Alhurra cited here and there.

Posted: 28 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"At issue is that Mr al Maliki’s government relations with the Arab world are not based on trust. This led the prime minister, in a statement to the Al Hurra TV channel, to say that movements of the leaders of electoral lists and their meetings with some Arab heads of state put into question the very concept of nationhood through which different Iraqi political forces can deal with each other." Mostapha Elmouloudi, The National (Abu Dhabi), 24 February 2010.
     "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki [commented] on [Ayad] Allawi's visit to Saudi Arabia to the Al Hurra channel, saying '[as for] the movement of some [electoral] list officials to certain countries, and meeting with the heads of state of these countries, and conducting talks devoted to the [Iraqi] elections… what kind of patriotism is this and how can we deal with it?'" Tariq Alhomayed, Asharq Alawsat, 24 February 2010.
     "An Israeli source told the Al Hurra Satellite TV that there is a significant cooperation between Israel, France, the U.K, Jordan and Egypt to counter what the sources described as 'countering Hamas terrorism'. Another source told Al Hurra that the relations between the Mossad and security agencies in Jordan and Egypt, will not be impacted by the assassination especially since Jordan and Egypt consider Hamas to be part of the Muslim Brotherhood in the two countries, as the two movements seek to topple the ruling regimes of Mubarak in Egypt and King Abdullah II in Jordan." International Middle East Media Center, 24 February 2010.
     "The al-Hurra network quoted 'senior Jerusalem sources' as saying that 'there is a strong cooperation between Israel, France, Britain, Jordan and Egypt in fighting the Hamas terror'." Roee Nahmias, Ynetnews, 23 February 2010.
     "Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askeri explained to Alhurra television that the move [to allow members of former ruler Saddam Hussein's army to rejoin the military] had been repeatedly delayed due to a lack of funding." Edward Yeranian, VOA News, 25 February 2010.

President Sarkozy says RFI will resume in Rwanda.

Posted: 28 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Nicolas Sarkozy, on the first visit to Rwanda by a French head of state since the 1994 genocide, "said that Radio France International would begin broadcasting in Rwanda this year." Anjan Sundaram, New York Times, 25 February 2010.
     "The troubles of Radio France International (RFI) started months before relations between Kigali and Paris were severed. On June 10, 2006, then RFI reporter in Kigali, Sonia Rolle,y was ordered out of the country by government for allegedly conducting activities outside her accreditation. The signal of RFI was switched off after the French embassy was closed and the diplomats sent packing. With the situation improving between the two capitals, Ambassador Contini revealed to RNA that RFI could come back on air as soon as next week. He said the remaining issues are mainly technical." Rwanda News Agency, undated but recent.

Swiss government zeros out funding for swissinfo.

Posted: 28 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Government funding for swissinfo.ch would be cut as part of budget proposals for 2011-2013, the finance ministry has confirmed. ... It is the second time in less than ten years that swissinfo.ch is facing potential financial cuts. Its budget was reduced to SFr26 million from SFr44 million and included job losses and the abolition of shortwave radio broadcasts. Half of swissinfo.ch's funding from the government and half from the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), swissinfo.ch's parent company." swissinfo, 25 February 2010. See also Le Temps (Geneva), 27 February 2010. Swissinfo.ch, in English, german, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, and Chinese, is the website successor of the shortwave-delivered Swiss Radio International. Could swissinfo drop German, French, and Italian, as information in those languages is available from Swiss domestic websites?

Israel will add English-language public diplomacy website.

Posted: 28 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"An English-language Web site will soon be added to the government’s new effort to involve average Israelis in the effort to defend the Jewish state abroad, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday. Edelstein said the Web site would be ready in April, joining the Hebrew site Masbirim.gov.il, which around 150,000 people have entered since it debuted two weeks ago." Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, 25 February 2010.

Slow going for the international channel machers.

Posted: 28 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Russian Jewish entrepreneurs are having trouble getting their Jewish television channels off the ground in an effort to counter the influence of Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based, Muslim-sponsored television network. In the latest instance, entrepreneur and politician Vladimir Slutzker has been trying to create an English-language television channel that would offer news from a Jewish perspective, with little success thus far. ... Meanwhile, Nikolai Amiridze, a former producer of Russian state TV’s Channel One, has been trying to launch Shalom TV, a proposed Jewish channel from Russia. He has not been able to find investors thus far." Miriam Cross, Shalom Life, 24 February 2010.

Sky News prevails over CNN International and Al Jazeera English for RTS news channel of the year.

Posted: 28 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Sky News scooped the prestigious News Channel of the Year award for a record seventh time at the Royal Television Society (RTS) awards last night (Wednesday 24 February 2010). Beating off stiff competition from nominees CNN International and Al Jazeera English in the same category, the RTS judges said that Sky News 'demonstrated it can report international news as well as its normal fare of UK news'." News on News, 25 February 2010.

Radio República and the death of a dissident.

Posted: 27 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"They are glued to the phones at the Directorio. The audio engineer at the group's shortwave radio station takes in a feed that includes shouts of 'Libertad, Libertad, Libertad!' All attention focused on the funeral services for Orlando Zapata Tamayo. The Cuban Democratic Directorate is a low key, yet high energy Cuban exile group based in Miami that documents civic resistance on the Island. ... The funeral of Zapata Tamayo was producing numerous examples of protest and resistance. Zapata Tamayo was a political prisoner, a dissident, who died after an 80-day hunger strike. ... Despite Cuban government attempts to suppress the news of the dissident's death in the age of Twitter, Facebook, bloggers, and the Directorio's Radio Republica, the word is spreading across the island." Hank Tester, WTVJ-TV (Miami), 26 February 2010. Radio República is now leasing time from the Radio Canada International transmitter near Sackville, NB. See Canada and Cuba entries in DX Listening Digest, 25 February 2010.
     "In Zapata's case, his death was reported worldwide almost immediately because his case was being followed by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and the news of his death is beginning to trickle into Cuba through shortwave radio broadcasts from abroad," said Elizardo Sanchez Santa Cruz, head of Cuba's Human Human Rights Commission. Andres Oppenheimer,
Miami Herald, 27 February 2010.

Haiti's Radio Lumiere identifies its three journalists who were quake victims.

Posted: 27 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Radio Lumière has officially published the names of three of its journalists who died in the January 12 earthquake in Haiti: Jude Marcellus, Marlene Joseph, and Ginord Desplumes. They died under the rubble of collapsed buildings. It took a month for Radio Lumière officials to decide to publish the names of the three victims. ... Since the earthquake, Radio Lumière has been operating from a makeshift tent, like most media outlets in the Haitian capital. With great difficulty, it is resuming its daily news editions. With the death of journalist Marlene Joseph, the midday news editions have stopped, Toussaint told CPJ. However, Radio Lumière continues to relay news reports three times a day in Creole from the U.S.-backed Voice of America." Jean Roland Chery, Committee to Protect Journalists, 26 February 2010.

CNN reports on the Chilean earthquake with the help of CNN Chile.

Posted: 27 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"When an 8.8 earthquake hit Chile early this morning, CNN was best positioned to relay the most news. CNN drew on the resources of CNN International, CNN’s president in Chile and the latest information via the Web. CNN’s president in Chile, Rolando Santos, said the quake struck at 3:34 a.m. 'One moment I’m in bed,' Santos said. 'The next moment I’m literally on the floor.' He said nothing was left on the walls of his Santiago home." Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel, 27 February 2010.
     "CNN, Fox News and MSNBC struggled to get live updates from Chile, declared a 'state of catastrophe' by President Michelle Bachelet. CNN spent a large amount of time translating directly from CNN Chile and MSNBC, which usually broadcasts documentaries and newsmagazines rather than live news coverage on the weekends, struggled to find last-minute anchors." Kate Stanhope, TV Guide, via seattlepi.com, 27 February 2010. At 2345 UtC, cnnchile.com is loading very slowly.

"News at it happens" from TVN Chile.

Posted: 27 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Thanks to a tip from VOA's Steve Herman, I'm watching live video stream of TVN in Chile. This is using an Acer Aspire Revo mini-pc fed via HDMI cable to the family's HDTV, resulting in AD (adequate definition) rather than HD (high definition) video from the scene, but remarkable nevertheless. Commentary is in Spanish, as TVN is a domestic station. The correspondents, anchors, and camera-persons are doing an excellent job. I'm an old shortwave enthusiast, but shortwave was rarely as good as this for "news as it happens." Wishing the people of Chile a speedy recovery.

Not much tsunami advice from Radio Australia at 12, 13 UTC, but more at 14 UTC.

Posted: 27 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Listening to Radio Australia, I have not been hearing much about the tsunami caused by the Chilean earthquake. No advice for listeners in the Pacific region, Radio Australia's primary target. The newscast on Radio Australia at 1200 UTC was a relay of the domestic ABC radio news, and spoke mostly of tsunami warnings for Australia.
     Update: At 1400 UTC, the ABC newscast on Radio Australia provided much more specific tsunami information for the Pacific, including French Polynesia. It included actuality of an employee of the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, who explained that the tsunami is not "huge," but enough to "cause concern." Listen to audio.
     The VOA newscast at 1300 UTC said that the earthquake triggered "a tsunami warning around the Pacific rim of fire," with no further details. VOA no longer nominally broadcasts to the Pacific region, but at 1300 UTC, it is probably audible in that part of the world.
     With many people living (or sailing) in remote areas, and with limited broadcast satellite coverage, shortwave broadcasting is still important in the Pacific region.
     See also "Will international broadcasting sound the warning – next time?," Radio Netherlands Media Network, 6 January 2005.

For early Chile earthquake coverage, BBC World Service uses Twitter as a primary source.

Posted: 27 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
The National Public Radio newscast at 4:00 a.m. EST (0900 UTC) on 27 February included a BBC report about the earthquake in Chile: "There are no direct reports from Concepción yet, but someone in Chile has posted on the social network site Twitter that he had no lights, no electricity, and no internet, but that everything was well at home." Listen to audio excerpt. This would seem to be a manifestation of the directive to BBC journalists by Peter Horrocks, the new director of BBC Global News, to use the social media as a primary source. [See previous post.] Let's hope that tweet actually came from near Concepción and not from, say, Dubuque. Presumably the tweet was, as the BBC puts it, curated. If the twitterer had "no internet," then probably the message got through via texting on a mobile phone. Wouldn't the BBC correspondent in Chile have known contacts in or near Concepción that could also be reached via mobile?

Don't worry: there are special shampoos that get rid of virally shared widgets.

Posted: 27 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Executives of consulting agency Mindgrub attended a seminar in Baltimore "to discuss Mindgrub’s new social media marketing campaign for the Voice of America. Voice of America is an international multimedia broadcasting service funded by the US government, which Mindgrub is now working with. Todd and Vince discussed the potential benefits involved in the creating of shareable widgets that can be virally shared on Facebook and other social networking sites. In addition, they discussed how to determine the ROI that can be expected from social activities. ... Mindgrub is currently targeting China for this project and are researching the environment of this country’s most popular social networking sites." Mindgrub press release, 26 February 2010.
     "[S]ocial media [allow] a government to present its views to its citizens and the world, said Michael Walsh, project director at Forum One Communications. He cited the example of the U.S. government’s Open Government initiative to provide transparency into federal activities. Walsh said that citizens want government to incorporate their feedback into policy, and social media [help] to enable this process. He said that social media [are] a useful tool for public diplomacy and explained that the United States must become a leader in this context because other nations are actively using social media tools to promote their national agendas." Henry Kenyon, Signal Scape, 25 February 2010.

Stories of BBC international cricket coverage.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"While the broadcast lines were being fitted in the morning, Alam helped me find a suitable roof where I could set up the small satellite dish I was using to make contact with 5 live to bring early news on the game. The roof I found was also being used as a security base - and it was more than a little intimidating trying to describe Craig Kieswetter's fantastic batting surrounded by 15 soldiers all armed with large rifles. Disturbingly, one of the soldiers seemed to be taking extra interest in what I was saying and was getting more and more anxious as my report went on. As I finished he came over and I feared what might happen next. He then put his hand in his pocket to pull something out - but it turned out he had a small portable radio with him which, he showed me, he had tuned to the BBC World Service. The reason he was looking anxious was that I think he was expecting the report I was doing to be going out live on his radio. I'm not sure he understood my explanation of the different kind of BBC outlets, but he seemed happy enough and bid me farewell with the words 'I see you for the next bulletin.'" Adam Mountford, BBC Sport, 25 February 2010.
     "The memory is surprisingly sharp given just how long ago it was: April 18, 1994, near on 16 years ago. Chris Lewis, meeting the English definition of all-rounder by being not quite good enough to either bat or bowl in Test cricket, dropped another gentle delivery just short of his own toes, Brian Lara imperiously helped it through the leg-side for four, and Antigua erupted, setting off celebration around the cricketing world as fellow West Indian Gary Sobers’ 365 not out was passed. Lara had the highest score in Test cricket, a feat I heard him achieve through the crackle of the BBC World Service, conveying news of the Prince of Trinidad’s extraordinary feat to a distant village in rural Zimbabwe, and a battered radio held together with wire and insulation tape. The memory endures, I suppose, because of the romance of the moment — thousands of miles away, through the prism of shortwave radio, cricket’s most beautiful artist had broken one of the most celebrated milestones in a game flooded with records and statistics." Dan Nicholl, iafrica.com (Cape Town), 25 February 2010.

BBC World News America, reporting this week from Cuba.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News America has secured a rare opportunity to broadcast two live programs from Cuba on Thursday, February 25 and Friday, February 26 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT. Anchored by Matt Frei from Havana, these two special newscasts will feature interviews with key players and in-depth pieces examining some of the major issues impacting Cuba and U.S.-Cuban relations. Matt will also report from Cuba this week in the days leading up to the programs on Thursday and Friday." BBC America press release, 22 February 2010. See also BBC World News America website and links thereto.

BBC Russian university tour showcases "serious multiplatform broadcaster."

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC journalism and innovative multimedia content are the focus of the BBC Russian University Tour across four Russian cities. Between Monday 1 and Friday 12 March, BBC Russian is holding a series of events at universities and major libraries in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Moscow and Voronezh. During these events, BBC Russian will showcase the best of BBC Russian journalism, including new ways of reaching audiences by using the latest technologies, and engage young audiences in live debates. ... These include multiplatform broadcasting and availability of multimedia content via mobile phones, embedded video and audio on bbcrussian.com, podcasts and presence on online social networks and blogging sites. ... Dmitry Shishkin adds: 'BBC Russian has changed significantly over the last few years, not in its editorial approach, but in the way it's reaching Russian audiences. It's no longer "heritage" radio but a serious multiplatform broadcaster." BBC World Service press release, 24 February 2010. With BBC Russian taken off of Russian FM stations, and with Russians no longer listening to shortwave as they they did in past years, the service will have to reach its audiences via internet and mobile media. That will do unless Russia tries to block those media.
     "BBC Russian is entering a new partnership with MSN Russia that will see the internet portal displaying a variety of Russian language video and text content from the BBC. The deal will make MSN the first multimedia partner in Russia to take video in Russian from the BBC, and will enable the broadcaster to reach a wider audience with a range of its content." BBC World Service press release, 16 February 2010.

An American's BBC habits.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Steve Coll, president of the New America Foundation and a staff writer at The New Yorker: "When I'm in Washington, I'll listen to NPR and BBC World News if I'm driving to work. At the office, I have a mini-screen TV on top of my desk that I leave on all day, muted, just to have it on--an old newsroom habit, I guess. I leave it on CNN and will change it to CSPAN if there's an interesting hearing on. My work homepage is the BBC." Nicole Allan, The Atlantic Wire, 24 February 2010. While driving, I trust he is listening to BBC World Service (radio) rather than (gasp) watching BBC World News (television). Yes, the BBC world services' nomenclature is confusing.

Various BBC dramas in various overseas markets.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Dhamaal 24 – the radio venture by B.A.G Network has started broadcasting BBC World Service Trust’s radio drama, Life Gulmohar Style from 22 February 2010. Directed by the BBC’s award-winning producer Pervaiz Alam, Life Gulmohar Style addresses a host of issues faced by girls and women in modern day India." Radioandmusic.com, 24 February 2010.
     "BBC Worldwide Australia has sold the new 3x90-minute contemporary re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes to Nine Network in Australia, where it will air later this year." WorldScreen.com, 24 February 2010.
     "Matt Smith will make his American 'Doctor Who' debut on Saturday April 17 as he takes on the eleventh incarnation of the venerable hero from another time. He will accompanied by Scottish actress, Karen Gillan, on his timeless travels. She will play the latest companion, Amy Pond. The premiere on BBC America is expected to broadcast 'shortly after' the UK, leading fans speculating that the series will return to the airwaves over the Easter weekend (meaning the shows American fans will only be a week behind the UK), or even on April 17 as well." Ala Stanley Blair, Airlock Alpha, 26 February 2010.
     "To ensure high-end shows are still being greenlit, BBC Worldwide pushed co-production at its Showcase sales market, which wrapped Wednesday. 'We have refocused our business and put more dedicated specialists on co-productions,' said Worldwide managing director of sales and distribution Steve Macallister. 'We now have a dedicated co-production team for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Asia), and we are strengthening the U.S. team.'" Steve Clarke, Variety, 24 February 2010.

Cambodian prosecutor accuses RFA of "exaggerated information" in robbery case.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Court officials in Phnom Penh have taken the unusual step of criticising recent media reports alleging 'irregularities' in the convictions of three men accused of armed robberies last week. A statement issued Monday and signed by Yet Chakrya, the chief prosecutor at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, alleged that Radio Free Asia (RFA) had broadcast 'exaggerated information' involving three men convicted of committing a series of armed robberies. ... RFA reporter Kim Pov said she met with the Council of Ministers to discuss her reporting." Chrann Chamroeun, The Phnom Penh Post, 24 February 2010.

Zimbabwe officials still "raise concerns" about the VOA relay in Bostswana.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Zimbabwe has returned a car and rifles seized from three Botswana rangers in January as part of moves to ease tensions between the two countries ... as a bilateral meeting between the two countries began in Victoria Falls. ... 'Zimbabwe took the opportunity to raise concerns particularly with the relay station of Voice of America’s Studio 7 in Botswana.'" Tafadzwa Mutasa, ZimOnline, 24 February 2010.

Bringing talk radio to North Korea (updated).

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A Seoul-based internet radio station that broadcasts to North Korea said it will air actual voices of North Korean residents for the first time in a feature program this week. The Free North Korea Radio, run by North Korean defectors, began shortwave broadcasts across the border in 2004 and now transmits programs for five hours a day. The radio station plans to air accounts of North Korean complaints on the country's economic policies in a seven-minute feature program to be aired this Friday and Saturday. 'There are four private stations in South Korea that broadcast to the North, but it will be the first time actual voices of North Koreans are being aired,' said Kim Seong-min, founder of the Free North Korea Radio." The Korea Herald, 28 January 2010.
     "Free North Korea Radio said its contacts in the North had recorded conversations with ordinary people without their knowledge." AFP, 28 January 2010.
     Update: "'We have at least one stringer, or reporter, in every North Korean province. We throw them issues to talk about, like "currency reform", or "market conditions." They go out and do interviews, and put together a sort of news report," said Kim Seong Min, the broadcaster's director, who is himself a defector from North Korea. ... Free North Korea Radio connects with North Korean citizens via mobile phones. But conversations have to be brief to avoid tracing. Longer reports are recorded onto tiny digital devices similar to these. The devices are passed hand-to-hand in a chain that smuggles them across North Korea's border with China." Kurt Achin, VOA News, 23 February 2010. They go out and do what?!

A rare victory by a shortwave radio over interference from a plasma television.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A case of radio interference caused by a Plasma TV provides a good example of how interference issues should be addressed by a regulator. A German TV station carried a news report that described how radio amateur Gerhard Peuser DL3OCL found high levels of noise on his short wave radio which was making reception difficult. He used a portable radio to find out where the interference came from and reported it to BNetzA (German Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications, Postal Services, Railways, Electricity). ... The BNetzA undertook measurements on the TV and the owner got a letter banning him from using the Plasma TV or else he would get a fine. The manufacturer of the TV denied the interference but they did supply the customer with a TV of a different model." Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 24 February 2010. Plasma-display television sets are among the worst of many modern electronic devices that cause interference on the shortwave frequencies. This interference is probably one of the reasons for the decline of shortwave listening. See, for example:
     "A lot has changed since I began [shortwave] DXing in 1962: equipment, locations, me, the world, broadcasting itself. Some of these changes were for the better (most change is, whether we like it or not); others, however, have worked against me. Noise, for instance. I’ve been battling local RFI [radio frequency interference] for decades. Now, noise is simply everywhere, all the time, and it has won; I can’t very well go to all my neighbors and ask them to unplug their plasma TV’s, their home security systems, their in-home powerline networking. Over time my RF noise floor has gradually risen to a level that has made real DXing impossible. Without DX, and with additional gremlins (CODAR, or DRM, anyone?), I haven’t been listening much lately. Not much at all." Al Quaglieri, resigning as editor of his Listener's Notebook column, North American Shortwave Association, September 2009, via DX Listening Digest, 3 September 2009.

DW News Portal iPhone app offers content in seven languages.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle has redeveloped its iPhone news application... . The 'DW News Portal' offers users from around the world access to multimedia content on the go - including news, background information and features. More information is available at www.dw-world.de/iphoneapp and the app can be downloaded for free at the iTunes Store. ... The 'DW News Portal' is now available in seven different languages, including English, German, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. As an added bonus, the new iPhone news app also makes it possible for users to enjoy DW-TV via live stream - direct from their handset." DW press release, 16 February 2010.

Rotana-News Corp business deal, but apparently no Arabic-language Fox News.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Saudi-based media group Rotana will sell shares to News Corp for access to the U.S. firm's movie-making and new media expertise to help boost its position in Arab media ahead of an IPO. ... The Rotana-News Corp deal has sparked speculation that Fox News will launch an Arabic version to compete with news broadcaster rivals Al Jazeera and MBC's Alarabiya. [Rotana chairman] Prince Alwaleed said this was unlikely. 'I don't visualise a situation whereby Fox News would be broadcasting in Arabic,' he said. However, he said the partnership would help Fox News and the United States to 'understand the Arab world better'. 'Fox News is not the only media that is against Saudi Arabia ... It's an American syndrome'." Souhail Karam, Reuters, 23 February 2010.
     "Free-to-air broadcasting needs to see advertising rates grow – and significantly. At a Beirut conference last week it was suggested that the combined net income of the top [Arab] free-to-air broadcasters were sharing little more than $300m annually between them in ad-revenues. That figure needs not just to rise but to be multiplied three- or four-fold. Rotana and News Corp could be the perfect catalyst for this change." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 24 February 2010.

BBC-acquired video of attack at Tehran University widely cited by bloggers.

Posted: 26 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Last night the BBC Persian service broadcast for the first time a very disturbing video of the attack by the Basij militia and riot police on Tehran University's campus just two days after the stolen election last June. ... Surprisingly, the video shown on the BBC is not amateur footage but leaked from the police archive (how it came into the BBC's possession is unknown but may make an interesting story in itself)." Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Comment is Free, The Guardian, 23 February 2010. See also: Huffington Post, 23 February 2010. -- Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish, The Atlantic, 23 February 2010. -- Babylon & Beyond, Los Angeles Times, 24 February 2010. VOA Persian News Network has the video, too.
     "Iran trumpeted a significant security success today with the capture of Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of Jundullah, a Sunni insurgent group accused by Tehran of mounting terrorist attacks with the support of the US, Britain and Pakistan. ... [Iran's intelligence minister, Heydar] Moslehi also blamed the BBC and the Voice of America for covering Rigi's 'achievements'." Ian Black, The Guardian, 23 February 2010.

At RadioAsia, DRM chairperson says challenge is content, not receivers.

Posted: 25 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"One of the most eye catchy presentations at the RadioAsia 2010 conference, being held in New Delhi (February 22-24) is the demonstrations of the Live broadcast of radio by deploying the digital broadcast technology developed by DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) Consortium. ... While discussing the proliferation of DRM platform among the radio broadcasters, the DRM Consortium Chairperson, Ruxandra Obreja remarked, that the challenge for the broadcaster is not the receivers for the listeners but the introduction of digital content for them. ... In addition to the ongoing Conference, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is to broadcasting three hours in DRM everyday from 22nd- 26th February from 04:29:30 - 07:29:00 GMT (09:59:30 - 12:59:00 IST) on 17760 kHz. For the first time this year the broadcast will start with the daily Hindi programme followed by current affairs in English. Christian Vision Radio (CVC) will run DRM transmissions from 22nd -24th February from 0830-1230 UTC (2pm-6pm IST) on 17590 kHz. The programmes will be in Hindi." Shivani Anand, Media Mughals, 23 February 2010.
See also DRM Consortium press release, 19 February 2010.

"Does the Path to Middle East Peace Stop in Doha?"

Posted: 25 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"For Americans seeking to understand Al Jazeera’s role in shaping public opinion, it is perhaps useful to compare the channel to Fox News or MSNBC. Al Jazeera largely reports the facts, but in choosing which stories to highlight and which guests to invite on regularly, it betrays a certain political perspective. Of course, whereas Fox News and MSNBC operate in a highly competitive media environment, Al Jazeera is the main source of news for a majority of Palestinians and is the most popular television channel in the Arab world. This maximizes its influence. Indeed, Al Jazeera’s dominance of the Arab media makes it a political force unto itself. In no place is this more true than in the Palestinian arena, where it focuses much of its news coverage and where its market share is particularly strong. In the years following the signing of the historic Oslo Accords, Hamas tried to derail the peace by sending suicide bombers into Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in order to undercut popular faith in the agreement. In today’s environment, such extremes may be unnecessary. If Al Jazeera’s coverage of a future accord is sufficiently critical, the resulting Palestinian skepticism could be enough to doom any peace agreement before it even has a chance to succeed." Noah Bonsey and Jeb Koogler, Columbia Journalism Review, 16 February 2010.

Abu Dhabi newspaper doubts Senate approval of "terror TV bill."

Posted: 25 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"To become law, [H.R. 2278] requires the approval of the US senate and the signature of the president. It is likely that enough senators will understand the hypocrisy of preventing broadcasts from the Arab world from entering American homes. Speeches about press freedom delivered by the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the US president Barack Obama should make this all the more clear. ... Arab media is developing into a more important driver of the region’s progress every day. An airing of respectful disagreement with the policies of governments in the region and abroad is part of that development. For this media landscape to mature we might remember the advice of the American journalist Edward R Murrow: 'We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty ... We will not walk in fear, one of another.'" Editorial, The National (Abu Dhabi), 22 February 2010.
     Guest on Al Jazeera Arabic talk show: "[I]f you were to talk about the language of hate, then you have to be start by applying that same principle to yourself. We haven’t heard any condemnation from Congress; we haven’t heard any party, even the Republican Party, when one of its members Tom Tancrado presented himself as a candidate… the Republican Party did not expel him or even ask him to apologize. In truth, these matters are a problem in Congress, and another problem in the U.S. is the media. And not just Fox News, radio stations in the U.S. transmit on a regular basis distasteful talk that is hostile to Muslims, and incites violence against Muslims. You have to listen to, not only to Glenn Beck on Fox News, but also the Levin Show and other programs on the radio that are spread in the entire country and millions listen to them. So, if Congress is interested in the issue of the language of inciting hatred, then it has to start on working on this issue inside the U.S." Via Mosaic News, Link TV, 23 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Awards to RFA and RFE/RL broadcasters for productions about Uyghur, Iranian, and Armenian women.

Posted: 25 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Asia is a proud recipient of American Women in Radio & Television’s Gracie Allen Award this year. In recognition of this honor, RFA President Libby Liu praised the team behind RFA’s winning entry, 'Half the Xinjiang Sky,' a multimedia Web page focusing on in-depth coverage, images, and video relevant to Uyghur women following the deadly events in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Guangdong province in the summer of 2009." RFA, 24 February 2010.
     "'Women In Shroud,' a documentary coproduced by RFE/RL's Radio Farda broadcaster Mohammad Reza Kazemi, was awarded by the Cinema For Peace initiative that promotes humanity through film. The film explores the injustice toward women in Iran’s legal system and the 'Stoning of Soraya M.' by director Cyrus Nowrasteh, shared the Cinema for Peace Award for Justice at a February 15 gala ceremony attended by stars and personalities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Mikhail Gorbachev. The ceremony was held on the sidelines of the International Berlin Film Festival." RFE/RL, 21 February 2010.
     "Seda Papoyan, a RFE/RL Armenian Service journalist in the Yerevan bureau, won a 'Silver Microphone' award in a prestigious competition aimed at covering the achievements of women in political, economic and social spheres. ... Seda’s story for Radio Azatutyun profiled a group of four young Armenian women who organized a bicycle trip from Yerevan to Batumi and back. The women are artists and activists who planned the tour in order to call attention to the changing role of women in Armenian society and also to show that bicycle travel can be an environmental means of transportation." RFE/RL, 8 February 2010.

Trumpet player Arturo Sandoval remembers Willis Conover (and more VOA jazz).

Posted: 25 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A graduate of the Cuban National School of the Arts in Havana, [Arturo] Sandoval was already among his country’s leading young orchestral musicians when he was introduced to jazz by a trumpet-playing journalist friend. 'One day he asked me: "Have you ever heard any jazz music?" I said, "No, what is that?" He said, "Come with me," and he played me a record by Charlie Parker and Dizzy. That was it, that was my initiation,' Sandoval said. 'I thought, "Wow, that’s the music. I want to learn to play like that." I’ve been trying to learn ever since. And I never missed Willis Conover’s ?show on Voice of America, which I heard on shortwave radio in Cuba. I listened to that program, "Music USA," every single day. That was my only way to become aware of what was going on in jazz and to learn and listen to different bands.'" George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 February 2010.
     "Truly a melding of classical repertoire with jazz, Time For Love is a major departure for Sandoval, yet immediately familiar in its timeless ballads. 'The song selection process was something that I'd begun when I was a kid back in Cuba,' says the artist, referring to how while growing up he would surreptitiously listen to the officially banned Voice of America radio broadcasts." Press release via JazzCorner, 25 February 2010.
     Saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna: "Records were not available in Communist Poland, and all of my generation would listen to Voice of America, to Willis Conover's Jazz Hour, which was famous across the Communist Bloc." Pianist Andrzej Winnicki: "At that time, there was a magazine called American published in Polish, by the American State Department, I think. It's strange to think that it was published in Poland, but it was a very glossy magazine and so popular that you had to have connections with the places where it was sold to have a chance of getting one. My father would buy it, and it would often come with a flexi-disc [a cheap, flexible, vinyl record with music on only one side]. The first jazz I ever heard, and it had a great effect on me, was Miles Davis' recording of 'My Funny Valentine' on one of these discs. It was so glorious; I just fell in love." Bruce Lindsay, All About Jazz, 23 February 2010.
     In 1960: "Willis [Conover], Newport Jazz Festival emcee and radio host for Voice of America in Europe, then closes the proceedings [an afternoon blues lecture/demonstration] on a somber note, announcing that the board of directions of the Newport Jazz Festival had voted to accept the decision of the city council of Newport to suspend activities of the Newport Jazz Festival, beginning with the evening concert on July 3. 'In other words, there will be no concert tonight or…again,' he told the stunned audience." Melodika.net, 23 February 2010. "Music at Newport" replaced the Newport Jazz Festival in 1961, then Newport Jazz Festival resumed in 1962.

Not much VE-RI-TAS here.

Posted: 25 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The aim of public diplomacy is to communicate America’s policies abroad and to engage international audiences about all things American. The problem is, we’re failing, and that’s to the detriment of our national security as well as commercial, cultural, and education interests. ... Our international broadcasting has few devotees." M.C. Andrews, a Spring 2010 [Harvard] Institute of Politics Fellow, former Special Assistant to the President, former White House Director of Global Communications and former Director for Democracy on the National Security Council Staff in the George W. Bush administration, Harvard Crimson, 23 February 2010. US international broadcasting has a weekly audience of 171 million, larger than ever.

RCTV Internacional will be domestic, while RCTV Mundo will be internacional.

Posted: 24 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A television company that was booted off Venezuela's airwaves and even cable announced plans Monday to resume broadcasting, saying it will meet government regulations while keeping a tough editorial line on President Hugo Chavez. Company president Marcel Granier told a news conference that Radio Caracas Television Internacional will try to make a comeback on cable after agreeing to meet government rules on carrying official broadcasts. He also said his operating company, Empresas 1BC, hopes to launch a sister channel, RCTV Mundo, aimed at international audiences." AP, 22 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Internet radio from a basement: global, but listening involves a bandwidth lottery.

Posted: 24 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"An internet radio station operating out of [a basement in Glasgow] is to celebrate its tenth birthday next month by broadcasting live .... Being an internet station, there will be, at any one time, only a limited number of people able to 'tune in', because of bandwidth restrictions. But those able to gain access to www.radiosix.com will be treated to a continuous stream of mostly 'world music' plus news, on the hour, every hour. ... With listeners in 172 countries and 33,000 listeners a year logging in ... specially-produced programmes are recorded in studios in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Derby, London, West Virginia and Los Angeles and electronically beamed to the station’s HQ on Glasgow’s south side before being delivered to its international audience." allmediascotland.com, 21 February 2010.

New website provides news from Arabic to English, and English to Arabic.

Posted: 24 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A new website hopes to bridge the divide between the west and the Middle East, by allowing English speakers to read news articles originally printed in Arabic – and vice versa. San Francisco-based Meedan, which launches tomorrow, will provide translations of news articles in both languages in an attempt to help foster better relations between the two. ... 'Outside of the news agencies like the BBC and al-Jazeera that are doing ­programming in two languages, Arabic speakers are unable to access information written in English,' [Meedan co-founder Ed Bice] added. 'The goal is to provide more media exchange across both these languages.'" # Bobbie Johnson and Jack Schofield, The Guardian, 21 February 2010. Does not mention MEMRI (Arabic to English) and CNN Arabic (English to Arabic).

Euronews seeks digital terrestrial license in Spain.

Posted: 23 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Following the exit of Spanish state broadcaster RTVE from the Euronews consortium, the news channel is now actively pursuing a digital terrestrial licence in the country. Euronews has been struggling to get distribution in the country following the withdrawal of RTVE in 2007. With Spain now holding the rotating presidency of the European Union, the channel believes it to be the right time to target to the Spanish audience once more. 'We do not understand that Spain does not support a single European news channel,' said Euronews president Philippe Cayla to Spanish newspaper ABC. ... According Cayla, 'a satisfactory solution would be a DTT licence for Euronews.'" Robert Briel, Broadband TV News, 21 February 2010. Even without RTVE, Euronews continues to have a Spanish service, which I think includes Spanish audio under the Euronews video.

UK regulator chides CNN International for sponsorship of "Inside Africa."

Posted: 23 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"CNN International has been criticised by Ofcom [UK regulator] after it broke UK broadcasting rules by accepting sponsorship for one of its current affairs shows. A viewer complained to the broadcasting watchdog that the 29 September edition of CNN International’s show, Inside Africa, breached regulations as it was sponsored by Zenith Bank. ... According to Ofcom, sponsorship of current affairs programming is outlawed in the UK to 'support the important principle that news and current affairs must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.' ... Ofcom said today that Turner had reminded the editorial team responsible for the Inside Africa programme of the relevant rules in relation to sponsorship and that it 'intends to retrain all relevant members of staff including those based in Africa'. Turner told Ofcom CNN’s lead producer would also be relocated from the network’s headquarters in Atlanta to Johannesburg to 'help to ensure the show stays true to its editorial mission as...feature programming focussing on African culture'." Oliver Luft, PressGazette, 22 February 2010. Something is missing here. CNN's remedy seems to have more to do with changing the nature of the program than eliminating the sponsorship. In Europe, I think the principle is that commercials occur in a block between programs, rather than a program being associated with a certain advertiser. (For example, Ofcom would have taken a dim view of John Cameron Swayze's "Camel News Caravan," on NBC, 1949-1956.)
     "And all because of a single complaint!" Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 23 February 2010.

CNBC will be available on the UK's aptly named Freesat.

Posted: 23 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Business and financial news channel CNBC is to launch on the subscription-free satellite platform Freesat next Tuesday as part of a free-to-air strategy to widen its distribution. ... CNBC has been available on Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk since January and the addition of Freesat means the channel will now be distributed to 12 million UK households. The company said it has no plans at present to launch on Freeview. Mick Buckley, president and chief executive EMEA [Europe, Middle East, Africa] of CNBC, said the decision to become a free-to-air channel in the UK, is part of CNBC's strategy to 'aggressively grow' its distribution across EMEA in 2010." Maisie McCabe, mediaweek.co.uk, 19 February 2010. The CNBC schedule for Europe shows mostly business programming, but "Poker" (similar to trading, I guess) is available Saturday and Sunday 0100-0400. And "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" (that's what it says) Saturday 2100-2230.

Radio for expats in Kuwait includes English, Filipino, Persian, and Urdu.

Posted: 23 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Local Kuwaiti radio is granting expatriates here an opportunity to listen to broadcasts in their mother tongues, and to remain in touch with their religions and cultures. ... FM 93.3 is a local station run by foreigners, and serves as a mediator to help expatriates get a sense of what is going on in the country through covering events and stories in their mother language, explained Director of Radio Kuwait’s Foreign Programs Department Sheikha Shojoun Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to KUNA. ... English programs are aired on FM 93.3 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., followed by Persian from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Filipino from 1:00 p.m. to 3: 00 p.m., Urdu from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and finally an English broadcast from 9:00 p.m. till midnight, she noted. As for the Short Wave 72.5, she said that it covers the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and some surrounding Arab countries and it aims at highlighting major events in Kuwait." KUNA via Q8NRI.com, 20 February 2010. The mentioned shortwave frequency is actually 7.25 MHz, or 7250 kHz. Radio Kuwait uses other shortwave frequencies, as well.

British journalist Andrew Gilligan departs Press TV.

Posted: 22 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Andrew Gilligan has quietly dropped his association with Press TV, the Iranian state-owned station accused of beaming propaganda into British homes. His departure follows that of Nick Ferrari, who quit in protest at the station's coverage of last summer's presidential election. Gilligan, now at The Sunday Telegraph, no longer presents his debate show Forum, having previously resisted criticism of the station. ... Gilligan declined to comment." The Independent, 21 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Tian Wei, Chinese international broadcaster.

Posted: 22 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Tian Wei, former China Radio International Washington correspondent, now of host of "dialog" on CCTV-9, "described to the Global Times her dream of hosting a well balanced yet heated debate on topics concerning China and the world by inviting opinion makers, government officials and common people from all over the world to a 'town hall' meeting, where all participants present their arguments rationally based on solid facts. The purpose of the discussion would not be to attack one another or reach a conclusion, but to understand how everyone developed their attitudes and opinions." Jiang Xueqing, Global Times (Bejing), 20 February 2010.

Myanmar International will take on BBC, Al Jazeera, CCTV.

Posted: 22 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A new 24-hour international TV news channel will go on air in Burma next month, according to sources at the Ministry of Information. Named Myanmar International, the English-language channel is a joint-venture between the Ministry of Information and Shwe Than Lwin Co. Ltd, a large enterprise closely linked to Burma's military generals. The channel will reportedly operate as a modified version of the unsuccessful MRTV-3 which was intended for countering the international media coverage of Burma. The new channel will begin broadcasting on Mar. 27––Burma's Armed Forces Day––and will feature both Burmese and foreign hosts and news anchors, the source said. ... 'The ministry has directed us to develop this channel along the lines of CCTV, BBC and Al Jazeera,' said a TV staffer in Naypyidaw." Aung Thet Wine. The Irrawaddy, 22 February 2010.

RFA stringer in Cambodia acquitted of disinformation charges (updated).

Posted: 22 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A Cambodian court Friday acquitted a journalist for U.S.-based Radio Free Asia on charges that he spread false information when reporting an alleged corruption case. Takeo provincial court judge Cheng Bunly dropped the charges against radio reporter Sok Serey for a 2008 broadcast about a dispute between a group of villagers and a leader of the ethnic Cham community, who are mostly Muslims. ... Sok Serey was not arrested and was allowed to continue reporting." AP, 19 February 2010.
     "Today, Radio Free Asia President Libby Liu praised the acquittal of four men, including RFA broadcaster Sok Serey, on charges of disinformation stemming from a report about a Cham Muslim community leader in Takeo province. 'We at Radio Free Asia are pleased that our reporter has been acquitted of the baseless charges against him,' Liu said. 'We hope this ruling will reverse the growing pattern of using Cambodia’s legal system to suppress free speech and freedom of the press.'" RFA website, 19 February 2010.
     Update: "Local and international organisations have welcomed the acquittal of a Radio Free Asia reporter and four rights activists by Takeo provincial court on Friday, saying the ruling could set an important precedent for future defamation and disinformation cases." Sebastian Strangio and Chhay Channyda, The Phnom Penh Post, 22 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Visit to RFE is subject of 1960 television documentary.

Posted: 22 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
The 1960 television documentary "Eagle Cage" is available at YouTube, 10 January 2010, part of the public.resource.org channel. It's about a visit by 60 Americans to the studios of Radio Free Europe in Munich, and to other US funded facilities in Germany, with a side trip to the RFE transmitter site in Gloria, Portugal. The program was "produced by KCMO News and Public Affairs." The general manager of Kansas City's KCMO television, E.K. Hartenbower, was one of the 60 members of the tour, and is frequently pictured during the piece.
     At 8:13 into the 27 minute program, the narrator states:
"RFE, supported entirely by contributions from Americans to the Radio Free Europe Fund, has gained a reputation for truth and reliability in its five target countries, despite the best effdorts of the Communists to discredit it." It's ironic that a sentence touting RFE's "reputation for truth" contained a clause that was not true. RFE was, in those days, mostly funded, covertly, by the CIA. (It could be that the writer of the documentary, Harry Francis, was unaware of RFE's actual source of income, and was just working from RFE's own publicity materials.)
     Contributions from Americans contributed an average of 19 percent of RFE's budget during the 1950s. (This from Arch Puddington,
Broadcasting Freedom: The Cold War Triumph of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, citing a report from the Comptroller General of the United States.) That 19 percent would have been sufficient to impress the audience: how many US government entities could recoup a fifth of their income from voluntary donations? And it would have had the added benefit of being the truth, helpful given that international broadcasting efforts depend on credibility above all else.
     All told, however, this is a fascinating documentary, and a good example of the rhetoric of that time. Thanks to historian Richard Cummings for mentioning this. Richard's next book about RFE and RL will be
Radio Free Europe's 'Crusade for Freedom': Rallying Americans Behind Cold War Broadcasting, 1950-1960. See Historytimes.com, 8 January 2010.
     "When I first left Hungary, in 1953, and came to live in the West, I settled for a while in Munich where my father and stepmother worked for Radio Free Europe. This outfit was partly American government – CIA – funded, beaming programs into Eastern European, Soviet bloc countries and supposedly countering communists propaganda. But at heart, the idea of the American government doing this turned out to be a paradox since what is wrong with communist countries is precisely that they place everything in society under state control, including broadcasting the news, educating the young, doing science, entertainment or athletics. That is just what is supposed to be so different between communism and capitalism; yet here was RFE doing just what the communists were doing, entrusting government with broadcasting." Tibor Machan, Sun Journal (New Bern, NC), 15 February 2010.

Evgeny Morozov on "the age of Twittering bureaucrats."

Posted: 21 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"It is certainly a good thing that Obama's youthful bureaucrats have bonded with the brightest creative minds of Silicon Valley. However, the kind of message that it sends to the rest of the world—i.e. that Google, Facebook and Twitter are now just extensions of the U.S. State Department—may simply endanger the lives of those who use such services in authoritarian countries. It's hardly surprising that the Iranian government has begun to view all Twitter users with the utmost suspicion; everyone is now guilty by default. But there is a broader lesson for the Obama administration here: Diplomacy is, perhaps, one element of the U.S. government that should not be subject to the demands of 'open government'; whenever it works, it is usually because it is done behind closed doors. But this may be increasingly hard to achieve in the age of Twittering bureaucrats." Evgeny Morozov, Wall Street Journal, 20 February 2010.

From Iran's police chief, more accusations and warnings about BBC and VOA.

Posted: 21 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Iran's police chief has again warned citizens against cooperating with foreign media, and accused the BBC and Voice of America of serving British and US intelligence services. 'All those who work with foreign services by sending them news, reports, pictures and films should know that their behaviour is monitored,' Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said in comments carried by local news agencies. ... 'The BBC is the medium of MI6 and VOA is the medium of the CIA, while some people contact them and make statements against Iran,' he said." RTÉ News, 20 February 2010. See also Canadian Press, 20 February 2010.
     Iranian "Police Chief Gen. Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam sees fit not only to take sides in the ongoing factional political fight within Iran's establishment, but to opine on matters of foreign policy and comparative social science. ... It turns out Ahmadi-Moqaddam is an officer who's also an expert on the intricacies of international espionage. He equated giving interviews to the popular BBC Persian and Voice of America to collaborating with Western intelligence." Babylon & Beyond blog, Los Angeles Times, 20 February 2010.
     "Maziar Bahari is a Newsweek correspondent who was detained in Iran last year and held for four months following the street protests that erupted after the disputed June presidential elections. He said the Iranian authorities are employing new tactics to harass journalists. He noted that a proposal is being mulled to make it a crime for Iranian citizens to work for foreign media. 'The Iranian authorities, especially the Revolutionary Guards, even though they have not passed this law yet, have said they are going to [make it] a crime to work for Persian media outside of Iran,' Bahari said. 'So, anyone who works for BBC Persian, VOA Persian, or Radio Farda which is the Iranian version of Radio Liberty, can be accused of espionage and can be tried as a spy. And as my interrogator once told me, we all know what the punishment is for a spy -- execution.'" Nikola Krastev, RFE/RL, 17 February 2010.

Former BBCWS exec compares BBC Persian and VOA Persian.

Posted: 21 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Interview with Rob Beynon, who was acting head of BBC Persian during the June 2009 post-election protests in Iran: "Q: How should television channels capitalize on [user-generated] content? Beynon: You make it second nature to people to say, 'I’ve walked around the corner and something’s happening; I’ll use my mobile phone and I’ll send it to my favorite broadcaster.' We always used to say that Americans must stand around the corner waiting to be interviewed in a vox pop, because they were so articulate when a crew came up and asked them a question. Now, in many places, people are so savvy that they’re shooting the thing on an iPhone or mobile phone and then uploading it and sending it off straight away. It’s all done without hesitation. For the broadcaster, for the news channel, the emphasis has to be, 'What’s the second way? How do I provide the in-depth quality coverage? How do I provide the analysis? How do I do the comparative coverage?' You’ll still need high-quality coverage and you’ll still need to be able to put it into context. Otherwise it’s YouTube; YouTube is fantastic but YouTube isn’t going to tell you anything deep about a news story. ... Q: How does BBC Persian measure up to the competition? Beynon: There are only two international channels that broadcast in Farsi into Iran that do any sort of news coverage. One is BBC Persian, and the other is Voice of America. Voice of America does a perfectly good job, but it is directly funded by the State Department in the US, while the BBC has an arm’s-length relationship with the UK’s Foreign Office. So, effectively, the Foreign Office outsources all the content and journalism to the BBC." Austyn Allison, Kippreport, 19 February 2010. VOA has not been "directly funded by the State Department" since 1953. The International Broadcasting Act of 1994, and the resulting creation of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, came about to give VOA and the other elements of US international broadcasting that same "arms length relationship."
     "Abolhassan Banisadr, first president of Iran after the Islamic Revolution, told the Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) that 'lack of freedom in this regime [is the main problem]... they should respect freedom and leave brutality, because democracy and brutality do not go together....' Banisadr made those comments Thursday, during a two-hour special program that delivered a historical perspective of Iran’s Islamic Revolution on its 31st anniversary." VOA press release, 12 February 2010.

In Iran, Twitter may be more for activists than for the masses.

Posted: 21 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[T]he notion that Twitter and other social media played a defining role in orchestrating one of the greatest challenges the Islamic Republic has faced in its 30-year history always seemed vastly overcooked to anyone who was on the ground in Iran at the time. Of the scores of protesters I met in Tehran and two other major cities, Isfahan and Shiraz, only one had ever used Twitter, and she admitted that was only once or twice. Most had never even heard of it. With internet access disrupted and text-messaging services shut down, Iranians learned of the anti-government rallies through word of mouth or calls made on landline phones. ... Ali, an Iranian man who works for Tactical Tech, says the importance of the sense of community engendered by social media should not be underestimated. 'Human rights activists can often feel isolated and their work can make them feel like David against the Goliath. These tools help by allowing them discover that people on the other side of the world are doing similar things. That brings a feeling of empowerment.'" Mary Fitzgerald, Irish Times, 20 February 2010.

"Tear down this firewall!" But first: "Tear down these sanctions!"

Posted: 21 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[S]oftware called 'Haystack' that makes it near impossible for [Iranian] censors to detect what Internet users are doing. ... 'It’s encrypted at such a level it would take thousands of years to figure out what you’re saying. It’s a potent open-society tool. It’s just a matter of getting it to Iran — and that’s still illegal.' ... My understanding is the license may soon be approved. Treasury insists it's now sitting at State. My urgent message to the Obama administration is: Hurry up with this license and the general one for mass market software! ... The United States is shooting itself in the foot by making this illegal. Hillary Clinton’s speech on the importance of an open Internet was good, but right now it’s just a speech. Don’t shut down on Iran; open up to its promise. Sanctions are a feel-good impasse. 'Tear down this wall!' was a 20th-century cry. It has given way to the 21st century’s 'Tear down this firewall!' That, not sanctions, is what the I.R.G.C. fears most; and that, not sanctions, should be Obama’s priority." Roger Cohen, New York Times, 18 February 2010. See previous post about (and with doubts about) Haystack.

Haiti's state-owned media "politically oriented, even after the earthquake."

Posted: 21 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Haiti's "two main state-owned media outlets withstood the earthquake that heavily devastated the country’s broadcast and print media outlets. Their premises were only slightly damaged and their buildings survived. Their equipment is still functional and their journalists are unharmed. Even so, the state-owned outlets took about two weeks to get back on the air. ... Contacted by CPJ, a member of the editorial staff of Haiti’s National Television (TNH), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that state-owned media outlets are entirely politically oriented, even after the earthquake." Jean Roland Chery, Committee to Protect Journalists, 19 February 2010.
     "More than one month after the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti, Internews continues to work on the ground with local Haitian media and humanitarian aid agencies to get critical information directly to the people who need it most. With a team of local reporters, Internews produces a daily humanitarian news broadcast, Enfomasyon Nou Dwe Konnen (News You Can Use) currently airing on 25 local radio stations. In January, Internews distributed nearly 9,000 wind-up radios provided by the U.S. military, through 19 local radio station partners. With core support provided by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Internews has also conducted rapid assessments of the damage caused by the earthquake to broadcast media in the greater Port-au-Prince area in order to determine stations' capacity to broadcast and the type of programming available to the affected population. ... Internews is a founding member of the Inter-Agency Group on Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) that includes UNOCHA, key agencies such as the Red Cross and Save the Children, and other media assistance providers including the BBC World Service Trust and the Thomson Reuters Foundation." Internews press release, 19 February 2010.
     "Along with the State Department, the Pentagon and aid groups, as well as Haiti’s leading cellphone carrier and countless volunteers, the Coast Guard is part of an emergency contact network for Haitians to send text messages requesting aid. Those involved in the effort also monitor Facebook and Twitter postings for information indicating where supplies are needed. To get the word out about the new program, the distress code number — 4636 — was sent to every cellphone on the Haitian network. Word of the program also went out on local Haitian radio stations." Carmen Gentile, New York Times, 20 February 2010.

Will Liberty Media combine Worldspace and Sirius XM into an international satellite radio company?

Posted: 21 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[I]t’s time to catch up on the fate of another company, WorldSpace. The beleagured international satellite radio has been in Chapter 11 for some time and a deal to sell it fell apart last August. Since then, though, WorldSpace has found a savior in the form of Liberty Media, which has made debtor-in-possession (DIP) loans of millions to keep the company afloat and is leading the DIP lending group which has committed to $21.6 million in financing. Liberty also holds some of WorldSpace’s pre-petition debt and has a right to be a credit bidder to buy the company, which would give it a leg up on any potential cash bidder. (Not that cash bidders have been standing in line to go after WorldSpace.) As it happens, this is the same Liberty Media which rescued Sirius XM from the brink of bankruptcy about a year ago and now holds preferred stock convertible into 40% of Sirius XM’s common stock. As first reported Friday by Satwaves, some buyers of Sirius XM stock are betting that Liberty Media will make a play to buy up the other 60% of Sirius XM, buy WorldSpace out of bankruptcy – and combine the two into an international satellite radio company." RBR-TVBR, 19 February 2010.      "There now seems little doubt that Sirius-XM will soon launch a near-global pay-radio service. There are simply too many clues to ignore, and more might well emerge from Sirius-XCM’s quarterly financials this week. Indeed, some industry observers are suggesting that Worldspace will not only rise from the ashes, but could be the vehicle that emerges as owner of Sirius-XM!! The Worldspace assets of two orbiting satellites are key to Sirius’ global expansion." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 21 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "For a little less than a decade, [Worldspace] provided commercial-free music of a purity and eclectic variety that had devoted listeners totally hooked. Moreover, they had a team of RJ's whose passion for and dedication to the content of their programmes was as palpable as the melody that streamed out of your speakers. The chasm between WS and the other free-to-air FM channels available was vast. The state-run Vividh-Bharti channel in my city, Allahabad, routinely broadcasts commercials not just between songs, but in the middle of a given song, which is then resumed after these rude interruptions." Raj Gandhi, The Hindu, 20 February 2010.

Released from house arrest, Burmese dissident appears on VOA.

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The release from house arrest of the 83-year-old co-founder and Deputy Chairman of Burma's National League for Democracy (NLD), Tin Oo, has failed to impress the international community or the Burmese opposition, who view it as a calculated act of regime 'magnanimity.' One of Tin Oo's first acts after his release was to appear on the Voice of America's Burmese Service, discussing the NLD's official stance on the planned general election." Dr Zarni, The Irrawaddy, 19 February 2010.
     "Home Minister Maj. Gen. Maung Oo reportedly said last month that Tin Oo would be freed in February and Suu Kyi would be released in November. His comments were made during remarks to local officials in central Myanmar and reported by the U.S.-government backed Radio Free Asia and other media, and could not be independently confirmed." AP, 19 February 2010.

RFA: North Korea jamming and otherwise cracking down on mobile phones along Chinese border.

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"North Korea has launched a crackdown on would-be defectors and on Chinese mobile phones used by its own people along the northern border with China, according to several North Korean sources. These tougher measures have made it harder for cash-strapped North Koreans to make calls abroad appealing for help and sharply increased the cost of obtaining a guide to help sneak out of the country, they said. ... An announcer on government-run Korean Central Television (KCTV) said: 'We possess a world-class striking force and means to protect our security that have not yet been entirely mentioned or made public.' Sources inside North Korea subsequently said in interviews that the authorities had stepped-up patrols for would-be defectors and jamming of Chinese cellular phones." Jung Young, Radio Free Asia, 19 February 2010. This refers to black market or smuggled mobile phones that communicate with cell towers in China, not the authorized North Korean mobile service provided by Egyptian operator Orascom. See previous post.

Broadcasting to the Horn of Africa is not for the squeamish (updated).

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Ever since its re-instatement in 2007, the Voice of America’s Somali section has been viewed as the beckon of hope for impartial and just news service that will humble serve the people of Horn of Africa. But the future of the VOA Somali section, under the leadership of Abdirahman Yabarow, a former BBC staff seems to gradually disappearing under the dark clouds of deadly clanism. In an interview with Radio Rajodoon, Farhiya Absiye, now a former VOA reporter, revealed the inside story of the station and how clan plays the biggest role." Garowe Online, 14 February 2010.
     Update: "A former Voice of America contractor has made a number of allegations on several Somali Websites about the VOA Somali Service and its Chief, Abdirahman Yabarow. Those allegations are baseless. In a continuing effort to produce valuable, high quality broadcasts, Voice of America will occasionally make changes to achieve its goals and maintain its standards. All decisions are made to preserve the integrity of our programming, while respecting and honoring our contractual agreements. VOA does not comment on details about internal matters involving individual employees or contractors. Decisions for VOA's Somali Service are made to achieve the goal of broadcasting excellence. The VOA Somali service has a large listening audience in Somalia as a result of its reputation as a source for accurate, objective and comprehensive news and broadcast opportunity for the Somali people to express their many points of view. VOA takes pride in the service and the leadership of the service." VOA Public Affairs, direct. The VOA Somali contract employee's lengthy resignation letter and list of grievances was published in Somaliland Press, 31 January 2010.
     "On Wednesday (02/17/10), the veteran news organization, Voice of America, behaved like a propaganda mouthpiece for Ali Abdu, the Eritrean Information Minister. Its news story was entitled: 'Eritrea Official Denies Asmara´s Involvement in Organizing Protest against UN- Sanctions'. In it, Ali Abdu is telling VOA reporter Peter Clottey that the planned pro-government protest marches near the White House are a result of an 'absolutely popular appraisal against the unjust [UN sanctions]..…This resolution is not only targeting Eritreans, it´s targeting the Horn of Africa entirely.' ... The Eritrean Minister is doing his job really well, but Peter Clott[e]y is not as he ought to in the interest of fair and responsible journalism. ... VOA could have made the story fairer and more balanced by quickly obtaining the reactions of anyone of the leaders of influential Eritrean civic organizations like the US based Global Eritrean Solidarity or the UK based Citizens for Democratic Rights in Eritrea." Michael Abraha, American Chronicle, 18 February 2010. See also VOA News, 17 February 2010.
     "The Horn of Africa region is among the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist, according to a global watchdog group. The Committee to Protect Journalists says numerous journalists in the region have been forced to flee home under threat of death or imprisonment. The New York-based group warns that the quality of reporting has suffered significantly due to the high number of local journalists from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea who have been imprisoned, attacked, forced to flee, or censured." Alan Boswell, VOA News, 16 February 2010.

BBC World Service Trust is "monitoring and advising" the Georgian public broadcaster's newsroom.

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"President Saakashvili said on February 17, that Georgian 'media still lacks objectivity and professionalism.' Speaking to an audience in London-based think-tank, Chatham House, Saakashvili said that his 'government is committed to media freedom' and added that there were several TV channels in Georgia 'hostile' to the authorities. ... Saakashvili welcomed cooperation between BBC World Service Trust and the Georgian public broadcaster. A BBC team is monitoring and advising the public broadcaster’s newsroom. Saakashvili said that he had recently met with this team 'to hear what they have to say.'" Civil Georgia, 18 February 2010.

New Australian headquarters for Doctor Who, and the rest of BBC Worldwide.

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide Australia will take a step forward in its strategy to develop its presence in the Australian market by moving to a major new HQ in March. The move will combine two BBC Worldwide offices, currently situated in North Ryde and North Sydney, at new premises in Macquarie Park [suburb of Sydney]. It will co-locate the company’s 90 staff who work across BBC Worldwide’s seven business areas. The new premises follow the principles inherent in the recent re-development of BBC Worldwide’s London headquarters, which reflect the company’s culture, identity, vision and values. They will showcase BBC Worldwide’s key brands: Top Gear, Doctor Who, BBC Earth and Dancing with the Stars as well as its Australasian channels brands – UKTV, CBeebies, BBC Knowledge and BBC World News. ... Australia was named a key territory for BBC Worldwide in 2007." BBC Worldwide press release, 15 February 2010.

Is BBC World News getting biased reports about Nigeria from BBC Hausa?

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
In the recent sectarian violence in Nigeria, "our Muslim brothers have so far proved quicker off the mark to tell their version of events. Thus on January 26, in the wake of another Jos crisis, BBC World television carried the news that 150 bodies of Muslims had been discovered at the village of Kuru Korama south of Jos. The source of the story? The Jama'atu Nasirul Islam, a powerful organisation that seeks to promote Islam in Nigeria. It also seems that for news about northern Nigeria the BBC relies heavily on its Hausa Service, and I want to take this opportunity to plead with the British public to investigate this body and see that its pro-Muslim bias is corrected." Fr Alex Longs, The Catholic Herald (London), 12 February 2010.

BBC Arabic to launch "first wiki-driven television show."

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Arabic service is launching the corporation’s first television programme driven entirely by social media. The show, called 710 Greenwich, will be the first for the global broadcaster to take its ideas from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs. 'The actual production of the show is going to be as open as Wikipedia,' he said, referring to the online encyclopaedia created by its users. 'This is the first wiki-driven television show.' The show will be broadcast on Thursdays for 50 minutes on BBC Arabic TV from the first week of next month. ... In future episodes, the audience will act as researchers and de facto producers of the show, forming conversations around upcoming guests and posting videos and news articles that make a case for a certain line of questioning. 'Part of the idea is to train people, to get them used to the idea of basing their argument on evidence and fact,' Mr el Sokkari said. 'So when they ask a question, it should be supported by something they have researched, which could be a good thing for young journalists learning the trade.'" Keach Hagey, The National (Abu Dhabi), 18 February 2010.

There is also media fragmentation, with more "competition for attention."

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Edelman's hire this week of Richard Sambrook [see previous post], head of global news at the BBC, reminds us once more of the increasing number of senior journalists opting for a career in PR consultancy. ... But as we know, things are tough in journalism at the moment, both in print and broadcast. The axe will soon fall on many more BBC journalists, not least at the excellent BBC World Service, where morale is already low. ... As the media continue to fragment and the number of journalists-per-medium dwindles, there is an increasing demand for compelling content. And yet the competition for attention is also becoming more intense, not least because the cost of content creation continues to fall. Creativity, inspired narrative and authenticity become the premium attributes, as those at the leading edge of social media are discovering. In other words, senior journalists entering PR will find this new arena no less challenging than their previous one, and hopefully no less a test of their character and mettle." Danny Rogers, PR Week, 16 February 2010.

"Device fragmentation" is not when you drop your device. But it is a problem.

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"At [Mobile World Congress] the UK broadcaster unveiled plans to launch several new mobile applications, showcasing its news, sport, and TV content. The BBC News app will arrive first, with the iPhone version leading the way in April. But while the BBC is enthusiastic about using the latest devices to show off its content to best advantage, it is already finding the extent of software fragmentation between devices a burden. In his keynote, Erik Huggers, director of the BBC's Future Media & Technology division, attacked the mobile industry. 'As a broadcaster we're used to broadcasting once and the receivers just work. Why should we have to reformat our apps for every device?' ... Fragmentation is fast becoming a major obstacle to increased growth, at a time when mainstream content providers are showing unprecedented interest in the mobile channel and when mobile content consumption is rapidly increasing among users. ... The end result is that content providers will naturally come to favor some platforms over others... ." Tony Cripps, Ovum, 18 February 2010.

BBCWS Trust Janala project has served one million English lessons in Bangladesh.

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Janala - it means Window - is a service run by the BBC World Service Trust and funded by the UK's Department for International Development which launched in Bangladesh last November. At the Mobile World Congress this morning its creators are revealing that it has already served up one million English lessons over mobile phones. ... Now, as with any mobile service, plenty of people will try this once and not return but the figures show that English-by-phone is proving more compelling than just about anything else. 39% of callers return to the service, compared to an average 5% return rate for other mobile information products in Bangladesh, and the content for beginners gets a 69% repeat rate. ... Price is of course key here, and local mobile operators have co-operated in keeping it very low - at 1 Taka (1p) a minute it's about half the price of a normal call or text message. Janala appears to have tapped into a huge unmet need to learn English as a means of getting access to the global economy." Rory Cellan-Jones, dot.Rory blog, BBC News, 17 February 2010. See also PDA blog, The Guardian, 17 February 2010. And BBC News, 17 February 2010.

DW Bangla celebrates 35 years, plans to add FM.

Posted: 20 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"German radio station Deutsche Welle arranged a listeners' gathering on Friday to mark the 35th anniversary of its Bangla service. Deutsche Welle South Asia chief Grahame Lucas inaugurated the gathering at the Goethe Institute in Dhaka. Organisers said more than two hundred Deutsche Welle listeners from across the country participated in the gathering. Unfolding the future plan of Bangla service, Lucas said Deutsche is soon going to start airing programmes in Bangladesh on FM (frequency modulation)." bdnews24.com, 19 February 2010.

Prosecutors say defendants in obstruction case know who murdered RFA GC.

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Robert Wone "was murdered in 2006 while visiting friends in a tony section of Washington. At the time, he was the general counsel at Radio Free Asia. He was 32. Two years later criminal charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and tampering charges — but not murder charges — were brought against three housemates that Wone was visiting: Joe Price, Victor Zaborsky and Dylan Ward. A trial it set for May. Several days ago, according to this WaPo story, federal prosecutors in the case said in filings that they were confident the three men charged with obstruction know who killed Wone." Amir Efrati, Law Blog, Wall Street Journal, 18 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Hallmark Channel Africa, "the number 1 international channel in the region," becomes Universal Channel.

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"In a successful period of growth and expansion, Universal Networks International is now also focusing on harmonizing its TV channels under five revitalized core brands delivering new original, first run content targeted at local audiences around the globe. Hallmark Channel Africa, the number 1 international channel in the region with subscribers approaching 3,7million in total (Africa and South Africa combined), will change its name to Universal Channel on 24th March. Africa is the first market to introduce the new look channel globally. ... [C]ontent premieres will include Monk, Psych, Being Erica season 2 and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit season 8." MultiChoice press release, 18 February 2010.

Bloomberg to exec: While you're at it, do Asia as well.

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Bloomberg has expanded the remit of commercial director Lindsay Oliver for Europe, Middle East, and Africa to encompass Asia, as the television network looks to expand its global footprint. Oliver, a former CNBC Europe network director, joined Bloomberg at the start of 2009, with responsibility for the financial network's five European language channels. ... Oliver's promotion comes as Bloomberg looks to strike new distribution deals across Asia. It claims that Oliver was fundamental to increasing the English-language network's presence from 28 million households in 2008 across Europe, Africa and Asia, to more than 140 million last year. Previously, Oliver was commercial director at Al Jazeera, where she launched the network in 80 million households."
John Reynolds, Brand Republic, 17 February 2010.

Hillary Clinton has a "quite frank" meeting with Al Jazeera management.

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[I]t is notable that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made time to meet with [Al Jazeera's] senior management during her tour of the Middle East this week. The network said in a statement Monday that Ms. Clinton met with its director general Wadah Khanfar 'and the network’s senior editorial staff for a meeting to further dialogue with Al Jazeera.' The meeting was held on the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Doha, Qatar, the city where Al Jazeera is based. It lasted for about one hour. The meeting was 'quite frank' as Al Jazeera managers 'put their frustrations on the table,' according to a network employee who was briefed on the meeting. 'Over all, the meeting was very positive,' the network employee added." Brian Stelter, Media Decoder blog, New York Times, 16 February 2010.
     "Al Jazeera – broadcaster of Osama bin Laden videos, famously contrarian champion of 'the opinion and the other opinion' – has entered the retail DVD business. ... In particular, the retail platform will give Al Jazeera a chance to reach viewers in the large and lucrative US market, which both the Arabic and the English channels have so far failed to crack with a national distribution deal. Although a landmark local cable deal in Washington DC last year gave Al Jazeera English the opportunity to access the airwaves of a major metropolitan area for the first time, and last year it won approval from Canadian regulators for satellite distribution there, the broadcaster still lacks the US distribution deal that would make it commercially viable." Keach Hagey, The National, 17 February 2010.

VOA music people in the news.

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Leo Sarkisian, 88, "spent 45 years at the Voice of America, the official radio station of the United States, and a music library was founded in his name. He is also an admirer of Turkish Classical Music. Sarkisian is well-known for his research on Ottoman music as well. In the past, he has shared his research with the Center for Advanced Research in Music, or MIAM, at Istanbul Technical University. 'I strongly believe, and my close Turkish friends know that, there is no place for hate,' Sarkisian said." Vercihan Ziflioglu, Hürriyet Daily News, 15 February 2010.
     "Haroon Bacha, who was trained in tabla and harmonium, has emerged as perhaps the preeminent vocalist of the Pashtun diaspora. Bacha, who would likely face death were he to go back home, performs around the world, keeping alive Pashto-language poetry and song forms. He articulates traditional folk and classical tunes in his keening voice, adding a fresh sociological perspective with his lyrics. Bacha also reaches his native region via the airwaves, as a cultural-programming director with the Voice of America's Pashto service." He will perform 21 February in Philadelphia. David R. Stampone, Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 February 2010.

With Cubans getting more of what they want to watch, can Radio/TV Martí compete?

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[T]he U.S. trade embargo against Cuba may actually make it easier for American movies and shows to end up on Cuban TV. Since the trade sanctions block the Cuban government from paying legally for the use of American media content, it just uses the programming for free. ... The proliferation of digital media on the island has made it increasingly tough for the Cuban government to monopolize its audience. That competition may be another reason the number of state-run channels has increased from two to five over the past decade, with programming that increasingly reflects what people want to watch, rather than what the government officially thinks they should be watching. But it’s also made Radio and TV Marti a less appealing alternative for Cubans who don’t necessarily want more politics in their lives. Cuban dissident Vladimiro Roca recently complained to Miami’s El Nuevo Herald that Radio Marti was 'so bad and so uninteresting to the Cuban people that no one listens,' adding that its coverage was too focused on exile politics in Miami, instead of news from Cuba." Nick Miroff, GlobalPost, 17 February 2010. US international broadcasting is a confederation of separate, sometimes competing operations. Radio/TV Marti has not, until recently, made use of the news resources of VOA, and has no plans (that I know of) to use news reports from RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra, or Radio Sawa. These news resources of US international broadcasting will have to come together in a era in which even Cuban broadcasting is at least somewhat competitive. The continued need for US international broadcasting to Cuba is discussed in the previous post.

Czech senator writes to US senators about human rights complaint involving RFE/RL (updated).

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Czech Senator Jaromir Stetina has sent an explosive letter to 'American colleagues' on the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The letter is a reaction to a suit against the Czech Republic by a Croat who claimed national discrimination. The Czech Republic is charged with human-rights violations at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. ... Stetina warns in his letter that Prague RFE/RL employees are divided into three castes. The first includes American citizens who enjoy the protections provided by the Federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Czech citizens are protected by the Czech Labour Code. Unfortunately, employees from third countries 'enjoy' zero protection." Croatian Times, 11 February 2010.
     Update: "All American citizens employed by RFE/RL are relieved of Czech income taxes as performing duties of governmental nature. This generous hospitality is well deserved by the unique role RFE/RL broadcasts from Munich played in unmasking communist lies that strangled Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia. Just to note: In Munich, all RFE/RL personnel was equally protected by the strict German labor laws; still, it did not hinder RFE/RL from being truly instrumental to American victory in the Cold War against 'evil empire'. ... Dear American colleague! At the date of this letter, BBG nomination hearings were not scheduled yet. I cannot see, however, what may prevent you to act within your sphere of political and public influence even now, with the present BBG at hand, provided, you share my concerns." From Senator Stetina's letter to Senator John Kerry, received by CTK, News.az, 16 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

BBG confirmations in March?

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"It's slow going in this town even for nonpaying, part-time jobs. Take for example the confirmations of eight members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the folks who oversee U.S. international radio and television programs. Many months in the making, the slate of four Republicans and four Democrats -- the secretary of state's designee breaks any ties -- was announced three months ago. The skids were greased for confirmation without even so much as a hearing. But nothing happened before the Senate recess. There was word of a glitch with some of the nominees, but we're told that's not the case, just normal checks at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Now they're talking confirmations in March." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 17 February 2010. Not "nonpaying": there is some remuneration for BBG members. And I don't think the secretary of state's ex officio vote is strictly for tie-breaking. See previous post about same subject.
     Walter Isaacson, nominated for the chairmanship of the BBG, will write an authorized biogrpahy of Apple founder Steve Jobs. Kevin Bloom, The Daily Maverick (Johannesburg), 18 February 2010.

NSC reportedly objects to description of Iranian satellite jamming as "intensified."

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Three sources tell The Cable that the National Security Council at first tried to prevent Jeff Trimble, executive director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors ... from allowing VOA to attach its name to a statement last week with Deutsche Welle and the British Broadcasting Corporation protesting Iranian signal jamming. Two sources close to the issue say the NSC first didn't want the VOA to join the statement if it mentioned 'jamming.' Later in the email chain, the NSC modified its position to object to the use of the term 'intensified jamming.' According to Trimble, 'The BBG wasn't asked not to participate in the statement.' 'NSC is ok with our confirming that jamming continues, they ask that we not say for now that it has intensified,' one Feb. 11 email from Trimble to several BBG staffers read. Dan Austin, the president of VOA, acknowledged that changes had been made to the statement, but declined to discuss the NSC's role. He said that the U.S. government should not be interfering with the BBG's editorial content, but acknowledged that on the communications and policy side, the lines were less clear. 'If it doesn't violate the letter of the firewall, common sense dictates it violates the spirit,' a BBG official told The Cable on background basis." Josh Rogin, The Cable, Foreign Policy, 17 February 2010. See previous post for the statement, by way of a BBC World Service press release. It was also issued as a press release in German by Deutsche Welle, 12 February 2010. The statement has not appeared as a press release from either VOA or BBG, but VOA had a news report about it. Satellite enthusiasts in Europe (see, for example, previous comments by Kai Ludwig, and links thereto) are the real judges of whether jamming exists, and how intense it is.
     "A military source, who ran intelligence operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, told HUMAN EVENTS that Iran's ability to shut out commercial TV and radio signals of its choosing is impressive. But being able to use jamming technology against U.S. military satellites is a much taller order. 'We use frequency hopping,' the source said. 'That means we actually broadcast our transmissions for one ten thousandth of a second then change to another frequency. That means unless they have our codes to know what frequencies we are rolling to and when., they cannot jam us.' But the BBC and the Voice of America, two of those being jammed, do not operate in secrecy and provide an easier target. Iran can overpower their frequency at the satellite or the ground receiver level with a stronger microwave signal of white noise and static. It 'forces' them to accept that frequency over the weaker one, the military source said. 'The most challenging part is identifying exactly where the satellite is and what frequency it is operating on, but that is certainly within their capability,' the source said." Rowan Scarborough, Human Events, 17 February 2010. Because viewers in Iran (or at least their satellite dish installers) need to know "where the satellite is and what frequency it is operating on," that information is usually publicized. Thus not so "challenging" for the Iranian jamming bureaucrats. I'm no engineer, but "one ten thousandth of a second" seems an awfully short span to get any information out. I've seen references to 250 milliseconds and 62.5 milliseconds for such bursts. That provides a bit more time for nuance.

Report: Turned away by Al Jazeera and Alhurra, he airs allegations against Palestinian official on Israel's Channel 10.

Posted: 19 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Rafiq Al-Husseini, the former chief of staff to [Palestinian National Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas, said Sunday he is innocent of allegations broadcast on Israeli TV days earlier. Flanked by relatives, Al-Husseini told reporters that a videotape apparently showing him propositioning a job applicant... . Al-Husseini termed the broadcast, which appeared Wednesday evening on Israel's Channel 10, 'a meeting between corruption and collaboration with the occupation.' He applauded the Arab media outlets that opted not to air the allegations brought forward by Fahmi Shabanah, a former Palestinian Authority intelligence official who says he was forced to turn to an Israeli broadcaster after Al-Jazeera and Al-Hurra turned him away." Ma'an, 15 February 2010. Update: Fahmi Shabana responds, Ma'an, 19 February 2010.

Secretary Clinton, on Arabic channels, talks about Iran.

Posted: 18 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "has been on something of a media blitz all week: The State Department has sent reporters dozens of transcripts of interviews, including segments with Al-Arabiya and Al-Hurra. She even did an appearance on Al-Jazeera's Arabic network, which U.S. officials don't do nearly often enough. I'm struck, though by how single-mindedly these interviews are focused on Iran and its nuclear program. In Clinton's Al-Arabiya interview, for example, there are 29 mentions of Iran, compared with one mention of democracy, and zero of human rights. I understand that the administration wants to bolster international support for sanctions on Iran, and Clinton is leading that push. Her interviews were perhaps aimed more at Arab governments than Arab publics. But it seems like she, and the administration, missed three good opportunities to speak directly to the general population (okay, two, since nobody watches Al-Hurra)." Gregg Carlstrom, The Majlis, 17 February 2010.
     "'I think the upcoming elections in Iraq are very important, and I hope no one boycotts, because we know that the last time there was a boycott, it didn't work out very well,' [Secretary Clinton] told U.S.-funded Al Hurra TV in an interview in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, while on a Gulf tour." AP, 18 February 2010.
     "Madam Secretary, first, thank you for your time. You have made a great speech in Doha about the relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world. And you visited today the OIC headquarters in Jeddah. Why are you doing these gestures toward the Muslim world?" From transcript of interview by Michel Ghandour of Alhurra with Secretary Clinton, State Department, 16 February 2010. See also BBG/MBN press release, 16 February 2010. And transcript of interview with Secretary Clinton by David Gollust of VOA, State Department, 16 February 2010.

"President of Alhurra Television" will "preside over" (ring?) NASDAQ closing bell.

Posted: 18 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Brian Conniff, President of Alhurra Television, will visit NASDAQ MarketSite in the heart of Times Square and preside over the NASDAQ Closing Bell. ... Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 3:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET. [2045-2100 UTC]" Alhurra press release, 17 February 2010. Brian Coniff is actually president of Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) Inc, parent entity of Alhurra and Radio Sawa, part of BBG. The occasion was the sixth anniversary of Alhurra. Several Alhurra broadcasters stood with Mr. Coniff.

RFI and MCD may get FM frequencies in Yemen.

Posted: 18 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Minister of Information Hasan al-Lawzi, along with the French ambassador to Sana'a Joseph Silva, received on Monday a French media delegation headed by Director General of the Middle East for Audio-Visual Media. ... The meeting shed light on request of the French side to re-broadcast Monte Carlo Doualiya and Radio France International radio stations via the FM waves which received welcome by the Yemeni side within treatment framework of the new Audio Visual Media Law." SABA Yemen News Agency, 15 February 2010."Audio-Visual Media" probably refers to the holding entity Audiovisuel extérieur de la France (AEF).

Euronews restores first Nagorno-Karabakh documentary that led to the second.

Posted: 18 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Parliament of Azerbaijan can again begin discussions related to the Euronews TV channel. 'Returning the biased and one-sided reportage regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the website of the Euronews TV channel makes regret, and this issue may again be brought up for discussion at the next meeting of the Parliament,' deputy chairman of the committee on defence and security of the Parliament, MP Aydin Mirzazade told Trend News on Feb. 17. Euronews TV channel again posted the reportage titled 'Nagorno-Karabakh - wind of change' on its website. On Nov. 28, Euronews has broadcasted a reportage by Michael Raikhman 'Nagorno-Karabakh - wind of change', which is very biased and one-sidedly interpreted events in the Karabakh war. After Azerbaijan's protest, the reportage was removed from the side. ... According to Mirzazade, Euronews TV channel conducts a double policy. 'On the one hand, this channel shows the fair position of Azerbaijan, on the other - at the European level, presents false and slanderous claims of Armenians,' he said." Trend News Agency (Baku), 17 February 2010.
     "Euronews video 'Winds of change in Nagorno-Karabakh' posted on agency's website last November and removed on demand of Azerbaijani side is restored. The video captured by Euronews journalists who visited Nagorno-Karabakh reflected true essence of Karabakh conflict while NKR was presented as an independent republic. After the item was placed on Euronews website, Azerbaijani side as expected threw a fit. Country’s Foreign Ministry even filed a note of protest to Euronews. Channel’s management had to remove the video and shoot another film 'Forgotten victims of frozen conflict' about Azerbaijani refugees. However, 'Winds of change in Nagorno-Karabakh' was restored on the website right after a new film appeared." News.am (Yerevan), 17 February 2010.
     Both documentaries are available at the Euronews Nagorno-Karabakh page. See previous post about same subject.

NHK World's "uniqueness" now available in Hawaii.

Posted: 18 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Japan's giant public broadcasting network, NHK, today is scheduled to begin offering Hawai'i TV viewers a 24-hour English-language news and information channel that focuses on Asia and Japan. NHK World TV, which has only been in operation since February 2009, is already seen in more than 80 countries. ... 'It's sort of a window to Japan,' said Koki Matsumoto, a senior director at Japan International Broadcasting Inc., a subsidiary of NHK. 'You don't see these things on CNN. This is a uniqueness we are very proud of. It is something very innovative.' ... 'About 300,000 Hawai'i residents are either Japanese or a Japanese mixture, so there is a natural interest,' he said. ... NHK World TV can be seen on Oceanic Time Warner Cable's digital channel 682 and on 1682 as part of its high-definition entertainment package. Oceanic reaches about 90 percent of Hawai'i's households." Mike Gordon, Honolulu Advertiser, 16 February 2010. Mr. Matsumoto is correct about NHK World's "uniqueness." During the recent snowstorms in Washington, I've had a chance to watch NHK World for a few hours. There is an artistic quality to much of the programming. It requires more patience than the rapid-paced all news format, but that patience is rewarded.

International children's programs to US homes via MHz Networks.

Posted: 17 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"MHz Networks will launch a brand new block of programming on MHz Worldview March 6. Premiering at 10 AM ET, the weekly block includes the best in children’s entertainment and learning from all over the world. Known as ShorTV ... [the shows] include:" "MuMuHug' from Taiwan, "Lifeboat Luke" from Ireland, "Mixed Nutz," from Canada, "Katz Fun" from Taiwan. MHz Networks press release, 15 February 2010.

Livestation goes mobile with its international channels.

Posted: 17 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Twenty months after previewing an in-development app that would bring its live TV news service to iPhones, Livestation is finally taking its streaming offering mobile - but it’s resorting to the open web, and not Apple’s application platform." Channels are Al Arabiya Arabic, Euronews in English and French, Press TV and RT in English and Arabic, but "more free channels will be added soon, along with access to the premium channels the service began offering in December for £4.99 a month." Robert Andrews, paidContet:UK, 16 February 2010.

France 24: Twitter is good for this, Facebook is good for that.

Posted: 17 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"France 24 uses Twitter and Facebook to aid its newsgathering efforts, but prefers to channel citizen reporters to its 'The Observers' Web site. 'We have about 2,000 "observers" around the world,” said Julien Pain, the site’s editor. 'Three hundred of them are what you could call "really active." When things are happening in their region, we get them to send us information, pictures and video of what is going on from the scene.' This content is sent via Twitter, Facebook, Skype, e-mail or online chat, he added. 'It all depends on the country that the person is contacting us from, and what tools they have at their disposal.' Pain said that France 24 uses Twitter for breaking news research and Facebook to find out more about story subjects. 'If you are following an aid worker for three months, Facebook is really good for that,' he said. 'You get to know more about them by following Facebook, than Twitter.'" James Careless, Radio World, 15 February 2010.

Nigerian insurance company sponsors segments on CNN International.

Posted: 17 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"From 15th February 2010, Nigerian insurance company Industrial and General Insurance (IGI) is the exclusive sponsor of two new editorial initiatives on CNN International. The Business Diary highlight, airing during weekly day parts and the Morning Agenda feature airing during CNN International’s morning schedule, both bring audiences a preview of the current top business and financial events expected to occur that week in the world of international business." CNN press release via News on News, 15 February 2010.

New Afghanistan radio station taking audience share from Radio Free Afghanistan?

Posted: 16 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
General-store owner and amateur radio broadcaster Sadruddin Nazar: "'In the village, our neighbors are making carpets, scarves. They listen,' Nazar says. 'In the morning, we turn on the transmitter until the evening. If we don't, they come to ask us why we don't put the transmitter into operation. They say they want to have music while they work.' The radio is a box of equipment with a wire leading out to the roof, where the transmitter sits atop a tall wooden pole and broadcasts at 100.1 FM to a radius of 2 kilometers. There is nothing professional about any of it. Nazar and a car-mechanic friend assembled everything themselves from spare parts from old radios and cassette players." Ibrahim Haroon, head of administration of Radio Free Afghanistan's Kabul bureau, RFE/RL, 12 February 2010.

Russia Today and the "9/11 nutters."

Posted: 16 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[L]ast week [Russia Today] they invited me to come on a show of theirs to discuss the issue of the proposed burka ban in France. ... [Y]ou can probably imagine, indeed can see, the look of astonishment that I and my fellow guest felt when the presenter declared to us, in the middle of a discussion about a totally different subject, that 'the people that perpetrated 9/11 were not even fundamentalists at all'." Douglas Murray, blog, The Telegraph, 15 February 2010.

Australia Network has an outlet in Nauru.

Posted: 16 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[W]ith its TV and radio stations upgraded and a newspaper about to launch, the poor island nation is constructing a genuine media sector thanks to Australian funding and expertise. Over the past two years overseas aid program AusAID has put almost $450,000 into the project, overseen by former ABC broadcaster Rod Henshaw, now interim media director for the Nauru government. ... The TV station carries local content as well as broadcasting the ABC's Australia Network. A new transmitter means the station can be heard all over the island." Sally Jackson, The Australian, 15 February 2010.

Wafted over North Korea: balloons toting bags containing radios and money.

Posted: 16 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A group known as the Fighters for Free North Korea plans to launch a specially-equipped balloon over North Korean territory that will include a message from North Korean defectors and Americans regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was written in 1948 because of the horrible things that happened during World War II. Suzanne Scholte, chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC), says the balloon will carry those messages in special bags that will be released into the countryside. 'In that bag that's got the leaflets, we also have plastic radios that have AM, FM, and shortwave frequencies. We've tested these radios, and we're sending in radios, but also money that could be used in the market,' Scholte explains. 'And we know that this has been successful because every time there's a North Korean summit between the North and the South, the North Koreans always show up with handfuls of these leaflets, throw them down on the table and say, "Stop doing this!" And of course the South Korean government has to say, "We're not doing this!"' The NKFC chairman adds that the birthday balloon launch will be followed by several more, including one in April during North Korea Freedom Week." Chad Groening, OneNewsNow, 15 February 2010.

It's good to switch gears: Richard Sambrook, was director of BBC world services, joins PR firm Edelman.

Posted: 16 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The former BBC director of global news, Richard Sambrook, is to join PR company Edelman. Sambrook will take up the role of global vice-chairman and chief content officer in May, having spent 30 years at the BBC. ... His job will include helping clients produce video content and leading the company's global crisis and issues department... ." The Guardian, 15 February 2010.
     "Global CEO and President Richard Edelman said: ... 'Through his work establishing several BBC News channels (BBC News 24, BBC World News, BBC Arabic, BBC Persian) and his own long-term and personal commitment to social media, he understands very well how the audience is now – to use his own words – "on the pitch", how content and news must be shaped by the needs of the consumer, and the new opportunities provided by social technologies.'" Edelman press release, 15 February 2010.
     "Some people will be surprised that a journalist who has stuck his neck out on many occasions for the independence of news media has joined a PR company. It misses the point. Edelman are redefining corporate communications and growing fast. As digital media explodes traditional channels, they are exploiting the new opportunities that are opening up. It's a stake in the future - I'm looking forward to it." Richard Sambrook in his SacredFacts blog, 15 February 2010.

Unblocking the internet: Haystack versus Tor Project.

Posted: 16 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Austin Heap, a 25-year-old San Francisco software developer ... posted online instructions on how to use 'proxy servers' — such as routing an Internet request through another computer to access a blocked Web site. 'Thousands and thousands of people around the world turned their computers at home into proxy servers for people in Iran,' Heap recalled. 'Somebody had to make a more sustainable and scalable method of getting around the Iranian censorship,' he said. 'These proxy servers weren't going to cut it. We couldn't do this on a massive scale.' ... [His software] Haystack, Heap said, works on two levels. It encrypts online communication and then cloaks it to appear like normal Web traffic. Jacob Appelbaum, a San Francisco programmer with the long-time open source Tor Project, a cloaking program used by corporations and free speech activists alike, said closed systems like Haystack concern him. He said it has no peer review the way the Tor Project does, which has been created and vetted by programmers around the world over many years. 'He has not opened it up for research,' Appelbaum said. 'No one has seen a copy of his specifications. There is no way we can understand if the claims that are made (by Haystack) are true.'" John Boudreau, San Jose Mercury News, 14 February 2010. See also Reuters, 11 February 2010, as cited in previous post.
     "[R]egimes like China and Iran (and Vietnam, and others) are not unduly worried about English-language content produced in America flooding their countries, because few of their citizens can read English. ... What really worries such countries is politically independent material produced in local languages. Such countries often allow the English-language websites of, say, the BBC or Voice of America to be viewed unimpeded inside the country. It is the Mandarin-, Farsi-, and Vietnamese-language sites of such news organisations that are blocked. True, much of the politically sensitive material produced in these languages comes from diaspora communities in America and Europe. But that is precisely because these regimes crack down so hard on locally-produced political content. It's convenient for China and others to claim that cultural anti-imperialism is the reason for their curbs on internet content. If that's true, they can prove it by allowing their own citizens to post whatever they want. Don't hold your breath." M.S., Democracy in America blog, The Economist, 14 February 2010.
     "It appears that the Arabic language is virtually absent from [Google], and [Vinton] Cerf said that 'It is a widely known fact that the MENA region currently produces less than 1 percent of content online in Arabic.' Cerf said that he considered this to be 'both a challenge and an opportunity for the region to take a leap of faith and embrace the benefits of the Internet.' Cerf also described the internet as being 'an amazing tool that encourages the free flow of information, the sharing of ideas, the ability to advance businesses across geographical borders and ultimately empower more individuals in their everyday lives.'" Mohammed Nasser, Asharq Alawsat (London), 12 February 2010.

BBC World Service helps hasten the demise of shortwave by giving dial position in "meters." And more shortwave.

Posted: 15 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"For two weeks, from Monday 15 February, the BBC Hausa daily radio and online output – on bbchausa.com – will be dominated by the Food Special, exploring the reasons behind failures of 'agricultural revolutions' and various other programmes aimed at creating plenty in this region of Africa. ... The Food Special on BBC Hausa is broadcast across daily programming – at 05.30 GMT on 41 and 49 meters, at 06.30 GMT on 22, 25 and 31 meters, at 13.45 GMT on 13 and 16 meters, and at 19.30 GMT on 16, 9 [sic, should be 19] and 41 meters shortwave. The programming, in audio and text, is also available via the website bbchausa.com." BBC World Service press release, 11 February 2010. "Meters"!? (And, by the way, don't they spell it "metres" in the UK?) Nowadays, even radios with analog frequency readout are marked mainly in megahertz (MHz), and only secondarily in the archaic meter bands. And on that radio, 7.205 MHz (one of the frequencies at 0530 GMT) would be at a rather different part of the 41 meter band than, say, 7.4 MHz. It would not have taken much more room to specify: at 05.30 GMT on 5.975, 6.135, and 7.205 MHz, at 06.30 GMT on 7.255, 9.44, and 11.75 MHz (schedule at BBC Hausa website contradicts the press release here), at 13.45 GMT on 15.105, 17.78, and 21.63 MHz (the website contradicts itself here), and at 19.30 GMT on 11.89, 15.105, 17.885 MHz (more contradictions). No wonder shortwave is dying.
     "Historically the Vatican has been no slouch in the technology department. Vatican Radio, at least in the pre-Internet era, had a signal that reached around the world via shortwave. More recently there have been Facebook (see pope2you.net) and iPhone apps, following on the heels of a YouTube channel and a long-established web presence at www.vatican.va. ... Although Pope Benedict does not have a Twitter presence, the owner of the popebenedictxvi account, a self-described 'fan doing his part to spread the word,' has offered it to the Vatican." Peter Vogel, The B.C. Catholic, 15 February 2010.
     STS9's studio album, Ad Explorata, consists of "instrumentals of the proudly interstellar ilk, based, the band writes, in its obsession with shortwave-radio numbers transmissions, said to be coded messages used by overseas spies of various governments." Kimberly Chun, San Francisco Bay Guardian, 12 February 2010. "The story goes that keyboardist David Phipps' young daughter was messing around with a shortwave radio when she landed on a women's voice repeating numbers. Intrigued, the band searched for more voices and found one other, which they actually sampled on the song 'Central.'" Kayceman, JamBase, 11 February 2010.
     "Siegmar Fricke started his first musical experiments in 1981 using tape-recorders and shortwave-radio signals to create collages of musique-concrète." Music Industry News Network, 12 February 2010.

Working -- and sleeping -- at VOA during the "snowpocalypse."

Posted: 15 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"When you think of essential government workers, do you think of radio and TV reporters? The federal government's broadcasting arm stayed open for business during snowpocalypse. Workers at Voice of America slept on GSA supplied Army cots and even couches this as other agencies shuttered shop." Federal News Radio, 12 February 2010, with link to audio report.
     "While we struggled to get through this past week, our listeners and viewers never knew it. They got the same quality programming, on radio, on TV and online, that they always get from us. What was different this time was the almost super-human effort, under the most adverse of circumstances, made by many of our broadcasters, journalists, technicians, engineers and support personnel to meet these audience expectations." From e-mail to staff from VOA director Dan Austin.
     An amazing effort by VOA broadcasters and VOA/IBB staff. In past years, when I was a VOA broadcaster, I commuted in during some severe snowstorms, but probably none as formidable as the recent two events. (This time, as an old bureaucrat, I unheroically worked from home.)

Al Jazeera to "On The Media": We are not a target of H.R. 2278.

Posted: 15 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A couple of months ago, the House passed Resolution 2278 [see previous post], aimed at Arab satellite TV networks like Al Jazeera... ." NPR's "On The Media," 12 February 2010, with audio. "You repeatedly mention Al Jazeera as an intended target [of H.R. 2278], yet there is absolutely no reference to Al Jazeera in the resolution, as you can see from the legislative digest summary below, or in Congressman Bilirakis' remark on the House floor. As you can also see, not only is the resolution extremely vague in defining which broadcasters are offenders -- it has absolutely no teeth. It may have antagonized many people in the Middle East, but I'm confident that none of us at Al Jazeera feel it in any way affects us or our reporting." Tom Ackerman, Al Jazeera English Washington Broadcast Center, commenting to ibid. Thanks to Joe Durso for the news tip.
     During her visit to Qatar, Secretary Clinton "is scheduled to meet with the board of directors of the controversial Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television and answer questions from Arabs and Muslims in 'town-hall style' events broadcast on television." AFP, 14 February 2010. See also aljazeera.net, 15 February 2010. "Townterview" transcript: State Department, 15 February 2010. It was during this Al Jazeera town meeting that Secretary Clinton said "Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship," a quote widely cited by global news media.
     "The [Al Jazeera town meeting] audience, which included several young women in Islamic head-dress, asked [Secretary Clinton] awkward questions about the the stalemated Middle East peace process, humanitarian conditions in Gaza and a perceived US bias against Muslims. 'It is President (Barack) Obama's vision that we will overcome stereotypes,' she responded, adding that Washington recognised the 'broad diversity of the Islamic world.' ... But the students, half of them Qataris and the rest of other nationalities, did not appear convinced by Clinton's arguments." AFP, 15 February 2010.
     "'Two things started opening outlets for us to disseminate news that the [Egyptian] government doesn't want anyone to know about,' [journalist Hossam] El-Hamalawy told IPS. 'One was the launching of Al-Jazeera and the other was the rise of the Internet, starting from about 2000.' Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based pan-Arab satellite news channel launched in 1996, rose to prominence after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and now claims over 50 million viewers. Western and Arab governments have accused the network of sensationalism, but media analysts say it was the first television station to provide independent and often critical analysis of Arab regimes. 'With Al-Jazeera, we started seeing news that was not necessarily handed to us by the state media," says El-Hamalawy. 'Love it or hate it, the channel played a revolutionary role in the Arab world. For the first time we started seeing dissidents on TV. Before that, if a dissident or (political activist) showed up on TV, you knew he was a phony.'" Cam McGrath, Inter Press Service, 14 February 2010.

Australian regulator investigates Al Manar, received via Indonesian satellite.

Posted: 15 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The media watchdog will investigate claims a 'terrorist' TV station is being broadcast into Australia via Indonesian satellites. Al-Manar TV, backed by Hezbollah, has twice been investigated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority but now faces a broader investigation, including compliance with racial vilification laws. Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said Australia should follow the lead of France, the US and Canada by banning the station." Stephani Peatling, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2010.
     "The Australian Communications and Media Authority will further investigate Al-Manar TV program content to ascertain its compliance with regulatory obligations relating to terrorist-related content, as well as racial vilification and hate speech." ACMA, 4 February 2010. Apparently referring to Al Manar on Palapa D, 113 degrees east. If ACMA rules against Al Manar, what enforcement would be available?

Opposition unplugged? And more Iran media updates.

Posted: 15 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Despite weeks of calls to action, the opposition movement failed to derail the holiday's agenda set by supporters of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian government had spent weeks co-opting the opposition plans. Dozens of activists and journalists were arrested, along with individuals suspected of using social networking websites to encourage protests against the regime. Following in the footsteps of China, Google and other internet service providers had been blocked in Iran. SMS messages were interrupted, and internet communication was brought to a halt. Three major international broadcasters operating in the region, the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America, have recently accused the Iranian regime of 'deliberate electronic interference' in their broadcasts. It seems that the balance in the Iranian uprising is shifting in the regime's favor. This time Ahmadinejad was prepared ... he succeeded in 'unplugging' the opposition." Jamal Dajani, Huffington Post, 12 February 2010.
     "Revolution Day will not be tweeted. Not entirely, at least. Internet, mobile phone, e-mail, and SMS services in Iran have reportedly been disrupted, apparently in an attempt by authorities to prevent opposition activists from communicating and organizing protests." RFE/RL, 11 February 2010.
     "Q. How could Iran block access to specific websites? A. All Internet traffic in Iran, and many other countries including China, is inspected by government-controlled computers programmed that filter content. Officials can easily program those filters so that computers in those countries cannot access certain Web pages, such as Google.com, or use specific programs, such as eBay Inc's Skype, Twitter, or Activision Blizzard Inc's World of Warcraft online video game. Countries also often choose to block entire websites because that is easier than trying to pinpoint objectionable content. ... Q. Is it possible to get around those filters? A. Yes. There are several ways around the filters, some of which require the user to have some technical knowledge. One of the easiest to use is a program for personal computers called Tor (www.torproject.org). This program encrypts Internet traffic, effectively hiding it from filtering programs. Not all of these programs work all the time, and they cannot circumvent all filtering techniques." Ian Sherr and Jim Finkle, Reuters, 11 February 2010.
     "AFP has reported that opposition sympathizers began 'impromptu' radio broadcasts via the Internet this morning, but we've been unable to track it down: 'Hitting back at official efforts to stifle news of opposition protests, the opposition on Thursday launched an impromptu radio station on the Internet. The scratchy, live broadcast flashed news reports on the clashes.'" RFE/RL, 11 February 2010.
     "On Monday, Iranian state media reported the arrest of seven individuals charged with espionage for alleged ties to the U.S.-funded Farsi-language radio station, Radio Farda. These allegations and arrests coincide with a large-scale crackdown on independent media that has intensified in the past week. In the lead-up to today’s demonstrations, Radio Farda broadcasts have been jammed, and there have been widespread service disruptions to the Internet and text message services. These and other government efforts have impeded the free flow of information, news, and basic means of communication. This is why I will join Senator Casey and others in introducing another resolution denouncing the atmosphere of impunity in Iran for those who employ intimidation, harassment, or violence to restrict basic freedoms of speech, expression, assembly, and the press." Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE) (and former BBG member) Senate floor speech via Sussex Countian, 12 February 2010.
     "[M]ore should be done to help the opposition. For example, the Internet and satellite television blockages might be overcome with more U.S. support for private groups working to counter the regime's jamming and firewalls." Editorial, Washington Post, 13 February 2010.

VOA Persian tilts in favor of Tehran? (updated)

Posted: 15 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"An internal struggle within the Voice of America (VOA) over its news coverage of Iran is spewing outside the agency as veteran staffers claim the channel tilts coverage in favor of the Tehran regime. The divisions erupted in late January when VOA chiefs removed a popular TV anchorman from the flagship U.S. broadcast into Iran, after he and about 30 Persian-speaking broadcasters had a confrontational meeting with VOA Director Danforth Austin, Newsmax has learned. ... Scott Carpenter, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, severely criticized VOA’s Persian language broadcasting during congressional testimony last week. ... VOA managers trim coverage to eliminate anything that the regime might view as threatening, he said. 'To cite just one example, on the day after the death of Ayatollah Montazeri, when the BBC Persian Service was blanketing Iranian airwaves with coverage similar to that given in the United States to pop star Michael Jackson's passing last summer, PNN was airing documentaries on global warming. Indicative of its lack of impact is the fact that (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei rails against the BBC Persian Service but rarely mentions VOA.' [VOA Persian acting director Alex] Belida called that claim 'nonsense,' and said VOA 'devoted extensive coverage to Montazeri’s death and its impact.'" Ken Timmerman, Newsmax.com, 11 February 2010. We'll see if media more mainstream than Newsmax pick up this story. Some believe that news on US international broadcasting outlets should emphasize negative news about the target country's regime, or engage in outright advocacy.
     Scott Carpenter (mentioned above) testified at "America and the Iranian Political Reform Movement: First, Do No Harm," hearing of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, 3 February 2010, with link to webcast. See also transcript of testimony by Mehdi Khalaji and J. Scott Carpenter, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 3 February 2010.
     Update: The link to Timmerman's article at the Newsmax site no longer works, but it is still available at Medya News, 12 February 2010. See on this separate page the answers provided by VOA Persian News Network acting director Alex Belida to questions submitted by Ken Timmerman. Very little from Belida's responses was used in Timmerman's article. See also response (pdf) by VOA edecutive editor Steve Redisch.
     United States District Court (DC) rules against a POV (contract employee) of VOA Persian, who sued the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, alleging a hostile work environment and discriminatory non-selection. Leagle, 12 February 2010.

Some listeners are opposing "Opposing Obama" on BBC World Service.

Posted: 14 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Of the dozens of documentaries broadcast by the BBC World Service every month, Opposing Obama has caused more of a stir than any I can think of for a very long time. This was Guardian columnist Gary Younge's two-part journey through Eastern Kentucky and into Arkansas talking to anti-tax protesters, fundamentalist Christians, libertarians, Democratic and Republican Party officials and ordinary citizens struggling to make ends meet, to find out how they view the last year under Barack Obama. Some of the more forthright views about Obama were included in trailers to publicise the series. These trailers brought in turn some strong opposition from listeners who thought the whole idea of the programmes was unfair. ... Alambo Datonye Fred e-mailed from Port Harcourt Nigeria to say: 'You've advertised extensively your documentary on those who feel Obama has done nothing but you don't make an effort to have another documentary on those who feel he is a good leader. What's happened to your long-held values of fairness and balance?'" Penny Vine, "Over to You," BBC World Service, 12 February 2010.

"Shaping the information battlefield" in Afghanistan.

Posted: 14 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"It's called shaping the battlefield. It's not the traditional air onslaught or artillery barrage designed to weaken an intended enemy before the offensive goes in. Instead it's now about shaping the information battlefield, because in Afghanistan - and in modern warfare in general - information has become the new front line. ... What began as inducement or encouragement for troops to lay down their arms, or basic instructions to civilians not to get in the way of military operations - think leaflets dropped by aircraft in World War II - has blossomed into almost a social science of cause and effect. Psychological operations or 'psy-ops' of the 1950s have morphed into information warfare. There have been uneasy debates about where the boundary line between this and the traditional press officer's role should be, because, let's face it, the media is an involuntary actor in this drama too." Jonathan Marcus, BBC News, 11 February 2010. No mention of the BBC's role in Afghanistan, perhaps because the BBC would resist being part of any "information warfare" activities in that country. But the BBC Pashto and Persian (covers Dari) services are very popular in that country. Many Afghans are therefore well informed, and any "shaping" will have to take that into account.

Discovery Communications' Discovery World comes to Africa.

Posted: 14 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Discovery World is being launched in 61 African countries, including South Africa, on 1 March 2010, significantly expanding its African audience and making it one of the leading factual TV brands in the region. This addition to its portfolio, on channel 250, gives viewers with a keen interest in the world in which they live greater access to detailed and factual-rich content through immersive documentaries and series. ... The portfolio of brands now includes Discovery Channel (general entertainment), Discovery World (leading factual zone) Discovery HD Showcase (tech savvy viewers) and Animal Planet (female audiences)." Bizcommunity.com, 12 February 2010.

New DVD samples cartoons of the GDR.

Posted: 14 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"From 1946 through 1990, the Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft — known more commonly as the DEFA studio — produced thousands of films, documentaries and television shows for the German Democratic Republic. It was publicly owned, and its films were thoroughly vetted and often censored by the Ministry of Culture, which would export them as exemplars of socialist art. ... In the United States, First Run Features is releasing several DEFA titles on DVD, a worthwhile series that includes the new 'Red Cartoons,' an odd collection of 16 short animated films spanning 1974 through 1990. ... Because socialist art demands realism, these works are strictly — albeit often fleetingly — narrative, but they are rarely experimental and never pursue the form for its own ends. Still, these shorts possess a busy exuberance that makes them fascinating not only as historical pieces but also as lively works of art." Stephen M. Deusner, Express (DC), 28 January 2010.

Review of French international broadcasting notes reduced audiences for RFI, MCD.

Posted: 14 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
At the French National Assembly Culture and Education Committee Hearing on 10 February, l’audiovisuel extérieur de la France (AEF) CEO Alain de Pouzilhac and DG Delegate Christine Ockrent provided information on the audiences and budgets of France's international broadcasting entities: Radio France International, Monte Carlo Doualiya, TV5, and France 24. Audiences for RFI and MCD are down from 2004 to 2009. See summary on separate page.
     "On 17 February RFI's website in English switches to a new format, which we hope you will find an improvement. Our French service and France 24 already use this format, so you can click to see what it will look like. You will be able to follow the most popular articles at all times and post your comments attached to the articles, meaning that this is the last feedback article, in ths form at least. The site should also be easier to find your way around and, we hope, please the eye with its presentation." Tony Cross, RFI, 12 February 2010.
     "An anonymous correspondent has some caustic comments on our French press review. 'The RFI press review may just get a few more clicks if the press reviewers weren't so busy congratulating themselves for their razor-sharp wit with every sentence they write. Perhaps it works better on air? Nope, tried that too. Just as self-gratifying. And let's not mention the choice of articles covered...' But Pakistani Qamar Yousoufzai finds our programmes 'very informative', while his compatriot Sirajuddin Nizamani thinks RFI in English is 'the very best' and wants RFI to start an Urdu service. He is not the first to make such a proposal but there are no plans for that at the moment, I’m afraid." Ibid.
     Botswana Television, facing budget difficulties, "has resorted to immediately airing freely accessible France 24." Mmegi (Gaborone), 12 February 2010.

Internews replaces RFI for Creole radio in Haiti

Posted: 13 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The 20-minute broadcast, 'Enfomasyon nou dwe konnen' ('News you can use') will be aired via RFI relays in Haiti between 0810 and 0830 local time, Mondays through Sundays as of Saturday 13 February 2010. ... One month after the earthquake, RFI is broadcasting a special programme on Haiti the whole day on 12 February and is airing the last edition of its Creole programme 'Ansanm ansanm avek Ayiti / Together with Haiti' on this occasion." Internews Europe, 12 February 2010.
     "I got back from Haiti a week ago, with my team from Al Jazeera English TV. We looked at the grand schemes being advanced for rebuilding the country, and found a familiar model of exploiting cheap labour for export industries. Traveling to the countryside, we also found longstanding alternatives on a more bottom-up mode... ." Avi Lewis, Huffington Post, 11 February 2010, with link to video documentary.
     Decades ago, Haiti's present ambassador to Washington Raymond Joseph, "launched a shortwave radio broadcast program from New York against the regime of president François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier... . Transistor radios were the latest thing, and the show became so popular it earned Joseph a death sentence in absentia." Mindy Belz, Worldmag.com, 27 February 2010 issue.

ABC MD: Radio Australia, Australia Network won't be consolidated with new ABC news channel.

Posted: 13 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"ABC managing director Mark Scott has conceded that resources for the public broadcaster's upcoming 24-hour news channel will come at the expense of more money for existing flagship programs such as Four Corners and The 7.30 Report. ... 'Our Australia Network reflects more what modern Australia looks like than sometimes our traditional broadcasting programs,' he said. ... He confirmed the other ABC news platforms, such as News Radio, Radio Australia or the Australia Network, would not be consolidated with the new channel. ... He said there had been talk about incorporating Radio Australia within 'a more integrated Australian broadcasting brand internationally . . . there might be some benefits in that, but that's got nothing to do with the new news channel'." Michael Bodey, The Australian, 12 February 2010. Quoting from Mr. Scott's speech at the Melbourne Press Club, 11 February 2010, with video. Transcript: ABC, 11 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "John Lewis, producer of The 10 Conditions of Love [see previous post] ... asks whether there is a tension between the ABC's core role in public broadcasting -- and, by extension, disinterested journalism -- and 'soft diplomacy'. Scott spoke at Sydney's Macquarie University in November on 'A global ABC: Soft Diplomacy and the World of International Broadcasting'. He said then, 'We are intent on securing the all-important "landing rights" for the service in China.' But Beijing usually insists on a price for such entry; and that mostly means, to play the game its way. ... China looms too large for us to think like this in Australia. We won't change China, but perhaps we should consider more clearly the trade-offs involved in reaching agreements, and step aside from areas that require us to change too much." Rowan Callick, The Australian, 13 February 2010.

"Foreign Arabic-Language TV: An Exercise in Futility?"

Posted: 13 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"They're tripping over each other. American, British, French, Russian, Chinese and Turkish satellite TV channels want a piece of the Arab viewers' pie by raising their profiles in the Arab region, with no real guarantees of success. ... [Discussion of BBC Arabic, Alhurra, France 24, Russia Today, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Al Manar, Radio Sawa, Euronews, Deutsche Welle, CCTV, TRT (Turkey), with many logos] ... [O]ne can't blame Arab viewers for being a bit blasé. 'What we want isn't (foreign satellites') blood-filled newscasts, but getting to know the other's culture,' wrote Bandar Abdel Hamid in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat." Magda Abu-Fadil, Huffington Post, 13 February 2010. There are many subjective assessments of these channels, but the only measure that counts is audience size, based on competent representative sample surveys. The stations from non-Arab nations might not do as well as those from within the Arab world, but how will they compete with one another? I hope the results of surveys make their way to the public domain.

US officials on Arab television more effective than Alhurra, he writes.

Posted: 12 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The United States’s televised message in the Arab world is dull and poorly managed, and the measures the government has taken to change this have yielded little perceptible benefit. Consider Al-Hurra, a failure by any meaningful measure. I’m an Arabic-speaking American and I can’t even stand to watch it. The programming is boring, and the graphics and studios are often reminiscent of a 1970s game show. ... While funding its own Arabic TV network and targeting the portals of Hamas and Hizballah won’t earn the United States much affective capital in Arab countries, dispatching more Arabic-speaking U.S. officials to Arab news networks to discuss a number of specific changes in American foreign policy would." Justin D. Martin, Columbia Journalism Review, 4 February 2010. Alhurra cannot casually be dismissed as "a failure by any meaningful measure," especially as it has some impressive audience numbers. (See previous post.) Alhurra can be considered a success if it competes well with BBC Arabic TV, its main Arabic-language rival from a non-Arab country..

Report: VOA Deewa Radio MW relay in Pakistan ended because of Taliban threats (updated).

Posted: 12 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Radio Pakistan management has decided to scrap the agreement with the Voice of America (VOA) to broadcast its pushto-language radio programmes after receiving 'direct threats' for airing 'American propaganda', Daily Times has learnt. The VOA launched its Pushto-language radio station, ‘Deeva Radio’, last year, targeting audience in the Tribal Areas and the NWFP. Deeva Radio is aimed at offering the locals with a chance to speak out against the Taliban in the region. Radio Pakistan aired Deeva Radio programmes during its prime time slot – 7pm to 10pm. A senior producer at Radio Pakistan Peshawar told Daily Times, 'The Taliban and other anti-American groups in the country threatened to bomb the Radio Pakistan Peshawar premises if the station continued airing Deeva Radio programmes'. ... However, Radio Pakistan Director General Murtaza Solangi said the state-run broadcaster aired Deeva Radio programmes during September and October. The broadcast was cancelled after a month on mutual agreement between the Radio Pakistan and the VOA." Daily Times (Lahore), 7 February 2010. VOA spells it Deewa Radio. In late 2009, Deewa Radio was relayed via Radio Pakistan's medium wave transmitter near Peshawar. Relays of VOA Urdu (Radio Aap ki Dunyaa) continue on Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation FM frequencies.
     Update: "While the Radio Pakistan management has blocked VOA Pushto-language service, after reportedly receiving threats against airing American propaganda, the VoA is still broadcasting its one-hour Urdu service from its original station in the US though without proper editing, it is learnt reliably. ... When contacted, PBC spokesman Mubashir Majoka said that after noting deviation from agreement the PBC has blocked VOA’s 4-hour Pushto language programme of VOA. “We scrap[p]ed the agreement due to some violation on contents of programme but we did not receive any threat from Taliban,” he said adding it was a misperception that VOA broadcasts from FM network of PBC will be used to unleash US propaganda. VOA programmes are under strict regime of checks and balances, monitoring and editorial guidelines to safeguard the national interests of Pakistan, he concluded." Javaid-ur-rahman, The Nation (Lahore), 12 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

BBC, DW, VOA condemn new satellite jamming by Iran.

Posted: 12 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"International broadcasters – BBC, Deutsche Welle, and Voice Of America - today issued a strong message of condemnation following a new wave of deliberate electronic interference by the Iranian authorities which is affecting their broadcasts. BBC World News – the English language channel - was the latest channel to be jammed this week. The new wave of jamming occurred as Iranians marked the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. The jamming is affecting services on the Hotbird satellite which covers audiences across Europe and the Middle East. These include BBC Persian television, the Voice Of America television channel in Persian, the Radio Farda service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Deutsche Welle's television and radio services. In a joint statement: Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC World Service, Erik Bettermann, Director of Deutsche Welle and Dan Austin, Director of Voice Of America said: 'We condemn any jamming of these channels. It contravenes international agreements and is interfering with the free and open flow of international transmissions that are protected by international treaties.'" BBC World Service press release, 12 February 2010. See also BBC News, 12 February 2010
     "International broadcasters like Deutsche Welle are broadcasting again in Iran and the surrounding region, after their programming was jammed, apparently by the government in Tehran. The Iranian government had reportedly blocked transmissions from a number of international news outlets, including Deutsche Welle, the BBC and Voice of America. Deutsche Welle Director General Erik Betterman submitted a letter of protest to the Iranian ambassador in Berlin, blaming Iran for the disruption of DW broadcasts since Wednesday." DW News, 12 February 2010. See also German version. Thanks to Kai Ludwig for the news tip. See his additional comments.
     "Radio Netherlands Worldwide was also affected. RNW’s English and Indonesian-language broadcasts as well as its BVN television signal were disrupted. Short-wave radio broadcasts were not affected." Radio Netherlands, 12 February 2010.
     The European Parliament "whereas restrictions on freedom of the press and of expression continue to grow, and whereas the Iranian authorities have engaged in large-scale and frequent jamming of international radio and TV networks, many international websites, including Facebook and Twitter, and local opposition sites and mobile-phone services in Tehran, thereby also causing transmission problems for networks in other Middle Eastern countries and even in Europe, --whereas European and Russian companies have been providing Iran with the necessary filtering and jamming devices, some of which might even pose a health risk to those living in the vicinity of the installations ... Condemns the Iranian authorities' efforts to censor the print media and to jam radio, television and Internet services, such as the BBC, and calls on the EU and its Member States to address the international fallout from these methods in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)." Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, 12 February 2010.
     "On days when higher levels of demonstrations and protests are experienced, cell phone connections are also interrupted in many parts of Iran. This is done mainly to cut off and prevent any form of communication with the outside world. News broadcasts such as BBC Persian and Voice Of America have been operating for some time now and serve as good means of alternative news for the Iranians. Both programs are highly popular across the Iranian borders. Following the controversial elections in Iran this summer the government used 'microwave technology' to jam satellite signals in efforts to stop all broadcasting, posing a serious health threat to the public. An interesting fact is that the Iranian government continuously accuses the British and U.S. governments, BBC and VOA as the main cause for the public demonstrations in Iran. Meanwhile the Iranian government broadcasts programs in multiple languages for many different countries and in doing so is essentially fully participating in what it claims to be unethical for other countries." Shirin Ebadi, CNN, 11 February 2010.

"Radio Free Iran": Heritage Foundation fantasy station.

Posted: 12 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[T]he tools of American public diplomacy should be deployed in the service of pro-democracy movements and regime change in Iran. Iranians desperately need independent, trustworthy information — such as provided by Radio Free Iran, the U.S. government’s surrogate broadcaster. Funding for its programs should be generously increased, particularly focused on radio as the medium as television is vulnerable due to the visibility of satellite dishes. Internet is clearly sensitive to government control and interference, as is cell phone serve, which makes them vulnerable. Yet in the age of new technology, total control remains extremely hard to maintain and the U.S. government should continue to work with Iranians abroad setting up pro-democracy websites." Helle Dale, The Foundry blog, Heritage Foundation, 11 February 2010. There is no "Radio Free Iran." Both VOA Persian News Network and RFE/RL's Radio Farda, as well as BBC Persian, provide the news about Iran that the Iranian media would if they were free. As such, they all serve a "surrogate" function. If VOA PNN and Radio Farda were "deployed in the service of pro-democracy movements," they really wouldn't be providing the news that their audiences are seeking. Other US government and US government funded entities can support pro-democracy movements in Iran, although association with the US government might not be helpful to those movements.

Head of BBC Arabic says her channel is "totally different species to Al-Jazeera."

Posted: 12 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Liliane Landour, Head of BBC Arabic: "'We have no allegiance to anyone and therefore we can ask whatever we want,' she said. 'We don’t have to take permission from any government. We can look at whatever we want in whatever way we want. I don’t know if people in this country [Lebanon] are as fully aware of this as they should be.' ... 'People are used to BBC Arabic on radio; it has been around for a long time. BBC [Arabic] TV is an 18-month-old baby and some don’t even know we exist. TV is very fresh and very new,' she said. 'It is finding its feet.' ... 'Future TV, Al-Manar, LBC etc, all have some interesting things and things that you can pick and choose. What we offer is total impartiality among the regions and also a very broad freedom of subjects and themes,' she said. ... Landour rejected comparisons between the BBC World Service and Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based media giant that broadcasts in both Arabic and English from across the globe. 'They have huge resources and we can’t match those,' she said. 'Therefore we can’t compete on the same terrain. We shouldn’t; we are a totally different species to Al-Jazeera.' 'Wherever you are in the world people talk about the BBC – people who may be as partial as possible – and what they admire is its impartiality,' she added.'" Patrick Galey, Daily Star (Beirut), 12 February 2010. Impartiality is necessary but not sufficient. Video reports from the places where news is happening is essential. I would think that BBC Arabic, with the assistance of the larger BBC organization, should be a able to compete with Al Jazeera.

How BBC World Service uses the social media, and more BBC world services in the news.

Posted: 12 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Interview with BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks: "Q: What examples come to your mind where social media improved BBC reporting? Horrocks: Classic examples are situations where it is hard to report from. In northern Nigeria, for example, we are using mobile phones which we provided to villages. In each village there is one person who is known as 'the keeper of the mobile'. This was a way we learnt about a government confrontation with a village about land rights. We looked into that story, and used BBC journalistic rigours to covered that story. Here we simply use social media applying what always has made the BBC World Service strong: holding goverments accountable using this news technique." Mercedes Bunz, PDA blog, The Guardian, 10 February 2010. "'This isn't just a kind of fad from someone who's an enthusiast of technology. I'm afraid you're not doing your job if you can't do those things. It's not discretionary', [Horrocks] is quoted as saying in the BBC in-house weekly Ariel. ... Horrocks, formerly head of the BBC's multimedia newsroom, finds clear words for it: 'If you don't like it, if you think that level of change or that different way of working isn't right for me, then go and do something else, because it's going to happen. You're not going to be able to stop it.'" Bunz, PDA Blog, The Guradian, 10 February 2010.
     Chancellor of the Exchequer "Alistair Darling agreed on Wednesday to bail out the Foreign Office, topping up its core budget by almost 10 per cent, after a collapse in the pound left diplomats facing a financial squeeze. ... The problems at the Foreign Office were caused by a Treasury decision in late 2007 to stop shielding it from currency fluctuations. Sterling subsequently fell 30 per cent against the dollar. ... David Miliband, foreign secretary, also revealed that other Foreign Office funded bodies – including the British Council and BBC World Service – would be making a 'contribution to help manage these pressures'." Alex Barker, Financial Times, 10 February 2010.
     "Broadcasting of programmes of the BBC World Service through the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation will recommence on the 1st of next month. Local listeners will be accorded the opportunity to listen to this channel in all three languages. An agreement in this regard was signed at the Corporation premises today. ... The English Programme of the BBC World Service will be broadcast for a period of three and a half hours. The Sinhala and Tamil Programmes will be broadcast for a period of 30 minutes each. Former Chairman of the Corporation Hudson Samarasinghe said it was impelled to suspend the BBC World Service programme during the period the humanitarian operations were conducted, taking into consideration the broadcasting of information harmful to national security." SLBC, 12 February 2010.
     "BBC World News has become part of the Sun Direct DTH platform in India. Available on Sun Direct’s basic pack, the deal boosts the number of Indian homes in which BBC World News is available by over 20%, to around 22 million. Sun Direct has about 5 million subscribing homes." Rose Major, Rapid TV News, 10 February 2010. See also BBC World News press release, 9 February 2010.
     "BBC AMERICA HD is now available across 20 states as it continues to roll out rapidly across the country." BBC America press release, 11 February 2010.
     "Monocle, the upscale magazine, is launching its own TV series on BBC World News." Campaign, 11 February 2010.
     "Written as email exchanges between a BBC World Service journalist ensconced in the middle-class haven of North London and a beleagured Iraqi academic (and Chaucer expert) in Baghdad, this could have been a lazy format for a book in our blogosphere age. Yet the correspondence - begun in 2005 when Bee Rowlatt emails May Witwit in an attempt to gain professional insight into the lives of ordinary Iraqi's who have been blighted by the invasion and ensuing occupation - turns into what appears to be a true and deep friendship - despite their differences (one dodges bombs, the other struggles with the work-life balance) including its tenderness, disputes, and a movingly happy ending." Arifa Akbar, The Independent, 12 February 2010.

Point, counterpoint on BBC's coverage of the Ukrainian election.

Posted: 11 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Characteristically, the BBC World Service reported the [Ukrainian] election purely in personal terms, without recognition of what had transpired. One commentator said there was no interest in the US. In reality, the election was run by two US [political consulting] firms." Guy Standing, University of Bath, letter to The Guardian, 10 February 2010.
     "Our teams provided programming in English, Ukrainian and Russian for radio, TV and online, and interviewed commentators on all sides of the political spectrum. The BBC Ukrainian Service broadcast a package by their Washington correspondent about the PR companies working for both sides. This side of the election was also discussed in programmes and online debates, and was raised at various points throughout the coverage." Nikki Clarke, BBC head of Americas and Europe region, letter to The Guardian, 11 February 2010.

Al Jazeera and its detractors.

Posted: 11 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera was not named in the text of H.R. 2278 while other television networks associated with Hezbollah and Hamas were. Yet the legislation defines 'anti-American incitement to violence' as 'the act of persuading, encouraging, instigating, advocating, pressuring, or threatening so as to cause another to commit a violent act against any person, agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the United States.' It will be difficult for officials of the Obama Administration to argue that the definition does not apply to at least some of the programming from its 'friends' at Al-Jazeera." Cliff Kincaid, Right Side News, 10 February 2010.
     "Al Jazeera’s two correspondents at the February 5th press briefing abandoned any pretense of objective journalism by dominating the questioning with diatribes against Israel." Joseph Klein, FrontPage Magazine, 10 February 2010.
     "Israel has renewed the ban on Palestinian prisoners in its jails watching Doha-based Al Jazeera TV." The Peninsula via Zawya, 6 February 2010.

Comment dites-vous des «tweens» en français?

Posted: 11 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Kids’ channel Disney Channel France launched Disney Channel internet radio yesterday following a deal with radio group NRJ. Accessible through websites nrj.fr and disneychannel.fr , the first kids’ radio station launched by a youth channel targets tweens and offers music hits, stars and news all-day long. With this offspring, Disney Channel intends to strengthen its universe based on music programming. The radio will thus broadcast hits from Disney stars like the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato or new French singer Sara along with some premieres and songs from tweens’ favorite worldwide singers. Celebrity news will be delivered by NRJ radio’s animator. The radio station is also available though NRJ’s iPhone and iPod apps." Pascale Paoli Lebailly, Rapid TV News, 8 February 2010.

The Disco Palace gives the new UniWave DRM shortwave receivers a workout.

Posted: 11 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A Miami based Radio Station – The Disco Palace – has started broadcasting a DRM SW channel of ‘best of Disco music’ for listeners in Europe and North America. The Disco Palace is the first and only music radio station of this genre broadcasting in DRM on shortwave. ... The Disco Chanel can be heard in Europe from 1400-1500 UTC on 6015 KHz and in North America from 2000-2100 UTC on 17755 KHz. The broadcasts are coming via Issoudun to Europe and via Montsinery to the USA by TéléDiffusion de France." Digital Radio Mondiale press release, 10 February 2010.
     The only standalone DRM radio, the UniWave Di-Wave 100, is available (though presently sold out) at Universal Radio for $300.
     "The mission of Digital Aurora Radio Technologies (DART) is to expand communications across the north by using existing, and exploring new communications technologies. DART is in the process of testing the potential to broadcast digital radio across Alaska. Uniquely Alaskan, the project presents challenges and opportunities that one might expect in the 'Last Frontier.' We are currently testing DRM on [shortwave] 4.85 MHz, 7.505 MHz and 9.295 MHz. In addition, we are broadcasting CW [Morse code] on 4.851 MHz, 7.511 MHz and 9.301 MHz. If you pick up our signal, let us know - we would like to hear from you." daradiotech.com Testing the feasibility of using DRM shortwave to bring near FM quality radio to remote parts of Alaska. These tests have been heard beyond Alaska, e.g. Japan.

BBC's special Creole broadcast continues, or at least did two days ago (updated).

Posted: 11 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Based on a remark from someone at BBCWS Trust, kimandrewelliott.com assumed [see previous post] that the first week in February was to be the 'last week' for Connexion Haïti, the special Creole program BBCWS pulled together a week or two after the quake, in the wake of immediate Creole expansion by VOA. It had been inserted into the Spanish hour, at 1232:30-1252:30 via WHRI 9410 and Guiana French 11860; however, on Friday Feb 5 we heard them say they`d be back the next day, altho unchecked on Saturday and Sunday. Surely this would be gone by Monday, and the Spanish frequencies back to classical music fill? No. But it almost seemed that way, as the show did not start at the appointed time. When we intuned 9410 Feb 8 at 1237 there was an apology loop in French (not Creole), with music, saying programming was unavailable from BBC Afrique, so check out bbcafrique.com. Afrique? How did that get in here? But at 1238 axually started Connexion Haïti which thus still exists; perhaps it is being extended, maybe, day to day, or week to week. If it was needed before, it is not needed any less now. This late start should have been just in time to get it finished before the transmissions end at 1300 sharp." Glenn Hauser, reporting to his DX Listening Digest Yahoo! Group, 8 February 2010.
     "Radio has always been an important part of Haitian society. And since the earthquake, it has played an even more critical role, serving as the primary mode of transmitting information about aid. We talk with Michael Deibert, a freelance journalist who recently returned from Haiti and spent time with local radio hosts there. We also speak to Emilio San Pedro, an editor for Connexion Haiti, a new lifeline BBC program broadcast on six stations throughout Haiti." The Takeaway, 10 February 2010.
     Marc Los Huertos' "unit, the 4th PSYOP Group, organizes, equips and trains forces to conduct psychological operations and other communication tasks in support of combatant commanders, joint and coalition task forces and other government agencies. Haiti is his first deployment. ... 'He told us he really likes the Haitian people and they are excited to meet soldiers. He said food distribution in that neighborhood has been very organized. People must get tickets from designated camps and only women get the tickets. Things are a little more peaceful than it was the first couple days after the earthquake struck.'" Alia Wilson, Santa Cruz Sentnel, 7 February 2010.
     Update: "Sgt. Ryan and Spc. Anthony belong to Fort Bragg's 4th Psychological Operations Group. Commanders wouldn't allow their last names to be published because they work in special operations. About 40 soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group have come to Haiti, dispersing into small teams attached to units of soldiers and Marines. In Afghanistan or Iraq, they may try to persuade insurgents to change sides or try to sway village support toward NATO troops. Here, they call themselves information support teams, and their job is to kill confusion with loudspeakers. Ryan, who grew up in Italy the son of missionaries, speaks Spanish, Italian, German and French. Anthony knows Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Ryan's French doesn't match perfectly with the local Creole, but he said he's always been able to get his point across. Most afternoons, they crank up their up-armored Humvee and head into Port-au-Prince. On the turret, where there would usually be a machine gun or a grenade launcher, they have speakers. They drive around the city like ice cream men, the loudspeakers blaring. They tell people what station to tune into for more information about food distribution or government programs that are offering help. Thousands of hand-held radios have been given away throughout the city." John Ramsey, Fayette (NC) Observer, 11 February 2010. See previous Haiti media update.

"A Fondo": "Back door" to reducing Radio/TV Martí?

Posted: 11 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. government's official broadcasts to Cuba and the government-funded Voice of America are for the first time regularly sharing resources - a move officials hope will enhance both services and which could blunt longtime criticism of the Cuban broadcasts. ... Last week, the office's TV and Radio Marti services opened their studios to VOA's Spanish division to jointly produce a regular half-hour radio show. 'A Fondo' or 'In Depth' provides news and analysis from around the hemisphere. It was developed in part to target Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez has cracked down on opposition and independent media and frequently criticizes U.S. foreign policy. 'I am looking into this issue to ensure that this is an effort to maximize resources to expand U.S. coverage in the region and not a back door to reducing U.S. broadcasts to Cuba,' U.S Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, told The Associated Press. ... U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., one of the Martis' most ardent critics, had a more cynical take. 'I think they realize they're on borrowed time with the Cuba project, so I think they're trying to merge it in as much as they can with Voice of America,' he said. ... Because the Cuba broadcasts are not welcome by the country's government, the U.S. must beam them directly into the island via shortwave, AM broadcasts and satellite. While VOA's broadcasts also use shortwave and satellite, and now with 'Al Fondo,' some AM, they rely more heavily on local affiliates. Yet that may change, too. VOA's Spanish-language radio is carried by only a handful of affiliates in Venezuela, and its TV service by even fewer. Given Chavez's recent decision to take the opposition cable and satellite Radio Caracas Television International off the air, it could soon lose even those platforms. And that would make it all the more dependent on the same modes of transmission the Martis rely on." Laura Wides-Muñoz, AP, 10 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Radio Farda more tolerated in Iran than VOA Persian? And other Iran media news.

Posted: 11 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"On Sunday, the public relations office of the Ministry of Intelligence announced the arrest of seven journalists described as 'elements of a counter-revolutionary Zionist satellite station' and in the 'official pay' of US intelligence organizations. They were later identified as working for the US-funded Radio Farda, though the Prague-based organization denies employing anyone inside Iran. Their arrest marks an increasing intolerance towards foreign media. Unlike the Washington-based Voice of America (VOA) television, the Prague-headquartered Radio Farda was tolerated and would regularly interview Iranian politicians." Iason Athanasiadis, Christian Science Monitor, 10 February 2010. I've never seen Radio Farda and VOA Persian contrasted as such. It's not my impression that Radio Farda pulls any punches in its coverage of Iran. As a youth-oriented station with much music, Radio Farda has less quantity of news about Iran than VOA Persian News Network.
     "Iran's telecommunications agency announced what it described as a permanent suspension of Google Inc.'s email services, saying a national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out. It wasn't clear late Wednesday what effect the order had on Gmail services in Iran, or even if Iran had implemented its new policy. Iranian officials have claimed technological advances in the past that they haven't been able to execute. A Google spokesman said in a statement, 'We have heard from users in Iran that they are having trouble accessing Gmail. We can confirm a sharp drop in traffic, and we have looked at our own networks and found that they are working properly. Whenever we encounter blocks in our services we try to resolve them as quickly as possibly because we strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate freely online.'" Chip Cummins and Jessica E. Vascellaro, Wall Street Journal, 10 February 2010.
     "In an email to IPI, Google spokesperson Kay Oberbeck said: “We have heard from users in Iran that they are having trouble accessing Gmail. We can confirm a sharp drop in traffic and we have inspected our own networks and found out that they are working properly. 'Whenever we encounter blocks in our services we try to resolve them as quickly as possible because we strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate online freely. Sadly, sometimes it is not within our control.'" International Press Institute, 11 February 2010.
     "The anniversary of the Islamic Revolution is usually greeted with mass celebrations by Iranians. However, this year's activities are set to be marred by demonstrations for increased accountability and representation. Given the turmoil surrounding the coverage of the disputed elections in June 2009, we have identified a number of good sources to monitor today's events. Live coverage: Look for al-Jazeera, the BBC and the Guardian to begin live blogs should events escalate. ... The government's line: http://www.presstv.ir/ -- Tehran's English news network. Farsi sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/index.shtml -- Press TV's nemesis, BBC Persian, will attempt to cover the anniversary for its Farsi-speaking audience." Henry Smith, New Statesman, 11 February 2010. For English-language content, I would add RFE/RL's Iran page and RFE/RL's Persian Letters blog.
     "Iran's official media does not offer a wide angle on the story. Gisoo Ahmadi, correspondent for English-language Press TV, made no mention of opposition protests but described her excitement at covering the revolution's anniversary for the third time. ... Opposition websites are probably the best source of news about Iran and there is regular praise for the BBC Persian TV satellite channel, which depends largely on information sent in by viewers." Ian Black, The Guardian, 11 February 2010.
     "It is 31 years since the Shah of Iran was ousted by making a similar set of mistakes. ... [O]nce matters got out of hand, in desperation, he accused the West of having engineered the revolution through the BBC Persian broadcasts. He called the BBC his 'enemy number one' just as the Islamic Republic is accusing the BBC Persian TV of 'soft power war'. However, at least the Shah admitted towards the end that he had 'heard the voice of the revolution'." Massoumeh Torfeh, Channel 4 News, 11 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

C'mon "good folks," let's "get the word out" to Iran! Anybody? (Cricket chirping in Farsi.).

Posted: 11 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"As [RFE/RL president] Jeff Gedmin and others have reported, [Iran's] green movement itself is diverse and diffuse, with secular and religious elements, pro and anti-American elements, no clear position on the nuclear program, and no single leader. But that makes its resilience all the more noteworthy, and its demands more unifying: an accountable government that serves, rather than oppresses, its citizens. So as this potentially historic week [31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution] unfolds in Iran, here's an idea for the White House and State Department: how about turning a section of your official websites green on Feb. 11? This would be a simple yet memorable way to add some spice to what will hopefully be official statements of support for the green movement from President Obama and Secretary Clinton. And it is a gesture that could quickly be replicated around the world, by other governments such as the U.K., France, and Germany, as well as by think-tanks, NGOs, and anyone else who wants to express solidarity with the cause of freedom in Iran. We at the Legatum Institute will be turning our website green. And to make sure that Iranian reformers know of such international support, the good folks at Radio Farda will be broadcasting, streaming, posting, and using all manner of multi-media to bypass Tehran's censorship and get the word out." Will Inboden, Loyal Opposition blog, Foreign Policy, 9 February 2010. I'm sure the good folks at Radio Farda will be reporting the news. It's not really their job to "get the word out."
     "Mohsen Sazegara, an exiled Iranian dissident who was one of the original founders of the [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and] who was once a presidential candidate in Iran, has actively advocated mass protests through the Internet and frequently appears on the Persian service of the US government-funded Voice of America." Mohammed A Salih, Inter Press Service, 12 February 2010.
     "Mehr news agency reports today that Brigadier-General Massoud Jazaeri, cultural and press defence secretary of the armed forces urged for 'clear regulations and laws' in confronting collaborators of such media outlets. He added that established laws will clarify that 'any connection or service to these media outlets is a crime and criminals should be confronted firmly.' These comments arrive two days after the Ministry of Intelligence reported the arrest of seven people accused of collaboration with Radio Farda, a US-supported Persian speaking radio based in Washington D. C. and Prague. Radio Farda has rejected the allegations and announced that it has no collaborators inside Iran." Peyvand Iran News, 9 February 2010.
     "Do you think you can stop dissent by throwing those who report it in jail? I’m not sure what your advisers are telling you. But we live in an era in which you cannot stop the flow of information. Even though your government has banned satellite television, a great number of Iranians still get their news from the BBC and Voice of America by using illegal satellite dishes. Currently your police may be able to find and punish dish owners. But soon the dishes will become smaller and cheaper and everyone will be able to have one in the safety of their homes. By arresting accredited journalists your government has made every Iranian a citizen journalist. Your government has blocked most Web sites that are critical of your government, but Iranians have learned to use filter-busters to access them. Your government has narrowed the Internet bandwidth and has passed cyber crime laws, but that has not stopped your compatriots from using the Internet to inform the world about the situation of their country. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are full of the latest news about the crimes of your regime." Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-Canadian reporter for Newsweek wh was imprisoned in Tehran from June to October 2009, New York Times, 9 February 2010. I'm not sure how the laws of physics will allow satellite dishes to become smaller, unless a new, more powerful satellite beams directly at Iran. If that satellite does not have the entertainment channels directed to the rest of the Middle East, it won't have many viewers. In general, Mr. Bahari is bit too optimistic about the potential to overcome Iran's blocking and jamming.

Arab media growing but seek more local content.

Posted: 10 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Major media players, including Pan-Arab Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera voiced their concerns regarding the need for a serious effort to develop local content. ... MBC Group has seen a substantial growth in Arabic dubbed Turkish, Indian and Latin drama." Emirates Business 24-7, 10 February 2010.
     "The media in the UAE and across all Arab countries is expected to grow over the next five years, but there is a need to better balance international and local content, according to the Arab Media Outlook 2010. ... The Internet will grow at an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of nearly 50 per cent over the same period to constitute over four per cent of the total advertising market by 2013." Lily B. Libo-on, Khaleej Times, 10 February 2010.
     "The media sector in the Arab region is expected to fare much better than the rest of the world in the coming years as the global economy tries to recover from the financial crisis, the authors of the Arab Media Outlook revealed yesterday." Gulf News (Dubai), 10 February 2010.
     "The latest report also includes in-depth market research carried out in four key Arab markets: Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The research found that the internet is playing an increasingly prominent role in the media consumption habits of people interviewed in these four markets. Remarkably, people in the Arab world are spending about three hours per day on the internet on average, which is already on par with the amount of time spent on TV. Social networking, in particular, was cited among the favourite activities online and one of the top methods of communication. On average, 70% of the people in the four markets researched use social networks in some capacity and about 15% use social networking sites at least once a day." Al Bawaba, 9 February 2010.

Radio Free Asia reporter in Cambodia faces trial for "disinformation" (updated).

Posted: 10 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Well-known Radio Free Asia reporter Sok Serey and four other men charged with spreading disinformation about a Cham Muslim community leader in Takeo province will stand trial on February 9, court officials confirmed Thursday. The five men were charged in 2008 after a radio report by Sok Serey that featured comments from the four other defendants about a dispute between Cham Muslim community leader Ry Mab and 206 villagers from his mosque. ... Radio Free Asia was unavailable for comment on Thursday but issued a press statement that it would not comment on ongoing legal matters. 'We hope authorities follow due process of the law, and that any court trial is conducted in a fair, credible and transparent manner,' the statement said." Chrann Chamroeun and David Boyle, The Phnom Penh Post, 5 February 2010.
     "The stalled investigation of a prominent human rights activist in Ratanakkiri province will recommence later this month, provincial judge Thor Saron said Sunday. ... Thor Saron, who threatened both [rtights activist] Pen Bonnar and Radio Free Asia journalist Ratha Visal in September with disinformation charges for accusing him of corruption, said his investigation would go forward despite facing continual delays." The Phnom Penh Post, 8 February 2010.
     Update: "Radio Free Asia reporter Sok Serey and four other men stood trial on Tuesday for disinformation charges, and judges said they would hand down a verdict on February 19. The charges against the five men stem from an November 2008 radio report by Sok Serey about a dispute between Cham Muslim community leader Rim Math and 206 members of his mosque. ... In court on Tuesday, Sok Serey said he had merely been reporting information provided to him by his sources, adding that he had passed on the story two times before finally airing it because he considered it to be in the public interest. ... Prosecutor Say Nora seemed sympathetic to this argument, telling the court that he believed Sok Serey had 'done his job right'. But he said the October 2008 broadcast included incorrect references to a 'demonstration' that had never occurred. ... Muong Sokun, Sok Serey’s lawyer, said he hoped that the court would find his client not guilty 'because my client has enough witnesses and evidence in his broadcasts to prove that he is not guilty'." Meas Sokchea, Phnom Penh Post, 10 February 2010.

Indian FM network expands, includes Radio Netherlands and Deutsche Welle programming.

Posted: 10 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Gyan Vani, the FM radio channel initiated by the Human Resources Development ministry and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) with the help of [Indian public broadcaster] Prasar Bharati, is all set to roll out six channels on Wednesday. This would bring the total number of Gyan Vani stations to 37 in the country. Gyan Vani will launch six stations in Agra, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Srinagar, Tiruchirapalli and Thiruvanthapuram. ... The content broadcast on Gyan Vani is contributed by Radio Netherlands, Deutsche Welle, national level institutions such as NCERT, NIOS and State Open Universities. ... Gyan Vani stations are also available on the Direct to Home (DTH) platform of Doordarshan Direct Plus to ensure greater reach of these educational channels all over the country." Anita Iyer, Radioandmusic.com, 9 February 2010.

GlobeCast starts CAD division, with Russia Today (RT) as one of the first clients.

Posted: 10 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"GlobeCast, a major content management and delivery partner for broadcasters, has created a new division in Asia to oversee the content acquisition and distribution (CAD) business. GlobeCast’s CAD team is actively securing carriage deals for TV channels and content providers with DTH, Cable and IPTV platform operators worldwide. ... Within Asia, one of the company’s key CAD projects executed was for Russia Today, with the channel outsourcing a bulk of its Asian distribution activity to GlobeCast. In less than a year, GlobeCast secured regulatory clearances on behalf of the channel and launched the broadcaster to 16 key digital platforms in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia and Philippines. This ensured the channel’s reach to more than 25 million homes in the region. The channel can be viewed by subscribers of Singtel, Starhub, Hong Kong Cable, SK Broadband, Destiny Cable, Indovision, and [various Indian DTH services]. The project also involved securing carriage for RT in more than 30,000 rooms in 200+ four & 5 starhotels in India. GlobeCast is also responsible for signal monitoring as well as the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and marketing activities for Russia Today." Globecast Press Release, 10 February 2010.

Maybe it should be called "Chávez Siempre Que Él Quiera."

Posted: 10 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The president's ongoing battle against what he calls the 'oligarchic media' has added a new front. The radio program 'Suddenly with Chávez' (De Repente con Chávez) began broadcasting Feb. 8, and as its name suggests, it can go on the air at any moment, the Guardian and Times of London report. ... The new program doesn't have a set schedule and may break onto the air at any time of the day or night, Chávez says, because 'we have many things to report.' Listeners will hear a harp playing folk music, and then the president's voice." Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, 9 February 2010.
     "Marcel Granier, the Chief Executive Officer of Empresas 1BC [the parent company of RCTV Internacional], appeared on Monday at the head offices of the Organization of American States (OAS) based in Caracas to ask for mediation of the OAS Secretary-General in the case of the removal for second time [from Venezuelan cable television] of the signal of TV channel RCTV Internacional." El Universal (Caracas), 8 February 2010.
     "Even after the signal for Radio Caracas Television Internacional was removed from subscription TV systems in Venezuela, it continues as part of the programming of TV Venezuela, thus strengthening our commitment to keeping Venezuelans living in the United States permanently in touch with what's going on in their country." SUR Corporation press release, 9 February 2010.

Are Guam's viewers ready for Sumo wrestlers, via NHK, with "sharpness and clarity"?

Posted: 10 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"GTA TeleGuam today announced it has expanded its GUdTV programming to include Japan’s NHK World TV high definition channel and a new dual language audio track on the NHK World Premium channel. NHK World provides news from Japan as well as popular Asian lifestyle programming for international viewers. GTA TeleGuam added the NHK World TV high-definition, English language channel at no additional charge to its GUdTV HD tier available for Choice Digital Package subscribers. ... 'Many non-Japanese speaking viewers are interested in the secondary audio track on the NHK World Premium channel to watch popular Japanese programs like Japan news and Sumo wrestling with English audio,' said Andrew Gayle, executive vice president of GTA TeleGuam wireless and television. 'As more Guam residents purchase HD television sets, they are also asking us to deliver more programs in high definition to fully enjoy the vivid colors, sharpness, and clarity that HD televisions provide over digital." GTA TeleGuam press release, 31 January 2010.
     New Arabsat HD bouquet will include NHK World. Rapid TV News, 10 February 2010.

Facebook page for VOA's Willis Conover.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
The late VOA jazz host Willis Conover "now has his own Facebook page, The Willis Conover Club. Will that lead to his getting a long overdue posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom? Possibly not, but his page, up only a day or two, is rapidly accumulating fans. ... Much of what Conover accomplished lingers in the good will he created toward his country with the music and dispassionate commmentary he disseminated for years by way of his Music USA program. In these daunting times, with the US so in need of good will, perhaps a swell of recognition from the bottom up will persuade the administration in Washington that cultural diplomacy is a potent tool." Doug Ramsey, Rifftides, via All About Jazz, 8 February 2010. The Facebook page is not an official VOA project, but see VOA's Willis Conover page.

Idea: Turning Radio and TV Martí into Metrorail Martí.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"[T]he truth is that Miami-Dade desperately needs an expanded rail system. One trip across the county during rush hour painfully drives home the fact that we have a worsening transit crisis. ... So, here’s an idea I’ve already shared with the local Metropolitan Planning Organization. The MPO recently announced a 'call for ideas' on how to reduce traffic congestion and mailed out a form on which to put your idea’s title, objective, and tasks necessary to execute it. [Title] Metrorail Martí. [Objective] Closure of Radio & TV Martí, resulting in direction of $350 million into urban rail construction in Miami-Dade County over the next decade. [Tasks] Develop strategies to 1) persuade Congress and Florida Legislature to match those dollars, for a total of $1 billion in new funding for urban rail expansion in Miami-Dade; 2) press Obama Administration to devote several billion dollars in future stimulus spending to Metrorail Martí." Kirk Nielsen, PODER (Miami), February 2010.

US international broadcasters: Hide under your cubicles until this report is relegated to a closet shelf.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The State Department is gearing up to release a roadmap that will guide its future budgets and priorities. Early this month, perhaps in the next several days, the federal government's diplomatic arm could release a report on its first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). ... It is assessing the strategic framework for bilateral and multilateral engagements, and analyzing the opportunities to integrate public diplomacy, non-governmental actors, and new methods of communication to mobilize and lead collective action." Ruben Gomez, Federal News Radio, 4 February 2010. Here's hoping that US international broadcasting is not mentioned as part of the "collective action."

NHK World joins the growing family of international appcasters.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Japan has a plethora of TV channels, but the biggest battleship is NHK [JP], the country’s national public broadcasting organization. NHK itself operates a number of different channels, and one of them, NHK World TV, has just released an English app for the iPhone/iPod touch. NHK World is the international broadcasting service of NHK, offers programs in English and is primarily aimed at the overseas market. Their free app enables you to watch NHK World live, meaning you can access the channel’s entire program from anywhere in the world on your iPhone or iPod touch." Serkan Toto, Asiajin, 9 February 2010.

"Like a riot in a shortwave radio factory," and other things they say about shortwave.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Lou Reed "recorded his 1975 album 'Metal Machine Music' (RCA) by leaning guitars against amplifiers, cranking them up until the feedback screamed, playing melodies amid the sonic melee and layering and manipulating the results, including changing the tape speed of some parts. Then he chose four segments for 16-minute LP sides. It sounded like a riot in a shortwave radio factory: a fusillade of sustained, pulsating and scurrying electronic tones that adds up to a hyperactive drone, as consonant as the overtone series." Jon Pareles, New York Times, 8 February 2010.
     "With Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Efrim Menuck provided the soundtrack to our pre-millennial paranoia. ... 'We were especially interested in obscure short-wave radio broadcasts and the American militia movement. I mean, we were super interested in all that stuff.'" Barry Nicolson, The Skinny, 8 February 2010.
     "My first year at university was 1966, also a World Cup year. England not only hosted the tournament but, against the odds, wound up winning. In those days the notion of travelling to London to watch a few games was about as far off as the SABC playing rock music on a Sunday. The introduction of TV was still 10 years away and our only access to live matches was via crackling broadcasts on shortwave radio." David Shapiro, The Times (Johannesburg), 8 February 2010.
     "It was like going back to the bad old days when Welsh throwers seemed to operate on long wave and the jumpers on short wave, with the lifters on FM." thisissouthwales.co.uk, 8 February 2010.
     "After a lull in solar activity that on many days left a "blank sun" with no sunspots at all, a big one popped up this past weekend, marking a change in the sun's weather. ... [H]am radio operators are picking up strong solar radio bursts using shortwave receivers." Tim Chitwood, Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus GA), 8 February 2010. On 6 February, about dusk, my neighborhood had no electricity because of the snowstorm. I took advantage of the lack of radio-interference-causing electrical devices and wiring in and around my house to enjoy some (flashlight assisted) shortwave listening. Said sunspots added to the good conditions, and, for the first time in years, I was hearing shortwave broadcast stations all over the bands, up to 15 Mhz. On many frequencies, I heard Chinese classical music. It's China's preferred method for jamming VOA, RFA, etc.

What the internet, and social media, can and can't do.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Internationally, the new emphasis on enabling the skirting of Internet censorship amounts to a shift from traditional public diplomacy to a kind of Internet democracy activism. Where the former relied on tools such as Voice of America radio broadcasts to all corners of the globe, the latter emphasizes the U.S. promoting indigenous voice in countries that curb free speech, says NYU telecommunications professor Clay Shirky, adding that enabling citizens to express themselves 'is way more threatening than Voice of America-style broadcasts, and autocratic governments will react to that.' Thus far, authoritarian governments have largely managed to control the Internet in their countries, argues Hal Roberts, a researcher with Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. 'Actually I think the story of the first 15 years of the widespread use of the Internet is that it is deeply embedded with local mechanisms of control and that governments can control the Internet pretty well,' he says. That's only likely to change if the U.S. is willing to match the new inspirational rhetoric about Internet freedom with actions that could be deemed hostile by the regimes concerned." Ken Stier, Time, 6 February 2010. It's great that citizens are expressing themselves, but this is no substitute for the journalism (not public diplomacy) that has always been VOA's mainstay. Furthermore, when the internet, which involves landlines within the target country, is censored, VOA can drop in wirelessly via shortwave and satellite.
     Proposal to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the internet. AP, 2 February 2010.
     "The Voice of America Twitter isn't: commitment to world peace does not rank high on the list of Twitter's objectives (for all the good reasons — they are in the business of making money, after all — leave the world peace to Bono). Don't we want to award this prize to someone who at least WANTS a more democratic and peaceful future and WORKS towards it?" Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy, 8 February 2010.
     "[W]hile greater connectivity and the spread of Internet access can be hugely beneficial to the spread of democracy, there is also a flip side – extremist groups and authoritarian regimes will increasingly co-opt and manipulate new technology for their own end." Luke Allnutt, editor in chief of RFE/RL's English website, Christian Science Monitor, 8 February 2010.
     "I’m going to take the stand that social media sometimes just doesn’t matter, and in fact, may be just be a waste of time and effort. Just because it’s out there, doesn’t mean it’s worthwhile, and I’ll point to the Singapore Airshow as an example. ... Sure, it gives it a little buzz by having a lot of social media presence, I guess, but what benefit is it providing? ... 'CNBC Asia was broadcasting on site and had a “lively” guest blog going.' ... Forget about the fact that the 'lively' guest blog actually just has three posts... Will all this social media drive any aircraft, engine, or part orders? Will it help suppliers establish better relationships with key decision makers? I imagine the answer is a resounding no." Brett Snyder, BNET, 8 February 2010.

Did ABC hold back documentary about Uighur leader to help get Australia Network into China?

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The producer of a controversial documentary about Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer says the ABC told him it decided against screening the film last December because it wanted 'things to settle down a bit'. ABC News Online has obtained an email from an ABC television executive to the film's producer John Lewis, which suggests that a screening date was scheduled, but then dropped. The documentary, the 10 Conditions of Love, was at the centre of a row last year after Chinese officials tried to get it pulled from the Melbourne film festival. ... When asked today on Radio National if the documentary was on December 17, [ABC MD Mark] Scott said it had not. 'It was never locked in for December 17 I'm told, and we will be showing it this year,' he said. But Mr Lewis strongly rejects Mr Scott's denial, saying he had numerous conversations both over the phone and through email with the ABC about it late last year. ... The ABC wants to expand its international television service, Australia Network, into China." Emma Rodgers, ABC News, 9 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "Lewis says the film’s distributor, London-based TVF International, has been unable to sell the film anywhere in the world, and despite the positive feedback and interest, broadcasters in Japan, South Korea and Canada have declined. 'They tell me straight up that broadcasters are afraid of China, because they want to do business and international co-productions and are afraid to offend them. Every time they put it to their broadcasting clients, the enquiries go directly to the head office, not where they’re normally handled, and that’s the last they hear of it.'" Encore Magazine (Adelaide), 9 February 2010.

CCTV Spring Festival, outdated but broadcast internationally.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The CCTV Spring Festival evening gala is to many Chinese like turkey on Thanksgiving, not necessarily the most delicious part of the celebration, but without it, the festive atmosphere of the occasion is missing. So despite countless complaints and criticisms of the four-hour made-for-TV-event that typically sports a seemingly endless array of over-the-top, slightly-outdated costume performances, it is still at the core of most Chinese families' annual routine in welcoming in the New Year. The evening gala began in 1983 and has been a tradition ever since. ... The 2010 CCTV Spring Festival evening gala will be broadcast on CCTV1 at 8pm [1200 UTC] on February 13, Lunar New Year Eve. It will be simultaneously broadcast on CCTV9, CCTVE and CCTVF with English, Spanish and French subtitles." Mao Renjie, Global Times (Beijing), 8 February 2010.
     "China International Television Corporation (CITVC) has signed a representation deal to bring programming from state-run China Central Television (CCTV) to Latin American broadcasters and platforms. Atlanta-based Castalia Communications will distribute the Chinese content to broadcast, satellite, cable and web-based outlets. The pact covers TV dramas, documentaries, animation, entertainment series and features." C21Media.net, 8 February 2010.
     "China Radio International(CRI), the only state international radio broadcaster, launched China's first Estonian and Lithuanian websites here on Monday." Xinhua, 8 February 2010. At ee.radio86.com and lt.radio86.com, respectively.

Georgian officials want Armenian and Russian channels and Euronews off cable.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Georgian national communications commission appealed to cable TV companies recommending to cut Russian and Armenian TV channels’ off the air, Georgian Rezonansi daily reports. Recommendations extend to Euronews, several Russian music channels and one Armenian television. In return commission will shut eyes to license-free broadcasting for some time. After the commission sitting, representatives stated that bans were out of the question and it was a mere working meeting." News.am, 9 February 2010.

Balance: Euronews aggravates other side in the Nagorno Karabakh dispute (updated).

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Armenian Diaspora of Malta has voiced its disappointment over the 'response' report of Euronews ': in the campus of refugees in Azerbaijan' demonstrated on 1 February 2010. 'In this report the TV channel, under the obvious pressure of the Azerbaijani side, made the obvious contradictions with the main concept of the first "peace-loving" report about "NKR" of 28 November of 2009.'" News.az, 6 February 2010.
     "Euronews, the flagship news organization in the European Union, can't help the situation by portraying Azerbaijan with its eight million population as the victim and Armenia with its 3.5 million population as the aggressor." Armen Hareyan, Huliq News, 5 February 2010.
     Transcript of Euronews interview with Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan. News.az, 6 February 2010.
     Update: "After hullabaloo and fuss made by Azerbaijani side over Euronews 'Winds of change in Nagorno-Karabakh' film, TV channel leadership had to shoot another film 'Forgotten victims of frozen conflict' about Azerbaijani refugees and make an interview with President Ilham Aliyev in order to get rid of unceasing accusations. However, Azerbaijani president did not manage to get out of a scrape of European journalists’ hawk eye and vexed questions." News.am, 6 February 2010.
     "Euronews journalist’s question to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev about dictatorship in the country was loaded with an accomplished fact, head of Yerevan Center for Democracy and Peace Armen Minasyan told the journalists on Feb. 8 commenting on Aliyev’s recent interview. According to him, Azeri President did not refute the assessments merely demonstrating his negative attitude towards them. 'Stumped for an answer, Aliyev gave emotional coloring to his statements, blaming the world of groundless criticism.'" News.am, 8 February 2010.
     "On 7 February, the Hefte program on state-owned Azerbaijani TV commented on the president's remarks about the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The commentary included parts of the president's interview not broadcast by Euronews." News.az, 8 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Irish memories of Radio Moscow.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The main Russky radio station in those days was, of course, Radio Moscow -- a station I remember well as someone now broadcasting my own radio show for the simple reason that I did my first ever radio broadcast on it on a student exchange trip to Moscow in 1988. By 1988 and under Mikhail Gorbachev (remember him?) the station had put its days of relentlessly reporting heroic statistics behind it. Sure, it was biased. But it had an intelligence and sophistication about it that would put much of today's sensationalist coverage of the economy -- both negative and positive -- to shame." Marc Coleman, Sunday Independent (Dublin), 7 February 2010.

Workshop may help Nigerian journalists in the CNN/Multichoice Awards.

Posted: 09 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Yearly, thousands of African journalists file entries to compete for the Cable News Network (CNN)/Multichoice African Journalists Awards, the most prestigious award for media practitioners on the African continent. Out of the large number only 26 emerge finalists. From them, 17 will emerge as winners of different categories while one person, whose work is considered most best, becomes overall winner. ... Journalists from Nigeria from both print and electronics are not faring well in this yearly competition, which recognises works, published or broadcast, between January 1 and December 31 each year. Only two print Nigerian journalists made the list last year. ... To tackle this, a two-day free workshop was organised recently in Lagos for practicing journalists. It was organised by CNN/Multichoice Nigeria, the organisers of the award." Tunbosun Ogundare, Daily Champion (Lagos), 7 February 2010. See also CNN MultiChoice African Journalist website.

Iran arrests seven "connected with" Radio Farda.

Posted: 08 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Iran's state media says Tehran has arrested seven people allegedly linked to RFE/RL's Radio Farda and accused some of them of working for U.S. spy agencies. State radio and the official IRNA news agency reported today that the suspects played a key role in provoking protesters during a violent antigovernment demonstration in Tehran in late December. ... In a statement, RFE/RL said it was 'very concerned' to learn of the arrests, but that it has no information on the arrests other than that from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and state-controlled media." RFE/RL News, 7 February 2010.
     "The arrests came in an 'intelligence ministry operation,' [Iran Labor News Agency] said. 'These people were connected with Radio Farda and had gone through the process of selection and training in Dubai and Istanbul and some of them had been officially employed by the U.S. intelligence service.' However, Radio Farda's director, Armand Mostofi, told CNN Sunday it has no employees inside Iran. Radio Farda is based in Prague, Czech Republic, and in Washington. It is affiliated with Radio Free Europe, and broadcasts from Prague. Mostofi said he first heard of the arres ts in Iranian news reports. 'A lot of our news comes from the relationships with our listeners,' he said. 'It's a two-way relationship. Hundreds of thousands of our listeners call in to inform us of what is going in Iran.'" CNN, 8 February 2010.
     "Radio Farda is the successor of Voice of America's Persian service based in Prague and Washington, D.C." Radio Zamaneh (Amsterdam), 7 February 2010. VOA's Persian News Network, via television, radio, and internet, is alive and well, and has a larger audience than that of Radio Farda. VOA's participation in Radio Farda ended in July 2008.

Should ABC expand its international network if it can't spell its name?

Posted: 08 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"ABC managing director, Mark Scott, says the organisation is still in talks about broadcasting the international television service, Australian [sic] Network, into China. Speaking at a Senate estimates committee in Canberra, Mr Scott also said he would find out more about a recent Australian newspaper claim that the ABC has run pro-Chinese military propaganda in a series of documentaries produced by a company founded by a senior Chinese official. Restrictions on western broadcasts into China have precluded the Australian [sic] Network being broadcast there and negotiations with Chinese officials are continuing." ABC Radio Australia News, 8 February 2010. It's "Australia Network," not "Australian." It's spelled correctly later in the same story.
     "A controversial film about Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer may have been pulled by the ABC to promote managing director Mark Scott's vision of a 'soft diplomacy' role for the public broadcaster. Producer John Lewis yesterday told The Australian the ABC had bought the rights to the documentary about Kadeer, The 10 Conditions of Love, and scheduled it for broadcast on December 17. However, the film never went to air. 'We had believed that the line "the Australian film China doesn't want Australians to see" would be a good one for the ABC to use to publicise its broadcast,' said Mr Lewis, who worked in senior roles for ABC TV for about 20 years. 'It would be most regrettable if it were to be instead "the film that China and the ABC don't want Australia to see".'" Rowan Callick and Sid Maher, The Australian, 9 February 2010.
     "The ABC is currently attempting to gain broadcast rights into China for its Australia Network international service. Mr Scott insisted China would not influence editorial decisions. 'I always reinforce to them the independence and integrity of the ABC as a public broadcaster,' he said." Ari Sharp, Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February 2010.
     "ABC managing director Mark Scott has questioned why the ABC should have to tender every five years to continue running the Australia Network television service. At parliamentary committee hearings in Canberra, Mr Scott argued for expanded international broadcasting to create what he called an 'integrated radio and television brand', bringing Australia Network and Radio Australia closer together. But Mr Scott says the tender process required by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for the Australia Network is a constraint not faced by the ABC domestically or other public broadcasters like Britain's BBC." ABC News, 8 February 2010.
     "While there has been no formal funding request, the ABC is looking for global expansion to match its launch of new channels at home. The push comes as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd seeks greater influence abroad, including a UN security council seat." Ben Packham, Herald Sun (Melbourne), 16 February [sic] 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Army psyop deaths in Afghanistan.

Posted: 08 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A psychological operations sergeant and two military nation-builders have been identified as the soldiers killed earlier this week by a roadside bomb in Pakistan. 39 year-old Staff Sergeant Mark Alan Stets, Jr. (pictured) was assigned to Alpha Company of the 8th Psychological Operations Battalion out of Fort Bragg, N.C." Noah Shachtman, Wired Danger Room, 5 February 2010. See also Fayette (NC) Observer, 6 February 2010.
     "Spc. Marc P. Decoteau, 19, [was] killed Jan. 29 in a situation that the Defense Department has not yet explained. ... Decoteau, 19, of Waterville Valley, N.H., was assigned to the 6th Psychological Operations Battalion of the 4th Psy Ops Group." Fayette Observer, 5 February 2010.

Through the hole in the firewall, President Obama nominates Richard M. Lobo to be director of the IBB.

Posted: 08 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate ... Richard M. Lobo, Director, International Broadcasting Bureau. ... Richard M. Lobo is currently serving as chairman of the Florida Public Broadcasting Service Inc. Mr. Lobo is president and chief executive officer of WEDU (PBS)Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota. He previously was president and general manager of WTVJ in Miami, station manager for WNBC-TV in New York, and vice president and general manager of NBC stations in Chicago and Cleveland. ... He also served as Director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting in the United States Information Agency from 1994-1995." The White House, 4 February 2010.
     "Lobo, 73, still must be confirmed by the Senate, so he may not be leaving Tampa soon. But the executive, whose wife, Caren, spearheaded fundraising for Barack Obama in Florida during the 2008 presidential election, will eventually leave for Washington, D.C., if confirmed, working under the Broadcasting Board of Governors." Eric Deggans, St. Petersburg Times, 5 February 2010.
     Despite the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 placing US international broadcasting under the "firewall" of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a major defect in that Act is that the president still appoints (with Senate consent) the director of the International Broadcasting Bureau.
     On paper, the IBB is the parent entity of VOA and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí.) So the president does an end-run around the BBG by appointing the director of the IBB, and the BBG does an end-run around the IBB by appointing the director of VOA.
     Customarily, the IBB confines itself to engineering and administrative functions. It is generally not involved in content (although the IBB Office of Performance Review very much is). In theory, however, the president, if displeased by VOA content, could, though his/her IBB director, constrain services vital to VOA.
     Given Mr. Lobo's background in broadcasting, his instincts will likely be more journalistic than political. Nevertheless, his nomination is a reminder that US international broadcasting is badly in need of reform. Consolidation of US international broadcasting would eliminate the need for the IBB as a separate layer of bureaucracy.

Canadian correspondent puts VOA and RFE/RL in league with Russia Today, Press TV, and Xinhua.

Posted: 08 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac and Hu Jintao all appear to have reached the conclusion that CNN had been critical in convincing the world that the U.S. was right to invade Iraq. They each decided that they needed a soft-power tool of their own that, next time, could argue their case in English, the language in which the world debates. ... Of course, countries such as Germany and Japan have long had their own English-language stations that broadcast news abroad. Like France 24, their only discernible bias is in favour of news from 'home,' as well as a tendency to carry live speeches by local leaders that other networks might ignore. Al Jazeera’s English network has also won respect by giving its correspondents plenty of editorial independence. RT [Russia Today] News, [Iran's] Press TV and the coming Xinhua channel, however, have more in common with the likes of Voice of America and Radio Liberty – the U.S. State Department-funded tools of persuasion that pump out Washington-friendly news and opinion." Mark MacKinnon, Beijing correspondent, Globe and Mail, 5 February 2010. This is a detailed essay on the new crop of international news channels. But read carefully: for starters, VOA and RFE/RL are not "State Department funded."

Tea Party movement has not reached concensus about Al Jazeera.

Posted: 07 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The first ever national Tea Party Convention is being held in Nashville, Tennessee. ... I walked up and introduced myself to the organiser, Judson Phillips. He enthusiastically shook my hand, right up until I said I worked for Al Jazeera English. His face instantly froze, he quickly dropped my hand and simply said, 'Oh'. I asked him if he had an issue with our network and he said, 'Yes, I do.' When I asked him what it was, he replied, 'I'm an American.' I said, 'I don't understand, sir. We are not anti-American and I'm offering you the chance to have your voice heard on our news channel. We want to hear your views.' As Judson's eyes darted around the room he said, 'Uh, I'll need some time to think about who I want to talk to. But, uh, I appreciate you coming.' And he walked off. He headed straight to his media manager to complain about our presence. But thankfully, Mark Skoda is supportive of Al Jazeera English, told us he watches us when he travels, appreciates our coverage and has no problem with us being at the convention." Cath Turner. The Americas Blog, Aljazeera.net, 5 February 2010.
     "'This is the U.S. we don’t want the U.S. to be,' said Daniel Alling, a Swedish radio reporter. 'People want the U.S. to be as Obama: he’s not overly patriotic, he’s not talking about his Christian faith all the time, he talks about science.' ... [S]tories about opposition to the president don’t sell so well in French-speaking Africa, said Donaig LeDu, a journalist with Radio France international, where Mr. Obama’s popularity, 'is ten times more than in Europe' because of his Kenyan ancestry." Kate Zernike, The Caucus blog, New York Times, 6 February 2010.

China calling Europe, in ten languages, on 963 kHz medium wave.

Posted: 07 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The People's Republic of China has strengthened its communications foothold in Europe. A 30-person team in Tampere broadcasts multilingual state-sponsored programming, which reaches most of Europe. Experts say the Chinese government is attempting to exert influence through the non-critical programming. The Chinese-funded Tampere radio station produces radio shows and online content in ten different languages, including Finnish, English, Estonian, Danish, Russian, German and French. Listeners around Europe can tune into the station located at 963 kHz. The station is run in cooperation with FutuVision, a Tampere-based company. ... The radio programmes do not take a critical look at events in China, such as human rights abuses often reported by the western media. The station mainly focuses on culture and travel topics. Jutta Valkeinen, who heads the station, says no media is objective in her opinion, adding that the station provides a unique glimpse into Chinese life." YLE, 4 February 2010.
     "In the latest development, China Xinhua News Network Corp (CNC), the new television production service of Xinhua News Agency, was formally launched in Beijing on December 31. The following day, on January 1, CNC began broadcasting in the Asia-Pacific and in certain European markets. But in an editorial in yesterday’s Chengdu Commercial Daily, Chen Jibing (陈季冰), a professional journalist and blogger, suggested that China was placing too great an emphasis on the technical aspects of its so-called 'communication capacity.' Chen argued that China would have to surge ahead in terms of the basic quality and credibility of its information as well — an area where he says Western media have traditionally excelled — if it wished to raise its international influence." David Bandurski, China Media Project, via Sophie Beach, China Digital Times, 2 February 2010.

No prisoner of its name, Radio Canada International holds contest not open to international participants.

Posted: 07 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Canada International "wants all Canadians and permanent residents to explore their origins by entering the ROOTS Challenge. It's a brand-new short film and multimedia production competition. Open to amateurs and professionals alike - but you must be at least 18 years old to enter - RCI is looking for productions that run somewhere between 3 and 8 minutes and speaks of your roots and touches on part of your personal history or an aspect of your culture." Northernstars.ca, 5 February 2010. "Contestants must be 18 years or over at the time of entering the contest, be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident." Roots contest rules, RCI website.

Telesur promotes "another class of journalism," says Venezuelan-American writer.

Posted: 07 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Venezuelan-American writer Eva Golinger: "'Telesur has had a fundamental role in dismantling the received opinions of the international media and in promoting another class of journalism, which consists of going into and bearing witness to the facts.' At the same time, she expresses her enthusiasm at one of the first printed copies of the only Venezuelan English-language newspaper, Correo de Orinoco International. 'It is the first time that there is information in English from a Venezuelan perspective, from the Venezuelan revolution,' she affirms with pride." Granma, 29 January 2010.
     "Yuri Pimentel has finally been removed from the presidency of State VTV channel and TV presenter, Tania Diaz appointed in his place. ... [S]ome observers suggest that growing criticism of government media ineffectiveness and shortfalls is responsible for the change, which comes shortly after appointing Eva Golinger as editor of the new Correo del Orinoco in English to present US and European circles with a government perspective of news." Patrick J. O'Donoghue, VHeadline.com, 31 January 2010.

RIA Novosti "is neither a 'sponsor' nor a 'backer' of Russia Today" (RT), which is available in more hotel rooms.

Posted: 07 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"RIA Novosti, Russia's leading multimedia news agency is neither a 'sponsor' nor a 'backer' of Russia Today, an English language satellite TV channel, contrary to recent claims in media reports. The reports followed an ad campaign launched by Russia Today in the USA and Europe, like the one featuring superimposed images of U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and asking 'Who poses the greater nuclear threat?' The campaign sparked a strong reaction from both the authorities and the media. The media embarked on speculations of who is behind the Russia Today campaign. Some of the media reports stated that RIA Novosti 'sponsors' or 'backs' Russia Today. These reports wrongfully drew on the fact that RIA Novosti had participated in establishing Russia Today as an Autonomous Non-Profit Organization, which in fact provided for the channel's complete legal, editorial and operational independence from RIA Novosti." RIA Novosti, 4 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "The number of hotels with RT [Russia Today] content available has grown 23 times in 2009, with potential audiences almost doubling. In the U.S., RT broadcasts at major worldwide chains such as MARRIOTT, CROWNE PLAZA, HYATT, HILTON, SHERATON, RENAISSANCE and many other four- and five-star hotels. The same applies to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. The achievement is seven times in excess of the planned expansion, though staying within the 2009 hotel distribution budget." RT press release, 4 February 2010.
     "In December 2009 RT ranked among the top 20 most popular channels on YouTube. In the past three months RT’s video materials on YouTube had more than 200,000 views a month on average (http://www.youtube.com/user/RussiaToday). By early December, RT became the most viewed channel in the international YouTube and held its top position nearly 48 hours." RT press release, 4 February 2010.
     "Vancouver's radio dial is about to get a bit more bolshoy. As the athletes, media and throngs of tourists gather, a small contingent of Russians armed with microphones and headsets will soon invade the Vancouver airspace. Astral Media Inc. has sold airtime on one of its Vancouver radio stations to Russian media group ProfMedia for the Olympic Games. Every evening, oldies station CISL-650 will become Autoradio, a Russian-language station with simultaneous broadcasts in Vancouver and more than 300 cities in Russia. ... To meet content rules, Canadian music will also be broadcast during the Russian airtime, meaning listeners in Moscow, St. Petersburg and across the country will soon rock out to the likes of Avril Lavigne and Bryan Adams. 'It's a unique opportunity for us to do what we think the Olympics is supposed to be about, which is an exchange of culture,' [Astral Media VP Brad] Phillips said. 'This is an innovative way to bring a little bit of Russia to Vancouver and bring a bit of Canada back to Russia.'" Susan Krashinsky, Globe and Mail, 4 February 2010.
     "The Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra is regularly heard throughout Russia on radio, television and film. On Thursday, February 18 at 8 pm, this exceptional orchestra will present a Gala of Russian Composers at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts." BroadwayWorld.com, 4 February 2010. The Jorgensen Center is in Storrs, Connecticut.

SABC International, hoped to be "CNN of Africa," scales back.

Posted: 07 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"SABC International (Sani) has been scrapped by the public broadcaster -- at least as the ambitious 24-hour international news channel was originally envisaged. As of January 1 this year Sani was taken off the government-run-Sentech's Vivid platform, where it had reached a handful of viewers since launching in March 2008. An SABC statement on Thursday said the only place South Africans could see the channel now was on SABC2 between 8am and 8.30am or between 11pm and 5am on weekdays. The channel is also available on a limited broadcast in Washington, DC. 'Failure to deliver on projected audiences in line with levels of investments has prompted the scrapping of the deal,' the statement read. ... The SABC has sunk hundreds of millions of rands into the project, which was expected to become the CNN of Africa." Tanya Pampalone, Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg), 7 February 2010. In northern Virginia, I am usually able to view SABC International, terrestrially, via MHz Networks, digital channel 30-6. However, because snow covers my rabbit ears (don't you hate it when that happens?), the lower bitrate MHZ Networks channels 30-6 to 30-10 are not presently receivable. (And I can almost see their tower from my house.)

Super Bowl, minus the commercials, to the American forces via AFRTS.

Posted: 07 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"When millions of Americans gather around their TV sets this weekend for Super Bowl XLIV, they’ll have lots of company from U.S. forces around the world and at sea, thanks to the American Forces Radio and Television Service. AFRTS has been delivering the game live for the past 43 years. The full game, including the pre-game show, will be beamed by satellite to American Forces Network viewers and American Forces Radio listeners in 175 countries and aboard Navy ships at sea, said Larry Sichter, affiliate relations chief for the Defense Media Activity’s AFN Broadcast Center in Riverside, Calif. ... The only thing the overseas viewers won’t get will be about 43 minutes of mostly beer, pizza and insurance commercials. That, explained Sichter, is because AFN is not permitted to air them as a condition of getting the programming free of charge. So in their place, military viewers overseas will see a bevy of encouraging 'shout-outs' from President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and many of the players themselves, as well as some of AFRTS’ newest command information spots. ... Troops overseas have been treated to live Super Bowl broadcasts since the first big game in 1967, initially through short-wave radio broadcasts, Sichter said. Televised Super Bowl coverage was limited at first to videotape copies of the game distributed after the fact to overseas outlets, unless AFN outlets contracted with commercial networks to get the game live. That all changed in 1982, when AFRTS stood up its satellite network, enabling it to provide live Super Bowl broadcasts to all troops overseas." Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service, 5 February 2010.
     "The 2010 Australia Post Stawell Gift will reach the widest audience in its 129 year history. This follows the announcement of a new partnership with Australia Network. Australia Network will take two hours of live finals action on Easter Monday, including the semi finals and final of the Australia Post Stawell Gift. Australia's international television service, Australia Network broadcasts 24/7 across Asia, the Pacific and the Indian sub-continent. The service is currently available in 44 countries through a combination of free-to-air satellite, cable or via local re-broadcast across the Asia Pacific region, reaching some 22 million homes and achieving a monthly audience of around 5.4 million viewers." Stawell (Victoria) Times News, 5 February 2010. Wikipedia describes the Stawall Gift as "Australia's oldest and richest short distance running race. It is run over every Easter weekend."

"Russians just don’t use shortwave radios anymore," so HCJB turns to internet.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Rapidly changing communication technology is opening new opportunities to spread the gospel across Russia, says David Uhles, director of HCJB Global’s Europe/Eurasia Region. 'Russia has leapfrogged in technology,' said Uhles... . 'Within the last decade they’ve gone from really poor landlines to every student having a cell phone. That technology is huge!' ... 'The Internet reaches well-educated young people,' he explained. 'It’s very inexpensive compared to shortwave or local AM and FM. And Russians just don’t use shortwave radios anymore.' ... Growing government restrictions and the reluctance to renew licenses for local Christian radio stations along with increasing opposition from anti-evangelical elements are also forcing HCJB Global to look at new ways to broadcast in Russia." HCJB press release, 5 February 2010.

All India Radio orders DRM-capable megawatt medium wave transmitters.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"All India Radio (AIR) has placed an order for the supply of two 1000 kilowatt DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale] capable medium wave transmitters. These will replace old analogue transmitters of same capacity at Chinsurah (West Bengal) and Rajkot (Gujarat), with state-of-the-art solid state transmitters. ... All India Radio has already chosen DRM as the technology for converting its vast analogue network to digital. This is part of its digital radio switchover strategy where more than 40 transmitters are to be made DRM capable in the near future. AIR is already broadcasting in DRM from one of its high-power shortwave transmitter located at Khampur near Delhi that covers an area of approximately 800 kilometre radius." Radioandmusic.com, 4 February 2010.
     "AIR is aiming to have 76 medium-wave, nine shortwave and 64 FM transmitters digitized by 2013, with the remaining transmitters in its network digitized by 2017." Radio World, 3 February 2010.

ABU interested in shortwave monitoring and ways to increase the shortwave audience.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) shortwave broadcasters' meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 2 February, has renewed its support for the creation of a monitoring network to assess the reach and quality of their broadcasts. ... Participants in the meeting also said that the proposed network for ABU members could be extended to other shortwave broadcasters if required. Ways to achieve an increase in the audience for shortwave radio was one of the several issues addressed. It was noted by the members that other, modern delivery media were overtaking shortwave with new, high quality programming. Participants also said that there was a need to concentrate not only on technical issues but also on good quality content." Radioandmusic.com, 4 February 2010. Many shortwave broadcasters already use the services of the International Broadcasting Bureau's monitoring network.

CNN via mobile in Sri Lanka.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"In a further demonstration of Turner’s industry-leading position in the mobile industry, Sri Lankan national mobile service provider Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel is to offer its customers access to CNN’s latest global news content through one call. With a few clicks, Mobitel customers can watch CNN breaking news and the latest top stories, weather, business, entertainment, politics and more on an on-demand basis simply by dialing 555. A key advantage of this service is uninterrupted content delivery when compared to web and WAP based streaming where delays can be experienced due to content being buffered." Press release via asiamediajournal.com, 4 February 2010.
     "CNN’s new monthly series i-List takes you to countries that are changing the way we live and look at the world around us. The i-List will highlight innovation and influence in industry, business, technology, culture and more. It showcases a nation’s people and places – those having an impact inside and outside their borders. From 8th February, CNN International turns its cameras on France... ." TVnext.in, 4 February 2010.

Taking Granny's analog radio and sending it to Africa.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The radio industry is to copy the government's car scrappage scheme as it tries to persuade listeners to go digital. ... Its radio equivalent could involve a 20% discount on a new digital set if you bring in one of the 100 million or so analogue ones estimated to still be in circulation. Industry executives hope that the idea will quash a potential rebellion among FM radio listeners as the deadline for switching off the analogue radio signal approaches in a few years' time. They also hope that family members will pick up sets belonging to older relatives and hand them in. ... One idea being touted by senior industry executives involves sending a shipment of outmoded analogue radios to an African country, where they are one of the main sources of communication and the BBC World Service is popular." James Robinson, The Guardian, 1 February 2010. It would have to be an African country where BBC is available locally on FM.
     "The redundant analogue radios would then be shipped out to the developing world, most likely countries in Africa where the BBC World Service is popular. 'It is not really scrappage at all,' the spokeswoman added. 'We want them to go to a good cause and be usefully deployed, so if the programme does go ahead we will definitely not refer to it as scrappage.'" Andrew Laughlin, Digital Spy, 2 February 2010.
     "The radio industry's hopes of switching to digital by 2015 suffered a setback today after new figures revealed that growth in listening to digital radio had gone into reverse. Digital radio – including digital audio broadcasting (DAB), digital TV and the internet – accounted for 20.9% of all radio listening in the last three months of 2009, according to Rajar audience figures published today. This was down from 21.1% in the previous three months but up from 18.3% in the last three months of 2008." John Plunkett, The Guardian, 4 February 2010.
     "Trans World Radio (TWR) is set to launch on DAB digital radio on 1 April. The Christian broadcaster will be available to DAB listeners in the North West of England as they launch on the MXR multiplex, covering an area stretching from Nantwich in the south past Windermere in the north. TWR currently broadcasts on satellite channel 0138, Freesat channel 790, online at twr.org.uk and at selected times on Short Wave and Medium Wave." Christian Today, 1 February 2010.

BBC world services' two-minute video contest.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"At the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the BBC's International news services: BBC World News, BBC World Service and BBC.com, launched My World - a global multimedia initiative, which aims to build a unique picture of people's lives around the globe, via user-generated content. Audiences worldwide will be invited to shoot a two minute mini-documentary with the theme of 'My World', using any kind of camera available to them - from a mobile phone to a digital camera." via afaqs!, 1 February 2010.

Radio's role in the recovery, and other Haiti media updates.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A UNICEF public service announcement on nutrition blares out of several radios tuned into Port-au-Prince's Radio One. The station is just one of more than 20 radio outlets in the Haitian capital that are working with Internews, a UNICEF partner and international media development organization providing news reports to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the 12 January earthquake." UNICEF, 2 February 2010. See also YouTube, 2 February 2010 and Time Video, undated.
     "Radio Metropole’s journalists, coping in a tent set up in the garden of the radio station’s office in Port-au-Prince, have not still resumed their normal pace of work because of the trauma caused by the January 12 earthquake. The station resumed its normal programming on February 1, after broadcasting news via the Internet for two weeks. Richard Widmaer, the director general of Radio Metropole, ... indicated that most of the station’s journalists currently have no fixed address. They have lost virtually everything and are facing enormous difficulties." Committee to Protect Journalists, 3 February 2010.
     "The BBC's Creole-language programme in Haiti has helped reunite a Haitian-American mother with her son in the quake-devastated capital, Port-au-Prince." BBC News, 3 February 2010.
     "About 60 Pennsylvania Air Guard members are taking part in an operation that only the 193rd Special Operations Wing could pull off. Taking off from Puerto Rico, Senior Master Sergeant Michael Kovach says they fly a special transport plane equipped with broadcast transmitters – called 'Commando Solo' – that spends the day over Haiti: 'We’re the only unit in the world that has the aircraft that can perform this type of mission. We have one that’s down there now, we have another one down there as a spare, and we have one here at our home station that is going through some modifications right now.' The home station for the aircraft is Harrisburg International Airport. The planes spend about 10 hours a day airborne over Haiti broadcasting creole programming provided by the Voice of America, plus emergency information." KYW Newsradio 1060 (Philadelphia), 31 January 2010.
     "Haitian President Rene Garcia Preval told VOA in an exclusive interview that removing dead bodies and sheltering more than a million people remain priorities in the earthquake devastated country." VOA press release, 4 February 2010. "Haitians questioned medical professionals today in a live Voice of America (VOA) Creole Service program that was anchored from outside the ruined presidential palace in Port-au-Prince and heard by millions of people." VOA press release, 27 January 2010.
     Port-au-Prince, 12 January 2010: "We listened to the car radio. Across a normally busy dial, there were only three operating stations. One was playing lively kompah music. Another was Radio France Internationale. On the hour they had news briefings announcing first a quake in Haiti, then an hour later a massive quake in Haiti, then two hours later a catastrophic quake in Haiti; this was between news of an African coup and interviews with French artists, writers, and intellectuals. Then there was a Creole news station. The director of a private morgue was on the air, asking for the emergency donation or loan of a 10–15 kilowatt generator. Later there was a preacher on the same station, announcing the 'fin de temps.'" Mischa Berlinski, New York Review of Books, 25 February 2010 issue.
     "I could only shake my head in amazement when I learned that US assistant 'secretary of state for public affairs' (read information minister!) Phillip Crowley was unhappy with Aljazeera's converge of the disaster in Haiti. Not that a news organisation should lose sleep over a government official - any government official's criticism. Rather, I was amazed by the flimsy excuse to attack Aljazeera English. Appearing on Aljazeera to explain his characterisation of our coverage as 'unfair and unbalanced', Crowley sounded paternalistic. He said he 'supports' Aljazeera as an independent network and valued our presence in places like Haiti." Marwan Bishara, Imperium blog, Aljazeera.net, 28 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Interviews on RFA, BBC help reunite Burmese mother with conscripted son.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The army in Burma has released a 14-year-old boy it had forcibly recruited, after his mother appealed for his return on international media. Sandar Win, who has terminal cancer, told the BBC's Burmese Service and Radio Free Asia (RFA) her pleas for his return had previously been ignored. ... In interviews with the BBC and RFA, Ms Win said that when she was allowed to see her son, he had been in tears and asked to go home but she was not allowed to take him. Two weeks after the interviews, the military authorities came to her house to bring the boy home. 'I asked the authorities to return my son when I spoke to RFA and BBC,' said Ms Win. 'I am very happy to have my son back and I don't know how to thank RFA and BBC for your help.'" BBC News, 1 February 2010. See also RFA, 1 February 2010.

There she goes again.

Posted: 06 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Internet outreach is the hottest new item in the U.S. government’s array of public diplomacy tools. While international broadcasting is in disarray, the focus has moved to Internet outreach through social networking and websites to promote America and its allies abroad. The Internet can be a great tool for the advancement of freedom and the empowerment of individuals. Yet it is not immune to the designs of state actors, nor does it exist in a policy vacuum." Helle Dale, The Foundry blog, Heritage Foundation, 27 January 2010. Disarray? The audience for US international broadcasting is 171 million weekly, its largest ever. She might be referring to the BBG, down to two active members, and anxiously awaiting confirmation of its new members.
     Appropriately, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. international broadcasting, is also marked for an increase from $1.1 billion this year to $1.28 billion next year. (Whether that increase will persuade them to restore unfortunate cuts in crucial language services is something to be watched.)" Helle Dale, The Foundry blog, Heritage Foundation, 2 February 2010. Where does the $1.28 billion come from? I see $768.8 million in the BBG FY 2011 budget request If Heritage really believes in "limited government," it should address the duplication discussed in the previous post.

VOA funds will help Pakistan "recover the information space lost to India" on Kashmir, and other VOA in the news.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Pakistan plans to broaden its information outreach on key national issues like Kashmir, relations with India and its contribution to the global war on terror through funding provided by the International Board of Governors (IBB) [sic] of the Voice of America (VOA). ... Firstly, the information outreach would focus on the Kashmir issue. According to Kaira, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had specifically instructed him to 'recover the information space lost to India on the Kashmir issue.' Secondly, Pakistan would use the VOA funding for broadcasting VOA's Urdu programs on Radio Pakistan. In this regard, Kaira said a dedicated frequency would be provided to the VOA's Urdu service. Pakistan would receive annual funding of 200 million dollars." Asian News International (New Delhi), 2 February 2010. Easy to confuse. Actually, VOA is part of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), which is part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
     "With dwindling revenue from online enterprises and the dominance of the larger, well-established wire services such as Reuters and the Associated Press, having reporters at the ends of the earth is becoming more and more difficult. ... A number of news organizations have taken to establishing a 'base' of operations in one location, while continuing to report on events from thousands of miles away. This form of reporting has given rise to an ongoing debate over the ethical nature of such practices. ... Voice of America’s Cairo office routinely files news stories on Iraq. Afraid for their reporters’ safety is once concern, but Iraq is not the only news filed from their Cairo location. Often, stories pertaining to the region, including Saudi Arabia and Libya are also reported from the Egyptian capital. ... To note, however, Voice of America and [Deutsche Presse Agentur] do not dateline the stories they write from Egypt as coming from somewhere else." Joseph Mayton, Bikya Masr, 29 January 2010. Alhurra, Radio Sawa, and perhaps RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq report from Iraq. Could VOA use their reports? As it presently bureaucratically stands, no.
     Contract employee of VOA published lengthy resignation letter and list of grievances in Somaliland Press, 31 January 2010. To which there must be another side to the story.
     "A senior representative of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has issued a dire forecast of the possible emergence of a number of new diseases in the coming years. Dr Earnest Pate, PAHO's Jamaica representative ... [spoke to] journalists on Thursday at the opening ceremony of a two-day, pandemic influenza workshop for journalists across the Caribbean. The workshop, which was held in New Kingston, was facilitated by the Voice of America in collaboration with the United States Embassy in St Andrew." The Gleaner (Kingston), 30 January 2010. Are Jamaicans still familiar with VOA? VOA no longer transmits in English to the Caribbean, though there might still be a program for placement on Caribbean radio stations.
     "Folks trying to save an old Wurlitzer theater pipe organ are facing the music. Media Heritage needs to raise $15,000 this week to buy an Opus 1787 organ for the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting in West Chester Township." Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 January 2010. In the transmitter building of the old VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting station.

USC scholars recommend domestic dissemination of VOA, RFE/RL.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Relax restrictions on domestic consumption of news reports by Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty and other government-funded international broadcasters. These broadcasters have talented journalists in bureaus around the world, and the United States spends half again as much on international broadcasts aimed at foreign audiences as it spends on public broadcasting. Yet these entities are barred by law from distributing their news reports to an American audience. Case in point: A Minnesota radio station wanted to run broadcasts by the VOA’s Somali service so that its audience – mainly Somalis who were getting news from other entities broadcasting in the Somalian language – would hear reports by a reliable source of news. Adhering to a law adopted 60 years ago, the VOA was forced to say no. In an era when all Americans, including expatriate populations, have access to both outstanding news sources and propaganda from around the world, it makes little sense to deny them excellent reports funded by the United States. Technology is making this prohibition mostly obsolete. It’s no longer possible to quarantine newscasts by VOA, RFE/RL, Alhurra and others, which are gaining a big domestic audience on the Web. A recognition of that reality would make this nearly $700 million annual investment in news coverage more useful to the American public." David Westphal, "Public Policy and Funding the News, USC Center on Communication & Policy, January 2010. With introduction by former VOA director Geoffrey Cowan.
     "Since 1948, through congressional passage of the Smith-Mundt Act and made even more severe with subsequent legislation, Americans were essentially not to hear what their government was broadcasting to countries abroad. Today, though, technology (the Internet and direct broadcast systems) has rendered the ban meaningless. Americans surfing the Web are able to listen or watch virtually any broadcast or program intended for a foreign audience." Working paper on international broadcasting from ibid.
     The restriction is on domestic dissemination, not domestic consumption. American shortwave listeners have always been able to hear VOA broadcasts, rendering the Smith Mundt domestic dissemination prohibition meaningless. But now, as VOA phases out shortwave in favor of internet delivery, the ban is becoming feasible. As discussed in a previous post, some broadcasters use IP addresses to restrict the distribution of their content to certain parts of the world. (Savvy internet users know how to work around these restrictions, but average users don't.) VOA therefore could, if it chooses to do so, or if it is directed to do so, use this same capability to comply with Smith-Mundt.
     There are two good reasons for US international broadcasting to be excused from the domestic dissemination prohibition. The first is that immigrant communities in the United States appreciate news about their their home countries in their home languages. VOA, RFE/RL, and RFA provide such news, so this valuable public service should not be restricted via the internet or on local radio stations. (Some radio stations in the United States use VOA programming on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis. Because VOA content is generally not protected by copyright, they use it without asking the permission that VOA would not be able to grant.) Second, VOA could expand its news coverage by bartering its international reporting for the domestic reporting of US broadcasting organizations. Such an exchange would be possible only by repealing the domestic dissemination ban on VOA content.
     Legislation that eliminates domestic dissemination restrictions on US international broadcasting should be carefully worded. It must be specified that funds allocated for international broadcasting are to be used for international broadcasting. There could be the temptation for an administration to use those monies for some sort of domestic communication campaign. Senior managers of US international broadcasting might want to cater to politically expeditious US audiences, at the expense of their audiences abroad.

Arab commentator: Alhurra and Radio Sawa more "constructive" than "Terror TV" legislation.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A recent bill passed [sic] by the US Congress imposes sanctions on Middle East satellite companies that are broadcasting channels deemed hostile to the United States. Last week Arab information ministers deliberated about setting up a joint media commission. Neither development has offered any comfort to the region’s non-state media. The very idea of the US Congress defining how media in other countries ought to behave is confusing simply because it defeats the principle of the free flow of information that the US champions. Just think of the recent US reaction to China’s harassment of Google and you realise how central media freedom is in the US policy agenda. ... It is perplexing to see this type of move, which was never raised by the more conservative Congress during the former Bush administration. In fact, that administration was wise enough to shape this region’s public opinion not by closing down hostile media outlets, but by launching credible broadcast operations like Alhurra Television Channel and Radio Sawa. It is through such constructive engagement in the region’s public sphere, rather than through sanctions and suppression, that the goals of US diplomacy would be better served." Muhammad Ayish, The National (Abu Dhabi), 3 February 2010. Refers to H.R. 2278, adopted by the House, but yet to be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. See previous post.
     "The Iraqi government is urging fellow Arab countries to help it crack down on television channels watched across the Arab world that it believes incite violence and sectarianism, an official said. Ali al-Musawi, manager of Iraq's National Media Center, complained that channels based in Arab nations like Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt had broadcast programs instructing viewers on how to assemble bombs or otherwise stirring up violence. He did not name any channels or provide more details." Reuters, 28 January 2010.
     "Once the U.S. gets into the business of imposing sanctions against television stations deemed hostile, it's a very slippery slope. The definition of anti-American incitement is impossibly broad. ... In short, H.R. 2278 is a deeply irresponsible bill which sharply contradicts American support for media freedom and could not be implemented in the Middle East today as crafted without causing great damage. Even Arab governments who despise Hamas and Hezbollah and Qaradawi and al-Jazeera could not sign on to it. Instead, such governments proposed a pan-Arab Media Commission which would monitor and regulate political content on satellite TV -- an idea which was floated in spring 2008, and mercifully failed." Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy blog, 25 January 2010.

Libya, "returning to the dark days of total media control," blocks websites.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Libya's moves in late January, 2010, to block access to at least seven independent and opposition Libyan web sites based abroad and to YouTube is a disturbing step awayfrom press freedom, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should restore web site access immediately, Human Rights Watch said. 'These web sites were the one recent sign of tangible progress in freedom of expression in Libya,' said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, 'The government is returning to the dark days of total media control.' On January 24, Libyans woke to find that they could no longer access independent and opposition Libyan web sites based abroad,such as Libya Al Youm, Al Manara, Jeel Libya, Akhbar Libya,and Libya Al Mostakbal, which had become major sources of news." HRW, 3 February 2010.

"New spirit," with few details, for France's Arabic-language Monte Carlo Doualiya.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"As part of its expansion plan, Monte Carlo Doualiya radio station recently launched its newest programs network in Jordan and directly interacted with its audience through a series of programs about Jordanian political and social issues marking a special day for the country. ... On this occasion, Mr. Alain De Pouzilhac, CEO of Monte-Carlo Doualiya, said: '2010 brings a new spirit to Monte Carlo Doualiya, we are exploring new talents and promise our listeners an exciting new phase reaching all age groups and interests. ... Monte-Carlo Doualiya, formerly known as RMC Middle East or RMC-MO, was founded in 1972 as a public French, Arabic-speaking radio station; it joined the "Radio France Internationale" group in 1996, and currently covers the Middle East, Gulf and Maghreb reaching over 10.5 million listeners. In Jordan, Monte Carlo Doualiya can be heard in Amman on FM 97.4 FM and in Ajloun 106.2 FM. It broadcasts out of Paris and is distributed all over the Arab world." Al-Bawaba, 1 February 2010. See also www.mc-doualiya.com.

China Radio International e-magazine for Shanghai Expo will feature "refined writing" in English, French, Chinese.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"China Radio International (CRI) is launching an official multilanguage e-magazine for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. 'Charm of A City,' designed and produced by CRI, presents a panoramic view of the Shanghai Expo for global readers through a rich combination of high-resolution pictures, official video clips and refined writing. ... Netizens can read three different language versions of the e-magazine in Chinese, English and French either through online browsing or downloading. ... Meanwhile, CRIonline, the official website of CRI, will present live broadcasts of some of the important Expo activities through multiple languages and dialects." CRI, 1 February 2010. No URL given, so perhaps not yet in distribution, but see CRI Shanghai Expo web page.
     Edwin Maher, the Australian broadcaster who went to work for China Radio International and CCTV-9, "believes there has been a demonstrable and increasing opening in the Chinese media. He attributes this to China's growing political and economic clout on the international stage - and the corresponding desire for its state-run media outlets to be viewed as credible. 'We broadcast a lot more stories on things that we didn't used to: the horrific accidents that have happened in the coal mining industry, AIDS and corruption stories. This year, there will be a new dialogue and discussion program format, and major reform. There has been a lot more investigative reporting going on than there used to be. Certainly, the substance has to change as well.'" Haidi Lun and Dave Tacon, The Age (Melbourne), 30 January 2010. See previous post about Maher.

RFI stringer fined by Moscow court.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "condemns a Moscow court’s decision to rule against freelance journalist and former Soviet dissident Alexandre Podrabinek in a lawsuit by Second World War veteran Viktor Semenov, who claimed he was offended by an online article last September criticising government attempts to paint a rosy picture of the Soviet era. In its ruling, issued on 27 January, the court ordered Podrabinek to pay Semenov 1,000 roubles (23 euros) in damages and publicly retract a line in his article that said: 'Your homeland is not Russia but the Soviet Union. Your country, thank God, has not existed for 18 years already.' ... Podrabinek, who also reports for Radio France Internationale from Moscow, has announced that he intends to appeal against the ruling and, for the appeal, it seems that he will have to assemble documents demonstrating that the Soviet Union has indeed ceased to exist." RSF, 29 January 2010.

Prison sentence in Vietnam for giving interviews to RFA and BBC.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"A Haiphong court Friday sentenced a democracy activist to four years in prison, the fifth such conviction in two weeks. Pham Thanh Nghien, 33, was convicted under Article 88 of the Criminal Code for 'spreading propaganda against the state' by the court in Vietnam's third-largest city. ... Nghien was also charged with giving interviews to foreign media, including Radio Free Asia and the BBC." DPA, 29 January 2010.

BBC training of Iraqi journalists mentioned at the UK Iraq Inquiry.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"At yesterday’s hearing of the Iraq Inquiry, current Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hilary Benn, who previously served as International Development Secretary and as a minister in the Home Office, described how the BBC World Service Trust had been involved in training journalists in Iraq after the fall of Saddam: '[T]he work we did with the BBC World Service Trust training journalists, because that was a whole new world for them, trying to report on what was happening, so people have information to enable the fledgling Iraqi democracy to function.'" Laura Oliver, journalism.co.uk, 3 February 2010.

Radio Free Iraq helps Iraqi prisoners in Saudi prisons.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) has helped to repatriate dozens of Iraqi prisoners who had been held in Saudi prisons without access to legal or diplomatic counsel. Iraqi prisoner Ahmad Huseini and three dozen fellow inmates in Saudi Arabia returned home last week after Radio Free Iraq investigated a series of phone calls coming from a Saudi jail and spread the word to families back home. The Iraqi prisoners, who were detained in the desert somewhere near the unmarked border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, smuggled in a cell phone and radio to listen to Radio Free Iraq. Huseini was among the men who placed the first phone calls, but RFI received calls from multiple phone numbers and prisons." Ladan Nekoomaram, Off Mic, RFE/RL, 29 January 2010.

The KGB agent at RFE/RL, and other Free Europe history.

Posted: 05 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Soviet Intelligence officer Viktor P. Gundarev defected to the West in Athens, Greece, on Friday, February 14, 1986. ... His defection, though interesting in many respects, did not at first glance affect RFE/RL. However, Gundarev’s defection events that led to the unmasking of KGB agents in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Apparently fearing arrest, RFE/RL Russian Service employee Oleg Tumanov, one KGB agent at RFE/RL, fled Germany seeking advice from the KGB. He was told to return to Munich but the pressure of being exposed as a KGB agent was too great on him, and he asked to return to the USSR. ... The investigation into his activities at Radio Liberty for almost 20 years showed that Tumanov stole personnel lists and background information on Radio Liberty’s Russian Service personnel, among other tasking. ... A Soviet propaganda film 'Radio Divisiant' about Radio Liberty appeared in 1974 and some on the documents Tumanov supplied to the KGB were shown in the film." Richard Cummings, Historytimes.com, undated January 2010.
     "Over 100 pen-and-ink drawings, oil paintings and sketches by celebrated local artist Louis Lehtonen (1930-2001) are on display at the Port Jefferson Village Center through Feb. 26. ... Lehtonen served as deputy director of Radio Free Europe in London... ." He died in 2001. Times Beacon Record, 20 January 2010. Back on 20 January, I was not able to confirm that Mr. Lehtonen had such a position at RFE. Richard Cummings found out that he actually worked for the Free Europe Committee, from 1963 to 1965, as Assistant to the Director, FEC West European Operations Division, London. Ross Johnson informs me: "In organizational terms, the Free Europe Committee, Inc. (initially it had other names, National Committee for a Free Europe, etc.) was the parent corporation. RFE was the major operating division, alongside the Free Europe Press, the National Councils Division initially, and other divisions."
     See also Richard Cummings' early history of Radio Liberty, Historytimes.com, 20 January 2010, and photos of the aftermath of the February 21, 1981, bombing of the RFE/RL Munich headquarters, Historytimes.com, 5 February 2010.
     "Much of what [Roman Kupchinsky] did in the cold war is still secret. ... He campaigned for political prisoners and fought hard in the information war against Soviet rule in Ukraine. ... He edited a gripping fortnightly digest on crime and corruption in the ex-Soviet region for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. (For readers who know that outfit only in its pale modern incarnation, a trip into the archives is recommended.)" The Economist, 28 January 2010. I don't think there is anything "pale" about RFE/RL's present-day reporting about Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Central Asia, Iran, etc. See previous post about Roman Kupchinsky. See/hear also an audio-visual tribute to Kupchinsky at www.radiosvoboda.org.

Letters from Afghanistan to RFE/RL's Radio Azadi on display at the Library of Congress.

Posted: 04 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"For a peak into life in Afghanistan, the Library of Congress will display over 50 letters written to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The letters come from all over the country and discuss living conditions, corrupt officials and prison reform. Some are illustrated with floral and animal designs reminiscent of an earlier tradition. Voices from Afghanistan opens Feb. 11 and will be on display on the first floor of the Library's Thomas Jefferson building." DCist, 2 February 2010.
     "Sound booths will allow visitors to listen to Radio Azadi's broadcasts in Dari and Pushto with voiceovers in English and live telephone conversations among family members re-united through Radio Azadi." Library of Congress, 26 January 2010.

This week's USIB news: 1) New program to Venezuela on shortwave via Greenville. 2) Greenville will close.

Posted: 04 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"'A Fondo' is a new weeknight, Spanish-language radio program targeted to audiences in Latin America and the Caribbean, providing vital news and information to a region where media freedom is under attack. With anchors at Voice of America studios in Washington, D.C. and the studios of Radio Marti in Miami, Fl., the hour-long program utilizes the unique resources of both entities to provide local, national and international news reports to audiences throughout the region. Call-in segments and interviews with experts and government officials will provide facts and opinions that are currently unavailable to listeners. 'A Fondo' (In Depth) debuted Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. EST (0100 UTC). It is available on shortwave, medium-wave, satellite and Internet at (http://www.voanews.com/spanish/news/.) It airs Monday to Friday.
The program was developed in response to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's decision to shut down cable and satellite TV channels last month for failing to broadcast a speech he made." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 3 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.
     "The federal government wants to close the Voice of America transmission site located in Pitt County [near Greenville, North Carolina]. President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget for the Broadcasting Board of Governors recommends funding increases to update satellite and other broadcasting technology. But the improvements come at the loss of the Pitt County Voice of America site and reductions in engineering staffing. The site opened in 1963 in eastern Pitt County near the Black Jack community. Closing the location should save the agency $3.1 million... . 'The justification that we have received for the closing of the Greenville Voice of America site is very thin,' [US Rep. Walter] Jones said. 'We need to get to the bottom of this before any further action is taken.'" Ginger Livingston, The Daily Reflector (Greenville), 3 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Council of Europe laments loss of international broadcasters' access to the Russian FM dial.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"In a meticulous, methodical and bluntly worded report on media freedom in Europe, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly expressed 'shock' at the increase in attacks on journalists and media over the last several years, highlighting Russia. ... [A] paragraph on Russia mentions RFE/RL’s loss of local affiliates as a result of political pressure from authorities. 'Many media and other international organizations that promote open exchanges of all kinds with Russia are shocked that contracts with international broadcasters, including the BBC and Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, for re-broadcasting programmes from abroad via good-quality FM frequencies have been ended, depriving Russians of an established source of information and contact beyond Russia’s borders.' Another reference to RFE/RL is made in the section on 'murders, violence against journalists and the most serious violations,' noting a 2008 assault on Hrach Melkumyan, then the Armenian Service’s Yerevan bureau chief." Journalists in Trouble, RFE/RL, 29 January 2010. See also Council of Europe, 6 January 2010.

New Euronews report assuages Azerbaijani grievance.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
A new Euronews "report describes the lives of Azerbaijanis who became refugees and internally displaced as a result of Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and highlights the position of the Azerbaijani side. Earlier, Euronews TV showed a video report "The winds of change in Nagorno-Karabakh” prepared by the Euronews staff who tripped to Azerbaijan occupied territories. The biased report distorted history of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Authors of the report ignored views of the Azerbaijani side." Today.az, 2 February 2010.
     "The Euronews TV channel has broadcast an eight-minute documentary about Azerbaijani refugees from the districts occupied by Armenia. Entitled Forgotten Victims of a Frozen Conflict, the documentary interviews Azerbaijanis displaced from their homes by the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh." News.az, 2 February 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Thanking BBC, Microsoft, Google for protecting Arabic.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"We Arabs are the worst collaborators against our own language. We always talk about conspiracies being woven against the Arabic language, while, in fact, we are Arabic's arch enemies. Instead of calling upon all Arab satellite channels to use proper Arabic in their broadcasts, some Arab media officials do exactly the opposite. They call upon male and female presenters to use their colloquial regional dialects instead, which can hardly be understood in other countries. ... One cannot but also thank the BBC for using the best standard Arabic in its broadcast over half a century, while our supposedly national televisions and radios are using slang ‘cockney' Arabic. ... Thanks to Microsoft, proper Arabic has found a place for itself in the computer industry. And thanks to Google, Arabs can now use their proper Arabic to look for information on the World Wide Web. Were it left to Arabs themselves, they would have debased their language as they have done over the years. Thanks to the West for protecting our language!" Faisal Al Qasim, Gulf News (Dubai), 3 February 2010.

Filter busters versus shortwave, and other Iran media news.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
U.S.-based Global Internet Freedom Consortium deputy director Shiyu Zhou "says: their goal is nothing less than to tear down the firewalls of every dictatorship around the world. With U.S. government funding, he believes his group can do just that. ... [I]ntervention may sometimes be necessary, says Ken Berman, director of information technology for the U.S.-funded Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America. The VOA has collaborated with GIFC and other circumvention-software makers for years. Despite the Iranian government's efforts to jam VOA's broadcasts and block its Persian News Network and Radio Farda Web sites, listeners in Iran could hear and spread the news during the elections by using filter busters." Jessica Ramirez, Newsweek, 26 January 2010. Keep in mind that the internet almost always involves landlines in the target country. In contrast, shortwave signals drop in directly.
     "The challenge of reaching the [Iranian] regime loyalists is better understood in a historical context. I took part in the demonstrations that overthrew the Shah as a young teenager. Back in 1978, we would huddle around the radio, and listen to the BBC Persian Service and even Radio Moscow. It was radio but the news was reliable and constant. ... Today, the Islamic Republic easily jams all foreign news channels and filters as many news websites as it deems fit. I was in Tehran during the June protests after the disputed presidential election. My friends and family were scrambling to get some news from foreign sources, but nothing relevant could be picked up on satellite TV. All channels were jammed by the authorities. Technology has captured people’s attention as a promising tool to make change in Iran. The US senate has authorised up to 50 million US dollars to help Iranians evade internet censorship. However, what is now essential is to provide a universally accessible medium to Iranians that would not be susceptible to complete disruption or censorship by the regime. The opposition groups need to move beyond preaching to the converted and target those who have seen nothing but the propaganda of the Islamic regime. If the regime is willing to shut down the internet, cellphones, text messaging and satellite TV at any moment, as it has frequently done since the elections, high-tech will fail again. Today, Iran needs a medium that is universally accessible and unequivocally beyond the reach of the ruling regime. Getting back to basics could be one solution. The most capable medium is still short-wave radio, a low-tech, universally accessible, and hard to jam medium that has often been used to overcome censorship. The experience of stations like Radio Free Europe during the 1980s and many other instances show that the Iranian people would benefit if the lessons of the past are heeded." Babak Shahrvandi (pseudonym), Global Arab Network, 27 January 2010.
     "A new trial was held on Saturday for dissidents who took part in protest demonstrations against the Iranian government, the official news agency IRNA reported. ... The prosecutor said the 16 confessed to crimes which included espionage, sabotage and sending news and pictures of the demonstrations to 'hostile' foreign media. One of the defendants was quoted by IRNA as saying he sent news and pictures in the form of e-mails and text messages to the BBC, Voice of America and Al-Jazeera." DPA, 30 January 2010.
     "Some news outlets (perhaps eager to get the Iran story back into the news cycle after the Haiti disaster) rushed to interpret the secondhand remarks [of opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi] as explosive proof that Karroubi had somehow changed his stance on Iran's current domestic political crisis. 'Karroubi had not budged at all,' one Tehran analyst told the Times. 'Karroubi said that the government is the government of the system. So it does not imply he has recognized it. Unfortunately, BBC Persian and Radio Farda, seeking hot news, sacrificed their critical faculties.'" Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, Babylon & Beyond blog, Los Angeles Times, 26 January 2010.

Are US viewers "starting to switch over to foreign channels"?

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Television viewers in the United States seeking international news are starting to switch over to foreign channels to learn what is happening in the outside world, media watchers here say. 'They are comparable to CNN,' said Steve Randall, about television news channels such as Russia Today, Al Jazeera, CCTV of China, and the Press TV of Iran, which are now being watched by millions of people in the United States via cable and dish networks. ... Randall, a senior analyst at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a media watchdog group, thinks many people are turning to foreign media outlets because there is so little coverage devoted to foreign affairs on U.S. network and cable television news." Haider Rizvi, Inter Press Service, 29 January 2010. Let's not get carried away here. Only Al Jazeera, of the mentioned channels, is "comparable to CNN." (CNN International, Al Jazeera English, and BBC World News are the big three of the global English-language news channels.) Access to the international channels on U.S. cable and satellite systems is still limited, and audiences range from small (for BBC World), to very small (for the rest). I'm sure Press TV is on no US cable system, so access to that channel would be limited to internet video stream.

Radio Australia covers the news about Guam.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"In breaking news this afternoon, the governor of Guam, Felix Camacho, has sent a formal request to the secretary of the United States Navy in Washington asking for a delay in the planned troop location from Japan to Guam beyond 2014. In the document, sent through to Radio Australia by the governor's office, Governor Camacho writes that he humbly requests that all actions related to the Guam Military Buildup Program be delayed to beyond 2014." Radio Australia, 29 January 2010.
     "A series of public hearings on Guam has revealed widespread concern at the scale and speed of the proposed US military buildup." Radio Australia, 29 January 2010.
     "The Catholic Church in Guam has submitted a petition to oppose the controversial Bill 185 that would legalize same-sex unions in U.S. territory in Guam. ... ABC Radio Australia aired a discussion on Jan. 26 between Guam Senator Benjamin Cruz who proposed the legislation last year and Deacon Jeff Barcinas, spokesman for Archbishop Anthony Apuron." Catholic News Agency, 27 January 2010.

Low-powered shortwave broadcasts from Germany, and other shortwave stories.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"In Germany ... Hamburger Lokalradio (HLR) is one of currently two stations using a small-scale, low-power shortwave service. ... But why using shortwave, especially at a time when Germany’s own international radio, Deutsche Welle, is reducing its output on the analog HF bands? 'Well, for me, listening to programs on shortwave is like traveling without a visa,' said [HLR Editor-in-Chief Michael] Kittner. ... Avid amateur radio operator and HF engineer Burkhard Baumgartner ... entered a new stage as a non-commercial service provider for Radio 700, a broadcaster from the ... city of Euskirchen — a station that was fully licensed but lacking a proper FM frequency. The station applied for permission to use 6005 kHz in the 49-meter band, the frequency used until 2007 by RIAS Berlin and its successor Deutschlandradio." Thomas Völkner, Radio World, 29 January 2010.
     "A shortwave radio might appear to be old fashioned to some, but its use is still very important at critical times. The Inland Empire's Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) is a group of 90-100 amateur/shortwave radio operators that have grouped together to help provide assistance in cases of disasters such as forest fires or terrorist attacks like 9/11." Thomas Guy, Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise, 28 January 2010.
     "When I was a teenager, I used to listen to all sorts of news broadcasts on Shortwave radio. I used to listen to the same news story told by five or six different propaganda outlets. From that experience I developed a very finely tuned ear to bias in news reporting. I find it the height of arrogance that any group would claim to be unbiased." Jake Brodsky, via True/Slant, 27 January 2010.
     "Artifacts from Army Col. John H. Rodman's service during World War II, which included time as a prisoner of war of the Japanese, are part of 'Kentucky Military Treasures: Selections from the Kentucky Historical Society Collections.' ... He was captured in 1942 during the fall of the Philippines, and he remained a prisoner of the Japanese until September 1945, [a Society] press release states. He was able to let his family know he was alive through letters and radio broadcasts. ... His Japanese captors also broadcast personal messages he wrote, the press release states. R.P. Reed, a short-wave radio operator, received the messages in Hopkins, Minn., in 1943. He produced vinyl albums of the broadcasts and mailed them to Rodman's family, the press release states. The recording can be heard in the gallery exhibition and online." Beth Wilberding, Owensboro (KY) Messenger-Inquirer, via Interconnection World, 31 January 2010. Look for the John H. Rodman exhibit at www.history.ky.gov/military, where the remarkable audio is available.

Experiment limits subjects (journalists) to news via Facebook and Twitter.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The five French-speaking broadcast journalists who will confine themselves to an isolated farmhouse in southwest France next week for the experiment 'Behind closed doors on the Net' include reporter Janic Tremblay of Radio Canada in Montreal and colleagues from France, Belgium and Switzerland. They'll be cut off from TV, radio, print media, and smart phones and will test the limits of reporting solely with Facebook and Twitter, the Toronto Star's Lesley Ciarula Taylor explains. 'We want to figure out what kind of information people get when they only try to inform themselves from Facebook and Twitter because we know there is some good information coming from Twitter,' Tremblay said in an interview with CBC Radio's As It Happens." Dean Graber, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, 29 January 2010. This might not be much of an experiment. In addition to typical, casual tweets, many news organizations (and this website) use Twitter as a version of RSS to push their news items. Are these journalists allowed to click on the links?

Senator Feingold calls Radio/TV Martí -- to borrow a phrase -- "relic of the Cold War."

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"As President Obama prepares his 2011 budget, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is urging him to eliminate funding for a radio and television broadcast to Cuba, which virtually nobody tunes in to, as part of a larger effort to eliminate wasteful government spending. In a letter to the president, Feingold recommended eliminating the budget for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which runs Radio and TV Marti, citing the program’s ineffectiveness. Fewer than two percent of Cubans tune in to either Radio or TV Marti programming, while the U.S. has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the programming over the past two decades. ... 'This programming is a relic of the Cold War, falls short of journalistic standards and is a prime example of wasteful government spending at a time when we should be reducing the deficit,' Feingold said." Senator Feingold press release, 28 January 2010. See also Havana Times, 27 January 2010. And Radio Havana Cuba via Periodic26.cu, 28 January 2010.
     "Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. ... has a long-time opposition to TV Marti, a government-sponsored American station broadcast in Cuba to 'tell Cubans how great freedom is.' But the station has been blocked by the Cuban government since it started airing. Cutting the program could save $250 million a year, Dorgan said." Bismarck (ND) Tribune, 27 January 2010.
     "We’re fooling ourselves to think the U.S. government is going to influence the Cuban government or people through our existing means. This is a waste of time and money. Let’s try public diplomacy through private enterprise." Liz Harper, Americas Quarterly, 29 January 2010.
     Senator Feingold, usually an astute fiscal watchdog, is a bit off the mark here. Cuba, with one of world's most controlled media environments, has an unmistakable need for independent news. Internet and satellite television access have not yet reached the point where they can substitute for international radio, especially on shortwave, which has the advantage of reaching Cuba wirelessly. As for the fewer than two percent of Cubans tuning in, survey research in Cuba is obviously problematic, so results should be interpreted cautiously. Even if the audience is fewer than two percent, US international broadcasting has many language services with similar audience ratings. They make up in quality what they lack in quantity. The information reaches the larger publics through a two-step flow.
     To be sure, reforms are needed at Radio/TV Martí. VOA could resume responsibility for providing news to Cuba. Television could be dropped altogether -- although if black market satellite dishes continue to proliferate in Cuba, some sort of television product will be necessary. Or it might be determined that CNN en Español is sufficient, which certainly would save the taxpayers some money.
     Senator Feingold's scruitiny would better be directed towards the most prominent feature of US international broadcasting: duplication. In 24 languages, VOA and a Radio Free station both transmit. The most recent recent and most egregious example is the duplication of effort between RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal and VOA's Deewa Radio, both broadcasting in Pashto to the Pakistan/Afghanistan frontier region. (See previous post.) The BBG FY 2011 budget calls for the creation of "Radio Free Asia (RFA) video programming in Burmese, Tibetan, Mandarin, and Vietnamese." VOA already has video programming in three of those languages. The duplication just keeps growing and growing.
See previous posts on 27 November and 15 November 2009.

Vigil in front of Press TV London headquarters marks birthday of Neda Agha Soltan.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"It was a cold, crisp subdued winter evening on January the 23rd 2010, a day which marked the 27th birthday of Neda Agha Soltan, as a diverse crowd gathered outside the main entrance of Press TV's Westgate House, the dull headquarters of the controversial 24-hour Iranian state-run broadcaster, to mourn and celebrate her life. ... But why specifically hold the demonstration outside Press TV? 'Press TV has been lying about Neda right from the start,' says [vigil co-organizer Azermehr] Potkin. 'They've recently broadcasted a documentary which is just beyond belief, saying that Neda was part of a plot... ." Eclid Asaei, Demotix, 23 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera can use the WMUR studios, after all.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"WMUR will allow Al-Jazeera to continue to use its broadcasting studio. Last week, Sarah Alansary, producer of Al-Jazeera's Inside Story program, and local political activist Arnie Arnesen told the Monitor that WMUR had told Al-Jazeera it would no longer be able to use the studio, with no explanation. But WMUR general manager Jeff Bartlett said yesterday that it was a booking error. 'We've done business with Al-Jazeera in the past and will continue to do so in the future,' Bartlett said." Concord (NH) Monitor, 28 January 2010. WMUR, channel 9, is an ABC affiliate in Manchester. See previous post about same subject.

Alhurra and (some of) the People.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Alhurra, a 24-hour Arabic-language news and information satellite channel, crisscrossed the Middle East and the U.S. to talk to people from all walks of life about political and social issues that impact their lives. The daily two-minute segments entitled Alhurra and the People will launch on Sunday, January 31st. Each day a new question will be posed to people across the U.S., the Middle East and North Africa illustrating the commonalities among values and beliefs, regardless of their geographic location or nationality. Alhurra and the People will focus on fostering better understanding and tolerance among people of different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds." Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc. press release, 29 January 2010. Given that Alhurra does not broadcast to the United States, how much "fostering" can actually happen?

Alhurra and Al Jazeera had camera positions for the State of the Union.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Two major Arab TV networks, al Jazeera and al Hurra, [joined] American networks and cable news stations to cover President Obama's State of the Union tonight and the post-speech spin. Maps ... show 57 different camera positions, including two for al Jazeera and one for al Hurra. In the Capitol, al Jazeera gets a choice location near the center of the half-circle hall filled with statues of American heroes." Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers, U.S. News & World Report, 27 January 2010. See also Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc. press release, 26 January 2010.

RSF: Alhurra offices damaged in 25 January Baghdad hotel bombings.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The latest series of bombings in Baghdad, yesterday afternoon, were targeted at the city’s main hotels, which house many Iraqi and foreign news media. The offices of the Al-Hurra TV station were damaged and many journalists sustained minor injuries." Reporters sans frontières, 26 January 2010.
     'It was a huge bomb, the area was devastated afterwards,' said Ahmed al Barhadili, a reporter for Radio Sawa, which has offices in the Palestine Hotel next door." The National, 25 January 2010.

BBG budget plan includes closure of Greenville transmitting station, last IBB shortwave facility in the US.

Posted: 02 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
In his DX Listening Digest Yahoo! discussion group, Glenn Hauser credits me with providing a link to the Broadcasting Board of Governors FY 2011 Budget Request. I credit Glenn for actually reading the budget document. See his analysis.
     Most remarkable in it is the plan to close the IBB Greenville, North Carolina, shortwave transmitting station. This would be the last IBB/VOA shortwave facility on US soil. Another site near Greenville recently closed, along with one at Delano California. The stations at Dixon, California, and Bethany, Ohio, station were shut down in the 1990s.
     Glenn and I wonder how this will affect Radio Martí transmissions on shortwave into Cuba, plus special needs such as the present VOA/Radio Martí "A Fondo" broadcast to Venezuela.
     Rates of shortwave listening are certainly low in the Americas. The present Greenville transmissions to Africa can probably be taken up by IBB and leased facilities in the eastern hemisphere. But I have misgivings about the complete absence of a shortwave facility on US soil. It will probably be needed in some future crisis.
     Another provision in the budget proposal:
"The BBG proposes restructuring operations at some of its overseas transmitting stations. The BBG will retain ownership of these facilities; however, it would turn over operations of these sites to a third party on a fee-for-service basis ($1.5 million)." BBC World Service took similar action in the 1990s. VT Communications operates the BBCWS transmitting stations. See previous post about the budget. See also previous post about the future of shortwave in international broadcasting.

"A Fondo": new VOA/Radio Martí co-production for, apparently, Venezuela.

Posted: 02 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of America and Radio Martí have launched a co-production, "A Fondo" ("thoroughly"), presumably to Venezuela. It is broadcast at 8:00 to 9:00 pm Eastern Time, or 0100-0200 UTC, on announced 7340, 9415, and 11625 kHz shortwave. (Is it also on Radio Martí's 1180 kHz medium wave frequency?) Listen to first two minutes of the first broadcast here (mp3). And read Glenn Hauser's notes on monitoring the first broadcast.

Senators Kerry and Lugar have plans for the BBG's "authorities" (updated)

Posted: 02 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-IN) today introduced comprehensive bi-partisan legislation that will provide authority, policy guidance, and operational oversight to the State Department. ... 'This bill continues the Committee’s long-standing tradition of providing the State Department, the US Agency for International Development and US Broadcasting entities with the needed tools and personnel to address the ever-changing challenges they face,' said Ranking Member Lugar. ... Strengthen U.S. Public Diplomacy: Promotes a reexamination of the public diplomacy strategy for the United States to include publicly accessible American Centers, clarifies authorities relating to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and enhances the contribution of scientific and technical knowledge to the pursuit of U.S. foreign policy objectives." Senator Kerry website, 29 January 2010. Same available at Senator Lugar website, 29 January 2010. What are they proposing to do to the BBG's "authorities"? I have not seen the full text of the legislation (can't find it at Thomas), so I await it with trepidation.
     Update: Trepidation unfounded. A helpful reader has pointed me to the the text, via Thomas, of the Kerry/Lugar authorization legislation. I was afraid there might be some plan to "coordinate" US international broadcasting with US public diplomacy. The US international broadcasting language is, unfortunately, in the public diplomacy section of the bill. But it deals with fairly mundane issues, such as employment, pay, contracting, and extending the grant authority of Radio Free Asia to September 2011. I notice that no cosponsor is listed along with Senator Kerry, even though the press release indicates he and Senator Lugar introduced the legislation.

Elimination of VOA Hindi, Croatian, and Greek included in President Obama's proposed FY 2011 savings.

Posted: 01 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"The 2011 Budget proposal would eliminate VOA Croatian and Greek language broadcasts. As proposed in 2010 and accepted by the Congress, VOA Hindi will cease broadcasting in 2010, these savings are also reflected in the funding summary. While the overall funding level for VOA is increasing from 2010, funding related to these language services within VOA will be eliminated. These reductions help to offset the total funds needed in 2011 to support ongoing programming and new priority needs. ... Each year, BBG undertakes an assessment of each language in which the BBG entities broadcast, fulfilling a congressional mandate to 'review, evaluate, and determine, at least annually, after consultation with the Secretary of State, the addition or deletion of language services.'" Terminations, Reductions, and Savings document of President Obama's FY 2011 budget, OMB website.
     The Broadcasting Board of Governors FY 2011 budget submission is available at the BBG website.

Liberty continues process of purchasing bankrupt Worldspace.

Posted: 01 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
"Liberty Satellite Radio is wrapping up its purchase of Worldspace. Documents filed before a US Bankruptcy Court show that an agreement has been reached. Liberty has, to date, paid a total of US$19.6m to keep Worldspace afloat. A filing to the US Bankruptcy Court says that Liberty has paid in another $1m to fund payroll and other obligations for Worldspace. 'The Debtors [Worldspace] hope that that such funding will provide a bridge to a strategic transaction between Liberty and the Debtors,' said the filing, adding that the purchase is the Debtors’ 'best [and perhaps only] hope of confirming a plan and making distributions to creditors'." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 27 January 2010. See previous post about same subject.