The hostage who listened to BBC World Service.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Documentary film-maker Sean Langan, held captive on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by a group allied to the Taliban for three months, "was not completely without news of the outside world. Among the 'presents' brought by Mr C [one of his captors] was a radio on which he listened to the BBC World Service. Unaware of the decision to impose a news blackout over his capture, he listened in vain for any reference to his disappearance, increasingly feeling he was forgotten." The Guardian, 28 June 2008.

Jazz ambassadors, not always on message. Which was the message.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A photography exhibition of those concert tours, titled 'Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World,' is on display at the Meridian International Center in Washington through July 13 and then moves to the Community Council for the Arts in Kinston, N.C. ... The jazzmen’s independence made some officials nervous. But the shrewder diplomats knew that on balance it helped the cause. The idea was to demonstrate the superiority of the United States over the Soviet Union, freedom over Communism, and here was evidence that an American — even a black man — could criticize his government and not be punished." New York Times, 29 June 2008.

The BBG and ProPublica engage in a colloquy.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Joaquin Blaya, member of Broadcasting Board of Governors, to ProPublica: "ProPublica’s 'investigative report' on Alhurra television is so lacking in depth and accuracy that it can only be defined as sensationalism. It is filled with inaccuracies and innuendo that draw the reader to erroneous conclusions." ProPublica responds with more questions. ProPublica, 30 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "ProPublica.org aims to make up some of the ground lost to journalism by the current crisis of advertising revenues bleeding to the internet. In particular, it seeks to preserve the skills and value of investigative reporting - one of the first casualties of cuts by dint of its relative costliness. It burst on to the US media scene last week with its first major investigation - an expose of how the US-backed Arabic language TV network Alhurra is counter-productive to US interests, poorly watched and a waste of $500m of public money. The investigation was produced as a documentary and aired on the prestigious TV magazine 60 Minutes, causing ripples through Congress and shaking up the Bush administration-backed network." The Guardian, 30 June 2008.
     ProPublica's investigation of Alhurra does have weaknesses: 1) The small number of transgressions that it found during a lengthy monitoring period are not enough to brand Alhurra as biased. 2) The Alhurra audience sizes are not bad for a non-Arab competitor; using the "station you watch most often" as the only measure is particularly misleading. 3) ProPublica cannot prove that payments to contributors by Alhurra constitute government influence; there are similar public-funded but independent broadcasting corporations in Europe and elsewhere who pay contributors but are not dismissed as government propaganda.
     "A significant portion of the funds being spent on the Iraq war should be redirected to help the satellite network al-Hurra disseminate ideas and information to Muslim hearts and minds in nations where there is so much hostility to U.S. foreign policy." Barry Dwork, letter to Washington Post, 30 June 2008.

Aljazeera will stay on Burlington cable (updated again).

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A group that wants the city of Burlington to drop Al-Jazeera English from the local cable TV system has been dealt a setback. Two advisory committees are recommending that the Middle Eastern news channel should stay." WCAX-TV (Burlington), 25 June 2008. See also letters to the Burlington Free Press, 24 June 2008. "The oversight committees said that while its members are 'unequivocally opposed to hateful and intolerant speech,' much of the testimony opposed to Al-Jazeera English at two public forums seemed to have 'been based on secondary sources.'" Burlington Free Press, 26 June 2008. "'We're overjoyed,' Al-Jazeera English Washington Bureau Chief Will Stebbins said Thursday after learning of the recommendation. 'We see this as an "Inherit the Wind," with Clarence Darrow winning this time.'" Burlington Free Press, 27 June 2008. "Given the historical track record of Al-Jazeera's unsavory past, the burden of proof falls not on those who oppose it, but on the network itself and the managers of Burlington Telecom to ensure that the discrepancy between the incendiary images and messages that it has aired and the new dressed-up version that is currently being promoted does not resurface on our publicly owned communication outlet." Jamie Zeppernick, executive director of the Defenders Council of Vermont, Burlington Free Press, 27 June 2008. "The manner is which the telecom handled the brouhaha is an example of how smaller providers often can have an edge when it comes to understanding the needs and wants of local subscribers." Jim O'Neill, FierceTelecom, 27 June 2008. Update: "Given the absence of hard evidence of Al-Jazeera's promoting terrorism or engaging in hate speech, the objections to the network seem based largely on an image of the network driven by the opponents' ideology. Although it receives no tax dollars, Burlington Telecom is a city department. A municipal entity shutting off access to a news source for ideological reasons comes uncomfortably close to government censorship." Editorial, Burlington Free Press, 29 June 2008.

Glassman on "How to Win the War of Ideas" (updated).

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
The new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy writes: "The task is not to persuade potential recruits to become like Americans or Europeans, but to divert them from becoming terrorists. We do that by helping to build networks (virtual and physical) and countermovements – not just political but cultural, social, athletic and more: mothers against violence, video gamers, soccer enthusiasts, young entrepreneurs, Islamic democrats. ... Unlike the containment policy of the Cold War, today's diversion policy may not primarily be the responsibility of government. My own job, as the interagency leader for the war of ideas, is to mobilize every possible American asset – public and private, human and technological – in the effort." James K. Glassman, Wall Street Journal, 24 June 2008. Does U.S. involvement in a Muslim anti-terrorist movement help or hinder the cause? See previous posts on 12 January 2008, 20 June 2007, and 20 May 2007. And maybe we are "losing" the "war of ideas" because we think of it as "war". Update: "I agree wholeheartedly because our goal isn't to turn Muslim extremists into American wannabes, but to convince them that violence is a dead end." Guy W. farmer, Nevada Appeal, 29 June 2008.

Public diplomacy pencil pushers.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy: "Public-affairs officers view themselves, and are viewed by others, more as managers and administrators than as expert communicators. [They] are being asked to spend the overwhelming majority of their time on administration and management, not outreach." ... The report says public-diplomacy training at the State Department 'has never been stronger,' but adds that it is 'not yet strong enough,' with 'a number of conspicuous, and serious, blind spots.'" Washington Times, 30 June 2008. See also Advisory Commission website with link to the full report.

Award-winning TV ad will almost convince you to give up your reserved parking spot.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The TV advertising campaign conducted by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) won a prestigious award from the European Association of Communications Agencies( EACA ). ... The ad, which has some 20 language versions, was aired on BBC World, CNBC, CNN, EuroNews, Sky News, E Entertainment, TV5 and Bloomberg." UITP/UNEP press release, 30 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

New ads inside CNN's "Inside the Middle East."

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International today announced that Orascom Development Holding AG joins Orascom Telecom as exclusive sponsor of CNN's flagship Middle East flagship feature show 'Inside the Middle East' from this month." AMEInfo, 30 June 2008. Orascom is based in Cairo and specializes in "planning, building and operating integrated, self-sufficient leisure and residential towns around the world." Orascom website. See also Inside the Middle East web page.

EuroNews to Asia via AsiaSat 2.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The EuroNews channel, covering news from a European perspective, has selected SatLink Communications ... to transmit its seven language, 24-hour news channel on SatLink's AsiaSat 2 MCPC (Multiple Channels Per Carrier) digital platform. ... AsiaSat 2’s excellent ground penetration guarantees instantaneous access to numerous cable operators, rebroadcasters, embassies, hotels and individual home viewers and listeners in the region. AsiaSat 2 also includes the largest number of foreign channels authorized by the Chinese government, and many of these are transmitted directly from SatLink’s teleport." broadcastbuyer, 30 June 2008. See also SatLink website.

One shortwave transmitter does not a world radio station make.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe's world radio station, appears to be reaching all parts of the globe judging by the correspondence it is receiving from countries as far apart as Brazil and India.
The station, which broadcasts on shortwave in the 60 metre (evenings) and 49 metre (daytime) bands, is also providing Zimbabweans in Binga and other outlying areas that cannot receive FM broadcasts, with a radio service. Voice of Zimbabwe station manager Shadreck Mupeni last week said letters have been received from as far afield as Brazil, Japan, India, Australia, Poland and Greece." The Sunday Mail (Harare), 29 June 2008. Andy Sennitt: "It’s interesting that the countries mentioned all have a significant number of shortwave listeners/DXers who routinely report to radio stations in an attempt to get their reception verified by a QSL card. It is technically impossible to provide a “world service” with a single transmitter operating in the 60 or 49 metre bands. Apparently the Voice of Zimbabwe is confusing DX reports with letters from people genuinely interested in the station’s programming." Kai Ludwig: "But do they have any interest in knowing better? Counting QSL haunters as real listeners is an old trick when determining listener figures. This includes fooling itself about good reception when no real-world listener would accept what the DXers picked out of the noise." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 29 June 2008.

Alhurra supports Radio Sawa.

Posted: 29 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A radio Sawa reporter was attacked by security guards of the secretary-general of the Ministry of Culture at the recent al-Marbad poetic festival in Basra, acting as a stern reminder that journalists continue to suffer aggressive and humiliating behavior at the hands of Iraqi officials.
... While such behavior might have been expected to embarrass the Ministry of Culture and to mobilize other media outlets in support of the abused journalist, nothing has happened and no condemnation emerged from other media organizations. With the exception of al-Hurra and the Journalistic Freedom Observatory in Iraq, efforts to highlight the incident went unheeded." Ahmed Thamer, Media Channel, 26 June 2008. Apparently referring to an incident reported in May. Alhurra and Radio Sawa are sister stations under the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN) Inc., which is under the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Two comments on the Alhurra controversy.

Posted: 29 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The government ought to pull the plug on this wasteful venture. But that doesn’t mean the voice of America or a pro-democracy message can’t or won’t be heard. Radio Free Europe, combined with Radio Liberty, continues to broadcast news, political commentaries, sports and music in the Middle East — all written, produced, and broadcast by nationals from the audience countries." Guy Petroziello, Bucks County Courier Times, 26 June 2008. Alhurra content is written, produced, and broadcast by nationals from the audience countries. And the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is the "voice of America" as opposed to the unmentioned Voice of America? -- "With Hollywood stars, along with university professors and the American elitists, tearing down America’s traditional values on a daily basis, we certainly need to spread a positive image of America to the Arabic world. There has to be a counter-balance to the Sean Penns and Susan Sarandons of the world. If U.S. taxpayers have spent nearly half a billion dollars on Al Hurra in the last four years, I submit that it will do America more good than 'bridges to nowhere'!" Drema Molloy, TCPalm.com, 28 June 2008.

Commentator discusses his payments from Alhurra.

Posted: 29 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Both commercial media and slightly-public-funded media (such as NPR) pay for some appearances and commentary. And, as I explained to Kiel, when he interviewed me for the ProPublica article, it is customary for foreign media outlets that are state-supported--such as the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Company--to compensate guests for interviews and commentary. I have received such payments in the past (regrettably, only a handful of times). Alhurra was playing by these rules. Linzer and Kiel did not mention the BBC/CBC practice in the article. Moreover, Voice of America, something of a sister organization for Alhurra, also compensates journalists who are guests on some of its programs." David Corn, DavidCorn.com, 27 June 2008. Refers to article in ProPublica, 24 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

A Swiss army knife as head of public diplomacy.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The new president ... should appoint as under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs a trusted, respected and a tough, Washington-savvy confidant with diplomatic, international, broadcasting and bureaucratic experience - a qualification sorely lacking in Bush appointees Karen Hughes and Charlotte Beers, whose expertise, respectively, consisted of political campaigning and advertising." John Brown, The Guardian comment is free, 26 June 2008. You can leave out the broadcasting experience, because the under secretary for public diplomacy does not have authority over U.S. international broadcasting. The chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the undersecretary are separate positions, and they should be adversarial when necessary.

Al-Jazeera v. Morocco.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The latest battle line drawn between [Morocco's] authorities and the media is some way south of Casablanca, in the coastal town of Sidi Ifni. In the dock for the manner of its reporting on disturbances earlier this month is Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based TV station which has been constantly under the spotlight of administrative attention since starting its daily broadcasts of Maghreb news in 2006. Now the Moroccan bureau chief of Al-Jazeera has reportedly been charged with publishing false information and conspiracy after the channel reported that there had been deaths when the police, on June 7, attempted to disperse youths who had blocked Sidi Ifni's port for a week in protest against local unemployment. The official version eventually reported 44 people being injured, mostly members of the security forces. While Al-Jazeera's initial reporting might well have erred on the dramatic side, there does seem to be more of a story in Sidi Ifni than the government would like to be made known." James Badcock, The Daily Star (Beirut), 27 June 2008.

Will BBC and KTV join in the rubbishing?

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"British broadcaster the BBC is to produce a documentary on labour conditions in Kuwait following a US report slating the Gulf state for its lack of action to protect expatriates from exploitation and stamp out human trafficking. The programme will be done by BBC Arabic in partnership with Kuwait Television (KTV) and will include interviews with numerous high-profile officials, state news agency KUNA reported on Saturday. ... Kuwait has rubbished the report's findings, claiming that it has criminalised all forms of human trafficking and that it provided assistance to victims." ArabianBusiness.com, 28 June 2008. Let's look for confirmation from the BBC on this. It presupposes the ability of KTV to report independently. Could this maybe be an infomercial on BBC World News?

The anchor of BBC World News America writes about America.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Review of Only in America: Inside the Mind and Under the Skin of the Nation Everyone Loves to Hate by Matt Frei, presenter of BBC World News America: "The breeziness of Frei's comment is fetching; but the same lightness also points to one of the irritating aspects of these essays: their lack of depth. A more complete examination of the think-tank phenomenon, for instance, would take into account its history, the fact that these foundations were largely funded by rightwing entrepreneurs who felt upset that so many intellectuals came from universities where leftist ideas (at least by their reckoning) dominated the conversation. The idea was to coopt some good brains for the right, and to add some intellectual ballast to conservative ideology. These institutions were created to supply a pool of talking heads for the Beltway talk shows. Their staff would generate op-ed pieces in the major newspapers and magazines, and would advise the administration in power. From this group of impressive brains came the Iraq war, their crowning achievement." Jay Parini, The Guardian, 28 June 2008. Frei likes Savannah, Sanata Fe, and San Francisco, and dislike Cambridge, Ohio, and Des Moines: "It's so cold in winter and so hot in summer that the buildings are connected by air-conditioned or heated walkways. It gives you a glimpse of life post-climatic disaster." The Observer, 29 June 2008.

BBC World News will tackle diseases.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ruder Finn has been appointed by Imperial College London to handle advocacy activity around a series of global health documentaries on BBC World. The documentaries are a high profile part of this autumn's global health season on BBC World, tackling issues such as neglected tropical diseases, HIV, malaria, TB, child survival and maternal health." PRWeek, 27 June 2008.

BBC will drop Romanian (updated).

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"On August 1 2008 after 68 years of broadcasting. BBC Romanian broadcasts for almost four hours a day on radio and also runs a complementary website. It is the last of the BBC's non-English language services specifically aimed at countries that are EU member states. ... 'Europe has changed, fundamentally, since the early nineties; and with the rapidly declining audiences in Romania we can no longer justify continuing the service.'" BBC World Service press release, 25 June 2008. Update: Before BBC pulls the plug, it might want to monitor this: "Although initially rejected by the [Romanian] chamber of deputies, a proposed amendment to the broadcasting law that would force radio and TV stations to balance news with 'negative' themes with an equal amount of news with 'positive' themes was adopted yesterday by the senate." Reporters sans frontieres, 26 June 2008.

More criticism of BBC's agreement with Pakistan's media regulator.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ever since the expose of the secret of the BBC World Service striking a deal with Pakistan’s PEMRA over the pre-censorship arrangements, questions are being asked if the BBC can stoop to that level of non-professional conduct then what example it is setting for those third world countries where journalists take its practices as model for their own standard of journalism." Media Monitors Network, 26 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

RFI's scoop re Ugandan rebels.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda, Joseph Kony, "raised hopes that the peace process could continue when he affirmed his commitment to the talks in a rare phone interview with Radio France International." VOA New, 27 June 2008. "Kony immediately called Radio France International (RFI), crying foul. He said his soldiers had been attacked by SPLA and they fought back." The Independent (Kampala), 27 June 2008.

Is NAM-TV the next international channel?

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cuba, as the chair of the Non-Aligned Countries Movement, presented a declaration and a plan of action for the creation of a NAM news agency and a TV network... [Cuban deputy minister for foreign relations, Abelardo] Moreno said it is important that the Movement creates its own mechanisms to keep the world updated on real and objective events that take place in the different NAM member countries." ACN Cuban News Agency, 26 June 2008.

CNN's new joint venture in Chile.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN Chile, the first 24-hour news network in Chile, presented its executive team and official network logo as it prepares to begin broadcasting before the end of the year. ... CNN Chile will be operated by a locally based management team following all CNN's globally acclaimed journalistic and editorial guidelines. This joint venture marks the first of its kind in Latin America for both companies. CNN Worldwide has successful partnership channels in other parts of the world, including CNN+ in Spain; CNN Turk in Turkey; CNNj and CNN.com.jp, both in Japan; and CNN-IBN in India." Televisionpoint.com, 26 June 2008.

Peter Kann, Michael Meehan nominated for the BBG.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"President George W. Bush nominated former Dow Jones Chief Executive Officer Peter Kann to be a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. ... A Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist for the Wall Street Journal, Kann was CEO of Dow Jones & Co. from 1991 to early 2006. He served as the company's chairman until April 2007. If confirmed by the Senate, Kann would serve out the remainder of former BBG Chairman James Glassman's three-year term, which expires in August 2010. ... In addition to Kann, Bush nominated Michael Meehan for another spot on the BBG." Dow Jones, 26 June 2008. About Meehan, this from SourceWatch: "Michael Meehan is president of BGR Public Relations, and vice president of the firm's parent company, BGR Holding LLC. ... Meehan previously served as chief of staff to Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and communications adviser to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)" Also from his bio at the BGR Holding website: "Meehan has held positions of influence in the public policy and media relations arenas." So Meehan will have a Democratic seat on the bipartisan BBG, and Kann a Republican seat. It is not clear if Kann will take over as chairman of the BBG, or if another member of the BBG will be nominated to that position. U.S. international broadcasting is primarily in the news business, so it is preferable for BBG members to have backgrounds in doing journalism rather than influencing journalism. -- The White House also withdraw its nomination to reappoint D. Jeffrey Hirschberg to the BBG, sent to the Senate 9 January 2007 for a term to expire 13 August 2007. The White House press release, 26 June 2008.

The dangers of being associated with U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"In Bakharden, Turkmenistan today, a contributor to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service (Radio Azatlyk) was found beaten and tortured for refusing to sign a letter in which he agreed to stop reporting for RFE/RL. Three days ago, Sazak Durdymuradov, a history teacher whose commentary and analysis for Radio Azatlyk often focuses on educational and constitutional reform, was seized by Turkmen police from his home in Bakharden. Upon discovering Durdymuradov today at a detention facility run by the national security office (former KGB), his wife said he told her he 'wanted to die.' This incident occurred as the Turkmenistan government was hosting a 'Dialogue on Human Rights' with the European Union in the nation's capital, Ashgabat." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 24 June 2008. See also Reporters sans frontieres, 26 June 2008.
     Somalia: "Abdulkadir Mohammed Nunow, the director of Bosaso-based Radio Horseed and a correspondent of Voice of America’s Somali-language service, was released at 11 a.m. today after being held overnight without being charged." RSF, 26 June 2008.

Coming soon: the coveted VOA MBA.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two-hundred days and counting until the Miami University Voice of America Learning Center opens its doors for classes. The 23,000 square-foot facility will house a variety of programs, including Alumni Career Services, graduate programs and potentially an undergraduate degree completion program. ... During the week, he said there is room for as many as 80 classes and 35 students per hour. Classes will include a master's of business and administration from the Farmer School of Business, graduate programs in education and a bachelor's of integrated studies." The Oxford (Ohio) Press, 26 June 2008. At the site of the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station.

They're young, and they work for free.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Teenagers from Iceland, Tajikistan and Serbia will join high school students from 34 other countries for a U.S. Department of State-sponsored program at Wake Forest University June 28 through July 30. ... While in Washington, D.C., the students will create programming for their native countries at the Voice of America headquarters." WFU press release, 25 June 2008. Tristan Milder, [an Elon University] junior from New Jersey, is interning at Voice of America in Washington, D.C. Milder works with several VOA Web shows including 'The Daily Download,' 'Election USA' and 'Going Green.' Milder contributed to the recently canceled news magazine 'The World Today,' which airs in India." The Pendulum, 25 June 2008. "Winooski native and Brandeis University student Eli Harrington ... was scheduled to leave Friday for an eight-week internship at Voice of America's Beijing bureau and will likely report on activities at the Summer Olympics." Burlington Free Press, 24 June 2008.

Another bring-back-USIA op-ed.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"In its heyday, USIA used many resources to reach out to international audiences. Seasoned public affairs officers stationed in foreign capitals, speaking the local language, cultivated local newspaper editors, TV news directors, and other thought leaders. ... What a new president and Congress should do is revive the best of these past USIA programs, meld them with the newest technology, and create a new and even better USIA." John Hughes, Christian Science Monitor, 26 June 2008. Other than some libraries, curtailed by security concerns and somewhat obviated by the internet, what programs from the old USIA are missing U.S. public diplomacy under the State Department? What would be restored by the re-creation of USIA, other than suites full of senior-level bureaucrats? -- "Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan and US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on education cooperation. Under the MoU, the two nations will encourage more and deeper cooperation between US and Vietnamese universities, increase the number of Vietnamese students studying at American universities and colleges, and develop training programmes for Vietnamese students." VietNamNet Bridge, 26 June 2008. So educational exchanges still exist under State. -- Fighting the 21st century "war" involves warfare, "lawfare," and "what might be called jawfare: the war of ideas, the war against the supremacist ideologies that drive terrorism, and for freedom and other Western values. James K. Glassman, sworn in this month as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs — thereby putting him in charge of this command — candidly acknowledges that 'since the rise of Islamic terror we haven’t done enough on this front.'" Clifford D. May, National Review Online, 26 June 2008.

Zimbabwean admixture.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"There was one simple reason Zimbabwe's opposition party withdrew from run-off elections this week: they couldn't campaign in the first place. The ruling Zanu-PF party made sure that no pro-opposition material was aired by the state broadcasters, effectively blocking any country-wide campaign coverage. ... The two private [sic] radio stations that broadcast into parts of Zimbabwe, the London-based SW Radio and Washington's Voice of America (VOA) have not fared any better. The signals for both stations are periodically jammed and one civilian now faces court charges of 'committing criminal nuisance' by listening to the VOA programme in public. Even satellite dishes that occasionally pick up South African and Botswanian broadcasts were removed by pro-government militias in southern Zimbabwe, so citizens would not be subjected to 'misleading reports'." Tom Rhodes, The Guardian comment is free, 25 June 2008. "African American civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson has urged President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to show their commitment to peace through negotiation and offered to broker talks between the two leaders to end the crisis in the country. Jackson who was speaking to Voice of America radio said he was aggrieved by the suffering of the Zimbabwean people." Zimbabwe Guardian, 25 June 2008. "In an exclusive interview on the Voice of America (VOA), Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwean Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga took different positions on whether runoff elections should be held." VOA press release, 25 June 2008.

BBC is even at the library.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The National Education Ministry is arguably one of the more people-friendly government agencies in Jakarta. ... One feature that immediately draws visitors in is the giant, flat-screen TV at the far end of the reading room. Sit on a sofa, put on earphones and watch the latest BBC world news broadcast. ... The digital video discs are also popular. Many are from the BBC and other U.K. networks." Jakarta Post, 27 june 2008.

I hope the publicity campaign is easier to understand than the publicity about the publicity campaign.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Global News' worldwide search for dynamic digital agencies to join its new roster for international marketing has concluded with the incumbent agency, Agency Republic, winning a place on the roster alongside newcomers to the BBC's international business, Play. ... The BBC Global News roster will work on the BBC World Service, which broadcasts on radio, TV and online, and BBC World News television. Campaigns in the forthcoming year are likely to promote a range of language programming including English, Arabic, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese, and will seek to bring new audiences to the BBC's increasingly sophisticated online offer." BBC World Service press release, 26 June 2008. This press release is evidence that corporate-speak has become a language separate from English. At least I understand the part about publicity campaigns for five mentioned BBC languages.

BBC helping to restore the UK's domain over the dominions.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide announced today it will acquire Australia's subscription-television channel, UK.TV, taking 100% ownership of the channel from July 1st 2008. As one of three stakeholders in UK.TV (formerly with a 20 per cent share), BBC Worldwide's Channels business has agreed terms with joint partners FOXTEL and FremantleMedia to become the channel's sole owner. ... In addition, BBC Worldwide has formed a strategic alliance with FOXTEL to roll out three new channels in Australia from its new BBC-branded global portfolio." BBC Worldwide press release, 25 June 2008. If I have this right, the five channels would be UK.TV, BBC HD, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies, and BBC World News. -- "The BBC is increasingly active on the ABC's turf, having declared Australia to be one of its key growth markets. ... The deal would have no implications for the BBC's existing contracts with free-to-air broadcasters including the ABC." Sydney Morning herald, 26 June 2008.

Radio Australia delegation unwelcome in Fiji.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"An audience survey by Australian broadcaster, Australian Network Television and Radio Australia, covering six Pacific Island countries, including Fiji is unlikely to be allowed to enter the country, sources have confirmed to Pacnews. The five-member team, led by ABC International head, Murray Green, was scheduled to meet with local stakeholders in Suva on July 14. ... The team[']s visit was to cover Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa. It's part of ABCs strategy to re-engage with their Pacific audience and see how Australian Network and Radio Australia can better serve the Pacific." Fiji Times, 24 June 2008.

MEMRI says Aljazeera says "U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Persecuting U.S. Muslims."

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera (Arabic) reporter: "We are at the Islamic Saudi Academy in the state of Virginia - the largest institution teaching the Arabic language and Islamic education on the East Coast of the U.S. However, this institution faces mounting pressure, and this is a nightmare for the families of the students enrolled in the academy. This pressure is being brought to bear by several Congressmen, known for their great hostility towards Arabs and Muslims." Middle East Media Research Institute, 25 June 2008.

The internet may no longer be going by the old script.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Emily Taylor ... of Nominet, one of the world's largest internet registries, said including non-Roman scripts could be a major turning point in the history of the internet. 'There are currently 1.5 billion people using the internet, which means that there are a good 4.5 billion people who are not doing so,' she said. 'These people are not from Europe or America – most of them will be from developing world nations where the Roman script is meaningless.'" The Independent, 26 June 2008.

Alhurra media scrutiny: the second wave.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Discussion with James Glassman, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs and former chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and Shibley Telhami, a professor of Middle East politics at the University of Maryland. "Telhami: Think about this for a minute. It's a government-funded news outlet. Look at the criticism that it's been receiving just in the last two days about airing a couple of segments that are critical of Israel on Al Hurra. Well, if you can -- even if they continue to do this, they're going to think about it twice. If you're a reporter, you're going to look behind your shoulder." ... Glassman: A lot of members of Congress don't understand -- I want to say it right now on this television show. We are professional broadcasters, and members of Congress who want us to be propagandists, we won't do that. We absolutely will not do that." PBS NewsHour, 23 June 2008.
     Daniel Schorr compares Alhurra to "unflashy Voice of America" and says the former is "trying to sell a propaganda line." National Public Radio, 24 June 2008.
     "I do think al-Hurra nowadays reports most of the basic news in a fairly straightforward manner. In speaking to a number of Arab journalists and others who want al-Hurra to succeed, however, there was a common complaint: al-Hurra doesn't go far enough in reporting the hard stories, the pieces about corruption and torture that are also ignored by their competitors in the Arab world. Covering those subjects would allow al-Hurra to stand out, and give it more credibility." Craig Whitlock online discussion, Washington Post, 24 June 2008.
     "I wrote about the on-its-face ludicrous idea that you could make a Radio Free Europe for the Middle East back in March 2006. Michael Young attacked the idea two years before that." Matt Welch, Reason, 24 June 2008.
     "The upshot of it all is that though the Arab world has many problems, it's just not a situation like Eastern Europe. Most Eastern Europeans regarded their governments as not only repressive, but as puppets of a Moscow-based Russian empire and many were willing to embrace the idea of US-assisted liberation. A lot of Americans would like Arabs to see the geopolitics of the Greater Middle East in that way, but relatively few actually do. ... But the essential first step is to not let our picture of the situation be clouded by wishful thinking or a weird kind of nostalgia and al-Hurra reflects both." Matthew Yglesias, TheAtlantic.com, 23 June 2008.
     "Al-Hurra is not perfect, but it is pretty good, and in some areas, such as the Iraq-market, I tend to see it as the market leader. When Iraqi politicians want to be heard and seen, they rush to get airtime on Al-Hurra. ... In order to understand the array of anti-Al-Hurra agendas, here’s a breakdown of Al-Hurra’s American and Arab enemies and my take on their probable motivations: ... -Voice of America apparatchiks (federal employees, many of them leftie journalists too) who covet Al-Hurra’s budget, and resent being frozen out of its control." Nibras Kazimi, Talisman Gate, 23 June 2008.
     "Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors Los Angeles (CJHSLA) is calling upon Congress to immediately investigate why the State Department is using the money of US taxpayers to spread hateful pro-terrorist and anti-Israel propaganda." Press release, 24 June 2008.
     "Alhurra, the U.S. government-funded Arabic news channel, paid former Bush and Clinton administration officials, lobbyists and high-profile Washington journalists tens of thousands of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to appear on the network as commentators, according to interviews and a review of company records." ProPublica, 24 June 2008.
     "A former Alhurra employee was arrested earlier this month when he tried to break into the White House. The incident came just days after Homam Ali, 22, was allegedly fired for poor performance from his production assistant job at Alhurra, headquartered in Springfield, Va., where he had worked three years, according to two people at Alhurra familiar with his employment status." ProPublica, 23 June 2008.
     All these media pieces have not produced firm evidence that Alhurra has either a pro-U.S. or anti-U.S. bias. If ProPublica could only come up with one recent offending passage in its content analysis, that might be the exception that proves that Alhurra is playing it relatively straight. And I don't think Daniel Schorr is sufficiently fluent in Arabic to conclude that Alhurra "is trying to sell a propaganda line." The USC analysis of Alhurra content could be interesting, when it is released (if it is made public).
     If U.S. international broadcasting concentrates on providing accurate, objective, balanced news, to the extent humanly possible, there should not be problems in the future, even if there were problems in the past. (Well, okay, there will problems among those who think U.S. international broadcasting should transmit propaganda. And speaking of which, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R-FL) call for a hearing about Alhurra might not be heeded, because the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman (D-CA), is friendly with Norm Pattiz, the former BBG member who created Alhurra.)
     The real test is the ability to attract an audience. Here it would be useful for the BBG to make a frank and comprehensive public presentation of the audience research it has done in the Arab countries.
     It is probably unrealistic to expect Alhurra to have audiences larger than those of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. It is more reasonable to give Alhurra the goal of competing well with BBC Arabic Television, but even that may be difficult. The answer may be for Alhurra to counterprogram BBC, doing this when BBC is doing that, doing that when BBC is doing this. Then Alhurra may find a respectable niche.
See previous post about same subject.

Didn't the Pointer Sisters have a song about this?

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Prof. Volker Bergahn of Columbia University: "A respectable sum has been invested to rescue America's reputation after the Iraq disaster in the world through cultural diplomacy. However, most of the American Secretaries for Public Diplomacy have only lasted a few months. Most of them were probably frustrated fast, being pushed too hard for fast and short term results. This reiterates the need for more long term approaches to cultural diplomacy. It will take time to win the minds and hearts, thus leading to the need for sustainable approaches to cultural diplomacy." Cultural Diplomacy News, 24 June 2008. It will also need the eradication of the term "hearts and minds."

RFE involved in historical claims about Lech Walesa.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
New book published in Poland claims that, in the 1970s, Lech Walesa "wrote reports and informed on more than 20 people and some of them were persecuted by the communist police. He identified people and eavesdropped on his colleagues at work while they were listening to Radio Free Europe for example." The former Solidarity movement leader and Polish president "strenuously denies the claims." BBC News, 23 June 2008.

Iranian website accuses Al Alarabiya (and VOA) of "flirting with terrorists."

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Persian website of Al-Arabiya, which was recently launched with the help of the U.S. State Department and Persian speakers living in the U.S., is under the direct supervision of U.S. psychological warfare experts and a certain Arab country’s cultural attache’s office in Washington. ... While the U.S. claims it is engaged in a relentless campaign against terrorism, the Voice of America and Al-Arabiya are making coordinated efforts to depict the criminal acts of the Jundullah group in southeastern Iran as revolutionary acts." Tehran Times, 24 June 2008. The information in this article should be treated with the proper skepticism. However, it is correct about Al Arabiya now having a Persian website. It also has an Urdu website.

Al-Qaeda's propaganda operation.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The war against terrorism has evolved into a war of ideas and propaganda, a struggle for hearts and minds fought on television and the Internet. On those fronts, al-Qaeda's voice has grown much more powerful in recent years. Taking advantage of new technology and mistakes by its adversaries, al-Qaeda's core leadership has built an increasingly prolific propaganda operation, enabling it to communicate constantly, securely and in numerous languages with loyalists and potential recruits worldwide. ... [Some analysts] warn against underestimating Zawahiri's skill at keeping the debate focused on U.S. policy in the Middle East, a subject that strikes a chord with millions of Muslims, even those otherwise unsympathetic to al-Qaeda." Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, 24 June 2008. This is the second in a series by Whitlock, the first being about Alhurra. See also previous post about same subject.

Enough video for a 91-year-long special.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera has bought access to more than 800,000 hours of ITN-owned video content. The video content deal between al-Jazeera and ITN's archive business, ITN Source, is thought to be in worth more than £500,000 and will give the Doha-based news broadcaster access to the footage for more than five years. ... The licensing agreement covers unlimited global transmissions on the al-Jazeera network, its associated carriers and online outlets including al-Jazeera's YouTube pages." The Guardian, 24 June 2008.

Zimbabwe: six months in jail, or worse, for listening to VOA.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Police have charged a street vendor for listening to a special news programme on Zimbabwe broadcast by the Voice of America, as President Robert Mugabe’s government tries hard to limit alternative information available to voters ahead of a run-off presidential election next week. The vendor, Noel Tichawana, who was arrested about three weeks ago will appear in court on July 15 to answer to charges of committing criminal nuisance after he was caught listening to the programme, Studio 7, that broadcasts political, economic and general news on Zimbabwe. Tichawana, who is probably the first person to be charged for listening to the Studio 7 programme that is considered hostile by Mugabe’s government, faces up to six months in jail if found guilty. ... 'On several occasions, accused person would play his radio set at high volume attracting a crowd as he would switch it to America's Studio . . . informant then arrested the accused and brought him to St Mary's police station,' reads the charge sheet submitted to court." The Zimbabwean, 23 June 2008. In May, "Mugabe's mercenaries tortured 70 people, six to death. One of them was Joseph Madzuramhende, who had a radio tuned in to Voice of America." Wall Street Journal, 24 June 2008. "Foreign radio and television are popular throughout the country, partly due to the poor quality of Zimbabwe’s only domestic broadcaster, the state-run ZBC." Committee to Protect Journalists, 23 June 2008.

RFI reporter still in Niger prison.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontieres "deplores the Niamey public prosecutor’s decision to file an immediate appeal against an investigating judge’s decision today to allow detained journalist Moussa Kaka to be released provisionally. The appeal blocked the release of Kaka, who continues to be held in a Niamey prison. The director of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and the Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka has been held on a charge of 'complicity in a conspiracy against the authority of the state' since 20 September." RSF, 23 June 2008. See also Reuters, 23 June 2008.

Throwing out the Alhurra bathwater, and probably the baby, too.

Posted: 23 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Alhurra, U.S. international broadcasting's 24-hour Arabic television channel, as well as its audio counterpart Radio Sawa, have come under a torrent of media scrutiny...
     "'Did you wonder whether the United States government should be in the business of Arab news gathering?" [Scott] Pelley asks [former Alhurra news director] Larry Register. 'I don't think any government should be involved in news gathering. 'Cause you can't make independent decisions if you have a government over you telling you what you can and can't do,' he says. 'If it's credible you run afoul with the government. If you follow the line of the government, nobody watches it in the Middle East,' Pelley remarks. 'It's a no-win situation, as I painfully found out,' Register says." CBS's 60 Minutes, 22 June 2008.
     "A study due out next month by a University of Southern California team questions whether the network has achieved either objectivity or professionalism. The review was commissioned by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Alhurra. ... The researchers studied the network’s coverage of the three-day Mideast summit in Annapolis, Md. and found that it strongly favored U.S. and Israeli government positions. Throughout November, they concluded, the network also strongly supported the Iraqi government and was especially favorable to pro-Iranian political figures inside Iraq." Dafna Linzer, ProPublica, 22 June 2008.
     Former Alhurra news director Mouafac Harb "resigned in 2006. He said he left ... because he sensed the Broadcasting Board of Governors wanted al-Hurra to promote U.S. foreign policy instead of just reporting the news. He said the station has since become more cautious. 'There is a tendency to please Washington and not the audience,' he said. 'It looks like C-SPAN in Arabic -- who cares?' Other former al-Hurra staffers said Harb was encouraged to leave." Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, 23 June 2008.
     "A segment about Alhurra Television that aired Sunday night on the CBS program 60 Minutes distorted facts about the station's audience research, its coverage of Israel, and its editorial practices. ... Independent research indicates that Alhurra has the largest weekly audience of any non-Arab broadcaster in the Middle East, up from 21 million in 2006 to 26 million today." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 23 June 2008.
     "The hero in the 60 Minutes segment is the very person [Larry Register] responsible for most of the broadcasts cited as problematic. Though far from perfect, Al-Hurra no longer strives to provide airtime to terrorists from Hamas, Hezbollah or al Qaeda. Such guests are now banned. The only recent evidence cited by 60 Minutes, in fact, is from a live roundtable interview program where Palestinian political commentator Hani El-Masri, who arguably is a moderate in his society, said that Israel is a 'racist state that ...perpetrates a holocaust against 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.' His comment, as 60 Minutes notes, was not contradicted or challenged. But where's the pattern? The promotional headline certainly suggests more than one example of 'anti-Israel rhetoric.'" Joel Mowbray, Power Line, 23 June 2008.
     See Kim's commentary. And previous post about same subject. Also this previous post about Alhurra's audience size.

More selectively blocking the internet.

Posted: 23 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"It used to be that when a country wanted to block the Internet, it faced an all-or-nothing choice. Pick something offensive, and block it all. ... But that kind of wholesale approach might be falling from favor. Eager to avoid the label of Internet pariah, as well as the economic and political costs of sustained blocking, many authoritarian countries are turning to more subtle solutions. This shift may give the appearance that less of the Internet is being filtered. But, experts warn, it really just means that filtering is becoming increasingly difficult to detect—and perhaps even more effective." Carolyn O’Hara, Foreign Policy, July/August 2008.

Burmese relief effort needs another 950 shortwave radios.

Posted: 23 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Seven weeks after huge swaths of Burma were savaged by a cyclone and tidal wave, a new and remarkable citizen movement is delivering emergency supplies to survivors neglected by the military government's haphazard relief effort. ... A magazine editor ... pooled funds with other journalists and artists in the hope of purchasing 1,000 shortwave radios so delta survivors could receive uncensored foreign news broadcasts. In the end, the group could afford only 50 but managed to distribute them in villages." Washington Post, 21 June 2008.

Austrian shortwave services to be "überprüfen" out of existence? (updated)

Posted: 23 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Facing budget shortfall, Austrian public broadcaster ORF will "examine" its shortwave and medium wave service. derStandard.at, 11 June 2008. Thanks to Kai Ludwig for this news tip. For what is left of Austrian international broadcasting, see Radio Ö1 International. Update: Alexander Wrabetz, director general of Austrian pubcaster ORF: "Auch die Kurzwelle wollen wir schrittweise endgultig ins Internet verlagern." I.e.: "Also we want to gradually finally shift the short wave to the Internet." Die Presse (Vienna), 20 June 2008. Thanks to Kai Ludwig for the news tip.

Watch how the ambassador might lose his/her job.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"On November 4, 2008, U.S. embassies and consulates will host thousands of guests and journalists to watch the election results on live television feeds from America. The U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Press Centers in Washington, D.C. and New York will hold similar gatherings for resident foreign media in the United States. These election night galas will cap months of intensive effort by the State Department’s Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs to provide foreign journalists and audiences worldwide with an understanding of the complexity and significance of the 2008 American Elections." State Department, 19 June 2008.

Obama: don't ask public diplomacy to put lipstick on a pig.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sen. Barack Obama drove Ethel Kennedy's golf cart last night from the hilltop to the main house at Hickory Hill in McClean, Va., where supporters contributed $28,500 per person to a party fundraiser. And Obama fielded a few questions. ... Obama fielded a question from someone who had served at the U.S. Information Agency under President George H.W. Bush. Obama spoke of the "public diplomacy'' efforts of this Bush administration, overseen by Karen Hughes, the president's former communications director who had taken on an ambassador's role at the State Department. It wasn't Hughes' diplomacy that had failed, he suggested, but rather Bush's policies. 'The reason that, for example, Karen Hughes failed is not because Karen Hughes is not a capable person,' Obama said. "It's because you can't put lipstick on a pig.' (That would be a reference to policy, not person.)" Baltimore Sun's The Swamp, 19 June 2008.

RFE broadcasters in the news.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a little-publicised book 'Al Qaeda in Bosnia: Myth or Reality?' by [RFE editor] Vlado Azinovic ... tells more about the mujahedin and their role in the Bosnian war of 1992 to 1995 than any of the recent Hague tribunal trials in which they have featured, the latest being the prosecution of Bosnian army general Rasim Delic." Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 20 June 2008. "As a foreign correspondent in Germany, Jonathan Carr, who has died in Konigswinter, near Bonn, at the age of 66. ... He particularly loved Munich, where he worked for Radio Free Europe and met his second wife Dorothea." Financial Times, 20 June 2008.

No BBC FM rebroadcaster out here.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Norwegian couple who have spent the past four years at sea on a 26-foot sailboat: "Theirs is an easy coexistence spent in silence or conversation, preparing meals, reading voraciously, writing, working, playing games, listening to BBC World Service, stargazing, watching dolphins and playing with their new kitty, Erie." Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator, 21 June 2008. Probably less BBC World Service to hear on shortwave these days. But the last bastion of shortwave may be listeners on vessels, of all sizes, on the high seas, where DTH satellite television is generally not available, though internet via satellite increasingly is.

Dutch general says psyop is not propaganda.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
From speech by he Netherlands Vice Chief of Defence Lieutenant-general Meulman, 'Lessons from Afghanistan' (Military Operations): "The security of the population is directly linked to information operations and the media campaign. And speaking of information operations, we must absolutely devote more attention to what may be the most important factor of success in COIN operations: winning the information domain through a coherent INFO OPS, PSYOPS and media campaign. That should not be confused with propaganda, which usually has a negative connotation in our counties. A coherent vision and execution of activities focused on the information domain would significantly increase our military capability. In addition to the familiar principles of unity of command and unity of effort, a new principle – unity of message – is called for." Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington, 20 June 2008. A message that strives for "unity" is, the general's protestation notwithstanding, propaganda.

Marash: Aljazeera English best for news from south of the equator.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Former Aljazeera English news anchor David Marash "spoke candidly about his experiences with Al Jazeera English, claiming that although his decision to leave the news organization was based on disagreements about what was being covered, he still believes that the network serves as an excellent source of news. 'Al Jazeera is a real news channel, one that needs to be watched by the rest of the world,' Marash stated. 'If you care about the world south of the equator, then it is the best network out there.'" The Arab American News, 20 June 2008.

TWR likes radio and the internet for Europe.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Barbara Shantz with Trans World Radio Europe says many Europeans continue to rely on radio and the Internet for information. 'We really find that the radio and [the] Internet is very personal,' she contends. And because Europe is less of a Blackberry-iPhone type culture, Shantz says they rely more on radio and the Internet. Trans World Radio began in 1954 and has concentrated on broadcasting into restricted nations." OneNewsNow.com, 21 June 2008.

Europe is fighting for the freedom of Chinese to receive the news.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is unacceptable for China to block Internet content, a European Commissioner said Friday, calling the Internet a free and open medium. 'We say for instance to the Chinese, very clearly so, that their blocking of certain Internet content is absolutely unacceptable,' said Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. 'So Europe speaks up in this sense, and is fighting for the freedom of speech and the freedom to receive the news,' she said." AFP, 20 June 2008. AFP, 20 June 2008.

"A reprieve for Arab satellite TV."

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Arab leaders failed to reach an agreement yesterday. Ordinarily, 'Arab leaders failed to agree' would merit about as much attention as 'it's humid in DC' or 'the Brewers' bullpen blew a 7 run lead', or might offer the chance for another chorus of hand-wringing over the failures of Arab unity. But in this case, failure to agree was good: it was Arab Information Ministers failing to agree on the implementation of a controversial document which would have imposed dangerous controls on satellite television. Their failure is a rare bit of good news in the ongoing, difficult struggle for a relatively free and independent Arab media." Abu Aardvark, 20 June 2008.

Report: India will jam Pakistani radio stations.

Posted: 21 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Government of India is contemplating blocking signals of Pakistan-and-Muzaffarabad-based radio stations beaming into the Poonch and Rajouri districts of the Indian Occupied Kashmir. ... 'A five member team of top AIR and intelligence officials landed in Poonch and Rajouri last week,' the authorities said, adding that, 'They had arrived with the intention of locating nine points near LoC where they could install towers disrupting the Pakistani radio signals.' ... Experts have said that if the Indian government installs the towers, it would disrupt the signals of BBC, Voice of America and Voice of Germany." Pakistan Daily, 21 June 2008. Consider this news tentative until said jamming is actually monitored. "Experts" know that jamming is against specific stations on specific frequencies, and thus would not likely cause a blanket disruption of the four international stations mentioned.

Sunday: CBS's 60 Minutes will skewer Alhurra.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"American taxpayers are paying for a Middle Eastern television network that broadcast an anti-Israeli diatribe as recently as last month, a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and ProPublica reveals. This, despite the fact that Al Hurra management promised Congress nearly two years ago that they would take measures to prevent such mistakes, which had occurred repeatedly before. The joint investigation will be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, June 22, at 7 p.m. ET/PT [2300 UTC]. ... Former [Alhurra] news director Larry Register says governments and journalism don’t mix. 'You can’t make independent decisions if you have a government over you telling you what you can and can’t do. It’s a no-win situation, as I painfully found out.'" CBS New, 19 June 2008.
     The likely backlash to revelations in this 60 Minutes piece could spell the end of hopes for independent, credible, and successful U.S. international broadcasting.
     Expect calls for legislation calling for U.S. international broadcasting to support and adhere to the policies of the United States. In other words, propaganda rather than news and current affairs.
     In such a scenario, U.S. international broadcasting could thrive as a bureaucracy. It would transmit to the world messages that would make Congress and the Administration smile. Congress and the Administration would in turn award U.S. international broadcasting with generous budgets.
     The problem is that people do not tune to foreign broadcasts for propaganda. They tune to get the comprehensive, objective, balanced news that they do not get from the state-controlled domestic media. And so U.S. international broadcasting will have no audience. It will be a waste of taxpayers' money.
     But maybe this won't be a problem, as Congress supports several agencies, program, and projects that are a waste of the taxpayers' money.
     In any case, BBC Arabic television is probably now displacing Alhurra as the honest-broker news channel for the Arab world. There is evidence that Alhurra was beginning to fulfill that role, because it was neither Sunni nor Shiite, nor associated with any single Arab country or faction.
     Providing news about the Arab world to the Arab world is a heady business. It must include coverage of Arab newsmakers who are virulently anti-Israel, or worse. Because MPs tend to understand the concept of international broadcasting, BBC Arabic Television will be allowed to succeed. Members of Congress are less prone to understand the concept of international broadcasting and probably will not allow Alhurra to succeed.
     This could lead to the demise of Alhurra and the fulfillment of the dream of many VOA employees to restore the VOA Arabic service. But radio, mainstay of the old VOA Arabic Service, will no longer do. Arabs are now watching television, for entertainment and for news. And television must come in the form of a 24/7 channel on Arabsat and Nilesat.
     The VOA 24/7 Arabic channel could counterprogram BBC Arabic by providing a full-service programming, interspersed with newscasts that focus more on the American rather than the Arab experience. Arabs can witness American democracy, and all of its compelling messiness. Arabs will learn about the imperfections of American democracy, and might conclude that such imperfection would be a good thing in their own countries.

The Radio Farda Audience Reduction Act of 2008 moves forward.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
The Senate Finance Committee "has approved legislation [The Iran Sanctions Act of 2008] that would tighten sanctions against Iran in an effort to press that country to halt its uranium enrichment program. ... In addition, the measure would establish exchange programs between Americans and Iranians, and would require that the U.S. government-run Persian language network, Radio Farda, devote a greater percentage of its broadcasts to news and analysis. ... It is not clear when the full Senate will act on the sanctions bill. Other Senate committees are working on their own drafts of the legislation." Voice of America News, 18 June 2008. The idea of Radio Farda was that young audiences in Iran can be attracted by playing music that is not available from domestic radio stations in Iran. It's the same idea that made Radio Luxembourg so popular in the U.K. during the 1950s and 1960s. In the radio research business, they say "talk is a tune-out." If Congress actually requires Radio Farda to broadcast more news and analysis, a smaller audience is the likely result. The primary measure of the effectiveness of an international broadcasting effort is how many people tune in, not how many words are transmitted. In any case, VOA also has Persian television and radio services, and they specialize in "freight," i.e. large doses of news and analysis. Why should Radio Farda duplicate them? Maybe this should be called the Duplication of Effort in U.S. Broadcasting to Iran Act of 2008.

VOA on editorial cartoonists.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America (VOA) is offering video and text coverage of the Herblock and Pat Oliphant exhibits currently taking place in Washington, D.C. ... Herblock (1909-2001) was the longtime Washington Post editorial cartoonist whose work was distributed by Creators Syndicate during the latter part of his career. Oliphant's editorial cartoons are with Universal Press Syndicate." Editor & Publisher, 19 June 2008 which includes a link to the VOA story.

In China, search for another search engine.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Practically every U.S.-owned search engine has caved to the Chinese government's demands that they censor political Web sites in China. But none of them seem to agree on just what sites need censoring. Google, at times, blocks Chinese users' access to the BBC while Yahoo! permits it. Yahoo! sometimes filters out Voice of America--Google doesn't." Andy Greenberg, Forbes, 20 June 2008.

When educational exchanges are not brilliant public diplomacy.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Education First Foundation for Foreign Study of Cambridge, Mass. "did admit that a student in Clarksville [Arkansas] had been placed with a low-income family that had asked the student to ask her family for money to help buy food. Host families do not get paid. 'That was not our shining moment.' ... Leigh Hudson, the guidance counselor, said students had complained to her of being placed with families that didn’t have adequate indoor plumbing and not being given enough food to eat. ... [Sen. Sue Madison, D-Fayetteville] vice chairman of the Senate committee and sponsor of an interim legislative study of foreign exchange programs, said the programs are a crucial part of 'public diplomacy.' ... 'One of the students said she hopes she never comes back to the U. S. again. That’s enough to make me cry,' Madison said." Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 18 June 2008.

Burlingtonians continue debate about Aljazeera.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Burlington Telecom this week released more than 200 letters and e-mails concerning Al-Jazeera English at the request of The Burlington Free Press. The messages make clear that culture clash is as fierce in Vermont as it is elsewhere in the country. Those who want Al-Jazeera English taken off the air in Burlington characterize it as anti-American and supportive of terrorists, while many of those who approve its presence on Burlington Telecom cable television cast Al-Jazeera English opponents as small-minded and intolerant." Burlington Free-Press, 19 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Final push to solve the murder of international broadcaster Georgi Markov.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Scotland Yard has asked Bulgarian authorities for access to Bulgarian archives in relation to the investigation into the death of Bulgarian novelist and playwright Georgi Markov, allegedly killed by the KGB in London in 1978, Bulgarian-language Dnevnik daily reported, quoting anonymous sources on June 18 2008. ... In 1969, he defected from Bulgaria to London, where he worked for the BBC World Service and other Western media. As a radio journalist, Markov made name for himself as Bulgaria's main dissident at the time by criticising Bulgaria's communist regime and communist leader Todor Zhivkov." Sofia Echo, 18 June 2008. "Detectives have visited Bulgaria twice this year to investigate the murder of Georgi Markov in London nearly 30 years ago, Scotland Yard has confirmed. Mr Markov, a communist defector working for the BBC, is thought to have been stabbed with the poisoned tip of an umbrella on Waterloo Bridge in 1978." BBC News, 20 June 2008. "'This inquiry remains open and has been a particularly complex investigation.'" The Independent, 20 June 2008. "One theory that the Bulgarian newspaper Dnevnik paper gave for the case being reinvestigated is that on September 11, the 30-year statute of limitation on the case will expire under Bulgarian law. After that date, it will no longer be possible to launch legal proceedings." Daily Mail, 19 June 2008.

Psyop turns up the volume.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"During the World War I, the British army air-dropped leaflets urging German troops to surrender. In the 1940s, the Nazis tried to use broadcasts by the British traitor William Joyce - Lord Haw Haw - to undermine morale in the UK, while the Allies used radio broadcasts to get their message across to occupied Europe. Some 29 million leaflets were dropped by coalition forces during the 1991 Gulf War, with some estimates suggesting that 40% of all surrenders and desertions were due to psy-ops tactics. But after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, psychological warfare truly came into its own." Jon Kelly, BBC News, 20 June 2008. Mr. Kelly's description of psychological operations would include BBC broadcasts to Europe during World War II, but such broadcasts were a very different form of international communication. -- "However unpleasant it may be to have such tunes blasted at your compound, bringing the music into an enclosed interrogation cell was a quantum leap in psyops. ... Metallica's Enter Sandman has been played at cacophonous levels for hours on end in Guantánamo Bay and at a detention centre on the Iraqi-Syrian border. One Iraqi prisoner said it was done at 'an unidentified location called "the disco"'." Clive Stafford Smith, The Guardian, 19 June 2008.

Olmert calling the Arabs via BBC Arabic Television.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Israel would be ready to make 'dramatic concessions' in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, including ceding tracts of land, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told BBC Arabic, Thursday overnight. However, Olmert added that the Palestinians too would have to make compromises." Jerusalem Post, 20 June 2008. "Israel is ready to make major concessions on the redrawing of its borders in an effort to secure peace with Syria and the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview broadcasted Thursday on BBC Arabic Television." Xinhua, 19 June 2008. See video of Olmert interview at BBC News, 19 June 2008. And so will BBC Arabic Television or Aljazeera be the preferred channel for Israeli officials to send policy ideas to Arab audiences?

Another one-day strike at RFI.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Employees of Radio France Internationale joined those of other French public broadcasting entities on a one-day strike on 18 June. One issue is President Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to eliminate advertising from French public broadcasting. Brett Kline, a staff journalist at Radio-télévision Française d'Outre-mer: "The Sarkozy government keeps citing the BBC as an example of state-run broadcasting with no, or minimal ad revenue. But BBC World and BBC America now have plenty of advertising. They are citing a 1980s or 1990s model of the BBC, not the one that now exists." Variety, 18 June 2008. But BBC World and BBC America are small operations relative to the BBC domestic television and radio networks, which are non-commercial."

No sports via international television can cause bedlam.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Millions of Egyptian living rooms cannot tune into the [football] championship, thanks to the era of pay-per-view TV. ART [Arab Radio & Television] effectively ended free television broadcasts of the World Cup; Al-Jazeera did the rest by winning the sole right to air Euro 2008. Many people, who thought ART would broadcast the event as it has been doing for years with other championships, were caught off guard. Those wanting Al-Jazeera's subscription, or wanting to know why ART was no longer involved, or why they were not informed of the switch in good time, all converged on the offices of Al-Jazeera's subscription outlet Cable Network Egypt. CNE's Maadi branch was reduced to bedlam. It got worse when viewers, thinking they could subscribe just for the tournament, were forced to think again; they had to subscribe for one year if they wanted to watch the 22-day event." Al-Ahram Weekly, 19 June 2008.

Getting the weather to the countryside (updated).

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
RANET -- Rural Communications using Radio and the Internet, providing weather information to rural areas of developing countries, "uses the WorldSpace satellite system and will soon be on GEONETCast. This is a network of satellite-based systems that provide environmental information. ... The RANET Web site is ranetproject.net." Voice of America Special English, 16 June 2008. Update: "Vista Communications has signed an agreement with WorldSpace in April this year to broadcast information especially on disaster alert and its management along with other important issues using a new device in the country within six months. ... Vista Communications is primarily an information technology-based company specialising in space satellite communication based in Dhaka." The Daily Star (Dhaka), 19 June 2008.

Some places, the "business case" for shortwave is still "compelling."

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Short-wave's retreat has slowed. Though the BBC's World Service uses around 15 different technologies to reach its listeners, short-wave is still king: latest figures, published last week, show 105m of its 182m-strong global audience still listen that way, the majority of them in Africa. ... The BBC is upgrading its transmitters on Ascension Island (to be powered, greenly, by a new wind farm). Mike Cronk, a BBC bigwig, says the business case was 'compelling'." The Economist, 19 June 2008.

Adventures of a Scottish shortwave listener.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
From memoirs of Scottish war correspondent Paul Harris: "In a coved upstairs attic room, I spent hours late into the night scanning the airwaves, listening-in and noting wavelengths for future use. This must have seemed a harmless exercise to my parents downstairs but it was, in reality, here that my skills as a journalist, intelligence gatherer and investigator were honed. Radio Moscow, HCJB ‘The Voice of the Andes’, Radio Free Europe and Radio Tirana might have seemed harmless enough propaganda stations, the sort which flourished on the short wave spectrum in those days before the advent of satellite broadcasting and the internet." He later recalls his visit to Radio Moscow, where he was interviewed: "In the deep-most bowels of Radio Moscow, I was handed a brown envelope (my first ever) and asked to sign a receipt. When I opened it up, I was stunned to see that it contained the equivalent [in rubles] of £50 sterling: the equivalent of more than a year’s pocket money." allmediascotland, 20 June 2008. I think, in Europe, unlike in the United States, it is the custom to pay people for broadcast interviews. The payment by Radio Moscow was, nevertheless, unusually generous. Or it acknowledged the true value of the ruble compared to sterling.

Shortwave and music.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Suffice it is to mention here that I fell in love with classical music when I was about 14 or 15, when my principal hobby was short-wave radio, a rather improbable route to what has become a lifelong passion. But it does illustrate the truism that culture is a matter of exposure, and short-wave radio did expose me to classical music." Antonio C. Abaya, Manila Standard Today, 19 June 2008. Avant garde musician Irvine Arditti: "We used to have this big wireless, which I loved to play around with in my cot. I loved the sound of the short-waves when you played with the dials; those weird, electronic sounds. Maybe I was giving a performance of Stockhausen's Spiral, which uses short-wave radios, before it was written!" The Guardian, 20 June 2008.

Article 19: regardless of frontiers and regardless of media.

Posted: 20 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.' ... Article 19 has stood the test of time. The text was prescient. There is nothing to add and nothing to subtract. Its provision of the free flow of 'information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers' made it possible to move from a world in which short wave radio was the main transfrontier news outlet to one that encompasses all later developments in communications technology, including direct satellite broadcasting and the Internet." International Press Institute, 19 June 2008.

The new under secretary for public diplomacy on the limitations of public diplomacy (updated again).

Posted: 19 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Certainly, a knowledge of how foreigners will react plays a role in deciding how we pursue our national interest. But, in the end, global public opinion polls cannot determine the foreign policy of the United States. Can we do a better job explaining and advancing our policies? Yes, indeed. Will those policies always and everywhere be embraced? Absolutely not." James K. Glassman, International Herald Tribune, 15 June 2008. "Glassman’s bottom line ... is that no matter how negatively other countries view and react to US policy, the United States government should go about doing exactly what its leaders have set out to do. Moreover, he gives no hint that, as foreign policy is formulated, world public opinion should be taken into consideration." John Brown, CommonDreams.org, 17 June 2008. Update: "The idea that we should consider 'how foreigners will react' evokes an old linear model of communication that has long outlived its usefulness in the U.S. government. The image is that policies are launched or broadcast into a population of foreigners, and it is our job to control how the policies are deployed to minimize the chances of negative effects. If things go wrong it is because we did not manage the deployment of the policies skillfully enough." Steven R. Corman, COMOPS Journal, 18 June 2008.

International scriptcasting.

Posted: 18 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"DISCOP East 2008, the biggest TV content market in Central and Eastern Europe, opens in Budapest for its 18th year Wednesday, with nearly 2,000 participants expected to attend. Organizers say they anticipate about 500 sellers and 1,300 buyers from 33 countries throughout Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Western companies including BBC World Service, MTV Network International, CBS Paramount International TV, MGM Television and Warner Bros. International TV Distribution will be utilizing the market to liaise with Central and Eastern European clients. Observers also point to an increase in locally produced content. 'Local production in Central and Eastern Europe is booming,' said Helge Kohnen, head of Eastern European affairs at Bavaria Media Television. 'Therefore, we are offering not only finished products but also more and more script rights, which enable the producers to adapt successful formats to their local markets.'" The Hollywood Reporter, 17 June 2008.

Are we agreeable that the internet will be the main radio platform? (updated)

Posted: 18 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
At RadioAsia 2008 in Singapore: "Neil Curry, Head of Business Development, Asia and Pacific Region, BBC World Service of United Kingdom said: 'The biggest challenge over the next 10 to 15 years is Radio.' ... Most of the panelists at the session were agreeable that internet will be the main radio distribution platform." Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, 16 June 2008. But isn't the unique advantage of radio its mobility and portability, to the point of being able to receive it even in remote areas? The reach of the internet is expanding with such things as municipal wifi. Satellites can get the internet into remote areas, but radio will still reach these nooks and crannies more economically. Update: Also at RadioAsia 2008: "Alain Masse, Deputy Director General of Radio France International, and Chairman of the EBU New Radio Group ... said that manufacturers needed to produce affordable receivers that incorporate chips that are multi-standard so that digital radio services can be received whether they are T-DMB, DAB+ or DRM." Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, 18 June 2008.
     "Torian Wireless developed the iRoamer platform to give wireless Internet radio capabilities to almost any consumer electronic device, such as portable media players, Hi-Fi systems, set-top boxes, IP-TV units, car radio products, mobile and VoIP telephones. Providing the interface between the iRoamer platform and the user is miRoamer, a customisable Internet media aggregation portal that gives users access to tens of thousands of Internet radio stations all over the world." CIO, 18 June 2008. But unless I am missing it, neither the Torian Wireless nor its Torian Wireless website tell you what those tens of thousands of radio stations are, unless it is revealed after registering at miroamer, something I chose not to do. This is in contrast to Reciva.com, which not only lists all of its thousands of internet radio stations, it also lets you listen to them on your PC.

VOA domestically disseminated again (updated again).

Posted: 18 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Raleigh Chronicle reprints Voice of America story about the World Health Organization urging governments to ban all tobacco advertising around the world. Raleigh Chronicle, 1 June 2008. See also VOA News, 31 May 2008. Gartner v. USIA ruled that VOA cannot distribute its materials within the United States, but any U.S. media operation can, of its own accord, use VOA material. U.S. newspapers, cutting down on foreign correspondents and bureaus, might be tempted to tap the VOA website, generally unencumbered by copyright issues, for their foreign coverage. See previous post about same subject.
     VOA report on a battery powered car used by RenewableEnergyWorld.com, 6 June 2008 (also has link to the VOA video). See also VOA News, 2 June 2008. Update: The company that manufactures the battery powered car also uses the VOA report in its press release, Hybrid Technologies, 17 June 2008.

More VOA to Zimbabwe.

Posted: 18 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) has expanded coverage of Zimbabwe's presidential run-off election to provide up-to-the-minute, multi-media news and information to millions in the country, which has experienced a surge in political violence. Responding to the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe, VOA's Studio 7 program has doubled radio broadcasts in English, Shona and Ndebele (the primary languages in the country), enhanced Internet offerings, and increased subscribers to its daily e-mail news bulletins." VOA press release, 17 June 2008. See the VOA Studio 7 schedule pages here, here, here, and here, and let me know if you can figure it out. Note frequency discrepancies. And how many shortwave radios in Zimbabwe can receive the relatively new 13 MHz band, or the until-recently-out-of-band 15.775 MHz, or indeed anything above 12 MHz? See also ZIMBABWE entry in DX Listening Digest, 16 June 2008.

WorldSpace and Rep. Jefferson's troubles.

Posted: 17 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"As his legal troubles mounted last year, Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) began to pay off a loan to an executive of a Maryland-based global satellite company who is now cooperating with prosecutors and could testify against Jefferson. Noah Samara, CEO of Worldspace Inc., made a personal loan of between $50,000 and $100,000 to Jefferson in 2001. A spokeswoman for Worldspace verified that the company provided documents to the Virginia grand jury investigating Jefferson and that Samara testified and turned over records ... [and] said that cooperation would include testifying during the trial if needed." The Hill, 16 June 2008.

Chip manufacturer for WorldSpace European receivers, projecting big numbers.

Posted: 17 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"STMicroelectronics ... has recently signed an agreement with WorldSpace Satellite Radio, one of the world leaders in satellite-based digital radio services, to develop, manufacture and distribute chips for European Satellite Digital Radio (ESDR) receivers planned for a WorldSpace pan-European and Middle East service offering, starting with Italy in 2009. ... The Company intends to launch its European service, beginning with Italy, in 2009, followed shortly thereafter by other major European and Middle East countries including Germany, Switzerland, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. ... Data suggests the European market for satellite radio is similar to that of the U.S. market where today, there are approximately 18 million subscribers nationwide. European countries targeted by WorldSpace (Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, UK, France, Turkey and Poland) represent a combined population of approximately 420 million people and 180 million automobiles." STMicroelectronics press release, 17 June 2008. "The company will need funds for the structural build-out of its network as well as distribution, marketing and product development efforts. She would not disclose how much the company seeks to raise. ... Analyst Claude Rousseau from Northern Sky Research said it will be key for WorldSpace to get into Europe as quickly as possible because another company, Ondas, is eyeing the opportunity as well. Rousseau said he sees a potential market for WorldSpace in commercial truckers and other business travelers who use their cars, but said that there is a lot of competition in Europe from high-quality FM radio." Washington Examiner, 18 June 2008.

EuroNews Arabic: we are the objective channel.

Posted: 17 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Luis Rivas, EuroNews director of news and programs, about the new EuroNews Arabic service: "How will you differentiate yourself in the ever-saturating market of Arabic-language news? LR: ... Our editorial position differs from that of Deutsche Welle or the BBC or France 24, which report on world events from a national perspective - German or English or French - and do not attempt to hide it. EuroNews, on the contrary, is not a national network but an international one. So we are not seen as a national news channel that dispenses its opinion on world events but as a channel that offers objective and balanced coverage. In fact, there are no editorial writers on our team, a detail which sets us apart in our field and accounts in large part for our success." Arab Press Network, 10 June 2008.

Radio turf war in Sierra Leone.

Posted: 17 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Sierra Leone Association of Journalists opposes reported plan to put the UN Radio in that country under "a Consortium dominated by foreign organizations, namely BBC World Service Trust, Search for Common Ground and Fondation Hirondelle to own and oversee the daily operations of the radio." SLAJ, 16 June 2008. See also UN Radio Page of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone website.

Memories of a Bangladeshi radio listener.

Posted: 17 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"I could not sleep for a whole night out of excitement back in the year 1959 after my father had allowed me for the first time in my life to touch the switching knobs of our radio and tutored me how to tune in to not only Medium Wave radio stations of Dhaka and Calcutta but also Short Wave radio stations like those of London and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). ... From early 1995 till 1998 for about three and a half years I was cut off from my soil during my tenure as a banker in Malaysia. The only regular link I had with my soil was my most favorite Bangla Program of Voice of America (VOA) that I used to tune in to through Short Wave Meter Band 25, 31 or 41 every night from 12 midnight till 1 after midnight (KL Time). I never switched off my radio till the signature tune of the program ended completely. The only time I would feel truly connected with my home was when sitting alone on the balcony of my apartment in Kuala Lumpur I would sip a tea while listening to all the segments of the daily Bangla service of VOA. The theme music of the Bangla service was in fact a call of my homeland." Maswood Alam Khan, The New Nation (Dhaka), 17 June 2008.

VT's disaster solution includes shortwave.

Posted: 17 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Disaster-stricken areas suffering from a collapse of communications may be able to restore connections with the outside world more efficiently using a solution proposed by VT Communications.
Formally [sic, I think they mean "formerly"] the BBC World Service's transmission and distribution department, the UK-based company is offering a four-stage approach in crisis areas ranging from transmitting messages into affected regions within 24 hours of a disaster, to the construction and operation of a permanent communications infrastructure once the situation has improved. ... VTs' service is largely based on short-wave radio, particularly in the initial response stage, because it allows messages to be transmitted into a disaster region remotely —from between 400 and 3,000 miles for good coverage. 'We can get into China from places such as Taiwan.'" The Engineer Online, 16 June 2008.

BBC World News still losing money, but not quite as much.

Posted: 16 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Despite increasing the number of advertiser-funded programmes it produces and - controversially - introducing advertising on its website, BBC World News executives have said the channel will 'never make a huge amount of money' for the corporation. Increased competition, from long-standing rivals such as CNN and EuroNews and newer entrants such as al-Jazeera English and France 24, has made the global news market even more difficult to profit from. ... Last year, BBC World lost £12m, down from £15m the year before. BBC insiders argue that its value goes beyond the potential profits it may eventually make in maintaining the BBC's global brand positioning. This is seen as particularly important at a time when it is investigating new ways to profit from its international activity."
The Guardian, 16 June 2008.

BBC abroad.

Posted: 16 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service Trust employee talks about the challenges of living abroad: "With a staff of about 20 Sudanese nationals, I was overseeing the production of a daily radio programme, broadcasting on health and hygiene matters to internally displaced people in Darfur, and managing a parallel research project that aimed to measure the impact of the programme." Rosalind Yarde, The Sunday Times, 15 June 2008. "As a young boy I would switch my father's radio to BBC on shortwave with a lot of difficulty, positioning the transistor radio near the roof of the house. It was joy was to hear how they report as live bullets are heard from the background. I didn't know it was dangerous. Now working for the media, I have seen and felt the heat our journalists go through. Most people love watching and listening to the news but will not hesitate to push, abuse or even injure a reporter who is working. I salute all reporters since they risk and put their lives at stake." Job Egalaha, Kenya, comment to BBC World News, via The Independent (Kampala), 16 June 2008. Scotland native Jim Kentley, who emigrated to Argentina in 1978 "gets back to Scotland every couple of years to top up the accent and catch up with old friends. But the world has shrunk since 1978, and he keeps abreast of the affairs of the old country by watching BBC World, although he complains that it is 'a bit boring'." Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 16 June 2008.

The audience for the plenary on public diplomacy was larger than the audience for most public diplomacy efforts.

Posted: 16 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
At the annual conference of the Association of International Educators in Washington DC: "More than 6,000 delegates attended the plenary on ‘Examining Public Diplomacy and its Effects’, moderated by Judy Woodruff of PBS’s ‘The News Hour with Jim Lehrer’ and sponsored by [the Qatar Foundation]." Gulf Times, 16 June 2008. The session "featured Keith Reinhard of Business for Diplomatic Action, Shashi Tharoor, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Hisham Melham, journalist with Annahar, Al-Qabas, Radio Monte Carlo, and Al-Arabiya." NAFSA website, 10 June 2008.

RFE/RL website accessible again in Kazakhstan.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL believes international pressure on the government in Kazakhstan forced an end to a blockage of its Kazakh-language Web site. 'Following interventions by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Congress, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and numerous nongovernmental human rights and press advocacy organizations, people inside Kazakhstan can access the RFE/RL Web site for the first time since April 11,' the organization said." Radio World, 13 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Our fathers and their shortwave listening.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"As the war wore on in 1945, Dad was on the beach somewhere on the island of Mindanao, setting up his part of a radio transmission network for which he would be awarded the Bronze Star. At some point, he found time to dash off a note to the Armed Forces Radio Service, complaining that he and his GI buddies in the jungles weren't getting enough music over the shortwave. There was no copy of what Dad wrote, but he saved the two- page response he got from Capt. Robert E. Thomas, the AFRS officer in charge. Thomas noted that the AFRS shortwave channels broadcast several music shows such as 'Dinah Shore,' 'Music Hall,' 'Hit Parade' and 'GI Jive.' 'It is true that more talk shows have crowded our schedule,' Thomas wrote. 'We are aware of it and are doing everything humanly possible with the facilities on hand to correct or temper that situation.'" Modesto Bee, 15 June 2008. "Even as a boy, George Wootten wanted to visit the land down under. He got close enough during his Navy service in the Pacific to pick up the unofficial Australian anthem 'Waltzing Matilda' on his short wave radio." Hernando Today, 15 June 2008. Probably then, and certainly from the 1960s to the present day, shortwave broadcasts from Australia can be heard all the way to the eastern United States.

You've seen the movie, now visit the country.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Minister for Tourism, the Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP, today announced a major tourism marketing project designed to leverage global interest in Baz Luhrmann’s soon to be released movie: Australia. ... 'The movie is expected to be released in 70 countries from November 2008 with the Australian launch scheduled for November 13. The release of Australia offers the Australian tourism industry one of its greatest promotional opportunities in many years.'" Ferguson press release, 14 June 2008 (pdf).

CMG for MD of BBCWS.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Nigel Chapman, the Hull-born director of BBC World Service, ... was given a CMG, which recognises his services to Britain abroad. As director of BBC World Service, he is responsible for the overall editorial leadership and management of the service and its new media operations. The former Hymers pupil, who started his high-flying career as an intern with Radio Humberside in 1975, said he was very proud of the honour. Mr Chapman said: 'I am very pleased and proud to have been awarded a CMG. I'm also very proud it reflects the good work the World Service carries out.'" Hull Daily Mail, 14 June 2008. "For services to international broadcasting." UK Government press release, 15 June 2008.

Alan Johnston in the news again.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"For a foreign correspondent whose preferred medium was radio and who saw his role as telling other people’s stories, Johnston finds the attention he received overwhelming. Even after a year, he cannot get over the fact his plight touched people in every corner of the globe, thanks largely to the popularity of the BBC World Service, which kept the campaign for Johnston’s release at the forefront of its listeners’ minds." The Sunday Times, 15 June 2008.

EuroNews will add Ukrainian, eventually.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"EuroNews plans to begin broadcasting in the Ukrainian language, the channel's president Philippe Cayla said Friday on Russian FM radio station Ekho Moskvy. Cayla wouldn't give any time frame for the beginning of Ukrainian broadcasting but recalled the channel's role in fostering democratic development in the country with its coverage of the 'orange revolution' in Ukraine three and a half years ago. The announcement came amid a campaign in Ukraine for greater use of Ukrainian on TV as opposed to Russian." THR.com, 13 June 2008. This would entail adding a Ukrainian audio track to EuroNews's all-video content.

Iran protests Georgian television program.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Iranian embassy in Tbilisi protested against broadcast of a film titled 'New Mesopotamia' by a local Georgian television channel. In a letter of protest to the TV manager, the embassy has noted that the 'New Mesopotamia', which shows status of Georgian troops in Iraq, makes baseless allegations against Iran, a press tv report said." Fars News Agency, 14 June 2008.

English-language newspaper in Moscow closes.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"After 11 years of providing Moscow readers with investigative journalism, irreverent commentary, and sophomoric gags, the English-language newspaper the 'The eXile' is closing down after investors fled in the face of a government inspection of the paper's content. ... The paper's demise, and the investors' flight, was sparked by a visit on June 6 by inspectors from the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications, and the Protection of Cultural Heritage. 'In the current atmosphere...just the thought of having this government looking at you, reading you, and deciding if you are violating laws is pretty scary, and it's not something you can win,' Mark Ames, the newspaper's editor in chief and founder, tells RFE/RL." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 13 June 2008.

And will they all go off the air for one or two hours on 21 June?

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
To raise awareness about global warming, Radio Television Hong Kong, China National Radio, Korea Broadcasting System, Radio Nepal, Radio Republic Indonesia, Radio Australia, Sri Lanka's Maharaja Broadcasting Corporation Radio, Voice of Maldives and Public National Radio and Television of Mongolia will invite their audiences to "'Turn off Your Lights' for one or two hours on 21 June." Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union, 13 June 2008.

Shortwave listeners never had to pay by the minute.

Posted: 15 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Three of the country’s largest Internet service providers are threatening to clamp down on their most active subscribers by placing monthly limits on their online activity. One of them, Time Warner Cable, began a trial of 'Internet metering' in one Texas city early this month, asking customers to select a monthly plan and pay surcharges when they exceed their bandwidth limit. ... ... Millions of people are moving online to watch movies and television shows, play multiplayer video games and talk over videoconference with family and friends. And media companies are trying to get people to spend more time online: the Disneys and NBCs of the world keep adding television shows and movies to their Web sites, giving consumers convenient entertainment that soaks up a lot of bandwidth." New York Times, 14 June 2008

Uzbek television program endangers RFE/RL journalists.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A program about Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty aired this week on Uzbek state television contains 'the worst kind of threats' against RFE/RL's Uzbek Service journalists that amount to 'terrorism' against the free press in the Central Asian state, human and media rights activists and political analysts say. The hour-long program was stridently critical of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service -- known as Radio Ozodlik (Liberty) -- accusing its reporters not only of violating journalistic ethics but also of carrying out antistate activities. The program broadcast detailed personal information on several Ozodlik journalists and their family members, including addresses, passport information, places of work, and even the names and locations of their children's schools." RFE/RL News, 13 June 2008. "'We consider this a direct and deliberate attempt to endanger our journalists,' says RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin. 'The Uzbek government has produced these broadcasts to portray our journalists as criminals. These are the acts of an outlaw regime, not of a respectable government. If anything happens to any of our journalists, or their families, the international community should hold President Islam Karimov personally responsible.'" RFE/RL press release, 13 June 2008. "Earlier this week, authorities in Uzbekistan arrested former RFE/RL journalist and human rights activist Solijon Abdurahmanov. At first, Abdurahmanov was charged with illegal possession of narcotics after police claimed to discover drugs in his car after it was left in a repair shop. However, in the face of an obviously weak case, Uzbek officials raided Abdurahmanov's home and personal computer and are now claiming to have evidence of 'anti-government' activity." RFE/RL, 11 June 2008.

Radio Farda's listeners will tune out what some in Washington want.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The challenge facing Radio Farda's journalists is that Iranians, stifled by years of government-controlled media, will tune out anything viewed as a form of state propaganda -- whether U.S. or Iranian. These broadcasters, subsequently, must navigate a difficult path between an increasingly repressive Iranian regime and some in Washington who seek a tougher rhetorical line on Tehran. Iran spends millions of dollars annually to jam Radio Farda's signal and disable its Web site, the station's managers say. Intelligence agencies have stepped up an intimidation campaign against Radio Farda's Iranian employees and Iran-based sources, which has affected about a half-dozen of Farda's 40-person staff, the station says." Wall Street Journal, 13 June 2008. Accompanying story provides audio and transcripts of Radio Farda, Radio Free Asia, Radio Martí, and Voice of America in Burmese, mandarin, and English. Wall Street Journal, 13 June 2008. "Radio Farda journalist Ahmad Rafat, who has reported on human rights abuses around the world for more than 30 years, was presented the prestigious Ilaria Alpi prize earlier this week by the Italian chapter of Reporters Sans Frontieres during a ceremony in Riccione, Italy." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 10 June 2008. See previous post about Rafat.

Two minutes of broadcast silence for slain BBC reporter.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Hundreds of people have paid tribute to murdered BBC journalist Abdul Samad Rohani in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Journalists and several Afghan MPs were among those at the gathering which heard calls for the government to do more to protect journalists. A two-minute silence in honour of the reporter was also observed by local TV and radio stations." BBC News, 12 June 2008. His murder is condemned by UNESCO. UN News Centre, 12 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Those darned Nobel laureates getting in the way.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi is not a woman easily stopped in her tracks - she has been held in jail and faced repeated death threats, but continues to speak out against the abuses of the theocratic regime. On the doorstep of the BBC's Bush House in central London, though, an American tourist waves the Nobel peace laureate and her entourage aside, complaining loudly: 'Do you mind? We're trying to take a picture!' It serves, perhaps, as a reminder for Ebadi - who has spent the day being treated like a VIP by the BBC World Service - of the challenge she faces in attracting western interest to her cause." The Guardian, 13 June 2008.

Four new BBC channels for African DTH homes.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide Channels pledged its commitment to the African market today as plans were announced to launch a suite of BBC-branded thematic channels into the region. The channels will be available via MultiChoice's DStv platform, Africa's leading television provider, from 1 September 2008. The new thematic channels [are] BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle and CBeebies." BBC Worldwide press release, 10 June 2008.

BBC's Kinyarwanda soap opera is award winner, and "talk of the town."

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"What started out as a radio soap opera in Kinyarwanda language tackling taboo issues has turned into an international success now scooping the One World Special Achievement Award for Development Media in the UK, RNA reports. The 'Urunana' - which means 'Hand in Hand' - is the proud winner... In 1998, organisers set out to build the capacity of local producers to make high-quality radio programmes to broadcast to the region on the BBC World Service's Africa Great Lakes Service and on Radio Rwanda. ... The series runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about 10 minutes on the BBC 30-minute regional program. It has become the talk of town as its ardent listeners discuss not only the characters but the issues raised." Rwanda News Agency, 13 June 2008.

Decisions about international broadcasting made behind closed doors.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"If Wednesday's public forum on whether to keep Al-Jazeera English on Burlington Telecom's channel lineup confirmed one thing, it is this: The city-owned cable, telephone and Internet service provider must make its decision in public." Editorial, Burlington Free Press, 13 June 2008. See previous post about same subject. And apropos: "Closed Meeting: The members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet in closed session to review and discuss a number of issues relating to U.S. Government-funded nonmilitary international broadcasting." BBG "Sunshine Act" notice of 10 June meeting posted 13 June 2008 at TradingMarkets.com.

Aljazeera English takes home a Golden Nymph.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera's English language channel has won the The Golden Nymph award in the category of 'Best 24 Hour News Programme' at the Monte Carlo Television Festival." Aljazeera.net, 13 June 2008. "The award recognized Al Jazeera English’s 'extensive international reach and efforts to dig deeper to give its international audience a richer understanding of the events that affect their lives.' Al Jazeera English beat entries from BBC News, Sky News, Lisboa TV and the Phoenix Satellite Television Company to take home the award." Multichannel News, 12 June 2008.

RFI back on the FM dial in Niger.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio France Internationale (RFI) on Thursday resumed FM broadcasts from Niger after it was banned from the airwaves for its support of a jailed journalist. ... The ban followed an event two days earlier in support of its correspondent Moussa Kaka who has been in custody for more than eight months accused of links to a Tuareg rebel group." AFP, 12 June 2008. "Moussa Kaka, the manager of Niamey-based Radio Saraounia and Niger correspondent of Reporters Without Borders and Radio France Internationale, was questioned today by the investigating judge in charge of his case for the first time since his arrest in September 2007." Reporters sans frontières, 12 June 2008.

The Arab media environment then and now.

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Even for Arab families who owned television and radio sets in the 1960s and 1970s, there was not much to listen to or watch. When the October 1973 War broke out, state-owned television was beginning to grow, allowing Arab audiences a glimpse of the initial Arab military successes. But we were not shown the subsequent humiliating defeats. Right up to the mid-1980s Lebanon had only one state-owned television channel that would broadcast for no longer than eight hours a day, and even then a limited range of content. The radio scene was equally limited; there was one state-owned AM station in addition to BBC AM relaying form Cyprus and Sawt Al Arab from Egypt. This narrow media landscape was not unique to Lebanon; it was replicated across the Arab world. Each country had one state-owned television channel and one or two radio stations at the most." Jihad Fakhreddine, Arab Media & Society (undated, but Google says 12 June 2008)

Did the UAE ask Geo TV to drop two programs?

Posted: 13 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Pakistan's popular Geo TV news channel, which transmits from Dubai, says the United Arab Emirates has asked it to drop two talk shows. Geo says that the UAE told it the alternative was for Geo to move its operations out of the country. The programmes have been critical of President Musharraf. Geo TV's management says President Musharraf has influenced the UAE. Geo says it has invited Mr Musharraf to hold his own talk show on the station." BBC News, 13 June 2008.
     "Geo TV has again been asked to stop its transmissions by the Dubai administration, apparently under immense pressure from the Pakistani authorities to stop the channel from supporting the restoration of the deposed judges of the Supreme Court. In communications to the Geo management, the Dubai authorities, rather apologetically, pleaded that the channel should stop at least two popular talk shows, 'Capital Talk' hosted by anchor Hamid Mir and “Meray Mutabiq” hosted by Dr Shahid Masood, because the authorities in Pakistan so desired." Geo TV, 13 June 2008.
     "The authorities in the UAE denied coercing Pakistan's Dubai-based private Geo TV network to close down certain programmes because it 'threatened' the Gulf nation's relation with 'a friendly country.' Officials of the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) National Media Council, the media watchdog, said on Friday that the UAE government has not issued any warning to the Pakistani TV channel, saying changes in programming in an internal matter of the organisation. Geo TV channel staffers also said that they have not received any letter from the Dubai Media City authorities to shut down operations. 'We are operating as usual,' one staffer said." PTI, 13 une 2008.
     "Whoever — President Pervez Musharraf or the PPP government — is behind Dubai’s latest order to GEO TV to cease its transmission of programmes and leave, it is clear that the ban is not going to make any difference. The 'offending programmes' will resume even more energetically from London or elsewhere in Asia if the channel is banned in Dubai." Editorial, Daily Times (Karachi), 14 June 2008. Geo TV's programming includes content from VOA Urdu.

A half million for our favorite museum, located next to our favorite park.

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Ohio governor Ted Strickland is expected to sign an Ohio legislature budget bill that includes: "Voice of America Museum, West Chester Township ($500,000) – These funds are aimed at maintenance of the former site of the Voice of America Relay Station, one of the township’s most expensive preservation efforts, said West Chester Trustee George Lang. The township is working to convert the 1940s broadcast building into a public museum. During World War II, programming came from this site in 53 languages, waging war on the Axis powers’ radio propaganda. The VOA’s tall towers came down in 1997, three years after the station closed. Once open, the museum would honor the VOA’s history and broadcasting technology." Cincinnati Enquirer, 11 June 2008. This is the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station, which closed in 1994. See previous post about same subject.

If s/he can explain that audiences must tune to one U.S. station to get news about their own country, then retune to another U.S. station to get news about the rest of the world, and keep a straight face, then s/he might be worth the money.

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"An odd job posting floated by recently from 'a leading international organization' looking for a director of communications in Washington. Sounds like a pretty good opportunity. You’d “lead and conduct public affairs and outreach programs in the U.S. and worldwide.” One part of your job would be 'providing expert advice to senior officials on public affairs, communications, and outreach strategy.' Curiously, the organization isn’t identified. Neither, much more important, is the pay range. Is it one of the spook folks? The CIA? DIA? NSA? No, it’s just the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the government’s radio and television outlets, such as Voice of America and Radio Marti. Why the secrecy? We’re told this is increasingly done these days in government to cast a wider net for applicants. Really, really, wide. (This job, if you want it, is a Senior Executive Service, Level I, max pay about $172,000 a year.)" Al Kamen, Washington Post, via Extreme Mortman blog, 11 June 2008, whose owner Howard Mortman adds: "Having once held a similar position at the BBG, I can tell you that $172,000 is, well, quite a lot of money. The price of 'expert advice' keeps going up."

The VOA Persian audience in Azerbaijan -- and their expectations.

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Last week I traveled to Baku, the capital of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to participate in the 15th Caspian Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition (3-6 June 2008). ... What especially drew my attention on this trip was the very high number of Iranians flooding Baku. I saw them in the hotels, markets, restaurants, and sidewalks. It was flattering that a considerable number of them recognized me from my appearances on Voice of America television, where over the past eight years I have been offering political analysis almost every week. My voice was also familiar to many of them from VOA radio. The focus of most of the questions they put to me was 'When do you think the U.S. will attack the Iranian regime?'" Bahman Aghai Diba, Persian Journal, 11 June 2008.

Arrested in Cuba for a report on Radio Martí (updated).

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a telephone call to the [Inter American Press Association] Serpa Maceira, of the Sindical Press news agency and Cuba correspondent of the Sweden-based magazine Misceláneas de Cuba, said he was arrested at 5:00 a.m. today at a house in the Old Havana district of the Cuban capital by two State Security agents and a National Police officer who took him to a police station, where he was charged with engaging in 'provocative and mercenary acts under the guidance of the United States Interests Section in Cuba.' ... [In an e-mail Serpa Maceira] added that the arrest was due to his having broadcast his report live on Miami-based Radio Martí radio station." IAPA press release via International Freedom of Expression eXchange, 6 June 2008. Update: "'Courageous journalists like Carlos Serpa Maceira, who face grave personal danger in pursuit of the right to a free press and freedom of speech, serve as an information lifeline to the people of Cuba' said Edward E. Kaufman, member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, the parent agency of Radio and TV." BBG press release, 11 June 2008. Listen to Radio Martí report about Serpa Maceira's detention and Serpa Maceira's last report before his detention.

Most at Burlington debate want Aljazeera English to stay on cable.

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"More than 125 people crowded into the Hauke Conference Room at Champlain College on Wednesday night to urge Burlington Telecom’s two citizen advisory committees to keep Al-Jazeera English on the air in Burlington. The public portion of the local controversy over Al-Jazeera English concluded Wednesday night without a decision by the two committees. More than 50 people stepped to the microphone at the front of the room, and many of them, whether for or against airing the Arab-owned global news service, were emotional as they gave their opinion. Only six of those who spoke asked the panels to recommend taking the station off the air. ... [Aljazeera English managing director Tony Burman] was one of the last speakers, and he said the comments he heard during the forum were 'exhilarating.'" Burlington Free Press, 12 June 2008. "Is history repeating itself in Burlington, where the debate continues over whether Al-Jazeera English deserves to be aired on Burlington Telecom? We rounded up all the Japanese-Americans we could find during World War II and held them in detention camps. Turned out not to be such a good idea. So now have we decided that 'Arab' and 'enemy' are synonyms? Aren't those who forget history doomed to repeat it?" Ed Sharny, Burlington Free Press, 12 June 2008. See also (or listen to) Vermont Public Radio, 12 June 2008.
     For almost all other communities in the United States, where Aljazeera English is not available on cable, it can be received via streaming services such as Miro. Aaron Barnhart, Kansas City Star, 11 June 2008. See also TV Barn, 12 June 2008. Also via Livenewscameras.com (which works better with IE than Firefox); see previous post.

EuroNews: all seven languages to the Americas.

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Genesis Networks has been selected by EuroNews to provide fully managed distribution services for delivery of EuroNews to North and South American marketplaces. Genesis Networks provides a fully managed network backhaul and distribution solution, including fiber connectivity, from the EuroNews master control facility in Lyon, France, to the Genesis Networks uplink facilities in New York and Atlanta. The signals are uplinked to the Genesis Networks cable distribution platforms on Galaxy 23 and Intelsat 9 for access by major cable and DTH affiliates throughout North and South America. The turnkey transmission solution includes delivery of seven audio signals in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Russian." broadcastbuyer, 12 June 2008. More about the EuroNews rebranding at Bizcommunity.com, 12 June 2008. These are both likely press releases. See previous post about EuroNews.

Report: UK children need "good quality" television rather than North American television.

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Children’s television in the UK is overwhelmingly dominated by North American programmes and mainstream coverage of the wider world is declining, according to a major new report published today. ‘Screening the World’, commissioned by the International Broadcasting Trust (IBT) and funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), investigates how UK broadcasters portrayed international affairs in 2007-8. ... Nearly half the international children’s programming on terrestrial UK channels is from North America. ... Sophie Chalk, IBT’s Director of Campaigns, said: 'The results of this research are very worrying. Despite the fact we live in a more interconnected world, with the internet, social networking and global TV news, our children are growing up with television which only focuses on the UK and USA. These are the citizens of the future: they have a basic right to good quality, engaging information about what is going on elsewhere in the world in order to become fully developed citizens.'" OneWorld.net, 12 June 2008. see also International Broadcasting Trust website.

DW director: move beyond shortwave or have an audience of farmers (updated).

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Die Deutsche Welle will ... nicht zum Landfunk werden," says Deutsche Welle director Erik Bettermann. Die Tageszeitung (Bremen), 4 June 2008. This story was spotted by Kai Ludwig, who provides this summary in English. Update: Bettermann at DW Global Media Forum: "Due to globalisation and digitalisation, rapidly changing and growing competition in the global media market, Deutsche Welle's tasks are constantly expanding. At the same time, are constantly confronted with new challenges in German and international politics - just look at Afghanistan and Iraq. There's a gap between expectations and requirements on the one hand and funding on the other. Germany’s media presence must be increased if our country’s standing in the world is to be strengthened. Awareness for this is missing in our country and this needs to change." Yemen Times, 12 June 2008.

News and the new media: two commentaries.

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"When people tell me that traditional journalism is dying I don't believe it for a minute. There is more than ever a need for the solid, authoritative reporting and commentary exemplified in my country by media such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal—and of course, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra and Voice of America. These are no garage startups or bedroom bloggers. They are institutions that have spent generations building confidence in their news output through hard work and discipline. You associate these brands with good journalism." Remarks of Joaquin Blaya, member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, to the Asia Media Summit, BBG press release, 27 May 2008. "Networked journalism .. does not mean lowest common denominator journalism. If that were the case then outstanding media like the BBC or the Economist would not be thriving as they are. But it does mean that the journalist has to go where the public is. In communication terms, that means places like social-networking sites." Charlie Beckett, Australia.TO, 11 June 2008.

Will foreign broadcasters get their Olympics video?

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Foreign "Broadcasters, which have paid billions of dollars to cover the Games, are worried that Chinese security issues and overly bureaucratic procedures have delayed approval for accreditation and filming requests. The broadcasters' concerns include delays in getting vital electronic equipment into Beijing. ... And while organisers appear to have given approval in principle for live reports from Tiananmen Square, broadcasters are seriously worried they do not have specific approvals for TV platforms and 'the operational availability' of the site." The Australian, 12 June 2008.

Creating new ways to block web content.

Posted: 12 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The growing use of botnets and other malicious networks has allowed anybody with a grudge and a little bit of money to pay for renting a botnet the ability to aim a significant hose of network traffic at a network for a small bit of effort. Some attacking networks rely upon people having to manually activate a piece of software, activate their own attack tools, or manually visit a site to achieve the same aim. A number of Chinese hacking groups have been observed to use this particular technique to co-ordinate and manage their proposed attacks against targets, such as was observed with the recent targeting of CNN." Carl Jongsma, Australian PC World, 11 June 2008.

BBC world services claim weekly audience of 233 million.

Posted: 11 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the second year in succession, the BBC's combined international news services attracted a global weekly audience of more than 233 million during 2007/8, according to independent surveys. The global audience figure for the combined services of BBC World Service radio, BBC World News television and the BBC's international online news service, bbcnews.com, is up 23 million from 211 million two years ago." Weekly audiences By medium: 182 million via radio, 78 million via BBC World News (English television channel), and websites 13 million. BBC World Service press release, 10 June 2008. The three media numbers add to 273 million, because "many people used more than one service." That's a lot of overlap.

Maybe I'm the last to know: James Glassman was confirmed on 4 June as under secretary for public diplomacy.

Posted: 11 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Using the 'arsenal of persuasion' -- soft power, smart power and public diplomacy -- is critical to beating terrorism, says James Glassman, the newly confirmed under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. Glassman, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate June 4, said at his confirmation hearing in late January that the 'task ahead is to tell the world of a good and compassionate nation and, at the same time, to engage in the most important ideological contest of our time, a contest that we will win.' ... Glassman says U.S. international broadcasting is America’s largest civilian public diplomacy program, and one that 'provides a lifeline to people seeking the truth' in many closed societies." America.gov, 9 June 2008. Some of us think that international broadcasting is journalism rather than public diplomacy. It can't be both. And there are non-civilian "public diplomacy" programs larger than international broadcasting? Do tell...

RFA official's op-ed on Tibet news blackout.

Posted: 11 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"China's media covered the country's earthquake tragedy more openly than any past disaster. But the Chinese government still maintains a blackout over news from Tibet, which experienced its biggest uprising in decades this spring. The blackout explains why you probably haven't heard about continuing sporadic protests by Buddhist monks and nuns in eastern Tibet, along with further arrests by the Chinese police." Dan Southerland, executive editor of Radio Free Asia, commentary in Christian Science Monitor, 11 June 2008 (and accompanying audio). -- "About fifty students were wounded in last week's clashes at the Artillery Corps Institute in Nanjing city, according to an account by parent Liu Qijun, and a Monday report from Radio Free Asia." AP, 10 June 2008.

Two new VOA programs.

Posted: 10 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America's (VOA) Worldwide English Division launches its environmental webcast, Going Green, today. Going Green is an informal and fun look at green technology and what people around the world are doing to promote a greener life. ... Going Green's 3 to 4 minute webcast can be found on the Science, Technology and Health page on VOA's website, VOANews.com, where it is posted every Monday." VOA press release, 9 June 2008.
     "El Mundo al Dia (The World Today) brings the Voice of America's (VOA) television audiences in Venezuela, Colombia and other Andean nations a comprehensive new daily 30-minute Spanish-language news program. The show features news updates, exclusive interviews, and reports from Washington, D.C., and elsewhere in the United States. ... Programs are available on VOA's Spanish-language website: www.VOANoticias.com." VOA press release, 9 June 2008. No mention of rebroadcasters in the target countries, so web access will be necessary to watch this. I can find the five-minute version but not the 30-minute version at VOANoticias.com.

Laura Bush mentions VOA again.

Posted: 10 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"I want the people of Burma to know that the people of United States know what their situation is, that we knew what their situation was before even the natural disaster, but the detention of their Nobel Prize winner, the woman whose party was elected overwhelmingly and then never allowed -- that party was never allowed to govern, and the country has been decimated, just like Afghanistan was under the Taliban. But I want the people of Burma to know that, and I don't think they'll ever know, although I do think they listen to Voice of America and BBC and some other radio stations that go into Burma. So maybe they'll know by that." ABC News, 9 June 2008.

The hazards of listening or reporting to VOA in Africa.

Posted: 10 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A man beaten to death by members of Mugabe's party was told he was being punished because he had let neighbors listen to his radio, tuned in to a Voice of America program aired in Zimbabwe, according to" a Human Rights Watch report. Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2008. "When news broke that hundreds of Puntland government soldiers have joined pirates – presumably to earn a living – the mayor of small-town Somalia who unveiled the report to Puntland-based Radio Garowe and the Voice of America was fired immediately." GaroweOnline.com, 9 June 2008. The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization General Assembly expresses concern "about the arbitrary imprisonment of Mr. José Lello, a former correspondent of Voice of America in Cabinda." UNPO, 9 June 2008.

BBC reporters killed in Afghanistan, Somalia.

Posted: 09 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"An Afghan journalist working for the BBC in the country's southern Helmand province has been buried a day after he was found shot dead. Abdul Samad Rohani had been abducted on Saturday and his body was found on Sunday afternoon in Lashkar Gah. ... Rohani was the Pashto service reporter for the BBC World Service in Helmand. ... It was the second death of a BBC journalist over the weekend. Gunmen in Kismayo, southern Somalia, killed Nasteh Dahir, who worked for the BBC and the Associated Press news agency, on Saturday." BBC News, 9 June 2008. See also BBC World Service, 8 June 2008 with links to audio reports. -- And e-mail to BBC staff from senior managers Mark Thompson and Mark Byford. BBC World Service press release, 9 June 2008.

EuroNews: news without all the sugar.

Posted: 09 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Philippe Cayla, president of EuroNews, ... said his goal was to have as many viewers outside Europe as inside Europe within 5 to 10 years. 'I would compare EuroNews to drinking a glass of water after drinking too much whiskey, Coca-Cola and gin and tonic,' he said. 'The others give you too much stress because there's too much sugar in it.'" International Herald Tribune, 9 June 2008. See previous posts about EuroNews rebranding and addition of Arabic.

New book on U.S. broadcasts to Cuba no es amistoso (updated).

Posted: 08 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The book 'Terrorismo en el eter' by Omar Perez Salomon on US radio and TV attacks on Cuba was released in Guatemala. The book exposes subversive broadcasts by some 123 radio and TV stations operated by groups led by the CIA from south Florida since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959. Perez Salomon reminded that Radio Swan was the first the CIA installed in Swan, Honduras, followed by La Cubanisima, Radio Mambi and The Voice of America. The so-called Radio and TV Marti, founded in 1985 and 1990, respectively, are financed by the US Administration for hostile purposes." Prensa Latina, 5 June 2008. Update: If the link doesn't work, try the Alex Constantine blog, 6 June 2008. Georgetown University has the book in its stacks, where it's listed as published in Havana in 2004.

VOA's recordings of Art Pepper now on CD.

Posted: 08 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Back on US soil for Volume 2, [jazz saxophonist/clarinetist Art] Pepper embarked on a tour in the spring of 1982 that culminated at Washington's Kennedy Center as part of the Kool Jazz Festival. This, his last concert, was taped by Voice of America days before his hospitalization and death, but one hears no trace of illness." All About Jazz, 8 June 2008. Were these via the Library of Congress, as were VOA's recordings of John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk during the 1950s? Thee recordings should not raise questions about domestic dissemination because, presumably, they were acquired from some public domain source and are distributed without the encouragement or involvement of VOA. See previous post about domestic dissemination, especially reference to Gartner v. USIA.

World Service program recommended to UK listeners.

Posted: 08 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Friday ... Superintendent John Sutherland, who is in charge of operational police duties in Islington, north London, presents his first ever programme, about prayer, on the BBC World Service (Heart and Soul, 3.30pm [1430 UTC]). For years he has interviewed criminals: now he questions the religious - from Quakers to Muslims. His approach may not be to everyone’s taste, but at least it’s not predictable. When did we last hear a full-time Metropolitan Police officer present a radio programme?" Sunday Times, 8 June 2008. Might be heard during a Los Angeles traffic jam, where "the drive is just barely endurable. Except for rare drizzly days like today, he keeps his 2006 Cruiser's sun roof open, easier here than in his native Virginia. The car also has satellite radio, which helps, and at the moment it's purring with the cadences of the BBC World News." Los Angeles Times, 8 June 2008. Actually, BBC World Service radio rather than BBC World News, a television channel.

ITN anchor comments on the BBC culture.

Posted: 08 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Story about Sir Trevor McDonald, back as anchor of ITN's the News At Ten: "ITN is McDonald's spiritual home, despite the fact he grew up listening to the BBC World Service and was a BBC employee when he first came to Britain from the West Indies towards the end of the 1960s. For him, he says, the BBC was too structured. 'I found I couldn't abide by that existence. I felt that I could stay at the BBC and grow old without trying too much. And I don't mean that as a condemnation of the BBC. I felt that some of it was a little too easy. There was an A to B to C. I preferred the rough and tumble of the world. It suited my personality a little bit better.'" Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 8 June 2008.

International broadcasting to China has its raison d'etre back.

Posted: 08 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"China has begun rolling back many of the media and online freedoms that were permitted in the immediate aftermath of last month's earthquake. Restrictions on foreign and domestic reporters have been tightened in recent days. Web discussion groups have seen postings deleted. Internet filtering has been stepped up. The propaganda ministry and the State Council, China's Cabinet, have issued directives to state-run news media outlining forbidden topics. Among them: questions about school construction, whether government rescue efforts lagged... ." Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2008.

Voice of Nigeria: say everything, but from a positive perspective.

Posted: 08 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Lengthy interview with Mallam Abubakar Jijiwa, director general of Voice of Nigeria, Nigeria's international radio broadcaster: "We should not forget the purpose of VON’s establishment, which is to tell the authentic, genuine but positive Nigerian story, not government story, but positive Nigerian story, and, therefore, we also hammer on the style, 'don’t hide anything, say everything,' but say it from a positive perspective from the perspective of 'the cup is half full' instead of the 'cup is half empty'. ... East and southern African regions, for example, we’re doing badly there. The near east of Asia and maybe the Middle East, minus the Mediterranean part, we are not doing very well. But we’re getting very good letters from the far East, part of Asia, the North America, the Oceanic Region, we also get a lot of letters from north America. We get quite a lot of good letters from south America particularly Bolivia and Chile which means our signals are being heard." Vanguard (Lagos), 7 June 2008.

All sorts of allegations about broadcasts into Zimbabwe.

Posted: 08 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Zimbabwe ruling party "Zanu-PF Information and Publicity Sub- committee chairman, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, said the opposition MDC-T ... admitted ... that it spearheaded the formation of Studio 7, reportedly run by the US State Department, Voice of the People (VOP), allegedly financed by the Dutch Government and SW Radio station that is understood to be sponsored by the British Government. The three pirate radio stations have been broadcasting through the country’s airwaves without licences and have been responsible for fanning hate language that helped to fan political violence. The Short Wave frequencies can be accessed by nearly all radio sets in all corners of the world and the three radio stations are the major source of information in all parts of Zimbabwe since the Frequency Modulation (FM) is not accessible in some parts of the country." Sunday News (Harare), 8 June 2008. The stations are called "pirate" stations because of the mistaken assertion that broadcasts into a country on shortwave must be licensed by the target country. Also, Studio 7 has always overtly been a program of the Voice of America.

Aljazeera in Burlington gets a new hearing (updated).

Posted: 08 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Burlington Telecom's two oversight committees will hold another hearing about the "inclusion of Al-Jazeera English on its cable television offerings" this Wednesday, 11 June. Burlington Free Press, 6 June 2008. "It seems to us that one of the gravest threats to national security in the 21st century is the extent to which America remains ignorant of the world and of how that world views this country. It is perhaps telling that BBC World, the BBC's round-the-clock news channel on which Al-Jazeera English was initially modeled, is also largely unavailable in the United States. In a dangerous world, Americans live in isolation at their own peril." Editorial, The Keene (NH) Sentinel, 7 June 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: Tony Burman, the new managing director of Aljazeera English, will attend. Burlington Free-{ress, 7 June 2008. "'I share the frustration of my colleagues that the channel is not being distributed everywhere we think it should be,' Burman says. 'It's a natural response given the missionary zeal of those of us at Al-Jazeera as we try to build bridges through the power of information. It's also very hard work, and people at Al-Jazeera can get frustrated that their work is being kept off certain cable systems." The Observer, 8 June 2008.

A recommendation for VOA Special English.

Posted: 07 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A very under-used resource -- both for weaker learners and more proficient students who want to really strengthen foundations -- is Voice of America Special English, launched in 1959 on shortwave and now a mouse click away (www.voaspecialenglish.com), cost-free. ... You can also still get Special English very easily on shortwave. Though run by the U.S. government, this is not a propaganda channel." Bill Templer, University of Malaya, The China Post (Taipei), 5 June 2008.

BBC Turkish gets new television outlet in Turkey.

Posted: 07 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Turkish is launching a new current affairs programme on Turkey's leading 24-hour news channel, NTV. From today, Dünya Gündemi (World Agenda) will be offering Turkish TV audiences in-depth analysis of issues dominating the global agenda." BBC World Service press release, 4 June 2008. Another example of BBC World Service moving into a television, a process that has been delayed by the previous requirement that the BBC's international television ventures be self-funding. The press release does not specify if Dünya Gündemi is funded by the Foreign Office, like most BBCWS output, or if it is a product purchased by NTV, or if there is advertiser funding.

CPJ reminds Chadian PM of RFI ouster.

Posted: 07 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists writes to the prime minister of Chad: "We are heartened by your recent statements in support of a private, independent press." But: "We are ... concerned about conditions for foreign journalists who wish to work in Chad, since the government withdrew freelancer Sonia Rolley’s work permit in March without explanation, forcing her to leave the country. Rolley, who works for several France-based media outlets, including Radio France Internationale, and Agence France-Presse, was the lone foreign permanent correspondent in the country, according to CPJ research." CPJ, 6 June 2008.

BBC World News: more viewers, more users, more media, more adjectives.

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Over the 07/08 period, BBC World News has seen its global weekly TV audience increase to 78 million, up two million on the previous year; experienced over 20% growth in advertising sales revenues and enjoyed double digit overall revenue growth. ... Additionally, the BBC's international-facing website, bbc.com, is now attracting 29 million unique users per month (eight million from Europe), with 50% visiting the news pages. Moving forward, BBC World News, previously known as BBC World, is positioning itself as a tri-media news service, delivering international news and information across multiple platforms - TV, online and mobile. ... Recently, the BBC World News brand replaced BBC World. ... The look is sharp, unfussy, direct and fresh, and remains consistent with the branding across the UK and international BBC News portfolio." BBC World News press release, 5 June 2008.

International BBC website users decide adverts are the lesser evil.

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has abandoned plans to create a 'licence fee' option for users of its international news website who were outraged by the introduction of advertising last year. BBC director of global news, Richard Sambrook, said in October that the corporation intended to offer a subscription service for international users "in the next year" after scores of complaints over the introduction of advertising to bbc.com. However, the BBC today confirmed it had dropped the idea. 'We did look into it, but all the evidence from commercial operators is that what ever people say about wanting a subscription, it is not the case.'" The Guardian, 5 June 2008.

Rwandan "campaigner" rails at BBC, VOA (updated).

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Former member of the Rwanda Human Right Commission "Mr. Tom Ndahiro accuses the BBC of double standards as regards the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide by giving airtime to already convicted individuals for their role in the mayhem. ... Mr. Ndahiro does not stop at condemning the BBC alone, but also says the Voice of America as well - have become the two international platforms for critics of government that commonly deny or undermine the Tutsi Genocide." Rwanda News Agency, 23 April 2008. Update: "'I do not know the sources for your claims, but you have been misinformed and you are publishing and broadcasting allegations which are absolutely untrue', writes Mr. Tim Cooke, Head of French and Great Lakes Services with the BBC World Service. 'The BBC does not provide a platform for people with extreme views, as you suggest'" Rwanda News Agency, 4 June 2008.

U.S. FiOS TV subscribers will get more international channels.

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Verizon will ... add approximately 15 multicultural channels to the FiOS TV [fiber optic] lineup, including leading channels for Arabic, Portuguese and Russian audiences, among others. These new channels continue to make FiOS TV an outlet for emerging and independent networks to showcase their diverse programming. Much of the multicultural content comes from WorldTV, a division of content management and delivery company GlobeCast, which previously signed a distribution deal with Verizon for top-tier international channels. The new GlobeCast WorldTV international television channels include MBT (Arabic), RTPI (Portuguese) and RTR Planeta (Russian)." Verizon press release, 5 June 2008.

EuroNews rebrands, losing the "EU blue."

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"TV channel EuroNews is undertaking the biggest overhaul of its on-air branding since its launch 15 years ago to create a brand to better compete with rival services CNN, BBC World and al-Jazeera. The new channel branding, which is being rolled out from today, has been two years in the making. It includes scrapping its EU blue colour scheme in favour of a 'pure' news positioning, introducing a 'Pure' strapline and a white circle motif." The Guardian, 5 June 2008. "The channel is unique in that it does not have on-screen anchors, but presents news as simply pictures and text with narration in a range of languages including English, French and German. Its new look -- with a white circle as its logo and 'pure' as its slogan -- plays on its aim to present news without bias." Brand Republic, 5 June 2008. "Perhaps the BBC could learn something from EuroNews, which does not have 'star reporters' or anchormen." Donald Moir, Kenya, letter to The Telegraph, 5 June 2008. More information (possibly EuroNews corporate boilerplate) at Alarab Online, 8 June 2008.

EuroNews Arabic begins next month.

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Michael Peters, Managing Director of EuroNews, confirms that the launch date of the new Arabic channel will be the 13th of July of this year. ... EuroNews has secured a Five-year contract with the European Commission to secure finances for the new project at five Million Euros a year. However, the channel will try to arrange other means of financing itself, says Peters while also confirming that EuroNews Arabic will seek to attract advertisers. The channel will be broadcasting 24 hrs a day, and will be carried for free by major Arab satellite providers in the Middle East, as well as a live online broadcast." Alsharq Alawsat, 6 June 2008. This modest budget could work for EuroNews, because it would presumably need only to add an Arabic voice track to its anchor-less news video, as it does with its other languages.

Challenges for women's radio in Iraq include the "occasional bombing raid."

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Al-Mahaba is the first and only independent radio station in Iraq specifically designed for women. ... Support from US citizens and other international sources did allow the team to buy a full-power 5-kilowatt transmitter in September 2006. The station re-located last year. Though the new neighborhood is safer, it’s still struggling with cash shortfalls and the occasional bombing raid. ... International support for the station is not always adequate, but it does take some creative forms. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign awarded a scholarship for one staff member to earn a master’s in broadcast journalism for the benefit of the station." OneWorld.net. 5 June 2008.

Doha Debates "top rated" on BBC World News (updated).

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Narendhra Morar, Head of Programmes for BBC World News, commented that the Doha Debates 'are a valuable addition to the channel's output and provide a unique insight into a key, and for us, important region'. The Doha Debates are now established as one of the top-rated weekend programmes on BBC World News." The Peninsula, 1 June 2008. See also Doha Debates website. Update: "A young woman who identifies herself as a Palestinian shoots out in a strong voice: 'Not only are Hamas's activities creating a negative image of Palestinians, both in the Arab world and international community, but it's also costing many, many lives - so how can you allow this to continue?' There's no program other than The Doha Debates in the Middle East that allows Arab audiences to so openly confront a figure such as [Hamas official Mahmoud] Zahar, and it's hard to imagine any other place in the Arab world they could do so other than in Qatar. The uniqueness of program is emblematic of Qatar's exceptional role in the region - one sending out ripples of change throughout the Middle East - and generating a strong counterreaction, as well." Calev Ben-David, Jerusalem Post, 5 June 2008.

AJE's Burman gets half hour of NPR questioning (updated).

Posted: 06 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with new Aljazeera English managing director Tony Burman on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," 4 June 2008. "Reporters from the Al Jazeera television network were questioned by Matagorda County Sheriff deputies when they were found filming near the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company plant site Tuesday, June 3." Bay City Tribune, 3 June 2008. Update: Another interview with Mr. Burman on ABC (of Australia) Radio National The Media Report, 5 June 2008. -- More coverage of the debate about Aljazeera on cable in Burlington, Vermont. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, 6 June 2008. "Wadah Khanfar, the director general of al-Jazeera, is to give a keynote address on the 'superficial' reporting plaguing global news media at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival in August." The Guardian, 6 June 2008. "Al Jazeera has, of course, been bitterly attacked in Israel recently for its slanted reporting of the Gaza situation, as well as by the US and Iraq on its coverage of the latter's ongoing conflict. But there's no denying its impact on the Arab world in presenting reports dealing with sensitive political, social and religious issues with a critical openness that has proved groundbreaking for the Arab broadcast media (and this includes giving Israeli officials a chance to have their say directly to Arab audiences)." Calev Ben-David, Jerusalem Post, 5 June 2008.

(By popular demand of its critics) Alhurra now has a video stream.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) unveiled its new online streaming of Al-Hurra, the Arabic-language television network. For the first time people across the globe can tune into the internet to watch Al-Hurra, the premier network for accurate and objective news and information. ... The online video will be broadcast 24/7 and include all of Al- Hurra's original programming including newscasts and current affairs programmes. In the coming months, the site will post archives of all Al-Hurra produced programmes so that viewers can see any of the shows that they have missed." Middle East Broadcasting Networks press release, via BBC Monitoring, via redOrbit, 4 June 2008.

Radio Farda food fight.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has appealed to the organizers of a UN food summit after an accredited reporter for the U.S.-funded broadcaster's Persian-language service was denied entry to the event in Rome. The reporter, Ahmad Rafat, says he was forced to surrender his accreditation to the World Food Security Summit, which is being held at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) headquarters. ... He said he was told by Italian guards that he had been declared persona non grata and that a security officer had "made it understood that this was because of pressure [by] a foreign delegation." RFE/RL News, 3 June 2008. "Organizers of a UN food summit in Rome have readmitted a correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian-language service and apologized for the 'unfortunate incident' when he was denied access on the summit's opening day." RFE/RL News, 4 June 2008. "The Iranian-born Rafat believes the FAO barred him from attending the event at the request of the Iranian government. The case has raised concerns about whether the Iranian government was essentially allowed to censor the international press." RFE/RL News, 5 June 2008.

U.S. assistance to foreign journalists and media: is the objective objectivity?

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. government is secretly funding foreign news outlets and journalists. Government bodies — including the State Department, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP) — support 'media development' in more than 70 countries." Jeremy Bigwood, In These Times, 4 June 2008. "Secretly"? See the International Media Training page at the VOA website, the Center for International Media Assistance page at the NED website, this item about a media workshop on investigative journalism in Serbia at the State website, and this press release about an investigative journalism training program in South Africa at the USAID website.

WorldSpace borrows time to repay borrowed money.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"WorldSpace Inc., which is planning to launch a satellite radio service in Europe, has been given some breathing room by its creditors. The Silver Spring-based company, which already beams programming to subscribers in Africa and Asia, says note holders have agreed to defer the company's obligation to repay $17.7 million in loans until June 30, avoiding the company's default." MSN Money, 4 June 2008. CEO Noah Samara: "Our cash needs are challenging, but we are working very hard to address this in order to take full advantage of the milestones we have achieved in Europe, including licenses from Germany and Switzerland, and successful on-the-ground testing of our service in Italy, where we expect to launch Europe's first satellite radio service as early as 2009." Worldspace press release, 4 June 2008. -- For developments on regulation of satellite radio in India (WorldSpace is now the only such player), see Economic Times (New Delhi), 5 June 2008 and exchange4media.com, 4 June 2008.

BBC, VOA give way to "open space."

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Muntasir al-Zayyat, Egyptian expert on terrorism affairs: "In the past, [Arab domestic] radio stations were shut down and media outlets were nationalized, and the result was that Arab listeners would tune in to the BBC and Voice of America. Today, the world is an open space, so if there are statements, tapes, or fatwas promoting violence and takfir, then let us all listen to them so that our sons, kinfolk, families, and young men do not listen to them without our presence. ... Let us listen to them and to the comments and corrections provided by the qualified scholars, because if we suppress them, then those behind them will be considered by many young people to be martyrs." Alarabiya via BBC Monitoring via redOrbit, 3 June 2008.

International channels cover Obama victory speech.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"As Senator Barack Obama reached the end of the long road to the Democratic presidential nominee Tuesday night, viewers all around the world were indeed watching. On Al Jazeera, on CNBC World, on the BBC, and on many other news channels, Mr. Obama’s speech was telecast live." New York Times, 3 June 2008. -- In a "new global Ipsos poll of the world's most engaged citizens across 22 countries, conducted for Al Jazeera English Network ... a majority (55%) would most like to see Barack Obama as the next President of the United States." Ipsos press release, 3 June 2008.

BBC World News is America's station.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"What happens in America is news. That’s not to say that what happens in Europe isn’t news in America, but not to the same extent or depth. The United States, even to reports of weather patterns in the American Midwest, is a prime feature on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World News. Tune in the BBC and you’re just as likely to hear about Barack Obama leaving the Trinity Church of Christ as you are to learn about anything taking place in Europe. The American presidential election is regularly the lead story on BBC World News, even down to reporting the machinations of the Democrat Party as it grapples with the delegates from Michigan and Florida." George Korda, Knoxville News Sentinel, 3 June 2008. More U.S. coverage on BBC America than on the BBC World News streams seen in other parts of the world?

BBC to America: was shortwave, now HDTV.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"According to an advertisement, 'Robin Hood' will be offered in HD (high-definition) this coming Fall on BBC America HD. The soon to launch new channel (no date has been set), will carry the show along with other HD programming. Some shows which are currently offered by BBC America which we hope will make it to the HD channel lineup include 'Doctor Who', 'Top Gear' and 'Torchwood.'" hd-report, 3 June 2008.

Shortwave not just an emergency medium.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"As [Vince] Nowicki eloquently explained, and which is validated by current situations in Armenia, Tibet and other places, shortwave still has its place and is being used. My disagreement with this scenario is that shortwave should not be an 'emergency-when-all-else-fails' medium, but rather should be maintained and expanded as the Quinn/Olguin article stated. Readers of Radio World are certainly aware of Digital Radio Mondiale, which has successfully demonstrated the ability to dramatically overcome the undesirable vagaries of analog shortwave, which have long been tolerated through necessity. Yet the IBB, to my knowledge, while certainly following the developments of DRM, are not aggressively engaged in its success. This is in contradiction to other international broadcasters such as BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio Canada, Radio Netherlands and many more who already are broadcasting in DRM in a regular schedule." George Woodard, Radio World, 4 June 2008.

Radio Singapore International will close, citing "diminished" shortwave.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Singapore International (RSI), the shortwave service run by MediaCorp Radio, is shutting down at the end of next month. The station, which was set up in February 1994, broadcasts to the region in four languages, including English, Chinese, Malay and Bahasa Indonesia. It has a following in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and China. MediaCorp said in a press release on Tuesday that the effectiveness of a shortwave radio service has 'diminished over time with changing technology and media consumption habits'. While FM radio broadcast has remained strong, audiences are turning to a plethora of alternative channels for their news, such as Internet radio and the Internet, said its spokesman. More people around the region are also tuning into MediaCorp's Channel NewsAsia (International) feed for news and information on global developments with Asian perspectives and hence it is 'not optimal to continue with a full regional radio service'. The majority of RSI's listeners, particularly those from its popular Chinese service, are middle-aged and older." The Straits Times via BBC Monitoring via redOrbit, 4 June 2008.

More from the DW Global Media Forum.

Posted: 05 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle Director General Erik Bettermann "expressed concern that freedom of the press is being threatened worldwide more and more each day. He stated that two-thirds of the world’s people live in countries without any freedom of expression. However, he said that it isn’t right for the Western world to be 'self-righteous' and solely point at censorship in China or developing and emerging countries in Africa. Because of the media concentration in many developed countries, Bettermann pointed out that subtle forms of censorship -- and sometimes self-censorship -- are forming." Deutsche Welle, 4 June 2008. Radio Netherlands director Jan Hoek proposes that world media "create a forward-looking watchdog group, one that might be better able to forewarn global entities about upcoming conflicts than a local agency could. This multinational, unilateral organization would analyze media reports worldwide, pointing out potential areas of conflict both in 'risk areas' and in relatively stable regions." Deutsche Welle, 4 June 2008. See also The News (Karachi), 4 June 2008. And other stories on the DW press release page.

VOA director: "Voice of America does not do propaganda."

Posted: 04 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Voice of America director Danforth Austin speaks at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. He advocates "rigidly enforcing the dividing line between government-financed efforts to inform people – and government-financed attempts to influence and even mislead a population without revealing that government's involvement or motives. The Voice of America does not do propaganda. And neither do other international broadcasters who recognize that credibility with an audience is the most powerful tool they have, that reporting news accurately and fairly in order to help people reach their own decisions is an end, not a means."
     On technology: "The days of short-wave radio broadcasts produced offshore and beamed to information-deprived masses yearning to breathe free are waning. Technology now makes it possible for almost anyone with inexpensive software and hardware to become an international broadcaster or publisher, to reach across borders and oceans and into the homes and telephones and mobile devices of millions through the Internet and other digital pathways. This technology also, of course, empowers those who want to censor content. There’s no need, for example, to invest in expensive jamming equipment if a simple software program launching a denial of service attack will do. The fact is, there is no longer any technical distinction between a domestic broadcast and a worldwide one." VOA press release, 2 June 2008.
     A more precise statement would be: "The Voice of America does not do propaganda, except where required by law." In 22 USC 6202 - Sec. 6202: "Broadcasting principles United States international broadcasting shall include ... clear and effective presentation of the policies of the United States Government and responsible discussion and opinion on those policies, including editorials, broadcast by the Voice of America, which present the views of the United States Government." The editorials are bracketed by a "disclaimer," so the U.S. government involvement is revealed.
     "While he generally framed his comments in the context of other countries that use the media to 'mislead and manipulate,' some of his comments could have easily resonated with those dealing with domestic media issues including alleged Internet-content blocking and the Defense Department's embedded analyst program." John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable, 2 June 2008.

Newspaper implicates VOA in Zimbabwe "regime change agenda."

Posted: 04 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"With 25 days left to the run-off, the United States government has intensified efforts to abet the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe by trying to have the region sideline South African President Thabo Mbeki as official mediator in Zimbabwe in favour of the leadership of Zambia and Botswana. ... A meeting held in Washington DC on May 28 and attended by, among others, Zimbabwean journalist Ray Choto, who is now a senior editor with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Project at the Voice of America's Studio 7, urged [Southern African Development Community] leaders to 'apply focused pressure on (President) Mugabe to leave'." The Herald (Harare), 3 June 2008. See also VOA Studio 7 website.

More money for the "slow restoration" of the old VOA Bethany shortwave site.

Posted: 04 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Ohio "State Sen. Gary Cates (R-West Chester Twp.) secured $500,000 in funding for the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting... . The work at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting [is} laid out in the leaking roof and seeping walls of the aging building. West Chester Twp. has pledged $300,000, and an additional $1.5 million in grants has been obtained from various state and federal sources for building restoration, but Stoker said she expects the building's list of needed improvements will go beyond the money raised thus far. 'That would probably use all of it and more,' [West Chester Township trustee Catherine Stoker] said of the needed roof and wall repairs, electrical repairs and HVAC system that need to be installed. The museum's initial projected cost was $12 million, she said, adding that an architectural survey is now under way to determine exactly what needs to be done to preserve the historic relay station. Despite the challenges, though, Stoker said she was optimistic the additional half-million will go to good use in the museum's slow restoration." Hamilton (OH) Journal-News, 2 June 2008.

Is texting via mobiles the new shortwave?

Posted: 04 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Texting has become a medium of free political expression in nations where governments seek to control such expression. Broadcasting was the 20th Century’s route around oppression. Throughout the Cold War the Voice of America and other broadcast outlets circumvented governments to deliver information directly to the people. Then the Internet opened the promise of user-generated free expression. Now, with more mobile phones than PCs by a factor of around 3-to-1, the texting capability of the mobile device has become the voice of the people. Mobile devices and networks turn each individual into a broadcaster capable of creating and disseminating their own information. The story of how the text message, 'go 2 edsa wr blk' mobilized the people of the Philippines in 2001 to overthrow the government is well known. It was a simple model of activists creating a message that became viral as each recipient acted as their own broadcaster by sending the message onward to friends." Tom Wheeler, RCRWireless News, 3 June 2008. An important difference is that the wireless networks are controlled inside the country, which usually precludes news from outside the country being disseminated through those networks. Individuals "creating and disseminating their own information" can be good and useful, but they are no substitute for a competent newsroom. News from foreign newsrooms has to get into the country somehow, and shortwave remains the medium most resistant to interdiction.

Former IB directors in the news.

Posted: 04 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Journalist and former managing director of the BBC World Service Sir John Tusa is to receive an honourary degree from the University of Kent in Canterbury." Press Association, 4 June 2008. "The China Audio and Video Copyright Collective Management Association, which has been brewing for about 10 years, has been formally set up in Beijing to implement China's 'Copyright Collective Management Rule'. Zhang Zhenhua, former president of China Radio International, has been elected as the president." ZDNet Asia, 3 June 2008.

BBC "exploring" regional language television for South Asia.

Posted: 03 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Anne Barnard, managing director of BBC World News. "Q: Speculation is rife that you are also planning a regional language channel in India? Barnard: I heard those rumours, but let me assure you that nothing is final yet. I won’t deny that we are not exploring the possibility, but that’s about all at the moment. Q: Will it be through a JV or will you be going alone? Barnard: I can’t comment on that yet. The BBC World Service, that is, the public funded radio arm of BBC did launch a regional channel in Arabic and Persian language, but then there were so many elements that contributed to that decision. The situation in India is not comparable. There is no way we can justify public funding of a well-served regional language market. The option then is a commercial language programme and we are exploring that possibility." The Financial Express (New Delhi), 3 June 2008.
     Another interview with Barnard: "BBC World News is now positioned itself as a tri-media news service, delivering international news and information across multiple platforms - TV, online and mobile. Editorially, BBC World News is looking to deliver more live up-to-the minute news reporting, across a broader news agenda. ... It is the advertisers' creation and ideas that we further push as a funded programming. But in all such cases, the editorial rests with us. Ad sales team does not impose upon any story on the editorial; they only suggest ideas. ... We do not want to put ourselves under pressure of becoming a market leader in India." Indiantelevision.com, 2 June 2008.

Arab pay-TV confounded by free-TV.

Posted: 03 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Salah Hamza, chief technology officer of Nilesat "said with the proliferation of free-to-air channels in the Arab world, with many now showing first-run movies and American series, as well as high-quality sports, it was increasingly difficult for pay-TV channels to make any positive progress. 'MBC2 is now offering first showings of material that up until recently you would only have seen on pay-TV,' he said. ... 'The introduction of Al Jazeera Sports, which is spending heavily to secure fresh content, doesn’t help pay TV.'" Rapid TV News, 2 June 2008.

Watching international television via internet? Mind your gigabytes.

Posted: 03 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Starting this Thursday, Time Warner Cable will stop selling unlimited Internet service to new customers in Beaumont, Texas. Instead, the company will charge a set fee for a set amount of use and then charge $1 for each additional gigabyte. ... It could stop people from canceling their cable service and bringing shows straight from the Internet to their TVs." Technology Blog, 3 June 2008. See also Wired Threat Level, 3 June 2008.

You mean Karen Hughes didn't discreetly organize the Arab cosmopolitan bourgeoisie?

Posted: 02 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"We need to be doing things like supporting an Arabic Booker Prize and gradually expanding a liberal artistic and media culture in the Arab world. A large cosmopolitan bourgeoisie constituency exists in Cairo; our task is to discreetly help organize them, perhaps along the lines of Freedom House’s role in the 'color revolutions' in Georgia and Ukraine. For they will be one of the building blocks from which a more pluralistic greater Middle East will emerge." Michael Burleigh, Foreign Policy Research Institute, May 2008.

Other media adapted for BBC World Service radio.

Posted: 02 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Taxi to the Dark Side ... is a chilling and compelling account of torture, abuse and murder, of an innocent taxi driver named Dilawar in the US prison at Bagram airbase, Afghanistan. Such was the film's power and superb journalism that BBC World Service commissioned a half hour radio version of the two hour film." BBC World Service, 30 May 2008. "The oddly titled I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady From Rwanda ... is set in London, where it was first performed and was launched on national tour in 2004; it also was adapted by the BBC's World Service as a radio drama." Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 June 2008.

WorldSpace "in a fix" in India.

Posted: 02 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A lack of clarity on the regulatory status for satellite radios in the country has put WorldSpace, India’s first and only satellite radio station in a fix. ... in a country like India where people are used to listening to radio for free, WorldSpace has a paid subscription base of over 1.64 lakh. [164,000]" Financial Express, 1 June 2008.

Telesur "harassed" in Bolivia.

Posted: 02 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "today condemned attacks on journalists during a referendum on autonomy in the northern department of Beni yesterday. ... Several other state media, considered close to the government, were harassed throughout the weekend, particularly the international TV Telesur." RSF, 2 June 2008.

Democratic Voice of Burma in the spotlight.

Posted: 02 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Through reporters working the phones in Norway, a bureau in Thailand, the underground journalists in Burma, and a few stringers in China and India, DVB broadcasts short-wave radio programs, beams satellite television newscasts back into Burma and publishes a regularly updated website for the rest of the world. DVB launched its satellite television component in 2005 but was only beginning to move from weekly to twice-daily programs when the Saffron Revolution launched its footage -- and the pro-democratic uprising -- into the spotlight." Toronto Star, 2 June 2008.

Recalling those old Radio Free Europe ads that some of us recall.

Posted: 01 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Former Newt Gingrich adviser Frank Luntz: Obama Barack "needs to say, 'We have come so far. Don't turn back now. If you accept the way things are, vote for the status quo. But if you believe and want to do better, you just have one more activity.' It's reminiscent of the Radio Free Europe ads of the 1960s and 1970s, where they used to talk about how in foreign countries you had to risk your life to make a difference. In America, you just have to vote." CBS News, 30 May 2008. An example of one of those Radio Free Europe ads is inside the historic streetcar along Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. TradingMarkets, 18 May 2008. Examples of Radio Free Europe television ads, available on YouTube, dating from 1971 and from the 1950s. The ads were less to raise money than to support the fiction (until 1978) that RFE was funded through donations.

PD officers as decision makers.

Posted: 01 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will hold a public meeting on 25 June to "present their report on the human resources dimension of State Department public diplomacy operations, including ... the degree to which the 1999 merger of the USIA into the State Department has resulted in better integration of the public diplomacy function into the work of the State Department, in particular, as measured by the presence of PD officers in the Department’s decision-making ranks." State Department Media Note, 30 May 2008.

No domestic dissemination constraints for Layalina.

Posted: 01 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Layalina has been developing American style commercial programming for licensing to Arab satellite stations throughout the Middle East to replace the cultural retread reruns that Arab media outlets have been buying from American television studios that have sullied our reputation as well in the region, including reruns of syndicated shows, such as the 'Jerry Springer Show,' 'Dallas,' 'Baywatch' and ancient game shows that collectively provide Arab viewers not the most favorable image of Americans and their national values and aspirations. ... The latest achievement is its partnership with Sundance Channel, which will begin airing in the U.S. Layalina's landmark reality series 'On the Road in America' which has already been aired twice to wide acclaim throughout the Arab World on the region's largest media network -- MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Center), which is based in Dubai. 'On the Road in America' became the second highest rated series in Arab media market prime time." Marc Ginsberg, Huffington Post, 30 May 2008. See also www.layalina.tv.

High end, low end venues for receiving BBC.

Posted: 01 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Palace Luzern hotel in Switzerland: "Wide-screen plasma TV featuring a wide range of video on demand plus international broadcasters, though I was disappointed that the promised BBC1 was not available (BBC World and CNN were, though)." The Independent, 31 May 2008. At hotel on the Greek island of Kos: "Even the advertised satellite TV was all in German except for one channel - the BBC World News." Mail Online, 31 May 2008. At "basic concrete cottage" for teachers in Zimbabwe (1989): "The nearest thing to entertainment was listening to the World Service on a short-wave radio." Kathy Sykes, The Times, 1 June 2008.

Orchestrating the BBC World News.

Posted: 01 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Next Thursday, in a fascinating if slightly bizarre experiment called And Now, the News at Birmingham Town Hall, some musicians will try to engage directly and simultaneously with world events. As a live broadcast of BBC World News is shown on a big screen, the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and an orchestra from the Birmingham Conservatoire will improvise music to fit the stories.
Well, that’s what the press release says. As usual, the reality is more complicated. Two composers, Michael Wolters and Marcus Dross, will have written 30 or 40 snippets of music to fit every conceivable type of news. They will have been briefed on the BBC’s running order, and know each item’s duration." The Times, 31 May 2008.

Burlington's newspaper: keep Aljazeera.

Posted: 01 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera might prove to be unaffordable for Burlington Telecom, but that case hasn't been made. Nor is there a problem with finding room for the channel. We may never know what motivated Burlington Telecom to include Al-Jazeera in the cable service's lineup, but a decision to remove the channel now would carry the stench of a city department bowing to political pressure to limit the flow of information. Unless Burlington Telecom and the city are willing and able to publicly account for a decision to remove Al-Jazeera, they have no choice but to keep the network." Editorial, Burlington Free Press, 1 June 2008. As Aljazeera English is keen to expand its distribution in the United States, I don't think it would ask cable systems to pay to carry it. The business plan is probably "barter," i.e. Aljazeera earns its income through advertising sold because it has wide distribution. Actually, much of Aljazeera's income is, for the time being, a subsidy from Qatar's government. See previous post about same subject.

Aljazeera on mobiles in Pakistan.

Posted: 31 May 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ufone Pakistan launched news service in association with Al Jazeera News Network. This unique news experience by Ufone lets its customers get the world's top stories on their handsets anywhere, anytime. Ufone has launched this value-added service for its subscribers in association with Al Jazeera News Network - a 24-hour English language news and current affairs channel with headquarters in Doha, Qatar." Pakistan Daily, 30 May 2008. This story and the Ufone website (click on What's New) do not specify, but this seems to be a text news service.