Award winning broadcasts to Zimbabwe.

Posted: 28 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Voice of the People (via Radio Netherlands Madagascar shortwave relay) receives One World Broadcasting Trust award. Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 9 June 2006. The trial of seven directors of (Voice of the People) charged with violating Zimbabwe's tough media laws was postponed on Thursday after a key witness for the prosecution failed to turn up at the court." Independent Online (South Africa), 15 June 2006. See also Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 15 June 2006. And journalism.co.za, 19 June 2006. And Mail & Guardian Online, 21 June 2006.

More USIA revivalism.

Posted: 28 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"The State Department should stick to its knitting. Re-create the USIA as an independent agency charged with conducting public diplomacy." George H. Lesser, Washington Times, 22 June 2006. Overseas public diplomacy officers operate through U.S. embassies. They advocate and must be completely in step with U.S. foreign policy. So why, then, the need for the re-creation of and "independent" agency, other than all the senior-level plum jobs that will be made available? And if USIA is revived, there will be the temptation to bring at least VOA and perhaps other elements of U.S. international broadcasting back under its fold, thereby losing the independence that U.S. international broadcasting fought for decades to acquire, and without which U.S. international broadcasting cannot succeed.

Radio Free Europe and the 1956 Hungarian uprising.

Posted: 28 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"American-run Radio Free Europe in Germany encouraged the hapless insurgents to go all the way against the Kremlin and even broadcast lessons on how to make molotov cocktails." Charles Gati, Washington Post, 21 June 2006. "It's appropriate to question Washington's response half a century ago, particularly in allowing the CIA-backed Radio Free Europe to stoke Hungarians' hopes that the West would rally to their side (a cruelty not unlike the disastrous signals sent to Iraqi Shiites who opposed Saddam Hussein in 1991)." Los Angeles Times, 23 June 2006.

Tribulations of international radio to Southeast Asia.

Posted: 28 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
In Khmer-speaking part of Vietnam: "The interrogation began with torture and ended with forced confessions to no longer ... listen to the Voice of America Radio in Khmer, Radio Free Asia Radio in Khmer and the Voice of Khmer Krom (VOKK) radio in Khmer." Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, 20 June 2006. Reporters sans frontières urges president of Laos "to allow more pluralism of news and information, by allowing Radio Free Asia and Radio France International, for example, to broadcast their Lao-language programmes to Vientiane and other major cities in the country." RSF, 23 June 2006.

International radio is big in Burma.

Posted: 28 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"There are four foreign based broadcasting services for Burmese people, among them, the BBC Burmese section is the most popular among the people. However, Burmese people are listening to all the broadcasting services - also including the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and Democratic Voice of Burma - everyday, sources say." Narinjara.com, 23 June 2006. "In a country where local media was heavily censored, people listen to foreign broadcasts 'to find out what was really happening in Burma.' In the same way, Filipinos tuned into to BBC, Voice of America and Radio Veritas to bypass Marcos’ censored stations." Cebu Daily News, 22 June 2006. "In the main (Burmese) cities, several internet cafes have sprung up in recent years, although internet access is somewhat erratic. Several websites are banned, such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo, and while it is sometimes possible to see foreign news sites, I heard rumours that government agents take regular screen-grabs to monitor what people are looking at." Kate McGeown, BBC News, 21 June 2006.

Internet anti-censorship measure passes House subcommittee.

Posted: 28 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Global Online Freedom Act unanimously passed by House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. "Internet service providers could ... face fines of up to $2 million per offense and imprisonment for blocking access to any U.S. government-sponsored Web site or content, such as Voice of America." CNET News, 22 June 2006. See also Rep. Chris Smith press release, 23 June 2006.

America calling Iran: the saga continues.

Posted: 28 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Because of Bush Administration "decision not to grant funds to Los Angeles-based popular satellite TV stations, such as the National Iranian Television (NITV), focusing solely on Voice Of America and Radio Farda ... NITV ... has now been forced to suspend its satellite broadcasting due to lack of funds." Stefani Lapenna, The American Thinker, 23 June 2006. "Neither the US$75 million propaganda apparatus (approved by Congress) within the US State Department nor the Voice of America's Farsi-language broadcasts can be expected to provide a solution to the 'Iran problem.'" M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times, 24 June 2006.

Publishing via shortwave?

Posted: 28 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Blog entry recalls Swiss Radio International transmission of news via radiofax. Links to quote from 1994 book: "Shortwave radio, unlike other international media, disseminates news direct and uncut by gatekeepers." Jason Walsh, Digit, 26 June 2006. Bob Zanotti of Switzerland in Sound, formerly of SRI, tells me this probably refers to a short-lived SRI experiment, in the early 1980s, in which news was transmitted via shortwave radioteletype (RTTY).

Radio to North Korea.

Posted: 27 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Korean Broadcasting System "as inoffensive as possible." Radio Free Asia "most important ... does raise tough questions." Voice of America's "appeal is somewhat limited." Andrei Lankov, Asia Times, 28 June 2006. Surveys of defectors indicate South Korean radio is most popular, followed by VOA, then RFA.

More foreign channels to the Arab world than Arab viewers for foreign channels?

Posted: 19 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"Arabic language television ventures from Germany, France, Russia, Britain, Spain, Denmark, and the United States. "While others are stampeding in, CNN is hanging back for a better commercial opportunity, lacking access to government financing available to the BBC and others. 'It remains a possibility in the future,' said a spokesman for CNN, Nigel Pritchard, noting that 'as a commercial broadcaster, anything we do needs to make both editorial and business sense.'" International Herald Tribune, 18 June 2006. Recipients of new BBC World Service e-newsletter "receive a monthly update on the programmes and special features coming up, have an opportunity to share their views and opinions with online debates and polls and get behind-the-scenes insights of BBC Arabic with profiles on their favourite presenters and backgrounds on the top stories." BBC World Service press release, 16 June 2006.

Bring back Beers and Brand America?

Posted: 19 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"The Bush Administration missed an opportunity to improve America’s image in the Arab and Muslim world when it shut down the controversial 2002 'Brand America' public diplomacy television advertising campaign, a new book written by two U.S. advertising professors suggests." www.svibook.com

The National Review formula for U.S. international broadcasting: more White House guidance.

Posted: 19 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
The Bush Administration should be "taking a more active hand in the programming of Voice of America and Radio Farda (Radio Free Europe’s Farsi service) for Iran; the current broadcasts do little to plead the cause of Iran’s democrats. And the administration’s public diplomacy could do a much more effective job of echoing the president’s message." Jason Lee Steorts, National Review, 19 June 2006. "The reality of public diplomacy - whether through broadcasting, cultural exchanges, or support for dissident groups - is that it cannot be turned on and off. It was never intended to be a quick fix. Even in a best-case scenario, it depends on a consistent effort over an extended period. The US has failed to mount that kind of effort, and that failure does not bode well for the prospect of 'winning hearts and minds' in Iran any time soon." William Fisher, Scoops, 19 June 2006. But the Voice of America Farsi Service (whose chances for success improve to the extent it can disassociate itself from U.S. public diplomacy) has been on the air since 1979, and has built credibility and friends in Iran during all those years.

Scoops for BBC World Service.

Posted: 19 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"The station's Newshour (Sunday, 1pm and 9pm), was the first to expose such bitter disregard in Colleen Graffy, deputy assistant secretary of state for -- wait for it -- public diplomacy." Also Jenny Cuffe's report that located a man hiding in the Congo after losing his appeal for asylum. The Herald (Glasgow), 19 June 2006.

Broadcasting to the world: State-Owned Mainstream Media.

Posted: 18 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"The Arabs, Chinese, French, and Russians have all figured out what the British figured out 80 years ago: The best way to polish your image is with the polished diction of an announcer, announcing the news in your tongue." James Pinkerton, TCS Daily, 15 June 2006. International channel from India may be added to the list: "The idea is to have an autonomous channel on the lines of BBC and CNN. If it goes ahead, it will have correspondents in all major cities of the world, including in Asia, Europe and North America." PTI, 15 June 2006. And this: "Russia is planning to launch an Arabic-language satellite news channel as it seeks to reassert itself on the world stage and expand its political and commercial influence in the Middle East." Financial Times report cited by Mosnews.com, 15 June 2006. See also Kommersant, 16 June 2006. And Kommersant interview with Aljazeera general director Wadah Khanfar, 16 June 2006.

CNN, BBC both claim victory (again) from Pax Synovate survey of Asian leaders.

Posted: 18 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
CNN International has the larger audience among weekly and monthly viewers. Strategiy.com, 24 May 2006. BBC has the larger audience among daily viewers. AMEInfo.com, 25 May 2006. See also Synovate Pax for data. CNN weekly reach in European Media & Marketing Survey is 19.2%, versus 17.9% for Euronews and 11.9% for BBC World. Among elites, 25.3% for CNN, 19.6% for Euronews, 16.2% for BBC World. Strategiy.com, 18 June 2006.

Really, really bad U.S. public diplomacy -- via BBC World Service, no less.

Posted: 18 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Colleen Graffy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, calls suicides at Guantanamo "a good PR move." BBC News, 11 June 2006. "Ms Graffy's remark was shortly afterwards disowned by another official, Cully Stimson, deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Detainee Affairs who said: 'I wouldn't characterise it is as a good PR move.' In the world of public diplomacy that is quite a putdown." BBC News, 12 June 2006. "If the first casualty of war is indeed truth, then the stretcher-bearers are words. The suicides at Guantanamo show that meaning lies in the mind of the beholder." The Age (Melbourne), 13 June 2006. See also VOA News, 12 June 2006. "It seems unfair to single out the hapless Colleen Graffy. America's deputy assistant secretary for public diplomacy is far from being the only official in George Bush's administration who has a tin ear when it comes to public diplomacy." Economist leader via the Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator, 17 June 2006.

Czech-out time for BBC?

Posted: 18 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"The Czech broadcasting council has ruled that the BBC World Service has broken license regulations by sharing its local frequency with a Czech Radio station. The Council says the BBC acquired the license for the FM frequency on the basis that its broadcasts would contain programmes from its own Czech service. The BBC Czech Service, however, was discontinued earlier this year. The BBC - on the airwaves in this country for over 15 years - will now broadcast in English only and faces the threat of losing its license." Radio Prague, 15 June 2006. "What was thought by many to be the continuation of Czech-language news service on the BBC’s local wavelengths, the Czech Radio channel Radio Česko ended its short existence. The Czech Radio and Television Council (RRTV) last week forbade the BBC to use its frequencies in the Czech Republic to rebroadcast Radio Česko. Former BBC employees, grouped in BBC Radiocom (Praha), owner of the license, wanted to put Radio Česko on the company’s frequencies after BBC World Service shut down its Czech and seven other European country desks last fall. BBC Czech ceased broadcasting in February, but started to air Radio Česko’s programming on March 15." Czech Business Weekly, 19 June 2006.

Preparations for the pan-African radio and television network stall (for altogether predictable reasons).

Posted: 18 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"According to a source close to the meeting that was largely attended by African diplomats representing their countries in Addis Ababa rather than information ministers, a lot of time was spent on drawing the line between the editorial and the management independence of the proposed radio and TV channels. 'Most of the delegates have no journalism background and they came to the meeting with little preparation about the issues put before them for discussion.'" Angola Press, 17 June 2006. "The channel will start off with 8 to 12 hours transmission daily, in the five working languages of the AU (Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Kiswahili) in its radio broadcast." The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa), 15 June 2006.

Kudos to VOA.

Posted: 18 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
VOA Special English website receives a Webby award. VOA press release, 15 June 2006. Malaysian radio critic lauds BBC and VOA coverage of day marking World Health Organization's campaign against tobacco: "VOA talked about how China was getting 350 million smokers to snuff out the habit in schools, public transportation and in all indoor workplaces as part of plans for a tobacco-free society in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics." Anthony Thanasayan, The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 18 June 2006. "The Voice of America, by the Federal Center SW station, allows visitors to peek through the glass walls of its busy-bee studio. The free tour gives a sampling of the 1,000 hours of programming aired weekly to more than 100 million people worldwide in 44 languages." Washington Post, 18 June 2006.

BBC World Service as surrogate broadcaster.

Posted: 18 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"Kabul was an information black hole where you learnt about something that had happened a mile away days later on the BBC World Service." The Observer, 18 June 2006. This is an example of BBC as "surrogate" domestic broadcaster. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty have billed themselves as unique in their role as "surrogate" broadcasters. But, in reality, all successful international radio stations provide the news that the domestic media of the target country should be providing if they were free, sufficiently funded, and/or competent. This includes BBC and VOA to many target countries, as well as Radio France International to francophone Africa, and Radio Australia to some Asia-Pacific countries. In the United States, the creation of a Radio-Free "surrogate" service in a certain language when VOA already broadcasts in that language is an imprudent exercise in duplication. And the comical aspect of this is that these "surrogate" services are usually proposed by self-described conservatives who profess to advocate small government. The solution is not the elimination of the Radio-Free stations, but a genuine consolidation of U.S. international broadcasting.

Karen Hughes via RFE/RL, etc.

Posted: 15 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Under secretary for public diplomacy lays out principles in interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Washington File, 11 June 2006. "It is so important, I think, that our broadcasting is committed to telling the truth and to portraying truthful, accurate information without bias, without propaganda, without slant, but providing the truth to people across the world." RFE/RL, 11 June 2006. "The purpose of our ambassadors and our foreign service officers is to be out interacting with the media to be communicating with the public about America's policies and values and actions." AP, 7 June 2006. "NBC ... went out of its way to embarrass the Bush administration and Mideast goodwill ambassador Karen Hughes, playing a clip of Hughes on an Arab street, caught asking an aide 'how do you say "friends?"'" NewsBusters, 7 June 2006. Council of Foreign Relations overview of U.S. public diplomacy. CFR, 14 June 2006.

Trading the old hard-to-block technologies for the new easy-to-block technologies.

Posted: 15 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"Satellite television is to the future what shortwave was to the past. Internet is a key element of what we're doing, a key vehicle in today's world for providing information to deprived people." Article also quotes Professor Nancy Snow of California State University, Fullerton: "I always view VOA, for example, as a legitimate news service that of course has a partial propagandistic mission to get America's message out there." The Star-Ledger (New Jersey), 12 June 2006. And another from the tradition of opining about U.S. international broadcasting without listening to U.S. international broadcasting: "I don't know if the (Broadcasting Board of Governors) is all propaganda. I haven't heard its programs." Joyce Mullins, Salisbury (MD) Daily Times, 14 June 2006.

Aljazeera International struggles for access in North America.

Posted: 14 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"It has missed its target launch date and won't set another, has no public commitments by anyone to show it in the United States, saw its closest competitor beat it to the market and is the target of a pressure campaign by a group hoping it never airs here." AP, 12 June 2006. "In Canada, where such companies are the gatekeepers to the majority of television sets, al-Jazeera International, or AJI, has been knocking on doors in recent weeks trying to get support in its quest for a broadcast licence." Globe and Mail, 15 June 2006

Did he coin the name "Voice of America"?

Posted: 14 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
From obituary for Robert Ross, former director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association" "He was on the staff of the U.S. Coordinator of Information for the Voice of America and the U.S. Department of State from 1942 to 1951. In that capacity, for several years he wrote the English-language version of 'America Calling Europe,' a broadcast on world affairs that was beamed out worldwide each morning via the BBC in London. He’s credited with suggesting that the agency be renamed 'Voice of America.'" MDA, 6 June 2006.

An even less popular USA.

Posted: 14 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"America's global image has again slipped and support for the war on terrorism has declined even among close U.S. allies like Japan. The war in Iraq is a continuing drag on opinions of the United States, not only in predominantly Muslim countries but in Europe and Asia as well." Pew Global Attitudes Project, 13 June 2006. Alhurra (to its credit) reports these survey results to the Arab world. Bahrain News Agency, 14 June 2006.

Mcpublicdiplomacy?

Posted: 14 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"The exportation of Ronald McDonald with a Mexican accent is less than evil but the fact remains that the world has begun to see us not as a bastion of freedom and opportunity but as a purveyor of greasy food, bad taste, and an unbridled lust for profit. And that is soft power." Howard Dratch, Blogcritics.org, 14 June 2006.

RFA Burmese director anti-pro-democracy?

Posted: 14 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"Several journalists, based both in Burma and overseas, are also on the list (of 'enemies' of the Burmese pro-democracy movement). One of them is Soe Thin, director of US-based Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service. He is singled out both as a former member of Burma’s foreign ministry and for joking 'disrespectfully' about (Aung San) Suu Kyi." The Irrawaddy, 14 June 2006.

New British media invasion of the United States.

Posted: 13 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
BBC World ("News beyond your borders"), The Economist, and The Times of London embark on marketing campaigns. International Herald Tribune, 1 June 2006. BBC's campaign will mention its coverage of the U.S. immigration debate. Brand Republic, 1 June 2006. "BBC World, which is available in 279 million homes worldwide, has barely a toe dipped into the United States -- only 2 million subscribers to Cablevision in the New York City area on opening day." AP, 2 June 2006. "BBC World has faced financial difficulties over recent times, reporting an operating loss of £15.7 million pounds last year. A government-commissioned report published in April said that the channel faced 'significant uncertainties' over whether it could be made profitable." InTheNews.co.uk, 2 June 2006. "The channel will concentrate on news of global importance, including U.S. affairs, but it is not 'American news for an American audience.'" Reuters, 1 June 2006. A Times Square billboard asks "passersby to text message their opinions on a topic, starting today with immigration." Bloomberg, 1 June 2006. "BBC World takes on Murdoch in his back yard." The Independent, 2 June 2006. Three marketing themes are "Develop a Point of View," "See Both Sides of the Story," and "News Beyond Your Borders." BBC World press release, 1 June 2006. "The BBC also has an advantage over CNN since it has about three times as many journalists stationed outside of the United States." AP, 6 June 2006. BBC and Reuters both touting objectivity in new U.S. marketing campaigns. New York Post, 7 June 2006.

Never a shortage of advice from the Heritage Foundation.

Posted: 13 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. and its allies should work to defeat the regime’s suppression of independent media by increasing Farsi broadcasts by government-sponsored media such as the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe (Radio Farda), and other information sources. ... The Internet is a growing source of unfiltered information for many Iranians, particularly Iranian students." James Philips, Heritage Foundation, 2 June 2006. Actually, the internet is considerably filtered in Iran. Just ask BBC World Service.

Washington Post looks at Radio Farda.

Posted: 13 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"One survey -- done by calling Iranian phone numbers and asking the person on the other end whether he listens to Radio Farda -- put the number of adult listeners per week at 13.6 percent of the adult population. It is only an estimate, though, because how many Iranians will speak honestly with a complete stranger who has telephoned them out of the blue?" Washington Post, 5 June 2006.

Well, then, you'll be interested to learn that we on the Broadcasting Board of Governors voted to eliminate VOA's worldwide English.

Posted: 13 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Karen Hughes, speaking with students in Morocco: "Do any of you all listen to Radio Sawa? (Yes) How's Radio Sawa, is it good? (Yes) And what's good about it? Do you like the music, do you like the news? Student: There's not enough English on Radio Sawa. Under Secretary Hughes: So you'd like to see Radio Sawa do more English instead of Arabic. OK." U.S. State Department press release, 6 June 2006.

Prospects for satellite radio.

Posted: 13 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"In the case of Worldspace in particular, the company's emphasis on catering to the specific tastes of local markets rather than simply trying to impose U.S. programming on to non-U.S. subscribers is a breath of fresh air in the world of global entertainment which is increasingly U.S.-dominated." UPI, 9 June 2006. Worldspace all-sports channel available in time for World Cup. IceNews, 9 June 2006.

More memories of VOA jazz to Cuba.

Posted: 13 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
Father of Cuban-born single-reed player Paquito D'Rivera "introduced him to jazz and he learned more from the radio show 'Willis Conover Jazz Hour' which was broadcast to Cuba by the Voice of America. Curiously, the Voice of America was barred by law from broadcasting in the United States, so Conover’s show, arguably the best jazz programming ever broadcast on radio, had a tremendous impact outside of the United States while we suffered here with very little decent jazz radio at that time." Berkeley Daily Planet, 9 June 2006.

A Belarusian station for Belarusians, from studios in Warsaw.

Posted: 13 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
European Radio for Belarus. "We have been asked frequently by other journalists, that are you like Radio Svoboda, Radio Free Europe which said that when democracy comes, it closes the next day. And we say that it is not our goal. We are doing vice versa, we hope that when changes come, we can return there and work as a professional, attractive radio station with balanced information and education content which would be really recognisable by people in Belarus." Polskie Radio, 13 June 2006.

Recalling international radio before there was international television.

Posted: 03 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"One of India’s most high-profile editors once jested -- in the days before cable TV came to India -- that every morning he would tune in to the BBC and the Voice of America and get a sense that the world was coming to an end, but tuning in to All India Radio unfailingly calmed his frayed nerves because the state broadcaster’s safety-first ‘news policy’ always painted a rosy picture of the world." DNA (Mumbai), 1 June 2006.

Internews sends help to Yogyakarta earthquake zone.

Posted: 03 Jun 2006   Print   Send a link
"Internews plans to establish an emergency radio broadcast in partnership with the few local commercial FM broadcasters in the area still on the air.  ... It will also ascertain whether the extensive mobile telephone infrastructure in the region can be utilized to improve the flow of information among the local communities, the radio broadcasters and the international relief effort." Internews press release, 1 June 2006.