RFI on FM in Kuwait; CRI on FM in Laos (updated).

Posted: 29 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"'Radio France Internationale (RFI)' will begin broadcasting in Kuwait after the signature of an agreement on November 29. Another state-owned, French radio [and RFI subsidiary] 'Radio Monte Carlo-Middle East' (RMC) already broadcasts in Kuwait." Kuwait News Agency, 25 November 2006. Radio Sawa, VOA, BBC already on FM in Kuwait. Chinese president Hu Jintao and Lao president Choummaly Sayasone (also general secretaries of their respective Communist parties) attend "ceremony marking the inauguration of an FM radio station of the China Radio International in Vientiane." Xinhua, 19 November 2006. Update: RFI CEO Antoine Schwarz "said that Kuwait has become the only Arab country to launch the RFI service, which will serve between 10,000 and 15,000 French speakers, including about 1,000 nationals of France, living in the Gulf state." AFP, 29 November 2006. RFI subsidiary Radio Monte Carlo-Middle East is on FM in seven Arab countries.

From the human rights exhibition in Beijing.

Posted: 29 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Li Xiaojun, one of the organizers of the exhibition, said: "You can access most webpages. But there are exceptions. Amnesty International, because they are very unfriendly towards China. They spread inaccurate information. And Voice of America [VOA], who declared in 1989 that our leader Deng Xiaoping was dead. That is just one example of the very obvious lies. Just like BBC World, which gave incorrect information and drew from it some baseless conclusions. We are blocking their websites, because we are opposed to that sort of reporting." Radio Netherlands, 29 November 2006.

New digital radio module in search of radios to stick itself into (updated).

Posted: 29 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Users will not have to be concerned with having to know which technology or frequency to tune in to. Users simply select the station name just as they do for DAB today. The RS500-powered radio displays a list of all the stations available on DAB, DRM, FM, MW, LW and SW." RadioScape press release, 21 November 2006. See review of Morphy Richards DRM-capable receiver using Radioscape chip at newswireless.net, 23 November 2006. Update: "'There is a huge amount of collaborative effort behind the rollout of DRM,' said John Sykes, digital radio project director at BBC World Service. 'Manufacturers, retailers and broadcasters are working together to help make this happen as quickly as possible.'" ElectronicsWeekly.com, 29 November 2006.

Today's batch of comments about Aljazeera English.

Posted: 29 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"A quick overview of the news items that Al Jazeera has run since the launch of its official English channel demonstrates its willingness to tell untold or marginalized stories and to give due visibility to unknown places. In fact, one of the recurrent criticisms that have been levied against the western media is its ‘penchant’ to portray a picture of gloom and doom of the South. The question that is being posed is whether Al Jazeera’s English Channel will be able to rectify this without slipping into pure celebratory and glorified portrayals." Roukaya Kasenally, L'Express (Mauritius), 29 November 2006. "The channel seems likely to offer more in-depth coverage of the Middle East than anything else most Americans are going to see." Dante Chinni, Christian Science Monitor, 27 November 2006. "The same left-wing crowd that claims to hate propaganda seems to be offering nothing but flowers and best wishes for the November launch of al-Jazeera English." L. Brent Bozell III, Human Events, 29 November 2006. "In the network's first days of broadcasting there was plenty of emphasis on Middle East news stories. But any reports from the Palestinian point of view were balanced by reports giving prominence to Israeli opinions." Jonathan Este, The Australian, 30 November 2006. Also: National Public Radio, 27 November 2006. "Manhattan-based design and production company UVPHACTORY (UVPH) ... created the main HD news graphics package for" AJE. UVPH press release, 28 November 2006.

Israeli responses to Aljazeera English.

Posted: 29 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera's depiction of Israel in American and European homes will undoubtedly make the biased BBC and CNN pale by comparison. The fact that it already has access to 80 million Western households should put to rest any illusions that its impact will be confined. Those interested in Middle East affairs will gravitate to the new station, both out of curiosity and as a means of gaining a better insight into the Arab position." Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, 26 November 2006. "Israeli TV provider YES has completed a deal that will allow subscribers to watch Al-Jazeera in English starting December 5." Jerusalem Post, 28 November 2006. Israeli Foreign Ministry supports the Megaphone desktop tool, via www.giyus.org (Give Israel Your United Support). Jerusalem Post, 28 November 2006.

BBC World Service 24/7 in the Twin Cities and Wellington.

Posted: 29 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Via secondary channel of Minnesota Public Radio's HD digital service. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 28 November 2006. BBC World Service also involved in digital radio trials in Wellington, New Zealand. Also: "Radio New Zealand is transmitting long-wave [sic] broadcasts to the Pacific using Digital Radio Mondiale, similar to DAB but used for AM signals." The Dominion Post, 27 November 2006. Actually, the Radio New Zealand International DRM transmissions to the Pacific are on shortwave (which allows long distance reception). Very few individual listeners ahve DRM receivers. But RNZI has supplied radio stations in the Pacific region with DRM receivers, and those in turn relay RNZI programs to local listeners.

France 24, the art de vivre channel (updated).

Posted: 28 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
It will cover "places such as former French West Africa that are usually off the Anglo-American radar. France will be reported like any other country, but there will be an emphasis on its art de vivre." The Times, 22 November 2006. This article includes handy list of seven English-language international news channels. "An animated cartoon advertisement for France 24 offers an explanation for 'Beyond the News' in a way that reflects French skepticism about globalization. The cartoon begins with a sweatshop scene of a boy stitching a soccer ball, then shifts to his tear-swelling triumph as a player in a soccer stadium. Suddenly, a dark figure looms behind him and slaps the boy's head, bringing him back to brutal reality." International Herald Tribune, 26 November 2006. Update: "The channel already has toned down its slogan from the conspiratorial 'Everything you are not supposed to know' to the more prosaic 'Behind the news.' And advance footage of how the channel will look, available on YouTube, suggests its appearance will be less than mold-breaking." Reuters, 27 November 2006. "French journalists, we are more rebellious. It means when somebody is telling us `this is not allowed, don't cross this street', the only idea we've got in our head is to cross this street." AFP, 28 November 2006. See previous posts about France 24 on 24 November and 19 November.

The dangerous profession of international broadcasting.

Posted: 28 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
In the 1980s, two successive directors of the Radio Free Europe Romanian Service died of a "galloping form of cancer." This may have been caused by thallium injected by Ceausescu's agents. "I recently learned from Nestor Ratesh, a former director of RFE’s Romanian program, who has spent two years researching Securitate archives, that he has obtained enough evidence to prove that both Noel Bernard and Vlad Georgescu were killed by the Securitate at Ceausescu’s order. The result of his research will be the subject of a book to be published by RFE." Ion Mihai Pacepa, National Review, 28 November 2006.

Radio France International evicted from FM dial in Kigali.

Posted: 27 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Follows Rwanda's decision to cut diplomatic relations with France. BBC News, 27 November 2006. See also Libération, 27 November 2006. Shortwave broadcasting exists for just such predicaments. And, indeed, RFI transmits in French on shortwave to Africa. But can you find the shortwave schedule at www.rfi.fr? Je ne peux pas. "The move leaves the BBC, Voice of America and Germany’s Deutsche Welle as the only international radio stations broadcasting to Rwanda on FM." AFP, 28 November 2006.

The latest international broadcasting strategy: distance yourself from the Americans.

Posted: 26 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The reason DW launched in Arabic (says Guido Baumhauer, Deutsche Welle director of marketing) is because there are many stereotypes about western countries in the Arab world, often leaving Germany to be grouped as 'the West' with the US and UK. 'We are not a mouthpiece for the German government. We just want to show that the entire West is not the same.'" Gulf News (Dubai), 26 November 2006.

Skewering the international news channels.

Posted: 26 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Sky’s reporting still looks good, in a ready-made sort of way, but its recent expensive makeover looks like an expensive makeover. BBC World is lost in a toyshop of station idents and self-promoting commercials, as is CNN, which has drifted into a head-rotting plethora of glossy-magazine, PR-driven features that soft-sell businessmen’s hotels, sports gear, popular culture and high-end fashion. Getting any hard content out of these stations is like queuing at the Post Office. Fox News, on the other hand, is a series of ritualistic fights that look like a troll’s advent calendar. ... Sorry, but who on earth watches Euro News, and who makes it; and, in both cases, why?" AA Gill, The Times, 26 November 2006.

Heady Aljazeera English in expansion mode (updated).

Posted: 26 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"We have put in an application with the Indian government recently to bring our channel to Indian homes. Our expectation is that the government could clear our licence in the next 40-50 days. But, naturally we can't put an exact date for the official launch in India till the government clearance comes through. ... We are also waiting for several licences in other parts of South Asia like Pakistan and Bangladesh and in other Asian territories like China." Economic Times, 24 November 2006. AJE interviewer Sir David "Frost will be using his well-worn contacts book to try to arrange an interview on Islam with Prince Charles and – perhaps a more difficult call to make – President Bush. Famously, the president discussed bombing Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Qatar, though Frost thinks he was joking." Financial Times, 24 November 2006. Update: "We have never had financial difficulties, but other networks have far more money." The Observer, 26 November 2006. "In the long run, I still think problems will mount. Who will watch it? Who will advertise? Who will care? For now though, Parsons and his team deserve every praise." Anil Bhoyrul, ITP Business (Dubai), 26 November 2006.

Azerbaijan closes independent broadcaster ANS, rebroadcaster of BBC and VOA (updated).

Posted: 25 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Broadcasting stopped as police briefly surrounded the ANS building and officials switched off its transmitter." Reuters, 24 November 2006. "It was rebroadcasting radio news from the BBC's Azeri-language service and television material from the US channel Voice of America." BBC News, 24 November 2006. Update: Broadcasting Board of Governors statement: “This is part of an unfortunate pattern we have seen recently of attempts to deprive U.S. international broadcasting from in-country outlets.” BBG press release, 25 November 2006. See also VOA News, 24 November 2006. And RFE/RL News, 24 November 2006.

International broadcasting in 1937: BBC versus Bari.

Posted: 25 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Bari [Italy] uses a first rate Arabic orchestra and broadcasts the songs of beloved Arab artists. As for the British broadcast, it relies on Western music, most of which is not to Arab taste. The average Arab appreciates speech that reveals pride. Bari station always boasts of Fascist advantages with influential pride, something the British broadcast cannot go along with." Newspaper accounts from the 1930s cited by Professor Yunan Labib Rizk, Al Ahram Weekly, 23 November 2006.

Radio Sweden complains of interference from Iran on 6065 kHz (updated).

Posted: 25 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"In violation of international custom, Radio Tehran has begun using the frequency we have used to more than 60 years. The interference occurs during the evening, and primarily affects listeners in southern Europe, but parts of central Europe are also affected at time." Radio Sweden website. This is probably sloppy and/or inconsiderate frequency management on the part of Iran, rather than deliberate jamming of Radio Sweden. Update: My friend in Germany, an experienced shortwave technical monitor, says this interference has occurred every winter for the past five years. The problem was never solved at any previous HFCC (high frequency coordinating conference) meeting. He asks: what do they talk to each other about at the five-star luxury hotel buffet?

ABC's Australian Network enters Indian television market (updated).

Posted: 25 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"News broadcast player, Television Eighteen India has signed a exclusive distribution deal with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to bring its infotainment channel ‘Australia Network’ to 68 million cable homes across the country. The Australian public broadcaster, on the other hand, will share content with TV18 Group as well as assist it in taking their channels to Australia." Business Standard, 23 November 2006. And so India will have two ABC television networks from abroad. See previous post about the U.S. ABC News Now on Dish-TV in India. Update: "The media stocks were trading a mixed bag with the news broadcast player, Television Eighteen (TV18) signing an exclusive distribution deal with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to broadcast the latter's infotainment channel Australian Network in India. On the other hand, ABC will share content with TV18 Group and assist it in taking their channels to Australia. ABC is investing US $2million and targeting 5 million households in the first year of the deal. This move by TV18 depicts its distribution strength to launch foreign channels. There is demand for niche content in India and with new streams like Direct-to-Home Conditional Access System and Internet Protocol TV coming up, an increasing number of foreign broadcasters may be willing to foray into the Indian markets." Economic Times, 24 November 2006.

Advice for nations trying to rebrand themselves.

Posted: 25 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The [success of the Democrats] in the midterm elections is probably the first things to have happened in the last four or five years that might actually achieve something to bring America back in people’s estimation, because it’s shown a clear separation at last between the government and the American people. The image of the American people and culture was beginning to be contaminated by distaste for American government policies." Simon Anholt, interviewed by Newsweek, 24 November 2006.

Former domestic Iraqi television station now broadcasting from abroad?

Posted: 24 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Al-Zawraa TV is the station of choice for nostalgic Baathists, militant Islamists, Iran-hating Sunnis and anti-American Arab nationalists. Driven underground by a court order on Nov. 5, the day Saddam was sentenced to death, the satellite news channel has re-emerged in recent days, broadcasting from an unknown location and devoid of any pretense of neutrality." McClatchy Newspapers, 23 November 2006.

Comments about Aljazeera English beginning to taper off.

Posted: 24 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"We always expected the US to be hostile and a tough market. but we have received quite a number of positive feedback via e-mail from viewers in the US. So, I guess quite a number of people there have been watching us." The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 24 November 2006. "BBC World is going to be faced with a choice of becoming practically obsolete or the BBC needs lots of public money to catch up with Al-Jazeera International. There is the need for far greater investments in the BBC -- much more money than is today invested in the BBC." Al-Ahram Weekly, 23 November 2006.

China Radio International is 24/7 in London via DRM on 26 MHz.

Posted: 24 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"CRI’s DRM service to London is broadcasting a mix of English and Chinese programming that comes live from its studios in Beijing. WRN’s 26MHz service provides CRI with complete DRM broadcast coverage of Greater London and it is being transmitted from the well known Croydon transmission tower." WRN press release, 20 November 2006. The 26 MHz band is a shortwave broadbast band that is rarely useful for long distance propagation. The DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) consortium is experimenting with using its system for local transmissions in this band. Consumer-level DRM receivers are expected to go on sale early in 2007.

In more and more countries, people bumping into each other because they're watching international television on their mobiles (updated).

Posted: 23 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"BBC World, the BBC's 24-hour international news information service will be the only English language news channel to be streamed live to [Orange] mobiles in Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, Portugal, Jordan, Egypt and the Dominican Republic." indiantelevision.com, 16 November 2006. Qatar's Qtel will provide Aljazeera English, CNN, CNBC, etc., to mobile handsets. The Peninsula, 19 November 2006. Etisalat in Dubai offers Aljazeera, BBC World, and CNBC Arabiya on mobile devices. AME Info, 20 November 2006. Update: Astromobile Service in Malysia includes BBC World, CNN International, CNBC and Cartoon Network. C21 Media, 22 November 2006. Go Mobile in Malta offers BBC World, etc. Times of Malta, 22 November 2006.

Aljazeera English gathers more comments, and more terrestrial relays.

Posted: 23 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The new channel's editorial policy seems more restrained. When a 70-year-old resident died of his wounds after being hit in an Israeli attack on Gaza, the Arabic Al Jazeera reported that he was 'martyred.' At Al Jazeera English, however, he was simply 'killed.'" Jamal Dajani, Arab Media Internet Network, 22 November 2006. "In only a few days on the air, Al Jazeera International has appeared to shift its coverage to 'under-reported' areas of the world that may or may not be of interest to potential American subscribers, who may be more interested in domestic issues with a new Congress, and before long an upcoming U.S. presidential campaign." Alvin Snyder, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 21 November 2006. "Al Jazeera English is covering the world more deeply and broadly than U.S. television news does and with an even greater respect for the laws of show business." Troy Patterson, Slate, 21 November 2006. "To watch al-Jazeera up close -- to really watch it, rather than catch eight-second snippets of snidely filtered stereotype by "our" own networks -- is to see the rest of the world as it sees us, and from the street up. ... The only way to see the channel is to spring for a $6-a-month Internet subscription. Good enough, but still. Cable and satellite providers won't touch al-Jazeera. Censorship? Worse: Ignorance." Pierre Tristam, Daytona Beach News-Journal, 21 November 2006. AJE presenter Dave Marash says: "All of our competitors, CNN International, BBC World, and the American networks, concentrate about 80 percent of their news gathering resources in Western Europe and North America. Al Jazeera English is going to concentrate about 80 percent of our news gathering outside of North America and Western Europe." AFP, 23 November 2006. "The petrodollar-backed Islamists are on a fast track to subvert democracies from within. With the best PR money can buy, they use media and communication outlets to popularize and legitimize the Islamist agenda, while deceiving the public as to its very nature. Under the guise of personal freedom, so cherished in the West, they introduce conservative Muslim restrictions on private and public life. The Qatar-based Al Jazeera, the major platform for bin Laden and other Islamist messages worldwide, began its English-language broadcasting unit Al-Jazeera English (AJE) this month. It is aimed at more than a billion English speakers, Muslim and non-Muslim, on five continents on TV screens, radio and the Internet." Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen, Washington Times, 23 November 2006. AJE programs will be seen on New Zealand terrestrial television channels. Triangle Television press release, 23 November 2006.

Australian business elite prefers to get business news from newspapers, says newspaper.

Posted: 23 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Citing Ipsos Media survey. "When it came to TV, they liked to watch more news and business, with Sky News, Fox News, CNN, BBC World and Bloomberg among the favourite pay-TV channels. For relaxation from the corporate jungle the executives tuned in to the real jungle. The most popular non-news channels were Discovery and National Geographic." The Australian, 23 November 2006.

News about RFE/RL's new and old buildings (updated).

Posted: 23 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Construction begins on new RFE/RL headquarters in Prague. "The new headquarters ... will be anchored by a five-story, 23,545-square-meter (253,436-square-foot) main building with two ponds." It will be completed in 2008. Prague Post, 15 November 2006. Just in time for RFE/RL, RFA, VOA, and MBN to merge and move to Chicago, according to my plan. Update: The former Federal Assembly building, present location of RFE/RL, will be turned over to the Culture Ministry to be part of the National Museum. CTK, 22 November 2006. See also report by Radio Prague, 23 November 2006.

American Center in Burma attracts thousands of visitors.

Posted: 23 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"For a United States worried about its tarnished image in the world, the bustling center is testimony to how an accessible library, seminars and courses in English can burnish America's reputation and comfort those living under autocratic rulers. The center is so cherished in this poor and oppressed nation with a passion for books that attendance far exceeds that at the American library in democratic New Delhi." New York Times, 23 November 2006.

Thanks

Posted: 23 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
to those of you who called, e-mailed, or listened to my appearance on VOA's Talk to America, 22 November. Audio of the program is available here.

New VOA Portuguese program for Mozambique.

Posted: 23 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The show, Vida Sem Medo (Life Without Fear), is a 30-minute weekly program that focuses on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The show will be produced in Mozambique and broadcast from Washington. ... The program will be distributed across Mozambique by FM affiliates in the major cities, and on shortwave frequencies 909 KHZ/33 meter band [sic]; 21590 KHZ/13 meter band, and 18985 KHZ/15 meter band. It will air on Saturday and Sunday from 1200-1230 (Maputo time) [1000-1030 UTC]." Voice of America press release, 22 November 2006. The 909 kHz frequency is not in the "33 meter" band, but on medium wave. Because of the limited range of medium wave during daylight hours, it is unlikely to propagate as far as Mozambique from the VOA Botswana relay. Many shortwave radios in Africa do not have coverage above 18 MHz (18000 kHz) and thus will not be able to receive the two shortwave frequencies.

TV Martí official indicted (updated).

Posted: 22 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Federal grand jury indicts senior TV Martí executive Jose M. Miranda, "accusing him of taking more than $100,000 in kickbacks from ... Perfect Image Film and Video Productions, a vendor that was doing business with TV Martí." Miami Herald, 18 November 2006. Update: "Miranda is also charged with 'making false representations to the U.S. government, in that he falsely reported no outside income in financial disclosure reports.'" Hispanic Business. 20 November 2006. See also U.S. Attorney's press release, 21 November 2006.

Newest entry in international television: CNBC Africa.

Posted: 21 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"CNBC Africa will launch in May 2007, employing 40 journalists in four countries to cover financial markets. ... CNBC Africa will be headquartered in Johannesburg, the financial heart of Africa's economic giant South Africa, and will run bureaux in Cape Town, Lagos, Abuja, Gaborone and Nairobi. A consortium of Middle Eastern investors would provide 70 per cent of the $21 million start-up costs and South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation would fund the rest." Reuters, 18 November 2006. "CNBC Africa will launch with African news business bulletins broadcast hourly in the mornings followed by link-ups to CNBC Europe and US. Evenings will be devoted to African features." The East African, 20 November 2006. Sentech of South Africa will transmit CNBC Africa through Vivid Platform, its direct to home satellite service. "CNBC Africa is owned and operated by African Business News under a licensing and affiliation agreement with CNBC." BuaNews Online, 20 November 2006.

Aljazeera English continues to generate comments.

Posted: 21 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"By what I saw, it looks designed to be a strong competitor to the BBC World News service, with solid, sober international reports from the Darfur region of Sudan in Africa to Baghdad, Iraq. It's a sleek presentation, with lush electronic fanfare that offers more meat than the round-the-clock news operations in the U.S., probably because of its global outlook." Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant, 19 November 2006. "We aim to reverse the North-South flow of information." Spiegel, 20 November 2006. "We've had fantastic feedback from around the world." AP, 21 November 2006. "It would take a George Smiley to figure out what the Emir of Qatar's game is, but it's surely a double, triple, or even quadruple one. The presence on Al-Jazeera English of grandees such as Mr. Frost will ensure it avoids the excesses of the Arabic-language original, but it will take chances, it will try to make its rivals look timid, and it will certainly be a force to be reckoned with." Brendan Bernhard, New York Sun, 21 November 2006. "Kuala Lumpur was picked as one of the four broadcast centres around the world for Al Jazeera English over Hong Kong and Singapore." Bernama, 21 November 2006. "Al Jazeera is taking its Internet presence seriously. Lindsey Oliver, commercial director for Al Jazeera English, said the network 'turned down several cable deals around the world' because cable companies tried to restrict streaming on the Web. 'This is a democratic model for a democratic international news source and, to my knowledge, a first to offer a live feed online.'" Red Herring, 20 November 2006. American in Oman writes: "I have access to satellite TV here, over which I get not only those but many of the US broadcast and cable channels as well. The difference is absolutely mind-boggling. If I watch an hour or so of the Today Show or Good Morning America, I come away with the realization that I have learned absolutely nothing because there is no depth to anything they broadcast. And those aren't the worst: I don't even want to mention Fox. The point of all this ... is that this extraordinary dearth of serious news and information which the American populace must somehow endure is very likely in large measure responsible for the dreadful geopolitical morass the US is now mired in." Via Sheila Lennon, KING-TV (Seattle), 20 November 2006.

Next on BBC World, the latest epidemic in India, just after this message from our sponsor.

Posted: 21 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
India's Ministry of Health "asked BBC World to think of ways to portray India as a Health Tourism ... destination." The BBC World "client solutions team produced three unique commercials." India Infoline News Service, 20 November 2006."The Indian government has appealed for calm as it tries to contain an outbreak of dengue fever in the country's north." BBC News, 3 October 2006.

Worldspace appeals to a niche audience: abandoned shortwave listeners.

Posted: 21 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Neil Curry, commissioner for BBC World Service English networks, says: "The beauty of satellite radio, especially on the international scale, is that you can offer programming that people want and need but that previously was unavailable to them. I love that I can listen to the quality of the BBC programming anywhere in the world, and there are people out there who want the same thing. Marketing to niches means they can get it." Worldspace press release, 20 November 2006. BBC World Service was previously available in most parts of the world via shortwave, but less so now since the BBC's shortwave cutbacks. And shortwave did not require a subscription fee. "Internationally, satellite radio has been growing its subscriber base by tying up with car makers who sell its equipment. That is still to be tried here. Meanwhile, the government is finalising a satellite radio policy where it proposes to lower the FDI cap from 100 to 49 per cent. Which means Worldspace, India's only satellite radio operator and a fully-owned subsidiary of an American parent, will have to offload a majority share to an Indian partner." Rediff News, 21 November 2006. Worldspace generally lacks the power necessary for mobile reception in India. Service on the Worldspace AfriStar northwest beam will no longer be available after 1 December 2007 (see Worldspace announcement), as Worldspace prepares for its new service for Europe. See previous post about Worldspace.

Today's batch of comments about Aljazeera English.

Posted: 19 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"An overseas news channel that America's cable owners can't somehow fit on to their service lists can't be all bad." Peter Preston, The Observer, 19 November 2006. "Sure it's on: Just not on Cablevision or TimeWarner. Middle East obsessives and Dave Marash fans are getting their fix of Al Jazeera English at VDC.com and JumpTV.com. And way cheaper than cable!" Ellis Henican, Newsday, 19 November 2006. Head of Israel's government press office says: "They don't have to call them terrorists, but if they call them 'so-called', they're not going to be treated seriously by the viewers in the Western world, because they know that these are not freedom fighters." "Correspondents Report" on Australia's ABC Radio National, 19 November 2006. "American news channels tend to 'show the missiles taking off,' ... 'Al-Jazeera shows them landing.'" alt.muslim, 18 November 2006. Watch the first six minutes of AJE at Lost Remote, 16 November 2006.

Adjust your dishes for France 24 (updated).

Posted: 19 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
The French and English channels of France 24 will be transmitted "on an ASTRA satellite at 19.2° East for Europe and on the NSS-7 satellite at 22° West serving the African continent." SES GLOBAL press release, 13 November 2006. Information about France 24 is now available as zipped pdf downloads from www.france24.fr. Managing director Gerard Saint-Paul says, "I find that CNN conveys an American-directed message to a large extent, and more precisely one that is in favor of President George Bush. What we will offer is a wider vision that is different from what others present, and this of course, will be affected by the historical and emotional relationship between France and Lebanon, as well as the closeness of the relations between France and the Arab world." Alsharq Alawsat, 13 November 2006. French media analyst adds, "The market is largely saturated, and France is coming into it very late. I asked myself, is it really reasonable to do a classic TV channel in the age of the Internet?" AP, 15 November 2006. Update: France 24 English channel (and later Arabic) to be transmitted via Arabsat. Arabsat press release, 17 November 2006.

"The United States no longer controls the script."

Posted: 19 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"American officials who should know better still don't get it. A US public diplomacy official involved in communicating with the Muslim world recently asked me if there were Arab blogs. Only hundreds -- and they are changing the face of Arab politics. That's what happens when critical positions are seeded with True Believers instead of diplomatic pros." Lawrence Pintak, Boston Globe, 19 November 2006. President Bush's hurried visits to Asian countries are "perhaps why America's 'public diplomacy' seems unable to shift into gear." David E. Sanger and Helene Cooper, New York Times, 19 November 2006. Senator Russ Feingold says U.S. public diplomacy could be improved and criticizes Bush's use of the term "Islamic Fascism." "Our goal is to isolate terrorists, not Muslims." WISC-TV (Madison), 18 November 2006.

Miami Herald reviews its coverage of Radio/TV Martí payments to journalists.

Posted: 19 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Internal review by veteran editor Clark Hoyt criticizes the Miami Herald's story about south Florida journalists who took payment from Radio/TV Martí. "The Herald might have broadened the perspective of the story to report, as El Nuevo Herald and then the Herald later did, that journalists in Washington have taken money from other U.S. government broadcasting outlets, such as the Voice of America. I believe that a journalist cannot take pay from the government or a corporation or interest group he or she covers without suffering a loss of credibility. But the presentation and handling of the Herald's story, in the end, was so heavy-handed and one-sided that it amounted to a missed opportunity to explore the issue with the sensitivity it demanded." Editor & Publisher, 17 November 2006. Herald executive editor Tom Fiedler says, "It was a story about how U.S. tax dollars are used to carry out policy and is this appropriate that U.S. tax dollars are going to arms of the government spent on journalists who would be representing independent news media." Editor & Publisher, 17 November 2006. Hoyt report in Miami Herald, 19 November 2006.

Willis Conover, though deceased, still in the news.

Posted: 18 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
From obituary of rhythm and blues singer Ruth Brown: "Disc jockey Willis Conover, who broadcast jazz internationally on Voice of America radio, heard Ms. Brown and recommended her to friends at Atlantic Records." New York Times, 17 November 2006. That actually happened in the late 1940s, before Conover came to VOA. Latest VOA jazz alumnus in the news is San Francisco pianist Larry Vuckovich, who listened in the 1950s in his native Yugoslavia. Jazz News, 18 November 2006.

Alberto Fernandez returns to action, $10,000 richer.

Posted: 18 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
The Arabic-speaking director of the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near East Affairs at the U.S. State Department, who apologized for previously saying "there was arrogance and stupidity from the United States in Iraq," participates on one-hour online chat organized by Labonan's Naharnet, 17 November 2006. "After a month of silence, the State Department is finally speaking out on Fernandez — not to condemn him, but to praise his 'integrity, courage, [and] sensitivity.' Fernandez was selected from three department nominees for the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy by Tufts University... for his work with pan-Arab media ... to increase the number of appearances by U.S. officials. He receives a certificate signed by Secretary Condoleezza Rice — and $10,000 in cash." Fox News, 17 November 2006. See previous post about Fernandez.

"Aluminum Hurra" and its competitors.

Posted: 18 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Swiss university media expert examines the new international television channels. As translated from German by Altavista's Babel Fish: "Into this connection also the establishment of aluminum Hurra belongs. The transmitter suffers from substantial image deficits, because its proximity for US government, that is all too obvious political 'spin' of its formats and messages. Differently it looks if international news stations - as for instance German wave TV or BBC World - offer an international information platform, in order to develop thereby system confidence and transmitter acceptance on a long-term basis." Miriam Meckel, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 17 November 2006.

More comments about AJE during its first week.

Posted: 18 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera may not be fair and balanced, but, now that it's available in English, it shouldn't be ignored." Evanville Courier-Press, 15 November 2006. "American audiences won't understand that the Arab world isn't a monolith of one-sided anti-Americanism without seeing for themselves its diversities and willingness to be self-critical. Al-Jazeera, modeled on British and American news operations, does that." Editorial, Daytona Beach News-Journal, 18 November 2006. "While in other countries the channel is readily available through satellite and cable services, Indonesian viewers will temporarily have to make do with live streaming through the 3G WAP service offered by the country's second-largest telecommunications provider, Excelcomindo." Jakarta Post, 18 November 2006. "Interesting to watch so far - but it all feels a bit worthy. There weren’t really any obvious ‘news’ lines to a lot of the reports. I’m sure conditions in Sudan are terrible, but nothing has obviously happened today to make them any worse than yesterday. Same goes for Zimbabwe. Maybe this is just the channel making an early mark, but it’s going to have to develop a harder news edge… and I wonder if that’s possible when you take such a consciously global remit." Simon Dickson blog, 15 November 2006. Primary cable provider for Montana says it has no "immediate plans to carry Al-Jazeera English" and "can’t comment on any of our ongoing carriage agreements." But one official from the company "said the company’s reluctance resulted, in part, from not knowing how graphic Al-Jezeera’s coverage would be." Helena Independent Record, 16 November 2006. Bloggers comment on AJE's coverage of Africa: "'Impressed!' 'Consciously global.' 'CNN has competition!' 'Propaganda!' 'A poor BBC World' 'Finally!'" BBC News, 17 November 2006. AJE video stream page offers a low quality 56kbs stream free for 15 minutes. Access to a higher quality stream 24/7 costs $5.95 a month. So for us in the United States, there is no free continuous access to AJE.

US/UK Iraq policy "badly nipped" during first week of Aljazeera English.

Posted: 18 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
In his Alajazeera English interview with Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sir David Frost suggested that "the West's intervention in Iraq had 'so far been pretty much of a disaster'. Mr Blair replied: 'It has, but you see what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq? It's not difficult because of some accident in planning, it's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy - al Qaida with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other - to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war.'" Manchester Evening News, 18 November 2006. "British Prime Minister Tony Blair provoked a storm Saturday after apparently admitting that the invasion of Iraq by the United States and Britain was 'a disaster.'" CNN, 18 November 2006. Downing Street: "He was simply acknowledging the question in a polite way before going on to explain his view. To portray it as some kind of admission is completely disingenuous." BBC News, 18 November 2006. "It was a notch in Sir David's well-worn belt – and a coup for al-Jazeera's new English-language channel. The interview was Sir David's first for the Qatar-based satellite channel, in a series curiously entitled Frost Over The World." Neil Tweedie, The Telegraph, 18 November 2006. "Frost is the sort of shiny TV bauble that al-Jazeera must be hoping will catapult it from being regarded as a largely Arab mouthpiece into an international, English-language news channel that is spoken of in the same breath as CNN, Sky News and BBC World. That might be too big a weight for Frost’s shoulders to bear, though he seems game to try." Joe Joseph, The Times, 18 November 2006.

For a region that is mostly water, international television is becoming very competitive.

Posted: 17 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Television New Zealand chief executive Rick Ellis has told a Parliamentary Committee he fears New Zealand's voice is being drowned out in the Pacific by countries such as China, the United States and Australia. ... the launch of the digital news channel next year presents an opportunity to change that." Radio New Zealand, 16 November 2006. See previous post about China's CCTV in Tonga.

Charlotte Beers might have been right about public diplomacy via TV ads.

Posted: 17 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"In their book Advertising's War on Terrorism, SMU's Alice Kendrick and Oklahoma State's Jami Fullerton say a follow-up study by the agency that developed the ads found they had a positive impact in Indonesia." Dallas Morning News, 16 November 2006. So it seems I was wrong and right when I wrote, about year and a half ago, in "Put the News Here and the Propaganda There": "Another method [of public diplomacy] is to purchase advertisements on media in the target countries. The use of television advertisements by former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy Charlotte Beers to inform audiences about the life of Muslims in the United States probably served no useful purpose. But she was on the right track by using ads to tap into large audiences already gathered by these domestic media, rather than try to reinvent the wheel with external U.S. radio or television services built from scratch." See previous post about same subject.

Media reaction to the first days of Aljazeera English.

Posted: 17 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The channel has the potential to be the first foray into truly borderless journalism in an age of jingoistic coverage and media as weapon of war; enterprising reporters loyal only to the truth bringing a global perspective to the problems of the world. Or it could turn out to be a CNN retread, whose staff has traded Western corporate masters intent on the bottom line for Eastern masters whose motives are more obscure." Lawrence Pintak, Turkish Daily News, 17 November 2006. "Australians will have to wait a week or two before being able to view the new station, to be carried here by Sydney-based multicultural digital satellite broadcaster UBI World TV." The Age, 17 November 2006. "The test will come when there's a breaking news story from the Middle East, another bin Laden video, or some occurrence that risks upsetting western sensitivities. In that event, will the English version of al Jazeera mirror the output of its Arab channels, or will the language and pictures be toned down? If the latter, why bother with an English version?" Alison Rowat, The Herald (Glasgow), 17 November 2006. "The first two days of the broadcast seem encouraging and professionally executed. But it is essential for the station to be objective, uncensored and respective of all opinions." Editorial, Gulf News (Dubai), 17 November 2006. "There wasn't a peep in the news about US generals talking about the possible redeployment of US troops in Iraq, a story that I'm sure many more viewers would have been interested in hearing." Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, Arab News, 17 November 2006. BBC Global News Director Richard Sambrook says, "They’ve made a very confident start, which isn’t surprising since they have a large budget and had a long time to prepare. They clearly want to differentiate themselves from the BBC and CNN by representing developing countries. It will take some time to see whether they can do that and still keep broad appeal." AP, 16 November 2006. "For the most part, Al-Jazeera English -- which broadcasts from its headquarters in Qatar and studios in London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- looked a lot like BBC World and CNN International. Making good on its promise to showcase news from neglected parts of the globe, Al-Jazeera English made Joseph Kabila and Congo its lead story for much of the day." Jonathan Curiel, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 November 2006. "If Al-Jazeera continues to struggle to get distribution in the States, it will be interesting to see how the press freedom organisations react. The US has already slipped to 53rd in the press freedom list compiled by Reporters Without Borders, and this could cause it to slip further still." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 16 November 2006. "U.S. distributors are still too wary of association with a brand that's been criticized as 'the terrorist channel.' Some U.S. cable carriers are adopting a 'show-me' policy, waiting to see what sort of reaction the station generates before agreeing to carry it." McClatchy Newspapers, 16 November 2006. "It was hard-hitting stuff yesterday with the type of footage you rarely see in lunchtime bulletins. Short of being told the world was about to end, within 10 minutes I couldn't have been more depressed. On the other hand, it made a change to have some serious news and to escape the petty squabbles and posturing dominating news of our political scene." Jim Shelley, The Mirror, 16 November 2006. "Just as Fox News gives its viewers a vision of the world as seen by conservative, patriotic Americans, Al Jazeera English reflects the mindsets across much of Africa, Asia and the Middle East." Alessandra Stanley, New York Times, 16 November 2006. "The controversial Arab network Al-Jazeera launched its English-language version around the world Wednesday, but not in Israel. Contractual details have delayed the start of Al-Jazeera's English-language broadcasts here, but cable service providers said the channel would be available in Israel by the end of December." Jerusalem Post, 15 November 2006.

Kenya: Aljazeera English in, CNN out, and BBC, VOA, CRI might be out.

Posted: 16 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The UK, US and China had all been put on notice, Assistant Information Minister Koigi wa Wamwere said. ... If BBC does not reciprocate our giving them a licence here by giving us a chance in London, then we are not going to have mercy because that is treating us like idiots and we shall not allow it." BBC News, 16 November 2006. Quote from in from The People newspaper, via BBC Monitoring: "If we are allowing BBC to broadcast in Kenya, KBC should also be in London. If we are allowing the Voice of America to broadcast in Kenya, KBC should also be in Washington and if we are allowing Radio China to be aired in Kenya, KBC should also be in Beijing." BBC Monitoring also reports that Kenya's Nation TV plans to drop its rebroadcasts of CNN in favor of Aljazeera English. The time slot involved is 0100-1000 local time in Kenya. See previous post about same subject.

It doesn't do much for Kazakhstan's public diplomacy, however.

Posted: 16 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Critics say 'Borat' is anti-American. In fact, the U.S. government could not begin to match Borat’s contribution to the image of the United States abroad if it increased the budget of the under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs by a factor of 10. The most important thing the movie has done for America is to show that it is a society capable of laughing at itself." Alvaro Vargas Llosa, Free Market News Network, 16 November 2006.

White House renominates Kenneth Tomlinson to be BBG chairman (updated).

Posted: 16 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Civil investigation related to charges that he had hired a friend as a contractor" may complicate approval by Senate Foreign Relations Committee. AP, 14 November 2006. See previous post about Tomlinson. Update: "The administration is likely hoping to get a vote in the Senate Commerce Committee in the lame duck session, before the Democrats take over in January, though the committee schedule is still in flux." Broadcasting & Cable, 15 November 2006. "Tomlinson's current term expires in August. Even if the Senate Commerce Committee rejects his renomination, he can serve until then, or until a replacement is named and confirmed." Variety, 16 November 2006. "He's tight with Karl Rove, so why let a little thing like corruption stand in the way of another term?" Alligator Online, 16 November 2006.

When times get tough, "evaluate strategic partnership alternatives" (updated).

Posted: 15 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Worldspace now has 176,831 subscribers, 136% higher than the third quarter 2005, but losses for third quarter 2006 were $28.9 million. CEO Noah Samara says: "We are concentrating on improving our operating performance in India, including the management of churn. ... We are also determined to bring partners on board who we expect will make contributions to in-market execution and funding requirements." Worldspace press release, 9 November 2006. Update: "Why WorldSpace Is Doomed." Seth Jayson, The Motley Fool, 13 November 2006.

Winners in Deutsche Welle Best of the Blogs awards.

Posted: 15 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Jury names U.S. based Sunlight Foundation Blog as best weblog, and Paidcontent.org as best English-language blog. blogher, 12 November 2006. Two Iranians win joint prize for the best blog defending freedom of expression in the Deutsche Welle "the BOBs" awards. Reporters sans frontières, 12 November 2006. Moroccan blogs are finalists, one in the French-language and one in the Arabic-language category. (U.S. Defense Department sponsored) Magharebia, 5 November 2006. See also DW Best of the Blogs.

As Aljazeera International approaches its Wednesday launch date...

Posted: 13 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The new channel is about the untapped world of English speakers in the East, increasingly frustrated with Western coverage of their world. When it goes live, it is expected to have access to 40 million homes, most of them outside Europe and the United States." New York Times, 13 November 2006. "Given that the audience for Sky or BBC24 in the UK often only averages low tens of thousand or hundreds of thousands at best, it's unlikely to find a large number of viewers in this country, although those that do watch are likely to include a disproportionate number of opinion-formers. The real potential for the channel is surely the majority of the world's 1.2m Muslims who don't speak Arabic." Dominic Crossley-Holland, The Independent, 13 November 2006. "With less than a week to go until AJI hits the air, there are few details available about its programming, or even how viewers around the globe are supposed to tune in." Macleans, issue dated 20 November 2006. "It will be speaking to a neutral audience, to the uncommitted, the uninvolved, the uninformed. Israel doesn't have an answer to it." Jerusalem Post, 14 November 2006.

The Radio Farda strategy, and its detractors.

Posted: 13 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"A lot of the music is banned in Iran, so this is the only place to hear it." But Kenneth Timmerman says: "They're not putting out the quantity or quality of news that would be helpful in encouraging democracy." AP, 13 November 2006. Radio Farda is one of the few U.S. international broadcasting efforts that can succeed with a mass strategy, because it provides a type of music that is desired by young Iranian listeners but not available from Iran's domestic radio stations. In this way, Radio Farda is like the old Radio Luxembourg during its peak of popularity in the U.K. Radio Farda is an example of market based international broadcasting. Mr. Timmerman seems to prefer centrally planned international broadcasting, providing content that policymakers think Iranians should listen to whether they want to listen to it or not. And, in any case, for Iranians wanting a greater concentration of news, there is the VOA Persian Service.

Former RFE official defends RFE's role in 1956 Hungarian Uprising (updated).

Posted: 13 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"During a month of nearly 24-hour-a-day RFE broadcasting, comprising 500 programs, one program, a review of the Western press broadcast on Nov. 4, 1956, did summarize an article in The Observer of London by saying that a 'practical manifestation of Western sympathy is expected at any hour.' This oft- quoted hint of Western aid was the sole such lapse during Hungary's upheaval." A. Ross Johnson, International Herald Tribune, 6 November 2006. Audio from "Hungary 1956: Radio, Film, and History" at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy is now available. "Michael Nelson, an RFE historian and former Reuters general manager, said RFE's worst broadcasts were 'much more serious than Dr. Johnson has let us believe.' While the broadcasts of the BBC and Voice of America were 'impeccable,' said Nelson, 'Radio Free Europe got it very badly wrong during the revolution.'" USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 8 November 2006. Hungarian archivist who digitized RFE archives gives the annual public lecture of the National Archives of Malta. Malta Independent, 12 October 2006. Update: "We who worked in radio thought it might have been fueled irresponsibly by Radio Free Europe, an anti-communist facility broadcasting from Western Europe, funded by private American donations. Unlike the Voice of America or the American Forces Network, where I had been stationed, and where we did our best to present straightforward news, RFE was, like Fox today, an unabashed cheerleader and advocate. Which was all well and good until, some of us thought, they went over the line by broadcasting that if the freedom fighters rebelled, America would come in and help them against the inevitable Soviet suppression." Nick Clooney, Cincinnati Post, 13 November 2006. "The only confrontational words broadcast by Radio Free Europe before the Hungarian uprising were legitimate news reports quoting then U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles that the United States would support the people of Eastern Europe if they sought to escape Communist oppression." Robert Lackenbach, letter to International Herald Tribune, 12 November 2006. See previous post on same subject.

Japan and the United States: opposite views on the independence of international broadcasting.

Posted: 12 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Communications Minister Yoshihide Suga's order on Friday that the international shortwave radio service of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.) devote more of its broadcast coverage to the past abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents could open the door to government interference in news reporting. It could also harm the credibility of NHK news reports, leading people overseas to regard the public broadcaster as a mere propaganda organ of the Japanese government." Editorial, the Japan Times, 11 November 2006. "Suga's preference for issuing orders has prompted public concern of possible government interference in the contents of broadcasts. ... Any political interference that undermines freedom of the press and broadcasting cannot be tolerated." Editorial, Daily Yomiuri, 11 November 2006. "The fuzzy area in this case lies in the leeway given the communications minister to issue orders regarding information broadcast on NHK's international service. This leeway is afforded to the government thanks to its subsidizing of NHK -- in the case of the shortwave service, to the tune of about 30 percent of its total budget. In other words, you can tell the piper what to play if you've paid for a few of the holes to be bored into his pipe." Roger Pulvers, Japan Times, 12 November 2006. "Public diplomacy - broadcasting, exchange programs, development assistance, disaster relief, military-to-military contacts - is scattered around the government, with no overarching strategy or budget to integrate them into a comprehensive national security policy." [Emphasis added.] Joseph Nye, Project Syndicate, 11 November 2006. See previous post about Suga's order to NHK, and previous post about the Joseph Nye commentary.

A rare bit of news about digital shortwave receivers.

Posted: 10 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"A fully working prototype of the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) receiver, developed in cooperation with Kenwood and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, paves the way to the development of low-cost, low-power DRM terminals. DRM is a new, open standard that allows terrestrial digital broadcasting in the long-, medium- and short-wave (AM) frequencies." STMicroelectronics press release, 9 November 2006.

Circular polarization.

Posted: 10 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Within traffic roundabout, replicas of aerials commemorate shortwave transmitting site at Huizen, the Netherlands. "Transmissions from the facility in Huizen started in 1929. There were three transmitters - two of 24 kW, and one of 10 kW. On Sundays, the regular programme was the legendary Happy Station show presented in English and Spanish by Edward Startz." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 9 November 2006.

Japan issues much-discussed order to NHK to broadcast about Japanese abducted to North Korea.

Posted: 10 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
NHK president says, "We have firmly adhered to the right to edit our programs freely and autonomously up to this point, and we will continue to do so." Japanese communications minister says government "had no intention of interfering with program content." AP, 10 November 2006. Communications minister adds, "Up until now, requests had been made in the name of the bureau head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, but there is a danger of administrative guidance spreading to places that can't be seen. We decided it should be done openly, based on the law." Mainichi Daily News, 11 November 2006. "The affair will be watched with interest by international public broadcasters such as the BBC, whose governments provide funding but do not intervene in dictating the detailed content of programmes." Peter Feuilherade analysis, BBC Monitoring, 10 November 2006. See previous post about same subject.

How to get a top job in public diplomacy (updated).

Posted: 10 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Appointment of a mid-level civil servant who worked for Undersecretary Karen Hughes to a top job running the new Public Diplomacy Rapid Response office in Brussels" provokes protests "at a time when career officers were already upset over a wave of lower-level officers with political connections leapfrogging to top jobs." Washington Post, 30 October 2006. Update: "Rare formal grievance" from the American Foreign Service Association. Federal Times, 8 November 2006.

Comments about the new international television channels.

Posted: 10 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"One likely scenario is that Al Jazeera [International] will start out to show prospective U.S. carriers, which obviously have been reluctant to do business with the network, that it has a different face for North America than it does for the Middle East, and does not intend to damage any provider's integrity. It would not, for example, be the go-to channel for the terrorist video pronouncements and news releases which helped the parent Arabic regional channel gain considerable notoriety." Alvin Snyder, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 8 November 2006. AJI could "be a prime site for advertisers trying to reach international movers and shakers." Raymond Snoddy, Brand Republic, 8 November 2006. France 24 needs "'to copy the U.S. techniques in counterprogramming. They need to take audience from CNN and the BBC.' ... That may not be easy on 80 million euros a year" Marketwatch, 10 November 2006.

How RFE got religion.

Posted: 10 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Paul Kengor's, author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism, "shows how the Reagan administration managed to insert religious programming on Radio Free Europe, including the Catholic Mass. This was a stunning achievement, considering that religious programming had been banned throughout the Communist empire, and priests were barred from radio. Poles were thrilled." The Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia), 8 November 2006.

Radio Free Asia figures in Tibetan monk's prison sentence.

Posted: 10 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
According to court documents, Tiebtan monk Gedun told students: "'We should completely believe the teachings of the Dalai Lama. The reason the Dalai Lama was exiled to India wasn't out of fear of the Chinese, but to promote peace. I pray that all of my friends in this place will pay their respects to the Dalai Lama.' The court document adds that 'everything in the speech' had been heard on Radio Free Asia." Gedun was sentenced to four years in prison. International Campaign for Tibet, 8 November 2006.

China enlists foreign help for its international broadcasting.

Posted: 10 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Radio Television Malaysia signs deals with Chinese broadcasters. "China Radio International (CRI) is ... keen on joining hands with RTM to strengthen its Malay language service in China." Indientelevision.com, 10 November 2006. Australian weatherman now a news presenter on China's English-language CCTV-9. "Almost four years ago, he was twiddling the dials on his short-wave radio at his Mornington home when he picked up a message from China seeking assistance in training broadcasters in English." The Australian, 9 November 2006.

Psyops: dropping toys instead of bombs.

Posted: 09 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Perhaps the most poignant missions - though no less dangerous than any of the others - were the drops of toys done over North Vietnam on Christmas Eve. (Col. John A. 'Pappy') Gallagher took part in one in 1965, done during the daytime, instead of at night. Seated at the controls of the C-130, a bright Santa Claus outfit under his drab flight suit, he flew the aircraft for two hours without radar cover, as flight crew members let loose carton after carton of bagged toys attached to little parachutes. Inside each bag, in Vietnamese, a note read 'To the children of North Vietnam from the children of South Vietnam.'" Clarke Times-Courier (Berryville VA), 7 November 2006. "G-5 was Psyops & Civil Affairs. I carried a card giving me free access to anywhere. My job was winning the hearts & minds of the civilian population. Families scuttling from the destruction of their villages sobered me up. I convoyed food to 'Relocated Strategic Hamlets.' I supervised rebuilding of our destruction. VC gave a me a pass because I was bringing cement for their tunnels. My saddest job was 101st Div. Solation Payments Officer. I would pay worthless Vietnamese money to families who had suffered at the hands of American troops. Empathy for the common Vietnamese people grew within me." Dirk Van Gelder, San Francisco Bay Area Indymedia, 9 November 2006.

Expelled by Cuba for speaking on a radio station that does not have the "slightest effect" in Cuba.

Posted: 08 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Radio Marti has been broadcasting for some 20 years now without having the slightest effect on Cuban public opinion." Wayne S. Smith, Foreign Policy in Focus, 6 November 2006. "Ahmed Rodríguez Albacia, a 21-year-old journalist working for the Jóvenes sin Censura independent news agency, was expelled by Rapid Response Brigade paramilitaries on 31 October from the eastern town of Antilla, where he was born, for 'speaking ill of Antilla on Radio Martí,' a US-government radio station based in the Miami area that broadcasts to Cuba." Reporters sans frontières, 8 November 2006.

Government of Japan may order NHK to broadcast programs about Japanese abducted to North Korea (updated).

Posted: 08 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Japan Broadcasting Corp.'s (NHK) international television service may be subject to a possible government order seeking a greater coverage of Japanese abductees .... Such an order will cover NHK's international TV service, as well as its international shortwave radio broadcasting service... . The Broadcast Law allows the communications minister to issue orders designating NHK's service areas and broadcasting content if the government bears the costs needed to comply with such orders." Mainichi Daily News, 27 October 2006. "If the government is so desperate, it should set up a state-run broadcaster." AP, 24 October 2006. "Two years after the North Korean Human Rights Act authorized the expansion of Radio Free Asia, along with more programs to smuggle information into North Korea, (the U.S.) government is only starting the process of expanding radio broadcasts to the North." Gordon Cucullu and Joshua Stanton, FrontPageMagazine.com, 24 October 2006. "Image-conscious Abe media manipulator?," Japan Times, 31 October 2006. "In Europe, there are many cases in which state funds are provided for international broadcasts by public broadcasters. However, although European governments provide money, they don't intervene [in broadcasting]. Thus, Britain's BBC and other public broadcasters are highly trusted and praised. In Japan, the government order is merely nominal, and only a broad outline is presented. Minister Suga's remarks largely sidestepped custom, and run counter to the law's spirit that says programs shouldn't be interfered with or controlled by anybody." Daily Yomiuri, 3 November 2006. About NHK World TV. Daily Yomiuri, 3 November 2006. Update: "A private group that runs a radio broadcast service aimed at finding missing Japanese in North Korea criticized a government plan to order NHK to increase coverage of the abduction issue on shortwave radio broadcasts." The Japan Times, 8 November 2006.

U.S. public diplomacy money for the International Program for the Development of Communication.

Posted: 08 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Funds for UNESCO’s "ailing" IPDC are for projects in Angola, Botswana (for exiled journalists from neighboring Zimbabwe), Cameroon, Colombia, Congo-Brazzaville, Guatemala, Rwanda and Uganda. "IPDC was founded in 1980 after a proposal by the Carter Administration’s USIA Director, John Reinhardt. The idea was that the United States and other industrialized countries would contribute major aid to develop Third World news media, if developing world governments would abandon attempts through UNESCO to restrict Western news media internationally as part of a New World Information and Communication Order." International Freedom of Expression eXchange press release, 8 November 2006.

Recent writings about public diplomacy (updated).

Posted: 08 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
The October 2006 issue of Foreign Service Journal has six articles about public diplomacy. Now to find the time to read them. The crackpot commentator is quoted in the first essay. "Caligula's motto for effective foreign policy was oderint dum metuant -- 'let them hate us, as long as they fear us.' ... To rediscover public diplomacy and to practice it successfuly ... we must reputiade Caligula's maxim and replace it with our traditional respect for the opnions of mankind." Ambassador Chas W. Freeman Jr., Nieman Watchdog, 20 October 2006. New in print is Carnes Lord, Losing Hearts and Minds? Public Diplomacy and Strategic Influence in the Age of Terror (Praeger Security International). From his chapter on international broadcasting: "The idea of maintaining a somehow impermeable 'firewall' between policy and broadcasting operations, to use the trem favored by the current BBG and by liberals in Congress, is fundamentally unworkable and indeed nonsensical." Then why do the other industrialized democracies manage to do this? Indeed, prominent politicians in Japan are even now defending NHK's firewall. International broadcasting injected with policy is immediately perceived as such by the audience, which then tunes to another station for the credible news they are seeking. Allowing that to happen would be nonsensical. Update: Carnes Lord "blames the left almost exclusively, when in fact there is plenty of blame to go around." Martha Bayles, New York Sun, 8 November 2006.

Azerbaijan international broadcasting ban still in the news (updated).

Posted: 07 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Azerbaijani authorities will bar local broadcasters from airing programs of BBC, Radio Liberty and Voice of America starting next year." AP, 25 October 2006. Azerbaijani media advocates protest. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 26 October 2006. "BBC and Radio Liberty are to obtain respective licenses in Baku. The authorities may negotiate with the Voice of America for allocating broadcasting frequencies in Azerbaijan." Kommersant, 27 October 2006. Update: "Representatives of the 'Voice of America' and 'Azadlig' (RFE/RL) radio stations will arrive in Baku on November 8-9." Trend, 6 November 2006. See previous post on same subject.

Maybe not quite a private company.

Posted: 07 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Interview with director of Radio Free Asia Tibetan Service. "Q: Is RFA funded by the Government of USA? Jigme La: Yes, it is funded by the Government of USA but we are not a government department. It is a privately owned company and we are lucky that the US Government does not interfere in our work, there is no condition and it is extremely good." Phayul.com, 7 November 2006.

No AJI in India on 15 November.

Posted: 07 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The Home Ministry -- citing security considerations without elaborating upon them -- said it did not recommend the registration of the company. Neither should it be allowed to deal in the business of providing news, the Ministry said in a letter dated September 14. However, senior managers of Al Jazeera International -- the English channel -- said an Indian company, AJ International (India), had been floated under the Indian Companies Act and the process of applying for downlinking permission was underway." The Hindu, 7 November 2006.

"We do not have restrictions at all" (updated).

Posted: 05 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"A Chinese government official claimed at a United Nations summit here that no Net censorship existed at all. The only problem: Few cases of Net censorship are as carefully and publicly documented as the Great Firewall of China." CNET News, 31 October 2006. Representative of Reporters sans frontières tells western techology companies "You sold technology to Chinese police which they then use to limit and control Internet freedom." Microsoft representative says: "The condition of doing business in a country is to abide by the law in that country." Reuters, 31 October 2006. "'[We] are blocked because we refuse to compromise on our reporting,' said BBC Global News director Richard Sambrook, drawing a parallel with the Cold War era, when the BBC had its short-wave radio jammed in Russia and Eastern Europe." AFP, 1 November 2006. Update: "Officials from China, Iran and other nations notorious for censoring websites and persecuting bloggers heard speakers at the inaugural Internet Governance Forum denounce restrictions on freedom of expression online." The Observer, 5 November 2006. "Far too much of the discussion boils down to this: the United Nations should take over the running of the internet because the Americans are currently running it. ... China, the world's greatest internet censor, gets a vote as to who is allowed on the net, or is voted off. Iran gets another, North Korea a third, and so on. And of course there is a vote for Thailand, where authorities have bragged about blocking 34,979 internet sites, and remain alert for more. The thankfully mythical UN agency in charge of the net would have to switch from enforcing technical standards _ as now _ to policing political standards, as its members demand." Editorial, Bangkok Post, 3 November 2006.

Vive la réorganisation! (updated)

Posted: 05 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Antoine Schwarz, CEO of Radio France International, announces a reorganization to cope with a budget cut. French output will be divided between Africa and the rest of the world. The 19 other languages of RFE will be "modified," including shifts from radio to internet dissemination. Schwarz says this will allow better coordination of RFE with other elements of French international broadcasting, including the new France 24 television channel. RFI's labor union denounces "the isolation of RFI within the corporations that constitute the new center of the French international broadcasting." AFP, 26 October 2006. RFI drops radio output in Turkish in favor of "a website to inform the public on Turkey-EU relations." Zaman Online, 28 October 2006. Update: "CHP (Republican People's Party) deputy from Yozgat Emin Koç noted that Radio France International (RFI) had stopped its broadcasts in Turkish and asked the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) to counter this by suspending its French broadcasts." Turkish Daily News, 5 November 2006.

The Vatican calling the world.

Posted: 05 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, reviews global Catholic communications efforts. "Naturally, we do not want to forget Vatican Radio, which was set up 70 years ago by Guglielmo Marconi himself, the inventor of radio, at the request of Pope Pius XI. Vatican Radio now has an international audience not only through shortwave, but also through satellite and Internet delivery systems." Zenit News Agency, 4 November 2006.

AJI: the newest set of initials in international broadcasting.

Posted: 05 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"For people who opposed the war in Iraq and question US hegemony, (Alajazeera International) will be a lot more interesting than anything the BBC or CNN can offer you." The Independent, 5 November 2006. "Having been hyped up as a 24-hour rolling news channel, we are now told that in fact, it will only be live for 12 hours. The rest of the day will be repeats. ... I predict that within six months, most of the high profile presenters will have either quit or been sacked, and the station preparing for a re-launch." Anil Bhoyrul, ITP Business (Dubai), 5 November 2006. See previous post about the AJI launch.

It's the old question: bomb them or try to get an interview with them? (updated)

Posted: 03 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
David Frost will interview Tony Blair on 16 November, the second day of Aljazeera International's existence. "Last year, a leaked memo appeared to show Mr Blair talking President George Bush out of bombing the channel's Doha headquarters, at a meeting in April 2004 between the two men in Washington. Mr Blair also resisted pressure from former home secretary David Blunkett to bomb the station." The Independent, 3 November 2006. Update: "Al-Jazeera says its goal is to reverse the information flow to the world's 1 billion English speakers who now have no choice but to watch Western-oriented broadcasters." AP, 3 November 2006. See previous post about AJI's 15 November launch.

Can the United States spend its way out of unpopularity? (updated)

Posted: 03 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"British voters see George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, or the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." The Guardian, 3 November 2006. "U.S. public diplomacy is failing because the Bush team has put only scant resources into it. In FY 2003 the U.S. government spent only some $1.14 billion on the public diplomacy function, and in FY 2006 it spent only about $1.36 billion. Only $150 million of the State Department's FY 2003 public diplomacy money was spent in Muslim-majority countries. These are paltry sums relative to the task at hand." Stephen Van Evera, AlterNet, 3 November 2006. Update: "These are allies and if the populations of their countries are saying George Bush is a threat to peace, that's a pretty damning statement about Bush's public diplomacy in the world." AP, 3 November 2006. See also EKOS press releases.

Kenyans: hang on to your shortwave radios.

Posted: 03 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Kenya's assistant minister for information and communication Koigi Wamwere says African countries are lagging behind in development, and that "the situation is complicated further by foreign media stations operating in the continent by airing distorted information about African countries." He "called for the cancellation of frequencies being used by foreign media stations in Nairobi" and "noted that most African countries that have applied to set up FM stations in foreign countries have been blocked from doing so." Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, 3 November 2006. BBC, VOA, and China Radio International have FM transmitters in Kenya. Kenya Broadcasting Corporation television will be included in the DStv digital satellite service of MultiChoice in South Africa. KBC managing director says "through hooking up the station on DSTV channel, it will be possible to market the country better ... there is a need for the media to give a positive portrayal of issues in the country instead of merely hyping on the negative aspects." KBC, 3 November 2006.

Brand Israel (updated).

Posted: 03 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"A re-branding campaign for Israel which will attempt to depict it as a peaceful and advanced country, and not a country of war and aggression." Israel Today, 25 October 2006. "What Israel needs is direct dialogue with the Arab world. It also requires public relations that would contend with the Arab public relations effort that is consistently portraying Israel in a distorted light. Israel is in need of public relations vis-à-vis the media and Europe's left wing that casts the blame for the continuation of the conflict on Israel." Zvi Mazel, YNet News, 29 October 2006. Update: "Israel's public diplomacy challenge is to explain to the world how jihadist violence against Israel breeds jihadist violence in Paris, Brussels, London, Melbourne, Madrid and New York, and how Israeli victories over jihadists in Ramallah, Gaza, Beirut and Teheran enhance the security of the rest of the free world." Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, 3 November 2006.

France 24 as an example of France's "bureaucratic mentality" (updated).

Posted: 03 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"In such a hierarchical system people too often expect solutions to be provided from the top. For example ... CNN was founded by Ted Turner, an American entrepreneur in Atlanta; a new French challenger to the cable television network, France 24, which is due to start broadcasting shortly, was invented by Mr Chirac and is financed with government money." The Economist, 26 October 2006. From an article about remnants of the Cold War in the same issue of the Economist: "RFE/RL continues trenchant coverage of Russia, and has launched new services in Arabic and Persian." The Economist, 26 October 2006. "The US-led invasion of Iraq pushed the project forward, because Chirac was reportedly miffed by the way CNN and the BBC presented France's opposition to the war. Some reports in US media inaccurately stating that 'Paris is burning' during the 2005 riots around France also nettled his government." AFP, 31 October 2006. "This fear that it's going to be a Chirac channel is rubbish." Reuters, 1 November 2006. Update: "France 24 pledges to ‘maintain a critical distance’ even as it ‘covers the world with a French perspective’ and ‘communicate French values worldwide’." Also in development in Paris is World Radio Paris, in English, cooperating with BBC and NPR. Seth Goldschlager, Metro International, 2 November 2006.

UK technology company locates satellite jammers.

Posted: 02 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"QinetiQ is launching a European satellite interference geolocation service. This service will assist in the fight against malicious or accidental disruption to satellite communications services. Hosted in the UK and operating on a 24/7 basis the service will allow customers to rapidly identify, and accurately locate, the source of interference to their satellites." QinetiQ press release, 1 November 2006. Next we need a technology to search and destroy upper case letters in the middle or end of company names.

A neocon's idea of public diplomacy.

Posted: 02 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
Neoconservative's advice on how to save the neoconservatives includes "fix the public diplomacy mess." "The best model for such a program are the 'Lovestonites' of the 1940s and 1950s, who, often employed as attachés in U.S. embassies, waged ideological warfare against communism in Europe and Russia. They learned their political skills back in the United States fighting commies in the labor unions." Joshua Muravchik, Foreign Policy, 1 November 2006.

Soft in the head.

Posted: 02 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Many official instruments of soft power - public diplomacy, broadcasting, exchange programs, development assistance, disaster relief, military to military contacts - are scattered around the government and there is no overarching strategy or budget that even tries to integrate them with hard power into an overarching national security strategy." Joseph (Soft Power) Nye, Huffington Post. 1 November 2006. If VOA newscasts are "integrated" with hard power, listeners will dismiss them as propaganda and tune elsewhere. True, the organization chart will look neat and orderly. But international broadcasting fails if it is not credible, and it cannot be credible if it is not independent.

State Department speakers' program represents the entire spectrum of pro-Bush opinion.

Posted: 02 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"An internal State Department review has found that U.S. officials screened the public statements and writings of private citizens for criticism of the Bush administration before deciding whether to select them for foreign speaking projects." McClatchy Newspapers, 2 November 2006. Looks like Karen Hughes was vetted, as she recently spoke in Bahrain. "I am all for women running for political positions." Gulf Daily News, 2 November 2006.

Aljazeera International will launch 15 November (updated).

Posted: 02 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The (English-language) network will broadcast 24 hours, with 12 daily hours of live news accompanied by another 12 hours of interview programs, features and analysis." AP, 31 October 2006. "Al Jazeera's English language website, aljazeera.net/english, is also being relaunched with the launch of the English-language channel which will showcase Al Jazeera International's agenda-setting editorial mission and will provide constantly updated coverage of news events from around the world, along with in-depth analyses and background." Bernama, 1 November 2006. "Accuracy in Media is attempting to keep Al-Jazeera International from finding cable or satellite carriage in this hemisphere. It could recruit anti-American jihadists inside the U.S." Roger Aronoff, AIM, 1 November 2006. Update: "AJI, the English-language spin-off of controversial Arab-language Al-Jazeera Network, was expected to have launched early this year. Then late winter. Then early spring. Then late May." Gail Shister, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 November 2006. "Al-Jazeera has been trying to smooth its entry into the U.S. market by casting itself as the ideal forum for the Bush administration to talk to the Muslim world." AP, 2 November 2006.

Is BBC correctly biased?

Posted: 02 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's permanent staff don't take kindly to seeing our principles dismissed by people who are often just passing through. Especially not if it's done in the pages of some newspapers which wouldn't know objectivity if they trod in it." The Guardian, 1 November 2006. Refers to earlier report that BBC "executives admitted they would happily broadcast the image of a Bible being thrown away - but would not do the same for the Koran." thisislondon.co.uk, 22 October 2006.

BBC, minus its Bulgarian Service, might lose its radio license in Bulgaria.

Posted: 01 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"The chairperson of the Bulgarian Council for Electronic Media (CEM), Raycho Raykov, has announced plans to revoke the licence pf the BBC World Service on the FM band in Bulgaria. When the BBC suspended its Bulgarian-language service at the end of last year, it also stopped complying with the country’s licensing rules which, Raykov says, require a minimum number of Bulgarian-language broadcasts." The Sofia Echo, 30 October 2006.

BBC World has "mass potential" in the United States.

Posted: 01 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
New York focus groupers describe BBC newscasts as "'credible', 'serious', 'trusted' and 'international'. In contrast, US news channels are seen as 'sensationalist', 'superficial' and with a 'narrow news agenda'." Brand Republic, 1 November 2006. "Despite the fact that they found U.S. news superficial, they did want the BBC news to increase its style." Media Life, 2 November 2006. Perhaps also contributing to that potential: in the Reporters sans frontières 2006 Press Freedom Index, "the United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of 'national security' to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his 'war on terrorism.'"

Language barrier hides radio scams.

Posted: 01 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
"Fraudsters seeking to take advantage of immigrants are finding an easy route via (U.S. domestic) radio stations that lease blocks of air time to anyone willing to pay." ... Joaquin Blaya, member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, "says he was unaware of any fraud at (the stations he owned), but he never liked time brokerage because it isn't a 'service' to listeners. Although it is a 'very profitable' business model, he says, 'I decided to sell the stations rather than join that model.'" Wall Street Journal, 31 October 2006.

Something about being hit by the door on the way out.

Posted: 01 Nov 2006   Print   Send a link
VOA broadcasters' union comments about departing director David Jackson: "Nor do we remember many -- in truth any -- impassioned speeches by David Jackson on behalf of the Voice, the Charter, VOA's mission, or its people, either in town meetings (now a figment of long-ago lore) or on Capitol Hill. Knowing the man (though that's a stretch, since David, we hardly knew ye), it's hard to imagine him fighting for VOA before the Board in its secret, star-chamber deliberations." AFGE 1812, Fall 2006 newsletter. See previous post about the change of VOA directors.