Internet television sidesteps censorship in Georgia.

Posted: 30 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Internet television stations seem to be taking off in Georgia, throwing out a challenge to the traditional broadcast media which has been squeezed by various forms of censorship in recent years. Three new internet stations have appeared in the Georgian media realm in just one year. They have become a much in demand service worldwide as they enable viewers to watch the news that interests them any time they like. Despite a lot of information websites offering articles about the daily news, some people prefer to watch than read. ... 'The virtual press and television have critical importance in countries where Governments tend to meddle in the internal affairs of the media,' says Ia Antadze, a reporter for the Radio Free Europe Georgia office. But she adds that internet television will be also used as a political tool unless it secures funding from neutral sources." The Georgian Times, 28 September 2009.

Two Radio Farda journalists die, third in coma, after Prague car accident.

Posted: 30 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL's Persian-language Service, Radio Farda, is mourning the tragic loss of two of its finest journalists and praying for a third who is in a coma at a Prague hospital following a car accident near the Czech capital on September 29. Rosa Ajiri, 27, and Amir Zamani-Far, 29, were killed in the early morning when their car was hit by a truck. Mahin Gorji, 43, is in a coma and a fourth passenger, a visiting journalist, was treated and released from the hospital. ... RFE/RL's Associate Director of Broadcasting Abbas Djavad said about Rosa and Amir: 'They were young and vibrant. Optimistic and hopeful. Open and lovely. Smiling and fun. Hard working and helpful. Educated and dedicated -- to their families, friends, their country, and to freedom.'" RFE/RL press release, 30 September 2009. "In Memoriam: Radio Farda Loses Respected Colleagues In Highway Tragedy." RFE/RL, 30 September 2009.

International broadcasting covers the South Pacific earthquake and tsunami.

Posted: 30 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Samoans overseas are desperate to hear from their families. New Zealand Samoan Community leader Peter Skelton plead for his brother to contact him during an interview on Radio Australia." Radio Australia, 30 September 2009. Additional coverage at www.radioaustralia.net.au and www.rnzi.com.
     "There was a major breaking news story last night, the earthquake in the Pacific, and its tsunami warnings. The news networks were terrible at covering it. Wave's hit New Zealands coasts, and America Samoa is effectively devestated in parts. All the way through, Fox News continued with O'Reilly's pre-recorded show, and CNN kept with its capitol hill dribble. CNN International didn't even bother to cover the story in any detail that it deserved." Kevin Coy, World Business News, 30 September 2009. See also CNN International, 30 September 2009.
     "In Fiji, there have been reports of increased wave activity, but Brisbane holidaymaker Anthony Pantalone who is there with his family said there no tsunami warnings issued. 'Apparently there was a one-metre tidal surge but there was not a thing put out _ you wouldn’t even know (a tsunami had happened),' Mr Pantalone, who is staying at the Shangri-La Resort, said. 'I was quite surprised (resort staff) didn’t say a thing. The only way we found out was we watched BBC World News.'" Brisbane Courier-Mail, 30 September 2009.

The United States can expect a long, difficult conflict -- among its international communication bureaucracies.

Posted: 30 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A US Defense Department Internet initiative is stoking a debate among experts about whether the Pentagon is overreaching. The $10.1 million Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) aims to launch a series of language-specific websites, including Russian, Chinese, Farsi, Georgian, Armenian and Azeri. The Pentagon in early September awarded the contract to build the new websites to General Dynamics Corp. The websites will feature news and analysis that helps garner support for US policies. Overall, the Defense Department wants to establish 12 websites within the year under TRWI’s auspices. ... A senior staff member at RFE/RL reacted coolly to the Defense Department initiative, stating bluntly that the US military should "leave journalism to journalists." The staffer also suggested that the Pentagon could better serve American policy objectives by developing technology that prevented websites and other media from being jammed by 'repressive countries.' ... In the opinion of two legal experts -- Daniel Silverberg, counsel to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Col. Joseph Heimann, the Senior Appellate Judge on the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals -- the Pentagon web initiative has the potential to do damage to American public diplomacy. ... In a paper published in the summer of 2009, Silverberg and Heimann said the TRWI plan could blur the line between Department of Defense propaganda and Department of State public affairs initiatives in a way that benefits neither government agency." Deirdre Tynan, Eurasianet.org, 28 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     The Pentagon websites will probably not feature news, but a news-like content limited to friendly, soft stories (a common public relations technique). As such, the Pentagon sites will complement the US international broadcasting sites, which are real news. On the other hand, the Pentagon sites will duplicate the work of America.gov, which also provides news-like content in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Persian, and Chinese. International audiences will be annoyed with the United States for making them figure out which website has the real news versus the ersatz news (though it won't be hard to spot which is which), and then to try to figure out why the United States has two sites providing real news (VOA and Radio Free Whatever) and two sites (America.gov and the new Pentagon effort) providing the soft, news-like content.

British leaflet drop causes fatality in Afghanistan.

Posted: 30 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"An Afghan girl died after a box of information leaflets -- dropped by a British military plane and intended to help the local population -- landed on top of her, Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday. The MoD said it had launched an investigation into the incident which occurred three months ago in a rural area of Helmand in southern Afghanistan where British troops are battling Taliban insurgents. ... 'Sadly one of the boxes failed to fully open and on landing caused serious injuries to an Afghan child,' a Royal Air Force spokesman said in a statement." Reuters, 30 September 2009.

CBS will partner with GlobalPost, but GlobalPost is "no BBC World Service, yet."

Posted: 29 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Kai Ryssdal: Given the international headlines -- both economic and political -- it's hard to argue that foreign news is becoming less important. The thing is, though, that newsrooms are cutting foreign coverage because it's so expensive. Today CBS announced it has found a work-around. The Tiffany Network is looking to save some cash by partnering with a Web site called GlobalPost. It provides a worldwide network of reporters, for a fee of course. And perhaps is a way that news organizations can expand their foreign coverage instead of cutting it. Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson reports now from New York. Jeremy Hobson: GlobalPost launched in January. It gets about 400,000 visitors a month. It also offers its articles to about 25 news organizations. Media blogger Dan Kennedy says it's no BBC World Service, yet." American Public Media Marketplace, 28 September 2009. See also globalpost.com.

BBC World Service Trust assists UNHCR in warnings about crossing the Gulf of Aden.

Posted: 29 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Every year tens of thousands of people, mainly Ethiopians and Somalis fleeing poverty or conflict and persecution, pay smugglers to ferry them across the Gulf of Aden to the Yemeni coast. Many never make it, drowning or dying from beatings, shark attacks and other dangers. So far this year, around 300 people have drowned or are missing at sea and presumed dead. The UN refugee agency has long been trying to spread awareness about the dangers, but people still keep making the perilous crossing. In a bid to reach a wide audience, [the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have teamed up with the BBC World Service Trust to air a weekly radio broadcast about the risks. The first 30-minute 'Lifeline' programme was broadcast last Saturday on the BBC's Somali service. It will become a weekly feature over the next six months, when the Gulf of Aden sailing season is at its height." UNHCR, 28 September 2009.

Deutsche Welle participates in Johannesburg conference on the future of radio.

Posted: 29 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Wits Radio Academy will bring top international speakers to Johannesburg to consider the future of radio as medium and industry at the Joburg Radio Days conference to be held at University of Witwatersrand, 19-21 October 2009. The event, supported by Germany's international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle and Kagiso Media, owner of regional radio stations in key metropolitan areas, is aimed at radio leaders from South Africa and other African countries and will draw all sectors, community, commercial and public, into a conversation about the issues that confront them. ... Jochen Walter of the Deutsche Welle Akademie said, 'We are very happy to be associated with this conference, since radio remains of critical importance in the African communications landscape. Joburg Radio Days will provide stimulating discussion, of interest to radio leaders from all sectors.'" Bizcommunity.com, 29 September 2009.

Interview with Radio Martí "probable reason" for Cuban blogger's arrest (updated).

Posted: 29 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
In Cuba: "Two bloggers, Luis Felipe González Rojas and Yosvany Anzardo Hernández, were arrested and beaten by police in the eastern city of Holguín on 10 September and their computers were confiscated. González was released after four hours but Anzardo is still being held. His detention brings the number of detained journalists in Cuba to 26. The interview González recently gave to Miami-based Radio Marti was the probable reason for his arrest. ... The Dutch embassy and the US Interests Section offer free Internet access ... to the public, but several hours of waiting is often necessary in order to use it. After Raúl Castro took over as president, the government lifted a ban on Cubans entering tourist hotels, which have better [than typical Cuban] connections. But supervision has been reinforced again and several bloggers ... have [been] turned away when they tried to enter hotels. Finally, several sources say that the University of Computer Sciences is helping to monitor and censor the Internet in Cuba." Reporters sans frontières, 18 September 2009.
     Update: "The website of Voces Cubanas (http://vocescubanas.com/), a platform that supports independent Cuban bloggers, has meanwhile been inaccessible within Cuba since 28 August. The same goes for the Payo Libre website since 10 September. The blog of Lia Villares (www.habanemia.blogspot.com) is also blocked, as is Yoani Sánchez’s blog, Generación Y (www.desdecuba.com/generaciony/). The Cuban government often blocks websites dedicated to daily life on the island, only to restore access after a relatively short period. This repeated censorship tactic is way of discouraging alternative sources of news and information while misleading the foreign media, which are not well represented on the island and are closely monitored by the authorities." Reporters sans frontières, 25 September 2009.

French appeals court orders RFI to "make adjustments" to its plans to drop 206 jobs.

Posted: 29 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A Paris appeals court has ordered Radio France Internationale (RFI) to make adjustments to its plan to cut staff by 206 posts. In a decision handed down on Monday, the court found the RFI plan contained a number of irregularities, and ordered management to make more serious efforts to redeploy personnel to other public broadcasters. ... Management announced the redundancy plan, which included the closure of six language services (German, Albanian, Polish, Serbo-Croat, Turkish and Lao) in January, arguing that listenership was down and that the [company] had run up large deficits." RFI, 29 September 2009. See also RFI press release, 28 September 2009.
     "La Cour d’appel condamne la direction de Radio France Internationale à payer au C.E la somme de 3000 € au titre de l’article 700 du code de procédure civile ... ." RFI Riposte, 28 September 2009.

Five international broadcasting directors call for more freedom of information.

Posted: 29 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the directors from Voice of America, BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale and Radio Netherlands Worldwide are bringing attention to the fact that freedom of opinion still isn’t a reality in many countries. ... They pointed out that in the past few years the media, and particularly international media, were subjected again and again to restrictions during the period leading to elections. This includes the disruption of radio broadcasts, Internet censorship and the intimidation and prosecution of journalists. The directors stated that this applies especially to Afghanistan, Burma and Iran. Nevertheless, brave people around the world are fighting for their right of freedom of opinion. 'We are impressed by the resourcefulness and the perseverance that individuals are exhibiting around the globe by using digital media to communicate across borders,' said Deutsche Welle Director General Erik Bettermann, currently the Chairman of the group of directors." Deutsche Welle press release, 29 September 2009. Similar statements at Radio France Internationale press release, 29 September 2009 and Voice of America press release, 29 September 2009.

US international broadcasting: too bizarre to be explained by political science.

Posted: 29 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Public Diplomacy: Ideas for the War of Ideas,' by MIT political scientists Peter Krause and Stephen Van Evera, was published in Middle East Policy, Fall 2009. ... This is a thought provoking paper. I was provoked to write some notes about the authors' recommendations regarding U.S. international broadcasting." Kim Andrew Elliott, USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 28 September 2009.

Profitable international broadcasting: CNBC and its overseas affiliates.

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"In addition to the United States [CNBC] that Americans are familiar with, the company has operated overseas since 1998. It produces two 24-hour channels, one for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and another for the Asia-Pacific region. ... The local-language channels supplement the regional ones. From east to west, locals can view channels in Japan, Pakistan and India; the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa; and in Turkey, Poland and Italy. ... CNBC does not disclose how much revenue it earns from the affiliates, but it says its international arm is now profitable. The local channels are essentially licensees of the CNBC brand. In exchange for a license fee, the channels receive proprietary software, graphics packages, and access to the company’s global infrastructure. Most visibly, they receive CNBC’s peacock logo. ... CNBC Arabiya’s formation roughly coincided with the opening of stock markets in the Middle East." Brian Stelter, New York Times, 27 September 2009.

CNN International's CNNgo is "born-and-made-in-Asia" guide to Asian cities.

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"On Monday (September 28), CNN International will launch CNNgo in Asia, a website that aims to enrich city experiences for both locals and travellers. In development for the past seven months, the concept has been developed and executed from the ground up by the Turner Asia team based in Hong Kong – which means it is not an American product adapted for the Asian market but a born-and-made-in-Asia offering. ... Once launched, the site will be updated up to 60 times a day by its team of about 14 editors, including a city editor in each city. The launch covers six cities – Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok." 4Hoteliers.com, 28 September 2009. The article about CNNgo does not provide a URL for CNNgo, but the URL is what most people's first guess would be: www.cnngo.com.

For US viewers, a weekly sampling of "Amanpour.".

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Christiane Amanpour, TV's best international correspondent, finally got her own daily show Monday. But it is only seen on CNN International, so Sunday's version of 'Amanpour.' (complete with period) is the only one carried on the mother station. At 2 p.m., it comes after all the newsmaking Sunday morning talk shows, even after 'Fareed Zakaria GPS' after most of the audience is either politicked out or has since moved to the NFL blitz. Which is too bad, since international news is something that American news media has been sorely lacking. ... The must-see part of the hour long show came at the end and her garrulous exchange with Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe - a perfectly modulated interview that moved slowly into its biggest contentions... ." Roger Catlin, TV Eye blog, Hartford Courant, 28 September 2009.

Collegiality: Polskie Radio international service describes Deutsche Welle as a "daily."

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The potential coalition between the christian-democrat CDU/CSU and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDU) is a political expression of openness and understanding to Warsaw, claims Bartosz Dudek, head of the Polish section at the German daily Deutsche Welle." Polish Radio External Service, 28 September 2009. I suppose an international broadcasting service transmitting via radio, television, and the internet is a "daily," but "daily" usually means a newspaper, which DW is not.

China Radio International coverage of PRC 60th (with UTC conversions, in case anyone outside of China might want to tune in).

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The People's Republic of China celebrates the 60th anniversary of its founding on October 1st. Grand celebrations, including a military parade, will be held in Beijing to mark the occasion. CRIENGLISH.com will bring you live video coverage of the celebrations. Between 9:55 a.m. and 12 a.m. [sic, probably means 12 p.m., i.e. 12 noon] Beijing Time on October 1st, CRIENGLISH.com will host a live video broadcast of the National Day parade on Chang'an Avenue in front of Tian'anmen Square in central Beijing. Between 7:55 p.m. and 10 p.m., netizens around the world will be able to watch live video coverage of the evening gala and fireworks display at Tian'anmen Square on CRIENGLISH.com. ... Live audio or video broadcasts in other languages will also be available at www.cri.cn, the official website of China Radio International." China Radio International website, 28 September 2009. CRI seems to have joined DW (see previous post) as broadcasters that have forgotten how to convert local time to UTC. Are DW and CRI still international broadcasters? The parade is at 0155 to 0400 UTC, and the gala at 1155 to 1400 UTC.

Intelsat's "market access issues" in China.

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
David Ball, Intelsat's VP Asia-Pacific: "China and Hong Kong are very different markets. The Mainland is a very limited market for us. There are a lot of market access issues there. We, however, carry China Central Television (CCTV) and China Radio International. We also work with a lot of telecommunications companies to bring new services in and out of China." DNA (Mumbai), 28 September 2009.

Is China's internet censorship bad for China's internet business?

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese regime’s heavy internet crackdown has not only blocked hundreds of millions of Chinese netizens from accessing information on the web freely, it has also undermined the confidence of foreign investors in China’s internet market. Google’s revenue in China has been down, as has the number of its users. Yahoo has recently sold all of its shares in Alibaba.com (a Chinese version of eBay), leading to widespread speculation that Yahoo is backing out of China’s market." Xinyu, Radio Free Asia, via Epoch Times, 27 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Actually, it's the unprostration that's good exercise.

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
The Dalai Lama's "routine includes a short early morning walk around the flower-filled garden of his residence but if it's raining, he uses a treadmill. 'He also does prostrations which is very good exercise,' Dalai Lama spokesman Tenzin Toplak told AFP, describing the action of throwing oneself face-down on the floor. Later, the Dalai Lama, whose name loosely translates as 'Ocean of Wisdom,' eats a breakfast of porridge, bread and preserves served with tea while he listens to the BBC World Service." Penny MacRae, AFP, 28 September 2009.

"The shortwave was our internet."

Posted: 28 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Dias brothers and original Os Mutantes [Brazilian rock group] singer Rita Lee got their kicks blending south-of-the-border grooves with their own interpretations of the rock 'n' roll sounds they picked up from the United States and England via shortwave radio. 'The day the Beatles put out "Help!" in Brazil, we already knew how to play it,' Dias said. 'The shortwave was our Internet. . . . We used to record the radio programs and then try to make out what was going on.'" Cleveland Plain Dealer, 27 September 2009. See previous post about Os Mutantes.

Could also send jazz musicians deep into Afghanistan, with modest expectations.

Posted: 27 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"During the Cold War, containment did not preclude engagement, and it shouldn't today. To the extent that the United States can encourage liberalizing tendencies in the Islamic world, it should do so -- albeit with modest expectations. Sending jazz musicians deep into the Eastern Bloc in the old days was commendable, but Louis Armstrong's trumpet didn't topple the Soviet empire." Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Post, 27 September 2009.

Former BBCWS MD John Tusa's letter to BBC re executive pay, values, etc.

Posted: 27 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has come under attack over claims of mismanagement and unreasonably high salaries from three of its most loyal servants. ... Sir John Tusa, a former Newsnight presenter and head of the BBC World Service, has written an open letter to Mark Thompson, the director-general, asking him to cut his successor’s pay and that of other future executives by half and restore the corporation’s core values. ... The BBC said it would reply to Tusa’s letter." Maurice Chittenden, The Sunday Times, 27 September 2009.
     Excerpt from Tusa letter to BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons and BBC director-general Mark Thompson: "I believe you need to think harder about re-stating and reviewing the BBC’s internal sense of the values by which it works. As things stand, my impression is that ... [To Thompson:] BBC staff don’t know what are the BBC’s core values. Serving the audience, distinctiveness, efficiency, just aren’t enough. I guess most BBC staff are nourished by a deep stream of rather inchoate Reithianism. But Reith was a very long time ago and we need something both visionary and contemporary. Many BBC staff know the values by which they work. But they wonder if you do? ... Please put into words for the BBC in the 21st Century." The Times, 26 September 2009.

CNBC Asia's Martin Soong: "Business connects everything."

Posted: 27 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Martin Soong is "synonymous with CNBC Asia, being one of its founding anchors. He is also credited with helping to establish the business news channel’s identity and development since 1993. ... 'Business is a very interesting and relevant creature. It puts everything together. On the show we don’t just talk about financial figures. We talk about the weather, the politics of a country, how the crops are faring, the people, the social status, because everything matters to the business world. It’s about how the world works. Figures taken in isolation mean nothing. Business connects everything,' he reasoned." The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 27 September 2009.

Deutsche Welle election schedule (with UTC conversions, in case anyone outside of Europe might want to tune in).

Posted: 27 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"When Germany goes to the polls on Sunday, Sept. 27, Deutsche Welle will be there, keeping you abreast of all the latest developments. ... From 6 to 11 p.m. Central European Time (CET), our radio programming will be available via satellite and shortwave frequencies, or as a live audio stream that you can find on our website." DW-TV coverage "will run from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m." Deutsche Welle, 26 September 2009. Unless DW has become a domestic station in Germany, it should have provided the broadcast times in UTC: 1600-2100 for radio, 1530-2000 for DW-TV.

US international broadcasting: ideas for reform, or for re-form?

Posted: 26 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Renewing America’s Voices – Ideas for Reform" marks the tenth anniversary of the Broadcasting Board of Governors on 1 October. Three retired senior executives of US international broadcasting "recommend a bipartisan Executive and Legislative Branch commission to review U.S. international broadcasting based on these principles" including: "Restore and reinvigorate VOA English radio worldwide. ... Re-establish a VOA Arabic website. ... Ensure that VOA, the only global broadcaster, retains a significant multimedia reach in all geographic regions. ... Respect the distinction and different roles of VOA (a full-service global network) and RFE/RL or RFA (surrogate target country and regional broadcasting.)" Walter Roberts (former associate director of the U.S. Information Agency), Barry Zorthian (program manager of VOA for five years aand former member of RFE/RL's board), and Alan L. Heil Jr. (former deputy director of VOA), Public Diplomacy Council, "2009" (pdf). Perhaps the commission will be more useful if it starts from a clean slate. My comments on the ideas presented by these senior statesmen is forthcoming, in every sense of the word.

Perhaps a record for the amount of misinformation packed into two sentences.

Posted: 26 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The State Department has been reluctant to push for more funding for democracy promotion in Iran. Nor have the organs of U.S. public diplomacy, such as the Voice of America, made a concerted effort to encourage democratic change." Lawrence J. Haas, The North Star National, 25 September 2009.
     The Voice of America and other elements are not "organs of U.S. public diplomacy." And, as news organizations, they do not "encourage democratic change." Instead, they overcome the misinformation and disinformation from Iranian official domestic media, providing Iranians the information they need to form their own opinions about current events. This is an essential building block in the development of democracy. As for "concerted effort," VOA's Persian News Network has, with the addition of a two-hour breakfast show, increased to seven hours per day of original television content, repeated over 24 hours. VOA PNN radio is five hours per day (5 1/2 according to this schedule). RFE/RL's Radio Farda is 24 hours a day. Also, the official US public-diplomacy product is available at america.gov/persian. Can't get much more "concerted" than that.

"Out-communicating" whom? Bin Laden calling Europe, in three languages.

Posted: 26 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A new audio tape released Friday, with a voice purported to be Osama bin Laden, warns Europeans to distance themselves from the United States. ... The tape was released by Al-Sahab Media productions with both English and German subtitles and featured a still photo of bin Laden in front of a map of Europe. ... The authenticity of the tape could not be verified. However, the voice resembled previous recordings confirmed to be bin Laden." Jessica Desvarieux, VOA News, 26 September 2009.
     "The use of subtitles to address a German audience so close to Sunday's general election appeared calculated to provoke public unease." Deutsche Welle, 26 September 2009. YouTube of the AV production (4 minutes, 48 seconds) via GlobalPost, 25 September 2009.

Eritrea claims BBC Arabic misinforms about famine, drought, heat.

Posted: 26 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"In line with the well-known practice of disseminating distorted and erroneous information as well as figures, certain international organizations are echoing reports that serious famine is hovering over large portion of the Horn of Africa, including Eritrea this year due to drought and insufficient rains. ... The BBC’s Arabic program is one of those which disseminated the aforementioned baseless information. At the time when the Eritrean Ministry of Information sought to respond to the unsubstantiated information, the reply given by the said media organization was: 'we will give the chance to respond only if it is in tune with the information we had broadcast.' This amply proves that its continued anti-Eritrea campaign is not due to the lack of information but a deliberate act. However, it is not overly surprising to hear such allegations on the part of a broadcasting organization that claims the ‘prevalence’ of a 44-degree centigrade temperature in Asmara, while the city was experiencing heavy summer rains." Eritrea Ministry of Information, 23 September 2009.

BBC is past its "Prime," and bumped by Disney in Rotterdam.

Posted: 26 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"After 14 years the BBC Prime name will disappear when on November 11 at 6am CET the channel will be rebranded as BBC Entertainment. The name change will bring the channel into line with the portfolio of channels from BBC Worldwide, which now consists of BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC HD. At the moment, BBC Prime reaches some 12 million households in Europe and the Middle East. The channel will start subtitling its programmes for the Dutch speaking market. ... BBC Entertainment was launched in Asia in 2006. It now has localised versions in India, Poland, Africa, Scandinavia and South America. In a related development, UPC Netherlands is replacing BBC World News in its analogue tier on October 3 with Disney Channel in a number of cities, including Rotterdam."
Robert Briel, Broadband TV news, 24 September 2009.

Murdoch-versus-BBC debate recalls Star TV incident.

Posted: 26 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a speech last month, [News Corp's James] Murdoch slammed the BBC as an 'Orwellian' institution—a provider of 'state-sponsored' news with 'chilling ambitions' that was using government-guaranteed income to 'throttle' competition. At issue was the supply of independent information—and the publicly funded BBC could not be trusted. In Murdoch's concluding words: 'The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.' ... Commentators have been quick to point to the questionable record of Murdoch's Fox News on objectivity (to say nothing of media consolidation), and to remind people how News Corp. yielded to pressure from the Chinese government, dropping the BBC's World Service from its Star satellite package in 1993." William Underhill, Newsweek, 24 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Nation branding, for "compelling image" ... and compelling ad sales for international channels.

Posted: 26 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mathias Akotia, announced as the CEO of the newly formed Brand Ghana office, will provide the opening keynote presentation at the Nation Branding Africa Masterclass event in Ghana next week. The Brand Ghana office was launched on 16 September 2009 by the President of Ghana, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, to build a 'compelling image for Ghana'. Akotia has stressed that, whilst appointed by the Government, his vision is to evolve Brand Ghana as a non-partisan, non-political entity owned by Ghanaians. The Nation Branding Africa Masterclass will be led by Simon Anholt... . The Nation Branding Africa Masterclass in Accra is the second in a global series of events, with the others taking place in Delhi, Singapore, Dubai and London. The series is sponsored by BBC World News. For more information, go to www.nationbrandingevents.com." Bizcommunity.com, 25 September 2009.

BBC World News will launch China Business Report, from China, in English.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News soon will launch a China Business Report on the British statecaster's commercial 24-hour international news and information channel. The English-language show about China's increasingly influential economy will be co-produced with Chinese broadcaster Phoenix CNE and U.K. independent company Sibling Eye. 'This is a unique opportunity for BBC World News as it is the first time the channel has sought to transmit a whole program from China,' Paul Gibbs, BBC World News head of programs, said in a statement on Sept. 22. ... BBC World News will be the principal broadcaster, Gibbs said. ... Historically, BBC's reporting on China on occasion has displeased Beijing, where media regulators have moved to block the U.K. broadcasters' Web sites and radio and television broadcasts in China." Jonathan Landreth, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 September 2009. BBC probably does not appreciate being called a "statecaster."

RFA on North Korea: 1) constitution drops "communism," 2) more consumption of instant noodles.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"South Korea is analysing changes to North Korea's constitution which apparently strengthen the authority of leader Kim Jong-Il, an official said Friday. ... Radio Free Asia said Thursday the revisions made in April to the communist state's charter seem to bolster Kim's rule. The radio said the new constitution for the first time drops the use of the term 'communism.' It refers instead to the 'songun' policy of Kim Jong-Il and the "juche" philosophy promoted by his father and founding president Kim Il-Sung." AFP, 25 September 2009. RFA also cited by UPI, 25 September 2009 and The Chosun Ilbo, 25 September 2009.
     I couldn't find the NK constitution story in English at the RFA website, but there is this: "North Koreans are consuming increasing quantities of brand-name instant noodles, and the three-minute fast food packages are among the hottest gifts at this year's traditional harvest festival, or Chuseok. Top brand on the menu for harvest gifts this year is Shin Ramyun, made by South Korean food manufacturer Nong Shim in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang." S.W. Park, RFA, 22 September 2009.

Australian lecturer: Al Jazeera blocks distribution of film about West Papuan resistance.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Recently, I watched 'Pride of Warriors', a documentary about resistance in West Papua. The filmmaker, Jono Van Hest, had asked me to comment on the film's content as he prepared it for public broadcast on Al Jazeera's English language channel. Then, after an article about the film, which quoted Indonesian government sources, appeared in the Jakarta Post, 'Pride of Warriors' was pulled from the broadcaster's schedule. ... These are stories that Al Jazeera has silenced. And because Al Jazeera has bought the rights to Pride of Warriors, refusal to air the film means Al Jazeera has not only silenced stories of civil resistance, it has acted to kill the film’s distribution." Jason MacLeod, truthout, 22 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Net radio: like shortwave, minus Soviet jamming.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A net radio you can put on your nightstand or anyplace in your house — with radio preset buttons. It brings the world into your living room or bedroom at the touch of a button. ... You can listen to Internet-streaming radio stations from any country in the world. I've heard a hip-hop station out of Oslo, and streaming stations from Barbados, France, Japan, and Australia. What is obvious is that American popular culture — music — washes over the entire world. It's impossible to find a country in which a large amount of rap/soul/R&B isn't a staple — or dominant — on that nation's music stations. This Francophile had a hard time finding traditional, accordion-driven Parisian music amidst all the French urban music. I finally found one, Radio Bonheur. ... Remember short wave radio? This is kinda like that — where you can hear radio stations from all over the world, which I used to do as a kid. The difference here is that with Net radio, there's no Soviet jamming — and no Soviet Union." Bill Mann, San Jose Mercury News, 24 September 2009.

CNBC Asia Pacific expands mobile offerings.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC ... in Asia Pacific is expanding its mobile offerings with the revamp of its mobile website as part of a global initiative. The site now includes live U.S. stock quotes, major Asian indices and global business headlines with direct links to the U.S. and Europe mobile web sites. ... CNBC has also developed a new shortcut BlackBerry icon with Research in Motion as well as a touchscreen widget distributed on Nokia’s Ovi Store. With strong 2G and 3G offerings, CNBC is able to tailor complete mobile solutions for partners including mobile operators and mobile handset manufacturers." Media Research Asia, 24 September 2009.

Three new Army psyop units respond to "growing needs."

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Army has a growing need for special talents and unique skills, and the town of Garner [North Carolina] is now the home for the soldiers who will make up one such unit: the 340th Psychological Operations Company — or PSYOP, as it is commonly known (though what these soldiers do is far from common). Lt. Colonel Chadwick D. Barklay and Major Megan E. Mangan gave speeches at the activation ceremony of 340th Psychological Operations Company, which was held at B.G. James Moore U.S. Army Reserve Center on W. Garner Road Sunday, Sept. 13. The company is one of three new units created under the 15th PSYOP Battalion in response to the Army’s growing needs for special units in this field. Lt. Colonel Chadwick D. Barklay, commander of the 15th PSYOP Battalion, gave opening remarks at the unit’s activation ceremony at the B.G. James Moore U.S. Army Reserve Center Sunday, Sept. 13. Barklay informed the crowd of well-wishers that in the past 16 years, the reserves have been deployed more than they had been in the past 85 years." Garner Citizen, 23 September 2009.

RFI reporter has been in Equatorial Guinea prison for 100 days.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "reiterates its call for the release of Rodrigo Angue Nguema, the Malabo correspondent of Agence France-Presse and Radio France Internationale, who has been held in the capital’s Black Beach prison for the past 100 days. He was tried on a defamation charge on 1 September but the court has yet to issue a verdict." RSF, 25 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.

On CBS, Ahmadinejad's shout-out to VOA and BBC.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"We are - very sorry that one of our fellow citizens has been killed. As a victim of an - agitation of circumstance. An agitation that was carried out with the support of some American politicians, the voice of America, and the BBC." Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, interviewed by Katie Couric, CBS News, 23 September 2009.
     "There are ... severe limits to what democracies – and especially the US and Britain – can do directly to promote political change inside Iran. All the more important to do the indirect things better. One of these the British government has now done – funding the first-rate BBC Persian television and internet service, which in less than a year has become an indispensable, trusted source of news for Iranians." Timothy Garton Ash, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 23 September 2009.
     Stephen Williams, "executive editor for the BBC's global channels in the Asia Pacific region, which extends from Iran through Central Asia to Afghanistan, China and Vietnam [who] oversaw the launch in early 2009 of the internationally acclaimed BBC Persian TV," is a Goldsmith Fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, where "his research will focus on the media's impact on foreign policy." Shorenstein Center website.

BBC Arabic looks to Arab-produced content.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide channels will be investing more in the region to produce and procure Arabic language content, Emirates Business has learnt. BBC increased its presence in the region by launching Arabic channel – BBC Arabic – last year and intends to enhance its broadcasting by producing more original content. 'We will also encourage local production houses to produce for us and work hand-in-hand with privately-owned TV channels in the region,' a reliable industry official shared on condition of anonymity. BBC's commercial office has also sent message to that affect and believes that commercial success in the Middle East would prompt the broadcaster to invest in creating Arabic language content locally." Emirates Business 24/7, 23 September 2009.
     "'At the moment we’re building our channels to be the showcase for British content, but in the markets where we have been for a while we are considering localised channels, local language, marketing and dedicated teams on the ground.'" Digital Production Middle East, 16 September 2009.
     A previous, related, story that I missed: "National Geographic Channel is going free-to-air for the first time, following a deal with the Abu Dhabi Media Company. National Geographic Channel Abu Dhabi will be the first international factual entertainment channel to be launched in Arabic. Available on Arabsat and Nilesat, the new channel means National Geographic Channel is now available in 305 million homes in 165 countries in 34 languages." Rapid TV News, 8 July 2009.

CPJ protests Tunisian "smear campaign" against Al Jazeera.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a Tunisian government-backed smear campaign against the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television station. ... State-controlled media outlets have been attacking Al-Jazeera since July, when the station covered a conference in Geneva on the right of exiled Tunisian dissidents to return home and aired interviews with leading critics of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, journalists told CPJ." CPJ, 24 September 2009.

Al Jazeera English reports about a county jail in Texas.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Reporters with Al-Jazeera were in Houston earlier this month filming around the city and in the Harris County Jail -- getting some people riled up -- to 'examine the criminalization of the mentally ill.' The 22-minute news story was released last week, and while it was well-made and informative, the story doesn't offer much new information to anyone that follows the criminal justice system in Texas." Paul Knight, Houston Press blog, 23 September 2009, with link to YouTube video. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Canada International finally in the news, re prize for women of courage.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Ingrid Betancourt will be presented "with the Reporters Without Borders - Radio Canada International Prize for Women of Courage. This prize, which is presented for the first time, honours women who fight, day after day, to ensure the most basic human rights and freedoms are respected. Ms. Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician, was taken by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and freed on July 2, 2008, after six years of detention." Governor General of Canada press release, 23 September 2009. See also transcript of Governor General's speech.

RFE/RL's Nasibova wins a Rafto.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A journalist for RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service has won the prestigious Rafto Prize for her reporting on human rights and abuses of power in her native province of Nakhichevan. ... Calling Malahat Nasibova 'the journalist who won't be silenced' and describing her as 'a kind of ombudsperson whom the local population turn to, to be heard,' the Norwegian Human Rights Organization Rafto announced the award in Bergen, Norway this morning." RFE/RL press release, 24 September 2009.
     "The Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) known as the Voice of the West since the beginning of the Cold War is entering into the 21st century in its modern house designed by the architects 'Cigler Marani'. Along with the freedom of speech, this broadcaster is also bringing to the Eastern Europe a new architectural idea and standard of life and work. Prague, the pearl of architecture, is still curing its deep scars of the Soviet period." Statyba ir Architektura, 23 September 2009 (with nice picture of the building). I've never heard of RFE/RL referring to itself as "Voice of the West," especially as it positions itself as the voice of the target country. In the 1960s and 1970s, the international service of Radio Portugal used the slogan "the Voice of the West." Hear audio of this via Dave Kernick's Interval Signals Online. See previous post about same subject.

China blocks the software intended to unblock Chinese internet controls.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese government should stop censoring Web sites and protect Internet users from cyber attacks in advance of upcoming National Day celebrations, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. October 1 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Internet users have reported that several social networking sites, including forums and micro-blogging sites, have been shut down in recent weeks. Freegate software used to circumvent online censorship was apparently being blocked from September 1, according to Radio Free Asia. ... 'The recent controls are probably the most severe ever,' Internet commentator Zhou Shuguang told RFA." CPJ, 22 September 2009.
     "Twitter equivalents Fanfou, Jiwai, and Digu were recently shut down, forcing many Internet users to migrate to Twitter, bloggers said. And when leading Chinese Internet portal Sina.com launched its own Twitter-like service, Sina Micro Bo, users complained of too many controls." Radio Free Asia, 16 September 2009.

Its reporter in Seoul says VOA is "as methodical as possible" in reportings about North Korea.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Kurt Achin has great trouble telling the North Korean story. In his role as English language head for Voice of America (VOA) in Seoul, Kurt has colleagues whose job it is to get news of the outside world to the people of North Korea themselves, but it is his task to try and tell everyone else about North Korea. ... The challenge for reporters, he says, is to get past the lies, half-truths and packaged narratives about 'Evil North Korea' and, on the other hand, 'Misunderstood North Korea,' neither of which is true, and neither of which is entirely false. The VOA’s aim, Achin asserts, is to be as methodical as possible in using sources, to distinguish the North Korean regime from the people it viciously represses, to refuse to let the nuclear issue 'steamroll' human rights concerns, as it so easily can on the international stage, and to hold every single nation to account for how they approach the North Korean human rights problem." Chris Green, The Daily NK, 24 September 2009.

Vietnamese dissidents and "modern communications."

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Imprisoned Vietnamese lawyer Le Cong Dinh, "who is skilled at using the Internet to spread his pro-democracy message widely, also became friendly with organizations outside Vietnam like Viet Tan (for Vietnam Reform Party) that are also skilled in modern communications. Viet Tan began in 1982 as an underground movement that broadcast short-wave radio programs into Vietnam, according to news reports. ... Last month, another Vietnamese dissident was arrested, her crime being that she wore a T-shirt with a politically incorrect slogan that protested the Chinese bauxite mining project, and the Chinese in general. If such low-tech speech like simple slogans on T-shirts frighten the authorities in Hanoi, imagine how they fear modern communications that bring news and information to the Vietnamese people that the communist party considers politically incorrect. There are the Internet’s news channels, newspapers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, BBC’s Vietnamese Radio Service, the Voice of America, Vietnam’s active blogosphere, Twitter, cell-phones, text messaging, and so forth. Dinh, like most of the other pro-democracy advocates who have been arrested, is said to be very skilled at using the Internet to spread powerful ideas." Greg Rushford, Rushford Report, 21 September 2009.

CNN covers PRC 60th, interviews Mugabe, interacts on climate change.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"As part of its coverage to mark the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, international news network CNN features an exclusive in-depth, half-hour ‘TALK ASIA' interview with two of China's pioneering ‘Taikonauts' - Yang Liwei and Zhai Zhigang. The network also reports live from Tiananmen Square on October 1, bringing the morning's military parade, President Hu's speech and the evening's gala and fireworks to its viewers in more than 250 million households around the world. ... Online, the dedicated website section at www.cnn.com/china has a multimedia special on Chairman Mao's birthplace of Shaoshan, featuring an audio slideshow on the memories and impressions of tourists and local residents alike." CNN press release, 23 September 2009.
     Christiane Amanpour's "rare interview" with Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. "It was Mugabe's first interview with a Western television network in several years, and he appeared to get frustrated with some of Amanpour's direct questioning, repeatedly denying widely accepted evidence and reports on his nation's woes." CNN, 24 September 2009. At the top of the CNN International website, there are links for Asia, Europe, U.S., but not for Africa.
     "CNN International is partnering with YouTube for a global, interactive debate to be televised in the run-up to the United Nations' Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. CNN viewers worldwide will be invited to submit questions for the hour-long debate, set to air on CNNI on December 16 with live coverage on CNN.com." WorldScreen.com, 23 September 2009.

In China speech, Reuters editor-in-chief talks about 资治通鉴.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
David Schlesinger, Reuters editor-in-chief, speech at Tsinghua University: "In Reuters, we pride ourselves in covering the Chinese economy professionally and with as much expertise as we can. That means offering transparency and clarity. That means telling the story truthfully, without bias. That means being independent and sometimes angering people or institutions who would rather not have things reported. It also means standing on the side of the audience, standing on the side of true investors, standing on the side of anyone who wants and needs the truth in order to do their business or make good decisions." Reuters, 17 September 2009. Cursor down the page for the English version.

China Radio International website adds Belarusian, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Norwegian, and Icelandic. Icelandic?

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"CRI Online, the multi-language website of China Radio International (CRI), China's only state international radio broadcaster, formally launched six more foreign language services on Wednesday, bringing the total number of language services operated on CRI Online to 59. The six new website editions include Belarusian (belarusian.cri.cn), Dutch (nl.radio86.com), Greek (greek.cri.cn), Hebrew (hebrew.cri.cn), Icelandic (is.radio86.com) and Norwegian (no.radio86.com)." Xinhua, 23 September 2009.

IPTV built into the television set: more international access, more competition.

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Philips Electronics joins forces with IP software specialist, Global Digital Broadcast (GDBTV), to launch the first television set with a fully-integrated IPTV service, creating a platform which is seven times the size of Sky [UK satellite television service]. ... Carrying the free-to-view channels as standard, the GDBTV EPG also has an extensive bouquet of popular, niche and foreign language package programming. In addition to the standard free-to-view selection, independents and international channels include: Al Jazeera; Cartoon Network; Disney; Eurosport; the world's first guitarist channel, GTV... ." Philips press release, 23 September 2009. So IPTV will bring international channels into many more households. The international channels, however, must compete with hundreds of other new channels brought in via IPTV, such as the said guitarist channel.

How is your wife? How is your mother? How is your anti-American sentiment?

Posted: 25 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Pakistan's foreign minister Mahkdoom Qureshi interviewed by CBS's Katie Couric: "Couric: How is anti-American sentiment right now in Pakistan? Qureshi: I think you have failed in public diplomacy. You have not reaped - sort of the - the rewards of what you have given. Couric: Isn't sending billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, though, a pretty powerful message to the Pakistani people? Qureshi: You see, giving money is one thing. But cultivating the people is something totally different." CBS News, 21 September 2009.

Reporters sans frontières "outraged" at continued Iranian detention of RFI reporter.

Posted: 24 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Reporters Without Borders is outraged that the Iranian judicial authorities are continuing to hold journalists employed by foreign news media including, Maziar Bahari, the correspondent of the US news magazine Newsweek, arrested exactly three months ago, and Fariba Pajooh, a stringer for Radio France Internationale and other media, who today begins her second month in detention." RSF, 22 September 2009.

House votes to extend Radio Free Asia and Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

Posted: 24 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"H.R. 3593 - To amend the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 to extend by one year the operation of Radio Free Asia (Rep. Royce - Foreign Affairs) ... To amend the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 to reauthorize the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (Rep. Watson - Foreign Affairs)." Congress Matters, 23 September 2009.
     These are suspension bills, which "dispose of non-controversial measures expeditiously." Both were passed by the House in a few minutes.
     Non-controversial? Radio Free Asia is a very good station, so renewing it for a year is, on its own, a no-brainer. But the splitting of US international broadcasting resources to East Asia into two stations whose efforts overlap, and who compete with each other, when the government should be trying to save money, is a matter that deserves a thorough, unsuspended debate in the near future.
     The Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy has no decision-making power. It issues reports that are widely ignored. Eliminating it would not make a perceptible dent in the pesky federal deficit. Shutting down all of the advisory commissions in Washington might.

"Voice of America," the short story, and, now, the collection of short stories.

Posted: 23 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Tim Duggan, executive editor at HarperCollins, has signed Nigerian author E.C. Osondu to a two-book deal. Duggan took North American rights to a short story collection, called Voice of America." Publishers Weekly, 21 September 2009. Which includes Osondu's short story "Voice of America," which can be read at Vice, 30 December 2007. Osondu's introduction to the story: "While growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, my father converted to an American brand of Christianity that has its roots somewhere in rural Pennsylvania. A fallout of his new faith was that—unlike in other homes in Nigeria where allegiance was to the former colonial masters, Britain, and where people listened to the overseas broadcast of the BBC—we looked up to the United States. We watched Bonanza on television and sat around my father as he listened to the Voice of America. He made us listen to a program called The VOA News in Special English, a brand of English I suspect no one spoke, invented especially for retarded overseas listeners like us. ... Because the VOA was such a permanent fixture in our lives while growing up, I knew that I was going to write a story that featured it in some way. What shape the story would take, I had no idea, but then of course that is where the fun begins… ."

BBC World Service contemplates Africa with broadband access (updated).

Posted: 22 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The laying of new fibre optic cables brings broadband internet to Africa, connecting businesses to the global economy and individuals to everything the web has to offer. This is potentially the most important break-through for Africa in the new digital age. BBC World Service looks at how fast will it happen and asks where, when and how? Who will decide? What will the impact be? ... BBC African service editor Joseph Warungu believes the introduction of broadband will herald radical change." BBC World Service, 16 September 2009.
     Update: "We should not assume that along with access to high speed internet traffic we are also exporting attitudes, business models or even sorts of content, or act as if we are somehow offering Africa entry into the club of connected nationso on condition that it agrees to play by the rules we have already established. We need to allow the network to be changed by the Africans who are starting to use it. We need to offer advice and support where it is asked for, because our experience of the impact of broadband is greater, and we may have useful things to offer, but this must be done in a spirit of co-operation and friendship, and we must never attempt to limit the creativity of those who are new to the network." Bill Thompson, p2pnet.net, 21 September 2009.

Euronews (in English) into Indonesia via DTH platforms.

Posted: 22 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Euronews has signed a pair of distribution deals with DTH platforms Indovision and Okevision in Indonesia, the news channel provider announced Sept. 21. Euronews will broadcast the English version of its programming on these DTH satellite platforms — reaching an additional 500,000 households in Indonesia." Satellite Today, 22 September 2009. A Bahasa Indonesia soundtrack for Euronews might not be a bad investment.

Not surprisingly, Telesur "led the coverage" of Zelaya's return to Tegucigalpa.

Posted: 22 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Manuel Zelaya’s refuge in Brazil’s embassy kept reporters of all stripes filing bulletins and updates since his return to Honduras Monday, Sept. 21. Telesur led the coverage as it did last June, broadcasting live." Dean Graber, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, 21 September 2009. Telesur coverage of Zelaya's return was cited by many other new organizations. See also www.telesurtv.net.

Afghan star of Afghan Star is now a VOA star (updated).

Posted: 22 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Daoud Sediqi, former host of Afghan Star, one of Afghanistan's most popular and groundbreaking television programs, has joined the Voice of America (VOA) in the United States, where he moved to escape Taliban threats. ... Sediqi, 29, sought and was granted asylum in the United States after he came to this country for the airing of an award-winning documentary, Afghan Star, at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Utah earlier this year. He later joined VOA as a Pashto-speaking radio broadcaster." VOA press release, 14 September 2009.
     Update: "Sediqi -- who was first exposed to 'Indian Idol,' India's version of the globally popular talent show -- said his first goal was to give an outlet to women, whose lives were severely restricted by the Taliban. 'In what Islamic country can you not find women singing?' Sediqi said. 'In our country for more than 1,000 years we are Muslims and before there was music and singing by ladies and gentlemen. I don't know why in six years of the Taliban that culture has changed.'" AFP, 22 September 2009.

Twitter and the Middle East.

Posted: 22 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"To be sure, there are those who belittle Twitter’s reliability as a source of information, pointing to its maximum limit of 140 characters per item, and the instant worldwide dissemination of Twitter items without any cross-checking information to confirm their truthfulness. But these limitations are also the basis of its strength. Twitter serves as a speedy and direct platform able to bypass official state media oversight and the limitations on free speech by authoritarian governments. In the Middle East, in particular, it is nearly the only path for different social groups to get their messages across without government interference. ... Iran has cracked down heavily on Twitter and other social networking sites. Not only has it blocked access to particular internet sites, it has also installed content filters and monitored traffic on them. This was done by means of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) features installed as a condition for the company’s access to the Iranian market." Tal Pavel, Global Voices Online, 21 September 2009. The definitive, unhyped history of Twitter, other social media sites, the internet in general, satellite television, and foreign radio, in Iran during the election and its aftermath, has yet to be written. When it is, it will be a compelling read.

CNN Abu Dhabi bureau will open in November. (Updated: or maybe not.)

Posted: 21 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Television network CNN is all set to launch its bureau in Abu Dhabi in November with full broadcast and production facilities. The opening of the bureau is part of CNN’s plans to expand its operations in the Middle East. ... The expanded operation in the UAE combines broadcast production facilities in the new Abu Dhabi Media Zone with increased newsgathering operations set up alongside an existing editorial team for the CNNArabic.com website." The Peninsula (Doha), 20 September 2009.
     Update: "Following an interview with CNN anchor Hala Gorani in UAE broadsheet The National, a number of stories spread that the new broadcast facility would be ready by November although there is no statement from Gorani or anyone else at CNN to suggest this." Digital Production Middle East, 21 September 2009.

One in five Iranians "follow" VOA or BBC.

Posted: 20 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
In a new survey, twenty percent of Iranians say they "follow the radio or satellite programs of VOA or BBC." Twenty-two percent access the internet at least once a week. "WorldPublicOpinion.org (WPO) conducted the poll of 1,003 Iranians across Iran between Aug. 27 and Sept. 10, 2009. Interviewing was conducted by a professional survey organization located outside Iran which used native Farsi speakers who telephoned into Iran (8 in 10 Iranian households have a telephone line). The margin of error is 3.1 percent. WPO, a collaborative project involving research centers from around the world, is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland." WorldPublicOpinion.org, 18 September 2009. Twenty percent is a large audience for international broadcasting. The question does not specify how often they they view or listen. The standard measure in international broadcasting audience research is viewing or listening or accessing in the past week.

Your Sadr City station for Iraqi hits and US Army PSAs.

Posted: 20 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"It wasn't quite Radio Free Europe, but then again no one had instructed [US Army Sgt. Alan] Coffman and the rest of his team on just how to start it up. It had been a serendipitous thing - a few pieces of equipment brought in, then someone's suggestion: We should make this a radio station. And so what was born became, in Coffman's estimation, perhaps the only FM music station broadcasting in a sprawling Shiite slum in suburban Baghdad that is home to more than 1 million people. The 'radio in a box,' as they called it, had an eight-mile range, a playlist of Iraqi pop garnered from local CDs and - inserted between songs - pro-American messages translated into Arabic. ... Coffman sent an Iraqi translator to buy a stack of local CD's. He monitored MTV Arabia to get clued in on new sounds. He had public service announcements translated and placed in between songs on their playlists. They organized their programming with iTunes. At first, they hid the fact that it was a U.S.-operated station. Later they advertised it. On the streets he quizzed Iraqis about the music. Old men didn't care for the modern-styled pop. Younger Iraqis often liked it. Many didn't listen at all." Andrew Marra, Palm Beach Post, 19 September 2009.

CNN wire service offers online "store."

Posted: 20 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Less than a year since CNN pitched its wire services to newspapers and made it available for subscription, the major Time Warner cable network announced an online storefront to license its story content. Having pledged to offer a cheaper alternative to Associated Press (AP), although at a smaller scale, the CNN wire store offers licences and downloads of individual stories for $199 per story for single use to publishers needing content for single use and on demand basis. AP and other wires such as Reuters also offer single story reprint priced up to $500 per story for a finite time period." Emirates Business 24/7, 20 September 2009. See also www.cnnwirestore.com where, it appears, you can read the stories, but best not to reprint them without proper payment.

Prominent Nigerian lawyer thought Nigerians listened to BBC too much.

Posted: 20 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Aminu Bello Masari, former Speaker of Nigeria's House of Representatives, speaking about Nigerian lawyer, author, and social critic Gani Fawehinmi, who died 5 September 2009: "Even when he came out from that prison [in 1989], his concern was that here we are in our own country, but people were listening to foreign radio and believing it more than what is said in the country. You know the culture of listening to BBC and Voice of America. Even at that time, Voice of America was not popular. It was the BBC that was very popular. I could remember that he commented on how he found that our people were listening to BBC more than the Nigerian radio, which is a serious contradiction. People should listen to their own airwaves." Interviewed by Eric Osagie, Daily Sun (Lagos), 19 September 2009.

CNN International news anchor started out in pirate radio.

Posted: 20 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Fionnuala Sweeney, who will anchor the new evening news program on CNN International, began her career in pirate radio. She also had experience with Eurovision, which apparently did not help her get a job at CNN. Herald.ie, 18 September 2009.
     "Sweeney will anchor the new show, "World One," which will air every weekday evening at 8.30 p.m. Sweeney, who is attending the Global Irish Forum in Dublin, says the new-look CNN will reflect the challenges of broadcasting in a wired world. 'Basically the network is changing a lot of its look and its content. There's a challenge out there for broadcasters and newspapers in the age of the internet to try and redefine themselves in terms of news, and with "citizen journalism".'" IrishCentral, 19 September 2009.
     Christine Amanpour, host of CNN International's "Amanpour": "The US has really pioneered this cable TV gab-fest, which is seen as quick, easy and perhaps a less expensive way to grab a certain bandwidth of viewers. There will always be people who migrate to their own point of view. I believe my job is do something different, to give a broader perspective, to provide people with a path to real information, to fact-based information, to the truth, for them to be able to decide what to do, how to use it and how to react." The Telegraph, 18 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.

Without a trace of irony, China celebrates Netizens' Day.

Posted: 19 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Renowned Scholars, popular bloggers and hundreds of netizens have gathered at Beijing's CCTV tower to celebrate the first Netizens' Day in China. Hu Qiheng(胡启恒) is from the Internet Society of China (ISC), the organizer of the event. 'By this June, China already had 338 million netizens. Netizens are the citizens of the cyber world. While they enjoy their online lives, they should shoulder corresponding responsibilities. We hope that Netizens' Day is an event that cultivates netizenship and cultivates an active and positive Internet culture in China.' ... A series of events are being held in Beijing to celebrate the anniversary. Among them, the country's 10 most popular bloggers are receiving awards after being selected in an online vote." China Radio International, 18 September 2009. See also previous posts on 18 September and 12 September 2009.

China Radio International, as China Television Domestic, denies internet TV deal.

Posted: 19 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Earlier this month, Xunlei, which had also partnered with TV set makers in the provision of Internet TV services, announced that it had struck a deal with China Radio International (CRI) to establish a joint venture company, thus solving Xunlei's Internet TV licensing issued. CRI, however, quickly denied the claim, saying it had no plans to set up such a joint venture." Marbridge Daily, 17 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.

In "exclusive" VOA interview, CIA chief Panetta calls Afghan election for Karzai.

Posted: 19 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Afghan President Hamid Karzai appears to have won re-election despite 'some degree of corruption and fraud' in last month's presidential contest, CIA Director Leon Panetta told the Voice of America (VOA) in an exclusive interview aired today." VOA press release, 18 September 2009. See also VOA News on 18 September 2009 (Afghanistan election) and again on 18 September (Iran nuclear debate) (both by Gary Thomas). VOA interview cited by AP, 18 September 2009 and AFP, 18 September 2009.

From Pakistan, to Washington, back to Pakistan, radio plays about drug addiction.

Posted: 19 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The scourge of drug addiction in Pakistan is the theme of a new series of radio dramas on Voice of America's (VOA) Deewa Radio, which broadcasts in Pashto to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. 'Addiction to heroin and hashish is a real problem in Pakistan's tribal areas as well as the country's main cities,' says Nafees Takar, Deewa Radio's service chief. 'These dramas are meant to be educational.' The series, 'A Journey Toward Enlightenment,' is written by Pakistani playwright Dr. Humayan Huma and performed by professional Pashto-speaking actors. ... The five-minute radio plays are produced in Pakistan, sent to VOA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and broadcast back to the region. The dramas are broadcast Saturday evening and repeated on Sunday and Monday." VOA press release, 17 September 2009.
     "A little-noticed report by Arab news network Al Jazeera on Friday shined a light on an often overlooked aspect of occupied Iraq: Its blossoming drug trade, fueled by Afghanistan and Iran, the profits from which have begun to spill over from the drug cartels to the militias." Stephen C. Webster, The Raw Story, 19 September 2009.

US international broadcasting: where duplication knows no frontier. Not even the Pakistan/Afghanistan frontier.

Posted: 19 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke said at an RFE/RL event that 'the profileration of extremist propaganda by the Taliban needs to be dealt with head-on.' Holbrooke said RFE/RL's mission of 'surrogate broadcasting' is vital to helping solve the problem of 'the world's greatest communications nation being out-communicated by people who stand for repressive activities.'... Holbrooke spoke at an RFE/RL reception in Washington, D.C.'s Newseum marking the launch of a new initiative to broadcast six daily hours of programming to Pashto speakers along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. ... RFE/RL will launch a new 6-hour RFE/RL Radio Azadi radio program for Pashto speakers in the dialect of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. Radio Azadi already reaches a significant number of Dari and Pashto speakers with its nationwide programs -- the most popular in Afghanistan -- with a weekly audience of 7.9 million adults. Content will be tailored to local news and events, in line with RFE/RL's mission as a 'surrogate broadcaster'. RFE/RL will also establish a new SMS service for news distribution and will upgrade security for its journalists. The first RFE/RL programs are expected to go on the air later this year." RFE/RL press release, 18 September 2009.
     Holbrooke "pledged that he wasn’t going to set up his own broadcasting networks, as they’d lack credibility. 'A lot of this can’t be done in American voices, we understand that,' he said. Instead, the administration should help sponsor local radio — the primary communications medium in Afghanistan and much of Pakistan — and explain the u.S. message in relevant ways. 'The key is Pakistanis themselves, and [the U.S. should] support them any way we can, in the media area and however else.'" Spencer Ackerman, The Washington Independent, 17 September 2009.
     "Holbrooke voiced the confidence that the broadcast in local language would help advance public debate and counter extremist propaganda in democratic Pakistan’s Western areas. ... We are not going to set up American broadcasting stations, this is an open part of the international network (providing) the means of communication to the people of Pakistan. We look forward to them (the service) contributing to the public debate in this democratic country Pakistan, which is so important to all of us,' he said." Associated Press of Pakistan, 18 September 2009.
     "'This is obviously where RFE and RL come in. We need to explain in open American supported radio stations and other media why we’re in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Why we are there as friends and not as invaders or occupiers,' said Holbrooke." WashingtonTV, 18 September 2009.
     The reports are confusing and contradictory, but was Mr. Holbrooke suggesting that RFE/RL is not an American radio station? Credibility is essential to successful international broadcasting, and credibility begins with a station being upfront about its own identity.
     Mentioned nowhere in all these reports is that for the past three years, VOA's Deewa Radio has been broadcasting to the same frontier region, in the same Pashto language. And contrary to bogus characterizations that VOA limits itself to news about crop yields in Nebraska, Deewa reports extensively about events in its target region.
     And, so, in one of the most difficult parts of the world to get news out of, and one of the most difficult to transmit news back into, in one of the most difficult language groups from which to recruit journalists, US international broadcasting will be dividing it resources between two stations whose efforts will largely overlap. No wonder the United States is being "out communicated."
     Make no mistake. The new RFE/RL service, in the tradition of RFE/RL's gutsy journalism, will do a very good job. But VOA's Deewa Radio is also doing a very good job. Together, they could achieve the excellence required to compete amid the improving domestic media of the Middle East.
     One might think that USIB has reached its nadir of organizational inefficiency. I'm afraid, however, the downward slope might continue. Don't be surprised if Urdu is RFE/RL's next language service, authorized by members of Congress oblivious to the already formidable efforts of VOA's Radio Aap ki Dunyaa. USIB is subdividing itself into oblivion.

"Comprehensive" IG inspection for Alhurra and Radio Sawa.

Posted: 19 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The State Department Inspector General has begun a comprehensive inspection of Alhurra, its sister station Radio Sawa and its parent company, the Middle East Broadcasting Network. ... Its president, Brian Conniff, met with congressional investigators and Alhurra has hired Tom Dine, a former head of Radio Free Europe and former director of AIPAC, the American-Israeli lobby group, as a consultant. Dine said in an interview with ProPublica that his enthusiasm for international broadcasting, and his knowledge of the Middle East, would help him to promote the network on Capitol Hill and within the Obama administration. The White House has not said whether it intends to overhaul Alhurra or reshape its mandate. The administration is reportedly preparing to nominate Walter Isaacson, the former managing editor of Time magazine and a former chairman and CEO of CNN, to head the Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees Alhurra, the Voice of America and other international government broadcasting efforts. State Department officials said it is unlikely that any decisions about Alhurra’s future will be taken before a new BBG chairman is in place." Dafna Linzer, ProPublica, 17 September 2009.

There it is! The Strategic Plan! Next to the Great Pumpkin!

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Despite the plethora of reports vying for executive acceptance, it would be an understatement to say that the administration has been slow in formulating a strategic plan for remedying America’s neglected state of diplomatic outreach. For example, the late nomination and subsequent Senate confirmation of Judith McHale, Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs raises many questions over Obama’s dedication to public diplomacy. Considering Obama vigorously campaigned for robust public diplomacy, it is surprising that he has not delivered on his adamant campaign. Furthermore, Obama’s eloquent speeches, (expertly read from a teleprompter,) are no replacement for strategic policy. Until the president takes the initiative to implement actions that follow up on his eloquent promises, the United States will continue to find itself disadvantaged by a credibility gap in the international community." Morgan Roach, The Foundry, The Heritage Foundation, 16 September 2009.
     It seems that the offices under the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs are in business and functioning. Or does Heritage want, as is its wont, another bigger government endeavor using more tax money? Even if that were to happen, public diplomacy cannot work miracles. US public diplomacy is to actual US policies and actions as Phobos is to Mars.
     From the back of my napkin, here is what public diplomacy can do (and to a large extent is already doing) to reach a large number of people: 1) Shop interviews with US officials and spokespersons on popular and influential media in the target countries, especially when and where events precipitate a need for those interviews. 2) Where possible, place issue advertisements in media of the target countries, to set the record straight in the wake of misinformation or disinformation. 3) Operate a website, in as many languages as possible, where official statements about US policies can readily be accessed. America.gov could serve that function, but it presently concentrates on offering "news," as in public relations positive news, and only in seven languages.

US Embassy Jakarta launches a YouTube channel.

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. Embassy launched its own YouTube channel, featuring over 100 short videos covering a wide range of topics about the United States. Located at www.youtube.com/pasjakartaindonesia, the clips featured on the video-sharing website are in Indonesian or have Indonesian subtitles, a release from the US embassy made available to Antara news agency here on Thursday, said. The short videos features American culture, society, education, religious practice, politics, tourism and English-language education." Bernama, 17 September 2009. Complements or competes with the video offerings of VOA Indonesian?

China's Blue Dam is same as the Green Dam, but installed elsewhere.

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese Communist Party recently introduced a new tool, the 'Blue Dam' monitoring software, in an effort to strengthen control over public opinion before the regime’s 60th anniversary on Oct. 1. The move comes two months after installation of the Green Dam filtering software was postponed due to intense protests. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently forced all network providers to install Blue Dam on their servers, and notified individuals to install Green Dam software on their PCs. Blue Dam differs from Green Dam in that it is installed on servers rather than individual PCs to monitor and filter information." Epoch Times, 16 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "Zhao Qizheng, former Minister of the State Council Information Office recently wrote a new book: Dialogue Between Nations—Speeches by Zhao Qizheng, which was published by Foreign Languages Press. 'My new book aims to show English readers China's enthusiasm for carrying out public diplomacy,' Zhao said at the launch ceremony for the book at the Beijing International Book Fair on September 3." Beijing Review, 15 September 2009.

Radio Free Asia in the news ... and comment.

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A Ratanakkiri provincial judge has warned that rights activist Pen Bonnar and journalist Ratha Visal could face disinformation charges relating to a land dispute in the province, a day after the UN’s human rights office called for the government to end its 'harassment' of rights activists in the province. Presiding Judge Thor Saron told the Post on Tuesday that the two men could be charged with disinformation for allegedly accusing him of corruption. ... Ratha Visal also came under similar pressure from the court after covering the Pen Bonnar affair for Radio Free Asia." The Phnom Penh Post, 16 September 2009.
     About Cambodia deforestation: "Radio Free Asia, one of the few media to cover this story in detail, was threatened by a man who went to the station’s bureau in Phnom Penh." Reporters sans frontières, 17 September 2009.
     "Eastern Illinois University will recognize eight former international students this weekend as Global Ambassadors for 2009. ... Tian Li (’98, China) arrived in the U.S. in 1997, enrolling in EIU’s graduate program in political science. Immediately following graduation, he secured a position as a broadcaster with Radio Free Asia, a non-profit news organization sponsored by the U.S. Congress. The mission of Radio Free Asia is to provide news and information to Asian countries where access to free press is prohibited. Li has written and produced hundreds of reports and feature programs and says that his work 'is very rewarding because I have received much positive feedback from my audience in China.'"
jg-tc.com (Mattoon IL), 17 September 2009.
     "Well, today Radio Free Asia reporter Sarah Jackson-Han followed up her report from yesterday on Burmese from the Karen ethnic group being conscripted into carrying arms, ammunition, and food for the Burmese Army and its surrogates as they wage war on the Karens. Today, there is a video of these women and children (as young as three years old) who have now fled to Thailand and are in hiding." Michael Goldfarb, The Blog, The Weekly Standard, 16 September 2009.

"Your news is fair," said East Germans to BBC Berlin correspondent in 1989.

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Twenty years ago I had the good fortune and privilege to be the BBC’s correspondent in Berlin. I had arrived there in the beginning of 1989 – as a rookie reporter from BBC Radio Devon – to a posting considered a bit of a backwater. ... Within weeks of my arrival, the East Germans were revolting and in just a few short months the Berlin Wall was down. In career terms – it was very lucky timing. ... I have many memories of that time in Berlin, personal and professional. But one of the most abiding is of the stream of East Germans in the days after the Wall came down, who were able, for the first time, to visit the BBC office in West Berlin. They came to say 'thank you' for the programmes that had sustained them during decades of Communist rule. When I asked them why they listened to the BBC, rather than the much better resourced Deutsche Welle, or the West Berlin stations or the Voice of America, they gave a variety of answers, but there was a common theme: 'You don’t preach to us. You don’t treat us East Germans as second class Germans. Your news is fair. You don’t pretend everything in your own country is perfect, so we believe what you say about other things. You allow different voices.'" Ben Bradshaw, UK culture secretary, speech to the Royal Television Society, via eGov Monitor, 18 September 2009.

New website will offer BBC Doha Debates with Arabic subtitles.

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Doha Debates [is a] five-year-old hit show on BBC World News. Produced eight times a year in Doha, capital of the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar, the program features speakers debating such controversial questions as 'Does political Islam threaten the West?' 'Does the face veil hinder Muslim integration?' ... Moderated by former BBC interviewer Tim Sebastian, the debates follow the format of the prestigious British debating club, the Oxford Union. After four speakers (two on each side) argue for and against a motion, the panelists are questioned by Mr. Sebastian and the audience, which then votes electronically to determine the winning side. Through the BBC, The Doha Debates can be seen in some 300 million homes in 200 countries. ... One of the show's failings, [English instructor Asaad al-Asaad] said, is that it lacks Arabic subtitles, which would make it more accessible. Asked about this, moderator Sebastian, who also founded the program, said in an e-mail that he wasn't aware of any 'full-length BBC current affairs show [that] carries subtitles in any foreign language.' But, he added that starting in October the program will start an Arabic website that will carry subtitles on streamed video of the debates." Caryle Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, 13 September 2009.

Zimbabwe: international broadcasters criticized, arrested (updated).

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant-General Phillip Valerio Sibanda says 'pirate radio stations' are waging 'asymmetric warfare' against the Zimbabwe government. ... Sibanda said Western countries were using 'disinformation' through 'pirate radio stations' such as Studio 7, which he branded an anti-Mugabe radio station sponsored by the US government’s propaganda arm, Voice of America. ... The army has attempted to jam broadcasts of Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa from reaching Zimbabweans. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has since its establishment in 2001 refused to license private broadcasters, which has led to several stations manned by exiled Zimbabweans, such as the London-based SW Radio Africa and Studio 7, beaming into Zimbabwe on short and medium wave from beyond the country’s borders." The Zimbabwe Times, 15 September 2009.
     Update: "Sibanda said Western countries were using 'disinformation' through 'pirate radio stations' such as Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa. The two stations remain the only private broadcasting stations in Zimbabwe." Zim Net Radio, 16 September 2009. Actually, they are broadcasting to, not in, Zimbabwe. Studio 7, as part of the Voice of America, is not "private." And there is a third, Radio Voice of the People, still transmitting via the Radio Netherlands relay in Madagascar.
     "'We just need old media. We just need radio. We just need people to be allowed to listen to radio,' explains Gerry Jackson, the founder of Zimbabwean radio station SW Radio Africa (SWRA). The western media's ongoing debate about the future of journalism and online media is amusing in comparison, says Jackson, who set up the station in the UK after being forced into hiding in Zimbabwe. ... 'Shortwave and text messages are only real way to get into Zimbabwe. We could really only use social networking sites to raise awareness in the diaspora. Because our focus is on serving people in the country,' explains Jackson." Laura Oliver, journalism.co.uk, 16 September 2009.
     "Chegutu farmer Ben Freeth, whose Mount Carmel farm has been under siege by land invaders for several months, was arrested on Monday morning, along with a group of international journalists. Freeth and the crew from news service Al Jazeera were eventually released after being hauled into custody by police now stationed on the farm." SW Radio Africa, 14 September 2009.

Animated public diplomacy: new documentary recalls Walt Disney trip to South America in 1941.

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The documentary Walt & El Grupo chronicles the amazing ten-week trip that Walt Disney and his hand-picked group of artists and filmmaking talent (later known as 'El Grupo') took [in 1941] to South America at the behest of the U.S. Government as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. ... During this time, the Roosevelt administration had growing concerns about Nazi and Fascist influence in Latin America, and the rest of the world was slipping further into war. In stark contrast to these trying times, Disney and his colorful group of artists found themselves on a lively trip full of hope and discovery as they explored various South American cities, spending the majority of their time in the countries of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The group was saddled with an unusual assignment – while gathering story material, immersing themselves in the culture, befriending local artists, meeting political leaders and attending countless functions, their journey was also a de facto diplomatic mission, and as a result, the studio produced the classic films 'Saludos Amigos' and 'The Three Caballeros.'" Walt & El Grupo website. Opened in Anaheim on 9 September. Plays in Washington 2-8 October.

New ad campaign for Colombia confronts the elephant in the room.

Posted: 18 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"You have to give Colombians credit for nerve. They’ve just launched a new ad campaign — meant to combat the country’s ruinous image as a haven for drug lords and guerrilla rebels — which kicks off with the line, 'You run a risk when you go to Colombia.' Naturally, the TV ad, currently running on CNN International, ends with a tourist-friendly punch line: 'The only risk is wanting to stay.' But there’s something admirable about the country’s willingness to confront the elephant in the room right off the bat." Jim Farber, New York Daily News, 16 September 2009.

Report: US psyop "influence websites" in the works.

Posted: 17 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The secretive US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has awarded arms globocorp General Dynamics a $10m contract to set up a network of psychological-warfare 'influence websites' supporting the Global War On Terror. France and Britain are specifically included as 'targeted regions'. ... Rather than a normal media boss, the Initiative websites will be controlled by managers reporting to SOCOM based in US regional command HQs around the world - managers holding US Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information clearances, with 'extensive public diplomacy, journalism, and media relations skills'. Rather than ads or venture capital, the cash will come from SOCOM's psyops war chest. ... So who are the 'targeted readers' who are to be steered into supporting US policy, in particular the War On Terror? A hint is given by the list of required foreign target languages, which includes obvious ones like Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Russian, Malay etc - but also French, and 'English (British dialect and spelling)'." Lewis Page, The Register, 16 September 2009.

Israeli football team on Al Jazeera is a first for Arab television.

Posted: 17 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Al Jazeera satellite channel on Tuesday broke a long established taboo by broadcasting a football match featuring an Israeli team on Arab television for the first time. The UEFA Champions League match between Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa and Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich was aired on the Qatari channel and commentary was in English. ... Until last year Saudi-owned ART held the rights to broadcast Europe's premier club football competition but ART never aired a game involving an Israeli team." AFP, 16 September 2009. On Al Jazeera English, which I did not think broadcasts live sports commentary? Or the Al Jazeera sports channel, which I thought was in Arabic?

Be the first to know: CNN International changes tagline to "Go Beyond Borders."

Posted: 17 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
The CNN International press office informs: "On September 21, 2009, CNN International (CNNI) will unveil a new tagline: 'Go Beyond Borders.' This replaces 'Be the First to Know,' which debuted in March 2001. We went through an extensive external and internal research process to ensure that we knew what our viewers valued in us and expected of us. Knowing that helped us arrive at 'Go Beyond Borders' as an articulation of our shared values and our commitment to delivering intelligent news in a connected world. ... A quote from Tony Maddox, EVP and Managing Director, CNN International: 'CNN goes beyond borders every day, taking viewers beyond the headlines to a transparent, diverse and intelligent product that connects viewers to the world’s stories. Our viewers go beyond borders every day, seeking out intelligent newsgathering on multiple platforms and this tagline will speak directly to their aspirations.'" See also YouTube, 28 August 2009.
     "CNN International is unveiling a new prime-time line-up that brings six hours of new programming to the network, broadcast daily from New York, London, Atlanta, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong. The centrepiece of CNN International's new programming offering, Amanpour, launches on 21 September, live from New York. Each half-hour interview programme, hosted by journalist Christiane Amanpour, will aim to set the global news agenda. ... The new line-up consists of eight new shows to be launched by year-end. The evening line-up unites Christiane Amanpour, Richard Quest, Becky Anderson, Fionnuala Sweeney, Michael Holmes and Hala Gorani in a round of programming. Among the other shows are Quest Means Business, which will air weekdays at 7pm. Hosted by CNN anchor Richard Quest, it explores the latest trends in business. And on weekdays at 8.30pm, CNN will air World One, hosted by Fionnuala Sweeney, a fast-paced international news bulletin." Tristan O'Carroll, MediaWeek, 16 September 2009. See also CNN website. Prime time where?

Report: European survey shows CNN International losing elite audience (updated).

Posted: 17 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The European Media and Marketing Survey for 2009 shows heavy losses for CNN International across Europe. The EMS, which samples the top 13% of adults in western Europe, focusing on decision-makers and opinion leaders, shows that since the financial crisis began last summer, the worldwide news network lost some 250,000 daily viewers, or 14%, reducing its total share to 3.8%. The loss was enough to relegate CNN International into third place, ranking behind the UK's Sky News and Euronews. ... BBC World News is also catching CNN International, increasing its viewership by 15%, or around 160,000 viewers to a total reach of 3.1%." World Business News, 15 September 2009. I haven't seen the results directly from Synovate, which conducts the EMS, or from any other news entity. If accurate, I wonder how CNN will deal with this in a press release, if one is issued.
     Update: "According to Synovate's European Media and Marketing Survey CNN has the most extensive cross-platform reach among other international commercial television news networks. The survey measured daily, weekly and monthly audience reach among the main income earners in the top 20% of Europe's households by income from January to December 2008. CNN was dominant for weekly and monthly reach in EMS Select 20, representing the top 3% of high income earners, frequent flyers and top managers. Each month, CNN International reaches 44.1% of Select universe, 18% more than closest TV competitor BBC World (37.4%)." CNN press release, 17 September 2009.
     "The trouble with audience viewing surveys is that one usually ends up with far too many ‘winners’. This year’s EMS-C-EMS study is just out, and while we cannot confirm leadership in every sub-category it does seem that Euronews has again done well, beating CNN and BBC World. EMS Summer 2009 results show that 17.4% of affluent and influential individuals (close to 8 million viewers) watch Euronews every week. This puts them ahead of CNN (in the same category) in 2nd place and with a 16.2% reach, and Sky News (15%). BBC World News has a 13.1% reach. CNBC has 7.1%, Bloomberg 5.7%, Al Jazeera English 2.4% and finally newcomer France 24 with a lowly 2.2%." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 17 September 2009.
     "The latest study by EMS into the television viewing habits of Europe’s most affluent consumers and businessmen has shown strong performances for Eurosport, MTV and Sky News. Eurosport was the most watched channel, though its daily reach dipped slightly from, 10.6% in the EMS2008 survey (2007) to 9.4% in EMS2009 (2008). Eurosport 2 added another 1.8%. MTV is on 8%, Discovery 4.8% and National Geographic 3.3%. The leading news channel was Sky News on 5.5%, closely followed by Euronews (4.4%), CNN International (3.8%) and BBC World News (3.1%). Over the course of the month the leading pack remains together, but the order is changed. CNN International becomes the most watched channel (31.1%), followed by Euronews (29.8%), BBC World News (25.8%) and Sky News (25.4%)." Julian Clover, Broadband TV News, 16 September 2009.
     So, as usual with these EMS surveys, there are ways to interpret the data that allow more than one station to claim success.

Internet censorship: reality lies somewhere between "myth and reality."

Posted: 16 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"When China and Iran, as nations, experience political crisis and citizen protest, they cannot afford to close down the digital highway of information given the impact this would have on commerce and the economy. North Korea is the only country that has fully controlled the Internet, though few countries seem to be willing to follow its example. Throughout the rest of China, the response of the telecommunication operators was more moderate during the Xinjiang crisis. Twitter, YouTube, some local clones of Twitter, and a few other sites were shut down for a time. I watched as the number of tweets from China was reduced a bit, but after three hours they were up to speed again. Although the information flow was more limited—and most of the Western and Chinese media mostly stuck to the same story lines they’d been reporting since the start of the riots—a flood of fresh video clips, digital commentaries, and blog posts made it around the government’s Internet barriers." Fons Tuinstra, Nieman Reports, Fall 2009 (part of Nieman Reports issue devoted to journalism and social media.)
     So social media and other internet content flow, more or less, within China. Things may be a bit more restricted in Iran. And information from outside, from Western news organizations such as VOA, RFA, RFE/RL, and BBC, is blocked. One possible scenario: the few savvy internet users who can use proxy sites and other workarounds can retrieve VOA, RFA, RFE/RL, and BBC content and repost it on their blogs or through their Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts. At least for a while.

Northern Ireland cartoon becoming an international television success.

Posted: 16 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The £1.7 million Lifeboat Luke production is the creation of Ulster cartoonists at Straandlooper animation studios in Holywood [Northern Ireland]. ... Aimed at four to seven-year-olds, the cartoon introduces children to fun characters such as Rab the unlucky crab and Gannet the incontinent seabird. ... The cartoon is currently broadcast on [Irish public broadcaster] RTE and has just been translated into Danish to be shown on television in Denmark later this month. Lifeboat Luke has also been picked up in Slovenia and South Africa – and the Straandlooper team has just been approached by Al Jazeera, the Arabic language network which broadcasts to over 20 territories in the Middle East." Belfast Newsletter, 16 September 2009. Al Jazeera has an Arabic-language children's channel.

CCTV, CNBC, France 24 added to Russian cable system.

Posted: 16 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Russian cable operator Akado has added three foreign news channels to its programme line-up. Chinese CCTV, the European version of CNBC and France 24 are being made available in its ‘Mix’ package, the cost of which will remain unchanged. Akado is a Moscow-based triple play [cable television, telephone, broadband internet] company and as of the end of 2008 had 540,000 broadband, 320,000 digital and over 1 million analogue TV subscribers." Chris Dziadul, Broadband TV News, 15 September 2009. Interesting, given that VOA Russian was forced into mostly-internet delivery because it was taken off Russian television stations.
     "LodgeNet Interactive Corporation, the leading provider of media and connectivity solutions to hospitality and healthcare businesses, ... is expanding its innovative media programming with the addition of the Japan Broadcasting Corporation's English-speaking NHK World Channel to its SuperBlock offering." LodgeNet press release, 15 September 2009.
     "BBC Worldwide Channels today announced a new agreement to distribute BBC World News on Qook TV, KT Corp’s brand for its residential services, such as landline telephony, internet and IPTV, in South Korea. ... The channel will be available on channel 353 on Qook TV, reaching an additional 380,000 subscribers in South Korea." Media Research Asia, 16 September 2009.

US international broadcasting would be part of an "overarching strategy." Too bad about the audience.

Posted: 16 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Contextual intelligence is needed to produce an integrated strategy that combines hard and soft power. Many official instruments of soft power -- public diplomacy, broadcasting, exchange programs, development assistance, disaster relief, military-to-military contacts -- are scattered across the U.S. government. There is no overarching policy that even tries to integrate them with hard power into a comprehensive national security strategy. The United States spends about 500 times as much on the military as it does on broadcasting and exchange programs. Is this the right proportion?" Joseph S. Nye Jr., Foreign Affairs, August/September 2009.
     It's nice that Professor Nye wants to give international broadcasting more of the military budget. But his essay reminds us of the perilous state of US international broadcasting. USIB must be independent to achieve the credibility necessary to attract an audience. If USIB is subject to an "overarching strategy" to "integrate them with [shudder] hard power," the result may be an organizational structure that America's distinguished experts can comprehend. The audience, however, knows that "integrated" news is not really news. They will tune to BBC or Al Jazeera for something closer to what they are looking for. (Professor Nye is associated with Harvard's new Public Diplomacy Collaborative.)

Reporter from Pakistan out of US detention but "still unable to broadcast for the VOA."

Posted: 15 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Rahman Bunairee's reporting from Pakistan for the Voice of America "made him a target. In July, the Taliban bombed his home, chased him across the country and terrorized his family. The VOA, a 67-year-old international broadcasting service, decided sensibly to bring him to Washington for a year to safely continue his reporting. Bunairee arrived at Dulles International Airport on Aug. 9 with a valid U.S. visa and ample documentation of his sponsorship by a U.S. government agency. Rather than being welcomed to our country, Bunairee was interrogated at length by Customs and Border Protection officials, who ultimately rejected his visa, deemed him an 'intending immigrant' and threatened to deport him. This courageous journalist wound up in jail in Hampton Roads, Va. ... Only after 10 days of exhaustive legal efforts and intervention by the State Department was Bunairee released. But that wasn't the end of his ordeal: U.S. authorities freed Bunairee under terms that forbid him to work. Rahman Bunairee remains in legal limbo, invited here by a U.S. government agency but still unable to broadcast for the VOA. He is living off of charitable contributions and cannot support his young family in Pakistan because the terms of his release also bar our agency from giving him money." D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Washington Post, 15 July 2009. See previous post about same subject.

CNN's Amanpour plans to compete deep in Al Jazeera territory (updated).

Posted: 15 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN’s Christiane Amanpour will be 'reaching out to Qatar and the Gulf region' in her new programme 'Amanpour,' which will be launched on September 21. Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, said with the world interested in Qatar and its eyes focusing on the country’s development, talking about Qatar in her show is definitely in the line-up. ... The highly-anticipated programme 'Amanpour,' which will be aired at 10pm here and will run from Monday to Thursday with a round-up of the best of the week on Fridays on CNN International and Sundays on CNN in the United States, is a 30-minute live global interview programme." The Peninsula (Doha), 11 September 2009.
     Update: "Speaking exclusively to Media [a section of The Australian], Amanpour said the new role would be a learning experience. But while she will spend more time in the studio, she has pledged to take her show on the road when her unique presence at a global trouble spot or event is warranted. 'What I'm not doing is becoming an anchor, or studio-bound,' she said. ... Amanpour has attacked the style of reporting being driven by bloggers in the digital era that she says passes as journalism. 'You cannot get away from the reality that reporters are as necessary, if not more necessary, because there seems to be this (concession) now that you can just sit back in a room and blog and write and observe and opine and that passes for experience and knowledge in the field.'" The Australian, 14 September 2009.

Deutsche Welle participates in training course for senior Vietnamese government officials.

Posted: 15 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A training course on journalism opened in Hanoi on September 14 for senior Vietnamese government officials to help them better communicate with the world press. The three-day training course was co-organised by the Foreign Ministry and the international German multimedia corporation, the WAZ Group, which has had a presence in Vietnam since 2007, and Germany ’s international broadcaster – Deutsche Welle. The workshop aims to facilitate communication between the government and the media in the course of Vietnam ’s deeper integration into the global community." Vietnam News Agency, 15 September 2009. Problematic. I hope DW is describing its requirements as a news organization rather than facilitating Vietnam's desire to manipulate the news process.

House of Commons: inquiry about Radio Erena broadcasts to Eritrea.

Posted: 15 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Mr. [Michael] Moore [Lib Dem MP]: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department has provided to Radio Erena to broadcast to Eritrea in the last three years; and if he will make a statement. Mr. [Gareth] Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) has not provided any support in the last three years to Radio Erena." Daily Hansard, 14 September 2009. Three years? See also previous post, in which Reporters sans frontières reported that Radio Erena is a Tigrinya-language station based in Paris that began operation on 15 June 2009.

Why he loves Al Jazeera, and its "middle-of-the-road developing-world viewpoint."

Posted: 15 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The fact that Doha, Qatar’s capital, is not the headquarters of a great power liberates Al Jazeera to focus equally on the four corners of the Earth rather than on just the flash points of any imperial or post-imperial interest. Outlets such as CNN and the BBC don’t cover foreign news so much as they cover the foreign extensions of Washington’s or London’s collective obsessions. ... Of course, Al Jazeera has some overt prejudices. In covering the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, for example, it is clearly on the Palestinian side. Tear-jerking features about the sufferings of the Palestinians are not matched with equal coverage of the Israeli human terrain. ... Yet Al Jazeera is forgivable for its biases in a way that the BBC or CNN is not. In the case of Al Jazeera, news isn’t so much biased as honestly representative of a middle-of-the-road developing-world viewpoint." Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic, October 2009 issue.
     From article under headline "The Most Hated Name in News": "Today’s story by AJE’s Beijing correspondent Melissa Chan, who managed to gain entry to one of China’s secret 'black jails,' where the government imprisons citizens who challenge its authority [is] a classic AJE story: a local reporter familiar with the language and culture investigates a place where few foreign correspondents venture to any depth, focusing on the plight of ordinary people and putting the story into context for a global audience. ... From his spacious corner office, [managing director Tony] Burman keeps an eye on four television screens: Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera English, and AJE’s two main competitors in the global news game, BBC World and CNN International (neither of which is broadly available in North America)." Deborah Campbell, The Walrus, October 2009 issue (six pages). The article also states that Andrew Stroehlein, communications director of the International Crisis Group, "thinks AJE has caused its only real competitor, BBC World, to up its game. 'One reason I’m desperate to see Al Jazeera English enter the American news market is that it’s going to challenge the other news providers,' he says." So is the big three actually the big two, i.e. minus CNN International?

Iranian prosecutor says BBC, Radio Farda use internet to spread "false information."

Posted: 14 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Prosecutors accuse the US of using the internet to spread false reports about Iran, as hearings held for Iran's post-vote detainees enter their fifth round. ... Tehran's Deputy Prosecutor, Ali-Ahmad Akbari, started reading out a 'general indictment', which centered on the argument that Washington was spreading false information about Iran through the internet. ... Akbari said with US help, social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube had tried to 'influence Iranian users'. The deputy prosecutor pointed out that in order to achieve the ultimate goal of weakening the Iranian establishment, Washington had sought to instigate media frenzy by making membership available to 'rioters and terrorists'. Akbari then attacked the BBC, Radio Farda, and other foreign news outlets for adopting this policy, and accused them of 'using the internet as an effective way of reflecting news of the protests [in Iran] and spreading false information'." Press TV, 14 September 2009.

New BBC World service poll shows different countries have different views about economic stimulus.

Posted: 14 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Most people want their government to take more control over the regulation and running of national economies, a BBC World Service poll has found. ... In the 20 countries polled, 60% backed more spending to boost the economy. There was much less support for banking bail-outs with most Americans, Germans and Mexicans opposed. However, most Britons did back the rescue measures." BBC News, 13 September 2009, with link (pdf) to complete results worth studying for the very negative Pakistani response, etc. See also University of Maryland's WorldPublicOpinion.org, 11 September 2009.

Toward a "giant shaggy unorganized world" of international newsgathering.

Posted: 13 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Columbia Journalism School dean [Nicholas] Lemann ... foresees the new landscape will have three tiers. At the top: a small group of global news brands that will maintain foreign reporting staffs though even they will be 'lighter on the ground.' ... Next, a group of 'specialty brands' for which subscribers will pay. And finally, said Lemann, 'a giant shaggy unorganized world of freelancers and superstringers and book writers who piece it together and find ways to do foreign correspondence.'" Margaret Warner, PBS NewsHour, 11 September 2009.
     See ABC MD Mark Cooper in previous post about public broadcasters maintaining commitment to international news coverage, even if private broadcasters do not.
     USG funded international broadcasting, if its resources were combined, could be one of the top tier of international newsgathering entities. In its present structure of competing, overlapping, feudal bureaucracies, the sum of USIB is much less than its parts. The journalism of USIB would also have to remain independent, a requirement that will be undone if calls to "coordinate" its output under a new strategic communication scheme are enacted.

"SMS is like the new shortwave," and then the message was garbled by obfuscation.

Posted: 13 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"SMS is like the new short-wave radio but it can be hindered (due to high traffic to networks or provider shut-down). Still, it’s how we spread the news of our own situation as it unfolded. However, if the news industry can’t rely on real-time citizen reports, then they need to rely on real-time reports from embedded reporters. In this way reporters like @UgandaTalks acted as sort of an authoritative filter. We know he’s a journalist working for The Independent, we know he’s on the ground. He knows some of the citizen journalists and forwarded (or re-tweeted) a lot of what they were reporting while also offering his own perspective. While the major news outlets of Uganda also turned to Twitter, most used the service differently, either to push non-realtime articles or to offer sporadic updates. The bigger problem here is that when there were indeed unverified reports of a ‘media blackout’ they couldn’t offer any context at all. Why? Because they are ‘big media’ and they were most likely the ones ‘blacked out’. Their silence only verified those initial reports for some and made everyone else suspicious. This is where an application like Ushahidi shines, in the collection of reports and contextualization of them with qualitative data (verified versus unverified, identifying bloggers versus news outlets etc.)" Appfrica Mobile, 13 September 2009.

More shortwave as music.

Posted: 13 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
At Boston Improv Festival: "Saturday at midnight, the group 30,000 Kilohertz of Sound presents improv in the dark, using shortwave radio transmissions as inspiration." Amy Roeder, Examiner.com, 9 September 2009.
     "You never know what you're going to get at a Zanzibar Snails show. There are only a few constants—or what passes for constants in such an improvisational act—in the form of Michael Chamy's oscillator and shortwave noise-making and Nevada Hill's treated guitar outbursts." Jesse Hughey, Dallas Observer, 9 September 2009.
     "Spending just 10 minutes with the guys in the Texarkana band Shortwave Audio gives a glimpse of the serious but comfortable vibe these young musicians have going with one another." Aaron Brand, Texarkana Gazette, 7 September 2009.
     "First seen in the states as bassist with King Sunny Ade’s African Beats on their 1985 tour, Baba Ken [Okulolo] comes from Urhobo ethnic stock, born in Aladja, a fishing village in Nigeria. At 8 years old, he was sent to the city of Warri, for the Anglican missionary schools there. On short-wave radio, he began listening to a broad range of music: jazz, Afro-Cuban, rhythm & blues and Congolese." Ken Bullock, The Berkeley Daily Planet, 3 September 2009.

US strategic communication to Africa: the Defense lion and the State wildebeest (updated).

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A previously undisclosed program intended to counter extremist ideology in West Africa's predominantly Muslim Sahel region, details of which have been described to Foreign Policy, offers a window into how this Washington debate is playing out in the beltway and on the ground. The quarter-million-dollar 'Regional Marketing Campaign,' as laid out in a draft Performance Work Statement (PWS) — a document outlining the government's requirements and expectations for a given project — will enlist a private contractor under the auspices of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom), the public-diplomacy shop in the State Department's Africa Bureau, and individual embassies in four West African countries. ... The broad debate about such programs puts three hot issues on the table: how the message should be carried (whether clandestine or not), who can and should do the work (civilians or the military), and how to fund those activities (explicitly from Congress, or discretionally through broader programs). ... Aside from the legal questions, the Sahel marketing program raises long-standing bureaucratic fears. After the United States Information Agency was folded into the State Department in 1999, Foggy Bottom has taken the lead on public diplomacy. Increasingly, however, such tasks are moving into the Department of Defense, to the concern of some observers — many of them, naturally, in the State Department." Elizabeth Dickinson, Foreign Policy, 2 September 2009 (via NPR).
     Update: "By necessity, the Defense Department has stepped in where State Department has tuned out: Foggy Bottom relies on Pentagon funding and even personnel for basic operations central to its mission. For example, the Defense Department now performs much strategic communications work traditionally the purview of the State Department. In Somalia, for example, the State Department's budget for public diplomacy is $30,000. The Pentagon's is $600,000. And, in the State Department's bureaucratic wisdom, the $30,000 does not even belong to its undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs." Matthew Armstrong, Foreign Policy, 11 September 2009. Somalia might not be the best example. The US military is active near Somalia as part of Operation Ocean Shield and other tasks, all with accompanying information operations. With a "virtual presence post" in Nairobi rather than an embassy in Mogadishu, State's activities in Somalia are limited. The public diplomacy budget does not include VOA broadcasts in Somali.

For second year, State Department asks "filmmakers, youth and other citizens of the world" to send in their shorts.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale will travel to the United Nations [headquarters] to participate in the launch of the Second Annual Democracy Video Challenge and to highlight the UN’s International Day of Democracy on Tuesday, September 15. The Democracy Video Challenge enhances the global dialogue on democracy by asking filmmakers, youth and other citizens of the world to create video shorts that complete the phrase “Democracy is….” Partners for the online video contest include the State Department, democracy and youth organizations, academia, and the news, film and entertainment industry. ... UN press credentials are required to cover this event." State Department press release, 11 September 2009.

With traffic up 21%, "BBC.com remains the largest international broadcast news website in Asia Pacific."

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC.com's traffic in Asia Pacific has significantly grown in monthly reach by 21% in Q2 2009 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest results delivered by ComScore. The number of visitors per month has now risen to 8.4million in the region which is more than twice the size of its nearest competitor. BBC.com remains the largest international broadcast news website in Asia Pacific. The latest figures also show great loyalty to BBC.com around the globe with 72% of audiences reportedly staying with BBC.com rather than visiting a competitor site (competitive set includes CNBC, Financial Times, CNN.com, MSNBC.com, and the Economist)." BBC Worldwide press release, 10 September 2009. Who is the "nearest competitor"?

China tweaks internet controls as 60th anniversary of the People's Republic approaches.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Controls over Chinese Internet users look set to intensify ahead of a sensitive political anniversary in October, with an announcement by Internet café owners that they will fully cooperate with government security measures. ... 'Its aim is to control the flow of political information, especially now, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. They want to eradicate any voices of opposition and create an atmosphere of unified praise for the Communist Party.'" Radio Free Asia, 10 September 2009. See also DPA, 11 September 2009.

OSCE official criticizes Azerbaijan's continued ban of BBC, VOA, RFE/RL.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"'For Azerbaijan to improve its media freedom record, law enforcement should be firmly instructed to protect journalists instead of endangering them through harassment and trumped-up charges,' the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's media freedom representative, Miklos Haraszti, said in a statement during a visit to the Azerbaijani capital Baku. ... He said he was encouraged by assurances from government officials that Azerbaijan would soon abandon its controversial criminal libel laws. ... But he criticised a ban imposed last year on foreign broadcasts that effectively shut down local-language broadcasts of the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Liberty, which many saw as some of the country's only sources of independent news." AFP, 11 September 2009.

Euronews adding output in Turkish (24 hours) and Ukrainian (15 minutes).

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Turkish public broadcaster TRT has taken a 15.70% stake in the international news channel euronews. An agreement between the two parties came into effect on August 6, following a partnership deal, signed on February 27 this year, leading to the launch of a 24-hour, Turkish version of euronews in January 2010." Broadband TV News, 10 September 2009.
     "Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and CEO of Euronews Channel Philippe Cayla have discussed prospects for further cooperation as a short Ukrainian language version of Euronews was established on Ukraine's First National Channel. The National Television Company of Ukraine and Euronews on Friday signed an agreement to start broadcasts of 15-minute news bulletins on the First National Channel from Monday to Friday, the presidential press service reported." Interfax-Ukraine, 11 September 2009.

ABC MD makes the case for international broadcasting as public broadcasting.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"For $850m of public money, we [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] are delivering 5 radio networks, 2 television networks, Australian media’s largest suite of online services and our international radio and tv networks. By contrast, the top rating Australian TV network, Channel 7, has revenues of $1.4 bn to deliver Channel 7 – one television network around the country. ... We have more reporters locally, nationally and international than anyone else. We are driving to a seamless integration of our television, news and online services. We have more reporters covering our region, the Asia-Pacific, than any other news organisation. ... We believe in some areas: like commercial free children’s programming and like international broadcasting as an arm of the Government’s soft diplomacy – that the public broadcaster, operating without a profit motive, and building on a record of integrity developed for generations, is the only organisation that can deliver." Australian Broadcasting Corporation managing director Mark Scott to the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, via The Age (Melbourne), 10 September 2009. See previous post about Mark Scott. The Radio Australia and Australia Network newsrooms (which might just be one newsroom) might not appreciate being referred to as "soft diplomacy."

Study: Jihadists keep track of HQ via BBC or Al Jazeera.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Two-year study of media and radicalisation led by Dr. Andrew Hoskins at the University of Warwick [finds that] (e)ven jihadist sympathisers feel detached from the Al-Qaeda core. The jihadist media culture is made up of core websites featuring members who are committed without deviation or question to the jihadist campaign. Outside the core is a ‘grey zone’ of individuals who potentially have sympathy for the campaign but question the legitimacy of some violent acts, particularly violence that kills Muslims or civilians. The core members offer little guidance or recognition to potential sympathisers, who have to turn to mainstream media such as BBC or Al-Jazeera to find out what core Al-Qaeda have been doing." University of Warwick news via Physorg.com, 11 September 2009. "The University of Warwick and Royal Holloway research will be launched at a debate at Royal Holloway, University of London on 15 September at a workshop entitled, ‘Media and Radicalisation: Closing Symposium’." Information is here.

International television comes to the Quad Cities.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"WQPT launches MHz Worldview as the 24th nationwide affiliate. MHz Worldview will be available initially to over-the-air viewers from 7 am – 11 pm, on channel 24.2. Area cable systems will be adding the service within the next few weeks. ... Known for its 'Programming for globally-minded people,' MHz Worldview serves as a liaison in bringing programs and understanding from around the world to American audiences. MHz Worldview watchers will see a variety of news, public affairs and entertainment programming from around the world. News programs include 'Euro News', 'France 24 News', 'RT News' from Russia and 'Al Jazeera English News'." Quad-Cities Online, 9 Septembewr 2009.

Chinese poet, essayist, author, international broadcaster, will spend a winter in Edmonton.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Sheng Xue, Edmonton's new writer-in-exile, "poet, essayist and freelance journalist, fled China in 1989 following the Tiananmen Square Massacre, in which hundreds of Chinese civilians were killed while protesting for democracy. ... In 2001, she investigated China's most prominent smuggling case and published a book (in Mandarin), Unveiling the Yuan Hua Case, which soon became a bestseller in Chinese communities outside China. The book is banned in China, but illegal copies are widely circulated there. ... She is a correspondent for Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle and works for Free Radio Asia. ... Sheng's one-year tenure starts today with a welcome ceremony, officiated by Mayor Stephen Mandel... ." Edmonton Journal, 10 September 2009. See also "How to Survive the Winter in Edmonton."

South Korea will privatize English-language radio station in Seoul.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The government said yesterday it sold 22 out of the 111 government-invested affiliates of public firms in August. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance had announced in January that it would sell 111, scrap 17 and merge three state-invested affiliates of public firms as part of efforts to accelerate privatization of the public sector. ... The government will fine-tune the timing and the method of the sales of six affiliates including GM Daewoo owned by the KDB, Human Community Energy System owned by the KDHC, and YTN Radio owned by the Korea International Broadcasting Foundation." The Korea Herald, 11 September 2009. YTN Radio is an English-language station in Seoul on 94.5 MHz FM.

Intelsat will continue to transmit NHK World TV, "the first global High-Definition (HD) news channel."

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Intelsat, Ltd., the world's leading provider of fixed satellite services, announced that NHK Global Media Services, Inc. (G-Media), a subsidiary of NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation, signed a multi-transponder, multi-year renewal and expansion contract with Intelsat. NHK will use G-Media's backbone capacity on three Intelsat satellites, program turnaround services at three Intelsat teleports and Intelsat's video fiber network to transmit the first global High-Definition (HD) news channel, NHK World TV. NHK World TV is an English-language channel broadcasting HD and Standard-Definition (SD) news and Asian lifestyle programming. The content will be gathered from NHK's 30 HD-equipped news bureaus located around the world and Japan International Broadcasting Inc., a company 60 percent owned by NHK, will distribute the programming to millions of viewers in more than 80 countries. ... The same infrastructure will be used by G-Media to transmit NHK`s international Japanese language premium channel, NHK World Premium." Intelsat press release, 10 September 2009.
     See also the website of Japan International Broadcasting Inc., "jibtv", which gives the impression that jibtv is an on-air brand. (It even has a "character," Jib-kun, a forest dweller who typically lives 500 years and subsists by "eating moss scraped from the forest floor.") All I see (via MHz Networks in the Washington area) is the NHK World brand. It's also interesting that the jibtv website states at the top of the home page: "This site is not available to users in Japan."

BBC jazz broadcaster: Willis Conover "one of the five people who destroyed the Soviet Union."

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The contribution of record label owner and radio presenter Leo Feigin to bringing Soviet avant-garde jazz music to both international and Russian audiences cannot be overestimated. ... Under the pseudonym Alexei Leonidov, Feigin, who was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1973, also presented an influential jazz program on the BBC Russian Service for more than 25 years. ... Q: In an interview you described Willis Conover (1920-1996), a jazz broadcaster on the Voice of America for over 40 years, as one of the five people who destroyed the Soviet Union. Feigin: I am deeply convinced of it. Q: So jazz was such a strong force? Feigin: Yes, at least for us, for everybody I knew. For everybody who held the same views as I did, it was the most effective weapon. People like Willis Conover played an absolutely incredible role in changing this society. We had the following timetable at that time. The BBC’s Finnish Service broadcasted a jazz program on Saturdays, from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. It was received perfectly; they didn’t jam it in any way. There was a very good DJ at the BBC’s Finnish Service, and he played amazing music. We used to gather in big groups to listen to the show, and when it finished, we would go out onto Nevsky to discuss it. And of course in the evening, from 11 p.m. it was Willis Conover — that was the rule. Willis Conover was a traditional man, but from time to time he would play something like Ornette Coleman. And people sold these names — the name of Ornette Coleman went for five rubles and was passed from one person to another." Sergey Chernov, St. Petersburg Times, 11 September 2009.

International broadcasting, sort of: Last.fm on CBS radio stations' digital side channels.

Posted: 12 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"While most radio stations are looking for ways to expand their online presence, CBS Interactive Music Group is doing the opposite with [London based] social music site Last.fm. by giving the brand an all new station to be broadcast on the company’s HD multicast stations. Last.fm will effectively take over CBS HD broadcast stations starting in four markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. The broadcasts kick off on Monday, October 5. The broadcast—it will be the same in all markets—will feature a mix of music aggregated and influenced by the service’s user-generated weekly charts." David Kaplan, paidContent.org, 10 September 2009. On HD2 or HD3 channels of the CBS-owned stations.

BBC World Service does not want to report "from behind barriers" in Afghanistan.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"News organisations have warned that the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan could affect their coverage of the conflict in the country, following the rescue of a kidnapped New York Times journalist in which a British soldier was killed early today. ... Peter Horrocks, the director of the BBC World Service, which runs a Persian-language TV and radio service in the country, said that the organisation was preparing for a long war. 'We hear what the politicians and the military are saying. We are gearing up for a story we have to cover for a long time to come,' he added. Horrocks ackowledged that 'there are some parts of the country where it is impossible to operate without being on the side of the western military', but said the BBC was determined to avoid 'report[ing] from behind barriers'. He added that 'experienced [local] stringers and reporters' could 'sometimes operate more effectively than western reporters' in Afghanistan and that the World Service would continue to use them widely. 'Some of the reporting about the aftermath of the elections and [allegations] of fraud has been dug up by members of the Persian TV team,' he said." James Robinson, The Guardian, 9 September 2009.

VOA special reports mark 9/11 anniversary.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"To mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Voice of America’s (VOA) Spanish Service is airing online stories that examine how people are coping after eight years. ... To report the series, '9/11: Eight Years Later,' VOA sent a team of producers to New York to look at the city which experienced the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil. ... Other VOA divisions are also producing special reports. VOA’s South Asia Division is marking the anniversary with call-in shows, panel discussions and personal stories in Pashto, Dari, Hindi and Urdu." VOA press release, 10 September 2009. See also script of my VOA Communications World program on 15 September 2001.

RT: official channel of 9/11 revisionism. Press TV buys in.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A loud bang shook the building and shortly afterwards the plane hit the skyscraper, states survivor William Rodriguez, who was a janitor in the North Tower of the WTC and helped to rescue others after the planes hit. On September 11, 2001, he was in the basement of the North Tower of the WTC and says before the plane hit there was a huge explosion coming from below, so loud and so high that it pushed those present upwards into the air." RT (Russia Today), 11 September 2009. RT report reported by Press TV, 11 September 2009.
     "A Press TV survey asked respondents: 'How do you feel about the 9/11 attacks given that Obama's green jobs 'czar' [Van Jones] quit over questioning the official account of the terrorist incident?' Following are the results of the survey: · The Bush administration masterminded the attacks as a pretext to invade Iraq and Afghanistan (87%) · Al-Qaeda staged the attacks to settle old scores with the U.S. (13%) Source: Press TV, Iran, September 11, 2009." MEMRI Blog, Middle East Media Research Institute, 11 September 2009.

The place from which the murderer escaped is named for the *other* VOA.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has once again turned its attention [to] the Voice of America halfway house in Over-the-Rhine. That's the facility that suspected serial killer Anthony Kirkland escaped from... ." WLWT-TV (Cincinnati), 10 September 2009. The writer must have assumed that the VOA Halfway House is another of several entities in the Cincinnati area named for Voice of America, which operated a shortwave transmitting station at Bethany, Ohio, until 1994. Actually, in this case, VOA is Volunteers of America.

Twenty-two students will pursue their MA at DW.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle (DW) has officially started its Master’s Program for International Media Studies in Bonn. Erik Bettermann, DW Director General, welcomed the first 22 students from 13 different countries... . DW received nearly 700 applications from around the world. The four-semester, bilingual program is a joint project with the University of Bonn, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences and Deutsche Welle. ... 'The goal of this program is to train well-rounded journalists who can work as communicators and "change agents" in the development process.'" DW press release, 10 September 2009. But should a journalist be a "change agent"? Let journalists be journalists, and change will take care of itself.
     "Is it the BBC's job to save the planet?" Over to You, BBC World Service, 10 September 2009.

Deutsche Welle: "Obama need look no further than Europe for a way out of US healthcare quagmire."

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"'Obama won't abandon his plans, he simply can't afford to,' Uwe Reinhardt, professor for healthcare economics at Princeton University told Deutsche Welle. 'He can't do all the things he said he could do. The most he can do this year is to make sure that of the 47 million uninsured people in the US, maybe 20 million will be helped to get insurance. ... You could pick either the German system, the Dutch system - even more so as they allow for profit-orientated insurance companies - or the Swiss system,' he continued. 'All these systems are fairly similar in having a structured, regulated market for private insurers, either non-profit or profit-making. But I think a mixture of the Dutch and German systems would be perfect for the insurance reform in the US,' he added." Rob Mudge and Nick Amies, Deutsche Welle, 9 September 2009.

Cuba's blogging culture is "vibrant" despite highly regulated and expensive internet access.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A vibrant, independent blogging culture is emerging in Cuba, of all places. ... Bloggers can go online at government-owned Internet cafés, at universities, and at diplomatic venues. Hotels became another option in 2008, when the government lifted regulations that forbade citizens from entering tourist venues. But even at these venues, Cuban bloggers face practical and economic impediments. Connections are extremely slow—foreign journalists say that sending two e-mails can take up to an hour—and are very costly. An hour of Internet use at hotels and cybercafés can cost 160 pesos (US$6), about one-third of a Cuban’s monthly salary. Bloggers say the country’s intranet is a cheaper alternative, but it provides only limited access to e-mail and a cluster of Cuban Web sites. The Dutch embassy and the U.S. Interests Section in Havana also offer computers and Internet access. Although some bloggers make use of diplomatic venues, many say they are wary that contact with foreign officials might suggest that they are somehow members of a political opposition." Carlos Lauría and María Salazar Ferro, Committee to Protect Journalists, 10 September 2009.

Lawsuit claims Radio/TV Martí stringers were paid to be critical of Cubans on trial for espionage.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A group pressing for the release of five convicted Cuban spies claimed Wednesday that the U.S. government might have paid U.S. journalists to slant coverage of the case in an effort to spur community hysteria in Miami and get convictions. The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five made the claim in a lawsuit in federal court against the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs the government's foreign broadcasting programs, including . The committee admitted it had no evidence for its claim that the journalists -- including two from El Nuevo Herald -- were paid to slant their coverage for the publications they worked for. A BBG spokeswoman called the contention 'absurd.' El Nuevo Herald's journalists denied the claim. The group is seeking the release of government contracts with 16 journalists who were paid for work they did for Radio or TV Martí between the time of the spies' arrests in 1998 and their 2001 convictions." Miami Herald, 10 September 2009.
     The lawsuit "maintains that more than a dozen journalists who covered the seven-month Cuban spy trial in Miami, which began in November 2000, also contributed on a freelance basis to the U.S. government’s Radio and TV Marti broadcasts beamed into Cuba that were highly critical of the five. ... Tish King, a spokeswoman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors in Washington, said the board had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment directly on it. But King said that Radio and TV Marti 'provide fact-based information for an audience in Cuba' and disputed the depiction of them as U.S. government propaganda outlets." AP, 10 September 2009.
     "According to the complaint, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), submitted a request on January 23, 2009, to the BBG seeking public disclosure of the BBG’s funding of journalists including specifically identified contracts between the BBG and these journalists. However, the government is unlawfully refusing to produce these documents." ACN Cuban News Agency, 10 September 2009.

Horace Cooper pleads not guilty, surrenders passport, is available for speeches.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A former top official for Voice of America has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he was corrupted after being lavishly entertained by now-imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Horace Cooper entered the plea during his arraignment Wednesday at federal court in Washington. ... Prosecutors say Cooper illegally advanced the interests of Abramoff and his clients when he was working as chief of staff at Voice of America and then the Labor Department." AP, 9 September 2009.
     "Horace Cooper, through his lawyer, pleaded not guilty during a brief arraignment in U.S. District Court, and while he will have to surrender his passport, Cooper won’t have to post any bail and will still be able to travel around the country giving speeches." Jeremy Pelofsky, Front Row Washington blog, Reuters, 9 September 2009.
     Cooper is still posting to his Fight for Glenn Beck blog. See previous post about same subject.

Conde Nast says Нет to translating GQ article into Russian, creating содом.

Posted: 11 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Neither the Voice of America nor Radio Liberty, both US government-funded international broadcasters, provided Internet users and radio listeners with a Russian translation of an article about Vladimir Putin which sparked a major controversy over censorship both in Russia and in the US. Conde Nast, the publisher of 'GQ' magazine, reportedly banned the article from being printed in Russia because it is highly critical of Prime Minister Putin and suggests that Russian security services engaged in criminal activities to help him become an authoritarian ruler. The article was published only in the US edition of 'GQ.' While the two radio stations funded by US taxpayers to broadcast news for audiences abroad largely ignored the story, independent bloggers in the US volunteered to translate the article into Russian in a grass-root effort to combat press censorship." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 6 September 2009. Perhaps some issues with the copyright, which even USG funded stations must respect.
     "GQ editors were also told not to promote the story, but in an act of quiet defiance, the magazine sought publicity for Anderson's article from a few news outlets, including NPR's All Things Considered. Anderson was also asked to refuse to syndicate the article to any publications that appear in Russia once the rights revert back to him. He says he acknowledged the request, but told GQ he would refuse to honor it." David Folkenflik, National Public Radio, 4 September 2009.
     "The story of Conde Nast’s preventive self-censorship became an instant media sensation in the United States. For the first time in its seven-year history, the popular New York blog site Gawker ran an entire headline in Russian: 'Эй, вы можете прочитать запрещенную статью GQ про Путина здесь' ['Hey, you can read the forbidden GQ article about Putin here']. Gawker, which calls Conde Nast's decision an act of 'cowardice,' is re-publishing the article in both English and Russian." Nikola Krastev, RFE/RL, 9 September 2009.
     "Elena Vlasenko of RFE/RL's Russian Service interviewed Anderson about his article and asked him what he thinks about the decision not to let readers in Russia see it." RFE/RL, 8 September 2009.
     "The Russian edition of GQ is not carrying the article - though its editor, Nikolai Uskov, insists he chose not to because there was nothing new in it. Uskov has a point: the conspiracy theory has been widely publicised, not least by Alexander Litvinenko, the former FSB spy who was murdered in London in November 2006, and historian Yury Felshtinsky, who together wrote a book called Blowing Up Russia." Jack Bremer, The First Post, 9 September 2009.

Al Jazeera distribution deal with Nairobi-based A24 Media.

Posted: 10 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Network and A24 Media have revealed a new partnership that widens worldwide access to Al Jazeera’s award winning Africa-focused programming. A24 Media offers broadcasters across the world a diverse portfolio of programming covering Africa via its online delivery site www.a24media.com. The distribution of this content is part of the organisation’s drive to revolutionize the African media environment and to service strong demand among international audiences for African content. Al Jazeera has developed a reputation for mould-breaking African coverage, telling stories from across a continent often overlooked by conventional world news broadcasters." Press release via Ratio Magazine (Nairobi), 10 September 2009.

Press TV "seems to give legitimacy to a regime that treats its own people like," well, read on...

Posted: 10 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"In the past I have appeared on the satellite station Press TV, launched as an Iranian rival to Al Jazeera, but I won’t do it again – and nor should any British journalist. After being asked this week to appear on a debating show I wrote the producer an email explaining that I had 'nothing against it or the people who work there personally but it seems to give legitimacy to a regime that treats its own people like sh*t and spreads poison and violence around the world'. See, I won’t do anything for a drink. Make no mistake about it – whether you go on to speak up for liberal democracy, just a media whore looking to put food on the table or, as one British journalist somewhat dubiously claimed after being sacked by the channel, 'infiltrating the regime from within', Press TV normalises one of the most vile governments on earth." Ed West, The Telegraph blog, 9 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.

US international broadcasting to Iran: sifting some facts from the fiction.

Posted: 10 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Iran Democracy Fund, launched by the Bush administration in 2006, has been controversial from the beginning, and has faced myriad crosscutting pressures that have nearly succeeded in shutting the program down. ... Despite its initial opposition, Congress ultimately appropriated $66 million for two separate programs. The majority of the funds, $36 million, was directly appropriated to the Broadcasting Board of Governors for international broadcasting to Iran. Since then, Congress has continued to give significant sums to expand Voice of America's (VOA) Persian service and Radio Farda, but to limited effect. ... Congress, becoming more comfortable with the process, saw fit to appropriate an additional $60 million for State Department programs for fiscal year 2008, due in large part to the strong support of Senator Joseph Lieberman, key members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and advocates of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, who used it as an opportunity to boost the VOA's budget numbers." J Scott Carpenter, The Washington center for Near East Studies, 8 September 2009. Limited effect? From the BBG 2008 annual report: "The Persian News Network (PNN) now reaches 29 percent of Iranian adults, more than one in four, with its six hours of original TV programming each day and expanded use of the PNN Web site." (It would benefit both BBG and US taxpayers for the BBG to make available more details of its audience research data. Even dismal results would bring helpful suggestions from US professionals and citizens.)
     "Increase targeted broadcasting into Iran through various communications channels including Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, the BBC and especially private broadcasting entities. Support the democracy activists by broadcasting events inside of Iran so that the activists can more easily learn what is occurring in the various cities and town in Iran." Perry Staley, Ironton (OH) Tribune, 9 September 2009. "Broadcasting events inside of Iran" is already happening, to the extent possible. US and UK international broadcasting to Iran is already extensive, with not much meaningful room for expansion. US international broadcasting to Iran would benefit more from rationalization than from expansion.

Pakistani anti-Americanism fueled by Pakistani media? (updated)

Posted: 10 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"For weeks now, the Pakistani media have portrayed America, its military and defense contractors in the darkest of lights, all part of an apparent campaign of anti-American vilification that is sweeping the country and, according to some, is putting American lives at risk. ... The lively Pakistani media has been filled with stories of under-cover American agents operating in the country, tales of a huge contingent of U.S. Marines planned to be stationed at the embassy, and reports of Blackwater private security personnel running amuck. ... [US ambassador Anne Patterson] said she wrote last week to the owner of Pakistan's biggest media group, Jang, to protest about the content of two talk shows on its Geo TV channel, hosted by star anchors Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan, and a newspaper column of influential analyst Shireen Mazari in The News, a daily, complaining that they were 'wildly incorrect' and had compromised the security of Americans." Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers, 7 September 2009.
     Update: "Zafar Syed, webmaster of Voice of America’s Urdu service, tells me, 'I don’t believe in most of the doomsday theories. Pashtuns [Pakistan’s largest ethnic community] are overwhelmingly pro-Pakistan. Corrupt politicians, suicide bombers in the mosques, massive electricity failure, and the threat of your cell phone being snatched in the street are one thing, but the possibility of the country breaking apart is quite another.' ... According to Barry Newhouse, VOA’s Islamabad bureau chief for two years, there is also a financial element—an incentive to do just enough fighting to ensure continued U.S. aid. 'Significant segments of the Pakistani population see the back and forth between the Taliban and the Pakistani army as orchestrated in part to get more dollars out of the United States,” he says.'" Ed Warner, "former editor-reporter for the Voice of America," American Conservative, 1 October 2009 issue.

Netgear device receives international channels via internet.

Posted: 10 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Netgear's Digital Entertainer Live (model EVA2000) "includes a free trial of the VuNow subscription service, which provides access to hundreds of internet videos, live internet TV and live internet radio streamed from popular sites from around the world. VuNow is currently affiliated with Bloomberg, CNN Video, C-SPAN, Sky News, BBC Worldwide, Euronews, ESPN, Germany's 2DF, RTL and DWTV, Al Jazeera, China's CCTV, EuroSport, and France 24 and Orange Sport. It also throws in a free trial of PlayOn software, which provides access to Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, BBC iPlayer, CBS, the NFL, and the Australian Broadcasting Corp." CNET Australia, 10 September 2009. See also Netgear EVA2000 web page. Unsure if this VuNow "subscription service" provides access to channels such as BBC World News or Al Jazeera English, from which live streams are generally unavailable. The VuNow web page proclaims "No subscription fees."

CNBC Asia adds "Barefoot Investor."

Posted: 10 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNBC Asia has begun broadcasting a specialist investment show on Saturdays presented by Scott Pape, the author of the best selling book, 'The Barefoot Investor'. The show, which takes its name from the book takes a unique and refreshing approach to the issues that matter most to your money. ... 'Broadcasting this new programme in Australia shows CNBC’s commitment to the region and enables us to continue being a one stop viewing platform taking our audience from the business week into the weekends.'" World Business News, 9 September 2009. Only to Asia-Pacific?
     "Spire Corporation (Nasdaq: SPIR), a global solar company providing capital equipment to manufacture photovoltaic (PV) modules, turnkey manufacturing lines and solar PV systems today announced its Chairman and CEO, Roger G. Little, will take part in a live interview tonight, September 8, 2009, at 7:40 p.m. EDT with CNBC Asia Pacific`s program Asia Squawk Box. The interview will address the Chinese government`s economic protection for their domestic producers and the restrictions on foreign competitors such as the United States and Germany." Spire press release, 8 September 2009.

RFA reporter summonsed to Cambodian court re alleged 'accomplice of incitement'."

Posted: 10 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Asia reporter Ratha Visal has been summoned to Ratanakkiri provincial court relating to a 2007 land dispute in which Pen Bonnar, the former Ratanakkiri provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, has also been summoned. ... Ratha Visal also confirmed on Tuesday that he was to appear for an investigation of charges of 'accomplice of incitement'." The Phnom Penh Post, 9 September 2009.

A visit to the RFE/RL "spaceship" in Prague.

Posted: 10 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"After a few days of hanging around the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, I realized what the place reminded me of. Start with the building. It’s like a giant hovering spaceship, sleek and metallic and futuristic, especially in contrast to the venerable city it is both part of and apart from. Its defenses are formidable and vaguely naval. There’s an outer perimeter wall ('Shields up!') with an airlock-like security post, a fifty-foot grass moat, and another airlock at the entrance to the building proper. Lots of glass, some of it inches thick, and steel. ... Kirk’s U.S.S. Enterprise was on a voyage of discovery—a fact-finding mission, basically. So is RFE/RL, but with a useful twist: it doesn’t just find facts, it distributes them, mostly to places where people would otherwise have little or no access to them. Both spaceships come in peace; their elaborate security systems serve strictly defensive purposes. But you can’t go where no one has gone before—and beaming down honest news, information, and commentary to people whose rulers would rather they didn’t hear it is a rough eqivalent—without a certain amount of dedication and, in some cases, courage. There are villains out there. Boldness is a must." Henrik Hertzberg blog, The New Yorker, 7 September 2009. See Jonathan Marks photo of the RFE/RL HQ.

Former VOA transmitting site is now a place where people can gather and doubt the citizenship of the President.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) spoke at the Voice of America tea party this Labor Day weekend outside of Cincinnati, OH. Following a tense Q&A session — during which, the congresswoman was booed for acknowledging that the Constitution is a living document — Schmidt engaged in a heated conversation with a birther off-stage. At the conclusion of their exchange, Schmidt whispered to the birther, 'I agree with you, but the courts don’t.'" Victor Zapanta, Think Progress, 8 September 2009. At former VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting station. See previous post about same subject.

Satellite radio: Ondas hires ex Worldspace exec.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Ondas Media, the would-be international [European] pay-radio (and video) broadcaster, is ... hiring of Benoit Chéreau, the highly regarded former head of Worldspace’s European operation. ... As Senior VP of Business Development at Ondas Media, Chéreau will now take responsibility for various business services and relationship development at the company." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 9 September 2009.

BBC World News travelogue finds "hidden gems" of Washington DC.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"This September, BBC World News broadcasts a new series of the successful travelogue, The Real…, a weekly five-part series taking viewers on a tour to find the hidden gems and favourite spots of Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Beirut, Rome and Washington DC. With the guidance of three celebrated local personalities, viewers can expect a tour of each city which sidesteps the usual tourist itineraries in favour of unique, quirky sights which only locals could possibly reveal." BBC World News press release, 3 September 2009.

Last Night of the Proms to be broadcast internationally.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"After a packed 58 days, the 115th BBC Proms comes to a spectacular end on Saturday 12 September. The world-renowned Last Night Of The Proms will once again see celebrations in London's Royal Albert Hall and at BBC Proms In The Park events around the UK. ... For the first time, the Last Night Of The Proms is screened via satellite to cinema chains in Asia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA on 12 September (13 September in time-delayed territories), presenting one of the UK's most iconic music events on the big screen and in digital surround sound. Among those to sign up is the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. ... BBC World Service, which has broadcast Proms concerts since 1932, reaches a potential worldwide audience of 40 million on its English language service alone, and the Last Night is broadcast live on the joint BBC World Service/Deutsche Welle DRM (digital shortwave) network, with highlights on Sunday on the regular World Service radio and online networks." BBC press release, 7 September 2009.

Award-prone SW Radio Africa wins another.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A team of Zimbabwean journalists based in Borehamwood [England] have been named Broadcasters of the Year. Short Waves Radio Africa [SW Radio Africa] received the accolade as part of the inagural Southern Africa Achievers Awards, which celebrates the work of South Africans across the UK. ... The eight-strong team receives 250,000 hits on its website each day from a worldwide audience, and its texting service also sends the headlines to 30,000 Zimbabweans every week." Borehamwood & Elstree Times, 8 September 2009.

Australia Network to Vietnam will include Vietnamese subtitling.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"At the invitation of the Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister of Australia, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam His Excellency Mr Nong Duc Manh paid an official visit to Australia from the 6-9 of September 2009." From joint statement: "Australia will continue to support and strengthen the Australia Network television service to Viet Nam including the delivery of selected programming with sub-titling in the Vietnamese language and the provision of on-line English language education materials. Australia and Viet Nam will both look to increase exchanges of media representatives with a view to encouraging high quality reporting and greater public interest and mutual understanding of each country." Prime Minister Rudd website, 8 September 2009.

Voice of Vietnam receives hero pin, bronze drum for "foiling the enemy’s manoeuvres."

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"State President Nguyen Minh Triet pinned the legend 'People’s Armed Forces Hero', a high State honour, on the traditional flag of Radio the Voice of Vietnam on September 7, for its 64-year contribution to the national defence. The State leader also handed the VOV a bronze drum as a special gift for the radio staff, praising them as a solid political foundation and national leader in mass media. He recalled the Radio’s first broadcast disseminating nationwide the Declaration of Independence delivered by President Ho Chi Minh on September 2 as a major milestone. 'Since then the VOV has always fulfilled its political tasks, contributing to foiling the enemy’s manoeuvres and attempts at sabotage, emerging as a reliable friend and a companion of people of all walks of life in peaceful national construction,' Triet emphasised. ... Radio General Director Vu Van Hien reported that his agency has so far expanded its business to print, television, and on-line media. Its international broadcasting programmes have been aired in 11 foreign languages and in Vietnamese for expatriates." Sai Gon Giai Phong, 8 September 2009.
     "From June, the Department of International Co-operation, which comes under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, paid BBC World to carry hundreds of half-minute spots in the Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States. ... Jocelyn Stokes, a visitor from the United States, who has been in Viet Nam for a week, said she knew Viet Nam mostly through the American War and from her friends. 'I have never seen an advertisement about Viet Nam on the CNN or the BBC,' Stokes said." Viet Nam News, 9 September 2009.

Paris Declaration declares that developed will help developing countries on broadcasts about the environment.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Participants representing around 1000 broadcasters agreed upon the 'The Paris Declaration on Broadcast Media and Climate Change,' which will strengthen regional and international collaboration, and encourage production and dissemination of audiovisual content to give a voice to marginalized populations affected by climate change. Delegates at the first ever UNESCO Broadcast Media and Climate Change conference in Paris (France) on 4-5 September came together to consider a global consensus on climate change, and to facilitate the use of materials between developing and developed country broadcasters." United Nations Environment Program via Environmental-Expert.com, 8 September 2009.

A "public option" that would be "a good couple dozen IQ points above" US television news?

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"When you want to understand the impact of the particular public option that is BBC News (and, specifically, its news channel), just compare Murdoch's Sky News and CNN International--which do compete with BBC's output--with Murdoch's Fox News and CNN's domestic product--which don't. The former are, by any standard, more serious, more balanced, more--to boil it down--grown up. In fairness, not only the competition with the Beeb is responsible for the relative sanity of Sky (though it does, in the Murdochian mold, play more downmarket); British communication law has a requirement that news broadcasts be, here's a twist, fair and balanced. But CNN [International], which goes head-to-head with BBC's World news channel in global competition, is a good couple dozen IQ points above what CNN offers its American audience." Harry Shearer, Le Blog, The Atlantic, 8 September 2009. Verizon FiOS TV offers CNN International as one of its channels to US viewers. DirecTV and DISH Network apparently do not.

For BBC World News, an embarrassing lack of silence.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A clip of a BBC News presenter appearing to suggest he was kidnapped by Philip Garrido has been posted on YouTube by a colleague as a lesson in the importance of punctuation. In the seven-second long footage the presenter says: 'This is BBC World News. I'm Jonathan Charles, kept hidden for almost two decades and forced to bear children...' But, rather than being posted by an eagle-eyed viewer, the clip, titled 'BBC News blooper: funniest ever' was uploaded by Jeremy Hillman, the head of the BBC's economics and business unit. The sub text reads: 'A lesson for Jonathan Charles of BBC World News on the importance of punctuation on the autocue and breathing'." Ben Leach, The Telegraph, 9 September 2009.

International group sets standard for internet radio players.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Internet Media Device Alliance (IMDA) has announced a baseline certification standard for standalone internet radio players. Called IMDA Profile 1, the standard aims to protect consumers by aligning competing technologies and future-proofing internet radio product design. Major internet radio manufacturers and broadcasters are backing the IMDA certification standard to ensure new products will access the majority of streamed audio broadcasts, available now and in the future. It is estimated that certified radios will today receive around 90 per cent of the world`s radio stations currently broadcasting over the internet. For manufacturers of internet radios, the certification standard aims to reduce time to market and marketing risk by removing the prospect of rival technology wars. ... Specifically, the baseline standard stipulates devices must decode both WMA and MP3 codecs; use HTTP streaming with 301 and 302 redirection; accept play list formats M3U, ASX, PLS with new line separation for URLs in plain text; and receive stereo streams via two channels or by downloading a mix of both." IMDA press release, 7 September 2009.

Defense Secretary Gates covers many bases in his first Al Jazeera interview.

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"In a wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera's Abderrahim Foukara, Gates spoke about: the US strategy for peace in Afghanistan, facing a 'war of necessity', the divide between two wars, fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq, Pakistan's role in the region, the 'threat' of a nuclear Iran, maintaining allies in the Middle East, and US ties with Latin America." Aljazeera.net, 8 September 2009, with transcript and video.
     "Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged US allies in the Arab world to strengthen their military capabilities and defense cooperation with Washington as a means of pressuring Iran to back off its nuclear program. In an interview with Al Jazeera that was to be aired Monday, Gates said the United States still favored diplomatic and economic approaches to the challenges posed by Iran and its nuclear program." AFP, 8 September 2009.
     "In his first interview with the al-Jazeera television network, Gates said the United States made a 'serious strategic mistake' by turning its focus away from Afghanistan after Soviet occupation forces were defeated there two decades ago." Washington Post, 9 September 2009.
     "North America is inexplicably left in the dark. It's time to turn on the light and demand the channel that provides in-depth news and programming from every angle... ." iwantaje.net.

CNN's Anderson Cooper show spends week in Afghanistan, "from an embedded position."

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Anderson Cooper is taking his CNN show on the road for a week, starting tonight. The difficult destination: Afghanistan. ... 'It's very expensive for domestic networks,' Cooper said. 'A lot of regions are remote. To bring in satellite equipment is costly. We think it's an important story. We have a full-time correspondent in Kabul. I wanted to bring a team. We wanted to devote significant resources to it at and will broadcast the show every night from an embedded position.' Joining Cooper are Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent; CNN's national security analyst Peter Bergen; and CNN correspondent Michael Ware. Gupta will be embedded with medical doctors to look at surgical procedures." Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel, 7 September 2009.

Skype is exclusive sponsor of CNN International's "Connector of the Day."

Posted: 09 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Skype has struck a deal with CNN International to sponsor its 'Connect the World' [program] as part of the telephony company's global advertising campaign. The multimedia marketing push sees Skype as an exclusive sponsor for CNN International's 'Connector of the Day' segment, with advertising presence on the programme's web and mobile pages. Viewers of 'Connect the World' will be encouraged to log-on to Skype Chat on CNN.com to discuss the programme after the show. The sponsorship will be supported by a TV campaign, which will promote Skype business features, such as video calling and cheap international rates. Ads will appear across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America." Brand Republic, 8 September 2009.
     "The partnership aims to exploit links between Skype's online telephony services and CNN's international news operation, which reaches ­markets including the UK, EMEA, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Connect the World broadcasts nightly, starting this week. It aims to explore the way an event in one ­corner of the world can affect regions across the globe, via a range of reports, interviews and viewer-­interaction." MediaWeek, 8 September 2009.

The murder of Georgi Markov, of BBC, RFE, DW Bulgarian, was 31 years ago.

Posted: 07 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Thirty-one years ago this week, on 7 September 1978, Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian émigré, who lived and worked in London, was assaulted in broad daylight on London’s Waterloo Bridge. Georgi Markov had been a prolific and successful literary figure in Bulgaria before defecting to the West in 1969. He settled in England and became a broadcast journalist for Radio Free Europe, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), and the German international broadcast service Deutsche Welle. Markov had a large listening audience in Bulgaria, who listened to his prime-time Sunday-night broadcasts over Radio Free Europe. ... And yet, with all the public information and years of official investigation, no one has been charged with the crime. The dots have not been completely connected. The final piece of the puzzle to complete the picture remains to be found. Georgi Markov’s death proved how far a totalitarian regime would go to protect itself from the truth." Richard Cummings, Historytimes.com, 7 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.

This is not Atlanta: CNN International London studio has new set.

Posted: 07 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN International has today started utilising its newly refurbished studios in its London headquarters. ... Featuring prominantly across the new set is the wording 'London' which is displayed both on the anchor desk and also on the studio backdrops. The set debuted during World Sport and will be rolled out across all of the London based programming today." World Business News, 7 September 2009.

Viewing and listening to international broadcasts in Shanghai, seven decades apart.

Posted: 07 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Having arrived in China from the United States just over a week ago, I find it strange watching political news from my own country far back across the Pacific. My apartment for visiting overseas faculty at Shanghai International Studies University is equipped with international cable TV including Al-Jazeera in English, whose world newscoverage includes US news stories of interest to international viewers; and via high-speed internet I can watch US domestic news on my laptop as pictured here. Al-Jazeera is clearly the superior product for world news." Mark C. Eades, OpEdNews.com, 6 September 2009.
     In Shanghai, 1941-42: "My parents spent hours listening to the shortwave radio broadcasts from Britain and America. The fall of Singapore, and the sinking of the British battleships Repulse and Prince of Wales, devastated us all." JG Ballard, The Guardian, 7 September 2009.

CEO of ABC defends BBC, and is still trying to get Australia Network into China.

Posted: 07 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Australia Broadcasting Corporation chief executive Mark Scott will use a major London media conference next week to challenge the controversial speech given by News Corporation executive James Murdoch 10 days ago in which he attacked the BBC. Mr Scott was in Beijing with ABC chairman Maurice Newman and other ABC executives at the weekend celebrating the ABC's 35 years in China and lobbying to have Australia Network carried on Chinese pay-TV. The group are visiting several overseas bureaus as part of a review of the broadcaster's international operations. ... The campaign for the Australia Network's inclusion on Chinese pay-TV has been afoot for many years and it is one of about 30 international stations in a run-off for a group of limited satellite slots. A clear indication of how many will be available and when has not been outlined by China's media authorities." The Australian, 7 September 2009. The Chinese "pay TV" might refer to the new proprietary China Direct Broadcast Satellite Company. See previous post. About Murdoch speech, see Reuters, 28 August 2009. Full text at News Corporation, 28 August 2009.
     "Support for the BBC has risen in the last five years with almost four out of five people believing it is an institution to be proud of, according to a new survey [in the UK]. The poll showed that 77 per cent were proud of the BBC, up from 68 per cent in a similar poll from 2004. The ICM/Guardian poll found that a total of 63 per cent thought the corporation provided good value for money, up four per cent from five years ago. Asked if the BBC was trustworthy, almost seven in 10 of the 1,001 adults questioned said yes, up from six in 10.
The poll follows a speech by News Corporation chief James Murdoch in which he described the scale and scope of the BBC's ambitions as 'chilling'." The Telegraph, 5 September 2009.

Head of Google China quits amid debate about "wisdom and morality" of censored Google.cn.

Posted: 07 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The head of Google’s operations in China quit on Friday, ending a controversial four-year tenure that saw the company censored version of its search engine to gain a foothold in the most populous internet market. The departure of Kai-Fu Lee comes close on the heels of a renewed debate inside the company about whether Google should pull out of China – a discussion prompted by the latest flare-up of its battle with the Chinese authorities, according to people close to the situation. That running debate has remained unresolved since the US company introduced a local, censored version of its search engine, Google.cn. Co-founder Sergey Brin in particular is still said by associates to be troubled by the company’s involvement in censorship. 'There are senior people who still wonder about the wisdom and morality of being there,' said one person close to the company’s thinking." Financial Times, 4 September 2009.

Reporters sans frontières leery of Egyptian candidate for DG of UNESCO.

Posted: 07 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "points out that UNESCO’s mandate includes promoting free expression and press freedom as basic human rights, encouraging media independence and diversity as preconditions for democratisation, and supporting the free flow of information, including on the Internet. 'Farouk Hosni needs to show that he is committed to these values, something he has not managed to do during the past 25 years.' ... The Egyptian government launched an offensive against independent TV stations at the start of the 2008. In February of that year, it got the Arab League to adopt a common charter that restricts the freedom of satellite TV stations and provides for sanctions for programme content that causes offence. Several Egyptian production companies working with foreign satellite TV stations have since been censored. The charter was criticised by journalists but not by the head of Nilesat, a satellite operator owned by the Egyptian government, which supports the creation of a regional regulatory authority with the power to issue licences. At the moment, TV stations that want to transmit via Nilesat must obtain the approval of the Egyptian government, which monitors their content closely. TV stations that dare to criticise are not welcome. The privately-owned TV station Al-Hiwar, for example, was dropped by Nilesat on 1 April 2008 without any explanation being given. The security forces seized equipment from the Cairo News Company (CNC), the main supplier of broadcast equipment and services to many foreign news media, on 17 April 2008, one week after Al Jazeera, one of its leading clients, broadcast footage of the 6 April 2008 protests." RSF,
7 September 2009
.

Just what the Arab world needs: another television channel.

Posted: 06 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
Visiting Damascus, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez "proposed the installment of a branch of the Caracas-based Latin American news network Telesur in Syria, 'so they can watch the news from the Latin American world.'" Venezuelanalysis.com, 5 September 2009.
     "Venezuela's telecommunications chief has announced a new investigation into a television station opposed to Hugo Chavez's government, [also] saying 29 [other] broadcasters will soon face closure. Diosdado Cabello said the investigation into Globovision - the sixth in eight months - was due to the channel allegedly broadcasting a ticker strip of text messages from viewers calling for a coup against the Venezuelan president." Aljazeera.net, 6 September 2009.

Death of Wilson P. Dizard Jr., author and retired USIA officer.

Posted: 06 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"In his State Department career from 1951 to 1980, Mr. Dizard spent much of his time assigned to the U.S. Information Agency. Based partly on his travels to South America, Africa and Asia, he wrote one of his first books, 'Television: A World View' (1966), a study of how communications affect global societies. He argued that as television became commonplace in even the world's remotest villages, it was imperative for American broadcasters to create more than 'cowboy serials, detective films, pratfall comedies and an occasional news documentary.' ... He also wrote a history of the U.S. Information Agency, 'Inventing Public Diplomacy' (2004)." Washington Post, 4 September 2009.

International student in Atlanta misses the "quality news broadcasting" back in Jakarta.

Posted: 06 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Every semester when I return to Emory [University in Atlanta] and turn on my television for the first time, I am brutally reminded of the need to add 'access to quality news broadcasting' to the list of things I miss about home. I lament the moment when I turn to the TV Guide channel to find that BBC World, CNN International and ABC (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation) are replaced with FOX, CNN America and CNN Headline News. While the brightly-colored studios, extraneous props and chummy presenters on most American news channels lure me like a moth to flame, the content leaves me feeling uninformed. Somewhere along the line, something went wrong with the U.S. news media." Aaron Collett (a junior from Jakarta), Emory Wheel, 3 September 2009.

BBC World News and CCTV4 now on mobiles in Singapore.

Posted: 06 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Effective immediately, StarHub's 3G mobile post-paid customers can access BBC World News and CCTV 4 from their handset, bringing the service's number of live news channels to six. Bloomberg Television, Channel NewsAsia, CNBC and CNN are also featured on StarHub." WorldScreen.com, 4 September 2009. CCTV4 is the international Mandarin-language channel of China's state owned television broadcaster CCTV.

China Radio International officially opens its relay in Honolulu.

Posted: 06 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Chinese state-run radio officially was presented to Honolulu at a luncheon at the Plaza Club yesterday, though it has been on the air since July 1. Programming from Beijing-based China Radio International in Chinese, English, Korean and Japanese airs 24 hours a day on KHCM-AM 880 under an agreement between station licensee Salem Communications Corp. and R&C Productions Inc., both of California. ... [Honolulu] Deputy Corporation Counsel Donna Woo read his statement: 'This 24-hour radio station means the Chinese community here in Hawaii can now enjoy the comprehensive coverage of Asia's leading international broadcaster.' ... The Chinese government jams foreign broadcasters' transmissions to keep them from its citizens, according to broadcast historian Brock Whaley, but Wang said Voice of America broadcasts can be heard in China. A special CRI team uses advanced facilities to receive the BBC and other foreign shortwave broadcasts, 'so we are able to track down what they're talking about, but perhaps ordinary people do not have these facilities,' Wang said. ... Primarily known as a broadcaster of Christian and conservative programming, Salem 'is in the business of selling time,' and has never had a complaint about the multiethnic programs, said Radio Division President Joe Davis." Honolulu Star Bulletin, 4 September 2009. See previous post about same subject.
     "Online P2P (peer to peer) video service Xunlei has partnered with China Radio International (CRI) to establish a joint venture company, according to a source within Xunlei. The source said the joint venture will solve Xunlei's Internet TV licensing issues. ... Note: CRI holds an online audio-visual broadcasting license from China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) that permits it to act as a content provider in a variety of [media]." via Marbridge Daily, 4 September 2009. Another example of China Radio International as China Television Domestic.

Glassman: "The United States need not be Miss Congeniality to win the war of ideas."

Posted: 06 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Of course, the United States needs credibility, just as it needs to develop friendships over the long term. What I advocate is change in emphasis. For the war-of-ideas part of public diplomacy (call it "global strategic engagement" if you don't like the word "war"), the constant admonition to U.S. policymakers should be that it's not about us. Bite your tongue when you say 'we. The dangerous narrative in Muslim societies is that the United States and the West are out to destroy Islam. The way to counter that narrative is not to protest that the United States has clean hands and that if you really knew us you would love us -- but to change the subject entirely. The United States is the scapegoat, the animal on which all cares and hatreds are loaded. We only contribute to that way of thinking when we defend ourselves, or talk about ourselves at all. The accurate narrative, the one that strategic communications should promote, is that Muslim societies are today in the midst of profound change and upheaval. In general, they are coping with the upheaval well and in the end they will succeed, but the struggle is extremely difficult." James K. Glassman, Foreign Policy 1 September 2009. Recommended reading.
     "Glassman gloats that McHale's and Mullen's efforts are futile because 'Pakistanis don't like the United States… no matter how many bridge-building meetings we have with them.' The thrust of the article is to also pick apart Abbasi [See previous post] and debunk his views vis-a-vis the US. 'This is their struggle, just as the American Revolution and the Civil War were ours. And what does Ansar Abbasi have to do with such a narrative? Nothing at all. Which is why he is exactly the kind of person not worth talking to.' While Mullen [See previous post] advocates listening to other voices, Glassman's article says just the opposite as reflected in his impolitic remarks against Ansar Abbasi. Such hubris only fuels the fires of hate." Anjum Niaz, The News (Karachi), 5 September 2009.

James K. Glassman will head a tank that will think the way George W. Bush thinks.

Posted: 06 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Former President George W. Bush took a step closer Thursday to establishing an 'action-oriented think tank' alongside his future presidential library by naming James K. Glassman, the longtime journalist and former administration official, as its founding executive director. Mr. Glassman, who served in the Bush administration as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and later undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, will be charged with building a public policy institute intended to advance some of the issues that Mr. Bush embraced as president. ... The George W. Bush Institute will be housed along with the library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. While presidential libraries are eventually turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration to be run as educational centers and storehouses of documents and artifacts, the institute Mr. Bush envisions will become his main organizational vehicle for continuing to participate in public life and trying to shape his legacy." Peter Baker, New York Times, 3 September 2009.
     "'It's been clear from the beginning that this is a very ideological and partisan institution,' SMU history professor Ben Johnson said. That said, Glassman's credentials as a 'conservative intellectual' are solid, Johnson said. 'They could've done much worse. This guy's a serious writer and thinker, not a shill or a hack.'" Dallas Morning News, 3 September 2009.
     "My job is to work with President and Mrs. Bush to decide on a limited number of areas of focus, to hire about two dozen scholars and fellows, and to develop partnerships. Those partnerships — with NGOs, universities, foundations, businesses, and governments — are critical because we are conceiving the Bush Institute as an 'action-oriented think tank.' That is, our main task will be to conduct objective, world-class research that can then be put to practical use in making a better world. This dedicated action orientation is, as far as I know, unique among think tanks. Also unique is the concept of an academically serious, independent presidential think tank itself. " James K. Glassman blog, 5 September 2009. See also George W. Bush Foundation press release, 3 September 2009 (pdf).

At old VOA Bethany site: kids catching fish, adults razzing Obama, and good smoothies (updated).

Posted: 06 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Dayton Tea Party has partnered with the Cincinnati Tea Party to present 'I Am the Voice of America' this Saturday, September 5th at the 'Voice of America Museum Park' in West Chester. The event is from 1 to 6 and will feature music, food, vendors, and a variety of speakers. ... Scheduled speakers include: ... Harald Zieger - German Immigrant - listened to VOA growing up." WHIO radio, 2 September 2009.
     "The location is symbolic, said Chris Littleton, director of the Tea Party’s Community Groups, which include West Chester and Liberty townships, Monroe and Fairfield. 'Voice of America broadcast the message of freedom and liberty throughout the world,' Littleton said. 'As we see things change at the national level and we see certain liberties being ignored ... we ask ourselves: If my voice is not heard right now, right here, is it ever going to be?'" Middletown (OH) Journal, 2 September 2009.
     "President Barack Obama will try to recharge Ohio support for his health-care reform principles Monday when he attends a Labor Day rally with union members in Cincinnati. ... The gathering will be more friendly to Obama than another political event in the Cincinnati area this weekend. On Saturday, in West Chester, north of the city, a conservative grassroots group called the Cincinnati Tea Party is holding a rally at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting. It's supposed to feature a town-hall style portion with remarks from a chief critic of Obama's health plan - House Minority Leader John Boehner, a Republican from West Chester. Organizer Mike Wilson ... said the rally, labeled the 'Voice of America' and which includes all-day entertainment, has no specific target except out-of-control government spending." Cleveland Plian Dealer, 4 September 2009.
     "Children, ages 7-15, will have fun catching all kinds of fish and learning from MetroParks’ fishing experts. This fun and educational program will take place from 8 to 11 a.m. Oct. 3, 10, 17 and 24 at the lake in the Voice of America Park in West Chester Twp." Middletown Journal, 2 September 2009.
     "Are you looking for a place to get a great tasting smoothie in the greater Cincinnati area? Here are some of your options: ... Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Choose from a wide [variety] of smoothie styles-including spuercharged [supercharged?], simply indulgent and super fruit. Indulge in a Stress Buster, Peanut Butter Cup or Blue Lagoon. Kids 12 and under eat free on Sundays with coupon from their website. Located on Voice of America Drive in West Chester." Aimee Plesa, Examiner.com, 2 September 2009. All at or near the former VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station.
     Update: "There was no shortage of anti-Obama signs at the Cincinnati Tea Party's rally Saturday at the Voice of America Park. But the largely conservative crowd of more than 6,000 didn't hold back its displeasure when the three conservative Republican members of Congress gave answers they didn't like to questions asked during the town hall portion of the rally." Cincinnaiti Enquirer, 5 September 2009.
     "'They're grass roots, they're coming from the people, they're not organized by some right-wing group of nuts,' Cheviot resident Apolonio Garcia said. ... 'I don't think the government could run many things well, let alone the health care system, so to think the government will be more efficient at running the health care system as a private enterprise is pretty funny,' Garcia said." Middletown (OH) Journal, 5 September 2009. And, yet, the rally was named for, and held at the former facility of, an entity that has been run by the US government (with some necessary autonomy) for 67 years.

Summer's over, and RFI resumes normal operations. I.e., they're on strike again. (updated)

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio France Internationale's strike against layoffs resumed on Tuesday after a break over the summer. A mass meeting of employees voted 94-eight, with 22 abstentions, to start industrial action again. Strike leaders reported to Tuesday's meeting that negotiations with management the previous day had proved fruitless, accusing the bosses of refusing to drop a redundancy plan which would mean 22 per cent of the workforce leaving. ... It is the longest public broadcasting strike since the 1968 general strike. Management claims that the plan, which involves the closure of several language services and departures in others, is necessary to 'modernise' the station." RFI, 3 September 2009.
     Update: Morand Fachot summarizes a new AFP report: "The strike at RFI is hardening: 80 journalists have joined the strike after a technician who was about to start working on the Portuguese for Africa programme was ordered to move to another studio to ensure broadcast of the French-language service. The Portuguese broadcast was cancelled as a result. Director delegate Geneviève Goëtzinger said that since the strike resumed the priority was to ensure broadcast of the French service owing to events in Gabon! Don't expect it to end soon." AFP, 4 September 2009.

Court ruling involves Al Jazeera dispute over construction of its Washington studio.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"If a bank accidentally sends your company money and then asks for its cash back, don’t try to keep it. That was the message of an opinion today by Senior Judge Gladys Kessler, who handed Qatar National Bank and its legal team from Patton Boggs a win on summary judgment at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case revolved around a mixup between the bank, Middle East news network Al Jazeera and Washington-based Winmar Construction. According to Kessler’s opinion, Al Jazeera hired Winmar in 2005 to renovate its D.C. office. ... Of course, there is a chance Winmar may see the money again. The construction company and Al Jazeera are still fighting it out in court." Jordan Weissmann, The Blog of LegalTimes, 4 September 2009.

ITV Sport and Al Jazeera in "political confrontation" over football coverage.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"ITV Sport have been involved in a major political confrontation with TV giants Al Jazeera that could have cost the English network their multi-million pound Champions League production contract in the Middle East. The Arab station, who have BBC's Gary Lineker presenting their widespread coverage of the competition on a new sports channel and ITV Sport doing the programme production, laid down editorial guidelines about the prominence given to Israeli team Maccabi Haifa during the qualifying stages. This led to ITV's high command confronting their Arab bosses with allegations that the time allocated to Maccabi Haifa had been decided on racial grounds, which were not acceptable. In turn, Al Jazeera were furious employees should even question their motives on such a powder-keg issue and told ITV it was none of their business to interfere." Charles Sale, Daily Mail, 5 September 2009. That's football as in soccer.

Well this *is* an emergency! Al Jazeera's at the jail!

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The chairman of the Harris County [Texas] Republican Party sharply criticized Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia Thursday for granting jail access to a reporter and videographer from Al Jazeera English, an English-language offshoot of the Arabic news network. GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill invited supporters to call the sheriff's office and 'voice concerns' about the decision to allow Al Jazeera English reporter Josh Rushing, a former public affairs officer for the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq, to conduct interviews for a long-form news story about treatment of the mentally ill by U.S. law enforcement. ... 'We think it's odd, at best, to have Al Jazeera going through our jails and actually interviewing folks,' Woodfill said. 'Second, we don't believe our chief law enforcement officer should be promoting an organization that has been linked to Al Qaeda and other terrorist or quasi-terrorist organizations. So we thought it was important to let our folks know what was going on.' Alan Bernstein, a spokesman for Garcia, said the sheriff's office 'fully vetted' the news crew's request and found them to be legitimate, since the Al Jazeera network has been granted interviews by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and that Rushing has regularly been granted access to the Pentagon for news stories. ... The phone number Woodfill initially sent out to GOP supporters asking them to call and 'voice concerns' was the sheriff's office dispatch that normally handles emergency calls, 'an unfortunate error,' Bernstein said. A later e-mail from Woodfill corrected the numbers." Houston Chronicle, 4 September 2009.

Heritage fellow praises Saudi-owned Al Arabiya.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The popular Arab satellite television network Al Arabiya has done the world a service by broadcasting a program that criticizes al-Qaeda terrorists and exposes the enormous suffering that al-Qaeda has imposed on Arab victims of terrorism, according to Fox News. Reporter Amy Kellogg filed a great segment on the televised show, called 'Death Making' in Arabic, that has broadcast an anti-terrorism message to Arab audiences that too often are bombarded with romanticized coverage of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups by other Arab news networks, particularly Al Jazeera." James Phillips, The Foundry, Heritage Foundation, 4 September 2009, with link to Fox video.

For talking to to Alhurra, Saudi prisoner's sentence is extended from death to death plus five years.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A Shi'ite who has been on death row in Saudi Arabia for 16 years for insulting the Prophet Mohammed was sentenced this week to another five years in jail for criticizing the Saudi justice system, an activist said. The verdict issued on Monday punished Hadi al-Mutif for criticizing the justice system and the U.S.-allied absolute monarchy's human rights record in comments he made from prison to U.S.-funded Alhurra television in 2007. Prisoners are often able to access mobile phones from visitors to Saudi jails." Reuters, 3 September 2009.
     "The United States Broadcasting Board of Governors strongly condemns the decision by the Saudi Arabian judicial system to sentence Hadi al-Mutif to five additional years in prison for comments he made on Alhurra television in 2007. Al-Mutif commented on Alhurra's program Eye on Democracy that the Saudi judicial system discriminates against Shiite and Ismaili Muslims. 'We fought the battle for the right to criticize our government back in 1776,' said D. Jeffrey Hirschberg of the Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees all U.S. international civilian broadcasting including Alhurra Television. 'It is disturbing that a person will be so severely punished just for voicing his opinion.'" BBG press release, 4 September 2009.
     "The difficulties faced by human rights activists operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, have been highlighted by the arrest and detention of Golden Misabiko, a prominent critic of human rights abuses in the country. Misabiko, who is president of the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights, ASADHO-Katanga, was arrested on July 24 following the publication by his organisation of a report on uranium mining in the south-east of the country. ... At an initial hearing on August 26, the prosecution also accused Misabiko of making allegations, to the Voice of America and the BBC, that uranium from the Shinkolobwe was sold to Iran and North Korea." Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 1 September 2009.
     "Talking about this incidents to foreign media, can be dangerous, Christians [in China] said. On August 14 a Chinese authorities sentenced Li Guang-ren and Zheng Xin-cai to 10 days administrative detention each, with a fine of 1,000 yuan, ($146) after speaking to U.S. backed Radio Free Asia about alleged religious freedom violations." BosNewsLife, 31 August 2009.

Pentagon denies vetting journalists in Afghanistan (updated).

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. military in Afghanistan has defended itself against accusations that a company it employs was rating the work of reporters and suggesting ways to make their war coverage more positive. 'Stars and Stripes,' a newspaper for U.S. troops, said it had obtained documents prepared for the U.S. military by the Rendon Group, a Washington-based communications firm that graded journalists' work as 'positive,' 'neutral,' or 'negative.' The newspaper, partly funded by the Pentagon but editorially independent, said the journalists' profiles included suggestions on how to 'neutralize' negative stories and generate favorable coverage. ... 'I've been here since June and we have never used any product from Rendon to rate specific journalists or to try and influence their reporting,' said Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, director of communications for U.S. Forces Afghanistan." Reuters, 28 August 2009. See also Stars and Stripes, 24 August, 27 August, 28 August, and 29 August 2009. And Frank Smythe, CPJ Blog, 28 August 2009.
     Update: "The Rendon Group has not screened, made decisions or recommendations with regard to who the military did or did not permit to conduct interviews or allow to embed. We assumed any reporters we were asked to research would be interviewing or embedding with the US Military. Apparently, as the USA Today pointed out, of the 143 requests to the 101st Airborne Division, only two were denied. Reportedly, the denials by the US Military were for inaccuracy and release of classified information, and both of those media outlets were later accepted. There is no evidence to support a charge that we directly or indirectly screened or contributed to the creation of a blacklist." Rendon Group statement, 3 September 2009.
     "The U.S. military is canceling its contract with a controversial private firm that was producing background profiles of journalists seeking to cover the war that graded their past work as 'positive,' 'negative' or 'neutral,' Stars and Stripes has learned. ... The one-year, $1.5 million contract was for a range of media analysis services beyond just the profiles and was just the latest contract for services it had provided the military for years. The company has a long history of contracting with the Defense Department and the CIA on controversial media projects." Kevin Baron, Stars and Stripes, 31 August 2009.
     "Reporters from numerous media outlets have obtained copies of their own Rendon profiles and learned details of how they were blacklisted or secretly managed by public affairs officers.
Freelancer Nir Rosen, who has reported downrange for Time and Rolling Stone, said military officials overseas nearly blocked his embed requests because profiles labeled him as an opponent of the Iraq war and warned that he might 'circumvent security and administrative restrictions in order to pursue other story angles'--charges he vehemently denied." Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes, 3 September 2009.
     "While the analysis of media coverage for tone – a common tool for corporations and organizations as well – was not denied by the agency or the military, both have condemned the suggestion that reporters were rejected for assignments to Afghanistan based on their individual coverage. 'We see what reporters want, try to accommodate them, and see what they publish – good and bad,' Wayne Shanks, chief of public affairs for International Security Assistance Forces, Afghanistan, told the Navy Times. 'The information is not used to determine whether an embed will be granted.' US military officials could not be reached for additional comment." Tonya Garcia, PRWeek, 4 September 2009.

Apparently, BBC Worldwide's "greater China" does not include China.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide Channels Asia today announced the appointment of Kerry Tarrant, as Regional Director, Advertising Sales - Greater China, as part of the pan-regional sales team to setup, build and support domestic and international ad sales for BBC assets across TV and digital platforms. Based in Hong Kong, Tarrant will also be responsible for driving revenue growth and developing strategic sales initiatives for TV and digital sales across BBC World News and bbc.com in Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, Japan and Taiwan markets." BBC Worldwide press release, 2 September 2009.
     "BBC Worldwide has appointed Matt Pritchard as the new Head of Development at BBC Worldwide. Matt is charged with generating original format ideas for international exploitation and roll out across BBC Worldwide's growing network of international production bases in the Americas, France, Australia and India. ... Previous hits devised by the development team include the Great American Road Trip which recently aired on NBC." BBC Worldwide press release, 4 September 2009.

Euronews seeks to hire a (very busy) internet chief editor.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Reports to the Editorial Director and, with him, is responsible for the editorial line of all digital output. He (she) is responsible for material specially intended for the web site and for linked sites. ... He (she) is responsible for the management and the evolution of New Media: mobile phone services (in cooperation with the IT and Distribution departments), interactive television and ADSL services in all the languages broadcast by the channel, the quality and the accuracy of all broadcast information." via EurActiv.com, 2 September 2009.

CNBC Europe replaces all-night poker with poker's first cousin.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Following nearly a year of regular digs at CNBC in Europe from us here at World Business News about the airing of paid programming in the overnight hours whilst Asian markets are trading, it appears that finally there maybe some movement. For the past week, and according to schedules for the [foreseeable] future, it appears that the late night and early morning poker programming, which was aired in favour of Squawk Box Australia and Asia Squawk box, has finally been ditched, with the latter programmes now airing. This brings a welcome change from us here, meaning viewers in Europe can now at least see how the Asian trade is shaping up in the morning sessions in the far east." World Business News, 2 September 2009. See also background about the partnership of Dow Jones' Asia Business News and CNBC Asia at World Business News.
     "London-based anchor Adrian Finighan is to leave CNN International, the network he joined at the start of 2006, sometime in October ... 'to explore new projects and opportunities outside CNN'." World Business News, 4 September 2009.

News for those of you who know what "straight-to-series international co-production" is.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Fox has picked up 'Jack and Dan,' a 13-episode hourlong series from Nix and 'Notice' producer Fox TV Studios. It centers on Jack, an ambitious, by-the-book cop who is partnered with Dan, a drunken, lecherous, wild-card cop who hangs onto his job only because of a heroic act years before. 'Jack' will be done under FtvS' straight-to-series international co-production model, with filming slated to begin early next year. ... Nix reworked the script for TV and the studio considered producing the project under its international co-production model. FtvS has experimented with the model during the past year, filming three 13-episode series -- 'Persons Unknown,' 'Defying Gravity' and 'Mental' -- with international partners and selling them in the U.S. to NBC, ABC and Fox, respectively. ... As with FtvS' previous straight-to-series projects, 'Jack' is being sold for a lower license fee, with the studio expected to make up the difference in the international marketplace. ... FtvS has been sending the script to potential international broadcasting partners; the company's president, Emiliano Calemzuk ... [is] expected to begin meeting with them shortly. ... Unlike FtvS' previous internationally produced series, filming on 'Jack' is expected to be done in the U.S., in part to make it easier for Nix to run both series." Nellie Andreeva, Hollywood Reporter, 2 September 2009. "Straight-to-series" means skipping the pilot stage of a program's development. I'm not sure of the "international" part, given that filming will be in the United States. It may have to do with the simultaneous international sales. Traditionally, a television series would air in the United States for at least a season, then be offered for sale overseas.

CNN, BBC reporting again from Zimbabwe.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"International news agency Cable News Network, CNN, dispatched a team of reporters to cover the Zimbabwean story from inside the country on Sunday after Zimbabwe’s new inclusive government lifted an eight year-long ban on the organisation. CNN’s South African-based correspondent Nkepile Mabuse led a team that flew into Harare on Sunday and is reported to be in Zimbabwe until Friday. The CNN team was granted an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai after a news conference held at Harvest House on Tuesday afternoon. ... The BBC made its first official report from inside Zimbabwe on July 29, also after almost eight years. ... Zimbabwe’s almost six-month old unity government has raised hopes for media freedom after President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai committed themselves to allow foreign journalists in the country as well as grant more TV, radio and newspapers operating licences." The Zimbabwe Times, 2 September 2009.

As VOA moves to newer media, America is still represented on the shortwave dial.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Pat Kiley called his worldwide radio audience 'Truth Seekers,' and in weekly hour-long broadcasts recorded from his Burnsville home, he warned about a coming financial Armageddon that would impoverish anyone who didn't entrust him and his business partners with their money. Hundreds of listeners turned over much of their life savings to Kiley and his associates. His pitch, carried on more than 200 stations nationwide, including KSTP Radio (1500 AM), and on the Worldwide Christian Radio network, drew in retirees, postal workers, traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and even Jacquelyn Mitchard, a Wisconsin novelist known for her bestseller, 'The Deep End of the Ocean.' Now those same people are seeking the truth from Kiley: Who is he, where is he, and what has he done with their money? ... Federal regulators and the FBI are now investigating. Investors fear that Kiley, 71, may have been the barker for a Ponzi scheme in which the new investors' money goes to pay earlier ones. ... Pat Kiley began broadcasting on the Worldwide Christian Radio network [WWCR] in April 2004, according to sales manager Rick Shelton. He said the shortwave station covers the United States and reaches into Canada, Europe, the Middle East, southern Africa and Australia." Dan Browning, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 2 September 2009.

Sri Lanka defense ministry notes VOA editorial.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"'We strongly support the desire of the Government of Sri Lanka to return internally displaced persons to their homes safely and quickly so they can begin to rebuild their communities,' the editorial of the Voice of America reported quoting James R. Moore, US Charge d'affaires. ... It said 'The government of Sri Lanka has pledged to release most of the displaced people from the camps by the end of the year'." Sri Lanka Ministry of Defence, 3 September 2009. See also the VOA editorial, 1 September 2009.

Norm Pattiz, ex-BBG, to Radio Hall of Fame.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Norman Pattiz, founder and chairman of the radio network Westwood One will be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame on Nov. 7 in Chicago. ... Pattiz is a well-known Democratic donor with strategic political alliances; both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appointed him to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors from 2000-2006, where he created and launched the U.S. government’s radio and television services throughout all 22 countries in the Middle East." JewishJournal.com, 2 September 2009.

Prague building recently vacated by RFE/RL is "modern Czech history in a nutshell."

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Few Prague landmarks reflect the city's political landscape as poignantly as the former Federal Assembly building on Wenceslas Square. The structure that once housed the Prague Stock Exchange, one of the most potent symbols of capitalist 1930s Czechoslovakia, became the seat of the country's communist government just 15 years later, only to be converted into the headquarters of Radio Free Europe, the purveyor of democracy, in 1995, six years after the Velvet Revolution. It's modern Czech history in a nutshell. Even after 1989 important laws were passed here, including one that ended the central role of the Communist Party in the Czech government. Politicians such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush Sr and Queen Elizabeth have passed through its doors. The building's newest role will be as a cultural venue operated by the National Museum, which took over the structure this June, four months after Radio Free Europe moved its headquarters to Hagibor, Prague 10." Kristina Alda, Prague Daily Monitor, 1 September 2009.
     "Almost 3000 coins and other gold items from the Gold Treasure of Kosice, east Slovakia, will be on display in the Prague National Museum from September 16 till January 10, 2010, museum director Michal Lukes told CTK today. Strict security measures have been taken to ensure safety of the transportation of the treasure which today reached the former building of the Czechoslovak Parliament where part of the Prague National Museum collections have been moved recently. ... Lukes said that the tough security precautions would also be taken in the building where Radio Free Europe (RFE) had its headquarters until recently." ČTK, 4 September 2009. And RFE/RL was moved out of the building because of security concerns.

We are all world services now.

Posted: 05 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"'We are all journalists now,' boast the twitters and bloggers who – thanks to the internet – can talk to the world as reporter, broadcaster, publisher, and editor. In two programmes for the BBC World Service, Michael Buerk goes to the heart of the phenomenon, discovering the best and the worst, analysing the potential and the dangers, and focusing on issues of truth and trust." BBC World Service, 1 September 2009.
     See also report on "explosion of citizen journalism" in Kashmir. BBC World Service, 28 August 2009. Listen as mp3.

Radio stations vexing the North Korean regime.

Posted: 04 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"New channels of access to the country, which have developed over the past decade, have presented an opportunity for the international community to bypass the regime's attempted information blockade and reach the North Korean people directly. One of the most prominent of these developments, and one that is particularly vexing to the regime, is the growing number of independent radio stations broadcasting into North Korea. These stations, many of them established and run by North Korean defectors, as well as U.S. government-sponsored stations such as Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, provide citizens inside North Korea with both an important source of news about what is happening in their own country and a window on the outside world." John Knaus, The Korea Times, 2 September 2009.
     "North Korean workers in Vladivostok, Russia earn thousands of dollars a month, bribe their guards to let them mingle in Russian society and learn they can make more money by working harder, VOA’s Korean Service reports. ... 'This is the first time that we have talked to North Korean workers living outside of their own country,' said Dong Hyuk Lee, chief of VOA’s Korean Service. 'Usually, we have to settle for defectors, but this time we were able to get a glimpse at the lives of North Koreans who plan to return to their country—their reasons for coming to Vladivostok and their hopes for the future.' The Voice of America’s Korean Service aired the interviews as a three-part series." VOA press release, 31 August 2009.

Malaysia's review of pay TV operator Astro has international broadcasting implications incomprehensible to most of us.

Posted: 04 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"In what could be a major policy U-turn, Datuk Seri Rais Yatim [Malaysian Information, Communications, and Culture Minister] is reviewing Astro’s exclusive 20 year operating licence as his ministry battles with the pay-TV company to include more government-friendly and 1 Malaysia programming. ... Astro All Asia Network plc’s (Astro) subsidiary, MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems, now has an exclusive licence till 2017 for satellite direct-to-home (DTH) transmission in Malaysia. ... Rohana Rozhan, Astro’s chief executive officer, had said the premiere titles will showcase Malaysia’s rich diversity, achievements, personalities, beauty, cultures and nature to the world from Aug 15 to Sept 15. 'Our strong partnerships with global media networks like Discovery, National Geographic, CNBC, Asian Food Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel and many more, have enabled us to promote our country and our people to the world via our international partners.' ... His officials have taken special umbrage over talkshows in Astro’s own Awani channel and Al-Jazeera, privately blaming them for the wave of dissent against the Barisan Nasional government, particularly by ethnic Indians in a rare November 2007 protest. A recent promotional trailer by Discovery Channel highlighting its series Enigmatic Malaysia also caused some trouble with giant neighbour Indonesia for accidentally promoting the Balinese Tari Pendet as Malaysian. Discovery has apologised for the error. ... The company has moved into the entertainment and media markets in India, China and other parts of South-east Asia, and bankers estimate that Astro will require investment of over RM1 billion in the next three years to develop these markets." The Malaysian Insider, 2 September 2009.

CPJ: Africa 24, covering election, ordered to leave Gabon.

Posted: 03 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Gabonese government censorship and restrictions on media coverage of Sunday's presidential elections, including denials of accreditation to at least four international journalists. ... Africa 24, a France-based international satellite broadcaster, reported today that its team of journalists in Libreville had been directed to leave the country immediately. ... Prior to the election, authorities denied accreditations to international journalists from French media outlets--including international broadcaster France 24 and weekly L'Express, which were known for their probing coverage of late President Bongo's health and wealth, according to news reports and CPJ research." CPJ, 1 September 2009.
     "Gabonese Interior Minister, Jean Francois Ndongou, denied that his department had banned reporters at Paris-based Africa television channel, Africa 24, from the country, saying the reason why they had to leave was that their permit had expired." Bloomberg, 1 September 2009.

Former Radio Martí stringer's suit against Citgo is dismissed.

Posted: 03 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"A US judge dismissed on Monday a complaint lodged against Citgo, a subsidiary of state-run oil holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) based in the United States. The company, together with Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, was accused of alleged terrorist acts and human rights abuses. ... US NGO Freedom Watch lodged the complaint last April on behalf of [Ricardo] Guanipa, who used to work with Radio Martí before 'being forced to flee' his country for alleged threats of death, attacks and harassment." El Universal (Caracas), 31 August 2009.

Israeli "public diplomacy blitz" in USA begins Sunday.

Posted: 03 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The government will unleash a public diplomacy blitz in the US on Sunday aimed at nothing less than reframing the Israeli-Arab conflict. ... Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has said that public diplomacy needed to be made one of his ministry's top priorities, held a meeting Monday inside the ministry to discuss the new campaign. ... The foreign minister said there was a need to present the 'historical facts' to Americans and to refute long-entrenched opinions, such as that 'settlements are an obstacle to peace.'" Jerusalem Post, 1 September 2009.

The anchorwomen of international television.

Posted: 02 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN’s renowned chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour launches a new global interview program on Tuesday, September 22. ‘Amanpour’ premieres live from New York at 3 am and replays at 8pm Hong Kong time." Press release via The Seoul Times, 1 September 2009.
     "Worldfocus: How does it feel to be back at PBS and in the anchor chair of a national, nightly international news program? Daljit Dhaliwal: It is very satisfying to return to the fold of the PBS family. Most journalists would relish the idea of working in a news environment where international events are front and center and not an afterthought of news coverage. PBS viewers are a discerning bunch who are hungry for news and context about the rest of the world, and it’s a privilege to be a part of a team that does that each weeknight." Worldfocus, 31 August 2009. Worldfocus is a PBS program? It's on PBS stations but not listed as distributed by PBS. See also About Daljit Dhaliwal.
     "Starting this September, Laura Dünnwald and Kristina Sterz will join the team of hosts for the lifestyle magazine 'euromaxx', broadcast daily on DW-TV. ... The lifestyle magazine 'euromaxx' can be received by more than 200 million households worldwide via satellite. The award-winning show reports daily on topics surrounding pop culture – from music and fashion and design and dining to photography, travel and architecture." DW press release, 31 August 2009.

Beethovenfest on Deutsche Welle.

Posted: 02 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle will be offering a new video live stream this September which will give classical music fans all over the world the opportunity to experience all nine Beethoven symphonies live from the Beethovenfest in Bonn. 'This is the first time that the entire cycle of symphonies will be presented live in a digital concert hall,' says DW Director General Erik Bettermann. 'Germany's international broadcaster is giving people from Shanghai to Moscow and Cape Town the opportunity to experience an extraordinary concert event from the birthplace of Beethoven.' ... As media partner, Deutsche Welle once again is turning Bonn’s Beethovenfest into a global event – via radio and the Internet in 30 different languages, and on television in English, German and Spanish. Since autumn 2008, more than 600,000 music lovers from around the world have logged on to DW’s Beethovenfest portal at www.dw-world.de/beethoven." DW press release, 31 August 2009.

Euronews now digitally terrestrially to Hungary.

Posted: 02 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"The Hungarian DTT [digital terrestrial television] platform MinDig TV, which is operated by the national transmission company Antenna Hungária, has begun to offer euronews on a trial basis. In the first stage of the trial, it is being made available in SD [standard definition] in English and German language versions to viewers in the Budapest, Kabhegy and Szentes regions. With the addition of euronews – more language versions may be added at a later stage – the platform offers a total of seven FTA TV channels and three radio stations." Broadband TV News, 1 September 2009. Hungarian is not one of the eight Euronews languages.

Disney-ABC hires VP for "amazing growth potential" in the Asia Pacific region.

Posted: 02 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Disney-ABC International Television (DAIT) Asia Pacific has appointed Nicholas Wodtke as vice-president, business strategy and development and new media. DAIT Asia-Pacific is the integrated television distribution arm of The Walt Disney Company responsible for the licensing of branded and non-branded entertainment to all platforms in the Asia Pacific region, which includes free to air, cable and satellite broadcasters and mobile, broadband and VOD platforms. 'We see amazing growth potential and business opportunities across the region, fuelled by the rapid evolution of digital technologies,' says Rob Gilby, senior vice-president and managing director, DAIT. The company is aggressively pursuing digital media opportunities and hopes to rapidly expand relationships with existing and new partners, while tapping into exciting emerging technologies." Televisionpoint.com, 2 September 2009.

Travel Channel International latest to apply for satellite broadcasting to India.

Posted: 02 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Travel Channel International Ltd (TCI), an independent private media house based in London, has submitted a proposal to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry for beaming non-news channels into India. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in the Finance Ministry will review the Travel Channel's application. ... The I&B Ministry has recently cleared several applications from foreign TV channels for beaming into India. In August, it has given approval to Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific to broadcast three more channels - Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo and Discovery HD. The foreign channels that are currently beamed in India include BBC World, BBC Entertainment, Bloomberg TV, CNN, Discovery Channel, Discovery Travel & Living, DW TV, HBO, National Geographic, the Star India bouquet, among others. According to I&B Ministry regulations, any channel uplinking from abroad, but wanting to beam into India, must take downlinking permission from the country." Televisionpoint.com, 1 September 2009.

IBB/VOA deal with Mongolian news agency.

Posted: 02 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"An agreement on cooperation has been established between the MONTSAME News Agency of Mongolia and the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) in an effort to promote open communication of information and ideas among the people of the world. ... In accordance with the agreement, the MONTSAME agency will widen the cooperation with the Voice of America (VOA) in a way of exchanging original produced audio, video and text information. Moreover, the MONTSAME agency got rights to receive, and to rebroadcast or redistribute the VOA's audio, video and text programs by the internet with a license for period of five years." Montsame News Agency, 31 August 2009.

This is Radio Tarana!

Posted: 02 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
New Zealand ethnic radio station "Radio Tarana will commence a series of programmes to commemorate The Holy Month of Ramadan, one of the most significant periods of the year for Muslims the world over. ... The radio station has strengthened ties with the Muslim community with the BBC Urdu News Service and the Voice of America Urdu Radio Service, [MD Robert Khanhe] added." Indian Newslink, 12 August 2009. See also Indian Newslink, 31 August 2009. See also Radio Tarana website.

Historic wooden radio tower in Poland was used to jam Radio Free Europe.

Posted: 01 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
At Gliwice, Poland: "Once Radio Liberty was jammed here, and now this is a museum of radio history. In 2002, the Gliwice municipal authorities purchased the three hectares of the area with relevant infrastructure from Polish Communications, which was in charge of the radio station entire premises after the war. Until 1951, the radio station broadcasted the programs of Radio Katowice. Later on, through 1956, it jammed Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe. Subsequently, radio transmitters and telecommunication equipment were produced on its territory. In 2005, the Gliwice Radio Station was placed in charge of the Gliwice city museum, which opened an affiliate there – the Museum of the History of Radio and the Art of the Media. ... The radio station is a historical site for the city’s residents. It is here that WWII was unleashed. 'The wooden tower itself is a unique installation.'" RIA Novosti, 31 August 2009.

BBC Arabic FM affiliate in Bethlehem taken off air by Israeli forces.

Posted: 01 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Radio Bethlehem 2000 is still off the air. It has been a week since Israeli forces stormed the Beit Jala transmission offices of the Beit Sahour-based radio station and confiscated broadcast equipment. Soldiers threatened Radio Bethlehem 2000 with bombing, its director told the press last week, if it went back on the air. On the sixth day without the popular station that has run its own programming and that of the BBC Arabic, Radio Bethlehem 2000 wrote that occupation forces confiscated its equipment in an attempt to silence the honest word." Palestine News Network, 31 August 2009. See also Radio Bethlehem 2000 English-language web page.

CNN International versus BBC World News coverage of the Senator Edward Kennedy funeral.

Posted: 01 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"CNN International (CNNI) apparently believed Senator Kennedy’s funeral was of interest only domestically in the US so it was business as usual on the network Saturday afternoon and evening with more repeats of Talk Asia and the like. But on BBC World there were more than three hours of non-stop, no commercial interruption funeral coverage from before the hearse arrived at the Boston church until after its departure." Philip Stone, followthemedia.com, 31 August 2009.

Used to work for VOA, now warns against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Posted: 01 Sep 2009   Print   Send a link
"Anything out of the UN is not going to be about American-style justice before the law or rewarding human ingenuity. It will be a Marxist rehash touting equality of outcomes." Beverly K. Eakman, NewAmerican, 31 August 2009. Her bio blurb leads with: "Beverly K. Eakman is a former speechwriter for the director of the Voice of America." The VOA director at the time (1987-1989) was Richard W. Carlson.
     Poet Marguerite Striar: "Once a radio script writer for Voice of America, a story she wrote in the early ’90s was nominated for the O. Henry Best Short Story award." Saxtons River, Commonnews.org (Brattleboro VT), 29 August 2009.

"A weapon America does not appear to have in its arsenal."

Posted: 31 Aug 2009   Print   Send a link
"By showing compassion for a man who did not deserve it, Scotland has deployed a weapon America does not appear to have in its arsenal, and fired it into the heart of the Muslim world in its holiest month. It will achieve more in the long-run than any number of brutal ‘renditions’ or images of men shackled in orange jumpsuits. Now, as Muslims throughout the world look into their hearts, tiny Scotland has invited America too to find its own." Dean Nelson, The Telegraph, 23 August 2009.

Over the decades, VOA has succeeded only insofar as it has resisted its association with US public diplomacy.

Posted: 31 Aug 2009   Print   Send a link
"Sorry, Kim Andrew Elliott, VOA is PD, probably the most effective USG PD program in AF if not the world. What's more effective that a credible news service broadcasting in vernacular languages as well as English and is expressly part of the USG?" Gregory Garland, mountainrunner.us, 19 August 2009. BBC World Service is more effective, at least by dint of a larger audience, even though Britain spends less on international broadcasting than the United States. A major reason for this -- perhaps the biggest reason -- is that BBC World Service "expressly" distances itself from the UK government, despite its funding from the Foreign Office.

Israel's social media strategy yields 7,000 followers.

Posted: 31 Aug 2009   Print   Send a link
"For the past four years [Consul for Consul for Media and Public Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York David] Saranga has worked to relay Israel's message without conventional media by embracing technology like Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Twitter, which counts more than 7,000 followers. 'You reach a more sophisticated audience, and you shape the message in the way you want it," he said. 'All of a sudden, I can have a dialogue with public opinion.' He said the message is more personal and audiences are more receptive this way." Jerusalem Post, 20 August 2009. His twitter.com/DavidSaranga has 1,449 followers.