TV5Monde expands distribution in Haiti, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and (with Russian subtitles) Russia.

Posted: 31 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 31 May 2012, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "TV5Monde has signed a distribution deal for its return in Haiti, with DTT operator NUTV (Digital Satellite System). The broadcaster will offer TV5Monde Amérique Latine and Caraïbes as of 1 June, first in capital city Port-au-Prince and then on a national basis. TV5Monde is also strengthening its cable distribution. It is carried on network Telehaiti, which has become operational again this early May owing to the earthquake that devastated the island more than two years ago."

Rapid TV News, 24 May 2012, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "TV5Monde is strengthening its East European distribution following the renewal of former agreements in Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Specifically the company’s TV5Monde Europe division has inked new deals with satellite platform NTV+ which carries the channel in both Russia and Ukraine. The French-speaking channel is broadcast with Russian subtitles in the platform’s basic offer to some 500,000 subscribers. In both countries, TV5Monde is globally received by 3.8 million homes when cable and IPTV subs are added. A distribution agreement has also been renewed in Bulgaria with cable operator Blizoo Media and Broadband, which has come out from the merger between Cabletel EAD and Eurocom Cable Management Bulgaria. Now available on channel 25 in the basic offer, TV5Monde is globally reaching 80 % of the Bulgarian cable, satellite and IPTV homes."

Australian monarchists see to it that ABC broadcasts The Queen on her royal barge rather than Warren Beatty's Shampoo.

Posted: 31 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 May 2012, Tim Barlass: "The ABC has cancelled plans to screen the 1975 movie Shampoo starring Warren Beatty instead of covering one of the Queen's diamond jubilee main events live this weekend. Monarchists on Sunday launched an online petition asking viewers 'to show the ABC that they should perform the role and function for which they are funded by the taxpayers of Australia'. Australians for Constitutional Monarchy national convener David Flint wrote to ABC managing director Mark Scott condemning the decision to screen instead 'a rather tired and motley collection of repeat programmes, old films and music videos'. And Bryan Stertern-Gill, chairman of the Monarchist League of Australia described the decision as 'offensive'. Today the ABC changed its mind and issued a release showing that it had now dropped the movie to provide live coverage of the River Pageant, in which the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on the royal barge will lead a flotilla of 1000 boats on the Thames." -- Thanks to Barry Hartley for the news tip.

"Botched" Australia Network tender will be subject of another inquiry.

Posted: 31 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 May 2012, Daniel Flitton: "The botched tender for Australia's $223 million overseas television service will again be investigated, only weeks after an audit found the debacle painted the Gillard government 'in a bad light'. Rival broadcasters ABC and Sky News had bid for the rights to run the official public diplomacy challenge in Asia, Australia Network, after the government last year put the contract out for tender. ... The parliament's Public Accounts and Audit committee voted this morning to refer the tender process to further investigation."

Australia Network, 24 May 2012: "The Australia Network international broadcasting tender process is set to be examined by an Australian federal parliamentary committee. ... The committee says it has chosen to examine the process because it did not represent best practice. The committee hearing will be held late next month."

The Australian, 25 May 2012, Milanda Rout and David Crowe: "Cabinet information was so widely shared within the Gillard government that it had become difficult to trace a damaging leak about the failed $223 million Australia Network tender, police told a Senate committee yesterday. The Australian Federal Police confirmed the leak about the preferred tender to run the network, a contest between the ABC and Sky News that led to divisions between cabinet ministers, came from within the government. ... The incumbent bidder, the ABC, has been accused of inappropriate lobbying and the federal government accused of political interference over the tender, which the government cancelled in November, citing the leaks. Cabinet twice overruled unanimous public service advice that Sky News should be given the 10-year broadcasting contract to provide Australia's international 'soft diplomacy'. (Sky is one-third owned by BSkyB, which is 39 per cent owned by News Corporation, publisher of The Australian.)"

The Australian, 31 May 2012, David Crowe: "The Gillard government is yet to conclude a deal with the ABC to run a $223 million diplomatic TV channel, six months after a contentious decision to leave the service with the public broadcaster. Julia Gillard's department has taken control of the talks over the Australia Network but federal cabinet has not made a decision on the terms of the deal, a Senate committee heard last night."

See previous post about same subject.

DISH Network and Roku bring international channels to the USA via internet.

Posted: 31 May 2012   Print   Send a link
DISH/Roku press release, 23 May 2012, via The DISH TV Blog: "DISH Network and Roku, Inc. announced a deal that launches the DISHWorld service on the Roku streaming platform in the U.S. featuring international channels that include, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Bangla and Brazilian channels as well as 45 others. The DISHWorld service launched today and enables DISH to expand its distribution of ethnic channels into urban and multi-dwelling unit markets difficult to reach by satellite. 'DISH offers the largest selection of international programming among major pay-TV providers and its DISHWorld service brings a tremendous amount of foreign language entertainment to out platform,' said Jim Funk, vice president of business development at Roku. ... Roku players are affordable, easy to use and widely available online and at other retail outlets. Once launched, the service will include: ●An extensive offering of Arabic channels including MBC, Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera. ●Market-leading Hindi channels including aapka Colors, Sony, SET Max, Star Plus, Zee TV, B4U and aaj Tak. ● Willow Creek and TEN Cricket with eight Cricket Boards and more than 150 days pers year of live cricket. ●Seven of Pakistan’s most popular television channels including GEO TV, ARY Digital and Hum TV. ●Four popular channels from Bangladesh including ATN Bangla, Channel I, ETV Bangla and NTV Bangla. ●TV Globo Internacional and PFC which showcase the best Brazilian television programs and soccer events." See also dishworldiptv.com.

New Tamil language shortwave clandestine broadcast to Sri Lanka and elsewhere in Asia.

Posted: 31 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The Sunday Leader (Colombo), 20 May 2012: "The pro-LTTE Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE) announced that it will broadcast Radio News to Sri Lanka. The TGTE Radio called ‘Naatham’ was to commence broadcast on Friday on the shortwave frequency. The radio can also be heard in India, Malaysia and Singapore where large number of Tamils live. TGTE says while this broadcast will become a bridge between the Tamil diaspora and the Tamils living in Sri Lanka, it will also play a role to politically and emotionally link Tamils worldwide."

The Sunday Leader, 27 May 2012, Dinouk Colombage: "The Transnational Government of Tamil Elam’s (TGTE) radio broadcast cannot be blocked according Anusha Palpitta, Director General of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC). Palpitta told The Sunday Leader that the (TGTE) were broadcasting on a shortwave frequency, and as such their signal could not be blocked by the TRC. He explained that the TRC did posses the equipment which would allow them to block such a signal, but added that the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation did. 'The SLBC is the only registered broadcast station that uses shortwave, they are also the only place that posses the equipment to block such a broadcast,' Palpitta said. The SLBC chairman, Hudson Samarasinghe, was unavailable for comment."

See also Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam press release, 16 May 2012, which unhelpfully does not provide the frequency. The broadcast is at 1500-1600 UTC on 12250 kHz, later 12225 kHz per discussion in DX Listening Digest, 23 May 2012 and Shortwave Central, 29 May 2012. Unknown transmitter site.

BBC Worldwide Brazil deal will deliver "epic experience to the senses" translated into Portuguese.

Posted: 31 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 22 May 2012: "BBC Worldwide Channels announced today that for the first time the company will launch a channel in Brazil, in partnership with NET Serviços, the biggest Telecommunications and Entertainment Company of Latin America. BBC HD will be available to NET’s Top HD package subscribers in channel 531, starting on May 28th. This deal also includes a branded VOD service agreement which will provide content from BBC Entertainment and the preschool channel, CBeebies. BBC HD brings an innovative programming offering, with the best of British entertainment content backed by the prestigious BBC seal of quality and produced 100% in high definition. For the first time, subscribers will see BBC programmes never seen before in Brazil - exclusive premieres in June include Top Gear, now in its eighteenth season, one of the most acclaimed series from the BBC, sold to more than 198 countries. ... BBC HD is an epic experience to the senses that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. Conceptualized programming with the HD experience in mind, which will give Brazilian viewers access to a wide range of genres including drama, documentaries, factual, entertainment and natural history. BBC HD programming will be broadcast in English with Portuguese subtitles and a few titles will be dubbed in Portuguese."

New South Sudan radio program about women's rights will be broadcast in Arabic, Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk and Tira.

Posted: 31 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 18 May 2012, Simon Jennings: "A ten-day training and mentoring course for broadcast journalists held in Juba has paved the way for IWPR’s new radio programme covering women’s rights in South Sudan. The weekly programme will be produced in partnership with the Catholic Radio Network, CRN. The content will be gathered and recorded by IWPR and CRN’s team of female reporters. The goal of the project is to provide women with a platform to access independent news about the rule of law and women’s rights, and to stimulate debate through local radio in South Sudan’s northern region, bordering Sudan. ... Radio Voice of Hope in Wau, and Radio Voice of Peace in Gidel and Radio Saut al-Mahabba in Malakal will broadcast the programme in Arabic and local languages – Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk and Tira."

A summary of the first six episodes of Julian Assange's program on RT.

Posted: 30 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Salon, 22 May 2012, Glenn Greenwald: "When it was announced last month that the Kremlin-backed network RT would broadcast a new show from Julian Assange, American media figures predictably erupted with mockery and scorn despite not having seen a single episode (nobody provokes the animosity of America’s establishment media class more than those who meaningfully challenge American government power). Since I participated in the ensuing debate, I thought it would be worthwhile briefly to review the six programs Assange has now produced and let everyone decide for themselves how these programs compare to the criticisms voiced and, more generally, to the quality, substance, and range of debate from America’s cable and network news programs. [Descriptions and links to the six episodes.] Would someone learn more, be more informed about the world, from watching these episodes as opposed to, say, a standard American cable news program?" See also assange.rt.com. See previous post about same subject.

Press TV reports that it and other Iranian channels have been "interrupted" on Hot Bird.

Posted: 30 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 19 May 2012: "The broadcast of Iran's 24-hour English-language news channel, Press TV, on the Hotbird satellite provider has been interrupted. Interruption of the broadcast of Press TV programs on Hotbird satellite on frequency 12437 MHz began at 11:00 GMT on [19 May]... . Press TV has learned that the cause of the interruption is the presence of a clean carrier on the IRIB package. In addition to Press TV, the broadcast of other international Iranian channels including Al-Alam, Islamic Republic of Iran News Network and Al-Kowsar have also been interrupted. This is not the first time IRIB signals have been interrupted in recent months."

Is IPTV in Russia an opening for US international broadcasting?

Posted: 30 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Celebro Media Network, 25 May 2012, Wesley Dodd: "It would probably be fair to say Russian viewers have a lot less choice in home-grown channels than their European counterparts. The monopoly of control over Russian media has also taking its toll with plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest viewers are turning away from TV in Russia. The lack of any truly independent media means increasingly people are looking elsewhere for their entertainment and news. The place they are looking is inevitably the Internet. Unlike the major cities in the UK, the Russian metropolitan areas offer fast, cheap and reliable Internet that allows for the possibility of TV existing outside of the traditional broadcasting sphere. Russian TV may still be broadcasting old 4:3 with analogue signals - but on millions of mobile screens, tablets and computers a new generation of viewers are tuning in to content that looks like TV – but isn’t. This is IPTV. ... Russia is already the leading IPTV market in Central and Eastern Europe and predicted to be in the 10 ten IPTV markets over the next 10 years." -- With VOA and RFE/RL not allowed on Russian FM and terrestrial TV stations, IPTV could be a new opportunity. See previous post about BBC Russian via Russia's IPTV channel Dozhd.

June will be the last month of radio at Radio Canada International unless Canada's government is convinced otherwise.

Posted: 30 May 2012   Print   Send a link
RCI Action Committee blog, 28 May 2012: "June 24, 2012, will be the last day of Radio Canada International’s radio programming unless we can convince Canada’s government that our national public radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada went too far when it cut our budget by 80% and decided we would no longer broadcast on shortwave or satellite, and be left with only a web presence on the Internet. This decision to stop radio broadcasting fails to recognize that most people in the world do not have easy access to the Internet. It fails to recognize that there is very little access around the globe to contextualized Canadian news, news for those outside Canada. And since RCI’s mandate is to explain Canada to as much of the world as possible, CBC/Radio-Canada is making that harder for us. That is why we are calling on Canada’s federal government to step in, stop the cut, and protect Radio Canada International’s international mandate. Here’s where we need your help. Please contact government (Conservative) Members of Parliament and tell them why access to Canadian news is important to you."

Radio Canada International, Off Mike blog, 23 May 2012, Wojtek Gwiazda: "In the meantime, all of us at RCI are trying to keep up the level of our radio programming right to the end.

RCI Action Committee blog, 30 May 2012: "I hear that RCI goes off the air on shortwave by the end of June. I am very sad that the Canadian government has decided to close you down. It takes years to build an audience, but only a short time to lose it. We don’t want to listen to you on computers; we just want to hear you on the radio! (Li Meng, Maanshan City, China)." And many other comments from listeners.

Medicine Hat News, 21 May 2012, Don Weisbeck: "In the recent dederal budget, the grant to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was cut by 10 per cent over three years some $115 million out of a $1.1 billion grant. From the wailing and gnashing of teeth, one would have thought that the company that receives two-thirds of its revenue from you and I was being forced to close its doors. Let's examine a few of the 'deep' cuts that have been announced. CBC is ceasing to broadcast in Portuguese and Russian via Radio Canada International. Be relieved they will continue to broadcast throughout the world in Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish."

Regina Leader-Post, 15 May 2012: "Deputy Liberal Leader Ralph Goodale is part of a group of parliamentarians in Ukraine to look at the challenges facing democratic development in that country. ... Goodale has also called for financial support to allow Radio-Canada International to resume broadcasting into eastern Europe."

Via VOA, US forces deny report of US incursions into North Korea.

Posted: 30 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The Daily Caller, 28 May 2012, David Martosko: "Quotes indicating that U.S. special forces had made reconnaissance incursions into North Korea were fabricated, United States Forces Korea told a Voice of America journalist in a statement. U.S. Army Gen. Neil Tolley, commander of U.S. special operations on the Korean peninsula, was quoted in The Diplomat magazine as saying 'we send ROK [Republic of Korea] soldiers and U.S. soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance.' The Daily Caller reported on the apparent admission, which The Diplomat said came during a military industry conference in Tampa last week. But VOA bureau chief Steve Herman, tweeting from Seoul, quoted a statement from United States Forces Korea saying 'quotes have been made up & attributed to' Brigadier Gen. Neil Tolley. 'At no time have SOF [Special Operations] forces been sent to the north to conduct special reconnaissance,' Herman tweeted from the statement, which was not immediately available online."

Steve Herman @W7VOA, 30 May 2012: VOA: Controversy Follows Comments on Cross-border Operations in North Korea | SpecOps" With link to audio of Steve's VOA report. More at @w7voa. See also VOA, 29 May 2012.

RFA reports on self-immolations in Lhasa. VOA reports on self-immolations in Lhasa.

Posted: 30 May 2012   Print   Send a link
AP, 27 May 2012: "Two men engulfed themselves in towering flames outside a temple that is a popular tourist site in Lhasa, marking the first time a recent wave of self-immolations to protest Chinese rule has reached the tightly guarded Tibetan capital, two U.S. broadcasters reported Monday. Radio Free Asia said in a statement that the men were taken away by authorities within minutes of setting themselves on fire Sunday outside the Jokhang Temple. ... RFA said the men in Sunday's protest were believed to be monks but their identities and personal details were not immediately available. U.S.-funded radio broadcaster Voice of America reported that the two men worked at a Lhasa restaurant called Nyima Ling. It identified one of the men as 19-year-old Dorjee Tseten but was unable to give the name or age of the other."

Reuters, 27 May 2012: "Two Tibetan monks set themselves on fire outside a Buddhist temple in Lhasa, the first of a series of self-immolation protests against Chinese rule over Tibet to take place in the regional capital, Radio Free Asia reported on Monday. ... Voice of America, another U.S.-backed radio station, reported online that the two Tibetans who set themselves on fire were restaurant workers, not monks."

New York Times, 28 May 2012, Edward Wong: "The self-immolations on Sunday were first reported by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, which have contact with Tibetans in western China. Voice of America reported that the two men worked at a restaurant in Lhasa called Nyima Ling. Radio Free Asia said the two were monks who were taken away in security vehicles within 15 minutes of setting themselves on fire."

@LetitiaKing, 29 May 2012: "AP, others pick up @RFERL and @RadioFreeAsia coverage of self-immolation in Tibet ... @SaveTibetOrg @freetibetorg"

See reports by Radio Free Asia, 25 May 2012, Voice of America, 28 May 2012, and RFE/RL, 25 May 2012.

New York Times, 23 May 2012, Andrew Jacobs: "These days, the unmistakable marimba jingle of iPhones and the melodic bleep of Skype can be heard in lamaseries across this remote expanse of snowy peaks and high-altitude grasslands in northwestern China. Even Tibetan nomads living off the grid use satellite dishes to watch Chinese television — and broadcasts from Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America. 'We may be living far away from big cities, but we are well connected to the rest of the world,' said the 34-year-old monk, who, like most Tibetans who speak to foreign journalists, asked for anonymity to avoid harsh punishment. ... Despite government efforts to restrict the flow of information, citizen journalists and ordinary monks have gathered details and photographs of the self-immolators, pole-vaulting them over the country’s so-called Great Firewall. ... Exile groups say government efforts to choke off information have been largely successful in much of the Tibet Autonomous Region, where security is draconian and foreign journalists are forbidden to go. Chinese jamming equipment, for example, prevents most Lhasa residents from listening to Radio Free Asia, according to its executive editor, Dan Southerland."

Voice of America, 24 May 2012, VOA Tibetan: "The United States has criticized China for its continuing rights violations in Tibet. In the US State Department’s 2011 annual human right report released on May 24, 2012 stated, 'There was severe repression of the freed of speech, religion, association , and movement (in Tibet).' ... The 19-page section on Tibet says that Chinese government continued to jam radio broadcasts of Voice of America’s (VOA) and Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Tibetan and Chinese language services in some Tibetan areas, as well as the overseas-based Voice of Tibet. In Tibetan areas of southern Gansu Province and the Ganzi (Kardze) in Sichuan Province, police confiscated or destroyed satellite dishes suspected of receiving VOA Tibetan-language television as well as VOA and RFA audio satellite channels. However, Tibetans were able to listen to overseas Tibetan-language radio and television broadcasts through the Internet, according to the State Department’s report."

Swedish Eurovision contestant who met with rights activists in host country Azerbaijan wins.

Posted: 29 May 2012   Print   Send a link
AFP, 27 May 2012: "Swedish star Loreen beat off a challenge from dancing Russian pensioners on Saturday to win a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan that the host hoped would banish qualms over its rights record. Loreen, 28, wowed voters with a catchy dance number called 'Euphoria' featuring an upbeat chorus accompanied by a high-kicking dance duet and a storm of artificial snow. ... Second place on Saturday went to Russia's heartwarming Buranovskiye Babushki, a choir of elderly women from a village who performed a disco song 'Party for Everybody' in English and their local Finno-Ugric language with a stove and a tray as props. ... Loreen ran into controversy during the contest by meeting local rights activists who briefed her on the lack of democratic freedoms in the tightly controlled ex-Soviet state."

New York Times, 23 May 2012, David M. Herszenhorn: "For Eurovision, the government has spared virtually no expense, knowing that for much of the world the festivities are an introduction to Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim country strategically situated between Russia to the north and Iran to the south."

Huffington Post, 28 May 2012, Glenn McMahon: "While it has certainly put oil-rich but barely-known Azerbaijan on the map - a key objective of its authoritarian regime as it seeks to become a new Dubai - it also provided a platform to the country's human rights and pro-democracy campaigners who have struggled for years to get any real attention from the international media."

RFE/RL, 25 May 2012: "Following the second semifinal of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 24 in Baku, Swedish finals contestant Loreen was asked by a Reuters journalist about her meeting with Azerbaijan's political opposition. She answered simply: 'What I can say, there is two parts of me. One that is private and one that is my work that I'm doing here, and just today I want to keep the focus on this energy that we created right now.' But Azerbaijani Public TV, which is broadcasting Eurovision, immediately had its moderator jump in to keep any more questions "relevant," prompting howls of protest from the journalists in the room. What's more, its voiced-over translation of the reporter's question into Azeri on its domestic broadcast came through as only 'How did you feel on stage?'"

Huffington Post, 28 May 2012, Kaushik Ray: "This year's winning country Sweden didn't just enter one song this year. Talented Swedish songwriters, writing for other countries, entered ten. And all ten made the final 26. Four made the top ten. You see, Sweden cares about pop music, about its song writing and production. Whether you're Britney or One Direction, it's to Swedish producers and writers you go to. It's a creative industry that has been carefully nurtured, for generations, by successive government policies - and it has reaped cultural and economic rewards. In short, Sweden takes popular music - and Eurovision - seriously. This commitment is why they won this year. And why a Swedish songwriter wrote the winning Azeri entry in 2011."

Daily Mail, 27 May 2012, Damien Gayle: "Humiliated music fans have called on the BBC to pull out of the Eurovision Song Contest after Britain's entry limped in at second to last place. Veteran singer Engelbert Humperdinck scored just twelve points after opening the show in Baku, Azerbaijan, on a night that revived allegations of political voting from participating nations."

BBC Worldwide launches website to accompany its London Calling programs on BBC commercial international channels (updated: CNN, too).

Posted: 29 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 21 May 2012: "BBC Worldwide Channels today unveiled www.londoncallingbbc.com - an engaging digital destination to support London Calling, a unique season of programmes airing on BBC channels around the World that celebrates the music, fashion, art, culture and history of Britain's capital city. ... [S]eason highlights include Diamond Queen, an intimate portrait of Queen Elizabeth II's reign with exclusive interviews with members of the Royal family including Princes William and Harry, The Duke of York and the Princess Royal; Going for Gold: the '48 Games, a riveting drama starring Matt Smith (Doctor Who) about winning Olympic glory against the odds; The Underground, a documentary peering into the largest and busiest underground transport system in the world... . London Calling will air between May and August on BBC Entertainment (Africa, Poland, the Nordic Region, Asia, India, Latin America and the channel's pan-European service), BBC Knowledge (Africa, Poland, the Nordic Region, Italy, Asia and Australia), BBC HD (Latin America, Poland, The Nordic region and Turkey), UKTV (Australia and New Zealand) and BBC World News (global). The season will also be available to users of BBC.com and to users of the global BBC iPlayer but will vary territory by territory." -- The home page has a "choose your region" menu, including just about every region in the world except North America.

Update: CNN press release, 29 May 2012, via TV by the Numbers: "Live from London, CNN will globally televise the spectacular pageantry of the Diamond Jubilee, marking Queen Elizabeth’s 60 year reign of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. CNN’s special live coverage will be anchored by Piers Morgan and Brooke Baldwin, across CNN/U.S. and CNN International. Users can also watch the simulcast live online at CNN.com/live or on the CNN App for iPad and iPhone by authenticating through their cable, satellite or telco provider. ... Additionally, CNN International will feature live programming from location with Becky Anderson, Richard Quest, Zain Verjee and CNN’s Royal Correspondent Max Foster. CNN en Español will provide coverage on Mirador Mundial, which broadcasts Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. (ET)."

The domestic dissemination ban probably won't be relaxed. Now will it be enforced?

Posted: 28 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BuzzFeed, 24 May 2012, Rebecca Elliott: "The version of the defense appropriations bill that passed through markup in the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday afternoon does not include an amendment to 'strike the current ban on domestic dissemination' of propaganda says Glen Caplin, Communications Director for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is a member of the committee. The move marks a setback for the approval of Reps. Mac Thornberry and Adam Smith’s controversial amendment to the House version of the bill, which repeals the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. The House amendment’s press release states that it will 'help counter threats in the information age' by lessening restrictions on how foreign information campaigns are shared with U.S. citizens. Critics, however, said altering the Smith-Mundt Act allow the State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors to target propaganda materials at U.S. audiences. Even though the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed through Senate committee includes no mention of altering the Smith-Mundt Act, it remains possible for an amendment allowing for domestic propaganda to be introduced on the Senate floor, or added when the House and Senate versions of the bill are reconciled. It is unclear how much support Thornberry and Smith's amendment has in the Senate, but it faces some opposition. 'Senator Gillibrand is hopeful this troubling language will remain out of the Senate bill and stripped out in conference committee when the House and Senate bills are reconciled,' Caplin said."

Radio World, 25 May 2012, Paul McLane: "As RW has reported, the BBG supports repeal of the 1948 ban on 'domestic dissemination' of content to listeners and viewers in the United States. The board believes the rule did not envision the Internet or satellite broadcasting, 'which do not honor national boundaries,' and that with all of its 59 languages available online, 'the agency cannot comply with this outdated statute.' It also says the law obstructs BBG from reaching significant expatriate communities in the United States."

Amarillo Globe-News, 26 May 2012, Lee Wolverton: "It’s worth acknowledging Thornberry and his supporters on this issue chafe at the use of the term 'propaganda.' The law, in fact, never uses that word. More preferable to their thinking would be the description 'public diplomacy material' or 'strategic communication.' You say 'tomato.' I still say propaganda. This does not mean the amendment Thornberry co-sponsored is a bad thing. It has the support of, among others, the American Civil Liberties Union, whose positions generally are wildly debatable but whose support of the Government Man, especially on topics like this one, is rare. It’s intriguing, at least, to witness the alignment of Thornberry, the ACLU and the Heritage Foundation, which is roughly the equivalent of Batman and Robin deciding to get down with the Joker."

Right Side News, 23 May 2012: "If the government propaganda experts decide that they don't like you, it is quite likely that you could end up being the target of a massive misinformation campaign. It could come down to the fact that they simply do not like your blog or what you are saying on Facebook. They could decide that it is best to destroy your reputation for the sake of 'national security'."

Press TV, 25 May 2012, SM: "Do you want the Obama administration to use mass media in the United States to push a particular political or social agenda? Do you want the State Department and the Pentagon to conduct psychological operations targeted at you, your family and your friends? Do you want to see and hear government propaganda everywhere you go?"

American Civil Liberties Union, 25 May 2012, Gabe Rottman: "From a First Amendment perspective ... the ban is both highly paternalistic and a nightmare for government transparency. As noted, State- and BBG-produced material are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. And there are less restrictive means available than an outright ban to ensure that the State Department and BBG are not turned into organs of a domestic government propaganda machine. We should trust that the American public will be able to take government public diplomacy communications with a sufficient grain of salt to prevent undue influence."

Columbia Journalism Review, 25 May 2012, Emily T. Metzgar: "We can’t, as of now, really know whether the content of VOA is in fact truthful or propagandistic, routinely biased for or against the United States, whether the content champions or condemns American foreign policy. This content, broadcast to audiences around the world, can be exempted from American freedom of information requests, and American ethnic media outlets are prevented from rebroadcasting news that would serve their communities. With the ban, all we know for certain is that content is financed by the US government. This doesn’t necessarily make it propaganda, but it certainly does make the content worthy of the same scrutiny savvy audiences apply to all media."

Americans can know "whether the content of VOA is in fact truthful or propagandistic," because VOA content is available at the VOA websites. The real question is, now that the domestic dissemination ban will not be relaxed, will it be enforced? It would be a simple matter to prevent VOA and other USIB websites from reaching US IP addresses. The BBC prevents its video archives and other content from being accessed outside the UK, and its commercial international websites from being accessed inside the UK.

The internet and satellite finally make the domestic dissemination ban enforceable. Geoblocking can do it with the internet. The satellite footprints of USIB can cover every part of the world except the United States. Ironically, the old and derided shortwave radio was the only medium that could not be stopped from propagating back into the United States, even if the signal was nominally beamed to some other part of the world.

Key to salvaging any hope of relaxing the domestic dissemination ban is the need to convince people that VOA and USIB are in the news business, not the propaganda business. This endeavor is not helped by the fact that the BBG and it elements seem uncertain of the concept, and even uncertain of which concept they are uncertain of. Confusion could result from the BBG's ambiguous new mission statement. And note in a recent BBG press release that one person is described as a VOA journalist and "a tireless campaigner for human rights." Both are noble vocations, but can one actually simultaneously be both? In the same sentence?

Future legislation might address specific problems. One bill could assist US ethnic media in their need for news about their audiences' home countries in the language of their home countries. US international broadcasting can perform a valuable public service here at no additional cost to the taxpayers. Another bill could guarantee the right of Americans to access any content (reimbursing for costs if there are any) of US international broadcasting.

See previous post about same subject.

Former Colombian senator is host of new Telesur program that "probes injustice."

Posted: 28 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Colombia Reports, 22 May 2012, Rosemary Westwood: "Colombian hostage negotiator and former senator Piedad Cordoba is the host of a new documentary program examining social justice in Latin America and the Caribbean. 'Just Cause' premiered Monday on Venezuelan television channel Telesur with a program on discriminatory immigration policies for Haitians living in the Dominican Republic, titled 'Civil Death.' In the show Cordoba interviewed Haitian families affected by the policies, experts on the issue and President of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernandez Reyna. 'For me it was a bit difficult to interview the president because I wanted .... to say, liar, liar, you have not done anything,' she said." See also Telesur, 21 May 2012, with video.

GAO will audit Defense, State, NSA, CIA info ops. Hillary Clinton lauds successful US "hack".

Posted: 28 May 2012   Print   Send a link
USA Today, 22 May 2012, Tom Vanden Brook: "The top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have called for a federal audit of the Pentagon’s 'military information support operations' in light of concerns about their growing cost and questionable merit, according to their offices and documents obtained by USA Today. ... The GAO will audit information operations throughout the military as well as in the National Security Agency, State Department and Central Intelligence Agency, an attachment to the GAO’s letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. Among the key questions: spending on information operations and evaluating their results. ... The Pentagon promised full cooperation to ensure the audit is finished quickly, said Lt. Col. James Gregory, a spokesman." See previous post about same subject.

National Defense Magazine, 23 May 2012, Eric Beidel: "The leader of U.S. Special Operations Command is defending military information campaigns that have come under attack on Capitol Hill. ... SOCOM Commander Adm. William McRaven said that MISO programs, now being audited by the Government Accountability Office, are essential tools that in many ways can help prevent serious conflicts. The commander said he is one of many officials working with lawmakers to explain to them exactly what these operations can do for the military. But it has been difficult to break through the misconceptions, he said. 'There is some baggage that comes with information operations. There is this belief that it is psychological operations, that we are somehow conducting . . . nefarious operations to influence people and frankly that's not the case,' McRaven said. 'Military information operations are about the truth. It's about putting the truth out there.'"

National Defense Magazine, 24 May 2012, Eric Beidel: "In a much-anticipated speech to a special operations forces conference here [Tampa], Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said a new approach to national security is relying heavily on the pairing of diplomats with special operators in areas such as counterterrorism and cybersecurity. ... Clinton revealed that a new inter-agency communications unit that includes special operations forces recently hacked into websites launched in Yemen on which al-Qaida had bragged about killing Americans and tried to recruit supporters. 'Within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al-Qaida attacks have taken on the Yemeni people,' Clinton said. 'We can tell our efforts are starting to have an impact because extremists are publicly venting their frustration and asking supporters not to believe everything they read on the internet.' The new communications center, which is housed at the State Department, includes a team of tech-savvy specialists fluent in Urdu, Arabic and Somali. They patrol the Internet and use social media to expose 'al-Qaida's contradictions and abuses, including its continuing brutal attacks on Muslim civilians,' Clinton said."

GlobalPost, 25 May 2012, Jeb Boone: "The State Department's online efforts have been misrepresented in the press as sophisticated hacks against militant sympathetic websites when in actuality the US was operating within the intended parameters of the websites as well as US law. 'There was absolutely no hacking,' said William McCants, a jihadi research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, a research and development center serving the Navy. 'If a member of the US Government is posting, they have to identify themselves as such. Everything is completely overt.'"

Xinhua, 25 May 2012: "U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that a U.S. team recently hacked into websites run by the al-Qaida branch in Yemen in an effort to disrupt its propaganda campaign, according to a State Department statement on Thursday."

US nonprofit Layalina marks 10 years of productions for Arab TV stations, claims larger audience than Alhurra.

Posted: 28 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Layalina Productions press release, 21 May 2012: "On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, Layalina Productions [celebrated] a decade of television diplomacy in the Middle East at its 10th Anniversary Gala, being held at the Newseum in Washington, DC. ... Layalina's mission is to educate, inform, and inspire audiences across the Middle East and North Africa, with special emphasis on youth. ... The organization's efforts focus on promoting greater cultural understanding through award winning television shows, publications and educational exchanges. Layalina's Arabic and English language reality series, documentaries, and children's animated shows are broadcast in primetime throughout the Arab world as well as in the United States and reach millions of viewers. ... On the Road in America, a hit series whose third season will soon air in primetime in the Middle East and North Africa region on MBC -- the most watched Arab network -- follows four Arab university students traveling across the United States. The series focuses on Arab and American attitudes toward each other as seen through the eyes of the Arab visitors and the Americans whom they encounter on their journeys." See also www.layalina.tv.

C-Span, 22 May 2012: "Marc Ginsberg talked about the tenth anniversary of Laylina TV, a non-profit public diplomacy initiative that develops, produces and distributes television programming throughout the Middle East and North Africa. .... Layalina aims to dispel negative stereotypes of the other and help increase mutual understanding between the U.S. and Arab-speaking countries- very interesting conversation and perspective." With video.

At 10:50 into the interview, a caller (Harvey, an independent from Washington DC) asked for a comparaison of Layalina and Alhurra. "Shouldn't we do one or the other?" Ambassador Ginsberg seemed remarkably prepared to answer Harvey's question. He said that while "it's been very difficult to raise the money we need," the United States government "has poured a huge amount of money" into Alhurra. But, he added, Alhurra's audience is "infinitesimal compared to what Layaina's productions have been able to reach." Ambassador Ginsberg then suggested a "merger" into a "Corporation for Public Television" as a public private partnership.

It's clear from the C-Span interview and from Layalina PR that Layalina has a public diplomacy mission -- even if it is largely privately funded. Each production is designed to bring about a some change in opinion or behavior that happens to be congruent with American interests. Alhurra, on the other hand, if it is doing its job properly, is a news station, simply informing its audience so that the audience is equipped to form its own opinions. The NGO-type function of Layalina and the journalistic function of Alhurra are therefore probably not compatible.

Ambassador Ginsberg is correct in noting that larger Arab audiences can be accrued by placing content on popular Arab channels than by forming a separate channel to compete with Arab channels. Alhurra's news product, however, would probably not be invited onto any Arab channel without editorial restrictions, hence the need for a separate channel.

Digital video provider Avail-TVN goes international: investing in digital media ecosystem across the value chain to develop monetization opportunities.

Posted: 28 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Avail-TVN press release, 21 May 2012: "Avail-TVN, the largest global provider of advanced digital video services, today announced that global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group will lead $100 million of new investment funding enabling Avail-TVN to acquire UK-based On Demand Group, a provider of video on demand services to some of the biggest television brands outside of the United States.... Avail-TVN will use this investment to fund international expansion and the development of new products and services for the company's global client base of content providers and multichannel video service providers. The first investment from this new financing, the acquisition of On Demand Group from SeaChange International, expands Avail-TVN's reach to more than 25 countries, serving more than 70 million households globally. Major markets include North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. 'Our strategy has been to invest in leading players across the digital media ecosystem and incorporate them into one company to build Avail-TVN into the largest provider of advanced digital video services worldwide,' said Ramu Potarazu, Avail-TVN's chief executive officer."

Discovery Times Square exhibit has tie to 1978 murder of BBC's Georgi Markov.

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
New York Observer, 21 May 2012, Aaron Gell: "Oleg Kalugin, a man some credit with helping to foil the hard-line coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991—and others, including Vladimir Putin, have dubbed a traitor—did not appear to partake of the catered spread on Wednesday afternoon in the basement meeting room at the Discovery Times Square exhibit space. The occasion was a press luncheon pegged to the launch of SPY: The Secret World of Espionage, a traveling exhibition of Cold War memorabilia, and Major General Kalugin, now a professor with the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies in Alexandria, Virginia, was there to offer support—and perhaps to serve as something of a living relic himself. ... He’s now a U.S. citizen, so it’s all good. Speaking of political murder, Mr. Kalugin played a role in one of the most sensational rub-outs of the Cold War, the killing of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov, a journalist for the BBC Radio and Voice of America [sic: actually RFE]. Mr. Markov was felled by a ricin-coated micropellet fired from an umbrella gun on London’s Waterloo Bridge. While admitting he’d been privy to the planning of the assassination, Mr. Kalugin was careful to note that the Soviets did not have any operational involvement in the hit but merely provided the Bulgarians 'technical advice' — including, of course, the poison and the umbrella itself, which is now on display in the exhibition." See also Discovery Times Square website.

Richard Cummings @coldwarradios, 23 May 2012: "Finished in Munich, now off to London for final filming of Markov Documentary: 'The Umbrella Murder'"

CNN International is a profit leader, but CNN website traffic is down 21% from 2011.

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 25 May 2012, Emily Steel and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson: "CNN is eager to show off the success it has had overseas amid the domestic primetime ratings slide, which it blames on a slow news agenda compared with 2011. Its global network CNN International, available in more than 265m households across more than 200 countries, has reported record growth in audience and ad revenues this year. ... CNN International is profitable and the first quarter was the highest on record for the unit in ad revenue, which it forecasts will show double-digit growth this year. ... CNN International accounts for 20 per cent of CNN’s global revenue, a spokeswoman says, or twice the contribution from US primetime ads. About half of CNN Worldwide’s revenues come from fees from cable and satellite distributors, which research firm SNL Kagan estimates will hit $17bn in the US alone this year, up 9.3 per cent from 2011. ... Online, CNN is the fourth-largest news and information organisation in worldwide traffic, behind the combined networks of Yahoo and ABC, and those of the New York Times and the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, according to ComScore, a digital marketing intelligence supplier. CNN’s sites, which publish only original content, drew 84m unique global visitors in April, down 21 per cent year on year." See previous post about CNN International.

"An ocean of channels" from non-Arab countries competing for Arab television viewers.

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Gulf News (Dubai), 24 May 2012, Jumana Al Tamimi: "The growing number of foreign Arabic language satellite TV channels is being described as 'an ocean of channels' filling the waves of the region, and as 'noisy markets'. Almost every foreign country with a certain level of leverage in the region has its own television channel targeting Arab countries. The US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Turkey come at the top of the list. They are all vying for an Arab audience. ... Apart from radio, the BBC was also the first western country to bring television to the region. However, two years after its launch, BBC television was shut down in 1996, only to be re-launched in 2008. But by that time, the foreign media had already started to mushroom in the region. In 2004 the US-government funded Al Hurra television was launched to enhance the badly hit image of America. The success of the channel in achieving its goal is still debatable after nearly eight years, and the channel does not have a high viewership. In 2005, the Arabic service of Germany's Deutsche Welle was launched with a few hours of transmission daily which was increased later. In 2006, France decided to join the group by launching its television services simultaneously in three languages, Arabic, English and French on France 24. A year later, Russia Today joined in. China and Turkey launched their Arabic television channels in 2009 and 2010 respectively."

This article provides several quotes and anecdotal bits of information. The real story, however, is in the real audience numbers, which exist but have not been shared with general audiences. In brief, the intra-Arab news channels, Al jazeera and Al Arabiya, have the largest audiences. (It will be interesting to see if Sky News Arabia will be able to join this first tier.) Then come the Arabic news channels from non-Arab countries, with BBC Arabic and Alhurra leading that pack. It is, therefore, not correct to state that Alhurra "does not have a high viewership," because, among the non-Arab Arabic channels, it does.

Digital Production Middle East, 27 May 2012, Chris Newbould: "Sky News Arabia, the Abu Dhabi-based 24 hour rolling news network, secured comprehensive distribution for its successful multi-platform launch on 6th May, 2012, once again raising the bar for broadcasters in the region. While many broadcasters have migrated to new platforms on an ongoing basis, Sky is the first in the region (and among the first in the world) to launch with such a comprehensive degree of accessibility across the platform board. As the first regional news network to launch simultaneously across four media platforms – television, online, tablet and mobile – securing distribution on appropriate platforms was crucial to the launch strategy."

Mobile Entertainment, 17 May 2012, Zen Terrelonge: "Developer Grapple has developed the Sky News Arabia app, running across iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Nokia. It features news stories, videos and photos, all of which can be shared via social media platforms, while live streaming will roll out in coming months." See previous post about Sky News Arabia.

Global News Network, newest of USIB's many, many, many brands, develops its widget.

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Innovation Series (BBG Office of Digital & Design Innovation), 18 May 2012, April Deibert: "The Global News Dashboard is the prototype of a news aggregation widget that is being developed by the Office of Digital and Design Innovation (ODDI) for the Global News Network. The primary goal of the Global News Network is to promote the sharing, collaborative production, and distribution (within and beyond USIB and its affiliates) of high-quality original content. Pending the final approval of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Global News Dashboard will be placed on all USIB network websites and will showcase the original content—news, information, special projects, and a variety of multimedia products—produced by the Voice of America (VOA), Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). With the imaginative direction of ODDI’s Manager of Design Steven Fuchs, IT Specialist Heim Park is prototyping designs for the dashboard. 'It was a real design and conceptual challenge,' said Fuchs, 'Heim came up with a tidy, thrifty, and elegant design solution.'"

And in news about another of USIB's many, many, many brands, see the redesigned Middle East Voices website: "Middle East Voices is a new social journalism project powered by the BBG and Voice of America. ... [W]e hope to serve as a conduit that promotes ideas, viewpoints and experiences." -- Perhaps phraseologically better: "promotes the sharing of ideas, viewpoints, and experiences."

Enders Wimbush, author of plan to make VOA Mandarin internet-only, resigns from BBG.

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 23 May 2012: "S. Enders Wimbush has stepped down from the Broadcasting Board of Governors. 'We extend our deepest thanks to Enders Wimbush for all he has done, not only during nearly two years with the Board, but through many years — including his leadership at RFE/RL during the collapse of communism and the demise of the Soviet Union,' BBG Presiding Governor Michael Lynton said today. 'Enders has brought quality, erudition and distinction to the mission of U.S. nternational media; what’s more, he put his heart and soul into it. We will miss Enders’ contributions and company at our meetings, but will count on his continued involvement with our work.' From 1987-93, Wimbush served as Director of Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany. Wimbush recently became the Senior Director for Foreign Policy and Civil Society at the German Marshall Fund of the United States."

BBG Watch, 23 May 2012: "Wimbush argued that moving resources from VOA broadcasts, which he claimed had almost no audience on shortwave radio in China, to develop stronger Internet presence, made good strategic sense. ... As a chairman of the [BBG’s] Strategy and Budget Committee, S. Enders Wimbush also initially supported ending VOA radio broadcasts to Tibet and leaving only Radio Free Asia Tibetan shortwave radio transmissions and VOA TV Tibetan broadcasts — which cannot be viewed easily in Tibet due to restrictions on private satellite dishes. He later reversed his stand by voting with other BBG members last month to restore funding for VOA Tibetan radio, the VOA Cantonese Service, and some Radio Free Asia radio transmissions." See previous post about same subject.

CNBC Africa marks five years of broadcasting "beyond all expectations," and opens Maputo bureau.

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Bizcommunity.com (Cape Town), 16 May 2012: "CNBC Africa, the pan-African financial and business channel, will celebrate five years of continental business broadcasting across Africa on 1 June 2012. Launched on 1 June 2007, CNBC Africa is reportedly Africa's first - and still the only - real-time continental financial and business news network. Part of the global CNBC family, which reports around the clock from major financial centres worldwide, it boasts bureaux in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nairobi, Lagos, Abuja, Windhoek, Libreville, Lusaka and Maputo. The channel covers business and financial markets news from three regions across the continent, and can be described as a forum where the news of Africa's business world is announced and debated while presenting a view of the continent. ... 'CNBC Africa grown beyond all expectations since it was launched five years ago, and everyone on the CNBC Africa team is justifiably proud of the respected media brand that they have all helped to create.' ... CNBC Africa will mark its anniversary on-air in several ways, including documentaries, memorial testimonials by the network's reporters and anchors of the most memorable events of the past five years, and short scenes featuring Africa highlights. ... Roberta Naidoo, managing director of the ABN Group, of which CNBC Africa is part, says that CNBC Africa is in a class of its own on the African continent. This does not mean that the channel can ever afford to be complacent." -- CNBC Africa is not owned by NBC, but uses the CNBC name by license agreement. It also includes CNBC and NBC programming (including Jay Leno) in its schedule. See also CNBC Africa website.

Bizcommunity.com, 24 May 2012: "CNBC Africa, a CNBC International franchise owned by Africa Business News, has entered into a joint venture with Mozambique's state broadcaster, Televisão de Moçambique (TVM), and will open a bureau in Maputo."

Malaysia censors international television news with the help of a five-minute delay.

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Asia Sentinel, 17 May 2012, John Berthelsen: "In Malaysia, the international television news you watch may not be the same television news watched across the rest of the world. It appears that the major broadcast networks beamed into the country including BBC, CNBC, Australian Broadcasting, Al Jazeera and other international news feeds are put on a five-minute tape delay while electronic devices scan the broadcasts for objectionable keywords, including the name of the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim. The censoring of news came to public notice during the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally to protest what the NGO claims are Malaysia’s unfair election laws. When violence broke out, Al Jazeera reporter Harry Fawcett attempted to film police beating protesters into the ground. However, Fawcett was roughed up and his own camera was pushed to the ground. When the episode was shown on the Al Jazeera broadcast that night, an Al Jazeera spokesman said the police violence had been excised in Malaysia. It appears that similar BBC film was also edited to remove police beatings, other sources say. All of the major news feeds are routed through Astro, the Malaysian direct broadcast satellite pay television service, which is owned and operated by Measat Broadcast Network Systems, which in turn is wholly owned by a subsidiary of Astro Holdings Sdn Bhd, controlled by Malaysia’s richest man, the reclusive businessman Tatparanandam Ananda Krishnan, a longtime friend and close associate of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as well as a long string of UMNO cronies." See previous post about same subject, especially James Cridland's account of his visit to Astro.

VOA correspondent released from Ethiopian detention after police interrogation.

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America, 26 May 2012: "A VOA correspondent and his translator are safe at home with their families Saturday after being detained overnight by Ethiopian police on a charge of 'illegal reporting.' Veteran correspondent Peter Heinlein and translator Simegineh Yekoye were arrested Friday as they were leaving a mosque on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Heinlein told VOA editors Saturday he was questioned at length about the purposes of his reporting. 'We were interrogated by a police officer who told us that we had engaged in illegal reporting. They say that this is a problem area that we had gone into, and that reporters had no business going in there. We had a lengthy interrogation and gave a long statement in which he grilled us quite extensively about reporting, and about why, how we had gone to this mosque and what our motives were.' Heinlein said he and Simegineh were released and all charges were dropped after an official from the U.S. Embassy's consular section appeared at the prison Saturday morning. He said computer and recording equipment that were confiscated upon his arrest were returned and that he and Simegineh are in good health. Voice of America issued a statement from its headquarters in Washington saying it is relieved by Heinlein's release." See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 25 May 2012.

Voice of America, 26 May 2012, Nico Colombant: "At a recent anti-Ethiopian government rally in the city of Thurmont, Maryland, many of the journalists and citizen journalists recording material were from the Ethiopian diaspora. Photos and videos of the protest were quickly posted on Ethiopian diaspora websites. ... [Silver Spring, Maryland] has become the hub of competing Ethiopian diaspora media." With video.

Al Jazeera receives Franklin Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award for "independent, impartial news for an international audience."

Posted: 27 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Al Jazeera English, 12 May 2012: "The Roosevelt Foundation, a private establishment dedicated to the ideals and achievements of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, has presented Al Jazeera with its 2012 Freedom of Speech and Expression Award. The foundation recognised Al Jazeera Media Network for 'its longstanding efforts to provide independent, impartial news for an international audience and to offer a voice to a diversity of perspectives from under-reported regions'. ... Previous winners of Freedoms Medals have included Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, J. William Fulbright, Arthur Miller, The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, Terry Waite, Vaclav Havel, Mary Robinson. ... A full text of Al Jazeera Media Networks' acceptance speech can be viewed here. -- A web search for "Roosevelt Foundation" was unsuccessful. However, I finally found the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award website, affiliated with the Middelburg, Netherlands, based Roosevelt Stichting. See also the 2012 Laureates.

Committee to Protect Journalists, 15 May 2012: "Yemen's Press and Publications Court must drop charges against two Al-Jazeera journalists for their coverage of last year's uprising, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ also urged the Cabinet not to revive a restrictive Audio-Visual and Electronic Media bill that has been pending in Parliament since 2010. Two Sana'a-based Al-Jazeera correspondents, Ahmed al-Shalafi and Hamdi al-Bukari, were summoned Monday to appear before the special Press and Publications Court on May 21 for "operating outside the bounds of the law," according to news reports. The government of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh-who stepped down in February following popular protests-filed a case against the two journalists in June 2011, claiming they broke the law by broadcasting news of the uprising after the government pulled Al-Jazeera's accreditation."

"CNN reaches more viewers globally than any other international news channel," but BBC and Euronews also claim success.

Posted: 25 May 2012   Print   Send a link
CNN press release, 21 May 2012: "CNN reaches more viewers globally than any other international news channel, with findings from both the latest Pan-Asia Pacific Cross-Media survey (PAX) and Europe's Media and Marketing Survey (EMS) reinforcing the network's undisputed leadership position. The latest PAX findings for the period Q1 to Q4 2011 show that CNN continues to be the clear leader in the Asia Pacific region among international news and business channels across all metrics: ●CNN reaches at least 50% more viewers on a daily, weekly and monthly basis than the next placed channel (BBC World News); ●CNN reaches almost (96%) as many viewers in a single week as BBC World does in a month; ●CNN alone reaches twice as many viewers as the dedicated business news channels (CNBC & Bloomberg TV) combined. ... In Europe, CNN achieved a record score in the latest EMS 2012 research, achieving the best ever score for any news network in monthly reach, with 36.9% (18 million viewers). Overall, CNN is also the number one multi-platform news provider in Europe, with 47% monthly combined reach across TV, mobile, and online."

Media Update, 22 May 2012: "CNN has achieved a record score in the latest EMS 2012 research, adding more weekly and monthly viewers across Europe than any other news broadcaster and achieving the best ever score for any news network in monthly reach, with 36.9% (18-million viewers) Overall, CNN is also the number one multi-platform news provider, with 47% monthly combined reach across TV, mobile, and online. The network achieved 18.8% growth in monthly reach – its best performance since EMS launched in 1995 – reinforcing its leadership position on that measure. Elsewhere, CNN comfortably regained the top slot for news channels in weekly reach from Sky News, with an increase of 20.5% year-on-year. Online there is a similar story, with CNN’s combined websites outpacing those of both the BBC and Eurosport to take the top slot in monthly reach."

BBC World News press release, 21 May 2012: "The latest EMS Europe Summer 2012 survey demonstrates continued growth in reach, loyalty, and frequency of viewing for BBC World News. BBC World News continues to grow its audience with a 5% increase in weekly audiences and 14% in daily viewers year on year. BBC.com has delivered a strong Q1, with Comscore showing 15m unique users across Europe, making it the largest international news site on the continent."

Indiantelevision.com, 22 May 2012: "The latest Ipsos PAX survey (Q1 2011 - Q4 2011) shows that in India, BBC World News is the top international English news channel and the news destination of both the young1 and upwardly mobile mid-level corporate managers. BBC World News was also shown to be the most watched international news channel for mid-level income earners, women, tech enthusiasts and those under the age of 30. The channel is also the most watched news channel amongst key audiences such as potential car buyers, international travellers and consumer durable owners."

APN News, 18 May 2012, onpassing press release: "According to the latest release of EMS survey, every month 15.2 million Europeans follow Euronews on TV, online, on a Smartphone or a Tablet. 22% of them are exposed to euronews exclusively on a digital platform – being online or on a mobile device (3.4 million of elite users). 15.2 million Europeans follow Euronews at least once a month. ... Euronews will soon announce the launch of 2 new services: Euronews Radio, a digital station available in multiple language services along with a Euronews Universal full app for iOS terminals. The survey also reveals that Euronews audience has strongly increased year-on-year. Euronews TV daily reach has increased by 15% and euronews.com has increased by 19%, demonstrating Euronews capacity to meet the needs of the European elite and increase viewing frequency & loyalty."

Broadcasting & Cable, 21 May 2012, George Winslow: "The growing international audiences for CNNI come at a time when the domestic CNN service has struggled in the ratings and highlight the strength of its international coverage."

Media Bistro, 23 May 2012, Alex Weprin: "Even with its serious ratings struggles, CNN is not at any imminent risk financially. CNN has the benefit of HLN, the CNN International channels and other sources of revenue to offset any financial issues that CNN/U.S. could have. It also still leads its competition in digital, which continues to grow faster than any other form of media. Journalistically, while CNN still has plenty of filler during the day (as all cable channels do), it continues to rack up awards for its work, as the Peabodys awarded this week demonstrate."

International TV channels' war of words: CCTV News vs. Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 24 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, China Realtime Report, 18 May 2012, Josh Chin: "With a surge of anti-foreigner bile rising in Beijing, one might expect a prominent Chinese TV personality whose job it is to interview foreigners to weigh in with a few calming words. One would be dead wrong. In a rather perplexing move this week, Chinese Central Television host Yang Rui added a dose of poison to an already vitriolic debate about the behavior of foreigners in the Chinese capital by posting a message online in which he accused foreign spies in the city of pursuing Chinese women to cover up their activities, blamed Western residents for encouraging Chinese people to move abroad and appeared to take a certain vulgar delight in the recent expulsion of al-Jazeera correspondent Melissa Chan. A full translation of the message, posted Wednesday to his verified account on popular Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo: 'The Public Security Bureau wants to clean out the foreign trash: To arrest foreign thugs and protect innocent girls, they need to concentrate on the disaster zones in [student district] Wudaokou and [drinking district] Sanlitun. Cut off the foreign snake heads. People who can’t find jobs in the U.S. and Europe come to China to grab our money, engage in human trafficking and spread deceitful lies to encourage emigration. Foreign spies seek out Chinese girls to mask their espionage and pretend to be tourists while compiling maps and GPS data for Japan, Korea and the West. We kicked out that foreign bitch and closed Al-Jazeera’s Beijing bureau. We should shut up those who demonize China and send them packing.' A fluent English-speaker best known for grilling foreign experts on CCTV’s current affairs interview show Dialogue, Mr. Yang was responding to a campaign launched by Beijing’s Public Security Bureau last week that aims to 'clean out' foreigners who have either entered the country illegally or are living or working in the city without the proper visas."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 21 May 2012, Madeline Earp: "It is troubling enough that the English-speaking figurehead of a show titled 'Dialogue' should launch an offensive personal attack against an international colleague. What's even more concerning is that, as the employee of a state media outlet, his comments are apparently sanctioned."

Epoch Times, 21 May 2012, Ariel Tian: "He Qinglian, a prominent Chinese author and economist living in the U.S., said in her latest article that the hostilities between Beijing and Al Jazeera are not about Chan. The true reason for Chan’s expulsion from China has to do with the changing relationship between Al Jazeera and Beijing from 'friends and role models' to 'enemies.' Al Jazeera was viewed by Beijing as an ally because of its strong anti-U.S. stance, He Qinglian said. This friendship lasted until the 2011 Arab Spring movement, according to He."

The Diplomat, 18 May 2012, Allen Carlson: "Melissa Chan’s plight illustrates only one thing: China’s willingness to look forward is limited. Chan was pushed out of China because her writing, and her network, was viewed as threatening to some Chinese leaders. That a single reporter could elicit such a reaction is poignantly suggestive that unease may run more deeply, and be more prevalent, in Beijing than many outside observers have so far realized."

China Daily, 22 May 2012, Harvey Dzodin: "I have written quite frequently about China's soft power, most recently in chinadaily.com.cn. My point there was that China is just starting to exercise its soft power in a meaningful way, especially with the increased emphasis of Chinese companies partnering with Hollywood. Now I am not quite so sure. China has spent billions of yuan on its soft power efforts over the last few years. I am fearful if opinion leaders like Yang stir up the masses and this view becomes more prevalent, most of that investment will be money down the drain when it becomes known outside China."

The Atlantic, 19 May 2012, James Fallows: "I will be interested to see the next few installments of Dialogue -- and which foreigners agree, now, to appear as guests. Hint: They shouldn't."

Vancouver Sun, 14 May 2012, Jonathan Manthorpe: "A few hours after the announcement that the Beijing correspondent for the Al Jazeera English-language television network, Melissa Chan, was being expelled from China for unspecified reasons, the channel ran a documentary in its splendid Witness series. The report told the story of Sun Hua, the idealistic and highly regarded investigative reporter for the Jinan Times in the heartland of China's cultural history, the east coast Shandong province. ... What this Al Jazeera documentary, called Balancing a Dream says is that China's rising middle class, the people who have saved enough to buy new apartments, are just as much targets of the regime's corrupt instincts as are the poor. The film, made by Ling Lee and Ying Cui, follows Sun as he attempts to get into his newspaper the story of the apartment dwellers' protest and their dealings with an undoubtedly corrupt developer."

Los Angeles Times, 14 May 2012, Rosanna Xia: "For now, Chan is looking forward to a year of clean air, Whole Foods and Starbucks chai tea lattes when she attends Stanford University in the fall. She was recently accepted for a Knight Fellowship there, where she will be exploring ways for journalists to safeguard their computers from hackers. Before her fellowship begins in September however, she'll return to Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar and be assigned another reporting post."

Shanghaiist, 21 May 2012, Kenneth Tan: "Are you a native English speaker with 10 years of media experience and desperate for a job? If so, you might want to consider joining the international arm of CCTV News because they're hiring news editors for Dialogue, now the favourite talkshow of China's expatriate community. You'll get to work up close with the show's firebrand host, Yang Rui (杨锐), who recently reached the pinnacle of his television career by calling on the Public Security Bureau to 'clean out the foreign trash' and to 'arrest foreign thugs' because foreigners are coming to China to 'grab our money, engage in human trafficking and spread deceitful lies to encourage emigration'."

Bloomberg, 22 May 2012, William Pesek, via Gulf News: "[I]t's perplexing, then, to watch China squander much of the soft power it accrued at great expense over many years in just a few months. The rate at which China is blowing an absolute fortune invested in prestige-enhancement makes Jamie Dimon's $2 billion loss at JPMorgan Chase & Co look trivial. And it's all a bad omen for China bulls betting on smooth, 10 per cent annual growth rates in the years ahead. The world is used to Chinese bubbles. Only, the latest one isn't in stocks, real estate or rare-earth metals, but bad headlines: the Bo Xilai scandal, the diplomatic gymnastics over Chen Guangcheng, propaganda attacks on US Ambassador Gary Locke, tossing out Al Jazeera's lone Beijing correspondent and bullying the Philippines over a cluster of rocks in the ocean. ... These aren't the actions of a confident, secure power. What the Communist Party doesn't understand is that for the country to accrue soft power it should close the cheque book. Then it needs to treat its people and its neighbours with respect, and let all the world look on as it does."

See previous post about same subject.

Bill to relax the domestic dissemination ban results in the domestic dissemination of debate.

Posted: 24 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, The Cable, 23 May 2012, Josh Rogin: "[T]he successful effort by Reps. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (D-WA) to add their Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 as an amendment to the House version of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act ... would 'authorize the domestic dissemination of information and material about the United States intended primarily for foreign audiences.' [A] Buzzfeed article outlines concerns inside the defense community that the Pentagon might now be allowed to use information operations and propaganda operations against U.S. citizens. A correction added to the story notes that Smith-Mundt doesn't apply to the Pentagon in the first place. In fact, the Smith-Mundt act (as amended in 1987) only covers the select parts of the State Department that are engaged in public diplomacy efforts abroad, such as the public diplomacy section of the 'R' bureau, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the body that oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other U.S. government-funded media organizations."

KIRO FM (Seattle), 22 May 2012, Brandi Kruse: "'If you put something out on the Internet or social media, even though it's intended for a foreign audience, it may well be viewed by a domestic audience because it's the Internet, it's everywhere,' [Rep.] Smith said." -- IP blocking would be a simple way to prevent US audiences from accessing VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, MBN, and OCB websites, thereby allowing the domestic dissemination prohibition to be observed. The Thornberry-Smith bill therefore does not eliminate any present impediment to the international dissemination of State and BBG content.

Mother Jones, 22 May 2012, Adam Weinstein: "Want to request a transcript of a Voice of America radio broadcast? Sorry, you're not allowed. In fact, only members of Congress are legally permitted to receive any of this information. (ProPublica keeps a database of records requests that have been turned down on these grounds.) The absurdity here is that a simple web search will turn up much of this 'forbidden' content: Just check out the websites for Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, or listen to Radio Sawa, Uncle Sam's Arabic-language news station, online. (You paid for 'em, after all.) And anyone who thinks the military doesn't already dabble in domestic propaganda has never watched a Pentagon press conference, viewed a Marine recruiting ad, or seen an admiral justify his budget in a congressional hearing. Beyond that, Smith-Mundt has nothing to say about self-promoting PR emanating from other government entities—say, the White House, Capitol Hill, or the FBI."

Heritage Foundation, 22 May 2012, Helle Dale: "Authored by Representatives Mac Thornberry (R–TX) and Adam Smith (D–WA), H.R5736—Smith–Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (Introduced in House, IH) removes the prohibition on public diplomacy materials being available to Americans. This bill, though, specifies that the changes in Smith–Mundt apply only to the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. As these are the primary public diplomacy agencies of the United States, at least this is a good start. The bill has been several years in the works, and while it should have been included in a State Department authorization bill, such a bill has not been passed by Congress in years. Critics have already voiced concerns that this will open the floodgates of propaganda by the U.S. government. This is hardly likely. Indeed, access to programs and materials produced by the State and the BBG will allow Congress and the public a better understanding of what we are funding. Much of it is high-quality journalism, which deserves support, and some programming could have a positive impact on certain immigrant communities in the United States that are vulnerable to radicalization. As for programming and materials that are controversial, questionable, or wasteful, doesn’t the U.S. public deserve to know what is being published or broadcast in its name?"

Townhall.com, 22 May 2012, Rachel Marsden: "I don't doubt that Voice of America journalists are as credible and objective as their counterparts elsewhere, and this isn't about Americans having access to journalism. It's about the possibility of opening a Pandora's box whereby the federal government would be able to produce content for an American audience via an entity over which it has full control, and which has historically served as an official government communications instrument."

Blogger News Network, 21 May 2012, Ted Lipien: "The Smith-Mundt Act modifying legislation should make it clear that the BBG is not allowed to actively market their programs domestically, target any specific groups of Americans, and spend taxpayers’ money on domestic advertising. The legislation should also make it clear that the BBG should not be allowed to claim any domestic audiences in their performance reports or to conduct market research in the US using public funds. If they are allowed to feed and measure the domestic market, that is where taxpayers’ money will go rather than serving international audiences. The law and subsequent regulations should also make it absolutely clear that the BBG is not allowed to own or operate any domestic stations, to favor one station over another or to sign rebroadcasting agreements with domestic broadcasters. The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting, however, supports the idea that Americans should have full, unrestricted access to BBG programs if they want them. In fact, the current law does not prevent individual American citizens and US broadcasters from using Voice of America programs if they can find them. Most are on the Internet, and the argument that the current law prevents a station in Minnesota from rebroadcasting VOA Somali radio programs to the local Somali expatriate community is somewhat misleading. The current law does prevent the BBG from making these programs available to those who request them, but they can still legally use them if they can find them on their own, for example, by downloading them from the Internet." -- Except the managers of these media outlets might not be aware of these legal nuances. USIB officials can't explain these nuances for fear of violating Smith-Mundt.

Salon, 22 May 2012, Glenn Greenwald: "Rep. Smith repeatedly insisted that his bill would not permit the domestic dssemination of any State Department program 'intended to' influence public opinion inisde the U.S., but only ones intended for a foreign audience; aside from the impossibility of enforcing that distinction, I pointed out that the Press Release distributed by him and his GOP co-sponsor clearly argues that one reason this repeal was needed was to enable the State Department to influence public opinion among certain population segments within the U.S."

RT (Russia Today), 22 May 2012: "If next year’s [National Defense Authorization Act] clears the US Senate and is signed by President Obama with the Thornberry-Smith provision intact, then restrictions on propaganda being force-fed to Americans would be rolled back entirety. ... Both Congressmen Thornberry and Smith have tried to dull the American public’s quickly surmounting outrage by saying that the act won’t be used for brainwashing purposes, but by letting Uncle Sam’s propaganda-spewing communication machine have free roam on the Web and elsewhere, it would absolutely be allowed."

The Alestle, 22 May 2012, David Pruitt: "I was seduced into supporting the Iraq war by false intelligence reports. I rolled my eyes when the Bush administration found itself doing damage control after getting caught paying journalists for favorable stories that supported administration policies. To my surprise, these unethical practices might be validated. On Friday, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 was added to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently being discussed in the House of Representatives. The combined acts could allow the government to direct propaganda at American citizens."

Yankton Daily News & Dakotan, 22 May 2012: "Keep the laws as they are — strengthen them, in fact — and maintain an America with eyes wide open. The truth is the best antidote to distortion. It may not set as free, but it will certainly keep us free to think."

Alaska Native News, 20 May 2012, GW Rastopsoff provides complete text of the bill, including: "In General- No funds authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States."

See previous post about same subject.

BBG strategist says "think like an app."

Posted: 23 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Philly.com, 18 May 2012, Jonathan Takiff: "[F]or Gizmo Guy, there was lots more to take away from media guru Pa[u]l Marszalek's 'Digital State of the Union' address yesterday. Formerly music programmer for VH1 and high profile radio stations WXRT and KFOG, Marszalek is now managing partner of Media Mechanics, which works with brands like Starbucks/Sirius XM, the Sierra Club and the non-partisan, globe hopping Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He counseled the non-commercial broadcasters to embrace the new media, even (facetiously) those stupid pet tricks videos which garner (by far) the most views on YouTube. Here's some of the other points he made. Facebook: Has 900 million users, but only 13 percent trust it. ... Twitter: 500 million accounts, 175 million Tweets a day, 'but only 36 percent of Tweets are worth reading,' found a study by MIT."

Triplearadio.com: Marszalek "cautioned that the days of huge multipurpose web sites were numbered. Do one thing well, he advised. 'Think like an app.'"

Paul Marszalek is also a senior strategist in the Office of Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, parent entity of the "globe hopping Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty" and other entities too numerous to mention here.

BBG, VOA, DW, RFI, AEF health and media event in Dar es Salaam.

Posted: 23 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governores press release, 16 May 2012: "A full day of training on health issues in Tanzania and the role of the media in communicating health information, particularly the role of international broadcasting was held May 17 in Dar-Es-Salam. About 30 reporters and health experts participated in the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Voice of America (VOA) event. A Town Hall meeting on May 18 drew 100 participants representing civil society, NGOs, Ministry of Health, international broadcasting entities such us RFI, DW and VOA."

IPP Media, 18 May 2012, Felister Peter: "[A] participant, Mwamoyo Hamza from the Voice of America (VOA) Kiswahili service, has said that health news has been given less priority in the media. He called on journalists to prioritize health news because without health nothing can be done. He said most media focused on politics and economic news stories, sidelining health articles despite their importance."

Audio of Al Jazeera English was not a morning drive time hit on Berkeley's KPFA.

Posted: 23 May 2012   Print   Send a link
East Bay Express, 16 May 2012, Rachel Swan: "Former Morning Show host Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who was reinstated at [Pacifica's Berkeley, California station] KPFA last year after a protracted battle with station management, will host the new 'Up Front' news show alongside Sonali Kolhatkar, producer of another morning show, Uprising, at sister station KPFK in Los Angeles. ... [I]t will ... hopefully translate into greater audience share for KPFA, at an incredibly crucial time of day. Ever since its last big shakeup in the fall of 2010, the station has booked a sequence of morning programs that seem calculated to alienate listeners. At 6 a.m., the start of the critical 'morning drive' time that determines where many people set their radio dials for the rest of the day, it ran the audio feed for Al Jazeera News, which was a pretty bizarre choice — especially since it was often hard to tell who was speaking, in the absence of lower-third graphics from the TV broadcast."

Thanks largely to Ron Paul coverage, RT America (Russia Today) has more YouTube subscribers than Fox and CNN.

Posted: 23 May 2012   Print   Send a link
RT America press release, 17 May 2012: "In less than two years since its launch, the RT America YouTube channel has reached a milestone which puts it ahead of many older, established, mainstream TV channels: more than 100,000 subscribers. The 100,000-subscriber count is remarkable because it is more than twice higher the number for Fox News (under 50,000 at the time of writing), and significantly ahead of CNN's near-70,000. RT America YouTube channel's total viewership numbers have passed 36 million views - surpassing the 23 million of Fox News, which has been on YouTube around four years longer than RT America, and nearly matching those of CNN's 37 million, which is older by five. Overall, RT became the first TV news channel in the world to pass 700 million views on YouTube, surpassing the competition that includes Fox News, CNN International, Al Jazeera English, Reuters, Sky News and many others. According to YouTube year-end statistics published by Google, an RT YouTube channel video became the most watched news item in 2011, being watched over 20 million times. Following this massive increase in RT's popularity, the channel's profit from YouTube has exceeded a million dollars. Since its inaugural broadcast in January 2010, RT America has grown into a full-fledged alternative for the viewers who have become disinterested [sic] in the mainstream coverage of global events." See also www.youtube.com/user/RTAmerica -- The RT America videos with coverage of Ron Raul appear to bring the largest numbers of views.

Thanks to a BBC World Service poll, we now know that China is more popular than the United States.

Posted: 23 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2012, Emily Alpert: "China has grown more popular than the United States, according to a recently released poll that quizzed more than 24,000 people around the world about whether countries and the European Union affected the world for good or for ill. China has long been popular in Nigeria and Kenya, where most people polled said it had a positive influence, but jumped in popularity this year in Britain, Canada, Australia and other countries, according to the GlobeScan poll, done in partnership with the University of Maryland for the BBC World Service. Half of the people polled outside China said the country had a mainly positive effect on the world. ... The U.S. dropped slightly in popularity in the last year, the poll found, with 47% of people polled outside the country saying it had a largely good influence. Nigeria and Kenya -- the same countries that rank China highly -- view the U.S. the most highly out of the countries polled." See also BBC News, 11 May 2012, with link to the report.

With RCI about to be downsized, BBC World News steps in with Canada Direct (updated: sorry, Toronto).

Posted: 23 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 11 May 2012: "From Calgary to Montreal, Toronto to Halifax, Canada is in the spotlight this May, as some of the BBC’s leading anchors and programmes are in the country to find out more about its cultural diversity, economy and its people. Canada Direct is a new season of programming about the country, which is broadcasting globally on the BBC’s 24 hours news channel BBC World News from 14 May. Special multimedia content will also be available on bbc.com/canadadirect."

Metro, 10 May 2012, Matt Kieltyka: "Vancouver, you’re too kind. At least that was the experience of the BBC World News crew that was recently filming a Working Lives documentary in the city as part of the broadcast corporation’s Canada Direct series. BBC business reporter Michelle Fleury, based in New York, profiled the lives of six Vancouverites that best represented the city and its culture."

Metro, 7 May 2012: "Anchor Katty Kay will be broadcasting from Calgary. She will explore the province’s oil sector as well as feature Calgary’s mayor Naheed Nenshi."

Update: Toronto.com, 18 May 2012, Bruce DeMara: "BBC World News is giving Canada a close-up and, some might grumble, giving Toronto, its largest city, the kiss-off. The venerable news service, which has a global audience in the range of 225 million, has launched a program called Canada Direct, with news programs and segments profiling different cities and regions of the country. Unfortunately, a planned segment for Toronto fell through, which means Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary (and Alberta’s energy sector) as well as the Maritimes get focused coverage while Toronto gets a travel 'miniguide' (along with Victoria, B.C., and Niagara Falls) on the BBC website."

Commentator takes a dim view of AP's agreement with North Korea's KCNA.

Posted: 22 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 22 May 2012, Joshua Stanton: "Last June, AP and [North Korean official news agency] KCNA signed two agreements, the full terms of which AP has not disclosed. The first allowed AP to open a bureau in Pyongyang, now staffed by correspondent Jean H. Lee and photographer David Guttenfelder. The other provided for the photo exhibition. Mr. Guttenfelder, whose photographs are both visually striking and ideologically compliant, characterized the exhibition as 'an overture to build trust and collaborate on something.' The collaboration had an inauspicious beginning. A month after signing the agreements, AP was forced to withdraw a KCNA photo it had distributed. The photo had been altered to exaggerate flooding in Pyongyang in an apparent ploy to attract food aid. ... How is AP doing so far? It reports that North Korea is a land of happy, well-fed schoolchildren in crisp new uniforms. Their parents shop in gleaming, well-stocked supermarkets. They like to play pop songs on the accordion. They all adore and worship Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. They have lovely picnics on Kim Il Sung's birthday, with dancing and plenty of leftovers. Thanks to the miracles of North Korean agriculture, they throw festivals with tens of thousands of orchids named after—you guessed it—Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. AP says it is showing its readers ordinary life in North Korea, but it is really showing a minuscule elite in a privileged city under choreographed conditions."

With $94m deal, RFE/RL gets a new landlord for its headquarters building in Prague.

Posted: 22 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 15 May 2012: "Developer Orco Property Group said it has sold the Radio Free Europe office building in Prague to U.S. company L88 for $94 million. The central European developer said on Tuesday it would receive $80 million in cash, $2 million in concessions, and $12 million in a note convertible into a 20 percent stake in L88." See also Property Magazine International, 18 May 2012.

Bucking the trend, Adventist World Radio plans shortwave tower project on Guam.

Posted: 22 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Adventist World Radio News, 4 Apr 2012, Shelley Nolan Freesland: "For 25 years, AWR’s shortwave towers on the tiny Pacific island of Guam have been broadcasting messages of hope to countless listeners across Asia. ... But to be effective, this facility needs a crucial upgrade. AWR’s board of directors has stepped out in faith and approved a $2.9 million project to make the necessary changes, as you can see in the photo. This picture doesn’t do justice, however, to the immense size and power of the towers and antennas. To put it in perspective, each curtain antenna is approximately the size of two football fields!"

Adventist World Radio press release, 18 May 2012, Shelley Nolan Freesland, via RadioActivity: Adventist World Radio "has begun broadcasting programs in the Armenian language, through two FM stations. Programs featuring spiritual, health, family, and children’s topics are being carried on Radio Ardzaganq, in the capital city of Yerevan, and Radio Mig, in the city of Vanadzor. Both stations are repeating the programs a second time during the day at almost no charge."

Reps Mac Thornberry and Adam Smith push bill to ease Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination ban on US international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 21 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 15 May 2012, Shaun Waterman: "Two lawmakers — a Democrat and a Republican — are pushing a bill to update a Cold War-era law on propaganda efforts by federal agencies that critics say hinders the U.S. war of ideas against Muslim extremists. The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 was designed 'to counter communism during the Cold War, [and] is outdated for the conflicts of today,' said Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat. ... At issue are provisions of the law banning the domestic dissemination of government-produced or -funded communications aimed at a foreign audience, to keep anti-communist and other kinds of U.S. propaganda out of America. But experts say such restrictions do not make sense in the Internet age. ... The two lawmakers, authors of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (HR 5736), say the current law restricts the broadcast in the United States of any programs produced by Voice of America. In 2010, for instance, emergency broadcasts in Creole, aimed to help the stricken survivors of the Haitian earthquake, could not be carried by Sirius satellite radio, according to a joint statement from Mr. Smith and Mr. Thornberry."

Reps Thornberry and Smith press release, 15 May 2012: "[I]n 2009 the law prohibited a Minneapolis-based radio station with a large Somali-American audience from replaying a Voice of America-produced piece rebutting terrorist propaganda. Even after the community was targeted for recruitment by al-Shabab and other extremists, government lawyers refused the replay request, noting that Smith-Mundt tied their hands. Due to legal questions surrounding interpretations of the law, domestic news organizations have been reluctant to use U.S. international broadcasters for source material. Private news organizations are also hampered by some of the restrictions. In 2009, the Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Reuters each inaccurately reported poll results, based on a single Honduran newspaper source, that a plurality of Hondurans supported the coup against the government. VOA reported the Gallup poll results about the coup accurately."

In general, I favor the repeal of the Smith Mundt domestic dissemination prohibition. American have a right to see or hear what US international broadcasting is telling the world, and US ethnic radio stations can provide a useful public service by relaying news from USIB outlets. On the other hand, any such legislation must have language to ensure that the budget and resources of US international broadcasting are not expropriated into a domestic public relations campaign.

The domestic dissemination prohibition was enacted in part to prevent the US government from engaging in a domestic propaganda campaign. If US international broadcasting adheres to the principles of balanced and objective journalism, which it must do to maintain an audience, propaganda is no longer an issue. Competition with US domestic media was another reason for the prohibition, and this becomes even more of an issue as US private media that cover international news move behind paywalls.

As I have written several times before, the "internet age" has not made the domestic dissemination prohibition obsolete. To the contrary, it has finally made the prohibition enforceable by dint of geoblocking. Content of US international broadcasting websites can be geoblocked, preventing access by US IP addresses, should the executives of USIB choose to observe Smith-Mundt. On the other hand, VOA and RFE shortwave broadcasts were routinely heard in the United States, and no internet technology could block them.

See also Mountainrunner.us, 23 Feb 2012, Matt Armstrong: "A Brief History of the Smith-Mundt Act and Why Changing It Matters."

Update: BuzzFeed, 18 May 2012, Michael Hastings: "The new law would give sweeping powers to the State Department and Pentagon to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. 'It removes the protection for Americans,' says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. 'It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.'"

@mountainrunner Matt Armstrong, 21 May 2012: "The irony: pundits propagandize Smith-Mundt does something it doesn't: never applied to all of Gov."

@PD_Dan, 21 May 2012: "@mountainrunner mentioned piece also confuses #publicdiplomacy with #Defense Information Operations and Public Affairs - quite off the mark."

VOANews.com is redesigned, with radio and television relegated to the footnotes.

Posted: 21 May 2012   Print   Send a link
VOANews.com, The New VOANews.com page: "Welcome to the new VOAnews.com. We hope you'll find our new site easier to navigate, with better visuals and more opportunities to join the conversation. Among the site's features are: 1. More visual appeal: Images tell a story as well as words or sound, so the new VOAnews.com features more photos in higher resolution. You can also see larger versions of photos inside stories by clicking on them. ... 2. Easy navigation ... 3. Find your language ... 4. Improved search ... 5. Coming soon: In the next few weeks, Learning English will get a whole new look. In the meantime, you can still reach their site in the upper right of any page." -- See also the comments. One trend is listeners who note that they can no longer access the 30-minute VOA Special English radio broadcast.

Critical Distance weblog, 17 May 2012, Jonathan Marks: "Although IP is now leading at VOA, as in most broadcasters, the VOA radio and TV broadcasts have been relegated to sidebars. I would put listen live as a permanent top menu bar, with larger links to radio, TV and on demand catalogue of content across the top. They are not an afterthought. They could save screen real estate by eliminating the top line (with the breaking news bar) and the menu switch to other languages. Incorporate all of that in the menus lower down. ... International broadcasters used to be champions of realising that there are different time zones - and that we're often enjoying the shared experience of listening or viewing at a different time (or even a different season). GMT and UTC was our reference. But, even if that is old fashioned, time mentions on the new VOA site are confusing."

Placebotronics.com, 19 May 2012, Bennett Z. Kobb: "VOA does offer a mobile-optimized site, but you must scan almost the entire page to find the link to the mobile site at the bottom. Good luck. A user scrolling through the home page on a phone or tablet may well give up before this point. I listen to VOA's 'Latest Newscast' every day, but the new design has hidden it under a Live Streams button. The Latest Newscast is not a live stream – it's an MP3 recording – and this essential VOA product isn't even visible when you look at the page. I have to locate and click a Live Streams button, but my work is not done. It's a radio program I want, but the Live Streams button has a TV icon. Go figure. Fortunately, the button is bright red – the only red widget on the page, so the user is unlikely to miss it."

The redesigned VOA website is cleaner and less cluttered.

Other than the live streams link at the top, the only indication that VOA is still involved in radio and television is at the very bottom of the page. With mention of radio and television pushed as far as possible downward and rightward, the observer might conclude that it is only a matter of time before these media will be shoved outward and goneward.

"Find your language" is noted as one of the improvements, but doing so is via the "Sites by language" link at the top. If a person speaks, say, Khmer, but does not speak English, how does the person know that "sites by language" is the gateway to the VOA Khmer site? International broadcasters, and all multilingual organizations, must have links to all their languages, in the language, prominent on the home page. For VOA, with 43 language services, this is a design challenge, but it really is necessary.

After all, VOA is not unique because its English output. There are hundreds of US news websites in English. VOA is unique because of its 42 languages besides English. So don't hide them. Furthermore, if VOA advertises its website in a 30-second television spot, it will have time only to display the URL VOANews.com, not zeriamerikes.com, vijestiglasaamerike.com, glasnaamerika.com, glasamerike.net, etc. This makes a home page portal to all of VOA's languages even more important. (After a few years' absence, BBC World Service finally restored a language service portal to its home page.)

There is an alphabetical listing of VOA English programs, but for the past few years, there has been no "what's on tonight" or "what's on this morning" chronological schedule. For those who listen via shortwave or to the live stream rather than on demand, such a schedule is necessary to plan listening. Virtually all other international radio stations have such a schedule. See for example, Voice of Russia. There is also no chronological schedule of VOA's satellite feeds.

The VOA English transmission schedule is now easy to find. For transmissions in other VOA languages, click the Inside link at the bottom of the page (under About VOA), then find VOA Programs again at the bottom of the page, which actually produces a VOA Frequencies page, with links to each VOA language service. These lead to the language service's schedule page, which in many cases is usable only to those who speak the language.

International broadcasters as crimestoppers.

Posted: 20 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 16 May 2012: "A BBC Arabic documentary showing abuse at care homes for children with physical and mental disabilities in Jordan was aired this week. After the broadcast, Jordan's Minister of Social Development, Wajih Azaizeh, told the BBC that 'an investigation will be conducted and the results will be open and clear.'"

The Guardian, 16 May 2012, Maggie O'Kane: "King Abdullah II responded to the programme by ordering an inquiry that must report back in two weeks. 'Those who are convicted must be punished for their disgraceful acts and be an example to others,' wrote the king in a letter to the prime minister."

Ammonnews.net, 16 May 2012: "The government told BBC Arabic that complaints of abuse were rare, although there were no meaningful statistics. But BBC Arabic spoke to numerous parents, former and serving care workers and experts and put together a dossier of cases."

RFE/RL press release, 1 May 2012: "Coverage from RFE/RL's Balkan Service highlighting the dangerous plight of illegal migrants on the Macedonia-Serbia border led to the breaking-up of a human trafficking ring. In January, Radio Slobodna Evropa released three reports about migrants from Asia and Africa who crossed illegally through the border villages of Lojane and Vaksince on their way to destinations throughout Europe. ... The April arrests -- which came just two weeks after an RFE/RL report on continued illegal migration through Lojane -- included two men who were charged with 'trafficking immigrants, kidnapping and robbery.'"

"Chinese government organizations are very interested in DRM, especially for international broadcasting on shortwave."

Posted: 20 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Digital Radio Mondiale consortium, 10 May 2012, Ludo Maes: "The [DRM] Receiver Task Group, represented by Ludo Maes and Mireya Martinez, (TDP) went to China to meet with various radio broadcasting organizations and companies. We had meetings with chipset manufacturers RDA Microelectronics and Silicon Labs, with receiver manufacturers Philips and Tecsun, mobile phone manufacturer Nokia, automotive supplier Continental Corporation and with Chinese government broadcast agencies and organizations including RFT, SARFT, China Radio International, BBEF, ABP and ABS. We learned that the Chinese government organizations are very interested in DRM, especially for international broadcasting on shortwave and they are awaiting the official decision to be able to start regular digital radio broadcasts. ... The update on the progress of DRM in markets like India, Russia and Brazil and of receiver development is of great use to them and might trigger some incentive to start digital radio broadcasts soon. From our observations in China we concluded that the chipset and receiver industry is preparing for mass production of DRM receiving devices for household, automotive and mobile use. The development of smaller and cheaper solutions would help significantly to boost development and sales of DRM receivers."

drmna.info, 15 May 2012: "Via the Newstar DR111 Yahoo Group, John of Halfmoon NY writes: 'I received my new unit yesterday and spent a bit of time getting familiar with it. I was impressed that I could receive the Vatican Radio DRM transmission at 2300 UT from Santa Maria de Galeria almost flawlessly (one minor dropout for about ten seconds during the half hour) using only the whip antenna and in the house. Later I was able to get sporadic reception of REE via Costa Rica, which I also found somewhat impressive given that this transmission was targeting Central America.'"

See previous post about DRM.

Radio Sawa now on FM in Tripoli, Libya, via transmitter "compact enough to fit in a refrigerator box."

Posted: 20 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 17 May 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors has launched an FM radio transmitter in Tripoli that covers the Libyan capital and its suburbs, home to about two million people. The new transmitter broadcasts a 24/7 stream from Radio Sawa, with a signature mix of more than six hours of daily news combined with popular Arabic and Western music. ... Compact enough to fit in a refrigerator box, the equipment enables programming on 106.6 FM, an easy-to-find frequency." -- For the pictured refrigerator transmitter, see YouTube, 7 Apr 2012, KE5EOT.

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 15 May 2012: "Alhurra TV and Al Hayah TV 2 will join together for a series of high-profile interviews of Egyptian presidential candidates in the week leading up to the Egyptian election. In each episode of The President – Egypt 2012, a candidate will be interviewed by Alhurra’s Tarek El Shamy and Al Hayah TV 2’s Mahmoud Mosalam." BBG Strategy, 15 May 2012: "Co-productions between pan-Arab and local broadcasters are likely to become more common as the already highly competitive television market gets even more crowded." See previous post re France 24/RFI/MCD partnership with Egypt's Al Nahar Channel for presidential election coverage.

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 16 May 2012: "Alhurra Television and Radio Sawa launched two new websites to create a better experience for the audience. The new and improved Alhurra and Radio Sawa sites are easier to navigate with a cleaner, more user-friendly design. Alhurra.com and RadioSawa.com also promotes audience interaction, by allowing readers to easily post comments on stories and share reports. The websites are using a new [RFE/RL developed] content management system, Pangea, to give more flexibility to the journalists and web designers working on the sites."

With US Hispanic population surpassing 50 million, advertisers find Spanish-language channels to be más interesante.

Posted: 20 May 2012   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 15 May 2012, Stuart Elliott and Tanzina Vega: "Although the word 'upfront' is English rather than Spanish, the broadcast networks and cable channels that aim programming at Hispanic viewers are again increasing their presence during the annual television upfront week. ... The reason for the higher profile this upfront week is the growing interest among advertisers in reaching Hispanic consumers in light of the results of the 2010 census, which found that the Hispanic population had surpassed the 50 million mark. More demand among advertisers to reach Spanish-speaking consumers — and those acculturated Hispanics who are bilingual or speak English — means more efforts by media companies to sell commercial time during shows those consumers watch." Mentions Telemundo, Univision, Disney (including ESPN Deportes), Fox Hispanic Media, and Discovery en Español.

Broadcasting & Cable, 15 May 2012, Lindsay Rubino: "Discovery U.S. Hispanic, which comprises both Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia, announced its upcoming programming slate that includes its first-ever original game show on Tuesday at its upfront event in New York. John Hendricks, founder and chairman of Discovery Communications, Inc., spoke to Discovery U.S. Hispanic's success, with Discovery en Español posting its best quarter on record in Q1, and Discovery Familia coming off a year of double-digit growth."

VOA Urdu broadcaster who wants "to show the softer image of America" shoots video from Maid of the Mist.

Posted: 20 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Niagara Gazette, 14 May 2012, Michele Deluca: "A team from the Voice of America’s Pakistani division were in the city this week to shoot a documentary about the history and the future of the region and the waterfalls. The producer, a Pakistani native who has lived in Washington, D.C. for four years, and a cameraman were shown the best of the region, including a dinner at the Como Restaurant, as well as visits to area attractions including the Maid of the Mist and Old Fort Niagara. 'Our program will air on a prominent news channel in Pakistan,' said Madeeha Anwar. 'I actually want to show the softer image of America.' ... They also interview two Pakistanis who live in the area and work near the falls, including the owner of a Halal food truck and a taxi cab driver. 'They do remember Pakistan, but they say life is much better here,' she said."

"Breakthrough year" for BBC World News as its distribution passes 300 million households.

Posted: 20 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 16 May 2012: "New figures show that BBC World News has burst through the 300 million distribution mark – increasing the number of households it broadcasts in by more than 40 million over the past year. Total distribution of the BBC’s international news channel now stands at more than 330 million households following recent deals with Comcast in the US, TV4 in Sweden, ERT S.A. in Greece and D life, a major distribution deal with Disney in Japan. BBC World News is expected to receive a further boost when it moves into state-of-the-art new broadcasting studios in London later this year, improving the look and feel of its international news output for audiences. BBC World News Commercial Director Colin Lawrence called it evidence of both ‘a breakthrough year’ for the channel and ‘our audiences increasing hunger for global news they can trust in very turbulent times’. Full-time 24/7 distribution of the channel has also risen from 179 million to more than 200 million households, making it one of the biggest international news channels in the world."

This means that 330 million households can receive BBC World News. The press release does not state how many people are actually watching. In the growing number of households around that world that can receive all of the big three global English news channels -- CNN International, BBC World News, and Al Jazeera English -- it would be very interesting to see the comparative audience numbers.

Andy Sennitt on the future of international broadcasting: The unique selling point is no longer so unique.

Posted: 20 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 15 May 2012, Andy Sennitt: "International broadcasters must accept that in general they are far less significant than they once were. For example, since 1947 RNW has had a Dutch service whose reach was high amongst its target group of Dutch expats. But since the advent of the internet, the information that RNW used to provide can be found on numerous websites, and the USP (unique selling point) of RNW’s Dutch service is no longer valid. Hence the painful decision to close it. ... Those international services that survive to the end of the current decade will be the ones that can face up to the challenge of creating content that their potential audience wants, making sure that the content is distributed on appropriate platforms, and letting people know about it. They’ll have to work a lot harder to stand out from the crowd. Instead of being big fish in a small pond as they were on shortwave, they’re tiny drops in the internet ocean. I wish them success. International broadcasting has been my life for nearly 40 years, and it has given me friends around the world."

For international broadcasters, the unique selling point (USP) was their shortwave transmitters, uniquely capable of sending content to distant parts of the world. Now the internet can do that, to most places. International broadcasters do retain another USP: multilingual content. Hence the elimination of Dutch from Radio Netherlands, and the reduction of English at VOA, as they are not so unique.

Andy retired from Radio Netherlands at the end of April. This is the fourth and final of his farewell essays. (See the previous in the series.) Enjoy your retirement, Andy.

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen blog, 18 May 2012, Todd Kelly: "Last December on the day after my birthday, I received an email from Netherlands public radio [Radio Netherlands Worldwide]. One of the producers there had come across a post of mine. 'I wanted to make contact with you regarding doing an essay for our radio programme,' she wrote. 'The idea would be to take your story and turn it into an essay that you would share on our programme. If this sounds interesting to you, please get in touch.' I was pretty sure it was a practical joke. But the request was in fact genuine, and even though I had never heard of her show, The State We’re In, it turns out to be pretty big world-wide. It’s also a really great show; it’s like This American Life except the stories are international."

RFE/RL cites VOA interview with Sen. McCain, then Kyiv Post headline credits RFE/RL for same.

Posted: 19 May 2012   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Transmission blog, 15 May 2012: "In an interview with Igor Tsikhanenka of Voice of America's Russian Service, U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) discusses the status of democratic values in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution."

Kyiv Post, 16 May 2012, headline: "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: US senator McCain cites Ukraine's 'missed opportunity'." Body of story: "In an interview with Igor Tsikhanenka of Voice of America's Russian Service, U.S. Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) discusses the status of democratic values in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution."

BBG Watch, 15 May 2012: "The Russian English-language newspaper The Moscow Times reported on the Voice of America Russian Service interview with Republican U.S. Senator John McCain, in which McCain criticized President Vladimir Putin for a recent crackdown on protesters, as well as for oligarchy, corruption and activities in the Baltics and Ukraine. Strangely, a search of the Voice of America main English website has not produced any news items, reports, or mentions of this VOA Russian Service interview with Senator McCain."

House committees vote to increase funds for US international broadcasting, cut funds for psyop.

Posted: 19 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry blog, 15 May 2012, Helle Dale: "Kudos to the House Appropriations Committee for protecting U.S. international broadcasting against the eviscerating cuts in language services and personnel contained in the President’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. If the budget passes—a big 'if,' of course—it could reverse a direction that can only be described as self-defeating for American foreign policy and public diplomacy. In its newly released draft of the FY 2013 budget, the House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee gave the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) about $26.98 million more than it asked for. In the Operations account, BBG asked for $711.56 million and got $740.10 million. In the Improvement account, BBG asked for $8.59 million and got $7.03 million. The proposed cuts extend across Voice of America’s (VOA) language services. ... VOA Director David Ensor now has the opportunity to revisit the issue of the targeted language services. As a veteran journalist, formerly with CNN, Ensor knows the importance of protecting VOA’s most important assets, its seasoned reporting and editing staff. The Broadcasting Board of Governors must allow him to do so."

There goes the Heritage Foundation again: spend, spend, spend, as if government funds grow on trees rather than come out of the pockets of the taxpayers. If I were a good bureaucrat, I would cheer any prospect of restoring the USIB budget, along with jobs that are in jeopardy. ("Yes, I know we have to reduce government spending and the deficit, but the work our agency does is really needed.") I am, however, not a good bureaucrat. I can't help but look at the structure of US international broadcasting at the macro level -- indeed, at the most macro level possible. And from that level, one can see many instances of duplication. Maintenance of the present budget would provide an excuse to perpetuate the present inefficient structure of USIB. A small budget cut would provide the incentive for needed reform that would both improve performance and reduce costs. It would also clear out some old bureaucrats who are not good bureaucrats. Wait... maybe a budget cut is not such a good idea after all... .

USA Today, 17 May 2012, Tom Vanden Brook: "A powerful House committee voted Thursday to cut by nearly one-third the Pentagon's budget for 'military information support operations.' The House Defense Appropriations Committee also called on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to submit a report within 30 days of the law's enactment that, among other requirements, would have the Pentagon detail the effectiveness of so-called MISO programs, previously known as psychological operations. In February, a USA TODAY investigation found that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in recent years on information operations. These are essentially marketing efforts aimed at persuading foreign audiences to support U.S. interests, though Pentagon officials acknowledge that little proof exists about their effectiveness. Much of the spending has been funneled to poorly tracked programs, the newspaper found. Also, U.S. sponsorship of the messages is often hidden because the United States lacks credibility among the target audiences, Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, who recently completed a tour running information operations in Afghanistan, told USA TODAY in February." -- So how to restore funds for our colleagues in MISO? I know: get a helicopter and drop leaflets over Capitol Hill.

Reporter for RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal dies from Prague car accident.

Posted: 18 May 2012   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL Tumblr, 18 May 2012: "Today RFE/RL mourns the tragic loss of Haseeba Shaheed. Haseeba was involved in a car accident in Prague last week, succumbing to her injuries last night. She was a fearless reporter who joined RFE/RL’s Kabul bureau in 2003 as a senior reporter/producer for Radio Azadi, and moved to Prague two years ago to work as a broadcaster for Radio Mashaal. During her time with Radio Azadi, Haseeba won three consecutive awards for best reporting in the service. She investigated the smuggling of women, which caused an uproar with a local warlord pressuring provincial authorities to silence Haseeba’s reporting. ... Haseeba was 29 years old and is survived by her husband and two young children, an extended family in Afghanistan and abroad, and all of her friends here at RFE/RL." -- In 2009, three journalists of RFE/RL's Radio Farda died in a Prague car accident. See previous post. See also RFE/RL Off Mic blog, 18 May 2012.

Daily Mail, 16 May 2012, Lachlan Cartwright: "A British TV executive has died after being knocked down by a motorbike in Qatar. Kerry Rome was the first technical director at Al Jazeera’s English-language station. The 33-year-old, from Thurlby, Lincolnshire, was hit as she crossed a road in the early hours in Qatar’s capital Doha. Police believe her death, on April 20, was a tragic accident. ... She moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2008, where she was the first female technical director of live news at Al Jazeera English. Last October, she was promoted to the station's head office in Doha."

France's Orange closes its sports channels, but will add Al Jazeera's new Be In Sport channels.

Posted: 18 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 14 May 2012: French ADSL television platform "Orange is to close down its Orange Sport channels at the end of June and will offer Al Jazeera’s Be In Sport 1 and 2 channels to its subscribers in their place after striking a deal with the Qatar-based broadcaster. ... Orange Sport has about 400,000 subscribers, who will be offered the option to sign up to Be In Sport 1 and 2 from May 24. Be In Sport 1 is expected to launch at the beginning of June. According to local press, Orange has signed up to distribute Al Jazeera’s channels for four years."

Multichannel News, 17 May 2012, Mike Reynolds: "There will be a new pair of soccer networks kicking it around for Stateside distribution and viewers this summer. Available in both English and Spanish, beIn Sport is part of the multiplatform sports services launching across Europe and the Middle East by Al Jazeera Sports this summer. The services, eyeing an August 1 launch, will present a host of top-flight international soccer fare... . ... beIn Sport has contracted with Miami-headquartered Imagina US to handle distribution and provide technical support in this country. ... In an interview, Antonio Briceño, vice president of affiliate sales for Imagina US, said: 'We don't expect to have 100% distribution at launch, but we will reach enough homes at launch to satisfy the business plan.' He expects beIN Sport to gain further distribution over time. ... Briceño deferred questions about why the matches were not being incorporated as part of programming on Al Jazeera English... ."

Al Jazeera relaunches citizen media platform with accreditation system to distinguish "reliable submitters."

Posted: 18 May 2012   Print   Send a link
journalism.co.uk, 4 May 2012, Rachel McAthy: "Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera is to relaunch its citizen media platform Sharek, with new features to include an accreditation system to recognise trusted contributors and multilingual content. According to a release, Al Jazeera's head of new media Moeed Ahmad told the UNESCO World Press Freedom conference that the updated system will run an accreditation service which 'will distinguish reliable and regular submitters of content'. Once contributors reach a certain level 'their videos will be viewable pre-moderation as opposed to the default post-moderation', the release adds. Al Jazeera first launched Sharek, which is Arabic for 'share', in 2008, with reportedly more than 70,000 videos uploaded so far."

The Irish Times, 10 May 2012: Bilal Randeree, social media and web editor for Al Jazeera English, "'wouldn’t go to the extent of saying we have a totally converted newsroom', Al Jazeera journalists are still finding new ways to use social media. In this respect, the fact AJE’s online audience is bigger than its traditional television audience is an advantage. Live blogs on running news stories – once 'a small part of a big website' – are now its most popular element, says Randeree. 'Most people would prefer to look at the live blog and see what’s happening during the day than look at a news article that was written an hour or three hours ago.' Live blogs, which naturally facilitate the integration of social media with 'traditional' reporting, serve as a news catch-up for 'people who don’t have time to watch a live stream for hours on end'."

AFP, 10 May 2012: "Social networks that have given rise to so-called citizen journalism are a window with which to 'mislead public opinion,' argued Amr Khafagi, editor-in-chief of the Egyptian Shorouk daily. But for Nakhle El Hage, Al Arabiya’s news director, 'they can hold a treasure of information, (although) they are a land filled with mines.' ... Many at the [Arab Media Conference in Dubai] also questioned whether it was possible to provide objective or impartial coverage of the tumultuous events in the region given the alternate risk of upsetting the public by not openly siding with the revolt. There is a need to 'focus on quality information and not be swayed by the demands of the street,' said Randa Habib, director of the AFP Foundation for Middle East and North Africa. 'The fact that there are a variety of means to get information does not necessarily mean quality journalism,' she added."

China's CCTV in Africa: "We try to portray more positive news."

Posted: 18 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 7 May 2012, Tom Rhodes: "This year China launched CCTV in East Africa with its headquarters in Kenya's capital, Nairobi. The state broadcaster has 50 local staff here and 14 correspondents across the continent in South Africa, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Senegal with plans to expand to 150 staff, according to operations manager and Editor Robert Soi. Since January, Kenyans have been able to hear a daily one-hour broadcast of CCTV's 'Africa Live,' and the channel plans to become an all news, 24-hour channel similar to France 24 or CNN by 2015. The expansion comes as other, predominantly Western media houses are shrinking their media presence in East Africa; BBC has been forced to cut a number of correspondents and France 24 announced a merger with Radio France Internationale to contain costs, for example. In addition to competitive salary offers being welcomed by many journalists looking for work, many locals hope CCTV's heavy investment will allow more detailed, nuanced reporting. Some local journalists in Nairobi tell me they grow weary of the West's often limited, negative coverage of East Africa. A local Nairobi radio presenter once referred to the West's media coverage of Africa as 'burning-tire journalism' -- since only a handful of foreign correspondents are based on the continent and are reduced to covering only major disasters due to funding and logistical constraints. According to Soi, the new broadcaster strives to be objective. 'We cannot avoid the key stories in Africa so we try to be very objective. Just because China is interested in Khartoum, Sudan, for instance, does not mean we only cover this country -- we cover the whole story and that includes South Sudan.' But Soi admits there are subjects that generally aren't touched, such as criticism of local Chinese investments. Instead, 'We try to portray more positive news,' Soi said. 'You can't talk badly about Chinese interests in Africa.'" CCTV has made no effort to disguise its public-relations aims."

Audiences for international broadcasting are generally seeking real news, credible news. And they can quickly discern the difference between real news and "public relations." For this reason, CCTV, for all its investment in Africa, is probably not to be feared. Now that many Africans have access to DTH services, offering side-by-side comparison of CNN International, BBC World News, Al Jazeera English, France 24, DW TV, and, now, CCTV News, it would be fascinating to compare audience sizes. See previous post about same subject.

Assault on RFE/RL reporter in Armenia captured on her own video.

Posted: 17 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Hetq online (Yerevan), 6 May 2012, Kristine Aghalaryan: "A female reporter for Radio Liberty, Elina Chilingaryan, says that one of a group of young men outside the Erebuni 12/33 polling station attacked her as she was taking pictures. Chilingaryan claims the youth hit her and snatched the camera after it fell during the scuffle. The reporter then informed the police who told her that they would most likely launch a criminal investigation." See also RFE/RL, 6 May 2012, with video of the incident.

Xinhua's new Spanish-language Xinhua Movil offers news "in text, photo and video forms."

Posted: 17 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union, 7 May 2012: "China’s state media organization, the Xinhua News Agency, today released a mobile news application in Spanish called Xinhua Movil. Xinhua Movil is specially designed for Spanish-speakers to take full advantage of Xinhua’s real-time multimedia content. It provides all-inclusive access to a wide range of news and information in text, photo and video forms. Global users can download this application for free from both Apple and Android app stores. The application is the third of its kind that Xinhua operates, following the Chinese and English versions."

UK radio station talkSPORT expands reach to "sports fanatics" across Asia, and adds Mandarin commentary.

Posted: 17 May 2012   Print   Send a link
UTV Media press release, 8 May 2012: "UK based talkSPORT, the world's biggest sport radio station, has today announced plans for its expansion into Asia. Speaking to an audience of public and commercial broadcasters from across Asia at Radio Asia 2012 in Jakarta, talkSPORT Director of Strategy Jimmy Buckland announced that the talkSPORT team aims to work collaboratively with Asia's leading radio broadcasters to deliver the brand to sports fanatics across the continent. The announcement follows talkSPORT's recent agreement to become the official Global Audio Partner of the Barclays Premier League for the next four football seasons (2012/13 - 2015/16). The deal grants talkSPORT an exclusive package of audio rights outside Europe for the next four seasons, with internet users across Asia gaining access to an innovative new service from August 2012, offering commentary on all 380 Barclays Premier League games in English, Spanish and Mandarin. Speaking to delegates from the leading Asian broadcasters, talkSPORT announced its desire to work with local partners to launch its new 24 hour sports FM radio services in key markets which include Jakarta, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand initially followed by India and the Philippines, with further services becoming available in markets in China and India. According to research, 56% of the population of Indonesia express an interest in the Barclays Premier League, with 70% expressing an interest in badminton, yet the country currently lacks a dedicated sports station."

Radio-info.com, 9 May 2012: "The U.K.’s talkSPORT, which itself sports plenty of bravado by claiming to be 'the world’s biggest sport radio station,' intends to command greater global presence with expansion into Asia — and then some. It's a mighty ambitious plan... . With world-class U.S. operations like New York’s sports WFAN-AM (The Fan), how does talkSPORT back up its claim of 'world’s biggest'? It’s a London- based national service that claims an audience of more than 3.2 million."

"Voice of Russia’s staff have many interesting ideas and new projects."

Posted: 17 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of Ruyssia, 7 May 2012, Lada Korotun: "May 7th is Day of Radio in Russia. It’s on May 7th 1895 that an outstanding Russian researcher, Alexander Popov presented the world’s first radio set that he had designed. ... As for Radio Voice of Russia, it has been broadcasting since 1929, and its political, economic and cultural programs are daily available in 38 languages in 160 countries. Listeners can tune in to the Voice of Russia on short, middle and FM waves as well as through satellite channels and mobile network. Internet users can visit the www.ruvr.ru website where the Voice of Russia’s materials are available in 33 languages. The Voice of Russia’s news offices are operating in Washington, Kiev and London as well as many major cities in Germany, Brazil, the Balkans and Central Asia. Right now, the Voice of Russia’s staff have many interesting ideas and new projects. ... We also congratulate our listeners on Radio Day and we want them to stay tuned. For our part, we pledge to live up to our listeners’ expectations." -- One VOR program that might exceed listeners' expectations is From Moscow With Love.

CNN International adds Libya Awalan TV to its "global network of affiliates."

Posted: 16 May 2012   Print   Send a link
CNN International press releae, 10 May 2012, via Zawya: "CNN International today announced that . The partnership is the first with a private network in Libya and adds to CNN's global presence, as well as its strength in North Africa. Libya Awalan TV was founded in March 2011, shortly after the conflict in Libya began, and made its inaugural broadcast a few weeks later on 1 April. It employs more than 200 people and has control rooms in Tripoli and Benghazi, as well as in Cairo, Egypt. During the Libya conflict Awalan's reporters brought detailed reports from across the country, and the station continues to report on Libya's ongoing recovery in 5 daily news bulletins and across breaking news. ... Hassan Tatanaki, founder and Chairman of Libya Awalan TV, added: 'CNN is the original 24 hour news channel and a network that continues to set the standard in global news. It has a long-standing presence in and passion for our region, so to become part of its affiliate network is a proud moment for us as a young channel. We hope we can make a strong contribution to CNN's reporting in a new and free Libya and beyond.'"

In India, "Al Jazeera English prefers subscription over ads" for revenue.

Posted: 16 May 2012   Print   Send a link
afaqs!, 9 May 2012, Raushni Bhagia: "Qatar-based Al Jazeera English's (AJE) India foray sure had been a challenging one. However, as slow and silent as it may be, the challenges seem to have only fuelled the channel's India focus even further. With an aim to increase its reach from 25 million homes to 100 million Indian television homes (70 per cent of the total 148 million television households) in the next one year, AJE has decided to up its India-centric content by one hour every week. Consequently, the channel has launched a documentary series titled 'Indian Hospital', which will initially have a six-week run and depending on the performance, will be extended or axed. Speaking to afaqs!, Anmol Saxena, bureau chief, India, Al Jazeera English, says, ... 'We aren't looking forward to advertising very aggressively in India and therefore, do not have a very significant ad inventory in this country. Instead, we will focus on generating revenues through increased subscription. And with digitisation just around the corner, we believe this would be a logical step.' ... Currently, the international news channels make a very small part of the overall media mix for any brand in India. And this is primarily because of the niche profile of audiences that the channels target. Citing BBC as an example, a media pundit says, 'If a brand wants to advertise with BBC, it's not because of the viewership numbers, it is because of the brand, BBC. For viewership numbers, the brands generally approach the national English news channels.'"

BBC budget cuts cause BBC Arabic to lose staff to competitors.

Posted: 15 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 13 May 2012, Ben Flanagan: "Cutbacks at the BBC have forced the corporation's Arabic service to launch an austerity drive of its own. ... Cost-cutting has now hit the BBC's Arabic service, which has been asked to share its Middle East bureaus, having already lost several staff to competitors. Faris Couri, the editor-in-chief of BBC Arabic, said the service was 'not immune/ to the austerity measures in the UK. He said BBC Arabic has been asked to share staff with the corporation's English-language news channel and radio stations. 'Neither the financial situation nor the editorial policy allows us to be a standalone operation,' he said. 'Within the next 18 months or so, we'll see more cooperation, working together with the news gathering.' ... [T]he BBC Arabic service has already seen some staff leave, which Mr Couri attributed to the cutbacks imposed by the UK broadcaster. 'Because of the austerity measures, we've lost a number of staff. The Gulf is very attractive financially, and people have already left,' said Mr Couri. 'So the recruitment process is ongoing, and we are replenishing what we have lost.' BBC Arabic reported record TV audiences during the Arab Spring, with an 80 per cent rise in viewers during the uprisings. However, it now faces increased competition for audiences following last week's launch of Sky News Arabia. ... BBC Arabic also operates a news website, which Mr Couri said would start carrying advertising from next month." -- "More cooperation" among BBC services does not seem to be a bad thing.

Ben Flanagan provides excellent coverage of the Arab media secene. He can be followed on Twitter at @ben_flanagan.

Sky News Arabia will bring "a new culture of television journalism to the region" with English Premier League highlights.

Posted: 15 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 11 May 2012, Muhammad Ayish: "At the launch [of Sky News Arabia], I got the impression that the project was about bringing a new culture of television journalism to the region, one that promotes broadcast news both as a force of constructive public engagement and as a business investment. As a 50/50 joint partnership between Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation and the UK's British Sky Broadcasting, Sky News Arabia is meant to serve as an example of how global journalism standards can be exercised by regional journalists to contribute to public opinion, while succeeding as a commercial venture. ... But as the experience of satellite television in the region suggests, it will take more than editorial independence, human resources and technology to stimulate growth in the region's television news market. Newcomers in the congested broadcast sphere need to practise principled journalism within a viable business model, while at the same time engaging national media priorities." --Whose priorities? If government priorities, the "principled journalism" thing goes out the window.

Reuters, 8 May 2012, Raissa Kasolowsky: "[T]he real challenge will be to provide fearless coverage closer to home from the Gulf region, unimpaired by the link to the ruling family - a challenge that pioneering Al Jazeera has struggled with. ... The region's recent experience suggests it will be an uphill struggle, not only against political influence but also to claim a share of a market where others are already jostling to fill a void left by Al Jazeera's difficulties."

Arabian Business, 11 May 2012, Andy Sambidge: "Sky News Arabia, the new breaking news channel operating in the Middle East, has signed an agreement to broadcast highlights from the English Premier League. ... Viewers will be able to stay abreast of current and future seasons of the Barclays Premier League, enjoying clips of the latest action and previews of upcoming matches, Sky News Arabia said in a statement."

Financial Times, 15 May 2012, Tom Gara: "While neither partner has disclosed financial details of its investment, what is clear is that both expect the new channel to make it to the regional big leagues, and compete directly with Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya in a way that other well-funded upstarts, including BBC Arabic, have failed to do."

See previous post about same subject.

Will Alarab, the next new Arab news channel, enjoy a "total free environment" in Bahrain?

Posted: 14 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 9 May 2012, Ben Flanagan: "Alarab, the TV news satellite station backed by Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, is due to go live early next year and is about to embark on a recruitment drive for up to 300 employees. The Saudi billionaire plans to launch the Arabic-language station from Bahrain, and was due to sign an agreement with authorities there last night. Jamal Khashoggi, the manager of Alarab, said part of this agreement was to guarantee Alarab's right to operate freely within Bahrain. ... 'It is a legal agreement that covers our rights. We demanded a total free environment,' he said. 'We had to establish something from scratch, because Bahrain did not have a law for free broadcasting.' Freedom of expression is a controversial issue in Bahrain, which slipped down the press freedom rankings after last year's bloody uprising. The country is currently placed 173rd in the World Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders."

Arabian Business, 9 May 2012, Massoud Derhally: "'I see the future belonging for regional channels rather than just pan-Arab stations,' Khashoggi said when asked how Alarab will differentiate itself in what some analysts say is a saturated market. 'This is because of the increased freedom to broadcast in and outside the region and be able to launch a channel with relative ease,' he said. 'Consider for instance that in Egypt you have 16 or 17 channels so the competition is more fierce for pan-Arab channels so we will focus mostly on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.'"

AFP, 10 May 2012: "Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has signed agreements with Bahrain to move his Rotana news and entertainment company from Cairo to boost the economy of its protest-hit ally, the official BNA agency said on Wednesday. The move comes as Prince Alwaleed plans to launch a 24-hour news channel, Alarab, in the first half of 2013 to compete with Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, and the newly-launched Sky News Arabia satellite news channels. ... Bahrain is enjoying considerable freedom of expression and wide-open dialogue despite attempts by a minority to prove the opposite, the prince was quoted as saying by BNA in an apparent reference to anti-government protests. The small Gulf state has been hit by mass pro-democracy demonstrations since February last year, which have been violently crushed by Manama, drawing criticism from international rights groups." See also Arab News, 9 May 2012.

CounterPunch, 9 May 2012, Yves Gonzales-Quijano: "Setting up in Manama is an attempt to give [Alarab] an original stance between the official voice of Al-Arabiya and the more anti-establishment one of Al-Jazeera. Its editor will be Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist critical enough to have been recently sacked from the Saudi newspaper Al Watan. Alarab already has a motto: 'Freedom and development' — an echo no doubt of the social network slogans of the Arab Spring, but also a reference to the direction [Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal Bin] Talal wants to see policy go in the region, towards an 'Islamic-style' capitalism."

Jonathan Marks re Radio Netherlands Worldwide: "Everything it stood for has been removed."

Posted: 14 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Critical Distance weblog, 13 May 2012, Jonathan Marks: "I would argue that Radio Nederland Wereldomroep was probably one of the first social networks. It provided a way for Dutch speakers to keep in touch with the shared experiences of family and friends separated by distance. It was crude by today's standards, requiring quite a lot of energy to produce a crackly voice in a loudspeaker thousands of miles away. But it was a human voice. And that was one of the advantages of the programmes from Hilversum. They sounded like they were made by human beings rather than government officials. ... [T]here's a plan on how [RNW's reduced] 14 million Euro of public money could be spent. But it's not based on a clearly defined audience need in the same way that RNW was the answer back in 1947. It's politically driven piece rather like the lists that NHK Radio Japan used to get from the Japanese government - 'Here is some money, you are commanded to broadcast so many hours a day to North Korea, etc. Do the best you can'. Frankly, that's no way to run a modern media company. Never has been. Government make terrible programmes because they are interested in themselves not the audience - It's all about shouting a message above the noise, not listening to what people are saying from within. ... This all reminds me of that poster in the window of Bush House referring to BBC World Service - audiences are at the heart of everything we do. For RNW, that heart has stopped beating because everything it stood for has been removed. End of a era. Over and out. That leaves me with a huge respect for the past. But no hope for the future..at least not like this." -- Jonathan is former program director of Radio Netherlands.

See also previous posts...

"Like" it or not, this appears to be the future of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

In an emotional ceremony, Radio Netherlands Worldwide ends 65 years of Dutch-language broadcasting.

Egypt's Al Nahar Channel partners with France 24/RFI/MCD for coverage of Egyptian presidential election.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
AMEinfo, 6 May 2012: "Al Nahar Channel launches its newest TV program 'Maw3ed Ma3a El Ra2ees' (An Appointment with the President) in partnership with France 24 Network. The program will host all the [Egyptian] presidential candidates to showcase their electoral programs and will be aired daily every night starting 8 pm till 2 am; this will also be broadcasted on France 24, Radio France International and Monte Carlo Doualiya Radio in three languages Arabic, French and English; with a reach of 90 Million viewers/listeners around the world. ... Mr. Samir Youssef President and CEO of Al Nahar Network said ... '[o]ur decision to partner with France 24 stems from its strong unbiased coverage of events in three languages through its news channels as well as its radio channels and their unique coverage of the current French Presidential Elections. Al Nahar Network was very keen on partnering with France 24 in producing this program in efforts to showcase to the world this unique unprecedented experience that is taking place in Egypt.'"

Red Cross: Colombian Farc rebels will release captured France 24 stringer.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
AFP, 13 May 2012: "Marxist rebels holding French journalist [and stringer for France 24] Romeo Langlois hostage for almost a month said Sunday they will free him, a Red Cross official said. ... Langlois, 35, was accompanying soldiers who destroyed five cocaine production labs in southern Colombia when a firefight broke out April 28 and he was captured by rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia."

Reuters, 9 May 2012: "Colombia yesterday rejected a call by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels to debate freedom of information and news media bias as a condition for the release of a French reporter they are holding hostage. Heavily-armed Farc members kidnapped Romeo Langlois, a reporter for France 24, during a clash with troops carrying out an anti-drug raid in Caqueta, a rebel stronghold in the south. On Monday the group accused the Colombian government of manipulating journalists to bend public opinion against them and said before they considered releasing Langlois there needed to be a debate on freedom of information."

See also France 24 support page for Roméo Langlois. See previous post about same subject.

RFI reporter in Burundi faces life imprisonment for "terrorism" charges. And more RFI in the news.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 9 May 2012: "A prosecutor in the eastern city of Cankuzo yesterday requested life imprisonment for journalist Hassan Ruvakuki and 22 other people who are charged with 'participating in acts of terrorism' by a new rebel group operating in the east of the country. A reporter for Bonesha FM and the Swahili service of Radio France Internationale, Ruvakuki has been held since 28 November, after interviewing an alleged member of the rebel group, which is reportedly based in neighbouring Tanzania. ... 'It has already been demonstrated that this court is neither competent nor impartial, so the request for life sentences is just further evidence that the trial is a travesty orchestrated by the government,' Reporters Without Borders said."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 8 May 2012: "'Conducting an interview is not an act of terrorism. Burundian authorities are misusing the law to punish a journalist for airing material they did not like,' said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. 'The arrest and prosecution of Hassan Ruvakiki has been marked by a lack of fairness and due process. The case should be dropped immediately.'" See also RFI, 29 Dec 2011 and RFI, 9 May 2012.

Bemba Trial website (The Hague), 8 May 2012, Wakabi Wairagala, "The second victim to testify against Jean-Pierre Bemba today dismissed video footage shown in court by the defense that described as 'liberators' soldiers belonging to the accused's Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). Judes Mbetingou said the footage consisting of interviews Radio France Internationale (RFI) journalist Gabriel Kahn conducted with residents of Sibut town was 'staged.'" See previous post about same subject.

The Daily Observer (Banjul), 9 May 2012, Sheriff Janko & Aji Fatou Faal: "The first bi-lingual French & English lessons on two Gambian radio stations namely; UniqueFM and City Limits produced by Radio France International (RFI) has begun. The programme, which will run from Mondays to Fridays on the two FM radios starting at 08:00 am with repeated editions in the evening, is designed to further enhance the Francophone environment as well as promote the use of French Language in The Gambia."

Election of François Hollande could change how top management of French international broadcasting is appointed.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 9 May 2012, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "Newly elected French President, François Hollande looks set to take advantage of his tenure to unravel some controversial TV reforms launched by former President Sarkozy. Likely first for reform is the emblematic nomination of PSB radio, TV and head of media groups by the president himself, und [sic, under? and?] the control of Parliament and TV regulator CSA. This power, which has traditionally attracted criticism, affects directly groups such as France Télévisions, Radio France, INA and Audiovisuel extérieur de la France. The Parti Socialiste (PS) political party for which Hollande was the presidential candidate, wants to hand back to the CSA its nomination power. Such a symbolic decision is expected to be taken very rapidly and could put into question the current tenures of people such as Rémy Pflimlin (FTV), Alain de Pouzilhac (AEF) or Jean-Luc Hess (Radio France)."

"Now we are creating content with our audiences," and more Australian international broadcasting in the news.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
radioinfo, 10 May 2012: "'Radio is all about telling a story,' said Radio Australia’s CEO Mike McCluskey at the Radio Asia Conference. 'The fundamental concept for new media is the same, but now we are creating content WITH our audiences, not just pushing content out AT them.' ... Speaking in the same session, Jeff Cohen, Director of Development for WRN Broadcasting discussed how Visual Radio can engage audiences. The UK experience has shown that AM/FM listening is declining, but the trend is that listening through the new platforms is increasing."

Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union, 8 May 2012: "On the opening day of the conference, Radio Australia CEO Mike McCluskey launched the ABU Radio Song Festival, which aims to unearth unpublished talent across the region and give them exposure through an ABU hosted website."

The Fiji Times, 6 May 2012, Ioane Burese: "Radio Australia's Pacific Break keeps getting better, at least from the standpoint of Pacific musicians daring to have a crack at the global market. The initiative is a noble attempt by Radio Australia to showcase the best of contemporary popular music by taking it beyond the Pacific backyard and giving it legitimacy and respectability offshore. In a statement this week, Australia's State-owned radio said over the past four years Pacific Break has been committed to uncovering what the best unsigned original Pacific musicians have to offer with the winners from each year performing at Fest'Napuan, a four-day music festival in Vanuatu. ... According to Dr Mike McCluskey, CEO of Radio Australia, while the major prize of Pacific Break has changed, the aim of the competition remains the same. 'Pacific Break accepts entries from any Pacific artist provided they don't have a recording or publishing contract,' he said."

Jakarta Globe, 10 May 2012, Ulma Haryanto: "Indonesia will always hold a special place in the heart of award-winning Australian reporter Auskar Surbakti. It’s not just because of his heritage — both his parents are Indonesian — but because the 27-year-old has become the Australian media’s go-to guy for news from the archipelago. It was his series 'Rebuilding Aceh' that netted Surbakti, now an anchor at ABC Australia Network in Melbourne, the UN Media Peace Prize in 2008."

Today (Singapore), 9 May 2012, letter from M Lukshumayeh: "There is a large English Premier League (EPL) following here, and the results of matches, together with the goal-scorers, are reported on our local television news. At the most, though, we see still images of the respective matches. In some other jurisdictions where 'live' EPL matches are screened, when the results are reported on TV news programmes, the match highlights and the goals are shown. One example is Australia Network, which can be viewed in Singapore on cable TV. So, why not work with the cable TV operator to do the same during the news here?"

Russia's CTC Media is re-creating the coverage area of the old USSR State Committee for Broadcasting and Television.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
panArmenian.net, 11 May 2012: "CTC Media, Inc., Russia's independent media company, announced the signing of a number of agreements with distribution companies Masttel, Global Media Group and NUR DUYASI in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan respectively, envisaging the expansion of the international version of the CTC television channel into these markets via cable networks, Market Watch reported. Broadcasting of CTC-International has been launched in all the three countries. The contracts stipulate that CTC Media is to receive a fixed monthly payment from each of the companies." See also CTC press release, 10 May 2012. See previous posts about CTC in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

You just don't hear stations like 9XF on the shortwave dial anymore. And more shortwave stories.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 7 May 2012, Adrian M. Peterson: "In the mid-1930’s, the total number of shortwave stations on the air in Chicagoland was more than 50. Most of these were in use either for direct communication with other stations or for the broadcast of experimental TV or for the old Apex system of program broadcasting that pre-dates FM use. However, sufficient evidence exists for us to presume that a dozen or so of these shortwave stations were actually on the air during the pre-war years, with broadcast radio programming for direct reception by shortwave listeners in the United States and beyond. On June 1, 1927, Samuel Insull, owner of the Great Lakes Broadcasting Co., bought the highly popular medium-wave station WENR from E.N. Rauland, owder of the All-American Radio Corp, headquartered in Chicago. ... Before the sale even finalized, Insull’s company had applied to the Department of Commerce for a license to operate a special land station on 1040 kHz under the call sign 9XF. ... [P]rogramming from NBC’s WENR-WMAQ over the shortwave outlet W9XF stayed on the air about a decade, heard throughout the United States, Europe, South America and the South Pacific, even as far away as New Zealand."

Ventura County Star, 5 May 2012, Bill Husted: "Shortwave listening, once the drug of choice for nerds, is an unlikely hobby nowadays. After all, that distant station I'm straining to hear probably is also available as a crystal clear audio stream somewhere on the Internet. So how can I stand before you today, with no fingers crossed, and tell you that you may find both education and joy through shortwave listening? I'll do my best. But keep in mind that there really is an element of magic here, something to be experienced more than explained. ... [W]hen I spin the dial on my shortwave I travel to the source. Perhaps it's the voice of an airline captain over the Atlantic reporting his position to an operator in New York. Or I may happen on music from a country I couldn't even begin to spell."

The Guardian, 17 Apr 2012, Stuart Williams: "Growing up listening to the BBC World Service, I heard the sound of large audiences clapping on numerous occasions – Wimbledon tennis, cricket test matches and musical concerts. The sound, when heard over shortwave radio, sounds very similar to rain falling on a roof: comforting yet exhilarating."

Smithsonian.com, 17 Apr 2012, Matt Novak: "The May, 1938 issue of Hugo Gernsback‘s Short Wave and Television magazine included an article titled 'Radio to Print News Right In Your Home.' The article described a method of delivering newspapers that was being tested and (provided it didn’t interfere with regular radio broadcasts) would soon be used as a futuristic news-delivery method. ... The article opens by explaining that this futuristic device is already in use: 'As you read this article, radio facsimile signals are probably circulating all around you. At least 23 broadcast stations, some of them high power ones, and a number of short-wave stations are now transmitting experimental facsimile signals under a special license granted by the Federal Communications Commission.'"

The SWLing Post, 5 May 2012, Thomas Witherspoon: "Last night, [private shortwave startion WBCQ in Maine] sent a digital [text] message about ten minutes before the end of the Allan Weiner Worldwide show. If you missed the broadcast, no worries; we recorded the show, and you can download the audio to try decoding the message for yourself. The digital message can be decoded using a variety of free software packages. ... This digital message could be decoded without purchasing any special software or other accessories. Most of us have everything we need to decode the bulk of the digital messages on the shortwave bands–and there are many, many more out there."

Radio World, 23 Apr 2012, Michael LeClair: "The use of various forms of carrier reduction, to save electricity in AM transmission, is known technically as MDCL, for modulation-dependent carrier level. It has taken off both internationally and now in the United States. We have tried to stay abreast of the technical aspects of the concept here at RW Engineering Extra because it offers some assistance to our oldest form of broadcasting. MDCL saves electric power, which helps to improve the competitiveness of AM by reducing the cost of operations. The trend toward using MDCL began in the field of international broadcasting. With a goal of reaching populations in distant countries, such applications require high-power transmitters much larger than those permitted for commercial broadcasting in the U.S. and Europe. The prospect of even modest power savings in those circles was quite attractive. Medium-wave frequencies historically have been used for international transmissions due to their ability to reach areas well beyond the line of sight via sky wave propagation."

Radio World, 23 Apr 2012, Saul Chernos: "Imagine the awe and personal satisfaction Guglielmo Marconi must have felt on Dec. 12, 1901 when he announced the first transatlantic wireless reception. Marconi and his team used a kite to raise a 500-foot antenna atop Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and waited for pre-arranged Morse code signals from Poldhu, Cornwall, more than 2,000 miles away. ... Each fall for the past 20 years, a group of us has met near the southeastern tip of the Avalon peninsula, a two-hour drive from Signal Hill, to set out lengthy arrays of wire and hunker down with the latest high-tech receivers."

Or to put it another way, Arab media outlets are no more credible than official spokespeople from foreign governments.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Business Intelligence Middle East, 10 May 2012: "Arab opinion leaders believe official spokespeople from foreign governments to be just as credible as Arab media outlets, according to a joint research study released by APCO Insight, the global opinion research division of APCO Worldwide, and the Dubai Press Club. ... Al-Arabiya tops the list of media outlets releasing statements and reports made by foreign government spokespersons in Arabic. Sixty-six percent of opinion leaders indicate that they have either seen, read or heard something issued in Al-Arabiya by an official spokesperson of a foreign government. In addition to Al-Arabiya, opinion leaders were asked awareness of foreign spokespersons in five other media outlets, including Al Jazeera Arabic, BBC Arabic, MBC, and a country’s national news channel. Media coverage varies by country, where foreign spokespersons on Al Jazeera Arabic are more prevalent in Tunisia (80 percent recall), BBC Arabic in Egypt (87 percent recall), and MBC in Saudi Arabia (81 percent recall). When asked about the reliability of the statements made by foreign spokespersons, Arab opinion leaders put the most trust in BBC Arabic (75 percent say statements are reliable) and their national news channel (75 percent say statements are reliable)."

Al Arabiya press release, 10 May 2012, via Zawya: "The second day of the 11th Arab Media Forum hosted Al Arabiya News Channel's panel, moderated by one of the Channel's news anchors, Muntaha Al Ramahy. ... Commenting on the reality of the situation, Faris Couri, Editor-in-Chief, BBC Arabic said: '... As one of the Arab TV Channels operating in the region, we try to draw a clear picture of the revolution and major events for our viewers, getting them as closest as possible to the actual event, without having any third party or government affect the end picture. We are an unbiased entity and operate as one.'"

A call to action from the Radio Canada International Action Committee.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
RCI Action Committee, 11 May 2012: "How can you help stop this drastic cut of 80% of Radio Canada International’s budget? Please write to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore. ... Ask whether CBC/Radio-Canada should be deciding how strong or weak Canada’s Voice to the World should be? Whether they feel comfortable with the fact our Chinese audience will now be cut off from RCI’s uncensored news about Canada and the World. ... Please consider sending an e-mail to the three ministers, even if you live outside Canada." See previous post about same subject.

Prison detention extended for Iranian who was interviewed by Radio Farda.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 8 May 2012: "Just prior to his release, Kasra Nouri, a member of the Gonabadi Dervish order, was ordered to remain in prison, his mother, Shokoofeh Yadollahi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. ... On 14 March 2012, Kasra Nouri was arrested on the charges of 'propagating against the regime in favor of foreigners' and 'contact and interview with Radio Farda.'" See also RFE/RL, 12 Jan 2012.

VOA's use of medium wave relay in Moscow is "brain-dead," she writes.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry blog, 10 May 2012, Helle Dale: "Depending on Russian government-funded media to broadcast news from Voice of America (VOA) is about as brain-dead as depending on Russian spaceships to send American astronauts into space or depending on Russian fuel supply for the U.S. ground and air forces in Afghanistan. The outcome will surely not be in America’s interest. And yet, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has contracted with Voice of Russia for rebroadcasting VOA programs in English. The BBG has closed down most of its own radio transmitters around the world and even closed down VOA’s Russian-language broadcasting in 2008. The board’s reasons are, firstly, to cut costs and, secondly, to move away from radio toward other more glamorous media, like satellite television and the Internet. The fact remains, however, that most of the BBG’s global audience are still radio listeners, and the way U.S. radio programming now gets on the air is through contracts with local broadcasters. Unfortunately, relying on others for rebroadcasting U.S. programs gives them de facto control of programming content and leads to self-censorship. A particularly shocking example of self-censorship as a consequence of foreign pressure was provided by the run-up to the Russian election. According to employees of Voice of America, VOA managers told them to cancel plans for coverage of the Russian presidential election on March 3 and 4, the day prior to and the day of the Russian vote. The reason? Voice of Russia was threatening to tear up its rebroadcasting agreement with the BBG unless the U.S. government’s broadcasters complied with limitations on election coverage imposed by Russian legislation."

Russian government restrictions keep VOA and RFE/RL content off of Russian television and FM radio stations. Very few Russians still listen to shortwave. Not taking advantage of a medium-wave relay facility that covers Moscow, uncensored 99% of the time, would really be brain-dead. Follow the advice of the Heritage Foundation, and there would be no American astronauts in space, no fuel for US forces in Afghanistan, and no VOA listeners in Moscow.

See previous post about same subject.

"Like" it or not, this appears to be the future of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 10 May 2012, Jannie Schipper: "You can be one of the judges in a competition for young Arab cartoonists. Radio Netherlands Worldwide has organised the Cartoon Spring Competition together with Stripdagen Haarlem and Cartoon Movement. Twelve young cartoonists will have the opportunity to show their work at the Stripdagen Haarlem international comics festival. They will also be published online by Cartoon Movement and RNW. Faced with a large number of entries the organisers decided to shortlist two extra cartoons. These will be selected by visitors to RNW’s Arabic Facebook page. The two cartoons which have the most Facebook ‘likes’ by 12 noon (Dutch time) on 16 May will be added to the shortlist. A jury consisting of well-known Arab cartoonists like Ali Ferzat and Mohammed Shennawy will chose the winner from the final 12 cartoons during the Stripdagen Haarlem. The winning cartoonist will be invited to become a member of Cartoon Movement and will receive an iPad. Like your favourite cartoon on RNW’s Arabic Facebook page!"

In an emotional ceremony, Radio Netherlands Worldwide ends 65 years of Dutch-language broadcasting.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 11 May 2012, Marco Hochgemuth: "After 65 years, Radio Netherlands Worldwide has ended its broadcasts aimed at Dutch people abroad. From messages for sailors to special programmes for expats - what has Radio Netherlands meant for the Dutch overseas? In the Netherlands, RNW is generally thought of as a ‘campsite’ radio station for holidaymakers who want to keep abreast of what’s going on at home. This ignores RNW’s other nine language services supplying information via internet, radio and partner stations abroad. These services are continuing beyond today. ... RNW made programmes on Dutch culture, music, and the Dutch language, and also produced shows aimed at emigrants and expats, and for seamen and long-distance lorry drivers. ... The internet, laptops and smartphones, but more especially the drastic cutbacks implemented by the – now caretaker – government, have all led to the end of Dutch-language broadcasts. RNW’s Dutch department has pulled out all the stops, marking the occasion with a marathon 24-hour broadcast."

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 13 May 2012: "'With pride and some regret our ways part here. Just one last thing – thank you.' This is how an emotional Peter Veenendaal, head of the Dutch department, bid farewell to 65 years of Dutch-language broadcasts by Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The occasion was marked with a 24-hour radio marathon, with many current and former staff witnessing the service’s last few hours of broadcasting. The last two hours coincided with a lively staff party at the organization's premises in Hilversum, the Netherlands. The end of Dutch programming is the first phase of RNW’s complete overhaul, due to a 70 percent cut in its annual budget. As of 2013, RNW will focus exclusively on free speech in regions where it is lacking or under threat, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. The RNW Africa and Afrique departments look forward to continued reporting in this spirit." With slide show.

Critical Distance weblog, 12 May 2012, Jonathan Marks: "Radio Netherlands has posted the truly superb video of the last 11 minutes of Radio Netherlands Dutch radio service, signing off with pride after 65 years of service. It was a superb send-off driven by a spectacular countdown to the big switch-of at 20 hrs UTC Friday May 11th 2012. It all ended with a burst of fireworks. The 'zero hour' moment was captured by an ANP photographer and can be viewed here. The Dutch text tells you to hold down the left mouse key and they drag to navigate right and left. ... One of the former heads of the Dutch Department was Peter Veenendaal. He told the story of the station, the people and the moments in a very powerful video projected on the side of the building HQ. World class."

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 12 May 2012: "The last ten minutes Dutch broadcast of Radio, on Friday May 11, 2012, filmed at the building on Witte Kruislaan in Hilversum." Audio of the last seconds.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 11 May 2012, Eric Beauchemin: "This farewell event is attracting wide attention in the Dutch media, including this report from the Dutch public broadcaster NOS." With video, subtitles in English.

MediaPages.nl, 12 May 2012 has audio of the last 15 minutes of RNW in Dutch. Additional history of Radio Nederland Wereldomroep at Beeld en Geluid.

DX Listening Digest Yahoo! group, 11 May 2012, Kai Ludwig: "The last minutes were prerecorded, in a style not exactly matching prevalent stereotypes about Dutch radio. 5955 cut off some moments before 2000, missing the last seconds it seemed. Was a bit difficult to tell, since the ending transmission was almost blown away by Cerrik, the SARFT [Chinese broadcasting administration] branch in Albania, signing on CRI English on 5960. What a strong symbolism! ... The 'RNW 1' satellite channel now carries a looped announcement, using the RNW interval signal as bed ... . Besides advising of the closure it also suggests visiting wereldomroep.nl and bvn.nl for podcasts of the farewell broadcast." With this audio provided by Kai, including the iconic Radio Netherlands interval signal.

DX Listening Digest Yahoo! group, 12 May 2012, Victor A. Goonetilleke: "I will miss the Dutch National Anthem on Short Wave. I could never tune out until the last strains of it."

Southgate Amateur Radio News, 10 May 2012, citing Mike Terry and the British DX Club: The RNW farewell Dutch broadcast was "on 1296 kHz from Orfordness [England] for the whole 24 hours. As things stand, this may be the last ever transmission from Orfordness. After BBC World Service dropped its two hours a day of DRM on 1296 kHz in March, Radio Netherlands in Dutch has been the only user of the site (648 kHz has been silent since last year). No new clients have been announced for Orfordness, so Babcock will have to decide whether to keep the station in mothballs in the hope of a customer appearing, to sell it as a working transmitting station or to dismantle it and hand the site over to the National Trust."

In Zimbabwe, "Villagers treasure shortwave radio," but Al Jazeera is available on new satellite provider.

Posted: 13 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The Zimbabwean, 9 May 2012: "As Voice of America’s Studio 7 reaches its listeners, [a] group has swelled to 20 and attentively they listen to Shona programme that lasts 30 minutes. They wait around until 8pm to tune into Radio Voice of the People for the evening programme’s Shona edition. Their thirst for news is quenched and they are happy to know the current affairs on health, politics, business, and challenges Zimbabweans are going through. [Jokonia] Mupemba explains that he went through the same thing at the height of the liberation war in late 70s, when villagers would tune into the Voice of Zimbabwe, featuring the likes of Webster Shamu now Minister of Information. ... Now ZBC [Zimbabwe government broadcaster] is still full of propaganda. We rely on these short wave stations to give us real news. We get more information from then in an hour than the whole day on the State broadcaster,' said Mupemba." -- When Radio Netherlands shuts down its Madagascar relay, Radio Voice of the People (VOP) will lose its present shortwave transmitter to reach Zimbabwe. Radio VOP has applied, so far not successfully, for a license to broadcast inside Zimbabwe. For the latest on that story, see Radio VOP, 11 May 2012. See also Radio Survivor, May 12 2012, Matthew Lasar.

Voice of America, 11 May 2012, Thomas Chiripasi & Tatenda Gumbo: "A Zimbabwean private radio station, denied a license to go on air, has taken the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe to the Supreme Court over [its] failure to furnish a lower court with papers detailing how it last year chose two winners with links to President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party. ... Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has expanded its digital satellite services with the launch of a new satellite provider, My TV Zimbabwe. The satellite provider, housed under My TV Africa which is based in Lebanon, is set challenge other market competitors including satellite provider ‘DStv.’ ... The new player boasts to have cheaper market prices, going at $22 a month for 18 channels, including Al Jazeera, BBC World News, Sentanta sports, Movie Africa, FX Movie Network and Fox Entertainment."

NPR, 13 May 2012, Anders Kelto: "In Seke, a rural community 40 miles outside Harare ... James Chidakwa says that like many, his family refuses to listen to government TV or radio broadcasts. 'They always lie to the people,' he says. 'Everything they say is a lie.' So at 6 p.m. most evenings, they turn on a battery-powered, short-wave radio and tune in to a 'pirate radio station.' Chidakwa says Shortwave Radio Africa and Voice of America are their favorites. 'If you want to hear the truth, wait for the end of the day to listen to Shortwave Radio Africa, to listen to VOA,' he says. The stations, which are based in the U.K. and the U.S., send their signals through radio towers in countries that border Zimbabwe. That means Zimbabwean officials — who claim these broadcasts are illegal — have little recourse. In the past, they've confiscated short-wave radios. Chidakwa says that forces some people to listen undercover."

Andy Sennitt looks back at Radio Netherlands, Media Network, and international broadcasting, 2000-2012.

Posted: 12 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 8 May 2012, Andy Sennitt: "On 11 September 2001, a meeting of the ‘Group of Six’ international broadcasters was held in Hilversum. I was invited to attend, to hear the representative from Swiss Radio International explain the reasons for their decision to end shortwave and move to the internet. But I never got to hear the whole presentation. During the meeting, a white-faced colleague interrupted proceedings to tell us that an aircraft had hit the twin towers of the New York Trade Center. With other RNW staff I walked silently out of the meeting to return to my normal duties. Seconds later, I entered the internet department where my colleagues were watching CNN in disbelief. So began the longest and most stressful working day of my career. We will never know how international broadcasting might have developed if the tragedy of 9/11 hadn’t happened. But it’s my belief that priorities changed in the aftermath of that day. The first decade of the new millennium saw international broadcasting become more politicised, as it had been in the Cold War. The BBC World Service closed several of its language services to divert funds to its new Arabic TV channel. Radio Netherlands had ended its Arabic programmes in 1994 due to insufficient impact, but decided a mere seven years later that Arabic was again a priority."

See previous post about same subject.

Digital Radio Mondiale digital shortwave on display in Las Vegas, Washington, and New Delhi.

Posted: 12 May 2012   Print   Send a link
drmna.info, 10 May 2012: "Here is a montage video of the DRM Consortium participation at the NAB 2012 show in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, check out the Consortium photo stream on flickr."

drmna, 10 May 2012, "Check out our colleague Alokesh Gupta's YouTube feed. ... Alokesh does a great job posting informative worldwide (with exclusives from his native India) broadcasting info on his blog Radioactivity! Watch and listen to him receive analogue, DRM, Journaline feeds and so much more" on the new Newstar DR111 standalone DRM receiver.

drmna, 11 May 2012: "Please review Mr. [Adil] Mina's NASB-USADRM 2012 PowerPoint presentation. Mr. Mina of Continental Electronics, wants us to consider ways we can support receiver and chipset manufacturers. I've got an idea... We can help support CDNSE's effort to produce economical DRM standalone receivers!"

See also Digital Radio Mondiale website and previous post about same subject.

Sixtieth anniversary of the start of Radio Free Europe's Polish Service -- which closed 18 years ago (updated).

Posted: 12 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Polskie Radio, 3 May 2012: "To mark the 60th anniversary of the start of Polish programming of Radio Free Europe, Head of Polish Radio's English Section John Beauchamp interviews Professor Zdzislaw Najder, who was the station's director between 1982-1987. Programmes were first started on 3 May 1952 by Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, who, in his opening statement on the air, underlined that Radio Free Europe would fight against the Russification of Poland. Three decades later, and only months after the imposition of martial law in Poland, Zdzislaw Najder became the Polish section's diector. ... Joining the Polish section at Radio Free Europe in 1982, Zdzislaw Najder was the first person to head the service who was directly from behind the Iron Curtain. This was too much for the communist authorities in Poland, who in 1983 sentenced Najder to death in absentia for spying. 'They wanted to mete out an exemplary sentence,' Najder reminisces, furthermore stating that being a director at Radio Free Europe made him a spy 'by default'. The Polish Section of Radio Free Europe continued to broadcast until 1994. More on the Polish service, including image galleries and sound clips from yesteryear (in Polish), can be found at Polskie Radio's dedicated website: wolnaeuropa.polskieradio.pl." With audio.

Cold War Radios, 25 Apr 2012, Richard H. Cummings: "On May 2, 1952, at 11 A.M., Radio Free Europe's first broadcast to Poland, as the 'Voice of Free Poland,' from the new studios in RFE's broadcast center in Munich, and from four new short-wave transmitters on the 25, 31, 41 and 59 [49?] meter bands. On February, 2, 2012, the Polish Senate declared May 2012, 'the month on the Polish Section of Radio Free Europe.' The Senate resolution read, in part: ... 'Throughout its existence, Radio Free Europe Polish Service was sustaining and shaping social and cultural consciousness of the Polish people. It was building up on Polish patriotism. It would prepare us to the freedom we gained in 1989 and to the new rules of international co-existence, by which we are operating in European Union and Convent of the North Atlantic frames.'"

Update: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", 9 May 2012, Mateusz Wyrwich: "This radio has been listened to by about 60 % of Poles for decades. It was mostly called 'Free Europe', sometimes 'Warsaw 4'. However, its programs were not broadcast from the capital of Poland in captivity but from Munich. And jamming their broadcast cost the authorities of the People's Polish Republic three times more than their emission in USA. On 3 May 1952, on the Radio 'Free Europe', Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, a director of the Polish Section, beginning his regular programs of 'The Radio Free Europe - the Voice of Free Europe' said as follows: 'Here is Radio 'Free Europe', the Voice of Free Europe. Here is the Polish Team of various beliefs and political opinions which have gathered around a microphone. But we are united by one wonderful understanding which gives us aiming at one common purpose: we will tell you the truth about events happening in the world which the Soviet regime wants to conceal from you in order to kill the remains of hope in you. ... But the Radio Free Europe was not the only anti-communist radio on the area of Western Europe or America. Its serious competitor, weakly stifled, was 'The Voice of America'. There were other dynamic radio stations, founded by Polonia at the beginning of the war: the Polish Section BBC, Radio Vatican, Radio France Internationale, Radio Canada, Radio Madrid and Radio 'Maria' - a small radio station transmitted to the Mediterranean Sea, initiated by Fr. Jedrzej Giertych."

RFE/RL: Khamenei's fatwa on the illegality of antifiltering tools is filtered.

Posted: 12 May 2012   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 9 May 2012, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has apparently become the latest victim of Iran's Internet censorship regime -- to which he himself has given his blessing and approval. The website Tabnak reports that Khamenei's 'fatwa' on the illegality of using antifiltering tools in Iran was itself blocked in the country, some 30 hours after it was published on Iranian websites. The ruling was seemingly filtered because it contained the word 'antifiltering,' which triggered the country's censorship system to automatically block it."

New York Times, The Lede, 9 May 2012, Robert Mackey: "The costs and difficulties of any effort short of walling off the Internet completely are apparent in China, which is assumed to employ a huge army of human censors constantly tweaking algorithms and intervening in individual postings to the Web. As David Bandurski of the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong observed on Thursday, the aggressiveness of China’s Web filtering received its most robust test during twin crises this year, one involving murder, corruption and the high-level government official Bo Xilai, the other the blind dissident Chen Guangcheng. By censoring posts on microblog sites, known as weibo, the government in these high-profile cases has been increasingly forced to conduct its aggressive media management openly and on a huge scale, not just against journalists but against large numbers of ordinary Chinese... ."

RFE/RL, 6 May 2012: "The websites of several leading nonstate media in Russia have been shut down by denial-of-service (DOS) attacks as Moscow prepares for an opposition demonstration against Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency. The newspaper 'Kommersant,' the Ekho Moskvy radio station, the Dozd Internet television channel, and the news aggregator slon.ru all experienced crippling DOS attacks on May 6. The media outlets are continuing to issue news updates through the social-networking sites Facebook and Twitter." -- RFE/RL video of protester roundup in Moscow cited by New York Times, The Lede, 7 May 2012.

"Difficult for action to be taken against" Radio Free Sarawak, because it's on shortwave from outside Malaysia.

Posted: 12 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Bernama, 10 May 2012: "Radio Free Sarawak operates from abroad, thus making it difficult for action to be taken against it for discrediting the Sarawak government and the country, the Dewan Negara was told Thursday. Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang said it was difficult for the ministry to monitor the radio and exercise control over its broadcast. 'We know that several Sarawakians are involved in the broadcast and are liable to legal action,' he said when replying to a supplementary question from Senator Lihan Jok. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was reported to be prepared to investigate the existence of the radio and its broadcast content after several police reports had been made, including by the youth wing of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), claiming that it was illegal and disseminated false accusations directed particularly at Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. The radio station, said to be engaged in a clandestine operation, reportedly broadcasts out of London and promotes anti-government propaganda to Sarawakians while criticising the state's leaders in its twice-daily broadcast." -- Contrast this inability to control Radio Free Sarawak, on shortwave from abroad, to the previous post about censorship of BBC World News and Al Jazeera English on Malaysia's Astro satellite TV platform. That post now includes an account by radio futurologist James Cridland of his 2009 visit to Astro headquarters.

Borneo Post, 10 May 2012: "PAS [Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party] Miri has accused BN leaders in Sibuti of being afraid of the influence of Radio Free Sarawak on rural voters. Its Miri chief and state deputy commissioner III Jofri Jaraiee said it was fair that the rural people had access to the independent radio channel because through it they could obtain unbiased news on political developments in the state and country. He was reacting to a recent remark made by Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang that the people in Sibuti should turn a deaf ear to Radio Free Sarawak. The MP had also claimed that the radio channel was meant to mislead its listeners by disseminating false information and spreading malicious lies that could jeopardise racial unity and harmony."

Propaganda by fax: South Korean organizations find messages from Pyongyang in their incoming trays.

Posted: 12 May 2012   Print   Send a link

Yonhap, 8 May 2012: "North Korea has sent faxed messages to 13 South Korean civic and religious organizations in recent weeks to criticize South Korea's alleged insult to the North's dignity, an official said Tuesday. The messages came in response to South Korea's accusation that the North wasted millions of dollars on celebrating the centennial of the April 15 birth of the country's late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un. ... One of the messages claimed that Seoul's insult to the North is a provocation by conservative forces to win the presidential election in December, according to the official who is familiar with the issue."

"North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment" report issued by InterMedia (updated).

Posted: 12 May 2012   Print   Send a link
InterMedia website: "A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment. Recent developments in North Korea give no indication that leader Kim Jong Un plans to loosen official state control of media and information. But the reach of unsanctioned foreign media is expanding nonetheless and providing many North Koreans with alternative news and views. A Quiet Opening is an InterMedia report that shows how North Koreans' growing access to a range of media and communication technologies is undermining the state's monopoly on what its citizens see, hear, know - and think. The report is based on the most recent results of a decade-long research program among refugees, travelers and defectors from North Korea." Access the report on the InterMedia home page (pdf, 94 pages).

AP, 9 May 2012, Matthew Pennington: "A U.S. government-funded study says North Koreans have unprecedented access to foreign media, giving them a more positive impression of the outside world. But it says North Korea still has the world's most closed media environment, and those changing perceptions are unlikely to translate into significant pressure on their repressive government in the short term. The study was commissioned by the State Department and conducted by a consulting group, InterMedia. It is based on research involving several hundred North Korean defectors and refugees during 2010-2011. The Associated Press obtained the study ahead of its formal release Thursday. ... Nearly half of those interviewed said that while in North Korea they had watched a foreign DVD, the most commonly used type of outside media. About a quarter of people had listened to a foreign radio news broadcast or watched a foreign news station. Nearly one-third of television watchers whose sets were fixed to state-run programing had modified them in order to capture a signal from outside stations detectable along the Chinese and South Korean borders." -- Eight years ago, or thereabouts, I wrote the first questionnaire used in a survey asking North Korean defectors about their media habits back in the DPRK. Many of the questions are still be used today, including the survey mentioned here.

Update: AFP, 11 May 2012, Shaun Tandon: "The study's principal author Nat Kretchun, associate director of the InterMedia consulting group, said that South Korean dramas -- popular across Asia -- provided North Koreans a welcome break from their usual diet of stern, humorless propaganda. 'When you get very well-produced, compelling South Korean dramas -- a picture into a place that you've been fascinated with your whole life, because so much North Korean propaganda revolves around South Korea -- that's extremely powerful,' he said."

Bloomberg, 10 May 2012, Nicole Gaouette: "Dan Baer, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department, said that his agency wanted to use the report’s findings to 'develop new, creative ways to support' ordinary North Koreans 'and enhance their access to information.' He said he hoped the findings would also provide non-governmental groups working on North Korea with new ideas."

GlobalPost, 11 May 2012, Jessica Phelan: "[N]ew technology like mobile phones, computers, MP3 players and USB drives smuggled in from China is allowing those who can afford it direct contact with the outside world, the report said. The result is that 'North Koreans today are learning more about the outside world than at any time since the founding of the country,' the study said. Ultimately, its authors suggested, exposure to alternative world views could push North Koreans to question their leaders' authority."

Radio Free Asia, 10 May 2012, Rachel Vandenbrink: "But more positive views of the outside world on their own will not affect a regime change, experts say. Although the study found exposure to outside media was closely tied to positive beliefs about the outside world, it was not as closely related to negative views about the North Korean regime. In other words, North Koreans’ exposure to overseas information did not always transfer into thinking poorly about their own country."

Reuters, 9 May 2012, Paul Eckert: "North Koreans are also buying technically illegal foreign radios that receive multiple channels, or rewiring domestic receivers to receive banned broadcasts, said the report. ... The InterMedia researchers cautioned that the refugees surveyed tended to come from North Korean provinces bordering China and did not represent the entire population." See also BBC News, 12 May 2012.

Financial Times, 1 May 2012, Christian Oliver and Kang Buseong, via Globe and Mail: "Rapid growth in the use of mobile telephones is aiding the flow of information, and creating severe challenges for North Korea’s rulers. Experts say it could gradually undermine both Kim Jong-un’s police state and his propaganda machine. ... Now that Pyongyang has softened its stance [on mobiles], the Nautilus Institute, a think-tank that does research on North Korea, argues the country will not be able to unwind this social and technological change. ... North Korea has two types of mobile user. In the northern border areas, people use Chinese phones, which enable them to call abroad. Friends or fixers in China pay the bills. Far more widely used are the phones operated by Egypt’s Orascom, which cannot take international calls, but do aid the spread of information around the country."

VOA "helpfully recorded" questions about Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan deleted from Chinese ministry transcript.

Posted: 11 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 9 May 2012, Damian Grammaticus: "Today Melissa Chan, the al-Jazeera English television correspondent who, it was announced yesterday, had been expelled from China, seems to have become an 'unperson' in China. The only Chinese-language newspapers in which we could find reports on the expulsion on Wednesday morning were the Hong Kong-affiliated Ta Kung Pao paper from Henan province and the Global Times. ... At the Foreign Ministry's daily press conference on Tuesday, 14 out of 18 questions were about the decision, some of which were helpfully recorded by Voice Of America. Reporters wanted to know why Melissa Chan had been expelled, what rule she had broken and whether this was some sort of warning to all of us."

journalism.co.uk, 9 May 2012, Rachel McAthy: "Voice of America has published what it says is a transcript of questions put to the spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, in relation to Al Jazeera English’s report that its China correspondent Melissa Chan had her visa renewal application 'refused.'"

Committee to Protect Journalists, 8 May 2012, Madeline Earp: "'The Beijing branch of Al-Jazeera is still functioning normally.' This was not an auspicious reaction to the news that Al-Jazeera English has closed its Beijing bureau after being refused journalist visas. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Hong Lei's responses at today's press conference did not improve from there, according to a partial transcript published by Voice of America."

Voice of America, 8 May 2012: "The following is a transcript of some of the questions and answers at the Chinese Foreign Ministry's daily briefing, where spokesman Hong Lei answered foreign reporters' questions about the Chinese government's action. The foreign ministry omitted the following exch[an]ge when it released the official transcript of the briefing. ... "

NTD Television, 8 May 2012: "The US State Department expressed 'disappointment' over the expulsion of Al Jazeera reporter Melissa Chan, an accredited journalist whose visa was not renewed. Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner answered a reporter's question during the State Department's daily briefing.... MR. TONER: 'We know - we’ve been closely following Melissa Chan’s case, and I would just say that we’re disappointed in the Chinese Government - in how the Chinese Government decided not to renew her accreditation. To our knowledge, she operated and reported in accordance with Chinese law, including regulations that permit foreign journalists to operate freely in China.'"

Deutsche Welle, 10 May 2012, John Blau: "Nor is the US government is happy with the delaying tactics of the Chinese government with Voice of America. The broadcaster, which receives government funding, has been waiting for more than three years for visas to expand staff in its Beijing bureau."

The Atlantic Wire, 11 May 2012, John Hudson: "Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan may have bravely exposed government land grabs and black jails while reporting in China but she totally deserved to be expelled from the country this week. At least that's the view of an Orwellian editorial in China's state-run newspaper Global Times Thursday. 'She has produced some programs which are intolerable for China,' reads the hit piece. But the editorial is not just opinionated bluster. It also has this Pulitzer Prize-worthy scoop: 'According to foreign journalist sources here in Beijing, Melissa Chan holds an aggressive political stance.' Oh, no!" With links.

Shanghaist, 8 May 2012, Kenneth Tan: "And here it is -- the Al-Jazeera documentary that is said to have pissed China off so much that it refused to extend press credentials for its China correspondent Melissa Chan (even though she took no part in its production), effectively forcing the news network to shut down its Beijing bureau. The documentary includes some eye-opening footage from what Al-Jazeera says is a 'laogai' reeducation labour camp." With video.

Shanghaist, 8 May 2012, Horace Lu and Michael Ardaiolo: "You can and should follow Ms Chan on Twitter at @melissakchan. She has been an invaluable source of information during her time in China. She is now heading to Standford University where she was awarded the Knight Fellowship."

Foreign Policy, Passport blog, 8 May 2012, Isaac Stone Fish: "It appears that someone in the Chinese government wanted to give a warning to journalists without causing an international incident; Chan, a Chinese-American working for a Qatari-based television station, seemed to be an appropriate target. The thinking seems to be that a foreign government will more loudly protest the mistreatment of a citizen who is both born and raised in its own country and working for a domestic company. ... The pattern seems to be that powerful countries like the United States will be less likely to protest the mistreatment of an American working for a non-American company, or a foreigner working for an American organization, when it becomes a more complicated procedure of coordinating responses between embassies and ministries. Executives and reporters with Chinese backgrounds have many advantages operating in China. Besides language skills and local networks, they can blend in a country where different color skin clearly identifies one as an outsider. Anecdotally speaking, they seem to be given less leniency when they don't follow China's laws; like they're supposed to 'know better.'"

AP, 9 May 2012, Christopher Bodeen: "The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said Chinese officials accused Chan of unspecified violations and were unhappy with some of Al-Jazeera's coverage, particularly a documentary that Chan had not been involved in. The documentary, which aired in November, was about China's system of sentencing minor criminals and political prisoners to labor camp prisons. The club issued a statement Tuesday saying it was 'appalled by the decision of the Chinese government to take this action.'"

Al Jazeera English, 9 May 2012: "Chan has left China and will be returning to California, where she will be taking up a fellowship at Stanford University. Her departure 'seems to be taking China's anti-media policies to a new level', Bob Dietz, the Asia co-ordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement."

Al Jazeera English, 11 May 2012, Melissa Chan: "China has a lot going for it, and that is especially felt when you've spent so much time talking to the people there. They can be incredibly resilient, despite the fact that some have definitely received the short end of the stick. Like any country, people also worry and complain, and like journalists on any beat, I've looked at those worries and complaints. It's part of the process of making a place I love a better one for its people."

See previous post about same subject.

DirecTV CEO says Latin America is "our biggest growth engine."

Posted: 11 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 8 May 2012, William Launder: "DirecTV Group Inc.'s first-quarter earnings rose 8.5% as the satellite-TV operator boosted investment spending in its fast-growing Latin America segment and eked out more growth from its domestic business. Faced with a maturing pay-TV market in the U.S., DirecTV is betting on fast-growing Latin America markets like Brazil and Colombia—where pay-TV penetration remains low relative to the U.S.—to gain subscribers and boost profits. The El Segundo, Calif., company aims to double its Latin America subscribers to more than 16 million and annual revenue to more than $10 billion over the next five years."

Advanced Television, 10 May 2012, Chris Forrester: “'Our Latin America business has quickly become our biggest growth engine and continues to demonstrate outstanding growth momentum. For the first time ever, gross additions not only exceeded those posted by our US business in the quarter, but they also surpassed the 1 million subscriber mark, achieving yet another major milestone,' stated Mike White, DirecTV’s CEO."

See previous post about same subject.

Radio Canada International budget cut will include "famed Sackville, New Brunswick shortwave transmission farm."

Posted: 09 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 3 May 2012, James Careless: "An 80-percent budget cut is forcing Radio Canada International (RCI) to abandon shortwave and satellite radio broadcasting, leaving the Web as RCI’s only delivery method. Known as the CBC International Service when it was launched in 1945, the publicly funded RCI originally was aimed at Europe. ... RCI’s famed Sackville, New Brunswick shortwave transmission farm, which is shared with international broadcasters such as Radio Japan and China Radio International, will be abandoned as part of the budget cuts. ... It has long been considered one of the best sites for reaching North American audiences via shortwave. Besides ending shortwave and satellite broadcasting, RCI will lose its newsrooms and cease producing programming. Two-thirds of its 40-person staff is expected to be fired as well."

RCI Action Committee, 4 May 2012: "Radio Canada International must be given financial autonomy. CBC/Radio-Canada’s control of the RCI budget must end. This problematic relationship between Radio Canada International and CBC/Radio-Canada, has been raised numerous times in the past, and is why we need to push for financial autonomy. ... In October 1996, the Canadian component of KPMG, released a report on RCI commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada that recommended: 'If RCI is continued in the long term (whatever its mandate and funding level), independent funding is needed to avoid the difficulty it faces today with being caught up in a domestic vs. foreign competition for limited CBC resources. If the CBC management and Board have to choose between serving Calgary or China, Calgary will almost certainly win….' ... Clearly we have very little time to stop this cut, the broadcasting of our programs ends on June 24."

Montreal Gazette, 5 May 2012, Steve Faguy: "While the CBC is tightening its belt to make $200 million in budget cuts over the next three years - including a devastating 80 per cent cut to Radio Canada International, whose offices are next door to CBC Montreal in the basement of Maison Radio-Canada, the public broadcaster is proceeding with its five-year '2015: Everyone, Every Way' plan, which is adding more regional services across the country."

See previous post about same subject.

US international broadcasting "taken over by career bureaucrats with a self-centered agenda," he writes.

Posted: 09 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Washington Examiner, 5 May 2012, Ted Lipien: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal agency in charge of VOA, has been taken over by career bureaucrats with a self-centered agenda. Like the spineless State Department officials who coaxed Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng out of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, BBG staffers seem to think they know best what serves America's interests -- and as it happens, it coincides with what's best for them. According to these bureaucrats, producing English lessons with juvenile humor to be placed on iTunes in China is more important than VOA news. They wanted to cut news broadcasts to generate more nonpolitical online content that Beijing's cyberpolice will not try to block. ... The struggle for public control of taxpayer-funded U.S. international broadcasting is, however, far from over. The BBG staff, with the support of some board members, is still pushing forward with the proposal to merge the independent surrogate broadcasters -- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting Networks -- under a single administration headed by a new CEO who would not be directly answerable to Congress."

Ted does not want to "cut news broadcasts" on USIB outlets, but he also opposes "a new CEO who would not be directly answerable to Congress." If a news organization has a CEO who is "directly answerable to Congress," it's not really a news organization.

The only thing wrong with the proposed merger is that it does not include VOA. The merged grantees will form a dynamic, independent global news organization. VOA, a duckbill platypus news agency that is also a government agency, won't be able to keep up.

The animosity towards the BBG staff would not be an issue if USIB consisted of one entity. The staff would no longer hover over the entities, but would work for the management of the one entity. The board would hire senior executives and decide on major questions, e.g. addition or deletion of language services, but otherwise leave day-to-day management to management.

Radio-TV Martí editorial, signed by its director, calling Cuban cardinal a "lackey," quickly withdrawn from website.

Posted: 09 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 5 May 2012, William Booth: "Criticism of the leader of the Catholic Church in Cuba, who has been negotiating with the communist government to expand religious and political freedom, intensified last week when the head of Radio and TV Marti called the archbishop of Havana a lackey who is colluding with an oppressive regime. The stinging editorial against Cardinal Jaime Ortega — signed by Radio and TV Marti’s director, Carlos Garcia-Perez — is significant because Marti is a U.S. government agency, with its board of directors appointed by the White House and its policies coordinated with the State Department to direct messages to Cubans. ... Marti broadcasts, according to spokeswoman Lynne Weil, 'are editorially independent, although supported by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Their editorials, unless otherwise stated, represent the views of the broadcasters only and not necessarily those of the U.S. government.' ... 'I would suggest that this is equivalent to a U.S. government statement and that people may conclude, rightly or wrongly, that this is a U.S. government position,' said Phil Peters, a Cuba analyst at the Lexington Institute."

Miami Herald, 7 May 2012, Daniel Shoer Roth: "The editorial — penned by Carlos A. García-Pérez, director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which oversees Radio and TV Martí — was read on the air and appeared last Thursday on the network’s website, then was taken off Sunday — after The Washington Post published an article detailing the strong comments by the U.S. agency. 'This attitude of Ortega just goes to show his political collusion with the government and his willingness to follow the official line,' the editorial read. 'This lackey attitude demonstrates a profound lack of understanding and compassion toward the human reality of these children of God.' It concluded: 'Cardinal Ortega, please be faithful to the gospel you preach.' ... García-Pérez said the editorial was not taken off the website due to any criticism it had attracted, but said it disappeared for fresher news. ... In an interview with El Nuevo Herald on Sunday evening, García-Pérez stressed the views of Radio and TV Martí do not represent the position of the U.S. government."

Catholic World News, 7 May 2012, via CatholicCulture.org: "Harvard professor Jorge Dominguez came quickly to the cardinal’s defense. While conceding that Cardinal Ortega had been unduly harsh in criticizing Cuban dissidents, he pointed to the prelate’s success in winning human-rights concessions from the Cuban regime: 'Who freed the political prisoners in Cuba? Not the European Union. Not the U.S. government. And not Radio and TV Marti. It was Ortega who convinced Raul Castro to let them out.'"

As a news organization, Radio-TV Martí should not have "views." The BBC is prohibited from broadcasting editorials. This would be a good rule for US international broadcasting and, in fact, a necessary one if USIB is to reach its goal of becoming "the world's leading news agency."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 3 May 2012: "The Cuba-based independent producer of Estado de SATS and TV Martí have united in an effort to better inform the people of Cuba as they adapt to changes on the island. The brainchild of Antonio Rodilles, the program features content ranging from interviews with Cuban thought-leaders, to footage of live music events, to political discussions. Rodilles describes the program as 'a series of public encounters focusing on ever-evolving subject matter.' The first Cuban production to air on TV Martí, 'Estado de SATS' is produced entirely in Cuba without any cost to the Miami-based broadcaster."

CNN depends on international operations to offset sagging ratings on CNN in the USA.

Posted: 08 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 2 May 2012, Keach Hagey: "CNN's two main rivals Fox News and MSNBC have gained viewers in the past year, compared with the same period in the 2008 presidential cycle, while CNN has lost them, according to Nielsen Media Research. ... CNN's ratings weakness is putting a spotlight on Jim Walton, who has been president of CNN Worldwide, overseeing the network domestically and globally, since 2003, a period in which the network's flagship U.S. channel has fallen farther behind Fox. Mr. Walton ... argues that the ratings on its flagship U.S. channel hardly matter. The U.S. channel is just one of CNN's many media platforms, which include CNN International, CNN en Español, HLN and CNN.com. 'Keep in mind, the advertising revenue that we bring in for the prime-time revenues for CNN U.S. is less than 10% of the overall revenue' at CNN, Mr. Walton said."

Rush Limbaugh Show, 2 May 2012: "Nobody sees it if it's on CNN. They could run a continuous loop of Obama saying this. Nobody sees it. Not domestically. Internationally it's a whole different game. ... CNN International, I think, does well. So CNN's become a loss leader. I mean, they didn't drop from two million to 357,000. They've been gradually declining. It's been steady for 11 years."

China expels Al Jazeera English reporter Melissa Chan.

Posted: 08 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 8 May 2012, Josh Chin: "The Chinese government effectively expelled a reporter for the English-language arm of television broadcaster al-Jazeera this week, a rare move against a member of the foreign media that a journalists' group called 'an attempt to censor and intimidate foreign correspondents in China.' Chinese officials declined to renew the visa and accreditation of Melissa Chan, an American citizen stationed in China as a reporter for al-Jazeera English since 2007. The broadcaster said it would shut down its English-language office in Beijing because Chinese government officials declined to allow it to bring in a replacement. China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, speaking a regular news briefing Tuesday, said Ms. Chan's visa hadn't been renewed because the reporter had violated regulations, but he declined to specify which rules she had broken. 'We have already made the laws clear,' he said. In a statement issued Tuesday, al-Jazeera English said it had 'expressed its disappointment' over the situation and was hoping to maintain a presence in the country. 'The channel has even been requesting additional visas for correspondents for quite some time through the normal procedures but these have not been issued.' ... It is rare for China to kick foreign reporters out of the country. Notable cases include John Burns of The New York Times, deported in 1986 after being caught traveling in areas then off-limits to foreigners, and John Pomfret of the Associated Press and Alan Pessin from Voice of America, both expelled after covering the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 7 May 2012: "China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs should immediately grant accreditation to Al-Jazeera English reporters to work in China, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The channel said China has refused its long-time correspondent Melissa Chan and other colleagues journalist visas, forcing it to close its Beijing bureau."

Sky News Arabia launches: "a measured tone in an otherwise shrill Arabic-language media environment."

Posted: 08 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 6 May 2012, Tom Gara: "The Arab world’s newest 24-hour television news network hit the airwaves on Sunday, adding a new voice to a highly competitive market dominated by Qatar’s Al Jazeera and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya. With a 400-person news operation backed by the UK’s BSkyB and a senior Abu Dhabi royal, the arrival of Sky News Arabia marks a new attempt to muscle in on a dense government-dominated regional market. Al-Arabiya is Jazeera’s biggest rival and government broadcasters from Britain, France, the US, Iran, Russia and China have all launched Arabic-language channels in attempts to build regional influence. Saudi Arabia’s Prince Waleed bin Talal, a significant investor in BSkyB’s controlling shareholder, News Corp, is preparing to launch a news channel of his own, in partnership with Bloomberg News. The end result is a highly-competitive market, where none, including the BBC’s own Arabic-language service launched in 2008, have managed to reach viewership levels that compete with the two market leaders. ... [Sky News Arabia] will also need to prove its ability to operate free from political interference. BSkyB’s joint venture partner, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, is also a deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and one of the most senior members of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, where the channel is based. ... Sky News Arabia’s management say the station has been guaranteed editorial independence by its shareholders. ... 'Where we are different is we recognise that viewing habits have changed,' said Nart Bouran, Sky News Arabia’s director of news. 'Unless it’s a really hot topic, or a really ace guest, do people still really want to tune in for an hour just to see something that was pre-recorded? We are built to go live, any time, while others will go to a ticker while they’re running a recorded program.'"

The National (Abu Dhabi), 6 May 2012, Ben Flanagan: "Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the chairman of Sky News Arabia, said the station would aim to meet demand for a 'high-calibre, independent news channel' about the Arab world. 'I am confident Sky News Arabia will become an icon for objective news reporting,' Dr Al Jaber said."

The National, 7 May 2012, Ben Flanagan: "There are now 538 free-to-air TV channels in the Arab world, competing for projected advertising revenues of less than US$2 billion (Dh7.34bn) this year, according to the Arab Media Outlook. ... Ali Ajouz, a media consultant based in the UAE, agreed the challenge for Sky News Arabia was to differentiate itself in a "challenging" market." It's definitely a crowded market. But there is always the opportunity for someone to excel,' he said. Television news is costly to produce, and while Mr Ajouz said it was not 'impossible' that Sky News Arabia would turn a profit, he did not expect this to happen soon."

Rapid TV News, 7 May 2012, Rebecca Hawkes: "Sky News Arabia is now available across the Arab world free to air on transponder 15 on Arabsat Badr 4 and transponder 14 on Nilesat 201, and in HD via the OSN pay-TV satellite platform and Abu Dhabi TV. In the UAE, it is also available on the IPTV services provided by Du TV and Etisalat e-Life."

The Drum, 7 May 2012: "Andrew Griffith, chief financial officer for BSkyB and Sky News Arabia board director, added: 'BSkyB is one of the UK’s most innovative and successful companies and Sky News has always been a pioneering part of our business. Our partnership with ADMIC to create a truly independent news offering for the Middle East and North Africa is a project we are fully committed to. It is an investment that both parties are proud to have made and we aim to set a new standard for news delivery in the region.' Launch advertisers included Dolphin Energy, Etihad Airways, First Gulf Bank, Nova Chemicals and Sebsa."

The Guardian, 6 May 2012, Martin Chulov: "The newcomer faces a sceptical reception. Regional rivals who have risen and prospered over the past decade have constantly touted the same virtues [of independence]. Just as vehement has been the retort from those on the wrong end of the established networks' coverage; viewers and broadcasters alike say true independence remains elusive in this part of the world. ... Of the established networks, al-Jazeera can go close to matching it for reach and probably has far deeper pockets, as well as a proven track record. But Sky News Arabia is confident that its content – and features such as high definition and an iPad app – will make inroads into al-Jazeera's audience, which covers a vast swath of the Sunni Arab world."

The National, 7 May 2012, Achraf El Bahi: "So the channel had a few other things up its sleeve to throw in that crucial first hour of existence: a measured tone (even when reporting on Syria) in an otherwise shrill Arabic-language media environment; an abaya-clad sports presenter breaking barriers in a male-dominated field; and a correspondent based in the Arab world's forbidden city – Damascus. These are the small assets that could make the big difference. ... Since the launch of the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera in 1996 and the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya in 2003, the mass of Arab viewers have grown accustomed to a reasonable level of quality in television journalism. ... But monopoly breeds excess. For years now, and particularly since the Arab Spring started, the big two have been plagued with accusations – by regimes and laypeople alike – of serving 'special agendas' and being too soft on their sponsoring governments. ... The Washington-sponsored Al Hurra was launched in 2004. It mostly kept a low profile after enjoying the brief newcomer's benefit-of-doubt period and, later, suffering budget cuts. Moscow launched its Russia Al Youm, Tehran its Al Alam, Paris its own France 24 Arabic, Beijing its CCTV Arabic and Turkey its TRT, all vying for ideological influence – not necessarily just a slice of the advertising market – in this increasingly strategic Middle East and North Africa region. Backed by decades of experience, a reputation for reliability and UK taxpayer money, BBC Arabic is still holding its own, offering a nice alternative to the big two."

The National, 8 May 2012, Saeed Saeed: "Sky News Arabia's mix of interactive graphics and its welcome detachment pose an interesting proposition to Arab audiences used to news tapping raw nerves or representing certain political or sectarian viewpoints. It also ushers a hitherto rare kind of owner into the Arabic media landscape: a commercial enterprise in territory that is largely, although not wholly, the domain of national governments and political parties. ... Before the satellite explosion of the 1980s, news in the region was limited to government-run television and radio stations. Those searching for foreign-based Arabic-language news had to invest in good radios to tune in to the likes of the BBC World Service, Voice of America and Radio Monte Carlo. ... The effect of Al Jazeera's coverage was the launch of several Arab news channels by foreign governments: Al Hurra (the US); Al Alam (Iran), Al Arabiya and Al Ekhbaria (Saudi Arabia), France 24 (France); and Rusiya Al Youm (Russia). These new players all came with catchy slogans promising objectivity, but at best presented a different viewpoint or at worse were glossy visual presentations of government press releases. It was the BBC's launch of its Arabic news television service in 2008 that saw a move away from the ideological and sectarian territory of Arabic satellite news channels. And the fact that it was the only BBC channel last year to escape heavy government cuts proves the that BBC Arabic plays a vital part in British diplomacy in the region."

Gulf News (Dubai), 8 May 2012, Shehab Al Makahleh: "Laura Streder, editor at the European Times, told Gulf News: 'In the past when Al Arabiya came on the scene it raised the same slogans that they will be number one to compete with Al Jazeera and when Al Jazeera had risen, it prided itself with objectivity and popularity amongst the young people as it addressed their issues and concerns. Every newcomer to the market would say that just for "local consumption" to show that they will be distinguished and highly professional in their coverage and programmes,' Streder said."

AFP, 8 May 2012: "The channel’s lead story was the French presidential election, with live coverage from the home of Francois Hollande, the front-runner in the poll, followed by a report on Syrian refugees on the Syria-Turkish border."

Broadcast, 8 May 2012, Chris Curtis: "Sky News Arabia also launched mobile apps on iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and Android devices. Key features include live streaming, news photo galleries, interactive maps as well as the ability to share stories via social media. The website, www.skynewsarabia.com, which launched in beta form in February, is now fully completed with features including blogs from presenters and correspondents, live twitter feeds and the ability for users to interact and comment on the topics of the day."

See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English to 140,000 Haitian homes via digital terrestrial platform.

Posted: 08 May 2012   Print   Send a link
AllYourTV.com, 1 May 2012: "Al Jazeera English is now available on television in Haiti through the [wireless digital] service company NUtv. Through the NUtv platform, Al Jazeera English will reach up to 40,000 homes in Port au Prince in the first three months, and an additional 100,000 homes across the country. Al Jazeera English will be available on channel 306 to all of the 140,000 [NUtv] homes on the Caribbean island. ... Al Jazeera English was one of the first news organizations on the ground after the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010. The channel was the only international broadcaster to establish a bureau in the country after the earthquake, to document the progress of the relief effort. Al Jazeera reporter Sebastian Walker was the first TV journalist to report the confirmed existence of cholera in the country, and the first to link the outbreak with UN peacekeepers in the town of Mirebalais. ... 'We’re proud to be a part of this new initiative with NUtv to make diverse and informative media more accessible to viewers in Haiti. We continue to be deeply committed to covering the stories in Haiti with the depth and context they deserve,' said Amjad Atallah, Al Jazeera English Bureau Chief of the Americas."

RFA interviews Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng by telephone. VOA interviews Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng by telephone.

Posted: 07 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 3 May 2012, Zhang Min: "Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng said Thursday that the United States had given him an assurance that it would push Beijing to respect his rights and freedom if these were violated while he remains in China. The assurance, he told RFA's Mandarin service, was a key component of a U.S.-China deal that prodded him on Wednesday to leave the U.S. Embassy in Beijing where he had sought refuge after a dramatic escape from house arrest in his rural Shandong province. ... RFA had dialed his number nonstop for one hour, getting a busy signal each time, before he picked up on Thursday. Chen said his phone hadn't rung and that he had received the call only because he randomly 'hit the button.' He said he had only been on the phone for a total of 10 minutes during the past few hours."

Voice of America, 4 May 2012, Kate Dawson: "Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese legal activist whose case has become a high-profile diplomatic challenge to both China and the United States, told VOA Friday that a high-ranking government official told him that as long as his public comments on his situation are accurate, his situation will be handled according to the law. Chen, who recently escaped from house detention and sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing, talked to VOA on a cell phone."

USA Today, 3 May 2012, Calum MacLeod and Oren Dorell: "[B]lind activist Chen Guangcheng ... the youngest of five brothers, began grade school at age 17. He was inspired to tackle injustice by listening to U.S. broadcasts on Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Chen took up the cause that would take his freedom: thousands of victims of forced sterilizations and abortions under China's draconian family planning policies."

So, when Chen Guangcheng comes to the United States, will he be a contributor to RFA Mandarin? Or to VOA Mandarin? Or to both? He could say basically the same thing on RFA and on VOA, and be paid twice. Is this a great country or what?

CNN Press Room, 2 May 2012: "Continuing his coverage of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, CNN's senior international correspondent Stan Grant attempted to visit Chen's hometown of Dongshigu Tuesday, only to be chased out by security. Read CNN producer Steven Jiang's account here."

CNN Press Room, 3 May 2012: "Chen Guangcheng and his wife, Yuan Weijing, spoke to [CNN's Stan] Grant from Chen's hospital room in Beijing early Thursday morning."

New American Foundation, 2 May 2012, Rebecca MacKinnon: "Due to censorship, if one were to poll a random sample of college-educated people in China today, very few would know about Chen. Concern for his case is limited mainly to liberal-minded bloggers, social media mavens, and intellectuals who make a point of seeking out and passing around alternative news. Nobody knows exactly how large this group is, but Xiao Qiang, founder of the China Digital Times, estimates that it may amount to roughly 2-3 million people. ... Whether or not the U.S. government funds circumvention tools, or who exactly it funds and with what amount, it is clear that Internet users in China and elsewhere are seeking out and creating their own ad hoc solutions to access the uncensored global Internet. In China today, thanks to the government's success in nurturing a domestic commercial walled garden, circumvention technology has not been a direct driver of political change. Yet circumvention tools of various kinds have provided a lifeline for a small core of tech-savvy liberals who are becoming more active online as political uncertainty grows. Meanwhile, the recent political uncertainty is driving new demand for circumvention technology, which could make it just that much more difficult than in the past for the government to control what the Chinese public learns -- or believes -- about Chen Guangchen and this week's delicate diplomatic dance between Washington and Beijing."

Report: International operations, eg BBC World News, contribute to predicted BBC commercial profit of £219m.

Posted: 06 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 1 May 2012, Tara Conlan: "The BBC is expecting an operating surplus of £140m for its latest financial year to the end of March 2012, which it will use to help fund its Queen's jubilee and Olympics coverage. According to leaked figures, the BBC's public service operations have delivered the £140m surplus in the past 12 months – the amount left over from licence fee income once the cost of producing and distributing its TV, radio and online content is taken into account. Internal forecasts made by the corporation also suggest that the BBC's commercial enterprises, which includes BBC Worldwide and international operations such as BBC World News, are predicted to deliver around a £219m operating profit."

BBC World Service International Radio Playwriting Competition invites entries for 2012.

Posted: 06 May 2012   Print   Send a link
This Day (Lagos), 1 May 2012: "For the 13th year, BBC World Service and the British Council, in partnership with Commonwealth Writers, invites writers around the world to send in their radio plays. The dramas need to be 53 minutes long, but can be on any subject. It’s the only competition of its kind in the world. There are two first prizes – one for writers with English as a first language and one for writers with English as a second language. Their prize includes a trip to London to watch the play being recorded, attendance at an award ceremony and £2,000. ... The competition has helped launch the writing careers of many of its winners. Lasha Bugadze from Georgia, one of the 2011 winners, currently has a play as part of the PEN festival in New York. ... His winning play, The Navigator, was broadcast again on 28 April on BBC World Service to launch this year’s competition. It was described by the judges as 'enchanting and authentic… cleverly turning the subject of loneliness into joyous listening.'" See also BBC World Service International Radio Playwriting Competition 2012 web page.

Spotlight on media freedom in Azerbaijan, host of this month's Eurovision Song Contest.

Posted: 06 May 2012   Print   Send a link
European Broadcasting Union press release, 3 May 2012: "How should governments ensure that the freedoms of expression and information take precedence over political or economic interests, and that people have free access to their chosen media? These questions were central to a conference today at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) about media freedom in Azerbaijan, where the EBU will stage the 57th Eurovision Song Contest finals, on May 22, 24 and 26. The conference brought together representatives of the Council of Europe, the Government of Azerbaijan, several EBU television and radio members, the EBU itself and various human rights and press organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Azerbaijan Media Center and Azerbaijan League of Independent Journalists."

Human Rights Watch, 3 May 2012, via AlertNet: "The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) should speak out about Azerbaijan's appalling record on freedom of expression in the lead-up to the Eurovision Song Contest, Human Rights Watch said in a video report released today. Eurovision will take place in Baku from May 22 to May 26, 2012. ... On May 2, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the EBU held a workshop in Geneva on media freedom in Azerbaijan. However, the EBU failed to use this opportunity to call the Azerbaijani government to task and to speak out about Azerbaijan's abysmal record on freedom of expression. ... Human Rights Watch had planned to show the video at the May 2 workshop, but the EBU declined to show the video at the last minute, citing technical reasons. The EBU also declined to show video materials that the Azerbaijani government sought to publicize at the event."

Amnesty International, 1 May 2012: "On 17 February Anar Bayramli, a journalist working for the Iranian sponsored, Azeri language, television station Sahar, was arrested on fabricated drugs possession charges, shortly after relations between Azerbaijan and Iran deteriorated following Iran’s claim that an Iranian nuclear scientist had been assassinated by Israeli operatives based in Azerbaijan. Amnesty International believes the charges against Anar Bayramli were fabricated in retaliation for his work as a reporter. Sahar TV is known for its critical reporting on sensitive political, social and religious issues in Azerbaijan and had recently been criticized by the Azerbaijani authorities for deliberately seeking to destabilize the country."

Hürriyet Daily News, 30 Apr 2012: "The broadcasting of all foreign TV shows has been banned in Azerbaijan as of today, in an effort to 'support the domestic sector,' daily Milliyet reported. The ban includes shows that have been dubbed in the Azerbaijani language. Turkish soap operas are included in the ban. ... A new legal regulation will first warn and then punish TV stations that broadcast foreign programming in violation of the ban. The punishment may be as severe as revoking a station’s broadcast license, the report said."

Anatolia News Agency, 4 May 2012: "Turkish TV series 'Avrupa Avrupa,' (Europe, Europe) will be shot in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku. The first episode to be shot will feature in the new series under the title 'Azerbaijani Adventure.'"

RFE/RL, 4 May 2012: "The European Broadcasting Union has imposed a fine on Armenia over Yerevan's refusal to send performers to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, capital of Armenia's rival, Azerbaijan. The European Broadcasting Union said Armenia would still have to pay the full fee required to participate in the contest, as well as an additional 50 percent of that amount as a fine. ... The European Broadcasting Union, which is responsible for managing Eurovision, also said Armenian public television was obliged to show the May 26 Eurovision finals live. Otherwise, Armenia could be excluded from the 2013 Eurovision contest. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been embroiled for decades in their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan."

Alaskan viewers now have access to "sober-voiced, down-to-earth" France 24.

Posted: 06 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Anchorage Press, 26 Apr 2012, Scott Christiansen: "KYES, Anchorage’s dominant digital TV broadcaster (judging by the amount of free TV they put over the air) was cut loose earlier this month by one of its corporate dance partners and had to scramble to hook-up with a new program provider. ... Antenna TV joins KYES at digital channel 5.3. The station’s other streams include My Network TV at channel 5.1, University of Washington’s noncommercial programming (including content from Seattle International Film Festival) at 5.2 and global news service France 24 at 5.4. Viewers of cable news in the United States might get a jolt by the English-language France 24, which presents news from a global perspective in sober-voiced, down-to-earth fashion. 'I think it has a similar audience to PBS. I think it would attract smarter, more world aware people—there is no similar equivalent in Alaska,' [KYES founder Jeremy] Lansman said. KYES cannot sell advertisements on either France 24 or the UW channel, but the station is able to put them on the air at little expense because digital broadcasting allows for multiple channels on one transmitter. (Hence, little boost to the electric bill.)"

Arguments for and against Australia Network continue.

Posted: 06 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 27 Apr 2012, Alex Oliver: "Axing [Australia Network] would mean cutting a leg off Australia's diplomacy to the region. Not only is it one of Australia's principal vehicles for communicating its image, culture, strengths and values to the world, it's also a valuable (and highly valued) source of independent news and current affairs for the region, with the ABC's corps of correspondents in Asia (26 journalists in five Asian bureaus and 55 in the Asia Pacific News Centre) far outstripping that of the BBC, CNN, Sky and al-Jazeera. ... International broadcasting can and does work for Australia, as long as it's properly supported, funded and structured. Radio Australia, the stablemate of the Australia Network, has been a mainstay in Australian communication to the region for more than 70 years. Australia is a prosperous nation surrounded by populous neighbours facing vastly different socio-economic conditions, with different religions and political systems - and we spend billions in aid each year trying to help them. If we're serious about the Asian century, we need to amplify our voice to the region, not silence it." -- At what point in its schedule is Australia Network communicating Australia's "strengths and values," and at which point is it providing "independent news"? Australia will have to decide if Australia Network is to be a news provider for the region, or an informercial for Australia.

The Interpretor (Lowy Institute for International Policy), 24 Apr 2012, letter from Adrian Black:: "As someone who has lived and worked overseas, seen a fair bit of the ABC's overseas television and had a good opportunity to gauge the reaction to it from the locals I can draw two conclusions: •The program content varies from reasonable to ridiculous — often just filling time slots — but even so the net impact on those we are trying to influence is probably slightly more positive than negative. •It falls so far short of what it might be in terms of promoting Australia, particularly in a vital business and economic sense but also culturally and diplomatically, that it is both embarrassing and frustrating."

The Australian, 27 Apr 2012, editorial: "If Australia suddenly had a powerful new media watchdog, [one issue it should investigate] would be how the government awarded the $223m Australia Network contract to the ABC, even though it twice lost a tender process to the privately-owned Sky News Australia (a company part-owned by BSkyB, which in turn is part-owned by News Corporation, owner of The Australian). This investigation would need to examine allegations that ABC executives improperly lobbied cabinet ministers, and assess the apparent conflict of interest, already highlighted by the Auditor-General, of having Senator Conroy award this contract when also responsible for the ABC."

See previous post about Australia Network.

Pacific Media Watch, 30 Apr 2012: "An award-winning Fiji-born investigative journalist has attacked a Radio Australia news item about last month’s PINA Pacific Media Summit in Fiji, describing it as the 'biggest crack at revisionism in recent Pacific media history'. Australian-based Graham Davis, who publishes the independent blog Grubsheet, challenged RA’s Pacific Beat reporter Bruce Hill and the University of the South Pacific head of journalism, Dr Marc Edge, a Canadian, over their version of events given a month after the event."

"How soap operas changed the world."

Posted: 05 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC News Magazine, 26 Apr 2012, Stephanie Hegarty: "In 1969, the rags-to-riches story of a domestic employee who made her fortune through her skills with a sewing machine provided the template for an entertainment education revolution. Simplemente Maria, a Peruvian TV telenovela - a soap format with a limited run - was extremely popular throughout Latin America and led to a rapid increase in both sales of sewing machines and people enrolling in sewing classes. ... In 1994, when the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, a team from the BBC created a radio drama that promoted women's rights and told listeners how to avoid the danger from landmines, which littered the country. ... Soap Operas - Art Imitating Life is a two-part documentary broadcast on BBC World Service. Soap operas are used by the BBC's international development charity BBC Media Action to help people around the world access information."

Rastamouse: international broadcasting for preschoolers.

Posted: 05 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Kidscreen, 1 May 2012, Jeremy Dickson: "DHX Media has inked a number of new international broadcasting deals for its stop-motion preschool series Rastamouse with broadcasters in Hispanic US, Latin America, Africa, Greece and Cyprus. BBC Worldwide Channels has snapped up the series for its channels in Hispanic US, Latin America, and Africa while distributor White Fox has licensed the series to ERT3 in Greece and Cyprus. The popular Three Stones Media-produced series, which was picked up for a second season in February this year, now airs in more than 40 territories worldwide."

BBC Worldwide's "biggest live wildlife broadcast ever ... will air simultaneously to a global audience" (updated).

Posted: 04 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcast, 3 Apr 2012, Michael Rosser: "BBC Worldwide has revealed plans for the biggest live wildlife broadcast ever undertaken by the corporation that will air around the globe. Planet Earth Live will be a series made by the BBC’s Natural History Unit and is billed as 'an epic live story following the critical life stages in some of the Earth’s most charismatic animals'. Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond will host the series from Africa while Countryfile’s Julia Bradbury will co-host from North America. They will be joined by animal experts and a wildlife camera crew, which will use real-time filming techniques and up-close footage, shot in high definition. It will follow the lives of a range of animals, including baby elephants in Kenya, black bears in Minnesota, macaque monkeys in Sri Lanka and grey whales in the Pacific. Airing on BBC1, it will air simultaneously to a global audience via: BBC Knowledge (Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Poland, Italy, the Nordic Region); BBC Entertainment (India); BBC HD (Latin America); Global BBC iPlayer (various territories)."

Update: Reuters, 30 Apr 2012, Tim Kenneally: "The miniseries, which will be called 'Planet Earth Live' in Britain and '24/7 Wild' in the United States will run exclusively in the U.S. on Nat Geo WILD, beginning May 7. ... Employing more than 150 filmmakers and wildlife experts around the world, the expansive project will 'showcase real animals and their everyday fight for survival - as it happens, in real time,' according to the BBC and National Geographic. ... See the full schedule for '24/7 Wild' at http://www.thewrap.com/tv/article/bbc-national-geographic-channel-team-nature-series-37851."

Worldscreen.com, 3 Apr 2012, Marissa Graziadio: BBC Worldwide's "'London Calling' features a season of programs that celebrate the music, fashion, art, culture and history of London. ... London Calling will air between June and Auguston BBC Entertainment in Africa, Poland, the Nordic region, Asia, India, Latin America and the channel’s pan-European service; BBC Knowledge in Africa, Poland, the Nordic Region, Italy, Asia and Australia; BBC HD in Latin America, Poland, the Nordic region and Turkey; UKTV in Australia and New Zealand; and globally on BBC World News. The season will also be available to users of BBC.com and to users of the global BBC iPlayer."

New Q&A section in Taliban website "not only attracting more traffic, but is also ... new tool for the insurgents' concerted PR drive."

Posted: 04 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 27 Apr 2012: "From civilian casualties, to girls' schools, to cricket, the Taliban website's new question and answer section provides answers to a wide range of readers' questions. The BBC World Service's Dawood Azami examines the Taliban's latest propaganda offensive. 'The Taliban's newly-launched question and answer section on their website is not only attracting more traffic, but is also becoming a new tool for the insurgents' concerted PR drive. They launched their Q&A section in mid-February 2012 and the questions have been pouring in since then, covering issues ranging from peace talks to sport. The aim of the facility on the Voice of Jihad (the official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan - the Taliban's own name for their movement) is to win over Afghans by directly addressing individuals who ask them questions - and hence those who may have similar concerns.'"

The IBB Greenville transmitting station: harder to close now that it is named again for Edward R. Murrow?

Posted: 04 May 2012   Print   Send a link
WNCT-TV (Greenville, NC), 2 May 2012: "In 1963, the U.S. was in the midst of the cold war. Iconic former CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow was running the Voice of America when President Kennedy dedicated the Greenville relay station. At the time, the station consisted of three locations surrounding Greenville. Today, only the one near Black Jack is still in service. Wednesday, the short wave transmitter station was re-dedicated to Edward R. Murrow. It was originally named for him after his death in the 1970's, but the name was dropped following the 9/11 attacks for security reasons. Today, the Murrow name again adorns the site. ... Today, the transmitters broadcast to many areas of Central and South America, especially Cuba with programs from Radio Marti, but when needed can send programs anywhere." With video.

WITN-TV (Wsashington, NC), 2 May 2012: "Casey Murrow, the son of the father of broadcast journalism, Edward R. Murrow, was at a ceremony in the east to help make sure people around the world have access to vital information. The Voice of America site in Pitt County helps connect the world to news many of us take for granted. ... Casey Murrow says, 'It is good to keep at least one such facility in place in the U.S cause it can't be influenced by anybody else or shut down or moved or what not.'" With video. See also Greenvile Daily Reflector, 3 May 2012.

MetroPulse (Knoxville), 2 May 2012: "Former Knoxville Mayor and Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe continues to give his fellow board members heartburn. Ashe is on the board of governors for the agency that sets up and operates what used to be called the Voice of America, beaming broadcasts into totalitarian countries. The agency wanted to close a shortwave facility in North Carolina, the last facility still on American soil and under American control. Ashe argues that facilities in other countries, especially in Asia, are not reliable because they do not want to antagonize China by broadcasting into Tibet. Ashe has worked with a North Carolina congressman to put up signs identifying the facility as the Edward R. Murrow broadcasting station, named for the legendary TV newsman who was from North Carolina, complete with Murrow’s son attending a re-dedication ceremony to unveil the new signs. This will make it even harder for the broadcasting staff to move to close the facility again."

See previous post about same subject.

VOA employee's "Window of Anguish" is top winner of DW The Bobs blog award.

Posted: 04 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 3 May 2012, Sean Sinico: "The top prize of the 2012 DW Blog Awards went to an exiled Iranian who, despite his own suffering, keeps an objective eye on Tehran. Other efforts to protect journalists and close the digital divide also earned honors. Arash Sigarchi, an Iranian currently living in Washington, got the nod from a panel of bloggers and media experts for writing the best blog at the Deutsche Welle International Blog Award - the BOBs, DW announced Wednesday. His blog, Window of Anguish, provides readers with an even-handed perspective of the Iranian regime's actions. 'Arash has maintained an objective view of events despite the personal attacks and tragedy he suffered at the hands of the government,' Arash Abadpour, the BOBs Persian-language jury member, told the 12-member jury panel. ... While Sigarchi continues to live in the United States, where he works for Voice of America, he represents an important source of information for readers inside and outside of Iran, Abadpour said."

Deutsche Welle, 3 May 2012, Aya Bach: "In his blog 'Window of fear' Arash Sigarchi tries to be as objective as possible, even when including personal experiences or opinions. 'No matter what I post, I try to be fair, balanced and truthful. I am after all a journalist and everything I post is taken as news.'"

DW The Bob's website: List of all winning blogs. See also DW press release, 2 May 2012.

journalism.co.uk, 2 May 2012, Sarah Marshall: "A year ago today Al Jazeera English was due to broadcast the first episode of a new social media TV show called The Stream. ... Since then The Stream has been broadcast live on Al Jazeera English for 30 minutes four days a week, with a pre- and post-show online and was last night named as winner of a Webby Award, which honour the 'best of the web'." Sell also Al Jazeera English, 1 May 2012.

US international broadcasting to China: Keeping everything the same will keep everything the same.

Posted: 03 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Christian Science Monitor, 27 Apr 2012, Joseph A. Bosco: "In the war of ideas between freedom and authoritarianism, the Voice of America (VOA) broadcast program is losing to the voice of communist China – not because Beijing’s message is better but because its strategic vision and will to win surpass Washington’s. The United States government is unilaterally disarming (through funding and personnel cuts) much of its program of speaking truth to the Chinese people. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic is aggressively expanding its campaign to spread untruths, especially about Western anti-China 'plots.' Worse, China’s misinformation now openly targets the American people, as well – and does it from American soil. Yet the Broadcast Board of Governors, which manages and oversees all US civilian international broadcasting, proposes cutting parts of its radio transmissions to China and Tibet as well as Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. The board plans to eliminate dozens of personnel directly or indirectly involved in local language broadcasts to those countries even as it adds scores of administrative positions despite budget constraints." -- There is no real solution offered here, except to keep everything the way it is. That's not a strategy capable of dealing with China's increasingly complex media environment and with the US government's increasingly scarce budget. See previous post about same subject.

USA Today, 1 May 2012, Calum MacLeod: Chen Guangcheng "was inspired to tackle injustice by listening to U.S. broadcasts on Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, supporters say."

Malaysian satellite TV provider censors BBC World News and Al Jazeera English coverage of KL election reform rally.

Posted: 03 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The Independent, 3 May 2012, Ian Burrell: "The BBC has ordered 'urgent inquiries' into how its news coverage is being apparently censored when broadcast abroad, with scenes about anti-government protests removed. The development is serious for the BBC because it risks undermining its global reputation for impartiality. ... Viewers in Malaysia thought they were watching a BBC World News package on violent anti-government protests last Saturday. In fact, the original report made by BBC correspondent Emily Buchanan had been heavily re-edited by a local satellite broadcaster which carries the BBC channel. The censorship was exposed in a YouTube clip which juxtaposed the full report, introduced by presenter Dani Sinha and shown elsewhere on BBC World News, with the version shown in Malaysia. ... The edited report was shown by Astro, the direct broadcast satellite service which carries BBC World News in Malaysi ... A BBC spokesman said. 'During the week of World Press Freedom Day, it would be deplorable if access to independent and impartial news was being prevented in any way. We would strongly condemn any blocking of the trusted news that we broadcast around the world, including via distribution partners.'" ... Al Jazeera also complained that coverage of the protests by its correspondent had been doctored by the satellite service. Astro said it had a right to edit international channels so they complied with content regulations."

AFP, 3 May 2012: "Tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital Kuala Lumpur Saturday but the rally turned violent when protesters breached a barricade around a central square and were met with tear gas and water cannon. Whistleblowing website Sarawak Report said Malaysia's Astro, which transmits Al-Jazeera and the BBC to subscribers with a delay of several minutes, cut scenes in rally reports. Al-Jazeera English said in a statement received Thursday that it would seek an explanation from Astro on why the report was 'apparently censored' without making it clear to viewers. 'Our news report was a factual account of events that day, and intrusion in our editorial process is unwarranted. We have not been censored in this way by another distribution platform anywhere in the world,' it said."

Sarawak Report, 2 May 2012: "Sarawak Report can now reveal for the first time just how the sinister and arbitrary system of TV News censorship works at Astro. Sources have revealed that the satellite station employs people round the clock under the job title 'News Control'. Astro’s 'News Controllers' have the editorial responsibility of scouring all the news coming in and demanding edits on anything they judge to be contrary to the Home Ministry censorship rules! 'They do four hour shifts, monitoring news output particularly from CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, and deciding if anything is not to go to air', explained our source."

Free Malaysia, 3 May 2012, Pushparani Thilaganathan: "BBC’s affront ... was trivialised by Astro and Malaysia’s Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim. Rais, who incidentally described the Bersih rally as 'kotor' (dirty), defended Astro’s right, saying it was the satellite television’s prerogative to air the 'best parts' of the poll reforms rally. Said Rais: '(Astro) has to be given credit for knowing which part of the news is newsworthy and therefore they should exercise that within their rights as a broadcasting firm.' Astro, meanwhile, simply said they had to 'comply with local content regulations'."

The Malaysian Insider, 4 May 2012, Art Harun: "The censorship or chop-job by Astro of the relevant BBC news report amounts to ... the alteration or modification of a report which was published by Astro as the original and true report. If that was not a misrepresentation or a distortion, tell me what is."

James Cridland wrote in with this account of his past visit to Astro: James Cridland's blog, 30 Mar 2012: "I’d gone to visit Astro, the Malaysian version of BSkyB, to catch up with an old friend and for the chance to look around. Astro runs a ton of radio stations, but I was looking around the television area – seeing lots of monitors and complicated robotic machines that loaded video recorders up with tapes (part of their archival project, I later discovered). But it was this room that, indeed, I did find rather unusual. There were about thirty desks here, arranged in diagonal formations allowing one person to glance around the other three. Hunched in front of each desk was someone sitting there, watching the television. 'This is our Content Compliance unit,' said my guide – a friendly Indian man. ... [T]he content compliance unit must watch television channels that go out, and substitute advertisements and content where required. A typical shift within the content compliance unit lasts for twelve hours, working on some easy channels (those showing live golf) and some rather harder-to-comply channels (those showing music videos)."

International broadcasters observe and report on World Press Freedom Day.

Posted: 03 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC, The Editors blog, 3 May 2012, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News: "Today is World Press Freedom Day and during recent days we have learnt that BBC World News, our 24/7 international news channel, has been jammed by Chinese authorities during stories they regard as sensitive. This included Damian Grammaticas' report yesterday on Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng leaving the US embassy. This deliberate electronic interference of the channel's distribution signal is just the latest in a long line of examples to block our impartial news and prevent it reaching audiences. The BBC's Chinese language website has been consistently blocked in China, apart from a brief respite during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and our radio broadcasts in Mandarin were historically subject to persistent frequency interference for decades. And these issues are certainly not just restricted to China. In November, BBC World News was taken off-air in Pakistan by cable operators for broadcasting a documentary entitled Secret Pakistan. BBC Persian TV has suffered deliberate interference to its broadcasting signals intermittently since its launch and the online service has consistently been blocked. Other international broadcasters including Deutsche Welle and Voice of America have also been subject to deliberate electronic interference by the Iranian authorities. ... The BBC will continue to represent the voice of free media where there is no other access to fair and authoritative news - be it because of suppression and persecution of journalists, a growth in state sponsored media or attempts to jam or censor our news."

RFE/RL, 3 May 2012: "In honor of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, RFE/RL journalists talk about threats to the media in their home countries, and how they are fighting back against repression of free speech." With video.

Radio Free Asia press release, 3 May 2012, via BBG: "Today, on World Press Freedom Day, Radio Free Asia (RFA) President Libby Liu responded to Freedom House’s 2012 Freedom of the Press survey that classified all six of RFA’s broadcast countries as 'Not Free' with North Korea as the worst-rated country on the list. 'Sadly, on World Press Freedom Day, there is little to celebrate in the countries into which Radio Free Asia broadcasts,' Liu said."

@BBGgov, 3 May 2012: "Today is World Press Freedom Day. We have launched a new Tumblr focusing on #pressfreedom & threats to our journalists." journalismunderfire.tumblr.com

Committee to Protect Journalists, 2 May 2012: "[I]n CPJ's new report, the 10 Most Censored Nations, ... [the] list shows the extent to which controls on news-gatherers distort and hamper the growth of the Internet and cellphone use."

See also Deutsche Welle, 3 May 2012, Marco Müller. And Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 3 May 2012, Alejandro Pintamalli.

A conspiracy theorist's explanation of US international broadcasting "propaganda."

Posted: 03 May 2012   Print   Send a link
OpEdNews, 27 Apr 2012, Wayne Madsen: "An examination of the current 2013 budget for the U.S. government's Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) that oversees the International Broadcasting Board (IBB) and which determines the slant taken by the U.S. government's propaganda efforts on radio, television, and, increasingly on the Internet, illustrates the head-lock that George Soros and neo-conservative 'soft power projection' interests have on the official state-sponsored information disseminated by the U.S. government to a global audience. The new propaganda bias of such IBB-controlled outlets such as the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and Radio Free Europe should comes as no surprise, considering that former CNN chairman and chief executive officer Walter Isaacson laid down the gauntlet after he assumed the chairmanship of the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 2009 by calling for the United States to aggressively challenge what he termed anti-American 'propaganda' emanating from such international broadcasters as RT (the former Russia Today), Iran's Press TV, and China's CCTV. Isaacson walks in lock-step with the goals of Soros and the Council on Foreign Relations as the head of the politically-connected Aspen Institute."

Commentary, 2 May 2012, Michael Rubin: "Voice of America – Persian Service appears more interested in badmouthing American policy and promoting diplomacy... ." -- I nominate "badmouthing American policy and promoting diplomacy" as Oxymoron of the Year.

And for a more positive look at the BBG...

Federal News Radio, 27 Apr 2012: "This week on Fed Access, host Derrick Dortch is joined by two members of the management team at the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Bruce Sherman is the director of the board's Office of Strategy and Development, and Jeffrey Trimble is the deputy director of the board's International Broadcasting Bureau. They will talk about the organization's mission, its audience, how it operates, and its plans for the future." With audio.

FARC, Boko Haram, and other dangers to international broadcasting journalists.

Posted: 03 May 2012   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 3 May 2012, Roy Greenslad blog: "French journalist Roméo Langlois appears to have been abducted by the Colombian rebel group, Farc. Langlois, a correspondent for France 24 TV and Le Figaro, went missing during a clash between Farc guerrillas and Colombian government forces on 28 April. He was making a documentary on drug trafficking and had been accompanying the soldiers who were on a mission to destroy Farc cocaine farms. Yesterday, a woman claiming to represent Farc made an anonymous phone call to Colombian journalists to say that the group had taken Langlois hostage. She said he had been dressed in military garb and had been taken as a 'prisoner of war'. She added that Langlois was wounded in the arm but had received medical attention and was 'out of danger.' Her statement appears to contradict a Farc announcement in February in which it said it was ending its policy of kidnappings. So there is a possibility that the claim is false."

France 24, 2 May 2012: "Langlois, a French citizen who lives in Colombia and has reported extensively from the country, was covering the army’s crackdown on narco-trafficking for FRANCE 24 when he went missing. In a statement issued Sunday, FRANCE 24 editors said they were coordinating with the French foreign ministry and Colombian authorities to get information on the fate of the missing journalist." With video.

The Moment (Nigeria), 2 May 2012, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman: "Less than a week after the bomb attacks on media houses in Abuja and Kaduna, the Jama atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda awati Wal-Jihadl also called Boko Haram has released a new video in which it named more media organisations and their staff as targets for its next attack. The sect in the 18-minute video, threatened to attack popular news outlets that include the Voice of America (Hausa), Radio France (Hausa), Daily Trust, Guardian Newspapers, among others." Information Nigeria, 2 May 2012, quoting from the Boko Haram video: “There is also VOA Hausa radio. All these media houses we will attack them including their staff and offices, by God’s grace. VOA Hausa for instance have recently started campaigning for people to support the government against us by exposing us. The next group that are on the verge of joining this list who if they are not careful we will attack very soon include, Leadership, Daily Trust, Peoples Daily and RFI(Radio France international)."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 30 Apr 2012: "Togolese police attacked and confiscated the equipment of two journalists filming an anti-government march in the capital, Lomé, on Friday. Civil society activists and human rights advocates had gathered for the demonstration on the occasion of Togo's 52nd Independence Day, local journalists said. More than 10 police officers assaulted Noël Kokou Tadegnon, a freelance journalist for Reuters TV, the London-based pan-African satellite broadcaster Vox Africa, and the German-government funded broadcaster Deutsche Welle, as he filmed security forces firing tear gas at protesters, news reports said."

BBC News, 30 Apr 2012: "A BBC journalist [Feras Kilani] arrested and held by Muammar Gaddafi's forces during the Libya uprising has returned to the prison where he was held to track down some of the wardens and prisoners housed there and to hear first hand accounts of a massacre."

Gulf News (Dubai), 30 Apr 2012, Feras Kilani: "I am back in the Libyan capital Tripoli, a year after I was captured by Muammar Gaddafi's forces. On March 8, 2011 I was picked up at an army roadblock near Tripoli along with two BBC Arabic colleagues. I was imprisoned, beaten and subject to mock executions at a compound just outside Tripoli."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 30 Apr 2012: "The appeals court in Montenegro must overturn a libel verdict and four-month jail sentence given to journalist Petar Komnenic, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The Montenegrin authorities, who are seeking to join the European Union, decriminalized libel after the journalist's original conviction, according to news reports. On April 18, a magistrate court in the capital, Podgorica, ordered Komnenic, the editor of the local TV Vijesti and a freelancer for Reuters and the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, to serve a four-month prison sentence in connection with the February 2011 libel conviction." See also RFE/RL, 19 Apr 2012.

RFE/RL, 27 Apr 2012, Shahnaz Huseynova: "At a defiant press conference in Baku, Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova lashed out at prosecutors looking into a smear campaign that was launched against her last month and which she believes is aimed at intimidating her into ending her journalistic investigations. ... Ismayilova -- the former Baku bureau chief of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service who currently hosts a daily program for the service -- blames the authorities for the campaign against her, saying it is aimed at stopping her investigations of corruption, some of which have targeted President Ilham Aliyev and his family." RFE/RL press release, 3 May 2012: Ismayilova wins the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award given by the International Women’s Media Foundation.

Trend (Baku), 30 Apr 2012: "Baku Prosecutor's Office denies the statement on spreading of information being the personal and family secrets of the journalist - the employee of Azerbaijani service of Radio Liberty Khadija Ismayilova."

Nebraska City News-Press, 26 Apr 2012, Gene Policinski: "The U.S. Department of State has launched an online 'Free the Press' campaign, highlighting individual journalists who face government threats worldwide, ranging from imprisonment to house arrest to travel bans. 'Media freedom is oxygen' for societies, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara D. Sonenshine told a group of international journalists in discussing the campaign. 'It’s the moral equivalent of oxygen – it is how a society breathes, and it is a key pillar of building civil societies.'"

Part 2 (1990s) of Andy Sennitt's look back at 30 years of Radio Netherlands Media Network.

Posted: 03 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 1 May 2012, Andy Sennitt: "The unification of Germany was of course the iconic event that symbolised the end of the Cold War. Radio Berlin International, which had proudly operated as 'the Voice of the German Democratic Republic' made some remarkable broadcasts in its final days, admitting that it had not always told the truth. Deutsche Welle, its counterpart in West Germany, had indicated its willingness to hire some of the RBI personnel, but in the event only a small number moved across. Media Network found itself playing a key role in publicising events in Lithuania, one of the first Soviet republics to seek independence from Moscow. In January 1991, Russian troops went into the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, and stormed the radio/TV building. Broadcasts free of Soviet control continued from Kaunas. Because many of these broadcasts could not be received outside Europe, Media Network was able to relay the details to other parts of the world, for example in this edition of Media Network as broadcast on 20 January 1991."

ESPN launches ESPNFC, its multi-language, multi-country, multimedia brand for soccer fans.

Posted: 03 May 2012   Print   Send a link
ESPN press release, 30 Apr 2012: "ESPN, Inc. this week will introduce ESPNFC, a new multi-language and multi-country brand for soccer fans around the world across TV, radio, print, online, print and mobile. Just in time for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, the new offering will bring together all of ESPN’s soccer properties and house them under one universally recognized name. Over time, ESPNFC will add global and regional contributors to ensure coverage of all news and developments 24/7, regardless of where they happen in the world. Online and on mobile, ESPNFC will have the ability to detect where a fan is accessing content, and deliver locally relevant content for that region and serve that content in the native language. ... Later this year online and on mobile – around the start of new soccer seasons around the world – ESPNFC will expand to encompass all major leagues and competitions worldwide."

Report: VOA seeks change in Indonesian regulations to allow live rebroadcast of its newscasts.

Posted: 02 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Jakarta Globe, 30 Apr 2012, Markus Junianto Sihaloho: "The US government’s broadcast arm has called on the Indonesian House of Representatives to amend several broadcast regulations to make it easier for foreign media to operate in the country, a legislator said on Saturday. Eva Kusuma Sundari, an opposition legislator, said the request was made on Thursday by Norman G. Goodman, chief of the Voice of America’s Indonesian service, when Indonesian lawmakers visited his office in Washington. Eva, who took part in the visit, said the contingent’s discussions with Goodman and other stakeholders focused on scrapping an article from the Broadcast Law that prohibits foreign media from carrying out live broadcasts. The VOA officials argued the prohibition prevented most of its viewers and listeners from getting information but is irrelevant today because anyone with Internet access can watch live news streams online, Eva said. ... However, the US request has prompted criticism from other legislators and observers who accused VOA of being too pushy. 'In calling for amendments to a law, they’re going too far,' said Dradjad Wibowo, a legislator from the National Mandate Party (PAN). He argued that if VOA wanted to increase its profile in Indonesia, it should follow the example of other foreign broadcasters, such as the BBC World Service and Australia’s ABC. Both of these broadcasters, he said, have managed to operate within the country without complaining about being handicapped by prevailing laws and regulations. ... 'The question here is, whose views do VOA’s reports on Indonesia conform to? In whose interests are they?' he said, adding that the House should also be critical of the fact that the VOA was an institution of the US federal government."

BBC World News adds Singapore and Mumbai staff and adds news show for Asia-Pacific.

Posted: 02 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Business Day (Sydney), 27 Apr 2012, Kirsty Simpson: "BBC World News is expanding into the Asia Pacific, doubling its staff in Singapore and launching a new Singapore-London co-hosted news show. The BBC's director of global news, Peter Horrocks, said the broadcaster was expanding general news coverage in the region, increasing editorial staff from eight to 15, and appointing a senior business correspondent for East Asia. 'The Asia-Pacific is the growth area,' he told BusinessDay during a conference on public broadcasting in Brisbane this week. 'We have invested in a program called Newsday co-hosted from Singapore and London for the early and mid-morning Asian and Australian market.' ... 'The Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians … they're putting their money into journalism. But it is not the kind of independent journalism that is generally well regarded in Australia and the UK. It's journalism designed to give a very particular point of view.'"

BBC press release, 2 May 2012, via afaqs!: "The BBC has announced the appointment of two new business journalists to be based in the BBC's Mumbai bureau. Yogita Limaye will join the BBC in May 2012 as Mumbai Business Correspondent. She will report across BBC World News and will serve as the presenter of India Business Report, the channel's weekly television programme on business throughout the region. In addition, Yogita will report for bbc.com and on the BBC World Service in both English and Hindi. ... Sameer Hashmi will join the BBC in June as Mumbai Business Reporter. He joins BBC World News' India Business Report team, which is based in Mumbai and Delhi and will also report on all aspects of business across BBC World News television, bbc.co and the BBC World Service radio."

BBC Burmese and BBC Media Action launch 15 minutes a week for Burmese youth.

Posted: 01 May 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Media Action, 27 Apr 2012, Thang Kim: "My name is Thang Kim and I present Lin Lat Kyair Sin ('Young Stars With Shining Futures'), a new 15-minute weekly radio programme for young people on the BBC's Burmese Service. There are so many important subjects that Burmese people can now begin to explore and express for themselves. With this programme, we're giving young people the opportunity to discuss and debate the issues that concern their future. ... All of the radio content is underpinned by reseach and it's research that has been delivered by some amazing trainees that have been working with BBC Media Action to enhance their media skills. As well as producing the radio show, we are also training young journalists on the ground. They contribute to the programme by recording stories from the 'stars' in their communities. ... If people want a voice in running a democracy we need to make those voices heard. Join our conversation on BBC Burmese for every Saturday evening broadcast, or contact us at on Facebook." -- "Youth program," usually weekly, is a decades-old staple of international radio. These days it may take a 24/7 youth format, along the lines of Radio Sawa, to attract a young audience in Burma or elsewhere.

Mid-Missouri Public Radio, 26 Apr 2012, "Global Journalist" interviews Lwin Than, Chief of the Burmese Service for Voice of America; and David Stout, an editor with the Democratic Voice of Burma.

IBB Murrow shortwave transmitting station at Greenville NC will be rededicated Wednesday.

Posted: 01 May 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 27 Apr 2012, Randy J. Stine: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors plans to rededicate a high power RF site, known as Site B at the VOA’s facility in Greenville, N.C., that was once slated for closing. The BBG had proposed closing the shortwave broadcasting center, officially known as the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station, as part of its 2011 budget submission. It estimated the cost saving by doing so at $3 million. Congress later restored funding for the facility saving it from closure, according to a BBG spokeswoman. ... The rededication of the high-power RF facility, which is the BBG’s largest radio transmission plant in this country, will take place on May 2, 2012. ... The North Carolina site’s 38 transmitting antennas, which utilizes eight very large transmitters operating at 250 kW, is set on nearly 2,800 acres not far from Greenville. 'Approximately 85% of the shortwave broadcasts from the Murrow Transmitting station are Radio Marti Spanish-language broadcasts to Cuba,' the spokeswoman said. 'The remaining programs include VOA Spanish to Latin America along with English, Portuguese and French to Africa.'"

Broadcasting Board of Governors, 1 May 2012: "President John F. Kennedy formally dedicated the station on February 8, 1963, and in October 1968 it was named the 'Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station' in honor of the renowned wartime broadcaster and director of the USIA." With event program.

Greenville [NC] Daily Reflector, 30 Apr 2012, Ginger Livingston: "U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. ... and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., worked to stop the closure[ of the Greenville station], aided by another member of the North Carolina delegation, Democrat David Price. The closure never came because Congress had difficulties finalizing its 2010-11 budget and funding was included in continuation budgets. The broadcasting board notified Jones in January 2011 that the administration wouldn’t pursue the site’s closure. By that time Victor Ashe, former mayor of Knoxville, Tenn., and former ambassador to Poland, joined the broadcasting board and toured the VOA Site B facility. ... Like other proponents of the site, Ashe said it’s important to keep VOA Site B operating because it’s the only short-wave Voice of America facility operating under U.S. jurisdiction. Other short-wave locations can be shut down at the insistence of its host nation. Other methods of broadcasting — radio, television, the Internet and social media — can be cut off or blocked."

The April 2012 issue of Monitoring Times magazine has a cover article about the Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station.

See previous post about same subject.

Most employees and contractors of Radio Canada International, planning 80% cut, receive notices.

Posted: 01 May 2012   Print   Send a link
RCI Action Committee blog, 25 Apr 2012: "[E]ven when we say an 80% per cent budget cut, it sounds sort of theoretical. When the letter is given to you that you no longer have a job, that your decades of service to Canada’s Voice to the World are redundant, well, that’s something else. Today that happened to most of us. About 15 permanent staff have been told they still have a job, 30 have been told they don’t. Three contractual webmasters will remain, but about 10 to 20 contractual employees (researchers, interviewers, hosts) will lose their jobs. Another 10 or 20 people who fill in for staff will have little or no work. More importantly to us RCI has been almost made to disappear, no more radio programs, just a website, that is yet to be conceived, with little support. How much three employees in each of the five language services: English, French, Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish can do, even with the best of intentions, remains to be seen. ... Next week we are promised a blueprint of the new RCI. Today it’s hard to believe in that future."

Toronto Star, The Network, 1 May 2012, Thomas Witherspoon: "The recently announced cuts to the CBC have garnered considerable press. However, what has not received sufficient press is the story of the cuts which threaten the very existence of Radio Canada International. This oversight is likely because, sadly, many Canadians must not be aware of RCI, or of its valiant but unsung role in international relations. ... the Internet, while unquestionably a useful medium, can only travel as far as its (still-limited) availability; in other words, the Internet relies upon a costly infrastructure, not just at its source, but where it is received. Of course, while most of the people for whom I speak do not have Internet access, computers, or even electricity, those who do are often trapped under repressive government regimes whose censors track or control their citizens’ Internet usage, and sometimes use what they learn to control these individuals, to threaten them or worse. Shortwave radio, on the other hand? Radio, which requires most of its infrastructure at its source, has little regard for distance, and no regard for political borders, nor for who and how many join you to listen. This apparent information dinosaur travels at the speed of light, streams information wirelessly on affordable handheld devices (transistor radio, anyone?), is virtually immune to censorship, and leaves no tracks. ... Plus, shortwave radio represents the best option for basic emergency communications, far preferable to the vulnerable Internet."

The SWLing Post, 28 Apr 2012, Thomas Witherspoon: "[S]hould those of us who regularly use the internet ever experience a regional/national internet blackout or other potential communications disaster, shortwave radio would be a reliable communications medium of last resort. Broadcasters (like RCI) should not dispose of their broadcasting infrastructure during cuts."

The SWLing Post, 20 Apr 2012, Thomas Witherspoon: "To their credit, I’ve noticed that RCI programs (like The Link with Marc Montgomery) are continuing “business as usual.” I’ve noticed no degradation of their content or quality."

National Post, 23 Apr 2012, letter from A. Lawrence Healey: "The CBC fills me with guilt and pride: guilt, because, as with classical literature, I too often don’t make the effort necessary to mine the benefits of its enlightened programming; pride because it presents to the world, via Radio Canada International, just how truly blessed life can be here. I wish I could direct that 5% of the federal income tax I pay on my pension income go to support this international beacon of hope."

RCI Action Committee blog, 29 Apr 2012, note from Walt Salmaniw: "I vividly recall during my time serving with the Canadian military in Europe, in the 1980s, the whole barracks hovering around my small portable SW receiver, and listening to the Canadian federal election report via RCI. For the sake of a few dollars, RCI is going to be lost forever. Don’t let it happen."

RCI Action Committee blog, 29 Apr 2012: "Comment pouvez-vous mettre un stop à ces compressions de 80 % de Radio Canada International? Écrivez s’il vous plait au ministre canadien des Affaires extérieures, John Baird ainsi qu’au ministre des Finances, Jim Flaherty et au ministre de Patrimoine Canada."

See previous post about same subject.