than the second and third countries combined (Germany and Holland), accounting for 20% of its global revenue. Twenty three per cent of global BBC iPlayer’s subscribers and 19% of the title downloads are in Australia. ... In Australia the most popular genres are Science Fiction, Family and Kids, and Comedy, with favourite shows: Doctor Who, Charlie and Lola and cult comedy Gavin and Stacey. The major brands draw users in, but it’s the older archive titles such as Steptoe and Son and Yes Min[i]ster that make them stay."

BBC Worldwide press release, 24 Feb 2012: "BBC Worldwide Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation have renewed their first-option agreement for a further three years, giving ABC TV viewers the first opportunity to see some of the best British programming available. The deal allows ABC TV exclusive access to new content across a broad range of genre within the BBC Worldwide catalogue. Some of the first programs to launch in the new agreement include: successful new drama series Call The Midwife, the new detective drama Death In Paradise, the new production of the Dickens’ classic Great Expectations and the new factual series, Fry’s Planet Word and Alone In The Wild. The deal also sees the returning series Doctor Who, New Tricks and Luther on ABC TV."

The BBC Worldwide large tablet app for Android is now available worldwide.

Posted: 26 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 24 Feb 2012: "BBC News and BBC.com today announced the launch the BBC News app for Android large tablet devices for audiences all around the world. The app is available to download from Android Market. This launch follows the success of the BBC News app for Android smartphones, which has been downloaded more than three million times globally since launching in 2011. Growing numbers of people are accessing BBC News on mobiles and tablets. In an average week, the BBC News sites and apps are visited by around 9.7m users worldwide on mobile and tablet devices, representing about 26% of the total visits to BBC News sites. The number of people accessing BBC News on mobiles and tablets has tripled in the last year. This latest version gives an optimised experience for larger tablets – on devices running Android’s Honeycomb 3.0 operating system and above. Smaller 7.1-inch tablets will continue to receive the smartphone app. The BBC News app on Android tablets delivers global news, business, politics, health, education, science and environment, technology and entertainment stories, as well as correspondent features and analysis." -- Features include ability to listen live to BBC World Service radio. See previous post about same subject.

How intra- will Iran's internet become?

Posted: 26 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 21 Feb 2012, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Iran’s so-called 'national Internet' will be launched in either in late May or June, according to an announcement by Iranian Telecommunications Minister Reza Taghipour. Speaking on February 20 at a cyber-defense forum in Tehran, Taghipour said the national Internet is one of the steps Iran is taking toward creating infrastructures aimed at boosting its cyber-defense capabilities. ... Iranian officials have been promising to launch a national Internet since at least 2006. But they have provided little details about its scope, which has stoked fears that it could cut off citizen’s access to the World Wide Web. ... [Taghipour] said it would be much better if those services were based inside Iran, and offered assurances that the national Internet will not deprive Iranians of access to the World Wide Web. 'That’s not the case,' he said. 'The relationship with the outside [world] should be as needed.'"

Fast Company, 23 Feb 2012, Neal Ungerleider: "The big question for observers is what a nationwide intranet would look like. After examining chatter from cybersecurity experts, Iranian expat boards, and Western Iran watchers, the general consensus is ... Iran's national Internet is more like an intranet, basically a walled garden similar to AOL or Compuserve back in those services' golden years. The only catch? Instead of operating with the goal of getting as many subscriber fees as possible, the 'Halal Internet' will exist with the goal of making it difficult for ordinary Iranians to communicate with the larger world. Iran's national intranet is specifically designed not to allow users to access websites outside of the country." See previous post about same subject.

Reuters, 24 Feb 2012: "Canada-based Iranian computer scientist Arash Abadpour, who blogs under the name Kamangir, expects Tehran to implement more disruption because of its increasing suspicion of the internet. 'They're practising cutting off the only remaining communication means left for Iranians with the outside world,' Abadpour said, referring to his correspondence with bloggers inside Iran. 'A lot of people are not noticing it but Iran has also been developing cyber-army initiatives and their range of disruption is growing. From above, there is a growing trend of the internet becoming more controlled,' Abadpour said."

Sophos, 24 Feb 2012, Lisa Vaas: "In the face of an internet that can be controlled all too easily by corporations and regimes, activists are building alternative mesh networks that can never be blocked, filtered or shut down. These networks often amount to what's called an 'internet in a suitcase'."

Al Jazeera English, Listening Post, 25 Feb 2012: "[T]he so-called 'Iranian Threat' is a narrative being constructed by the US media all by itself - with scant public support from the Obama administration. Our News Divide this week takes a close look at the coverage of Iran and a culture of journalism that seems to have forgotten the very real dangers of hypothesis and conjecture."

IIP Digital (US State Dept), 22 Feb 2012, Michael Gallant: "On a recent February evening, movie enthusiasts gathered in a theater in lower Manhattan, New York, not to take in the latest Hollywood blockbuster but to get a rare glimpse into the world of Iranian cinema. The event, entitled 'Iran on Film: A Forum on Culture, Politics, and Daily Life in Iranian Documentary Cinema,' was hosted by New York University (NYU) in partnership with Link TV, an American nonprofit satellite television network that focuses on international issues. 'Iran on Film' attracted such a crowd that many attendees had to watch the film excerpts and panel discussion from a nearby art gallery via closed-circuit TV."

VOA's Middle East Voices has Bahrainis "Tweeting like mad."

Posted: 25 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Nextgov, 23 Feb 2012, Joseph Marks: "VOA aimed at covering and engaging with protesters and other online citizens in the Middle East and launched the Middle East Voices website in November. ... When Middle East Voices first launched its Facebook page was so flooded by Bahrainis' comments that within 48 hours that it couldn't effectively administer the page, Hutchins said. ... Earlier in February, Middle East Voices blogged about an open letter to the U.S. Congress denouncing anti-government protestors from the pro-government publication BahrainViews.com. The post included a poll about the letter. Within three days, the poll had 15,000 votes and 80,000 visitors had viewed the post, Hutchins said. According to Google Analytics, about two-thirds of those blog visitors came from mobile phones, he said. 'They were Tweeting like mad,' he said." See previous post about Middle East Voices.

Seventieth anniversary of VOA Polish. Eighth anniversary of its demise.

Posted: 25 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Polskie Radio, 24 Feb 2012: "The Voice of America radio station started its Polish-language broadcasts 70 years ago today. Its last Polish-language programme was aired on 27 February 2004. Alongside the Munich-based Radio Free Europe, Voice of America served as an important source of uncensored information for Poles during the communist period. For many years, Voice of America was associated not only with politics. One of its legendary figures was jazz broadcaster Willis Conover. His programmes, which featured interviews with the likes of Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Benny Goodman, attracted tens of thousands of listeners in Poland."

Ottawa Citizen, 24 Feb 2012, Peter Hum interviewing Austrian saxophonist/flutist Heinz von Hermann: "Q: How, where and when were you first exposed to jazz, and what was its appeal to you? Von Hermann: It was in the last class of Gymnasium (more or less equivalent to high school, I think) when there were some students in the parallel class which made me curious about jazz. Having had just a very strict “classical” musical education as a violin player at first it was listening to Dave Brubeck which opened the first door of understanding jazz. Soon I got more into it, listening to Voice of America on shortwave radio — Willis Conover jazz broadcast."

Retirement of David Bronstetter, accidental Canadian international broadcaster.

Posted: 25 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The SWLing Post, 24 Feb 2012, Thomas: "I believe it was in the fall of 2007 that I first tuned to the enlightening CBC Montreal program, All In A Weekend, with host David Bronstetter. Unlike listeners in Montreal, or anywhere in the province of Quebec, for that matter, I didn’t hear the show on FM radio, nor streaming over the internet–it was on a shortwave radio. You see, each Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:00 EST (12:00 UTC) Radio Canada International turns on a shortwave transmitter at their Sackville, New Brunswick site, and broadcasts CBC Radio One Montreal programming on 9,625 kHz for North Quebec. They’ve done this for years. That means that many of us south of the Canadian border can catch the 'back side' of this broad signal quite easily. When I first heard All in A Weekend, I was favorably impressed by the program’s host, Dave Bronstetter. When I landed on his voice the first time, he was in the middle of an interview, and even in that brief interval of tuning I could tell that this was an insightful interviewer. ... In short, I was hooked. From that day forward, I joined thousands of Quebec listeners, right here from my home in the southern US, as we tuned in All In A Weekend. Dave and his Montreal crew became my weekend morning coffee companions."

Conservative ("limited government") think tank wants to conserve the multi-bureaucratic structure of US international broadcasting.

Posted: 25 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 23 Feb 2012, Helle Dale: "President Obama’s proposed budget comports badly with the aspiration stated in the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) 2012–2016 Strategic Plan to become the 'world’s leading international news agency' by 2016. While broadcasting to fragile and repressive societies is being cut, other accounts have been spared, like management. Furthermore, in December, the BBG struck a $50 million deal with Gallup to do audience research (conducted for decades by Intermedia), and the consulting firm Deloitte is being paid handsomely for producing a merger plan of Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Network that has not yet been approved by Congress. ... Congress needs to take strong action to reverse the trends outlined in the President’s budget. U.S. International Broadcasting continues to have many champions on the Hill. If they don’t, the United States will be sending signals of retreat in areas where Iran, China, and Russia are surging."

Maintaining the status quo in US international broadcasting does not help the performance of USIB. Without the reform necessitated by budget restraints (it should have been necessitated by good sense), USIB will not become "the world's leading new agency." It will simply remain the world's most inefficient collection of news agencies.

Arguments against the Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination ban disseminated domestically.

Posted: 24 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
MountainRunner.us, 23 Feb 2012, Alex Belida: "[T]he Smith-Mundt enforcers at VOA were the managers themselves. As best I could determine, the penalty they feared was a possible Congressional hand slap or, God forbid, a funding cut. But with the advent of the Internet and digital audio files and on-line video and such, news organizations and average citizens in the U.S., just like their counterparts abroad, can today independently go to the VOA website, whose contents are public domain, and download pretty much anything they want and use it. Some American newspapers are doing this, as are many websites, and tens of thousands of Americans. But VOA officials still cannot tell them they are free to do this. That would be a violation of Smith-Mundt."

MountainRunner.us, 23 Feb 2012, Matt Armstrong: "In 1972, Fulbright declared 'the Radios should be given the opportunity to take their rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics.' As part of his campaign against Government broadcasting, he argued Senator Buckley (I-NY) violated Smith-Mundt by showing a VOA film on a local television station. The U.S. Attorney General disagreed, stating 'the apparent purpose' of the prohibition 'was to make USIA materials available to the American public through the press and Members of Congress.' Fulbright, then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, responded by successfully changing Smith-Mundt to make the de facto prohibition into a de jure prohibition."

Bloomberg, 21 Feb 2012, Katherine Brown: "U.S. citizens can watch a panoply of news channels from around the world, including Russia Today and the BBC. But the benign, journalistic programming of U.S.-sponsored international broadcasting is off limits. In 2009, a local Minneapolis radio station wanted to replay VOA news programs in the Somali language for their Somali diaspora to counter extremist propaganda from al-Shabab, a militia associated with al Qaeda. When the station sought VOA's approval, it was denied in the name of Smith-Mundt."

The internet has not made the domestic dissemination ban obsolete. It has, instead, made it finally enforceable, because US public diplomacy and international broadcasting content could easily be blocked from US IP addresses. The interesting thing about Smith-Mundt is not that it is observed, but the extent to which is is not observed.

Another round of satellite dish confiscations in Tehran.

Posted: 24 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Peyvand Iran News, 23 Feb 2012: "Security forces in Tehran province stormed houses in east Tehran province and confiscated satellite dishes and other material deemed un-Islamic and immoral. This activity was performed as part of a plan to 'elevate society's security.' During the past few years, along with newspaper bans, filtering of the internet and the active role of the Revolutionary Guard in jamming satellite programs, raiding people's homes has comprised another component of the Iranian regime's policy of depriving Iranians from access to content from sources abroad." With several photos by Armin Karami, Mehr News Agency. See previous post about an ITU vote on Iranian satellite interference.

Huffington Post, 22 Feb 2012, Cynthia P. Sneider: "In his Huffington Post article (January 5, 2012) proposing 'A Strategy for Cultural Diplomacy,' Philip Seib advocates 'an intellectual containment strategy' for 'troublesome states like Iran and Venezuela,' but [VOA Persian News Network 'Parazit' co-creator] Saman Arbabi has another approach. Arbabi is organizing a global art and advocacy project against government Internet censorship worldwide. Through both net-roots and grassroots advocacy, he seeks to enlist support that can open up Iranian cyberspace to ensure that the Iranian authorities cannot impose their own 'containment strategy' on the population. Arbabi will launch his project at this year's South by Southwest festival. The most successful cultural diplomacy strategy integrates people to people or arts/culture/media to people interactions into the basic business of diplomacy. The programs in Afghanistan, Egypt, and Iran all contribute to core goals of U.S. policy in those countries. Each succeeds by empowering local voices, rather than by conveying ideas through American emissaries." -- Even so, the credibility of US international broadcasting strains if USIB becomes merely a tool of US public or cultural diplomacy.

After 14 years experience, Emmy, Knight Fellowship, he now heads Bloomberg TV Mongolia.

Posted: 24 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 22 Feb 2012, Rebecca Hawkes: "Todd Baer is to head up the new business network Bloomberg TV Mongolia, which is set for launch in April 2012. Baer, the Ulan Bator-based station's new executive producer, has over 14 years of experience as an Emmy award-winning journalist and television news trainer around the world. He was a correspondent for Al Jazeera English in India, the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Americas, and also reported for CNN and US-based ABC News. In his previous role as a television news trainer, Baer has consulted for Dawn News, GEO News and Dunya News in Pakistan, K24 News in Kenya and Aaj Tak and SAAM-Marathi in India. Baer joins Bloomberg TV Mongolia from his role as a Knight International Journalism Fellow based in Delhi, India. ... Bloomberg TV Mongolia, a partnership between New York-based Bloomberg and the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia (TDB), will broadcast locally produced and local language business and financial news."

Requiem for World Band Radio, and other shortwave stories.

Posted: 24 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Times-Gazette (Shelbyville, TN), 22 Feb 2012, John I. Carney: "World band refers to shortwave stations from around the world. I use the term 'world band' rather than just 'shortwave' because 'shortwave,' to some people, refers to ham radio, with individual ham radio operators. World band is something different -- professional radio stations, many of them government-supported, such as the Voice Of America, BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Radio Havana Cuba, and so on. ... There are still world band stations out there, and you can still buy world band radios at Radio Shack, but there are fewer stations broadcasting and fewer people listening. Why? I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count. It used to be mysterious and exotic to listen to the BBC World Service or Deutsche Welle; now, I can achieve the same effect by going to www.bbc.co.uk or www.dw.de. For that matter, I can read the top news stories from the leading newspaper in just about any major world capital within seconds."

American Diplomacy, February 2012, Yale Richmond; "It was the end of August, 1968, August 20 to be exact, and I was returning to my post in Moscow after a month-long vacation in Finland accompanied by my most precious possessions – my wife and our three small children. ... As I stepped out of the hotel lobby onto the Hamina town square, I immediately sensed that something was wrong. It was deathly still, and with not a person in sight. Returning quickly to the hotel lobby, I asked the desk clerk what had happened. 'The Russians have invaded Czechoslovakia,' he somberly said, 'and we are all listening to our radios to see if Finland will be next.' ... Like the Finns, I turned to radio to assess the situation. Using the short-wave receiver installed in my station wagon, I tuned in to the Voice of America, BBC, Radio Liberty, the Deutsche Welle, and other international broadcasters. They all had plenty of news about movements of the armed forces of the Soviet Union and four of its Warsaw Pact allies but not much in the way of what the invasion meant for Europe, US-Soviet relations, and most important, whether it was signaling the start of World War III. After listening to the radio reports and discussing the options with my wife, we decided to return to Moscow. Despite the immensity of the invasion, we figured that it was not going to be the start of another war."

AP, 19 Feb 2012, Desmond Butler: "USAID has long relied on visitors willing to carry in prohibited material [to Cuba], such as books and shortwave radios, U.S. officials briefed on the programs say. And USAID officials have acknowledged in congressional briefings that they have used contractors to bring in software to send encrypted messages over the Internet, according to participants in the briefings."

AP, 22 Feb 2012, Charles Hutzler: "Smothering security has become a fact of life in China's Tibetan areas, from police stationed around monasteries to document checks at roadblocks. ... Despite attempts by authorities to stifle information, including shutting some communities' phone and Internet service, the immolators have become heroes. Accounts and snippets of their acts, usually captured by mobile phones, have circulated by Internet, instant messaging, homemade DVDs, foreign shortwave radio broadcasts and even posters."

Mission Network News, 23 Feb 2012: "The Arab Spring has taken its toll on many nations in North Africa. In a few of those nations, it's difficult to even 'be' a Christian, let alone practice your faith. Doing so could be a death sentence. That fear has caused one Christian man to flee his country. HCJB Global's leader in the region is a man we're calling 'Lobito.' He tells us about the man who fled: a program producer with one of their ministry partners in North Africa. ... 'We helped him to get a portable studio. We helped him to get some income so he could start to produce programs.' Lobito says they have been touching hearts through short-wave radio broadcasting."

Radio Survivor, 21 Feb 2012, Frederick Moe as interviewed by Jennifer Waits: "In 1999 I reconnected with radio in a major way, started listening to shortwave, became a DJ at my local college radio station. Around the same time I reconnected with both reading and writing zines. It seemed that radio and its endless varieties was an unexplored topic in the zine world. Pirate radio and shortwave listening have always been central to the zine projects." See previous post about same subject.

George Polk Award for Al Jazeera English documentary about Bahrain.

Posted: 24 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 20 Feb 2012, Lucas Shaw: "Al Jazeera-English and Sara Ganim, the reporter who broke open the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal at Penn State, were among the winners of George Polk Awards in Journalism, announced Sunday by Long Island University. ... A Polk Award for Television Documentary marks another substantial achievement for Al-Jazeera English, the burgeoning network that had its biggest year to date in 2011. AJE expanded its global reach to 250 million homes, penetrated major U.S. markets such as Chicago and New York, and continues to receive awards for its coverage of the Arab Spring. AJE, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in November, took home its first DuPont award in December and won this prize for its documentary on Bahrain, titled 'Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark.'"

Al Jazeera English, 21 Feb 2012: "The documentary, which was first broadcast on Al Jazeera English on August 4, 2011, follows the unraveling of the Bahraini uprising from the initial days at Pearl Roundabout to the chaotic scenes of injured protesters overwhelming the Salmaniya Medical Complex. ... As the crackdown in Bahrain deepened, Al Jazeera was the only international news provider to remain in the country."

The Atlantic, Atlantic Exchange, 21 Feb 2012, Steve Clemons: video interview with former Al Jazeera Director General Wadah Khanfar. -- In which he is asked about Al Jazeera not covering the uprising in Bahrain with the vigor that it covered the events in other Arab countries.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 24 Feb 2012, citing Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union: "Al Jazeera English was named News Channel of the Year at the Royal Television Society (RTS) Awards in London on Wednesday ahead of competition from Sky News and BBC News. The five-year old channel, based in Qatar, received praise for its coverage of the Arab Awakening, Egypt’s Tahrir Square protests, and for being the first on the scene to report the death of former Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi."

International Business Times, 23 Feb 2012, Oliver Tree: "[I]s mainstream America ready for the type of straight reporting Al Jazeera contains? If the networks caved in and channel went national, would it gather a wide enough audience to change news broadcasting in the U.S.? 'I really doubt that it would have any impact at all,' [Lance Strate, professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University] mused. 'It would get a self-selected audience in much the same way conservatives watch Fox and liberals watch MSNBC. Which is really an argument for allowing it in a way, as it really wouldn't have that much of an impact.' But according to [Xi Wang, co-founder of Rethink Press], Al Jazeera may have found a more surreptitious method of winning American hearts and minds. 'When we were handing in the petition at Comcast, I met American soldiers who were based in Iraq,' she said. 'One of the soldiers said he didn't know what Al Jazeera was until he got there and that a lot of soldiers got their news from it. They found it amazing how different the news was presented there to how it is in the U.S.'"

BBC America woos New York viewers with "cheeky" billboards (updated).

Posted: 24 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Multichannel News, 10 Feb 2012, Kent Gibbons: "BBC America is getting social media mileage out of a new outdoor advertising campaign it's launched in the New York City area. Billboards and commuter transit ads that invoke franchises and stars like Doctor Who and Gordon Ramsay, using the irreverent tone the channel has adopted as its personality, started appearing late January. A dual, stacked billboard in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, not far from Chelsea Market, installed on Jan. 26 promotes the network as a whole. 'We claim this space in the name of Quality British Television,' the top sign says. 'Also this one. BBC America,' is on the lower sign."

CBS News, 14 Feb 2012, Melissa Castellanos: "BBC America is bringing its loveable quirkiness to the Big Apple with its new cheeky ad campaign. Last week, the American network, which is owned and operated by BBC Worldwide, launched its ad campaign that is clearly British in nature, but speaks directly to New Yorkers who can sometimes be too serious for their own good. ... So if you enjoy British humor, you may get a chuckle when passing by the Metro North stations' garbage cans - with one ad that says: 'BBC America. We're above the trash.' Or another on the LIRR that says: 'Gordon Ramsey claims no responsibility for the dining car on this train.'"

Update: New York Times, 21 Feb 2012, Stuart Elliott: "The spending on the campaign is estimated at $10 million. The total marketing budget for BBC America in its coming fiscal year, which begins on April 1, is estimated at $20 million to $25 million. 'The goal is to take BBC America to the next level,' says Perry Simon, general manager for channels at BBC Worldwide Americas in New York. 'There’s a tremendous opportunity given the audience we appeal to,' he adds, which executives at the channel define as 'I-cubed Q: intelligent, innovative and irreverent, and the "Q" standing for "Quality."'

Los Angeles Times, 13 Feb 2012, Meg James: "BBC's Los Angeles arm is growing strong."

Pakistani expats in the US can now listen to Radio Pakistan by dialing a Houston phone number.

Posted: 23 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 20 Feb 2012, citing Radio Pakistan: "Radio Pakistan has launched a new service enabling Pakistanis living in the United States to listen to its programmes by dialing a United States local number. Programmes of all FM-93‚ FM-94‚ FM-101‚ NBS and the current affairs channel of Radio Pakistan‚ National Broadcasting Service‚ can now be listened to by dialing 83 22 800 683 which is an American telephone number. People living in the United States can either call this number from landline phones or from their mobiles. If they are calling from mobiles and have unlimited packages‚ they will not be charged for this call for listening to Radio Pakistan‚ but if they do not have unlimited packages‚ they will be charged at normal rates. Radio Pakistan already live-streams its programmes over internet‚ satellite and mobile phones‚ which can be listened to all over the world. The new service has been launched for the people who do have internet or smart phones." -- "83 22 800 683" doesn't look like an American telephone number. However, if we rearrange it thus: 832 280 0683 -- then it becomes an American phone number, with a Houston area code.

Sky News Arabia introduces "first batch" of presenters and contracts for "vibrant" title music.

Posted: 23 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Trade Arabia, 22 Feb 2012: "Sky News Arabia, the 24-hour Arabic language multi-platform breaking news service to be launched this spring, has unveiled six of its presenters who are now on-board and immersed in rehearsals. These presenter, drawn from across the Arab world, are the latest additions to the Sky News Arabia team as the channel continues, on track, to its launch. Nart Bouran, head of Sky News Arabia, said: 'I’m absolutely delighted to be able to announce our first batch of presenters. ... As a voice from the Arab world to the Arab world, representing a vast range of cultures and backgrounds, it was vital that we did our homework. We were determined to build a strong team with a great mix of well known faces as well as fresh young talent.' ... As part of the selection process, Sky News Arabia commissioned in-depth market research, carried out both face to face and online, with a panel of over 700 respondents from across the region. Among the key attributes researched were whether potential presenters displayed ‘vibrant energy’, ‘a distinctive and modern style’ and ‘had credibility’." -- Their résumés include Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic, and France 24.

Sky News Arabia press release, 19 Feb 2012: "Sky News Arabia, the 24 hour Arabic language multi-platform breaking news service launching in Spring 2012, has awarded its musical suite contract to Box of Toys Audio. As well as providing the main title music for the channel, the creative sound company will also supply the full music brand range for Sky News Arabia. Eight companies, including composers from Dubai, Beirut and London were briefed to participate in the bid. London based Box of Toys' original composition best captured the vibrant, contemporary and interactive feel of the channel. Habib Feghali, Head of Creative, Sky News Arabia, said: 'Our aim was always to create a contemporary, young and global sound, which at the same time, speaks to a regional audience - we feel this has been successfully captured with this music.' ... The musical branding of the channel will reflect Sky News Arabia's fast, bold, and dynamic style for delivering the best live coverage for news as it happens across the Middle East and North Africa and further afield."

See previous post about Sky News Arabia.

ITU vote allows member states to take "necessary actions" against satellite interference (updated).

Posted: 23 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
European Broadcasting Union, 20 Feb 2012: "The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) today applauds an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) move to allow governments to take 'necessary actions' when foreign powers deliberately interfere with satellite transmissions. Member states approved a revision of the ITU regulations that will give governments greater powers to counter the practice. The decision was taken at this year’s ITU World Radio Communications Conference (WRC-12), after individual broadcasters, the EBU, human rights groups and media freedom campaigners called for tougher action on the growing problem. The change, adopted by 165 member states of the WRC (out of 193 ITU members), was to article 15.21 of the regulations, which now reads, 'If an administration has information of an infringement of the Constitution, the Convention or the Radio Regulations (in particular Article 45 of the Constitution and No. 15.1 of the Radio Regulations) committed by a station under its jurisdiction, the administration shall ascertain the facts and take the necessary actions.'"

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 20 Feb 2012: "The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has called upon the world’s nations to take 'necessary actions' to stop intentional interference with satellite transmissions. The change in ITU regulations, which was approved at the just-concluded World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12) in Geneva, Switzerland, came after numerous complaints that international satellite TV programs in Persian and Arabic were suffering from deliberate interference, known as 'jamming'. Two satellite operators that have been targeted, Eutelsat and Arabsat, said the interfering signals originated from Iran and Syria. 'We are gratified to see the World Radiocommunication Conference take a position on this vital issue,' said Richard M. Lobo, Director of the United States International Broadcasting Bureau. 'Of course, it remains to be seen whether Iran, Syria and other countries which interfere with international satellite communications will change their practices. Jamming is a fundamental violation, not only of international regulations and norms, but of the right of people everywhere to receive and impart information,' Lobo said."

ITU News, January 2012, Julie N. Zoller: "Given that ITU is the leading United Nations agency for the global management of the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits, it is appropriate that problems of harmful interference or 'jamming' should be treated and resolved within ITU through the diligent application of the Constitution, Convention and Radio Regulations. From the outset, ITU has successfully relied upon Member States exercising goodwill and mutual assistance. But studies may be needed to determine what additional measures could be incorporated in the Radio Regulations to improve the protection of satellite networks and enable this type of harmful interference to be resolved expeditiously."

Update: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 22 Feb 2012: "Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and the Campaign’s spokesperson Hadi Ghaemi expressed concern that Eutelsat, whose satellites host Iran’s state media network the IRIB, and other telecommunications companies have done little or nothing to hold Iran accountable for its censorship. Eutelsat’s failure comes despite the fact that much of the Islamic Republic’s jamming is aimed at other Eutelsat clients, BBC Persian and Voice of America (VOA), and the IRIB has itself been implicated in gross human rights violations for producing televised forced confessions of prisoners of conscience. 'The ITU has now made Iran’s legal obligations perfectly clear. But the international community, including telecommunications corporations like Eutelsat, needs to sustain its efforts to make sure Iran stops jamming satellite broadcasts,' said Ghaemi."

From Ethiopian expat community, new round of criticism against DW Amharic.

Posted: 22 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Ethiomedia, 20 Feb 2012, Alemayehu G. Mariam: "In an 'Open letter to ethiomedia.com' in January 2012, intended to refute 'a number of articles on Ethiomedia alleging self-censorship at DW Amharic,' [Ludger Schadomsky, editor-in-chief of Deutsche Welle’s Amharic program] triumphantly depicted himself as a fearless defender of press freedom and a paragon of journalistic integrity. ... Schadomsky claimed to be 'flabbergasted' by allegations made in an 'open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel' that DW Amharic deliberately shuns voices critical of the [Ethiopian] government in its programmes."

Ethiomedia, 11 Jan 2012, Ludger Schadomsky, Editor-in-chief, DW Amharic: "One expects a certain degree of harassment from an authoritarian government that has been repeatedly criticized for its human rights record and doctored elections. I did not expect the same, and worse, harassment from people who claim to champion democracy and freedom of speech. While the present political set-up is faulty in many ways, I shudder at the thought that some of these self-proclaimed democrats may well be enlisted in a future one. There is, of course, another possible explanation: that the wool is being pulled over our eyes by a group of media wits who are busy promoting their own business agenda under the guise of investigative journalism. Can I really be the only one to find it strange that the publication of a series of mud-slinging articles about Voice of America (VoA) and Deutsche Welle (DW), timed to appear almost simultaneously, was driven by an executive of an ambitious media company currently eyeing the Ethiopian radio market?"

Ethiomedia, 13 Jan 2012, Abebe Gellaw: "I do not personally believe that DW has been a mouthpiece of the current “government” of Ethiopia. As someone who has grown up listening to DW and VOA Amharic services, I have never known these broadcasts to serve as a propaganda output for Ethiopia’s oppressive regimes, during the time of the military junta as well as the current repressive regime. But that does not mean that DW is immune from pressure by the Meles regime that is obsessively campaigning to shut down any critical views.'

The DW Amharic Service has traditionally had a large audience in Ethiopia. One reason for this is DW's shortwave relay in nearby Rwanda.

New Zealand will not allow TVNZ programs on Fiji state TV because of sanctions.

Posted: 22 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio New Zealand International, 21 Feb 2012: "New Zealand’s foreign minister says it is entirely appropriate for the ministry of foreign affairs to advise TVNZ to withhold feeds from Fiji’s state broadcaster. The FBC says it has had two requests to get TVNZ’s free Pacific service turned down on instructions from New Zealand’s ministry of foreign affairs. Murray McCully says supplying the programming would amount to government to government support, which would go against sanctions that have been in place since the 2006 coup. 'If state-owned enterprises in New Zealand are asked to supply something to a Pacific neighbour, I’m sure that in most cases they’d want to assist. But where that Pacific neighbour is the subject of government sanctions, for reasons that I think are highly regrettable, I think it’s entirely appropriate that they ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs how this would look in relation to the sanctions.' Murray McCully says this is not the only request for assistance that has been declined."

Radio New Zealand International, 20 Feb 2012: "Fiji Broadcasting Corporation's 'chief executive, Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says it’s illogical to extend official sanctions against the interim government to television programmes. 'Personally I think it’s childish, they are a government, they can do whatever they like I just don’t think it’s going to make any difference to the New Zealand government to use the service or not. The only difference it will make is the fact the public of Fiji will be able to see some great programmes.'"

ABC News 24 opened up to foreign audiences for coverage of the resignation of Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd.

Posted: 22 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
ABC News 24 @ABCNews24, 22 Feb 2012: "Overseas viewers can now watch @ABCNews24 coverage of Kevin Rudd's resignation as Foreign Minister here. bit.ly/abcnews24."

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Feb 2012, Daniel Flitton: "Mr Rudd and [Prime Minister] Gillard have split on a number of key foreign policy issues over the past year, including his championing of military intervention in Libya, support for a Palestinian state, and deciding who would run Australia's $223 million overseas television service, Australia Network."

Bloomberg editorial skewers VOA Persian News Network.

Posted: 21 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 20 Feb 2012, "By the Editors": "In the absence of a diplomatic mission for 33 years, America’s principal voice in Iran is the actual Voice of America, the U.S. government-run, multimedia news agency. Especially in these times of high tension over U.S.-led efforts to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear-weapons capability, the U.S. has a strong interest in being heard by Iran’s people. But the VOA’s Persian News Network has fallen far short of that aim. According to a survey last year, only 6 percent of adults in Iran watched a PNN program at least once a week. ... Since 2010, it has had stiff competition from the British Broadcasting Corporation, whose superior Persian-language service immediately ate up a third of PNN’s 29 percent market share. Later that year, the Iranian government began jamming both signals, forcing PNN and BBC off the satellite to which most Iranian households tune their dishes. Since then, viewers have had to physically manipulate their devices to watch PNN or BBC. Most don’t bother for PNN; in the 2011 viewership survey, its market share plunged from 20 percent to 6 percent. Yet BBC’s actually grew -- from 10 percent to 12 percent. ... Even on PNN’s new shows, content is sometimes frustratingly unprofessional. For instance, PNN’s technology show, created in response to the popularity of a well-conceived, well-edited tech program on BBC Persian, is slapdash. An episode might consist of a journalist simply meandering around a trade show ogling new gadgets. ... From the start, President Barack Obama has been an advocate for American soft power. With the prospect of a shooting war looming in Iran, there is no more pressing place to deploy that power. When a well-executed show like 'Parazit' can begin to undercut the legitimacy of the Iranian regime, there’s no telling what a superlative network could do."

How is it that "the editors" at Bloomberg are so proficient in the Persian language that they can write such a detailed analysis of VOA Persian? And, presuming these editors are journalists, do they really think that it is the job of VOA Persian to "undercut the legitimacy of the Iranian regime"?

Comparing VOA Persian with BBC Persian audience numbers should be done with caution. If VOA is jammed more vigorously than BBC, then there might be a technical rather than programmatic explanation for the BBC's larger audience.

Nevertheless, throughout the world, the BBC provides a useful benchmark for USIB. If USIB has a larger audience than BBC in a target country, that is an accomplishment. If USIB has a smaller audience than BBC, follow-up analysis can determine why. That would be very useful guidance.

Iran's Press TV says that it is jammed, and that its website was unsuccessfully attacked.

Posted: 21 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 20 Feb 2012: "Jamming signals have been reportedly interrupting the broadcast of Press TV, Iran’s 24-hour English-language news channel, in various locations across Europe. Press TV viewers in Europe say the frequent attacks last three to four minutes each time. Some reports indicate that the news channel’s online stream is also targeted at the same time as jamming signals disrupt the broadcast of the channel. Italian viewers said Saturday was the fifth consecutive day of 'Press TV signal black-out in Italy.' 'Today (Saturday) was the worst day of all - almost all day no signal - neither on Satellite TV, nor online streaming,' one Italian viewer said. This is not the first time that Iran’s television waves have come under attack. Last month, the signals for the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) channels on Hotbird were jammed from Bahrain."

Press TV, 18 Feb 2012: "A cyber attack by US and Israeli hackers against the website of Iran's English-language 24-hour news channel, Press TV, has failed to take down the website. According to the Press TV report, the attack against the website took place on February 18, from 07:50 to 10:05 local time. However, the effective security countermeasures taken by the Press TV technical team foiled the cyber attack on the website."

Iran disables VPNs ahead of election; postpones national "halal" internet until June.

Posted: 21 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 20 Feb 2012, Zahra Hosseinian, Ramin Mostafavi, and Amran Abocar: "Iranians faced a second and more extensive disruption of Internet access Monday, just a week after email and social networking sites were blocked, raising concerns about state censorship ahead of parliamentary elections. The latest Internet blockade affected the most common form of secure connections, including all encrypted international websites outside of Iran that depend on the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, which display addresses beginning with 'https.' 'Email, proxies and all the secure channels that start with 'https' are not available,' said a Tehran-based technology expert who declined to be identified. 'The situation regarding accessing these websites is even worse than last week because the VPNs are not working.' Many Iranians use virtual private network, or VPN, software to get around the extensive government Internet filter which aims to prevent access to a wide range of websites including many foreign news sites and social networks like Facebook."

Radio Zamaneh, 19 Feb 2012: "Iran's Minister of Communications has announced that the launch of the 'national internet', which was scheduled for February, has been postponed to June. The Mehr News Agency reports that Reza Taghipour said in a meeting on Saturday. ... Previously, the government had announced that the 'national internet' or "national information network" would be launched by February 11. Islamic Republic officials seek to control online content by launching the so-called 'clean or halal internet', which would not provide access to pornographic and indecent sites and perhaps other sites deemed inappropriate. Analysts have said this so-called internet is an attempt to cut off Iranian users from the World Wide Web. ... Taghipour also alleged that Google turns over all its information to the United States Central Intelligence Agency."

Independence of Russian broadcasters Ekho Moskvy and Dozhd TV threatened by Putin's "steamroller."

Posted: 21 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 14 Feb 2012, Scott Rose and Stepan Kravchenko: "Ekho Moskvy, a critical Russian radio station, accused the government of seeking to stifle its independence after the media’s outlet state-owned controlling shareholder moved to dissolve its board. OAO Gazprom Media, a division of Russia’s state-run gas company that controls 66 percent of the station’s voting shares, wants to replace the board after calling a meeting more than two months ahead of schedule for March 29, according to a statement published on the Moscow-based radio station’s website today. The development came a month after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who’s facing a wave of protests in big cities as he seeks to return to the presidency on March 4 elections, accused the station of vilifying him 'from morning to night.' The station’s editor-in-chief, Alexei Venediktov, said that the new board would have the power to remove him. 'Now for the first time since 2001, when we were acquired by Gazprom Media, we have a situation where it’s technically possible to sack the editor of Ekho Moskvy by order of the government,' he said by phone today."

The Moscow Times, 19 Feb 2012, Stanislav Belkovsky: "Contrary to popular opinion, Putin actually supports Ekho Moskvy radio under Venediktov's editorial rule. Putin needs the popular station not only because commentators loyal to him — such as Leonid Radzikhovsky, Maxim Shevchenko, Alexander Prokhanov and others — have been given regular airtime on the station. In addition, the station offers a slew of commentators who are heavily critical of Putin, like Yevgenia Albats, Viktor Shenderovich, Vladimir Ryzhkov and others. Thus, the station is solid proof to the outside world that Russia respects freedom of speech. Putin doesn't fear Ekho Moskvy because his largest constituency — the passive, inert majority — does not listen to the station. In addition, since Putin diminishes the importance and power of the 'active minority' that listens to Ekho Moskvy, he will continue to allow the station's editorial policy to exist as it is."

RFE/RL, The Power Vertical blog, 16 Feb 2012, Brian Whitmore: "Apparently the Russian authorities were just getting started with their assault on the radio station Ekho Moskvy earlier this week. The Moscow Prosecutor's Office announced on February 16 that the independent online television station Dozhd TV was under investigation to determine who financed the channel's live broadcasts of massive anti-Kremlin demonstrations in the capital on December 10 and 24. ... Dozhd's 31-year editor-in-chief Mikhail Zygar said he was fully prepared to defend the station's financing, which he maintained was completely transparent. ... My initial take on this is that it could be the first real hint of Team Putin's changing approach to the opposition since Vladislav Surkov was replaced by Vyacheslav Volodin as the Kremlin's chief political strategist. ... Surkov ... understood the value of safety valves to channel dissent, which is why Ekho Moskvy was permitted to operate independently despite being owned by the state-controlled Gazprom. Volodin, on the other hand, is more of a steamroller. ... Putin is trying to get control of the media narrative by reining in independent voices -- much as he was early in his presidency when he oversaw the takeover of the once-independent NTV station. But the question remains whether this is possible in the age of YouTube, LiveJournal, and rising Internet penetration." -- All of which can be blocked. BBC Russian and RFE/RL each have about a million unique monthly internet visitors. Will this access remain unabated? Will Russians dust off their shortwave radios and turn them back on, if need be? Does the newer generation of Russians know what a shortwave radio looks like? See previous post about Dozhd TV.

Kyiv Post, 21 Feb 2012: "The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has welcomed Russia's initiative to create public TV. ... 'Public broadcasting represents a traditional and necessary element in the media systems of European and North American countries and a necessary element of the functioning democracy," [OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic] said. Only three European countries, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, do not have public TV, she recalled. 'I hear the arguments that there is no difference between state and public broadcasting, therefore there is no need to transform one into another. These arguments do not hold water. There are not differences but a yawning gulf between the two models of broadcasting,' Mijatovic said. 'Public broadcasting is structured to have legal and political safeguards against being held hostage to the top politicians.'" -- The OSCE's optimism about public broadcasting in Russia does not mesh with the news reported above.

The USIB-to-Russia elephant as described by different reports.

Posted: 20 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
NPR, 20 Feb 2012, Michele Kelemen: "Russian anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny has been the victim of many dirty tricks by pro-Kremlin media. But when the U.S. government-funded Voice of America published an online interview that had him criticizing other Russian opposition figures, Navalny quickly tweeted that the interview was a fake. 'It seems the VOA has gone nuts,' he wrote to his Twitter followers. VOA director David Ensor apologized for the incident and said the Russian service has tightened its procedures. ... Outside reviews of VOA's Russian service have raised concerns. A Senate staffer familiar with them says the reviews mostly call on VOA to provide more coverage of corruption and human rights. But the staffer says there is 'no smoking gun' to indicate a deliberate pro-Putin bias. There's another problem, says Lipien, who co-founded the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting. 'Russian service has no radio or television programs, so their audience in Russia is minuscule because of that,' he says."

The NPR story overlooks the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The United States funds another Russian-language service, RFE/RL Russian, that revels in its "coverage of corruption and human rights," as well as having more reporters, and a larger audience. In the increasingly complex Russian media environment, difficult enough for one US player, why is the United States trying to compete with two entities, with divided and overlapping resources? The chance for mishaps, such as we have been reading about recently, is doubled. As for "no radio or television programs," it was the Kremlin, not VOA or BBG, that took those off of Russian domestic stations. VOA Russian could resume on shortwave and satellite, but given the popularity of those two media in Russia, the VOA Russian audience would remain "miniscule." See previous posts about the same subject on 10 Feb and 2 Feb 2012.

Washington Examiner, 20 Feb 2012, Ted Lipien: "A pro-Putin bias and scurrilous accusations against a courageous human rights activist may explain what kind of journalists the BBG has been hiring recently to manage the Russian website. Some of them had worked for the pro-Putin media in Russia. To make room for these poorly vetted and poorly paid contractors, BBG executives retired experienced editors. These officials also told the Russian Service not to be too harsh on the Kremlin because, according to BBG audience surveys, most Russians don't like it. And that's bad for ratings, they said. ... The same BBG officials are also responsible for drafting a plan to restructure U.S. international broadcasting that will be soon presented to Congress. And, guess what, it would give them more control and turn the agency into an NPR-like structure with both international and domestic programs. It amounts to asking American taxpayers to continue paying for Putin's propaganda." -- Going back to the one analysis from which Ted labels VOA Russian as "pro-Putin," it seems the real complaint is that VOA Russian is insufficiently anti-Putin. A bad-news-about-the-target-country international broadcasting is bad for ratings, foremost because it's also bad for credibility. It's part of the reason that RT (Russia Today) does not have much of a following in the United States.

International Herald Tribune, IHT Rendezvous, 17 Feb 2012, Sophia Kishkovsky: "Since the disputed parliamentary elections last December 4, activists seeking to bypass bans on protest rallies by humans, have set up toys in the snow on city squares bearing tiny banners with big messages such as 'We Have the Right to Choose,' 'President — Don’t confuse the people’s interests with your own interests,' and 'Screw the Junta!' The phenomenon has even been given a name, 'nanoprotests,' and the increasingly facetious Russian press has reported on a 'wave of nanoprotests that has swept through the provinces.' Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the broadcaster funded by the U.S. Congress to encourage democracy, has reported on the protests, but so has Russia Today, the English-language news channel funded by the Kremlin to show that Russia is a democracy, which reported on the first nanoprotest, in Apatity, a city in the Arctic Murmansk region." -- Well, yes, RFE/RL does "encourage democracy," but indirectly, by providing accurate and reliable news. Why would IHT describe RFE/RL so -- for a news organization -- problematically? Perhaps Ms. Kishkovsky read the BBG's problematic new mission statement: "To inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy."

Obit: Indonesian jazz pianist Bubi Chen, who was broadcast by VOA in 1959.

Posted: 20 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Jakarta Post, 17 Feb 2012: "Legendary Indonesian jazz pianist Bubi Chen died on Thursday evening in Semarang, Central Java. ... One of his instructors was Teddy Wilson, a student of jazz legend Benny Goodman. Bubi founded the Chen Trio in the 1950s with his brothers Jopie and Teddy. He also joined the Jack Lesmana Quartet which then became the Jack Lesmana Quintet. Together with Jack, father of jazz singer Indra Lesmana, Bubi recorded Bubi Chen with Strings in 1959 which was aired on the Voice of America."

BBC Arabic reporter attacked in Sana'a.

Posted: 20 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 16 Feb 2012, Rebecca Hawkes: "Yemeni authorities have been called upon to ensure the safety of journalists operating in the Middle East country after BBC Arabic correspondent Abdullah Ghorab was attacked [15 February] in Sana'a. The BBC say a gang carrying batons and knives, thought to be supporters of the outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh deliberately targeted Mr Ghorab and his two brothers during a demonstration in Yemen's capital city. Abdullah Ghorab escaped the attackers, however his brothers were severely beaten and needed hospital treatment for their injuries. Liliane Landor, controller, language services, BBC World Service, said: 'We are deeply concerned that this was a deliberate attack and we condemn it in the strongest terms.' ... The BBC says Abdullah Ghorab has been detained and assaulted on two previous occasions and was verbally attacked by Yemen's Deputy Information Minister in September 2011."

Lebanese officials says that broadcast satellite jamming originates in Ethiopia.

Posted: 20 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Daily Star (Beirut), 16 Feb 2012: "Preliminary investigations into the jamming of Arabsat satellite transmission shows that it is originating from Ethiopia, Telecommunications Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Wednesday, calling on Arabsat’s operator to secure new frequencies for its transmission in Lebanon. 'Arabsat told us that the source of the jamming is Ethiopia and it handed us a copy of their complaint they have passed to Ethiopian authorities on this matter,' said Sehnaoui. Speaking to reporters during a visit to a local satellite station in Mount Lebanon’s Jouret al-Balout, Sehnaoui said that the political atmosphere in the region is likely to be behind the jamming of certain satellite operators. ... Several Lebanese channels and the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera have been jammed in the past year, and the frequencies of Arabsat and Nilesat network providers have been jammed since the pro-democracy uprisings and ensuing unrest in Libya and Egypt. 'There needs to be a permanent solution to this jamming problem,' said Sehnaoui, adding that contacts are ongoing with the administration of Arabsat to assign a new frequency for their transmission in Lebanon. 'Lebanon should be a [safe haven] for the re-broadcasting of satellite networks,' Sehnaoui added."

TesfaNews, 16 Feb 2012: "The Ethiopian government, in its desperate attempt to jam the increasingly popular Eritrean Television from being viewed in Ethiopia and the region, has instead knocked a number of other satellite TV operators out from the service of Arabsat and Nilesat networks. Lebanon, the latest victim country, is now openly condemning the jamming practice of the Ethiopian government after it puts several of its TV channels out of the Arabsat network. The country’s telecommunications Minister, Mr. Nicolas Sehnaoui, yesterday thrown his accusations at the increasingly totalitarian government of Ethiopia after results from the preliminary investigations into the jamming of Arabsat satellite transmission confirms Ethiopia as the source of the jamming signal. Over the last year, several of radio and TV channels like the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Arabic,Voice of America (VOA) and the German based radio Deutsche Welle (DW) have been experiencing the same signal interferences sponsored by the Ethiopian government."

Radio World, 8 Feb 2012, James Careless: "To stay ahead of the jamming, the broadcasters have been hopping from one satellite to another. 'In fact, since June 2009, we have changed satellites 10 times,' says Dave Shiben, head of the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau’s Satellite Engineering & Transmission department. IBB is VOA’s parent organization. 'Because of the jamming that has been aimed at our satellite channels, we’ve been kicked off some satellites and told not to return.'" See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera launches monthly Arabic-language digital news magazines for iPad.

Posted: 20 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 16 Feb 2012, Rebecca Hawkes: "Two innovative new digital news magazines are to be published monthly by Qatar-based satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera for Arabic speakers with Apple iPads. Each edition will include the best content from Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Documentary channels, as well as analytical features, interactive graphics and video footage. ... Moeed Ahmad, head of new media, Al Jazeera added: 'We are delighted to officially launch the world's first ever Arabic digital news magazines. Both magazines are visually attractive and open up our award-winning coverage to an exciting new medium.' ... The applications for both the Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Documentary digital magazines are available from the Apple App Store."

Al Jazeera condemned for report about trial in Bangladesh, praised for report about a new dam in Sarawak.

Posted: 20 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Daily Star (Dhaka), 17 Feb 2012: "Rights activists and champions of the war crimes trial yesterday came down heavily on Al Jazeera television channel for broadcasting a report that said the ongoing trial would throw the country into further political instability. They alleged the Qatar-owned news channel's story, aired yesterday, might help provoke instability in Bangladesh. The report dealt with former Jamaat-e-Islami ameer Ghulam Azam standing trial for crimes against humanity during the Liberation War in 1971. Talking to The Daily Star last night, human rights activist Sultana Kamal said it was rather the failure to bring the war criminals to book that underlay political turmoil in the past. The trial of Ghulam Azam is crucial to establishing stability and the rule of law, she noted. The Al Jazeera report said if found guilty Azam would face the death penalty. 'Whatever the decision the court comes to, it will have dramatic consequences. It may bring justice to many but at the cost of throwing Bangladesh into further political instability.'"

Bruno Manswr Fund, 16 Feb 2012: "An investigative report by the Doha-based global news broadcaster Al Jazeera broadcast this morning confirms that the Malaysian state of Sarawak is facing a massive power glut following the completion of the Bakun dam, Asia's largest hydropower dam outside China. Al Jazeera reporter Harry Fawcett who visited the dam site found that only one out of three turbines is working and that Sarawak engineers could not explain how the massive amount of power produced at Bakun could be used in a sensible way."

Former employee grumbles about Alhurra and Radio Sawa.

Posted: 20 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 16 Feb 2012, Hussain Abdul-Hussein: "Alhurra and its sister Radio Sawa are operated by the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN), a presumably independent organization and grant recipient from Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an eight-member bi-partisan president-appointed Congress-approved board headed by the Secretary of State. In early 2002, a 9/11 scarred America was set on conquering the world using both hard power, its formidable military, and its soft one, such as Voice of America (VOA) that was created in the 1940s to broadcast to regions like Eastern Europe and counter Soviet propaganda. VOA Arabic had a respected Arabic Service, but the Bush administration decided to replace the federally-run Arabic radio and its serious tone with a more 'hip' Radio Sawa, whose popular songs on FM, more than its news bulletins, won it considerable following among young Arab listeners. A year later, the same Radio Sawa team was tasked with launching an Arabic satellite TV: Alhurra went on the air in February 2004. ... Past criticism of Alhurra and Sawa have focused on the content of their broadcast, whether they are U.S. propaganda tools or not, and the worthiness of spending 110 million tax dollars every year on two media outlets that do not seem to have caused any dent in Arab public opinion in favor of the United States, despite pats on the back that the BBG and MBN often give themselves by citing their 'always growing' number of viewers and listeners. Such numbers are based on opinion polls that MBN engineers and attributes to AC Nielsen, even though the survey giant only executes polling as designed by Intermedia, a contractor with the BBG. Intermedia recently lost the BBG contract to Gallup, and it remains to be seen whether numbers of Alhurra viewers and Radio Sawa listeners will stay the same."

If the numbers change, it won't be because Gallup has replaced InterMedia as the chief USIB research contractor. The audience figures from AC Nielsen and other subcontractors, all of whom stay in business because of their objective methodologies, show that Radio Sawa and Alhurra bring in audience numbers far greater than VOA Arabic ever did. In most markets, Radio Sawa has audiences larger than those of BBC Arabic or France's Monte Carlo Doualiya. In some places, Alhurra has more viewers than BBC Arabic TV. It's probably unrealistic for Alhurra and BBC Arabic TV to challenge Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya for the number one and two spots among Arab news audiences. It would, however, be interesting to know how Alhurra and BBC Arabic compete with one another, if such numbers can ever find their way into the public domain. See also the previous post about the increasing audience size of France 24 Arabic.

National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce press release, 17 Feb 2012: "David Hamod, President and CEO of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), conducted a half-hour interview today on Al-Hurra, an Arab world television station that is funded in part by the U.S. Government. Hamod highlighted the important role of commercial jetliner sales to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, pointing out that regional airlines like Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways are now responsible for some of the biggest purchases of Boeing aircraft anywhere in the world." -- Alhurra is funded in its entirety by the US Government.

Russian-language CTC International reaching Europe, North Africa, Middle East via Hot Bird 8.

Posted: 19 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
GlobeCast press release, 16 Feb 2012: "GlobeCast announced today the launch of CTC-International on Eutelsat's HOT BIRD 8 satellite, the largest broadcast neighborhood in the world. This move increases the channel's broadcast footprint, giving it the potential to reach more than 120 million homes in Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. CTC-International is a 24/7 Russian-language family entertainment channel, whose programming grid consists of a combination of parent CTC Media's channels: CTC (80%), Domashny, and Peretz (formerly DTV). The channel's content is distinguished by its high quality, relevance, and focus on family values." See previous post about CTC in Kazakhstan.

BBC Worldwide licenses content to Hulu Japan.

Posted: 19 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 17 Feb 2012: "BBC Worldwide has become the first British distributor to license content to Hulu in Japan. The multi- year agreement will initially see around 600 hours of BBC programming made available on the multi-device platform, effective immediately. The deal represents the largest volume of BBC Worldwide content on any platform in Japan, with titles licensed across drama, comedy, music, lifestyle, natural history, science and history."

Taiwan media say VOA "broke the story" on the apparent defection of Chongking's deputy mayor.

Posted: 19 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The China Post (Taipei), 10 Feb 2012: "Chongqing Deputy Mayor Wang Lijun's (王立軍) suspected effort to seek asylum in the United States consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan, and his apparent arrest by Beijing security is an embarrassment to Beijing and reveals a power struggle ahead of a decisive Communist Party of China (CPC) congress later this year, Chinese scholars said yesterday. The Wang Lijun saga became big news after Voice of America (VOA) reported that the former deputy mayor and police chief of Chongqing municipality had met with American diplomats inside the consulate and later left 'of his own volition.'"

Focus Taiwan, 15 Feb 2012, quoting China Times: "Since Voice of America broke the news about Wang's visit at the American consulate, only two Chinese agencies have responded to the report -- the Chongqing municipal government issued a brief statement Feb. 8 that Wang was on 'vacation therapy' over poor health and China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the same day that Wang entered the U.S. consulate Feb. 6 and left there after an overnight stay."

Focus Taiwan, 16 Feb 2012, Su Yen-feng and Sofia Wu: "Voice of America (VOA) has revealed more details about the Chongqing deputy mayor's unusual visit to the U.S. Consultate General in Chengdu in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan earlier this month, including China's hardliners had conspired to stymie Xi Jinping's leadership succession this autumn. VOA said Wednesday that immediately after Wang Lijun's arrival at the American consultate on Feb. 6, U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke was informed of the incident. The consulate called for political asylum for Wang, who also once served as police chief of Chongqing, a major municipality in southwestern China, VOA said. The White House, however, disagreed with the request. Locke then got in touch with senior Beijing officials over the issue, according to VOA."

There is no VOA story in English about this, but Radio Free Asia has reports on 8, 13, and 15 February, none mentioning VOA.

Free North Korea Radio "will not be deterred" despite Pyongyang's "Unit 114" media crackdown.

Posted: 19 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Korea Herald, 15 Feb 2012, Hamish Macdonald: "Free North Korea Radio will not be deterred in reaching North Korean citizens, despite the authoritarian state’s recent creation of an anti-foreign media unit to crack down on black market radios, the station said. According to a local news report, Pyongyang created Unit 114 in January to remove music CDs and any foreign published media circling among North Korean citizens. This could hamper the activities of the FNKR, which relies on black market radios to send messages to citizens of the impoverished country. The North Korean regime 'fixes' the radios so that they are limited to the state propaganda channels. The FNKR is operated by North Korean defectors in Seoul and broadcasts daily news, documentaries on human rights in North Korea, and stories about defectors from 9-11 p.m., six days a week. Black market radios will most likely be a priority for Unit 114 but an FNKR official said the illicit trade will continue to exist."

In Baku, a major event in international broadcasting is preceded by evictions and demolitions.

Posted: 19 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Human Rights Watch, 17 Feb 2012: "Azerbaijani authorities have begun the forcible eviction of residents to demolish the last standing building in the neighborhood of the capital, Baku, where the 2012 Eurovision song contest is to be held, Human Rights Watch said today. ... 'Hosting Eurovision means the Azerbaijani government can showcase Baku to thousands of visitors and millions of television viewers,' said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. 'However, the event is overshadowed by the illegal evictions, expropriations, and demolitions for hundreds of local residents forced out of their homes.' ... 'Although EBU leaders have been reluctant to see the National Flag Square evictions as relevant to Eurovision, they and the Azerbaijani government want to see a successful song contest not marred by human rights abuses,' Williamson said. 'So they should call on the government to end serious violations of human rights taking place in relation to families, homes, and properties near the contest site that risks casting a shadow over the contest.'" See also the Eurovision Song Contest web page.

RFE/RL's Luke Allnutt, in WSJ, reviews new book about internet freedom.

Posted: 19 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 15 Feb 2012, Luke Allnutt, who "writes about digital topics for the Tangled Web blog of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty": "In 'Consent of the Networked,' Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the New America Foundation, argues that it is governments working in collaboration with corporations that represent the greatest threat to Internet freedom. Internet control, she makes clear, is about more than censorship and filtering. It is also about shaping narratives and getting private companies to do the state's dirty work."

On BBC World Service 80th birthday, 29 Feb, audience can listen to the morning editorial meeting at Bvsh Hovse.

Posted: 18 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 15 Feb 2012: "Audiences are to be given unprecedented behind the scenes access as part of a special day of live programming on February 29, to mark the BBC World Service's 80th birthday. Highlights from the day will include a special global audience with Sir David Attenborough and The Strand - the WS global arts programme - will be edited by guest artist and music producer William Orbit. Audiences will be able to join a special debate about what they want from the World Service, both on air, online and across social media forums. The day will give audiences around the world a unique insight into production of their favourite programmes and multilingual videos will be produced of all the broadcasts throughout the day online at bbc.co.uk/worldservice. For the first time audiences will be invited to watch and participate in over 12 hours of programmes in English and across more than 12 different languages. ... BBC World Service's daily morning editorial meeting, which normally takes place behind the doors of Bush House, will be opened up and broadcast live for the first time. In this meeting - a daily part of life in the building - the newsroom's editors discuss and agree the big stories and developments and decide on which stories will shape the day's news agenda."

journalism.co.uk, 17 Feb 2012, Paul McNally: "The event also marks the end of an era for the broadcaster, which is vacating its London headquarters in Bush House to move to the newly refurbished Broadcasting House, where it will share facilities with other parts of the BBC's newsgathering operation. Many of the day's programmes will be broadcast from the open courtyard at Bush House, in front of an audience."

BBC World Service, 15 Feb 2012: "We'll also be asking you to put questions to guests and BBC World Service staff via Facebook, so join us if you can. For full details of Bush House Inside Out, check out the schedule.

The Guardian, 16 Feb 2012, Tara Conlan: "Former World Service managing director John Tusa has turned down an invitation to a party being hosted by BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the international broadcaster and its departure from its Bush House London headquarters in protest at retired staff being excluded." See previous post about same subject.

Filipinos in the Middle East can now watch GMA Network news from home via Etisalat IPTV.

Posted: 18 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
GMA Network press release, 15 Feb 2012: "Filipinos in the Middle East can now catch the latest news and stories from home through GMA Network’s all-news channel, GMA News TV International. On February 10, Philippine broadcast giant GMA Network, Inc. launched its third international channel GMA News TV International in the Middle East through its official carrier Etisalat – Middle East’s leading Telecom Operator and TV provider. Etisalat is the first operator in the region to offer GMA News TV International (Channel 826) as part of eLife TV’s 'A La Carte' option. The news channel is a welcome addition to GMA Network’s other two international channels, GMA Pinoy TV and GMA Life TV, which are also available on eLife OSN Pinoy Plus and OSN Pinoy West." -- When VOA English was widely available on shortwave, Filipinos in the Middle East were substantial part of the audience. They were seeking English-language news and entertainment from their non-English-speaking countries of employment. VOA English and other global English-language international broadcasting largely appeals to anglophones who are outside their home countries. VOA's now defunct global News Now service came close to exploiting this fact.

Public diplomacy's ship comes in. (The US Navy's "ship-to-shore connectivity.")

Posted: 18 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
World politics Review, 15 Feb 2012, Robert Farley: "Over the past two weeks, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps conducted Bold Alligator, an exercise off the Atlantic seaboard designed to refine expertise in amphibious operations and test new amphibious capabilities. ... Internet and data capabilities may seem secondary to major amphibious operations. However, most amphibious operations in the future will be rich in political context, whether they involve forced entry or not, and the ability to manage data and the political environment represents an absolutely critical capability for modern amphibious warfare. ... International relief operations can’t exactly be crowd-sourced, but a wide range of ship-to-shore connectivity could nevertheless improve the ability of amphibious forces to meet relief needs. ... Widespread Internet access aboard ships in such situations could also prove a useful generator of public diplomacy content, especially in contexts where the Navy -- or civilian political authorities -- desires to make its contribution clear and transparent. Obviously message discipline would suffer, but the ability of 'providers' of relief on ship to connect directly with 'consumers' of relief on shore could dramatically improve the effectiveness of relief operations."

For sale on eBay: a letter from Radio Moscow. No, *to* Radio Moscow. No, *from* Radio Moscow.

Posted: 18 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
New London Patch, 14 Feb 2012, Dirk Langeveld: "This week's item is just an envelope, but it's intriguing enough to make us wonder what contents it held. Written by Ernest F. Gates, who gives a New London post office box, it was sent to Radio Moscow in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The seller of this eBay pick is ilissauer, who specializes in old postal items like this. I have to dispute the listing's claim that this was sent from Russia to New London, given the traditional layout of the envelope, but it would certainly be interesting if the Soviet disc jockeys were swapping letters with a New London resident. There are a couple of other envelopes to or from Gates, from 1954 and 1955, offered by the same user. Most likely, this envelope conveyed an inquiry to the program 'Moscow Mailbag.' Radio Moscow operated quite a bit like the Voice of America in the USSR days, offering broadcasts in a number of foreign languages to have more of a presence outside the country's borders during the Cold War. Moscow Mailbag got its start in the 1950s and answered a mix of questions from around the world about everything from political developments to everyday life. It was hosted through most of its run by the late Joe Adamov and continues to this day, though it is now prepared by Olga Troshina and presented by Tata Mnatsakanyan and Max Gorbachyov." -- The letter is definitely from Radio Moscow to the US recipient. Radio Moscow was in the habit of putting its return address in the lower left of the envelope.

"Could the DR111 DRM Radio be the [shortwave] portable we’ve been waiting for?"

Posted: 18 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
SWLing.com, 14 Feb 2012, Thomas: "One of the reasons DRM (Digital Radio Mondial) has struggled to gain global popularity is that there has yet to be a portable radio solution with universal appeal. Perhaps the future Chengdu NewStar Electronics DR111 DRM Radio will change that? According to their website, the company is certainly setting out to make an affordable receiver that is simple to operate. Hopefully, CDNSE has learned from this radio’s predecessor; ergonomics, affordability and overall ability to receive and decode DRM signals are the keys to its success. We have added the DR111 to our Shortwave Radio Index. Check back as we will post updates." -- Shortwave coverage is 2.3 to 27 MHz. Excessive battery consumption has been a problem with previous DRM portables. Will the DR111 be better in this regard? A paucity of DRM transmissions, and the decline of any type of shortwave broadcast, could also hinder the success of this new radio.

See also Digital Radio Mondiale North America, 12 Jan 2012, for an interview with Allen Liang, Sales VP for CDNSE.

Southwest Florida Online, 11 Feb 2012, Don Browne: "Amateur radio operators, also known as 'hams' have been experimenting with digitally transmissions of high definition photographs and images directly from a radio transmitter to anyone with a radio receiver tuned at the same frequency. ... The digital transmission method used by amateur radio operators to send and receive photos is call DRM, commercially used by some radio stations to transmit high quality HD radio around the world. The image is sent using DRM, an abbreviation for the trademarked Digital Radio Mondiale, a standardized digital broadcast system for any broadcast frequency. The DRM format provides digital quality from digital radio signals, combined with the possibility of enhanced features for radio broadcast stations including Surround Sound, text information, HD photo slideshows, and data services. The advantage of the DRM system is one radio transmitter can broadcast to an unlimited number of receivers without any infrastructure between the two radios. No phone lines, internet, cable or satellite is needed to transmit or receive an image or sound transmission."

News about radio humor: Iran counters RFE/RL's "Day After Tomorrow" with "Day Before Yesterday."

Posted: 18 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 15 Feb 2012, Deana Kjuka: "Iran’s new state media political satire show, Radio Pariruz, Farsi for 'The Day Before Yesterday,' a show started in response to Radio Farda’s popular satirical show, 'Pas Farda,' or 'The Day After Tomorrow.' Radio Pariruz launched on January 24. Modeled after 'Pas Farda,' Radio Pariruz is the second recent attempt by Iranian authorities to counter what 'Pas Farda' has been providing Iranians for the past two years: a platform to challenge the limits of political discourse in Iran through satire. Last May, RFE/RL’s senior correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari reported on the launch of a new website called 'Radio Dirooz,' Farsi for 'Radio Yesterday,' that summarizes Radio Farda’s reports and reposts them, adding their own spin. So far, though, it seems that Pariruz is having a tough time recasting its shrill message in the playful language of satire."

US and allies "must take to television and resume their conversation with the Iranian people," she writes.

Posted: 18 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, Comment is Free, 13 Feb 2012, Azadeh Moaveni: "The US and its allies in Europe must take to television, and resume their conversation with the Iranian people. Most Iranians watch TV news religiously, and an audience of millions tunes in to satellite broadcasts by BBC Persian and Voice of America's Persian network. BBC Persian is emerging as an especially influential voice among Iranians, and the platform offers an easy means for American and European officials to complement sanctions with public diplomacy. With news quick to reverberate across Iran's voluminous blogosphere, there are myriad ways for Iranians to hear what the west has to say. It is a grim task, explaining to Iranians precisely who is responsible for what share of their suffering, but sanctioning in silence is a terrible alternative." -- This will work if the "American and European officials" are interviewed, with the broadcasters maintaining journalistic control. If the microphone is turned over to these officials, the channels would lose their credibility.

Iran Book News Agency, 14 Feb 2012: "Structural and Content Analysis of BBC Persia by Mohammad Mohammad Khani Melkouh is published by the Institute of Culture, Arts and Communications. The book looks at the channel's programs in six chapters: general topics, background, concepts and theoretical framework of the research, research method, research findings, discussion and conclusions. The book marks the channel's activities as a 'Soft War attack' against the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Persian speaking countries. 'It is a channel that began with a political approach but in the long term, influences the cultural, belief and identity of the Persian-speaking society.'"

Amnesty International, 14 Feb 2012: "On 17 January, Iranian authorities arrested the sister of an employee of BBC Persian - the BBC’s Persian language news service - and held her in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison, apparently to try to pressure her sister abroad. Though she was eventually released on bail, she was forced to 'confess' on camera. The BBC says that family members of BBC Persian staff have had their passports confiscated, preventing them from leaving the country. According to Iran’s state-licensed Mehr news agency, last week several people were also detained for alleged links to the BBC's Persian service. BBC Persian programmes are sometimes jammed in Iran." See previous post about same subject.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 18 Feb 2012, citing DPA via bikyamasr.com: "Police in Iran today forcefully removed satellite television dishes in northern Tehran, as part of what is seen as an ongoing clampdown on illegal broadcasters ahead of elections. 'Police came, broke the door to the roof and removed all satellite dishes and all other relevant equipments,' said a housekeeper in the district of Shemiran. The main target of the clampdown appears to be Persian news programmes from abroad which authorities accuse of broadcasting 'anti-revolutionary programmes.' Iran is to hold parliamentary elections on 2 March. Parliament banned the use of satellite equipment some 16 years ago. However, many Iranians still subscribe and camouflage satellite dishes as air conditioners on rooftops."

The Hill, 15 Feb 2012, S.R. Sobhani: A presidential order "should bring serious and immediately attention to Voice of America’s – Persian News Network (VOA PNN), boosting programming to present a more serious content into Iran, much like our broadcasts into the Soviet Union, serving as a daily dose of the truth for millions behind an Islamist curtain. At its peak 20 million viewers used to tune into a hard-hitting VOA programming into Iran. I experienced the power of speaking the truth as an analyst for the VOA PNN from 2004-2009. Every Tuesday I would dissect the conduct and failures of the regime in addition to assessing the opportunity costs of an Islamic Republic for the Iranian people. My immediate feedback from daring callers inside Iran was exhilarating: convincing me that America’s greatest allies in Iran are not dubious 'elements within the regime' that periodically wink and nod hints of a 'grand-bargain with the west,' but the 70 million Iranians simply wanting a better life. VOA’s PNN is arguably the single most important asset of U.S. diplomacy as it concerns Iran." -- He seems to be implying that VOA Persian programming is no longer "hard hitting" now that he no longer appears regularly on the channel.

Reuters, 14 Feb 2012, Joseph Menn: "Most computer users in Iran were blocked from accessing email, social networking and other services in recent days, U.S.-based Internet experts said on Monday, raising fears the government is extending the reach of its surveillance on ordinary citizens. Internet service providers presumed to be acting at the Iranian government's behest began blocking the most common form of secure connections on Friday, according to the outside experts and Iranian bloggers. Traffic rebounded to normal levels on Monday. The cutoff apparently affected all encrypted international websites outside of Iran that depend on the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, which display addresses beginning with https, according to Earl Zmijewski of Renesys, a U.S. company that tracks Internet traffic worldwide. Google, which uses SSL for its Gmail service, reported that traffic from Iran to its email system fell precipitously."

AP, 13 Feb 2012: "An Iranian news agency reported that more than 30 million people in the country lost access to foreign email services such as Gmail, Yahoo mail and Hotmail. The Saturday report by the semiofficial Mehr agency said that the authorities in the national telecommunications company declined to comment on the outage that began Thursday, saying that it had no connection to them. Iran has occasionally restricted the Internet since the turmoil that followed the 2009 elections and blocked websites including Facebook, Twitter, Voice of America and the BBC Farsi service." See previous post about internet disruptions in Iran.

Radio France International, Monte Carlo Doualiya, and France 24 "finally merge," and claim record large audiences.

Posted: 18 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 14 Feb 2012, Robert Briel: "French international broadcaster Radio France International (RFI), its Arabic language subsidiary Monte Carlo Doualiya, and l’Audiovisuel extérieur de la France (AEF) have finally endorsed its merger with the France 24 news channel. The merger will now go through, despite opposition from journalists and unions at France 24 and RFI. François Hollande, the socialist candidate for the French presidency, also signed a petition against the merger of RFI-France 24. In a statement, the AEF stressed that the merger 'allows the creation of a French broadcasting group of international dimensions.' AEF is the holding company of France 24 and is fully owned by the French state. In a statement, AEF CEO, Alain de Pouzilhac, said: 'With RFI, France 24 and Monte Carlo Doualiya now in a single firm combining their strengths, their talents and their expertise we can now broadcast the values of France with a single eye on all modes of distribution.'

"Broadband TV Views: When the French state established the international news channel France 24 in order to fight Anglo-Saxon dominance of the international news media, people already raised eyebrows that a separate organisation was set up. The French state was already active promoting its culture and language through the means of Radio France International (RFI), RFO (the state broadcaster for overseas departments and territories), Canal France International (a subsidiary of state broadcaster France Télévisions) and the involvement of France Télévisions in the international operations of TV5. Although RFI is radio and France 24 television, it makes perfect sense to join the operations, especially in times of cutbacks of public service broadcasters around Europe. But its workers seem to have trouble facing today’s realities. As an outsider, we can only look in amazement how the French state tries to control radio and TV. After World War Two, the French state even took active part through its holding company SOFIRAD in the private radio stations that were broadcasting from across the border into France, such as RMC (Monte Carlo), Europe 1, Sud Radio and Radio Andorre." -- If the French can consolidate their international broadcasting, then surely the Americans also can. See also Le Monde, 16 Feb 2012, Daniel Psenny and Xavier Ternisien.

Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France press release, 16 Feb 2012: "France 24, RFI and Monte Carlo Doualiya – have doubled their audience worldwide in three years. In 2011, the three AEF media notched up a combined weekly audience of over 90 million viewers and listeners, compared to 45 million in 2008. In three years, FRANCE 24’s weekly audience has quadrupled, rising to 43.5 million viewers; RFI has recorded a 30% increase to over 39 million listeners, while Monte Carlo Doualiya boasts 50% growth with 7.6 million listeners. This success is largely due to the emergence of a highly competitive Arabic international news service. Since October 2010, when FRANCE 24 started 24-hour daily broadcasts in Arabic, the channel has tripled its audience in the Maghreb region and has become the leading French channel in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. ... In French-speaking Africa, AEF’s media have also become extremely popular. In three years, RFI has consolidated its market share in the region and is now one of the general public’s favorite radio stations as well as a must for opinion leaders. The radio station is also developing its audience in non-French-speaking Africa, where its vehicular language programs, in Hausa for example, have seen their audiences increase by nearly 80%, allowing the radio station to gain market share in non-French-speaking countries, such as Nigeria. It is worth pointing out that the station is also highly successful in Haiti, where 2 million listeners currently tune in every week. Only five years since its inception, FRANCE 24 has become the leading 24/7 international news channel in several African countries with a weekly audience of 19 million viewers. In the Middle East, Monte Carlo Doualiya has recorded a spectacular recovery in its market share and has successfully gained ground in the region with the installation of new FM transmitters, notably in Lebanon, Libya and Iraq. In the last three years, the group’s media have also all made significant progress on the Internet and in the new media. In 2011, a total of nearly 200 million Internet users visited the websites of FRANCE 24, RFI and Monte Carlo Doualiya, which chalked up over 800 million page views. Lastly, on the social media, AEF’s brands represent one of the largest Internet communities treating international news and boast over 1.5 million Facebook fans and over 500,000 Twitter subscribers through a range of multi-lingual pages."

Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France press release, 14 Feb 2012: "Le Président de l’Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France Alain de Pouzilhac a nommé ce jour Anne-Marie Capomaccio et Nahida Nakad Directrices des rédactions unifiées de France 24, Monte Carlo Doualiya et RFI." -- I understand that Nakad will be responsible for France 24, and Copomaccio for the radio services RFI and MCD. See also Le Monde/AFP, 14 Feb 2012.

RFI Riposte, 16 Feb 2012: RFI journalists reject the idea of a "French style journalism," as asserted by their new managers.

France 24 press release, 15 Feb 2012: "FRANCE 24 has concluded a new distribution agreement in Asia and launches today on SINGTEL, the largest telecommunications company in Singapore. FRANCE 24 English version is now available 24/7 to 350 000 households via the MiO offer, while the French version will be available 'à la carte' for 9.90 Singapore dollars (6 Euros) per month. FRANCE 24 French version will be available on channel 40 and the English channel on channel 41."

Reporters sans frontières, 15 Feb 2012: "Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about the complete disregard for the rights of the defence in the trial of journalist Hassan Ruvakuki and 22 other people on terrorism charges in connection with the activities of a new rebel group in the east of the country. A reporter for Bonesha FM and the Swahili service of Radio France Internationale, Ruvakuki was arrested in the capital on 28 November after interviewing an alleged member of the rebel group, the Forces for the Restoration of Democracy (FRD-Abanyagihugu)."

Shanghaiist, 16 Feb 2012, Kenneth Tan, Fan Huang and Jessica Colwell: "France 24's Baptiste Fallevoz and his Chinese fixer Jack Zhang tell Shanghaiist they were driving toward the village when they noticed a black car following them. After trying to evade the car and failing, they decided to just ignore it and continue towards the village. As they approached Panhe, they passed four or five cars parked on the shoulder with men waiting nearby. They saw the men answer their cell phones, hurry into their cars, and join the black car behind them. When Zhang gradually slowed down for a truck crossing in front of them, they were suddenly hit from behind. About 20-30 plainclothes thugs then surrounded their car and pulled Zhang out, trying to grab his video camera from him (he was not filming at the time). When they got the camera, they threw it on the ground and smashed it in front of him. They then continued to attempt to attack Zhang, hitting him on the head with the camera until he started bleeding."

Controversy over Australia Network tender process may be entering new chapter.

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link

Canberra Times, 17 Feb 2012, Daniel Flitton: "A confidential draft cabinet submission was prepared last year informing the Gillard government that Rupert Murdoch's part-owned Sky News was judged the better bidder to run Australia's $223 million Australia Network. But the submission was never seen by cabinet before the government changed the rules, then blamed leaks for ruining the tender and handed the overseas TV service permanently to the ABC."

The Australian, Feb 17 2012, Christian Kerr: "Both the original and amended tender process are understood to have recommended awarding the contract to Sky News Australia over the ABC. Sky is one-third owned by British broadcaster BSkyB, itself 39 per cent owned by News Corporation, publisher of The Australian."

The Australian, 18 Feb 2012, Brendan Nicholson: "Fresh evidence about the government's handling of tenders for the Australia Network is expected to prove crucial to the investigation by the Auditor-General into how the process was derailed. It emerged this week that [foreign minister] Kevin Rudd never received a recommendation on who should run the Australia Network before he was stripped of responsibility for the decision and a new tender was called, giving the ABC another opportunity to win the $223 million, 10-year contract."

The Australian, 15 Feb 2012, Christian Kerr and Milanda Rout: "No journalist has been interviewed over the scrapping of the $223 million Australia Network tender, despite Communications Minister Stephen Conroy blaming media leaks for the ditching of the process."

The Australian, 15 Feb 2012, Michael Bodey: ABC managing director Mark Scott "confirmed no ABC officers had been interviewed by the Australian Federal Police regarding 'leaks' in the tender process for the Australia Network contract. He said subsequent to the ABC winning the right to broadcast the AN, the ABC was now developing plans to bring together AN and Radio Australia and a 'more aggressive radio and online strategy' for the network. He added the move to deliver more content into China was 'a priority.'"

See previous post about same subject.

In 1976, the final minutes of US Armed Forces Radio Tehran, and the beginning of Iran's own English-language radio station.

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Iranian.com, 11 Feb 2012, bahram9821: "For 22 years the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) broadcast a local radio service (Radio 1555) and a local TV service (Channel 7) to the capital of Iran from their studios in Tehran. However in 1976 it was decided by the Iranian government that AFRTS should close down its radio and TV services, which it did on 25 October 1976, the day before the Shah of Iran's 57th birthday. Radio 1555 closed with presenter: Airforce Staff Sergeant Barry Cantor playing as the last record: Roger Whittaker's Durham Town (The Leaving). This was followed by a closing announcement by Chief Master Sergeant and Station Manager: Bob Woodruff, followed by the American National Anthem. The following morning, the 26th October 1976, the Shah's birthday, this additional Iranian government owned radio and television service began under the control of NIRT [National Iran Radio & Television] Director General: R. Ghotbi. The service was initially called 'Tehran Radio' but quite quickly was changed to NIRT International Radio reflecting the fact that although it provided a local service to expatriates and Iranians alike in Tehran and its surroundings, it also broadcast throughout Iran, and to neighbouring countries. NIRT International Radio was broadcast on: 1555 kHz AM (Medium Wave) and 106 MHz FM (stereo) in Tehran." With audio.

Sales personnel moves at CNBC International and BBC Worldwide.

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
MediaWeek, 13 Feb 2012, Mark Banham: "Paul Maraviglia, vice president of sales for CNBC, has departed the broadcaster after just under four years in the role. The broadcaster is now looking for an external candidate to fill the newly created post of vice president, advertising sales international. ... Maraviglia departs following a merger of the international operations of CNBC in Asia-Pacific and the EMEA regions that kicked off in December and included the departure of Mick Buckley who was president & CEO, EMEA. At that time, Satpal Brainch was promoted to president, CNBC International."

BBC Worldwide press release, 15 Feb 2012: "BBC Worldwide today announced the appointment of Rohit Gopakumar as Vice President, South Asia for BBC Advertising. Based in Mumbai, Rohit is responsible for generating local and International sales revenues for BBC’s TV and online products including BBC World News, BBC.com, mobile, LonelyPlanet.com, Worldwide Channels and Global Brands. While primarily responsible for India, his geographic responsibility also includes Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan."

"I'd rather trust the BBC, or Euronews or Sky, than some bloke tweeting ... from Dorset," he writes.

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Independent (Dublin), 12 Feb 2012, Eamon Delaney: "[T]he quickest means of getting hard information remains, and will remain, the TV, as in the 24-hour news channels of which there are now many. And personally I'd rather trust the BBC, or Euronews or Sky, than some bloke tweeting about it from Dorset, or even from Cairo. All due respect to Mark Little and his Storyful website, but many of his entries just refer back to the TV channels. Plus, the TV channels have the continuous images -- and this is crucial. And they have the reputation and the resources, which is why we trust them."

And from beyond the fringe: "US International Broadcasting: Success Requires Independence and Consolidation" (updated).

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
MountainRunner.us, 14 Feb 2012, Kim Andrew Elliott: "For the past quarter century, I have been writing about US international broadcasting at the macro level. The two pillars of my proposals have always been independence and consolidation. First, US international broadcasting must be under a bipartisan or nonpartisan board that shields it from direct US Government control and interference. There is no substitute for this. The world’s great public broadcasting corporations, including the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, are seen as independent and credible news providers because they are managed by boards and not by the governments of their countries. ... The BBG has announced a plan for the restructuring of front office management, but one that will preserve the 'many brands and many divisions' of USIB. USIB has several entities and, increasingly, entities within entities. With multiple brands, there will be opportunities to preserve the duplication of effort, and the splitting of scarce resources, that keep USIB from realizing its potential. The BBG has announced a goal to become the 'world’s leading news agency' by 2016. This is a lofty ambition, but USIB cannot compete with other world news agencies until it quits competing within itself."

Update: Ibid, 16 Feb 2012, comment by quslera: "As for the commentary by Elliott, who has historically made excellent points about duplication that the BBG itself encouraged over the decades, and the importance of VOA continuing to report the news rather than be turned into the propaganda agency some have always advocated it be, one wonders why he alone among currently-employed individuals in the agency in able to make on-the-record comments without fear of reprisal."

Former VOA journalist completes his future-of-USIB trilogy.

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
MountainRunner.us, 16 Feb 2012, Alex Belida: "Instead of the current multi-entity structure, I would integrate VOA, RFE-RL, RFA, MBN and Radio/TV Marti into a single organization, eliminating all language duplication. This new operation would be headquartered in Washington D.C. at the existing VOA center with satellite production bureaus as needed in strategic locations in addition to smaller news bureaus. Because VOA is the oldest (70 years) and best known brand, the new consolidated entity would be known as the Voice of America. ... Crucial to maintaining a credible global image for a reorganized U.S. International Broadcasting system would be the re-establishment of VOA English as a flagship, full-service, 24/7 multi-media operation. Severe cutbacks over the past decade to VOA English have totally undermined its reach and popularity, suggesting Boards past and present have been and remain determined to eliminate it altogether. ... [W]e must have a mandatory training program for all new employees that would help create a culture of accurate, objective and comprehensive journalism in all program contents as well as imbue new hires with the history and traditions of the organization." See also comments. For the previous two essay in this series, see previous post.

Deprived of "Day Day Up" and "Happy Camp" on TV, Chinese audiences search elsewhere.

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
PBS Newshour, 13 Feb 2012: "KATHLEEN MCLAUGHLIN: Recently, China's netizens attacked Beijing's government for withholding the truth about air pollution. They reposted and discussed at length the U.S. Embassy's independent air data. In the end, Beijing's government caved and started publishing more pollution stats on its own website. Jeremy Goldkorn, longtime China media watcher and founder of the online magazine 'Danwei,' says the government clampdown likely has more to do with posts like that than with Western culture itself. JEREMY GOLDKORN, 'Danwei': I think the real concern is a loss of control. And presenting this as a pushback against Western culture is a way of talking about control that doesn't have to use those words. KATHLEEN MCLAUGHLIN: The government may find it hard to take back control. Doudou Song works for a Japanese car company. Her favorite TV programs, the social issues talk show 'Day Day Up' and 'Happy Camp,' a variety show, were removed from prime time. She now mostly watches TV clips online instead. DOUDOU SONG, office worker (through translator): Every day, especially now that I'm working, when I drag my tired body and mind home, I really want to have a moment of relaxation. I want to laugh out loud. But I can't be as easily satisfied as before, so I feel a bit disappointed."

Iran's Spanish-language channel is HispanTV, not HithpanTV.

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Tehran Times, 13 Feb 2012: "Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini met with a delegation from Latin America on Sunday where he stressed on the need to expand the cultural relations between Iran and Latin America. ... Xavier David from Colombia ... asked about the Iranian-run Spanish language TV channel Hispan TV which has recently been launched. 'The Spanish language was not our priority in former times but it has been our main concern these days to help transfer our culture to other countries. Of course targeting Latin America is our main goal rather than Spain,' Hosseini replied."

Radiance Viewsweekly, 12 Feb 2012: "Iran’s president on Jan 31 lauded his country’s newly launched Spanish-language satellite TV channel, saying it would deal a blow to 'dominance seekers' — remarks that were an apparent jab at the US and the West."

BBC World News apologizing for airing documentary by company under Malaysian government contract (updated).

Posted: 17 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Independent, 11 Feb 2012, Ian Burrell: "The BBC will today apologise to an estimated 74 million people around the world for a news fixing scandal, exposed by The Independent, in which it broadcast documentaries made by a London TV company that was earning millions of pounds from PR clients which it featured in its programming. BBC World News viewers from Kuala Lumpur to Khartoum and Bangkok to Buenos Aires will watch the remarkable broadcast, available in 295 million homes, 1.7 million hotel rooms, 81 cruise ships, 46 airlines and on 35 mobile phone platforms, at four different times, staged in order to reach audiences in different time zones. The BBC will apologise for breaking 'rules aimed at protecting our editorial integrity'. The Independent exposed last year in an investigation into the global television news industry how the BBC paid nominal fees of as little as £1 for programmes made by FBC Media (UK), whose PR client list included foreign governments and multinational companies. The company made eight pieces for the BBC about Malaysia while failing to declare it was paid £17m by the Malaysian government for 'global strategic communications'. The programmes included positive coverage of Malaysia's controversial palm oil industry. ... Making a direct reference to the FBC documentaries, it will say: 'In the case of eight other programmes, all of which featured Malaysia, we found that the production company which made the programmes appeared to have a financial relationship with the Malaysian government. This meant there was a potential conflict of interest, though the BBC was not aware of it when the programmes were broadcast.' It concludes: 'Editorial integrity is the highest priority for BBC World News, which is why we apologise for these breaches of our normal standards.'" See previous post about same subject.

Update: Daily Mail, 13 Feb 2012, Claire Elliott: "The broadcaster has now said it will change its system after showing documentaries made by FBC Media (UK) whose PR client list included foreign governments and multinational companies."

Press Gazette, 13 Feb 2012, Heloise Wood: "BBC World News broadcast the apology four times on Saturday, February 11. It is also available on the BBC Trust’s website. A BBC World News spokesperson said: 'We have accepted the BBC Trust’s findings and also apologised to viewers. We are committed to the highest standards of broadcasting. Since these issue were raised, we've brought forward a series of changes to tighten our systems and strengthen the protection of our editorial independence.' The BBC has also established an action plan endorsed by the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee." -- I can't find the apology at the BBC Trust website.

journalism.co.uk, 13 Feb 2012, Paul McNally: "After the breaches emerged, the BBC pledged to no longer acquire programmes for a low or nominal cost and no longer accept sponsorship from non-commercial organisations. The broadcaster also said it would review its list of trusted suppliers."

The Drum, 12 Feb 2012, Noel Young: "The BBC was due this weekend to make what may be the world's biggest apology to an estimated 74 million people around the world for a news fixing scandal, exposed by The Independent. ... Few mentions of the apology appear today in the UK papers, perhaps preoccupied with other media matters. But the story goes to the heart of the question of the integrity of TV documentaries and is yet another black eye for the British media business."

malaysiakini, 13 Feb 2011, Podeh: "My car radio is automatically tuned to FM 88.9, BBC's World Service station in Singapore and Malaysia to get some quality news, documentaries and opinions. I know the BBC World Service is very cash strapped, having closed quiet a number of their foreign language stations all over the world. However, for them to get paid by our government to air their propaganda is stooping too low."

The Guardian, 8 Feb 2012, John Plunkett: The BBC Trust "said internal changes at the BBC, which will see BBC News and the BBC World Service combine into a single operation, was 'both a challenge and an opportunity' for the way the news channel covers international stories."

Free Malaysia Today, 17 Feb 2012, Mariam Mokhtar: "The anger caused by the misreporting of BBC has not abated. There is deep resentment of the PM and his Cabinet for spending millions of taxpayers’ money on their image rather than on the issues that plague the country. There is also a lack of confidence in BBC because an institution which has been trusted for ages has allowed itself to be compromised in this manner. One BBC fan said, 'How could the BBC not be aware of FBC and its true intentions. Surely BBC is not so naïve as to think it was into charity work?'"

China's CCTV has big plans for Africa.

Posted: 16 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Africa Report, 15 Feb 2012, Pierre Boisselet: "CCTV Africa's headquarters are based in Nairobi, and the channel enjoys its own news-production unit (the first of its kind outside China). All shows are produced in Nairobi, and the image archive is put together by virtue of a network of correspondents dotted around the continent. Since December last year, an entire team has been on standby in Dakar, ready to be deployed throughout the whole of West Africa, hoping their missions are not given to their colleagues in Ghana or Nigeria. On more long term basis, the company is planning to open no less than fourteen subsidiaries in Africa, including North Africa. ... According to one of the Kenyan managers, CCTV Africa is expected to be increased from a one hour show to two hours a day in the next three to four months. Transmission will be a 24/7 affair by 2015. China has embarked on the media battle at a time when BBC is reducing its worldwide coverage and when France24 is joining forces with RFI, in order to cut costs. ... [T]he Chinese way of covering world events surprisingly lacks subtlety in comparison to other international media. During the UN Security Council resolution for an intervention against repression in Syria, Africa Live from January 5 only showed the appearance of the Chinese diplomat. ... Even though tremendous sums have been invested a single Chinese media have yet to achieve any international acclaim." -- Will CCTV Africa really be 24-hour Africa-originated? Or will it include hours of the global English-language CCTV News? And will CCTV Africa content be seen on CCTV News in other parts of the world?

Financial Times, 13 Feb 2012, Kathrin Hille: "CCTV is now modelling its expansion on the pan-Arab news channel Al Jazeera, insiders say, because it also comes from a non-western background, has excellent technical standards and found a niche because its reporting on some international issues is seen as more in-depth and balanced than that of western networks. 'The Chinese are a bit late to the game,' says Jim Laurie, a veteran broadcaster formerly with ABC News who has been advising CCTV since 2009, and now acts as a consultant for the new venture. 'But they feel they can offer alternative perspective, and report underreported stories.' CCTV also sees opportunities in some corners of the world where cuts have forced the BBC to retreat, Mr Laurie said."

VOA News, 15 Feb 2012, William Ide: "Editorial staff at CCTV America say they won't shy away from touchy topics and note that the operation is locally controlled in Washington, not Beijing. 'They didn't hire us saying, "We want you to do this." They hired us saying, "We really want your experience and expertise. We want to raise our level, our profile. We want to follow your lead,"' said Barbara Dury, formerly with CBS’s 60 Minutes program. She is now the senior producer of the news magazine show Americas Now. 'Now, when that changes, that could be a different story.'"

See previous post about same subject.

Khaleej Times, 12 Feb 2012, Frank Ching: "Soft power almost by definition results from civil society. American culture, for example, is reflected by such products as Hollywood movies, Coca-Cola and blue jeans, none of which are government creations. The Chinese government is trying to create soft power while repressing major segments of civil society."

Information into Syria: the internet versus "unidirectional" shortwave.

Posted: 16 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
CNN, News Stream, 9 Feb 2012, Ally Barnard: "The U.S. State Department has even funded an online encryption system to support uncensored internet access in Syria. It is called Psiphon. The company's CEO told CNN the software had been 'aggressively' introduced to Syria in November. '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.'"

More people would rather have internet access in their home than a shortwave radio, and largely for the latter's bidirectionality. But keep in mind that internet use, even if it's read-only, can be tracked, whereas shortwave listening cannot. Furthermore, the internet usually involves landlines, which can be blocked. Shortwave content comes in wirelessly, and has some immunity against jamming because of the tendency of signals on those frequencies to travel better over long rather than short distances. For these reasons, those who wish to keep informed during bad times as well as good should have a shortwave radio. Those who wish to inform during such crises should keep shortwave transmitters, if not on the air, at least in standby condition.

BBC Worldwide Showcase TV program bazaar comes to Liverpool.

Posted: 16 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Liverpool Daily Post, 15 Feb 2012, Alistair Houghton: "BBC Worldwide Showcase – the biggest event of its kind in the world – is being held in Liverpool for the first time after years in Brighton. The event sees BBC Worldwide promote programmes to buyers from TV stations around the world."

Worldscreen.com, 14 Feb 2012, Kristin Brzoznowski: "BBC Worldwide Showcase is on pace to open its doors to more than 640 international TV buyers, alongside top-line talent, marking its biggest-ever event, which is taking place in Liverpool from February 26 to 29. ... 'We’ve had a phenomenal response to our first Showcase in Liverpool,' said Steve Macallister, the president and managing director for sales and distribution at BBC Worldwide. 'With a significant increase in delegates from America and Asia and many digital clients attending for the first time including Hulu, Netflix, Yota, Onet, CME and FetchTV Australia we have exceeded our expectations and look forward to welcoming a record breaking number of delegates to this iconic city.'"

See also the BBC Worlddwide Showcase website.

Co-host of AJE's "The Stream" moves, appropriately enough, to Huffington Post Streaming Network.

Posted: 16 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Ad Age, 15 Feb 2012, Jason Del Rey: "Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, most recently the co-host of an Al Jazeera English TV show called 'The Stream,' is joining [Huffington Post Streaming Network] as its first producer-host. 'The Stream,' which also operates an online community, covers world news while integrating viewer commentary from social networks into its telecasts."

Media Bistro, 13 Feb 2012, Betsy Rothstein: "Bob Wheelock of ABC joined Al Jazeera English in Washington last week. He is their new Executive Producer for the Americas. Bob has been a Senior Producer, Broadcast Producer, and London Bureau Chief for NBC and has led ABC News’ Special Events Unit. He’ll be the most senior person in the Al Jazeera English newsroom overseeing all news gathering in the Americas- including election coverage and a new news program, 'Inside Story Americas.'"

Demonstration for Al Jazeera in Philadelphia, against Al Jazeera in Johannesburg.

Posted: 16 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Wrap, 10 Feb 2012, Lucas Shaw: "Grassroots activists are going to deliver a popular online petition asking Comcast Cable to carry Al-Jazeera English nationally to Comcast headquarters in Philadelphia on Monday. The petition, launched by Rethink Press on change.org, has already attracted more than 23,000 signatures. ... A Comcast spokeswoman issued the following statement with regard to the petition: 'While we are not currently in discussions, we have met with representatives of Al Jazeera in the past. We regularly examine our channel lineups and talk with a wide range of programmers to ensure that we are bringing the content that our customers want the most.'"

Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 Feb 2012, Michael Matzka: "On Monday, about 40 demonstrators descended on the Philadelphia headquarters of Comcast Corp. to demand that it add Al-Jazeera English (AJE) to its lineup of cable offerings."

NewsWithViews.com, 15 Feb 2012, Cliff Kincaid: "Fresh from their attempts to disrupt the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), members of the 'Occupy' movement showed up in Philadelphia, at the headquarters of Comcast Corp., to demand that the company put the Arab propaganda channel Al-Jazeera on all of its cable systems nationwide. Despite the pathetic turnout—only about two dozen people showed up—the demonstration garnered attention from such news organizations as the Associated Press and Reuters."

Eye Witness News (Johannesburg), 14 Feb 2012, Rahima Essop: "A small group of activists from rights group SECTION27 held a protest outside Al Jazeera's Johannesburg office on Tuesday, over the poor treatment of a former employee. The local journalist took up a job for the television network in Doha during October 2010, but was deported because he was HIV positive."

Indian Country Today Media Network, 12 Feb 2012: "The recent public outcry in Canada about the plight of Attawapiskat and other First Nations prompted ongoing media coverage not only throughout the country but also abroad. With the Crown–First Nations Gathering coming in the wake of the Attawapiskat disclosures, the eyes of the world have been on Canada’s aboriginal peoples. Al Jazeera English in particular has done some in-depth stories on the issue of Canada’s indigenous. This half-hour segment of the Arab news network’s show Inside Story focused on both Canada’s aboriginals and on American Indians."

Broadband TV News, 14 Feb 2012, Robert Briel: "Al Jazeera Sport is set to launch two channels in France in June. The broadcaster is also bidding for the Euro 2012 football rights."

Daily Start (Beirut), 9 Feb 2012: "Most Lebanese cable providers stopped broadcasting Al-Jazeera channels earlier this week to protest the Qatari corporation’s demand for new fees from local cable providers. ... 'Al-Jazeera has called for a charge of $1.50 from every cable subscriber in the country [who receives their channels] in addition to the monthly charge for their cable ... Customers cannot pay such an amount of money to watch Al-Jazeera,' said one cable provider in Ashrafieh. But the new fees are only part of their grievances. Cable providers in Beirut told The Daily Star that Al-Jazeera had sold broadcasting rights to all its sports channels to a single cable provider from the Beirut southern suburbs for $1 million."

CNN denies "misinformation" about personnel moves at its Jerusalem bureau.

Posted: 16 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 11 Feb 2012: "In response to inaccurate reports, CNN has strongly denied since Friday rumors that it no longer employs Israeli Jews in its Jerusalem bureau. The company has said: 'CNN has recently reviewed its worldwide operations, an exercise we do regularly to ensure operational and technological efficiency in everything we do. As part of this exercise, we have reorganized the CNN bureau in Jerusalem.' To counter misinformation reported on various websites, the company has confirmed: 'CNN currently has seven employees working in CNN's Jerusalem bureau, four of whom are Jewish. There is no basis in fact for these reports.'"

Israel National News, 30 Jan 2012: "Member of Knesset Nachman Shai wrote a letter to Vice President Tony Maddox, in charge of CNN International, Monday, in response to information he had received that the first local layoffs made by the cable news network were three Israeli citizens with journalistic roles, while non-Israelis, including Palestinian Authority office staff were not fired."

Has BBC World Service been shut down in Bahrain? Or is the report "rubbish"? Or is it router failure?

Posted: 16 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World Have Your Say, @BBC_WHYS, 14 Feb 2012: "British expat says #BBC World Service has been shut down in #Bahrain."

Dilraz Kunnummal @DilKnml, 14 Feb 2012: "@BBC_WHYS RUBBISH I JUST WATCHED IT and I AM STILL WATCHING IT!"

It might be that BBC World Service radio has been taken off FM in Bahrain, while BBC World News and/or BBC Arabic TV are still available via satellite television in Bahrain.

Update: Gulf Daily News, 16 Feb 2012: "A disruption to the BBC World Service has been blamed on router failure, officials said. Listeners in Bahrain had been experiencing problems with the radio service on Tuesday and yesterday when they were unable to access it. 'There was a router failure at one of the third parties that provides streaming services to the BBC over the weekend,' said officials from the BBC World Service audience relations department. ... Officials confirmed the service is now running as normal."

Former VOA director on the proposed VOA budget cut and on VOA programs "under other names."

Posted: 15 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
MountainRunner.us, 15 Feb 2012, David Jackson, director of VOA 2002-2006: "VOA’s historical mission of informing international audiences about the U.S. and U.S. policies, or, put another way, telling them about who Americans are, and what we believe in. The BBG’s newly rewritten mission statement makes no reference to this role, which could well prompt members of Congress to question why they should spend scarce taxpayer dollars on simply supporting another international news service, even a reformed one. VOA was originally created to counter anti-American propaganda, among other reasons, and while many things have changed since those early days of World War II, the need to counter anti-American propaganda has, unfortunately, not. Unless there’s a central and acknowledged role in the BBG’s – and VOA’s – mission for providing accurate, balanced, and comprehensive information about the U.S. and our policies, then it undermines the BBG’s and VOA’s entire reason for being. ... [T]ime and again Board members have tried to pressure VOA management to launch programs under other names, thinking that might avoid the assumed taint of being associated with the U.S. government. The fact is, that association is not necessarily bad. VOA’s reputation, which has been painstakingly built over seven decades, is of a broadcaster who tells the truth about everything, including the U.S., and even when the news is unflattering. When we try to hide the association with VOA (or the U.S. government), that only prompts conspiracy theories that the CIA is behind the broadcasts. And in the end, they always figure out it’s coming from us anyway."

Congress should not spend money on an international news service that the private sector can accomplish at no cost to the taxpayers. Because of this, USIB in English is more difficult to justify than in most of the other USIB langauges. People who speak these non-English languages need accurate, balanced, and comprehensive information, but there is little commercial potential for international broadcasting in most of them. Because it is in the interest of the United States that speakers of these languages are well and completely informed, Congress has a good reason to spend money on USIB.

See previous posts with essays on the same subject in MountainRunner.us by Belida, Heil, and Elliott.

Our World Radio Day coverage (two days after World Radio Day).

Posted: 15 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 11 Feb 2012, Andy Sennitt: "When I started listening to radio, it was a passive medium, especially international radio. On some stations, the programmes often consisted of an announcer with a strong accent reading out a poorly translated text on a boring subject, guaranteed to minimise the chances of getting a reaction from the listener. In fact RNW was one of the first international broadcasters to experiment with the kind of direct listener contact that is now the norm in radio. In the 1980s, before the advent of the internet and handheld devices, I took part in some live phone-ins for the English service, which went out in some of the Saturday transmissions. There were four transmissions to different parts of the world, and we were amazed at how many people were prepared to make an international phone call just to speak to us."

Deccan Chronicle, 12 Feb 2012, N. Arun Kumar: "When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Texas, Prof. V. Balasubramanian knew about it in a few minutes sitting in Chennai thanks to his Murphy valve radio to which he has been glued for the last six decades. Prof. Balasubramanian has been an avid radio listener who has a collection of over 5,000 cassettes with recordings for over three decades. DC spoke to Prof. Balasubramanian on the occasion of World Radio Day (February 13). It was his hobby that helped the 71-year-old Mr Balasubramanian get his first pen-friend abroad. 'I befriended Mr Ronald James from New Zealand through Radio Australia’s mailbag programme,' said Balu Sir as he is fondly called in the radio listeners’ circle. Attributing his desire to develop an English vocabulary as his main reason behind tuning into stations like British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America (VOA), Prof. Balasubramanian said that during 1950s, it was not possible to get an English magazine in Chennai so with no other option left, he had tuned into foreign radios."

Radio Prague, 13 Feb 2012: "The son of a dissident imprisoned for publishing samizdat literature, the regime was glad to be rid of [Jan Bednár] when he applied to leave the country in the early 80s. He went to England and was able to complete his studies in politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, from where he proceeded to join the Czechoslovak service of the BBC in 1985. Today he produces a foreign politics programme for Czech Radio 6. Last week, Jan Bednár was awarded the Ferdinand Peroutka prize, the highest journalistic accolade in the Czech Republic. On the occasion of the very first World Radio Day we met with Mr Bednár in the studio and asked him first to recall how he came to be involved in radio journalism in exile." -- In the interview, Mr Bednár compares the VOA, RFE, and BBC Czech/Slovak services.

ABC Perth, 13 Feb 2012, Brooke Bannister: "World Radio Day is on Monday February 13 and to mark the occasion 720 ABC Breakfast crossed to 720 Chicago to talk all thing radio. ... Despite being thousands of kilometres away, 720 WGN Chicago's Late Night host Bill Leff says the challenges their radio station faces is global. 'The trick here is to get the audience to evolve with the station and for the station to evolve with the audience.' Mr Leff said. ... To find out more about World Radio Day, visit ABC Radio's 'What is World Radio Day?'"

Radio Cadena Agramonte (Cuba), 13 Feb 2012, Arailaisy Rosabal García: "'Radio is the greatest screen on earth', once said brilliant filmmaker Orson Welles, who before his debut in cinema had already risen to fame with his radio adaptation of the science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. It appeared so real that a myriad of listeners believed that aliens were in deed invading the Earth. ... As once said German poet, playwright, and theatre director Bertolt Brecht: 'radio is a substitute for theatre, opera, concerts, lectures, café music, local newspapers, and so forth'. Maybe because of that, neither the subsequent discovery of television nor the Internet boom have been capable to replace it."

Will the Voice of America become the "Whisper of America"?

Posted: 15 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
MountainRunner.us, 14 Feb 2012, Alan Heil: "Under the Obama administration’s proposed FY 13 budget, the potential damage to the nation’s flagship publicly funded overseas network, the Voice of America, would be unprecedented if Congress approves it. Contrast the reductions: VOA faces net cuts totaling $17 million, compared with a reduction of $731,000 for its sister network, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The Voice of America, now in its 70th year, faces a far larger reduction, proportionally, than either the U.S. international broadcasting administrative support bureaucracy or collectively, the four other networks in the system. They are: RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Network, and Radio-TV Marti. Cuts of VOA staff who actually put programs on the air are the principal targets of the cuts, across the board. Such hemorrhaging must be halted if the free flow of information from America to the world is to be secured for the millennial generation so curious about our nation and its role in the century ahead. In effect, many VOA assets are being reprogrammed to enhance consolidation of U.S. international broadcasting and the rapid pursuit of new media formats. The only encouraging aspect of the budget is the notion that VOA Central News, although greatly reduced in size, will become the site of a global news network incorporating the best reporting of all five publicly-funded overseas broadcasting entities."

American Diplomacy, December 2011, Alan L. Heil Jr: "Content is king, and credibility will continue to be the North Star of U.S. international broadcasting program producers and reporters in every region of the world and in the United States. As the strategic plan shows, the Board can supply an overarching policy framework. But accurate, objective journalism produced at the broadcaster level is what matters most and empowers listeners in a wide range of settings, from refugee camps in Africa, Tibetan monasteries in India, to large communities of social media consumers in the cities of China, Russia, the Arab world, Iran, North Korea, and in an awakening Burma. Although choices will be painful for all the broadcasters of the West in the years ahead, progress in 2011 toward synergies in America’s world services augur well."

Former VOA journalist calls for a rewrite of the BBG mission statement.

Posted: 15 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
MountainRunner.us, 13 Feb 2012, Alex Belida, former correspondent and news executive who worked in U.S. International Broadcasting for 40 years: "When the current Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) decided last year to revamp its mission statement, it conceded 'a variety of opinions exist within the BBG family' about the elements the statement should contain. That is certainly an understatement! Virtually none of the journalists I knew at the Voice of America was happy with the old mission statement. And the new one hasn’t exactly received rave reviews either. ... I would therefore appeal to the Board to adopt a new mission statement more attuned to the priorities of Congress and professional journalists: 'U.S. International Broadcasters will serve as consistently reliable and authoritative sources of accurate, objective and comprehensive news in support of freedom of the press and the free flow of information worldwide.'"

Mountainrunner.us, 15 Feb 2013, Alex Belida: "Clearly the [members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors] should be experienced in the fields of journalism and foreign affairs. But they should also be individuals who, despite the part-time nature of the work, are willing and able to devote themselves more intensely to the BBG’s work. The current Board members have other jobs – jobs that interfere with their ability to function as effective overseers of USIB. Walter Isaacson, who just resigned as Chairman of the BBG, is a good example. While on the Board, he also held down the job of President and CEO of the Aspen Institute and he continued writing, notably his recent best-selling biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs. He quit the BBG because he said he was embarking on yet another major writing project. Another example is Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. He has missed most of the BBG’s monthly meetings. So who best to replace these appointees? I would suggest the President (and Congress) look first to the ranks of retirees from the Voice of America and the other USIB entities and consider giving two of the Board’s eight seats to them. ... In addition to having two of the eight Board seats reserved for non-partisan USIB retirees, I would propose two seats for retired U.S. public diplomacy specialists, two for appointees representing journalism education and the final two seats for representatives of U.S. news media. I would remove the Secretary of State from the Board and allow the eight other members to elect their own Chairman." -- Yes, remove the Secretary of State. But why "public diplomacy specialists"? USIB is in the news business rather than the public diplomacy business. Or at least should be, if it wants to have an audience.

Huffington Post, 15 Feb 2012, Alex Belida: "Critics have for years called for integrating U.S. broadcasters and eliminating the costly duplication that has, for example, seen VOA and RFE-RL both broadcast to such countries as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. But many of these same critics look at the Board's plans now as a thinly veiled effort to slowly do away with the Voice of America, whose journalists have long been known for upholding journalistic standards in the face of political pressure from the Board and conservative members of Congress."

MountainRunner.us, 2 Feb 2012, Alex Belida: "Anyone with any experience in international broadcasting should know this to be true: audiences don’t need to be told what to think. They can think for themselves. And those media outlets that try to dictate thought soon lose their ability to attract mass audiences." See also Ibid, 10 Feb 2012.

BBG Innovation Commission meets: something about rebranding America via engagement, not broadcasting, to overcome institutional inertia.

Posted: 15 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 13 Feb 2012: "Thought leaders from the worlds of technology and government are seeking next-generation answers to a range of challenges, including how U.S. international broadcasting can add renewed luster to its global brands. They gathered Feb. 10 as members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ Commission on Innovation. Meeting at the Washington bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, they discussed how digital innovations might help create new audiences in specific markets."

BBG Innovate @bbginnovate, 10 Feb 2012: "@rainakumra & Paola Antonelli talking abt Re-Brandin[g] America #MediaCraft pic.twitter.com/CikTbPzp

Ahmad AbouAmmo @ahmadaa, 10 Feb 2012: "News #SocialMedia Strategy should focus on #engagement not on #broadcasting #USIB @bbginnovate." Retweeted by BBG Innovate @bbginnovate.

The BBG's goal is to increase audience to 216 million people weekly by 2016. And now this should be achieved without the assistance of broadcasting? I would hate to be the college intern assigned to do all that engaging.

Why would USIB want to "add renewed luster to its global brands"? Is it so that those brands are better equipped to compete with one another? I think the best way to add luster to the USIB brands is to combine them into one brand.

"Rebranding America," aside from being wholly inconsistent with the journalistic function of USIB, would encroach on the work of the public diplomacy offices at State. I see a mighty bureaucratic turf battle forming.

Fast Company, 15 Feb 2012, Neal Ungerleider: "The BBG's upper echelons mainly consist of career appointees who got their start in the Cold War and Clinton eras; although they have made amazing strides into the web age, they are still hobbled somewhat by institutional inertia. The commission is an attempt to change that." See also Radio Survivor, 16 Feb 2012, Matthew Lasar.

When my Bush House farewell party invite finally arrives, I will decline it, too.

Posted: 14 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 14 Feb 2012, Donna Bowater: "The World Service's former managing director Sir John Tusa said he had declined his invitation to the event to mark the milestone and bid farewell to the BBC's Bush House after his former colleagues were overlooked. In an email to Lord Patten, Sir John told the chairman of the BBC Trust there was 'real anger' among retired staff at missing out on the celebrations. ... 'BBC World Service should have left Bush House in a blaze of celebration and achievement. Instead, WS Management crawl out having humiliated those who made Bush House great in a way they will never comprehend,' Sir John wrote. ... A spokesman for the BBC said the event on March 1 was for opinion formers, with a ticketed celebration for staff on the following day. ... In a statement, the broadcaster said: 'To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the World Service and the departure from Bush House, BBC World Service is planning a special day of programmes giving unique access to the building for our audiences. 'To keep costs to a minimum, we have tagged on events for staff and opinion formers, which will be based on BBC premises and share the same facilities. In a tight financial environment, staff are also being asked to pay for tickets. Whilst we appreciate this may not be welcomed by all staff, we have a responsibility to use our money carefully and prioritise our audiences.'" See previous post about same subject.

Complaint about the public diplomacy spots on an international news channel (updated).

Posted: 14 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Pambazuka News, 1 Feb 2012, Rafael Marques de Morais: "Semba Comunicação, a private Angolan company, has been receiving millions of dollars directly from the presidency of the Republic of Angola’s budget to produce commercials to improve the image of Angola abroad. However, this company, incorporated on October 11, 2006, is owned by President José Eduardo dos Santos’ children, namely Welwitchea José dos Santos ‘Tchizé’ and José Paulino dos Santos ´Coréon Du.’ They are promoting the image of their father’s regime through campaigns broadcasted on CNN International. ... The 2012 presidential budget alone allocates almost US $17 million for Semba Comunicação to engage in a contractual agreement with CNN International for a new advertisement campaign. Read the complete story at Maka Angola. While two-thirds of the Angolan population survives on less than $2 a day, the President and his protégés, including his family, have been plundering the extensive natural resources of the country. Transferring taxpayers’ money from the presidency budget to his children’s private company is only the latest of multiple and continuous acts of corruption, bribery, and embezzlement committed by the president and his cronies. Tell CNN to stop accepting advertisement from the corrupt president José Eduardo dos Santos’ regime! Write to Rani R. Raad, CNN Senior Vice President, Ad Sales ,and tell him that CNN should not broadcast any advertisement produced by Semba Comunicação."

This is an interesting issue. CNN International is a news channel, not a conveyor of public diplomacy. It receives no monet from the US Government. To earn revenue, however, CNN International sells advertising time. Much of that time is sold to countries, which use the 60-secod spots to promote trade, tourism, investment, or just the country in general. Are CNN and other international news channels that sell ads agnostic in their sales? Will they sell time to anyone, including, say the Assad regime, or North Korea? Will they accept ads that take a position on a contentious international issue, such as Jerusalem or the Iranian nuclear program?

Update: Maka Angola, 13 Feb 2012, Rafael Marques de Morais: "The CNN Press Office (London) has answered the concerns raised by Maka Angola on the agreements between the international news network and the Angolan regime, regarding a media campaign to promote a better image of the latter, due to grave concerns of nepotism and corruption. ... It is also noteworthy to remind CNN of the visit made by its Africa Bureau chief, Kim Norgaard, to Angola, last January. During the visit, the CNN representative met with the Angolan authorities to discuss arrangements for CNN to improve the image of the Angolan regime, through a series of reportages, based on the country’s oil dependent economic growth. On January 17, 2012, Kim Norgaard said, during a meeting with government officials, that “(…) We have decided to meet with the minister of Information, so that together we will draft a plan to allow us to assuredly broadcast the real situation of Angola to the world, contrary to what is happening outside.” (Jornal de Angola, January 18, 2012) On behalf of the government, the Minister of Information, Carolina Cerqueira, acknowledged CNN’s plan as good and assured CNN that its coverage will be supported by the Ministry of Information 'by all possible means, so that these series of reportages will be done with an in-depth focus and a nationwide reach, to better project the image of Angola.' (Idem) It is highly unusual for a respectable international media outlet, such as CNN, to make formal agreements with a regime on news coverage of a given country, due to the basic standards of independence and integrity it is subject to. It is even more problematic to note that that very same regime, in this case the Angolan, plans to spend US $17 million in paid advertisement on CNN International." -- Another statement from CNN International might be helpful at this point.

Under reduced 2013 budget, US international broadcasting is still fragmented, but the fragments are smaller.

Posted: 14 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 13 Feb 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) today released its FY 2013 budget request, which contains a set of strategic measures to advance its core mission and meet the challenges of the changing global media environment within current spending constraints. ... For FY 2013 the BBG has requested more than $720 million for U.S. international broadcasting, a decrease of 4.2 percent from FY 2012. ... The FY 2013 budget request includes program, transmission and staffing reductions at the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and the International Broadcasting Bureau, in part through efforts to restructure operations and end duplication. While four broadcast languages are proposed for elimination, the budget request preserves broad-based service in diverse vernacular languages to meet the needs of BBG audiences worldwide." With link to the complete FY 2013 budget request.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 13 Feb 2012, Andy Sennitt: "Taking all transmission and language service reductions into account, the budget request proposes to discontinue the use of shortwave and mediumwave except for Cuba, China, North Korea, Burma, Iran, Tibet, Uyghur, FATA (Afghan-Pakistan border region), Pakistan, Afghanistan, Belarusian, Russian to the Caucasus, Russian, Turkmen, Khmer, and Africa. The Poro, Philippines transmitting station would close and discontinue 10 positions. This one megawatt station [on 1170 kHz] currently provides only five hours per day of mediumwave transmission to audiences in Southeast Asia, and the potential requirements for this station will be reduced in FY 2013. The Agency plans to maintain and develop FM radio, television, satellite, Internet, mobile services, and other platforms that are more effective for serving target audiences currently served by Poro. My attention has also been drawn to a plan to ‘Consolidate and Reorganize Central News and English Divisions’ which, if implemented, would save $5.660 million. 'As part of this budget request, VOA’s Central News will accelerate its transition from a large scale producer of English-language content, much of it based on wire services, to a much leaner newsroom, producing original content, and a short menu of top stories. Central News would also act as a clearinghouse for original content produced by VOA language service journalists.'"

State Department, 13 Feb 2012, fact sheet on its FY 2013 budget request: "$507.4 million for public diplomacy to engage foreign audiences and win support for U.S. foreign policy goals, programs that include engaging with civil society in transition countries such as Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt (including the Frontline States, the total Public Diplomacy Request is $541.7 million)." -- This is separate from the BBG budget request because public diplomacy and international broadcasting are two very different types of communication.

New Turner International president will manage "130 channels in more than 30 languages in 200 countries."

Posted: 13 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Variety, 7 Feb 2012, Steve Clarke: "Turner Broadcasting System is poised to turbo-charge its growth overseas now that it has recruited Gerhard Zeiler, one of Europe's most prominent media execs, to lead its international wing. Zeiler will segue to the post of TBS Intl. prexy in April, after spending the past nine years as head of Bertelsmann's Euro broadcast giant RTL Group. The news unveiled Tuesday surprised TV biz observers on two continents and was seen as a coup for TBS chairman and CEO Phil Kent. Based in London, Zeiler will oversee a staff of 3,800, managing all of Turner's operations outside of the U.S., including CNN's international offshoots and TBS-derived licensing and merchandising activity. At present, Turner operates more than 130 channels in more than 30 languages in 200 countries."

Turner Broadcasting System press release, 7 Feb 2012: "Turner Broadcasting System International operates versions of core TBS, Inc. brands including CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies, as well as country- and region-specific networks and businesses. In recent years, Turner Broadcasting has doubled its scale in Latin America, forged strategic media partnerships in Japan and Korea, expanded in the Nordic region and Chile and teamed with Warner Bros. and HBO to leverage Time Warner’s global reach."

Executive notes rising audience for BBC Global News, but declining shortwave listening.

Posted: 13 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 10 Feb 2012, letter from Jim Egan, Controller, Strategy and Distribution, BBC Global News: "The BBC has not said that it will close all its short-wave services (Letters, February 8). Neither are short-wave broadcasts immune from attempts to jam and disrupt transmissions. We are committed to retaining short wave in areas of the world where it is the only reliable means of providing news, such as in Burma, Somalia and Nigeria. However, news consumption is changing. In Africa, for example, the use of mobile technology has exploded and is becoming a primary means of access to information. During the Arab Spring, audiences in Egypt overwhelmingly turned to television for trusted news. BBC Arabic’s viewing numbers rose by 80 per cent in 2011. In the same period, short-wave radio listening, including the BBC audience, declined." -- Shortwave is not immune from jamming, but it has more physical resistance to interdiction attempts than satellite broadcasting or the internet.

Ibid, letter from Philip Perkins: "It’s true that the number of short wave listeners has declined, but those who have tried listening to the World Service abroad will have found that there are few alternatives. Doesn’t the BBC have a duty to provide a service to those who fund its operations, including the estimated 5.5 million British citizens living abroad?"

The two letters above refer to the fourth item in this post.

Survey: BBC World News "fastest growing" among upmarket Asians, while BBC.com is number one media website.

Posted: 13 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 10 Feb 2012: "The latest Ipsos PAX survey (Q4 2010 - Q3 2011) shows BBC World News as the fastest growing news channel in Asia(1) and continues to be the number one international news channel consumed by Asia’s up-market elites (2). BBC World News is also shown to attract more High Net Worth Individuals(3) than any other international news or business channel (35.9%), out-delivering the combined reach of the two international business channels(4). The BBC is also number one in cross-platform reach amongst upmarket elites, reaching 45.8% of affluent Asians via its TV or digital platforms. According to PAX, the BBC received the highest boost from the inclusion of its digital reach compared to other news brands in the region. BBC’s digital platform, BBC.com, impressively ranks as the #1 media website by PAX not only among up-market elites, but also among key target sectors such as High Net Worth Individual, PMEB, Government Upper Grade, Frequent Traveller(5) and Opinion Leader." -- The most recent topline (Q2 2011) (pdf) available at the Synovate PAX website shows, among the total (upscale) sample, the following past-week audiences: CNN 22.7%, BBC World News 15.2%, Channel News Asia 5.9%; CNBC 5.0%; Bloomberg 4.5%.

New Radio Pakistan 100-kW MW transmitter will reach "far flung areas of Balochistan" as well as UAE‚ Iran‚ Oman.

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Radio Pakistan, 8 Feb 2012: "Information Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan and Senator Ismail Buledi inaugurated 100 KW high power medium wave transmitter of Radio Pakistan Turbat on Wednesday. Speaking on the occasion‚ the Information Minister said the transmitter will provide easy access to news and entertainment to the people of far flung areas of Balochistan. ... He said this station will cover a vast area of Balochistan during the day and can be heard in UAE‚ Iran‚ Oman and other Gulf countries."

Two Israeli radio stations broadcast in Persian, reaching Iran via various media.

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AP, 7 Feb 2012, Aron Heller: "Radio RADISIN, a private Farsi-language radio station based in Tel Aviv, airs Iranian music, poetry and current affairs shows aiming to spread peace between the Israeli and Iranian people — regardless of who is in power in Tehran. ... RADISIN broadcasts 24 hours a day via the Internet, satellite and cable TV. It says 100,000 listeners tune in daily, including an undisclosed number from Iran, where Internet speeds are slow and many sites, including those of political opposition groups, are blocked. It's not the only Israeli media directed toward Iran. Israel's state-run radio station has been broadcasting in Farsi for 50 years from a spartan studio off a narrow Jerusalem alleyway. It too chats with Iranians — via a switchboard in Germany to get around a ban on calls from Iran to the Jewish state. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has even named the 'Zionist broadcast' as among those behind civilian unrest in his country." -- The Kol Israel Persian-language broadcasts are its last remaining shortwave transmissions.

"Severe Internet disruptions and increased censorship" reported in Iran. "Usual antifiltering software" not working.

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RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 10 Feb 2012, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Severe Internet disruptions and increased censorship have been reported in Iran this week by Iranians who have complained on social media websites and via messages and telephone calls to RFE/RL’s Persian Service, Radio Farda. They say their access to Google services has been blocked and that they haven’t been able to access other sites like Facebook even with the usual antifiltering software. The reason for the disruption is not clear. It could be an attempt by government authorities to prevent a planned silent protest that has been called by the opposition Green Movement for February 14. ... There is also speculation that the blackout is related to the government's plan to launch a national Internet, which it reportedly has been testing for months. Iranian officials have said that the national network will be launched soon, amid concerns that it will cut off Iranians from the World Wide Web."

RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 5 Feb 2012 Golnaz Esfandiari: "Iranian news websites report that Saudi Arabia has blocked the official website of Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which is available in a dozen languages, including Arabic."

The Atlantic, 9 Feb 2012, Rebecca MacKinnon: "The struggle for freedom in the Internet age is shaping up to be very different from the ideological struggles of the twentieth century. Today's struggle is not a clear-cut contest of democracy versus dictatorship, communism versus capitalism, or one ideology over another. Human society has acquired a digital dimension with new, cross-cutting power relationships. The Internet is a politically contested space, featuring new and unstable power relationships among governments, citizens, and companies. Today's battles over freedom and control are raging simultaneously across democracies and dictatorships; across economic, ideological, and cultural lines."

Caracas-based Telesur updates its look on TV and web.

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Rapid TV News, 9 Feb 2012, Iñaki Ferreras: "As part of a business-wide make over that will involve a new corporate image, South American TV network teleSUR has upgraded its programming. Coinciding with its imminent sixth birthday, the broadcaster is making several changes with new sets and a new image both on TV and its website with the intention of updating its look and elevating quality standards, the network added new sets, new studios and the state of the art technology to present the daily newscast. The station will also deploy LED lighting, touch screens and a completely new set, in addition to multifunctional studios with the latest technology in interactive systems, graphic design, video projection and set control. But the upgrade will not only be present on TV; the company's website has also gone through several changes, including a new image and new services including support for interaction with users who will now be able to comment and evaluate content."

Sky News Arabia begins rehearsals and is set for spring launch.

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The National, 9 Feb 2012, Ben Flanagan: "Sky News Arabia, the Arabic TV news station scheduled for launch this spring, has moved into its Abu Dhabi studio and says rehearsals will begin this month. ... [Nart Bouran, the head of Sky News Arabia] said that the launch of the free-to-air station, set for the spring, was on track. He declined to specify a date, although industry sources say the channel is likely to begin broadcasting in April. ... The line-up of 22 presenters will be announced soon - and will include some well-known names, he added. 'There are some household names, some fresh faces, and some well-known faces. It's a good mix of people from all over … the Arab world,' Mr Bouran said. Sky News Arabia will vie for audience share and advertising revenues with the two incumbent news stations, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. It will also compete with Alarab, a station being launched by the Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, which is set to launch in December and will be based in Bahrain. ... The Arabic-language station will have 12 dedicated bureaus, in cities such as Cairo, London, Washington, Beirut, Baghdad, Islamabad and Gaza. ... 'but we also have nine Sky UK bureaus that we're connected with.'"

AMEinfo, 9 Deb 2012: "Sky News Arabia will broadcast from a single large studio, housing a number of permanent sets dedicated to different programs, providing seamless flow from one area and presenter to another, giving production directors maximum flexibility over their 11 cameras. A massive 10 meter wide video wall will be employed to visually aid in-depth analysis of stories being covered."

Arab News, 8 Feb 2012: "Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), met with Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, Ali Rowghani, CFO of Twitter and Suhail Rizvi from Twitter at The Plaza Hotel in New York earlier this week during Prince Alwaleed’s trip to the US. Prince Alwaleed was accompanied by Jamal Khashoggi, general manager of Alarab news channel that is privately owned by Prince Alwaleed and Ms. Heba Fatani, senior executive manager, Corporate Communications Department, KHC. During the meeting, Costolo thanked the Prince for giving him the opportunity to meet with him. Moreover, the two discussed the collaboration between Prince Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding's combined investment of $300 million in Twitter that was announced in December 2011."

Seton Hall University will have a "study day," 15 March, on German international broadcasting of World War II.

Posted: 12 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Seton Hall University news, 1 Feb 2012, Father Lawrence Frizzell: "During the Second World War the airwaves were the source of people’s information about crucial events, often with the Axis powers and the Allies offering contradictory assessments of their impact. Various dimensions of this history will be presented by Mr. Richard Lucas and Ms. Laura N. Smith. ... Thursday, March 15, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ... Richard D. Lucas, (M.A. in Political Science, Binghamton University), is a life-long shortwave radio enthusiast as well as a freelance writer. He studies the use of radio as a tool of propaganda and persuasion. He published a thorough and scholarly study of an American, Mildred Gillars, who broadcast Nazi propaganda to English-speaking soldiers. His book, Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany (Philadelphia: Casemate, 2010), tells her story in the context of a search for success that brought betrayal of her homeland. Laura Smith, (M.A. in Jewish-Christian Studies, Seton Hall University) ... is currently assisting Rev. Lawrence E. Frizzell in preparing for publication the English translation of Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher’s 1939-1940 clandestine radio broadcasts. Broadcast from Paris, Msgr. Oesterreicher’s radio addresses encouraged Austrian resistance to Nazi occupation... ."

The NHK World Android app is available overseas, but not in Japan until "stability of system is confirmed."

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The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Feb 2012, Gavin J. Blair: "Japan’s public broadcaster is to make its international English-language news service NHK World, available free on mobile devices that use the Android OS. The news, documentary and culture channel is already available on computers and iPhones, and it hopes the wider distribution 'will reach millions of additional viewers across the globe,' according to an NHK statement. ... This Android service will only be available to overseas viewers initially, but NHK (known officially in English as Japan Broadcasting Corporation) said in a statement that it 'plans to introduce it in Japan once stability of system is confirmed.'" See also AndroidZoom. And NHK World, 7 Feb 2012.

BBC America's first orginal drama, set in 1860s New York City, begins shooting in Toronto.

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BBC America press release, 9 Feb 2012, via TVbytheNumbers: "BBC AMERICA and Cineflix Studios today announced start of production on COPPER, BBC AMERICA’s original crime drama which will air Summer 2012. The (10 x 60) series, created by Tom Fontana and Will Rokos is shooting in studio and on location in Toronto, Ontario through May 2012. ... COPPER, a gripping crime series set in 1860s New York City, centers on Kevin Corcoran, an intense, rugged Irish-American cop working the city’s notorious Five Points neighborhood." "Copper" is BBC America's first original drama.

Worldscreen.com, 3 Feb 2012, Marissa Graziadio: "BBC Worldwide Americas and LinkTV have inked a programming deal for a range of docu-series and news documentaries from BBC Worldwide, including Tribal Wives. The agreement features Tribal Wives, which premieres February 4 and follows six women who leave western comforts behind to live with some of the world’s most remote tribes."

Where will the CEO of Sony Pictures find time to be acting CEO of US international broadcasting?

Posted: 12 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 11 Feb 2012: "Following the departure of Chairman Walter Isaacson, the Broadcasting Board of Governors today unanimously approved BBG member Michael Lynton as its new interim presiding governor. ... Lynton is the Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. He is the former CEO of AOL Europe and Chairman and CEO of Pearson PLC’s Penguin Group. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Lynton and also serves on the boards of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Rand Corporation. ... The Board extends its deepest gratitude for his service to the BBG and to United States international broadcasting. 'Inspired by Chairman Isaacson’s example, the Board reaffirms its unqualified and ongoing commitment to fostering and promoting high-quality, independent and objective journalism by all BBG broadcasters. The Board rededicates itself to pursuing the mission adopted during Chairman Isaacson’s tenure: "To inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy."'" The Board designated Lynton to serve as presiding Governor on an interim basis until such time as it selects an alternate presiding Governor, Governor Lynton chooses to step down as presiding Governor, or a new Chairman is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate."

Why would a Bahraini taxi driver have an opinion about VOA? And more Bahrain media.

Posted: 11 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Commentary, 2 Feb 2012, Michael Rubin: "The Iranian government wins a great advantage through its media. Almost everyone I spoke to—taxi drivers, businessmen, and activists—say they listen to Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam service for their news or, when that is jammed, to Voice of Iran. Iran’s Press TV and Sahar are also popular. Government officials also acknowledge the popularity of these services. Here then is another example of the failure of Voice of America (and, for that matter, the BBC) which has not covered the events in Bahrain nearly as often or as completely. Bahrainis, though, are sophisticated, and while they may listen to Iranian channels for news, they are not brainwashed blindly. After all, they recognize that for news about Syria, the Iranian channels are woefully biased, 'as biased as VOA is on Bahrain,' as one taxi driver told me. Still, woe be it for the United States to lose the battle of the airwaves."

Why would a Bahraini taxi driver comment on VOA, which has not broadcast in Arabic for years? I don't think a VOA English FM relay has yet been set up in Bahrain. Rubin also takes a potshot at VOA Persian in Commentary, 8 Feb 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, coordinate no clear strategy. Voice of America’s Persian Service is as likely to castigate American policy as criticize the Iranian regime." -- But what "strategy" is involved in reporting the news? Anyway, back to Bahrain....

Twitter, 11 Feb 2012, @MEVHutch: "@14FebStrike We call for a 3-day general strike starting on 14 February for justice and democracy in... [link]. -- An "RT" in this tweet would indicate that VOA is reporting on the protests Bahrain, rather than participating in them.

TradeArabia News Service, 9 Feb 2012: "Bahrain has denied claims that foreign journalists are not being allowed into the country as the first anniversary of anti-government protests approaches. The Information Affairs Authority (IAA) yesterday said it had licensed several international news organisations to enter the country in the next two weeks. It said among them were the BBC, Voice of America, National Public Radio, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Der Spiegel, Russia Today, Nippon Hoso Kyokai, Reuters, Associated Press and American networks ABC, NBC and CBS as well as Arab media from across the region. Preparations are even being made for them to accompany police on operations and cover both legal and unauthorised demonstrations. Responding to claims that some journalists had not been accredited, IAA president Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa said there had been an unusually high volume of media visa requests for the period from February 11 to 18." See also Bahrain News Agency, 8 Feb 2012.

Bahrain News Agency, 3 Feb 2012: "Foreign Affairs Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa received today, at the Foreign Ministry's court, the Russian Ambassador to Bahrain Victor Smirnov and the Director of the Arabic Service of Russia Today (RT) news channel Alexander Nizarkov. The meeting focused on the prospects of media cooperation between Bahrain and RT and ways of enhancing it for the joint interests of both sides, praising RT's professional coverage of regional and internal events."

Bahrain News Agency, 2 Feb 2012: "In line with the strategic plans of the Information Affairs Authority (IAA) to cooperate with international expertise in Media, the IAA signed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Novo City (Russia Today News Channel) in broadcasting, exchange and possible joint productions of televised shows that include news and science, educational and entertainment programs." -- An example of RT "educational" programming in the region...

The Canadian, 1 Feb 2012, Scott C. Waring: "As Russia Today broadcasted news about Iran blocking oil in the Arabian Sea, A UFO seemed to hover near a US Aircraft carrier. Although this footage was used by RT News in January, it has date of December 2011 at the Persian Gulf on its label. It is possible it was not visible to the human eye but the digital camera picked it up."

Euronews opens Moscow office; more locations to follow.

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Advanced Television, 26 Jan 2012: "Ten years after the launch of its Russian edition and in line with its international news ‘hub’ strategy, euronews is opening a permanent office in Moscow and has appointed Alexander Shashkov as news correspondent. Continuing its expansion with the aim providing coverage from the world’s key news areas and following the opening of its offices in Brussels, London, Doha, Cairo and Paris, euronews has announced the opening of its Moscow office. The channel is set to open more offices over the coming weeks."

VOA Chinese in the news: reported sweatshop, alleged fabrication, suspected defection, and illegal listening.

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China Daily, 10 Feb 2011, Zhao Yanrong: "Chinese labor experts and employers have denied that huge numbers of their compatriots still work in sweatshops. Nevertheless, the experts acknowledge that Chinese companies continue to face heavy pressure to maximize their profits. On Jan 19 and Jan 23 the London tabloid The Sun reported that workers with Yancheng Rainbow Arts and Crafts Co Ltd, which makes Olympic mascot dolls in East China's Jiangsu province, were laboring in sweatshop conditions. The Sun said those employed in the factory were forced to work 358 hours a month to earn 93 pounds, or about 930 yuan ($148, 111 euros). 'The Chinese workers quoted by The Sun as working for the factory did not even exist,' said Gu Feng, chairman of the board of Yancheng, saying a worker interviewed by the radio station Voice of America earlier fabricated the story to tarnish the factory's reputation in retribution for his dismissal."

China Daily, 8 Feb 2012, Cang Wei and Song Wenwei, via CRI: "Gu Feng ... said that Zhu Shengrong, who was interviewed by the US-based Voice of America (VOA) earlier, fabricated the story to tarnish the factory's reputation out of retribution for his dismissal. In its report, VOA quoted Zhu as saying that he was forced to work about 14 hours a day without overtime pay. ... 'The verdicts of local courts can prove that Zhu was not fired because of an industrial injury, about which he must have lied to VOA,' Gu said."

The China Post (Taipei), 10 Feb 2012: "Chongqing Deputy Mayor Wang Lijun's (王立軍) suspected effort to seek asylum in the United States consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan, and his apparent arrest by Beijing security is an embarrassment to Beijing and reveals a power struggle ahead of a decisive Communist Party of China (CPC) congress later this year, Chinese scholars said yesterday. The Wang Lijun saga became big news after Voice of America (VOA) reported that the former deputy mayor and police chief of Chongqing municipality had met with American diplomats inside the consulate and later left 'of his own volition.'"

The Epoch Times, 8 Feb 2012, Heng He: "Forty-three years ago, I first became aware that there was an alternative to the [Chinese Communist] Party, an outside world against which the Party’s actions could be judged. In 1969, like millions of middle and high school students across China, I was sent to the countryside. Leaving behind my native Shanghai, I carried one shortwave radio with me. It took me several months to get all the parts from different surplus stores and then put them together. When I finally tuned the radio, I heard a totally different voice. Unlike the firm, righteous, and authoritative voice that we heard every day at that time, it was soft and friendly. I immediately realized that it was the Voice of America. In our small circle of friends who had the same hobby of assembling our own radios, listening to VOA was no secret. But it was dangerous, and listening to the 'enemy radio' could even lead to jail. Today, listening to the VOA is no longer a crime (although the station’s programs are still jammed), but installing a satellite dish to watch the New York-based New Tang Dynasty TV caused one Guangxi Province resident to get slapped with a three-year jail sentence."

International Broadcasting to Cuba in the news.

Posted: 11 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Miami Herald, 8 Feb 2012, Orlando Gutierrez-Baronat: "Because we disagreed with past policies of USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) regarding direct assistance to activists living on the island, the Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio), chose to concentrate its efforts under federal grant funds to transmit uncensored information and provide international solidarity to the Cuban freedom movement. Direct assistance has been raised privately and fundamentally within the Cuban-American community. Radio República, the Directorate’s 24-hour, seven-day-a-week shortwave radio station, has provided a voice to Cuba’s resistance from the smallest provincial towns to the largest Havana neighborhoods. Its format has been strategically designed to enhance the natural self-defense mechanism of nonviolent struggle generated by Cuban society. Costing between $1.5 million to $2 million a year, Radio República’s budget accounts for over 50 percent of the Directorate’s annual funds from federal grants. These costs are far below the annual budgets of both public and commercial shortwave radio stations."

Daily Maverick, 7 Feb 2011, J. Brooks Spector: "The Cuban American Foundation and its founder and head, Jorge Mas Canosa, came to wield extensive political clout on Cuban issues in Washington politics, even though he was never a household name for most Americans. At his death a decade ago, TV journalist Betty Ann Bowser of the PBS News Hour explored the sources of Canosa’s power. She said, 'In 1980, Mas Canosa founded the Cuban American Foundation, an anti-Castro organisation that a few years later celebrated its first victory when Radio and TV Marti went on the airwaves. With the help of US government money, Marti broadcast a strong pro-democracy, fervent, anti-Communist message to Cuba.'"

Havana Times, 3 Feb 2012: "The radio and television aggression that the US maintains against Cuba were charged with being illegal by the World Radio Communications Conference, reported the Granma newspaper. At the meeting being held in Geneva, Cuba yesterday complained to the forum of increased US interference with its national airwaves. According to the Cuban government, more than 20 transmitters are broadcasting different audio and television programs from the US with more than 2,000 hours of programming weekly, including calls for terrorist actions against the island. Cuba added that from December 22 and 29, 2011, transmissions were conducted on broadcasting band reserved exclusively for use by Cuban stations. The international agency confirmed the illegality of these attacks, a position that it has upheld since its previous meeting in 2007."

This new psyop social media app could, over time, develop all the credibility and gravitas of Citizen's Band Radio.

Posted: 11 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Wired Danger Room, 20 Jan 2012, Noah Shachtman: "The American intelligence and defense communities have become enthralled by the possibilities of social media. They’re looking to use the networks to forecast political unrest, spread friendly messages, spot emerging terror groups — and even predict the next natural disaster. But these efforts have generally tried to leverage existing, and already popular, civilian social networks. A new project from U.S. Special Operations Command, on the other hand, looks to create something brand new: a 'user-generated social media radio application powered by the human voice, available on the PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, and Nokia smart phones, that lets users share their thoughts and experiences.' And this voice-activated SOCOM network is being billed explicitly as a tool for 'military information support operations' — shaping public attitudes. That’s what the Pentagon used to call 'psychological operations.' ... 'The command is investigating ideas and technologies that can replace traditional methods of information dissemination like face-to-face or handing out leaflets,' SOCOM spokesperson Col. Edward 'Tim' Nye tells Danger Room. 'We are looking at ways to get instantaneous feedback from television and radio broadcasts in a virtual world. We are looking for ways to allow audiences to comment or interact with the U.S. government in an environment that ranges from limited individual engagement to a much larger audience. We are soliciting ideas that capitalize on the innovative technologies that incorporate the newest dissemination methods through computers and smart phones.' When asked if people should trust this app, given that’s its a tool for psychological operators, Nye answered, 'That question of trust is no different for this potential dissemination method than any other dissemination method.'"

But it is different. With user generated content from thousands of users, how will other users determine which users are reliable sources of information? Hence the role of the currently much maligned mass media. Over years, in fact decades, a mass communicator develops either a reputation for credibility, or a reputation for propaganda. When the need for information is acute, the audience will know where to go for information. And it probably won't be from some app that was parachuted in. As explained by Robert Hernandez, credibility is the killer app.

Chinese international broadcasting emulates USIB with competing brands, and brands within brands.

Posted: 10 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 9 Feb 2012, Peter Foster: "China has launched a multi-million pound effort to improve its image around the world with the launch of a new global news TV station that it hopes will one day compete with global names such as the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. The new station 'CCTV America', has hired more than 60 international staff in a bid to produce credible programmes that will aim to give a voice to Beijing's view of the world, a consultant involved the project told The Daily Telegraph. 'Do the Chinese want to be a player in game of international TV news, then "yes", absolutely they do,' said Jim Laurie, who spent 22 years working for the ABC television network's foreign news department, 'The aim is to build a competitive news channel on the global stage.'" -- Actually, "CCTV America" is a programming block on CCTV News (formerly CCTV9), an English-language channel than has been on the air for years. And the picture accompanying the story shows the Xinhua billboard in Times Square. Xinhua is a different organization which has its own 24/7 English news channel, CNC World -- yet another channel with which CCTV News must compete.

Asia Sentinel, 9 Feb 2012, Frank Ching: "China is spending billions to extend its reach to all corners of the world, primarily through the state-controlled Xinhua news agency – and its CNC World television news network since 2010 – as well as China Central Television (CCTV), which started broadcasting from its Washington hub this week." -- The Washington hub started this week, but, as mentioned, CCTV's English channel has been on the air for years.

Canadian Press, 8 Feb 2012: "Chinese state broadcaster CCTV says it's launching its American service this week as part of a major overseas expansion drive. The network said Wednesday that Washington-based CCTV America will offer four hours of programming daily. It said content will be produced by about 100 journalists working out of 15 bureaus in North and South America." See also video, Shanghaist, 9 Feb 2012, Kenneth Tan.

AP, 31 Jan 2012: "The killing of a South Korean coast guard officer by a Chinese fisherman should have been tailor-made for China's CCTV News as it embarks on an ambitious plan to become a global network with assertive international coverage. Instead, according to CCTV employees, the story languished for hours as editors awaited political guidance from above, while would-be competitors such as Qatar's Al-Jazeera reported extensively on December's attack. In charting its growth, CCTV is closely studying other models, especially Al-Jazeera, which rolled out a global English language 24-hour news network five years ago and quickly made a name for itself. ... But while Al-Jazeera's access and deep knowledge of the Middle East — and a hands-off approach by its masters — have been its greatest assets, state-run CCTV's emphatic allegiance to the authoritarian communist state and the party seem to be its biggest liability."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC News, 8 Feb 2012, Juliana Liu: "Xinhua Television says [the Hong Kong stock exchange listing of Tsun Yip Holdings, which acquired Xinhua TV Asia-Pacific Operating Co Ltd last year] is part of wider efforts to create a world renowned media company. The agency's newly launched English language channel, CNC World, aims to compete with BBC World News, CNN International and Al-Jazeera English. But it already has competition in the form of CCTV 9, the much more established international arm of the Chinese state broadcaster. If Xinhua's massive billboard in New York's Time Square is anything to go by, the news agency is sincere in its ambition of bringing China's party line to a much wider audience. But it's unclear whether the world is ready for two state-owned Chinese television channel with similar viewpoints."

Al Jazeera reports Syrian satellite jamming and website hacking, while Syria accuses Al Jazeera of "media lies."

Posted: 10 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 7 Feb 2012, Tamara Walid and Chiara Remondini: "Al Jazeera said Syria is disrupting broadcasting of its television news channel, as unrest in the Middle Eastern country escalates and death toll rises. Osama Saeed, a spokesman for Al Jazeera in Doha, Qatar, said the disruption is coming from the Syrian capital, Damascus. The channel is advising viewers to switch to a different frequency to access coverage, he said. The operator of the Hot Bird satellite that transmits the TV station today confirmed the source of the recent disruption. 'Geo-localization reports indicate that recent jamming of Al Jazeera satellite signals emanates from Syria,' Eutelsat Communications SA, the Paris-based satellite provider that broadcasts about 4,000 channels, said in an e-mailed statement. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV channel, which is also transmitted via Hot Bird, is facing a similar issue, with the source of disruption yet to be confirmed."

Ars Technica, 30 Jan 2012, Sean Gallagher: "The Al Jazeera English website was attacked and defaced on January 29 by hackers supporting Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Targeting the news organization's 'Syria Live Blog,' which has been providing ongoing coverage of the Arab League's observer mission to Syria and developments in the ongoing unrest in the country, the hacker group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army posted pro-Assad and pro-Syrian government images to the site."

Foreign Policy, 1 Feb 2012, Colum Lynch: "Comparing Assad's current struggle to restore stability to that of liberation leaders like Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and George Washington, [Syria's U.N. envoy, Bashar] Jaafari said: 'It is really strange these days ... that some oligarchic states cosponsor draft resolutions promoting the alternation of power, the freedom of assembly, the promotion of democracy, and the protection and promotion of human rights.' And yet, he added, 'those very states don't even have a constitution, let alone a genuine electoral system.' They 'have only exercised democracy through satellite stations and fancy conference halls,' he added, referring to the influential Doha-based new network, Al Jazeera. 'Al Jazeera should cease to fan the flames.'"

Syrian Arab News Agency, 5 Feb 2012: "Syrian Journalists Union uncovered the media lies practiced by al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya channels through covering the current events in Syria and the relationship between these channels and the political plots against Syria.

Press TV, 1 Feb 2012, interviewing Conn Hallinan: "Al Jazeera was very behind regime change; it was very behind overthrowing Gaddafi; it was very behind the intervention and I think that created conditions, a sort of umbrella, behind which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could intervene in Libya in a massive way. So I do think that the television station plays ... a very important role. I mean the fact that it is run by Qatar and then Qatar is a monarchy and Saudi Arabia plays a major role in here. I find it interesting that the same time they are going after Syria; they are not doing anything about Bahrain."

Deccan Herald, 6 Feb 2012, Saeed Naqvi: "From its inception there was a question mark on Al Jazeera. Qatar, after all was the regional headquarters of the US central command which was prosecuting all US military action from Iraq to Afghanistan. How could Al Jazeera co-exist with Centcom? How could it ‘independently’ cover Centcom military action? This coverage would stoke Anti Americanism on Arab, indeed, Muslim street.From its inception there was a question mark on Al Jazeera. Qatar, after all was the regional headquarters of the US central command which was prosecuting all US military action from Iraq to Afghanistan. How could Al Jazeera co-exist with Centcom? How could it ‘independently’ cover Centcom military action? This coverage would stoke Anti Americanism on Arab, indeed, Muslim street."

DP News, 2 Feb 2012: "Lebanese political analyst Joseph Abu Fadel, an outspoken supporter of the Syrian government, physically assaulted Syrian opposition activist Muhieddine Ladkani on Al-Jazeera TV Tuesday night. During the show, Syrian government supporter Joseph Abu Fadel angrily stood up from his seat and made his way around the table to Muhieddine Ladkani’s chair. The show‘s host hastily stood up as well and tried to avert the physical altercation to no avail as the men’s fighting took them off camera." The Daily Star (Beirut), 2 Feb 2012: "The episode was re-run Wednesday, with many of the insults and curses bleeped out."

Arabian Business, 7 Feb 2012: "The new director of Al Jazeera television has topped the first ever Qatar Power List, published today by Arabian Business. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani, who became director general last year after the sudden resignation of Wadah Khafar, took the top slot ahead of Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker."

Rapid TV News, 2 Feb 2012, Rebecca Hawkes: "Al Jazeera has been awarded the Freedom of Speech and Expression Medal by the Roosevelt Foundation for its 'longstanding efforts to provide independent, impartial news for an international audience'. The Middle East broadcaster is dedicating the award to fallen journalists, including Ali Hassan Al-Jaber, the Al Jazeera cameraman who was shot dead while filming the uprising in Libya in March 2011. Al Jazeera's director general Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani will accept the award at a ceremony on 12 May 2012 in Nieuwe Kerk in Middelburg, Netherlands in the presence of Queen Beatrix."

Media Mughals, 2 Feb 2012, Anthony Mawrie: "Al Jazeera's Arabic and English language news channels are now available in the whole of France. The Qatar based satellite broadcaster signed a new distribution deal with Orange TV thus taking its channels available across every major pay-TV platform in the country."

Deutsche Welle, mixing media, launches its new Urdu website at the Lahore International Book Fair.

Posted: 10 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Daily Times, 7 Feb 2012, Tariq Farid: "Even in the digital age, love for books still prevails as the 26th Lahore International Book Fair 2012, being held at Expo Centre in Johar Town, received a tremendous response during its first four days. ... On of the stalls at the book fair was of a German media group, Deutsche Welle, which on Monday launched new version of its Urdu website and made it more user-friendly. 'Deutsche Welle had been imparting information about education, culture and other topics in 27 languages for the last 50 years,' said Deutsche Welle’s representative Maqbool Ahmad Malik."

Dawn, 3 Feb 2012: "Deutsche Welle has been a participant of the LIBF since last year and to mark the website launch and 26th edition of LIBF, a delegation of Deutsche Welle is also arriving from Germany."

France 24 has a new app for "connected" TV sets.

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France 24Broadband TV News, 3 Feb 2012, Robert Briel: "France 24, the international news channel, is launching a new application for connected television sets. The new application will enable users to watch FRANCE 24 live in its three language versions and to request its on-demand programmes (reports, programmes, magazines, more) The new application is 'multi-screen' and works on mobile, tablets and other devices. It is part of a wider multimedia strategy that enables users to create their own 'basket' of programmes, regardless of the type of terminal and operating system they are using. ... A first version of this application is already being deployed by several manufacturers (Philips, Toshiba, Sharp, TechniSat, Boxeeand is available on a HBB TV interactive portal in France (MesServicesTV). France 24 has also signed several agreements with television manufacturers which will integrate the application in the first quarter of 2012. The new app will be available on all Samsung connected television sets, as well as on all its tablets and mobile phones throughout Europe. Further deals were clinched with LG and Pansonic (for launch on Vierra Connect), while Toshiba will roll out France 24 worldwide. Boxee comes aboard during 2012."

Vision247 press release, 9 Feb 2012: "Vision247 today announced that FRANCE 24, the leading French international news channel, is available in all British homes with compliant FreeviewHD enabled televisions. ... Powered by Vision247, TeleFrance uses the FreeviewHD electronic programme guide (EPG) to deliver compelling new channels from within the Vision TV Network to the French speaking audience in the UK. Viewers visiting FreeviewHD Channel 110 with an Internet connected television or set top box can watch FRANCE 24, as well as other TeleFrance channels, via an onscreen carousel offering live daily broadcasts."

International channels available in Senegal on mobile TV via 3G handsets.

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Broadcast Engineering, 7 Feb 2012, Franklin McMahon: "Orange Senegal, a mobile-TV service that produces content over 3G bandwidth, has announced that it will now be providing live TV to its subscribers in Senegal in West Africa. Canal Horizons and Sonatel have signed a content deal to bring a large number of channels to the service, including TV5 Monde, France 24, TFM, 2STV, Africa, Africa 24, record TV, Infosport and the Action film channel. ... The plans vary for the live-programming aspect, but some examples are 30-minute access and 10-hour blocks. The service does require a compatible 3G handset and a prepaid SIM card, which is available at any number of vendors in the region."

International channel of Russia's CTC Media now available on Kazakhstan cable and satellite systems.

Posted: 10 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
CTC Media press release, 1 Feb 2012: "CTC Media, Inc. Russia's leading independent media company, has announced the conclusion of an exclusive long-term agreement with Central Asia Media Distribution, which envisages the promotion of the international version of CTC ('CTC-International') on Kazakhstan's cable and satellite networks. Under the terms of the agreement, Central Asia Media Distribution is to promote CTC-International on Kazakhstan's cable and satellite networks, as well as sell advertising inventory on the channel. Starting from February 1, 2012, the channel will be available to subscribers of the two largest players on the Kazakh cable TV market, namely Digital TV and Icon TV. Another operator -- ID TV is expected to be added to this list shortly. ... Marat Devlet-Kildeyev, CTC Media's Head of International Broadcasting: 'The broadcasting of the international version of the CTC channel on cable and satellite networks will not only significantly expand, but more importantly, diversify our TV audience. CTC Media's free-to-air Channel 31 in Kazakhstan mainly broadcasts Turkish TV series, the in-house produced Kazakh language content, the proportion of which in the programming grid is steadily increasing, as well as Hollywood blockbusters. CTC-International is a Russian-language channel and combines the best and most highly rated TV shows from the holding's three Russian channels -- CTC, Domashny and Peretz, which helps us avoid any audience overlap'."

Australia Network "should never have been put out to tender in the first place," he writes.

Posted: 10 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Media Spy, 5 Feb 2012, Timothy Gassin: "After months of delays, calls for tenders, persistent leaks, excuses, and ultimately the cancellation of the tender process, the Australian Government finally decided in December to give the ABC permanent control of the Australia Network. The decision was the right one, even if the process was a disgrace. Indeed, the Government caused unnecessary difficulties for both tenderers, operational problems for the Australia Network, and left itself open to accusations of lack of due process and corruption. Sky News, the unsuccessful tenderer, has every right to feel aggrieved. It submitted a tender in good faith, only for any semblance of process to be thrown out the window. It is clear, however, that the service should never have been put out to tender in the first place. It is not done by any other country, all others leaving their international broadcasting to be carried out by a public broadcaster, and one is left wondering why, under a Labor Government, it occurred in Australia." -- Actually, a large and successful part of US international broadcasting is CNN International, along with CNN en Español and various CNN overseas partnerships. CNN is -- or is part of -- a private, for-profit company.

The Australian, 10 Feb 2012, Christian Kerr: "The federal government has refused to release documents on the abandoned tender for the Australia Network under Freedom of Information laws, citing the integrity of the tender process, despite the responsible minister calling it 'compromised'. The tender for the soft diplomacy broadcasting service is believed to have been scuttled by leaks from the government. After two failed attempts, the tender was abandoned by the government late last year, and the rights for the Australia Network handed to the ABC, despite well-sourced media reports that both tender processes had recommended the service be awarded to rival bidder Sky News Australia. ... Liberal senator Simon Birmingham, who requested details of the clarification questions put to both bidders during the tender process, says DFAT [Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] officials responsible for FOI have told him eight pages of relevant documents were found. Five of the pages were withheld in their entirety, and most of the others have been heavily whited-out."

See previous post about same subject.

Some history of Radio Free Dixie, 1960s AM band program from Cuba to the USA.

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Radio World, 2 Feb 2012, Hans Johnson: "'The abundance of the USA belongs to the people, all the people, and no one faction has the right to deny the other liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness,' said Robert Williams in 1962. He was speaking via radio to listeners in the American South, but he was doing so from Cuba. Williams had served as president of the local NAACP chapter in Monroe, N.C., in the late 1950s. ... 'Robert Williams Reports' became a regular part of Radio Havana’s English program by 1962, but it was heard at first only on shortwave. Williams described what happened next in oral history interviews with Robert Cohen and Thomas Mosby. He wanted to be on AM with his own radio program, but faced opposition from American communists exiled in Cuba as well as elements of the Cuban government. He had listened to Cuba on the AM band when he was living in North Carolina; he knew AM was the way to reach an American audience. At first Cuban authorities tried to direct him to a weak AM station rather than the 50,000 watt one he wanted. Williams insisted and got his station. ... Williams called his program 'Radio Free Dixie' and invited people to tune in every Friday night from 11 p.m. to midnight Eastern on 690 kHz for 'jazz, Afro-American folklore, news, interviews and commentary' from 'the free voice of the South.' CMBC transmitted with 50,000 watts from Havana."

New acting undersecretary for public diplomacy will attend BBG meetings -- or at least is supposed to.

Posted: 10 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Mountainrunner.us, 6 Feb 2012, Matt Armstrong: "From the State Department: 'The Secretary announces that President Obama has designated Ambassador D. Kathleen Stephens as the Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs pending the Senate’s confirmation of the President’s nominee, Tara Sonenshine. Ambassador Stephens will begin work on February 6, 2012, and will exercise all of the authorities of the office for the duration of this designation.' Tara’s nomination remains in limbo as we wait for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to refer her to the floor. Maybe there will be a business meeting next week to move her to the next step, along with several Ambassadorial nominees. However, the real challenge is not the Committee but the floor of the Senate where the general sense is few if any confirmations will be allowed in the current less-than-bipartisan environment. Hence, the appointment of Stephens as Acting Under Secretary." -- This pertains to US international broadcasting because the under secretary for public diplomacy represents the Secretary of State, an ex officio member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, at meetings of the BBG.

Heritage Foundation, 3 Feb 2012, Helle Dale: "Meanwhile, the BBG operates on a system of staggered terms, which members fill as their nominations are approved by the Senate. The Obama White House took its time submitting its slate of eight nominees (the ninth member is the under secretary for public diplomacy representing the Secretary of State), and the Senate took its time voting on them, as Senators demanded a stringent vetting process. As a consequence, [outgoing chairman Walter] Isaacson’s term had expired in August 2011, and all other board members are on terms that have expired. Some are on terms that expired just four weeks after they took up their appointments. This is clearly no way run a broadcasting operation with a budget close to three-quarters of a billion dollars. ... ●Consider reorganizing U.S. international broadcasting, making the leadership more streamlined, more professional, and more accountable to Congress and the State Department—for instance, replacing the board with a director appointed by the Secretary of State." -- Which would defeat the idea of the Board, which is to provide insulation between US international broadcasting, whose product is journalism, and the US Government. USIB with a director appointed by State would be a journalistic organization, and thus would have an audience, only at the whim of the relevant USG decision makers.

President Obama's message on VOA's 70th anniversary is apparently not (yet) for domestic dissemination.

Posted: 10 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Business Recorder (Karachi), 3 Feb 2012: "United States Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter and his wife Dr Marilyn Whatt hosted a reception to mark Voice of America's 70th anniversary here at his residence on Thursday. Speaking on the occasion, Munter highlighted the role of VOA went on air February 1, 1942, nearly two months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and the United States entered World War II. He also highlighted the role of the media in bridging the gap between the two countries, terming Pakistani media a brilliant one. The US ambassador also read out a message by US President Barrack Obama on 70th birth anniversary of the Voice of America." -- A message from President Obama? I can't find any such message at the voanews.com or bbg.gov websites. Perhaps saving it for a later occasion.

WestChesterBuzz (Ohio), 3 Feb 2012, akiefaber: "Voice of America, which sent its original broadcast overseas 70 years ago this month, will see backers of its first-built transmitting station begin fundraising this year to become a national museum. The impact of the local transmitting station was felt in 1944 when the building and its six 200-kilowatt transmitters were completed about a year after groundbreaking. The station was instantly able to broadcast news to Europe, Africa and South America. ... Currently, the old VOA Bethany [Ohio] Relay Station is undergoing approximately $500,000 worth of exterior restoration work that includes installation of a new roof and block maintenance on the rear of the building. Once completed in the spring, it will be up to the museum’s board of directors to raise approximately $12 million to make it a revenue generating landmark."

VOA News, 1 Feb 2012: "VOA went on air February 1, 1942, nearly two months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. Speaking in German, American journalist William Harlan Hale delivered VOA's first broadcast from New York City via shortwave radio. 'This is a voice speaking from America. Daily at this time, we shall speak to you about America and the war,' Hale announced. 'The news may be good or bad. We shall tell you the truth.'" See previous post about same subject.

IANYAN Magazine, 6 Feb 2012, Victoria Rovira Infante: Armina Baghdasaryan "is the daughter of Arkadi 'Arko' Baghdasaryan, one of Armenia’s first and most respected modern artists. In fact, the amazing works that adorn nearly every square inch of wall space – and a significant amount of floor and desk space – are his. Growing up, Baghdasaryan was immersed in art and music. Her dissident father, whose non-traditional artwork was considered nonsense to the Soviet way of thinking, listened to the barely-audible 'Voice of America' radio program in secret, exposing his family to the English language and American music, including Baghdasaryan’s favorites, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald."

Four BBC Worldwide channels added to Thailand's largest multichannel operator.

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BBC Worldwide press release, 2 Feb 2012: "BBC Worldwide Channels Asia today officially launched BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Entertainment and CBeebies on TrueVisions, Thailand’s largest and leading cable and satellite television operator. The four channels are part of BBC Worldwide’s portfolio of channels that showcase an award-winning and premium mix of British TV across factual, entertainment, children's and lifestyle programming."

Ten years of Radio Azadi, RFE/RL's service to Afghanistan.

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RFE/RL press release, 10 Feb 2012: "This week, RFE/RL's Radio Azadi marks 10 years of bringing news and information to the people of Afghanistan. During a special day of programming, the station -- which reaches over 60% of Afghans weekly -- asked listeners to call or write to share what Radio Azadi programming means to them. The reaction was overwhelming as Radio Azadi received thousands of SMS and telephone messages, including from listeners in the country's most remote villages and from all walks of life. ... Praise for Radio Azadi was not limited to Afghans. House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), and Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) each penned letters of congratulations to Radio Azadi, which were also shared with listeners. Radio Azadi is the second incarnation of RFE/RL broadcasting to Afghanistan in the Dari and Pashto languages. 'Radio Free Afghanistan' served audiences throughout the country from 1985 to 1993, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan." -- Radio Azadi is not to be confused with Radio Ashna, the VOA service to the same country in the same languages. Nevertheless, I get them confused all the time. Furthermore, Radio Azadi and Radio Ashna are not to be confused with Radio Mashaal and Deewa Radio, the RFE/RL and VOA services, respectively, in Pashto to Pakistan's northwest frontier region. At this point, I need a chart.

Former VOA manager writes "BBG should be abolished" after VOA Russian's "interview that wasn't."

Posted: 10 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 8 Feb 2012, Ted Lipien. former director of the VOA Eurasia Division: "Just as the new Voice of America (VOA) director, David Ensor, was praising the VOA Russian Service as a model of innovation during a speech to mark the broadcast’s 70th anniversary, the Russian Service was posting an apology to Alexei Navalny, a famous Russian anti-corruption lawyer, opposition leader and blogger, for publishing an online interview with him, which he described as '100 percent fake.' Mr. Navalny said he never granted this interview (he hasn’t been giving any interviews recently), accused Voice of America of 'going nuts,' and suggested that all VOA Russian staff should be let go. The alleged interview, apparently obtained through an exchange of emails, included uncharacteristic attacks on other Russian opposition leaders who are Mr. Navalny’s allies against the Kremlin. No one bothered to confirm whether the answers received by email came from Mr. Navalny. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) also had a similar incident in which someone impersonated another opposition figure in Russia. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which funds and controls the Voice of America and RFE/RL, did not find out about the VOA interview incident until days later and has its own serious management and communication problems." -- The Navalny "fake" interview was first reported here on 2 Feb 2012.

Ibid, response from VOA Public Relations: "Mr. Lipien is wrong about VOA’s Russian Service, and he badly misstates the facts on almost every point. VOA’s Russian website did publish comments it believed to be from Russian blogger and opposition figure Alexei Navalny. The article was taken down promptly when Mr. Navalny tweeted that he did not give the interview. VOA has apologized, saying in part 'As a result of this incident we will strengthen our editorial standards and enact additional safeguards.'" And additional comments.

Voice of Russia, 3 Feb 2012, Mikhail Aristov: "Navalny’s allegedly fake interview with a Voice of America correspondent, Andrei Vasilyev, appeared on the VOA website this week and sparked an outcry across the blogosphere. In the 'interview that wasn’t', Navalny, once a member of the Yabloko party, calls Yabloko a 'sect', lashes out at opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and says that only a Martian invasion could cause Vladimir Putin’s to lose the March 4 presidential election."

Inside VOA, From the Director blog, undated(!), David Ensor: "Some years back, VOA radio and television programs were carried on a number of affiliate stations throughout Russia, but under government pressure almost all those broadcasts were stopped by the end of 2008. Since then we have developed a loyal audience on the Internet and on a wide variety of social media-based platforms. A new program, Podelis, which means ‘share’ in Russian, is a social media-based TV program that allows the audience to choose the topics, and discuss them with VOA hosts. VOA’s Russian audience has expanded rapidly because we engage them and offer a platform for views, including those not heard on state-controlled media."

Providing news about Russia to Russia is a difficult business. It will require all the resources US international broadcasting can muster. The resources of US international broadcasting to Russia are, however, divided between two entities. Instead of confirming each other's work, the journalists of Russian-language USIB are competing for budget, scoops, and audience. It's interesting that Ted's op-ed resists the BBG's restructuring plan that would bring about the necessary consolidation of USIB. In fact, he writes, "[t]he BBG should be abolished, U.S. international broadcasting placed under new management, perhaps as part of another larger government agency... ." Part of a government agency? That would put USIB in the Soviet school of international broadcasting, and the audience would detect the difference. As for VOA, if it is so intent on embracing the internet, it should start to date its blog entries.

Time, 7 Feb 2012, Simon Shuster: "Irina Chevtayeva, a Moscow reporter for Radio Liberty, went undercover as a protester-for-hire and said she was paid 500 rubles (about $17) to stand in the cold at the anti-Orange demonstration. 'We stood there for about an hour,' Chevtayeva reported. 'One elderly man from our group held a sign the whole time saying, "For Russia, for Stability, for Putin." A lot of people couldn't stand the wait to be paid, and they left, mumbling curses at our group leader, at the police, and at Putin.'"

Iranian media report several people detained for alleged links to BBC.

Posted: 09 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 7 Feb 2012: "Reports from Iran say several people have been detained for alleged links to the BBC's Persian service, which is banned in the country. Mehr news agency said they were involved in newsgathering, recruiting and training for Iranian journalists and had arranged trips abroad for them. A BBC statement said no BBC Persian staff members were working inside Iran. It said the reports 'should be of deep concern to all those who believe in a free and independent media'. Last week, the BBC accused the Iranian authorities of a campaign of bullying and harassment against those working for its Persian service." See previous post about same subject.

Hürriyet Daily News, 8 Feb 2012: "Iranians working for the BBC’s Persian Service are increasingly choosing to meet their loved ones in Istanbul, especially after Tehran’s recent crackdown on people in Iran with suspected links to the British state broadcaster, a BBC employee said. ... Iranians working for the BBC are afraid of visiting their country since they do not know what will happen to them in Iran, a BBC employee said."

Human Rights Watch, 3 Feb 2012: “'Detaining a BBC reporter’s relative seems to be part of a wider campaign to harass Iranian journalists by putting pressure on them and their families,' said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. 'It suggests that authorities detained the relative to silence the reporter and the BBC. It also sends a message that the government’s long arm of repression can extend well beyond borders.'"

International Press Institute, 3 Feb 2012, Scott Larsen: "IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said: 'The Iranian government must immediately stop its persecution of independent voices — both within Iran and elsewhere.'"

Press TV, 5 Feb 2012, via Tehran Times: "The BBC's impartiality has been called into question by British lawmakers after the corporation was accused of becoming the 'propaganda arm' of the European Union. The revelation came when the BBC admitted in a letter that it has received nearly £3million in grants from the EU since 2007, The Daily Telegraph disclosed."

Report: Guantánamo prisoner considered for release was "Taliban spokesperson for the BBC and Voice of America."

Posted: 09 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
South Asian News Agency, 5 Feb 2012: "The Obama administration is considering the release of five Taliban prisoners to improve peace talks with the Afghan insurgency and now we know who’s on the short list. According to the US cable television CNN's Adam Levine and Tim Lister got confirmation from a 'knowledgeable source' of the names of the former Taliban leaders up for release from Guantanamo Bay. The five Taliban members are Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Nori, Abdul Haq Wasiq and Mohammad Nabi Omari. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was former Afghan minister is in his mid-40s and has been in Guantanamo for nine years and nine months. When the Taliban ruled, he was the Afghan Minister of interior. In those days, he was apparently pretty media savvy: He was appointed the Taliban spokesperson for the BBC and Voice of America, according to his file."

Pan-Africanist International pans a VOA news story about the African Union.

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Modern Ghana, 4 Feb 2012, statement by Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah, Pan-Africanist International: "In the first place, we completely part companies right from the beginning, the slant Mr.Peter Heinlein of the Voice of America is trying to put on a straight-forward matter. it is not our position that the 'African Union is looking for fresh leadership after this week's contest for the AU Commission chairmanship ended without a winner'. ... Where is the VOA getting their information from that has escaped some of us? Pan-Africanists all over the world have carefully been following these events with maximum vigilance, and we cannot be fooled." Refers to VOA News, 2 Feb 2012.

Israeli columnist's dig at VOA is occasion to mention new VOA "powered" website Middle East Voices.

Posted: 09 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Ynetnews (Tel Aviv), 5 Jan 2012, Yitzhak Benhorin: "When America's UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, left the Security Council session and headed to the reporters waiting for her, she said: 'Let me begin by speaking directly to the Syrian people. The United States stands with you, the Syrian people, and we will not rest until you and your bravery achieve your basic, universal human rights, to which all human beings are entitled.' ... Voice of America has been broadcasting to the Middle East for many years now over the head of the Arab masses. Yet this time around, America's voice aimed well. The US did not put an end to the massacre in Syria, but secured nice diplomatic dividends."

Strange mention of VOA, which has not broadcast in Arabic since Radio Sawa was created in 2002. And what exactly does "over the head of the Arab masses" mean? Radio Sawa, actually, was created to attarct an audience among the Arab masses and, to some extent, has succeeded.

On the subject of VOA to the region, the new English-language website Middle East Voices is "an Arab Spring social journalism project powered by VOA." Beyond that, the site is curiously detached from VOA, with no VOA logo to be seen.

Collegiality: Voice of Russia cites other international broadcasters in story about Vladimir Putin's popularity.

Posted: 09 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 6 Feb 2012, Alexandra Zakharova: "Several experts who have been interviewed by 'Deutsche Welle' called the protest rallies in Russia 'the awakening of the civil society'. ... 'The Voice of America' asked Denis Volkov from the Russian Levada Analytical Center to comment on Mr. Putin’s decision to run for presidency. 'The majority of Russians support Vladimir Putin,' Mr. Volkov said. 'After all, many Russians believe the propaganda machine which says that it is thanks to the government that people have the material benefits which they have.' ... In an interview with the Voice of America, the Editor-in-Chief of the Russian magazine 'Pro et Contra' Maria Lipman said: 'By not appearing in these debates, Mr. Putin probably wants to show to the people that he is beyond competition, that he is above all these political battles.' ... In an interview with the BBC, ... Vladimir Mamontov, said: 'The paper will try to convince its readers that revolutions may be very dangerous for Russia and that peaceful evolutionary development is the best way.'"

Report: Univision and Disney in talks to create 24-hour news channel for US English-speaking Latinos.

Posted: 09 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
AP, 6 Feb 2012: "Univision and Disney are in talks to create a 24-hour news channel for Latinos in English, two sources close to the negotiations said Monday. ... The goal would be to begin broadcasting before the November presidential election. That would give the network plenty of time to provide political coverage geared toward Hispanics, who are considered influential swing voters in states like Florida, New Mexico and Colorado. Univision is the nation’s largest Spanish-language media company, and it has long prided itself on its Spanish-language content. In recent years, officials have quietly acknowledged that in order to maintain and expand viewership, they also need to provide content to second- and third-generation Latinos who speak English as their first language. ... The proposed deal also reflects the stepped up efforts of mainstream media companies to target Latinos. Fox News added its Fox News Latino website in 2010 and Huffington Post now has an online Huffpost LatinoVoices site. Meanwhile, NBC Universal has increased the cross-pollination between its NBC News division and that of its Spanish language network, Telemundo. ... Jorge Plasencia, vice chair of the National Council of La Raza and CEO of the Hispanic marketing firm Republica, which includes Univision among its clients, said he believes that a news channel in English would fulfill a niche. 'There’s nearly 50 million Latinos in the U.S. They do want to know what’s going on in Mexico, Puerto Rico and all over Latin America. The major networks don’t cover that news,' he said. 'It’s hard for those networks to go into those issues in depth because they’re trying reach all of America.' Univision and other Spanish-language networks have provided significant coverage of Latin America for their viewers. Plasencia believes second- and third-generation Latinos are still interested in that coverage, but they want it in English."

New York Times, Media Decoder, 7 Feb 2012, Brian Stelter: "Here’s why the deal might make sense: ... •It would give Univision an English-language foothold. The Spanish-language broadcasting giant wants to expand its footprint with English-language programming. First-generation Hispanics in the United States tend to watch shows in Spanish, but many second- and third-generation Hispanics gravitate toward shows in English. •It would give ABC News a cable outlet. The network news division has long wanted one, and its top competitor, NBC, already has one, MSNBC. ... And here’s why it might not make sense: •Running a 24-hour cable news channel is really hard. That’s what the men and women who run the established cablers will tell you. •There are already a lot of them. There’s CNN, Fox News and MSNBC; and CNN’s lighter sister channel, HLN; and three business-news channels, CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg; and a progressive upstart, Current. The international-news channels BBC World and Al Jazeera English are trying to get broader cable carriage, as well."

Why World Christian Broadcasting defies the trend with its new Madagascar World Voice shortwave radio station.

Posted: 08 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 30 Jan 2012, Charles Caudill, president/CEO of World Christian Broadcasting: "Soon, shortly after the beginning of 2012, we will be able to greet you on behalf of Madagascar World Voice, our new station on the island of Madagascar. ... That new station and the some $11 million we are spending on expansion is the reason I have been asked to speak to you today. On numerous occasions, I and others of our management team have been asked, 'Why are you expanding your use of shortwave when most everyone else is cutting back by reducing the number of languages they broadcast, thereby reducing the number of people they employ and thus reducing their budgets by numbers like $14 million and even $40 million each year?' ... In order to make that budget go as far as possible, there is no question that we can reach more people on a regular basis with shortwave than with any other method. With an annual budget of something over $3 million, we will be able to broadcast 50 to 60 hours daily from our two broadcast facilities. Those 50 to 60 hours will be produced by six different services: English, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Latin American and African. Obviously, we cannot do everything on that limited budget, but we can literally talk to millions of people using shortwave. We don’t have the luxury of being able to cut $40 million or even $14 million from our budget as some international broadcasters can. Our idea is that God has given us the ionosphere. Our job is to make use of it. There are millions of analog receivers in the world — some say 600 million, some say 1.5 billion, some say as many as three billion. Regardless of the number, those receivers will not be turned off tomorrow. Those receivers will have listeners for years and years." See also the World Christian Broadcasting website.

DX Listening Digest, 1 Feb 2012, Gayle Crowe, VP programming, World Christian Broadcasting, to editor Glenn Hauser: "The transmitters are sitting on the dock in Houston awaiting the ship that will take them to the west side of Madagascar. Best estimates are that the trip will take between 60 and 90 days. Once they make it through customs (which sometimes has been a lengthy, uncertain process) and are in place at the station, a technician will have to come from Continental Electronics to install them. Best case scenario for the beginning of testing is probably June 1." -- Will the new World Christian Broadcasting shortwave facility in Madagascar -- perhaps the last major shortwave broadcast facility to be built anywhere in the world -- be on the air before the Radio Netherlands shortwave relay in Madagascar goes off the air?

Shortwave: old medium. 'Zines: old medium. And, so, a 'zine about shortwave.

Posted: 08 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Survivor, 26 Jan 2012, Paul Riismandel: "‘Zines are like the college or community radio of the print media world. Or maybe LPFM or pirate radio are a more appropriate comparisons, since ‘zines tend to be more personal, limited in distribution, and sometimes reproduced surreptitiously on office copiers. In any event, I’ve been a fan and reader of ‘zines for, I guess, nearly some twenty years now. In fact, my first exposure to ‘zines happened in college radio, when several programs at my station pooled copy money to publish a few runs of a music ‘zine. Over on his Arcane Radio Trivia blog, intrepid radio researcher Jose Fritz recently posted about the ‘zine Paper Radio: 'Paper Radio is about the art and history of radio. Issue # 8 reads in plain language “The goal of Paper Radio is to help readers connect and reconnect with radio. Unlike other mediums, radio sparks the imagination, it paints scenes with sound…” Topics include pirate radio, shortwave (WCBQ, CHU, WWCR, WRMI), pirate shortwave, DX’ing and in the few issues I have, they cover a slew of small local radio stations WNEC, KPFA, KMUD, KENC, WRKU, and WFEA-AM."

Radio World, 24 Jan 2012, Paul Riismandel as interviewed by Paul McLane: "I almost always travel with a radio. When I’m packing light I like the Kaito WRX911, which is only a little bigger than a smartphone and costs less than $25. It has an analog tuner with AM, FM and nine shortwave bands packed into it. It’s not designed for DXing but still brings in strong stations well, including powerful international broadcasters like Deutsche Welle and Radio Netherlands." -- Which no longer transmit on shortwave to North America. Radio Netherlands will soon close (if it can't sell) both its shortwave transmitting sites.

Blonder Tongue press release, 2 Feb 2012: "Blonder Tongue Laboratories, Inc. announced today that it has completed the acquisition of the business of R.L. Drake, LLC. ... R.L. Drake delivers innovative electronic communications solutions for cable television systems, digital television reception, video signal distribution, and digital video encoding. For over 65 years, R.L. Drake has been committed to developing quality communication products that enrich the lives of consumers." -- Drake was previously a manufacturer of amateur radio equipment and shortwave receivers, including the SW4A, the SW8, the high-end R8B, and others listed on this page.

The Telegraph, 8 Feb 2012, letter from Rob Mannion, editor of Practical Wireless: "Recently, the short-wave transmitter at Rampisham Down, in Dorset, was closed. The BBC has said that it will close all its short-wave services in the near future. This is short-sighted. Regimes such as those in Russia, China and Iran can withdraw internet services at the drop of a hat, and satellite services are easily jammed. But despite determined jamming of the BBC short-wave services during the Cold War by Communist Bloc countries, listeners behind the Iron Curtain still received the World Service transmissions. I implore the BBC to keep its short-wave services operating, otherwise it may lose audiences at critical times, when non-democratic governments decide to deny their countrymen access to accurate and impartial news from the West."

Philadelphia Trumpet, 6 Feb 2012, Ron Fraser: "I remember my parents commenting on the royal couple’s courage in remaining in London during the Blitz, and the fine example they set for the empire in its darkest days of war. I remember sitting with my mother and hearing King George vi’s voice crackle in over shortwave radio in his victory speech at war’s end. And I remember wearing a purple and black armband to school in acknowledgement of the king’s death in February 1952. Then about a year and a half later came the great celebrations marking Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. ... Being in the years prior to the general availability of television, we listened to the coronation ceremony relayed by shortwave radio. Then we had to wait to see the official full-color film of the ceremony at our local cinema."

Black Business Quarterly, 23 Jan 2012, Cathy Grosvenor: South African "[s]tate-owned signal provider, Sentech, is starting to shake off its dismal reputation. CEO Setumo Mohapi, however, has admitted that its turnaround strategy is not yet complete after a history of irregular and wasteful expenditure. ... 'The company’s SW [short wave] and VSAT [very small aperture terminal] products remain a concern, and plans have been put in place to reposition these services.'"

Reporters sans frontières press release, 3 Feb 2012, via allAfrica: "Reporters Without Borders roundly condemns radio journalist Farah Abadid Hildid's abduction by the police yesterday and the threats and torture to which he was subjected during the 24 hours he was held. Hildid works for La Voix de Djibouti, a radio station that broadcasts on the shortwave from Europe and is now also available on the Internet."

Radio World, 2 Feb 2012: "The [National Religious Broadcasters] International Radio Ministry Award goes to Radio Mosoj Chaski. Claiming more than one million listeners, the station, based in Cochabamba, Bolivia, is being recognized for its effective broadcasting to Quechua Indians in Bolivia. 'Its programming, totally in the Quechua language and sent via shortwave, is a lifeline for news, inspiration and Bible study for those living in the Andes Mountains and the towns of Bolivia,' said Dr. Ron Harris, NRB senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships."

US Soccer Players, 23 Jan 2012, J. Hutcherson: "[H]ow to get into [soccer] when there weren’t a lot of options? It was difficult in a way that sounds like someone talking about a different world. Short-wave radio to pick up BBC World Service, two month old magazines when I could find them, and PAL format video players. The internet changed things even before the graphic browser became common in early 1995. The old telnet and newsgroup days meant the ability to get information from people that knew, people who lived there."

Amateur Radio Newsline, 3 Feb 2012, Bill Pasternak: "A petition to the FCC to extend PRB-1 exemptions to cover outdoor antennas in communities with Condition, Covenant and Restrictions has been filed with the FCC by Arizona resident Leonard J. Umina, W7CCE. ... Umina asks that special exemptions be applied to wire antennas so that simple rules exist in allowing for easier participation by youth and those who otherwise might be confused by complex regulation and court decisions. Umina also asks that Shortwave Listener and the commercial shortwave market be considered."

Polish president "spontaneously visits" the former studio site of Radio Free Europe in Munich.

Posted: 08 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Cold War Radio, 5 Feb 2012, Richard H. Cummings, citing Polish Press Agency, etc: "On Saturday, 4 February 2012, President Komorowski spontaneously visited the former headquarters of the 'legendary radio,' after having participated in the 48th Munich Conference on Security Policy. The photograph here shows him reading the commemorative plaque for Radio Europe, which reads, in part: 'From this building, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty brought the message of freedom to the peoples behind the Iron Curtiain.' President Komorowski then met with former employees of the Polish Section of Radio Free Europe at the Polish Consulate General in Munich and decorated long-time RFE editor Alexander Zygmunt Menhard. President Komorowski told former employees of the Polish Broadcast Service of Radio Free Europe, 'In the beginning was the word. In the beginning was the free word, in the beginning of a difficult road back to independence, to build democracy in Poland. I wanted to say thanks to you for this penetrating free word, which meant also free thought, and historical memory.'"

Polskie Radio, 3 Feb 2012: "The upper house of the Polish Parliament, the Senate, has declared May 2012 the Month of the Polish Section of Radio Free Europe. The station, a crucial source of information during the communist era in Poland, first broadcast from Munich on 3 May 1952 and a series of events is planned to the mark the 60th anniversary of the event. The Senate resolution expresses gratitude to Radio Free Europe journalists and reporters, those based abroad and in Poland, recalling that cooperation with the Munich station was treated by the communist authorities as an involvement in American propaganda whose aim was a change of the political system in Poland. The resolution stresses that Polish-language broadcasts from behind the Iron Curtain were a source of hope for the Polish nation and laid the foundation for the regaining of freedom in 1989. ... The Polish Section terminated its activity in the middle of 1994, after which its archives were handed over to Polish State Archives." -- RFE/RL historian historian Ross Johnson informs us that the RFE Polish archives went to the Hoover Institution's Radio Free Europe Project at Stanford University, with copies of some of them sent to the Polish State Archives.

Amanpour's "Amanpour" is centerpiece on new lineup of CNN International, "like regular CNN but in metric."

Posted: 08 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 2 Feb 2012: "Christiane Amanpour returns to CNN Worldwide this spring and will broadcast her signature programme, ‘Amanpour’, in primetime inEuropeand throughout the world in more than 200 countries and territories, as the centerpiece of a new CNN International lineup, it was announced today by Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International. Each weeknight on CNN International, ‘Amanpour’ will deliver the definitive international news and interview program that CNN’s worldwide audience has come to expect of the preeminent global journalist. ... The half-hour show will air twice during European primetime, providing viewers with an additional opportunity to tune in for a distinct take on the challenging issues facing the world. ... Amanpour’ will be at the centre of a dynamic new lineup featuring existing programmes, ‘International Desk’, ‘Quest Means Business’, ‘Connect the World’ with Becky Anderson and ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’ as well as a new weekday news programme anchored by CNN’s Isha Sesay, who also appears on ‘Anderson Cooper 360°’."

The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Feb 2012, Mimi Turner: "Piers Morgan’s Tonight show has been bumped to midnight Central European Time as part a of new evening schedule spotlighting Christiane Amanpour's new signature series, Amanpour." See also The Guardian, 2 Feb 2012, John Plunkett.

Israel National News, 30 Jan 2012: "Member of Knesset Nachman Shai wrote a letter to Vice President Tony Maddox, in charge of CNN International, Monday, in response to information he had received that the first local layoffs made by the cable news network were three Israeli citizens with journalistic roles, while non-Israelis, including Palestinian Authority office staff were not fired."

Huffington Post UK, 30 Jan 2012, Andrea Mann: "CNN unfortunately made a hilarious on-screen gaffe at the weekend - by putting London on the map where Norwich should be. And now their mistake has gone viral."

Huffington Post, 3 Feb 2012: Stephen "Colbert said of CNN International, 'it’s just like regular CNN but in metric.'"

Radio Netherlands Dutch-language beginning-of-the-end broadcast will be 11 May.

Posted: 07 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 6 Feb 2012, Andy Sennitt: "The date of the final Dutch transmission of RNW has been decided. On Friday 11 May 2012 there will be a marathon radio broadcast which will look back with pride at 65 years of radio production for Dutch citizens abroad. Activities in other languages, especially those for the Dutch Caribbean and Indonesia, will also be included. Further details are still being discussed, and will be announced in due course." -- One outcome of the major RNW budget cut. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Nederland Wereldomroep, 5 Feb 2012: "Op vrijdag 11 mei zal met een 24-uurs radiomarathon afscheid worden genomen van de Nederlandstalige radiouitzendingen van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep. Dat is vrijdag bekendgemaakt."

Update: Radio Netherlands Media Network, 7 Feb 2012, Andy Sennitt: "Yesterday I published information as it appeared on our Dutch website and on various Dutch media sites. Since then, RNW’s Editor-in-Chief has issued a clarification: On Friday, 11 May we will have a marathon [Dutch] radio broadcast in which we look back with pride at 65 years of Dutch radio for expatriates, and which will also serve as the ‘farewell’ broadcast. Activities in other languages, especially those for the Dutch Caribbean and Indonesia, will also be discussed in detail. The choice of date has to do with the preparation time required to produce the radio marathon. The activities of the Dutch department will be phased out, but the timetable will depend on the progress of the reorganization and the available manpower needed to guarantee the quality of the programmes. No formal decision has yet been made about the date of the final Dutch radio broadcast. However it is extremely unlikely that Dutch language radio broadcasts will continue through the summer."

China's "CCTV America" programming block launches from Washington.

Posted: 06 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
CCTV News press release, 6 Feb 2011 (pdf): "CCTV America – new perspectives on the news – launches the week of February 6th. 'CCTV America' represents the latest initiative in China Central Television’s effort to grow its English language news channel for a global audience seeking diversity and alternative news coverage. ... On Monday, February 6th 2012, CCTV News launches 'CCTV America' and a schedule of daily programming originating from a production center and new studios in Washington, DC. ... The new programs include a daily global business hour at 8:00PM US Eastern time called 'Biz Asia America.' The program aims to combine reporting of economic and financial issues in North and South America with those from China and the Asian region. Anchored both from Washington and studios at NASDAQ at Times Square, New York, 'Biz Asia America' will feature daily live reports from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and other key financial centers."

The lengthy CCTV press release makes a point of mentioning the former employers of its new team in Washington: Bloomberg, CNBC, South African Broadcasting Corporation, CBS (60 Minutes), BBC, CNN, Russia Today, WUSA-TV and WRC_TV (both Washington), and Fox News

Iranian authorities email BBC Persian staff in London after putting their relatives in prison.

Posted: 06 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 2 Feb 2012, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Security officials with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have used the Internet to interrogate an employee of the London-based BBC Persian service, according to a February 2 report on the opposition website 'IranGreenVoice.' The report says the sister of a BBC reporter was detained and put in Tehran's Evin prison, where the IRGC is thought to exert considerable control. IRGC officials then contacted the reporter in London using e-mail information obtained from her detained sister. They told the BBC staffer that if she talked to them, her sister would be released. ... Two sources familiar with the situation have confirmed the report to RFE/RL. Sadeq Saba, the director of the BBC’s Persian-language television service, told RFE/RL that a relative of a BBC Persian staff member had been detained in Tehran in an attempt by authorities to put pressure on the London-based BBC employee. He said he could not discuss any more details because of security issues, but indicated that it wasn't an isolated incident."

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 2 Feb 2012: Iranian "[i]nterrogators have been particularly focused on the BBC, pressuring some of these detainees to say that they have cooperated with and provided information to the BBC, a source close to their families told the Campaign."

BBC, The Editors blog, 3 Feb 2012, Mark Thompson, BBC director general: "It is just the latest in a campaign of bullying and harrassment by the Iranian authorities, putting pressure on the BBC for the impartial and balanced coverage of events in Iran and the wider region. It follows the repeated jamming of international TV stations such as BBC Persian TV, preventing the Iranian people from accessing a vital source of free information. In recent months a number of relatives of members of BBC Persian staff have been detained for short periods of time by the Iranian authorities and urged to get their relatives in London to either stop working for the BBC, or to 'co-operate' with Iranian intelligence officials. In other instances, passports of family members have been confiscated, preventing them from leaving Iran. This has left many BBC Persian staff too afraid to return to the country, even to visit sick or elderly relatives." See also BBC News, 3 Feb 2012. And BBC's The Andrew Marr Show, 5 Feb 2012, video interview.

The Guardian, 3 Feb 2012, Ian Black and Saeed Kamali Dehghan: "Tensions worsened in recent weeks after the closure of Press TV, the English-language Iranian state broadcaster, in London. The UK regulator, Ofcom, revoked its licence for breaching the Communications Act. BBC Persian staff say they believe Tehran wants to stop the channel covering the elections on 2 March. ... Anonymous callers or others using names such as the Cyber Army of Allah have accused BBC Persian staff of being drug dealers, converting to Bahaism or Christianity – potentially a capital offence in Iran as it is considered to be apostasy – or taking bribes."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 3 Feb 2012: "The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention and harassment in Iran of relatives of BBC Persian service staff who work outside the country, which is part of a sustained campaign to intimidate journalists into not reporting critically on Tehran's activities."

Tehran Times, 6 Feb 2012: "An informed source has confirmed reports saying that Iran has arrested a number of people, who had been working secretly for the Persian language service of the BBC, the Mehr News Agency reported on Monday. According to the informed source, a number of deceived people, who were tasked with collecting news and information in Iran for the BBC, have been arrested by security forces. The source said these people received huge amount of money from the company."

If P. Diddy and Ryan Seacrest have channels on US cable TV, he writes, why not Al Jazeera English?

Posted: 06 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Forbes, 3 Feb 2012, Julia Bricklin: "Yesterday, I’d had enough of Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, and the talking heads surrounding that endorsement, so I checked in with AJE, which also airs a few hours a day on my local PBS station. I was completely sucked in. Talk about drama. German chancellor Angela Merkel chastising her fellow EU countries during her trip to China. Footage of Polish and Ukranian winters more severe than any in recorded history. British foreign minister William Hague, the first one to visit Somalia in more than twenty years, staring at the anarchic carnage in disbelief. Talk about exciting content. Al Jazeera English retains more than 1,000 journalists from 50 different nationalities. It has more than 70 bureaus across the globe, and broadcasts in more than 120 countries. P. Diddy and Ryan Seacrest are launching new cable channels soon. It’s hard to imagine we don’t have room for one more. If the U. S. can’t be open to channels that show other perspectives of the world, what does that say about us?"

Capital, 24 Jan 2012, Dan Rosenblum: "In the basement of Santos Party House—better known for its Andrew WK-hosted raves—a hundred or so people sat under deep red lights and a heart-shaped disco ball. They were there to see heart-wrenching scenes of the ongoing famine in Somalia. ... The screening of an episode of 'Fault Lines,' an Al Jazeera English show about the global impact of U.S. foreign policy, was part of an attempt to spread the word about the network’s English-language shows. It was also to galvanize New Yorkers to pressure cable providers to add Al Jazeera English to their portfolios."

VTDigger.org. 26 Jan 2012, Kevin Ellis: "On Wednesday, January 25, WGDR/WGDH Goddard College [Plainfield, Vermont] Community Radio (WGDR/H) went live with al-Jazeera English World News (AJE) in place of the ubiquitous BBC. The 30-minute program will air on weekdays 8:00 – 8:30am. WGDR/H joins the short list of 33 public radio stations that currently air AJE in the U.S., and the even shorter list of six college radio stations that do so. ... This bold programming decision is in line with the new direction of Goddard College led by President Barbara Vacarr. The college seeks to diversify the educational experiences of Goddard students and build upon the college’s legacy as an innovative leader in higher education. In the 1980’s, WGDR/H was one of the first non-commercial Vermont radio stations to broadcast the BBC. Today, the station sees AJE as the new cutting edge alternative for independent world news."

Best Media Info, 1 Feb 2012: "After a year of its launch in India, Al Jazeera English is all set to unveil its first campaign. The Qatar-based global news broadcaster has appointed Ogilvy & Mather Delhi as its creative agency while GroupM’s Motivator has bagged the media duties. Al Jazeera has also appointed a global market research firm TNS to monitor the effectiveness of its brand campaign."

Balkans.com, 27 Jan 2012: "The English version of the Al Jazeera television channel will be broadcast in Romania, and will be available for the IPTV subscribers of Ines Group, according to a notification sent to the National Audio-visual Council."

Rapid TV News, 1 Feb 2012, Rebecca Hawkes: "The Arabic and English language news channels from Qatar-based satellite broadcaster Al Jazeera are now available across every major pay-TV platform in France, following a new distribution deal with Orange TV. The agreement, which covers distribution by Orange across its television, computer, mobile and tablet platforms, will increase Al Jazeera's availability to 18 million French households."

AP, 26 Jan 2012: "Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera has bought more television rights to screen French league matches over the next four season seasons."

Officials signal resumption of BBC World News on cable in Pakistan and BBC Arabic on FM in Sudan.

Posted: 06 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Associated Press of Pakistan, 31 Jan 2011: "Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan Tuesday informed the Senate that the government was taking effective measures to stop contents violation by certain electronic channels and Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has given a month time for self regulatory mechanism. ... She said that PEMRA has allowed TV channels to telecast 10 per cent foreign contents including six per cent Indian contents. owever, they were not following the rules, she added. To another supplementary question, the minister said it is our collective responsibility as a society to discourage this trend. ... To another question, the minister said, BBC transmission was banned by cable operators on violation of the code of conduct and the Prime Minister has directed them to again enlist the BBC."

Rapid TV News, 1 Feb 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "Cable operators have been blocking BBC World News from transmission across Pakistan since November 2011, when it broadcast a critical documentary called Secret Pakistan."

Sudan Tribune, 25 Jan 2012: "The Sudanese minister of media, Abdula Massar, has promised to reverse the government’s decision that banned broadcasts of the BBC Arabic radio countrywide. On 9 August 2010, Sudan took the BBC Arabic broadcasts off FM frequencies in four main cities, saying the decision had nothing to do with the reporting of the popular broadcaster, and everything to do with actions breaching the accord regulating the terms of its service and sanctity of national laws. According to the Sudanese ministry of media, these actions included the BBC’s smuggling of satellite equipments through the British Embassy’s diplomatic courier."

With a shade of blue that could penetrate concrete, Deutsche Welle launches new website and changes name to DW.

Posted: 06 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
www.dw.de: "From Deutsche Welle to DW. The new DW logo now stands for all of Deutsche Welle's offerings, whether on-line, on TV or on the radio. ... For the first time in DW's history, a single jingle will introduce both audio and TV content."

I wanted to hear the new "single jingle" but was unable to get the audio links to produce any sound. Is this the end of the first notes of Beethoven's "Es sucht der seine Brüder"? It takes considerable effort to find DW's remaining shortwave frequencies. On this page, down at the bottom, is "DW radio programming via shortwave" to Africa, presumably in English. I would prefer the home page have visible links to all DW's language services. Yes, it would require much real estate, but it a user speaks Hrvatski and only Hrvatski, would he or she know that "More languages" is the place to click to find DW Hrvatski? He or she would probably guess that, based on the eight languages displayed just above, but it's best for a multilingual organization not to take chances.

See previous post about same subject.

Livestation, online conveyor of international channels, had 75 million unique visitors in 2011.

Posted: 05 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
informitv, 22 Jan 2012: "Livestation brings together some of the leading international television news channels, including the BBC, CNN, NHK, Al Jazeera, Euronews, France 24, Deutsche Welle, Russia Today, CNBC and Bloomberg. It has been several years since informitv helped to devise and implement the global news channel aggregation model for Livestation and it has been through many changes since, but the recently renovated proposition finally appears to be resonating with users. The freemium service reports receiving over 75 million unique visitors in 2011. Livestation has now revamped its web site, increased the quality of its streams and added social features, integrating Facebook and Twitter. The offering is also extending to apps on smart televisions, smart phones and tablets. ... The Livestation proposition now appears to have refocused on the original concept of licenced distribution of news channels, with a cleaner web site and a clearer proposition. The rather ingenious navigational motif we designed has sadly been dropped in favour of a simpler triangle indicative of a play icon, like many other online video players, but the logotype, developed in association with design agency English & Pockett, has been retained. ... The reality is that while these international news channels may theoretically reach hundreds of millions of potential viewers, their audience for most of the time is relatively low and difficult to measure. That is where online distribution counts — providing evidence of active viewing. Although many of these channels are available to satellite viewers who seek them out, bringing them together online allows them to reach new international audiences, particularly where they are not carried on local cable networks, for commercial or political reasons. It also brings together different perspectives on world events. That raises interesting editorial issues. While some channels may pride themselves on impartiality, others have their own agenda. Not least, Press TV, an Iranian news channel that is still being carried on Livestation, despite having its broadcast licence revoked by the United Kingdom media regulator Ofcom and consequently being removed from the Sky programme guide." -- See also www.livestation.com, where the selection of channels is fairly limited. It is a source of Al Jazeera English. I think there could be a market for a pay package consisting of CNN International, BBC World News, Al Jazeera English, France 24, NHK World, DW TV, Australia Network, and perhaps some others.

How the blogger "Tunisian Girl" used Skype to Al Jazeera and France 24 to report the news.

Posted: 04 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Jan 2012, Ruth Pollard: "The blogger and human rights activist known as the Tunisian Girl cuts a diminutive figure amid the chaos of demonstrations outside parliament in Tunis. ... Lina Ben Mhenni - confident, brisk, and serious - takes the speech notes and draft leaflets that people push in front of her to edit, and pulls out her pen, head resting on one hand, eyes flying across the pages. Switching easily between French, Arabic and English, she dispenses with the most urgent tasks and turns her attention to the interview. ... Ben Mhenni had been an online activist well before December 17, 2010, when the Tunisian fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight in desperation at his struggle to make a living amid entrenched government corruption. ... She went to hospitals, interviewed victims' families and revealed their stories to the Tunisian public and the world. Her images showed the brutality of Ben Ali's regime - all published under her own name, and at great personal risk. At the same time she was communicating with foreign news channels such as al-Jazeera and France 24 via Skype to give the latest news from Tunisia, when most foreign journalists could not enter the country and the national media was little more than a mouthpiece for a dying government. Her blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts were censored by the Ben Ali regime, she was followed constantly by the police, and monitored in her job as a lecturer's assistant in linguistics at the University of Tunis."

France 24 now available in 235m homes, with satellite free-to-air the largest means of distribution.

Posted: 03 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
France 24France 24 press release, 19 Jan 2012: "In 2011, FRANCE 24 expanded its distribution by 33 million television households, which represents a 22% increase in one year. FRANCE 24 is now available in 235 million television households across the globe either a on 24-hour basis or via part-time distribution in one, two or three of its language versions (English, French and Arabic). In five years, FRANCE 24 has increased its distribution three-fold. Of the 235 million households that receive the channel, 183 million have 24/7 access while 52 million can watch FRANCE 24 for several hours a day as part of other channels schedules. ... FRANCE 24’s distribution by type of reception: > 70 million television households receive FRANCE 24 by satellite free-to-air (without a subscription). > 50 million receive FRANCE 24 as part of a satellite offer. > 27 million receive FRANCE 24 as part of a cable offer. > 19 million receive FRANCE 24 as part of an IPTV / ADSL offer. > 17 million receive FRANCE 24 directly via free DTT (in French Overseas Territories, Italy, Denmark, and some US states, for example). > 52 million households around the world receive FRANCE 24 as part of other channels schedules (on TG4 in Ireland or TVZ in Burkina Faso, for example). > 3.5 million users have downloaded FRANCE 24’s mobile applications, all terminals and operating systems cumulated (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, etc.)."

France 24 press release, 31 Jan 2011: "FRANCE 24, the international news channel available in 235 million households in over 200 countries, is launching a new application for connected television sets. ... The new application will enable users to watch FRANCE 24 live in its three language versions and also tune into its global on-demand programs (reports, programmes, magazines, etc.)Another major innovation is that this application will be 'multi-screen' (mobile, tablets, etc.). It is part of a wider multimedia strategy that enables users to create their own 'basket' of programmes, regardless of the type of terminal and operating system they are using. Users will also be able to share all the content made available to them on the social networks using the Twitter and Facebook buttons located on the right hand side of the main screen."

"Ever-popular press reviews"? Anyway, Radio France International English website "gets a makeover."

Posted: 03 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio France International, 24 Jan 2012, Tony Cross: "Regular visitors to RFI’s website in English may have noticed some changes on our homepage. These reflect a change in editorial policy, which we hope will mean a better site leading with RFI’s strengths. Our ever-popular press reviews now have their own slot on the homepage, while the columns devoted to French and African news have disappeared. This means not less French news but more. We have decided to concentrate the site’s efforts on news about France and French-speaking countries, while also covering international stories with a French angle. We believe these are the fields in which Radio France Internationale has most to offer English-speakers, an opinion borne out by the number of hits such articles attract." -- It might not be a good idea for journalists to use the world "angle" when describing their work. The actual look of website does not seem much different, although I notice that links to each RFI language, in the language, are visible "above the fold" in the home page. No pull-down menus are necessary. This is an important feature for any international broadcasting website. If a user speaks Tiếng Việt, and only Tiếng Việt, that person can readily find the link to the RFI Vietnamese website.

Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France press release, 24 Jan 2012: "All of Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France’s (AEF) Internet sites recorded an increase in traffic in December 2011 with over 15,000,000 visits (7.7 million unique browsers and a total of approximately 58 million pages viewed). Driven by an eventful month of December, with elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laurent Gbagbo’s transfer to the International Criminal Court and diplomatic tension between France and Turkey, FRANCE 24 and RFI’s websites respectively recorded 6% and 4.5% increases in their traffic, compared with the previous month. Last December, the number of FRANCE 24 videos viewed and RFI audio programmes listened to also reached outstanding levels, with nearly 14 million FRANCE 24 videos viewed and over 2.2 million RFI audio programmes listened to. All the RFI and FRANCE 24 language versions have registered growth, with a particularly high increase for the Arabic versions of FRANCE 24 / Monte-Carlo Doualiya (+ 8%). December 2011 was also a particularly significant month for FRANCE 24’s Observers website which notched up its largest audience since its launch with close to 800,000 visits."

Iran's HispanTV officially launches with Ahmadinejad's "viva España, viva América Latina."

Posted: 03 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 31 Jan 2012: "Iran has launched an international-facing Spanish language TV channel. Iran's Fars news agency said that Hispan TV has now officially started broadcasting 24 hours a day. ... Speaking at Hispan TV's launch, [President] Ahmadinejad said he hoped that the channel would become a public discussion forum. In an address broadcast on Press TV, he said that he hoped the channel 'would act as a rendez-vous so that all the justice-seekers and freedom-seekers and all the independent nations and thinkers and scholars and artists... would have the opportunity to engage in dialogue'. He concluded his speech in Spanish, saying 'Viva Espana, viva America Latina', and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent a message hailing the launch, according to AFP."

IRIB News Agency, 31 Jan 2012: "It is the third specialized channel launched by the IRIB after the Arabic language Al-Alam television network and the 24-hour English-language Press TV. The channel broadcasts on Hispasat 1E Europe, frequency: 12265 MHz, vertical polarization, symbol rate: 27500, FEC 5/6; Hispasat 1C Americas, frequency: 12172 MHz, horizontal position, symbol rate: 27500, FEC 3/4." See also Press TV, 31 Jan 2012, with video.

Miami Herald, 31 Jan 2012, Jim Wyss: "The station, which is available on five satellites, the Web and mobile devices, was running programming Tuesday about how U.S. citizens are not in favor of Iran sanctions and what it called Washington’s plots against Syria and Venezuela. Also running was content produced by TeleSur — the Latin American network launched in 2005 with the backing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez."

See previous post about same subject.

Press TV, et al, react to Ofcom's closure of Press TV in the UK.

Posted: 03 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 25 Jan 2012, Faisal Bodi: "Ofcom suddenly found an 'administrative' error in Press TV's license application in 2007. The error pertained to editorial control of the channel, which is obviously in Tehran and not London. This 'shocking revelation' was enough for Ofcom to write to Press TV indicating that it was 'minded to revoke its license'. Frankly, you couldn't make it up. First of all, surely this administrative error could have been easily cleared up and, secondly, all the other foreign 24-hour news channels in the UK operate on the same model. So, using Ofcom's logic, Aljazeera, France 24, Russia Today, and CCTV should also be shut down. But guess what? They're all funded by friendly nations or ones, who are too big to bully." See also George Galloway interview, Press TV, 21 Jan 2012.

Forbes, 21 Jan 2012, Tim Worstall: "The reason it’s the wrong decision is because free speech, freedom of the press, do actually have a meaning and being adrift of bureaucratic rules meaning you don’t have such freedom of the press isn’t part of that meaning. ... After all, there are a number of other TV stations out there who should be worried if we’re going to ban stations for being conspiracist, monotheistic to an extreme degree, factually incorrect or even just not to our liking. Do I like Press TV? Want them to be broadcasting? No to both questions. But freedom for everyone else does mean that quite a lot of things I’m not specifically in favour of get to happen, as they should here."

Huffington Post, 26 Jan 2012, Tom J. Wilson: "Yes we might occasionally quibble over the BBC's line up of panellists on Question Time or with the sensationalism of Channel 4's Dispatches programme, but that's hardly on a level with forcing an imprisoned journalist to take part in an interview against their will. And there's far more than just this. Press TV is a mouthpiece for an authoritarian regime, where presenters such as George Galloway have openly voiced their support for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a moment in television history that Galloway can place alongside such other proud moments as his jovial meetings with Saddam's murderous son Udi Hussein, or his impersonation of a cat whilst in Celebrity Big Brother."

GOPUSA, 26 Jan 2012, Kenneth R. Timmerman: "[T]he Obama Administration permits the channel to operate on American soil without a license and in violation of U.S. sanctions regulations, which ban commercial transactions with Iran. It appears to be another example of Obama coddling the terrorist regime. ... In the United States, ... although it operates openly in Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles, and regularly conducts interviews with such figures as Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, it does not have a license from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). So far, the Obama Administration has done nothing to shut it down. What appears to be lacking is a determination from OFAC pointing out the obvious—that the Iranian state propaganda channel is operating illegally in the U.S. Because of this failure to enforce the law, Press TV is able to operate a propaganda facility in downtown Washington, D.C. with a prestigious K Street address and send its operatives to observe and survey U.S. Government offices, under the cover of 'freedom of the press.'"

See previous post about same subject.

Fiji ponders resumption of Radio Australia FM relays.

Posted: 03 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia News, 27 Jan 2012: "Fiji's coup-installed military government has suggested it is looking at allowing Radio Australia to broadcast there again. Power to the two [FM] transmitters, one in Nadi and the other in Suva, was switched off by the interim government in 2009. But Fiji's permanent secretary of information, Sharon Smith-Johns told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat on Friday that she is looking at reversing the policy. 'Well look, I want you to come back online because I have to listen to you through the Internet. We're looking at that currently; we'd welcome having you back on our airways,' she said. Radio Australia's CEO, Mike McCluskey has welcomed her statement but says Radio Australia's parent company, the ABC, will not make any deals about news coverage of Fiji in exchange for getting the transmitters back on. 'No, because the ABC already has arrangements in place to ensure fairness and accountability. We have the arrangements of our code of practice, we have the arrangements of our editorial policies,' he said."

The advocacy of BBG member Victor Ashe is a shot in the arm for VOA contract employees.

Posted: 03 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Knoxville News Sentinel, 30 Jan 2012, Georgiana Vine: "A flu shot campaign has resulted in former U.S. Ambassador and Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe becoming an advocate for contract workers. Ashe is a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a federal agency that manages U.S. government-funded news and information broadcasts in Europe and Asia. It has a reputation of having low morale among the federal employees, who do the bulk of the work, but also has a high percentage of contract workers, Ashe said. Besides the flu shot issue, Ashe has raised questions about long delays in payments to contract employees, a situation that was reported following a Jan. 13 meeting by BBGWatcher, a Washington, D.C.-based blog. Ashe, a Republican member of BBG since 2010, said he visits different work sections of the agency when he attends meetings in Washington, D.C., to familiarize himself with programs."

Wilmington (DE) News Journal, 28 Jan 2012, former BBG member Ted Kaufman: "It has always amazed me how we Americans take freedom of speech for granted. I spent thirteen years on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, appointed by Presidents Clinton and Bush, The Board oversees all non-military U.S. government broadcasting abroad, including the Voice of America. I saw time and again how governments around the world frustrate freedom of speech and freedom of the press. There are still countries that throw dissidents in jail and close media outlets. But more often, governments use more nuanced methods. They enact laws to define who can be a journalist and what constitutes libel, and control what is permitted on the Internet. The existing SOPA and PIPA bills would have made it easy for businesses to limit speech with no prior notice or judicial hearing. They could have shut down websites by filing a notice alleging the site was 'dedicated to the theft of U.S. property.' Perhaps some web pages should be closed, but this is a very slippery slope. Maintaining real freedom of speech on the Internet must be our paramount concern."

The times are changing when the chief of VOA Burmese presents a paper in Rangoon.

Posted: 03 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
The Irrawaddy, 30 Jan 2012, Nyein Nyein: "A new draft of the media law was briefly introduced by Press Scrutiny and Registration Board Director Tint Swe during the inaugural media workshop held in Rangoon's Inya Lake Hotel on Monday, said the CEO of a journal in the city. ... The workshop—organized by the Myanmar [Burma] Literacy and Journalists Organization along with the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre of Singapore—is the first of its kind in Burma to tackle the topic of media freedom. Two popular presentations were from Zeya Thu, of Rangoon's The Voice journal, and from Than Lwin Htun, head of the Voice of America Burmese Service. ... Than Lwin Htun presented a paper which discussed having more freedom of press, the media becoming stronger and the independence of journalists."

The Irrawaddy, 1 Feb 2012, Wai Moe: "'I think the media law here will be more like in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. If so, press freedom would not change much although it may relax somewhat. We cannot expect much. And we still cannot act like India’s media,' said Hein Latt, the editor of Popular News Journal and a central committee member of the Writers and Journalists Association."

Burma is one of the very few countries where shortwave listening is a common activity. If the media environment "relaxes," the Burmese could find themselves in a multichannel television entertainment environment. Domestic newscasts that, while not providing a full picture of Burmese affairs, will likely be reasonably well produced, resulting in the retirement of shortwave radio sets in many Burmese homes.

Murray Green will retire as director of ABC International, parent entity of Radio Australia and Australia Network.

Posted: 03 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 31 Jan 2012, statement from the ABC’s Managing Director, Mark Scott: "Murray Green, the Director of ABC International, has notified me that he will retire from the ABC on 30 March, 2012 ending a long and distinguished career with the national broadcaster. ... Murray became the Director of ABC International when the decision was made to bring all of the ABC’s international broadcasting activities into the one division. ... During his time as divisional head, ABC International has significantly extended the reach and relevance of the ABC to the Asia Pacific. Murray has been passionate in its commitment to the Pacific, with the ABC providing transformational assistance in media development, health and education outcomes and encouraging best practice in governance. Radio Australia will complete its Pacific capital city FM network this year and Australia Network is now available free-to-air in many Pacific locations. In partnership with AusAID, the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme provides long term commitment to media development. The ABC is the only broadcaster facilitating a daily Pacific-wide conversation around news, regional challenges and aspirations. Cabinet’s decision in December 2011 to permanently award the Australia Network contract to the ABC can be viewed as one of Murray’s enduring legacies. Murray has informed me that with this breakthrough, Radio Australia well into a process of renewal, and ABC International Development expanding its role, it is an opportune time to bring in a new leader to knit more closely together all the work of ABC International. Accordingly, I will set up a formal process to select a new Director for the International Division."

From our occasional VOA in the news when it wishes it weren't file...

Posted: 02 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
RIA Novosti, 1 Feb 2012: "Whistleblower lawyer, blogger and opposition leader Alexei Navalny has dismissed an interview with him posted on the Voice of America web site on January 31 as a fake. 'Voice of America has gone completely nuts. [They] have published a huge fake "Interview with Navalny",' the blogger said on his Twitter account on Wednesday. ... The allegedly faked interview ... quotes him denying his alleged links with U.S. officials who it was claimed were funding his opposition activity. The Voice of America said on its official Twitter account that it is 'scrutinizing the details of how the interview with Navalny was done.' The interview is still available on the VoA web site."

I asked my friend Sergei in Moscow to look into this...

"A quick search shows that golosameriki.us doesn't carry the interview anymore. There's also a report on the website of Delovoy Peterburg, a St.Petersburg business newspaper, published about 17 hours ago, saying that VoA took the text off its site.

"VoA Russian says that it's investigating the event. VoA Russian got the interview's text from navalny.press@gmail.com.

"Last summer, Navalny had privacy issues with his email - his and his wife's gmail accounts were hacked by unknown people and all their personal emails were published online. If navalny.press@gmail.com is really his email then it looks to me like it was hacked again.

"Did you see VoA's recent blog on RT [Russia Today]? There's my comment there under 'Sergei'. (My first sentence should read: 'Occasionally, I run into Russia Watch blog...').

"BTW, in this season VoA Russian resumed its Russian radio broadcasts on 810 [kHz medium wave] in Moscow. They are 30-min.long and called 'GolosAmeriki.us', Mon. thru Fri. They consist of one-minute (!) news bulletins followed by audiofiles of VoA's Russian current video productions. (Personally, I'd prefer to hear programs from VoA's archives. - They used to have wonderful literary and history broadcasts.) Radio France International's Russian broadcasts on 810 are off the air."

MSNBC, Photo blog, 1 Feb 2012, Paolo Woods: "Since the introduction of battery-operated transistor receivers in the 1960’s, radio has been the main media in Haiti. American missionaries donated the first transistor radios, hoping to convert the masses through the 24-hour evangelical programming on Radio Lumière. But in the hellish years of the Duvalier dictatorship, Haitians far preferred the radio programs in Creole broadcast on Radio Haiti Inter by legendary opposition figure Jean Dominique, to being constantly reminded about hell awaiting them if they did not become Protestant. ... RTMS [97.3] relays for a couple of hours each day Radio Voice of America. People in Les Cayes suspect it receives American money for this reason and some refer to it as Radio CIA."

The final hours of Radio Bulgaria on shortwave (updated with audio of the final hour).

Posted: 02 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Jukka Kinkamo in Finland writes: "As Radio Bulgaria moves out of HF [shortwave] and decommissions its HF transmitters perhaps now it is a time to record these and many other interesting shortwave signals... YouTube video, 29 Jan 2012. The recording is made with Nokia 3720 Classic mobile phone videocam and Etón Satellit 750 RX with 10 meter wire antenna."

See the previous post about the Radio Bulgaria's decision to quit shortwave and to follow Radio Sweden, Radio Prague, and many other stations as an internet-only service.

If you want to listen to a bit of international radio history, here is the Radio Bulgaria schedule as announced at the beginning of the broadcast recorded by Jukka (which contradicts the website schedule, which seems to be the old summer times and frequencies): All times UTC, all frequencies in kilohertz (kHz): 0730-0800 on 7400, 9400; 1830-1900 on 7400, 9700; 2200-2300 on 5900, 7600; 0000-0100 on 5900, 7400; 0300-0400 on 5900, 7400.

The Radio Bulgaria DX Program on 27 Jan 2012 describes the history of shortwave broadcasting in Bulgaria.

Update: The SWLing Post, 1 Feb 2012, Thomas: "Just in case you missed it, below I have a full recording of Radio Bulgaria’s final transmission in French. This was recorded on 7,400 kHz, Jan 31, 2012 at 21:00 UTC. Typically, I have to move to 5,900 kHz after 22:00 UTC due to neighboring Radio Marti on 7,405 kHz (which you hear come in at the end of this recording). Yesterday, after moving to 5,900, I heard one Radio Bulgaria interval signal and then dead air in place of their normally scheduled English service. I believe the recording below was their last transmission on shortwave. [Link to the recording.] Still want to listen to Radio Bulgaria? No problem–they now stream online, everyday, on their website." -- English would normally have followed at 2200 UTC, but because 2200 UTC was midnight in Bulgaria, the plug was pulled. If best international broadcasting practices were observed, the transmitters should have stayed on until the end of the last transmission to North America, at 0400 UTC on 1 February.

Chris Lewis in the UK writes that the Radio Bulgaria English broadcast on 31 January began with this announcement: "Dear Friends. On Radio Bulgaria, this is the last broadcast on shortwaves, and those will be shut down as of midnight. The whole team of the English section would like to thank you for all those years of support. The shortwave broadcasting has existed for almost seventy-six years. From now on, you will be able to find us online. Once again, thank you for listening." Chris also writes that, later, the broadcast "featured a special edition of the program 'Keyword Bulgaria,' in which the former editor in Chief was interviewed. The program wrapped up with some very warm comments from the two presenters, and closed with the piece of music which was used as the interval signal for Bulgarian Radio for many years." Audio of the that English broadcast is available here.

With salvo of 6 press releases, Deutsche Welle announces new TV channels, URL, website, logo, corporate design.

Posted: 02 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 31 Jan 2012: "Deutsche Welle (DW) is reinforcing its position in the international media landscape with a comprehensively revised television program, a new online presence – at the new address www.dw.de – and a new corporate design. At a press conference in Berlin on January 31, Deutsche Welle Director General Erik Bettermann referred to the set of changes as 'a milestone for representing Germany better around the world.'" -- After February 6, will Deutsche Welle be "representing Germany," or reporting the news? Any new "corporate design" should, first of all, sort that out.

Deutsche Welle press release, 31 Jan 2012: "Deutsche Welle (DW) will be expanding its Spanish television service for Latin America from two to 20 hours daily, starting February 6, 2012. At a press conference in Berlin on January 31, Deutsche Welle Director General Erik Bettermann said the new lineup for viewers between Mexico and Tierra del Fuego is part of a comprehensive reform process designed to reposition Germany’s international broadcaster. ... DW’s 24-hour schedule for Latin America includes four hours of German programming. But DW won’t only be setting the tone in Latin America on February 6. There will be two channels for nearly every region around the world, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa. Until now, this had only been the case with DW’s dual-channel concept for Asia. The basis will be a new channel will feature 24 hours of English programming broadcast in North America, Africa, Asia and Australia. That will be expanded worldwide with regional channels focusing on other languages: In North and Latin America and Asia, the second channel will be made up of 20 hours of programming in German and four hours in English. In the Arab world, there will be a channel featuring 10 hours of Arabic programming and 14 hours of English; and in Europe, DW will broadcast 18 hours of English and six hours of German during primetime."

Deutsche Welle press release, 31 Jan 2012: "Germany’s international broadcaster will offer six channels: DW – the 'basis channel' – with 24 hours of English for North America, Africa, Asia and Australia. DW (Europe) with 18 hours of English programming and six hours of German in morning and evening primetime blocks. DW (Latinoamérica) with 20 hours of Spanish and four hours of German. DW (Amerika) with 20 hours of German and four hours of English. DW (Arabia) with 10 hours of Arabic and 14 hours of English. DW (Asia) with 20 hours of German and four hours of English."

Deutsche Welle press release, 31 Jan 2012: "Deutsche Welle’s completely redesigned website will go online on February 6, 2012. ... The new website will retain the multilingual, multimedia content that DW has been known for, but will have a look and feel based on Germany’s international broadcaster’s new corporate identity. The website also has a new Internet address: www.dw.de ... Users will be able to get their bearings quickly at dw.de due to its intuitive navigation and design. Content is developed and organized exactly to the users’ expectations – from the homepage to the last article."

Deutsche Welle press release, 31 Jan 2012: "A groundbreaker in the German online news landscape, DW looks back on an Internet success story that began 18 years ago.

Deutsche Welle press release, 31 Jan 2012: "DW will be creating a unified brand identity with a new corporate design starting February 6, 2012. 'The new corporate design gives DW a distinctive presence among the competition,' said Director General Erik Bettermann at a press conference in Berlin on January 31. 'Germany needs a strong voice in the world,' said Bettermann. 'To be recognized among the choir of international broadcasters, this voice needs to have a unique tone.' Bettermann said more and more countries are looking for attention in the battle for opinions around the globe. 'With this in mind, the new corporate design is an essential investment for a successful presence in the international media industry.'"

All the press releases are available on this page.

VOA marks its 70th anniversary with a new anniversary date.

Posted: 02 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 1 Feb 2012: "Voice of America turned 70 on Wednesday, and VOA Director David Ensor says the international broadcast agency is aggressively moving forward with new programs that ensure it remains an 'information lifeline to people in closed societies like Iran.' Addressing VOA journalists at the agency’s Washington headquarters, Ensor pointed to a television news show for Burma that began airing in January, a popular video blog that has been viewed more than 7 million times in China, expanded TV broadcasts to Iran, and new health programs on radio in Africa. He also described plans for a Russian language TV program that will harness popular social media programs to make citizen journalists and the audience a key part of the show. Ensor said the one-time cold war broadcaster is 'as relevant today as it was February 1st, 1942,' the date of the first shortwave radio broadcast to Germany. ... The first shortwave radio transmission, spoken in German just weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, began with the words 'Here speaks a voice from America.' The broadcast went on to promise, 'The news may be good. The news may be bad. We shall tell you the truth.' Ensor, the 28th Voice of America director, says the agency continues to be guided by those words."

AP, 1 Feb 2011, today in history: "1942: The Voice of America broadcasts its first program to Europe, relaying it through the facilities of the British Broadcasting Corp. in London."

The 1 February anniversary date of VOA has only recently been established, as a result of research by Dr. Walter Roberts and Chris Kern. Previously, the official anniversary date was 25 February. See previous posts on 2 Oct 2010 and 11 Jan 2011.

Reno Gazette-Journal, 31 Jan 2012, Karren Rhodes: "It was no surprise that patriotism was on just about everyone's mind during last week's awards banquet for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post's annual Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen winners. The six high school and intermediate school students who won the awards were being celebrated for their grasp of -and ability to articulate what democracy and patriotism mean to them. The event has been going on at VFW posts across the country for the past 65 years. The VFW as a counter propaganda tool launched the annual contest. American youth-written speeches were aired over the radio program Voice of America from U.S. occupied West Berlin, Germany into communist East Berlin during the Cold War in 1947. ... Post Commander Paul Eades said the radio station that transmitted the Voice of America program had a transmitter of up to 100,000 watts. His aunt, who lived in West Berlin at the time said when Voice of America went on the air there was so much radio frequency in the air that fluorescent and neon lights would light up."

This is the first that I have read about any connection between the annual VFW Voice of America competition and the Voice of America. In fact, this 2011 VFW press release indicates that it is now called the Voice of Democracy competition. This Hudson Reporter article from 2000 states that the VFW had two competitions: Voice of Democracy for essays, Voice of America for speeches, and that the competition began with the National Association of Broadcasters in 1946. Given that private US networks were still contributing to VOA programming in 1947, maybe the account of VOA in Berlin in 1947 has some basis. But was VOA active in Berlin in 1947? RIAS (Radio in the American Sector) had already begun broadcasting in 1946. (On the subject of RIAS, IBB director Richard Lobo has been appointed a member of the RIAS Berlin Commission -- which provides the pretext for more activities than any other organization devoted to a former international broadcasting service. In fact, is there any other organization devoted to a former international broadcasting service?)

Marsupilami becomes an international broadcaster with the launch of Tivi5MONDE.

Posted: 01 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Kidscreen, 27 Jan 2012, Jeremy Dickson: "Global, 24-hour, French-language digital network TV5MONDE, which reaches more than 220 million households in 200 countries, has inked a deal with DISH Network to launch Tivi5MONDE, the first US French-language channel focused completely on children’s programming. The channel launched in the US yesterday to DISH subscribers as part of its French suite of channels which includes TV5MONDE USA, a 24/7 French-language entertainment channel. Tivi5MONDE programming will target kids ages four to 14 and feature animation, education and dramatic series. Shows in the initial program lineup include The Daltons, Galactic Soccer, Marsupilami – Houba Houba Hop! and Dragon Hunters." See also TV5Monde press release, 26 Jan 2012.

Mediaset Italia, with its soccer and soaps, available to Cablevision subscribers in the US.

Posted: 01 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
Worldscreen.com, 26 Jan 2012, Mansha Daswani: "Mediaset Italia is now available for a monthly fee to subscribers of cable platform Cablevision, which is also bundling the channel with Rai Italia to offer up an iO Italian package. ... Programming highlights for Mediaset italia include Serie A soccer, the popular soap Centrovetrine, the current-affairs series La Iene Show and the news program TG5. The channel is available on its own for $9.95 per month. The iO Italian package costs $14.95 a month."

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 16 Dec 2011, citing corrieretandem.com: "As of January 1, Italian public broadcaster RAI has decided to end RAI International production destined for abroad. All that will be left is the name and a station that will broadcast programmes produced by RAI’s three domestic networks. RAI International was created in 1995 for the expressed purpose of answering to the needs of the Italian TV public outside Italy... ."

Religious international broadcaster HCJB marks its 80th anniversary.

Posted: 01 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
ChristianNewsToday.com, 20 Jan 2012, Michael Ireland: "HCJB Global began with Clarence Jones, a Moody Bible Institute graduate who felt called to use broadcasting to minister to Latin America. Armed with permission from officials in Ecuador to establish a radio station there with the call letters HCJB -- Heralding Christ Jesus' Blessings or, in Spanish, Hoy Cristo Jesús Bendice (Today Christ Jesus Blesses) -- Jones began the ministry's first broadcast by playing 'Great Is Thy Faithfulness' on his trombone on Dec. 25, 1931. It was the world's first missionary radio station and the first radio station in Ecuador with daily programs. Such humble beginnings, using a tiny 200-watt transmitter in Quito, hardly foreshadowed the growth that followed. In addition to traditional broadcasting HCJB Global has used shortwave and satellite radio, as well as the Internet." -- For HCJB, shortwave was "traditional broadcasting," because it used shortwave for its first transmission in 1931. HCJB's previously extensive international shortwave plant in Ecuador has been pared back to one low-powered transmitter serving remote areas of Ecuador and neighboring nations. HCJB still has an international shortwave transmitting facility in Australia. See also the HCJB history page and HCJB press release, 6 Jan 2012.

BBC Hausa now available on FM in Accra. BBC "Africa Debate" series launches

Posted: 31 Jan 2012   Print   Send a link
Modern Ghana, 26 Jan 2012, citing BBC World Service: "BBC Hausa news and current-affairs programming is now available for listening on Marhaba 99.3 FM in Accra thanks to a new partnership agreement between BBC World Service and Marhaba FM. In addition to daily BBC Hausa programmes such as the morning show, BBC Shirin Safe, and the evening news programme, BBC Shirin Yamma, Hausa-speaking audiences in Accra can also tune into the BBC Hausa sports bulletins broadcast Monday to Friday. Marhaba 99.3 FM will also rebroadcast BBC Hausa weekly programmes such as the English Premier League commentary, Amshoshin Takardun Ku (Listners' Letters) and women's magazine focusing on motherhood and childcare, Haifi Ki Yaye Da BBC Hausa. BBC World Service Business Development Manager, West and Southern Africa, Steve Martin, comments: 'Listeners have been asking us to make BBC Hausa available on FM in Accra for years. Now, thanks to this new partnership with Marhaba 99.3 FM, listeners can hear the BBC programmes they want on the FM band they prefer. We're delighted to be extending our service in this way, especially at a time when Hausa-speakers tell us they're eager for impartial, independent reporting of the latest news from Nigeria.'" -- So does the BBC Hausa audience consist chiefly of expat Nigerians? Or are Hausaphone Ghanaians particularly interested in Nigeria?

Huffington Post, 27 Jan 2012, Rachael Akidi: "The new BBC World Service programme, BBC Africa Debate launches tonight and will be asking whether there is need for an 'African Spring'." See also BBC World Service press release, 20 Jan 2012 and the BBC World Service Africa Debate page.