New pan-African news channel from South Africa's SABC.

Posted: 31 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Branded SABC News International, the channel is due to launch test transmissions on June 6. It is hoped that President Thabo Mbeki will attend a formal launch ceremony on July 20. ... Fashioned on similar lines as the big international services like CNN, BBC International and Al Jazeera, SABC News International will seek to compete commercially. ... Initially, broadcasting will be mainly in English, with French as the second main language. Other languages like Portuguese could be added in due course." journalism.co.za, 31 May 2007.

News channels within and to Africa (updated).

Posted: 31 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Africa is to enter the era of rolling news this week when CNBC launches the first 24-hour information network dedicated to coverage of news and business on the continent. CNBC Africa is to go on air from Friday from its main studios in Johannesburg and will also take feeds from bureaus in Lagos, Nairobi and London. ... African governments frequently complain about Western coverage of their continent, complaining that it is too often negative and overly-focused on natural disasters." AFP, 30 May 2007. South Africa's "MultiChoice has announced the purchase of Al Jazeera English, the international news and current affairs channel that is part of the Al Jazeera Network. The channel will go live on MultiChoice's DStv platform... . Since we haven't yet seen a full broadcast we can't vouch for it yet, but it can hardly be worse than the offerings dished up by CNN, the BBC and Sky News, the three big news networks on DStv." iafrica.com, 30 May 2007. Updated: "CNN's reporting has always been mediocre to poor, especially on Africa, and Al-Jazeera just added to it. After enduring mostly bias, cynical and tragic-filled Western reporting for decades, most of Africa once again became the target of a network with foreign ideological aim when Al-Jazeera arrived. ... That’s why there are high expectations of the new CNBC African network to deliver impartial reports." Behailu Damte, African Path, 30 May 2007.

Propaganda by ill-afforded magazine ad.

Posted: 31 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The cash-strapped Zimbabwe government is alleged to have paid over US$1.6 million dollars to The New African magazine... The New African is one of the leading pan African magazines which has in the past defended African governments from being 'demonised' by the western media. Sources close to the New African magazine told zimbabwejournalists.com they were alarmed that Mugabe could spend such an amount on propaganda when the country is experiencing serious economic woes. The New African magazine recently carried over seventy seven sponsored pages of propaganda on behalf of Harare." zimbabwejournalists.com, 31 May 2007.

South Korean students calling North Korea (updated).

Posted: 31 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Student broadcasting clubs at 14 universities are attempting to narrow cultural gaps between the two Koreas and to let North Koreans know what's going on outside their tightly controlled country. Student Media Without Borders is providing their production to Open Radio for North Korea, a Seoul-based radio station working to improve human rights of North Koreans. ... The student network is demanding the South Korean government provide a broadcasting frequency to enable more stable and lower-cost broadcasting. It plans to file an application with the government and petition with the National Assembly. But the Unification Ministry's response has been negative. The government supports only those programs agreed upon by the governments of both South and North Korea." The Korea Herald, 28 May 2007. Update: "Appropriated funds have also contributed partially to broadcasts by independent groups. Some of the most persuasive voices are not those of U.S. government employees, but private citizens who can sympathize with those living under repression." U.S. State department, May 2007.

The public diplomacy of embassy architecture.

Posted: 31 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"When I was (assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Doha), the embassy featured a sparkling new library stocked with the latest periodicals, a decent book collection and Internet-equipped computers. The visitorless library was a relic of the old American cultural centers that were meant to teach the world about America. In a modern city, why would anyone visit a library that required going through multiple layers of humiliating security? Better to visit an Internet cafe, or the university library. In fact, almost no one went: the sign-in sheet for the month was in the single-digits, and notably not a one of the visitors was Qatari. As it is, the library is now closed, and instead the embassy has a virtual library, which consists of nothing more than links to news websites ('Hope you have an enjoyable stay browsing this site,' the page reads)." Sharon Weinberger, Wired's Danger Room blog, 30 May 2007.

Telesur in Nicargua; latest on RCTV.

Posted: 31 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Telesur ... will begin open signal broadcasting in Nicaragua by the end of the year." Prensa Latina, 28 May 2007. Latest on Venezuela's closure of RCTV and associated protests. AP, 31 May 2007. U.S. Senate passes resolution asking OAS to invesitigate closure of RCTV. Senator Richard Lugar press release, 24 May 2007. "After Chavez was elected president in 1998, RCTV shifted to another endeavor: ousting a democratically elected leader from office." Bart Jones, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 2007.

Report: Radio Budapest external service will close down on 30 June.

Posted: 31 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Not official yet, but it's known for sure: All foreign language programs of Radio Budapest will be on air for the last time on June 30." Pester Lloyd, 1 June 2007 issue. Thanks to Markus Weidner and Kai Ludwig for this news tip. Not specifically announced, but: "The traditional forms of media must adjust to the expectations created for us by the ever more increasingly globalising social and information conditions." Hungarian Radio website. See also Radio Budapest website.

Tomlinson's manifesto (updated).

Posted: 30 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors chairman defends elimination of VOA English, development of non-VOA Arabic services, and reductions to shortwave. "Would international broadcasting be better off at the State Department? Or in the Pentagon? As opposed to the BBG? I say unthinkable if our aim is to reflect something more intellectually profound than government policy. Do not forget that it was U.S. government foreign service officers who blocked the use of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in the early 1970’s—in a period when his popularity in the former Soviet Union was at its greatest—because his writings contradicted the then U.S. government policy of détente." Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Arab Media & Society, May 2007. Update: The May 2007 issue of Arab Media & Society also has these responses to Tomlinson by former VOA officials and journalists: "One element of the Sawa story that has not been written is that which deals with a concerted effort within the Voice of America to counter the FM pop music formula that the Broadcasting Board of Governors was proposing with a VOA branded, full service Arabic network." Myrna Whitworth. "For me, the shame is that the BBG and its backers did not choose to work within VOA, whose charter mandates by law VOA’s objective approach to news coverage. They could have applied a creative touch to update the overall product." Laurie Kassman. "News of the non-Arab world almost always plays second fiddle on Sawa's airtime. The station has literally scores of news reporters in Arab capitals, especially in Iraq, but only one part-time reporter in the United States who provides reportage from the State Department or at times from The White House (but never from Congress)." Sam Hilmy. James K. Glassman, Bush Administration nominee to be chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, "will have to decide whether or not American overseas networks will continue to strive for mass audiences, or whether U.S. taxpayers will gain more value for their investment if the focus is shifted to producing in-depth programming targeted at elites and to preserving core information and English services." Alan L. Heil Jr.

Another VOA jazz alum.

Posted: 30 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Interview with Cuban-American trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. "Q: Growing up in Castro’s Cuba, were you exposed to a lot of good music? (Sandoval:) No, not much. But when you really want to find the information, you will, you’re going to try very hard. I used to hear the short wave radio, the Voice of America in Washington, DC. They had a jazz program everyday and I’d never miss one. That was the only way I got to be familiar with jazz at all." Port Folio Weekly, 30 May 2007.

U.S. broadcasts to Iran in the news, again.

Posted: 30 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Among demands if Iranian delegation to Iraq: "Putting an end to all activities that aim at destabilizing the regime in Tehran, including the propaganda against the Iranian regime broadcast by the ‘Voice of America’ satellite channel, which has a large audience in Iran." Asharq Alawsat, 29 May 2007. "A Radio Farda spokesman said (Parnaz Azima's) attorney believes she has not been charged (by Iran) with espionage but with spreading antigovernment propaganda." Washington Post, 30 May 2007.

BBC World hones its "news first" brand identity.

Posted: 30 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC World is launching an advertising campaign showcasing the corporation’s newsgathering capability. ... 'The campaign rationale is to communicate how the channel continues to put news first and delivers in-depth, accurate and impartial reporting and analysis for a global audience.'" mad.co.uk, 29 May 2007. "The 30-second and 60-second ads all focus on how Iraq is shaping the news agenda." Brand Republic, 30 May 2007.

English radio in Switzerland may go noncommercial and national.

Posted: 30 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The 10-year history of English language radio station WRG-FM in Geneva, Switzerland is fascinating for the major players that have had their fingers in that pie and for plans by public broadcaster Radio Suisse Romande (RSR), an equal shareholder with BBC World Service, to get the station’s license switched from commercial to public broadcasting, and then dump the advertising. ... RSR says it intends to expand World Radio Geneva (WRG) and make it World Radio Switzerland (WRS) by broadcasting it as an English language station nationwide, and hiring another 20 – 25 journalists to improve its news output." followthemedia.com, 30 May 2007.

Shortwave: billion listeners or anachronism?

Posted: 30 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"'We also transmit on 5 shortwave stations to 1 billion shortwave radios on the planet.' ... Note to self: Figure out how to own that shortwave radio audience. Talk about untapped potential!" Joe Shore, Crosswalk.com, 30 May 2007. "Short wave broadcasts are already an anachronism. Last year, we were living at Hong Kong University and found that the mountains defeated the FM transmitted programs of Radio Television Hong Kong. However, the university had campus wide wireless -- remote connected broadband. So I tuned my computer into BBC online programs, connected a small amplifier and speakers to the earphone outlet and was able to enjoy news and music." On Line Opinion, 30 May 2007. "I have not traveled abroad with a shortwave set in years because news and information is easily available everywhere in English through private satellite services. By overwhelming numbers, people anywhere say they prefer getting news through television. In addition, the Internet is becoming a fixture virtually everywhere. I have said that for most societies—obviously China is a notable exception—efforts to preserve shortwave is about as relevant as efforts by buggy whip manufacturers to preserve their product in the 1920s." Kenneth Tomlinson, Arab Media & Society, May 2007.

Creating a scenario for successful international broadcasting (updated again).

Posted: 30 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Protests against Venezuelan government's closure of Radio Caracas TV. "The government was also suing the US station CNN for allegedly linking Mr Chavez to al-Qaeda." BBC News, 29 May 2007. See final moments of RCTV and sign-on of Chavez-approved Televisora Venzolana Social at YouTube. See also Times Online, 29 May 2007, and New York Times News Service, 27 May 2007. Update: Venezuela's communications minister "criticized the U.S.-based CNN family of networks for broadcasting video showing anti-government demonstrations followed by images from Acapulco, Mexico, that showed protests against the death of a Mexican journalist and for juxtaposing Chavez to video showing the body of an alleged al Qaeda leader and protests in China. 'CNN lies to Venezuela,' he said, adding that he worries that journalism is being used 'to present political propaganda under the guise of news, in a systematic manner.' In a joint written statement, CNN en Español and CNN International said they 'categorically deny' the accusations. 'The reality is that upon being made aware of the video mix-up, CNN en Espanol aired a detailed correction and expressed regret for the involuntary error,' the statement said." CNN News, 30 May 2007.

U.S. funded radio brings news and fun to Chad-Sudan border.

Posted: 29 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Men driving donkey carts to the market and refugees crouching in the shade finally have something to break the boredom of life in [Goz Beida, Chad, an] arid Darfur border village - news, hip-hop and Arabic music coming in on cranky transistor radios. It's Radio Sila, the village's only radio station, funded mostly by U.S. taxpayers and pumping some fun into a violent region suffering the spillover from the Darfur conflict next door." AP, 29 May 2007.

Aljazeera can resume newsgathering in Iran.

Posted: 29 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Iran yesterday lifted a ban on Al Jazeera imposed after the pan-Arab satellite television network aired a programme deemed insulting to the most revered Shi’ite cleric in Iraq. 'Following the relevant authorities' apology... Al Jazeera's Arabic and English services can resume work in Iran.'" Reuters, 29 May 2007.

In Afghanistan, foreign stations are a major sector.

Posted: 29 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Foreign countries with a major military presence in Afghanistan have their own radio broadcasts. BBC, VOA (under the name of Radio Liberty), Voice of Germany, Turkish Radio, Radio France International, the Voice of Freedom of ISAF and others broadcast daily programs in Afghanistan. The BBC has established FM stations in many provinces. All these stations are funded from the money donated for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and is spent by the donors themselves. It is worth mentioning that the educational programs of the BBC and some non-political programs of VOA are useful." Mohammad Eshaq, News Blaze, 28 May 2007.

Australian scholar considers Australian public diplomacy by looking at the American example.

Posted: 29 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"In the case of the US, the problem is that the soft power logic hasn't worked. Why? The answers are complex and partly lie in the logic (or lack of it) in simplistic versions of soft power argumentation. First, as has been pointed out repeatedly by critics both inside and outside Washington, public diplomacy alone can't make bad policy good policy. Second, people can unbundle messages: because you are attracted to the products of American culture, that doesn't necessarily mean you feel any more sympathetic to US foreign policy." Brian Hocking, Canberra Times, 28 May 2007.

RFE/RL "equivalent" of Roj TV?

Posted: 29 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Although Danish investigators have apparently known of the links between [Kurdish language] Roj TV based in Copenhagen and the PKK, Denmark, which is not a party to the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, refused the offers to solve the issue on a bilateral basis by signing an agreement on trans-border broadcasting between the two countries. Instead, the Danish Media Secretariat ruled earlier this month that Turkey's complaints brought against Roj TV weren't substantial and Roj TV could continue broadcasting. It is hardly possible that Danish authorities – after having all the information – believe in protecting an equivalent of Radio Free Europe or Radio Liberty." Sylvia Tiryaki, Turkish Daily News, 28 May 2007.

FM is better than shortwave -- but only if you can get on FM (updated).

Posted: 29 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The launch of government-licensed private broadcasting may signal the death of Minivan Radio, the opposition station which has pioneered independent broadcasting in the Maldives since 2004, after its parent company failed to win a frequency." Minivan News, 22 May 2007. Update: Minivan Radio's editor says agreement required to get FM license is incompatible with independence, and says station might return to shortwave. Minivan News, 27 May 2007.

Alhurra controversy rumbles on (updated again).

Posted: 27 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Some of the officials [of Alhurra] even have the guts to point out that their mission is to educate the Arab world in democratic values, and therefore they strongly deny any notion of censorship. It is understood that such a naïve love of democracy could cost them their jobs since the freedom of speech differs greatly from broadcast efforts aimed at creating a positive image of U.S. foreign policies in countries the policies are designed for." Pravda, 23 May 2007. BBG member "Joaquin Blaya snookered Congress into believing that the network, until very recently, had no assignment desk, a mainstay of almost any newsroom." Joel Mowbray, Power Line blog, 24 May 2007. "Pollster James Zogby ... says spending millions on Arabic-language media outlets like Al Hurra has done little or nothing to improve the U.S image. 'It is no secret that I think that the work of Al Hurra is a mess. I think it is unneeded; it is a waste of money,' Zogby says, adding that Arabs in the Middle East watch American TV 'all day long with our without Al Hurra.'" Voice of America News, 24 May 2007. Update: "Like so much else that has gone wrong with regard to the American policy in Iraq and the greater Middle East, Al Hurra has failed miserably to achieve its desired goal: to provide a counterweight to biased, state-run media in the Middle East, and to take the propaganda fight to the people of that region, like al Qeada has done so successfully." Paul McLeary, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 25 May 2007.

Twenty-nine approved foreign channels in Bangladesh (updated).

Posted: 27 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Including BBC World, CNN, Fox News, and TNT Cartoon Network. drishtipat.org blog, 23 May 2007. Update: "Some of the channels are quite popular in Bangladesh. Disney World, Travel and Leisure, PTV, NDTV, TV2 (French), Deutsche Welle (DW), Arirang (South Korea), Ten Sports, DD Sports, Neo Sports, Al-Jajira, ETV Bangla, and a host of Hindi and Bengali entertainment channels are among them." DailyIndia.com, 25 May 2007.

BBC, CNN discuss access to Darfur.

Posted: 27 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"'You might get as far as Khartoum and never get in,' explained Anna Williams, the planning editor at BBC World. She said the BBC's Khartoum correspondent had not been able to access Darfur in more than six months and now had to pull out of the country after his work permit was revoked by the government. 'The interpretation of 'difficult' is relative to the expectations of people,' the head of Sudan TV shot back. 'Darfur is full of media people.' 'There are times when we feel the authorities in Sudan are very supportive of our work but that doesn't sometimes tally with the reaction we get sometimes locally from the security people,'Hosam El Sokkari, head of BBC Arabic, interjected. Octavia Nasser, Middle East editor at CNN, agreed. 'When you talk about access, it depends on who you ask. Is it easy to get to Darfur, yes and no. We live in a dangerous world we are all covering. Access is difficult, but it's attainable.'" Lawrence Pintak, Arab Media & Society, May 2007.

Shortwave notes from here and there.

Posted: 27 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"I bought a little Sony shortwave/multi-band radio at Gatwick last week, so I’ve been listening to the BBC World Service as we drive through the Pyrenees and whatnot. It’s nice to hear some Queen’s English in Catalan country. On Top of the Pops, they played the new Keane single and I thought that was really good." Death Cab For Cutie’s Nick Harmer, Playback, 25 May 2007. LeSea Broadcasting, Preotestan evangelical, provides shortwave radio coverage of the Indianpolis 500. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 26 May 2007. "When short-wave radio arrived in Shetland in the 1920s, Peerie Willie became hooked. He tuned into a station from Schenectady in New York State, which had produced the first round-the-world broadcast, and heard Eddie Lang playing these outlandish chords. He sat down and worked out what Lang was doing." The Herald (Glasgow), 26 May 2007. "But Josef the émigré artist didn't, knowing perfectly well that his comic-book superhero, The Escapist, hadn't saved his younger brother; knowing that for the Prague Jews he had left behind, there would be no Fortress of Solitude or Bat Cave; knowing even in the navy in Antarctica, while listening to his grandfather sing Schubert on short-wave radio, that Theresienstadt was a German fairy tale for Czechs, 'a witch's house made of candy and gingerbread to lure children and fatten them for the table.'" Review of Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, John Leonard, New York Review of Books, 14 June 2007 issue. "But what is sad is that the listeners don’t receive Leh [India] radio signals either on shortwave or on medium wave after 6 p.m. The shortwave reception in the border areas like Changthang, Nubra and Sham has worsened since November last year.
'I fear that the bad reception of Leh radio on the border might lead people to listen to the programmes broadcast by the high-powered stations from across the borders.'" The Statesman (Kolkata), 26 May 2007.

U.S. broadcasting to Iran in the news (updated).

Posted: 27 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima, who has been unable to leave Iran since February, has posted a $440,000 bond and is being held under house arrest pending the filing of charges." RFE/RL news, 22 May 2007. "Only one Azeri Iranian radio program — Window Into Iranian Azerbaijan — is broadcast into Iran, for only 10 minutes once a week. And support for the program, which comes from Voice of America — the U.S. government's official radio and television service — started years earlier." Christian Science Monitor, 22 May 2007. YouTube video of VOA report about Iranian police violence against a woman protester. Arabisto, 22 May 2007. Update: "The event was captured on camera in Tehran's busy Hafte Tir Square last week and has since been circulated on Iranian websites and broadcast on the US state department-funded [sic] Voice of America's Farsi language TV broadcasts." Robert Tate, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 25 May 2007.

Former State Department official weighs in on public diplomacy.

Posted: 25 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"As the director of media affairs at State, this is the conundrum that I faced every day. I tried through the traditional domestic media and, for the first time, through the pan-Arab TV and print media -- Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Al Hayat -- to reach people in the U.S. and abroad and to convince them that we should not be judged by our actions, only our words." Price Floyd, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 25 May 2007.

Blogger faults VOA headline.

Posted: 25 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America is a government outfit. So of course they must give us the straight dope, right? 'Poll: US Muslims Feel Post-9/11 Backlash Despite Moderate Outlook.' Psst: Some of that 'backlash' you feel may be due to the 26% of young American Muslim males who would like to kill Americans. Just a thought. Sometimes people take a little thing like murder personally. Also, I don't know if support for murder is technically 'moderate.'" Ace of Spades blog, 25 May 2007.

Pertains to the internet as a medium of international broadcasting.

Posted: 25 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"There is certainly no doubt that cyberspace is vulnerable. As British Middle East expert Mark Allen pointed out in his recent book entitled Arabs, modern Islamism, although grounded in an ideology that is both puritanical and deeply conservative, has nevertheless managed to master the power of information technology and the Internet with some aplomb." Daily Mail, 24 May 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Murdoch tells his side of dropping BBC from Star TV (updated).

Posted: 25 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Mr Murdoch said the [1994] decision by his Star TV satellite group to drop the BBC’s English-language news channel was driven by commercial considerations: 'Star was losing $100m per year; we had to pay $10m per year to the BBC. I said "Let them pay it themselves", and they did. We also cancelled two other third-party channels – MTV and Prime Sports. At that stage we never ever had any request from anybody in China. Indeed, there was no discourse at all.'" Financial Times, 23 May 2007. See also Financial Times, 23 May 2007. Update: "But that wasn't Murdoch's position 13 years ago. A few months after the channel was axed and after much hemming and hawing by his company, Murdoch finally confessed in an interview with his biographer, journalist William Shawcross. The June 14, 1994, Financial Times cited the interview in an article titled 'Murdoch cut BBC to please China.' Its lead reads: "Mr Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, has finally admitted that he kicked BBC World Service Television off his Star TV system in Asia to please the Chinese government and help establish the satellite service there.'" Jack Shafer, Slate, 24 May 2007.

China calling (updated again).

Posted: 25 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Review of Joshua Kurlantzick, Charm Offensive: How China’s Soft Power Is Transforming the World: "The book is divided into eleven well-written chapters that illustrate how China has built its global soft power and how it has drastically made over its image in many parts of the world from dangerous to benevolent. Moreover, readers will learn how China uses that power and how nations are responding particularly those whose relations with the United States have been faltering such as Venezuela and others whose leaders display autocratic traits." Norm Goldman, 21 May 2007. "Kurlantzick occasionally overestimates the world’s love for China and hatred of America, and places perhaps too much faith in what a new American 'public diplomacy czar' could accomplish." The American, 23 May 2007. Update: "China ... has been able to use soft power to get what it wants. Nations from Venezuela to Uzbekistan have proven increasingly willing to work with China... . This rise coincides with a sharp decline in America’s soft power." Joshua Kurlantzick, Asia Sentinel, 25 May 2007. "What’s sad about Kurlantzick’s account is the sorry story he tells of the U.S.’s dramatic decline in soft power around the world." Fred Fortin, World Health Care Blog, 25 May 2007.

What Dean Acheson had to say about public diplomacy (before there was "public diplomacy").

Posted: 24 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The worst thing a new administration could do would be to use public diplomacy to paint a picture that differs from reality. Acheson's thoughts about this topic are right on target: public diplomacy 'conceived of as a "beautician" is revolting,' he wrote. 'Its purpose in an age of diplomacy among democracies is to get the truth to their sovereigns, as a basis of mutual confidence and trust.'" James E. Goodby and Kenneth Weisbrode, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 May 2007.

Listening to shortwave in Burma, then and now.

Posted: 24 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Richard PeWin [RPW], son of Maung U, wrote that he first became aware of WWII at the age of six, as his father spoke of a war going on somewhere in Europe. Maung U, had a short wave radio installed in his home, and faithfully listened to the BBC news on the progress of the European war." Family Security Matters, 23 May 2007. Aung San Suu Kyi’s "lonely days will stretch out into an uncertain future, and the calls for her release will inevitably grow weaker in the shortwave broadcasts that are her only source of news about events in an outside world whose attention next week will return to more pressing issues." Irrawaddy, 23 May 2007.

Award-winning CRI and (updated) BBC.

Posted: 24 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Among winners of United Nations awards for media coverage of Asia-Pacific development: "He Fei, Wu Jia, Guan Juanjuan and Jin Zhao of China Radio International, for a report on a girl who dropped out of school in rural China before finally managing to return to the classroom." UN News Centre, 22 May 2007. Update: "Rupa Jha, the BBC World Service radio Hindi correspondent with her roots deep in Bihar, was honored by the United Nations Media Award for her special report on insurmountable problems faced by HIV/AIDS patients on a daily basis." PatnaDaily.com, 23 May 2007.

The Alhurra controversy: latest installment.

Posted: 23 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"One employee who was recently fired on grounds of bad editorial judgment said that staff members were being used as scapegoats to ease the controversy and protect top executives." Middle East Times, 23 May 2007. "Congress has a perfectly understandable position -- it funds the program, it gets to call the tune. But it's also why Al Hurra will struggle to overcome the perception that it is little more than an American propaganda outlet in Iraq." Tom Regan, NPR News Blog, 22 May 2007. In Frank Wisner's "Might Wurlitzer" campaign of the 1950s, "400 American reporters and media executives, some paid agents, some volunteers ... were secretly collaborating with the CIA to spread bad news about the Soviets and good news about the United States, some of it concocted by the spy agency, according to news reports and congressional investigations in the 1970s. ... Given the criticism of Alhurra and other U.S. media aimed at Islamic listeners, I asked Ackerman, should maybe the U.S. borrow the playbook from the late Frank Wisner’s Mighty Wurlitzer? 'No, I do not,' he said. 'I would not be in favor of that. We have to be transparent.' Why? I asked. 'Why? Because we have to have credibility.' But given America’s low standing among Muslims, I asked, wouldn’t the messages we want to get out have more credibility if the U.S. hand were hidden? 'And when someone discovers it?' Ackerman retorted. 'That’s problematic, isn’t it?' he added. 'We cause enough outrage. We don’t need secret programs to blow up in our face.'" Jeff Stein, CQ Homeland Security, 18 May 2007

As if it can afford to do so.

Posted: 23 May 2007   Print   Send a link
North Korea steps up its jamming of foreign broadcasts. "An intense jam of short-wave broadcaster Free North Korea Broadcasting run by defectors, intense interception of which has been ongoing since May 18th, is also having an effect on nongovernmental broadcaster Open Radio for North Korea." Daily NK, 23 May 2007. "Reporters Without Borders today deplored the North Korean government’s resumption on 11 May of its jamming of independent and dissident radio stations broadcasting in Korean from outside and called on the South Korean government and the international community to defend their right to broadcast freely." RSF, 23 May 2007.

One of the great gigs in international broadcasting.

Posted: 23 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Interview with Richard Gizbert, host of "Listening Post," media program on Aljazeera English. Al Jazeera's weekly programme looking at the media. "I had this idea that post 9/11 people were much more cognisant of what their media sources were, what filters their news was coming through. I felt that there was a hunger out there for that kind of thing so I started to think about doing a media broadcast. At the time I was working for ABC, which is owned by Disney, so it's probably not the best place to do a slightly iconoclastic, tongue in cheek and occasionally subversive broadcast. NBC is owned by General Electric, which is a weapons manufacturer when they are not making television, so that wasn't a great place to go to do stories about why the Pentagon wasn't getting all the tough questions that it needed to hear pre-Iraq." journalism.co.uk, 22 May 2007.

English football to Africa, via satellite, cheap.

Posted: 23 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The prospect of 12 hours of English Premiership football every weekend is set to dramatically increase the number of satellite television subscribers in Africa. GTV, a new UK-based television company, is planning to capitalise on the huge popularity in Africa of teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal when it launches its new 'affordable' pay television package next month." The Guardian, 23 May 2007.

DW stringer in Uzbekistan faces 10 years in prison.

Posted: 23 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Reporters Without Borders today condemned the government’s intention to try journalist Yuri Chernogayev, a Tashkent-based freelancer for the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. The prosecutor’s office told him on 18 May that he will soon be formally charged with a range of offences including threatening national security. He faces up to 10 years in prison." RSF, 23 May 2007.

"The viewers like to be respected."

Posted: 22 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Interview with "one of the beautiful faces of VOA Persian Service, Luna Shad": "Q: Unlike most LA based Satellite TV’s where, VOA Persian Service is very successful amongst Iranians everywhere. Also Iranians from all political spheres rush to be interviewed on your station. How have you managed to achieve where most so-called 'opposition' TV’s which beam into Iran have failed? LS: I truly believe that honesty, objectivity and the respect for the viewers are the keys to success for any media. Our viewers are extremely intelligent, and for my part, I have never tried to underestimate them. The viewers like to be respected." Persian Mirror, 21 May 2007.

Reagan's offer of broadcasting cooperation, sort of, with Cuba.

Posted: 22 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Excerpt from The Reagan Diaries, just published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1982: "N.S.C. briefing—I made a decision to equip several planes with equipment capable of jamming Cuban radio & TV. We may never use them—I hope not. But we intend to start Radio Marti—broadcasting truth to Cuba. We intend to offer Castro a channel upon which he is free to broadcast to our people. But we'll also tell him that if he jams our radio & (as he has threatened) interferes with our commercial stations we'll black out Cuban TV & radio. We must be prepared to carry that out instantly." Ventura County Star, 22 May 2007.

WorldSpace in the news.

Posted: 22 May 2007   Print   Send a link
In India, Worldspace "caters to every kind of taste and preference. And it does not intermix genres of music, which can be very jarring to the listener." newindpress.com, 22 May 2007. "Was Satellite Radio Invented by way of Ethiopia? The answer is yes. The same country that has brought the world the likes of the world’s richest person of African descent Mr. Mohammed Al Amoudi has also brought the world Noah Samara. Mr. Samara is indeed the founder and CEO of WorldSpace, which pioneered the satellite radio technology, thereby being the first to introduce the technology to the market." African Path, 22 May 2007. Samara's loan to Rep. William Jefferson recalled in update on Jefferson's legal situation. New Orleans Times-Picayune, 21 May 2007.

If you're going to Paris, better take your shortwave radio.

Posted: 22 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"English-language radio stations complained Tuesday they had been refused an FM licence in Paris, a city which currently has Armenian, Portuguese and Arabic broadcasters but not a single English language station. The BBC World Service, Paris Live Radio and World Radio Paris were all excluded from a shortlist of contenders for licences drawn up by the CSA, the French broadcasting authority. ... David Blanc, director of World Radio Paris, a joint venture between NPR of the US, the BBC and the American University in Paris, said he too was disappointed by the CSA's decision." AFP, 22 May 2007.

Serious rivalry.

Posted: 22 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Report of a death threat against Al-Qouqa, who began "as a newscaster in Kuwait Television before moving to Al-Jazeera and then Al-Hurra and then finally working as a presenter of the Death Industry program in Al-Arabiya." Kuwait Times, 20 May 2007.

The dismal media environment in North Korea.

Posted: 22 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"If you can get a radio, the dial must be fixed to the government’s Korean Central Broadcasting Station. Televisions receive only the government station, Korean Central Television. Remote controls are hidden. Houses are wired to receive announcements from the local party officials. You don’t have the freedom to not listen: you must attend weekly meetings prepared to answer questions on that week’s broadcasts. Listening to foreign broadcasts such as Voice of America or Radio Free Asia is punishable by imprisonment, although first-time offenders usually are just written up. (After a second time, you’re watched; the third time can mean prison.) However, people do listen to foreign stations anyway; it is becoming easier to bribe the police, who often listen to foreign stations as well." Kondgan Oh, Spero News, 22 May 2007.

Why China is such a difficult target country.

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Beijing has shown dictators that they don't have to choose between power and profit; they can have both. Today's China demonstrates that a regime can suppress organized opposition and need not establish its legitimacy through elections. It shows that a ruling party can maintain considerable control over information and the Internet without slowing economic growth." James Mann, Washington Post, 20 May 2007.

BBC world audience now at 233 million weekly.

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Up from 210 million last year. Includes BBC World Service, BBC World, and BBC's international-facing online news sites. BBC World Service press release, 21 May 2007. "The figures were helped in part by better survey coverage in Afghanistan, where the BBC now estimates it has a 60 per cent share of the radio audience, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Audiences grew in India among Hindi listeners, but English-language listening declined by almost 10 per cent around the world." Financial Times, 20 May 2007.

The Alhurra controversy simmers on.

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Tranquility was not the call of the day when the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia met last Wednesday (May 15). It was yet another opportunity for politicians to hoist US international broadcasting stations up the petard. On hand was US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) member Joaquin F. Blaya to face the enduring question, this time posed by US Representative David Scott, of why, with all the money spent on US public diplomacy outreach – including broadcasting – 'does the world - the Muslim world in particular - continue to hate us so?' Rhetorical posturing and questions aside, Mr Blaya was admonished by committee chairperson Representative Gary Ackerman for TV channel al-Hurrah broadcasting a decidedly intranquil speech of Hezbollah leader Hannan Nasrallah, breaking BBG rules about TV time for terrorists. Mr. Blaya – former CEO of Univision, America’s largest Spanish-language TV network – offered that no al-Hurrah executives speak the language so nobody knew what Shiek Nasrallah was saying. Censorship is a major issue with BBG staff, executives and board members. Mr Blaya echoed the reasonable understanding that censoring content pulls away from credibility. Noting the irony, he added, 'That’s the difference between a free media and propaganda.'" followthemedia.com, 20 May 2007. “To achieve credibility and impact – and an audience – America’s media messages must maintain journalistic standards for objectivity and balance. But journalistic balance – in the Arab and Muslim media market, or anywhere else – does not require allotting equal time to terrorists and democrats, to Holocaust-deniers and historians.” American Jewish Committee, 19 May 2007. Now it seems that a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Joaquin Blaya, is advocating that the U.S. taxpayer-funded network should air terrorists' speeches in the name of freedom of the press. Joel Mowbray, Power Line blog, 21 May 2007. Another Joel Mowbray post, Power Line blog, 21 May 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Public diplomacy popping up all over Washington.

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Reports from China is a new six-page English-language insert distributed with the Washington Post on 18 May 2007. It's "a service by China Daily." -- A Metrobus on Pennsylvania Avenue is completely painted to "celebrate" the German EU presidency and to publicize Germany.info. -- In the Federal Center SW Metro station are two poster ads advocating support for Israel. One, from AMCHA - The Coalition for Jewish Concerns, uses the slogan "Israel: Front Line of the Free World." The other is from StandWithUs, the doing-business name of the Israel Emergency Alliance.

Radio/TV Martí funding looks to be secure.

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"This summer, the House is expected to engage in what has become an annual ritual: voting on amendments to spending bills that attack all angles of Cuba policy, from cutting funds for TV Martí and Radio Martí to stopping the funding of U.S. efforts to enforce the travel sanctions. But even if those amendments pass the House, they would face big hurdles. Approval in the Senate is less likely, in part because of procedural matters and in part because Senate leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., supports a tough line on Cuba." Miami Herald, 20 May 2007.

Shortwave radios here and there.

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
In central India: "Better-off families have $12 shortwave radios or $45 Atlas bicycles." AP, 18 May 2007. For emergency situations: "I recommend the purchase of a Grundig FR-200 AM-FM-Shortwave radio. No batteries are required as it is powered by a simple hand crank mechanism." Canada Free Press, 20 May 2007. "Q: What's your dream assignment? (Copywriter Tamara Birdsall): "Giving shortwave radios to women in Third World countries so they can make their voices heard and they can connect with other women." Adweek, 21 May 2007. The last item might be referring to amateur radio or some other two-way technology.

Now it's the "Voice of Zimbabwe," with a 25 May start date.

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings is next Friday -- on Africa Unity Day -- expected to launch a new short wave radio station, The Voice of Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwean news and news analysis station that will broadcast internationally. ... 'Although aimed predominantly at a world audience, the station may be of interest locally too because of its focus on news, news analysis and discussion programmes.'" The Herald (Harare), 19 May 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Ascending voices of Muslim moderates?

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Although still capable of flexing muscle in the streets, Islamists find it increasingly difficult to defeat their enemies on the battlefield of ideas. Modern Islam generates much heat but little light. Indeed, though it will come as news to most Western readers, many secular writers and political leaders enjoy a vast and growing audience across the Muslim world." Amir Taheri, Dallas Morning News, 20 May 2007.

Iran's theological public diplomacy.

Posted: 21 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"In a campaign that is little-noticed in the West, Iran is trying to convince Sunni Muslims that Shi'ism, the form of Islam practiced by 90 percent of Iranians but only 20 percent of Muslims worldwide, is not the heresy that many Sunni hard-liners have branded it, nor a dangerous subversion of their faith, but just another legitimate school of thought within a unified Islam." Boston Globe, 20 May 2007. "Four years after U.S. troops toppled Saddam, Iran has used its own brand of public diplomacy to win the trust and admiration of neighbors long thought to define themselves as Iraqis first and Shiites second. It's just one way that Iran has benefited from the U.S. invasion of its chief rival." Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 19 May 2007.

Report calls for diversion of funds from the U.S. media "mouthpieces."

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Not only is the current budget for public diplomacy laughably low, less than 10 percent (a paltry $140 million) is devoted to the Near East and South Asia, where a majority of the world’s Muslims reside. Instead, we are lavishing resources on media, widely regarded as mouthpieces for the US government, with limited following and impact." From Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck with Sharon Burke, "Security First: A Strategy for Defending America," Third Way, 17 May 2007. "The paradox is that even as Al Qaeda repels people with its actions, its core ideas are becoming more widely accepted, and that’s really troubling, and a real indictment of American public diplomacy." Marc Lynch, interviewed by Harpers, 17 May 2007.

Russia Today implicated in Russian journalists controversy.

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, strongly condemns the eviction of the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) from its Moscow offices. ... The Federal Property Management Agency provided no explanation for its decision to evict the RUJ, but local press reports said the premises would be given to Russia Today, a state-owned English-language satellite television channel tasked with creating a positive image of Russia abroad." International Press Institute, 18 May 2007. "Russia Today television channel, which has been widely accused of attempts to push the Journalist Union out of the building and occupy the vacated space, denied the allegations." RIA Novosti, 17 May 2007.

Aljazeera in Toledo, but not in India.

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Indian government has denied permission to the Doha-based Al Jazeera TV news channel to downlink its satellite feed into the country. According to sources, the federal home ministry has told the information and broadcasting ministry that the channel’s downlinking application 'has not been cleared on security grounds'." IANS, 18 May 2007. The cable system in Toledo, Ohio, that carries Aljazeera English has "had as many compliments as complaints about the network." WTVG-TV, 17 May 2007.

Jamming apparently not enough, Zimbabwe asks for IGO help against international broadcasters.

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Zimbabwe's minister of justice asks the African Commission to help close down SW Radio Africa, Voice of America’s Studio 7, and Voice of the People. SW Radio Africa, 17 May 2007. "News station 247, which was due to be launched on Independence Day by the Ministry of Information has been put on hold pending the availability of funds. ... The government said it is launching the station to counter ‘negative news’ coming from stations like SW Radio Africa, Voice of America's Studio 7 and CNN." Nehanda Radio, 18 May 2007.

VOA debuts "Up Front."

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Hosts Jackson Mvunganyi at VOA headquarters in Washington D.C., and Nadia Samie at Bush Radio studios in Cape Town, South Africa, will lead listeners through a range of topics in the coming weeks, including a look at hip hop culture, successful young entrepreneurs, role models, and how people form their social circles." Voice of America press release, 16 May 2007.

Radio Australia looks at Australia's public diplomacy (updated).

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Adding up all the various programs, Dr Strahan says Australia spends about A$455m on public diplomacy annually. That ranges from convincing China that Australia is a reliable supplier for billion dollar worth of energy projects, to confronting old ideas of Australia as racist." Radio Australia "Connect Asia," 16 May 2007. Update: "The Australia Week promotions in New York and Los Angeles in January ... 'created a new way of delivering an integrated Australian branding exercise. ... (It) had trade, climate change, tourism, entertainment, investment, food and beverages, education, culture, lifestyle promotion and philanthropy: a broad template that provides a new platform for public diplomacy.'" The Australian, 18 May 2007.

On the difference between "public" and "state-run" broadcasting.

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Lula is so fed up with the low quality of Brazilian television that he has decided to set up a new one. This is the downside of what should be good news. The dangers are that the government will manipulate the content of the new channel, ensure that only propaganda appears and waste taxpayers' money. ... Communications minister, Hélio Costa ... worked for the Voice of America in Washington. Costa says he wants a 'public' and not a 'state-run' channel. 'State TV is what Chavez has (in Venezuela), state TV is what they have in Cuba. State TV is what they had in Poland and the former Soviet Union. I have been to all these places to find out the difference between state and public TV.'" John Fitzpatrick, Brazzil Magazine, 17 May 2007.

A pan-Asian Oprah?

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"STAR ... the Hong Kong-based broadcaster, part of News Corp., is opening the 'May Lee Show.' The weekly, one-hour, pan-Asia women's talk show "produced in Asia for Asian women," will be available to subscribers to Star World, one of the broadcaster's English-language cable-TV channels. The channel is available to subscribers in 15 countries, but the show itself will be aired in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, where the broadcaster hopes the show will fill a gap in the market and appeal to pan-Asian advertisers targeting the larger populations of English speakers." International Herald Tribune, 16 May 2007.

Some members of Congress may have preferred a one-person debate.

Posted: 18 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America's Persian TV service hosted a debate on Iran sanctions and the Divest Terror campaign between pro-regime activist, Rostam Pourzal, and Roozbeh Farahanipour, a leader of the July 1999 Tehran uprising and secretary general of Iranians for a Secular Republic. ... VOA host Bijan Farhoodi pointed out that for the past 27 years, the Voice of America had tried without success to invite a representative of the Islamic Republic to express their point of view. In Rostam Pourzal, he added, they finally had one." Foundation for Democracy in Iran, 12 May 2007.

But is "journalism with a mission" really journalism?

Posted: 17 May 2007   Print   Send a link
At the 16 May hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, Brian Coniff, president of the BBG's Middle East Broadcasting Network Inc., said that Alhurra's content "isn't just straight journalism, but it's journalism with a mission." The phrase "journalism with a mission" was applauded by at least two members of the subcommittee, so we might be hearing it more in the future. See Kim's report. See also BBG testimony and other texts from the hearing.

We decide, you move your needle (updated).

Posted: 17 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) on Alhurra controversy: "This is a diplomatic mission of the U.S, and are we communicating in very practical ways to employees down the line that this is not a 'We report, you decide,' television station." Voice of America News, 16 May 2007. "In practice, however, the station, founded in early 2004, has struggled from the outset to dispel the notion that it is a U.S. propaganda outlet -- a tough task, given that it is financed by the U.S. Congress. Calling it "Alhurra," which translates into Arabic as 'the free one' -- not such a good idea. When taxpayers foot the bill, 'free' is at best a metaphor. ...the hubris implicit in the station's name was an ominous omen from its start." Juliana Geran Pilon, World Politics review, 16 May 2007. Update: Alhurra was supposed to follow in the TV Martí tradition. New York Times, 17 May 2007. See also AP, 16 May 2007. "Even Republican critics of Al-Hurra tacitly acknowledged that blaming the network might a little like shooting the messenger." Arab News, 18 May 2007. "Register told Hill staffers, Alhurra needs to provide content similar to that of the other Arabic networks; only then will it be able to reach a mass audience and begin to spread a message of moderation and democracy. Lawmakers view this approach as a fundamental misunderstanding of the network's role." The Forward, 18 May 2007. "U.S taxpayers already support the Arabic TV network Al Hurra. How about instead of running speeches by Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and lending credence to Iran’s Holocaust denial panel, giving (Somalian feminist Ayaan) Hirsi Ali a platform to speak to women in the Muslim world about what the West is really about? Why not run features on the new freedoms given to Afghanistan’s women thanks to the United States?" David Forsmark, FrontPage Magazine, 17 May 2007. "As Al Hurra has sought to gain credibility with its target Arab audience, it has lost credibility at home among its American sponsors." Courtney C. Radsch, Arabisto.com, 18 May 2007.

In this case, let's pay the BBG chairman 85 cents an hour.

Posted: 16 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Re James Glassman, President Bush's nominee for chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors: "Cheap labor is an idea that warms the heart of James K. Glassman, who is the editor in chief of The American. Readers of this newspaper may recall Glassman as The Post's op-ed columnist who never missed a chance to bang out a ferocious denunciation of minimum wage laws, which he regards as an affront to 'every American who values personal and economic liberty.' There aren't many people around anymore who will fight for somebody else's God-given right to work for peanuts, but Glassman is one of them. That's why I was amused last fall to see that in the very first issue of The American, he published an essay called, 'Why Do We Underpay Our Best CEOs?'" Peter Carlson, Washington Post, 15 May 2007.

The answer to the Alhurra misstep is to keep the same BBG chairman.

Posted: 16 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"What we would like to see is a battle-tested, ideologically savvy broadcast chairman, someone who has enough time in grade that he or she won't flip out at the first blunder but will be an experienced operator in the ideological wars. A person, say, who has lead Voice of America and edited the world's largest magazine (Readers Digest). Someone precisely like that, Kenneth Tomlinson, is the current chairman, but the Democrats have spent the past few years curbing his power and he's getting ready to leave. President Bush has named a worthy successor in James Glassman." Editorial, New York Sun, 16 May 2007.
From book review in same day's Sun: "The 'cultural exchanges' that arguably had the biggest impact on the Soviet Union had nothing to do with détente, but were transmitted much later over Soviet protest and jamming to short-wave radios throughout their empire. These broadcasts, carried by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, dealt with the plight of Soviet Jews, with the multiple economic failures of the communist system, and with the doings of a charismatic Polish pope. As for détente's 'economic exchanges,' they did much more to prop up than open up the failing Soviet regimes." Christopher Willcox, New York Sun, 16 May 2007. Mowbray's daily salvo: "Why won't the BBG conduct its own investigation, reading through e-mails and Al-Hurra memos? Are they afraid of what they'll find? Are they afraid that they'll realize they've been defending someone they never should have?" Power Line blog, 16 May 2007. Refers to today's hearing of House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, about public diplomacy and international broadcasting. See previous post about same subject.

VOA/RFA Mandarin 24/7 is piecemeal?

Posted: 16 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"To be fair, America does use its influence to gain releases of individual Chinese political prisoners (albeit usually into exile), and we criticize abuses in annual reports and broadcast news to China through Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America, although these are often jammed by PRC authorities. All of these efforts are worthwhile and reflect well on the United States. But they are piecemeal. U.S. policy does not operate on the belief that China's one-party political system is illegitimate." Ellen Bork, FrontPage Magazine, 15 May 2007.

Alan Greenspan was (is?) a shortwave listener.

Posted: 16 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Former Federal Reserve chairman "Mr. Greenspan said he had been heartened by the support other nations had voiced for the United States in the days following the [9/11] attacks, saying support in Germany was 'really quite remarkable' based on his listening to shortwave broadcasts late at night in English from a German broadcast service." AP, 16 May 2007. Alas, Deutsche Welle is no longer transmitted on shortwave to North America.

Newest shortwave substitute for international radio.

Posted: 16 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Pico Wi-Fi is the world’s first self-powered internet radio, capable of receiving over 5,500 radio stations from around the world. Thanks to its splashproof design and integral rechargeable battery, Pico Wi-Fi can be used indoors or outdoors - as happy in a bathroom or garden as it is in a kitchen or bedroom." Revo Technologies Ltd press release, 14 May 2007. Selling for $350 at C Crane, as is the (new to me) Tangent Quattro.

CPJ concerns about DW training in Eritrea.

Posted: 16 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that the German government has decided to fund the training of journalists working for Eritrea’s state-controlled media while the nation’s independent press remains shut down and more than a dozen publishers and editors continue to be held incommunicado, many since September 2001. ... On April 16, the Deutsche-Welle Akademie (DW-Akademie), an agency whose international journalism training program is funded by your ministry, launched a journalism course to train staff of the Eritrean Information Ministry... . While we are convinced that the DW-Akademie trainees are receiving world-class journalism training, we fear that they will not be able to faithfully exercise their profession since the Eritrean government effectively banned independent journalism in September 2001." CPJ, 14 May 2007.

The "clear direction" in Alhurra's audience numbers would be down, fast.

Posted: 14 May 2007   Print   Send a link
NPR covers the Alhurra controversy, but Alhurra news director Larry Register "would not be interviewed for this report." BBG member Joaquin Blaya spoke in defense of Alhurra. Former diplomat Bill Rugh "thinks it's time for the State Department to give Alhurra some clear direction." All Things Considered, National Public Radio, 13 May 2007. "Register was not simply ultimately responsible for the puff pieces done on Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial conference. He was directly responsible." Joel Mowbray, 14 May 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Latest proposal to solve America's foreign policy problems by simplifying the organization chart.

Posted: 14 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"We need to organize all of the elements of American public diplomacy into a single agency. No one thinks our current informational efforts are adequate, and far too much of the effort -- radio and television, 'strategic communications,' 'media analysis,' information warfare, covert information operations -- unfolds without coordination or adult supervision." William M. Arkin, Washington Post blog, 11 May 2007. As I've written before, "coordinated" international broadcasting would be propaganda. Audiences abroad will spot the "coordination" almost immediately, and tune elsewhere,

One of the great jobs in international broadcasting, and how it "should be done."

Posted: 14 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Gwyneth Williams has been appointed Director of BBC World Service's English Networks and News. She will be responsible for all the BBC's international radio programmes in English and for the nine streams that deliver that output to its 42 million listeners around the globe. She is currently Head of Radio Current Affairs and Editor of the BBC Reith Lectures. ... 'At a time when much broadcast journalism around the world is dumbing down, the World Service stands as a beacon of how things should be done.'" BBC World Service press release, 10 May 2007.

Some doubts about making public diplomacy a uniformed service.

Posted: 14 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Last December, following an investigation directed by then-Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported that 'as a result of inadequate funding for civilian programs . . . U.S. defense agencies are increasingly being granted authority and funding to fill perceived gaps' in public diplomacy and foreign economic assistance. The result 'risks weakening the Secretary of State's primacy in setting the agenda for U.S. relations with foreign countries,' the report said." Washington Post, 13 May 2007.

U.S. military personnel cannot watch YouTube, not even the U.S. military channel on YouTube.

Posted: 14 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The US military has taken the war in Iraq into cyberspace, with the launch of its own channel on the video-sharing website YouTube." BBC News, 11 May 2007. "The Defense Department is now blocking access to YouTube, MySpace, and nearly a dozen other Web sites from computers on its network calling them a 'significant operational security challenge.'" See also AP, 14 May 2007.

Before you win their hearts and minds, get their fingerprints.

Posted: 14 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Promoters from 64 countries vied this week to lure big-spending Arab tourists to their countries at the Middle East's largest tourism convention. But not a single promoter from the United States turned up. Instead, the U.S. government sent officials from the Department of Homeland Security to demonstrate its mandatory fingerprinting of Arab and other foreign visitors." AP, 11 May 2007.

The Wall Street Journal is unanimous in its opposition to Alhurra's news director.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Al-Hurra (which means "the free one") can be a useful tool in the battle of ideas that is crucial to the war on Islamic extremism. But if it and its sister broadcasts are merely going to provide one more outlet for anti-U.S. propaganda, who needs them? Dissidents in Soviet Russia and its satellites once looked to Radio Free Europe and VOA as sources of truth they weren't getting from local media. Nobody thinks the Cold War would have ended sooner if they had offered more airtime to the Kremlin." Editorial, Wall Street Journal, 11 May 2007. Actually, the latter years of the Cold War, when RFE provided time to East European exiles of various political stripes, it alos offered time to officials of the Communist governments. The Communists refused, but it was a gutsy move on the part of RFE, demonstaring the willingness of western journalist to report all sides. Too bad the Wall Street Journal editorial writers do not understand the concept. "Next week, the House Middle East subcommittee of Foreign Affairs is holding hearings on public diplomacy, and the day's second panel will feature two Democratic BBG members. If they try to defend (Larry) Register's record, they would almost certainly find hostility from members of both parties. If the BBG members come in apologetic and attempt to level with the subcommittee about a pattern of bad news decisions, however, they might find a warmer welcome." Joel Mowbray, Power Line blog, 11 May 2007. See previous posts about same subject on 10 May and 9 May.

Pakistan authorities: stay away from VOA listener clubs.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Pakistan's "Establishment Division has cautioned government employees against interacting with foreign broadcasting agencies or becoming members of foreign-sponsored clubs and associations. ... ... The letter, dated April 30 and titled ‘Activity of Voice of America to collect particulars of listeners living in sensitive areas of Pakistan’, cautions every government employee to exercise care in providing personal details to such clubs." Daily Times (Lahore), 11 May 2007.

Official Russian news agency notes U.S. budget for public diplomacy and international broadcasting.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The White House requested $855 million for "public diplomacy" programs, and information and cultural exchanges with other countries, and $668 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors to support radio, television and Internet broadcasting across the world, including in North Korea, Iran and Cuba, America's long-time adversaries." RIA Novosti, 11 May 2007. See Rice testimony at web page of Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.

Phoenix TV and its report that Chinese Vice Premier Huang Ju died.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Hong Kong-based "Phoenix is a fully listed public company, part majority owned by News International -- the company owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. In preserving his access to the Chinese market, Murdoch has been known to kowtow to Beijing more than once, most notably by axing the BBC World Service from Phoenix's airwaves following Beijing's complaints. One of Phoenix's key selling points for its mainland audience, however, is its reputation as a pioneer of media freedom in China -- making it a headache for the CPC Central Propaganda Department, which is charged with ensuring mainland media content toes official party lines. Unlike, for example, the official Xinhua news agency, which is beholden to the Central Propaganda Department, Phoenix actively distinguishes itself for its lack of political attachments." Stratfor, 10 May 2007.

Latest WorldSpace numbers: down, up, down.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Company ended the quarter with 191,646 subscribers worldwide, a loss of 7,459 from the close of the prior quarter, reflecting low net additions in India and the expiration of its educational service contract in Kenya, accounting for 13,000 subscribers. In India, the Company added 8,344 net subscribers during the first quarter of 2007, ending the first quarter of 2007, with 170,354 subscribers in India, 52% higher than at the end of the first quarter of 2006. ... WorldSpace recorded a net loss for the first quarter of 2007 of $35.5 million, or $0.91 per share, compared with a net loss of $29.2 million, or $0.79 per share for the first quarter of 2006." Worldspace press release, 10 May 2007.

Aljazeera: news or commentary?

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"A news piece documented the aftermath of recent bombings in Baghdad and how they affected particular neighborhoods -- a level of local analysis rarely seen in media coverage of Iraq. The segment featured haunting images of daily life in a war zone, with a man casually sending text messages as he stood next to a smoldering truck. It also criticized the Iraqi government's handling of the conflict. Deborah Amos, ... a Middle East correspondent with National Public Radio, praised the piece's intimate coverage, but called it biased. 'That was commentary,' said Amos, a Prospect Park native. 'It would have been unacceptable on my network.'"
Herald News (New Jersey), 10 May 2007.

Radio Netherlands will "approach the boundaries" of Chinese net censorship.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands reports on web censorship in China and other countries. Nevertheless: "A new Chinese website of Radio Netherlands Worldwide will be launched this autumn. This is targeted at Chinese who are interested in the Netherlands, says Wim Jansen, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of RNW: 'With our website, we're looking to approach the boundaries of what's acceptable, and find out how elastic that is over a period of time, so that we can deliver as much information as possible.'" Radio Netherlands News, 10 May 2007.

Telesur to Spain, then Europe, then the world.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Mr Chavez is launching a television channel that will broadcast in Britain and Spain. Telesur, the channel he started to counter what he claims is biased US coverage of his country, will have offices in London and Madrid. From the outset the channel has been accused of simply espousing Mr Chavez's left-wing populism. Telesur's president, Andres Izarra, who was in Madrid yesterday for talks with Spanish partners, said the channel countered the 'CNN vision' of Latin America. To underscore its independence, Mr Izarra said a deal had been signed with the BBC to exchange content that gave supervision of Telesur production to experts from the BBC. Telesur began broadcasting in 2005 in South America. It is planning to open an office in Brussels and then to expand into Africa and Asia." The Independent, 10 May 2007. "An appraisal of Telesur and its content was made, specifically to determine that Telesur is not TeleChavez, TeleEvo or TeleFidel. We stick to the most basic journalistic principles of thoroughness, balance, pluralism and relying on multiple sources." Expatica, 9 May 2007.

Different channels, different perspectives on Middle East wars.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"If you ever visit the English-language Al-Jazeera site, or read international media, Muslims are not focusing on the U.S. dead, much as we do not focus on the Iraqi dead (which is many times greater than our dead). Muslims see a steady stream of images of maimed Iraqi kids and dead bodies. That the U.S. military is not even the primary agent responsible for the maiming is of course, not put front and center. The Muslim media viewpoint is roughly: 'The U.S. invaded for no reason; now there’s this carnage.'" Myron Pitts, Fayetteville Observer, 9 May 2007.

International radio via old wobbly satellites?

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle is part of a consortium to use old Ku-band television satellites to deliver file-based programs to listeners in their cars. "Satellites usually have to be taken out of service, not because they cannot broadcast any more. The problem is that they run out of fuel to power the motors that keep them exactly in [their orbital] position. That is no good for reception by a fixed dish on a house roof, but it is no problem for the dish on a car, because it has to follow the satellite anyway." Radio World, 9 May 2007.

Today's criticism of U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"A draft State Department report, received Wednesday by The Courant, shows department officials concede that the U.S. government 'does not have a means to collect, analyze and share with all agencies hard information (including both internal and external polling, focus groups ... etc.) on the reasons underlying existing foreign public attitudes.'" Hartford Courant, 10 May 2007. This article refers to a 10 May hearing of Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, including testimony by Jeremy F. Curtin, coordinator of State's Bureau of International Information Programs.

International broadcasting as remote journalist education.

Posted: 11 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Russian journalist in exile in London: "When I was learning journalism, my teachers were the BBC Russian service, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle." The Independent, 10 May 2007. "As one of our former journalist mentor Ted Roborts [Roberts], of the Voice of America Radio Africa Service puts it 'If a lie is left unchallenged, it might turn out to be true.'" Pa Nderry M'Bai (Gambia), African News Dimension, 9 May 2007.

Nice articulation of the principles of U.S. international broadcasting. Strange that it came from State rather than the BBG.

Posted: 10 May 2007   Print   Send a link
State Department spokesman Sean McCormick, responding to question about the Alhurra controversy: "The United States does not benefit by trying to skew the flow of information to put out propaganda. One of the reasons why VOA and Radio Free Europe were successful during the Cold War is because they provided what we believe is unbiased facts, people tuned in. And we hope that that is the case with Al-Hurra going forward." State Department transcript, 9 May 2007. "State is absolutely correct that 'The United States does not benefit by trying to skew the flow of information to put out propaganda.' So why is it backing the man who did precisely that?" Joel Mowbray, Power Line blog, 10 May 2007. "Last week, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., called for (Larry) Register's ouster. 'The intention of Al-Hurra is to combat the negative-only images of the U.S. and its allies, especially Israel, that are portrayed by many Arabic media outlets, including Al-Jazerra, in the Middle East. Mr. Register's decision to allow additional messages of hate and intolerance by known terrorists to be broadcasted over U.S. taxpayer-funded airways severely damages our diplomatic efforts in the region.'" pennlive.com, 9 May 2007.

BBG's Blaya responds to Alhurra controversy.

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Although we acknowledge that our coverage on the second day of the Tehran Holocaust conference in December 2006 should not have aired, it was an error and not indicative of an editorial position. When one examines the totality of Al-Hurra's coverage over the past five months, one would find that in the days following the Holocaust conference Al-Hurra presented the condemnation of the conference by countries such as Israel, Britain, Italy, Germany and the United States." Joaquin Blaya, Broadcasting Board of Governors, letter to Wall Street Journal, 9 May 2007. Now Joel Mowbray wants to fire Brian Coniff, president of BBG's Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc. Power Line blog, 8 May 2007. And he seems indignant that his self-assigned firing power over senior officials of U.S. international broadcasting has not yet been recognized. "Recent sharp debates about the proper role for America’s al-Hurra bring this problem into sharp focus: should an American-financed station hew to the party line and promote American foreign policy, or should it provide an open venue for contentious political discourse and set an example of democratic freedoms?" Marc Lynch, bitterlemons-international.org, 3 May 2007. See previous post about same subject.

From the World Headquarters of the Al-Qaeda Broadcasting Company.

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Al-Zawahiri's presentation introduces several new elements which may portend an increasing al-Qaeda effort to make itself part of domestic U.S. politics and to appeal to the religious sentiments and societal and economic dissatisfactions of American Muslims, especially African American Muslims. The new video maintains the high tempo of al-Zawahiri's media appearances in 2007. ... The frequency with which these al-Qaeda media products are released, as well as their professional production values, strongly suggests that al-Sahab is headquartered in an area where its employees have easy access to high-quality media gear and which has been reliably secured against intrusions by al-Qaeda's enemies." Michael Schueur, Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Focus, 8 May 2007.

"Conciliatory" editing in the future of Wall Street Journal Asia? (updated)

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"News Corp's $5 billion bid for Dow Jones & Co may give a boost to Rupert Murdoch's plans to expand in Asia, although China still poses a challenge for the media tycoon. ... Dow Jones' presence in Asia through the Wall Street Journal Asia and Dow Jones Newswires would give Murdoch a further foothold in the region but was unlikely to make a significant difference to his China ambitions, analysts said. ... In 1994, he dropped BBC World Service Television from News Corp.'s satellite broadcast to China. The move was seen as a conciliatory gesture after he angered Chinese authorities by remarking that no dictatorship was safe in the media age. Beijing responded by tightening controls on private ownership of satellite dishes." Reuters, 2 May 2007. Update: First of "Eight More Reasons To Distrust Murdoch": "In 1993, Murdoch's News Corp. acquired the satellite broadcaster Star TV, which beams its signal into China and other Asian nations. At the time, Star TV carried the BBC's World Service, which displeased Chinese authorities because they disliked its news coverage of China. After they complained to Murdoch, he dropped the BBC from Star." Jack Shafer, Slate, 8 May 2007.

Un-international broadcasting.

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC News 24 is now a permanent fixture on the BBC website. ... The channel is being geographically restricted to the UK." Broadband TV News, 8 May 2007. At www.bbc.co.uk, when I attempt o swith from the "international version" button, to "UK version" button, I am immediately switched back to the "international version."

New BBC World Service outlets in D.R. Congo and South Korea.

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service has expanded its FM presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the launch of BBC 92 FM in Lubumbashi and BBC 92 FM in Kisangani. The new FM stations broadcast World Service programmes in French, English and Swahili, and reinforce the BBC's position on the FM market by complementing existing BBC 92.6 FM in Kinshasa and the well-established partnership with Raga FM throughout the country." BBC World Service press release, 8 May 2007. "BBC World Service is the first international radio channel available on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis to users of TU Media - Korea's world's first S-DMB (Satellite Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) provider." BBCWS press release, 4 May 2007.

Calling Turkmenistan.

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Turkmen government will likely continue to block websites it considers sensitive. As of April, off-limits addresses included those of major Turkmen opposition groups and human rights organizations, plus most independent regional news sources, including EurasiaNet, Ferghana.ru, and Centrasia.ru. International outlets such as the BBC and CNN were accessible, although Russian-language coverage was sometimes blocked. Reportage on Turkmenistan was also available in English and Russian from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)." EurasiaNet, 8 May 2007.

VOA, RFI reporters ejected from Philippines press event.

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Two foreign journalists walked out of the Philippine Marines headquarters in Taguig City Wednesday morning after they were barred from joining other media practitioners in interviewing jailed senatorial candidate and former Navy officer Antonio Trillanes IV. Douglas Bakshian of the Voice of America and Sebastian Facris of the French International Radio angrily left the said military camp at 9:45 a.m. after they were required to show a clearance from the J2 or deputy chief of staff for intelligence of the Armed Forces." GMANews.tv, 9 May 2007.

Is the United States insufficiently bragging on itself?

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Sen. Christopher 'Kit' Bond, R-Mo., ... returned Monday from a brief trip to Iraq with other congressional Republicans. Bond said he saw a mosque that soldiers had rebuilt, calling it the 'type of assistance in Iraqi communities that is critical to winning the broader war on terror.' But he doesn't think the administration is doing enough to publicize such efforts in the Islamic world. ... Tom Kean, chairman of the 9/11 Commission, agreed. 'Right now our image in the Arab world and the rest of the world is that of a man in a tank.' ... Ken Gude of the Center for American Progress says the U.S. has done 'a staggeringly bad job' of explaining itself to the rest of the world. For example, he says the U.S. failed to capitalize on its newfound popularity in the areas engulfed by the 2004 South Asia tsunami by not explaining to other Muslim nations what it had done to help and why, and then responded insufficiently to the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. ... Bond rejects any link between the Iraq war and a lowered U.S. standing around the world, and adds: 'Pull out of Iraq precipitously, and you can really watch it do a nose dive.'" St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8 May 2007.

Has the international information current been reversed?

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
From report about new U.S. Muslim channel Global Forum TV: "For decades listeners in Delhi, Islamabad, Baghdad or even Moscow had to tune in to the BBC or Voice of America to get accurate news about their own countries. Roughly 96 percent of the information that flowed into Third World living rooms came from the First World. Local media were either state-run or state-controlled. But thanks to Al Jazeera, ARY Digital (a popular Pakistani TV network) and other alternative media sources, a more pluralistic and accurate media has come about which emphasize rigorous research and in-depth reporting." Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 2007.

State Department opens regional public diplomacy office in Fiji, which must explain why Fiji's acting prime minister cannot come to Washington.

Posted: 09 May 2007   Print   Send a link
At the Eighth Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, held at the Department of State on 7 May, State declared "Year of the Pacific" and announced that it "has established a new regional office in Suva (Fiji) to oversee U.S. public diplomacy activities throughout the Pacific Islands. The office will introduce a broad array of press, culture, and education programs to the region." State Department press release, 8 May 2007. Eni Faleomavaega, delegate of American Samoa to the House of Representatives, accused the State Department of a "double standard" by not inviting Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, interim prime minister of Fiji, who took power in the 2006 coup, to the Washington meeting of Pacific leaders. fijilive.com, 7 May 2007. See also usinfo.state.gov, 9 May 2007.

The Alhurra bashing continues -- without response (updated).

Posted: 07 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Something of a bipartisan clamor finally has developed on Capitol Hill for tighter oversight of Al Hurra. Hell is being raised by diverse lawmakers ranging from Rep. Dan Burton, a conservative Indiana Republican, to Rep. Steve Rothman, a liberal New Jersey Democrat. It’s about time." Editorial, The Trentonian, 4 May 2007. "While I am pleased with Ms. Hughes’ promises, given the seriousness of mistakes at Alhurra, I believe an external accountability system is in order — one that enables everyone to access Alhurra’s programming and provide oversight. To that end, I have requested funding in the Fiscal Year 2008 Foreign Operations spending bill to stream all Alhurra broadcasts live online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provide archived broadcasts, as well as transcripts of all broadcasts translated into English. With the click of a mouse button, we can ensure that Alhurra lives up to its mission of representing American values." Rep. Steve Rothman, New Jersey Jewish Standard, 3 May 2007. Still no answer from Alhurra, or at least from Alhurra director Larry Register. In the meantime, arguments why it is not a good idea to fight propaganda with propaganda: "Is There an Audience for Public Diplomacy," New York Times, 16 November 2002. And "Broadcasting Truth in Time of War," Houston Chronicle, 7 October 2001. Update: "The first firings resulting from my columns in the Wall Street Journal (March 12 and May 1) have been handed down at Al-Hurra, the U.S. taxpayer-financed Arab TV network that recently has become a platform for Islamic terrorists and Holocaust deniers. Two of the reporters who filed some of the most egregious stories were canned last week, but the person ultimately responsible for those stories (and many more), news director Larry Register, is still gainfully employed." Joel Mowbray, Power Line blog, 7 May 2007. "You know, the Broadcasting Board of Governors--it's like six chiefs, no Indians. You have former titans of industry who are doing, in this congressionally created panel that is quasi-independent--no one's clear exactly of their status. And they didn't know about Larry Register before--the longtime CNN guy who made all these changes when he was hired, November of last year." Mowbray, interviewed on the "Journal Editorial Report," Wall Street Journal, 7 May 2007 which did not say if it requested Mr. Register or someone from the BBG also to appear on the program. See previous post about same subject.

Rusiya al-Yaum is on the air.

Posted: 07 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"An Arabic-language satellite news channel paid for by Russia went on air on Friday, becoming the latest front in a Kremlin drive to restore its Soviet-era influence in the Middle East. Rusiya al-Yaum was set up by the same news agency that launched state-funded Russia Today channel in 2005 to deliver a Russian perspective on news to English-speaking audiences. Top Russian officials say the world’s view of Russia is tarnished by biased reports by foreign journalists." Reuters, 4 May 2007. See previous post about Russia Today.

Familiar story: getting home news from a foreign radio station.

Posted: 06 May 2007   Print   Send a link
In Malaysian domestic radio coverage of recent Ijok by-election: "Even the RTM English station was a major disappointment with no live crossovers to Ijok and it failed to give the same prominence that international broadcasters such as BBC World Service, Radio Australia and Radio Singapore International did by placing Ijok consistently as its top news story. It’s quite extraordinary, really, when you think about it. To find out about an event that was taking place about 60km from my home, I had to tune in to international radio stations, literally thousands of kilometres away, in order to have details on what was going on in that obscure little town." Anthony Thanasayan, The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 6 May 2007.

"The truly globalized broadcaster remains the BBC."

Posted: 05 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Unlike the shrunken unmanned Royal Navy, the sun never sets on the BBC empire. As Mr. Aitken points out, 82% of people listen to it every week -- and that's just in Afghanistan. The BBC is the world's most popular Internet news site and the third most popular site in the U.S. Last year, I was having a drink with Australia's great foreign minister, Alexander Downer, and, as one does, we got into an argument about Burkina Faso. I demanded to know whether the minister could, in fact, name the country's present head of government. He confessed that, alas, he hadn't been paying as close attention to the affairs of Burkina Faso as he might, pulled out his BlackBerry, went straight to the BBC and read out their comprehensive and authoritative page on the nation." Mark Steyn review of Robin Aitken, Can We Trust the BBC?, Wall Street Journal, 5 May 2007. "Here is the truth about the BBC World Service leak before Goose Green." John Shirley review of Julian Thompson, No Picnic: 3 Commando Brigade in the Falklands, The Guardian, 5 May 2007. "During the Nuremberg trial of Nazi war criminals in 1945, Albert Speer, the architect to Hitler's monstrous dream, let slip the slightly odd revelation that The Führer was an avid listener to the BBC world service." The Guardian, 5 May 2007.

Winning the war of ideas requires a job title with 23 syllables.

Posted: 05 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Terrorist groups are exploiting the advantages of inexpensive access to Web sites, chat rooms and message boards and are utilizing password-protected and member-only privileges to maintain secrecy for their activities, Michael Doran, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Support for Public Diplomacy, told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Reform." Washington Technology, 3 May 2007. "Precisely in order to address the challenges presented by the war of ideas and to communicate our message of freedom and opportunity in the Information Age, in December 2006, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy created my office, Support to Public Diplomacy (SPD). SPD’s mission is threefold. First, we are working to create organizational change within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy to ensure that strategic communication and information are integral to policy making, implementation, and assessment. ... These efforts at cultural change are essential to SPD’s second core mission: developing and coordinating key themes and messages within DOD to promote policies. ... Our third core mission is to work with other U.S. government partners, particularly the Department of State – the lead for U.S. government public diplomacy – to design and facilitate whenever possible strategic communication policies and plans to effectively advance U.S. national security." Doran testimony to Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, 3 May 2007 (pdf).

Propaganda by YouTube?

Posted: 05 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Richard: The Department of Defence is outposting Iraqi bloggers 10 to 1. They are not stopping. Ethan: This is the same mistake that the US government made with Radio Sawa. US government sees that YouTube is being used and think that to have US government video on YouTube is the answer." Corante, 4 May 2007.

Tests for the rare DRM shortwave receivers in North America.

Posted: 05 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Radio Canada International is on the air via shortwave from Sackville New Brunswick with a special series of DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale] digital test transmissions. Daily half-hour broadcasts are being presented for the first two weeks of May under the auspices of the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters in the United States. The programming is produced by several American shortwave stations." Radio World, 4 May 2007.

Foreign news in China, with strings attached (updated).

Posted: 05 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Xinhua News Agency on Saturday authorized four overseas news agencies to release news and information in China after they passed an annual assessment... . The four agencies are Reuters Asia/Pacific Limited, part of the Reuters Group, JiJi Press of Japan, ET Net Limited of Hong Kong and NNA China Limited, which is affiliated to iNews Net Asia based in Japan." Xinhua, 29 April 2007. Update: A spokesman for the Foreign Information Administration Center of Xinhua says that a VOA report about this "does not conform to facts at all." Xinhua, 4 May 2007.

Son of shah: VOA Persian TV "amateurish."

Posted: 05 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Reza Pahlavi, the son of the former shah, told the Hudson Institute "'that can connect Iranian activists inside Iran with each other….[T]there are a thousand circles of protest in Iran, but no nationwide medium to connect them. Since the government will not tolerate such a medium inside Iran, it has to be done from outside.' Neither the Voice of America, the BBC, or the various 'amateur' satellite TV stations in Los Angeles can fulfill this role, he added. 'What is needed is engaging programming that builds audience share by truly reflecting the needs, grievances and resistance of Iranian women, youth, ethnic groups and the professional groups. …That is what it takes to mobilize the Iranian people – without whom, we are back to war or surrender.' The United States plans to spend $75 million this year to promote 'civic education' in Iran. The overwhelming bulk of those funds – well over $50 million – will go to expand lavish, failed, amateurish TV programs run by the Persian service of Voice of America." Kenneth R. Timmerman, Frontpagemag.com, 4 May 2007. "Approximately $66 million was approved by Congress, with half going to U.S. government-funded broadcasters—the Voice of America Farsi language service and Radio Farda. There's currently a fight over the broadcasting content, with hardliners such as Senator Tom Coburn arguing that the Farsi language broadcasting should be more aggressively hostile to the Tehran regime and promote uprisings." Harpers, 4 May 2007.

RFE/RL on the front lines.

Posted: 05 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Official harassment, threats, even death. Every day, journalists in the world's hotspots face risks and dangers while doing their jobs. And correspondents for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty are no exception. Two were killed or died in the line of duty in the past 12 months, another was injured, and others have been arrested or harassed by authorities." RFE/RL News, 3 May 2007.

Radio Free Europe Polish Service celebrates its 55th anniversary by no longer existing.

Posted: 05 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The first transmission in Polish started on May 3rd 1952 in Germany. Broadcasts continued for over 40 years. The Polish section tried to fight the communist propaganda and indoctrination by exposing the listeners to historical knowledge and objective news about Poland and the world." Poland.pl, 3 May 2007. RFE Polish "was reconstituted into an independent nonprofit corporation prior to RFE/RL's move to Prague in 1995 and, after an unsuccessful bid to secure private funding, discontinued broadcasting at the end of fiscal year 1997." Hoover Institution.

Burundi teens help produce weekly VOA program.

Posted: 04 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Originally created in 2003 and funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Ejo Bite offered informal education via radio to refugee children and youth and provided a source of reliable news and information for young people. It has become one of the most popular shows on the Kirundi language service of the Voice of America (VOA), available in FM and shortwave formats, reaching many more people than just refugee youth in Africa’s Great Lakes region." usinfo.state.gov, 3 May 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Will Kavala rise again?

Posted: 04 May 2007   Print   Send a link
A group working with the Greek government is looking for customers to lease time on the ten 250-kilowatt shortwave transmitters at Kavala, Greece. "The IBB closed this station in March of this year, and handed it back to the Greek Government. There is a special desire to reopen the station because of its excellent location." DX Listening Digest, 1 May 2007. Kavala was the Voice of America's best transmitting site, capable of reaching huge swaths of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and beyond. See "The Kavala gap, 9 March 2006." VOA itself may have occasion to lease back time at Kavala. See previous post about one such occasion.

VOA and RFE like to be in the same paragraph as "free and independent media."

Posted: 04 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there is no more important pillar of democracy than a free and independent media. Nonetheless, the budgets for such operations as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, which provide news to millions, are being cut by the Bush administration. Go figure." Ann McFeatters, Scripps Howard, 3 May 2007. The Broadcasting Board of Governors, in support of the Administration's budget, would argue that the budget for U.S. international broadcasting will actually increase, but with resources shifted to "critical audiences," e.g. Muslim countries, North Korea, Cuba, at the expense of several existing VOA and RFE services. See BBG press release, 5 February 2007.

What will Russia Today call itself tomorrow?

Posted: 04 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"IPD Group, which runs Russiatoday.com ... sent letters to U.S. cable providers Comcast and Intelsat, among others, demanding that they pull Russia Today from the air because of trademark infringement." Moscow Times, 4 May 2007. See also IPD Group press release, 2 May 2007. "Russian 24-hour news channel Russia Today said it has launched an Arabic service that will focus on Russia's relations with the Middle East. The new service, called Rusiya al-Yaum, began broadcasting at 0300 GMT and has around 500 staff, including some 100 journalists from Arabic-speaking countries." Thomson Financial, 4 May 2007.

People who don't listen to VOA say the darndest things about VOA.

Posted: 03 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Art Pepper's stunning last concert--of his last tour--took place on May 30, 1982 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, as part of the Kool Jazz Festival. ... The show was taped for broadcast by Voice of America. Laurie Pepper writes that Benny Goodman, one of the evening's attractions, reportedly refused to have his set recorded because he believed that 'VOA was staffed by Nazi war criminals.' But Laurie recalled hearing (pianist Milcho) Leviev describe how, growing up in Bulgaria, he had treasured VOA's clandestine broadcasts. After being assured by the VOA representative that Goodman's accusation was ungrounded, she consented to the taping." All About Jazz, 2 May 2007.

Don't fall for that Chinese publicity.

Posted: 03 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The continued domination of China by the Communist Party presents its own institutional problems for public diplomacy (e.g.) the renaming of the Propaganda Department as the Publicity Department in English only (and therefore for purposes of public diplomacy -- 'propaganda' is accepted even by this ostensibly communist state to have pejorative overtones abroad; in Chinese it is still called the Propaganda Department)." Gary D. Rawnsley, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 2 May 2007.

Broadcasting without (38th) parallel.

Posted: 03 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Fourteen university broadcasting groups in South Korea merged on 30 April to found a radio programme 'Broadcasting without Borders.' The target audience of the program is North Korean citizens. ... Broadcasting without Borders currently broadcasts a 20 min program every day through Open Ration for North Korea. You can tune into Broadcasting Without Borders on 7390KHz every night at 11PM [1400 UTC]." The Daily NK, 3 May 2007.

Everyone! Come quickly to radio! Is latest existential strategic broadcast from America!

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"What's missing from international broadcasting today is a strategic vision. The two missions of international broadcasting coexist uneasily: the day-to-day business of how we present the United States to the world; and how we engage in an existential fight against a radical ideology, which is more closely aligned with ideological warfare and strategic communication. ... Unfortunately, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which is charged with the oversight of the complicated apparatus of U.S. International broadcasting, has for the past decade been part of the fragmentation rather than the solution. As important as this fight is, the White House needs to take charge of the strategic vision, and it can't happen soon enough." Helle Dale, Washington Times, 2 May 2007. Ms. Dale refers to "The Future of U.S. International Broadcasting," held last week at the Cantigny estate outside Chicago, an event about which I can find nothing. Experts can strategize until the cows come home, but the formula is really simple: international broadcast audiences want news that is more accurate and reliable than the news they get from their controlled domestic media. The most credible station wins.

The monkey on Alhurra's back (updated).

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"With an annual budget now over $70 million, Al-Hurra has for three years served as the centerpiece of America's aggressive post-9/11 courtship of the Arab world. Insiders maintain that the network was fulfilling its mission until it hired former CNN producer Larry Register last November. Mr. Register has not, to his credit, changed Al-Hurra's dedication to showcasing the full range of U.S. politics. The other side of the network, however, has been 'gutted,' in the words of one staffer. Even though Mr. Register has made some improvements since the March column, Al-Hurra still produces far fewer stories about Arab government corruption and human-rights abuses. (Mr. Register did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.)" Joel Mowbray, Wall Street Journal, 1 May 2007. See previous post about same subject. The Broadcasting Board of Governors must get to the bottom of this, through an inquiry that is not behind its usual closed doors. This torrent of criticism from Mr. Mowbray and some members of Congress could result in Alhurra becoming all-Arab-corruption-and-human-rights-abuses-all-the-time, more attractive to Capitol Hill than to Arab audiences. As if on cue, the BBG, with Freedom House, held its conference on "21st Century Threats to Press Freedom" on 1 May. Update: "Larry Register should be fired as news director at Alhurra, effective immediately. When asked about his numerous decisions to give terrorists an open microphone, Register said that in order for Alhurra to have credibility in the Arab world, it has to air anti-American and anti-Israeli viewpoints. His response demonstrated to me that Mr. Register does not understand the purpose of Alhurra." Rep. Steve Rothman press release, 1 May 2007. See also Rothman press release, 20 April 2007. "Luckily for Rothman, his colleagues probably won't be as oddly obstinate as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the folks who are supposed to prevent the very stuff that has happened at Al-Hurra. The BBG has not issued a public statement about my Wall Street Journal column yesterday, and the board hasn't yet fired Register. What's taking the BBG so long?" Joel Mowbray, Power Line, 2 May 2007.

Western media fading in Asia?

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The non-Western world routinely alleges that the global media represented by the likes of CNN and the Wall Street Journal are tainted with a Western, often pro-US bias. But the ever-growing reach of new media entities providing non-Western perspectives to breaking global news, ranging from powerful new television networks to itty-bitty weblogs, has in effect reduced the claim to myth." Ioannis Gatsiounis, Asia Times Online, 3 May 2007.

Australians are just like us: they think better public diplomacy is the great solution.

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Australia has to stop relying on the likes of Crocodile Dundee to show we are a bunch of good blokes, and do more to actively promote our multicultural sophistication, our ground-breaking medical discoveries, our leading edge military technology, our cosmopolitan lifestyle – even our successful management of government and the economy." Charles Miranda, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 3 May 2007.

If you're an American and you want foreign news, go to a foreign country.

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Recently I came back to the United States to promote my new book, after an extended stint at my home in Buenos Aires. Down there, I usually write during the day with newscasts from CNN International or BBC World playing in the background. Since I cover the global economy, it's a useful way for me to get a sense of what's going on in the world without leaving my living room. Naturally, when I moved into a rented apartment for a month in New York City, I wanted to keep my routine going. The basic cable service my landlord had installed included CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Headline News. But guess what? It was almost impossible to hear anything that wasn't about Don Imus, Virginia Tech or Iraq." Daniel Altman, The Huffington Post, 1 May 2007. A radio with a shortwave band might help. "At lunch, I sat with several Moslem journalists from Pakistan, Sudan, Sri Lanka and India. They were all critical of the US and told me that they had great respect for Voice of America and the BBC but can't stand America's foreign policy and they no longer respect the American press." Former BBG chairman March Nathanson, Huffington Post, 28 April 2007.

A commentator who does not let the facts get in the way of his prose.

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Who does not know that Studio 7 is not an independent station, but a special broadcast by the U.S. propaganda station Voice of America that is funded by the same State Department that released the scandalous report? So how independent is Studio 7, and independent from whom? At least we now know that everything labelled 'independent' by Washington will be intrinsically linked to the U.S' policy of subversion. Zimbabwe, if indeed it did, had every right to jam the pirate broadcast the same way the U.S. itself blocked broadcasts from Radio Moscow at the height of the Cold War by removing the Short Wave band from all radio receivers produced in the U.S." Caesar Zvayi, The Herald (Harare), 2 May 2007. It's remotely possible that Mr. Zvayi is rferring to the fact that, because of consumer demand, radios with shortwave bands were relatively uncommon in the United States, compared to Africa, during the Cold War era. But radios with shortwave bands were, of course, always available in the United States."

RFE/RL contributor sentenced in Uzbekistan.

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Umida Niazova, an Uzbek human rights activist, is sentenced to seven years in prison by Uzbek court for "illegal border crossing, smuggling, and distributing material causing public disorder by using financial support from foreign governments. ... Before her arrest, Niazova was a regular contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and other news agencies. She also worked with such international nongovernmental organizations as Freedom House and Internews." Human Rights Watch, 1 May 2007. See also RFE/RL News, 1 May 2007, which does not mention her association with RFE/RL.

BBG elements cover press freedom conference convened by BBG.

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors and Freedom House organized "21st Century Threats to Press Freedom" on 1 May. "Across most of the former Soviet Union today, an 'information curtain' has descended that in some aspects differs from that of the Soviet era, but in important ways is imposing a no less repressive news-media environment. Gone is the smothering, all encompassing ideological control across wide swaths of Europe and Eurasia. A more geographically circumscribed area -- Russia and most of the countries on its periphery -- now lies behind a new curtain that effectively shuts off the majority of people in these lands from news and information of political consequence. Today, methods for dominating news media are different, based on state-enabled oligarchic control, broadcast monopolies of presidential 'families,' and mass-media manipulation intended to create a veneer of democratic practice without its substance." Christopher Walker, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 2 May 2007. See also RFE/RL News, 2 May 2007. And RFE/RL News, 1 May 2007. And VOA News, 1 May 2007. On the public diplomacy side, see usinfo.state.gov, 1 May 2007.

Recalling shortwave's notorious "woodpecker."

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Some countries also use over-the-horizon (OTH) radar to track low-flying aircraft. OTH radar operate on short wave or high frequency rather than micro-waves, which many Sri Lankan shortwave radio listeners found to their cost during the 1980's when the annoying rat-tat-tat or 'woodpecker' noise from Soviet strategic radars suddenly slammed their eardrums, disturbing a leisurely scan of the airwaves." Lanka Business, 1 May 2007. Audio samples of the "woodpecker" are hard to find online, but it can be heard on "Off the Hook," 27 February 1991.

Belarus moves against international broadcasting.

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
Report of government crackdown on satellite dishes. Charter 97, 2 May 2007. "Poland's government will finance a satellite television project... . "TV Belarus", a newly-created company subordinate to the Polish national television company and Foreign Affairs Ministry, is scheduled to begin transmissions in October. The channel will operate fifteen hours a day, offering viewers breaking news and weekly news analysis programmes. Its transmissions will be available free to any Belarusian satellite television user." DPA, 25 April 2007. Eighteen year old actvist Uladzimir Shulzhytski "faces trial on charges of using obscene language in public -- a common tactic of Belarusian authorities looking to prosecute political opponents of the ruling regime or people who are simply deemed officially objectionable. Shulzhytski produced, and inserted into mailboxes, homemade advertisements featuring the radio frequencies and times of RFE/RL's Belarusian-language broadcasts." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 26 April 2006.

Dina Habib Powell, we hardly knew ye. In fact, we hardly heard about anything ye did.

Posted: 02 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Dina Habib Powell, the highest-ranking Arab American in the Bush administration, is resigning from her post at the State Department to join Goldman Sachs Group, a leading Wall Street investment house. Powell, as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs and deputy to Undersecretary of State Karen P. Hughes, played a critical role in the administration's efforts to bolster public diplomacy in the face of the wave of anti-Americanism that has swept the Arab world since the U.S. invasion of Iraq." Washington Post, 2 May 2007.

VOA here and there in the news.

Posted: 01 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), submitted written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, State, and Related Programs, requesting the federal government to restore $480,000 in funding for the Voice of America Greek Service for Fiscal Year 2008." Greek News, 30 April 2007. Idd Beddel Mohamed, the Somali transitional federal government (TFG) deputy permanent representative to the UN "chided Inner City Press for asking Under Secretary General John Holmes about quotes from the TFG President and deputy defense minister, saying that the quotes are just 'internet propaganda.' When Inner City Press pointed out that the audio source was Voice of America, Idd Beddel Mohamed replied that Voice of America's 'affiliate in Mogadishu is owned by a supporter of these insurgents.'" Inner City Press, 30 April 2007.

Hmmm, maybe the Pentagon could also run the World Bank.

Posted: 01 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"I have spent time with military officials and civilian DOD officials in different parts of the country in recent weeks, and found a disturbing consensus on events, which, if correct, will have long-term implications for our national security. The first is the broad feeling that the military is being asked to do everyone else's job in government, particularly the job of the State Department. The public diplomacy wing of the State Department seems to have virtually disappeared (except for the little shop run by Shaha Riza, Paul Wolfowitz's girlfriend, and a shop that has a $45 million annual budget but has made no grants in 18 months of existence)." Douglas Farah, Counterterrorism Blog, 30 April 2007.

Mixed opinions about BBC World Service.

Posted: 01 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"For a look at the news from a decidedly non-U.S. point of view, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) may be your cup of tea. Oh, yeah, the staid and Left-leaning BBC offers news in 33 languages, but what’s most valuable is seeing how U.S. news is reported from across the Big Lake. ... If your eyes get tired, you can always listen to the BBC World Service online. Just click on 'Listen Live.' It’s cheaper than buying that world-band radio you’ve always wanted (if you’re a geek like me)." Stuart Shepard, Focus on the Family, 1 May 2007. "The BBC news website and the BBC satellite services in many ways replaced the shortcomings of a shortwave radio, but none imagined that BBC would change its core values of reporting and ethical journalism. Here are some examples of unethical journalism the BBC has been involved in during the war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam." Aaron Rajah, Tamil Sydney, 1 May 2007.

International broadcasters compare detained colleagues.

Posted: 01 May 2007   Print   Send a link
"Journalists at Al Jazeera, the Arabic satellite TV channel, have been expressing solidarity with Alan Johnston, the BBC correspondent kidnapped in Gaza. But they have also spent a long time worrying about their own missing colleague, though they do at least know where he is: Sami al-Haj, a Sudanese cameraman, has been in Guantanamo Bay for nearly five years." Gulf Times, 1 May 2007.