It is often still best to listen to radio on a radio.

Posted: 31 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The SWLing Post, 25 Aug 2012, Thomas Witherspoon: "Some time ago, I posted a review of the Alinco DX-R8T–a surprisingly capable, flexible and affordable dedicated tabletop [shortwave] receiver. In that review, I explored its capabilities as a tabletop unit, and was favorably impressed. But I knew then that one of the virtues of the DX-R8T is that it’s more than a typical tabletop: the control head (or, front panel) can literally be detached, and with an extension cable, can be moved as far away as 16 feet from the rest of the receiver. Also, with the optional ERW-7 cable and a shielded audio patch cord, you can connect the Alinco to your PC, converting it to a software-defined radio (SDR). Just to be fair, I wanted to further check out this alternative operation mode, and review it independently. ... While the Alinco DX-R8T/E is a very capable tabletop receiver, I find that the SDR functionality adds very little, performance-wise. In fact, in many respects this function seems to compromise the performance of the DX-R8T/E. Still, there are some positives." -- The DX-R8T may seem late to the shortwave party, but even with shortwave broadcasting dropping like a rock, there are still several broadcast and communications transmissions to be heard on the shortwave bands.

Gizmodo, 22 Aug 2012, Micah Fitzerman-Blue: "Classic turntables may get all the glamour, but the shortwave radio deserves a place of prominence in the home of any audiophile. For a stylish way to surf the airwaves, try this stunning late 1950s Trans-World T-9, produced by Philco (that's the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company, for those who don't like to abbreviate). Beautiful chrome knobs handle tuning, tone, and band selection, and the package comes with a world map, logbook, and twelve pages of schematics."

"Converging" of Australia Network and Radio Australia will result in an "integrated multiplatform international media service."

Posted: 31 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, 31 Aug 2012: "An agreement has been reached for the ongoing funding of a new-look Australia Network Service, . An agreement has been reached for the ongoing funding of a new-look Australia Network Service. In a statement, Senator Carr said the deal for an 'Integrated Multiplatform International Media Service' would allow the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to combine the existing Australia Network television operation with Radio Australia’s services, and the ABC's news online and digital operations. 'It will ensure delivery of a comprehensive service to diverse regional audiences using the media platforms of their choice, effectively extending Australia's public diplomacy reach,' Senator Carr said. He explained that under the agreement the Australia Network service would become a permanent feature of the ABC 'bringing greater certainty for the future, (and) allowing the ABC to make more flexible and integrated broadcasting decisions for Australia's international target audiences.' The Government and the ABC will now mutually review the terms for renewal. Lynley Marshall, CEO of ABC International, said the agreement 'should enable the ABC to operate more effectively by converging Radio Australia and Australia Network resources.' 'The service description now also provides greater flexibility to shape the services for the future. This is obviously necessary given the changing nature of audience trends, technology and service delivery,' she added." -- Will this be the end of the Radio Australian brand? "Australia Network Service" is a bit awkward. Why not just "Australia Network"? Does the reference to "public diplomacy" mean Australian government involvement in the content?

The Australian, 1 Sept 2012, David Crowe: "The Gillard government has finally ended long-running talks over the $223 million Australia Network contract, announcing late yesterday it had sealed a new funding contract with the ABC. The ABC will run the diplomatic TV channel for the next 10 years under the new contract after Labor scrapped a public tender that drew harsh criticism from the Auditor-General over federal cabinet decisions."

VOA broadcasts in 43 languages. PBS broadcasts in 52 languages, but with "unpredictable" regularity.

Posted: 31 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Nieman Journalism Lab, 26 Aug 2012, Adrienne LaFrance: "PBS NewsHour is working to ... push some of its newsier content to global audiences. Partnering with the translation platform Amara, the show is crowdsourcing an effort to add subtitles to politics-themed videos, including moments from the U.S. presidential campaigns and short man-on-the-street interviews with American voters. So, for example, now you can watch a video of President Barack Obama talking about a new immigration policy with subtitles in Vietnamese; or the Ukrainian version of Mitt Romney announcing Paul Ryan as his running mate. ... Since January, PBS NewsHour has built up a community of hundreds of dedicated volunteer translators across the world, and videos have been translated into 52 languages. Because translations are done at the whim of volunteers, the outcome is unpredictable for any given video. As of this writing, for example, Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention was available in English, French, and…Georgian, a language that has millions of speakers but isn’t usually the first that comes up among translation projects in the United States. ... PBS NewsHour wants to build a more reliable language mix; they hope to partner with language classes at universities to achieve this." See also

VOA Indonesian journalist returned to Indonesia, because after the US election, "it was just quiet."

Posted: 30 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Jakarta Post, 26 Aug 2012, Indah Setiawati: "Being based in Washington, DC, Retno [Pinasti] was often at the center of world events. However, after six years, she longed to return to Indonesia, even if it meant leaving behind a steady job that guaranteed a pension as a civil servant with VOA, a comfortable life in a global metropolis and being surrounded by her dearest friends. She could not just ignore the part of herself that wanted to return to Indonesia to pursue her journalistic calling. 'I wanted to be at the center of hot issues in Indonesia. I felt like going home when I watched breaking news about the country. I covered exciting news such as the last US election, but after that, it was just quiet,' she said."

National Review commentator disapproves of VOA's use of "disapproves" in story about Taliban beheadings.

Posted: 30 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
National Review Online, 27 Aug 2012, Mark Steyn: "In America’s longest war, no hearts and minds but plenty of heads: 'Officials in southern Afghanistan say Taliban insurgents have beheaded 17 Afghan civilians. Authorities in Helmand province say the militants killed the 15 men and two women in Musa Qala district late Sunday because the group had organized a mixed-sex party with music and dancing – activities the Taliban disapproves.' As the blogger Scaramouche notes, 'disapproves'? This is the so-called 'Voice of America.' The attenuated euphemistic Princess Fairypants 'voice' of the American media is part of the problem. Maggie Gallagher and the Taliban both disapprove of gay marriage, but only one of them’s gonna chop your head off for it. And, if your vocabulary’s so shrunken you only have one word for the two of them, you’re doing something wrong."

Good newswriting is unopinionated, sometimes exasperatingly so. But news exists to provide the facts from which commentators and government officials can base their indignation. (The VOA story, by the way, has been updated, though it still uses the word "disapprove.")

There is a contingent that would like VOA to be infused with "values." Some in this group might eventually have decision-making authority over US international broadcasting. VOA would then follow the example of the old Radio Moscow, which mixed "values" into its newscasts. And from that, VOA would follow Radio Moscow as another expensive failure in international broadcasting. See previous post.

Hulu and "the rise of international TV."

Posted: 30 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Slate, 24 Aug 2012, June Thomas: "Hulu was created by U.S. networks as a TV catch-up service, but lately its most striking feature is international content. While the site has long been home to subversive, quirky, and sweary foreign fare, this summer Hulu added more prestigious imports, including Rev., a deceptively gentle British comedy about an inner-city clergyman; The Yard, a Canadian mockumentary the Toronto Sun dubbed a 'kiddie Sopranos'; and Prisoners of War, the Israeli drama that inspired Showtime’s Homeland. But the best new international addition to Hulu’s roster is Line of Duty, a tightly plotted BBC cop show that aired in Britain earlier this summer. ... Unfortunately, U.S. television is downright unfriendly to short series like Line of Duty, no matter how good they are. By the time they find an audience—if they find an audience—their twists and turns have already unspooled, and it’s time for a new show to take up residence. What’s more, the 'adult language' that often appears in British shows—sometimes with breath-taking frequency—can relegate them to graveyard time slots. It’s insane that scheduling snafus deprive U.S. viewers of high-quality television. But as more people acquire devices that allow them to watch on the big screen, Hulu, and other services like it, may help viewers reimagine what television can do." See previous post about Hulu.

Germany-based Motorvision TV drives into Malaysia, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka.

Posted: 29 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link, 22 Aug 2012:"Motorvision TV, part of Motorvision Group, will launch in Malaysia, Mongolia and Sri Lanka beginning September. The pay TV platforms that will launch Motorvision TV include: Asia Broadcasting Network - Malaysia, Sky C&C - Mongolia and Sky - Sri Lanka. 'In Asia there are over 450 million pay TV subscription homes and more than half of the pay TV subscribers worldwide live in Asia. With pay TV growing strongly in Asia, it is important for Motorvision TV to be present in this dynamic region and through our partnership with MCA the fact that we are able to start broadcasting in three territories is absolutely sensational,' says Motorvision TV MD Raimund Köhler. MCA [Multi Channels Asia], which is Asia's leading distributor of independent pay TV channels, represents Motorvision TV besides Bloomberg Television, ITV Granada, KidsCo, NDTV 24, NDTV Profit, NDTV Good Times and NDTV India among others." See also -- So apparently there is an English version of the channel.

In new VOA Urdu TV program, popular Pakistani newscaster describes life in the United States.

Posted: 29 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 20 Aug 2012: "Viewers in Pakistan can now experience a slice of life in America, with the premiere of a dynamic new VOA program that follows show host Sana Mirza as she gets to know the country. 'I just moved here myself, so I’m seeing things with fresh eyes,' says Sana, one of Pakistan’s most popular television newscasters. 'I want the program to paint a picture of what life is really like in the United States.' The half-hour show, called Sana. A Pakistani, airs Monday through Friday at 6:30 in the evening on Pakistan’s Express News cable channel. The first program focused on Washington D.C. and included a visit to a mosque, the White House, and an aid organization that provides free meals to the homeless."

VOA offers news service for mobile phone users in Mali.

Posted: 28 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 21 Aug 2012: "Voice of America is now offering special daily news broadcasts for mobile phone users in Mali, where Islamic militants in the north have clamped down on independent sources of information. 'Mobile phones are the single best platform to share news and information in places like northern Mali,' according to Gwen Dillard, the Director of VOA’s Africa Division. 'The audience for mobile broadcasts has been growing by leaps and bounds in Africa. It’s an excellent way to reach places where radio and television are subject to censorship and intimidation. Even in the most unstable regions, you find widespread use of mobile phones,' Dillard says. The three-minute French-language mobile newscasts include on-the-ground reports from Bamako and the northern cities of Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and Mopti, as well as breaking news from the surrounding countries of Mauritania, Niger and Chad. The first broadcast included information about a recent Cholera outbreak. The newscasts can be accessed on the mobile platform"

Do many mobile phones in Mali have internet access? If not, is there dial-in access to these VOA broadcasts? If not, radio may still be "the best platform to share news and information" in Mali. (I believe VOA French is still transmitted on shortwave, although I can't find any shortwave frequencies listed at the VOA French website.)

Critical Distance Weblog, 26 Aug 2012, Jonathan Marks: "There are more phones than radios out there. But what doesn't work is putting radio on the phone. Mali1 is a case in point. ... They tell people to go to the website where they can stream or download the news bulletin. That means you need a phone with web access to find it. ... My beef is with the audio. Listeners are paying for the call in some way (either bandwidth or time) so why bother to put a jingle in the bulletin? And the correspondents reports from Mali by mobile phone need to be revoiced. Once they have been compressed again down to such a small bandwidth they are often unintelligible. And I'd normalise the audio file, rather like putting Optimod on an FM signal."

This note about the website: The Inside VOA section has been re-labeled About VOA. The page that results from clicking on the Media Relations link includes some recent press releases, but no (working) link to the full archive of VOA press release. For that archive, go to this page.

BBG calls for immediate release of Alhurra journalists after "deeply disturbing" video on Syrian television.

Posted: 28 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 27 Aug 2012: "A Turkish cameraman who went missing while in northern Syria a week ago has appeared in a video aired on a pro-government Syrian news channel. In the video shown on al-Ikhbariya Monday, Cuneyt Unal talks about how he traveled into Syria and what he experienced. It is not clear when or under what conditions the interview took place. Unal was on assignment for the U.S.-funded Alhurra television channel. Alhurra's parent organization, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, also oversees the Voice of America. The video clip starts with a still photograph of Unal holding a rocket launcher. It then shows a tired-looking Unal, with what appears to be bruises under his eyes, speaking to a person who is off-camera and holding a microphone. ... In the video, Unal does not mention the whereabouts of his Alhurra colleague, Bashar Fahmi, who also remains missing."

The Herald (Glasgow), 28 Aug 2012: "In the video, which was broadcast by Turkish media yesterday, Cuneyt Unal appears to be in good health although he looks exhausted and nervous, with dark marks under both eyes, apparently bruising. Unal, who works for the US-funded al-Hurra television channel, describes his journey from the Turkish border to Aleppo with rebels who are fighting troops loyal to President Bashar Assad."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 27 Aug 2012: "'This video is deeply disturbing and underscores the perilous situation for these journalists,' said Michael Meehan, a member of the BBG board and Chairman of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN). 'They entered Syria only to report the news. We call for their immediate release, and we urge the Syrian government to take action to ensure their safety.'"

Committee to Protect Journalists, 27 Aug 2012: "'We hold Syrian authorities responsible for the safety and well-being of Cüneyt Ünal and Bashar Fahmi,' said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. 'We call on authorities to immediately secure the release of Ünal and Fahmi and ensure that members of the media are not used as pawns during a conflict.'"

Turkish Press, 28 Aug 2012: "In a statement released Monday, the Turkish Association of News Cameraman said that they strongly condemned Syria for preventing Cuneyt Unal from doing his job, for showing Unal as a confessor, and portraying Unal as a side and actor in the war. 'We condemn the video footage related to cameraman Cuneyt Unal. Unal has been a cameraman for the past 17 years and he has been our member for the past 15 years. The best response to the Syrian TV channel’s arguments that Unal was a spy is the award Unal received last year for the best news footage of the year. Unal was in Syria for reporting purposes and he has worked for many respectable organizations, including CNN Turk and TRT Turk.'"

See also AP, 27 Aug 2012. See previous post about same subject.

BBC Worldwide brings Jonathan Dimbleby and football tricks in HD to the Dominican Republic.

Posted: 26 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 22 Aug 2012, Iñaki Ferreras: "BBC Worldwide Channels has announced yesterday the signing of an agreement that will allow WIND Telecom bring the first BBC HD channel to the Dominican Republic, strengthening the presence of the BBC channels in the Caribbean. Subscribers to the WIND Telecom HD DVR package coincides with several major launches in August, among them is 'South American Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby', where the prestigious journalist returns 30 years after his first trip to the region, to discover the new South. Also the debut of the first program of sports genre with 'Football Freestyler' where Dan Magness, in six episodes, presents footballing skills and tricks." -- Programming versioned into Spanish? Or more for tourists in the hotels?

Worldscreen, 24 Aug 2012, Mansha Daswani: "TLC in India is gearing up to launch is own version of What Not to Wear, produced by BBC Worldwide Productions and hosted by Bollywood actress Soha Ali Khan and stylist Aki Narula. ... 'There is nothing like this on TV in India, a fashion makeover show focusing on women bringing back the importance of design, style and color in their lives.'"

Radio Canada International's future as a shortwave broadcaster is going up in smoke. Literally.

Posted: 26 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
CBC News, 24 Aug 2012: "A large grass fire that ignited at the Radio Canada International towers site on Friday in Sackville is under control. The fire was inside the circle of towers. Members of the Sackville Fire Department got the call shortly before 2 p.m. Robert Ladrier, a senior remote area transmission technician, says the possible cause for the fire could be electrical arcing and a very dry field. One transmitter was on at the time of the fire, he says, but was shut down as soon as firefighters arrived. No one has been injured. There doesn’t seem to be major damage, according to Ladrier. However, some minor transmission equipment may have been damaged, but it’s not yet clear." -- Because of an 80% budget cut, RCI has withdrawn from shortwave, and the Sackville site is for sale. See previous post.

Parliamentary inquiry criticizes high cost of the terminated Australia Network tender.

Posted: 26 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Aug 2012, Daniel Flitton: "A parliamentary inquiry has criticised the waste of more than $1 million in taxpayers' money by the Gillard government in its botched tender for Australia's television service into Asia. The Australia Network saga last year saw public broadcaster the ABC pitted against rival station Sky News, part-owned by News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch, in a contest over a $223 million contract to run the service. ... A parliamentary inquiry into the report by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit released today criticised the 'substantial' costs of terminating the tender, 'both in dollar terms and in reputational terms'. ... Tensions over the prospect of a private media company with links to Mr Murdoch running Australia's official public diplomacy channel with reach into more than 40 countries also fuelled controversy - especially following the phone hacking scandal that last year engulfed News Corporation tabloids in Britain." A link to the relevant chapter of the report is on this JCPAA web page. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Australia, 16 Aug 2012: "Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has set up a global ethics team in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that rocked the company just over a year ago. Rupert Murdoch says News Corp has initiated a review of anti-corruption controls in selected locations around the world. In a memo to staff, Mr Murdoch says News Corp's top lawyer will take on the role of chief compliance officer with responsibility for overseeing its global compliance and ethics program. The company's business units will be organised into five compliance groups: LA Cable and Broadcast Group, LA Film and TV Production Group, the Europe and Asia Group, the Australia Group and the New York News and Information Group." -- Presumably, "LA" is Los Angeles.

Netflix "aims to go global" because "regional distribution ... will cause piracy to flourish."

Posted: 26 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
C21Media, 24 Aug 2012, Andrew McDonald: "Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the firm is trying to establish worldwide, rather than regional, content deals with its partners as it continues global expansion efforts. ... 'With the global internet being treated as a regional distribution platform, consumers will only become more and more frustrated over time. It will cause piracy to flourish and as such, we are trying today to create more global relationships with our suppliers to address just that problem,' said Sarandos. Speaking a week after Netflix announced it would roll out its streaming service in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland by the end of the year, Sarandos said more countries would follow as the firm aims to go global. 'Today our intent is that Netflix will be a global company. Yes, we announced the Nordics will be our next place, but really it’s just the rhythm of opening in new territories. Unfortunately it’s country-by-country in negotiating the rights for the content, but what we’re trying to do is select markets where we think we can get to rapid scale.'" See previous post about Hulu.

Like fantasy football with media companies, imagining a CNN/NY Times combo. To which I add USIB.

Posted: 26 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Nieman Journalism Lab, 23 Aug 2012, Ken Doctor: "Let’s imagine what a New York Times/CNN combination would look like — and what it could do for both companies. ... The timing is near-perfect. Mark Thompson, after all, comes to the Times as a broadcaster. ... He is one of the few people who could have taken the job who brings both a broadcast background and one of airtight news credibility, given the BBC’s standards. ... Everyone from Bloomberg to the FT and BBC and from the Journal to the Times and the Guardian, is now moving on the vast global opportunity (English-speaking and otherwise). No longer must the Brits be satisfied with their one percent of the world market, or Americans with five percent. Here both CNN and the Times are among the top contenders. With 32 journalists outside the U.S. and 24 foreign bureaus, the Times has maintained a global presence, when most of its print brethren have severely cut back. CNN’s 33 foreign bureaus and vast carriage across the world lay continued claim to its birthright. If you are overseas and watch CNN International, it’s a night-and-day different product than CNN U.S.; adding the Times to the mix would lengthen its international lead."

Recommended reading. Ken Doctor really gets into this, even adding a detailed comparison chart.

Such combinations will be imperative in an increasingly competitive global media environment. This is why the Broadcasting Board of Governors must abandon its many brands, many managements strategy, and combine itself into one entity. (More precisely, convince Congress to combine it into one entity.) Furthermore, the new combined USIB entity must try to join with the CNN/NYT combination, if it ever happens.

CNN and NYT, as private news organizations, would be loath to jeopardize their credibility by going into business with the US Government, no less. This, then, is how it could be done: The US Government would, for a fixed number of years (at least five, I would think) place USIB entirely under the management of the CNN/NYT combo. During that period, there would be no kibitzing by the government on content, on hiring, or on anything. There would only be renewal or non-renewal of the contract. The terms might include a payment by the government to the CNN/NYT combination, or it might be more of a barter arrangement: CNN/NYT would have access to the global newsgathering talent and resources of USIB, as well as access to USIB transmitters and affiliates.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Radio & TV Talk blog, 25 Aug 2012, Rodney Ho: "[R]eadily apparent inside CNN’s downtown Atlanta headquarters is the emphasis on international news, which extends back to the Turner days. 'Ted Turner, God bless him,' says Chuck Roberts, a CNN Headline News anchor from 1982 to 2010. 'He pushed the envelope internationally when people thought that was a dumb idea.' Roberts is in China this month teaching media training for the Missouri School of Journalism. ... 'The international side has taken over news-gathering,' said the CNN International insider. 'You go the morning meeting, you might think you’re at the BBC.' That emphasis may be a smart long-term play. The international division totals about 20 percent of CNN’s revenue and is growing rapidly."

Olathe (KS) News, 26 Aug 2012, Scott Collins: "[T]he rating hemorrhage hasn't shoved CNN into the red, at least not yet. According to media research firm SNL Kagan, CNN's U.S. network will earn in 2012 about $400 million on just over $1 billion in revenue from ad sales and subscriber fees. But those numbers have remained stubbornly flat over the last few years. [Sam] Feist, CNN's Washington bureau chief, pointed out that healthy revenues for CNN International, which operates around the world, virtually ensure a handsome return for Time Warner, which faces plenty of other challenges, as with its slumping magazines. That may help explain why the pace of change has remained slow as U.S. rivals have zoomed past CNN's domestic network."

Worldscreen, 16 Aug 2012, CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour as interviewed by Anna Carugati: "[T]he kind of thing that I hope to do: current affairs, get behind the headlines, try to broaden the perspective, and definitely not take it just from a U.S. perspective even though we are in the U.S. and CNN is an American company. Ted Turner broke the mold, blazed the trail with CNN international. And not just that, by really hammering into all of us, from the lowest level to the top level at CNN—this was 1985, I had started about two years before—that we don’t say the word foreign. We are not political activists, nor are we a bastion of nationalist sentiment. We cover the news and we do it with a global perspective."

Advanced Television, 24 Aug 2012: At the MacTaggart Memorial Lecture, Liz Murdoch, chairman of News Corp’s UK television production firm, "spoke positively about the BBC’s digital efforts, saying it 'seems to be the furthest ahead in understanding that our new world demands new ecosystems.'"

Iranian official says satellite jamming signals "have an impact on people’s health."

Posted: 25 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 23 Aug 2012, Golnaz Esfandiari: "While officials have acknowledged that signal jamming is taking place, and even warned of potentially negative consequences, no one in the government has stepped up to assume responsibility. Earlier this week, Iran's Minister of Communications and Information Technology Reza Taghipour denied his department's involvement in jamming satellite signals, and said the ministry was 'seriously' pursuing the case. 'It is essential to trace and identify the source of jamming as the practice has many negative consequences,' he said in an August 21 interview with the Iranian parliament's Icana website. ... The Iranian regime has long used signal jamming to disrupt the free flow of information. It routinely jams the signal of international broadcasters, including BBC’s Persian TV and RFE/RL’s Persian Service, Radio Farda, in an attempt to prevent media coverage critical of Tehran from reaching Iranians. ... Massoumeh Ebtekar, a member of Tehran’s city council, said recently that jamming is dangerous for the health of Tehran’s residents. (He also said no one in the government is admitting to being behind the jamming.) 'What we know is that these signals have an impact on people’s health and the body’s cells. As an immunologist and researcher, I'd say that these signals could be the source of many illnesses.'" -- Ground-level jammers put Tehran residents much closer to transmissions on the Ku-band (12-18 GHz) than come from satellites in the Clarke Belt. It is still a matter of scientific discussion how much exposure to this radio energy can cause health effects. Nevertheless, if one of these jamming transmitters were on the roof of my apartment building, I would try not to spend time on that roof.

French-Tunisian TV tycoon praises Abu Dhabi for starting Sky News Arabia even if it's "probably going to lose money."

Posted: 25 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Gulf News (Dubai), 23 Aug 2012, Rahma Rachdi: "Tarek Bin Ammar, the French-Tunisian tycoon ... launched Nessma TV — the first TV channel in the Maghreb — in Tunisia with Khalid Karoui. Less than 5 years later, Nessma TV became the leading channel in Algeria and Tunisia and No 2 in Morocco. ... He says Abu Dhabi has taken a risk by launching Sky News Arabia — seen as just another Arabic channel, it won’t be financially profitable. But here is a challenge that makes sense, a challenge that leads to a great mission. 'I’m sure they have heard from everybody that there is already Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Why create a new news channel when you‘re probably going to lose money? Despite all this, they decided it to launch it anyway. I have respect for them because they are doing exactly what I said at the Abu Dhabi Film Commission conference: God gave you money not just to raise buildings, but also to take risks of losing money, maybe by launching a news channel that will give an opinion that matters, a free opinion. And since Al Jazeera has a Qatari political orientation and Al Arabiya reflects the Saudi political orientation, it is only be fair that Abu Dhabi, which is the richest of the Emirates, should have its own news channel. I was impressed by their courage. They might lose money in the future as it was the case with Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera but they have a mission. This is a mission.'" -- But what is the mission? Does the mission involve a UAE "political orientation" to counter Al Jazeera's Qatari "political orientation" and Al Arabiya's Saudi "political orientation." Or is it to have no "political orientation," as Sky News Arabia has been promising since its inception?

Daily News Egypt, 16 Aug 2012, Nart Bouran, Head of Sky News Arabia: "Social networks provide a platform to engage with audiences and to get a sense of differing opinions on key issues, while also providing a platform for news output, driving younger audiences to websites and mobile apps in addition to TV channels. As a result, the weight of responsibility on television news journalists has never been greater. Reporters have to be faster with breaking news and sharper in their reporting from a much wider range of sources, while editors must find the balance between speed, accuracy and guaranteeing impartiality in accordance with ethical journalistic conduct."

Nine-month absence of VOA Persian show "Parazit" is beginning to cause some static.

Posted: 25 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
US News & World Report, Washington Whispers, 23 Aug 2012, Elizabeth Flock: "To Americans, Parazit was known as an Iranian version of the Daily Show. To Iranians, it was proof the opposition had a voice. And to U.S. lawmakers, it was as one of the best tools they had to move the needle on human rights in Iran, and to change the country’s theocratic rule. The much-watched Persian-language show hosted by the U.S. government-run Voice of America for years spent half an hour weekly satirizing Iranian politics and culture. The show reached 19 million people via the Internet, through bootleg CDs, and illegal satellite dishes. It became one of VOA’s most popular shows to date, in one of the broadcaster’s biggest audiences. ... But last November, Parazit abruptly went off air — and though Iranians mourned its disappearance, the U.S. lawmakers who championed the show didn't have a clue. The popular show was dark for almost nine months before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee learned about it, according to a staffer on the committee. The committee was not told about the show's disappearance by VOA, but instead by a member of the show. ... VOA spokesman Kyle King says the show is only 'on hiatus,' not canceled, due to 'difficult talent and staffing issues.' King would not give further details about those issues, citing privacy concerns." See also VOA PNN Watchdog, 11 June 2012.

Does VOA have to notify Congress before it can take a program off the air? In international broadcasting, the general practice is that programs are introduced with great fanfare, whereas other programs are dropped from the schedule quietly.

We reported on the apparent breakup of the Parazit team on 25 Dec 2011. Parazit stemmed from a unique combination of talent. Reconstituting Parazit is not a simple matter of handing two other VOA Persian staffers Isaac Asimov's Treasury of Humor and assigning them to produce a funny show.

The writer of the US News piece appears to assume that VOA Persian News Network is an opposition station rather than a news service. See "Even the Static Must Be Credible."

"Control is always the first instinct of the state." Net censorship in the news.

Posted: 25 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Project Syndicate, 21 21 Aug 2012, Anne-Marie Slughter: "In the many manifestations of the ongoing and growing information war(s), the pro-freedom-of-information forces need a new weapon. A government’s banning of journalists or blocking of news and social-media Web sites that were previously allowed should itself be regarded as an early warning sign of a crisis meriting international scrutiny. The presumption should be that governments with nothing to hide have nothing to lose by allowing their citizens and internationally recognized media to report on their actions. ... Americans say that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Citizens’ access to information is an essential tool to hold governments accountable. Government efforts to manipulate or block information should be presumed to be an abuse of power – one intended to mask many other abuses.

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 22 Aug 2012, John Kampfner: "Over the past few years, largely out of sight, governments have been clawing back freedoms on the internet, turning an invention that was designed to emancipate the individual into a tool for surveillance and control. In the next few months, this process is set to be enshrined internationally, amid plans to put cyberspace under the authority of a largely secretive and obscure UN agency. If this succeeds, this will be an important boost to states' plans to censor the web and to use it to monitor citizens. ... The internationalisation of the internet is inevitable, and good. The question is not which countries are in charge, but where the power resides within countries. Control is always the first instinct of the state. The ITU summit in December marks just the start of the battle between those who wish to keep the internet (relatively) free and those who will do everything in their power to reverse the process."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 25 Aug 2012, Michael Edwards, and news agencies: "India has blocked access to certain pages of the ABC's website as part of a crackdown on internet content which it says incites racial hatred. The government has blamed internet activity for fanning fears that resulted in thousands of migrants fleeing to the north-east last week from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai. The government says the migrant workers feared they were going to be attacked by Muslim mobs, so it responded by blocking more than 300 websites it says incite hate and panic. The blocked material includes web pages, images and links on sites including Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, the ABC and Qatar-based Al Jazeera." For a list of blocked sites, see Newsclick, 23 Aug 2012.

Geekosystem, 24 Aug 2012, James Plafke: "When it comes to Iran and the Internet, we never quite know what to expect, but we can usually assume that it’s never anything good regarding digital freedom. A Tehran Blizzard player posted to the forums that Blizzard’s online service is now blocked from the Iranian Internet. The user posted a screenshot of the government’s message that lists reasons for the block, which includes the 'promotion of superstition and mythology.'"

International Emmy nomination to RT (Russia Today) for Occupy Wall Street coverage.

Posted: 25 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
RT (Russia Today), 23 Aug 2012: "RT has been nominated for the International Emmy Award in the news category for its coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement which began in New York last year. RT was one the first channels to thoroughly report about OWS. RT has been closely following the OWS movement and continues to report on their domestic and global developments from its Moscow and Washington studios in English, Arabic and Spanish. ... 'We are very happy and proud to once again become the only candidate from Russia to be nominated for this major television award,' said RT's Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan. She added that the channel hopes to win this time. RT is one of the four nominees in the news category announced by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on Tuesday. The other three are Brazil’s TV Globo Jornal Nacional for coverage of heavy rains and landslides in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro in January 2011; Japan’s NHK for coverage of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami; and Qatar’s Al Jazeera for reporting on the Libyan uprising and the fall of Tripoli." -- Generally I don't report on award nominations. There are so many awards these days that, sooner or later, every person or organization is nominated for something. Well, okay, I've never been nominated for anything. Which is just as well, because I'd rather have a root canal than attend a gala. Be all that as it may, this RT nomination is interesting, and worth mentioning, because of its topic and implications for international broadcasting. See also International Emmy Awards press release, 21 Aug 2012.

"Negative reporting" by Radio/TV Martí is basis of legal appeal by convicted Cuban spy.

Posted: 25 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Miami Herald, 20 Aug 2012, Juan O. Tamayo: "An appeals lawyer for the leader of five Cuban spies convicted in a Miami trial filed an affidavit Monday arguing that Radio/TV Marti secretly paid millions of dollars to journalists to influence jury members against his client. ... [Gerardo] Hernandez is serving two life sentences on charges that encrypted reports he sent to Havana helped Cuban MiG jets shoot down two unarmed Brothers to the Rescue airplanes over international waters in 1996, killing all four South Florida men aboard. Martin Garbus, a prominent civil rights lawyer, argued in the brief that the U.S. government tainted the jurors in the trial of the five Cubans by using the U.S. government-owned Radio/TV Marti to hire journalists expressly to produce reports condemning the spies. The New York attorney noted that some of the payments were secret - the affidavit uses the word 55 times - and argued that prosecutors should have revealed them to the defense during the trial. ... The negative reporting amounted to illegal propaganda 'by agents, not journalists,' designed to predispose potential jurors to convict the five, Garbus said. ... Radio/TV Marti and the dozen or so South Florida journalists mentioned in the affidavit have previously denied those allegations, first made public in 2006."

As CCTV America demonstrates, journalism with a mission involves journalism with omissions.

Posted: 24 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
New York Times, The Lede, 17 Aug 2012, Jacob Fromer: "March 15: Bo Xilai Ousted From Communist Party. What happened: The brash Communist Party chief of the Chongqing municipality in China’s southwest was removed from his post. It was the most high-profile dismissal of a Chinese official in years, ending his political ambitions and complicating the once-a-decade national leadership transition that will take place in the fall. Here are the headlines from CCTV America’s China-related stories that weekend: March 18 News Broadcast: Chinese Special Envoy to Syria Returns From Trip to Damascus; China Concerned About Upcoming North Korean Missile Launch; Chinese Surveillance Ships Return From Diaoyu Islands; Important Commercial Relationship Between Brazil and China. March 19 News Broadcast: More Concern Over Upcoming North Korean Missile Launch; Chinese Authors Sue Apple; Beijing Subway Overhaul; First Chinese-American Congresswoman." See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English is biased against India, writes commentator. Is not, writes AJE India bureau chief.

Posted: 24 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Firstpost, 22 Aug 2012, Seema Sirohi: "Al Jazeera seems to have missed the last five years of life itself when every major terrorist incident has been found to have some Pakistan connection. When the whole world has its eyes open, Al Jazeera’s are shut. Its Kashmir page seems limited to India’s badness. As if there is nothing to report from the other side of the LOC [Line of Control]. Gilgit Baltistan – no coverage of the simmering discontent there. It is air brushed away from the pages of 'The Forgotten Conflict.' In the end it is about who controls the narrative and Al Jazeera is helping one side gain traction."

Firstpost, 24 Aug, Anmol Saxena, chief of bureau, AJE India: "Critique is always welcome. But I had to write back when a self-professed fan of our network and a responsible fellow journalist attached motives to our coverage. ... I wish Sirohi would have spent more time on the channel and watched when Al Jazeera was telling the India Growth story, the Indian Hospital story, the Indian Millionaires story, etc. But questions abound about India Poverty, India Naxalism, India Riots. We told those stories too."

Ibid, Seema Sirohi: "I wish you luck in your aim to break the 'hegemonic narrative' of the 'traditional western media.' There is a western narrative, no doubt, but it appears you are building an equally controversial one — at least on India."

Al Jazeera English is participant (with NYT, WSJ, ABC, etc) in YouTube Elections Hub.

Posted: 24 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
CNET, 22 Aug 2012, Dara Kerr: "YouTube launched 'Elections Hub' today -- its one-stop shop for this year's election coverage. The video service announced that with this specialized channel, all live speeches from the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions will be streamed. Also, people can watch Google+ Hangouts and live streams of the official presidential and vice presidential debates. The channel debuted today and will available through Election Day. ... Besides official news, speeches, and debates, other election information and analysis will be thrown into the mix from all sorts of news outlets, including ABC News, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed, Larry King, The New York Times, Phil DeFranco, Univision, and The Wall Street Journal."

Verizon FiOS subscribers can watch BBC America's "rather good" Copper (updated: 1.8m viewers).

Posted: 24 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 17 Aug 2012: "Verizon has confirmed the addition of BBC Worldwide’s US channel BBC America to its FiOS IPTV service. The HD feed ... is available to subscribers of FiOS TV’s Extreme HD and Ultimate HD packages. Verizon also plans to add BBC America HD to its video-on-demand offering." -- We are Verizon subscribers, but, alas, internet and telephone only. No multichannel television, so I won't be able to watch...

Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug 2012, Robert Lloyd: "'Copper,' which premieres Sunday night, is the first original drama from BBC America, a network that sometimes seems to be made entirely of "Top Gear" reruns. It is rather good. ... [I]t is a sort of Eastern western, set around the unruly, pestilent Five Points area of New York City in 1864 ... Irish American police detective Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones) is a straight arrow in a crooked world and plagued by a mystery of his own: the disappearance of his wife and the murder of his daughter while he was away doing brave things in the still-ongoing Civil War." -- And many other reviews, too numerous to link to.

Update: C21Media, 22 Aug 2012, Michael Pickard: "US cable network BBC America has broken its ratings record for a series premiere following the debut episode of its first original drama. The opening episode of Copper drew 1.1 million viewers at 22.00 on Sunday, making it the channel’s highest rated series premiere ever. This figure grew to 1.8 million when viewers of its three subsequent repeats were added."

How to measure the impact of journalism? I think BBC World News has the answer.

Posted: 23 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Nieman Journalism Lab, 17 Aug 2012, Jonathan Stray: "Evaluating the impact of journalism is a maddeningly difficult task. To begin with, there’s no single definition of what journalism is. It’s also very hard to track what happens to a story once it is released into the wild, and even harder to know for sure if any particular change was really caused by that story. It may not even be possible to find a quantifiable something to count, because each story might be its own special case. But it’s almost certainly possible to do better than nothing."

I think nothing would be the best thing to do. A good journalist is concerned about informing well, not about what the impact of his/her story will be. But if it's absolutely necessary to measure impact, do what BBC World News did: put an ad on a tram, then hit a truck with the tram, then measure the impact.

Freedom House survey in Zimbabwe shows decline of VOA Studio 7 as most-listened-to radio news source.

Posted: 23 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Voice of the People, 22 Aug 2012, Millie Phiri: "A 2012 Zimbabwe public survey by the Freedom House has shown that the Movement for Democratic Change support is on the downward trend while that of Zanu (PF) is increasing. ... The survey also found out that the majority of Zimbabweans still trusted to receive its news from Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, particularly radio. Only seven percent relied on Voice of America's Studio 7."

Freedom House, 18 Aug 2012, Susan Booysen: "The three most commonly used 2012 radio sources were, in descending order, for the total of radio use for public affairs-political news: ZBC’s Radio Zimbabwe 45%, ZBC’s Power FM 12%, VOA Studio 7 7%. The top three radio stations for 2010 were ZBC Radio Zimbabwe 35%, VOA Studio 7 14%, and ZBC Power FM 9%. ... The most commonly used television stations-channels in 2012 for public affairs - political news were: ZBC TV 35%, SABC TV 12%, France 24 2%." -- The "most used" question is not especially useful for measuring the impact of international radio or television stations, because even in countries with poor and/or controlled media, most audiences use the domestic media as the primary source of information, and international media as a supplemental source, especially when facts must be checked. France 24's appearance in the television results probably has to do with the fact that it is the only global English-language news channel free-to-air on the Intelsat 7 satellite popular in southern Africa.

Radio Voice of the People, 23 Aug 2012: "[I]n a scathing rebuttal of the findings the MDC-T described the survey findings as 'unreliable'. Addressing journalists in Harare, Douglas Mwonzora, and the party spokesperson said: 'The party respects the right of individuals and institutions to carry out opinion surveys on the views of the people of Zimbabwe from time to time. However, we note that surveys carried out under current conditions are difficult to rely on due to the fact that they are held under conditions of major fluidity'."

In Zimbabwe, "satellite TV and Internet are coming fast."

Posted: 23 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
BBG Strategy, 20 Aug 2012, Joan Mower: "[I]n a precursor of the future, one of the most noticeable changes in Harare was the number of Wiztech dishes that allow Zimbabweans to access free-to-air satellite stations. For about $120, anyone can buy a dish and decoder on the streets of Harare. Like people in the Middle East before them, satellite increasingly looks like it’s going to be the way people get their news and information. Radio is still king here – but satellite TV and Internet are coming fast." -- In the Middle East, hundred of free-to-air channels are available via satellite. In southern Africa, the number of FTA channels is limited. See previous post about SABC channels no longer available free in Zimbabwe via Wiztech and similar receivers.

"Making brands like Peppa Pig truly global," and more news of international children's broadcasting.

Posted: 23 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link, 22 Aug 2012, Jesse Whittock: "Flagship kids series Peppa, which is produced by UK indie Astley Baker Davies, has gone to Taiwan’s Eastern Broadcasting Company’s (EBC) children’s pay-TV channel Yo Yo, Hong Kong terrestrial channel TVB, Singapore’s Medicorp (for free-TV net Okto) and Thailand’s Cineplex. ... 'There is a huge appetite in Asia for the British children’s TV properties in our portfolio. These acquisitions will help us make in-roads into Asia which is a key market for the business and will be a crucial step towards making brands like Peppa Pig truly global,' said eOne Family’s head of international sales Joss Duffield."

Ki, 20 Aug 2012, Jeremy Dickson: "Global, 24-hour, French-language digital network TV5MONDE has snapped up seasons one and two of animated series Wakfu from independent French studio Ankama. ... Season two of the 52 x 22-minute series, which evolved from an Ankama-developed MMORPG called Dorfus and takes place within a fantasy universe after a catastrophic world event, is expected to air from October 23, 2012."

Parent companies show "less than enthusiastic interest in Hulu's international ambitions."

Posted: 23 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Variety, 19 Aug 2012, Andrew Wallenstein, reporting on an internal memo detailing plans of parent companies News Corp and Disney for video streaming service Hulu: A "portion of the memo reveals Disney and News Corp.'s less than enthusiastic interest in Hulu's international ambitions, which at this juncture is limited to Japan, where Hulu launched last September. Though Hulu international head Johannes Larcher gave an optimistic progress report on Hulu's corporate blog in June detailing its plans for the territory, the parent companies don't seem to share in the excitement. ... The memo also notes Hulu has its eye on other markets, though its owners have mixed feelings on that end. While both companies don't object to Hulu's exploration of launching in Australia, both make clear they have no interest in funding a proposed expansion into India."

Alhurra journalists reportedly seized by Syrian forces.

Posted: 23 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 20 Aug 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors has called upon the Syrian government to ensure the safety of two of its journalists who were reportedly seized by Syrian forces on Monday, August 20. Alhurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi and his cameraman, Cuneyt Unal, were reporting from Aleppo when they went missing. A video posted on YouTube by the Free Syrian Army announced that the journalists were detained by Syrian authorities. It was reported that Fahmi and Unal were traveling with Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto of Japan Press. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Yamamoto was killed Monday, August 20 in Aleppo, where she was covering clashes between Syrian troops and rebels. 'The safety and well-being of these two journalists is of paramount concern to us, and we strongly urge Syrian authorities to ensure their safe return,' said Michael Meehan, a member of the BBG Board and Chairman of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc. (MBN)."

AP, 20 Aug 2012, Malcolm Foster: "Capt. Ahmed Ghazali, a rebel fighter in the northern Syrian city of Azaz ... said two ... journalists were captured by Syrian government forces in Aleppo, including a reporter with Al-Hurra TV named 'Bashar.' A statement from Springfield, Virginia-based Al-Hurra said the video referred to correspondent Bashar Fahmi and his cameraman Cuneyt Unal. The company has not been able to reach either man since they entered Syria on Monday morning. 'We are currently working to gather more information about their status. The safety and wellbeing of our journalists is of utmost concern to us,' the statement said."

Voice of America, 21 Aug 2012: "VOA correspondent Scott Bobb spoke to the driver who brought the journalists into Syria Monday. The driver said the Japanese reporter was hit by a bullet at close range while a second Japanese journalist scrambled over a wall to safety. The driver says an Alhurra reporter was shot in the shoulder and was taken away by Syrian militiamen along with his cameraman."

Ammon News, 23 Aug 2012: "In a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon, Al Hurra TV announced that it had lost contact with Qadoumi and his camerawoman since they entered Aleppo on Monday, voicing concern that the two were apprehended by Syrian authorities. The network did not clarify in the statement whether the two had entered the restive city, which has been the centre of a fierce pitched battle between rebel and regime forces over the past two weeks, legally."

Al Jazeera English documentary on Baltimore, with "boarded-up rowhouses, drugs, death, crime scenes," won't be seen on cable in Baltimore (updated).

Posted: 22 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Baltimore Sun, 18 Aug 2012, David Zurawik: "Baltimore-area viewers won't see it in their TV listings, but this week a program will premiere on the Al Jazeera English channel that could do more to shape the world's image of their city than any other media coverage or civic promotion done all year. 'Baltimore: Anatomy of an American City' will debut Tuesday night to a potential worldwide audience of 260 million homes. And what those viewers will mainly see is a landscape of young men on bleak street corners, block after block of boarded-up rowhouses, drugs, death, crime scenes and prisons. ... Mohammed el-Nawawy, author of 'Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network That Is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism,' [says] that the channel sees U.S. locations like inner-city Baltimore as just as much a part of the Global South landscape as Asian or African nations that suffered centuries under colonial rule. ... The channel is on Comcast, Cox and Verizon Fios in Washington, but nowhere in Baltimore. Millions watch a live stream of Al Jazeera English, however, each week at The Baltimore documentary premieres at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday with multiple replays throughout the week. After that, it will be available on Al Jazeera's YouTube channel, which receives 8 million views a month, according to the network." See link to program, with video. See also AJE promo via YouTube.

Update: Baltimore Sun, 21 Aug 2012, David Zurawik: "Al Jazeera English will premiere a thought-provoking and hard-hitting documentary about Baltimore tonight, but viewers here won't be able to see it on cable TV. That's outrageous, ignorant and maddening. ... But that lack of access to Al Jazeera English on cable TV also makes me wonder what kind of sheep we are as media consumers -- and what kind of mice we have as media critics that cable companies can get away with not offering this option even as they they offer a sea of channels devoted to shopping and reruns of lame network shows from previous decades."

Baltimore Sun, 21 Aug 2012, David Zurawik: "Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's office was able to view it Tuesday afternoon. Ian Brennan, press secretary to Rawlings-Blake, sent this statement via email to the Sun after seeing the film: 'The documentary showed viewers one side of Baltimore. As a life-long resident and former public defender, Mayor Rawlings-Blake knows this side all too well; she also knows that there is much more to Baltimore than was included in the broadcast. FBI statistics show that, in the past decade, crime and violence have declined significantly in Baltimore. Last year, for the first time since 1977, Baltimore recorded fewer than 200 homicides—a 12% decline from the year before.'"

Link TV, 15 Aug 2012, Caty Borum Chattoo: "As part of an effort to provide our audiences with in-depth, issue-oriented political coverage ahead of the US elections, we're happy to announce that Link TV will premiere Al Jazeera English's daily half-hour news program, 'Inside Story Americas,' on Tuesday, August 21st. The news program, produced out of Al Jazeera English's Washington DC news center, will air Monday through Friday on Link TV at 12pm ET/9am PT and again at 7pm ET/4pm PT ... . Kicking off this fall with its 'unconventional political convention coverage,' the show will talk to people who are most affected by the policies and politics of the two parties, but are left out of the mainstream discussion. 'Inside Story Americas' will go to the margins -- hearing from those protesting at the conventions and those calling for solutions that go beyond either party (The US political conventions take place during the last week of August and first week of September)."

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, 18 Aug 2012: "Al Jazeera English is temporarily off the air in Yakima [Washington state]. Since Aug. 1, Yakima media company Grupo Hispanavision has aired MundoFox, a new Spanish-language network, on channel 39.4, where Al Jazeera English was previously. ... Al Jazeera English, an English-language news Arabic news network based in Doha, Qatar, will return on channel 39.4 when channel 38.1 is ready to broadcast MundoFox."

Will shortwave listeners' neighbors unplug those shortwave-obliterating networking devices?

Posted: 22 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
PC Pro, 20 Aug 2012, Paul Ockenden: "Powerline networking can be a contentious subject. On the one hand, it’s a very easy way to network your home or small office, especially if it’s a building that isn’t suited to Wi-Fi (either too old with thick stone walls, or too new with metal-covered plasterboard in the walls). On the other hand, powerline networking can be disastrous for any neighbours who are into shortwave radio activities, either as proper radio hams or who just listen to distant stations. I argued before that maybe those with these antiquated hobbies should get with the times by chatting to other people or listening to distant radio stations via the internet, but I now know this isn’t a popular opinion among the shortwave radio community: I have a stack of angry emails to prove it! In general, it’s a good philosophy to be nice to your neighbours – whether you’re a fan of their hobbies or not – and luckily it’s usually easy to tell whether any of them are into amateur or other forms of shortwave radio, since they’re likely to have a huge aerial strapped to their roof or in their garden."

Archives of Switzerland's Short Wave Service, 1939-1945, now available online.

Posted: 22 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link, 20 Aug 2012, Olivier Pauchard: "During the Second World War, Switzerland’s fledgling short wave radio service was essential to its attempts to communicate its policies and actions to an external audience made up of both foreign governments and the Swiss abroad. The archives of the Short Wave Service (SWS), founded in 1935, have been digitalised and are now available online. SWS was the forerunner to Swiss Radio International (SRI) which later became The manuscripts of news bulletins from this dark time in Europe reveal Swiss thinking on events both out of its control and right on its doorstep as the country desperately held on to its beloved neutrality. In Switzerland’s national languages (German, French, Italian) as well as English, Spanish and Portuguese, SWS broadcast news and analysis of military events on both sides. ... Broadcasts by SWS at that time were also notable for the fact that they were the first news bulletins produced by a dedicated radio editorial team; previously news bulletins had been written and read by journalists from the Swiss News Agency, a press organisation." With audio report. See also the Archives web page.

Dost hear the decree? Lillibulero will return as BBC World Service signature tune after the Paralympics.

Posted: 22 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 20 Aug 2012, Media Monkey: "There's been something missing from the BBC World Service of late. Well, quite a lot went awry after the government cut its funding, but that's not what we're talking about. Specifically Lillibulero, the World Service's signature tune which has been dropped by the global broadcaster in recent weeks. Lillibulero, readers won't need reminding, was originally an Irish jig and was arranged by English composer Henry Purcell in 1689. ... Monkey is told 'Lilli' – as it is known in Bush... sorry, Broadcasting House – is only taking temporary leave for the duration of the London Olympics and Paralympics, after which normal (world) service will be resumed." With audio, which is "Lillibulero," but not the arrangement heard on BBCWS. More authentic and recent versions of Lillibulero and BBC World Service ID packages are available at this YouTube video uploaded by shriramvenu, 22 May 2009. More information at this BBC World Service page, which uses the spelling Lilliburlero, and states "we regret that we are not able to supply copies or audio files of programme themes, idents or Lilliburlero." Even though they are played on air over and over? And even though audio files of most other BBCWS content is available online?

Radio World examines the Smith Mundt Modernization Act, presently going nowhere in Congress.

Posted: 22 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 20 Aug 2012, Randy J. Stine: "Reps. William 'Mac' Thornberry, R-Texas and Adam Smith, D-Wash., introduced H.R. 5736, the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, in May to update the law covering how the federal government communicates to foreign audiences through broadcast and other means. The provision has been considered outdated by broadcasters at BBG since the spread of the Internet and satellite broadcasting. ... Former BBG Chairman Jim Glassman, founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute, supports the amendment and believes the current prohibition is anachronistic. 'All BBG programming is readily available in the United States through websites, and many language services are active on YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms,' Glassman said. 'Diaspora communities in the United States, seeking information in their native languages, can benefit from the accurate news and information delivered by BBG language services — and they can and do pass it on to relatives and friends in BBG target countries around the world.'"

The Thornberry-Smith bill state, in part: "The Secretary and the Broadcasting Board of Governors are authorized to use funds appropriated or otherwise made available for public diplomacy information programs to provide for the preparation, dissemination, and use of information intended for foreign audiences abroad about the United States, its people, and its policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, the Internet, and other information media, including social media, and through information centers, instructors, and other direct or indirect means of communication." I added the underlining, because the US ethnic radio stations, often cited as a reason to relax the domestic dissemination ban, are probably more interested in news about the home countries of their immigrant audiences. VOA and the Radio Free stations have plenty of such news, and conveninently in the languages of the those immigrant communities. Would Thornberry-Smith allow the domestic dissemination of target-country news?

When the VOA receives a request from a US media outlet to reprint or rebroadcast VOA content, present practice is to decline the request. Perhaps instead, the media outlet should be sent the language of Gartner v USIA (1989), which ruled, basically, that while the domestic dissemination ban is constitutional, US citizens and media outlets can, of their own accord, acquire and disseminate VOA content.

Fears about relaxing the domestic dissemination ban are often based on the premise that VOA and other BBG elements are engaged in propaganda, or at least "public diplomacy." It is unhelpful when the BBG refers to its own work as "public diplomacy." The BBG should stress that its entities are in the news business, and invite journalism professors to analyze the output of the BBG entities to look for evidence that the content is anything other than news. The new BBG mission statement has, unfortunately, jettisoned the reference to "accurate, objective, and balanced news" contained in its previous mission statement.

As I've written many times, the internet and satellites have not made the domestic dissemination prohibition obsolete. Through IP blocking and specification of footprints, these technologies make the ban finally observable. The ban is not observed, however, and maybe it's best just to let the sleeping dog lie. Continued activity to pass Thornberry-Smith could have an outcome opposite of what was intended.

The House passed the Thornberry-Smith bill as part of the Defense Authorization Act. The Senate did not include it in their authorization for the BBG or DOD. Passage of the bill would seem to be an uphill struggle.

International broadcasts help North Koreans (who dare to listen) "make informed decisions about their fate."

Posted: 21 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Stars and Stripes, 20 Aug 2012, Jon Rabiroff and Yoo Kyong Chang: "Representatives of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia insist their goal is only to educate North Koreans about what really is going on in their country and around the world. 'We’re not interested in promoting the overthrow of the regime in North Korea,' said Lee Dong-hyuk, chief of Voice of America’s Korean service. 'We are not engaged in any form of political goals or objectives. We provide information,' he said. 'A better informed citizen can make informed decisions about their fate, whatever direction they might want to go.' Max Kwak, Radio Free Asia’s Korean service director, echoed that position, adding: 'The value of what we offer to the people of North Korea depends on its objectivity, accuracy and reliability. We believe our listeners in North Korea want the truth.' ... Kwak and Lee look forward to a day when their jobs will become obsolete but don’t expect it to be anytime soon. 'An increase of options could put pressure on the regime to be more forthright, but we anticipate our role at [Radio Free Asia] in providing the North Korean public with the latest news will continue for some time,' Kwak said. Lee said, 'Eventually, what we want is North Korea to no longer need [Voice of America] Korea.'"

YouTube, 25 June 2012, TEDTalentSearch: "Sokeel Park is a Research and Policy Analyst for Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), a US-based NGO that works for the North Korean people. He is currently developing a theory of change for the country." -- No mention of VOA or RFA Korean broadcasts, but he does mention South Korean dramas on DVDs, North Korean fishermen listening to weather forecasts from South Korean radio, Chinese mobile phones near the border with China, and wikipedia pages on USB sticks smuggled into North Korea.

KBIA (Columbia, MO), 17 Aug 2012, Rehman Tungekar: "When you think about enemies of free speech in Asia, North Korea comes to mind as the biggest villain. South Korea, on the other hand, has a robust democracy and a thriving economy. It’s perhaps the most wired country in the world, with the highest number of broadband connections per capita and an internet penetration approaching 90 percent. But in the past few years, censorship in South Korea has increased dramatically. The number of censored articles doubled after President Lee Myung-bak took office in 2009, and the crackdown continued. South Korea police are regularly making Web administrators remove online posts, particularly those considered pro-North Korean. Some journalists say they’re operating in the worst media climate for South Korea in the past three decades. To hear more about the media climate in South Korea, Global Journalist spoke to Steve Herman and Park Keeyongsin. Steve is the Voice of America’s Northeast Asia bureau chief and President of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents Club." With audio.

Will Mark Thompson, ex BBC DG, lead the New York Times in a more international direction?

Posted: 20 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Newsonomics, 14 Aug 2012, Ken Doctor: "The global imperative is basic math. In Britain, Thompson served 1% of the world’s population. In the U.S., the Times serves 5%. The growth potential of both — especially in a world where close to a billion people can understand English — is huge. Out-of-country expansion, to gain new readers and advertisers, isn’t easy, but Thompson is one of the few potential CEOs who has it."

Poynter, 15 Aug 2012, Rick Edmonds: "Contrary to others, I don’t see a big international play as a logical move. This has historically been a money-losing area for both the Times (with the International Herald Tribune) and the Journal. Quality newspaper organizations in London and other European capitals typically lose serious amounts of money, even if they’re ahead of the curve on digital transformation like the Guardian. On the other hand, the segue from the IHT of old to a more contemporary international model is not complete. Thompson can help there, and if the Times’ ambitions for worldwide clout grow, what better model than the BBC for moving from a potent national brand to an international presence?" See also Poynter, 15 Aug 2012, Steve Myers.

But international operations have been the money maker for CNN. Keep in mind, also, that the Chinese edition of the New York Times has launched and, despite its ejection from Weibo, carries on. See previous post about same subject.

Burma's announcement about ending media censorship is news, but maybe not front-page news.

Posted: 20 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 20 Aug 2012, Media Monkey: "International news groups have been careful to keep their enthusiasm in check when reporting the Burmese government's claim that it has abolished media censorship after 48 years. The BBC's initial enthusiasm for the story – it ran as a lead bulletin on the 24-hour news channel and prominently online – has cooled through the day. Monkey hears that the BBC's troops on the ground in Burma successfully talked down bosses in London, advising that the country remains heavily restrictive for the media. By 4pm in the UK, the BBC had dropped the story from the front page of its website. Now that's what you call international diplomacy."

BBC News, 20 Aug 2012: "The head of the BBC's Burmese Service, Tin Htar Shwe, says journalists in Burma are cautiously optimistic about the reforms, but that the end of the law does not necessarily mean the end of the censorship altogether. Many laws still exist under which journalists can be punished for writing material which angers or offends the government, she says."

Former RFE/RL president's plan for VOA: 1) relegate it to public diplomacy, 2) bust its union.

Posted: 20 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The American Interest, September/October 2012 issue, Jeffery Gedmin (president of RFE/RL, 2007-2011): "American public diplomacy needs the full and active support of American broadcasting. To this end the BBG should clarify the identity of the VOA and the MBN. Both have developed needlessly complex personalities. Too often taxpayer-funded broadcasters have bristled over the notion that their independent journalistic work should be subsumed as an element of American public diplomacy; yet it must be. The BBG carries the responsibility both to place the work of broadcasting in the service of its mission, and to protect the integrity of the journalism produced under its banner. These ideas are not contradictory; they are rather mutually reinforcing.

"Both VOA and MBN should re-focus on U.S. public diplomacy efforts, but MBN should maintain its independent status. Like Radio Free Asia and RFE/RL, it is a 501(c) (3) and, as such, a grantee of the Federal government. VOA should be de-federalized to permit greater flexibility in recruiting and managing personnel. This will mean an end to VOA’s union, a step that will almost certainly have to wait for a Republican Administration.

"Surrogate broadcasting was always 'about them.' Public diplomacy (including VOA) was always 'about us.' Any reorganization of broadcasting should reflect these two distinct yet complementary missions. U.S. international broadcasting needs above all simplification and clarity of purpose. Times and technologies change, but a return to some of the most important basics can help us get the most out of broadcasting’s soft power today."

Dr. Gedmin would eliminate the VOA union? Now that would send a powerful message to the world about the "freedom and democracy" enshrined in the Broadcasting Board of Governors mission statement. Or does he mean that the VOA's American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, local would have to be replaced by something like Radio Free Asia's Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, local, if VOA were de-federalized?

Beyond that, Gedmin's essay is a collection of good and bad ideas for US international broadcasting. A single CEO for USIB, more journalism training (if it's real journalism), and more correspondents in or near the target country are all, in my opinion, good ideas.

In the first paragraph quoted above, Gedmin writes the "BBG carries the responsibility both to place the work of broadcasting in the service of its mission, and to protect the integrity of the journalism produced under its banner." This is possible only if journalism with integrity is the mission. Otherwise, the enterprise is pulling in two very different directions. Elsewhere in his essay, Gedmin would have the surrogate broadcasters collaborate more with the National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House. Worthy as those organizations are, they are not in the news business. Journalists do not do well by trying to do good.

Gedmin believes that US international broadcasting should be centrally planned by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington. I believe it should be market-based. The market, in which I have been immersed for 35 years as an audience research analyst, seeks news that is more accurate, reliable, and objective than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media. Fortunately, such a market-based news service benefits both the audience and the United States. Well informed publics make it more difficult for dictators, terrorists, and other international miscreants to commit mischief. Instead of arguing the merits of democracy, USIB should be an element of the democratic process by giving audiences the information they need to form their own political opinions.

The audience for international broadcasting is, collectively, much smarter than all the decision makers and think tank fellows within the Beltway. The audience would spot almost immediately a broadcasting service that is a mix of journalism and "mission." They will tune to another broadcasting outlet, or visit another website, that does not insult their intelligence.

Ideally, international broadcasting should be in the private sector, so that the burden of demonstrating insulation from a government is not necessary. CNN is successful globally with its English-language CNN International, in Latin America via CNN en Español, and through its partnerships in India and Turkey. When such endeavors succeed, the US government should get out of the way. In fact, the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 has such a stipulation.

In other languages, where international broadcasting has less commercial potential, the government must provide the funding but (this is the tricky part) not insert itself in the journalistic process. Members of parliaments in the UK and other Western democracies seem to understand this concept, so I have not given up hope that American decision makers could do the same.

Gedmin writes that the "distinct but complementary" missions of RFE/RL and VOA became "muddled" since the end of the Cold War. Actually, anyone who turned on a shortwave radio back in the day knows they were muddled long before that. By the 1950s, VOA knew its audiences were mostly interested in what was happening in their own countries, and adjusted its content accordingly. The result was duplication, lots of duplication, between VOA and RFE/RL. Radio Free Asia was created on false premise that VOA was limited to news about the United States and English-language lessons (pretty much the VOA as described by Gedmin). VOA leadership at the time did not correct that information, resulting in even more duplication. (BBC World Service was and is probably the most important surrogate broadcaster, although it never uses the word "surrogate." See the previous post about a Vietnamese listener calling the BBC to do what Vietnamese media would not do under current circumstances. Nevertheless, BBC World Service also manages to provide news about Britain and the rest of the world. All from one convenient station.)

Duplication is pervasive in US international broadcasting. Duplication is a significant form of waste in federal spending. I would eliminate the duplication by consolidating the USIB entities into one entity. Gedmin, on the other hand, would turn VOA into a "public diplomacy" entity. VOA would then presumably duplicate the work of the public diplomacy offices at the State Department. I would prefer that the complementary roles be on the part of US international broadcasting, in one building, and the State Department's public diplomacy effort, on the other side of town.

As part of its new public diplomacy function, VOA would become a station that is "about us." From the hundreds of surveys I've seen, it is is clear that the audience is less interested in "us" than "us" would like to believe. Under Gedmin's plan, it's not so much that the surrogate stations would be "about them" and VOA "about us", but that the surrogates would have an audience, and VOA would not. Or at least not much of an audience.

Still, in order for some part of USIB to have a modicum of journalistic independence under a future administration and Congress, it may be necessary for another part of USIB to function as public diplomacy as a sop to those who want international broadcasting to be more "mission" driven. VOA might become that sacrificial animal. It would broadcast an ersatz news product and (Gedmin quoting British historian Andrew Roberts): "stories of Omaha Beach; of the Wild West; of Mr. Smith going to Washington; of the Frontiersman; of the huddled masses who work hard and ultimately succeed; of the Alamo ... ." You get the point. Such stories may bring tears to the eyes of us Americans, but too much of it may bring yawns to listeners abroad. VOA would lose most of its audience. It would become largely a waste of the taxpayers' money, but, in Washington, what else is new?

Actually, in the Gedmin scenario, VOA could thrive. It would send messages that are music to the ears of future administrations and Congresses, and thus its funding would be assured. VOA could carry on in such a manner for many, many years, just as the old Radio Moscow, with its huge budget and tiny audience, endured for decades.

Finally, Gedmin joins the chorus of experts who think that new technology has rendered obsolete the Smith-Mundt prohibition of domestic dissemination. Back in the shortwave heyday, nothing could stop VOA programs from being heard off the back of the beam in the United States. Now, with the internet, access to USIB websites could simply be denied to those with US IP addresses. New technology has made the domestic dissemination ban finally observable. It is, however, not observed. Fine with me, because the US taxpayers deserve to know what USIB is transmitting to the world. And they can benefit from what is an excellent global news service. For now, at least.

Foreign Affairs, 31 July 2012, Michael Ledeen, (untruncated at IsraelAmerica): "[T]he time has come for the United States and other Western nations to actively support Iran’s democratic dissidents. The same methods that took down the Soviet regime should work: call for the end of the regime, broadcast unbiased news about Iran to the Iranian people, demand the release of political prisoners (naming them whenever possible), help those prisoners communicate with one another, enlist international trade unions to build a strike fund for Iranian workers, and perhaps find ways to provide other kinds of economic and technological support." -- Right now, VOA has the largest audience in Iran of any USIB entity. Under the Gedmin plan, VOA would no longer "broadcast unbiased news about Iran," because VOA would be "about us."

Ghalib Academy of America press release, 17 Aug 2012: "Illinois Governor Pat Quinn congratulated Dr. Sarfaraz K. Niazi, a long-time Illinois resident, for being awarded the Pakistani civil award Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) announced on Pakistan's Independence Day (August 14) by the Government of Pakistan. Dr. Niazi received this recognition for his lifelong contributions in assisting scientists in developing countries to improve their intellectual property assets and improve their economies through creative applied research. ... He is widely recognized worldwide for introducing Asian poet Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) to the West through the first complete English translation of the Urdu and Persian collections of his love poems. He broadcasts explications of Ghalib's poetry on the Voice of America radio station every Sunday." -- Explications of the poetry of Mirza Ghalib would not be "about us." Even though this content has enhanced the popularity of VOA in Pakistan, under the Gedmin plan, it would be dropped in favor of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

South African news channel eNCA to be seen in the UK via Sky platform.

Posted: 19 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Media Online, 16 Aug 2012, Glenda Neville: "It’s a brave – and expensive – move taking a South African news product to the United Kingdom, but the challenge of broadcasting on a Sky platform is one that the team at eNews Channel is confronting head on. The Channel’s head of news, Patrick Conroy, confirmed that eNews Channel Africa, rebranded eNCA, says because eNews has been 'very cost conscious' over the past 10 years, keeping operational expenses under control, they are in a position to be able to expand. ... Conroy said eNCA will sell advertising on the channel without Sky input, and without having to pay SKY anything in revenue. 'Advertising will be sold both from the UK and South Africa. We have set up an office in London,' he said. ... Conroy said content on the channel will not change, an important fact for South African viewers. 'We are broadcasting to the UK not about the UK. The only difference will be that we will broadcast a separate sports bulletin to international viewers because of sport rights issues,' he said. ... eNCA is seen in Southern Africa on DStv (403). 'However our Africa division also provides news bulletins to Africa which is available in 49 African countries, and to The Africa Channel (TAC) which is also on the Sky digital satellite platform,' Conroy said. ... The channel is also in the process of creating an online news presence similar to that of the BBC." See also

RT (Russia Today) suffers DDoS attack, uncertain by whom.

Posted: 19 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
ZDNet, 17 Aug 2012, David Meyer: "The English-language Russia Today (RT) tweeted on Friday morning that its hosting provider had confirmed was 'under DDoS attack'. An anti-Wikileaks group subsequently claimed responsibility, but there is as yet no proof of this connection. It is notable that Friday is the day when a Russian court will decide the fate of three members of the punk protest band Pussy Riot, which has been very critical of Vladimir Putin. RT's tweet came through at 8:12am. Around 20 minutes later, Antileaks tweeted that it was responsible for the DDoS, and attached a hashtag supporting Pussy Riot. The Wikileaks account then went on to condemn the attack, suggesting that it was connected with RT's support of Assange, rather than the punk band." See also RT, 18 Aug 2012, with video.

Freelancer for WPIX TV New York moves to Ebru TV. What's Ebru TV?

Posted: 19 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Media Bistro, 14 Aug 2012, Jerry Barmash: "Freelance reporter Francesca Maxime dropped her instant visibilty with WPIX/Channel 11. The Harvard educated Maxime joined Ebru TV as a weekday anchor. 'It’s pretty much all international news, like a BBC America or Al Jazeera English,' Maxime tells FishbowlNY. For now, New Yorkers hoping to see Maxime’s anchor exploits need cable provider RCN. However, the New Jersey-based channel is also broadcast in Africa and Europe."

Ebru TV website: "Ebru TV takes pride in being the newest cable network that offers a complete television experience that is both wholesome and exhilarating for family viewers of all ages. Launched nationally in 2006, the network broadcasts 24 hours in English to viewers across the United States. Ebru TV’s wide range of high quality programs serve to viewers eager for more inclusive and representative portrayals of their lifestyles. It offers members of diverse communities a place to share their unique stories and contributions." -- Ebru TV is owned by the Istanbul-based Samanyolu Broadcasting Group.

New advertising sales hires for CNBC International and BBC Worldwide.

Posted: 19 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Asia Media Journal, 16 Aug 2012, onpassing CNBC press release: "CNBC ... today announced that Jason Webby will be joining CNBC International as Senior Vice President Sales. This is a newly created role for the international business, which will see Webby overseeing CNBC’s advertising sales operations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Webby will report to Satpal Brainch, President & Managing Director, CNBC International and will be based in London. ... Jason Webby added, 'I’m thrilled to be joining a brand like CNBC, which is so universally revered in the global business and financial communities. I’m looking forward to leading our international sales operations and helping our clients connect with CNBC’s prestigious audience across all platforms.'"

BBC Worldwide press release, 17 Aug 2012: "BBC Advertising, part of BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has today announced the appointment of Katy Xu as Regional Director for Hong Kong & Greater China. Katy will be responsible for BBC Advertising’s business in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, [Philippines] and China, and starts with immediate effect. She be based in Hong Kong and will report to Sunita Rajan, SVP Sales Asia. ... Katy Xu said: 'I am delighted to have joined the BBC Advertising team, and am looking forward to working with businesses in Hong Kong and Greater China to promote their goods and services alongside some of the world’s best, most watched and most trusted content.'" -- Interesting that China is listed last. This is probably because, among these countries, ad sales could be most difficult in China. Also, I would have thought that Singapore and Malaysia, with large Chinese-speaking populations, would be listed, more so than the Philippines.

The next big thing in international broadcasting: Smuggled BBC 2012 Olympics DVDs.

Posted: 19 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 13 Aug 2012: "BBC Worldwide announces today that it will publish a DVD set of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The release will be available in the UK to pre-order from 10 August and in-store from 29th October 2012. ... This multi-disc release will be available in the UK on DVD priced £29.99 and Blu-ray priced £34.99." -- When I, in the USA, click the pre-order-now link, I am bounced back to the press release. Over at, I'm informed that the USA is not among the countries to which delivers. I'm instructed, instead, to visit the BBC America Shop, which has some peripheral Olympics merchandise, but not the 2012 Games DVD. Apparently we in the United States are obligated to purchase NBC's London 2012 Olympic Highlights DVD. See previous post about same subject.

"I'm calling the BBC for urgent help," said Vietnamese mother worried about her daughter working in a Russian factory.

Posted: 18 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service, The Fifth Floor, 18 Aug 2012" "Last month BBC Vietnamese got a distress call from a woman in northern Vietnam claiming her daughter and son-in-law were being forced to work in slave-like conditions in a Vietnamese-owned factory in Russia. The story was picked up and the result was a major piece of investigative reporting by the Russian and Vietnamese Services - which ultimately lead the Russian authorities to raid factory and free the workers. BBC Vietnamese's Hung Nguyen and BBC Russian's Oxana Vozhdaeva describe the collaboration - the thrill of being on the scent of such a remarkable story and the sorrow of what it revealed." -- It's interesting that the reporter for the BBC World Service in Russia had to be translated in English. Later in the program, BBC Africa's Veronique Edwards, while being interviewed about the missing first lady of Cameroon, had to interrupt the interview to take a phone call from the president of Botswana.

Daily Mail, 18 Aug 2012, Sandra Howard: "We flew south towards our final destination, Ho Chi Minh City, stopping first for a fleeting visit to Hue, Vietnam's ancient capital, now a world heritage site, where we hit a rainy day. This was a pity as it was our only chance to see the Citadel and stay in the famously elegant La Residence Hotel on the banks of the Perfume River. Heads down and encouraged by our effervescent new guide, Mr Thong – whose English, learned from the BBC and Voice of America, had a powerful American GI's twang – we squelched round the vast walled site of the Citadel."

China Radio International, "just a few notches over from VOA and BBC," is part of Chinese media expansion in Kenya.

Posted: 18 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 16 Aug 2012, Andrew Jacobs: Kenya's "most popular English-language newspapers are flecked with articles by the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua. Television viewers can get their international news from either CCTV, the Chinese broadcasting behemoth, or CNC World, Xinhua’s English-language start-up. On the radio, just a few notches over from Voice of America and the BBC, China Radio International offers Mandarin instruction along with upbeat accounts of Chinese-African cooperation and the global perambulations of Chinese leaders. ... The overseas newscasts of CCTV have shed the shrill ideological bombast of the Maoist years, adopting the professionalism and slick production values of their Western counterparts. But ideology often still trumps impartiality. During the protests that wracked the Arab world, for example, China’s coverage strenuously avoided the word 'democracy' and emphasized the chaos that accompanied the demise of authoritarian governments, news media analysts say. ... Vivien Marles, managing director of InterMedia Africa, a research firm here, said that Kenyans remained devoted to a vibrant news media menu of local politics, scandal and pop culture. Those interested in international affairs, she said, generally turn to CNN, the BBC or Al Jazeera. But China Radio International is 'gaining some momentum,' she said." See previous post about CCTV in Africa.

"The Next Frontier In [US] TV: English News For [US] Latinos."

Posted: 18 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
NPR, 15 Aug 2012, David Folkenflik: "Univision has been operating for five decades and already commands about three-quarters of the Spanish-speaking television audience in the U.S. across its various broadcast and cable channels, according to Nielsen ratings estimates. On many nights, its ratings beat the major English-language networks. Now it is joining with ABC News to map out an entirely new network to reach Hispanics who prefer English. 'This is a fascinating point in our country's history right now,' says Cesar Conde, president of Univision networks. ... 'One of the areas that has been underserved is providing a culturally relevant offering for Hispanics in English to complement everything that we're doing on the Spanish-language front.'" With audio.

Alhurra renews N2K, weekly program about digital trends.

Posted: 18 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link, 15 Aug 2012, Clive Whittingham: "US-backed Middle Eastern broadcaster Alhurra Television has continued its content agreement with London distributor Mercury Media by renewing a show about digital trends. Alhurra has picked up a second season of weekly magazine programme N2K (Need to Know), produced by ITN Productions. The weekly half-hour programme discusses the most talked about stories from across social media sites."

Realscreen, 17 Aug 2012, Kelly Anderson: “'N2K is a perfect fit with Alhurra’s commitment to social media, both on the air and through its social media platforms,' said Mark Kozaki, Alhurra’s program acquisition and scheduling officer."

RT (Russia Today) plans to "sell its video content globally" as its government subsidy decreases.

Posted: 16 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Aug 2012, Vladimir Kozlov: "Russia Today, a foreign-language TV channel financed by the Russian government, is launching a video agency with an office in Berlin in a bid to sell its video content globally. The video agency is going to be a commercialized version of the station’s current project FreeVideo, which provides free online access to Russia Today’s materials to 12,500 subscribers. However, with the opening of the video agency, there are plans to seriously expand the content that will be offered to customers. ... '[T]he correspondent and stringer network is going to increase by several times,' [Russia Today’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said. ... Russia Today broadcasts in English, Spanish and Arabic. It is financed by the Russian government, with the subsidy for 2012 standing at 11 billion roubles ($349 million). But the figure is set to be reduced to 10.4 billion roubles ($330 million) next year and to 9.7 billion roubles ($310 million) in 2014."

Macau's TDM is "middleman" in distribution of CCTV programs to Mozambique's TVM.

Posted: 16 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, 6 Aug 2012: "A program exchange scheme between Portuguese-language broadcasters and China’s state television is being further extended beyond the Asia-Pacific. Through a program sharing agreement between TDM in Macau and TVM in Mozambique, TDM will serve as a middleman between China Central Television and the Mozambican broadcaster, subtitling CCTV programs from Chinese to Portuguese before forwarding them to its African partner. Joao Francisco Pinto, TDM’s Portuguese News and Program Controller said they had similar partnerships with TV stations elsewhere in the Portuguese-speaking world, such as Guinea Bissau in West Africa and Timor Leste in Southeast Asia, and they are working on establishing new ones in Angola and the Atlantic Ocean Republic of Cape Verde. He said Macau’s public broadcaster had acquired the rights for CCTV’s documentaries, allowing TDM to subtitle them into Portuguese and make them available free of charge to Portuguese language broadcasters in Africa, Asia and South America."

Deutsche Welle developments include "new era" in Indonesia, digital archive in Persian and Russian, IVR in Africa.

Posted: 16 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 24 July 2012: "Starting off as a radio service, Deutsche Welle's offerings for Indonesia have entered a new era, with TV and online programming taking the spotlight. The reworked DW Internet site in Indonesian builds on the growing popularity of online media in the world's fourth most populous country. It focuses on scientific, environmental, cultural and educational topics, supported by its presence on social media sites Facebook and Twitter. Meanwhile, DW's first-ever television magazine in Indonesian, Inovator, reaches local viewers via Indonesia's national broadcaster TVRI - available in nearly all parts of the country - and the privately owned Bali TV. Screened weekly, its 26-minute episodes highlight the latest developments in the fields of science and technology as well as environmental issues, with special attention given to health-related topics."

Deutsche Welle press release, 8 Aug 2012: "Persian and Russian joined the list of languages available in Deutsche Welle’s Media Center in July 2012. The Media Center - a digital archive that has been seamlessly integrated into the DW news website - offers a huge collection of audio and video material. It is a modern, user-friendly way to access and search information on a wide range of topics from current affairs, business, science, education, entertainment to lifestyle, music and German language courses. DW launched the Media Center in November 2010. Besides Persian and Russian, it already includes German, English, Arabic and Spanish. Deutsche Welle plans to add still more languages, such as Chinese, Ukrainian, Turkish, Portuguese for Brazil, Bosnian, Hindi, Serbian and Indonesian. Online users can access audios, as well as individual programs as videos on demand. There are also picture galleries, podcasts and live streams from DW’s six television channels."

Deutsche Welle press release, 10 Aug 2012: "An important source of edutainment for young people in Sub-Saharan Africa, DW's Learning by Ear radio series is being made more accessible in the region. Utilizing interactive voice response (IVR) technology, it can now be listened to via mobile phones with no need to download the content. The new service allows the user to call a local number and hear specific episodes of the show on demand, as well as choose to have the content delivered to them via SMS or email. While its rate of Internet usage is still low, Africa has emerged as one the fastest-growing mobile phone markets in the world in the last decade. DW’s new service caters to this media consumption trend, and in addition allows access via landline connections."

Shortwave broadcast transmitting sites, and their stories.

Posted: 15 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Critical Distance Weblog, 11 Aug 2012, Jonathan Marks: "We've seen a lot of coverage by journalists about the exit from Bush House by BBC World Service and the closedown of the radio activities of Radio Nederland Wereldomroep. But the stories about the transmission side of things are often neglected - on the assumption that no-one is really interested. Perhaps it's the fact that shortwave transmitter sites are purely operational places and the broadcasters behind the microphone don't really know (or care) how the signal eventually gets to boom out of the radio loudspeaker. Shortwave transmission centres have always fascinated me because the ones I have visited have always been full of stories. Unlike medium or long-wave stations, these transmitters were continually being retuned to other parts of the radio dial as broadcasting stations signed off morning broadcasts to one part of the world and then opened up an evening transmission to somewhere else. This constant hopping around the dial meant there had to be staff on site while they were on the air."

Mark Thompson read the last BBCWS report from Bush House. Now he will be CEO of the New York Times.

Posted: 15 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 14 Aug 2012: "The New York Times Company has announced that BBC director general Mark Thompson is to become its chief executive and president in November. The NYT runs national and regional newspapers and websites and said his experience in digital media on a global scale made him the 'ideal candidate'. Mr Thompson, 55, said he was 'excited' to take on the role. He took over as director general in 2004 and is responsible for the BBC's TV, radio and online services."

New York Times, 14 Aug 2012, Christine Haughney and Amy Chozick: "In choosing Mr. Thompson, a veteran of television who has spent nearly his entire career at the BBC, The Times reached outside its own company, its own industry and even its own country to find a leader to guide it in an uncharted digital future. 'We have people who understand print very well, the best in the business,' [NYT chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.] said in [an] interview. 'We have people who understand advertising well, the best in the business. But our future is on to video, to social, to mobile. It doesn’t mirror what we’ve done. It broadens what we are going to do.' Mr. Thompson’s reign at the BBC has largely been categorized as one of digital expansion and as having an emphasis on developing the BBC internationally."

paidContent, 15 Aug 2012, Robert Andrews: "Under Thompson, the BBC has encouraged BBC Worldwide to make a splash in the world’s largest media market – notably by growing carriage for the BBC America channel, beefing up visibility of the BBC World News America show and by launching a commercial version of the heralded iPlayer to deliver subscription internet VOD of classic BBC shows. Whilst the BBC has found success in driving up adoption of, and commercial appetite for the BBC News website in the U.S., its video initiatives have fared less well. The TV output has not gained widespread appeal, while an iPlayer launch is still held up by cable operator resistance. ... Thompson will now have the opportunity to break America at its most famous newspaper."

See previous post about Mark Thompson reading the last BBC World Service report from Bush House.

HCJB Australian shortwave site, moved two miles west, will have greater capacity and DRM capability.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
HCJB Global, 10 Aug 2012, Harold Goerzen: "Countless thousands of potential radio listeners in HCJB Global’s Asia Pacific Region have access to a clearer, more powerful signal as a result of a seven-year project to move the transmissions to a new shortwave facility in Australia late last month. ... While broadcasts from the international broadcasting facility in Kununurra, a town of 7,000 on the northern edge of Western Australia, began in 2003, the original site was fraught with restrictions, limiting the broadcasts. Antenna height, for example, was limited to 40 meters (131 feet) because of the facility’s proximity to the local airport. A parabolic curtain antenna, formerly used by Radio Station HCJB in Pifo, Ecuador, is being installed with modifications at the new site with towers as high as 420 feet—four times the height of the tallest antenna at the original site. The new site ... 'lies approximately two miles west of the existing site and, crucially, outside of the airport restrictions,' explained Site Manager Peter Michalke. ... [Dale Stagg, CEO of HCJB Global-Australia said a 100-kilowatt shortwave transmitter] 'is being refurbished at the HCJB Global Technology Centre in Elkhart, Ind. When complete, it will be both analog and digital (DRM) capable.' DRM will be invaluable for broadcasting to places such as India, a country of 1.2 billion people, where the digital technology has been adopted as the nation’s main communication network to the rural masses." -- Airports have posed difficulties for HCJB shortwave sites. It was required to close (and decided not to move) its facility at Pifo, Ecuador, because of airport construction near there.

Christian Vision closing its shortwave station in Chile, citing declining listenership, new media.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
¡Hola! Arkansas, 14 Aug 2012, citing Christian Vision USA Inc: "Christian Vision will officially stop its short wave service to Latin America on August 17th, 2012, due to declining listenership. Christian Vision purchased the property and transmissions equipment Located in Calera de Tango, Chile, in August of 1996. In February of 1998, it received its license to transmit from Chilean regulator Subtel and on November 1st of the same year, Voz Cristiana was officially launched and began transmitting four radio services to Latin America. The programming of Voz Cristiana, now known as CVCLAVOZ, ... has made its resources more accessible to the ever-changing 18 to 35 year demographic that has exponentially grown in its use of the internet, mobile phones, and social media platforms such as Facebook. Christian Vision's Director of Broadcasting, Andrew Flynn, was the engineer in charge of the Chile site from 1996-99. ' ... For many years, Christian Vision used shortwave as the primary channel in its 'Touch a Billion' strategy. However in recent years, shortwave audiences have declined in favor of other radio platforms, and new social media powered by the Internet. While there is emotional sadness in closing the Chile site, at the same we are excited by the opportunities presented online ... Besides its Spanish transmissions from Chile, Christian Vision previously ran shortwave transmissions to audiences in Asia in Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia and English, from a high power site in Darwin, Australia. Russian, Arabic and English programs were also broadcast in shortwave from Christian Vision's site in Juelich, Germany. Both of these sites closed in 2010. ... Christian Vision continues to run shortwave transmissions to India and parts of Africa where audiences in this waveband continue to be significant.'" -- News tip via Dave Jeffery, IDXCI FB Group, RadioActivity. I believe these transmitters were originally used for the international broadcasting of the Pinochet regime in the 1970s.

"Major threat to the Kim [Jong-un] regime [is] the slow trickle of information" about South Korea's prosperity.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 10 Aug 2012, Max Fisher: "[I]f there's a major threat to the Kim [Jong-un] regime, it's not market liberalization and it's not North Korean poverty, ... neither of which seems to have caused them much trouble. It's the slow trickle of information that South Koreans are richer and happier than the propaganda has led them to believe. 'This support cannot be sustained for long, because what the masses are taught -- especially in regard to South Korean public opinion -- is coming increasingly into conflict with what [North Koreans] know to be true,' [author B.R.] Myers writes. The regime seems to know the threat and is working to stem the inflow of unapproved information. Police, as Blaine Harden reported in his biography of an escaped work camp prisoner, have taken to randomly shutting off power in apartment blocks, then raiding homes to search for unauthorized video CDs that might be stuck in peoples' players. Still, it's difficult to see how they could keep it up forever, and the Crisis Group report notes that defectors increasingly say that they wanted to leave on finally learning of the south's relative wealth and their own poverty."

The Atlantic, 6 Aug 2012, Max Fisher: "'Uncontrolled information inflows are deeply subversive and pose a long-term threat to regime survival,' [a] Crisis Group report notes. '84 percent of defectors, refugees, and travelers said they received unsanctioned information by word of mouth.' The more than North Koreans learn of the outside world's comparatively astonishing wealth and freedom, the less interested they seem to be in participating in the North Korean system. ... 'Information is beginning to seep into North Korean society, but it probably will take considerable time before inflows might cause regime change or transformation.'"

TalkSport radio lines up affiliates in Canada, New Zealand, Ghana, Nigeria.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
MediaWeek, 8 Aug 2012, Maisie McCabe: "TalkSport, the UTV Media-owned sports radio station, has signed up Bell Media in Canada, Radio Sport in New Zealand, Citi FM in Ghana and Brila FM in Nigeria, as its first international broadcast partners. Bell Media's TSN and Team stations, Radio Sport, and Citi FM, have signed an exclusive deal to broadcast TalkSport's live commentary from the Barclays Premier League and FA Cup in their broadcast areas. Nigerian station Brila FM has signed a deal to be the exclusive partner of TalkSport's live Barclays Premier League commentary in Nigeria. The ads accompanying the commentary will be sold locally and will be run alongside promotions for TalkSport's online commentary service, TalkSport Live. ... TalkSport Live allows people outside the European Economic Area to listen to commentary from all 380 Barclays Premier League games in a range of languages, including English, Spanish and Mandarin, at" See previous post about same subject.

China's CCTV Africa as platform "to speak on Africa by Africans."

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
AFP, 13 Aug 2012: "Chris Alden of the London School of Economics said CCTV Africa is 'part of a wider strategy to combat what can be seen as a negative relationship' between China and Africa. 'Chinese officials start from a diagnosis that too many Africans rely on Western-based news services,' said Alden, who is certain CCTV 'will have an impact.' ... 'China has sent its state media on a global mission to advance its influence in the world,' said Yu-Shan Wu from the South African Institute of International Affairs, in a recent paper noting that Beijing's efforts 'previously focused on trade, investment and diplomatic activities.' ... 'One thing they (CCTV) are doing right,' analyst Wu told AFP, 'is to provide a platform for Africans to speak their point of view.' 'On other channels, I don't find such platforms to speak on Africa by Africans,' she said, but questioned how CCTV Africa will fare if it emphasises only the upside of Sino-African relations. 'Credibility is not covering only the positive stories,' said Wu." See previous posts about CCTV Africa on 18 May and 8 Aug 2012.

Al Jazeera's "accredited" citizen journalists can post their videos without moderation.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link, 9 Aug 2012, Troy Dreier: "Thanks to news agency Al-Jazeera, people are using online video to share their stories with a global audience. They do so from some of the world's biggest hotspots, creating content that's compelling, startling, and often troubling. Letting people upload their own news videos is nothing new: CNN, for example, has offered its iReport feature since 2006. Al-Jazeera began experimenting with its Sharek portal (which means 'share') in late 2007, so it was well-positioned to capture striking first-person views during the Arab Spring uprisings of 2010 and 2011. Al-Jazeera has now taken its citizen journalism portal a little farther, with a redesigned Sharek portal (still at Regular contributors can now become accredited. Once they've attained that trusted status, their videos will post without moderation. ... Only about 10% to 15% of uploaded video makes it to the Al-Jazeera website."

The Independent, 13 Aug 2012, Ian Burrell: "As civil war is waged in Syria, the Qatari-based news organisation has faced questions over its coverage. At the start of the revolution, it appeared reluctant to cover the story at all. But after the network's Qatari government paymasters switched allegiance to the Syrian rebels, Al Jazeera seemed to change tack. ... Al Jazeera denies following any political agenda, and many of the criticisms are directed at its Arabic service, which has a different editorial team to the English service. But if Al Jazeera has come of age, then it must be given a higher level of scrutiny." See previous post about same subject.

What's up in Germany? Deutsche Welle TV available on Watchup iPad app.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 13 Aug 2012, Robert Briel: "Deutsche Welle has signed a new partnership with the iPad news app Watchup to offer DW video content to iPad users in the US. DW and Watchup have announced that they are partnering to offer in-depth, video coverage and analysis of German and international affairs to the emerging iPad user audience in the US. Users will be able to watch the ten latest news clips produced by DW on its English channel with Watchup’s iPad app. ... Watchup is a new iPad app that lets you discover what’s up in the world through a curated lineup of high-quality news channels."

You might need to draw a chart to sort out this deal in India involving BBC Worldwide, MSM, Discovery, etc.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Business Standard, 10 Aug 2012, Varada Bhat & Arijit Barman: "BBC Worldwide India, a unit of British Broadcasting Corp, and Multi-Screen Media (MSM), which runs Sony Entertainment Television, are finalising a mega alliance involving distribution and sales. Sources aware of the negotiations said the arrangement would be similar to the one that NDTV recently stitched up with STAR India. BBC, too, is likely to outsource its ad sales to MSM for its two channels and its clutch of websites. The new joint venture will play out in stages. To begin with, BBC’s channels BBC World News and BBC Entertainment will move onto the OneAlliance distribution platform, an equal venture between MSM and Discovery Communications. It already distributes over 27 channels, including all of MSM’s general entertainment, movies and sports channels, and the Discovery bouquet, Neo Sports, Neo Prime, Aaj Tak and Headlines Today, among others. Subsequently, BBC will also commercially launch two more channels on the new distribution platform: BBC Kids or CBeebies and BBC Knowledge."

From India, praise for BBC World Service. In Hong Kong, celebration of a BBC ex-correspondent's 100th birthday.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Hindustan Times, 11 Aug 2012, Karan Thapar: "In our age of television, radio has been diminished. ... Yet there remains one radio station that has never been surpassed and, I’m sure, never will be: BBC World Service. ... [W]hat makes the BBC World Service so special? First, I would say, is its reliability. People trust it. I can recall evenings in the 60s and 70s when, after hearing All India Radio, Daddy would switch to the BBC with the words 'Now let’s hear the real news!' And that remained the case till the advent of independent TV news. ... Second, the BBC taps a vast variety of sources and has an envious network of local correspondents. ... Third is the range of programmes the BBC offers. There are appetising book readings, enticing discussions, captivating eye-witness accounts alongside informed studies of composers (both classical and pop), debates about fashion, interviews with authors, athletes and apparatchiks and sparkling chats with celebrities, both credible and strange. The news is only part of it." -- Perhaps not as much "range" as in previous years. Aung San Suu Kyi complained about (see previous post).

BBC The Editors blog, 13 Aug 2012, Jon Williams: "In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Anthony Lawrence was the BBC's man in the Far East. First in Singapore, then Hong Kong, Lawrence was one of the BBC's 'greatest generation' of foreign correspondents - a foreign legion that included legendary names such as Charles Wheeler, Erik de Mauny, and John Osman. They built the BBC's reputation around the world, on crackly telephone lines and film flown back from distant shores. All have now passed. All but Tony Lawrence. This weekend, 'Lawrence of Asia' celebrated his 100th birthday, half a century after reporting on the communist insurgency in then Malaya, and the ousting of the British. ... Tonight, at its famed Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong celebrates one of its finest adopted sons - and the BBC salutes one of its greatest generation. As the BBC marks 80 years of reporting the World, it is those like Anthony Lawrence who made it possible." See also 7th Space, 13 Aug 2012.

Radio Free Sarawak personality "moving about freely," "looking relaxed," "having coffee" in Sarawak.

Posted: 14 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Borneo Post, 11 Aug 2012: "MIRI: Controversial DJ of underground Radio Free Sarawak (RFS), Peter John Jaban is back and was seen moving about freely, having coffee with friends here yesterday. He was here to attend the World Indigenous People conference, looking relaxed in the company of friends from the opposition, including PKR Miri branch chief Dr Micheal Teo Yu Kheng. The duo caused a furore in May this year when Peter John suddenly disappeared on the way down to town from Miri Airport and Dr Teo said he suspected Peter John had been arrested. ... The authorities have been wary of RFS, which Peter spearheaded with Claire [Rewcastle Brown] as a dissident radio station from London touching on Sarawak affairs and issues, with opposition leaders dominating the airwaves. Peter said RFS was blocked by the authorities in the last state election, and believed a similar step would be taken in the coming parliamentary election which is due latest by April next year. ... A defiant Peter said it was a futile and expensive exercise for the authorities to block RFS, saying it could operate on other short wave frequencies and he would continue with his investigative style of reporting." See previous post about same subject.

American Enterprise Institute writer wants US Government to increase spending -- on VOA Turkish.

Posted: 13 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The American (American Enterprise Institute), 13 Aug 2012, Ilan Berman: "[W]what is the Obama administration doing to engage Turkey? The answer, sadly, is 'not much.' In fact, diplomatic niceties aside, Washington’s formal outreach to Ankara today is marginal at best—and about to shrink even further. Nothing illustrates this quite as eloquently as the current, sorry state of the Voice of America’s (VOA) Turkish service. The current budget for the office, which conducts the U.S. government’s formal broadcasting toward the country in question, is something like $400,000—a pittance in an era of bloated government programs. That sum funds seven staffers who, in addition to producing online content, generate 15 minutes of original TV content (broadcast via a Turkish carrier) four times a week. Yet even this paltry figure is in danger of being slashed still further. As part of anticipated federal budget cuts now on the horizon, the staff of VOA’s Turkish service is expected to decrease by more than half—to just three people—by early next year. Such a constriction would make it practically impossible to continue the current rate of output, keep up its quality, or both. And as a result, U.S. messaging toward Turkey is poised to wither on the vine."

Isn't AEI one of those conservative limit-government-spending think tanks? It's ironic, then, that this AEI piece laments the reduction of a government program. AEI, given its advocacy of free enterprise, should take a look at CNN Türk, a partnership between the private CNN and a Turkish media company. It might be providing a reliable news service at no cost to the US taxpayers. Mr. Berman's term "U.S. messaging toward Turkey" suggests he is not thinking of news, but public diplomacy. That's a different agency, elsewhere in Washington. Ads in Turkish newspapers or on Turkish television channels would be good means for the "messaging" of US foreign policy.

Former VOA director, now college president, caught up in Rwanda's complicated history.

Posted: 12 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
"When the Scholar Rescue Fund suggested that Leopold Munyakazi, a former political prisoner in his native Rwanda, come to Maryland to teach French at Goucher College in 2008, the school president Sanford Ungar welcomed him with open arms, thinking it would boost Goucher’s liberal arts bona fides. In a recent article for New York magazine, Ungar writes that bringing academics like Munyakazi was an 'increasingly fashionable way for colleges and universities to give shelter to intellectuals from around the globe threatened by government repression, civil strife, war or the pinch of intellectual and political cultures less accommodating than their own.' He continues: 'We flattered ourselves that we had done that rare thing, a purely good deed, striking a blow for the cause of intellectual freedom while bringing an honorable man to campus.' To be sure, Munyakazi brought attention to the school but of a different kind: He was arrested and accused of links to the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The allegations caused a minor media storm four years ago, including, notoriously, NBC. ... Incidentally, before he became Goucher’s president, Ungar ran the government news agency Voice of America. In 2001, he met with Rwandan officials to bring VOA content to the country’s airwaves. The experience left him with the impression that the Paul Kagame government had healed the country." With audio.

Audience assessments of the new "Newsday" on BBC World Service range from "big disappointment" to "huge disappointment."

Posted: 12 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC, The Editors blog, 20 July 2012, Jamie Angus: BBC World Service programs The World Today and Network Africa have been "replaced by the new Newsday programme from World Service Radio, a single global daily news programme with a particular interest in its audiences in Africa. So why the change? The current listening experience in Africa is far from ideal - two separate programmes with very different editorial takes on the day's news, in separate halves of the hour. We want to offer African audiences a single programme that has international news at its heart, but brings the biggest African stories to the world, and covers the biggest international stories with a particular eye on relevance for African audiences."

Ibid, comment from notconan: "What a huge disappointment. I started listening to the BBC when NPR fired Bob Edwards and replaced him with the happytalk twins. Now BBC seems to be following NPR’s lead. I’m sure this is because of Tory budget cuts. What a shame. I listened for a while to the first Newsdays programs, totally content free happy talk. Any suggestions for alternatives?"

Ibid, comment from Bob Bragar: "This is a big disappointment. Is the BBC copying breathless American AM radio, to be low brow and sensational? Let's bring the tone, the intelligence and enunciation back to the morning programming. And let's give the WHOLE world an international program, without focusing on one continent, please."

Ibid, comment from lochfc: "Oh, dear. Irritating background music, very little news, and a great deal that I couldn't care less about. Not to mention the olympic overload. I just want intelligent, sensible news.This is the radio version of morning TV with boop-boop added. I turned it off in disgust at about 20 minutes, and won't be returning. I'll stick to NPR and Aljazeera."

Ibid, comment from Bill Rees: "I understand the need to innovate but the World Sevice is known for in depth analysis by people who know what they are talking about. Newsday couldn't be further from that and it is very disappointing. I can't listen to this so I hope you will be moving back to something like the old format. Good luck - but move fast to fix this."

Ibid, comment from Oki: "What a huge disappointment! For years I have relied on TWT to present the world news intelligently. Now I am forced to suffer through dumbed-down chat 'of special interest to Africa'. Not for much longer. A match-losing own-goal, BBC. What a pity."

See previous post about same subject.

Present and former BBC World Service directors discuss impartiality in journalism in the digital age.

Posted: 12 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service, Over To You, 5 Aug 2012: "Rajan Datar interviews Peter Horrocks, Director of the World Service, about the threat to impartial journalism and the potential of social media to create a new relationship with audiences." With audio. See previous post about Peter Horrocks.

BBC World Service, Over To You, 12 Aug 2012: "[I]n the second of two programmes - presenter Rajan Datar considers the importance of impartiality in journalism in the digital age. He speaks to Richard Sambrook, a former Director of the BBC's Global News Division and Stewart Purves former Chief Executive of ITN and now Professor of Journalism at City University in London." With audio. -- Includes discussion of American "post-truth" journalism. Re Chinese international media, Professor Purves said: "The control that comes with the funding quite often is used to eliminate stories as much as it is to propagate stories."

Both programs are recommended listening.

Launch of Intelsat 20 will allow more channels on the Multichoice DStv DTH bouquet across Africa.

Posted: 12 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
ScreenAfrica, 6 Aug 2012: "Satellite services provider Intelsat on 2 August successfully launched the Intelsat 20 satellite from Kourou, French Guiana via an Ariane 5 V208 launch vehicle. The satellite will provide high power distribution of video, voice and broadband services in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and Russia. Intelsat 20 hosts the largest direct-to-home (DTH) platform in Africa – pay-TV operator MultiChoice’s DStv bouquet. ... Once operational in September, Intelsat 20 will replace Intelsat 7 and Intelsat 10 at 68.5° East, and is expected to have a service life of more than 18 years. ... According to News Central Media, MultiChoice has now secured significantly more capacity on the satellite for new channels and high definition services. The pay-TV operator was reportedly running low on capacity on the existing Intelsat 7 satellite and will use the Ku band for DStv services." See also TechCentral, 3 Aug 2012, Duncan McLeod. And Intelsat press release, 2 Aug 2012.

CNBC Africa is busy with programming initiatives.

Posted: 12 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link, 6 Aug 2012: "South African president Jacob Zuma, recently launched CNBC Africa's new political economy programme, 'Political Exchange', to be broadcast live every week day at 9pm. Political Exchange seeks to help businesses make strategic decisions by providing a platform to unpack key policy issues affecting the business environment through interviews and debates with leading politicians, government policymakers and business leaders. The show is anchored by seasoned journalist, Karima Brown.", 6 Aug 2012: "ABN Productions in partnership with CNBC Africa ... on Wednesday, 8 August 2012, [hosted] the 'Leading Women Debate', an in-depth discussion of issues affecting women's advancement in business. The theme of the debate 'Work - Life - Balance' [reflected] on the challenges career women face in today's pressurised business environment, their vital mentorship role, as well as their take on current business trends. ... The hour-long debate will be broadcast on Monday, 13 August, from 1PM CAT on CNBC Africa, DStv Channel 410.", 8 Aug 2012: "CNBC Africa will be screening the first episode of a new series called 'The African Dialogues', a discussion of issues and topics impacting society and business in Africa. The first dialogue touches on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, which targets the reduction of the rate of child mortality rates and improving maternal health. ... CNBC Africa anchor, Hannah Viviers will moderate the discussion, which will be filmed in Illovo, Johannesburg, South Africa."

IBB director Dick Lobo has launched his ViewPoints blog.

Posted: 11 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors, ViewPoint blog, 19 July 2012, Dick Lobo: "Welcome to ViewPoint, the latest blog from the Broadcasting Board of Governors. I’m Dick Lobo, director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, and I’ve spent my career in the world of broadcasting. This blog is dedicated to frank and informal discussion of international broadcasting, of the work of our organization, and of related topics. I want to share observations and explore ideas of how to we are now and how we might in the future meet our mission to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy." -- My blog, on the other hand, explores ideas of how we might bring "accurate, objective, and balanced news, information, and other programming" back to the BBG mission statement, or create a new organization dedicated, above all (and far above the latest widget), to that goal. As this headline puts it, "the killer app is credibility."

Broadcasting Board of Governors, Viewpoints blog, 31 July 2012, Dick Lobo: "[W]e are always seeking to create more and better original content and to use analytics to determine what content has the most value for our audiences. We don’t just want to do good journalism; we want to do great journalism like our coverage of the Arab Spring uprisings or the protests in Tibet that gains new value every time it is picked up by other media outlets. These things are all part of our global news network initiative, which is designed to enhance communication, sharing, and collaboration among our brands to increase the visibility, value, and impact of our collective journalism." -- I think the best way "to enhance communication, sharing, and collaboration among our brands" is to have one brand. But if there were no longer "many brands," then there would be no longer be an excuse for many managements. Hence, USIB will probably continue to consist of many brands, competing among themselves, while the real competition, out there, disappears over the horizon.

As it evident from the above, Mr Lobo's new blog has provoked discussion, which is one of the main functions of a blog. ViewPoints is recommended reading.

A proposal for a BBG CEO from the SES, overseeing USIB, which consists of RFA, RFE/RL, MBN, OCB, and VOA.

Posted: 11 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Public Diplomacy Council, 20 July 2012, David S. Jackson, director of VOA 2002-2006: "A professional BBG CEO ... would serve as a single point of contact for the entity heads, and would have the power to make staffing and budgeting decisions without having to wait for a board meeting that could be weeks or even months away. Since the CEO would report directly to the Board, he would be responsible for knowing their policies as well as knowing what’s going on with the broadcasters. Even better, with a CEO in place, the Board could devote its attention during its periodic meetings to the big-picture decisions that Congress intended for it to oversee rather than get bogged down in the weeds of operational details that should be outside the purview of these part-time Board members. While every Board has included some members with professional experience in broadcasting and other media, the entity broadcasters would be even better served by a CEO at the top who was specifically chosen for his or her media and management skills. ...

"The Board has also asked Congress to give it sole authority to appoint the CEO, which would take away whatever influence the Senate had on the IBB director appointment in the past. Supporters of this change say that it would insulate the CEO post from political influence, but I’m not so sure. Given the fact that every Board is going to have a built-in majority of one vote favoring the president’s party, whichever party that may be, I believe a better solution would be to give the CEO position a career Senior Executive Service (SES) status that would have to be competitively posted and selected. The Board deserves a CEO that is accountable, but there is also obvious value in having a CEO who could provide institutional continuity while bridging changing political administrations. If every Board could appoint its own CEO, we could end up with a new one in every administration, which would leave international broadcasting with too many new people learning the ropes in their new jobs at the same time." See also comments.

The CEO job could be "competitively posted and selected," but who would make that selection? The higher-ups in the agency -- and the only people who are higher than the CEO would be the members of the Board.

Because BBG members serve fixed terms, there is already much continuity of senior management from administration to administration. The BBG should select the CEO. Involving anyone else in the government would be a breach of the BBG's firewall. It would undo one of the key premises of the International Broadcasting Act of 1994.

The CEO should have real authority over the entity directors and presidents, and the courage to exercise that authority. Those entity heads are concerned about the preservation and expansion of their entities, not about the bigger picture of US international broadcasting. The result is a "system" characterized by duplication, division of scarce resources, bureaucratic confusion, and a top-heavy org chart.

The creation of a CEO would be step in the right direction, but one that falls far short of the real solution. The real solution is consolidation, combining the several entities into one entity. There is, after all, only one overriding purpose for US international broadcasting, as defined by the audience: providing news that is more accurate, reliable, and credible than the news the audience gets from its state-controlled domestic media.

Another former VOA director, Dan Austin, commenting on Mr. Jackson's proposal, writes: "BBG networks should be made up either of all federal employees or all non-federal employees. The current situation, in which VOA and Radio/TV Marti staffers are federal employees working in federal agencies and all that implies, while the other networks are private entities, using taxpayer funds to hire, fire and move people as their needs demand and their union contracts allow, makes effective management of the resulting hodge-podge difficult if not impossible." "Hodge-podge" is an apt description. Although arguments can be made that tenure in the Civil Service helps VOA journalists preserve their independence, I think the combined entity should be an excepted corporation with non-federal employees (represented by a robust labor union).

To view BBC Olympics coverage, Americans employ the same technology used to bypass net censorship in China and Iran (updated).

Posted: 10 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
National Public Radio, All Things Considered, 3 Aug 2012, Audie Cornish: "Let's face it, for many Americans, watching the Olympic events they want to watch, when they want to watch them, without knowing the results or having to endure NBC commentary is, well, as hard as competing in the events themselves. NBC has defended its tape-delayed primetime showings in part by pointing to its digital streaming of live events. That's still not good enough for some Olympics fans, who are taking matters into their own hands. They're using their computers to tap into overseas broadcasts of the Olympics from sources including the BBC. Here to explain more about this technology and whether or not it's legal is Mitch Stoltz. He's a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. ... STOLZ: 'These could be DNS services, proxy servers. They could be virtual private networks. Fundamentally, they all make it look like you are somewhere else, and by doing so, they bypass the technological locks that organizations like the BBC put on their Internet TV streams that try to restrict those streams to people in a particular country. CORNISH: And I'm here asking about the Olympics and kind of joking about it, but this technology has other uses, right? I mean, how common is it? STOLTZ: It's very widespread. It's the same sort of technology that people use to bypass censorship of the Internet in countries like China and Iran. And it's used by people both in the U.S. and in other countries to watch TV on the Internet that they can't get where they are.'"

Update: Gigaom, 9 Aug 2012, Janko Roettgers: "[A] number of more tech-savvy viewers are turning to VPN providers to access live streams from the BBC or other foreign media organizations. One provider told us that installs of his software tripled since the games started. ... Usually, this means that users in other countries access VPNs to pretend that they live in the U.S. Hulu is especially popular with foreign VPN users, and some have even figured out how to pay for Netflix with a U.S. credit card and then access it from abroad. But during the London games, this trend was suddenly reversed — and everyone wanted to be British."

BBC Internet Blog, 3 Aug 2012, Cait O'Riordan: "Overall browsers to the BBC Sport website, and the 24 Olympic Red Button streams, have built to huge numbers across the Games so far. A total of 17 million people have watched the 24 Olympic Red Button streams for at least 15 minutes, and we have recorded 18 million unique browsers to the Sport Olympics webpages - with a daily peak of nearly 8 million (UK) and 10.4 (Global), compared with the previous Sport site record of 5.7m (UK) and 7.4 (Global)." -- No live video here in the USA, though.

American Security Project paper on public diplomacy includes Alhurra as a case study.

Posted: 10 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
American Security Project, 9 August 2012, "The New Public Diplomacy Imperative: America's Vital Need to Communicate Strategically," by Matthew Wallin: "Based in Springfield, Virginia, Alhurra has faced consistent scrutiny over the size of its audience since its first broadcast in 2004. On one hand external surveys and monitoring have depicted a negligible audience share. The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (the parent company of Alhurra and Radio Sawa), has used different metrics to portray a reasonably large reach of 26.7 million people in FY2011. On the other hand, a 2009 University of Maryland/Zogby poll of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE placed Alhurra at 2% of viewers who choose it as their primary news broadcast source. The metrics here both attempt to explain the size of Alhurra’s audience, but approach the question differently. The BBG estimate is a reach-based metric, formulated on the number of people who view any Alhurra programming for any period at least once a week. But which is the more relevant metric: preference or reach?"

Reach is the more relevant measure. International broadcasting is typically used as a source of information to supplement and verify the content from the audience's domestic news sources. Because Al Jazeera and Alarabiya are essentially domestic stations in the Arab "nation," they will be most viewers' "primary" news source. Using this methodology, results for Alhurra and other non-Arab Arabic channels will be very small and not very meaningful.

The Zogby poll is more frequently cited in papers such as this because it is easier to access than BBG data on Arab television audiences. Also, the Zogby poll provides data for all stations, whereas the BBG tends to report results only for Alhurra (and the BBC only for BBC Arabic).

For useful analysis, we need to see the reach for all the Arabic-language news channels. We would expect the intra-Arab channels, including Al Jazeera, Alarbiya, and perhaps now Sky News Arabia, to be in the upper tier of audience numbers. The channels from non-Arab countries would be in the second tier, but still providing an important supplemental news service.

But how are BBC Arabic, Alhurra, France 24 Arabic, and the other non-Arab Arabic news channels doing vis-a-vis one another? Why do some of these channels have larger audiences than others? This is the information we need, but it's not presently in the public domain.

A discussion of international broadcasting is really out of place in a paper about public diplomacy. Public diplomacy has advocacy and official policy roles. International broadcasting, if it is to attract an audience, is government-funded (usually) but independent journalism. Public diplomacy and international broadcasting therefore have separate, complementary, and even sometimes adversarial roles.

North Korean official sends an email to VOA, confirming meeting between US and DPRK representatives (updated).

Posted: 10 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Arirang News, 3 Aug 2012, Kim Yeon-ji: "[I]t's been reproted that representatives of North Korea and the U.S. met in Singapore from Tuesday to Thursday. The deputy director for North Korea's foreign ministry, Choi Sun-hee, confirmed the fact through an e-mail to the Voice of America and said the improvement of ties between North Korea and the U.S. depends solely on what Washington does." -- The VOA Korean Service confirmed to me that this e-mail was sent. Perhaps the first time a North Korean official has sent an e-mail to VOA.

Update: Russia Beyond the Headlines, 9 Aug 2012, Andrei Ilyashenko: "[A]ppealing directly to the American media is an unconventional approach for the North Korean administration. The message implies a call for a dialogue rather than habitual threats, which, incidentally, was what Gorbachev started with."

During Oklahoma appearances, Senator Coburn said something negative about VOA. Again.

Posted: 10 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Tulsa World, 8 Aug 2012, Randy Krehbiel: "Sen. Tom Coburn made three appearances in northeastern Oklahoma over a span of five hours Tuesday. In Claremore, the final stop, he wound up spending a lot of time talking about bipartisanship - of a sort. Coburn's bipartisanship is not exactly Brother Love's traveling show. It is all-embracing mostly in its criticism of most things political, from Voice of America to the president of the United States." -- The article provides no details about the criticism of VOA. Coburn is a frequent critic of US international broadcasting. See, for example, this previous post, and search this website on Coburn.

Senator Tom Coburn website: "There is no coordinated, coherent, and consistent message that all [US international] broadcasts are expected to follow, either generally (pro-U.S., pro-democracy and pro-freedom), or specific to regions or crises (such as the war on terror, or the Middle East). Decisions are made on the fly, on the ground, by unaccountable and sometimes even anti-American producers and reporters." -- So he would probably want to undo the reforms initiated under former VOA director R. Peter Straus (see previous post).

Death of R. Peter Straus, VOA director who ushered independence for VOA correspondents.

Posted: 10 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 8 Aug 2012, Matt Schudel: "R. Peter Straus, a New York media executive who served as director of the Voice of America in the late 1970s ... died Aug. 6 of a heart ailment at his home in New York City. He was 89. ... Under President Jimmy Carter, Mr. Straus served as VOA director from 1977 to 1979." See also New York Times, 8 Aug 2012, Robert D. McFadden.

As VOA director, Mr. Straus convened an outside panel to make recommendations about VOA's corps of foreign correspondents. The result, according to Alan Heil's Voice of America: A History, allowed VOA reporters to operate as independent journalists rather than adjuncts to US diplomacy: "●Use regular, not official, passports. ●Operate from offices outside embassies, using commercial, not official, communications channels ●Apply for same type of visas as commercial news agency and network correspondents. ●No longer use post exchange or commissary facilities frequented by diplomatic personnel. ●Receive no more and no less information support from missions abroad than their commercial network counterparts."

Since the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 and the creation of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, directors of VOA are appointed by the BBG and are no longer memorialized as serving under a particular president. This enhances the credibility of VOA as a news organization.

Washington Post, 2 Aug 2012, T. Rees Shapiro: "J. Frederic Buch, a retired editor, producer and broadcaster for Voice of America, died July 11 ... . He was 91. ... [He] began working for Voice of America as an announcer for its German service in the early 1950s. He later worked as a VOA correspondent in Europe and contributed to coverage of national news. He was head of VOA’s news analysis and political commentary department when he retired in 1984."

"A busy year" for Digital Radio Mondiale despite a paucity of receivers.

Posted: 09 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 3 Aug 2012, Tom Vernon: "Though the Digital Radio Mondiale standard has yet to achieve its potential — and the DRM Consortium is trying to make receivers more affordable and more widely available — this has been a busy year for the open digital broadcast standard. ... The DRM Consortium has developed 'feature profiles' for manufacturers. These specify the minimum functionality to be expected for both standard and rich-media radio receivers. Standard receivers offer DRM reception in medium-wave, shortwave and FM bands, stereo decoding, as well as the emergency warning feature and text message display. Rich media receivers also include Journaline, electronic program guide and slide show presentations. There is also a receiver that can display Diveemo, a small-scale video application that can be broadcast over DRM30. Newstar Electronics DR111 standard and Uniwave rich media DRM receivers were displayed at the NAB Show."

Newstar has just issued a firmware upgrade for its DR111 DRM receiver. See also, 29 July 2012.

Previous news here about Radio Australia "suspending" its DRM transmission was incorrect. DRM transmissions continue from RA's Brandon transmitting site.

Radio Canada International host "still fighting" to bring the station back to shortwave.

Posted: 09 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio New Zealand, 6 Aug 2012: "Wojtek Gwiazda is host and producer of Masala Canada at Radio Canada International, and spokesperson of the RCI Action Committeek. Wojtek is still fighting to try and retain the ability to broadcast in shortwave with the very recent shut-down of the shortwave transmitters of Radio Canada International." With 35'02" audio interview.

Richard Langley sent this clipping (pdf) from the Telegraph-Journal (Saint John), 2 July 2012, about the closing of RCI's Sackville transmitting station. See previous post about same subject.

Pedagogical Deutsche Welle renews program with Indian university, and takes an intern from Illinois.

Posted: 09 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Indo Asian News Service, 7 Aug 2012: "The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has commenced its fourth training programme with Deutsche Welle (DW) Akademie of Germany for teachers and media trainers among others. DW is an international broadcaster in Germany and the DW Akademie provides services like media development, media training and journalism education. 'Train the Trainer' is aimed at propagating new training methodologies among academicians and industry personnel working in different capacities like teachers, researchers, media trainers, project managers, human resource managers, corporate entities and professionals, an IGNOU statement said."

Rockford (IL) Register Star, 27 July 2012: "Shelby Granath, a Wartburg College student from Rockford, was recently offered an internship at the Washington bureau of Germany's top international broadcaster. Granath was offered the internship after a delegation from Deutsche Welle toured the campus and watched her anchor the Wartburg broadcast."

Reporter for VOA assaulted in northern Mali.

Posted: 08 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America, 6 Aug 2012: "A journalist in Mali has been badly beaten by Islamists occupying the north of the country, after reporting on the Islamists' failed plans to amputate a thief's hand. Malick Aliou reported on a demonstration by hundreds of protesters who came to the town square in Gao Sunday to try to prevent the Islamists from carrying out the amputation. He is a local radio reporter and also contributes stories to the Voice of America. VOA's French to Africa service says Aliou has regained consciousness but is still at the hospital in Gao."

VOA, 7 Aug 2012: "Speaking from his hospital bed Tuesday in Gao, Malick Maiga Aliou told VOA's French To Africa service that men 'armed to the teeth' entered the studios of radio Adar Koima during a live broadcast and dragged him into a car."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 7 Aug 2012: "'We condemn the brutal assault of journalist Malick Aliou Maïga and are concerned about the safety of all journalists working in Mali,' said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita from New York. 'Radio Adar Khoïma must also be allowed to resume broadcasting, and should not be penalized for its reporting.'"

Voice of America, From the Director blog, 7 Aug 2012, David Ensor: "We applaud the local residents that came to the aid of Maiga, who has since courageously given an interview to VOA’s French to Africa Service from his hospital bed. In the interview, he describes how the attackers left him for dead, saying to each other, 'he’ll never speak to VOA again.' ... All of us at VOA honor and admire Malick Maiga and other independent reporters who risk their lives every day to provide factual information from troubled regions like Northern Mali."

France 24 recalls reporter from Syria after threats via social media.

Posted: 08 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio France International, 7 Aug 2012: "RFI’s sister TV station, France 24, has recalled one of its reporters from Syria after threats to his life were published on social media. They described him as a Shia-Muslim agent in the Syrian government’s pay and said he should be prevented from working with rebels on pain of death. Chady Chlela, who had to return to France after just 48 hours in Syria, has filed a case with Paris public prosecutors, backed by his employers, demanding an inquiry into death threats and incitement to murder. The threats, which were widely shared on social media, increase concern about the sectarian nature of some of the largely Sunni-Muslim armed opponents to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Assad and some of his closest allies are members of the minority Alawite sect while the regime is allied to Shia-ruled Iran."

BBC Focus on Africa now available on Uganda's Urban TV.

Posted: 08 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
NewVision (Kampala), 6 Aug 2012: "The BBC has today launched in Uganda its first-ever dedicated daily TV news programme in English for African audiences. The new programme, BBC Focus On Africa, brings together the expertise of the BBC World Service African languages and BBC World News on television. It is the first in a range of new programming for Africa to be launched by the BBC this summer, including a major expansion of its TV offer. BBC Focus on Africa will be shown in Uganda on Urban TV from Monday 6th August 2012 and will be aired globally on BBC World News channel. It’s part of an expansion of the BBC’s offer on TV, radio and online. ... Solomon Mugera, Editor BBC Africa says: ' ... While radio remains popular in Africa, TV is growing - and our partnerships with leading African broadcasters play a key part in these future plans. Mobile phone ownership is racing towards a billion, internet connectivity is rising and social media is empowering audiences. It's essential that the kind of independent journalism the BBC does that isn't slanted to one political or commercial viewpoint remains central to the new media landscape.'"

In Gorgan, Iran, "everyone watches foreign television channels."

Posted: 08 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Middle East Online, 3 Aug 2012, Shervin Ahmadi, writing about life in Gorgan, Iran: "Society is also opening up to the outside world through film and television. Everyone watches foreign television channels. Someone hailing from the region won the singing talent show Next Persian Star, a kind of Iranian Pop Idol, organised in Turkey and broadcast on TV Persia 1. Although the channel is officially banned, the programme’s participants are often sponsored by local businesses. When the winners return to Iran, they can openly appear at weddings and other events. The government has an interest in allowing these types of programmes, and is much more concerned about the BBC and Voice of America. Sassan runs a music shop in the city centre, one of about a dozen selling musical instruments, CDs and concert tickets. 'I sell between 15 and 20 instruments a month, mostly guitars,' he told me. 'It used to just be the children of well-off families who played the guitar, but now it’s middle-class and poor kids who watch Farsi 1.'"

China's English-language CCTV News broadcasts four-part series about Nelson Mandela (updated: logo flora).

Posted: 08 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
A24 Media press release, 29 June 2012: "A24 MEDIA is once again proud to announce another milestone in the CCTV FACES OF AFRICA series. Starting [1 July], for four straight weeks, CCTV [aired] an A24 MEDIA-produced series on the life of South African activist/statesman/ President, Nelson Mandela. The weekly series [was] seen across Africa and around the globe. ... In the coming weeks A24 MEDIA and CCTV NEWS will also bring you profiles of environmental warrior, Wangari Maathai, and Zambia's first President and renaissance man, Kenneth Kaunda." Video of the series available at this CCTV web page. See previous post about CCTV's Faces of Africa.

Update: @sleepytako, 5 Aug 2012: "Those cacti in the CCTV logo look like they are from the Arizona desert more so than an African desert."

As part of its "emerging market strategy," CNN "plans to grow further into Africa."

Posted: 07 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Business Day (Johannesburg), 31 July 2012: "Tony Maddox, executive vice president and MD of CNN International, told Business Day that CNN had achieved double digit growth in advertising over the past year - something that Africa 'played a big part in'. He said a driver of CNN's success was its efforts to better understand the culture in SA [South Africa] and the rest of the continent, with an emphasis on reducing the reliance on external agencies. There had been a 'definite increase' in both local and international interest in business in Africa, with CNN's Marketplace Africa having performed well, he said. New opportunities on the continent had prompted CNN to devise an emerging market strategy. 'SA is a key market as one of the leading countries on the continent and is absolutely at the heart of our plans for Africa,' Mr Maddox said, adding that SA's 'gateway to Africa' tag was still relevant and very much applicable to the media industry. CNN had added to its staff in SA and the rest of the continent over the past year, with plans to grow further into Africa."

Media Bistro, 1 Aug 2012, Alex Weprin: "Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes led his company’s quarterly earnings call this morning, and he had blunt words for CNN. Bewkes began the call by focusing on Turner Broadcasting’s results, praising TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network for their strong growth, before adding 'the exception this quarter was CNN.' 'To be clear, we are not satisfied with CNN’s ratings performance, and we are focused on fixing it,' Bewkes added. ... 'I think as we all know, it is a great brand,' Bewkes said, touting the channel’s domestic cume numbers (still number one in cable news), as well as its international and digital performance."

Deadline New York, 1 Aug 2012, comment from Santayana: "Why not bring some of the coverage that appears on CNN International onto CNN-US? People used to watch CNN for news, not bloviating presenters."

Creative Loafing Atlanta, 1 Aug 2012, Eric Celeste: "Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour, etc. — these are people who became stars because they were dogged reporters. Now, though, they are hosts of their own shows, the face of the network. (Amanpour on CNN International.) They've risen to their level of incompetence. What made CNN great during the days when Bernard Shaw was in Atlanta and Peter Arnett and John Holliman were its 'stars' was that they were dogged, serious news people. They shaped the brand with their work, not with their celebrity. The person who remakes CNN needs to understand that it can be relevant by committing to a staff of largely anonymous, cheaper, younger, dogged, smarter reporters."

Al Jazeera and Alarabiya, in reporting on Syria, "have lowered their journalistic standards," he writes.

Posted: 06 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, 2 Aug 2012, Sultan Al Qassemi: "While civil war rages on the Syrian battlefield between regime loyalists and myriad rebel factions, another battle is taking place in the media world. Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera, the two Gulf-based channels that dominate the Arabic news business, have moved to counter Syrian regime propaganda, but have ended up distorting the news almost as badly as their opponents. In their bid to support the Syrian rebels' cause, these media giants have lowered their journalistic standards, abandoned rudimentary fact-checks, and relied on anonymous callers and unverified videos in place of solid reporting. ... [T]he real loss here is for Al Jazeera, a channel that was followed by tens of millions of Arab viewers last year at the height of the Arab uprisings and is today a shadow of its former self. After I wrote about the station's bias in favor of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood last month, more than a dozen of the channel's employees confirmed the fact to me in emails."

Press TV, 1 Aug 2012: "Iran has strongly dismissed media reports claiming that an Iranian diplomat has been assassinated in the Syrian capital, Damascus. 'All Iranian diplomats in Syria are safe and sound, and are doing their routine tasks,' Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular and Iranians Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said on Wednesday. He added, 'Certain Arabic-language television networks like Al-Arabiya have launched psychological warfare in Syria under the pretext of establishing a bloody democracy in order to bolster the position of terrorist gangs.' Qashqavi also described Al-Arabiya’s approach to the Syria unrest as hostile to the Syrian nation, government and Damascus’ allies like Tehran."

Press TV, 5 Aug 2012: "In an interview with Press TV on Sunday, Kamel Wazne commented on the reason the armed groups, which kidnapped 48 Iranian pilgrims in Syria, had issued a video footage of the Iranians to the Saudi-run channel. 'They wanted to provide it to Al Arabiya because Al Arabiya is one of the instigators of what is taking place in Syria. It is part of the division that is taking place in Syria. It is part of the propaganda that is taking place in Syria and they think they can do a smear campaign against the Islamic Republic and against the Iranians,' he said."

Al Arabiya, 25 July 2012: "Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ... resorted to the services of a top PR agency based in New York; which, in a statement to Al Arabiya English, now claims that despite its advice for the young president to listen to his people; the 'regime chose to save itself rather than the country'. Brown Lloyd James (BLJ) managed to feature the Syrian first lady in Vogue magazine, calling her a 'Rose in the Desert' and showing her in all the glamour usually reserved for princesses of fairytales."

Syrian Expatriates Organization press release, 1 Aug 2012: "The Syrian Expatriates Organization (SEO) expresses its gratitude to Al-Jazeera journalists for their heroic measures in covering the war in Syria. Al-Jazeera correspondent Omar Khashram was recently injured by mortar fire while covering the ongoing battles in Aleppo between pro-democracy rebels and pro-Assad forces. Mr. Khashram is currently in stable condition."

Al Jazeera English, 4 Aug 2012: "Syrian television presenter Mohammed al-Saeed, kidnapped from his Damascus home in mid-July, has been executed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday. 'The television presenter, a well-known figure on state TV, has been executed, and the Al-Nusra Front has claimed responsibility for the killing,' the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP."

Record number of Creative Commons videos on YouTube, many from VOA and Al Jazeera.

Posted: 06 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
CNET, 25 July 2012, Dara Kerr: "YouTube topped all records today by tallying up 4 million Creative Commons-licensed videos in its trove -- more than any other video hosting company in the world. This means that users have literally millions of choices for snipping bits of footage, adding scenes, and building onto videos they're making. Everything in this collection comes branded with the Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning users don't have to get explicit permission to use the content from the creators. YouTube launched its Creative Commons video library last year and since then it said its users have added in '40 years' worth of video.' Much of the content is from well-known media distributors, such as C-SPAN, Voice of America, and Al Jazeera."

"International campaign" for Taiwan citizen arrested in China for alleged plot to interrupt Chinese broadcasts.

Posted: 06 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 30 July 2012, Chen He: "The arrest of Taiwanese citizen Chung Ting-pang in China last month has led to an international campaign by his family who fear for his safety. ... On June 26, the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua announced on its website that Chung was arrested for sending equipment used for interrupting radio and television broadcasts, and 'inciting mainland residents to destroy broadcasting facilities.' ... In today’s democratic societies, free information is the key to enabling citizens to exercise their constitutional rights. Under China’s authoritarian regime, however, no rights are guaranteed for the people. Thus, efforts to break through the Chinese Communist Party’s tight information control allow the Chinese people to understand the truth. For example, software created by the Global Internet Freedom Consortium has allowed mainland Chinese citizens to overcome the firewall and access information in the free world. Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and other broadcast networks are also transmitting free information to China. Then if Chung has indeed attempted to break through China’s information blockade through broadcast interception, aren’t his brave and righteous actions no different from those mentioned above?"

The role of refugees in international broadcasts to Burma.

Posted: 06 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Mizzima, 3 Aug 2012, Myat Thu Pan: "The most notable [Burmese] student refugees were the ones who were able to set up democratic media outlets like the Democratic Voice of Burma in Norway, Mizzima in India, Irrawaddy in Thailand, who joined up Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and the BBC. These media virtually kept the thread of democracy alive for the Burmese living abroad and also for the population inside Burma. The rich in the nation would receive the news via satellite dishes and all over Burma wherever one goes even in rural areas FM radios are ubiquitous. BBC, RFA and DVB kept the Burmese population informed of the movement. ... It is ... gratifying to see the reconciliation of the exile media, the BBC, RFA and others, which now welcomed by the government inside the country. This is a very wise tactical move by the government."

Radio Australia, 5 Aug 2012: "Dozens of journalists in Burma have taken to the streets to protest against the suspension of two publications. The Voice Weekly and The Envoy were suspended last week for failing to submit stories for pre-publication scrutiny, the country's chief censor told the AFP news agency, adding the 'temporary suspension' may last for a fortnight."

A former VOA official weighs in on voter ID laws.

Posted: 06 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
TPM, 3 Aug 2012, Ryan J. Reilly: "A new paper claiming that voter ID laws actually protect rather than disenfranchise minority voters is getting play in conservative circles. What isn’t being mentioned so much is the background of the paper’s author. Horace Cooper, the author of the paper, told the Daily Caller this week that voter fraud 'criminals — more often than not — are Democrats violating the rights of people who tend to be black or senior.' Cooper may not have any expertise on voter fraud, but he does know a thing or two about falsifying documents. Cooper was indicted in 2009 on five public corruption charges, charged with exchanging political favors for gifts from Jack Abramoff. Cooper allegedly accepted bribes as a staffer to former Majority Leader Dick Armey, as chief of staff for Voice of America and when he worked for the Department of Labor. Cooper later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of falsifying a disclosure report and was sentenced to 36 months of probation."

Architects who refurbish Bush House will have to deal with The Ghosts thereof.

Posted: 06 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Architects' Journal, 1 Aug 2012, Greg Pitcher: "John Robertson Architects has secured a deal to refurbish the historic home of the BBC World Service. The practice will upgrade and restore Bush House on the Strand in central London. BBC World Service has been based at the building for 70 years but will have fully vacated it before refurbishment works begin later this year. John Robertson will also refurbish neighbouring buildings to create modern office space for Japanese building owner Kato Kagaku and Co. ... ‘Our challenge is to preserve what is good about the building and not destroy its wonderful heritage, while providing the client and future tenants with the best possible accommodation and facilities.’"

The Quietus, 31 July 2012, Laurie Tuffrey: "Before he left the building for good, World Service studio manager Robin The Fog set about making recordings of Bush House at night. Working under the moniker The Fog Signals ... Robin collected the material in The Ghosts of Bush House. Here, atmospheric noises are slowed down and looped, with the help of some of the World Service’s ancient reel-to-reels, to form a piece of beautiful, warm spatial exploration. Chords swell and harmonic patterns emerge out of the building’s crepuscular creaking or Robin’s whistling, using the labyrinthine Portland stone corridors of the building, at one time the most expensive in the world, as a giant reverb tank. ... 'Were you tempted to take a memento from Bush House?' 'RTF: Yes - the reel-to-reel machines I recorded the album on! All the Bush House equipment is being sold off and I’m currently being completely out-bid at auction by people with bottomless pockets! It would appear honesty is not the best policy after all. Still, those tape machines served their purpose and I’m very glad the album got finished in time. I also like to think that these might well have been the last sounds that studio ever got to make. A hauntological last hurrah…'" With video/audio.

The Observer, 28 July 2012, Miranda Sawyer: "The World Service moved house the other week, when Bush House, its home for 70 years, shut down. There was some small mourning for the passing of an age; but I bet those who actually worked there were cheering. Bush House, a lovely building, was situated at the end of Aldwych, an inner-city dual carriageway lined with horrible sandwich shops. They've been moved to the new Broadcasting House! You can almost smell Top Shop from there!"

See previous post about Bush House.

Telesur's Pakistani board member says the channel has made "great strides" since "primitive" start.

Posted: 06 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Prensa Latina, 27 July 2012: "Tariq Ali, advisory board member of the multistate channel Telesur, spoke here today about the need to create additional alternative spaces that question political and media hegemony. The channel, which is celebrating its seventh anniversary, shows happenings and events concealed by large media transnationals, with different perspectives to those considered a priority by world power centers. The Pakistani writer, who attended the channel's first broadcast, recalled in an interview that initially the transmission was a bit primitive from the technological point of view, but said it has made great strides since then."

Venezuelanalysis, 6 Aug 2012, citing Correo del Orinoco International: "'Just seven years ago ... Telesur rose out of South America and defied the global airwaves; something it has done very well'. 'Since private media no longer allow for critical debate to occur', Ali said, 'this is something the public media must do…We must demonstrate that what Telesur is doing, for example, is the democratic alternative, that we are the ones allowing the people to express themselves'."

Telesur is a Spanish-language channel, but its video reports are translated into English at

Bloomberg news website remains blocked in China after reporting about 习近平.

Posted: 04 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 30 July 2012, Simon Rabinovitch, via CNN: "Bloomberg's news website remains blocked by China's state censors a full month after it detailed the riches amassed by the family of Xi Jinping, the man who is expected to be the country's next president. Although periodic outages of foreign media websites in China are common, the month-long total blackout of Bloomberg is an unusually harsh response, highlighting the extent to which its coverage angered the government. ... The crackdown has not affected the operation of Bloomberg's profit engine: its terminals, whose subscribers include Chinese state-owned banks and government bodies. However, members of Bloomberg's China sales team have expressed concern that the chill from the website blackout could deter buyers, according to the people who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ... 'It's very unusual for such a major news organisation to have their website blocked like this,' said Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of Danwei, a company that tracks Chinese media. 'They crossed a red line and the timing also has a fair bit to do with this.' No other English-language mainstream media website has been blocked in China for longer than a few days since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Censors now target specific articles or disrupt access to sites at politically sensitive times such as when dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010."

US public diplomacy: should it be about us, or about them?

Posted: 04 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Hill, 1 Aug 2012, James K. Glassman: "One of the paradoxes of the Obama years has been how little attention the administration has paid to directing the tools of 'soft power' — specifically, public diplomacy and strategic communications, deployed through advanced digital technology — toward achieving the national interest. ... The previous administration came to soft power relatively late in the game, but in 2006, President George W. Bush designated a State Department official — first Karen Hughes, then me — as the government-wide lead in using strategic communications to fight terrorism and oppressive regimes. ... What’s important is that public diplomacy be strategic — that is, it needs to be placed in the service of specific, crucial ends, such as ousting Syria’s dictator or building civil society in Egypt. Too often, instead, we find public diplomacy trying to make the rest of the world like us better. That’s hard to do. Favorable opinion of the United States, according to the Pew Research Center, remains at rock-bottom levels in most Muslim nations and has even declined since Obama took office in such countries as Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt. But loving America is not essential. Public diplomacy is not about us anyway. It’s about making the world more free, more safe and, especially in today’s Middle East, showing clearly that we’re on the side of democracy, human rights and tolerance. We can’t make other people’s decisions for them, but we can help create an environment where they are able to make decisions."

Mr. Glassman was under secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, and before that chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, in the George W. Bush administration. Note that he does not mention international broadcasting in his essay. This is a good thing. To maintain its all-important credibility, US international broadcasting cannot be "placed in the service of specific, crucial ends." On the other hand, the news function of international broadcasting does "help create an environment where they [the audience] are able to make decisions."

Fierce Homeland Security, 12 July 2012, David Perera: "Successful counter-terrorist public diplomacy doesn't focusing on making potential terrorists like the United States, said Richard LeBaron, former head of the State Department Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications. In remarks delivered by LeBaron June 20 to the Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired foundation and posted online by blog Jihadica, LeBaron said the center found that successfully nudging away people on the cusp of joining terrorist organizations isn't a war of ideas, and it doesn't matter whether the audiences like or dislike the United States. 'We were not focused on selling the American way of life,' he said."

Heritage Foundation, 2 Aug 2012, Helle Dale: "In a 2009 Heritage report, 'Ideas Matter: Restoring the Content of Public Diplomacy,' Robert Riley [sic, should be Reilly], former director of the Voice of America, argued that without a strong sense of purpose, U.S. public diplomacy has lost its way. Numerous studies by think tanks and experts have described deficiencies in U.S. public diplomacy, including lack of knowledge of other cultures, intergovernmental cooperation, and proper training. Riley, however, focused on the lack of core message about America as the primary problem: 'The primary purpose of United States public diplomacy is to explain, promote, and defend American principles to audiences abroad. This objective goes well beyond the public affairs function of presenting and explaining specific policies of various Administrations. Policies and Administrations change; principles do not, so long as the United States remains true to itself.' In [remarks to the American Security Project, Tara Sonenshine, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy] promised a greater emphasis on professionalizing the various programs of U.S. public diplomacy and better informing the American public about U.S. outreach abroad—both worthy goals. However, she could have her greatest impact in reestablishing the centrality of 'the American story' in U.S. public diplomacy—and taking a look at Riley’s excellent paper would be a good start."

C-Span, 2 Aug 2012: "Alberto Fernandez testified on the mission, operations and impact of the State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications." With video of hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. -- Ranking member Brad Sherman (CA) began his opening statement by saying "while I know our focus here is going to be online, television and radio contunue to be even more important communication media in most of the world that we're trying to reach." He also called for US broadcasts in Sindhi.

MBC's television viewing app is the most popular in the Middle East.

Posted: 04 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link, 1 Aug 2012, Mark Sutton: "MBC Group's Shahid app has reached the top slot on the Apple Store for Middle East and North Africa, within just one week of launch. The application, which allows viewers to watch MBC content on their iPads, has become the most popular app for the region. The Shahid app was launched after a strong response to MBC's TV catch-up service,, proved highly popular, reaching 63 million visits and 90 million video views for the year to date. offers content from MBC channels as well as other Arabic TV content."

BBC Worldwide hires senior VP "in an effort to expand its Latino and Latin America presence."

Posted: 04 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 2 Aug 2012, Gabriel Miramar-Garcia: "In an effort to expand its Latino and Latin America presence, BBC Worldwide has named Guillermo Sierra as senior vice president and GM of channels and branded services for Latin America and U.S. Hispanic. Formerly Chief Content Officer and senior vice president at VME Media Inc., Guillermo will be responsible for the continued growth and strategic development of BBC Worldwide's portfolio of commercial channel services, which currently comprises BBC Entertainment, BBC HD and CBeebies. He is also responsible for CBeebies in Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic markets. In leading the channels business, Guillermo will identify new opportunities to grow the existing services and launch new brands on both linear and non-linear platforms in this high growth market, the BBC said." See also BBC Worldwide press release, 27 July 2012.

Former Soviet states plan a Euronews of their own.

Posted: 04 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 10 July 2012, Chris Dziadul: "The Euroasian Economic Community (EAEC) has unveiled plans to launch a TV channel based on Euronews. Quoting Sergei Naryshin, the chairman of the State Duma, Interfax and Lenta report that the service, which will be analogue rather than digital, will cover issues involving the member states of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. However, they do not provide any details about investment."

Owner of VOA and RFA affiliate radio station in Phnom Penh in prison, facing anti-state charges.

Posted: 04 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 17 July 2012: "Cambodian authorities should immediately release Mam Sonando, one of the country's leading critical journalists, who has been held since [15 July] on anti-state charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. More than 20 officers arrested Mam Sonando, owner, director, and political commentator of Beehive Radio, one of Cambodia's few independent news outlets, at his home in Phnom Penh, the capital, according to news reports. Police questioned him for more than two hours on Monday, and then lodged anti-state charges against him that included insurrection, news reports said. Mam Sonando could face up to 14 years in prison, the reports said." See also World Organization Against Torture press release, 17 July 2012. See also letter to Cambodian prime minister and justice minister in The Nation (Bangkok), 1 Aug 2012.

Radio Free Asia, 23 July 2012, Uon Chhin and Vichey Ananddh: "The head of an independent Cambodian radio station arrested ... for allegedly spearheading a land uprising has fallen ill in prison, his wife said Monday. Mam Sonando, the director of Beehive Radio, was moved to a prison clinic for medical treatment on Sunday over a serious flu, wife Den Phanara said as more than 100 activists gathered in Phnom Penh on Monday to pray for his release. ... Beehive Radio, which broadcasts on 105 FM in Phnom Penh, is one of few media outlets in the country airing independent news, including coverage of opposition and minority political parties, and carries programming by RFA and Voice of America."

News from the International Broadcasting Unappreciation Society.

Posted: 04 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Daily Observer (Monrovia), 29 July 2012: "Dr. D. Elwood Dunn, an internationally acclaimed scholar, historian and author, has called on Liberians to develop a system of national values without which 'we navigate without a compass.' ... He lamented that Liberians are consumed with a culture from abroad which they receive uncritically in the form of books, magazines, films, DVDs, videos, CDs, even foreign national propaganda. These, he said, come from the Voice of America, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio France International, China News Agency, etc. 'They are well funded and professionally packaged and promoted by major organizations and lobbies. Whether intentional or not, this stream has the cumulative effect of reinforcing our national sense of inferiority vis-à-vis the societies from which such products [emanate].'"

TibetCustom, 29 July 2012: "The propaganda chief of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has, in a speech at a seminar held on 11 July 2012 in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, emphasized the importance of 'strengthening the concept of confidentiality, enhancing the sense of confidentiality, adherence to the discipline of confidentiality and to prevent the occurrence of leaking state secrets. ... He expressed hope that the' radio and television project' in Tibetan rural and nomadic households will accelerate the process of building a shared cultural service system for people of all ethnic groups in achieving reform and development.... Mr Chen's call for a complete ban on any outside information in Tibet may also include 'hostile forces' such as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia radio networks which have become primary sources of outside information for Tibetans given the elaborate, intrusive censorship system in Tibet.", 23 July 2012, Giorgi Lomsadze: "If a TV screen suddenly goes static in a home in northwestern Iran these days, chances are that there is a policeman on the roof trying to yank out the satellite dish. Regional news sources report that Iranian police are allegedly busy pulling satellite dishes off the rooftops of private houses in the predominantly ethnic Azeri region, which borders Azerbaijan. The antenna confiscation spree is part of an across-the-board campaign against the supposed corrupting power of Western satellite channels. In Tehran's telling, the satellite dishes radiate evil. And evil can take many forms such as the BBC, Voice of America, Nickelodeon ... ."

Euronews Portuguese version will stay thanks to EC payment.

Posted: 03 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 2 Aug 2013, Iñaki Ferreras: "The Portuguese version of European news channel euronews will no longer disappear after the European Commission agreed to assume the payment of the contribution of owner RTP estimated at €1.7 million a year in 2013 and 2014. RTP will remain a shareholder in the news channel with a 1.4% stake, freeing itself from having to pay an annual contribution of €360,000. Michael Peters, CEO of the channel has thanked personally all of those who endeavoured to preserve the Portuguese version of the information station."

In a shifting of the winds, North Korea sends balloon-borne leaflets to South Korea.

Posted: 02 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Stars and Stripes, 27 July 2012, Ashley Rowland and Yoo Kyong Chang: "North Korea has sent balloons containing thousands of leaflets denouncing the South Korean government across the Demilitarized Zone, the first time the regime has airlifted propaganda across the heavily contested border in 12 years. Officials with the Ministry of National Defense said South Korean troops found approximately 16,000 leaflets scattered between the border cities of Paju and Yangju between July 21 and July 24. The 10 versions of the leaflets tell stories of North and South Koreans who allegedly have fled the South, including the story of a well-known North Korean defector who allegedly returned to his home country in the spring, a defense ministry spokesman said. ... South Korean activists have routinely floated pro-democracy propaganda across the DMZ, prompting North Korea at times to threaten attacks against the activist groups as well as the border cities where they conducted their launches. ... Baek Seung Joo, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul, said the leaflets drops are likely the work of a military or government agency trying to demonstrate its loyalty to the new dictator."

BBC News, 26 July 2012: The leaflets "criticised South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's government and accused it of a plan to send a defector to destroy a statue of North Korea's late leader Kim Il-sung, Yonhap news agency said."

AFP, 26 July 2012: "It is the first time North Korea has dropped such leaflets since promising not to slander Seoul at a landmark 2000 summit."

The Chosunilbo, 2 Aug 2012: "Park Sang-hak of activist group Fighters for Free North Korea ... plans to send balloons with anti-communist leaflets to North Korea on Aug. 15."

CNBC Africa opens bureau in Zambia and screens its first feature documentary, which is about ... Greece.

Posted: 02 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
UKZambians, 27 July 2012: "CNBC Africa has opened its eighth African bureau in Zambia as it continues to widen its African reporting footprint. The bureau, a joint venture with Zambia’s national broadcaster, ZNBC, will be based in the Zambian capital, Lusaka. ... The channel plans to open offices in Rwanda and Ethiopia in the last quarter of this year. By 2014 it plans to be in 20 African countries, making it the only media company in Africa providing complete business and economic news across the continent."

Business Ghana, 14 July 2012: "CNBC Africa last night hosted the screening of its first feature documentary: `Greece: An Economic Odyssey'. ... The hour-long documentary delves into Greece's history and the origins of the current economic crisis through exclusive interviews with former Prime Ministers and finance ministers of the Mediterranean country. It was produced by award-winning Greek journalist Irene Nikolopoulou and CNBC Africa Features Editor Jill de Villiers."

The Zimbabwean, 18 July 2012: "Business Unusual Zimbabwe will be hosting it’s first conference on August 24 at the Alliance Francaise de Harare. The event will focus on innovation for business sustainability and growth. The conference is in partnership with CNBC Africa who will be filming the event to broadcast on their DSTV channel across 48 countries on the continent as well as four other regional national channels."

CNBC Africa is not owned by NBC. Instead, the CNBC name is licensed to ABN30. CNBC Africa broadcasts its own programs, as well as programs from CNBC and NBC.

China Radio International Tamil, its "most popular" service, will be relayed on Indian FM stations.

Posted: 02 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Hindu, 30 July 2012, Ananth Krishnan: "The state-run China Radio International’s Tamil radio station, the most popular of its more than 60 international channels, marked its 49th anniversary here on Sunday announcing plans to expand its presence in India by launching broadcasts on local FM radio stations. CRI Tamil, which broadcasts on shortwave in Tamil Nadu where it has an extensive network of listeners’ clubs run by 25,000 registered listeners, is in talks with FM radio stations in Chennai to launch a daily two-hour broadcast, Zhao Jiang, CRI Tamil’s director, told The Hindu. CRI Tamil launched an FM broadcast on Colombo’s FM 102 station in 2010, a move that has enabled it to expand its listeners’ base in Sri Lanka this past year. ... The Tamil station, launched in 1963, is widely popular for its programmes on Chinese culture and language. Its content generally refrains from engaging with overtly political issues, and devotes much of its attention to the arts."

Report by Australia India Institute has ideas for Australian international broadcasting.

Posted: 01 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 30 July 2012, Malcolm Colless: "The Australia Network and Radio Australia have been criticised in a top-level report by the government funded Australia-India Institute. The 74-page report, 'Beyond the Lost Decade', singled out the ABC-run services as it slammed Australia's international diplomacy effort as old-fashioned, under-funded and needlessly bureaucratised. 'Nowhere are these failings more apparent than in the nation's international broadcasting services -- Australia Network and Radio Australia, both government-funded and operated by the ABC,' it concluded. ... An ABC spokeswoman said the government decision to award the Australia Network tender to the ABC addressed many of the matters raised in the report. 'For the first time, the ABC will be able to combine its international services, Australia Network and Radio Australia,' she said. 'This will produce a truly converged offering on multiple platforms, including satellite, online and mobile, with video and audio content in multiple languages, providing a more focused approach to markets across the Asia Pacific and beyond.' ... International broadcasters such as the BBC, CNN and Australia Network competed for less than 0.1 per cent of the Indian audience, and with the bulk of Australia's international broadcasting effort focused on the dissemination of news in English, taxpayers had 'a right to ask whether this represents good value for money and whether a more focused strategy would achieve greater impact'."

Australia India Institute, 23 July 2012, with link to the report by John McCarthy, et al. The section concerning international broadcasting is on pages 50-53. Excerpts: "With a few beleaguered nations like North Korea aside, Asian audiences – particularly those living in a democracy like India – no longer need Australian-produced news, nor live coverage of sports not played outside Australia. There are few captive audiences left; Indian cable television viewers today can get access to more than one hundred channels for as little as four dollars a month; but the cable networks operators who decide what they see charge hefty carriage fees to foreign broadcasters seeking access. The only foreign networks that have succeeded in attracting significant Indian audiences in return for those carriage fees are the ones that have tailored their programming to Indian interests. Maintaining national platforms that project the ‘identity’ and ‘values’ of a nation is not only horrendously expensive nowadays; it is also deeply anachronistic, because it underestimates the growing sophistication of Asian audiences and the choices available to them.

"The model of international broadcasting that still dominates Australia’s approach has its roots in the Cold War, illustrated by the fact that Australia Network’s budget comes directly from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This undermines the network’s credibility, and its freedom to produce programs of interest to Asian audiences, answerable as the network is to performance indicators set by diplomats and bureaucrats. There should always be mechanisms for high-level consultation between Australia’s Foreign Affairs department and the nation’s external radio, television and online services, especially when it comes to target countries. However, Radio Australia, like the domestic ABC, enjoys freedom from government editorial control, so why shouldn’t Australia Network?

"Around the world, developed nations are changing the way they engage with international audiences, and Australia needs to catch up. There is still an important role for government to play, but the nation-branded radio and television station delivered by satellite is in decline, illustrated by deep funding cuts in countries like Canada and the Netherlands, and new approaches taken by others. The trend is towards content production tailored to individual national audiences, dubbed into local languages and sold or even given free to local broadcasters via a plethora of platforms – FM radio in Cambodia, social media in China. Voice of America, a behemoth of the cold war of the airwaves, has successfully pursued this route in Indonesia, attracting an estimated 20 million listeners to one of its music programs. MasterChef Australia has been a huge hit in India, as has Junior MasterChef in Vietnam, sold to and aired by local networks."

The section of this report about Australian international broadcasting is recommended reading. It is uncommonly well informed about international broadcasting, including audience needs and motivations. I may not agree with all of the report's conclusions, but the ideas it presents are certainly worth thinking about.

Australia might benefit most from a commercial English-language television channel that must pay its own way. It would contain "best of" Australian programming -- although the absolute best would be sold to domestic channels in other countries. Its schedule would also contain flagship news programs, perhaps produced by or relayed from the ABC, or from Australian private networks, or a combination.

Radio Australia on shortwave is still useful for those areas that do not have local internet access, or where that access has been disrupted by dictators or disasters. And radio Australia still plays a key role in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific island nations.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, About the ABC, 16 July 2012: "Australia Network is proud to announce that its first app for iPhone is now available on the App Store. The app offers direct access to Australia Network news and sport, TV guide, English language learning resources and other Australia Network video content as well as streaming Radio Australia. The app also provides emergency consular alert Push Notifications with important information from the Australian Government. Whether you’re an Australian travelling abroad or a local in the region, the Australia Network App for iPhone has something for everyone."

Arabsat/Eutelsat dispute over orbital slots may be linked to transponder interference.

Posted: 01 Aug 2012   Print   Send a link
Space News, 20 July 2012, Peter B. de Selding: "A Eutelsat satellite over the Middle East that has been at the center of a conflict between the Paris-based fleet operator and the 21-nation Arabsat has been subjected to high-power interference that has knocked out a half-dozen transponders, Eutelsat and the French National Frequencies Agency said July 20. The French agency, which is the French government representative to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said in a July 20 statement that it had transmitted Eutelsat’s complaint to the ITU and to the government of Saudi Arabia, where Arabsat is headquartered. One industry official familiar with the issue said the interference, in the form of digital video broadcast transmissions, is either intentional or an extraordinary antenna-pointing error by Riyadh-based Arabsat in aiming programming at the Eutelsat satellite. Arabsat officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about their dispute with Eutelsat, and it remained unclear whether the signal jamming was done with the knowledge of the Saudi government. ... Eutelsat has been battling Arabsat and Iran for more than two years over Ku-band frequency rights at that orbital position. Multiple attempts at mediation by orbital slot and broadcast frequency regulators at the ITU have been unable to resolve the dispute, despite the fact that Eutelsat, with the government of Qatar as a partner, plans to launch an even larger satellite into the 25.5-degree slot in less than a year."

Space News, 31 July 2012, Peter B. de Selding: "Eutelsat Deputy Chief Executive Michel Azibert ... said Eutelsat’s rights to orbital slots at 7 degrees and 8 degrees west is “a fantastic asset” that has already lured 40 million homes, mainly in the Middle East and North Africa, to its television lineup. The Eutelsat 7 West A satellite at 7 degrees West was brought into service in October and now beams 534 channels. Azibert said Eutelsat has clearly overtaken competitor Arabsat of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in winning new television customers in the region.", 31 July 2012, Clayton Vallabhan: UAE-based "Yahsat has announced that it will launch its innovative YahClick 'broadband everyone' satellite service in five key markets. YahClick will provide businesses and customers with cost effective, high performance, wide reaching and reliable internet connectivity. The satellite company has said that YahClick will be available in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Africa, Nigeria and Angola from August 2012. YahClick will be also operational across most of its coverage areas in 28 markets in South West Asia, Africa and Middle East, including the GCC by October." See also