Towards a more efficient international broadcasting sliver.

Posted: 30 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Many Americans don’t like big government. Yet that is what we get because government regulates itself. ... Federal agencies are run by bureaucrats whose main interest is their own continuing employment. ... Voice of America television, which by law cannot broadcast in the United States, is migrating to high-definition television. Why? No Somali or Azerbaijani TV stations are demanding American HD content. The government has just modernized a $35 million-a-year radio and TV service called Radio and TV Marti. It was started by the Reagan administration to give Cubans another place to get news, but the Cuban government blocks its transmissions. It’s still there, broadcasting to essentially no one all these years. Why? Radio Free Europe is also still broadcasting. It employs about 500 people and costs $75 million a year. Why? This is one tiny sliver of the federal government. Multiply it by roughly 1,300 federal agencies and you have some real inefficiencies." David Hazinski, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 17 April 2009.
     US international broadcasting has made adjustments to cope with the changing global political and media scene. RFA and VOA have eliminated their Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian services, among others. Since the 1980s, seven USIB shortwave transmitting sites have been closed.
     International broadcasting remains vital to many parts of the world because dictators, terrorists, and other miscreants thrive amid disinformation, misinformation, and missing information. Reliable news and information helps people develop democracies and to participate in democracy.
     There are opportunities for savings in broadcasting to Cuba, but the country remains a logical target for USIB.
     I'm not sure what the writer is getting at in his reference to high-definition television. Digital modes, which can be adjusted for definition commensurate with the content, are becoming the global standard. USIB gets its largest audiences by placing programs on television stations in the target country. It must employ the technology used by those stations.
     But Mr. Hazinski's basic point is correct. Every "sliver" of the federal government can be made more efficient. Add up all the savings, and you're talking real money. This is why I -- because I'm not a very good bureaucrat -- never call for more federal spending on my particular sliver of the US government. Instead, since 1989, I've pointed out the duplication and redundancies in the feudal system of US international broadcasting entities. And the fact that Britain spends less on international broadcasting than the United States, but has more audience.

Can it find the VOA broadcast schedule?

Posted: 30 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Google launched a new search tool yesterday designed to help Web users find public data that is often buried in hard-to-navigate government Web sites. The tool, called Google Public Data, is the latest in the company's efforts to make information from federal, state and local governments accessible to citizens." Washington Post, 29 April 2009.

Does she really want to work for The Worst Agency in Washington?

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Veronica Felicia Kumala is host of Termehek-mehek, on Indonesia's TransTV. "Termehek-mehek - which helps people track down friends, relatives and past lovers they have lost contact with over the years - is the most popular reality show for teenagers in the country. ... She plans to pursue a postgraduate course in business or become a presenter at the Voice of America (VOA)." The Jakarta Post, 25 April 2009.

We can tell our grandchildren we worked for The Worst Agency in Washington.

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBG stands for the Broadcasting Board of Governors. But it could just as well mean 'bottom of the barrel in government.' The BBG oversees Washington's international broadcasting operations, including the Voice of America. ... In a poll of employees in 37 agencies, the BBG came in last place in three of four categories -- leadership and knowledge management, results-oriented performance, and talent management. The broadcasters did manage a 36th-place showing in job satisfaction." VOA director Dan Austin: "You have to put this into perspective. We have moved very aggressively into new media. In fact, we have transformed this whole organization from what had been a shortwave radio broadcaster to a true international, multimedia organization. We're out there on Facebook, YouTube, text messaging, certainly radio, but also on television. Half of our audience see us on television. This is a huge change, a seismic shift, if you will, and when you get that kind of change it creates a lot of issues for many people. I think the survey reflected some of that." Joe Davidson, Washington Post, 24 April 2009. See Kim's comments.

Specter of the Depression in the VOA building.

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Subject of new exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, during the Great Depression, "[m]ore than 3,000 artists were enrolled in the Public Works of Art Program and were paid a weekly wage to make art. ... The Public Works of Art Program ended in June, 1934, after just six months, when the money ran out. But ... a series of murals by Ben Shahn, adorns the walls at Voice of America headquarters here in Washington, D.C." VOA News, 24 April 2009. Even if you have no interest in broadcasting (unlikely if you are reading this website), take the VOA tour to see these murals. What is now the BBG/IBB/VOA headquarters building was constructed at the Social Security Building from 1939 to 1940.

An arrangement to do wheelies on the graves of Smith and Mundt.

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"So what do you do when you have lots of newspaper experience and a year's salary from a recent buyout at The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.? You start a Website. That seems to be the view of some 40 former Star-Ledger staffers who took the lucrative early retirement last fall and have since banded together to form newjerseynewsroom.com. ... An arrangement with Voice of America also allows the site to use that outlet's content." Editor & Publisher, 27 April 2009. See, for example, VOA report on swine flu via NewJerseyNewsroom.com, 28 April 2009. 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. See previous post. VOA might therefore deal with US domestic media outlets on a don't ask, don't tell basis.

BBC back on exhibit at Moscow library.

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC re-launches its exhibition area at the All-Russian State Library of Foreign Literature, named after M I Rudomino, in Moscow with two major debates which will be broadcast live on radio and online on the new-look website bbcrussian.com. The renovated BBC exhibition area now showcases the revamped multimedia website, bbcrussian.com, with particular emphasis on its Learning English content. It also allows library visitors to sample a range of BBC resources, including the BBC's international 24-hour news and information channel BBC World News and the international news site, bbc.com/news." BBC World Service press release, 24 April 2009.
     "Now the Cold War is over, it is time to do a cool summing up. What does the 'end of exile' mean for Russian letters? Which of the 'dissidents' were great writers and heroes and which were pawns in a propaganda campaign? These writers’ pro-nouncements were broadcast over the Voice of America, Radio Free Liberty, the BBC, Deutsche Welle, while publication of their books and the journals that reviewed them was financed by Western intelligence agencies, which then shipped the books clandestinely back to Russia." John Glad, The Telegraph, 27 April 2009.

Report: VOA stringer among journalists seized, released in Somalia.

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Somali gunmen seize three journalists including one enlisted with the Voice of America broadcasting service in the southwestern city of Baidoa. The capture took place during a Sunday raid by the Al-Shabaab fighters on a local radio station in Baidoa -- northwest of the capital, Mogadishu -- a Press TV correspondent reported citing local residents. ... The fighters' administration in the Bay and Bakool region has withheld comments on the incident and refused to determine which prisoner worked for the VOA. Al-Shabaab, who shut down the independent station named Radio Jubba, had also closed the Mandeq radio station in the southern frontier town of Beled Hawo earlier in the month." Press TV, 27 April 2009.
     "Al-Shabab has released three radio journalists it detained Monday in Baidoa, the central town that used to house the parliament. Their station, Radio Jubba, was also allowed to return to the air." VOA News, 28 April 2009, which does not say that one of the journalists works for VOA.

These young Iranians trust VOA and BBC.

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
In an internet survey of Iranians, aged 20-29, "when asked what media sources they trusted, only 10% said they trusted the Islamic Republic’s sources, while the majority trusted Voice of America and BBC." Iran Press Watch, 27 April 2009, with link to pdf of complete findings. Not a representative survey, but very detailed, with an N of 4,024, including 2,523 inside Iran. The male respondents say they trust: VOA TV and radio (54%), Radio Farda (27%), BBC (23%), Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (10%). Women: VOA (40%), BBC (30%), Radio Farda (19%), IRIB (10%).

Iran 1979: foreign radio as the "breathing hole."

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
After the accession of Ayatollah Khomeini: "Every night my whole family gathered around the radio, the only breathing hole, the only spark of light in the lives of millions of Iranians. We risked our lives searching for the sound of freedom. My mum and dad fought a brave battle against the system by stubbornly tuning in to the waves of freedom on the air: BBC and The Voice of America. We listened breathlessly to every single word, every detail, and even the slightest variation of emphasis on a word. Perhaps they were sending us secret messages? Perhaps there were codes hidden in the sentences read by the DJ? Each and every song could be an incitement or an invitation to join a demonstration. If the DJ played 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' my whole family, and maybe also millions of other Iranian families, would try to read a higher meaning into it." Farshad Kholghi, Europe News, 21 April 2009.

VOA reports on Somali pirates, swine flu, and reminds audience to wash hands frequently.

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The father of a Somali pirate who is in U.S. custody tells the Voice of America's (VOA) Somali Service that his 16-year-old son is not a 'troublesome boy' but he has been misled by gangs and money." VOA press release, 20 April 2009.
     "Voice of America (www.VOANews.com), with journalists stationed around the world, is covering all aspects of the swine flu outbreak including treatment and prevention of the disease, its impact on tourism and trade and the response of governments. ... Across Africa, Latin America and Asia, VOA has reported on experts' advice to the public, including the need to wash one's hands frequently. And in Bangladesh, VOA staff is conducting a workshop for journalists examining avian influenza, a cousin of the swine flu. U.S. and international health experts are discussing the best ways to disseminate health information." VOA press release, 28 April 2009.
     "Worried by morbidity and mortality rates among women and children in the country, the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa service in collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organised a town hall meeting in Katsina State which is aimed at creating awareness on issues that border on children and maternal health." This Day (Lagos), 26 April 2009.

Famous Ball State broadcasters: David Letterman, Navbahor Imamova.

Posted: 29 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Navbahor Imamova, an Uzbek broadcaster with the Voice of America has received the 'Young Alumnus Award' from Ball State University’s Department of Journalism in Muncie, Ind. ... As a senior editor and anchor at VOA’s Uzbek Service, Imamova played a pivotal role in the launch of Exploring America, a 30-minute weekly television feature magazine, primarily highlighting U.S. culture, society and politics as well as U.S.-Uzbek contacts in these fields. Imamova began working for VOA in 2001 while still a graduate student at Ball State." VOA press release, 21 April 2009.
     "Marc Ona Essangui, an occasional reporter for the Voice of America's (VOA) French Service in Gabon, has won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for exposing government contracts that could damage the country's environment." VOA press release, 23 April 2009.
     In his new book, "Jaroslaw Anders examines Poland's modern poetry and fiction and explains that the best Polish writing of the period 1918-1989 was much more than testimony. ... Jaroslaw Anders has served as editor, writer, broadcaster, and producer for Voice of America since 1984." Fabula, 24 April 2009.

Keep your friends close and your enemies on BBC and VOA.

Posted: 28 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"By threatening to attack the White House and making a bizarre claim of responsibility for the shooting rampage at a U.S. immigration center in Binghamton, New York, the Tehrik-e-Taliban [TTP] chief in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas – Baitullah Mahsud – has been making big headlines in global media. Once regarded as a 'soldier of peace' by Pakistani military officials and more recently as a 'patriotic Pakistani,' the hardened militant commander is now considered to be Pakistan’s enemy number one. ... Despite his hatred for the West (and the United States especially), he has appeared in interviews on the BBC and even the U.S. Voice of America network." Mukhtar A. Khan, The Jamestown Foundation, 24 April 2009.

A "less diplomatic" Jim Glassman defends Alhurra.

Posted: 28 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Now that I no longer have a seat on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, I can be less diplomatic in my reaction to the criticism of the Arab-language TV network Alhurra. Many of the attacks were pathetically misinformed — most notably the '60 Minutes' broadcast of last June, which CBS, in these tight times, unfortunately outsourced to something called ProPublica. The real story is that, in less than five years, Alhurra, with a minuscule budget, has established itself as a significant source of news and information in the Middle East, with 26 million viewers tuning in at least once a week. ... I was glad to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chose Alhurra for an important interview a few days ago. (It was perfectly appropriate for President Obama to use Al-Arabiya for his first interview with a foreign TV network, but he, too, should do an interview soon on Alhurra.) ... By the way, Al Hayat’s criticism that Al Youm does not offer enough coverage from the United States itself is valid for Alhurra as a whole. There again, things are changing. Alhurra did an excellent job covering the U.S. elections and the transition. ... Alhurra must strike a balance between having a presence in the region and having strong U.S. coverage." James K. Glassman blog, 27 April 2009. The US coverage would be VOA's purview. However, because Alhurra is a separate organization, in a separate building, in a separate city, it will have to reinvent that wheel. And the taxpayers will be dinged twice for the same news stories.

Alhurra is "pro-government." And not even the US government.

Posted: 28 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Speaking on the pro-government Al Hurra satellite news channel, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh accused Al Qaeda in Iraq of targeting civilians in an attempt to spark a new war." Los Angeles Times, 24 April 2009. I think "pro-government" here means pro Iraqi government. Perhaps the Iraqi stream of Alhurra, which has terrestrial transmitters in Iraq, was called "pro-government" because it is not a station associated with a faction that acts in opposition to the Iraqi government. I assume Alhurra Iraq is not acting as a cheerleader for the government in Baghdad.
     "'They don't differentiate between people. Their ideology is killing,' Dabbagh told the U.S.-funded al-Hurra TV station." Reuters, 23 April 2009. "U.S.-funded." That's better.
     "During an exclusive interview with Alhurra Television, Abdirahman Abdishakuur, the Somali Minister for Planning and International Cooperation, discussed the problem of piracy, proposed the creation of Somali naval forces, and called for international cooperation to address piracy." Somaliland Press, 22 April 2009. Does "exclusive" mean that the VOA Somali Service could not use the interview? Was VOA Somali informed about the interview? This would have happened if U.S. international broadcasting were one organization in one building.
     "During an interview with Alhurra Television, the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, discussed the Iranian cooperation to help stabilize Afghanistan, stability in Iraq, the Middle East peace process and the significance of the upcoming Lebanese parliamentary elections." Middle East Broadcasting Networks press release via Broadcasting Board of Governors, 25 April 2009.

Improving America's image with adventure modules.

Posted: 28 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"For all the talk of the Web as a democratic medium, the Internet remains the domain of the developed countries. While three quarters of North America is connected to the Web, just 17.4 percent of Asians and 5.6 percent of Africans are online. ... To get around limited Internet connectivity, the [State Department] is experimenting with mobile phone applications, especially in Africa, where cheap phones and pay-as-you-go plans have brought 300 million devices to the continent's billion people. Among the mobile applications the State Department has developed is the game X-Life, 'a series of interrelated adventure modules which explore one idea -- what unites us, rather than what divides us.'" David Herbert, National Journal, 23 April 2009.
     International broadcasting deals with the digital divide by continuing to broadcast on shortwave to some parts of the world. This wouldn't work for public diplomacy, because people tune to foreign broadcasts on a shortwave radio to get news, not public diplomacy.
     Internet access is growing in developing countries. Access to mobile telephones in widespread, and an increasing number of these devices have some sort of connection to the internet. Keep in mind that even if internet access becomes more common, some countries block content from certain sources.

Let me be the last to inform you that the McHale nomination has been sent to the Senate.

Posted: 27 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Judith A. McHale, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, vice James K. Glassman, resigned." White House, 20 April 2009.
     "Judith McHale, the former president and CEO of Discovery Communications ... is the right choice. While many Americans know Discovery's outstanding cable channels seen in the United States, they are less familiar with the company's international work, which makes McHale particularly well-suited to the public diplomacy post. Under her two decades of leadership, Discovery's reach expanded to 1.4 billion subscribers in 170 countries, with translations into more than 30 languages. Its emphasis is on both locally focused as well as globally unifying communications, which is the same strategy that should underpin U.S. public diplomacy efforts." Kenneth Wollack, 20 April 2009.
     "McHale will have to demonstrate to her state department colleagues – and to the White House as well – that public diplomacy is an integral part of the foreign policy process and smart power, not just PR or using internet social networks ('public diplomacy 2.0')." John Brown, Comment is free blog, The Guardian, 22 April 2009.

Rwanda evicts BBC "poison" from its FM dial.

Posted: 27 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
BBC Rwanda "Rwanda has suspended BBC broadcasts in the local language Kinyarwanda because of what it says is bias in BBC reports concerning the 1994 genocide. A statement announcing the temporary ban singled out a programme it said amounted to blatant denial of genocide against the Tutsi and moderate Hutu. The editor of the BBC programme denied that there had been any bias." BBC News, 26 April 2009.
     "'We have suspended all BBC programmes in Kinyarwanda because they had become a real poison with regards to the reconciliation of the Rwandan people,' the information minister, Louise Mushikiwabo said. 'We could no longer tolerate that,' she said. 'The Rwandan government shall protest strongly, until the BBC can give us guarantees of responsible journalism.'" The Telegraph, 26 April 2009.
     "'Rwanda believes in difference of opinion and enforces press freedom in its laws and practices, which is why the Government of Rwanda has patiently continued to seek common ground and cooperation on the part of the BBC Great Lakes leadership,' [a government press release] concludes. The government has for some time been requesting the broadcaster not to give Genocide deniers airtime to no avail." Sunday Times (Kigali), 26 April 2009.
     None of the articles mentions that the BBC Great Lakes service continues to broadcast via shortwave. The shortwave schedule is provided at the BBCWS Great Lakes website. It mentions the frequency 590, which would be medium wave, but it's not a standard channel in Africa (585 and 594 kHz would be). Probably a typo.
     RFI was evicted from Kigali's FM dial in 2006. However, the RFI site lists 92.1 MHz in Kigali.

Zbigniew Brzezinski interviewed by Press TV.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Press TV: And on the part of Iranian officials, what I have been hearing - of course I do not have a government post - but what they say is that they are open to dialogue, if and when they see a change of policy and if and when the situation is right, hopefully the situation is right and to the benefit of both sides. Brzezinski: I do not think that you are getting the point that I am making. If the Iranian position is that negotiations will only take place when they see evident changes in American policy, then I think they are failing to see something important that has already taken place; namely an overture that is constructive in spirit and in historic significance. And the proper response to that is not to say that we are going to wait and see that you prove by some actions, that we either desire or specify or will then judge. That is not the way to begin serious negotiations. Press TV: So what you are saying is that the United States' change of tone has been a step forward. Brzezinski: Well, in diplomacy and in international affairs, tones are very important. Abusing, accusing, insulting, are sometimes also negotiating methods. The intent then if it is conducted by intelligent people, who know what they are saying, is obviously to prevent negotiations. You can operate that way either if you are very stupid, or if very, very Machiavellian. But if you do not want negotiations to succeed, you can start them by insulting, abusing, accusing." Press TV, 24 April 2009.

Move buys Inuk, backed by S4C, to roll out IPTV, including PCNE.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"US online video specialist Move Networks has acquired Inuk Networks, the UK-based company backed by Welsh broadcaster S4C that's aiming to roll out an IPTV version of Freeview. ... As well as the likes of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five and Disney's ABC1, Inuk signed up international channel partners including France's TV5, Al Jazeera, Germany's Deutsche Welle and PCNE of China." C21Media.net, 23 April 2009. PCNE is Phoenix TV 凤凰卫星电视, with headquarters in Hong Kong, although it announced two years ago that it would move to Bejing.

How to turn your audience into a smart mob.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Howard Rheingold from Stanford University, one of the most important trailblazers in Web 2.0 and author of several bestsellers covering the effects of the Internet on society, will open the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum on Wednesday, June 3. More than 900 guests are expected to attend the three-day conference taking place in Bonn, which will focus on 'Conflict Prevention in the Multimedia Age'. The renowned social scientist and founder of several online communities is one of the leading experts in the area of mobile communication. He even coined the term 'smart mobs', which describes networks that help their members communicate more efficiently with each other by using the Internet." DW press release, 23 April 2009.

Head of Venezuelan international broadcaster turns his attention to Venezuelan domestic broadcasting.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Andrés Izarra, the head of Latin American TV news network Telesur, attended on Thursday a special session of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, on the Right to Freedom of Thought and Expression. He complained about the behavior of private media in Venezuela. 'Venezuelan private media carry out permanently activities of media terrorism. Messages of hatred are broadcasted on TV and radio newscasts. Private media have used subliminal messages and deceptive advertising against the Venezuelan people and government,' Izarra said." El Universal (Caracas), 24 April 2009.

Saudi television will add Turkish, Persian, Urdu, Malay.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Saudi Arabia’s state-backed broadcaster is to launch a TV channel covering Turkish and Persian languages. ... BBC Monitoring carried the report, quoting the Al-Hayat newspaper, saying that Saudi Arabia’s Culture and Information Minister Dr Abd-al-Aziz Khuja has formed a committee ... to draw up the features of the fifth channel 'that will be launched soon and transmit terrestrially and via satellite'. It will be based in Jeddah and broadcasting programmes in Persian, Turkish and other minority languages. Al-Hayat says that the channel’s aims are to reach viewers who speak these other non-Arabic languages (Turkish, Persian, Urdu, and Malay) 'so as to acquaint them with Saudi society's social, economic, political, and security reality'. ... Dr Fahd al-Khariji, head of the Media Department at the King Sa'ud University, underlined the need for Saudi Arabia’s ‘official’ media to move from its local character to a global one for several reasons, the most important being the kingdom's regional and international political and economic weight in addition to its role at the United Nations and the G20." Rapid TV News, 23 April 2009.

Russia Today entangled in Sochi's mayoral election.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Acting Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov not only dominates local media coverage ahead of Sunday's mayoral election, but rival candidates say he also has a complete monopoly. Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, Communist Yury Dzagania and ousted billionaire candidate Alexander Lebedev have all sued Pakhomov for purported abuse of office during the election campaign. They complain that his meetings with Sochi residents are shown daily on television, his activities fill local newspapers and he spoke as a mayoral candidate during a recent interview with Russia Today television that apparently was filmed in his office in violation of election law. ... Pakhomov's lawyer Oleg Naukin denied any wrongdoing in court, saying the mayor had used a public reception office decorated to look like his office in the Russia Today interview. ... Asked why Russia Today editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, who conducted the interview, made on-camera comments afterward in the lobby of the City Hall building, Naukin advised to put the question to Russia Today. A spokesman for Russia Today, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, told The Moscow Times on Thursday that the meeting between Pakhomov and Simonyan was 'private' and 'had nothing to do with the election campaign.'" The Moscow Times, 24 April 2009. As an English- and Arabic-language broadcaster, why would Russia Today's coverage matter?

New organization wants RFE/RL restored in Kyrgyzstan.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"A movement to protect RFE/RL's Kyrgyz broadcasts and its listeners' rights has been established in Kyrgyzstan. The leader of the movement, Ondurush Toktonazarov, says the organization's main goal is to protect the rights of tens of thousands of RFE/RL listeners to continue to receive independent information. ... In October, RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service radio programs being rebroadcast on FM stations were halted by the government and RFE/RL's two television programs were canceled." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 22 April 2009.

International broadcasters report on Armenia.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Today, EuroNews starts broadcasting a 10 minute report on Armenia which will run several times during the course of the coming week. The idea to produce this film was inspired by European Friends of Armenia. 'We are very happy that EuroNews understands the political importance of EU-Armenia relations and showed the Armenian and European side of the story. ...' comments Michael Kambeck, Secretary General of EuFoA." EuFoA press release,
24 April 2009
. So is this a report, or an infomercial? See the report at EuroNews, 24 April 2009. Most of it is Armenia's perspective about EU relations, but it is balanced a bit at the end with discussion of what Armenia must do to develop its partnership with the EU. See also the detailed Editorial Charter for European Union Contract, which specifies that "authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs" must "support and reflect EU cultural diversity." See also EuroNews news, 24 April 2009.
     Russia Today interview with Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan is cited by other media outlets, including Public Radio of Armenia, 24 April 2009. I can't find the interview at the RT website, however.
     "With heightened expectations of normalized relations between Turkey and Armenia, President Barack Obama had an opportunity to chart a new course in his April 24th statement commemorating the Armenian Genocide, but failed to deliver on the change he promised, reported the Armenian Assembly of America." Public Radio of Armenia, 25 August 2009.

I didn't know the United States had 6,500 miles of public transportation.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Justin Rowlatt is not a typical environmental journalist. The British reporter known back home as 'Ethical Man' spent six weeks traveling 6,500 miles across the United States on public transportation for stories on climate change. His reports are airing on BBC America's 'BBC World News America' (7 o'clock weeknights) as well as in England. 'Ethical Man' — a title he's not particularly fond of — came from a series of BBC reports three years ago. Rowlatt, his wife and three children spent a year trying to reduce their 'carbon footprint,' doing such things as getting rid of their car, changing how they heated their home and briefly going vegan." AP, 25 April 2009.

Just don't ask them to live without the radio in their kitchen.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Rockhopper TV, a UK based production company is looking for a Los Angeles based family for its BBC World documentary. The producers are looking for a typical, Los Angeles based nuclear family that are willing to open up their home and lives for the cameras. The family should include a father, mother and children who are willing to be filmed for approx one week in early August (dates to be confirmed). By documenting the lives of a family, this program is hoping to illustrate how the car, air conditioning and various household appliances play a major role in our lives and if it is possible to live without them." Open Casting Calls, 26 April 2009.

Breaking news: award for BBCWS Trust campaign in India.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Madison Media picked up the Peoples Award for its work on BBC World Service Trust's [word that connotes negative associations] campaign for the Best Communication Strategy category. For this particular campaign, the problem was that anything associated with [another word that connotes negative associations] is taboo in public and the word [word that connotes negative associations] connotes negative associations. The aim was to get people to say the word [word that connotes negative associations] aloud in public, without taboo, and make them comfortable with the use of the word." Televisionpoint.com, 24 April 2009. See, I don't want people doing web searches on [word that connotes negative associations] and having my website pop up. It might be a stretch, but I see it as a necessary means of protection.

The BBC in Bangui.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Afrique is celebrating the launch of BBC 90.2 FM in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, with special programming, events and training courses for local broadcasters. ... Cyriaque Gonda, the Central African Republic Minister of State in charge of Communication, says: 'A country can only open up truly to the world – for the sake of peace, stability and sustainable development for its people – through a news organisation with an undisputed reputation.'" BBC World Service press release, 23 April 2009. The program stream is a combination of the French-language BBC Afrique and BBCWS English output.

There will always be a radio in my kitchen.

Posted: 26 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Nick Piggott, head of creative technology at UK-based Global Radio: "'10 years ago if you asked people how are they going to listen to your show, they'd say on the radio and they could point to something that was in the kitchen or living room that had batteries in it and was plugged into the mains electricity and that was their radio. I think in 10 years time almost nobody will say that they own a radio, as in just one device and that's all it does. I suspect even now you'll probably find that there are more and more people who are saying that they listen to the radio on something that is not a radio at all.' Mr Piggott said Nokia was the biggest manufacturer of radios, because of the vast number of mobile phone handsets it produced with radios built in." James Cridland, who oversees future media at BBC Radio: "We do not want to damage what radio is great at...something you can listen to while you do other things. It would be mad if we damaged that." BBC News, 23 April 2009.
     "Based on a [Pew] survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted earlier the same month, 66 percent use TV, 41 percent newspapers, 34 percent radio, and 31 percent the Internet. If you add in online TV, the TV number increases to 68 percent. ... The Pew Internet number is strong and growing, but 13 percent of it is online newspaper sites and 11 percent online TV sites. Take away those, and just where is the local news that folks get from the Internet supposed to come from, eh?" Mario Orazio, TV Technology, 23 April 2009.

New book chronicles shortwave listening since 1945.

Posted: 25 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Review of Jerome S. Berg, Listening on the Short Waves 1945 to Today: "The combination of a very detailed index, copious chapter notes and a selected bibilography make it possible to do follow-up research on numerous subjects or individuals. The fact that the references are so detailed is testimony to the amount of work that Jerry Berg has put into this book. It's unlikely that anyone will be able to emulate his efforts, so this and its companion volumes look destined to become the definitive history of shortwave broadcasting and listening." Andy Sennitt, Radio Netherlands Media Network, 23 April 2009. See previous post about the Jerry Berg's companion book: Broadcasting on the Short Waves 1945 to Today.

Radio Netherlands prods its listeners from shortwave to the internet.

Posted: 25 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Listener in Brazil: "Let me thank your "Radio Netherlands Worldwide Summer Guide". It has come to today. I have no shortwave receiver at my disposal, so I just tune in to you through the Internet. The sound is quite clear, without fading, and it is much better than the broadcasts on shortwave. Now I suggest you to download the Skype program and we can chat to you in a real time. My best wishes." RN: "Eeek! Real time! We seem to have a job to keep up with all of our listeners and readers with all of your wonderful requests, emails, queries and comments - but a nice idea perhaps in small, controlled time periods." Listener in the USA: "Gentlemen! Shame on Radio Netherlands for abandoning the shortwave listeners in North America. Not all in the States can afford a computer!" Listener in Canada: "My parents immigrated from Holland to Canada with 5 children in 1962. My mother has tried to keep up with current events in Holland by way of Radio Nederland on shortwave radio, but has lost touch for the last several years. I have tried to locate the schedule on your website, but could only find times for Asia and Africa. Perhaps I was not looking closely enough. Would you be able to tell me frequencies that my mother would be able to listen to your broadcast, and the times. Being older, they do not have a computer at home and therefore only use the radio. We are located in Canada in the Toronto area." RN: "In Walt's case, his parents should be able to tune in and catch many of our programmes through the CBC in Canada, and if you want to catch them there, may we suggest to check out their programme schedule at: www.cbc.ca." Radio Netherlands website, 24 April 2009.
     It's not quite as simple as going to www.cbc.ca, because from there one must burrow into the CBC site to find out that Radio Netherlands on "CBC Overnight" (a service of World Radio Network) is at 1:05 a.m. And it is in English, whereas the writer's mother might be more interested in Dutch. RNW is still transmitting in Dutch to eastern North America at 0200-0230 UTC, or 10 p.m. EDT, on shortwave 6190 kHz. I hope the writer's mother is a night owl.

Shortwave sports memories.

Posted: 25 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"In 1989, my local newspaper was The Palm Beach Post. On Saturday, April 15 1989, I listened to Sportsweek on BBC World Service using my shortwave radio. I remember my cousin and I hearing about the incidents from Hillsborough and that the game had been abandoned, but it was difficult to fathom exactly what happened. It wasn’t until later that night when I watched the national CBS Evening News where the lead story was the Hillsborough Stadium disaster." The Gaffer, EPL Talk, 22 April 2009.
     "When I was a kid, Sunday mornings meant an alarm clock going off at 5 a.m. and then twisting my short wave radio's tuner back and forth searching for the BBC's Grand Prix report." Motor Trend Blog, 21 April 2009.

Death to nobody! This is the Voice of the Pakistani Moderates.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"As the peril in Pakistan deepens, the United States has little choice but to bolster that country's weak democratic government to the max. ... The United States has bought a half-hour per day for Voice of America broadcasts on Pakistani television, but it would help if the United States funneled funds to Pakistani moderates to counter Taliban propaganda." Morton Kondracke, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 20 April 2009. See previous posts on 9 April and 16 March 2009. Perhaps the ultimate moderate voice would be a station that tries to get people interested in business, i.e., making money, which usually requires getting along with people rather than trying to blow up things. Maybe a CNBC or equivalent in Urdu, Pashto, and Punjabi.

Grumbles about Al Jazeera presence on Worldfocus (updated again).

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"PBS' [sic] new program, WorldFocus, airs international reports from Al Jazeera's English channel -- one of many foreign broadcasters, like England's ITN and Israel's Channel 10, included in the newscast. But according to some in Congress, there is little difference between Al Jazeera's networks that broadcast in Arabic or English and, they say, PBS, which is partially funded by taxpayer dollars, is recklessly promoting Al Jazeera by airing the segments. 'My concern is that the American people should be pretty darn upset about the fact that their tax dollars are going to fund this,' said Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C. 'I mean, they're already upset about what their tax dollars are going to fund, and now they're funding propaganda.' ... WorldFocus told FOX News it doesn't pay Al Jazeera for its reports, adding that the PBS [sic] show is paid for through private funds." Fox News, 8 April 2009.
     "With all contributions from our partners, including Al Jazeera English, we reserve the right to edit content -- and we often do. ... We also believe Al Jazeera English does sometimes offer us and our viewers a unique perspective from various parts of the world where it has access that others don't. During the war in Gaza, we frequently aired reports from Gaza from AJE. We typically paired those reports with reports from our Israeli partner, Channel 10. With that approach, we saw both sides at once." Statement issued by Marc Rosenwasser, executive producer of Worldfocus, to Fox News, 9 April 2009.
     As we have explained before, Worldfocus is broadcast by public television stations, but is not a PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) program.
     Those who complain about Al Jazeera content on Worldfocus are behooved to cite examples of biased reporting.
     In the meantime, I wonder what the partners think of Worldfocus stating that "we often do" edit their content. This after the partners have gone to the trouble of editing the content according to their own standards. VOA Arabic had a partnership with Arab broadcaster MBS, which soon ended because of MBS's editing of VOA's reports.
See previous post about Worldfocus.
     "Al Jazeera does view things through an Arab world prism because that is its main audience. And it also focuses heavily on the civilian costs of war — whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Gaza. So its filming and reporting became valuable from these regions, even if, at times, they are hard to look at. Yet it is better to know this as part of the mix of reporting, in my view, and to absorb it in context with all the ways we get information, than to have only the often sanitized version of warfare that one gets on American network television." Michael Getler, The Ombudsman Column, PBS website, 16 April 2009. Mr. Getler points out that Worldfocus is distributed not by PBS but "by American Public Television, which is actually older than PBS."
     Update: See comments from readers. PBS Ombudsman, 23 April 2009.

Al Jazeera English access in Canada to be discussed at McGill University.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is currently considering an application to distribute Al Jazeera English (AJE), the Qatar-based, 24-hour international news network, in Canada. On April 28, Media@McGill will host a panel discussion focusing on what the presence of AJE would mean for the diversity and quality of the news available to Canadians." McGill Reporter (Montréal), 22 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Future Telesur Portuguese service might be seen in Angola.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The deputy minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, Reinaldo Bolivar, mentioned on Tuesday here the possibility of Angola having, in the future, programmes from the Venezuelan television 'Telesur', especially in terms of news. ... Besides having a programme in Spanish, 'Telesur' broadcasting station will also have one in Portuguese, a fact to which Venezuelan authorities expressed the interest to transmit it to one of the Public Television of Angola (TAP)'s channels." Agência Angola Press, 22 April 2009.

YouTube self-censorship in the Middle East is a possibility.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Google could censor its video sharing site YouTube in Middle Eastern markets if asked by one of the region’s governments, but has not received any formal request to do so, a spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday. The search giant could block users in the region from accessing some content if pressured by governments, but takes any such decision on a case by case basis and prefers 'to err on the side of free speech', she said. ... Representatives from the Dubai Police have met with Google to discuss material that they find objectionable, Dubai Police chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim told state news agency WAM on Tuesday." Digital Production Middle East, 16 April 2009.

Keeping in touch wherever you roam.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Two mobile satellite communications companies plan to launch competing billion-dollar satellites that might reinvigorate the market for satellite-linked mobile phones in 2009, according to the Associated Press. TerraStar Corp. and SkyTerra Communications will launch a total of three of the largest commercial satellites in history into space this summer, their 60-foot gold mesh receptors aimed squarely at the U.S. The result: sat-link phones that won't be much larger than traditional mobile phones, complete with 3G radios. When the phones are within range of cell towers, they connect with normal wireless technology; when they're out of range, they contact the satellites for a connection. ... For now, this generation of satellite phones will work only within a line of sight of their satellites--which is to say, only in North America. But should these two companies launch more satellites for worldwide coverage, their devices could see more mainstream adoption." Fast Company, 13 April 2009. Potential for delivery of news, worldwide, via text? Or will per-message costs be too expensive for the user?

New DTH service for the Middle East.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Abu Dhabi-based satellite services provider Yahsat has signed a landmark partnership deal with SES Astra, which will see the creation of a new company offering direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services to broadcast partners in the Middle East, North Africa and South-west Asia. ... YahLive will offer DTH satellite services to free-to-air and pay-TV broadcasters. It will own and commercialise 23 BSS-transponders on the Yahsat 1A spacecraft to be positioned at the 52.5 degrees East orbital position and operating in the Ku-band frequency. ... 'The region is a market with significant growth potential as the fill rate of the Ku-band capacity is estimated at 90 percent, while demand is expected to grow faster than supply.'" Digital Production Middle East, 20 April 2009. Presumably will compete with present marker leaders Arabsat and Nilesat.
     "UAE authorities have vowed to crack down on the illegal distribution of Indian pay TV operator Dish TV services in the country. The signal of the Indian direct-to-home (DTH) satellite network is available in parts of the Middle East, however Dish TV has no broadcasting rights in these territories. ... The set top boxes required to receive Dish TV are available from unauthorised dealers across the Emirates. The boxes are imported illegally direct from India." Digital Production Middle East, 19 April 2009.

RFE/RL, VOA now reaching Azerbaijan via Türksat.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has begun to broadcast its programs via a Turkish satellite network in a bid to circumvent Azerbaijan’s ban on domestic FM broadcasts by foreign-owned radio stations. Radio Azadliq (Radio Liberty) and Voice of America will share a 24-hour broadcasting slot on Türksat, the station announced on April 17. News programs from Radio Azadliq make up the bulk of the schedule. The station already broadcasts via Hotbird, a part of the Paris-based Eutelsat service that reaches a much smaller percentage of Azerbaijani satellite users. Radio Azadliq bureau chief Khadija Ismayilova told EurasiaNet that Türksat’s coverage area will allow the radio station to penetrate Azerbaijan’s regions; Türksat is estimated to reach the majority of Azerbaijan’s satellite users." EurasiaNet, 22 April 2009. This will put a clear signal into many Azerbaijani homes. But listening to radio via a satellite television receiver can be a bit clunky.
     "Heydar and then Ilham Aliyev ... largely destroyed the conditions for Azerbaijan to develop into a democratic society." Farid Guliyev, Commentary, RFE/RL, 22 April 2009.
     "Broadcasting of commercials about Azerbaijan’s tourism potential on CNN and EuroNews has become a tradition." Azeri-Press Agency, 23 April 2009.

BBC, CNN, TV5 via Türksat.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
For expats in Turkey: "Türksat allows you to watch more than 50 channels, most of which are in Turkish. Through Türksat, however, you can also get foreign channels: BBC Prime (contests, serials, documentary and films), BBC World (mostly news and documentaries), Eurosport and the news program CNN. TV5 is the only channel broadcasting in French, providing viewers with films, serials, contests and documentaries, as well as local news from Switzerland, Belgium and Canada. The German channel RTL is also available." Today's Zaman, 22 April 2009.

Burmese newspaper floats idea of banning satellite dishes.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Satellite dishes that allow people to get international news and entertainment programs should be banned in Myanmar because foreign powers are using them to sow unrest and spread immorality, a state-run newspaper said on Friday. Writing in the Myanma Ahlin newspaper, a writer who identified himself as Ko Gyi said foreign countries were flooding the country with entertainment programs that citizens are enjoying without realising they have a darker purpose - to destabilize the country and spread immoral behavior. 'Some big nations are using satellite dishes as their own media tools to influence other countries under the pretext of entertainment,' Mr Ko Gyi wrote. 'They are using them to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, to instigate unrest and to destroy nationalism in some targeted nations. It is high time to prohibit the sale of satellite dishes.' The article did not single out any one country nor any specific programs." AP, 24 April 2009. See previous post about VOA's new satellite-delivered television program for Burma.

Former SVP of now bankrupt Worldspace is author of Success Stories in Satellite Systems.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has published a new book, Success Stories in Satellite Systems, which presents first-hand histories, case studies, and lessons learned from many of the pioneers who built the satellite industry. ... The book's author is D. K. Sachdev, president of SpaceTel Consultancy, Vienna, Va., and an adjunct professor at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va. Sachdev began his career in telecommunications in his native India before coming to the United States in 1978. From 1978 to 1996, he led INTELSAT's technology development, spacecraft planning, and engineering efforts. Following that, he joined WorldSpace, Washington, D.C., where he was responsible for the engineering, deployment, and operations of both the WorldSpace digital radio system and the early stages of the XM Radio system." AIAA press release, 23 April 2009.

Another DTH player in Africa.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Jerusalem-based SatLink Communications says it has leased capacity on Astra 4A (otherwise known as Sirius 4) at 5 deg East to beam a new DTH bouquet to sub-Saharan Africa. The end result could be of interest to free-to-air channels or pay-TV. ... SatLink's sub-Saharan business scheme is based upon providing an outlet for international, ethnic, language, sports and other channels seeking to reach African households. SatLink is starting to sell this service for free-to-air or pay-TV approach. 'The focus is on channels,' said Ms Yael Sharmos, VP/Marketing & Sales at SatLink. She added that the bouquet plan is based upon 'what we call the «Hotbird model». In other words, creation of a neighborhood that will appeal to the African household. Lots of worthy channels on one platform beamed directly into millions of homes.'" Rapid TV News, 14 April 2009. Latest development in the rapidly developing DTH scene in Africa. See previous posts on 6 March and 20 February 2009.

DRM at the NAB.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale] Consortium and its members have organised several activities to display the best of DRM technology and equipment at National Association of Broadcasting Exhibition in Las Vegas this year. On display are new DRM radios to first commercial equipment for DRM+ at the ongoing NAB exhibition. The DRM Consortium also held a high-level panel discussion at NAB on the subject 'DRM is here - wide coverage, low costs, digital quality'." Radioandmusic.com, 23 April 2009. See also DRM Consortium news, 23 April 2009, with photos and pdf slide show.
     I've been listening to DRM shortwave almost daily during the past two months or so. In the United States, for DRM reception, we are mostly limited to the transmissions during the day of Radio Canada International via Sackville, New Brunswick, on 9800 kHz. It's mostly audible, but drops out a bit too often. At 2300-2400 UTC, the stereo music transmission from Sackville is usually unsuccessful. At 0100-0200, China Radio International DRM via Sackville on 6080 is usually 100% receivable. The Vatican Radio DRM transmission all the way from Santa Maria di Galeria, Italy, at 2300-2330 was usually heard on when it was on its 7 MHz frequency, but, since 29 March, when it moved up to 9755 kHz, they have generally been inaudible.
     Report about the NAB Convention. VOA News, 23 April 2009.

The shortwave radio stations with frequent time checks.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"What is a minute, anyway? What’s a second? At some point, somebody has to keep an eye on those definition so seconds don’t get too short or too long, messing up everything from GPS satellites to the stock market to your paycheck. ... You can thank a bunch of radio engineers in Fort Collins for helping keep all that straight. Four engineers in a compound northeast of the city keep watch, as it were, over the official atomic clock, and therefore the official time, of the United States. The antennas at radio stations WWV and WWVB broadcast radio waves that synchronize everything from the stock market to traffic lights to your alarm clock. WWV broadcasts a signal you can hear; WWVB broadcasts a signal only your radio-controlled clock will recognize." Greeley (CO) Tribune, 20 April 2009. See also the National Institute of Satndards and Technology Time & Frequency Division.

Sri Lanka, Somalia coverage missing on American television.

Posted: 24 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Some Western media are trying to cover this deteriorating situation [in Sri Lanka], and in particular, the UK and other European countries have been running some shocking new video of the victims. BBC World Service radio has been keeping it generally high in the news order. But try to find this enormous catastrophe on American TV... Good luck. ... Too bad Al Jazeera English is not available on most living room screens in the US, and people there have to choke down the endless rotting fish heads of celebrity news or the same tiresome group of ignoramuses shouting at each other in a studio -- both the cheapest forms of filling air time after a test card." Andrew Stroehlein, AlertNet, 21 April 2009. The Arabic-language Al Jazeera has occasionally had its own ignoramuses shouting at each other.
     "Sri Lanka army 'killed civilians'" BBC News, 21 April 2009. "Sri Lanka denies targeting civilians." Australian Broadcasting Corporation News, 22 April 2009.

BBC tells Indians how to vote.

Posted: 23 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) flagged off its on air initiative across FM stations in India on 13 April, airing capsules that are 65 per cent Hindi, with the rest in English. This week, it has introduced ‘BBC Election Q&A’, one minute capsules for raising awareness on the voting procedures, working of the voting machine, political system etc. ... The election capsules would be aired across all stations of Radio One, regional FM stations like Radio Choklate (Bubhaneshwar, Rourkela), Radio Chaska (Gwalior), Radio Tadka (Udaipur, Jaipur), Radio Tomato (Kolhapur), Radio Rangila, and Radio Misty (Gangtok)." Radioandmusic.com, 20 April 2009.
     "In a desolate, seemingly endless, lion-infested forest in India, a single man waits to exercise his fundamental right." BBC News, 21 April 2009.
     "South Africans living in the townships of Port Elizabeth are reporting for the BBC World Service on their lives and the issues that matter to them ahead of the country's most competitive election since the end of apartheid." BBC News, 20 April 2009.

Subsidy keeps BBC World News as third channel in the Solomons.

Posted: 23 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The British High Commission in Honiara is pleased to announce its continued funding of BBC World News to Solomon Islands for the next two years, costing SBD$200,000. ... For many people in Solomon Islands their prime access to television services is through terrestrial channels. The provision of BBC World News ensures that there are three terrestrial channels." Solomon Times, 22 April 2009. "Telekom Chief Executive Officer Loyley Ngira thanked the British High Commission for extending the funding. Mr Ngira said Our Telekom was happy because BBC produced the best coverage in world beside Australian network. 'We have seen the need for Solomon Islands to have seen different perspective on Australian and BBC,' he said." Solomon Star, 23 April 2009.

Australia Network uses subtitles, other tactics to compete in Asia.

Posted: 22 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Australia Network CEO Bruce Dover. "Q: Being a single channel broadcaster is a tough proposition. Are you planning to launch more channels in India? Dover: The ABC is looking at an Australian kids channel. This would cover both pre-school and the 8-14-year-olds. ... Q. How do you plan to grow in India? Dover: We are planning to introduce [English?] subtitles in the fourth quarter of this year. Perhaps, this is necessary because of the Australian accent that our coverage would have. We are also looking at Hindi subtitling for our movies, dramas and documentaries. We already do subtitling in Vietnam. Indonesian subtitles have been introduced this week. ... Q. How many feeds does Australia Network have? Dover: We have three. [Pacific, North and Southeast Asia, South Asia.] We are now looking to have a feed for the Middle East. ... Q. Do you have plans for the digital space? Dover: We are looking at English learning applications. We will also provide news and current affairs video content on the mobile platform." Ashwin Pinto, Indiantelevision.com, 20 April 2009. See also australianetwork.com.

Worldfocus and its multiple partners.

Posted: 22 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"We have a combination of different news organizations. Our model is that we partner with the different news organizations in the world [and] choose from their offerings each day. [We work with] different organizations with bureaus all over the world. In Asia, we partner with ABC of Australia. In Europe, we partner with Deutsche Welle and ITN of Britain. In South America, we partner with Globo. In Africa, we partner with A24, which is a new consortium of African broadcasters. And, in the Middle East we partner with Channel 10 of Israel, Al Jazeera English, and also with Link TV which is an aggregator of our broadcast content." Marc Rosenwasser, executive producer of Worldfocus, interviewed by Nicole Zerillo, PRWeek, 20 April 2009.

Former Soviet republics dropping Russian television channels.

Posted: 22 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Ever more former Soviet republics, including some Moscow views as its closest allies within the Commonwealth of Independent States, have decided to drop Russian TV channels, a development that threatens the survival of the broader Russian-language space Moscow has wanted to maintain and thus of Moscow’s influence in these countries. ... Indeed, in these cases, the governments involved appear to be using 'just the same methods which are used in Moscow against any foreign business attempting to operate in the Russian market.'" Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia, 19 April 2009, citing Russian newspapers.

Iranian report: instead of blocking foreign channels, start rival channels.

Posted: 22 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iran's Majlis Research Center has proposed loosening the grip on foreign media outlets working against the interests of the Islamic Republic. ... A report by [Iran's Parliament Research Center] described 'launching networks' as the main step in undertaking 'soft overthrow projects', adding that the BBC Persian channel takes a more subtle approach than that of the US-backed VOA in propagating its ideas ... Pointing to countless internet websites and web proxies, the report said, 'Preventing the establishment of satellite channels is not an effective method to break the Iranian audience's connection with such media.' The Majlis institute went on to call for 'the launch of rival channels and incorporation of as much information content as possible' to neutralize the effect of anti-Islamic Republic media. 'The government should not conceive NGO's and Persian-language channels as a threat.'" Press TV, 19 April 2009.

Imprisoned Iranian-American journalist worked for NPR, BBC.

Posted: 21 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The father of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi says an Iranian court has convicted her of espionage and sentenced her to a lengthy prison term. ... Saberi has worked as a freelance reporter for several Western news organizations including the U.S. public broadcaster, National Public Radio, and the BBC." RFE/RL News, 20 April 2009. See also NPR statement, 18 April 2009 and press release, 18 April 2009.
     "I was held on 25 to 30 counts, including speaking on Voice of America, writing Internet articles for Iranian newspapers and being a member of various Iranian groups and a founding member of the University of California at Irvine’s Center for Citizen Peacebuilding." Ali Shakeri, New York Times, 20 April 2009.
     "For the past few years, the Iranian government has intensified its harassment of journalists from our Persian-language division (Radio Farda)." RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin, ibid.

Memories of foreign broadcasts in Albania.

Posted: 21 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Ron Kubati, Albanian writer and journalist, about the late 1980s in Albania: "You got information from foreign media? Kubati: Yes, we listened a lot to the Voice of America and we watched Italian TV. We had radios running on our only brand of batteries, 'Iliria'. We took our radios to the beach in Duress in the afternoon, when the beach was empty, and we tried to tune in to the foreign channels and get information about what was going on. We hoped everything would change. Albanian TV continued with the regular rhetoric." Osservatorio Balcani, 20 April 2009.

China's new English newspaper says it will "reflect the view of civilian society rather than the Government."

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
China's official Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, launches an English-language edition of its international Global Times. "The new paper has been years in the planning and six months in the making. It is part of a broader strategy by China's leaders to more effectively take the country's stories to the world. That strategy also includes a reported 50 billion yuan ($10.2 billion) fund to help create a Chinese version of CNN or Al Jazeera. The tabloid-sized Global Times will be China's second daily English language newspaper after the staid daily broadsheet The China Daily and [editor-in-chife Xu Hijin] has promised a more lively style. 'Our reputation is that we wrote about what ordinary Chinese people care about. We don't think that the English press gives a completely true reflection of China.' ... Xu insists the main principle for the Global Times will be objective reporting. 'We will not avoid sensitive issues. We want to express and reflect the view of civilian society rather than the Government.'" The Australian, 20 April 2009.
     "The English edition of the Global Times will carry on the traditions of the Chinese edition: presenting news from a Chinese perspective, in a fair, insightful and courageous manner." Global Times, 20 April 2009. URL for Global Times English is en.huanqiu.com.
     "A 50-story apartment building in downtown Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, caught fire at about 10:30 am yesterday. Although firefighters managed to bring the blaze under control in just two hours, people were quick to criticize what has been the third significant building fire this year. ... 'This series of fires, especially the CCTV one, indicates the poor awareness of officials and managers, who should be held responsible.'" Global Times, 20 April 2009.

Reaching out via the social network du jour (updated).

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
According to study by National Defense University, there are "four basic functions that social media might serve in a government agency." The fourth is "Outbound Sharing whose purpose is to communicate with and/or empower people outside the government. This includes a range of efforts such as focused use of information and communications technology (ICT) during stabilization and reconstruction missions, connecting persons in emergency or post-disaster situations, and communicating messages in foreign countries as part of public diplomacy efforts." Noah Shachtman, Wired Danger Room, 10 April 2009.
     Update: "The authors say that if used correctly by government, social media could enhance self-organizing capabilities within the government, enhance networking and collaboration with nongovernment groups, and improve decision-making. The authors say incorporating the technology into daily work practices should also decrease the probability of being shocked, surprised or out-maneuvered. ... 'Warfighters in combat situations are very adaptable to changing environments,' the paper concludes. 'If these attitudes pervade decision-making on issues of policy related to social software and security, perhaps the answers will come from within.'" Ben Bain, Federal Computer Week, 17 April 2009.

Secretary of Defense calling radio amateurs and shortwave listeners.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are co-sponsoring the annual military/amateur radio communications tests in celebration of the 58th Anniversary of Armed Forces Day (AFD)." This will be 10 May 2008, even though the actual Armed Forces Day is 17 May 2009. "The annual celebration features traditional military to amateur cross band communications SSB voice tests and copying the Secretary of Defense message via digital modes. These tests give Amateur Radio operators and Short Wave Listeners (SWL) an opportunity to demonstrate their individual technical skills, and to receive recognition from the Secretary of Defense and/or the appropriate military radio station for their proven expertise." Pdf document via U.S. Army Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) website.

Timeline of Mormon media includes international broadcasting.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Dr. Sherry Baker, an associate professor in BYU's Department of Communication, has lead the effort to construct the 'Mormon Media History Timeline, 1827-2007' (link opens up a 113-page pdf document). She writes in the most recent issue of BYU Studies: 'It begins with the events leading up to the printing of the Book of Mormon on a mechanical handpress and ends with the launch of BYU Television International by satellite in 2007. ... "Only time will tell if the availability and use of international broadcasting and new media technologies will have for the church a transformative (ecological) effect, as did the printing press in Europe in the 1500s and the telegraph in the Mormon territory in the 1860s." Joel Campbell, Mormon Times, 18 April 2009.
     The timeline includes the 1962 purchase of private shortwave station WRUL (later WNYW), adding that the station was "unreceivable in the USA." Actually, I and many other shortwave listeners in the United States tuned in WNYW during the 1960s. It was largely Top 40 music, with personalities, network news on the hour, and very few commercials. As the timeline mentions, "about 5% of the programming was Church material." The timeline does not mention the sale, in the early 1970s, of WNYW to Family Radio, a Protestant evangelical broadcaster. Call letters changed to WYFR.

State IG sees problems with VOA Persian News Network (updated).

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
A State Department Office of Inspector General's report "found fundamental misunderstanding by employees of [Voice of America Persian New Network's] mission. 'While everyone involved with the operation is cognizant of the importance of VOA broadcasting to Iran, some of those who work in PNN appear to lack a clear understanding of the mission of PNN and the centrality of the VOA charter to their work, underscoring the need for additional training,' the report said. The BBG's mission, according to its 2008-13 strategic plan, is 'to promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding through multimedia communication of accurate, objective and balanced news, information, and other programming about America and the world to audiences overseas.' ... The report also questioned the continued existence of PNN's radio service, 'given the round-the-clock broadcasts of Radio Farda,' a joint project between VOA and U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is based in Prague. The BBG should 'determine whether Voice of America radio broadcasting in Persian should be discontinued or reinvigorated,' it said." Nicholas Kralev, Washington Times, 14 April 2009.
     The lack of clear understanding might be exacerbated by the L-shaped mission statement, from which it might be difficult to determine whether the purpose is to promote freedom and democracy, or to transmit objective and balanced news. The latter promotes the former, but so do other types of content. The latter should, therefore, get first billing.
     As for VOA PNN radio versus Radio Farda, the two services do complement each other, the latter youth oriented with much music, the former focusing on news and information.
     It is difficult to find journalistic talent that also speaks Farsi. It is doubly so for US international broadcasting, which must recruit for both VOA PNN in Washington and for Radio Farda in Prague. (Radio Farda is now operated exclusively by RFE/RL, with VOA no longer participating.)

     Update: "'It is unfortunate that The Washington Times, in an April 14, 2009 story by Nicholas Kralev, chose to selectively quote from and distort the findings of a report by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General that, overall, lauded the Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN)', VOA public affairs director Joan Mower said in a statement to Iran Focus." Iran Focus, 16 April 2009.

Broadcasting (domestic and international) and Afghanistan's election.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Afghanistan's "Election Commission will ensure that the state broadcaster, Afghan Radio and Television, RTA, will allocate an equal number of slots for each [presidential] candidate. There are also more than 10 private radio and TV stations that transmit several hours a day and cover local issues. International broadcasters such as the BBC, Voice of America, and Radio Liberty [RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan], are trusted sources and have wide audiences." National Post, 16 April 2009.
     "Despite the apparent successes, Afghanistan's ambitions of free media have been pitted against conservative norms and intimidation, leading many journalists to place their survival above all else. That requires abiding by numerous unwritten rules. Sometimes it means turning a blind eye to political corruption. The country's powerful warlords are never to be criticized, and religious issues are best left avoided." RFE/RL, 11 April 2009.

Cell phones replace landlines in Liberia.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The destruction of Liberia's fixed-wire land lines during the civil war has led to technological innovation and commercial competition. ...
For rich and poor a cellphone has become an essential consumer item for many in Africa. Despite their relatively small population of 3.5 million, Liberians are part of this revolution. Evidence of this is the Liberian penchant of frequently contributing their opinions on current issues to BBC's World Have Your Say and other similar interactive radio programs using the SMS (small message system) feature on their mobile phones. Liberians have acquired mobiles for even more serious reasons than entering into global radio conversations. The need to learn the fate of lost relatives and friends and to reunite families after the war was another reason why Liberians acquired cellphones." John J. Perry, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 April 2009.

"Participatory online investigations" examine technology in Africa, so long as funds hold out.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"An experienced radio journalist, having worked at Radio France Internationale for 20 years, Anne-Laure Marie decided to launch what she describes as 'participatory online investigations' (or enquêtes participatives in French) using citizen contributions to look into technological issues in Africa. ... So far, Marie has carried out two further Africa-based projects, on the role of the mobile phone and on computers in classrooms. ... For now, RFI are willingly funding her to start more investigations, but she does not know how long this will continue, and although she would like to see this sort of journalism grow, she is not sure whether it would be possible could find another media organisation who would be willing to pay journalists to do a similar thing in this economic climate." editorsweblog.org, 16 April 2009.

Worldspace presses ahead in India "without any major changes."

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Worldspace plans to go ahead with its overall organisational plans and without any major changes in its approach of business execution in India, says Worldspace India managing director M Sebastian. The only satellite radio service provider in India currently, Worldspace has sought a five-year time period to migrate into the new licensing regime once it is finalised. Worldspace, in a official communiqué to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, said that the company would divest 26 per cent equity in favour of Indian equity investors, within a five-year timeframe." Radioandmusic.com, 17 April 2009.
     "The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), in the finance ministry, will on Monday take up the proposal of satellite radio service provider WorldSpace for providing web-based services. The FIPB application assumes importance as radio firms, including WorldSpace, have been keen to offer online radio service in India for long." DNA, 16 April 2009.
     "Worldspace is emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it is now clear that its unsecured trading creditors will share only about $1.3m in the Court-approved reconstruction. A Noah Samara-controlled company, Yenura, is buying the ‘old’ Worldspace assets for $28m in cash plus certain payments to protected and statutory creditors. But even this amount is being whittled down." Rapid TV News, 15 April 2009. See previous posts about Worldspace on 15 April and 9 April 2009.

International channels to Croatia via IPTV.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Croatian telco Iskon has launched a new IPTV service called 'Iskon.TV', initially available in nine cities with a strong lineup of over 40 channels... Channels on the service include ... drama channels such as BBC Prime, Fox Crime and Hallmark; sports channels such as Eurosport 1 and Extreme Sports; children's channels such as Boomerang and Cartoon Network; documentary channels such as National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel and History Channel; news channels such as BBC World and CNN... ." ipTVnews, 17 April 2009.

Modova's "Twitter Revolution" (updated: and Thailand's).

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"As several thousand protestors returned to the streets of Moldova's capital for a third day to protest the Communist Party victory in Sunday's elections, RFE/RL's Bureau Chief in Chisinau was receiving emails, text messages, and 'tweets' from organizers of the protests. 'The messages were spreading quickly and the senders were asking everyone to forward them to all the people they know,' said Vasile Botnaru, who manages RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau. Botnaru said it appears that text messaging and social networks like Facebook and Twitter played a key role in driving young people into the streets." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 8 April 2009.
     "Adrian Blajinski, a 21-year-old economics student at the Free International University of Moldova, has been protesting on Chisinau's main square. ... 'I tried to find out more information about the elections from Moldovan state television, but it was broadcasting only movies and comedy programs -- nothing about what is going on [with the protests]. The other information source for me has been information news sites. I managed to find one Internet site that had not been shut down yet -- because many of them have been shut down -- and it was there that I found out about the protest [on April 7] and that the main square was already full.'" RFE/RL, 8 April 2009. This RFE/RL report does not say if RFE/RL's own website was "shut down" or blocked .
     "Messages on Thursday said NGOs and student groups were planning protests at Avram Iancu Square and linked to YouTube videos of demonstrators reporting cases of abuse by the police. Using the searchable keyword #pman, named after Chisinau's central square's Romanian name Piata Marii Adunari Nationale, Twitter postings, called tweets, have flooded the online service so much that the protests have been dubbed the 'Twitter Revolution.'" Deutsche Welle, 9 April 2009.
     "The streets of Moldova and Georgia are boiling with protest and anger, while Kosovo continues to grapple with its self-proclaimed statehood. All three situations originate in the departure from the Cold War-era agreements respecting borders. We are witnessing the repercussions of the 'Kosovo precedent,' and they're not pretty." Peter Lavelle, political commentator for Russia Today, commentary at RFE/RL, 10 April 2009. "The views expressed in this commentary are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of RT or RFE/RL."
     Update: "As Evegeny Morozov, a fellow at the Open Society Institute, pointed out, Twitter’s more important role was getting the information out to the world, bringing it international attention and keeping the story alive and buzzing, as well as acting as a channel to push out user-generated content from on the ground. After some great immediate analysis of the Twitter scene in Moldova (which was a follow up to his initial, but still quite insightful assessment on Tuesday), Morozov found that there were actually very few registered Twitter users in the country, and he suspects that most of the Tweets on #pman were not on the ground and were elsewhere in the world, taking information and pushing it along." Kate Brodock, DigiActiv, 10 April 2009.
     "While most of technology pundits were debating the role of Twitter in stirring Moldova's protests, we may have missed how it was used (and misused!) in Thailand, where much larger protests were taking place. I've spent a lot of time researching the issue, trying to find any references to technologies that have been used to organize and cover protests, but I have found only a handful of blog posts, most of them discussing viral videos. ... I did manage to find, however, several posts on how Twitter was used by opponents of the protesters. ... That Twitter could be used for disinformation is not surprising. Just like any open network that anyone could join, it's open for manipulation by anyone with an agenda. I don't believe that social media inherently benefits the 'good guys' over the 'bad guys'" Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy net.effect, 17 April 2009.

New Romanian service and new Romanian editorial director for EuroNews.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"European news television Euronews plans to expand by creating a new Romanian channel, Euronews President Philippe Cayla declared in a conference organized to announce the new editorial director, Romanian Lucian Sarb. Sarb is the first Eastern European to receive a high position at Euronews and he takes up this job at a time when the channel plans to expand." HotNews.ro, 15 April 2009.
     "Journalist Lucian Sarb said Euronews is a Babylon of Europe, in the news department of the European news channel there are working eight teams of journalists, fluent in eight different languages, coming from the same number of various cultures, the result is a well balanced and correct news channel. Lucian Sarb intends, as from his position of head of editorial staff to keep Euronews at a high level of audience, higher than those of CNN, as it happens currently. Journalist Lucian Sarb, aged 41, will join Euronews on May 4, as head of editorial staff. He will lead an editorial staff composed of 350 journalists, making up eight linguistic teams of Euronews. The channel broadcasts simultaneously into German, English, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian, and as of January 2010, it will also broadcast in Turkish." Romaniapress, 15 April 2009.

Report: US is jamming, blocking Taliban media.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Obama administration is starting a broad effort in Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from using radio stations and Web sites to intimidate civilians and plan attacks, according to senior U.S. officials. As part of the classified effort, American military and intelligence personnel are working to jam the unlicensed radio stations in Pakistan's lawless regions on the Afghanistan border that Taliban fighters use to broadcast threats and decrees. U.S. personnel are also trying to block the Pakistani chat rooms and Web sites that are part of the country's burgeoning extremist underground. ... As part of this push, the U.S. has started U.S.-funded radio stations in many rural parts of Afghanistan. In one example, Army Special Forces teams in eastern Paktia, a restive Afghan province that abuts the Pakistani frontier, put on air a radio station late last year called 'the Voice of Chamkani,' referring to the village where the U.S. base is located, and distributed hundreds of radio receivers." Yochi J. Dreazen and Siobhan Gorman, Wall Street Journal, 18 April 2009.

Seeking "truth from facts" about China.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"China's ambassador to the European Union, Song Zhe ... says European and Chinese correspondents should 'make their news reporting and commentary conducive to consensus, trust and cooperation' and 'respect the other's theory of development, policy choice and cultural values.' No. That may be the business of ambassadors. It is not the business of journalists -- and especially not of reporters. Their job is to report accurately, fairly and vividly what they see, hear, smell and read. To tell it as it is. And thus, to recall a Chinese maxim favored by Deng Xiaoping, to 'seek truth from facts.' ... Meanwhile, leading Western journals such as the Economist, the New Yorker and the Atlantic carry long, original and thoroughly fact-checked articles from China. While I was in Beijing, I saw a report on BBC World News television about farmers who had given up their rural homes for urban development, having been promised a new school for their children. The promise had not yet been kept. Anti-China bias? Not at all. As it seeks truth from facts, the BBC is holding high the banner of Deng Xiaoping thought." Timothy Garton Ash, Los Angeles Times, 16 April 2009.

Congress maintains funds for "surge" broadcasting to Tibet.

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
The FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill specifies: "Sufficient funds are available in fiscal year 2009 to continue VOA and RFA Tibetan broadcasts at the fiscal year 2008 surge levels." International Campaign for Tibet website. The amount is unspecified, but $3.3 million had been allocated previously. It's enough for VOA Tibetan and RFA Tibetan to duplicate one another's efforts.
     "A whopping 12-page advertisement spread entitled '50 years of Democratic Reform in Tibet' at first appeared 'remarkably like editorial content' to an American blogger, thanks to The Daily Times of Malawi for running a bizarre ad on Monday for China." Phayul.com, 8 April 2009, with links.

Radio Veritas Asia marks its 40th anniversary (updated again).

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), the only continental Catholic short-wave station in the world, will celebrate forty years of broadcasting on April 15 and 16, 2009. ... The jubilee celebration on April 16 will be preceded by a symposium on April 15. ... The studios of RVA are in Quezon City, Metro Manila; whereas the transmitter site is in Palauig, Zambales, some 230 kilometers north-west of Manila. Major parts of the programs are produced in the local target areas." Indian Catholic, 20 March 2009. See also www.rveritas-asia.org.
     "The establishment of Radio Veritas was the result of a common aspiration of no less than the Vatican, the German government and the Catholic Bishops of Germany, and Catholic Bishops of the Philippines led at the time by Rufino Cardinal Santos, among others. ... It is said that Cardinal Santos took up the idea of Radio Veritas because as the only Catholic country in Asia – and being at the doorsteps of China – it was in the best position to spread Catholic faith and thus prevent the spread of communism in the region." Manila Bulletin, 13 April 2009.
     Update: "'We rarely fail to listen to the station’s daily programs, which are very useful to our faith life,' says John Sung Bla Gienh, an ethnic Hmong Catholic in northern Vietnam. Gienh started to listen to the Vietnamese service in 1975 and has tuned in to the Radio Veritas Hmong language programs since they began in 1996." Indian Catholic, 17 April 2009.
     "With a new generation of computer-savvy listeners tuning in through webcasts added to its core audience of short-wave listeners, Radio Veritas Asia can continue to claim its place and relevance in an ever-changing Asian communications landscape." The Inquirer (Manila), 18 April 2009..

The need for Australian international broadcasting to its "neighbourhood."

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The ABC and Australia risk getting drowned in the growing proliferation of broadcast voices. The Japanese, the Russians and the Germans have recently announced plans for new English television services in Asia and the Pacific. The easy call, particularly in a tough global economic environment, is to sit back and do nothing. We do not have that luxury. The ABC's regional footprint cannot be replicated. This is our neighbourhood. We are not London or Berlin calling." Mark Scott, managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 April 2009. Radio Australia's ability to serve Fiji during this crisis is hindered by unavailability of its former Darwin transmitting site (five 250-kW shortwave transmitters). The facility was sold in 1997 by the then Australian government. I argued against this sale in "Protecting a vital voice of Australia," The Age (Melbourne), 3 February 1997.
     "Radio Australia's FM transmitters in Fiji will remain off air for a month, Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama said on Friday." Radio Australia News, 17 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Americana: Letter From America minus "the Cooke alchemy" (updated).

Posted: 20 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio 4 has found a successor for the late Alistair Cooke's Letter From America, with the BBC's former Washington correspondent Matt Frei taking the presenter's chair. After months of deliberation, the BBC has unveiled details of a new weekly programme offering quirky insights into life on the other side of the Atlantic. However, thoughts of replicating Cooke's 15-minute monologues were swiftly abandoned amid the realisation that no other person could fill the shoes of the much-loved broadcaster, whose voice filled the airwaves for 58 years until his death in 2004 at the age of 95. Instead, the show, with the new title of Americana, will be anchored by Frei from the BBC's Washington bureau and will offer a mix of discussion, interviews and features, with a focus on the voices of ordinary Americans." The Telegraph, 18 April 2009.
     "Radio 4 boss Mark Damazer said Americana had come about as a result of Cooke's death in 2004. But he stressed that the new show, which will air on Sunday evenings, would not replace Letter From America. Damazer said: 'The Cooke alchemy could not be replicated. I did not think we should even try to find somebody to fill the large shoes.'" BBC News, 18 April 2009.
     "The BBC's bureau in the USA (headed by Justin Webb) is stuffed full of talent - but the correspondents all do - of necessity - the main US story of the day - even if it is for many different audiences. Every now and then Justin (or perhaps Kevin Connolly) pops up on From Our Own Correspondent and delivers a beltingly good lateral view of life and culture in America - but those pieces are neither regular nor billed. So I have for a while been thinking about a new programme that would ruminate about America in a way that you would not hear elsewhere on Radio 4." Mark Damazer, Radio 4 Blog, 18 April 2009.
     "A mix of discussion, interviews, and features" sounds like the same format of dozens of of set-piece BBC radio programs. Is the radio talk really a lost art?
     Will Americana be broadcast by BBC World Service as well as BBC Radio 4, as was Letter from America? Even though Letter from America was sometimes excluded from World Service at the hours it broadcast to North America, on the dubious logic that Americans don't want to hear about America, the program was nevertheless popular among US shortwave listeners.

     Update: David Murphy in Dresden reminds us: "It seems BBC WS has already made up its mind and has created its own programme, not Americana, which is called "Letter from...". So far I think only three programmes have been made. The format seems to be very similar 'Letter from America', with the difference that the speaker changes (so far the speakers have been Mark Tully and Clive James) and that the they have only 8 or 9 minutes to talk. But unlike Americana, the episode I heard featured just Clive James talking, no interviewees, music or other effects." See (and listen to) recent episodes.
     "Writer and broadcaster Clement Freud, a grandson of psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud, has died at the age of 84, his family said Thursday. ... The bearded former Liberal MP, a brother of the painter Lucian Freud, was known for his wit and was still a regular contributor on the BBC radio panel programme 'Just a Minute', broadcast on BBC World Service radio." AFP, 16 April 2009. Actually "Just a Minute" is another Radio 4 program that was also broadcast by World Service. And another favorite of US shortwave listeners.

Let's do this story for television. And for radio. And on the Web. And as a Tweet...

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mary Hockaday has been appointed as Head of the BBC Multimedia Newsroom. She replaces Peter Horrocks, who left BBC News this month to become the Director of the BBC World Service. ... The BBC Multimedia Newsroom was announced in October 2007 as part of the BBC’s Delivering Creative Futures plan. It went live officially in April 2008. Its creation has meant that one Multimedia Newsroom now brings together the strengths of the BBC’s three platforms – TV, radio and web – whilst also helping to save money to invest in the improvement of BBC News. Recently, the multimedia newsroom demonstrated its strengths and benefits with the coverage of the G20 summit and protests, the snow in February and President Obama’s inauguration. Content was effectively spread across the output. With new merged teams, and centralised systems for sharing, the BBC can now select and deliver the best and most powerful audio, visual and text accounts of these important events to TV, radio and web outlets more speedily, therefore serving audiences better." BBC press release, 17 April 2009.

In India, BBC spotters are gathering by the tracks (updated).

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC has commissioned an exclusive India Election Train, which starts on April 25 and will have the reporters from BBC's Global News division covering different cities in the country by train till May 13. This initiative aims to deliver its international audiences a range of news from across India during the General Elections 2009. BBC has taken a train from Indian Railways for this project and the coaches of the train will have BBC branding all over them. ... The media house will have reporters from various verticals including BBC World Service English, BBC Hindi, BBC Urdu, BBC Tamil, BBC Bengali, BBC Somali, BBC Swahili, BBC Burmese, BBC Vietnamese, BBC World News television, Arabic TV, Persian TV and BBC.Com/news." Televisionpoint.com, 9 April 2009.
     Update: Interview with Nazes Afroz, executive editor of South Asia region, BBC World Service: "How important would be the online aspect of the exercise? Afroz: Online is indeed a very big platform of the BBC in delivering news and it’s growing very fast. The BBC has launched two election special websites in English and in Hindi to cater to the Internet community (news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/south_asia/2009/indi_election/default.stm and www.bbc.co.uk/hindi/indiaelection/). Both these sites will encompass a lot of original reportage, in-depth analyses by leading analysts, user generated content, interesting information about the Indian elections, photo features, audio reports, videos etc. This exercise is certainly much bigger than the past elections. There’ll be dedicated online reporters on the train reporting as well as writing blogs." The Statesman (Kolkata), 18 April 2009.

BBC Trust does not trust the news judgment of BBC's Middle East editor.

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Trust yesterday called into question the corporation's reporting of the most sensitive news story of modern times, publishing findings that the BBC Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, had breached guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. The ruling will be seized upon by campaigners who claim that BBC News is prejudiced against Israel in its coverage of the Middle East. But the decision to censure Bowen caused anger within the BBC, with some alleging that the trust, which oversees the corporation, was undermining the credibility of its news." The Independent, 16 April 2009.
     "The decision of the BBC Trust's editorial standards committee to censure the BBC's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, for breaching the Corporation's guidelines on accuracy and impartiality demonstrates a terrible absence of good judgement. Mr Bowen's work has always been scrupulously unbiased. The BBC Trust needs to learn that accountability does not mean swallowing every complaint uncritically. When a good journalist needs to be robustly defended, it must not be afraid to do so." Leader, The Independent, 16 April 2009.

International broadcaster gets cake, interview from PM (updated).

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Gordon Brown has presented Sir David Frost with a cake to celebrate the veteran broadcaster's 70th birthday this week. Sir David interviewed the Prime Minister for Al Jazeera English on Wednesday, the day after he reached seven decades. In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Brown said London could establish itself as a leading financial centre if it led the way with reforms now." Press Association, 10 April 2009.
     Update: "What a shame that Sir David Frost, the legendary interviewer, has been lost to mainstream television – his disarming style would, surely, have prompted a couple of Ministerial resignations by now over the recession and expenses storm. He was at his best the other day when, as part of his 70th birthday celebrations, he interviewed one Gordon Brown for the Al Jazeera English satellite channel. Sir David forced Brown to admit that his fiscal changes will show 'that London is capable of being a great, great financial centre for the future'. In other words, the PM contends that London is now trailing behind the likes of Tokyo, Frankfurt and New York when it comes to high-finance. ... Would the all-too-predictable Andrew Marr – Sir David's inadequate replacement on the BBC – have prompted such an admission? No." Tom Richmond, Yorkshire Post, 18 April 2009.

The Obama-Telesur connection.

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Before Obama began a closed-door meeting with the leaders of UNASUR, an association of the 12 South American nations, Chavez walked around the u-shaped table and handed him a book, 'Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina,' or 'The Open Veins of Latin America.' Cameras clicked, tape rolled. The work, originally published in 1970, is probably the best known by Eduardo Galeano, an Uruguayan writer of socialist leanings. It explores the history of European colonization of Latin America and what Galeano believes is the malign political and economic influence the United States has exerted over the region in recent decades. Galeano was persecuted in the 1970s by military juntas in Uruguay and Argentina, both recognized by the U.S. government. He now serves on the advisory board of TeleSUR, a South America-wide satellite channel based in Caracas, Venezuela. Chavez's communications ministry oversees the channel." Washington Post, 18 April 2009.

Which direction for satellite television reception in Cuba?

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The DirecTV satellite dish, propped up by a pair of old 15-pound weights, stands by an open window in an apartment in the Vedado neighborhood. The dish is aimed north at the gray sky above the seaside Malecon, in a country where satellite TV is off limits to ordinary citizens. ... While Washington has now authorized satellite radio and television service links with the island, many Cubans doubt the communist state will allow a greater flow of information. Authorities restrict satellite TV and Internet services, so many hookups are illegal and signals pirated. Concealed on rooftops, balconies or just inside opened windows throughout the capital, thousands of illegal satellite antennas have become a way for Cubans to circumvent the government's tight grip on entertainment and information." Ray Sanchez, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 19 April 2009. Any satellite dish in the Northern Hemisphere, which includes Cuba, would have to be pointed south to see a geosynchronous satellite.
     President Obama "has directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce to take the needed steps to ... License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba. ... License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba." White House press release, 13 April 2009.

Some sort of VOA deal in Mongolia.

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America broadcasting service has put forward a cooperation proposal to the MONTSAME national news agency of Mongolia. On April 14, the MONTSAME agency was visited by Director of the VOA Office of Marketing and Program Placement Doug Boynton and Regional Marketing Officer for Asia and Pacific Neal Lavon. They held a meeting with MONTSAME Director-General T.Baasansuren to discuss cooperation issues. The sides agreed to draft cooperation agreement." Montsame, 15 April 2009. I don't know anything about this, but it seems an example of VOA's increasing partnerships with other than radio media, based perhaps on text from voanews.com.

Proliferation of global media dilutes the "American narrative."

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the global battle for hearts and minds, America once had the metaphorical upper hand because we dominated the flow of images, icons and information, not to speak of English being the lingua franca, thanks not only to American hegemony but that of the British Empire before it. The democratization of media through technology is making that less true every day. Where CNN, MGM and BBC once ruled, now there are 75 million Chinese blogs, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and the Dubai Film Festival, as well as 200 satellite channels across the Arab world. A proliferation of jihadist websites, which have joined benign tele-Muslims like Egypt's Amr Khaled in competing for the Arab soul, are every bit as influential as YouTube or Facebook in their own demographic. Where once American soap operas like Days of Our Lives filled boob tubes globally, now Brazilian, Mexican or Korean daytime TV shows have as great or even greater appeal. ... Despite America's considerable technological and higher-educational prowess, we can, therefore, no longer assume, as we did in the triumphant days after the end of the cold war, that global public opinion will buy into the American narrative." Nathan Gardels and Mike Medavoy, The Nation, 15 April 2009. Interesting essay (from forthcoming book), although I wouldn't use the phrase "democratization of media." Many of the new media outlets represent entities that are not very, or at all, democratic. Perhaps "proliferation of media" would be better, or "diversification," or "pluralization."

Seven questions via seven social media sites.

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will hold a digital town hall meeting April 17 while traveling in the Caribbean for a summit meeting of heads of state from the Western Hemisphere. ... Questions can be submitted online before the event, and Clinton will also take them from the in-person audience. The event will be streamed live on the department’s Social Media Hub for the Fifth Summit of Americas, powered by Howcast. The content also will be featured on social-media sites Ustream, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Orkut and hi5, the department said." Federal Computer Week, 16 April 2009. Secretary Clinton took seven questions. State Department, 17 April 2009.

We do not always have to create a new bureaucracy. But we do.

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"When we think of U.S. 'soft power' and influence, we do not always have to create a new government bureaucracy or program. These do not tend to work very well, as the underwhelming results of aid programs and so-called 'public diplomacy' attest. Yet the United States wields tremendous influence through the activities of its private citizens, as long as we approach our humanitarian efforts with a healthy skepticism." Mauro De Lorenzo, Frank via American Enterprise Institute, 15 April 2009.

Glassman re McHale, and Lynch re Glassman re Lynch re McHale.

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Previous under secretary for public diplomacy James Glassman's advice for his designated successor, Judith McHale: "'I would urge her to not simply talk to the people in the building,' Glassman said. 'She needs to understand how the office works within the State Department, but she should also get out and talk to the key players in the interagencies.' He cited the Defense Department as the most crucial agency relationship." National Journal, 16 April 2009.
     "My worry is that, while the Obama administration talks about the importance of soft power, it has shown no indication that it understands the effort to be more than messaging — or perhaps, more than showing up and not being the Bush Administration. Public diplomacy requires strategic goals. Ours were to promote freedom and reduce threats primarily by undermining a dangerous ideology and diverting young people from following the path that leads to violent extremism. This is hard stuff. Her career shows that Judith McHale certainly has the drive and talent to do the job. The bigger issue is what she thinks the job is." James K. Glassman blog, 24 March 2009. Mr. Glassman's blog seems to have petered out on 5 April.
     "I have nothing against Judith McHale! ... The President and the good folks at the NSC have been exemplary on the public diplomacy front thus far, but they can't do it alone -- they need the kind of sustained, ongoing engagement across all levels which the appropriate State Department agencies can and must provide." Marc Lynch, FP.com blog, 17 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Pentagon's strategic withdrawal from public diplomacy turf.

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"A Pentagon office responsible for coordinating Defense Department information campaigns overseas has been abolished in an effort by the Obama administration to distance itself from past practices that some military officers called propaganda, senior officials said. Military and civilian critics said the office, the Defense Department office for support to public diplomacy, overstepped its mandate during the final years of the Bush administration by trying to organize information operations that violated Pentagon guidelines for accuracy and transparency. ... Senior Pentagon officials said the decision to close the office was made by Michele A. Flournoy, the new under secretary of defense for policy, and was meant to ensure that global communications efforts by the Defense Department and military would be aligned with the rest of the government." Thom Shanker, New York Times, 15 April 2009.
     A rationalization of U.S. international communication may be under way: 1)Public diplomacy will be the purview of the State Department's public diplomacy section. 2) The Pentagon will limit itself to information operations in areas where forces are deployed. 3) International broadcasting, under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, will provide news. The first two will have to coordinate, to make sure their messages are on the same page. The third must not coordinate with the first two, or it won't be genuine news.

Death of Cliff Groce, VOA manager from 1950s to 1980s.

Posted: 19 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Mr. Groce, 84, was former deputy program manager of the Voice of America. "As an editor, writer and broadcaster, he was a pioneer producer of Music USA, the jazz program hosted by the legendary Willis Conover for more than three decades. ... He served under five VOA directors and led a group advocating separation of the Voice from its parent United States Information Agency (USIA), in the final months of the Ford administration in 1976. ... VOA, however, remained a part of USIA until that agency was consolidated within the State Department in 1999. With the advent of the Reagan administration, Mr. Groce was among a dozen VOA senior managers who were reassigned or retired in late 1981 and early 1982." From submitted obituary.

Congressman speaks softly to remind world of America's big stick.

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"I think that is important that we show strength in what we do. I think that is why it is so important that we have a strong military and that it is the appropriate and right-size military for the world we live in today. But just being with you, this great opportunity to be here and speak on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, this is the kind of thing that is just as important as having military strength and being respected. So we are speaking to your listeners softy but I think [former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt] was right when he said we need to carry a big stick." Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA), interviewed by RFE/RL, 17 April 2008.

RFA's pseudonym in Burma.

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"'The breakfast-time broadcast featured formations of servicemen standing at attention on a massive parade ground as the commander in chief, Sr. Gen. Than Shwe, reviewed them from an open-air stretch limousine. Then he spoke to the troops about the importance of preserving unity. I watched for awhile in my hotel room and, with an hour to go in the broadcast, went downstairs for breakfast. The television in the lobby was tuned to a Japanese soap opera.' Tyler Chapman is a pseudonym to protect the author's sources. This is his second visit to Burma for Radio Free Asia." RFA, 17 April 2009.

Harassed in China for a VOA interview?

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"According to information received by Human Rights in China (HRIC), Zheng Enchong (郑恩宠), a Shanghai-based rights defense lawyer, was detained by the police for ten hours on April 15, 2009. It was the fifth time over the past week that Zheng was summoned by the police. Zheng Enchong believes that the harassment by the authorities is chiefly because he recently accepted an interview with Voice of America." HRIC, 15 April 2009.

"U.S. Start of Smear Broadcasting against DPRK Flailed."

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"VOA kicked off its smear broadcasting against the DPRK in the area near the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). This goes to prove that the U.S. remains unchanged in its ulterior intention to stifle the DPRK at any cost and the former's psychological warfare aimed at undermining and destabilizing the latter is getting more undisguised in its form and contents. Minju Joson Friday observes in a signed commentary in this regard: ... The south Korean puppets should clearly know that they have perpetrated another unpardonable crime against the nation by joining the U.S. in its criminal move to do harm to compatriots. The DPRK will surely settle accounts with the south Korean puppets for this crime and force them to pay for it. The U.S. would be well advised to roll back its hostile policy towards the DPRK, bearing deep in mind that neither psychological warfare nor military confrontation works on the DPRK." Korean Central News Agency, 17 April 2009. Almost certainly referring to the new relay of VOA Korean by FEBC Seoul, 1188 kHz medium wave. See previous post.
     "South Korean videos and DVDs that are smuggled over the Chinese border into the North have had a profound effect on the country’s political mindset, forcing the North Korean government to redraft its catalogue of propaganda about its rich democratic neighbour. Pyongyang can no longer tell its people that the South is as poor as the North – it must now resort to accusing it of being a morally bankrupt Babylon. [Stage musical] Great Show’s plot also overlaps with [North Korean defector Jung Sung-san's] own story, as he was arrested for listening to a South Korean shortwave broadcast – officially, North Koreans can only buy radios set to the one approved state frequency. ... Although North Korean black-market favourites now include Desperate Housewives and Mr Bean, Jung had seen no films from outside the socialist sphere before fleeing except for a few of Sean Connery’s outings as James Bond." Financial Times, 16 April 2009.
     "Once more North Korea throws its nuclear baby-rattle out of the crib. Yet again it checks whether the adult world will continue ignoring its cries. This is the way it goes in Pyongyang: By acting like an infant, it reestablishes its reputation for conducting public diplomacy the only way it knows how." Tom Plate, Jakarta Post, 18 April 2009.

VOA representative honors VOA campus.

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Miami University’s Voice of America Learning center will be a connection to the world, President David Hodge said Friday, April 17, during an official dedication ceremony of the new building. ... The VOALC opened this fall after years of planning and preparation and Hodge stressed the connection with the local Voice of America museum and the Voice of America in Washington, D.C. 'I’m not sure we’re in the business of broadcasting the truth, but we’re in the business of seeking the truth,' Hodge said. John Stevenson of the VOA spoke of the history of the radio station and its goal to bring the truth to the world. 'This is just amazing,' he said of the VOALC. 'I hope to be sort of a conduit from this Voice of America to the one in Washington. I’m glad we share a common history.'" Middletown (OH) Journal, 18 April 2009. See previous post about same subject. At the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting site, which I had the pleasure of visiting when it was still transmitting.

Does Rhythm Road pass through the wrong bureaucratic neighborhood?

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Rhythm Road, a programme run by the State Department and a non-profit organisation, Jazz at Lincoln Centre, has made informal diplomats out of both musicians and audiences. Since it began in 2005, musicians have travelled to 96 countries. One band went to Mauritania after last year’s coup; many depart for countries that have strained relationships with America. The musicians travel to places where some people have never seen an American. ... The State Department spent $10m on cultural diplomacy programmes in the year to September 30th 2008. But most expect funding for the initiative to increase under Barack Obama, who pledged his support for cultural diplomacy during his campaign. Rhythm Road now sends out hip-hop and bluegrass bands as well. There are some dissenters. Nick Cull, the director of the Public Diplomacy Programme at the University of Southern California, thinks that these diplomatic projects would be more productive if they were not administered by the same agency that oversees the country’s foreign-policy agenda." The Economist, 16 April 2009.

Another old VOA music recording -- this time classical.

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Earl Wild in Concert, Volume I ... Culled from diverse, live concert venues 1951-1982, this disc celebrates the tireless virtuosity of American pianist Earl Wild (b. 1915) in repertory... The 'find' on this fine disc is the (16 November 1951) debut from Carnegie Hall of the Suite in D Minor by Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707) whom Bach much admired. The tape of the concert, recorded by the Voice of America, was discovered by Michael Rolland Davis. In slightly muffled sonics, Wild presents the six-movement suite as a study in keyboard 'lute' tablature transcribed to the modern grand piano." Audiophile Audition, 15 April 2009. Recorded in New York when VOA was still located in New York.

Pakistani football girls visit VOA.

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Ten girls who are soccer stars in Pakistan toured the Voice of America (VOA), with one saying the team's visit to the United States would be an inspiration to others in her native country. ... VOA's Urdu and Pashto services interviewed the girls, who range in age from 12-21 and are from Rawalpindi and Islamabad. ... The team also learned about Title IX, the U.S. law that requires equal opportunity for young female athletes." Media Newsline (New Delhi), 18 April 2009. I wondered why an Indian publication would use the word "soccer," until I discovered this is a reprint of VOA press release, 17 April 2009.

VOA broadcaster delivers assistance to Sierra Leone.

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"US-based Sierra Leonean journalist, Sulaiman Tarawalie, has brought assistance to amputees at Jui with a total of 26 brand new wheel chairs worth thousands of dollars. ... In his address, Mr. Tarawalie, who practices journalism with the Voice of America (VOA), made it clear that the donation was made by a humanitarian organization based in Connecticut, USA, called Chariot of Hope." Awareness Times (Freetown), 14 April 2009.

With shift in US Cuba policy, commentators mention Radio/TV Martí.

Posted: 18 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Washington should "give serious consideration to ... terminating Radio and TV Marti." Peter McKenna and John M. Kirk, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 15 April 2009.
     "Increased travel and money transfers will not create regime change in Cuba. But they are key openings that could lead to future democratic freedoms similar to those in other closed societies. The direct integration of Cuban-American life is more powerful than radio diatribes beamed from Miami to Havana via Radio Martí." Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 14 April 2009.
     "Senator Barack Obama differed with Bush on some Cuba policies. ... He voted against funding TV-Marti, saying it was a waste of taxpayer money." From excerpt from Reese Erlich, Dateline Havana: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Future of Cuba, via Howie Klein, Huffington Post, 13 April 2009.
     A report of the Center for Democracy in the Americas recommends "shutting down TV Marti; and shutting down Radio Marti or transferring its management to the Voice of America in Washington." CDA press release, 18 April 2009, referring to report cited in previous post, 14 January 2009.
     "Larry Klayman's Freedom Watch has filed an unprecedented class action lawsuit against the Venezuelan dictator and strong man, Hugo Chavez. ... Klayman's lawsuit seeks damages from Chavez and his cronies for assault, supporting terrorism, crimes against humanity, violations of civil and human rights and torture of members of the class Klayman is representing including lead plaintiff Ricardo Guanipa, a Venezuelan citizen currently living in Miami. Guanipa was a reporter for El Nacional in the 1990's when he investigated and reported on allegations of drug trafficking and money laundering by top government officials in Venezuela and Cuba including defendant Chavez, and afterward was forced to flee his native country after receiving death threats, assaults and intimidation from plaintiffs [sic], the lawsuit charges. Also with Radio Marti in Venezuela, Guanipa was granted political asylum in the U.S." Freedom Watch press release, undated. Another undated, thus worthless, press release. Other sources suggest it is 16 April 2009.

IFC Media Project on Al Jazeera in the USA.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
On the IFC Media Project, 3 May: "The feature segment, hosted by former Al Jazeera producer Robb Wood, takes a look at the lack of availability of Al Jazeera English in the U.S. This segment includes interviews with Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, a driving force behind the movement to ban the channel, as well as members of the anti-Al Jazeera 'Vermont Defenders League.' Allan Block of Buckeye Cable in Ohio, the only cable operator in the U.S. currently airing the channel, is also profiled. ... This episode also features an interview with BBC executive producer and creator of 'B[B]C World News America,' Rome Hartman, regarding international vs. U.S. context within news stories." IFC Media website. Actually, the Burlington cable system is also still carrying Al Jazeera English.

CNN domestic anchor would model his channel after CNN International.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"In keeping with a career that has seen assignments from the White House to Kashmir, [CNN anchor John] Roberts said if he were able to start his own network, he would probably model it on CNN International. 'I have a real interest in international news, and CNN-I does a lot more of that than CNN domestic does. I’d probably never put a car chase on the air,' he said." Fordham University press release, 9 April 2009. Just as more Americans should be able to receive Al Jazeera English, BBC World News, France 24, Russia Today, etc., they should also be able to receive CNN International.

CNN: serious about Twitter.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"So serious is CNN about Twitter that it has incorporated it into a number of shows, notably Rick Sanchez's interactive news hour – broadcast only in the US. But other CNN anchors are active on the site, with British-born Richard Quest, who presents a nightly business show on CNN International, a regular tweeter. Journalists at the channel are using the tool as a way of not only disseminating stories, but also to ask for case studies and get feedback on certain subjects." The Telegraph, 17 April 2009. Audience journalism may not be so new. In the late 1990s, on my VOA program "Communications World,", I was receiving and using media news from my listeners sent by e-mail, as well as audio of radio stations they were hearing, and even pictures of their satellite reception, used on my program's website. Even before that, Jonathan Marks was doing the same on Radio Netherlands' "Media Network."

BBC Russian added to Nokia internet radio app.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has added its Russian-language radio channel to Nokia's Internet Radio application on mobile devices, in the latest series of agreements between BBC World Service and Nokia. The Russian channel will be added to three audio channels currently available – BBC World Service in English, BBC World Service's 24-hour rolling news in English, and BBC Arabic. The newly extended BBC content will be available on selected Nokia device models through the company's Internet Radio application. ... Ruxandra Obreja, Controller, BBC World Service Business Development, says: ... 'It's another way of connecting with our audiences and is particularly significant in Russia, which is at the forefront of the mobile market.'" BBC World Service press release, 15 April 2009. Almost the same document is a "special report" at BBC World Service website, 16 April 2009. With BBCWS Russian taken off Russian FM stations in 2007 (see previous post), this provides a new opportunity to reach Russian audiences, as long as Russian ISPs are not obliged to block BBC content.

BBC World News as buzz and chatter.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"I like to work with BBC World News on in the background over here in Budapest. Working on your own is fine but you get used to noises of a busy(ish) editorial office so its nice to have some buzz and chatter on in the background - which is exactly what the BBC excels at. The downside is that the Beeb - although not as bad as CNN for this - tends to loop the same reports over and over again." Andrew Donoghue, ZDNet.co.uk, 16 April 2009.

BBC World News America EP on crying anchors.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Rome Hartman, executive producer of BBC World News America: "Anchors are human beings, and if something is real and emotion is real, and frankly the events or news that produces that emotion are real, it's hugely powerful, and it's appropriate...Where I have a problem with it is when it's manufactured more to draw an audience or as part of a business plan...I aspire to never have anyone cry on our program ever again. If it happens and it's real, fine." mediabistro.com, 14 April 2009. "Oh, and for all the anti-Twitterers out there — Hartman is on your side." mediabistro.com, 14 April 2009.

The new media in the Arab world versus elsewhere.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Tarek Esber, senior analyst for Al Jazeera Mobile & New Media. "How does uptake/use of new media differ in the Arab and western world? Esber: ... Social media, in particular, seems to have really been embraced in the Arab world. There are more and more interesting Arab voices in the blogosphere everyday opening up their cities, their lives and their countries policies to the whole world. There are also a good number of Arab Social Media Services and more are being created every month. There is WatWet, the Arab Twitter and Ikbis which is usually referred to as the Arab YouTube. There are also Arab blogging platforms such as Maktoob. ... The biggest difference for me though is the reason people use the services. I feel that in some parts of the Arab world the services are mainly used as a way to escape restrictions in daily life. As with the example above about Egypt, it gives young people the chance to talk about their lives and their governments in a way they can’t do in public. That’s not to say people in the west don’t do the same, I just get the impression that it’s more widespread in the Arab world." Judith Townend, journalism.co.uk, 15 April 2009.

Al Jazeera interview with Richard Armitage widely cited by news media.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"A former No. 2 State Department official in the Bush administration says he hopes he would have had the courage to resign if he had known the CIA was subjecting terrorism suspects to waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning. Richard Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, told Al Jazeera English television in an interview airing Wednesday that waterboarding is torture." AP, 16 April 2009.
     "The interview will air at 2:00 a.m. eastern time April 16th, but is available almost nowhere in the United States because cable and satellite providers have declined to work with Al Jazeera English. We'll post video of the interview when it's available." Ryan Grim, Huffington Post, 15 April 2009. See also Aljazeera.net, 16 April 2009.

Al Jazeera's Guantánamo scoop.

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"A young Guantanamo prisoner from Chad was given permission to telephone a relative but instead called the al Jazeera television network and said he was being beaten and abused at the U.S. detention camp. Transcripts of the recorded interview with Guantanamo captive Mohammad el Gharani were posted on the Qatar-based television network’s English-language website on Tuesday. It was the first known interview with a captive held behind the razor-wire encampments at Guantanamo, which journalists are allowed to visit only if they sign an agreement not speak to any prisoners." Reuters, 15 April 2009.
     "A prison camps spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, said there was 'no evidence to substantiate these claims and all credible allegations are fully investigated.' Moreover, the commander said, Camp Iguana captives are entitled to weekly family phone calls. Gharani called a relative's 'vetted number,' and an al Jazeera reporter apparently answered. ... DeWalt said this was the first known prison camps news media interview, even remotely, 'because we do not subject the detainees to direct media access, interviews and all that.' He said interviews are banned under an interpretation of the Geneva Conventions." Miami Herald, 14 April 2009. See also The Lede blog, New York Times, 15 April 2009.
     Al Jazeera's report: Aljazeera.net, 15 April 2009. Video: aljazeera.net, 15 April 2009. "The US state department has refused to comment on a claim that guards at Guantanamo Bay prison camp abused a Chadian prisoner held there." Aljazeera.net, 16 April 2009.
     "QUESTION: Sir, our network, Al Jazeera English, aired a phone conversation yesterday. One of the prisoners from Guantanamo within the prison called one of our reporters. And he is alleging abuses committed against him since the Obama Administration took control of Guantanamo. The Chad ambassador – the citizen is from Chad, the detainee is a citizen of Chad – already expressed his concern. I wanted to know what the State Department is planning to do to guarantee that this outrage -- MR. WOOD: I’d just refer you to the Justice Department on that issue. ... QUESTION [from another reporter]: Mr. Wood, with all due respect, the Guantanamo incident is not only pertaining to the Justice Department. It has diplomatic implications. And as I said, the ambassadors – some ambassadors have already raised their concern. It’s hard to believe that the State Department doesn’t have any comment on this. MR. WOOD: I don’t have anything further than what I’ve said." State Department press briefing, 15 April 2009.
     "More claims of mistreatment of detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay have emerged after Al Jazeera obtained a letter from an inmate saying he had been abused since the Obama administration came to power." Aljazeera.net, 16 April 2009.
     "US Guantanamo guard converts to Islam. ... He was a US soldier and he says he saw something in the behaviour of the inmates that changed him." Aljazeera.net, 13 April 2009. See previous post about Guantánamo.

Calling North Korea on a shoestring budget (updated).

Posted: 17 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Half a dozen Seoul-based operations ... each day dispatch news and opinions into North Korea. Some, like Open Radio, are the work of concerned outsiders. Others are run by defectors, many of whom use pseudonyms because they know vengeful officials could persecute family and friends left behind. Most are small shops with a few reporters, editors and newsreaders. They broadcast only a few hours each day over fragile shortwave radio bands, operating on shoestring budgets with private donations. Considering the shortage of radios in North Korea and the penalty for owning one, the broadcasters don't know how many people actually hear their voices." John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times, 12 April 2009. The penalty is not for owning a radio, but for owning one that tunes other than North Korea's government stations.
     Update: "In order for civilian radios [broadcasting to North Korea] to establish strong roots, they should be allotted stable frequencies. The program production rate has risen significantly in the last three to four years, but the actual reception rate in North Korea has not been so great. An alternative solution is for the South Korean administration to relinquish some frequencies that they maintain exclusive rights of, especially if the government does not have a plan to produce radio programs for North Korean civilians in the near future." Open Radio for North Korea director Han Gwang Hee, interviewed by The Daily NK, 15 April 2009.

CNN International will go green, right down to its logo.

Posted: 16 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Building upon the success of the Green Week franchise, CNN International expands its environmental coverage this year with special Earth Day reports on April 22, and plans additional specials in July and October and a series of comprehensive reports around the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December. ... From specific signature newscasts to business shows, the network will focus its attention on everything green and help make sense of what it means to be green today. In addition, CNN International will change the network's signature red logo to green during the coverage. ... Throughout the day, CNN International will engage their international audiences asking them what they are doing to be green." CNN, 14 April 2009.

Radio Canada International resumes English, French shortwave to Europe, filling Ukrainian void.

Posted: 16 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"RCI is pleased to announce that, as of 3 April 2009, we will be reintroducing an English broadcast to Europe on shortwave. The broadcast will be aired on Saturdays from 1700 to 1759 UT on 5850 kHz. ... Nous voulons informer nos auditeurs en Europe que nous ajouterons une nouvelle tranche horaire en ondes courtes pour l'Europe en français, à partir du 3 avril 2009. Nous diffuserons en français le vendredi et le dimanche du 1700 à 1759 UT sur 5850 kHz." Via Chris Lewis and José Bueno, reporting to DX Listening Digest, 5 April 2009. "The rest of the story: these replace the just-cancelled Ukrainian service." Glenn Hauser, ibid.
     "The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) calls upon CBC Radio Canada International (RCI) to overturn their decision to permanently shutdown the Ukrainian Section of RCI effective this week after 57 years of service to Canada." Daniel Say, alt.radio.networks.cbc, via Mike Cooper, ibid.
     Further discussion about the RCI Action Committee employing Facebook and Twitter to fight the RCI cuts in DX Listening Digest, 8 April 2009. See also RCI Action Committee website. See previous post about same subject.

Fiji newspaper refuses to accept RNZI ad.

Posted: 16 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Fiji Times newspaper has refused to accept an advertisement from Radio New Zealand International. RNZI sought to place the advertisement to inform Fiji about how to listen to its broadcasts after Fiji’s interim government ordered the shutdown of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s FM radio transmitters in Fiji. The ABC’s service includes a daily RNZI programme. Radio New Zealand’s Communications Manager John Barr says they merely wanted to remind listerners in Fiji of the frequencies to tune in to RNZI. 'The response that we got back from the Fiji Times was that they could not accept the advertisement from Radio New Zealand. They considered it provocative and it would potentially result in difficulties for their senior staff.' Radio New Zealand International continues to broadcast into Fiji on shortwave radio and the internet." RNZI, 16 April 2009.
     "Fiji's chief censor says foreign journalists are welcome to apply for a visa to visit the Pacific nation, but they must report 'responsibly'." Australia Network News, 16 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.

In India, to get news on the radio, listen to AIR, or listen to shortwave (updated).

Posted: 15 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The floodgates are set to open for satellite radio services in the country with the government finalising a fresh set of policy guidelines. ... Religious organizations and political parties will be barred from setting up the channels. Private news channels are not allowed, but talk and current affairs are. News broadcasts or audio feeds of state-run All India Radio and Doordarshan will be allowed. ... The move opens up the field for others to compete with WorldSpace, which beams programmes from Singapore and hosts a variety of programmes, including in regional Indian languages." Hindustan Times, 12 April 2009. VOA Hindi dropped its radio broadcasts in 2008. To fill the radio news void, perhaps Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty will add a Hindi Service. Or would it be Radio Free Asia? No, actually, RFE/RL and RFA would likely both add Hindi services. VOA, seeing this new competition, would restore its Hindi radio service. Then there would be three US government funded Hindi radio services with largely the same content. Just a prediction. Bet on it.
     Update: "World Space, in a official communiqué to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, said that the company would divest 26 per cent equity in favour of Indian equity investors, within a five-year timeframe. This will be in consonance with the new licensing regime proposed by the government. However, the government has offered World Space India, a three-year deadline to migrate into the new licensing regime. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of World Space Asia based in Singapore. At present, World Space provides 34 radio channels in India that include BBC World and London-based WRN news channels." Televisionpoint.com, 15 April 2009. BBC World Service and a some other stations will have to be dropped from the Worldspace lineup, because they include news.

RNZI will transmit football tournament to Pacific region.

Posted: 15 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) have announced an exciting new partnership that will provide full coverage of the upcoming OFC U-17 Championship to football fans throughout the Pacific region. The agreement sees OFC granting RNZI exclusive rights for the tournament, which takes place at Auckland’s North Harbour Stadium from 20-24 April and will determine who out of New Caledonia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Vanuatu will represent Oceania at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009. ... Coverage kicks off at 12.30 NZ time (0030 UTC) on Monday 20 April and can be heard on 13730 kHz (AM) in the 21 metre band for analogue short-wave listeners and on 15720 kHz in the 19 metre band for DRM listeners, and as a live stream on www.rnzi.com." OFC via Fijilive, 15 April 2009.

Let's hope the D-Link booth is not next to the DRM booth at the NAB.

Posted: 15 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"On April 21 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Continental Electronics booth (N7007) at the NAB Show [National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas], executives from several companies will discuss the benefits, features, receivers and transmitters of the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) system. ... A Q&A session will be held after the presentations. A drinks reception will follow after that." Radio, 14 April 2009. See also new DRM promotional video. See previous post about DRM.

Owners of the D-Link DHP-303 probably won't be able to hear Jupiter.

Posted: 15 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"An amateur radio astronomer from New Mexico recently received some strange signals in the form of pops and crackles on his shortwave radio receiver. These signals were not coming from anywhere on Earth, far from it. The strange sounds were radio storms firing on Jupiter! These radio storms are nothing new for the giant planet, we have known that Jupiter produces strong shortwave radio bursts detectable from Earth for some time now. This is making news because 2009 is actually going to be an excellent year to listen for these storms if you are so inclined. Many of you know we are in the depths of a solar minimum right now, and low solar activity increases the transparency of Earth's atmosphere to shortwave radio signals. This allows signals from Jupiter to more easily reach us. At the same time, radio interference here on Earth decreases, so Jupiter bursts are easier to identify." Lisa Beightol, Astronomy Weather Blog, AccuWeather.com, 14 April 2009.

D-Link introduces home shortwave jamming kit.

Posted: 15 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"D-Link ... today introduced its next-generation PowerLine adapter kit, an ideal solution for connecting computers, high-definition (HD) media players, game consoles, network attached storage (NAS), and Internet content throughout the home. With the new D-Link® PowerLine HD Ethernet Adapter Starter Kit (DHP-303) anyone can take advantage of existing home electrical wiring to create or extend a network. ... Interference from devices that emit electrical noise, such as vacuum cleaners and hair dryers, may adversely affect the performance of this product. This product may interfere with devices such as lighting systems that have a dimmer switch or a touch-sensitive on/off feature, short wave radios, or other powerline devices that do not follow the Universal Powerline Association (UPA) standard." D-Link press release, 15 April 2009.

When the going gets tough, Fiji's news consumers go for their shortwave radios.

Posted: 15 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said local technicians had been ordered by the military government to shut down two FM relay stations in the capital Suva and the western sugar town of Nadi. But ABC said its Radio Australia news programme was still broadcasting on shortwave transmitters. Raw Fiji News (www.rawfijinews.wordpress.com) reported that some internet cafes had been told to close, while 'internet investigators' inspect business permits, software and archives." Reuters, 15 April 2009.
     "The director of the ABC's international operations, Murray Green, says the shutdown of the transmitters removes one of the few remaining uncensored sources of information in Fiji. 'Fiji's had a great tradition of independent journalism,' he said. 'That appears, at least for the moment, to have come to an end.' ... Radio Australia is still being heard in Fiji on its shortwave transmitters." ABC News, 15 April 2009. Audio: Radio Australia, 15 April 2009.
     "Commodore [Frank] Bainimarama, who first took power in a 2006 coup, says Fiji does not need free and open public discussion about current issues. 'That was how we ended up with what we came up with in the last couple of days,' he told Radio New Zealand this morning. ... Until being shutdown today, Radio Australia had been been one of the few remaining sources of unfettered news and current affairs available in the country since the President scrapped the constitution last Friday and the interim government began enforcing censorship on local media outlets. This morning officers from Fiji's Ministry of Information, accompanied by soldiers, escorted local technicians to the ABC's transmitters in Suva and Nadi and ordered both of them to be shutdown. Local sources have since confirmed Radio Australia is off the air in both locations, but is still transmitting to Fiji and the Pacific on its shortwave service." Radio Australia News, 15 April 2009.
     "Fiji's military regime has forced the shut down of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) radio transmitters in Fiji, affecting Radio New Zealand International (RNZI). ... RNZI manager Linden Clark said its Dateline Pacific programme was affected by the shut down. Radio New Zealand International re-broadcasts programmes via the ABC. Ms Clark said RNZI was still able to broadcast on its shortwave transmitter." stuff.co.nz, 15 April 2009.
     "The shutdown also affects Radio New Zealand International whose weekday current affairs programme Dateline Pacific is rebroadcast by Radio Australia. The CEO of Fiji Broadcasting, Riyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says the transmitters were switched off today. 'We, at FBC Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited, facilitate Radio Australia’s transmissions in Fiji and were asked this morning by the Ministry of Information to switch off the transmission for Radio Australia whose equipment is housed on our sites in the west and just outside Suva.' The rebroadcast of Radio France International has not been cut. Radio Australia is still broadcasting to Fiji on short wave as is Radio New Zealand International. The curbs come amid reports by blog websites carrying news from Fiji that say internet cafe owners have been told to shut down while their business permits, internet networks, software, technology and archives are investigated and approved by government officials." RNZI, 15 April 2009.
     "Fiji's internet cafes are under pressure to close and government workers have lost web access after the country's military ruler declared that free speech 'causes trouble'. Freedom of speech must be curbed to allow the current regime to carry out new reforms, according to Commodore Frank Bainimarama. Asked about every country's need to have open and free discussions, the commodore replied: 'Not in Fiji.' Several blog websites carrying news from Fiji say internet cafe owners have been told to shut down while their business permits, internet networks, software, technology and archives are investigated and approved by government officials. The website Raw Fiji News says owners have so far resisted and access remains open. Blogs also claim workers have been denied internet access at work." Radio New Zealand News, 15 April 2009.
     "The local head of telecommunications company Vodafone says rumours that Fiji's interim government is monitoring phones and emails are untrue. Aslam Khan says Fiji does not have interception legislation to place phones and email accounts under surveillance. He says telephone and internet operators also don't have the equipment to conduct such procedures. Mr Khan says the interim government can control the internet by approaching Fintel, which operates Fiji's internet gateway. But he's told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program the interim government hasn't done this." Radio Australia News, 14 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.

McHale PD nomination is now official.

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
President Obama announces his "intent to nominate" Judith A. McHale as Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. "Ms. McHale is a leading media and communications executive whose career has been devoted to building companies and non-profit organizations dedicated to reaching out to and connecting people around the world. She is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications. ... The daughter of a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, McHale was born in New York City and grew up in Britain and apartheid-era South Africa. Before joining Discovery, McHale served as General Counsel for MTV Networks and helped guide the company’s international expansion." White House via MountainRunner.us, 14 April 2009. See also White House press release, 14 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.

The Turkish president's multiple exclusive interviews.

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"During an exclusive interview with Alhurra Television, Abdullah Gul, the President of Turkey, discussed the significance of President Obama’s visit to United States-Turkey relations, the role of Turkey in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Armenian-Turkish relations, as well as the impact of the growing role of Turkey in the region." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 13 April 2009.
     "This week, [Marketpleace Middle East] continues its exclusive interview with President Abdullah Gul, who elaborates on his thoughts about the new U.S. administration's approach to Iran, rebuilding Gaza and the future of Iraq." CNN International, 9 April 2009.
     "Exclusive interview" by Rudaw.net, 14 April 2009. Also interviewed by Financial Times, 8 April 2009.

Is South Africa getting African news via London and Paris?

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Africa-watchers know that media in South Africa is not strong in reporting African news. The best sources of news about this continent have their offices in London and Paris. I’m thankful that I can get a good dose of African news before I get out of bed every morning by listening to Network Africa on the BBC and Afrique Matin on Radio France Internationale. I’d also like to be able to open a South African newspaper and feel I’m getting a reasonable resume of what’s important in Africa at the time of printing." David Smith, Thought Leader blog, Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg), 10 April 2009.

"Eurovision Song Contest" and "sophisticated" spotted in same paragraph.

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Triangle and Stratos TV bring back iconic Eurovision Song Contest. The show that gave the world ABBA, Celine Dion, Cliff Richards, Julio Iglesias and even Riverdance is about to hit New Zealand television screens again in May. The Eurovision Song Contest is viewed each year by more than 100 million people throughout the world. Now it is returning to New Zealand screens thanks to the canny courting of the European Broadcasting Union by a Kiwi TV doyen. Jim Blackman, founder of the Triangle and Stratos Television channels, says the Eurovision Song Contest is a global television iconic event that’s been screening annuall[y] for 53 years. ... 'The Eurovision Song Contest screened in New Zealand more than three decades ago,' Blackman says. 'Bringing it back fits with Triangle and Stratos’ mission to provide NZ viewers an alternate window on the world, something we already do through the English version of Al Jazeera, PBS and other news and programming. New Zealanders have quite sophisticated and varied viewing tastes, which we know our programmes are helping to satisfy. The Eurovision Song Contest will add to Triangle and Stratos’ smorgasbord.'" Stratos press release, 14 April 2009. I don't know if the Eurovision Song Contest will be seen on any US channel. I watched it several years ago during a trip to the Netherlands and, bolstered by one or two glasses of wine, enjoyed it.

International channels to Sarasota.

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Bright House Networks, the primary cable provider in Manatee County [Florida], offered 13 new international channels last week. Viewers can subscribe to The Filipino Channel, Saigon Broadcasting Television Network, SET Asia (Hindi), RAITALIA (Italian), Arabic Radio and Television, TV5MONDE (French), Channel One Russia, ETTV-ET-Super (Chinese), TV JAPAN, Deutsche Welle (German), Television Korea, Antenna Satellite (Greek), and RTPI (Portuguese)." Sarasota Herald Tribune, 13 April 2009.

ABC's international services in the thick of Fiji's crisis.

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The ABC's Sean Dorney has been in Suva reporting for Australia Network Television News. He was detained by Immigration officials and he's to be deported today. ... With Fiji now under emergency law for the next month, new regulations have effectively put censors in every newsroom in the country, and they have the power to veto any story. Not only that, two foreign reporters, including ABC correspondent Sean Dorney, are being deported." Connect Asia, Radio Australia, 14 April 2009. For background about the Fiji story, see Radio Australia News, 13 April 2009.
     "Fiji's main television station has protested against new censorship regulations enacted by the President under the country's new legal order. Fiji's Constitution was abolished by the President on Friday. At six o'clock tonight in Fiji, televisions screens around the country informed viewers that Fiji One would not be broadcasting any news tonight. The simple message written across a black screen said: 'Viewers please be advised that there will be no 6PM News tonight.' The message stayed on the screen for about a minute before a standby program about fish began." Australia Network News, 12 April 2009.
     "Sources in Fiji have told Radio Australia the Fiji Times has been warned that if it continues to publish blank pages, the newspaper will be shut down and Publisher Anne Fussell will be deported." Radio Australia News, 12 April 2009.

Licensed to commit public relations.

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Turjuman Media Consultancy has launched the acclaimed International Public Relations License for the first time in the Arab World, in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), the professional body for PR practitioners in the UK. The launch ceremony [in Dubai] was attended by Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Hur, Director of Al Jazeera Media Training and Development Center... . The CIPR diploma - which is available in Arabic and English - aims to produce a new generation of public relations professionals, who will adopt the latest international public relations methods to avoid the incorrect application of public relations in the Arab region." Press release via Zawya, 13 April 2009.

Afterward the ships' crews celebrated by eating kung pao dolphin.

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday. The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China's fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China's. The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away." Xinhua, 14 April 2009.

Conover successor Russ Davis featured on internet TV show.

Posted: 14 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
On the next Jazz it Up! internet-based TV news series: "The JazzInsider segment focuses on the work of long-time jazz radio deejay Russ Davis, host of the Jazz America program heard worldwide on the Voice of America network." All About Jazz, 11 April 2009.
     Russ Davis is the successor to Willis Conover. His program is weekends on VOA Music Mix and is, apparently, not available on demand or as a podcast. As for listening live, even I, an international radio listener with 45 years experience, am flummoxed. It's available Saturday 1200 UTC, and Sunday at 0700, 1300, and 2000 UTC, depending on the Music Mix regional stream, according to this schedule. It can be heard via the stream available on this page, but first you'll have to determine which Music Mix regional stream is on the Music Mix live stream. It's also transmitted to Asia on shortwave, according to this program schedule (available within the VOA English to Africa web section), Saturday and Sunday at 1300 UTC (is Sunday a repeat of Saturday?), on 7575, 9510, and 9760 kHz, according to this transmission schedule, over in a different section of voanews.com. And, thus, Jazz America might also be available Saturday and Sunday at 1300 UTC via the Global Live live stream link (near the top of the page) at the voanews.com home page (which is now the VOANews.com English home page). Good luck.

Alhurra broadaster is 31 on list of top 50 Arab television presenters.

Posted: 13 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Egyptian presenters dominate the list of Arab World's most favourite presenters, with nine out of the top 10 being Egyptians and Zahi Wahbi, Lebanese, presenter of Khallik bel Beit show broadcast on Future channel, grabbed the ninth slot. ... Good News TV named Amr Adeeb to be [top of] the list of 50 most powerful and prominent TV anchor in Arab satellite channels. He is the presenter of Al Qahera Al Youm programme broadcast on Al Youm Orbit channel. ... Saudi anchor Torky Al Dokheil on Al Arabiya was the ranked top presenter in the GCC, achieving 28th place in the list. Suliman Al Hatlan, host of Hadith Al Khalij of Al Hurra channel was ranked 31st while in the 39th place came Dr Fawzeya Al Dorei the anchor of Doctor Fawz on Al Ray channel, the only Kuwaiti in the list." Emirates Business 24-7, 12 April 2009. Methodological details are sketchy, but this does not appear to be a scientific survey. A feather, nevertheless, in Alhurra's cap. Details, including the complete list, would be in an article in the Arabic-language Good News TV magazine, if anyone can find it.

Judith McHale is not yet fully in the building (updated).

Posted: 13 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sources say that Judith McHale, the administration’s expected pick to serve as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy (“R”), has been seen attending meetings in the building and around an office on the first floor. Officials say she is not yet fully in place in the building, however." Laura Rozen, Foreign Policy The Cable, 7 April 2009.
     Update: "I wonder if Obama is considering a Muslim for the job. Wouldn't a Muslim, with the requisite background in diplomacy and messaging, be best suited to change Muslim minds about the United States?" Dan Gilgoff, US News God & Country, 10 April 2009.
     "Barack Obama’s statements in Turkey this week, welcome as they are, play out against a backdrop of increasing tension between his administration and Muslim American organizations. Unless these tensions are addressed quickly and effectively, they risk undermining his public diplomacy." Nadia Hijab, Middle East Online, 10 April 2009.

Private US shortwave broadcasters will meet in Nashville.

Posted: 13 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters and the Digital Radio Mondiale USA association will unite in Nashville on May 7 and 8 to share facilities for annual meetings. The groups share a similar membership. Nashville-based WWCR and Franklin, Tenn.-based World Christian Broadcasting are the local hosts of the meetings." Radio World, 10 April 2009. See also NASB website.
     "I wish the agenda was more ambitious. Adil Mina of Continental Electronics will discuss recent DRM developments. I wonder if his presentation will contain anything not already announced by the DRM Consortium on its website." Bennett Z. Kobb, 26MHz.us, 7 April 2009.

Radio Netherlands' transition from shortwave to website.

Posted: 13 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Increasingly distribution via the website is becoming more and more important, and our shortwave broadcasts less so, and the Newsline broadcast is primarily intended for shortwave. We work with limited resources, so it's been decided to shorten the broadcast programme so Newsline producers can ensure we have a better presence on the web. This doesn't mean we won't be making audio - we will continue to record interviews and if these don't get used in the programme, they'll still be available on our website." Newsline editor Louise Dunne, responding to listener's comment, Radio Netherlands, 9 April 2009.

BBC Persian and the downfall of the Shah.

Posted: 13 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Did the BBC fan the flames of the Iranian revolution of the late 1970s by opposing the Shah and supporting the Ayatollah? Did the corporation do the bidding of the Government and slant its coverage of events? Was the BBC’s Persian service staffed by a majority of anti-Shah employees? Listening to the BBC – in the form of Radio 4’s Document – one would have been hard pressed to find solid answers. The programme expressed a mood among business people three decades ago, backed by some politicians, to resist doing anything that would have disturbed commercial interests in Iran – specifically oil and aerospace investments." Joe Cushnan, Tribune (London), 9 April 2009. The documentary was broadcast on the 23 March 2009 edition of "Document", where the audio may not be available much longer. I was able to retrieve it by clicking on "Listen again" at the bottom of the page.

BBCWS Trust mentioned in alleged plot to overthrow Iran's government.

Posted: 13 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Iran's Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says its members have uncovered a plot for a 'soft overthrow' of the country's government. In a Saturday statement, the IRGC accused the Netherlands of conspiring to foment a velvet revolution in the country by supporting the opposition through the media and different Internet sites. ... Among the organizations implicated for involvement in transferring the funds was the BBC World Service Trust. The statement came just days after the IRGC shut down a number of networks and websites under charges of planning a 'soft toppling' of the government." Press TV, 11 April 2009. Not that I've been involved in any plots -- it's all I can do just to get to work in the morning -- but a reader in Iran notes that my website is now blocked there. Something of an honor, I suppose.

Obama versus Bush in the Middle Eastern media.

Posted: 12 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Many Iranians, including a number of RFE/RL's Radio Farda listeners, have welcomed Obama's overture, in particular the videotaped message that was aired on the occasion of the Iranian New Year and during which President Obama promised a 'new beginning' with Iran. Many Iranians inside the country thanked President Obama for reaching out to Iran in their e-mail, text messages, and telephone calls to Radio Farda. A good portion of Iranians though probably never saw or heard of Obama's video message. Although, as one Iranian web portal reported, about 15 hours after the message was aired some 150,000 Iranians watched it online, the less web-savvy Iranians would have been out of luck. Iranian blogger Masih Alinejad noted that Iran’s state television did not air the Norouz message. And as she notes, 'if Obama had talked like Bush and considered Iran a threat, Iranian National TV would have broadcast it several times.'" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 9 April 2009.
     "'The Arab media, in particular on Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, but also other main newspapers, Arab newspapers, picked up very clearly the clear, key message from Obama,' Fadi Hakura, an Arab media expert, says. 'The key sound bite was that the United States is not, nor will it be at war with Islam. It was repeated again and again, and contrasted with the messages of former President Bush.'" Listening Post, Al Jazeera English, 11 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Relaunch for bbcvietnamese.com includes more Premier League.

Posted: 12 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service has re-launched its bbcvietnamese.com website with a new-look, enhanced interactivity and user-generated content and other improved functions and features. The new, wide-format site offers Vietnamese-speaking audiences the opportunity to post their own photography and video clips as well as emails with their news stories and audio comments. Other new features of the revamped site include special sections covering the United Kingdom and Premier League football. ... BBC Vietnamese head Giang Nguyen says, 'In the previous months, bbcvietnamese.com has received up to 21 million page impressions a month, and the number of unique users has increased by more than 60 per cent between January 2008 and January 2009.'" Indiantelevision.com, 11 April 2009. See previous post about BBC World Service website.

CNBC, Russia Today added to KabelKiosk.

Posted: 12 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The German cable headend-in-the-sky service KabelKiosk from Eutelsat will add ten new channels on April 15. The new channels will be added to the KabelKiosk Basis package, which will now number 40 channels. They are iMusic1, Das Vierte, TIMM, Poker Channel, Yavido Clips, HSE24, 1-2-3 tv, CNBC, Russia Today and TVE Internacional. KabelKiosk distributes more than 110 German and foreign language TV stations." Broadband TV News, 9 April 2009.

Livestation supports freedom of expression, beginning with Democratic Voice of Burma.

Posted: 12 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Global internet TV news channel Livestation has announced that it now aims to support and broadcast news programmes created by those living in areas where freedom of expression is suppressed. Livestation’s first official partner in its new mission is The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a Burmese non-profit media organisation. DVB, run by Burmese people and based in Norway, began in 1992 broadcasting news over shortwave radio to the people of Burma. Three years ago it expanded its broadcasts to include satellite TV." TechWatch, 9 April 2009.

New wave of advice about Radio/TV Martí.

Posted: 11 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
A letter to President Obama from three Cuban dissident organizations says, among other things, "that the broadcasts of U.S.-funded Radio Marti, from Miami, have been losing their audience on the communist island in an 'extraordinary way' due to interference and jamming by the government in Havana, which also blocks almost 100 percent of the signals of Television Marti. 'It’s been so long since an effective broadcast was achieved, perhaps it would be better to reassign the funds of TV Marti to increase the budget and power of Radio Marti,' the dissidents say." Latin American Herald Tribune, 9 April 2009.
     "The Miami-based Office of Cuba Broadcasting ... has a 2009 budget of $34 million for TV and Radio Marti, which beam pro-change broadcasts into the country. Thursday's letter praised Radio Marti, saying its broadcasts 'continue to have great importance, despite the massive electronic interference of the Cuban government.' But the letter said TV Marti's signal 'simply does not reach Cuban homes.' 'In that case, government interference is almost 100 percent effective,' it said." AP, 9 April 2009.
     "This surging dissident movement, conscious of its rights and determined to be the protagonist of Cuba’s future, needs to be encouraged and supported by the United States and others as Solidarity was in Poland: with sufficient funds and tools for civic, peaceful resistance, and with enlightening radio and TV transmissions that can overcome the regime's jamming and provide the same impetus for change that Radio Free Europe did in the 1980s." Nestor Carbonell, Foreign Policy, April 2009.
     Recommendations in a white paper prepared by the Cuban American National Foundation includes "improving broadcasts by U.S. government-funded Radio and TV Marti to promote the flow of information into the island." EFE, 9 April 2009.
     Shortwave remains the least interdictable medium for reaching Cuba. The question is how many Cubans still have access to shortwave radios. Shortwave is not used for domestic shortwave broadcasting in the country. (The shortwave broadcasts of Radio Rebelde on 5025 kHz appear to be intended for neighboring countries.)
     As for Mr. Carbonell's notions, calls for resistance are best left to dissident stations such as Radio República (whose website shares with Democratic Voice of Burma, VOA, and too many others the tendency to omit its radio transmission schedule, or at least to hide it), while Radio/TV Martí should be devoted to the reliable, balanced news that almost always is the most successful application of international broadcasting.
     Satellite television and the internet will be more popular than shortwave as these newer media develop, probably on the black market, in Cuba. Then Radio/TV Martí will have a more difficult problem of competing, not with the moribund Cuban media, but with all the Spanish-language satellite channels and websites available to the Hemisphere. Perhaps these competitors, collectively, can do the job Radio/TV Martí had always set out to do, but at no cost to the US taxpayers.
See previous posts on 12 February and 6 February 2009, with Kim's comments.

Taliban leader listens to VOA when he can't sleep.

Posted: 11 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Afghan intelligence agents are sharing information with militants about U.S. and NATO troop movements, a top Taliban commander told NBC News. 'The people of Afghanistan are with us,' said Sirajuddin Haqqani, in an exclusive interview. ... [H]e is considered to be so powerful that the United States recently put a $5 million bounty on his head. I asked him about the reward money. 'I was staying with some people the night it was announced by the Americans,' Haqqani told me. 'I couldn’t sleep and switched on VOA [Voice of America]-Pashto service on the radio, that’s where I heard the news.'" Mushtaq Yusufzai, NBC News World Blog, 9 April 2009.

VOA Learning Center will be dedicated 17 to 19 April.

Posted: 11 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The dedication of Miami University’s Voice of America Learning Center will be a multi-day affair, and organizers say it will be a time for conversation. ... The Voice of America Learning Center is located at 7847 VOA Park Drive, at the corner of Cox Road and VOA Park Drive in West Chester. For more information, visit www.muohio.edu/voalc." Oxford (OH) Press, 8 April 2009. Located at the site of the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station.

Another platform for BBC World News (updated).

Posted: 11 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"1Cast, the revolutionary broadcast platform that delivers up-to-the-minute news video to the web and to subscribers' Smartphones, today launched a multi-platform partnership with BBC World News to distribute the global broadcaster's daily news content to consumers. ... 1Cast is a digital newsstand that gives viewers more control over the content they consume. Viewers simply select the topics they care about most, and 1Cast delivers up-to-the minute newscasts of video clips from leading news sources, including the Associated Press, Reuters, CNBC, Barrons.com, Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal, AllThingsD and now BBC World News. News content from 1Cast is consumed on the go, via the iPhone, iPod Touch, Android mobile phone or on the web, and is updated continually throughout the day." 1Cast press release, 2 April 2009. See also www.1cast.com.
     Update: "Some complaints from those who have used the app and left comments on the apps iTunes board say that because there are so few networks, this limits the news clips available." Jessica Kostek, TMCnet, 8 April 2009.
     "Hi, my name is Deborah Yao, and I am an iPhone applications addict. ... For world news, I tap my apps for BBCReader, Channel NewsAsia and France 24 Live, which has newscasts in English and French." AP, 8 April 2009.

Czech court dismisses complaint of dismissed RFE/RL journalist.

Posted: 11 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Czech Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint of Croatian journalist Snjezana Pelivan against the way in which she was dismissed from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) radio station based in Prague, CTK learnt from the court database Wednesday. Pelivan says in her complaint that she was given no reason for her dismissal and that the RFE/RL employees who do not come from the USA and the Czech Republic are insufficiently protected against unsubstantiated and immediate dismissals. ... According to Pelivan and her lawyer, the radio station that acted on the basis of U.S. law cannot dismiss its employee without giving any reason as this contradicts the Czech legal order. ... The Constitutional Court says in conclusion that it did not find the legal provision allowing the employer to dismiss an employee without giving reason as one running counter to the Czech law." ČTK, 9 April 2009.
     "Czech RFE/RL employees, at the insistence of the Czech trade unions, are protected by Czech labor laws. Americans are covered by American legislation. By decision of RFE/RL management, Czech labor legislation does not apply to its employees from third countries. Also, as to foreigners working for American employer outside the United States, American laws do not apply to them either. What is applicable is RFE/RL 'philosophy' only." Lev Roitman, retired RFE/RL senior commentator, Lidove noviny (Prague) via AZG Daily (Yerevan), 2 April 2009.

RFI stringer ekes out a living in Shanghai.

Posted: 11 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"For Shanghai's expatriate community, which numbers in the tens of thousands, the financial downturn has required some adjustments. ... Joris Zylberman of France does freelance work for Radio France International. He said that media incomes were never very high, so his pay did not shrink when the crisis hit. 'When I became a freelancer, I quickly realized that I would not make much, but I love working in Shanghai.' ... 'Moreover, the crisis has presented many topics for reporting,' he said. 'Although living conditions are not so good as in Paris, there is a lot of news worth reporting. The whole world is watching China.'" China Radio International, 9 April 2009.

CRI news in the news.

Posted: 11 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"China is reacting to the massive scandal over tainted drywall potentially used in thousands of American homes by launching an official investigation into material exported to the United States. ... News of the investigation was reported by UPI, China Radio International, Chinadaily.com and others on Wednesday." Bradenton (FL) Herald, 9 April 2009. See said story: CRI, 4 April 2009.
     "A Chinese naval fleet on an anti-piracy mission in waters off Somalia successfully dispelled several pirate vessels attempting to attack escorted commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday afternoon." CRI, 9 April 2009.

BBC America replaces morning news with "Kitchen Nightmares."

Posted: 10 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC America, owned by BBC Worldwide, has axed its three-hour morning international news block due to low ratings. The changes to the schedule kicked in Monday without prior announcement from the BBC. A BBC America spokeswoman confirmed that the simulcast from the BBC World News channel, which aired at 6 a.m. ET seven days a week, is being replaced by lifestyle fare such as 'Kitchen Nightmares,' presented by foul-mouthed U.K. celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay." Variety, 6 April 2009.
     "Jeremy Paxman's big chance to break the US has ended after BBC America axed its US version of Newsnight as part of a series of changes that includes dropping its daily three-hour block of international news. The BBC's commercial US channel, which is available in more than 63m American homes via digital, cable and satellite, today dropped its daily simulcast from the BBC World News channel, which aired between 6am and 9am, because of disappointing ratings." The Guardian, 6 April 2009.
     "With his acerbic style and withering put-downs, Jeremy Paxman was expected to be a sure-fire hit in America. ... Newsnight's US edition was actually pulled in November, after the US elections, but nobody noticed it had gone until the BBC admitted it this week." Daily Mail, 8 April 2009.
     "The challenges of going 'green' in Muskegon [Michigan] will be the focus of a six-part documentary film being aired at 7 p.m. tonight by the British Broadcasting Company during BBC World News America. A BBC reporting and film crew visited Muskegon in February to see how difficult it is for people in the Midwest to adopt environmentally friendly habits." Muskegon Chronicle, 7 April 2009.

BBC adds Persian to its YouTube offerings.

Posted: 10 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service announces the launch of new BBC Persian Channel on YouTube, the world's leading online video community. The new channel's launch further expands the BBC's outreach to Persian-speaking audiences on a range of platforms, adding to the BBC's current radio, television and online offerings to Persian-speakers. The BBC Persian Channel on YouTube – youtube.com/bbcpersian – ... is part of a portfolio of video news channels being developed by BBC World Service as it extends its relationship with YouTube, in what is the first multi-language partnership with a major international news broadcaster." BBC World Service press release, 7 April 2009. It was smart for BBC to provide the URL, because international broadcasters' channels and videos are not always easy to find among the untold thousands of offerings at YouTube.

No expansion of BBC World Service television for now.

Posted: 10 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service has shelved plans for new television services targeted at south-east Asia and parts of Africa because of the tough financial climate. 'To have impact in journalism you have to be in television,' said Richard Sambrook, the director of BBC Global News, to whom the World Service reports. '[But] we have to be realistic. We are unlikely to get a significant increase in funding.' Sambrook said that the World Service must continue to move its focus from declining short-wave radio transmissions to multimedia distribution. But in the current climate, no more separate services could be planned. ... Peter Horrocks, the new director of the World Service who takes up his post on 14 April, is expected to look for cheaper ways to supply its impartial news and analysis – including using local broadcasters, partners and mobile communications for certain parts of Africa, as well as the internet, satellite and short-wave radio." The Guardian, 6 April 2009.
     BBCWS will need to add television in more languages if it hopes to maintain its audience size, largest of any international broadcaster. Twenty-four-hour channels will not be practicable in all but a few BBCWS languages. I have some ideas about parsimonious approaches to international television in multiple languages, perhaps the subject of a forthcoming essay.

Now a blog examining the murder of RFA's GC.

Posted: 10 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The murder of Robert Wone: it's freaky, complex with loads of bold face names & firms attached. One of the craziest murder mysteries this city has seen in ages, no one has been charged but the three housemates at the Dupont Circle home where Robert was drugged, assaulted then stabbed all face prosecution on multiple charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and evidence tampering charges. The trial is later this spring/summer. Now, a few DC media types (including two C-SPAN alums) are using their new media savvy to help solve this mystery on a blog entitled Who Murdered Robert Wone." fishbowlDC, 6 April 2009. Wone was Radio Free Asia's general counsel when he was murdered on 2 August 2006. See previous post about same subject.

Diverse views on the Russian internet?

Posted: 10 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Even discounting the chaotic nature of the web, there is plenty of Russian-language material on political and social issues that is well-written and represents a wide range of views. This does not mean, though, that most Russians are well-informed of the important political and social issues of today. But this is largely a matter of personal choice, not government restrictions. If somebody is too lazy to make just a few clicks to read and become aware of various issues and points of view, maybe he deserves to be fed bland, one-sided government propaganda." Kirill Pankratov, The Moscow Times, 8 April 2009.

China's "cyber-skirmish" with the rest of the world.

Posted: 10 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Beyond e-mail encryption, there are other options for those inside China desiring untrammeled access to the global Internet. They involve exploiting https - the encrypted hypertext transfer protocol designed for secure financial transactions - to establish contact with computers outside China that can be used as proxies. ... The most widely-used facilities are Dynaweb, Garden and Ultra Surf. These services coordinate their offerings through the Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC), a group that receives some US government funding and is apparently run by friends of Falungong, the outlawed and extremely tech-savvy Chinese religious group-cum-political movement. ... They count VOA and RFA as their clients and proudly state that the service has never been interrupted. But, in the case of gh0st RAT, maybe score this round to China. In its own analysis of the computer security travails of the Tibetan emigre community, 'Snooping Dragon', the University of Cambridge reported [3] that the China hackers availed themselves of Dynaweb's facilities." Peter Lee, Asia Times, 8 April 2009.

On 470 MHz, the Songs of the Kims are unheard.

Posted: 10 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Scientists and technicians of the DPRK have succeeded in putting satellite Kwangmyongsong-2, an experimental communications satellite, into orbit by means of carrier rocket Unha-2 under the state long-term plan for the development of outer space. ... It is sending to the earth the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans 'Song of General Kim Il Sung' and 'Song of General Kim Jong Il' and measured information at 470 MHz. By the use of the satellite the relay communications is now underway by UHF frequency band." Korean Central News Agency, 5 April 2009.
     "Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan/East Sea. The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean. No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan." United States Northern Command, 5 April 2009.
     "The International Telecommunication Union, the international agency in charge of radio frequency allocation for satellites, has dismissed North Korea's claim that it successfully put a communications satellite into orbit last Sunday. In an interview with Radio Free Asia on Tuesday, Sanjay Acharya, ITU's chief of media relations and public information, said the organization has no information about a satellite." Chosun Ilbo, 10 April 2009.
     Xinhua's coverage. Danwei, 5 April 2009.
     "If you're wondering what 'Song of General Kim Jong Il' sounds like, listen here." The New Republic The Plank, 6 April 2009.
     No one in the satellite or radio enthusiast communities is reporting that they are hearing the Songs of the Kims. I've tuned my own scanner to 470 MHz, with an antenna on my roof cut for 144 and 450 MHz, so I would have a fair chance of hearing it if it were actually transmitting. So far, 470 MHz is Kimless.

Dutch public diplomacy against extremism.

Posted: 10 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Netherlands is to make more active use of public diplomacy to combat extremism in the Muslim world and elsewhere. Also, a survey will be carried out in 15 countries on the image of the Netherlands, according to Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen. ... 'An active public diplomacy can be a counterbalance to the distorted picture that radicals in some Muslim countries paint of the West. The Dutch embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo is organising a regional conference on public diplomacy this month with participants from the Netherlands and the Arab world.'" Netherlands Info Services, 8 April 2009.

International broadcaster Press TV has yet to learn about international time.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"As many countries around the globe adjust their clocks one hour forward to save daylight, Press TV schedule will accordingly switch to DST for the viewers' convenience. Press TV programs will be broadcast in Daylight Saving Time (DST) starting from 23:00 GMT on Sunday April, 5, 2009. The programs, which have so far been broadcast in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), will be aired one hour early in the non-DST-observing regions." Press TV, 5 April 2009.
     This is a tricky business. Twice a year, some countries move their clocks forward, some countries (in the opposite hemisphere) move their clocks back, and some don't move them at all. And not all countries changes their clocks the same weekend. This is why real international broadcasters stick to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), more traditionally known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Audiences sufficiently motivated to tune in international broadcasts will understand that when their clocks change, the broadcaster's clock will stay where it is. And they might even keep a clock in the house set to UTC.

CNBC Asia moves up a tier in the Philippines.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC has expanded its pan-Asian distribution with a new deal on SkyCable's Gold Tier in the Philippines. This agreement is part of SkyCable’s digital rollout plans. The channel will be available to all Gold Tier digital subscribers on channel 111 when the product rolls out commercially in May 2009. Subscribers who wish to view CNBC without joining the Gold Tier Package will be able to do so via SkyCable’s à la carte service option." Media, 8 April 2009.
     Why is access to a single tier of a single cable system news -- or at least a news release? Such is the nature of international television, where audiences cannot grow until there are clearances on cable, DTH, and more recently IPTV and mobile TV services. These must be acquired one system at a time. This will be the strategy until watching television via websites becomes a more satisfactory experience.

New Malaysian IPTV service includes international channels.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Telekom Malaysia is planning a fourth-quarter launch for commercial IPTV services following a 10,000-home trial of the platform. Telekom Malaysia currently operates a website, Hypp.TV, which offers online video content to TM’s 1.5 million Streamyx high-speed broadband subscribers, but only to the PC. Content includes English Premier League football highlights, as well as Channel News Asia, Al-Jazeera English, CCTV4 and Bloomberg TV, Fashion TV, RED TV, Zee Music and NDTV and WOW TV." Rapid TV News, 5 April 2009.

Is Libya jamming a Syrian satellite channel?

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Syria is taking fellow-Arab nation Libya to court over alleged jamming of Syria’s satellite signals. Nilesat’s Salah Hamza, without naming any parties involved has diplomatically confirmed that there have been some instances of satellite interference lately. However, it seems Eutelsat may be in the firing line because of its carriage of the Syrian signals. BBC Monitoring is reporting that a senior source at Syria’s Zannubya Satellite Channel, which is said to be 'a close affiliate' of former Syrian Vice President Abd-al-Halim Khaddam, has revealed plans to file a lawsuit in French and European courts against the Libyan Government for jamming the channel's transmissions." Rapid TV News, 6 April 2009. Libya has been accused of satellite jamming on previous occasions.

India will dabble with DAB.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Digital audio broadcasting (DAB) in the country appears set to move beyond satellite radio WorldSpace, the only platform it is currently available on. The new national frequency allocation plan, which has just been chalked out by the government, has a provision for DAB. According to the plan, which is effective from this month, introduction of DAB may be considered in the 174-230 MHz frequency band in the four metros to start with and on a case-by-case basis in other parts of the country subsequently." DNA (Mumbai), 9 April 2009. Interesting that India, which only recently adopted FM radio broadcasting, is already looking into DAB. DAB has not proven successful in most of Europe. India has also been experimenting with DAB's competitor, Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM). See previous post.

"Frying pan to fire for Worldspace boss."

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Just days after Worldspace’s founder Noah Samara successfully bid to the Delaware bankruptcy court some $28m to 'buy back' Worldspace, comes more unpleasant legal news that concerns Mr Samara. He is named as a key witness in the high profile bribery trial of former Rep. William Jefferson in New Orleans." Rapid TV News, 7 April 2009.
     "In one letter to the president of the Republic of Congress [sic], Jefferson says, 'I wish to ask your special attention to the WorldSpace education-through-technology project that I discussed with you on our visit.' The date of the letter isn't listed. In its indictment of Jefferson, the Justice Department charged that WorldSpace Inc., which provides satellite radio services to audiences outside the United States, signed a contract through its CEO, Noah Samara, with Andrea Jefferson, Jefferson's wife, on behalf of her ANJ Group in 2002 for help getting satellite transmission services in three African nations. Samara, according to the Justice Department, considered it a brief solicitation." Bruce Alpert, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 7 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "Isinya, in Kajiado District [Kenya], has become the latest beneficiary of a project by Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), an organisation working to bring IT to rural villages. ... Mr Noah Lusaka, programmes manager at ALIN, explains that bridging the digital divide for interior villages started when Worldspace Radio was introduced to the country — it has since evolved into the creation of digital villages. He adds that most communities in rural Kenya will open up when the fibre optic cable is finally installed and WiMAX technology put into place." The Standard (Nairobi), 6 April 2009. And, thus, one of the challenges to the Worldspace business plan. Shortly after the satellite radio system was launched, internet access became feasible in much of the developing world, offering a larger variety of media content, and interactivity.

Public and private are antonyms for a reason.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Over the last eight years, as America’s stature in the world tumbled, a number of prominent voices have urged our public diplomacy strategy to turn to the private sector for inspiration, counsel, and collaboration. Some, like Glassman, have worked from within official public diplomacy circles. Others, like Keith Reinhard, former CEO of advertising giant ddB Worldwide Communications Group, and Kristin Lord, a foreign policy expert, are making their voices heard from the world of NGOs and think tanks. And several have attempted to parlay business expertise directly into the task of managing public diplomacy, including Norman Pattiz, a radio executive who transformed American broadcasting in the Middle East. All have found that synergies between government and business in the realm of public diplomacy are easier to recommend than to realize." Alex Soble, The Yale Globalist, 4 April 2009.

Should this station broadcast news, or inadequately researched opinion? (updated)

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"If it had the equipment and personnel for the job, the United States could broadcast radio programs for the Pashtuns commemorating Rahman Baba’s life and poetry, thus helping to revive the collective memory of Sufism and inspiring opposition to the Taliban. Other programs could highlight the cultural and physical devastation wrought by the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The United States conducted impressive strategic communications during the cold war. Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and other programs conveyed information and ideas that contributed to the discrediting and ultimate defeat of Soviet communism. Pakistan’s Islamist extremists apparently know the value of strategic communications. They preach and broadcast, understanding that every non-extremist school they close, every artist they force to move, every moderate tribal leader they kill and every Sufi shrine they destroy can increase their powers of intimidation and persuasion." Douglas J. Feith and Justin Polin, New York Times, 29 March 2009.
     "It's not at all surprising to read today's New York Times opinion section and find that Doug Feith continues to be a font of lazy thinking. ... Strategic communications directed at the Muslim World, patterned after Radio Free Europe? Sorry Doug, maybe you sh[o]uld have gotten involved with al-Hurra, the Bush administration's attempt to replicate the success of Cold-War era public diplomacy, but which has been widely regarded as a sham by the Muslim world." Patrick Barry, Democracy Aresenal, 30 March 2009.
     My job: cleaning up after the experts. All three writers overlooked the fact that VOA's Deewa Radio already broadcasts in Pashto to that very part of Pakistan. So apparently the United States does have "the equipment and personnel for the job." Deewa's output includes programs about poetry, but, as part of VOA, its mainstay is reliable news and information. If Messrs. Feith and Polin prefer a station that is more partisanly anti-Taliban, such a station may not want to be identified with the United States. (And see previous post about Radio Khyber.)
     This op-ed could inspire an amendment, to some future legislation, to create an RFE/RL Pashto service to Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, to do what Deewa is already doing (and, for that matter, what RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan is already doing), resulting in even more duplication in US international broadcasting.
     As for Alhurra, it's not up there with Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, but it has too many viewers to be dismissed as a "sham." See previous post.

     Update: "That’s what Voice of America, financed by the American government, has been doing daily since September 2006 with its popular Deewa Radio. Deewa, with 13 staff members in Washington and 23 stringers throughout Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas, covers local, national and international news and engages with its listeners seven days a week." VOA director Danforth Austin, letter to New York Times, 5 April 2009.

VOA website redesign includes relegation of radio.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"VOANews.com has revamped its home page to give news a more central role on the page. ... While the home page retains many of its current special features, including links to all of VOA's 45 language services, it improves navigation to the various features that allow people to access VOA on different platforms. It also prominently displays links to interactive features, including podcasts, RSS feeds, mobile services, and links to the T2A web chat and unique video footage." VOA press release, 6 April 2009.
     I thought the radio transmission schedule had been eliminated, but I finally found it. Can you find it? Users are obviously steered towards online access to VOA content, rather than old fashioned radio reception.
     The VOA home page betters that of BBC World Service in that links to all of VOA's languages are there. They are, however, "below the fold." The non-English user may or may not guess that he/she must cursor down to find the link to his/her language.

"Come to America." But not all at once.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"AmericanTours International (ATI) CEO Noel Irwin Hentschel, considered in China to be an expert of American products and destinations, spoke to mass audiences of 35 million Chinese interested in traveling to America. During interviews with 3 of China’s largest media sources; China Central Television (CCTV), China’s largest national TV network; China Radio International (CRI), the only overseas broadcaster in the People's Republic of China; and Xinhuanet, China’s top news website, considered to be one of the most influential in the world, the CEO spoke about the importance of giving the Chinese traveler the 'Real America' experience when they come to the USA." ATI press release, 6 April 2009.

Can American hubris be Twittered away?

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"While serious international diplomacy may need to remain primarily face-to-face for the foreseeable future, reaching out across borders digital could yield more positive responses than negative. Foreigners using blogs and Twitter to peer directly into the lives of our top-ranking officials in Washington may develop the same phenomenon that makes us feel like we know the personalities of actors more personally, despite never actually meeting. Would this enable some to toss their far-flung beliefs about Americans' overt consumerism and hubris? Perhaps. And that's enough of a reason to experiment for now." Alex Pinto, OhMyGov!, 6 April 2009.

Hillary Clinton visits RFE/RL.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the new headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on 4 April. "I am a big believer in smart power and in communications. We have a big job to do to reach out to get accurate information into the countries and societies that we are currently addressing, and we couldn’t do it without you." RFE/RL transcript, 8 April 2009.
     "During today's visit to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Prague headquarters, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is 'deeply concerned' about a controversial new Afghan law restricting the rights of Shiite women." RFE/RL press release, 5 April 2009.

Obama's Turkey visit internationally broadcasted.

Posted: 09 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Obama's visit to Turkey aimed to overcome widespread resentment in the region for what many saw as the Bush administration's aggressive policies against Muslims and Arabs. Top Arab satellite news networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya carried his speech to Turkey's parliament live on Monday, as well as a town hall meeting Obama held with Turkish students on Tuesday in which he said he wants to work with Muslims." AP, 8 April 2009. See also Al Jazeera English, 7 April 2009. VOA live coverage. VOA press release, 6 April 2009.

Ken Tomlinson is back, recalling USIB expansion in Afghanistan.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"In early summer of 2005, I was preparing to go to Afghanistan to examine the state of U.S. international broadcasting there when a friend suggested I call on Illinois representative Mark Kirk. ... [Kirk] had an encyclopedic knowledge of Afghanistan and of broadcasting there. 'You are covering Kabul well--but you are not reaching the rugged, mountainous border with Pakistan [where Osama Bin Laden is believed to be in hiding]. You are broadcasting there in shortwave--but that's no longer the primary medium of the region. I was up [in the Northwest Frontier Province] late last year, and I got out of my vehicle and went from car to car, truck to truck. Everyone was listening to a radio--AM or FM radio.' Both Kirk and I knew how difficult it is to change the traditions of a federal agency, but out of our discussion that day came plans to place an AM facility near the eastern Afghanistan city of Khost and line-of-sight FM transmitters on mountain peaks that could reach people throughout the region. Separate news and programming would be focused on the interests of the Pashtuns who dominate the region." Former Broadcasting Board of Governors chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, The Weekly Standard, 13 April 2009.
     "Created under the leadership of Ambassador Wood, the GMIC [Afghan Government Media Information Center] puts an Afghan face on the news and coordinates media activities and crisis management among the many different countries and agencies working in the region. The GMIC is a start, but right now, we do not have a comprehensive strategy for communicating a tailored message to the local population. In Afghanistan today, there are many good news stories to tell, but too few resources. During my December trip to Afghanistan I learned that 95 percent of the Public Diplomacy efforts the US Embassy is executing there are funded privately! This is ridiculous!" Senator Kitt Bond remarks to Congressional Newsmaker Series at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Senator Bond website, 3 April 2009. This is great! At least to those of us of the fiscally conservative persuasion. Imagine 95 percent of the public diplomacy efforts of the US Embassy Kabul at no cost to the taxpayers!

An ex-broadcaster's memories of Radio Nederland Wereldomroep.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
In the late 1970s: "I had a job reading news on the Dutch World Service in Hilversum, just out of Amsterdam. It was a curious place. No one worked very hard. A large numbers of the translators and editorial staff were receiving help in alcohol-abuse programmes. On the news-reading night shift, I was woken in my little overnight room by an old man every couple of hours to go upstairs to read the five-minute bulletin to East Africa or West Africa or Central America or the eastern United States. Who actually listened, I had no idea. If it was Dutch expatriates, why would they listen to English broadcasts? In those days there were people around the world who were shortwave freaks. They would write to say they heard you on such and such megacycles, but no mention was ever made of what you said." Paul Holmes, The New Zealand Herald, 5 April 2009.

Online source for NATO (not quite) news video.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Broadcast and online journalists seeking content about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) can now find a variety of news video on The NewsMarket (www.thenewsmarket.com), the leading web-based video marketing and delivery platform. Journalists can search, preview and download video and other content from www.thenewsmarket.com/NATO and register for email alerts and RSS feeds about new video. ... 'Following the recommendations from the Heads of State and Government at the Bucharest Summit in April 2008, NATO Public Diplomacy Division has developed a comprehensive strategy to engage with young audiences and increase their information and knowledge about NATO's commitments. Together with our Internet TV (www.natochannel.tv) and the NATO website (www.nato.int), this new channel will enable us to further extend the reach of our video globally,' said Jean François Bureau, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy. " The NewsMarket press release, via PR-USA.net, undated. Nothing much more worthless than an undated press release, which I find too often in my web searches. I found the same release at The NewsMarket website: it's dated 1 April 2009.
     "As NATO adapts to 21st century challenges in its 60th anniversary year, it is increasingly important that the Alliance communicates in an appropriate, timely, accurate and responsive manner on its evolving roles, objectives and missions. Strategic communications are an integral part of our efforts to achieve the Alliance’s political and military objectives. We therefore welcome the improvements in NATO’s strategic communications capability and public diplomacy efforts that we launched at our 2008 Bucharest Summit, particularly the enhancements to the NATO HQ Media Operations Centre, and the increased output of NATO’s television channel on the internet." From statement by the heads of state and government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Strasbourg / Kehl on 4 April 2009, NATO press statement, 4 April 2009.

DW-TV Asia+ continues its move into Asian markets.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Despite the soaring number of international channels being launched in [India], it’s time for another ‘cerebral’ addition to the pool. The Deutsche Welle channels that went on air last week promise entertainment in English as well as German tidbits for those who want to get the hang of the language. The two channels, DWTV ASIA+ and DWTV ASIA have different purposes. ... What about reality shows? Viewers can look out for exciting episodes of Let’s Dance on Euromaxx. Also watch out for other documentary episodes like Models Wanted — The Search for the Perfect Face, The Devil Wears Schumacher — The Global Success of Fashion from Mannheim and The Media Revolution on the Web — Of Bloggers and Podcasters, all on In Focus. The channels are available on Sun Direct, DD Direct +." Express Buzz (Chennai), 6 April 2009.
     "'DW is actually responding to a market demand and hunger for the programmes to be made available in English here and India has a large English-speaking audience. The DW-TV Asia+ channel is directed at Indians who are interested in European and international news in a more balanced way rather than purely news.'" Indo Asian News Service, 6 April 2009.
     "The 'living channel' experiences Europe launches in Vietnam on March 10 on Vietnam Cable Television (VCTV), Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV) and Vietnam Multimedia Corporation (VTC). Recently, Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, officially launched DW-TV ASIA+ for the Vietnam market with a new schedule offering 18 hours of programming in English." Media Newslines, 3 April 2009.
     "Deutsche Welle has launched a series of TVCs [commercials?] and a print campaign to promote its DW-TV ASIA+ channel in the region. The 'Experience Europe with DW-TV-Asia+' campaign features four testimonial spots from professionals in Jakarta, Vietnam and Hong Kong." Media, 7 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "The German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle has signed an agreement with SES Americom-New Skies for capacity aboard their Digital C platform. Deutsche Welle will use 4.5 Mbps of capacity on AMC-1 to deliver programming to US cable headends for its German, Spanish and English-speaking television programmes and its radio services." Broadband TV News, 6 April 2009.

News channels to Thailand.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"In response to subscribers' suggestions about CNN, it is a direct-feed channel which is broadcast across the region. It is not possible for [Thai cable television provider] TrueVisions to influence the way and manner in which it is programmed. We, however, will voice our customer feedback to the channel for their further improvement. On news programming, TrueVisions would like to inform that there are currently up to nine news channels on our platform which cater to both foreign and local viewers: CNN, BBC World, CNBC Asia, Bloomberg, NHK, CCTV, TNN24, TNN2, and Money Channel. Other news channels proposed by subscribers will certainly be taken into future line-up considerations." Truevisions corporate communications director Kantima Kunjara, letter to Bangkok Post, 4 April 2009.

Zimbabwe journalist abducted, accused of VOA association.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Gweru-based freelance journalist Kudzai Musengi was on 31 March 2009 allegedly abducted by three unknown men who bundled him into their car and blindfolded him before speeding off to a bushy area where he was subjected to intense interrogations. According to MISA-Zimbabwe, Musengi who was eventually released around 7pm on 1 April 2009, was interrogated about his alleged involvement with reports that were being beamed by Voice of America’s Studio 7 on farm invasions. Musengi denied having any links with Studio 7." Association of Zimbabwe Journalists, 2 April 2009. "His captors accused him of covering stories on the ongoing farm invasions on behalf of Voice of America’s Studio 7. Musengi denied having any links with the station." SW Radio Africa, 2 April 2009.

VOA's Straight Talk Africa has new Soweto television outlet.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Soweto TV is the newest affiliate to carry the Voice of America's (VOA) popular weekly call-in program Straight Talk Africa, starting today. ... Straight Talk Africa (VOANews.com-Straight Talk Africa) will potentially reach four million residents in Soweto, the township outside Johannesburg. [Host Shaka] Ssali said the affiliation with Soweto TV (sowetotv.org.za) will allow him to better showcase events and issues in South Africa." VOA press release, 1 April 2009.

RFE/RL's elevator to nowhere.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Some things are new at the [new Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty headquarters] headquarters. There is, of course, the modern building itself in Prague 10. The elliptical table where all the bureau chiefs sit at daily meetings would fit nicely in the command center in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. The stainless steel elevators resemble a creation of Franz Kafka. There are no buttons on the inside, and one must choose their destination floor before getting on. This led to the scenario of 10 people powerlessly trapped in an elevator to nowhere, shouting through 6-inch-thick doors in hopes that someone on the other side would send us on our way." Benjamin Cunningham, The Prague Post, 2 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.

This may be a long shot, but my ambition is one day to be named Radio Free Afghanistan's Person of the Year.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The beleaguered Sikh community in Afghanistan could not have had a better role model. At 25, Anarkali Kaur Honaryar is a doctor, an activist, a Radio presenter and a member of the independent Afghan Human Rights Committee and the official Constitution Committee. With the dupatta decently covering her head, she presents an image which makes every Sikh proud of her. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Radio Free Afghanistan (RFA)’s has declared her as the Person of the Year and Sikhs worldwide are quite happy to learn that." Global Sikh News, 2 April 2009. See also RFE/RL press release, 24 March 2009.

Shift in US public diplomacy: Don't ban, compete. Don't ban, compete. Don't ban, compete...

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Dr. Matthew Levitt, a "former FBI official, currently director of an influential Washington-based think tank, presented in Brussels what appears to be the Obama administration's revised strategy for countering radical Islam and terrorism. ... Levitt's presentation appears to mark a shift in the US public diplomacy. He was critical of the previous administration's communication, which was aimed at 'convincing people to like America,'he quipped. He called this 'a colossal waist of time'. Instead, he wants to expand the debate by empowering people to provide alternative views in radicalised societies. 'Don't ban - compete,' he repeated several times, conveying the message that radical organisations are better countered by competing messages, rather than prohibition. He also indicated that the US administration will not be linking any more external aid to the condition of democracy promotion, but rather anti-corruption achievements." EurActiv, 3 April 2009. Did I miss something? Was US public diplomacy previously banning or prohibiting the messages of radical organizations? Where was it able to do so?

How to make public diplomacy by making films about making hummus.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Howcast Media announced today the completion of its pilot Emerging Filmmakers Program (EFP) for Palestinian youth, conducted with funding from the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs of the U.S. Department of State. ... Following these hands-on filmmaking workshops, students made a wide variety of different how-to videos that have both regional as well as more universal appeal; ranging from topics such as 'How to Make Hummus' to 'How to Plant a Tree.' The students aimed to create videos for a general audience, while still relating in different ways to Palestinian culture specifically and Arab culture more generally." Howcast press release, 4 April 2009.

Does the "trite narrative of bloggers" spread democracy?

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Outside of the prosperous and democratic countries of North America and Western Europe, digital natives are as likely to be digital captives as digital renegades, a subject that none of the recent studies address in depth. If the notion that the Internet could dampen young people’s aspirations for democracy seems counterintuitive, it is only because our media is still enthralled by the trite narrative of bloggers as a force for positive change. ... Should the media dig a bit deeper, they might find ample material to run articles with headlines like 'Iranian bloggers: major challenge to democratic change' and 'Saudi Arabia: bloggers hate women’s rights.'" Evgeny Morozov, Boston Review, March/April 2009.
     "Freedom on the Net: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media" "covers both repressive countries such as China and Iran and democratic ones such as India and the United Kingdom, finding some degree of internet censorship and control in all 15 nations studied." Freedom House, 30 March 2009.

Propaganda making a comeback on Russian television.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Channel One state television will air 'Olympius Inferno,' a new action thriller that offers a fictionalized account of how the war started, and places the blame squarely on the shoulders of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 26 March 2009.
     "I stopped watching soon after the scene where the protagonists, having stumbled into the arms of Georgian soldiers, have their passports confiscated and get a bit roughed up. They are released and have their property returned due to the intervention of a US army soldier who is with the Georgian troops - surely a slightly heavy-handed hint that the US were in on the whole thing on the Georgian side from the word go?" Sarah Marcus, The Telegraph blog, 1 April 2009.

If Al Jazeera disseminates ridiculous claims, it should have serious consequences.

Posted: 08 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed in a phone call to Al Jazeera that he had ordered the [12 April shootings in Binghampton, New York], saying a second attacker had managed to escape the immigration centre. He said the attack was in direct response to the drone attacks carried out by US forces on Pakistani tribal areas. Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Pakistan, said that 'if Baitullah Mehsud indeed is responsible, it could have serious consequences'." Aljazeera.net, 4 April 2009.
     "The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has dismissed claims made by the Pakistan Taliban that it was responsible for an attack in the state of New York in which a gunman killed 13 people." Aljazeera.net, 4 April 2009.
     "For the second time in a week, the head of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) phoned a reporter of the Voice of America’s Pashto language Dewa Radio to make the unbelievable claim that his organization was behind the rampage by a gunman in which 13 people were killed at an immigration centre. He said the gunman carried out suicide attack and his accomplice managed to escape. He insisted that the escaped militant will strike at another target in the US." Rahimullah Yusufzai, The News (Karachi), 5 April 2009.

Al Jazeera English continues to seek entry to Canada.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Tony Burman, the Canadian who is managing director of the Al-Jazeera Network, knows he is fighting history and stereotypes as he seeks regulatory approval to get the broadcaster's English service on Canadian airwaves. But Burman, a CBC veteran, is asking people to judge Al-Jazeera's English network on its merits rather than the sometimes controversial record of its Arabic service. ... On Wednesday night, he met with some MPs behind closed doors to brief them on the network. On Tuesday, he met with leaders of the Canadian Jewish Congress, which had opposed an earlier application by Al-Jazeera's Arabic service to air in Canada. ... But Al-Jazeera could face a wild card in its application – a federal government that in recent has taken action against those with controversial views on the Middle East." Toronto Star, 3 April 2009. Al Jazeera's new deal with Chavez and Telesur could be another "wild card," and probably not mentioned in Burman's sales pitch. See previous post about same subject.
     For recent example of Al Jazeera English news coverage, see this report on French forces in Afghanistan: AJE, 3 April 2009.

Al Jazeera will teach Telesur "geopolitical knowledge."

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited Wednesday the Al Jazeera channel to testify the signing of an accord between that Qatari TV channel and the Telesur chain, while other South American rulers continue networking here. Chavez and his delegation were welcomed by executives from that Arab channel at its Doha headquarters, along with Telesur president Andres Lizarra, who inked the cooperation accord between both companies." Inside Costa Rica, 2 April 2009.
     "Former Communications & Information (Minci) Minister, Andres Izarra has resurfaced signing an agreement to extend cooperation between Telesur, of which he is president, and Al Jazeera. An original agreement was signed in 2006 to train staff from the fledgling Latin American continental channel. Under the new agreement signed in Qatar, Al Jazeera will train Venezuelans not just in journalism but also in geopolitical knowledge. According to Izarra, Telesur and the Arab world channel share a potential audience of more than 500 million people." VHeadline News, 1 April 2009.

Taken in by Press TV.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"I played village football until I was 48 and loved every minute. I scored a lot of goals, all at the right end – but I have a confession. I recently scored a dramatic own goal. An invitation came to take part in 'our flagship current affairs show. It's like Question Time but seen on Sky'. Press TV sounded good to me. It inflated my ego and I accepted. For some time it has seemed to me that there is not an authentic country voice on either the BBC's Any Questions or Question Time. ... When I got home I Googled 'Press TV'. It is an international news channel funded by the Iranian Government. And yes, I had enthusiastically slagged off the British Police, and the Israelis in Gaza. If I had Googled first I would have criticised Iran, too. When I tell people I am still an innocent country boy at heart, they don't believe me. I hope they do now. The score is Iran 1, Robin Page 0." Robin Page, The Telegraph, 2 April 2009.

Is BBC holding back cartoonist's interview because of editorial merit or petrifaction?

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has been accused of appeasement of radical Islam by the artist behind one of the infamous cartoons of Mohammed. Kurt Westergaard claims the corporation's decision not to air a recent interview with him came because they are petrified of upsetting Muslims extremists. Westergaard was one of the 12 cartoonists commissioned by the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005 to produce caricatures of the Muslim prophet. ... Mr Westergaard, 73, gave his first-ever English interview to BBC journalist Malcolm Brabant four weeks ago. It had been expected to go out on BBC World, the BBC News channel, across radio services and on its website. But the corporation has kept the report under wraps amid claims it is frightened that it will 'inflame' Muslims around the world. ... A BBC spokesman said last night: 'No decision has been made yet. As and when one is, it will be based, as always, on editorial merit.'" Daily Mail, 3 April 2009.

So when will there be Washington Debates in Doha?

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News will air a special session of The Doha Debates from Washington DC... . The debate held at Georgetown University in Washington DC last week discussed the motion, 'This house believes that it's time for the US administration to get tough on Israel'. The motion was carried with a majority of the participants voting in its favour at the end of the session. Chaired by Tim Sebastian, the award-winning BBC correspondent and interviewer, the debate featured four experts who argued for and against the US's treatment of Israel at a time when President Obama's administration is seeking to implement fresh initiatives in the Middle East." The Peninsula, 3 April 2009. See also NPR, 2 April 2009. And BBC World News Doha Debates web page.

No strike, after all, at BBC.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Staff who are members of the National Union of Journalists had intended to strike for 24 hours on 3 April and again on 9 April, but that action too has been cancelled. The strikes were over redundancies at the BBC World Service in south Asia but were averted after progress in talks between the corporation and the union last night." Broadcast, 2 April 2009. "The breakthrough came after BBC management agreed that there would not be any compulsory redundancies." The Guardian, 2 April 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     But another one-day strike of French broadcasters will take place 7 April, over issues including "Le retrait du plan social à RFI." RFI Riposte, 3 April 2009.

BBC World Service website has a new wide look (updated).

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"From today you will notice a new look to bbcworldservice.com. The new wide format makes the whole site even easier to use, creating more room for the content to be easily seen and scanned." BBC World Service, 23 March 2009.
     It is a wide format. I wonder how well it can be seen on netbooks that are popular these days. These small PCs have correspondingly small displays, but they are in the "wide" aspect ratio for which the BBCWS is obviously designed.
     The new look BBCWS website fails the most important requirement for an international broadcasting site. Most international broadcasting operations are multilingual. Audiences in each of a station's languages must find a welcome on the station's home page, and a way to navigate to content in that language.
     On the BBCWS home page, non-English speakers must cursor down "below the fold," to the lower left hand corner. Even then, only speakers of Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Chinese, Hindi, Somali, Russian, Portuguese to Brazil, Spanish, and Vietnamese are in luck. The others must know, somehow, that "More languages" is the link to the links their languages. VOA manages to fit links to all of its language services on its home page.
     What if you speak English and you want the news? You will find the BBCWS website a nice enough source of schedule information and audio files. But where is the news? It's rather hidden. You can get there by way of the "Explore the BBC" link in the upper right corner, or the not exactly correctly worded, small-pitch "From BBC News" in the right column. Then you are transferred to news.bbc.co.uk (International Version), with its amazing wealth of news. It's a website that could one day replace BBC World Service. No wonder it's hidden.

     Also redesigned: bbcbrasil.com. BBCWS press releaase, 25 March 2009.
     Update: "We would like to apologise. If you are a regular visitor to our website, or you have just checked in after we relaunched in our new format, you may have noticed a number of errors over the last few days. The first thing to say is that we're really sorry. As with any new site we have experienced teething problems. Many of the issues have been to do with our moving the way we make our audio available." BBC World Service website, 31 March 2009. This up-front approach to the problem is good customer service.

Euronews takes on the outer planets.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
What looks like a link to a Euronews video report about Jupiter and the planets beyond really only produces a series of stills separated by television "snow." European Space Agency News, 3 April 2009. See the actual report: Euronews, 2 April 2009. This is a good example of the Euronews approach to international broadcasting. There is no on-camera talent, only video, so that different audio tracks can be used for each of the Euronews languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Arabic. (Turkish will soon be added.) See also the French version of the report. And if you really want to see how this works, put the English and French versions on side-by-side web browsers and click the start arrow as close to simultaneously as you can.

A Scottish gale wouldn't bend a Kansas hedge tree.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"I swelled with pride last week when a weather forecaster on CNN International, speaking English through a charming German accent, told the world that blizzards were enveloping Kansas. This extraordinary meteorological event — coming in late March, just after Kansas registered a historic high of 30 degrees Celsius, or 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and three weeks after a tornado warning — made a statement to the world. When it comes to weather, Kansas is the real deal. The Oz thing may have built our international reputation, but our reality is just as wild as the fiction that made us famous. ... As I listen each morning to the weather reports on BBC Radio, I am forced to translate. When the announcer excitedly warns that 'gales' will be blowing across Scotland, he’s really talking about a stiff wind that wouldn’t bend a hedge tree in Kansas. Similarly, a forecast for 'hail' is usually a warning that frozen rain, what we call sleet, is on the way. Confronted with authentic Kansas hail — which we liken to peas, marbles and golf balls — the British military would be on full alert. Living in a more temperate climate certainly has its advantages, but Kansas weather builds character. There truly is no place like home." Gwyn Mellinger, Topeka Capital-Journal, 1 April 2009.

I'm beating the recession by not subscribing to FiOS TV, which means I can't watch CNN International.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN International harnesses its newly expanded newsgathering operation with an ambitious slate of new programming, and a comprehensive audience engagement initiative, to search for global solutions and personal success stories amongst the daily headlines of lay-offs and bail-outs. Continuing the extensive viewer dialogue that started in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos featuring feedback from online users, YouTubers and bloggers, beginning March 30 CNN will solicit viewers and users on air and online at www.ireport.com/onething, as well as social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube, to ask the question ‘What is the one thing you are doing to beat the recession?’ ... The launch of ‘Road to Recovery’ coincides with the expansion of CNN’s European prime-time evening line up, headed by ‘Quest Means Business’ and soon to be enhanced by additional shows anchored by European talent like Becky Anderson and Fionnuala Sweeney, and culminating later this year in a nightly interview show hosted by internationally acclaimed chief international reporter Christiane Amanpour." CNN Observations, 31 March 2009. But I can, finally, watch CNN International at my office, and it's vastly better than the domestic CNN. It's America's global English-language news channel, at no cost to the American taxpayers.

The Fermat's Theorem of nation branding.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The brand building initiative has to be a coherent approach driven by various sectors -- the government, political parties, civil society, media, professionals, private sector, cultural world, workers and farmers, urban and rural people, etc. When all of us can share a common identity, we shall be able to establish Bangladesh with a rejuvenated brand that the world will respect. All the stakeholders in a transition economy like Bangladesh must be clear about the destination, in line with similar countries that have transitioned to the next growth trajectory. However, in the process of developing an energetic brand, we should not sideline critical issues such as the anti-corruption drive, generation of economic activities for poverty alleviation and gaining the trust of the citizens through actions." Mamun Rashid, The Daily Star (Dhaka), 1 April 2009.

A trans-oceanic flight no longer provides respite from the news.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Panasonic Avionics Corporation, the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, today announced that it has entered into multi-year agreements with five major television news groups to provide live news and information via its proprietary Panasonic Airline Television Network. The licensed news organizations are Al Jazeera, BBC World News, the Bloomberg Television Television network, euronews and France 24. Discussions are ongoing with additional broadcasters with details soon to be announced. As a component of the Panasonic eXConnect in-flight broadband system, a part of the Panasonic Global Communications Suite, the Panasonic Airline Television Network is a global TV broadcast system designed to provide passengers with live news, information and events wherever the aircraft flies. At its heart is the first worldwide in-flight television distribution system powered by the same Ku based satellite network as the eXConnect service. This Panasonic proprietary network delivers a seamless passenger experience across multiple regions and provides airlines with revenue generation opportunities through advertising insertion and pay-per-view capabilities." Panasonic Avionics press release, 1 April 2009.

As shortwave broadcasting declines, there are still shortwave bleeps, gurgles, and scratching sounds.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Have you ever tuned into shortwave radio bands? If so, you might have come across some strange-sounding periodic signals, from rhythmic bleeps and gurgles to scratching sounds. If you guessed that they were some sort of data transmission, you’re right. But who transmits them, and why? In this guide, we’ll show you how to use your PC to decode these mysterious signals and enter the world of data on the airwaves." PCPlus, 1 April 2009. These are mostly point-to-point communications. However, this could be a useful way to deliver news, in text, to people in remote areas who have no internet or satellite access.

The audience for international television -- at Guantánamo.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The news was live from Jerusalem at Guantánamo's Camp Delta on Tuesday morning, broadcast on al Jazeera's English-language channel in a satellite TV trailer now set up in a prison camp for cooperative war-on-terror captives. A second channel offered a Bahraini talk show, a third had cartoons on state-run Yemeni television. And a fourth featured sports -- on Saudi Arabia's Channel 1. ... Al Jazeera, it just so happened, was offering a live broadcast of Israeli Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at parliament, the Knesset. A voice-over translated his Hebrew into English and then posted on the screen below: 'No one has the right to question the existence of Isreal,' typo and all. A Pentagon employee who has served for years as the prison camps cultural advisor said that the guards opened the TV trailer inside the minimum-security compound, called Camp Four, soon after Obama took office." Miami Herald, 31 March 2009.

Example of the new international broadcasting: television news in English from Colombia.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Interview with Brian Andrews, an American in Bogotá: "I got to Bogota in early December without a job or a real plan. I started freelancing for CBS News, NBC6, Al-Jazeera, WIOD, anybody who would take my stories... and quickly realized it was almost impossible to make a living. ... RCN welcomed me with open arms and has taken my dream of news in English from Colombia to new levels. Now, we're on the Internet and on TV Colombia. ... I have an average of 2,500 visits to our English-language website each day. We're also getting lots of e-mail from people as far away as Australia and China who love watching Colombia News in English on TV Colombia. Plus, I found out that hundreds of school children are watching me each day to learn to speak English!" Latin Business Chronicle, 31 March 2009. See also www.canalrcn.com/newsinenglish/
     If Colombia had an English broadcast on shortwave radio, when shortwave was the prevalent form of international broadcasting, it would probably have been obliged by custom to transmit at least a 30-minute program per day. This television production is eight minutes or less, three times per day.
     Television adds expense and complexity to international broadcasting. The English staff, however, can use video from the Spanish-language RCN. There is no corresponding synergy in international radio, other than translating scripts from the domestic service.
     Colombia News is attractive because 1) it demands only a few minutes of your time, 2) it's available on demand, and 3) it makes good use of video. The 3 April newscast was disappointing, however, because it led with a dubious item about a diamond shaped UFO over Pereira.

Television that's safe for kids, in English and Arabic.

Posted: 04 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Twofour54 ibtikar, the business incubation arm of the Abu Dhabi media zone, has signed its first partnership deal with a British production company to produce a children’s programme in English and Arabic, the companies said yesterday. Driver Dan’s Story Train will debut in the spring of 2010 in the UK on CBeebies, the BBC’s children’s channel, with an Arabic version produced in Abu Dhabi to be released afterwards. ... 'It’s a whole load of stories that are very safe for the kids – the parents will love it – and are educational but fun,' said Tony Orsten, the chief executive of twofour54. 'We think this is going to be very attractive to the Arab world.'" The National, 31 March 2009.

DW "partnering" brings its content to Ghana.

Posted: 03 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
Hans Christian Winkler, deputy head of mission at the German embassy in Accra "announced that Deutsche Welle, the German broadcasting medium would be partnering media houses especially in the regions to air programmes of interest to the Ghanaian public and noted that a German organization would also sponsor at least one Ghanaian journalist to cover the German elections in September this year." Ghana News Agency, 31 March 2009.

Progress, problems for Voice of Nigeria.

Posted: 03 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Minister of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, on Monday in Abuja expressed optimism that the N5 billion transmitting station of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) would be ready before independence celebrations on October 1. Akunyili who spoke while inspecting the project at Lugbe, Abuja, expressed delight at the progress of work on the station in the last two years. ... Malam Abubakar Jijiwa, the station's Director-General [said] 'This is going to be the most sophisticated transmitting station in Africa. We have three new transmitters being installed and they are almost ready.' ... He added that the station has the capability of a rotating antenna that could send signals to any part of the world. Jijiwa said that the project was faced with two major problems: electric power supply and an unresolved land dispute with the Federal Capital" Daily Triumph (Kano), 1 April 2009.

A very minimal sunspot minimum.

Posted: 03 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"The sunspot cycle is behaving a little like the stock market. Just when you think it has hit bottom, it goes even lower. 2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year's 366 days (73%). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days: plot. Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had hit bottom in 2008. Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year's 90 days (87%)." Tony Phillips, Science@NASA, 1 April 2009. And the lack of sunspots has affected shortwave, resulting in moribund reception conditions, especially in the higher frequencies (above 10 MHz).

Panel discusses information following disasters (updated).

Posted: 03 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"During and immediately following a humanitarian disaster, critical questions needed quick and accurate answers -- Where is the nearest open hospital? Is help on the way? ... The [UN] panel, Left in the Dark: the Unmet Need for Communication in Humanitarian Response, featured diverse humanitarian and media professionals, including from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), BBC World News Trust, Internews, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. ... Lisa Robinson, the BBC World Trust Projects Manager for Africa ... noted a BBC-led project which had partnered aid agencies and local organizers to form listening groups around local radio broadcasts to discuss up-to-the-minute information or difficult issues." ReliefWeb, 26 March 2009. See also UN News Centre, 26 March 2009.
     Update: "Lisa Robinson from BBC World Service Trust also stressed the importance of radio as a lifeline and as a powerful tool for giving a voice to the most vulnerable. In conflict-stricken Darfur, for example, the BBC World Service Trust uses local shortwave radio to deliver lifesaving information on issues such as malaria prevention to displaced populations who are not in camps." International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies via ReliefWeb, 1 April 2009.

Voice of Russia expands to 40 languages, but 12 will be internet only.

Posted: 03 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
A previous post reported that Voice of Russia would drop its broadcasts in a third of its languages. Actually, VOR will continue in all languages, and even add Ukrainian and Georgian. But 12 languages will continue on the internet only.
     "As of March 29th the “Voice of Russia” Radio Broadcasting Company, which broadcasts to 160 countries and territories, increases broadcasting hours and expands airtime. According to 'Voice of Russia' Chairman Andrei Bystritsky, the company will soon launch broadcasts in Ukrainian and Georgian. ... The 'Voice of Russia'’s English-language service goes on a 24-hour broadcasting schedule. Until now only International Russian Radio broadcast on a round-the-clock basis. The new schedule provides for two and a half times more airtime to broadcast to Latin America in Spanish and Portuguese. When asked whether the changes coincided with Russia’s politically motivated expansion into Latin America, Andrei Bystritsky said they coincided with Latin America turning into a rapidly developing news generating region. ... The company will continue to broadcast in all 38 languages and we plan to increase the number of broadcasting languages to 46 in the future, he says. ... Expanding Voice of Russia broadcasting time on the Internet, Andrei Bystritsky says, is fairly justified, as it creates multi-media diversity. The company will offer audio and video materials, multi-media clips, infographics, mobile telephone options, audio podcasts and RSS-services." Voice of Russia, 27 March 2009.
     "The Voice of Russia President Andrei Bystritsky explains: 'I’d like to point out that absolutely all of the Voice of Russia languages will be present on our company’s web site. Twelve languages will only be available on-line but the traditional air format can, in prospect, be revived.' ... The determining factors for our broadcasts, as before, will be trustworthiness, operability, competence, and competitiveness. We must offer information stirring up interest and polemic in its essence. The Voice of Russia as a company integrated into the world polemics, must, in addition, set the tone, offer its own news and create the agenda, which means to present facts that were unknown to the public opinion at large and turn them into news." Voice of Russia, 24 March 2009.
     "Q. What about finances? There's a crisis in Russia and you are talking about expanding. How much is it going to cost us? Bystritsiy: In terms of financing [our plans will mean] only savings. By developing online-broadcasting we will be able to stop using overlapping and expensive SW and AM transmitters that are located outside of Russia. That's how we save." Voice of Russia chairman Andrei Bystritsky interviewed by Kommersant Daily, 27 March 2009, translated by Sergei S., DX Listening Digest, 31 March 2009.
     For extensive discussion and coverage of changes at the Voice of Russia, including new transmission schedules and the decision to use DRM only for shortwave transmissions in English and German to Europe, see DX Listening Digest, 31 March 2009.

International broadcasting and democracy in the FSU.

Posted: 01 Apr 2009   Print   Send a link
"Across the former Soviet countries in the recent past, the United States has failed to respond forcefully as the right to dissent and democratic protest has lost ground. ... Recognize the importance of the media and make sure that your commitment to the free flow of ideas never falters. Continue to support international broadcasting via Radio Liberty and Voice of America and step in to help independent media, especially Internet outlets. To thrive in these countries, these new media need support, professional development and special security programs for journalists." Ludmila Alexeeva and Gregory Shvedov, Washington Post, 30 March 2009.