Radio broadcasts to Iran? He wants something with more kick.

Posted: 30 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The clock has run out on the ill-conducted Radio Farda and VOA information campaigns and it is running out on limited international and unilateral sanction regimes. ... It is shameful that we've done nothing to support the Iranian people but give them two radio stations that provide all the protection of shielding Manhattan with an umbrella." Steve Schippert in "Hitting Iran?" symposium, FrontPage Magazine, 30 November 2007.

New book assesses U.S. broadcasts to the Soviet Union.

Posted: 30 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"In Discovering the Hidden Listener: An Assessment of Radio Liberty and Western Broadcasting to the USSR during the Cold War (Hoover Institution Press, 2007), analysis by R. Eugene Parta sheds new light on the influence of Radio Liberty and other Western broadcasts. Parta, the retired director of Audience Research and Program Evaluation for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, drew on the RFE/RL collection at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives to prepare a unique empirical assessment of Western broadcasting to the Soviet Union during the cold war. Parta believes there is ample empirical evidence to support the view that Western radio broadcasts played a significant role in helping to develop an informed Soviet public and preparing them to go beyond Marxism-Leninism." Hoover Institution press release, 29 November 2007.

Pakistan's Geo-TV transmitting again from Dubai.

Posted: 30 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Dubai Media City (DMC) announced today that GEO News Channel, one of the eight channels operating under the banner of International Media Corporation FZ LLC, will resume its transmission from the DMC at the midnight, following fruitful talks held between the DMC management and the channel officials. Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, Executive Director of Media at Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone said that she was proud of the partnership between the DMC and the International Media Corporation. 'We are glad to see GEO News Channel back on air from the DMC which is committed to growing its partners' businesses, within the framework of full respect to UAE's domestic and foreign policies,' she added." Emirates News Agency, 29 November 2007. "'In Pakistan, Geo TV is still not accessible to people with cable TV connections. Only those with dish TV can watch our channels.'" Sify News, 30 November 2007. "Imran Mir, Station Head of Geo Television Network in Dubai, said the top management of Geo is in touch with the DMC, which has put in place some new conditions before allowing them to resume broadcasting." CNN-IBN, 20 November 2007. No mention of whether this eliminates the previously reported (from only one source) plan for Geo-TV to move from Dubai Media City to Hong Kong.

This is the European Service of Osama bin Laden.

Posted: 30 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden called on Europeans to stop helping the United States in the war in Afghanistan, according to a new tape released Thursday. ... Two brief excerpts of the tape titled 'Message to the European Peoples' were initially broadcast Thursday on Al-Jazeera television." AP, 30 November 2007. The message "addressed to the European peoples in a 5:01 minute audio speech prepared by As-Sahab, the multimedia army of Al-Qaeda, and issued to jihadist forums." SITE Institute, 29 November 2007. See also Aljazeera, 29 November 2007.

Taj Mahal's shortwave roots.

Posted: 30 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Taj has been playing his own distinctive brand of music -- variously described as Afro-Caribbean blues, folk-world-blues, hula blues, folk-funk, and a host of other hyphenations -- for more than 40 years. ... His father had an extensive record collection and a short-wave radio that brought sounds from near and far to Taj’s ears." BeyondChron, 30 November 2007.

DRM approved for use in shortwave tropical bands.

Posted: 30 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
The ITU's World Radiocommunication Conference, which ended 16 November, approved the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM)for use in the "tropical" shortwave bands between 3200 and 5900 kHz. DRM Consortium press release, 27 November 2007. This is an interesting development. Reception of DRM often is problematic in the long-distance circuits of the international shortwave broadcast bands above 5900 kHz. The tropical bands are generally used for domestic or regional short-haul circuits. DRM will probably prove more reliable over such distances and on such frequencies. And DRM could provide a "poor man's FM" for listeners in remote areas of some countries. The segments involved are the 90-meter tropical broadcast band, 3200-3400 kHz, and the 60-meter band, 4750-4995 kHz. The 120-meter band, 2300-2498 kHz, was not mentioned, perhaps it falls just under the high-frequency (HF) range, 3-30 MHz. But DRM would be useful in this band, as well.

Consolidation of French international broadcasting in Sarkozy's inbox (updated).

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"A report on the consolidation of French radio and TV stations destined for an international audience is due to be submitted to President Nicolas Sarkozy in the coming days, La Tribune reported. The report by the steering committee ... envisages the creation of a holding company to take care of legal, financial, human resources and distribution activities for Radio France International (RFI) and TV channels France 24 and TV5." Thomson Financial, 28 November 2007. Update: The new holding company would "centralize administration, logistics, sales and broadcasting. ... Combining teams and services across the different broadcasters is also in the pipeline, with for instance the creation of a common 'web newsroom', which France 24 recently positioned itself against. While not considered a total merger, the project goes far down the road of bringing the three entities together." Rapid TV News, 29 November 2007.

As Karen Hughes makes her way to the door...

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Hughes and Co. have posted a State Department blog (www.blogs.state.gov) where any interested party can exchange views with various State officials. This constitutes a proactive exchange. Efforts like this constitute the State Department’s first foray into public-to-public diplomacy. By allowing the conversations to be public and open for engagement, Hughes and the State Department have taken an important step toward a global dialogue." Benjamin Cook, Free Times (Columbia SC), 28 November 2007. "Just thinking out loud here, would Fareed Zakaria do a more effective or less effective job at public diplomacy than Karen Hughes?" Jim Geraghty, National Review Online, 28 November 2007. "If America is great and resolve and will are what can carry us through the war, our self-image sheds any sense of humility or openness. Why bother explaining what you stand for when what you stand for is so incredibly self-evident and obvious? ... Assuredness about virtue is no recipe for public diplomacy." Kevin Mattson, The Guardian's comment is free, 29 November 2007.

Latest Heritage bullet point would have U.S. public diplomacy take sides in the Nicaraguan election.

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Bush Administration should increase and enhance its State Department public diplomacy efforts in Nicaragua to encourage the viability of strong, transparent, market-based, and pro-democracy political parties, economic policies, and institutions in Nicaragua. Congress should increase funding for this purpose." James M. Roberts, Heritage Foundation, 28 November 2007. No Heritage essay would be complete without an additional spending provision. "When we hit the fiscal wall, our children and grandchildren will ask us where we were when these long-term fiscal burdens were piling up." Michael Franc, Heritage Foundation, 14 July 2007.

Alhurra exposes fabrication of Iraqi journalist-in-exile.

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The family of an Iraqi journalist - who he claimed had been killed by gunmen in Baghdad - have appeared on Iraqi [sic] television, apparently safe and well. Dia al-Kawwaz, who lives in Jordan, said that several members of his family were killed by Shia gunmen on Sunday. But a taped report on the US-owned al-Hurra TV showed his family, none of whom seemed distressed or injured." BBC News, 28 November 2007. "Mr Kawwaz edits a website that has been critical of the Iraqi government and the US military presence in Iraq." BBC News, 26 November 2007. "Many Jordanian dignitaries attended a wake organised by Kawwaz in Amman on 26 November." Reporters sans frontières, 28 November 2007. Another scoop for Alhurra that happens to support to the U.S. position in Iraq.

U.S. international broadcasting teaching Afghans about "relations between state and media."

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Afghanistan (RFA) of RFE/RL held its first seminar in Kabul University on November 14. ... A recent comprehensive survey of life in Afghanistan by Asia Foundation says that electronic media especially, radio still remains the main form of acquiring information. The survey puts RFA on the top of most popular radios. ... Topics such as the role of international broadcasting in democracy, freedom of speech, the impact of press in developing democracy and relations between state and media were discussed." Radio Free Afghanistan, 28 November 2007.

Did VOA prevail over Soviet propaganda by being "soft and unobtrusive"?

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"One is reminded of the manner in with [sic] the Voice of America, with its soft and unobtrusive messages actually managed to make capitalism almost synonymous with democracy in popular perception, and communism the opposite of whatever democracy stands for. Crude and raw assaults from all the Soviet propaganda machineries were literally reduced to dwarfs against the more sophisticated campaign by the capitalist world as represented by the VOA." Kangla Online (Imphal), 29 November 2007.

Latest analysis of international news channels is overtaken by recent events.

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"For BBC World and CNN International, it must be strange to see fledgling competitors grow while they cut back on their own news gathering to save costs. The danger for the big guns is that niche news channels reporting current affairs from competing perspectives are becoming increasingly popular. Their virtual duopoly – while still strong – is under increasing threat." The Business (London), 28 November 2007. But, as reported in a previous post, CNN International has increased its international newsgathering. And BBC's cuts appear to affect domestic more than international operations.

Ukraine's public diplomacy says: we are not Russia.

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Ukraine Rising is a twelve-page insert in the 25 November Washington Post magazine. A few pictures, but mostly lots of fine print, as is the case with most foreign-government inserts in U.S. periodicals. Among the headlines: "Business is Booming: 'Ukraine is a little under-rated'," and "Ukraine is not Russia." In the latter story: "'Russia wants to re-establish itself as a world leader' whereas 'all Ukrainians want to be European.'" See the insert at the Diplomatic Traffic website.

Another story of expats lacking media from home.

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
U.K. couple now living in Ukraine observes: "We can get BBC World Service for part of the day, but unless you have cable or satellite TV you cannot get English speaking channels on the TV. I have not yet managed to get an English or American newspaper, although we have a few friends who work in the embassies who sometimes think to pass on newspapers to us. You can subscribe to English newspapers and get them sent out to you, providing you don’t mind getting out of date news. There is a weekly English speaking newspaper here called Kyiv Post, but this is getting difficult to find lately and you can always read your favourite newspaper online." The Telegraph, 28 November 2007. Accessing newspapers online -- added parenthetically at the end -- would seem to be the solution for an anglophone seeking news in a non-anglophone country. But then I realize the importance of hearing a voice in one's own language. WorldSpace could be a solution here, except that Ukraine is probably beyond their footprints. Shortwave could be another solution. Both the United States and the United Kingdom should consider making more use of shortwave for their fellow-countrypersons abroad -- people who would have an incentive to carry along a shortwave radio to their destinations. This would be a worthwhile employment of shortwave transmitters until they are inevitably needed for more traditional international radio broadcasting during some future crisis.

China on the WorldSpace horizon (updated).

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Asked if WorldSpace is subject to regulatory hurdles in China, as it is in India, WorldSpace CEO Noah Samara says: "They don't allow foreign broadcasters to own equity in an entity that broadcasts in China, so we need to work out a revenue sharing arrangement with an entity that currently has licenses. We have our satellite that covers China and a partner on the ground, Chinasat. THR: And these countries also regulate content, right? Samara: China regulates content, India and most other places less so. In China, the content must be developed by Chinese entities." The Hollywood Reporter, 28 November 2007. Update: "Some stocks really are that bad. I don't know of any that are worse than Worldspace. Here's why: [Chart showing 176% loss in trailing 12 months, 183% loss in 2006, 117% loss in 2005, 172% loss in 2004.] That's right, Fool. Save for 2003, Worldspace has always spent more than $2 to produce $1 of revenue. ... Worldspace and its capital-incinerating management team ... Wednesday's worst stock in the CAPS world." Tim Beyers, Motley Fool, 29 November 2007. The two WorldSpace satellites remain unique and intriguing assets. If its satellite radio service for Italy (where it is building terrestrial repaters) draws customers, WorldSpace might see some much needed revenues. If not, could perhaps the business plan shift so that revenues are derived from broadcasters rather than listeners? The broadcasters would in turn distribute radios, perhaps on a subsidized basis, to their regional niche audiences. In such a scenario, the channels would probably be occupied by religious or political groups, as well as companies selling such things as gold, herbal medicines, etc.

Shortwave isn't dying; it's de-virtualizing.

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Huong Ngo’s ... latest installation, Kosmolet (Radio Receiver No. 1) at the cozy Chicago technology-art nook Deadtech, exemplifies her approach, combining de-virtualized technology and elegant modernist handicraft with poignant historical moments. The entire gallery has been transformed into a shortwave radio, with antenna wiring crisscrossing the space and coalescing on the wall into delicate rectilinear spirals around flower-like frequency tuners made from cardboard and aluminum foil. More foil on the floor helps ground the signal, which is gathered by Mylar helium balloons floating out the window and then focused by induction coils made from wire-wrapped cardboard tubes, eventually ending up as an intimate whisper into the conch-shell rumble of tin can speakers." NY Arts, January Fenruary 2008 issue.

BBC World Service now on FM in Trinidad. And Tobago. (updated)

Posted: 29 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
On 98.7 MHz. This joins BBC FM relays already available in Jamaica and [former BBC shortwave relay site] Antigua. BBC World Service press release, 26 November 2007. Update: "Newly appointed head of BBC Caribbean, Debbie Ransome ... revealed that Barbados is also interested in joining the BBC FM family and talks are planned this week concerning securing a broadcast licence there." Newsday (Port-of-Spain), 29 November 2007. "Debbie Ransome-who started her journalism career in Trinidad-admitted that the short wave frequency was dying." Trinidad & Tobago Express, 29 November 2007. Julian Armfield lives in Barbados but, as Chief Racing Correspondent for BBC World Service, commutes regularly to the U.K. The Telegraph, 28 November 2007.

We should create a new agency to implement his ideas.

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"This is a take-away: When we think of U.S. 'soft power' and influence, we do not always have to think of creating a new government bureaucracy or program. These don't tend to work very well, as the underwhelming results of aid programs and so-called 'public diplomacy attest. Yet the United States as a nation wields tremendous influence through the activities of its private citizens." Mauro De Lorenzo, American Enterprise Institute, 16 April 2007 (but dinged by Google News on 27 November).

The battle lines are forming: Defense Department public diplomacy versus State Department public diplomacy.

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School and the USC Center for International Studies are pleased to announce the upcoming conference, AFRICOM: The American Military and Public Diplomacy in Africa. ... This conference will feature panel sessions addressing U.S.-African relations, the State Department and Department of Defense concepts of public diplomacy in Africa, and African perspectives on the issue." USC Center on PD website. "In the United States, a controversial new military program called the Human Terrain System (HTS) embeds anthropologists with combat brigades in Iraq and eastern Afghanistan. Their job is to study local customs and help commanders reduce the use of force." Toronto Star, 25 November 2007. See also Wired News, 29 November 2007.

Where 250-kilowatt transmitters used to tell America's story, dogs will do their business (updated again).

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Visitors to Voice of America Park in West Chester Twp. [former VOA Bethany, Ohio, transmitting station] next month may notice an odd device. With a 'warm up wheel' and exercise bike, it's a new generation of park course equipment, and MetroParks of Butler County officials say it could be the beginning of a new feature at the park." Transfer of the site to Butler County MetroParks "opens the door for big, long-discussed projects there, such as a dog park and tree grove." Middletown Journal, 18 November 2007. See also MetroParks Voice of America Park web page. West Chester Township trustees "moved to advertise a request for qualifications for architects for exterior renovations for the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting [in former VOA Bethany transmitter building]. ... The repairs could cost $1.5 million to $2 million, for which local and state officials are seeking grants." Middletown Journal, 19 November 2007. Update: "Butler County MetroParks will soon have control over the Voice of America Park - a move that local leaders say will speed up construction on what could become a regional mega-park that attracts sporting events from across the country and lures residents to the newly designed recreational area. ... Several improvements will be made, including adding soccer and other recreational fields, expanding the lake, making a larger sledding hill, providing a water line to Wiggly Field Dog Park, building restrooms and bleachers, and creating walking and biking paths. The agreement requires planners to consider the historical significance of the park and identify some areas that will be preserved." Cincinnati Enquirer, 28 November 2007.

Proposed new target for U.S. international broadcasting: the U.S.

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"If the federal government spends billions [sic] on the Voice of America for overseas audiences and on National Public Radio for upscale U.S. listeners, why not fund a 'Radio New America' whose primary focus is to teach English and U.S. customs to new arrivals?" John Fund, Wall Street Journal, 28 November 2007. "With so many new immigrants, illegal or otherwise, in the USA, who need to learn English, why not convert the VOA into another Radio Canada Internal? VOA already has Special English on Greenville 11975 aimed at Africa but plenty strong back here in the heartland, as noted Nov 22 at 1950. This would doubtless give VOA a higher profile inside the country, which is apparently what RCI was looking for. Only a slight change in name would be necessary, Voice of Americans, or Voice of American English." Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest, 23 November 2007.

Public diplomacy is not a priority of Canada's Conservative government.

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"While other nations are increasing support for their public diplomacy efforts, Canada has slashed its funding in half, raising questions about how Canada will explain and promote itself on the world stage. ... In 2004-2005, funding for public diplomacy efforts was just under $100 million, while last year that number fell to $49 million." Embassy, 28 November 2007. "In an effort to fill a gap in Canada's public diplomacy strategy, a group of Canadian cultural leaders asked Heritage Minister Josée Verner yesterday for $150 million to establish an international institution to project its culture and identity onto the world stage." Embassy, 28 November 2007.

BBC Worldwide America moves ad sales in-house.

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Currently handled by Discovery, ad sales for BBC America and its VOD channels, will come in-house from April 1, part of BBC Worldwide America's long-term strategy to drive revenues as it increases its portfolio of channels in the region. ... 'With 33% of BBC.com's international traffic coming from North America and BBC America in almost 60 million homes, we offer extremely attractive platforms for advertisers to reach our significant upscale audience.'" Multichannel News, 27 November 2007.

RFI will remain on FM in not-so-Francophone Namibia (updated).

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation has renewed its contract with Radio France Internationale for five more years, until 2012. The agreement will allow RFI to continue with its broadcast of the French language in Namibia through its frequency 107-point-nine FM." Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, 21 November 2007. Update: "Meanwhile, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, NHK International, has also signed an agreement with the NBC that is aimed at improving the programme content on both NBC radio and television stations." Highway Africa News Agency, 27 November 2007.

One difference between Aljazeera and Aljazeera English is the governments that oppose them.

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"While al-Jazeera English struggles to reach audiences (a year after its inception the station has yet to find a US cable carrier and in Australia the only provider offering the channel is the niche UBI World TV), its Arabic component is intent on expanding its influence, with a pan-Arab newspaper set for launch in late 2007. This would further chip away at Saudi Arabia's domination of the pan-Arab media establishment. ... 'The Americans have practised what all the other Arab regimes have tried before, using pressure and sometimes more than pressure. In the end, they discovered it doesn't work.'" Michael Mehr, EurekaStreet.com.au, 29 November 2007.

Is Aljazeera English Malaysia's surrogate broadcaster?

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Malaysia's mainstream television news - apart from al-Jazeera's news bulletins, which are relayed over Astro and sometimes includes news on Malaysia - in the main reflect favorably on UMNO politicians and government policies, while opposition and dissident groups receive little if any coverage." Anil Netto, Asia Times, 29 November 2007. See previous post about Aljazeera English in Malaysia and previous post about news channels on Astro.

Humanitarian journalism, or just propaganda? (updated)

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Venezuelan-backed international television channel Telesur has been involved in efforts to free hostages held by leftist Colombian rebel. "But Colombian police chief Oscar Naranjo accused the Telesur journalist, William Parra, of manipulating the story in an attempt to show Chavez's recent mediation effort produced results." AFP, 24 November 2007. Update: Reporters sans frontières "today condemned allegations made by national police director Gen. Oscar Naranjo against journalist William Parra of the pan-Latin American TV news station Telesur over an interview with an army captain, Guillermo Javier Solórzano, who is being held hostage by the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Gen. Naranjo has accused Parra of being a FARC accomplice and of 'manipulating' the interview." Reporters sans frontières, 27 November 2007.

For Venezuela referendum coverage, simply tune to one station for yes-vote coverage, and to another station for no-vote coverage.

Posted: 28 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The University of Göteborg (in Sweden) and the Andrés Bello Catholic University (UCAB) of Caracas monitored coverage of the campaign by the main radio and TV stations from 5 to 25 November, the weeks immediately following the announcement convening the referendum. ... 'During the first week surveyed, RCTV Internacional had 101 references to the referendum of which only one favoured a "Yes" vote. YVKE Mundial, on the other hand, referred to the subject 119 times, giving positive consideration to a "No" vote only twice.'" Reporters sans frontières, 28 November 2007. Since losing its license in Venezuela, RCTV has been based in Miami and is received in Venezuela via satellite and internet.

Secretary Gates on America's "miserable" international communications.

Posted: 27 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Defense Secretary Robert Gates "said the U.S. government must improve its skills at public diplomacy and public affairs to better describe the nation's strategy and values to a global audience. 'We are miserable at communicating to the rest of the world what we are about as a society and a culture, about freedom and democracy, about our policies and our goals,' he said. 'It is just plain embarrassing that Al Qaeda is better at communicating its message on the Internet than America.' Gates expressed regret over decisions by previous administrations to cut the U.S. Agency for International Development and to abolish the U.S. Information Agency and divide its responsibilities among other offices." New York Times, 27 November 2007. In the transcript of the speech, Secretary Gates does not use the term "public diplomacy." -- "In her own State Department, Rice's concept of 'transformational diplomacy' is largely forgotten, a fanfare about better public diplomacy has faded and morale is sinking." McClatchy Newspapers, 26 November 2007.

Ethiopia jams VOA and DW (updated again).

Posted: 27 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC Monitoring (BBCM) can confirm that two major Western broadcasters are suffering consistent jamming of their transmissions to Ethiopia. ... Shortwave broadcasts from Washington-based Voice of America (VOA) and Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) are now being jammed." BBC Monitoring via Radio Netherlands Media Network, 20 November 2007. From the IBB Monitoring remote monitoring system, here is an mp3 recording of two examples of VOA Amharic being jammed, as received in Nairobi. The first is 14 November 2007 at 1817 UTC on 9320 kHz. The second is 18 November on 11675. Jamming was not heard on at least two other VOA Amharic frequencies. The jamming signals may be less audible in Ethiopia, given the nature of shortwave signals not to propagate well over short distances. Update: "The BBC monitoring service says its experts have determined that the direction from which the jamming originates indicates the signals are being transmitted from within Ethiopia. In a telephone interview with VOA, Ethiopia's Information Ministry spokesman Zemedkun Tekle says he doubts the government is involved in jamming." VOA News, 26 November 2007.

International broadcaster arrested in Vietnam.

Posted: 27 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Vietnamese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release French activist and journalist Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, who was arrested on November 17 in Ho Chi Minh City along with a group of five political activists associated with the pro-democracy Viet Tan party. Thanh Van is an editorial member of the exile-run monthly Viet Nam Dan Chu (Vietnam Democracy) and a contributor to the Japan- and U.S.-based Chan Troi Moi radio program, which is regularly broadcast on shortwave radio to Vietnam." CPJ, 26 November 2007. Radio Chân Trời Mới is an exile opposition station available via the internet and radio. It has used shortwave frequencies in the past. However, my perusal of its website (as a non-Vietnamese speaker) indicates that it now uses medium wave 1503 kHz via a leased facility in Taiwan. Taiwan to Vietnam is a rather long haul for medium wave.

In recent description of Radio Canada International, internet gets top billing over shortwave.

Posted: 27 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"As media companies grapple with how to present ... of independently produced material in a more compelling way than a series of haphazard YouTube clips, RCI (the Internet and shortwave-radio sister service of the CBC) has already figured it out. The website (http://www.rcinet.ca/digitaldiversity) has links to all 60 English-language short films selected for [its Digital Diversity] competition by a four-person jury, which itself is a highly multicultural mix of filmmakers and media insiders. ... The competition ... taps directly into RCI's function as a beacon for people around the world interested in Canadian news, culture and the possibility of emigrating to Canada. At the same time, it serves RCI's additional purpose in recent years of targeting its programming to immigrants already in Canada." Globe and Mail, 27 November 2007. With RCI's increasing domestic focus, Glenn Hauser has been calling it "Radio Canada Internal," e.g in his DX Listening Digest, 23 November 2007.

Geo TV moving to Hong Kong?

Posted: 27 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Pakistan's private Geo TV, which was airing contents from Dubai before being blocked by authorities here in the wake of emergency in that country, is to move its base from the UAE to Hong Kong. ... 'We are making arrangements to air the transmission from Hong Kong because we are losing around half a million dollars every day since the Dubai Media City (DMC) blocked satellite signals for our news channel on November 17.'" PTI, 24 November 2007. I have not seen this reported elsewhere. The choice of Hong Kong as Geo TV's new headquarters is interesting. Hong Kong does enjoy relative media freedom, though this has been eroding since Hong Kong's reversion to Chinese control. And China itself is notorious for its lack of press freedom. Furthermore, China and Pakistan have historically had close relations.

Did you catch the latest content bundle from CNN?

Posted: 27 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Casey Harwood, senior vice president of digital media at Turner Broadcasting Europe, says "there is demand for the company's brands and programming - but not always for a solution offering a 12-hour TV channel. ... He likens the digital revenue stream strategy to creating '1,000 buckets catching raindrops of revenue'. CNN International creates 160 hours of content per week, content that Harwood's people have been scouring and categorising to look for trends that can be monetised. What has emerged is 14 'content bundles' - such as big interviews with entrepreneurs and gurus - that could be parcelled out as packages in a digital world." The Guardian digital content blog, 27 November 2007.

CNN spans continents with new satellite-delivered SMS news.

Posted: 27 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"CNN International is harnessing the global satellite connectivity of Thuraya, the UAE-based satellite operator, to deliver breaking news to the most remote areas of the world. In its first alliance with a mobile satellite provider, the strategic partnership will see the launch of a CNN Breaking News SMS Alerts service to Thuraya customers beyond the reach of standard mobile coverage across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Central and South Asia." Gulf News, 27 November 2007. "The new deal means that Thuraya’s satellite mobile customers around the world can now receive CNN’s breaking news alerts in English and Arabic. ... CNN’s partnership with Thuraya extends the news leader’s mobile reach by an additional potential 250,000 subscribers, which will expand further following Thuraya’s launch in the Asia-Pacific region in early 2008." Thuraya press release, 27 November 2007.

Paying for the news in Malaysia.

Posted: 27 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"News channels, which used to be a basic component of the Astro [DTH satellite] package, will now have to be paid for as part of a separate package. Previously, CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera news were part of the basic channels that Astro subscribers would automatically receive." CNET Asia, 27 November 2007.

How will the Iranian government react to the new BBC Persian television service?

Posted: 26 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Officially, it is illegal to own a dish, but a senior official from the state broadcaster tells us that he believes that about 20-30 per cent of weekly television viewing in Iran is of channels produced abroad, including the news programmes from VOA (Voice of America). This in a country that has had no formal diplomatic relations with the US for 25 years and where posters calling for the death of America adorn the sides of high-rise flats. ... For the Iranian authorities, the BBC's new Persian TV service represents a dilemma. It will undoubtedly be watched in Iran and has the power to be influential. So how far do they want to co-operate with it, and make access to Iran's rich variety of stories possible?" Nigel Chapman (director of BBC World Service, The Independent, 26 November 2007. Iranian authorities will also have to decide if they will try to jam BBC's satellite signal (easier to jam than BBC's shortwave signal), or if they will crack down even more firmly on satellite dish sales and ownership.

Sky News more like Fox News?

Posted: 26 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The media mogul Rupert Murdoch ... said he wanted Sky News, which has confounded cynics by maturing into a well-funded and award-winning 24-hour news operation, to be more like Fox News to make it 'a proper alternative to the BBC'. Due to the lack of impartiality laws in the US, Fox News became successful as a rightwing counterpoint to the perceived leftwing leanings of its rivals. Murdoch said Sky may become more like Fox, even if there was no overhaul of news impartiality laws by [UK regulator] Ofcom, by copying its presentational style." The Guardian, 24 November 2007. Both Sky News and Fox are owned by Murdoch's News Corp, and both have increasing global distribution via satellite and on a few cable systems.

How successful international broadcasting is ridiculous.

Posted: 26 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"All is not lost however because we still have Short Wave Radio Africa and night after night more and more Zimbabweans are sitting in the dark of the power cuts, using wind up radios and juggling between the two SW Radio Africa channels - depending on which is being jammed that night. Here at least people speak freely, not subject to State controls or even the self censorship we have all made a part of our existence in order to survive. Its ridiculous to think that we have to listen to a radio station broadcasting from London to hear news of events in our country but we do. The reports might be grim, the news depressing and the stories heartbreaking but at least they are an accurate reflection of everyday life in Zimbabwe." Cathy Buckle, Moneyweb (South Africa), 26 November 2007.

BBC Chinese hosts a debate in London on why this debate cannot be held in Beijing.

Posted: 25 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC Chinese has teamed up with POLIS, the joint London School of Economics (LSE) and London College of Communication Journalism and Society Institute, to co-host a debate discussing media freedom in China. The Media Freedom Forum will be held at the LSE in London on Monday 26 November 2007 at 8.00pm. Chinese students studying at the LSE and other London colleges will make up the audience and the debate will be broadcast on BBC Chinese radio and webcast on bbcchinese.com." Media Newsline, 24 November 2007.

Press TV claims to be the unbiased channel.

Posted: 25 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Mohammad Sarafraz, vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) World Service says: "Press TV also broadcasts differing viewpoints in its talk shows to provide its audience with the fair and free dissemination of information and has never sought to impose a biased or one-sided stance." Press TV, 21 November 2007. He also says: "The TV, radio and online channels owned by the nine US and Western media companies try to influence public opinion in the World." Press TV, 23 November 2007.

The Labor victory in Australia: implications for Radio Australia?

Posted: 24 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Kevin Rudd, leader of Australia's Labor Party and prime minister-elect, said in July that a "Federal Labor Government will rebuild Radio Australia." See previous post. In 1997, shortly after the election of the present prime minister, John Howard, the Radio Australia budget was reduced from AUD$20.5 million annually to AUD$7.4 million. Its five most modern and powerful shortwave transmitters, on the Cox Peninsula, were divested. Radio Australia services in Cantonese, Thai and French were dropped, and transmissions in Indonesian, Mandarin, Khmer and Vietnamese were reduced. International Edition of Radio World, 23 July 1997.

Another actions-versus-words commentary about public diplomacy.

Posted: 24 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The radio and TV stations and glossy magazines that we have propagated across the Muslim world have accomplished almost nothing, but the American military’s swift mobilization to help victims of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan did wonders for our image (if briefly)." James Traub, New York Times Magazine, 25 November 2007. Actually, this is where international broadcasting, if done right, can play a useful role. If the United States is involved in good works and wise policies abroad, those can be reported by the U.S. international broadcasting entity. Those reports will be believed if the broadcasting sticks to the news and stays completely out of advocacy.

VOA is very, very involved in Venezuela's referendum.

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"In an exclusive interview, Venezuelan General Raul Isaias Baduel told the Voice of America (VOA) yesterday that the Venezuelan people will vote against the upcoming Constitutional referendum on December 2. ... Excerpts from the interview aired today on the VOA Noticias television program and on VOA radio. The full interview will be broadcast several times over the weekend. The interview will be posted on VOA’s Spanish-language website: www.VOANoticias.com." VOA press release, 23 November 2007.

Events to mark the 75th anniversary of BBC World Service.

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
The "dumbing down" of commercial television was discussed in New Delhi, at "one of three debates that the BBC is organising across the globe to commemorate its 75th anniversary; the other two will be recorded later in New York and Cairo. Called 'Free to Speak,' the series will explore censorship, political and economic pressure on media, and the impact of new technologies on access to and dissemination of information." The Hindu, 24 November 2007. "Arnold Wesker has written a new radio play to mark the 75th anniversary of the BBC World Service. ... It tells of a group of strangers drawn into an unlikely friendship over a shared interest in a rocking horse they see while on a bus. ... Wesker, who is 75 years old and who has been writing plays for 50 years, will be interviewed prior to the play’s broadcast on BBC World Service on Saturday December 1." The Stage, 23 November 2007. See also BBCWS 75th anniversary events web page. A conference "to evaluate 75 years of the BBC World Service" will be held 18-19 December at the University of London. I didn't learn about this until after the 5 November deadline, or I might have sent in an abstract.

Taiwan: television exports in lieu of diplomatic ties.

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
At Taipei International TV, Film and Digital Content Exhibition, Taiwan's Vice President Annette Lu "stressed the importance of creativity and culture, saying they add to peace and human rights as key components to what she termed as 'soft power,' forces that propel Taiwan in the international community in the absence of formal diplomatic ties with most nations in the world. She also expressed the hope that Taiwan will one day develop a robust and vibrant film industry to be known internationally as 'Tollywood.'" The China Post, 24 November 2007.

Pakistan's ARY television considers moving out of Dubai Media City.

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The ARY television network is considering to move its base out of Dubai, said a network official a day after the Dubai Media City resumed its satellite signal. ... A decision on whether to move out of Dubai will be taken by Monday, said Iqbal, adding that options being considered were London and Singapore. He said that the channel's signal was resumed after the network was asked to sign a letter promising to abide by TECOM regulations." Gulf News, 23 November 2007.

Where Everywoman is above average.

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English’s 'Everywoman' programme recently won the 'Editors' Award' at the Association of International Broadcasting Media Awards Ceremony 2007 in London. ... The judges said that Everywoman is 'uncompromising in its approach, and digs deeper on often sensitive subjects to uncover the stories that women want told.'" The Peninsula, 24 November 2007. "SW Radio Africa - the independent radio station that operates from London, has won the 2007 award for Most Creative Radio Marketing Concept, from the Association for International Broadcasters. ... 'SW Radio Africa’s use of SMS text messaging to beat the censors enables the station to reach an audience under the most difficult censorship conditions.'" Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 21 November 2007. See previous post about the AIB Awards.

A Bahrain university and its "links" to international broadcasters.

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Bahrain's first College of Visual Communications is to be established at Ahlia University next year. ... The new centre will offer courses in photojournalism, script writing, broadcast TV journalism including news broadcasting, graphic design, post-production, animation, acting and documentary and feature film production. 'We shall soon establish links with international broadcasting groups including BBC, Al Jazeera, PBS, Al Arabia and Asianet.'" Gulf Daily News, 24 November 2007.

RFI may lose its FM in Baku.

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"On 23 November the National TV and Radio Council of Azerbaijan made a decision ceasing the broadcasting of Radio France... . The Council repeatedly warned Radio France of necessity of submitting documents for license. 'Irrespective of our co-operation, they did not seriously approach this issue.'" Trend News Agency, 23 November 2007. The frequency is (was?) 105 MHz.

BBC World Service news comes from new BBC multimedia newsroom (updated).

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Today is a very big day for BBC News which has now been re-organised in a fully multimedia fashion. ... The multimedia newsroom comprises the BBC News website, the radio summaries and bulletins (except for Radio 1), BBC World Service news, BBC News 24, BBC World, BBC Breakfast and the bulletins on BBC One at 1, 6 and 10, among others." Peter Horrocks, BBC The Editors, 12 November 2007. "How can we film, record, picture and write all at the same time?" Jeff Jarvis, quoted by The Guardian's Greenslade blog, 13 November 2007. Update: "CBC/Radio-Canada is uniting all of its English language platforms, including television, radio and Internet, in one operating service." Mediacaster Magazine, 22 November 2007.

Radio Netherlands closes its Research File.

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
The long-running, award-winning science program ended in late October. "Quite simply it was decided it was time for something new. However, many of the issues and topics formerly covered by Research File, as well as former producer Thijs Westerbeek van Eerten, may now be found on our new programme Earthbeat, produced by Dheera Sujan. Earthbeat is very loosely described as focusing on sustainable development, but with the widest possible definition and scope." Radio Netherlands, 22 November 2007.

While we Americans are eating Thanksgiving dinner, the Brits are discussing transnational television channels (updated).

Posted: 23 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"There has recently been a huge growth in transnational English language television channels, with the launch in the UK of Al Jazeera English, Press TV (Iran), CCTV9 (China), France 24 and Russia Today. These join existing channels such as CNN International, Voice of America and BBC World TV. But what are the purposes of these channels? Who are they for and who is watching them? Do they constitute a global group of English speaking nations, an ‘Anglosphere’? These are some of the questions that will be debated today (Thursday 22nd November) by media professionals and academics at a workshop, sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), entitled ‘Transnational TV News and Media Diplomacy: Al Jazeera English in Context.’" At King's College, London. Economic & Social Research Council, 22 November 2007. Update: And in Canada, on the American Thanksgiving Day, at a Montreal conference on public diplomacy, Canadians discussed, among other things, "how to distinguish ourselves from invading American culture." One possible solution: "a Canadian version of the British Council." Quill blog, 22 November 2007. See also conference information.

VOA's Bistis gets a Gusi.

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"George Bistis, Chief of Voice of America's (VOA) Greek Service, received the 2007 Gusi Peace Prize Award for Broadcast Journalism at a gala ceremony held in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday. The Gusi Peace Prize Foundation cited Mr. Bistis for his 'untiring efforts, working for people's amelioration, to find peaceful solutions to political and social issues through broadcast journalism, through Voice of America.'" VOA press release, 23 November 2007.

Ongoing problem: mistaken identities of U.S. international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"He would not say how many were arrested but Iraq's al-Hurra television put the number of guards involved at 31." Reuters, 19 November 2007. There is an Iraqi version of Alhurra, but it's a U.S. station. "Radio Sawa, an American station broadcasting in Arabic from Kuwait, reported overnight Sunday that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to visit Israel again before the Annapolis conference." Jerusalem Post, 19 November 2007. Radio Sawa's studios are in suburban Washington. Kuwait is the location of one of its medium wave transmitters, likely heard in Israel. Radio Sawa's Cyprus transmitter might also be heard in Israel, as well its FM outlets in Jordan and the West Bank. Update:: At North Carolina Central University conference, deputy chief of mission at the Pakistani embassy in Washington Muhammad Aslam Khan's "invocation of Kashmir erupted into an intense debate between Khan and Asim Chakrabarty, an Indian correspondent for Voice of America, the international wire service of the U.S. government. Chakrabarty dominated much of the day's question-and-answer sessions and also sat on a panel." Independent Weekly (Durham), 21 November 2007.

RFE/RL newsletter required reading for these U.S. teens.

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Four Delaware teens recently crossed the once-restricted borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina to become the first U.S. youth delegates to travel to there since the civil war and help train the next generation of Bosnian leaders. ... Prior to leaving, team members were required to attend meetings, read some books, write reports, subscribe to Radio Free Europe's electronic newsletter, take language lessons, host a Bosnian exchange student and visit various dignitaries associated with that region." News Journal (Wilmington), 22 November 2007.

RFE/RL Code as a model for revived Georgian media?

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Creating an independent board of competent advisers and adopting a set of professional guidelines -- such as, for example, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty staff have had for many years -- can protect media integrity and professionalism from the corrosive influence of oligarchic interests and partisan political agendas." Vladimir Socor, Jamestown Foundation, 21 November 2007. See also RFE/RL Code of Professional Journalism Standards.

RFE/RL and IWPR jointly producing (updated).

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"A new half-hour weekly radio programme on war crimes justice in the Balkans, produced jointly by [Institute for War & Peace Reporting] and the broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, RFE/RL, and aired by forty radio stations in the region, will be launched on November 25." IWPR, 20 November 2007. Update: "RFE/RL currently has more listeners throughout the region than BBC World Service and Deutsche Welle combined." IWPR, 21 November 2007.

State Department team inputs to Arab blogs (updated).

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The State Department, departing from traditional public diplomacy techniques, has what it calls a three-person, 'digital outreach team' posting entries in Arabic on 'influential' Arabic blogs to challenge misrepresentations of the United States and promote moderate views among Islamic youths in the hopes of steering them from terrorism. The department's bloggers 'speak the language and idiom of the region, know the culture reference points and are often able to converse informally and frankly, rather than adopt the usually more formal persona of a U.S. government spokesperson.' ... To prove that it, too, can plug into the modern media world, the Pentagon's Central Command has a blogging operation at its headquarters." Washington Post, 19 November 2007. Update: "The government's entry into the blogosphere came with a tacit admission that the PR campaigns of the past six years have been ineffective." Bernd Debusmann, Reuters, 21 November 2007.

Do you suppose they will talk about "content distribution" to Pakistan?

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Middle East Broadcasting Summit 2007, 26-27 November at Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, Dubai, features an extensive two day conference on television and radio broadcasting and content distribution to new platforms. With a focus on the key issues for the region’s extensive broadcasting industry, speakers represent the major Middle East and international broadcasters; international associations; international speakers and those developing market leading technology." BusinessIntelligence-Middle East, 21 November 2007.

Television to Pakistan: looking for alternatives to Pull-the-Plug Media City.

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The closure by Dubai's authorities of two leading private Pakistani news channels under pressure from President Pervez Musharraf has left other foreign broadcasters based in Dubai Media City wondering if the plug may one day be pulled on them, too." Variety, 21 Hovember 2007. "Geo says it has no plans to concede to government demands. In a sign of protest, its satellite frequency is running a loop of its logo adrift on stormy seas. ... Geo is still streaming some audio and video online and hopes to resume its transmissions from Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand or Afghanistan." The News (Karachi) 22 November 2007. "After banning independent television channels at home, external influence was exercised to cancel the up linking facility of two channels from Dubai Media City. Little, if any, attention was given to the fact that such a step could jeopardize Dubai's reputation as a media safe haven." Farahnaz Ispahani, The News (Karachi), 21 November 2007. "Officials in the [Saudi ArabiA] are prepping new media laws set to liberalize the biz there and work is also well under way on the King Abdullah Economic City, which may well include a media zone that could challenge the supremacy of Dubai's media city." Variety, 21 November 2007. We call on your government to reconsider its decision and reverse the damage done to GEO TV and ARY One World TV, to their viewing audiences in Pakistan and around the world, and to the Dubai Media City’s reputation as an open and responsible international broadcast facility. Committee to Pritect Journalists, 21 November 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Press freedom team meets RFI reporter held in Niamey prison.

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"A Reporters Without Borders team led by secretary-general Robert Ménard met with detained journalist Moussa Kaka in Niamey prison twice in the past two days and has had talks with the authorities on the state of press freedom in Niger. The director of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and the Niger correspondent of both Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka appeared to be in good physical shape and his morale remains high. He repeatedly thanked all those who have supported him since his arrest on 20 September, both those in Niger and abroad, and those who signed a petition calling for his release." Reporters sans frontières, 21 November 2007. See previous post about same subject.

DW's BOBs winners announced (updated).

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle's 2007 Best of Blogs jury-selected best weblog is Foto-Griffaneurei of Belarus. The BOBs website. The special Reporters sans frontières BOBs award goes to Burmese blogger Jotman. RSF, 16 November 2007. See also DW press release, 16 November 2007. Update: "There were some surprising winners, some heated arguments among the judges flown in from around the world, but overall a good set of winners who rose above the millions of existing blogs. ... Similar to last year’s judging, there were some interesting international dynamics at play when you bring people together from so many cultures to make difficult decisions." Mark Glaser, PBS Media Shift, 19 November 2007.

Not bad for a station with only two transmitters (updated).

Posted: 22 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Radio New Zealand International has won the International Radio Station of the Year Award. At a function of the Association For International Broadcasting in London, RNZI was declared the category winner. Also commended were the BBC World Service and the Middle Eastern network Radio Sawa. Radio New Zealand International has also won the award for Most Innovative Partnership, with commendations being given to Radio Canada International and Radio Australia." RNZI, 21 November 2007. For a list of all the award winners, see the Association for International Broadcasting website. Update: "Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard today congratulated Radio New Zealand International for its outstanding achievement in winning the International Radio Station of the Year Award at a prestigious international competition. 'Radio New Zealand International won the top award at Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) Media Excellence Awards in London today (NZT) – beating international heavyweights like BBC World and the Middle Eastern Broadcasting Network. Congratulations to Radio New Zealand International and its small and dedicated team of journalists who can be especially proud of this David versus Goliath outcome.'" New Zealand Government press release, 21 November 2007.

Will Chinese electronics help liberate North Korea?

Posted: 21 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Cheap Chinese television sets and video players, together with pirated videotapes and DVDs, are lifting the lid on information reaching the North Korean people, according to defectors and experts on Kim Jong Il's dictatorship. The unsealing process -- underway for nearly a decade and accelerating this year -- coincides with the crumbling of North Korea's centralized economy and the rise of street markets. In those markets, doing business daily nearly everywhere in the North, are cut-rate electronics and knockoff videos that have acquainted a sizable number of North Koreans with the wealth and razzmatazz of the capitalist world. Watching South Korean soap operas and Hollywood movies inside North Korea, defectors say, is scary, exhilarating and depressing." Washington Post, 21 November 2007.

The retreat of U.S. public diplomacy in Germany.

Posted: 21 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The end of Germany's love affair with America was sudden, as documented by the Pew survey. While a majority of Germans had a positive view of the US in 2002, the figure had shrunk to 30 per cent by this year. ... It is ironic that the need to address anti-US sentiment comes at a time when the US has just finished dismantling its public diplomacy infrastructure in Germany. The DAI [German-American Institue] and its equivalents around the country were once part of a US-financed network of Amerika Häuser (America Houses). When the US stopped funding these centres, some states stepped in. It was money from Stuttgart, the state capital, that allowed the Tübingen DAI to keep operating." Financial Times, 20 November 2007.

The continuing kerfuffle over funding of U.S. broadcasting to Iran.

Posted: 21 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Michael Rubin [of American Enterprise Institute] "falsely claimed that [National Iranian American Council] opposes funding for Radio Farda and VOA. But eradicating or reprogramming the $75 million does not spell the demise of these entities. The base funding for Farda and VOA comes out of a separate pot, under the Broadcasting Board of Governors. In fact, many opponents of the State Department's $75 million program advocate reprogramming the money to U.S.-Iran broadcasting and cultural exchanges. But they also point out that there is a significant need to raise the quality of these outlets since their journalistic standards have suffered greatly over the past two years and caused the credibility of Farda and VOA Persian to plummet among Iranians." Trita Parsi (president of NIAC), Huffington Post, 20 November 2007. "Having lobbied to cut off funding for civil society and Radio Farda and VOA Persian service (the breakdown of the funding is here, Trita; you described it inaccurately in your post), will you release NIAC's continuing funding requests to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)?" Michael Rubin, National Review Online's The Corner blog, 20 November 2007.

VOA Special English is just one example of simple English.

Posted: 21 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Besides the VOA version, there is Aerospace and Defense Simplified Technical English, used by the European aerospace industry since 1986 to streamline communications, especially in maintenance guides for commercial airplanes. ... Another, called EasyEnglish, helps some Christian missionaries take their message abroad. ... But the most influential version is the first: Basic English, developed in the 1930s. With some modifications, this version is still in use at the VOA, mostly for broadcasts to the Third World." J. David Goodman, greatreporter.com, 20 November 2007.

Difficulties for journalists associated with U.S. international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 21 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "condemns the arrest of Abolfazl Abedini Nasr of the weekly Bahar Khozestan by ministry of intelligence officials in the southern city of Ahvaz on 13 November. It is not known where he is being held. ... Nasr has been arrested several times in the past two years. He was last arrested in September while preparing a report for Radio Farda about a strike by thousands of workers in the south of the country." RSF, 16 November 2007. Iraq's northern Kurdistan region spokesman "denied accusations from media watchdog, the Iraqi Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, that Kurdish security forces had detained several journalists. The Iraqi non-governmental organisation said a team working for al-Hurra television, including correspondent Ali al-Yasi, was detained in the Zakho area near the Turkish border." Reuters, 19 November 2007. Update: Maytham Al-Shabani, the US-funded satellite TV station Al-Hurra’s correspondent in Diwaniya (180 km south of Baghdad), has had to leave the area because he was getting death threats. RSF, 19 November 2007.

Television to Pakistan: Dubai Media City's "appalling precedent."

Posted: 21 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The two channels were beaming out of Dubai Media City, a tax-free zone which was built by the Dubai government to attract foreign media companies which would be exempt from UAE's restrictive press laws. The apparent arbitrary manner in which GEO and ARY were told they were being shut down is bound to have disturbing consequences for other international media organisations in the region." Dawn, 18 November 2007. Human Rights Watch: "By making itself a party to Musharraf's repression of the Pakistani media, Dubai is damaging its own international reputation. This move sets an appalling precedent and raises serious questions about Dubai's viability as a regional hub for the international media." HRW, 20 November 2007. See previous post about same subject.

International Broadcasting Corporation will change its name.

Posted: 21 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
To Copper King Resources Inc. International Broadcasting Corporation press release, 19 November 2007. International Broadcasting Corporation is a small U.S. company that syndicates the radio program Stock Talk Live, mostly domestically. Perhaps this name change means that the name "International Broadcasting Corporation" will transfer to an entity that actually does international broadcasting.

Take cover! Another incoming Heritage bullet point.

Posted: 20 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Constantly and steadily reach out to the Russian people through a comprehensive public diplomacy strategy to debunk the myth of inherent American hostility toward Russia. The U.S. should expand its public diplomacy efforts via the Internet, international broadcasting under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and professional and academic exchange programs. These programs should emphasize improving business relations and the investment environ­ment, as well as cultivating ethnic and religious tolerance in Russian society, thus helping to pre­vent further radicalization and alienation of marginalized groups. For FY 2008, Congress should also fund the long-delayed reorganization of U.S. Russian-language international broadcasting." Ariel Cohen, Heritage Foundation, 19 November 2007. The "reorganization" is perhaps the yet-to-be-approved FY 2007 budget for U.S. international broadcasting, which would restrict VOA Russian to television only, with RFE/RL Russian continuing to transmit via radio. With television placement opportunities within Russia increasingly scarce, VOA would be restricted to internet-delivered video. If Russia blocks web content -- as it is capable of doing -- VOA Russian would be unable to reach its audience. Only RFE/RL Russian, via trans-border radio, would have an audience.

Hope for U.S. public diplomacy in the private sector?

Posted: 20 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"There are signs that public diplomacy - in its broadest and best sense, an effort by Americans to engage in a dialogue with the rest of the world - may once again make a positive difference in how their country is perceived overseas." Mentions efforts by American universities, Discover America Partnership, Business for Diplomatic Action. John Brown, The Guardian's comment is free, 19 November 2007.

Good, as long as you don't call it "news."

Posted: 20 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Just to say I was going to New York to participate this past weekend in a TV festival about social responsibility in broadcasting elicited mostly blank stares from folks in Hollywood. But elsewhere in the world, from the Caribbean to Cairo, Brazil to Burma, there are broadcasters or single producers, often backed by NGOs, who are doggedly telling stories with embedded messages about societal problems from AIDS to political corruption and everything in between." Elizabeth Guide, The Hollywood reporter, 20 November 2007.

New book on psyops, American style.

Posted: 20 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Psyops is the use of tactics such as propaganda and appealing to enemies and foreign civilians in an attempt to win them over, making one less enemy to fight against. Dr. Robert Kodosky, a history professor at West Chester University, has studied the use of psyops for several years, focusing mainly on the Vietnam War. Through his studies of the American experience in Vietnam, he has been able to juxtapose the use of psyops in that war with its recently renewed use in the Middle East. His new book, 'Psychological Operations American Style,' will be released on Nov. 28." The Quad (WCU), 19 November 2007. See also blurb at Lexington Books. Gulp! $75.00!

On Israeli cable, Fox is no CNN.

Posted: 20 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Now that CNN has been dropped by HOT [Israeli cable system], I find myself recently watching more of Fox News, which the cable company has moved over to its old slot. Unfortunately, Fox is no substitute for CNN, not by a long shot. I'm not talking about Fox's conservative bent, which at least allows for a more diverse range of views than one usually gets on MSM (Main-Stream Media, if you didn't know). That's especially welcome when it comes to its coverage of Israel, which is certainly more sympathetic ... than CNN or the BBC. Unfortunately, however, its reporting from Israel - or, for that matter, anywhere else outside the US - is decidedly skimpy compared to those genuinely global media outlets." Calev Ben-David, Jerusalem Post, 16 November 2007.

Funding for French domestic and international broadcasters.

Posted: 20 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"French deputies have adopted new credits for media (€512 million in 2008) and public audiovisual (€2.89 billion). ... The 'media' mission budget comprises press funding (€287.8 million), France 24’s budget (€70 million) and those of international TV channel TV5Monde and radio service RFI (€512 million). The budget for public audiovisual notably contributes to financing France Télévisions (€1.9 billion), Radio France (€539 million), Arte-France (€223 million), INA (€83 million), and partly to RFI (€59 million)." Rapid TV News, 20 November 2007. "Radio France" is a domestic public station, whereas Radio France Internationale (RFI) is one of the external broadcasters.

RFI reporter helps free political prisoner.

Posted: 20 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Human rights groups worked to free Professor Felix Ulombe Kaputu from prison in the Deomocratic Republic of the Congo. "But it was one journalist in particular, Ghislaine Dupont, reporting for Radio France Internationale, who ensured that the pressure on the government was constant. She was relentless in her quest for answers." Global Knowledge via Vox Publica, November 2007.

Aljazeera English soon on a U.S. "platform"? (updated)

Posted: 20 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Sue Phillips, Aljazeera English London bureau chief: "The climate has changed in the US. We’re almost confident in saying we should be on a platform in the States within the next six months. There’s much more of an understanding now about Al Jazeera. The Americans are warming to us." Press Gazette, 19 November 2007. "When I told a friend that the Wall Street Journal labelled Al-Jazeera 'English Terror TV' and that the US had blacked it out and decided not to air it, she stood up to her left-wing credentials by accusing the Wall Street Journal but refused to acknowledge that the US would deliberately suppress information. I decided to rub salt into her wounds anyway by praising Europe, especially the UK, where not only were we free to watch Al-Jazeera, but also France 24, Russia Today, Chinese CCTV and Indian NDTV, not to mention the soon-to-be-launched Iranian Press TV -- all twenty-four hour English news channels, and each with its own perspective. Let’s just say that the conversation did not end too well." Ayesha Ijaz Khan, The News (Karachi), 19 November 2007. "Inside the London bureau, near Hyde Park Corner, strict security reflects the al-Qa'ida fatwah that was issued against the station over its coverage of a recent Osama bin Laden video. There is more than a little irony in this, given the accusations faced by the station – which is banned from Saudi Arabia – from critics who say that it publicises the actions of the terror network." The Independent, 19 November 2007. Update: "Sure, serious reporting from Africa or the Middle East is never going to be as popular as escapist entertainment and fluff news about film stars. But Al Jazeera English would get significant viewership from among the large number of Americans disgusted with the seemingly bottomless dumbing-down of American TV news over the past decade or so." Andrew Stroehlein, Boston Globe, 20 November 2007.

A critic of the president's past policies to advocate the president's future policies.

Posted: 19 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The president has a final chance to change course on the public diplomacy front. First, Bush must replace Hughes with someone who has been a critic of the administration's past policies. This person should be in the vein of Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, a respected, nonpolitical public servant whose credibility is further strengthened by his nuanced disagreements with past policies. Such a person would signal a change in the way the administration appeals to the rest of the world. Second, Congress must play its part. There should be a rigorous confirmation process. Only two senators were in attendance for Hughes' confirmation testimony." Price B. Floyd, Los Angeles Times. 19 November 2007.

Weakening the dollar is not a successful public diplomacy measure (updated).

Posted: 19 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"As the U.S. dollar continues its unprecedented tailspin against other major currencies, there would appear to be at least one silver lining for Americans: foreign travelers flooding our shores in search of bargains, right? Wrong. While Americans are still going overseas in droves, undeterred by the prospect of pricier vacations abroad, foreign tourists are also staying away in droves. ... Besides new security measures, other factors contributing to the decline include lengthy and complicated visa requirements, less-than-friendly treatment by customs officials and an overall perception that the United States no longer welcomes foreigners." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 November 2007. Update: "Read the polls or any travelogue on a British Web site. They are filled with horror stories about the inconvenience and indignity of traveling to America." Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, 26 November 2007 issue. See previous post about same subject.

Krongard/Tomlinson inquiry a sideshow to Krongard/Krongard inquiry.

Posted: 19 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
At the 14 November hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard "said his temporary assistant accidentally faxed specific complaints about [then BBG chairman Kenneth] Tomlinson from a whistleblower over to the BBG's executive director. It was all a mistake, Krongard said, because he had just meant to send the BBG a letter from Congress alerting BBG to the investigation." Spencer Ackerman, TPM, 14 November 2007. "The staff report quotes Special Agent Peter Lubeck, the investigator on the Tomlinson case, who said that, in his experience, investigators do not 'advise the subject of an investigation in advance, that they are the subject, because that compromises the investigation.'" Matt Renner, Truthout, 15 November 2007.

MTV Arabia is not an oxymoron.

Posted: 19 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"MTV is hoping hip-hop and reality television tailored and sanitized for a more conservative Middle East will draw young Arabs away from dozens of locally produced music video channels that already dominate the market. MTV Arabia, which launched over the weekend, will feature 60 percent international music and 40 percent Arabic music, along with local adaptations of the channel's popular non-music shows." AP, 18 November 2007.

Industry award winners include international broadcasters.

Posted: 19 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Promax/BDA Asia Awards: "Building on BBC World's global brand positioning - Putting News First, the channel won a Gold in the Best Integrated Marketing Campaign category for BBC World's India Brand Campaign, 'What Affects the World, Affects You'." Media Newsline, 19 November 2007. Winners of Hot Bird TV Awards include Deutsche Welle's DW-TV, France 24, and Channel One Russia Worldwide. Eutelsat press release, 19 November 2007.

Television to Pakistan: is the devil in Dubai's details?

Posted: 19 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Pakistani news channel ARY One World is set to resume broadcasting from Dubai following negotiations with the Pakistani government and Dubai Media City. CEO of ARY, Salman Iqbal, told Gulf News the channel had convinced the government to allow it to operate despite its refusal to sign a media code of conduct imposed earlier this month." ArabianBusiness.com, 19 November 2007. Negotiations between the Dubai media authorities and representatives of two Pakistani channels whose news operations have been barred appear to be making some headway. ... Besides, representatives of the channels are seeking a clearer enunciation of the 'ground rules' which they need to follow in their broadcasts, so that they can carry out their operations uninterrupted in the future." The Hindu, 19 November 2007. "The president of Geo TV, Imran Eslam, told Gulf News the channel has been given permission to resume five minutes hourly news broadcasts on its entertainment channels that beam to the Middle East, UK and the United States, 'but not Pakistan'." Gulf News, 18 November 2007. "Pakistan's private television network Geo TV, whose news channel Geo News was taken off air on Friday midnight on orders from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities, might consider moving out of its Dubai office if a resolution to the problem is not reached soon. ... 'We have options within Asia.'" Inter-Asian News service, 18 November 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Iranian trial for Canadian filmmaker.

Posted: 19 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Mehrnoushe Solouki, a Montreal filmmaker, appeared at a closed-door trial in Tehran accused of the 'intent of committing propaganda' against the Iranian government, according to a group petitioning for her release. ... According to a Nov. 7 report by Radio Free Europe (RFE), Solouki's film concerns the burial rites of Iran's religious minorities. It says that when she stumbled upon a mass grave of regime opponents executed in 1988, the authorities took notice." CBC News, 18 November 2007.

His access presumably unblocked, Chinese official cites VOA.

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Chong Quan, assistant minister Ministry of Commerce, said, 'Recently, the Voice of America broadcast a research report from scholars of Canada's West Ontario University. They have been testing and analyzing Chinese toy products for more than ten years. They said over 75 percent recalled toys were due to design flaws. Chinese manufacturers are only responsible for only a small proportion.'" CCTV, 18 November 2007. Apparently, he is pointing out that the "design flaws" are on the part of the U.S. toy companies.

Airstrikes as propaganda -- for the other side.

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
The new Army counterinsurgency manual notes that airstrikes "can cause collateral damage that turns people against the host-nation (HN) government and provides the insurgents with a major propaganda victory." Gen. David H. Petraeus "also points out that sometimes, the best response to an insurgent attack is 'doing nothing.' After all, 'often insurgents carry out a terrorist act or guerrilla raid with the primary purpose of enticing counterinsurgents to overreact.'" Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, Washington Post, 18 November 2007.

Would an "independent" USIA rock the world? (updated)

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"What does America have going for it now? What could we send out to the world that might have the same impact on, say, Arabs and Muslims today that rock, jazz, and B-movies had on Russians and Europeans during the Cold War? ... Bring back the U.S. Information Agency—an independent bureau, separate from the State Department, that promotes American values and culture, not an administration's policies." Fred Kaplan, Slate, 9 November 2007. "The most prominent suggestion on how to improve America's face in the world—a suggestion made by well over half of those who wrote me—is to send the world more American faces and to bring more of the world's faces into America." Kaplan, Slate, 14 November 2007. Los Angeles-based multicultural band "Ozomatli was touring the Middle East, its members 'cultural ambassadors' from the State Department on a trip financed by U.S. taxpayers. CNN diplomatic correspondent Zain Verjee reported that the members of the band are 'no fans of the U.S.' and, as such, make 'unlikely diplomats' on a mission to improve the image of America overseas." Stephen F. Hayes, The Weekly Standard, 12 November 2007. The USIA absolutely did promote the policies of the administrations during its existence. It was established as an "independent" because John Foster Dulles believed that "propaganda" operations were not a proper diplomatic function. But USIA's foreign service officers operated through U.S. embassies, and their movements had to be approved by ambassadors. The idea of an truly independent agency to handle international cultural and educational exchanges, broadly representing America and not just the administration perspective, is intriguing. But commentators such as Hayes, or members of Congress, could see to it that such an agency ends up sending only Lee Greenwood abroad. Perhaps it's best to leave international exchanges to a private entity. Update: "While Washington waits, the private sector has jumped right in - as is usually the case. Just last month Warner Brothers' film and television studios announced the launch of a multi-billion dollar partnership with the Abu Dhabi Media Company to develop 'a media and entertainment hub' in the United Arab Emirates capital city. The project includes the construction of theme parks and cinemas as well as the creation of funding for the production of Arabic language films, television and video games." Kim Rome, Pasadena Star News, 17 November 2007.

We upset our government more than the competition.

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Bruce Dovis, CEO of Australia Network, in Taiwan: "We have more people on the ground in the Asia Pacific than anyone else. We also look at what other broadcasters are showing. ... Although we get our funding from the government, we are independent and not subject to the same constraints that a government-run media group would be. In fact, sometimes the government can get quite upset with some of our broadcasts." The China Post (Taipei), 10 November 2007. Virginia Trioli resigns as morning presenter on 702 ABC radio in Sydney. "She spoke to executives from the ABC's Australia Network, which broadcasts to Asia, a few months ago, about presenting the morning news program." The Age (Melbourne), 9 November 2007. See previous post about Australia Network.

Speaking of the UAE, so much for the vaunted Dubai Media City.

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Two Pakistani television networks that transmit from Dubai in United Arab Emirates were ordered off the air Friday at the request of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, officials from the networks said. GEO-TV and ARY Digital offer a variety of programming, including news, entertainment, sports and music. Both networks had been banned from Pakistan's cable television system -- along with other networks, including CNN and BBC -- since Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3. This latest action prevents the two Pakistani networks from broadcasting worldwide via satellite. ... 'We uplink from Dubai, never having had a license to uplink from Pakistan. Dubai is a media city which seemed to be a haven and a sanctuary.'" CNN, 16 November 2007. "Dubai government officials as well as those from the Dubai Media City could not be reached for comment, but the code of the media city prohibits organizations it hosts to interfere with the politics of another country." Canadian Press, 17 November 2007. "'No reason was given to our office in Dubai for shutting down the channel, but the orders were served,' GEO TV senior editor Ghazi Salahuddin said. Well-known GEO TV anchor Hamid Mir said they would continue to protest until their channel was back on air. The journalists would not compromise with the government and would not take any diktats." Gulf News (Dubai), 18 November 2007. "Geo TV, a leading Pakistani television news channel, will consider moving out of Dubai if a settlement is not reached with regard to the disruption in the transmission of its news channel from the Dubai Media City." Gulf News, 18 November 2007. Reporters sans frontières "is shocked by the complete interruption in Dubai of the broadcasts of two Pakistani TV stations." RSF, 17 November 2007. "UAE authorities said on Saturday that they were considering whether to allow two leading Pakistani news channels, which were shut down following 'pressure' from Islamabad, to resume their transmission." PTI, 18 November 2007. Geo TV might consider leasing some shortwave air time.

BBC visits UAE University.

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
BBC Arabic TV official says UAE University students "asked many questions about international broadcasting. They were especially interested in the BBC's open approach, which encourages them to contribute stories to the BBC Arabic multimedia offer including TV, radio and online." AME Info, 18 November 2007.

"Navy Wins, the Beeb Loses."

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
At the ITU's World Radiocommunication Conference, "Europe made a big push to carve out additional frequencies in the 4 to 10 MHz high frequency bands for use by shortwave broadcasters who wanted to use the spectrum to support new noise-free broadcasting based on the Digital Radio Mondial standard. The Defense Department strongly opposed such a move because the services have found ways to send data traffic over this spectrum, once used for Morse code. ... The broadcasters lost their bid for additional HF spectrum at the conference, leaving HF military frequencies free from interference by broadcasters such as the BBC. Personally, I like the hisses and snaps that historically went along with listening to The Beeb (a.k.a. the BBC) and don't know if listening to it in near-FM quality would be the same experience." Bob Brewin, Government Executive, 19 November 2007.

The gold fringe is still listening to shortwave.

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"This battle is not over yet, not by a long shot, so stay tuned to your short wave radios as the epic battle between the forces of good and evil takes center stage once again, and heats up to the boiling point as the reprobate forces of the cartel attempt to take on the combined forces of the large specs, ETF's, sovereign wealth funds, Indian brides, and jewelers and investors from India, the Middle East, Russia, China and Asia." Bob Chapman, GoldSeek, 18 November 2007. Seems to be referring to his appearances of the Follow the Money program on private shortwave station WWCR in Nashville.

Has anyone seen the foreign propaganda section?

Posted: 18 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"On Nov 14, the Post published yet another article detailing the muzzling of the independent news media in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. Yet on the same day, The Post again distributed the weekly propaganda section published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta. I have yet to see an article there concerning the rapidly diminishing voice of the Russian independent news media. Will The Post do anything for money? Don't you feel like cannibals for assisting Putin in destroying the Russian free press?" Herb Savage, letter to Washington Post, 17 November 2007 (but not available at the Washington Post website). The writer is referring to the paid insert Russia Beyond the Headlines, appearing periodically in the Post and other U.S. newspapers. The 14 November issue includes a story, "Debt Free: Increased Reserves Make 2007 a Success." But there is another story about how inflation in Russia affects family budgets. See also www.rbth.rg.ru and Yudo Media. Another insert, Reports from China, affiliated with China Daily, is distributed regularly with the Post. See also the Washington Post's "nation branding" sales pitch to potential nation-state advertisers. Each insert comes with the disclaimer that it did not involve the Washington Post news staff.

Fading rapidly: IBB transmitting station at Morocco will close (updated).

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
The International Broadcasting Bureau announces that its shortwave relay station at Briech, Morocco, will cease operations in March 2008. Its ten 500-kilowatt transmitters (currently operating at 250 kilowatts) are used for 20 VOA and seven RFE/RL language services. This announcement comes shortly after the 28 October closure of the IBB shortwave transmitting station at Delano, California. See IBB announcements. Update: "'The rising cost of operating the Morocco station prompted this decision.' ... U.S. international broadcasting in Morocco started in 1949 with the Tangier Relay Station. The current facility is 18 miles southwest of Tangier and began broadcasting in 1993. Plans for redeploying the transmitting equipment have not been finalized." Radio World, 16 November 2007.

Willis Conover in India.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"From 23 November in Mumbai and New Delhi, jazz and India will come together again for their 29th festival, now called Jazz Utsav. ... [The first year of the festival, 1978], the emcee was Voice of America’s Willis Conover, who also produced jazz concerts at places such as the White House. 'His soothing voice and charming demeanour on stage won over everybody,' says festival committee member Prakash Thadani." livemint.com, 16 November 2007.

Listen to BBC and VOA and maybe you, too, will be a Datuk.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The presenter of the popular RTM2 TV game show in the late 1990s is now a ‘Datuk’. This came about after Gary Thanasan was conferred the ‘Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang’ (DIMP), in conjunction with the Sultan of Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah’s 77th birthday last month. ... 'I have always been a radio addict and I love music since I was 12. I enjoyed listening to Paul Bennet on the BBC radio and the Voice of America over the SWII frequency, and wanted to speak well like the announcers I had heard.'" The Malay Mail, 18 November 2007.

Deutsche Welle trains Egyptian students -- and helps them relax.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Erik Bettermann, Director-General of Deutsche Welle, will be opening a Digital Media Campus at the German University in Cairo on November 20. ... Before the official opening, Bettermann will give a short presentation on cooperating with educational institutions in foreign countries and how this supports Deutsche Welle’s goals for the future. ... On November 19, Deutsche Welle is also opening an audio/visual lounge at Cairo University to give students a way to relax while staying up to date." DW press release, 16 November 2007.

Falun Gong's media war with China.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Viewers can tune in to New Tang Dynasty’s programs via satellite dish or online. In China, the government bans individual dish ownership and blocks Falun Gong-related and other politically sensitive Web sites. But illegal dish ownership is widespread, and some Internet users have found ways to skirt official fire walls, including by using tools developed by Falun Gong adherents." Wall Street Journal, 15 November 2007.

Touting Turkey's public diplomacy.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's meeting last week with President Bush "embodied something far greater than the immediate solution to the PKK crises; it was what Karen Hughes should have been doing for the past several years, it was public relations. In convincing the Turkish people that America is still a valuable ally, in showing the United States that we are still friends with common goals, and in demonstrating to the rest of the world that Turkey is a rational, mature member of a greater global community and knows that carrots are just as important as, and preferable to, sticks, the meeting was a great success." Turkish Daily News, 16 November 2007. "An effective public diplomacy is being conducted, the result of which is Turkey’s ever-high popularity in the region, especially in the Arab Middle East." Journal of Turkish Weekly, 15 November 2007.

Another DTH satellite service for Africa.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Eutelsat Communications has signed a five-year contract on its W4 satellite with Entertainment Highway Ltd (EHL) for a new pay-TV platform serving Nigeria. The contract covers one high-power Ku-band transponder with a high-power spotbeam that Eutelsat has focused over Nigeria. Called HiTV, the new platform comprises 15 digital channels, including ... BBC World ... Sky News." Broadband TV News, 17 November 2007.

Big merger in Arabic regional television.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The recently announced merger between the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. (LBC) and Saudi-owned Rotana network could signal the arrival of Arab media comgloms in what has been a highly fragmented industry. ... LBC, which was established in 1985 as a local news station, has since evolved into one of the region's most popular entertainment channels, producing massive Endemol hits such as 'Star Academy' and 'Deal or No Deal.' Rotana, meanwhile, is the Arab world's most prominent record label, broadcasting six channels, four of which are devoted to music videos --primarily those featuring Rotana artists -- as well as two classic Arabic movie channels. ... Together, this powerful duo is rivaled only by Middle East Broadcasting Center or MBC, a seven-channel network, which is also Saudi-owned. While LBC and Rotana have focused on Arabic entertainment, MBC, whose flagship MBC 1 channel routinely attracts the most sought after Arabic programming, is also well-known for its rights to blockbuster Hollywood pics and American TV series such as 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Prison Break' and 'Law & Order.'" Variety, 16 November 2007.

Pakistan: mixed signals on television stations allowed, or not.

Posted: 17 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Geo television network said on Friday that it had been ordered to shut down its news channel. The channel beams its signals from Dubai. Late on Friday night, a spokesman for the ARY network called Dawn’s Karachi and Lahore offices, saying that the group had been told to shut down its news channel. ... The television channels that beam programmes from ground stations based in Dubai had continued with their transmissions. Although the channels were not available on cable in Pakistan, they could be viewed either through satellite dish, or outside Pakistan. Over the last couple of days, however, cable operators had been allowed to air a number of domestic and foreign news channels. But in an unprecedented move on Friday night, the authorities in Dubai asked Geo News to shut down its transmission." Dawn, 17 November 2007. "Pakistani authorities allowed BBC, CNN, and local stations Aaj and Dawn to resume broadcasting on Thursday after private television channels were banned under emergency rule. ...two other major private networks, Geo TV and ARY One, remain off the air." Asia Media, 16 November 2007.

Recalling Senator Joseph McCarthy's Voice of America hearings of 1953.

Posted: 16 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"One of McCarthy's first investigations concerned the Voice of America (VOA) and why one of its transmitters had been placed in such a way as to minimize its effectiveness in reaching the enslaved people behind the Iron Curtain. An employee with the VOA — Raymond Kaplan — died when hit by a truck the day before he was set to testify in the probe." Wes Vernon, Renew America, 15 November 2007. Transcriptions of the hearings are available in Volume 1 at the U.S. Senate Art & History web page.

The hazards of working for RFE/RL, now and then (updated).

Posted: 16 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Hajar Smouni, the Paris-based head of the Middle East desk at Reporters Without Borders, says RFE/RL 'is not very talkative about the issue' in part because of pressure from al-Obaidi’s family, who asked that the abduction not be publicized. Smouni did say, however, that an RWB contact in Iraq reported that al-Obaidi’s captors demanded a $100,000 ransom. Smouni did not know if it was paid, and Winter says RFE/RL has a policy of not paying ransoms." The Prague Post, 7 November 2007. See previous post about al-Obaidi. -- "Reporters Without Borders said today that recent developments and statements made it fear that the authorities in Kyrgyzstan lack the will to properly investigate the murder of journalist Alisher Saipov, against whom a campaign of vilification has been launched." Reporters sans frontières, 6 November 2007. "Saipov was a journalist, but he may have been killed for his political activism." Ilan Greenberg, Index on Censorship, 8 November 2007. See previous post about Saipov. -- Historians with the state-run Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes in Romania (IICCR) ... accused [former Securitate General Nicolae] Plesita and four Romanian diplomats based in 1981 in the former West German capital Bonn of attempting to murder Romanian oppositional leaders in Western Europe with letter bombs. Two of the bombs exploded, and one of the targets, Nicolae Penescu, who worked with the broadcaster Radio Free Europe, died as a result of the attack." DPA, 7 November 2007. Update: Criminal complaint against former Romanian diplomat Dan Mihoc, "currently general manager of the company representing British Petroleum (BP) in Romania. Mihoc denies any connection with the attacks against Radio Free Europe in 1981. ... Sources say that, more than the sending of explosive packages, Mihoc's role after the failed 1981 attack against Radio Free Europe, was to identify breaches in the radio's security system. On February 21, 1981, a bomb exploded in the Radio Free Europe building in Munich. Although the bomb affected the Czech language offices, the attack was aimed at the Romanian department." HotNews.ro, 15 November 2007.

Trans World Radio CEO will step down.

Posted: 16 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"David G. Tucker has announced his intention to step down from his role as chief executive officer of international Christian broadcaster Trans World Radio. ... Tucker, 63, is only the third person to hold TWR’s top leadership post in the organization’s 53-year history. ... [His tenure included] growth in number of languages aired from 180 to more than 200. ... The next step in TWR’s growth will require different strategies and leadership gifts than was the case when David assumed his global responsibilities with TWR 11 years ago. ... The board is searching for the right CEO and president globally, with the selection based on skills and gifting, regardless of nationality." Trans World Radio press release, 8 November 2007.

Pakistanis still using foreign media for news about Pakistan (updated).

Posted: 16 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC and the Voice of America radios are broadcasting Urdu programs, most beneficial for the people living in Pakistani cities and villages who cannot afford to buy satellite dishes or who have no internet facilities to watch global TV networks. While the people of Pakistan must get the news, they also need the news analysis. ... If the global media, particularly radio and television, can supply illuminating and honest analysis..., the people of Pakistan who yearn for democracy and the rule of law will be most grateful." Liaquat Ali Khan, Media with Conscience, 14 November 2007. "Meanwhile, the fate of international news channels such as the BBC and al-Jazeera remains to be decided in light of the fact that they air programmes that may not be suitable for Pakistani viewers. To put it more bluntly, censorship has been institutionalized once again." Huma Yusuf, The News (Karachi), 15 November 2007. "One American stationed in south Asia writes that, during Gen. Musharraf's state of emergency and the blackout of independent news stations, many Pakistanis have appreciated Voice of America's news broadcasts—though he adds they will continue to be appreciated only if they are seen as straight news, free of any government's interference. 'When tribal elites in Waziristan trust Voice of America to bring them the news,' he writes, 'it can't be a bad thing for the United States.'" Fred Kaplan, Slate, 14 November 2007. Update: "Radio, an almost forgotten medium, is back in the limelight with enhanced significance due to the situation. Medium and short wave radios are now serving the purpose." The Post (Lahore), 17 November 2007.

An even cheaper satellite television package for Zimbabwe.

Posted: 16 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"'The launch of [Multichoice DStv] Family in Zimbabwe just ahead of Christmas is a deliberate move to extend accessibility to quality DStv programming among a wider number of people within the Zimbabwean market, which has a high demand for international television but an understandable limit on funds available for this purpose.'" The package includes BBC World. Financial Gazette (Harare), 15 November 2007.

Aljazeera English is one year old (updated).

Posted: 16 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English marks its first anniversary on November 15 2007. The station is adored by many but abhorred by others. In terms of size and budget compared with CNN and Fox News, many call Al Jazeera a 'little matchbox' but, when it comes to richness of representation, diversity of opinion and plurality of views AJE appears well prepared to take on the corporate news media on its merits." Jim Zackey, Rapid TV News, 15 November 2007. "'We proved the sceptics wrong and created a new channel that is already recognised as one of the major voices in global journalism.'" AME Info, 14 November 2007. Update: "Some US journalists who have actually watched Al Jazeera, rather than just writing about it, have attempted to persuade their readers that it holds nothing to fear." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 15 November 2007.

Another ominous restructuring proposal.

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Defense Science Board "study, titled 'Strategic Communication,' calls for restructuring how the government organizes and disseminates the nation’s messages. A set of briefing slides that accompanies the study includes a recommendation to consolidate the government’s various efforts by appointing a deputy national security adviser who would serve as assistant to the president for strategic communication. It also urges creating a permanent deputy under secretary of defense for policy in charge of strategic communication." New York Times, 14 November 2007. If U.S. international broadcasting is brought under this deputy, it would be the end of the credibility and thus the end of the effectiveness of U.S. international broadcasting.

Did Czech songwriter snitch on RFE broadcaster?

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Singer-songwriter Jaroslav Hutka, "who became one of the faces of the Velvet Revolution after previously being forced into exile, accuses [best-selling songwriter Jaromir] Nohavica of providing the police with sensitive information on two prominent exiles: singer-songwriter and Radio Free Europe presenter Karel Kryl and playwright Pavel Kohout." Radio Prague, 13 November 2007.

Alhurra versus Abu Dhabi TV.

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
“'The U.S. has to work hard to change its image abroad,' [Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Hussain Al] Sha’ali said, explaining, 'We, your friends, your allies, pay a price for supporting the United States.' Unfortunately, he said, 9/11 shut the doors on people who were talking and listening to each other. But, he argued, America wins no friends by launching new TV stations like Al Hurra, the Arabic-language American satellite TV channel based in Virginia. Instead, 'you change your image by deeds.' ... We met Ali Al-Ahmed, the young director of the Abu Dhabi TV station, who described the transformation of Arab TV after the first Gulf war. 'We’ve earned our audience,' he said. 'People have switched from CNN, BBC and VOA to Abu Dhabi TV.'" Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2007.

Burmese still using foreign media for news about Burma.

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"On a daily basis the state-run, New Light of Myanmar, accuses the BBC and VOA (Voice of America) of lying about the situation in Burma saying that they incited the monks to protest. Despite these accusations, the Burmese people appear to have chosen to listen to international news bulletins. 'If we gather to watch satellite channels in public places we risk ending up in prison for seven years.'" AKI, 15 November 2007.

CRI cited in essay about China's "media manipulation."

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"On October 19, China Radio International reported about a Chinese scholar's comment on the international media's attention to the 17th congress. In the article, Yu Yongsheng, the author and an international affairs scholar, elaborated on how fast China's economy was growing and how important China's role was in ending international crises such as Darfur and North Korea. ... Apparently, Yu shut his eyes and ears to the bulk of coverage on US the mainstream media that questioned the CCP's commitment to serious political reform, democracy promotion and corruption eradication." Ming Dai, Asia Times Online, 15 November 2007.

CNN expands international newsgathering.

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"CNN is pumping $10 million into what it claims is the biggest expansion of its international newsgathering activities in 27 years. The newsie is beefing up its number of international news correspondents, bowing a regional news hub in the United Arab Emirates, and investing in a London-based digital production unit. New operations are also planned for Afghanistan, Belgium, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland and Vietnam." Also expansion for CNN en Español. Variety, 14 November 2007. "The Atlanta-based news network – facing stronger international news competition at home from BBC America and even year-old Al Jazeera English – said it also would make major investments in CNN’s International Newsource and CNN’s in-house wire operations." Multichannel News, 14 November 2007. "The announcement comes two months after CNN said it would not renew its contract to receive news from Reuters Group PLC and instead bolster its own news resources." AP, 14 November 2007. "'This is all about owning more content.'" TV Week, 14 November 2007. "CNN plan to expand its online services by creating a digital production unit that will be primarily based in London. The unit will produce and service the growing number of new platforms within CNN. It will work alongside the television operation and will be responsible for providing content for CNN International, CNNArabic.com, CNNMobile and new CNN services on TV-to-broadband sites." Brand Republic, 14 November 2007. "CNN has announced its first permanent presence in Afghanistan." Press Gazette, 15 November 2007. See also CNN press release, 15 November 2007.

Bad news blog, to make a point.

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The essence of the Bad News project is a blog which lists only negative, yet true, news items about a specific country. I started Bad News about the Netherlands on the Internet in mid-October. ... Q. What motivated you to start this blog? A. For many years I had seen how many foreign journalists distort news about Israel in various ways." Manfred Gerstenfeld, interviewed by Israel Insider, 13 November 2007.

"Obvious choice" to succeed Karen Hughes? (updated)

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Bush should not appoint another political operative as his public-diplomacy chief. He should appoint an individual of learning and achievement. There is one obvious choice: Fouad Ajami, the distinguished scholar and author, a Lebanese-born Shia Muslim who is American by choice and conviction." Clifford D. May, Scripps Howard News Service, 7 November 2007. "President Clinton gave initial appointment to Evelyn Lieberman, the White House staffer who arranged the transfer for Monica Lewinsky to the Pentagon. Under Mr. Bush, the office has been occupied by Charlotte Beers, a Madison Ave. advertising executive who had successfully marketed Uncle Ben's; by Margaret Tutwiler, a former spokeswoman for Secretary of State Baker; and most recently by Mrs. Hughes, who lacked for vision." New York Sun, 13 November 2007. "Her influence never extended as far in the White House as it needed to for her, and thus the country, to succeed in the vital enterprise she undertook." Lee Cullum, KERA (Dallas), 13 November 2007. Update: "I wrote a few months ago about Ajami's special role in validating neoconservative delusions about the Middle East and the Arab mind, all of which, it should be noted, has made him quite unpopular in the region." Matthew Duss, The American Prospect's Tapped blog, 14 November 2007.

Proposal to support "anti-Islamist Muslims," with U.S. international broadcasting as an "element" (updated).

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Because [Karen] Hughes was the most senior government official responsible for the 'battle of ideas,' her principal task should have been to answer the question: How can the United States most effectively empower anti-radical Muslims around the world to combat the spread of Islamist extremism? After all, the 'battle of ideas' is not a popularity contest about us; it is a battle for political power among Muslims, in which America's favorability rating is irrelevant. ... Rather than expend effort on winning Muslim friendship for America, our engagement with Muslim publics -- what we call 'public diplomacy' -- should focus on identifying, nurturing and supporting anti-Islamist Muslims, from secular liberals to pious believers, who fear the encroachment of radical Islamists and are willing to make a stand. This strategy would involve overt and covert ways to assist anti-Islamist political parties, nongovernmental organizations, trade unions, media outlets, women's groups, educational institutions and youth movements as they compete with the radicals. It calls for marshaling government resources -- our embassies, aid bureaucracies, international broadcasting units and intelligence agencies, as well as our commercial, educational and civic relationships -- to give anti-Islamists the moral, political, financial, technological and material support they need." Robert Satloff, Washington Post, 10 November 2007. "That’s the correct approach for supporting freedom around the world. A broad strategy, of which international broadcasting is one solid element." Former BBG spokesman Howard Mortman in his Extreme Mortman blog, 10 November 2007. This is why public diplomacy and international broadcasting must be separate activities, conducted by separate agencies, in separate buildings, even in separate cities. Audiences make the effort to tune to international broadcasting to get news that is more reliable than the news that they get from their state-controlled domestic media. Credibility is therefore the be-all and end-all of successful international broadcasting. The audience for international broadcasting is, collectively, smarter than those of us who work in international broadcasting. The audience will detect almost immediately if their newscast is "marshaled" or just an "element" in a "broad strategy." And they will tune elsewhere. There are ways to implement Satloff's ideas, but keep (overt) U.S. international broadcasting out of it. Update: "Satloff has been a part of public diplomacy by hosting a show on Al-Hurra, Washington's Arabic-language television channel. His show is fittingly called 'Inside Washington,' but what has his access taught him? ... People like Satloff ... have much to offer the debate, but only if they eschew the notion of an Islamic world that can be bent to the will and the wiles of outsiders." Editorial, The Daily Star (Beirut), 14 November 2007.

New integrated circuit would bring shortwave reception to more devices (updated).

Posted: 15 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"In a tiny 3- x 3-mm package, the Si4734/35 not only simplifies the design of existing SW and LW radios but also enables the addition of SW/LW capability to consumer electronics devices such as handsets and MP3 players, broadening the reach of SW and LW broadcast content used by consumers worldwide. ... Superior selectivity and a highly linear front end enable consumers to hear more stations in crowded broadcast environments. These features are vital differentiators for short-wave frequencies where there are hundreds of valid broadcasters in a very wide spectrum." Silicon Laboratories press release, 12 November 2007. Update: "Silicon Laboratories attracted the attention of some bears yesterday, as option traders showed a distinct preference for SLAB put options on the International Securities Exchange (ISE) Monday. ... This wave of put buying came in the wake of a Silicon Labs report that the company has introduced the first fully-integrated AM/FM radio receivers with short-wave and long-wave band coverage – hardly the kind of dire news you would expect to spark such bearish activity." Schaeffer's Investment Research, 13 November 2007.

I guess this means the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy still exists (updated).

Posted: 13 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Elizabeth F. Bagley (reappointment), Victoria Clarke, and William J. Hybl nominated by the President for terms on the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. White House, 7 November 2007. Further evidence that it exists is that its website still works, although its most recent "release" was over a year ago. Update: "The US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will be visiting USC on Tuesday November 13, 2007." USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 13 November 2007.

CSIS commission says soft power is smart power (updated).

Posted: 13 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The report, which was more than a year in the making, said the United States has focused too much on the war on terror and relied too heavily on military might in its foreign policy. ... It called on the next US president to chart a new course towards a 'smarter' foreign policy that balances hard power -- 'wielding carrots and sticks to get what you want' -- and soft power -- 'the ability to attract people to our side without coercion.'" AFP, 6 November 2007. "Local populations often discount U.S. government public diplomacy efforts as official propaganda because these efforts fail to be properly situated in the local context. Little will change if diplomats are penned in by embassy walls and lack adequate resources or if broadcasting misreads cultural cues and appears to be inauthentic, as is too often the case." CSIS Commission on Smart Power, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 6 November 2007. See also CSIS Commission on Smart Power website and blog. Update: "The report's prescription of a bold new approach for US foreign policy is somewhat checkmated by the sheer force of its underlying institutional compromise, devoid of much intellectual vitality, rehashing the old recipes for action." Kaveh L Afrasiabi, Asia Times Online, 13 November 2007.

We read it so you don't have to (updated).

Posted: 13 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"We aggressively undermined the Soviet Union and encouraged resistance and subterfuge through the Voice of America and other means." Tim Holloway, Family Security Matters, 12 November 2007. Nonsense. In the 1950s, VOA may have had a Cold War edge to it, but it was basically a news vehicle. The closest thing to "encouragement" is RFE's reported promises to Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956, but even that is contested by some RFE historians. Update:"We should create a freedom broadcast network, similar to the Radio Free Europe network that was used during the Cold War, to insure that the Arab world gets a different view of America and the West than what it currently gets from Al Jazeera." John W. Wallace, News Blaze, 12 November 2007. As if Alhurra, Radio Sawa, and Radio Free Iraq did not exist.

Another four million might not even bring change in a fortnight.

Posted: 13 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Millions of dollars earmarked by the U.S. government to help North Koreans fleeing their impoverished homeland are still tied up by red tape three years after the money was authorized ... Christian Whiton, deputy to the U.S. special envoy on human rights in North Korea ... said Washington has spent about $4 million ramping up its radio broadcasts into North Korea during the past year, as well as sending funds into the country via the United Nations and other aid agencies. ... He said another $4 million was expected to be funneled to broadcasters — such as Radio Free Asia and Voice of America — to help effect change in North Korea, but warned that change would not happen overnight." AP, 13 November 2007. North Koreans take the risk of tuning foreign broadcasts to find what is happening in their own country and abroad. Exhortations of regime change would not correspond with why they are listening, and wouldn't work. See previous post about North Korea.

U.S. travelers lack for news from home.

Posted: 13 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
In the southern tip of Baja California: "Rivaling the whales as an attraction is the nearly complete isolation from global events. If you want news, you are going to have to work at it. You can find CNN International on TV, but it spends a great deal of time on soccer, cricket, business world markets and Pakistan. An off-year election in the United States, for instance in Kentucky and Mississippi, rated not one word. We had to call home for the results of our absentee ballots." Cincinnati Post, 12 November 2007.

Soccer via shortwave.

Posted: 13 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
In Newark's Portuguese neighborhood: "Every day retired men plant themselves on street corners, clustering around short wave radios broadcasting European games. ... Because soccer is so popular, which restaurants can afford to show it on television is a critical issue ... . European games are only available on a pay-per-view, residents say, and the fees charged by channels that own the North American rights to the games ... can be steep." The Columbia Journalist, 4 November 2007.

From the final rumbles of commentary as Karen Hughes prepares to depart.

Posted: 12 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Sure, wouldn't it be great if the Middle East was democratic? But was it wise, three years ago, when the Arab world was writhing in anger over the Iraq war, for Bush to declare that 'it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.' In the Middle East, then, Bush was saying he would try to unseat the kings, presidents and potentates who had grit their teeth and stood by Washington, even as their people seethed with anti-American fury." Joel Brinkley, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 November 2007. "We can only hope that the next president has a better understanding of the public-diplomacy-policy link than did President Bush and his top advisers." Guy W. Farmer, Nevada Appeal, 11 November 2007.

FOIA request yields 2600 pages about Clinton's public diplomacy chief.

Posted: 12 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The logjam holding back records from President Clinton's library finally seems to have broken with the release of more than 2000 pages of records about a top aide to Mr. Clinton, Evelyn Lieberman. ... The approximately 2600 pages detail Ms. Lieberman's ... work as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy." New York Sun Latest Politics blog, 11 November 2007. And before that Lieberman was director of VOA.

Pakistan: case study in how to get the news to the audience.

Posted: 12 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Satellite dishes, however, are not the only alternatives that have been embraced by Pakistanis since the ban. 'The first thing I do once I get into office is check out the news websites,' says marketing manager Shariq Bukhari. 'Dawn, The News and of course bbcnews.com are the best,' he explains. Dawn and The News are two of Pakistan’s largest-selling English-language dailies. The BBC website is an increasing favourite among young Pakistanis. Visits to the site from Pakistan rose more than fivefold after the emergency. But most popular among the websites is the BBC’s Urdu-language news site, bbcurdu.com. Its traffic from Pakistan has roughly doubled since the emergency. In rural areas, the BBC’s Urdu language radio broadcasts remain the most popular source of information. FM radio news has been banned. But the Urdu service can still be heard on medium and short wave." Agencies via Gulf Times, 10 November 2007. "BBC’s partner FM radio stations had been shut down, with one station’s transmitter moved. ... BBC coverage within Pakistan is now broadcast on short wave and medium wave radio and the corporation is providing additional programming on the most accessible medium for most of the country." Press Gazette, 12 November 2007. Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif: "Yes, I did call [former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto] her soon after the blast but we spoke to each other through VoA (Voice of America) who had us both on their show at the same time. We exchanged hellos (laughs)." Outlookindia.com, 19 November 2007 issue. See previous post about Pakistan.

TV5 Monde might resist absorption into consolidated French international broadcasting.

Posted: 12 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Following a meeting on Friday in Lucerne, Switzerland, of the ministers from TV5 Monde’s French-speaking partner countries, France has been called to revise its work on its reform project. Opposed to any combining, if not merger, of TV5 and France 24, and fearing that TV5 might become exclusively a 'French voice', Belgium, Canada, Switzerland and Québec asked Paris to work out a new 'document'." Rapid TV News, 12 November 2007. "The director of the Swiss Federal Office of Communication said 'small countries fear that their presence at the network is dropping.' The Minister of Culture and Audiovisual Affairs of the French Community of Belgium saw Paris' attempts to transform TV5 as 'essentially an instrument for international influence by France.'" Variety, 11 November 2007. "Commercial network TF1 has put a €12 million value on ins 50% stake in the Francophone news channel France 24, valuing the operation at €24 million. A source told Le Figaro that the company had paid just a few thousand Euro for the channel that has been on the air for just a year, broadcasting in French, English and Arabic." Broadband TV News, 12 November 2007. "La mise en place d'un holding, regroupant RFI, TV5 et France 24, ou, dans une première étape, TV5 et France 24, me semble être une des solutions pour donner plus de cohérence à l'ensemble." Le Figaro, 2 November 2007. See also followthemedia.com, 10 November 2007. And Le Figaro, 12 November 2007.

The BBC and what "sets them apart."

Posted: 12 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC management is populated by people who know the trenches too well to get it wrong. 'A major virtue of the BBC leadership is they all know what it is like to be in edit suites, as opposed to the CBC's top executives, who never faced real journalism deadlines in their lives,' said John Owen, a former chief editor of CBC News and now a professor of journalism at City University London. 'But the key, as they go forward, is to stop all the navel-gazing and the intra-BBC warring and really focus on the work of news gathering. They need to remember that what sets them apart from everyone else in the world is that when news happens just about anywhere, they can go to their own person, who has been in the country and knows the story. That is what makes them one of the most distinguished brands in Britain. It is what makes them matter around the world.'" Toronto Star, 11 November 2007.

Aljazeera analyzed (updated).

Posted: 12 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera's programming breaks down into roughly four categories: newscasts, which tend to be fairly balanced; talk shows and related programs, to which viewers call in; documentaries; and reports from correspondents in the field. The last category is where the reporting has frequently turned away from international standards of journalism and toward a sensationalistic and Islamist bias." Kristen Gillespie, The Nation, 9 November 2007. Update: "In addition to smearing al-Jazeera Arabic, Gillespie is saying is the Satellite news station is duplicitous, giving English speaking audiences one face while giving Arab speaking audiences another. ... The same criticism was leveled at Dan Rather and other media heroes of the Vietnam War, journalists who braved harsh criticism to expose the ugly, painful and sometime repulsive truth of Vietnam in persistent news reports." Ray Hanania, The American Muslim, 11 November 2007. "The network can be tendentious - Bin Laden's face up there for several minutes - in stomach-turning ways. But, overall, its striving for balanced reporting from a distinct perspective seems genuine. ... Yet, the network has been sidelined in the United States. Jim Moran, a Democratic congressman from Virginia, told me: 'There's definitely an attitude here that these guys are the enemy. But in the Mideast, Asia and Europe they have a credibility the U.S. desperately needs.'" Roger Cohen, International Herald Tribune, 11 November 2007.

Presidential candidates: "public diplomacy thrown in" (updated).

Posted: 11 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Almost everyone running for president has basically adopted a classical approach — careful diplomacy, wide alliances, and few wars — with elements of gradual democracy-promotion and public diplomacy thrown in." Kai Stinchcombe, The Stanford Daily, 8 November 2007. "Undoing the damage to our image caused by Bush Administration policies will require a major new public diplomacy effort. But for this to be credible, we also need to change the policies: We need to live up to our own ideals." Bill Richardson, National Interest Online, 7 November 2007. "Engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers. This will involve everything from improved public diplomacy and educational exchanges to high impact projects that actually change people’s lives." Joe Biden, Real Clear Politics, 8 November 2007. Update: "NAFSA: Association of International Educators ... has sent a letter to the 2008 presidential candidates, urging them to consider how they, if elected, would marshal the resource of international education to meet important national needs. ... 'The co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission continue to remind us that their recommendation to increase exchange programs remains an important public diplomacy strategy that the United States has not adequately deployed.'" NAFSA press release, 9 November 2007.

Iran upholds Iranian-Kurdish reporter's death sentence.

Posted: 11 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières condemns Iranian supreme court "decision to uphold the death sentence for Kurdish-Iranian journalist Adnan Hassanpour for 'spying.' ... Hassanpour, 27, ... used to work for the weekly Asou, covering the sensitive Kurdish issue, until the newspaper was banned by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in August 2005. Hassanpour also worked for foreign news media including Voice of America and Radio Farda." RSF, 9 November 2007. "Hasanpour, who was arrested last December, allegedly offered to provide a U.S. State Department official with information on Kurdish issues in Iran, an act that was interpreted as spying." AP, 11 November 2007.

VOA and Radio Farda wouldn't want that brand, either (updated again).

Posted: 11 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The money for Iranian democrats increased significantly in 2006 to $75 million after Iran announced that it had begun to enrich uranium at its Natanz facility. But most of that money, $49 million, was designated for Voice of America's Persian service and Radio Farda, an American funded Persian radio station that mixes news and popular music. 'If the program is just going to be expanding Voice of America and Radio Farda, don't brand it as the Iran democracy program.'" New York Sun, 8 November 2007. Updated: "The fact is, America’s international broadcasting efforts, for which I used to work, is a democracy program. It can be stand-alone, or it can work with other campaigns. Carpenter unecessarily separates international broadcasting from other pro-democracy efforts. All efforts work hand-in-hand. These aren’t isolated initiatives." Former BBG spokesman Howard Mortman, in his Extreme Mortman blog, 10 November 2007. International broadcasting best supports democracy as an independent, objective source of information, so that the people of a nation make up their own minds in the practice of democracy, or in the development of democracy. But because international broadcasting must have credibility to succeed, attaching to it a value laden descriptor (even if it is a good value) is counterprodutive and unnecessary. -- "The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) has been at the forefront of lobbying against continued Congressional funding of Voice of America-Persian service; Radio Farda; and grants for Iranian civil society. ... Now it turns out that NIAC accepted not one grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), but three." Michael Rubin, National Review Online, 9 November 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Another state of emergency, another media blackout (updated).

Posted: 10 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
In Georgia: "All independent television news programs have been halted for the 15-day state of emergency. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said the authorities had also blocked its Georgian-language programs." Reuters, 8 November 2007. Update: "RFE/RL is one of the media outlets affected by the Georgian government's declaration yesterday of a state of emergency, as the government's ban on independent media broadcasts shut down its affiliate partners in Georgia. As an interim step, RFE/RL has secured shortwave and cross-border mediumwave frequencies, which it is using to maintain news programming into Georgia. In addition, RFE/RL reconfigured its Georgian-language website, implemented an email alert system and is using cellphone-based SMS alerts to keep its audience in Georgia informed of breaking news." Prime News, 10 November 2007. "Some cable networks, not all of them, in Tbilisi were providing the Russian TV stations on November 9. BBC World and CNN International, as well as EuroNews, however, were unavailable." The Georgian Times, 10 November 2007.

Can BBC, VOA, Radio Farda compete in "highly complex" Iranian media environment?

Posted: 10 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Persian Service, highly regarded during the years leading to the Revolution of 1979, and again during the reform years of mid 90s, is now viewed sceptically. Even its loyal supporters now describe the BBC as resembling a 'dinosaur', strong and historically significant but old fashioned. The young are simply no longer prepared to listen to poor quality reception when they have access to at least 12 lively FM channels in Tehran alone. ... US media is taken even less seriously. While the young like the Los Angles Persian music played on the 24 hour US funded Voice of America and Radio Farda, they feel the distance." Massoumeh Torfeh, The Guardian organ grinder, 9 November 2007.

Arcane methodology shows that VOANews.com pops up a lot on Google News.

Posted: 10 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America's (VOA) main Internet site, VOANews.com, is currently ranked third in the world as both a Number One Source and Home Page Source in Newsknife's ranking of the top 10 news sites for the year so far. Newsknife, a project of the New Zealand software development organization Industry Standard Computing Ltd (ISC), rates news sites on relevance based on analysis of the main Google News site." VOA News Release, 8 November 2007. "Newsknife notes the relevance position of each news site listing on the home page and up to 10 sub-pages deep. We award points on a sliding scale (with some tweaking) to give you a very good picture of how each news site is doing over time compared with its rivals." Newsknife.

Pakistan's media blackout eases -- selectively.

Posted: 10 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Thursday allowed cable operators to resume the transmission of some private TV channels. The PEMRA directed cable operators to switch on some Pakistani and foreign channels, including Indus News, TV One, Apna TV, TV Khyber, BBC World, CNN, Fox News, Sky News and CNBC. ... The majority of journalists are considering PEMRA’s move to allow cable operators to resume broadcast of specified TV channels 'a plot to divide the media'." Daily Times (Lahore), 9 November 2007. "Suddenly the TV, which had been flashing an annoying 'sorry, the transmission has been interrupted' message all week, burst to life moments ago, the audio blaring BBC World. So Pakistanis can now watch at least some international and domestic channels on their cable networks again." CBC News, 8 November 2007. "Independent TV stations can still be seen on the Internet although, according to a Gallup poll, only 15 per cent of Pakistanis have a connection. ... The BBC World Service has increased the number of its Urdu-language news programmes, which can still be received on the short wave but no longer on FM, as the army closed the FM 103 station on 3 November." Reporters sans frontières, 8 November 2007. "Thursday night in Islamabad, BBC and CNN, along with some of the domestic business news channels, appeared for the first time this week. State TV, meanwhile, has been readily accessible. But all of the popular Pakistani news stations have remained dark. Pakistanis with satellite access can still watch the news, but the number who own dishes is extremely small. And the government has been trying to keep it that way. A headline Wednesday in the independent newspaper the Nation read: 'Hands off democracy. Hands off our dish antennas.' Earlier this week, the government closed down satellite-system retailers and wholesalers across the country. 'They're even checking the houses where they use satellite dishes and removing them.'" Washington Post, 9 November 2007. This story from a Washington based newspaper does not mention the Urdu broadcasts from Washington based VOA, which could be heard all along via cross-border medium wave and shortwave. "'They have been selling like hot cakes,' says Saboor, a satellite dish dealer in Islamabad." MediaChannel.org, 9 November 2007. "Geo TV — the most popular of the independent TV stations that started hitting the airwaves in 2002 — has always transmitted news to Dubai via satellite and maintained facilities there, in part, owner Imran Aslam said, 'because we realized there would be a time when, eventually, we would face a situation like this.'" AP, 9 November 2007. Blackout includes India-Pakistan cricket series, via Geo TV. Indiantelevision.com, 8 November 2007.

Burmese thank West for the radio stations and China for the radios.

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Radio, too, has taken a prominent place in this quest for freedom in recent years. According to U Zin Linn, prior to the 1988 student uprising that saw more than 3,000 people killed, radio was mainly only used for entertainment purposes. 'Only elderly people listened to serious news on the radio, while the younger ones listened to music,' he said. But everything changed after the 1988 uprising broke out against the military in Burma, when students and intellectuals began using radio, shortwave radio in particular, as a way of getting independent information. Thus, the BBC Burmese service and Voice of America became popular choices. Ironically, U Zin Linn implied how China, a close ally of the junta, inadvertently helped pro-democracy activists. 'We have to thank China for selling cheap transistor radios in Burma. Now, even poor people can buy radios,' he quipped. U Zin Linn also urged the people to support radio stations, which could, in turn, develop new ways to reach out to the masses." Inter Press Service, 8 November 2007.

One of VOA's directors departs (updated).

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Russ Hodge, VOA’s director of television since October 2006, is leaving the agency this week and returning to private industry. During the past year, working with VOA professionals on both sides of the camera, Russ has directed an agency-wide effort to upgrade the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of VOA video journalism and to improve our competitive standing as a multimedia, 24/7 international news organization. Speaking personally, I will miss his infectious enthusiasm for the profession, industry knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit and innate good humor. The responsibilities Russ had for VOA television operations will be shared by key members of our operations and programming management." Dan Austin, Voice of America director, e-mail to staff, 24 October 2007. See previous post about Hodge. Update: "After one year as director of television for Voice of America, Russ Hodge plans to return to the helm of his Frederick company, 3 Roads Communications Inc." Gazette.net, 8 November 2007.

Technology companies changing hands.

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Dolby Laboratories has acquired Stockholm-based Coding Technologies [which] has developed ... the aacPlus codec which is ... used in Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), a technology that aims at innovating AM band [and shortwave] broadcast reception." EE Times, 9 November 2007. "Motorola USA has announced its intention to 'launch a tender offer to acquire a controlling interest in Vertex Standard Co., Ltd.' Vertex Standard is the parent company of Yaesu." American Radio Relay League, 5 November 2007. FRG-100 shortwave receiver.

I thought "silovik" was a very strong brandy.

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"For the medium term at least, the silovik network that has formed over the last eight years will retain its control of [Russia's] political and economic levers. ... Despite its glaring democracy deficit, Russia remains an open market economy with millions of people traveling abroad each year and -- despite some attempts to control it -- unfettered access to the Internet. Although the Kremlin controls the mass media, Russians still have access to foreign media in foreign languages and to international broadcasting in Russian and other languages of the Russian Federation." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 9 November 2007.

What does it say about your country if BBC is still broadcasting in your language?

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has expanded its availability in Romania with the launch of two 24-hour FM relays in Sibiu and Constanta. BBC 88.4FM in Sibiu and BBC 96.9FM in Constanta will broadcast BBC World Service news bulletins, sporting and current affairs programmes in Romanian and English 24 hours a day, seven days a week." BBC World Service press release, 9 November 2007. Nearby, in 2006, BBC World Service dropped Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak, and Slovene.

Internet radio: better than shortwave?

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The real glory of Internet radio lies not in the polished programs of the BBC, delightful though they are -- instead, instead it lies in the ability to eavesdrop on local discussion, to hear the world in its various moods and timbres. For most of the 20th century, listeners tried to do this with shortwave radio, but it was difficult, and not just because of the hissing static. Shortwave stations have generally been government operations, designed to show a certain face to the world -- they have been remarakably alike in their somber (and untrustworthy) approach. But radio, at its best, is the most gloriously local of all media, hemmed in by the nearest range of hills, signals fading 10 miles out of town." Bill McKibben, The Atlantic, December 2007. Mr. McKibben mentions the new crop of internet radios, and I certainly enjoy mine. But I think he is a bit unfair to shortwave stations, which range in output from blatant propaganda to pure, flinty objectivism. To be sure, internet radio provides access to local radio stations in many parts of the world. But in some developing countries, the most interesting local stations are not yet on the internet, whereas they might have a shortwave transmitter. Shortwave DXers in North America still delight is receiving these stations and their exotic music. For international variety, shortwave radios are not quite yet obsolete.

But North Korea already has its own "journalists with a cause."

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Radio broadcasts overseen by the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, such as the Korean services of Radio Free Asia and Voice of America have received significant increases in funding over the past couple of years. We have also sought to obtain resources for the growing number of independent groups that transmit information into North Korea. These 'journalists with a cause' are quite effective at communicating with North Koreans. Some of the broadcasters are themselves defectors from the North. Supporting independent efforts like this is a possible method by which European governments and institutions could contribute to North Korean human rights." Christian Whiton, Deputy Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, State Department, 6 November 2007. North Koreans, who risk listening to foreign broadcasts to find out what really is happening in North Korea and the rest of the world, would probably most benefit from the output of journalists whose only cause is journalism.

Commentaries about Karen Hughes tapering off, but pungent.

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The resignation last week of Bush's close advisor, Karen Hughes, as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, whose mission was to restore the U.S. image in the world, signaled not only failure but also exhaustion. ... Dick Cheney's and Donald Rumsfeld's presumption that successful war would instill fear leading to absolute obedience and the suppression of potential rivalries and serious threats -- the 'dangerous nation' thesis of neocon theorist Robert Kagan -- has proved to be the greatest foreign policy miscalculation in U.S. history." Sydney Blumenthal, Salon.com, 8 November 2007. "It's tough to wage peace through diplomacy while wars rage. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try. But doubling the public diplomacy budget won't improve America's image nearly as much as making peace in Iraq and Afghanistan." Hartford Courant, 8 November 2007.

Huna Washington: not enough Arabic speakers.

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
The shortage of Arabic speakers in the United States affects the State Department and other U.S. agencies. It "is also having an effect on US efforts in public diplomacy. Adam Clayton Powell III, a senior fellow at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, says, 'There are only a half dozen or so US spokesmen who have a sufficient grasp of the Arabic language to appear on radio or television in that part of the world. That means the US is not even part of the dialogue there.'" William Fisher, The Huffington Post, 7 November 2007. "Cable news stations like al Jazeera try to do most of their broadcasting in Standard Arabic. This helps many dialect users to understand the 'Standard.' Unfortunately, many of the news shows, like interviews, start off in Standard Arabic, but eventually slip into a dialect if both the interviewer and interviewee are from the same region." Strategy Page, 8 November 2007.

BBC will train aspiring Arab broadcasters -- online.

Posted: 09 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC Arabic has announced that it will host a series of interactive workshops called The World As You See It for aspiring broadcasters across the Arab world. The workshops are announced as the BBC prepares to launch its integrated Arabic-language multimedia offering, a first for the region incorporating radio, TV and online." BBC World Service press release, 11 November 2007. U.S. international broadcasting in Arabic is not so integrated. Alhurra and Radio Sawa, though both under Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc. (MBN), are separate stations in separate buildings. The stations' websites include their respective news outputs, but are not primary news vehicles to the extent of www.bbcarabic.com, arabic.cnn.com, or www.aljazeera.net.

International broadcasting filling the Pakistan news void.

Posted: 08 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America's Urdu Service has expanded its radio news broadcasts to 12.5 hours daily from five hours in response to the crisis in Pakistan. ... VOA's Urdu Service is now broadcasting an all-news format on radio in response to the Pakistani government's crackdown. VOA's two television affiliates-GEO TV News and Aaj TV-are off the air inside of Pakistan. However, VOA continues to reach the audience via radio and the Internet." VOA press release, 7 November 2007. VOA Urdu was using two frequencies via Morocco before the expansion, perhaps more since. The Morocco relay is slated to be closed in March 2008. "Reporting is difficult, but not impossible. The General has cut off the array of private television stations which used to broadcast here including the recently launched English-speaking Dawn news." Sky News, 8 November 2007. "There are 30 news channels in the country. Aaj TV was among the first to be raided late Saturday evening by the police at the behest of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority. According to Hussain, about 30 men without search warrants barged into the premises and began tampering with the network's equipment." Inter Press Service, 7 November 2007. "'We hope that the role GEO is playing to move the country forward, to reform society, to create a tolerant, patient, and balanced society, a society that can understand each other and work together to solve their problems. I hope this role will continue.'" Canada Free Press, 7 November 2007. "Hamid Mir, an anchor with Pakistan's independent Geo TV network, said Tuesday that Geo's chief executive had been taken to a safe house operated by the country's Inter-Services Intelligence service, or ISI, and accused of "anti-Pakistan activities." Washington Post, 7 November 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Everyone knows it's a propaganda service, except those who listen.

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"To curious news junkies like me, the BBC and the Voice of America were critical sources of updates about the Iranian revolution, and other important developments in the world. It was during a VOA news program that I heard that the American attempt to rescue the hostages was aborted because of sandstorms and that the crash of a helicopter had killed American soldiers. To hear about America’s failure by means of what everybody knew was America’s propaganda service — the VOA — was an eye opener: Here was the most powerful country willingly broadcasting to the entire world its failure, and the president was taking responsibility for the failed mission. ... The openness with which even our own propaganda service, the VOA, reported on America’s failed attempt to rescue the hostages has been replaced with an intent to invent our own reality — within and outside the United States — that conveniently hides the blemishes." Prof. Sriram Khe, The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon), 6 November 2007. And so VOA's "branding" crisis persists.

American calling Vietnam, divided by two.

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
At House human rights subcommittee hearing: "Duy (Dan) Hoang, of the Viet Tan Party, launched by overseas Vietnamese to promote peaceful democratic political reform, says Vietnamese government controls over the media pose a major obstacle to reforms: 'The Vietnamese government exercises a monopoly over the media to control information, to restrict the free exchange of ideas, and to cover up its own corruption and misdeeds,' said Hoang. 'And to censor the Internet the government employs firewalls, spies in Internet cafes, and threatens bloggers. So it is really critical that Congress support independent sources of information such as Radio Free Asia.'" VOA News, 7 November 2007. VOA's own broadcasts in Vietnamese were not mentioned, even though they predated those of RFA. Now U.S. transmission, newsgathering, and talent resources for broadcasting to Vietnam are split between two entities that compete between themselves, diluting the effectiveness of U.S. international in an increasingly competitive Southeast Asian media environment.

The Karen Hughes post hocs continue.

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
From Hughes interview: "We are in the early years of a long struggle. We didn’t get here quickly. Reactions have been exacerbated by images of war and disagreements about our decision to go into Iraq." Financial Times, 6 November 2007. "How does she explain that, according to at least one international opinion poll, Mr Bush is considered as dangerous as Osama bin Laden? 'It's very hard,' she replies. 'First of all, as someone who's known the president for a long time, that's appalling to me.'" The Independent, 7 November 2007. While the combative Hughes is nobody's candidate to lead a charm school, it's not fair to place the blame for the United States' low standing solely on her shoulders." Editorial, Anniston (Alabama) Star, 7 November 2007. "During the Cold War, we were trying to get information in to people in largely closed societies who were hungry to hear from the outside world. These days, with a few exceptions, there aren't too many people around the world waiting, eager to hear from America. Instead we are competing for attention and credibility in a very crowded and noisy communications environment." Hughes' speech to International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Summit in London, IPRA press release, 6 November 2007. "PRSA applauds the use of public relations strategies that enable our government's leaders to listen, learn and become accurately informed about how diverse citizenries perceive, think, behave and are motivated relative to U.S. actions and diplomatic efforts - and then to shape its own persuasive messages accordingly, with proper consideration to cultural differences and political mindsets, media channel availability, existence or non-existence of a free press, citizen media-use behaviors, and the like. It is PRSA's hope that public relations best practices widely embraced in the private sector will continue to be integrated into our government's strategic communications and reputation management efforts going forward regardless of the political affiliation of future appointments to Ambassador Hughes' position." Public Relations Society of America CEO Rhoda Weiss, PRSA press release, 6 November 2007.

Anholt's regrets about "nation branding."

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Simon Anholt, Editor, Nation Branding and Public Diplomacy: "People believe what they believe about countries because they’ve believed it all their lives and they’re not going to change their minds because a twenty-second ad on CNN tells them to. People immediately recognize that kind of communication for what it is—propaganda—and they will instinctively reject it or ignore it. Q: So in a way the term nation branding really misbrands itself? Anholt: Yes absolutely. I will be the first to admit that I rather regret having coined that phrase." Council on Foreign Relations, 6 November 2007.

More Welsh Council the the British Council.

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The British Council is the UK’s public diplomacy and cultural organisation. It works in 110 countries with the aim of connecting people with learning opportunities and creative ideas from the UK to build lasting relationships around the world. Martin Davidson, chief executive of the British Council, said the expansion of British Council Wales over the next two years would bring increased investment, resources, jobs and opportunities to Wales." icWales.co.uk, 7 November 2007.

France 24 wary of web portal cohabitation with Radio France International.

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"As the French government is studying the way to reform and improve French foreign audiovisual policy, both radio station RFI and news channel France 24 are arguing about the possibility of a web portal that would be common to both of them as well as to TV5 Monde. ... But such an approach has been strongly criticized by [the] France 24 internet manager." Rapid TV News, 7 November 2007. "French international news channel France 24 has expanded its distribution with a number of new international agreements." Countries mentioned are Portugal, Morocco, Turkey, Mauritius, Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova. C21Media.net, 7 November 2007.

ABC News Now, whatever it is, becomes increasingly international.

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Swiss-American IPTV start-up Zattoo has struck a deal with ABC News and Disney-ABC International Television to distribute the ABC News Now channel in Germany, Spain and Belgium. ... ABC News Now combines original content with programming from ABC News. It will provide a US perspective to Zattoo's range of news options." C21Media.net, 5 November 2007. ABC News Now (the American ABC) is, apparently, a 24-hour news channel, with a few international distributions agreements, such as in India. Its website is splashy but, unfortunately, does not include a schedule of its programs (at least none that I could find). ABC News Now claims distribution via cable, mobile, and broadband. The broadband includes Verizon FiOS. I have Verizon FiOS for broadband, but it looks like I would have to add the FiOS TV service to see ABC News Now.

Pakistan's news blackout is in the news.

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The closure of private TV news channels after the imposition of emergency in the country, viewers have turned towards foreign radio stations which broadcast Urdu news bulletins. Various political leaders told Dawn they were forced to pick radio sets to hear news bulletins on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America and Voice of Germany." Dawn, 6 November 2007. "A recent Gallup report suggests that today, more than 15 percent of urban Pakistanis now have Internet access. A small percentage compared with some nations, but a good chunk of Pakistan's politically active middle class." Christian Science Monitor, 7 November 2007. "The BBC World Service radio's Urdu section has upped its output from two hours a day to three and a half, its boss Mohammed Hanif told AFP. Their 10-million-strong audience has also seen a 'big surge,' including in Gulf states, where there are many expatriate Pakistani workers. And like satellite dishes, sales of short- and medium-wave radios have reportedly increased in Pakistan, he said, as locals clamour for hard fact instead of rumour. Hanif likened the situation to the days when BBC World Service foreign language stations provided information to the Soviet bloc, although the Internet has become a new source of news since then." AFP, 7 November 2007. "Geo sent an SMS to cellphone users on Sunday telling them to log onto its website (www.geo.tv) to get live transmission. Another channel, ARY One, sent out a similar email (www.arydigital.tv)." AFP, 6 November 2007. "Due to enormously heavy traffic on Geo TV website we are presenting light text-version to provide you the latest news updates in chronological order. The full version of the website will be available to all our visitors very soon." Geo TV website. During normal times, Geo TV is an outlet for reports from VOA Urdu. See previous post about same subject.

In Chinese, "Yahoo" means to ride a bicycle backwards (updated).

Posted: 07 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Yahoo General Counsel Michael Callahan: "Months after I testified before two House subcommittees on Yahoo's approach to business in China, I realized Yahoo had additional information about a 2004 order issued by the Chinese government seeking information about a Yahoo China user," Callahan said in a statement dated November 1. I neglected to directly alert the Committee of this new information and that oversight led to a misunderstanding that I deeply regret and have apologized to the Committee for creating." Washington Post, 2 November 2007. Yahoo officials will appear at "Yahoo! Inc.'s Provision of False Information to Congress," 6 November hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Update: Lantos to Yahoo executives: "While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies." Wall Street Journal, 7 November 2007. "Yahoo! Inc. no longer operates a local subsidiary in China. In 2005, Yahoo! Inc. sold its Yahoo! China operations and in exchange became a shareholder in a Chinese company called Alibaba." Jerry Yang, Yahoo CEO, testimony to House Foreign Affairs Committee, 6 November 2007. See also VOA News, 7 November 2007. Video of the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, worth viewing, is available here.

World Radio Switzerland is mainly Domestic English-Language Radio Switzerland.

Posted: 06 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"After 10 years as a commercial radio station, WRG has become World Radio Switzerland, part of the public Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. WRS will bring you the latest news and views from around Switzerland, plus features and music—all in English. WRS is a work in progress so expect to see (and hear!) lots of changes in the months ahead." www.worldradio.ch, 6 November 2007. Thanks to our reader in Iran, who discovered World Radio Switzerland on the Hotbird satellite. The English-language channel, which combines its own content with much BBC programming, is available globally via the internet and satellite. It main target appears to be anglophones in Switzerland, who listen via analog FM, 88.4 MHz, in Geneva, and on DAB digital channels in other Swiss cities.

Still looking back at Karen Hughes' public diplomacy career.

Posted: 06 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Given this administration's track record and policies, she might as well been asked to drain the oceans. It was a job that was doomed from the start." Toledo Blade, 6 November 2007. "Hughes tried, sometimes clumsily but always earnestly. ... However, it was too much to expect even Muslins who have little or no sympathy for violent jihadists to develop much love for a country that was occupying one Muslim country (Iraq) by force, being the lead player in the occupation of another (Afghanistan) and propping up the increasingly unpopular dictator of another (Pakistan)." Colorado Springs Gazette, 6 November 2007. "Like Tylenol, after it released a bad shipment, Brand America has gone toxic. Don't blame public diplomacy. When brands lose their panache it's not lousy advertising but lousy business practices that are to blame." Benjamin Barber, American Public Media "Marketplace," 5 November 2007.

Sort of like shortwave radio with pictures.

Posted: 06 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"MHz Worldview ... was launched over WNVC, a former PBS affiliate, in the mid-'90s. Initially, it was designed to serve Washington's diverse international communities -- Greek TV for Greeks, or French TV for the French, etc. -- allowing people to reconnect with their homelands. At some point, according to General Manager Frederick Thomas, the station realized it could get more viewers if the programming was English-accessible. Enter subtitles, new audiences and a slogan: 'One world, one channel.'" Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4 November 2007. See also www.mhznetworks.org.

Combining the old and new media.

Posted: 06 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
During recent Burma crisis: "For the first time that management-speak phrase 'integrated newsroom' made sense to me. It worked as simply and wonderfully as this: a student with a digital camera points at a parade of monks defying the military. He goes to a computer and downloads the material, which he then emails to BBC online. The material goes from there to BBC World and Domestic bulletins and on to many millions of viewers." Fergal Keane, Index on Censorship, 5 November 2007. "The cosy relationship where aid agencies gave journalists access to disaster zones and victims in return for a namecheck is being torn up. Reporters can get what they need direct from the public. The result: aid agencies are turning their own staff into citizen journalists and filmmakers, in order to get their message across." Glenda Cooper, The Guardian, 5 November 2007.

"The worst internet black hole."

Posted: 06 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"While China slyly filters all incoming information, yet at the same time has created a regime of self-censorship, while growing its Internet exponentially, North Korea has chosen the austere opposite of opting out. ... Ironically enough, Mr. Kim has opened his own 'distance learning' school to instruct the globe on the great triumphs of North Korea, the Kim Il-sung Open University Web site, www.ournation-school.com , which lectures on North Korea's philosophy of 'juche' or self-reliance." Kelly O'Connell, Internet Business Law Services, 5 November 2007. See previous post about North Korea.

BBC correspondent opines about Kosovo.

Posted: 06 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Kosovo’s argument that it cannot clear the litter and fix the roads without independence is nonsense. It is, in essence, facing the choice of whether it wants to resemble the bloodied Palestinian territories or glittering Taiwan. While the Palestinians remain mired with land rights and grievances, Taiwan, with no official status at all, has become a global economy, raising the question that if Taiwan can carry on with its ambiguous status, why can’t Kosovo?" Humphrey Hawksley, Yale Global, 5 November 2007.

Getting the news into Pakistan.

Posted: 05 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Most people in Pakistan, where illiteracy is rife, get their news from TV or radio. Shortly before the government suspended the constitution and the freedoms it guarantees, cable operators pulled the plug on domestic and international news channels — including the BBC, CNN and Fox News. ... Some stations continue to broadcast internationally by satellite, but the satellite transmission of Aaj has been completely blocked, said Wamiq Zuberi, chief executive of the company that owns and runs the network. It was unclear why Aaj was singled out. ... Huma Ali, president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, said staff of the state media regulator went to shops selling satellite dishes in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and ordered them to halt their sales." AP, 5 November 2007. It's unclear how this reported satellite blocking is accomplished. It could be groundwave jamming in key cities. In any case, the new IBB medium wave relay, in a neighboring country, used by VOA Urdu, is proving to be a useful investment. "The government has been alarmed at how burgeoning news channels have given huge coverage to anti-Musharraf protests in recent months. Now cable operators have been stopped from transmitting TV news within the country.
FM radio stations have also been banned from broadcasting news. The BBC's Urdu language radio broadcasts, which have huge audiences, are still available on medium and short-wave. Internet news websites have not been affected." BBC News, 5 December 2007. "There is nothing to beat BBC World on such occasions. Sunday night’s one hour with Lyse Doucet from Islamabad should have been essential viewing for everyone in the television business, for everyone aspiring to join the TV business and for viewers who wanted facts with perspectives without the hullabaloo. The special feature answers the question why so many of us so often despair of Indian news channels — this is how we want them to be." Shailaja Bajpai, The Indian Express, 6 November 2007.

Good news: kidnapped RFE/RL reporter in Baghdad released.

Posted: 05 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Iraq's Jumana al-Obaidi, 29 "was kidnapped from her car on October 22, while on her way to an interview at the Iraqi Environment Ministry. Her driver, a young man identified only as Abdullah, was shot and killed that morning and his body found dumped in the street." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 4 November 2007. "The station did not say who the kidnappers were nor if they demanded any ransom. RFE/RL said Radio Free Iraq has lost two journalists in Iraq this year, Nazar Abd al-Wahid al-Radhi and Khamail Muhsin Khalaf." Reuters, 4 November 2007.

Another volley of commentary about Karen Hughes.

Posted: 05 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"It should be clear to anyone who is paying attention that the issue is not who has the job of public diplomat. The best hope of defusing anti-Americanism and restoring the country's international standing lies in a renewed commitment to the values that make it great, including respect for civil liberties and international law." Editorial, International Herald Tribune, 4 November 2007. "One of the hardest things in diplomacy is to remember what it is you set out to do. All too often it happens that diplomats who set out to transform adversaries end up being transformed by their adversaries. That is the story of Karen Hughes – and it is her unhappy legacy." David Frum, National Post column unfound at National Post website, but published by National Review Online, 3 November 2007. "Though Hughes helped to revive the functions of the U.S. Information Agency, mothballed when the Cold War ended, its cultural offerings come nowhere near the kaleidoscopic banquet once served to nations living under communism. Hearts and minds are won with feasting, not medicinal lectures that invasion is the path to peace." Editorial, Houston Chronicle, 4 November 2007. "What people do want are the benefits of a good democracy: security, freedom and prosperity. And of the three, my bet is that prosperity would be the most popular. That would be a good choice as, in my estimation, it is the ultimate weapon in the war on terrorism." Jack Trout, Branding Strategy Insider, 3 November 2007.

Aljazeera English: official channel of the next Middle East conflict?

Posted: 05 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Reporters are attracted by the chance to do work they enjoy, travelling when they want to, but doing less 'rooftop journalism' from the edge of war zones, he claims. The truth is that the channel will come into its own next time there is a conflict in the Middle East, when it hopes to use its correspondents and contacts to get to places and people Western outlets might not reach." The Observer via New Zealand Herald, 5 November 2007. See also, at the end of this piece, an interesting comparison of Aljazeera English, France 24, CNN, BBC World, and Russia Today.

CNN vs. BBC vs. Fox in Israel.

Posted: 05 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
From column about Israel's HOT cable company dropping CNN international: "CNN is the only international news channel that adapts its contents to the region, the Middle East in our case. Second, it has a relatively balanced political perspective, certainly in comparison to its two main competitors, BBC World and Fox News. The former has a left-wing agenda (in international terms), that trickles down into its broadcasts and often affects their credibility; the latter looks at the world from a right-wing, patriotic American perspective that borders on cultural arrogance and colors every international crisis in the red, white and blue of the Stars and Stripes." Ehud Asheri, Ha'aretz, 4 November 2007. CNN spokeswoman: "HOT presented us with an ultimatum on Oct. 30 demanding a 30 percent reduction in the cost of showing CNN, which was totally unacceptable. We do not respond to ultimatums." ABC News, 5 November 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Ask Kim Jong-il to stop jamming? Fat chance. (updated)

Posted: 05 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Japan's "Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has asked North Korea to stop jamming radio broadcasts run by an organization supporting Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents." Mainichi Daily News, 3 November 2007. Update: "Northeast Asian Broadcasting Institute ... showed that almost all radio broadcasts targeting both North Korean listeners (i.e., VOA and RFA) and South Korean listeners (i.e., Central Chosun broadcasting station and Pyongyang Broadcast station) were experiencing radio signal jamming. Global Korean Network of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) was the only program broadcasted without interference. It is a radio program aired on media-wave [sic: presumably medium wave], so its frequency remains relatively unsusceptible to jamming. Moreover, recently the program greatly curtailed its contents specifically targeting North Korean people." Daily NK, 5 November 2007. Medium wave is actually more susceptible to jamming than shortwave, so the curtailment of the KBS channel's content about North Korea is the more likely reason. It's interesting that the Institute finds that North Korean transmissions directed to South Korea are still jammed, presumably by South Korea.

More comment (and some wrong information) about Karen Hughes.

Posted: 04 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Sadly, the one area in which the State Department could actually be contributing to this important debate -- by providing a full-throated defense of American policy and a stage for opposing views -- is the one that the department has refused to engage. The public diplomacy office, and Hughes herself during her overseas tours, scrupulously avoided taking on the kind of political controversies that might be interesting to the media-attentive classes of Arab society." Editorial, Los Angeles Times, 3 November 2007. "Hughes came to the State Department in 2005. Her job would include oversight of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the entity that coordinates all government-financed overseas broadcasting." Stephen F, Hayes, Weekly Standard, 12 November 2007 issue. No, her job does not include "oversight" of the BBG. She sits in for the Secretary of State as one voting member of the BBG. "She rejected the honesty, humility and realism that define the values of most Americans, and instead opted to live in a dream world in which America was perfect, and foreigners who thought badly of it needed to be lectured about American values and policies." Rami G. Khouri, The Daily Star (Beirut), 3 November 2007.

The Chinese might relate to American baseball players' tendency to spit.

Posted: 04 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Cal "Ripken's Hall of Fame status didn't mean much to the 150 youngsters who turned out to see him Friday in a Shanghai neighborhood, nor did his consecutive-games record with the Baltimore Orioles. Still, 'the Iron Man' had been sent courtesy of the U.S. State Department, which had named him a public diplomacy envoy in the hope that, by sharing his enthusiasm for the sport that made him famous, he could spread a little goodwill. If the boys and girls chosen to experience his pitch had little idea what the sport was about, it was because only about 50,000 of China's 1.3 billion people have played the game, according to the China Baseball Association. There are 20 baseball diamonds in the entire country." Washington Post, 2 November 2007.

Unwelcome to the United States of America!

Posted: 04 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The number of foreign visitors to the United States has plummeted since the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington because foreigners don't feel welcome, tourism professionals said. ... 'Travelers around the world feel the US entry experience is among the world's worst.'" AFP, 2 November 2007.

Broadcasting to Zimbabwe recalls broadcasting to Rhodesia.

Posted: 04 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"During the liberation struggle, as the colonial regime disregarded media freedom and stubbornly maintained the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) monopoly, the leaders of the struggle, many of them still wielding power today, launched a pirate radio station. Voice of Zimbabwe became the alternative voice to the sole broadcaster on the land - RBC. That pirate station operated from Radio Mozambique every night at 20:00 hours on 25, 31, 41, 49, 60 and 90 metres on short wave and 407 metres on medium wave frequencies. The station had to broadcast from without the borders of Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, because Rhodesian rulers wouldn't free the airwaves. The station became popular." Financial Gazette (Harare), 1 November 2007.

After the Iron Curtain, RFE/RL found curtains elsewhere.

Posted: 04 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"What the RFE/RL does in the post-communist world seems to be 'advancing liberty' this time not in Europe but many other regions of the world. The ex-Soviet Republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus apparently constitute a major goal for the radio. The RFE/RL is also much focused on the Muslim world, and there are sections focused on Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Bosnia and many more Islamic countries. With such a diverse team, the whole building looks like a mini United Nations. The 500 or so employees speak, besides English, languages that you have probably never heard." Turkish Daily News, 3 November 2007.

MW DRM tests in Australia -- in Arabic.

Posted: 03 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Australian AM radio network 2ME Arabic Radio is testing Digital Radio Mondiale transmissions in Sydney, New South Wales. DRM proponents say 2ME is the first commercial broadcaster in Australia to use all-digital DRM radio technology. The move coincides with 2ME’s 10th anniversary as a partner station with BBC Arabic." Radio World, 2 November 2007. 2ME transmits on 1638 kHz medium wave. See 2ME website. DRM could also replace analog on shortwave and longwave.

A new worldwide English channel? It couldn't hurt.

Posted: 03 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Russian Jewish entrepreneur and politician Vladimir Slutzker has a message for Al Jazeera viewers: Watch out. Or, perhaps more accurately, watch my channel. Slutzker is one of several Russian Jewish entrepreneurs trying to create a Jewish TV channel, thus far with limited success. In Slutzker’s model, a Russian-based, English-language worldwide TV channel would counterbalance the Qatar-based, Muslim-sponsored Al Jazeera with world news from a Jewish perspective. Whether Slutzker or any of the other Jewish TV promoters have any chance of succeeding is another matter." JTA, 3 November 2007. See previous post about same subject.

An Aljazeera admixture.

Posted: 03 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) calls "for a hearing to determine whether the military has legitimate reason to hold" Sami al-Haj, a Sudanese cameraman for Aljazeera, at Gauntanamo. AP, 1 November 2007. "In September 2006 Al Jazeera broadcast videos of 9/11 hijackers Hamza al-Ghamdi and Wail al-Shehri speaking of their plans to destroy the World Trade Center in New York. For Arab audiences it startlingly belied the prevailing theory that the strike was a US-Israeli conspiracy." Mary H. Meier, Boston Globe, 3 November 2007. "On the right, Al-Jazeera offers an interesting look at the harsh realities of globalisation by taking us all the way to Prato, in the heart of Italy's textile industry. But as factories have shut down one after the other due to the rise of manufacturers in China, sweatshops have come up to replace them. And who are staffing all these sweatshops? The Chinese, of course — many of them illegal immigrants." Shanghaiist, 2 November 2007. "'The Truth About Islam From an Ex-Muslim Lady,' YouTube’s most-discussed video ever, shows a woman on a TV-news program delivering a fearsome disquisition in Arabic on Samuel P. Huntington’s clash-of-civilizations idea — the concept that global politics are now determined by potentially apocalyptic cultural collisions. The woman, identified as an Arab-American psychologist, celebrates the 'civilization' of the West and denigrates the 'backwardness' of Islam, according to the English subtitles. ... The segment originally appeared on Al Jazeera, after which it was excerpted, subtitled in English and posted to the Internet by the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri)." New York Times, 4 November 2007. Aljazeera celebrates its 11th anniversary. The Gulf Times, 3 November 2007.

Will Iranians wake up to BBC or to VOA? (updated)

Posted: 03 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"For the last year there has been a debate in Washington regarding the content of Voice of America and RFE/RL’s Persian language service. Some have argued that these broadcasts are not sufficiently supportive of the views of the U.S. government and/or not sufficiently critical of the Iranian government. Professional and objective news broadcasts will find an important audience in Iran. There is a dearth of quality television news programming in the Persian language. Official Iranian state television broadcasts are tightly controlled by the government, and opposition satellite television networks broadcast out of Los Angeles and elsewhere in the West are not viewed as credible alternatives. The model should be the BBC World Service; indeed the BBC intends to launch their Persian-language television broadcast sometime in early 2008. Insisting that U.S. government-funded media outlets espouse U.S. views ultimately undermines its ability to attract a relevant audience. As one senior European diplomat pointed out, 'People around the world wake up in the morning to the BBC World Service; I’ve never heard anyone say they start their day by listening to Voice of America.'" Karim Sadjadpour, testimony to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, 30 October 2007, via dtt-net, 2 November 2007. Update: "'Iranians have already benefited immeasurably from democracy funding, especially from the Persian-language broadcasts by Voice of America television and Radio Farda ("Tomorrow"), for which a majority of the $75 million at issue now is allocated,' [Akbar] Atri, a former dissident student leader who has lived in Washington since 2005, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on October 15. 'These broadcasts offer news and perspectives to the Iranian public that they would not otherwise have, including news regarding developments inside their own country. The broadcasts are popular with millions of diverse Iranians and have successfully broken the Islamic Republic's attempt to isolate the country from external sources of information. The Iranian regime could not be happier to see its popular nemeses -- VOA television and Radio Farda -- exterminated by Iranian-Americans and others purporting to do good.'" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 2 November 2007. "The BBC World Service says it is recruiting producers for its Persian-language programming." International Journalists' Network, 2 November 2007.

A review of BBC World News America, all within parentheses.

Posted: 02 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"When I was watching BBC World News America (and if you are interested in an actual news program that routinely matches 60 Minute’s at its best and has actual stories from actual journalists instead of the rubbish on the corporate channels, then tune in to Beeb America at 7pm Eastern or Pacific), Condoleezza Rice was on, struggling vainly to get some sort of accord going between the Israelis and the Palestinians." Bryan Zepp Jamieson, thepeoplesvoice.org, 2 November 2007.

BBC on FM in India: maybe a fruit, maybe a vegetable, but definitely not the news.

Posted: 02 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"BBC has entered into a partnership with Maharashtra’s 94.3 Tomato FM, which would allow BBC’s programming to be available to Tomato FM listeners in Kolhapur, and shortly also to Tomato FM listeners in Sangli. ... Following the deal with Tomato FM, every half-hour, from 8 am to 8 pm, audiences of 94.3 Tomato FM can tune in for BBC’s infotainment updates, ‘BBC Ek Minute’. This takes listeners inside the world of sports and entertainment." exchange4media.com, 2 November 2007.

Broadcasting in and to Africa.

Posted: 02 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"International broadcasters and organizations have a broad presence in African broadcasting. Shortwave delivers programs from BBC World Service, Radio France International (RFI), Voice of America (VOA) and others major international broadcasters, many of which also use WorldSpace and other satellite systems. In addition, local partner broadcasters carry a variety of news, information and entertainment programs for Africa from afar. The BBC World Service engages a network of over 100 rebroadcasters supported by new production facilities in Nairobi, Kenya and Abuja, Nigeria. RFI has 93 FM partners in 37 countries. VOA Africa programs are heard on 40 affiliate stations and seven full-time stations. Radio China International’s first overseas FM station was launched in Nairobi, Kenya in 2006. Some African governments have clamped down on foreign broadcasters. Zimbabwe notoriously banned the BBC and its reporters. RFI has frequently run afoul of African dictators in former French colonies. In July Niger banned RFI retransmissions for one month citing 'unbalanced and biased' reporting." Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 1 November 2007. Excerpted from a very good overview of broadcasting in Africa.

Public diplomacy: the art of explaining ourselves.

Posted: 02 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Public diplomacy is thus the practice--I try to think of it as an art--of communicating a country's policies, values and culture to other peoples. It is an attempt to explain why we have decided on certain measures, and beyond that, to explain who we are. It is a based on a belief on our part that we are a good people, that we have not arrived at decisions irrationally and that these decisions can be explained to others. Certainly, we practice public diplomacy because we know that we do not act with malice, but strive to act on principle. We believe not in the subjugation of nations, but in the free choice of people of all nations. Yes, yes, yes--we realize that people of goodwill can still disagree with us even after we've explained ourselves and that doesn't mean they are anti-American." Colleen Graffy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for for Public Diplomacy for European and Eurasian Affairs, State Department transcript, 1 November 2007. A good official description of U.S. public diplomacy.

From the second wave of commentaries about Karen Hughes.

Posted: 02 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"American public diplomacy - at its best, an effort by the US to show respect to the opinions of mankind and engage in a global dialogue - has become perceived worldwide as the basest form of propaganda." John Brown, The Guardian's comment is free, 2 November 2007. "The next president should give this thankless job the respect it deserves and appoint a diplomatic professional with substantive foreign experience. And a person who is deeply attuned to cultural nuance, especially in the Muslim world. Above all, Ms. Hughes' successor – and the president who hires her – should understand that selling America abroad requires very different skills than selling it here at home." Editorial, Dallas Morning News, 2 November 2007. "Any attempt by a state to artificially improve its image cannot work unless the ground realities as reflected in the formulation and implementation of its various policies change. Simply put, actions speak (much) louder than words and if Washington only realised the wisdom of this adage it would have understood that in fact there is no need even for a department of public diplomacy." Editorial, The News (Karachi), 2 November 2007. "In the 1960s and '70s, when it was an independent entity, the U.S. Information Agency sent out critical speakers and exuberant jazz bands routinely. They drew a distinction between selling America and selling American policy. Selling America—its culture, its traditions of free speech and pluralism—was what 'public diplomacy' was about. Selling American policy—that was just propaganda. Public diplomacy in this sense was killed off in the 1990s by Jesse Helms, the right-wing Republican chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, who slashed the USIA and diminished it into a PR wing of the State Department. Hughes was starting to revive some of the old agency's traditions." Fred Kaplan, Slate, 1 November 2007. "Karen Hughes so signally failed as US Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy ... not because she is a shallow and ill-informed person with scant experience of the world outside America's borders but dangerously unlimited confidence in her own abilities. Although of course that didn't help." David Frum, National Review Online, 1 November 2007.

Assessing Karen Hughes' public diplomacy career.

Posted: 02 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"With little overseas experience, Ms. Hughes didn't strike critics as especially well prepared for the assignment. And with a reputation for being assertive to the point of overbearing, she seemed to lack a diplomatic temperament." Dallas Morning News, 1 November 2007. "Some experts contend that the approach of Hughes, a political media expert, was too focused on defending the Bush administration's assertive foreign policy and not enough on selling American values and culture more broadly." Los Angeles Times, 1 November 2007. "Hughes has rebuilt outreach programs that were dismantled a decade ago when foreign Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C., eliminated the U.S. Information Agency at the end of the Cold War." Houston Chronicle, 1 November 2007. "Once Hughes's clout became apparent in the State Department, assistant secretaries began to request that her office pitch their ideas to Rice, because she appeared more likely to approve them if they had Hughes's imprimatur." Washington Post, 1 November 2007. "'She'll be the first to say that the task she faced is a generational-long task.'" Austin Statesman, 1 November 2007. "All things considered, the administration's post-9/11 hearts and minds campaign appears to have been a spectacular failure. It's hard to know where the blame for that lies or what to do about it. Public diplomacy in the Middle East isn't topic A these days, as Washington focuses on rectifying missteps in Iraq and the nuisance regime next door in Iran." Jane Roh, National Journal's The Gate, 31 October 2007. "Q: Since she assumed the position of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, according to a Pew survey, the U.S. image remains abysmal in most Muslim countries. Favorable views of the U.S. in Turkey are at 9 percent; in Egypt they're 21 percent; in Pakistan they're 15 percent; in the Palestinian Territories they're 13 percent; in Morocco they're 15 percent. White House spokesperson Dana Perino: I think I get your point." White House, 31 October 2007. "Sensing that bad news and sometimes baseless rumors about the United States were being allowed to spread unchallenged in Muslim countries while good news was not actively presented, Ms. Hughes sharply increased the number of interviews American officials, including Arabic speakers, gave to the Arabic news media. She said she was tired of seeing the president presented as a 'caricature.'" New York Times, 31 October 2007.

Update on the dangerous profession (updated).

Posted: 02 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Kyrgyzstan is investigating a possible Uzbek link in last week's murder of an independent journalist who criticised Uzbek President Islam Karimov in his stories, police said on Tuesday. ... [Alisher] Saipov reported for the U.S.-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and ran an Uzbek-language newspaper called Siyosat, or Politics." Reuters, 30 October 2007. "The Kyrgyz Interior Ministry alleged Tuesday that an independent journalist killed last week in this turbulent ex-Soviet nation was linked to Islamic militants." AP, 31 October 2007. Saipov's friends dismiss this allegation as smear effort. RFE/RL News, 31 October 2007. "It is imperative that Kyrgyz authorities aggressively pursue an unbiased, professional investigation that embraces the theory that he was executed simply because he was pursuing truth." Committee to Protect Journalists, 1 November 2007. See previous post about Saipov. -- "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) was still waiting for news of its Iraqi correspondent who disappeared in Baghdad on 22 October. The radio’s spokesperson told Reporters Without Borders that their correspondent was believed to have been kidnapped following the murder of his driver, but they had received no further news about this fate." Reporters sans frontières, 30 October 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Audit the BBC?

Posted: 01 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
MPs propose that Parliament have full access to BBC's accounts. Government rejects this, saying it would endanger the BBC's editorial freedom. But Conservative MP Richard Bacon points out that BBC World Service [funded by the Foreign Office, not by the license fee] is already audited by the UK's National Audit Office. Financial Director, 1 November 2007.

On Israeli cable: CNN will be out, Aljazeera will be in, and Fox will become the "voice of America" (updated again).

Posted: 01 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Israel's HOT cable company "is demanding that [CNN International] reduce its prices, while the network, in this case Turner Broadcasting System, says it has reduced it as much as possible. If nothing changes, CNN will disappear from HOT subscribers' television screens on midnight, October 31 when its contract runs out." But France 24, Sky, Fox and BBC World would remain on HOT. Ha'aretz, 23 October 2007. "CNN International has said it will suspend the right of Israel’s Hot Cable Systems Media (HOT) to transmit the channel after the present agreement expires if the two parties cannot reach agreement in their current carriage fee negotiations. Without an agreement, 50% of multichannel homes in Israel could lose CNN as soon as November 1." Broadband TV News, 17 October 2007. New deal "will put Al-Jazeera's English-language offshoot on the air around the time HOT drops CNN." Jerusalem Post, 23 October 2007. "It can also be seen as a reflection of the end of Israel’s love affair with CNN, since the international rollout of Fox News." Broadband TV News, 23 October 2007. "It would be a blow to CNN. In 2006, 69 percent of Israel's 1.968 million households subscribed to satellite or cable television, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, and HOT is by far the dominant player in the market." Cox News Service, 23 October 2007. "Frankly, when I compare CNN with other news networks, I’ve got to say that CNN isn’t exactly of a mindboggling quality. When I first started watching CNN International - when I was 14 years old or so - I had expected much more." The Van der Galiën Gazette, 23 October 2007. "For many years Israel has felt aggrieved at what it perceives as CNN's unfair reporting. But compared to Al-Jazeera, CNN is a bastion of all that is fine and noble in the world of TV news." Freda Keet, letter to Jerusalem Post, 25 October 2007. "What's replayed before us in the CNN sequel is the continued dilution of programming packages, capricious cancellations and bogus substitutions." Editorial, Jerusalem Post, 24 October 2007. Many Israelis used to get their U.S. news from VOA on 1260 kHz medium wave via Rhodes, Greece -- but that relay has been decommissioned by the BBG. "Calling the issue a 'public matter,' the Knesset Economics Committee summoned representatives of HOT Television and CNN to a special committee session on Monday in a last ditch effort to prevent HOT from dropping broadcasts of the international news channel." Jerusalem Post, 30 October 2007. "CNN International is far more generous to its correspondents, when it comes time for substantive reporting, than CNN's fluffier domestic variant." Pierre Tristam, About.com, 23 October 2007. Update: "Hot Cable Systems Media Ltd. (HOT) today announced that it was dropping CNN from its program schedule, belying earlier reports that it would delay the move pending further negotiations with CNN owner Turner Broadcasting Service Inc." Globes, 1 November 2007.

Recalling the Iran/Cuba satellite jamming gambit.

Posted: 01 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"Acting on behalf of Tehran, in July 2003, Cuban intelligence jammed the transmissions of the National Iranian Television (NITV), the Voice of America and three other Iran-bound broadcasts. The extended jamming coincided with Tehran's crackdown on the dissident commemoration of the historic 1999 student uprising. Loral Skynet, owners of the targeted satellite, quickly traced the source of the jamming to a spot several miles outside of Havana. The location identified was the Cuban military intelligence's Bejucal Signals Intelligence site, which intercepts and jams radio and television signals with equal ease. NITV first broadcast from its Los Angeles-based station in March 2000. However, Iran promptly jammed the Hot Bird 5 satellite in its static orbit over France. NITV and other broadcasters then moved to Telstar 12, because its stationary orbit over the mid-Atlantic placed it outside the range of Iran's jamming stations. However, the move placed NITV within range of Cuba, the only nation in the Western Hemisphere that jams foreign broadcasts." Miami Herald, 1 November 2007.

Try putting a foreign investment cap on shortwave radio (updated).

Posted: 01 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
India may soon propose cap on foreign investment in satellite radio. "A revenue-share model with the government is also expected. ... At present, Washington DC-headquartered WorldSpace is the only satellite radio operator in India. WorldSpace has been offering its services for over six years in the country." Sify, 29 October 2007. "Forget the measly 0.2 million subscribers that WorldSpace has signed up overseas." The Motley Fool, 30 October 2007. Update: "Natarajan Viswanathan, Managing Director of Hitachi Data Systems (India), is high on technology, making best out of it to keep himself entertained. ...he will soon invest in WorldSpace Radio. 'It offers variety of channels catering to all kinds of genres of music. The only hitch is that I will have to fix an antenna for it at the highest possible point in my office.'" Economic Times, 1 November 2007.

Aljazeera English: less Paris Hilton, more Burkina Faso.

Posted: 01 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"TVNewser: One year after its launch, Al Jazeera English is: [Dave Marash, Aljazeera English Washington anchor]: Exactly what it said it would be: a straight-up, international news channel, which goes at a slightly slower pace, doing fewer stories, but doing them with more depth and context, reporting especially from the places (South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia) more conventional news channels largely ignore, and ignoring many of the inconsequential stories (the adventures of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and O.J. Simpson, for examples) our competitors seem to thrive on." mediabistro.com, 30 October 2007.

If you're feeling mischievous, use another country's portal.

Posted: 01 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
Video search engine Truveo launches, or will soon launch, portals for France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Russia and Turkey. "Truveo’s video sources include: L’Equipe, Le Monde, France 24 and TF1 from France; Berlin TV, Spiegel and ZDF from Germany; NDTV, IBN Live and India Times from India; KBC from Korea; El Mundo, Telecinco and Digital+ from Spain; Taiwan Television from Taiwan; BBC, Daily Star, EuroNews, EuroSport, ITN, Skynews, The Sun, and UEFA in the United Kingdom; and thousands more." Truveo press release, 30 October 2007.

Mainland website publicizes Taiwan radio exhibit.

Posted: 01 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"An exhibition at the Taiwan Radio Museum is for the first time showcasing historical materials from the Central Radio Station's interception of mainland broadcasts. The exhibition is staged at the 'National Radio Museum,' located in Min-shong Village, Chia-yi County, also home to the Min-shong branch of the Central Radio Station. ... In 1971, the Taiwan authority expanded broadcasting battles and set up a broadcasting interception division at the Central Radio. A total of four groups took turns intercepting the mainland's broadcasts from 5:00 AM to 1:00 AM. They then compiled the records for intelligence research. ... 'Since there is an increase of cross-Straits communication, we have deleted some inappropriate programs and added open-minded and multiple content. The exhibition reminds us not to repeat the history. We used to be an anti-CPC radio station, but now we wish to build a bridge across the Taiwan Straits.'" China.org.cn, 31 October 2007.

BBC Trust approves ads for bbc.com, seen only outside the UK (updated).

Posted: 01 Nov 2007   Print   Send a link
"The advertisements on the new site will only be visible to overseas users, who will be identified using Quova geo-IP software. The corporation says this software is more than 99.96 per cent accurate and that UK users' experience of the existing BBC.co.uk will not be affected." Press Gazette, 18 October 2007. "Last month MediaGuardian.co.uk revealed that BBC Worldwide sidelined research that found that US audiences would be turned off by advertising on the international BBC website." Media Guardian, 17 October 2007. "BBC Worldwide says advertising will generate new income for the BBC, which needs to plug a £2bn budget shortfall. The BBC argues that overseas readers, who do not pay the licence fee, should contribute towards the costs. However, critics say commercialisation will undermine the editorial integrity of the BBC and is a slippery slope towards privatisation." BBC News, 18 October 2007. See also BBC Worldwide press release, 18 October 2007 and BBC Trust regulatory framework, 18 October 2007. Presumably, the geo-IP technology that limits ad views to users outside the U.K. could also enable lawyers with too much time on their hands to enforce the Smith-Mundt Act by preventing Americans from viewing the websites of U.S. international broadcasting entities. Update: "The clever bit, if it works, is that the technology will distinguish between the local ad-free service at bbc.co.uk, and the foreigners at bbc.com. This solves two problems at once. The millions of freeloaders in the US who dip into licence-fee-funded material will start making a contribution. In time, maybe bbc.com ad money will start contributing to BBC News, just in case getting rid of 500 journalists’ jobs wasn’t such a great idea after all." Raymond Snoddy, Brand Republic, via The Economic Times (India), 30 October 2007.