BBC World Service Trust and Radio Netherlands Training Center helping develop Liberian media.

Posted: 31 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
followthemedia.com, 31 August 2010, Michael Hedges: "It was the fifth anniversary last week (August 25) for the Liberia Media Center (LMC). Launched originally under the auspices of the Press Union of Liberia, the LMC has grown to a staff of ten managing projects throughout the country. ... The LMC’s partners include the major media development funding agencies – the BBC World Service Trust, UNESCO, the World Bank, IREX USA, Soros Foundations (OSIWA), Journalists for Human Rights (Canada), Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Free Voice), and the Ford Foundation (Trust Africa). The Radio Netherlands Training Center (RNTC) funds its Informotrac initiative for community radio in several African countries, including Liberia."

New version of Newsweek for "The World's Bravest Nation."

Posted: 31 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 31 August 2010: "Newsweek may have well-documented financial issues in the United States, but the newsmagazine has just expanded into Pakistan. The magazine launched an English-language Pakistan edition this week in partnership with Pakistani media company AG Publications. The debut issue features a cover story on 'The World's Bravest Nation' by editor Fasid Ahmed, which 'takes a comprehensive look at how much has changed in Pakistan in recent years and why its citizens' capacity for forgiveness is cause for hope,' according to a press release." See also The Express Tribune (Karachi), 31 August 2010.

Former BBG member Norm Pattiz retires as chairman of Westwood One.

Posted: 31 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
"Founder Norm Pattiz hasn’t been running day-to-day operations at Westwood One for many years. Now he is retiring from his last post, Chairman of the Board of Directors. As he steps down, Pattiz has been named Chairman Emeritus and has signed a new contract as a consultant to the company. ... Pattiz serves as Chairman of the Department of Energy's Los Alamos and Laurence Livermore National Security Laboratories, and as a Regent of the University of California. ... He served from 2000 to 2006 on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, appointed by the President of the United States to oversee all non-military international broadcasting by the US government." -- Pattiz was the prime mover in the creation of Radio Sawa and Alhurra -- and the accompanying elimination of the VOA Arabic Service. See also "Pattiz Should Stay," Radio Netherlands Media Network, 23 June 2005.

More news about international channels in India.

Posted: 31 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
livemint.com (New Delhi), 30 August 2010, Anushree Chandran: "Encouraged by a drop in operating costs and changing audience tastes, Indian television broadcasters are looking to flood the airwaves with an assortment of channels featuring specialized content—from health and lifestyle to the secret lives of serial killers. ... BBC Worldwide India Ltd, a unit of British Broadcasting Corp., plans to relaunch BBC Entertainment by the end of the year, followed by BBC Knowledge and BBC Lifestyle, a media buyer said, also requesting anonymity. ... Anil Ambani’s Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd, a 50:50 joint venture with the US-based CBS Studios International, will debut with three channels targeting the English-speaking audience—CBS Prime for English general entertainment, BIG CBS Spark for the youth and BIG CBS Love for English-speaking women." See previous post about same subject.

Future of Worldspace assets is abundantly unclear.

Posted: 31 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
King of All Trades, 30 August 2010, Steve Garcia: "In the weeks since the final bankruptcy sale and approval of Worldspace assets to Noah Samara; this time through Yazmi LLC, one thing is abundantly clear. The plight of all the assets of Worldspace and SATCO is as yet unknown and still awaiting a final outcome. ... It appears that the final dissolution of Worldspace and all its intertwined assets is nearer, but still under a cloud of mystery and disinformation. The bankruptcy process has been streamlined a bit more so as to not convolute the situation, but final disposition of all assets seems to be in a state of flux. Speculatively, there seems to be a back room situation with regard to Liberty and Yazmi. ... As I continue to investigate the situation, and review documentation, it seems quite possible that some assets which Worldspace had are in Liberty’s sights." See previous post about same subject.

North Korean website criticizes South Korean blocking of its social networking content.

Posted: 31 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
AFP, 30 August 2010: "North Korea accused The South Monday of blocking its people from accessing online social-networking sites launched by the secretive communist country. Pyongyang opened a Twitter account on August 12 after its foray into popular video-sharing website YouTube, prompting a game of online cat-and-mouse with Seoul which has struggled to stop its citizens following The North's official website, Uriminzokkiri. South Korea has been 'crazy to stop its people from gaining access to video and messages posted on our YouTube and Twitter,' said a statement seen on the North's website."

Wall Street Journal, 30 August 2010, Evan Ramstad: "North Korea doesn’t let its citizens have computers or access to the Internet. But that hasn’t stopped it from complaining about South Korea’s attempts to block North Korean propaganda videos on YouTube and messages on Facebook and Twitter." See previous post about same subject.

BBC DG Mark Thompson on the export of British television in "formats of every kind."

Posted: 30 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Independent, 29 August 2010, Senay Boztas: Director-general Mark Thompson "acknowledged that the BBC has been losing viewers year on year and said it needs to aim for an international role to generate more revenue, mentioning successes such as Wallander, Doctor Who and international versions of Strictly Come Dancing such as Dancing with the Stars and a Hindi version."

The Guardian, 27 August 2010, text of BBC director-general Mark Thompson's MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival: "The global reputation of British broadcasting is strong today as it's ever been – if not stronger.

"That reputation was built first and foremost by journalism – by the BBC World Service and Global News, which today reaches 240 million people every week across radio, TV and the web, but also by a tradition of outstanding news, current affairs and documentary which stretches far beyond the BBC to include ITN, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky.

"For decades, our reputation beyond news was pretty narrow: natural history, Jane Austen, Monty Python, Benny Hill.

"It's a different story today. Factual programmes and formats of every kind. Entertainment – Millionaire, X Factor, Dancing With The Stars – playing to many tens of millions of viewers. And, while it's fashionable in this country to claim that all the best comedy and drama is actually American, over in America British comedy and drama are beginning to make serious inroads.

"The appetite is there. BBC Worldwide has over a thousand episodes of BBC TV programmes up on the US iTunes site. The site's interesting because, unlike much of the American distribution landscape, it's a level playing field. Today, in head-to-head competition with the biggest American players, the BBC is a top 10 provider of programmes in the TV section of iTunes. The download market is not that big yet – but think of it as a test-case of underlying US consumer demand for the best of what British TV can come up with."

The Guardian, 28 August 2010, Tara Conlan: "John Simpson, the veteran BBC world affairs editor, has warned about the political pressure the corporation is under and raised questions about negotiating the forthcoming licence fee settlement with the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who he called 'a man who wants to turn us into Birmingham, Alabama'. ... He was referring to a speech Hunt made in June promoting his plan to develop a new generation of local TV stations. 'The real lack of provision is not regional news but local news. It's probably the biggest single failing of public service television in this country. Birmingham, Alabama, has eight local TV stations. Birmingham in the UK has none – despite the fact it has a population four times the size,' he said."

BBC iPlayer to be available outside the UK, says BBC DG. Not so fast, say content producers.

Posted: 30 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
paidContent.org, 27 August 2010, Robert Andrews: "BBC director-general Mark Thompson has committed the corporation to making its iPlayer VOD [video on demand] service available to UK license payers whilst traveling overseas. In his MacTaggart Lecture to the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Thompson said people like servicemen should be able 'to use a UK version of the iPlayer wherever they are in the world'. The multi-platform iPlayer serves BBC TV and radio shows from the last seven days and has popularised UK time-shifting, taking 114 million programme requests in July. But, to stay within the rights agreed with independent producers, who want to commercialise their productions themselves outside of the BBC’s seven-day window, the service is geo-blocked to work only for UK users. ... Thompson also said: 'Within a year, we wish to launch an international commercial version of the iPlayer.' ... But, though BBCWW already syndicates VOD to commercial third-party aggregators (it has over 1,000 episodes for purchase on iTunes Store in the U.S., Thompson said), [BBC Worldwide] has made slow progress building an overseas version of its own-brand, hosted platform."

paidContent.org, 28 August 2010, Robert Andrews: "Independent television producers have vowed to block making BBC iPlayer accessible to UK license payers whilst abroad, just hours after BBC director-general Mark Thompson announced the intention. 'This has not been agreed with the BBC and we will resist this,' John McVay, CEO of the sector’s trade group Pact, told paidContent:UK. 'The terms of trade DO NOT allow for the iPlayer to be accessed outside of the UK as this cuts across the commercial rights of independent producers.' ... Thompson appeared to acknowledge the potential niggle when he announced the idea in his MacTaggart Lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday night: 'It’s the right time to take a fresh look at whether the current terms are fit for purpose ... we may need more flexibility from the producers.'"

Via China's Sohu.com: BBC's Oliver Twist, Wild Europe, Fimbles, etc. (updated)

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadcast, 25 August 2010: "BBC Worldwide has secured its first ever digital deal in China that will see drama, children’s and educational programme licensed over two years. The commercial arm of the corporation has agreed a content supply deal with one of the territory’s main internet portals, Sohu.com. The move means that audiences in China will soon be able to watch drama adaptations of Dickens classics such as David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Vanity Fair, Great Expectations and A Tales of Two Cities through the portal. On the factual side, blue-chip series include Planet Earth, The Human Body, Wild Europe, Human Instinct and Space Odyssey. Children will also be invited to watch episodes of Teletubbies and Fimbles."

The Hollywood Reporter, 25 August 2010, Jonathan Landreth: "The deal, in which the U.K. statecaster gets undisclosed licensing fees but no share in potential advertising revenue from the world’s largest online audience, was announced Wednesday at the BBC’s first content showcase in Beijing, a gathering targeting 130 Chinese buyers drawn together by the ongoing Beijing Television Festival. The deal with Nasdaq-listed Sohu is the first of its kind for the BBC, whose work in China stretches back 20 years but accounts for less than $5 million in total annual business, Steve Macallister, BBC Worldwide managing director for sales and distribution, told The Hollywood Reporter."

Update: The Telegraph, 28 August 2010, Peter Foster: "Pierre Cheung, the youthful general manager of BBC Worldwide in China ... sees a growing opportunity for BBC programmes as the government seeks to extend its clampdown on the increasing obsession with sex and money in Chinese society. The BBC's more innocent fare has already proved a hit with Chinese parents. The loopy frolicking of Tinky Winky and the Teletubbies and In the Night Garden's Iggle Piggle – or Yigu Bigu as he's known in China - have topped television ratings, selling more than 500,000 DVDs in China. ... 'With most parents only having one child, and with a great emphasis on education and protecting children's innocence in China, we've found that Chinese parents are increasingly prepared to spend real dollars on their children,' Mr Cheung says. In a country wracked by piracy, Worldwide's healthy sales of the genuine article are a testament to this fact. 'Parents might buy themselves bootlegged DVDs when they watch a movie, say, but often they will spend money on the real thing for their children because they want it to work properly and they want the translations to be accurate.'"

Global Times (Beijing), 29 August 2010, Chen Yang: "Piracy is another problem faced by all program providers in China. There are vendors selling pirate BBC drama and documentary DVDs in subway tunnels and along the streets, and there are also fan groups on the Internet, recording the latest programs from overseas TV channels, adding Chinese subtitles and uploading for millions of viewers for free."

BBC Worldwide press release, 10 August 2010: "South East Asia has succumbed to the romance of the rumba, the Latin beat of the cha-cha-cha and the Hollywood grace of the waltz as two new territories pick up the glittering format Dancing with the Stars (Strictly Come Dancing). Vietnam (VTV3) and Indonesia (IVM) are the latest two countries to license the world’s most successful reality TV format from BBC Worldwide."

Internet anti-censorship tools blocked in China.

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Global Voices Advocacy, 29 August 2010, Oiwan Lam: "Reports from various sources said that one of the most popular circumvention tool, Freegate, has been blocked since last Friday (August 27) in China. When users ran the program, a warning message appeared: Error, the program has to be shut down. Please accept our apology. ... According to the RFA report, users from several provinces across the country have encountered similar problem and they believe that it is due to the upgrade of Great Fire Wall. Apart from the Freegate, when running UltraSurf and FreeU the same error message appeared. However, advanced computer users quickly find out how to solve the problem manually... In order to tackle the problem, Freegate launched its latest beta version (7.03) on Saturday (Aug 28)."

China Radio International and Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation sign cooperation deal.

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily Times (Lahore), 29 August 2010: "To implement an MOU signed during the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to China in July this year, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) and China Radio International (CRI) has signed a statement of collaboration here on Saturday for cooperation between the two organizations. ... Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister For Information and Broadcasting, Qamar Zaman Kaira said ... time would soon be given on FM channels of Radio Pakistan to Radio China." -- But very unlikely that PBC would get time on FM transmitters in China.

VOA Khmer Service marks 55th anniversary.

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 16 August 2010: "VOA's Khmer Service is marking its 55th anniversary, with veteran broadcasters recalling the monumental events that shaped the news in those years, from the Vietnam War, to the genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime and the birth of a constitutional monarchy. Khen Chen, who retired in 2007, says of her 45-year career, 'I'm very proud of working for VOA Khmer, there was something new every day, it was a blessing.' ... Chen was a student at an all-girls high school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia when she spotted a job advertisement for Voice of America in 1962 and began a life-long career broadcasting to her homeland."

The Phnom Penh Post, 27 August 2010, Peter Olszewski: "The massive Bakong Technical College project to be built in Siem Reap has finally received approval from Apsara for some of its construction. Meanwhile, the project’s founder, US-based Ronnie Yimsut, is celebrating the 55th anniversary of Voice of America Khmer radio for a special reason. The radio service’s legendary Madam Ang Khen, one of the first staff to sign on back in the US in 1962, returned briefly to the airwaves this month. This especially delighted Ronnie because Madam Ang Khen is his foster mum."

Pedro Roig resigns as director of Radio/TV Martí.

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Miami Herald, 27 August 2010, Juan O. Tamayo: "Radio/TV Martí director Pedro Roig resigned Friday after more than seven years at the head of the often controversial U.S. government stations that broadcast to Cuba. ... 'I hereby submit my resignation from the position of Director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), effective Sept. 1, 2010 or at the Board's timely convenience,' Roig wrote. Roig's letter ticked off a series of achievements under his watch, from increasing Radio Martí's signal strength to upgrading its website and adding satellite and airborne transmission capabilities for television broadcasts. ... His resignation came a week after Miami journalist Rui Ferreira wrote in his blog, Herejías y Caipirinhas, that Roig had been fired. Roig flatly denied that report, but acknowledged to friends in private that he was burned out with the job and the politics involved."

Poder, 27 August 2010: "Roig's resignation is likely related to the recent appointment of a new U.S. government Broadcasting Board of Governors which overviews all federal broadcast outlets. The members of the new board are considered less sympathetic to the current management at TV/Radio Marti, especially after a series of Congressional investigations which exposed problems at the network." See previous post about same subject.

E-mail to US international broadcasting employees from BBG chairman Walter Isaacson, 27 August 2010: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has accepted, with regret, the resignation of Pedro Roig, who has served for over seven years as director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). The Board thanks Pedro for his leadership of Radio and TV Martí shepherding program and technological advances as well as constructive cooperative efforts with the Voice of America. Pedro informed me eight months ago of his desire to retire when convenient, and he was gracious enough to agree to stay until our new board was confirmed and he could consult with us during the process of selecting a successor. The Board asked and Pedro has agreed to stay on until his successor is named."

BBC, VOA, RFA broadcasts to China in the news.

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
McClatchy Newspapers, 26 August 2010, Tom Lasseter: "Yu Jie has picked a fight with the Communist Party of China, and if state security forces haul him away in the dark of night, there will be no one to stop them. It's a risk Yu took knowingly when he wrote a book published this month that slammed the country's prime minister as an 'actor' shilling for an authoritarian government. ... Yu traces his activism to the evenings he and his family spent in 1989 listening to BBC and Voice of America radio broadcasts during the Tiananmen Square standoff between students and government troops that ended in the shooting of protesters. For Yu, a high school student in Sichuan province at the time, 'all the education and values taught by the Communist Party crumbled to pieces.'"

The Times of India, 27 August 2010: "Almost 90 years after the Communist Party of China was formed in Shanghai and down the decades became the ruling party of the people's republic, now its leadership is being challenged by a fledgling organisation, the Maoist Communist Party of China (MCPC). Little is known about the underground party beyond that it was founded in Nov 2008 with the aim of eventually staging a 'second socialist revolution' against the 'traitorous revisionist ruling bloc of the Chinese Communist Party... the top enemy of the peoples of China'. In December 2008, members of the MCPC distributed a pamphlet in Beijing and Shanghai – 'To all the people of China' – that they say was also picked up by international media organisations like Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America."

Pakistan cable operators ordered to shut off Indian and other foreign channels, including BBC, CNN, CCTV, AJE.

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Times of India, 28 August 2010, Omer Farooq Khan: "In move that blocks the information highway across Pakistan and comes as a rude shock to the people, Pakistan's supreme court on Friday directed the electronic media regulatory authority to stop all cable operators from airing TV channels without landing rights in Pakistan. The stations off air as a result are predominantly Indian news, entertainment and sports channels, as also a clutch of other foreign and local entertainment, sports and religious networks. ... The channels no longer on view are Times Now, BBC, CNN, Sony, Euro News, Star Plus, CCTV 9, IQRA, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera (English) apart from a host of others. ... Abdul Jabbar, PEMRA's executive member, said they are not targeting Indian channels but banning all unregistered channels. He also said, 'There's outrage against blackout of Indian channels because they are very popular here.'"

All Headline News, 28 August 2010: "The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, said PEMRA should take swift action against all private channels not paying broadcasting license fees to the country. Unconfirmed media reports said the move, initiated by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, was aimed at blacking out Indian channels."

The China Radio International Filipino Service broadcaster who "considers his listeners 'family.'"

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
GMA News (Quezon City), 27 August 2010, Tiffany Tan: "Ramon Escanillas, Jr., a native of Sta. Ana, Manila, is the voice behind China Radio International’s (CRI) Filipino Service, which produces news and feature programs in Filipino for the state broadcasting company. The 57-year-old ex-seminarian and philosophy teacher, who can be heard on shortwave radio worldwide, moved to Beijing in 1991 after Chinese cultural representatives in Manila invited him to try out radio work. ... 'When I came in 1991, foremost on my mind was to boost the Filipino Service. All I did was read letters from listeners, reply to letters from listeners … I wrote them all by hand,' says Ramon, the lone Pinoy on the team. 'Do you see the questions?' he remembers telling his Chinese colleagues, teaching them the proper way to respond to fan mail. 'Answer the questions and give letters and listeners individual treatment.' This personal touch has endeared Ramon to Filipino listeners around the globe – in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, and Scandinavia. 'When I wake up, there are already tons of (cell phone messages from) listeners,' he says. 'Once you reply, that will go on all day.' The affection is mutual: Ramon considers his listeners 'family.'"

CBS will help Australia's Network Ten create "youthful" Eleven channel.

Posted: 29 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
CBS press release, 26 August 2010: "Ten Network Holdings Limited today announced that Network Ten (Australia) will launch a new digital multi-channel, ELEVEN, which will be the new and unrivalled destination for fun and bold programming with particular appeal to the 'distinctly youthful' market. In addition, Network Ten Pty Limited (Network Ten) and CBS Studios International (CBS) today announced the proposed formation of a joint venture, ElevenCo Pty Limited (ElevenCo), which will provide content to ELEVEN. Network Ten will hold 66 2/3 percent equity in ElevenCo, with CBS Studios Inc. holding a 33 1/3 percent share. As part of the proposed arrangements, ELEVEN will be able to draw upon more than 70,000 hours of content from CBS's vast program library, including Everybody Loves Raymond, Sex and the City, JAG, Frasier, Judging Amy, Happy Days and MacGyver, to name a few." See also CBS Studios International web page.

New general manager of channels at BBC America (one of the great job titles of international broadcasting).

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Variety, 26 August 2010, Michael Schneider: "Former Viacom Prods. topper Perry Simon has been tapped general manager of channels at BBC Worldwide America. Simon is among the first major hires made by new BBC Worldwide America prexy Herb Scannell, to whom Simon will report. ... As part of his new job, Simon will oversee programming, marketing and operations for flagship BBC America, as well as ordering new programming for the channel. He'll also oversee BBC America's video-on-demand service and website and will handle future channel launches. 'I look forward to developing and extending the BBC America brand across all platforms in a coherent and compelling way," Simon said." See also BBC America press release, 26 August 2010.

Hunting, fishing, shooting, monster fish: sounds like a formula for successful international broadcasating.

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Outdoor Channel press release, 26 August 2010: "Outdoor Channel, the world leader in outdoor entertainment, today announced an exclusive multi-year distribution agreement with Multi Channels Asia (MCA), a Singapore-based distributor of TV networks in Asia and the Pacific. Under the partnership, MCA will have exclusive access to distribute and market the network's high definition (HD) platform, Outdoor Channel HD, in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and India starting in October. ... The HD network packs its schedule with authentic hunting, fishing, shooting, off-road, adventure and conservation shows, like 'Adventures Abroad,' which showcases the world's most amazing hunting spots; trek around the globe in search of the biggest aquatic creatures on 'Monster Fish'; and experience some of the murkiest waters and most dangerous places on earth in search of deadly predators on 'Savage Wild.'"

Multichannel News, 26 August 2010, Mike Reynolds: "Outdoor will not only build a new revenue base via the annual license fees it will collect for furnishing its programming, but burnish its moniker around the globe via the use of its name on international networks, as well as through its branding and promotional materials."

Turner Broadcasting acquires Chilevision.

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 25 August 2010, Georg Szalai: "Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System continues to expand abroad. The company has agreed to acquire Chilean broadcast network Chilevision for about $150 million. It is owned by Chile's president Sebastian Pinera who promised to sell his business interests, which also include an airline and more, before he assumed the presidency in March. The channel is known for celebrity shows, news and telenovelas. Turner said it is the most profitable free-to-air broadcaster in Chile and 'one of the industry leaders in audience and ratings.'"

Arguments for keeping the VOA Greenville shortwave site on the air.

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
As the LBA Antenna Turns, 16 August 2010, Chris Horne: "The phrase Voice of America (VOA) has always stood for a strong, powerful American broadcasting entity. The United States government intended the Voice of America to provide hope to people around the world and to counteract the propaganda espoused by America’s enemies in war conflicts. In the mid 1990s the federal government began closing or consolidating some large VOA broadcasting facilities. The federal government would like to close VOA site B in Greenville, NC. I hope they choose not to for some several reasons. ... The VOA may be old by some standards but it is new to those who cherish the iron clad tube technology and massive antennas as well as those who rely on shortwave for critical and sometimes life-saving information. Let us not forget, telephone, cell towers and the related internet infrastructure is vulnerable during emergencies and disasters and the VOA’s former cold war technology is always reliable." With photos. -- Anyone familiar with the variable nature of shortwave propagation knows that it is not "always reliable." But shortwave does have the advantage of not relying on landlines or cell relays in areas affected by disasters, wars, or dictators. See previous post about same subject.

Eisenhower's speech 60 years ago called for "radio stations abroad, operated without government restrictions."

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Historytimes.com, 26 August 2010, Richard Cummings: "Sixty years ago, September 4, 1950, World War II hero Dwight D. Eisenhower passionately called for an American Crusade for Freedom and support of Radio Free Europe in a speech that was broadcast over the four major radio networks. ... This speech not only kicked off the Crusade for Freedom campaign in 1950, but also set its tone and provided the base for the decade’s political slogans used in advertising campaigns supporting both the Crusade for Freedom and Radio Free Europe. Eisenhower was then president of Columbia University and a director of the National Committee for a Free Europe—the parent organization of RFE"

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, text of Eisenhower's speech: "I speak tonight about the Crusade For Freedom. This Crusade is a campaign sponsored by private American citizens to fight the big lie with the big truth. It is a program that has been hailed by President Truman, and others, as an essential step in getting the case for freedom heard by the world's multitudes.

"Powerful Communist radio stations incessantly tell the world that we Americans are physically soft and morally corrupt; that we are disunited and confused; that we are selfish and cowardly; that we have nothing to offer the world but imperialism and exploitation.

"We need powerful radio stations abroad, operated without government restrictions, to tell in vivid and convincing form about the decency and essential fairness of democracy These stations must tell of our aspirations for peace, our hatred of war, our support of the United Nations and our constant readiness to cooperate with any and all who have these same desires.

"One such private station Radio Free Europe —is now in operation in Western Germany. It daily brings a message of hope and encouragement to a small part of the European masses. ...

"We must have efficiency and economy in all governmental expenditures, and we must concentrate all our resources to assure victory in this bitter, and probably prolonged struggle!"

See previous post about same subject.

Does Al Jazeera English generate little reaction in Canada because of little audience or little controversy?

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Macleans, 26 August 2010, Jaime J. Weinman: "It took years for Al Jazeera English to be allowed into this country, accompanied by quite a bit of controversy. But now that it’s here, we don’t hear much about it; Bernie Farber, chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, says that 'from what we have noticed, there seems to be little reaction to AJE in Canada.' People were fearing (in some cases, hoping) there would be fireworks from the anglophone arm of the Middle Eastern news channel. CRTC commissioner Marc Patrone warned of 'the potential use of our broadcast system to spread ethnic or religious hatred.' But so far, the reaction seems to be something more startling: indifference. Tony Burman, the former CBC editor-in-chief who now runs AJE, thinks people have realized that 'there’s no real comparison between Fox News and AJE. AJE does not push an ideological line.' Farber has a more prosaic explanation: 'The number of subscribers may not be large enough' for people to complain about anti-Western coverage, since it’s not available in all parts of Canada. But it may also be that AJE is not exciting enough to be controversial."

Broadcasts to Zimbabwe in the news.

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Skills Portal, 25 August 2010: "Prof Lizette Rabe, Head of the Journalism Department of Stellenbosch University (SU) [South Africa], says many African journalists who believe in a free and independent media face regular persecution at the hands of state authorities. SU has launched a new initiative, MEDIAFRIKA, which is designed to produce well-trained, professional media workers who can report impartially on important issues and tell Africa’s story. ... One of the Department’s students, John Masuku, a Zimbabwean journalist and executive director of the independent radio station, Voice of the People (VOP), has had first-hand experience of the persecution of media workers. VOP is based in Harare and broadcasts on short wave via a relay station of Radio Netherlands in Madagascar. Radio VOP was established in 2000 as an independent source of news for Zimbabweans in the run-up to that year’s parliamentary elections."

The Times (Johannesburg), 25 August 2010, Moses Mudzwiti: "Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe struck a raw nerve yesterday when he refused to declare the struggle veteran, union leader and MDC stalwart Gibson Sibanda, who died on Tuesday, a national hero. ... Callers to privately owned Studio7 radio, broadcast from the US by Voice of America, were scathing in their criticism of Mugabe's decision." -- Radio stations intended for Zimbabwean audiences but not owned by the Zimbabwean government, and thus, necessarily, for now, located outside of Zimbabwe, are referred to by some Zimbabweans as "privately owned." VOA is, of course, not privately owned.

ABC News 24 is again unavailable internationally, to the dismay of Australian expats.

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Drum Unleashed, 25 August 2010, Joshua Gans: "I had figured that the reason for the [international blocking of ABC News 24] was that sometimes the ABC broadcast news from other parts of the world that was copy protected and so could not just choose to block whenever it wanted. But the Election Night action demonstrates that is not the case. So my question is: why not just go? Why doesn't the ABC turn on and off blocking when it needs to rather than all of the time? Some three quarters of a million Australians live outside of the country. There are surely others who might take an interest in Australia. But for some reason, our public broadcaster -- for which my tax dollars still fund (by the way) -- chooses to shirk that constituency."

Response from Gaven Morris, Head of Continuous News: "I understand expatriates and some non-Australians might be interested in viewing the ABC News live coverage of Australian events and so we are exploring options to make these available - as we did on Saturday night for the election coverage. It's a difficult technical scenario to manage as, at present, it requires the manual re-setting of the geo-block each time and we would need a regime that would guarantee we wouldn't be streaming any third-party content - but we are exploring ways to manage this and offer more live events. ... ABC News ... provides television news bulletins to an international audience through the Australia Network television channel and Radio Australia broadcasts - both often provide live coverage of big Australian events."

MJMI comment to the above: "I live in Viet Nam and must say that Australia Network is a big disappointment for reasons that seem not easy to uncover. The channel runs fairly consistently in HCMC and Hanoi but where i live it appears for, at most, two months of the year. The other national channels do not disappear and re-appear at unpredictable intervals. BBC, DW-TV, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Korean channels, CNN and Disney, Cartoon Network together with half a dozen VN channels are all there every day on the cable network that runs to my house. But Australia Network has not been seen here in Hue for more than a year now. I was in Hanoi last weekend and was able to view the ABC coverage of election night. But even that was on a one hour delay. Given how much Australia does seem to get right in VN, the failure to be able to get any ABC news coverage compares most unfavourably with the constancy of the other networks."

As the Chinese say, the journey of a thousand milles begins with one footy.

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
World Footy News, 25 August 2010, Troy Thompson: "In a first for Australian sport, the Shanghai Media Group (SMG) will televise one AFL [Australian Football League] match every week live into China on International Channel Shanghai (ICS). ... [T]he AFL has also launched a development program in Shanghai schools to teach young children the basics of the game and recently launched a Mandarin language website, http://www.51afl.com. ... AFL matches are already broadcast to 31 million households in 44 countries across the Asia Pacific region via the AFL’s international broadcast partner, Australia Network." See previous post about same subject.

China International Broadcasting Network to be created from CRI Online, "world's largest multilingual website."

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 25 August 2010: "China International Broadcasting Network (CIBN), run by the state-owned radio station China Radio International, has recently been approved for establishment by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. This international new media broadcasting network will feature 61 languages and international characteristics. CIBN is set to become a multilingual and multifunctional state-level broadcasting organization that caters to audiences from all over the world, thanks to the rapid development of the Internet and mobile communication technology. The network will be based on CRI Online, the world's largest multilingual website, run by China Radio International. It will be a convergence of a website, online broadcaster, network television and mobile service terminal, all of which are multilingual. The network will cover a variety of online audio and visual programs, mobile broadcasting television, Internet protocol television, Internet television and China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting. With the motto 'Introduce China to the world, Introduce the world to China, Report everything in the world,' the network will provide all-round information on current events, politics, economy, culture, sports, tourism, society and Chinese learning to international audiences, thus serving as a platform linking China with the rest of the world." -- It's not clear how CIBN will differ, if at all, from the CRI website, already multimedia and multilingual. And on what basis does CRI bill itself as the "the world's largest multilingual website"? Is it because CRI has, currently, more languages than any other international broadcaster? Or does it have more pages than any other multilingual site?

Arabic version of National Geographic magazine will launch in October.

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
National Geographic, News Watch blog, 25 August 2010, David Braun:"Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) has announced the appointment of Mohamed Al Hammadi as editor in chief of National Geographic Al Arabiya, a new monthly publication, which is set to launch October 1, 2010. ... The new publication will be available in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. ... National Geographic Al Arabiya will provide readers in the region with greater access to National Geographic magazine's award-winning features on geography, archaeology and natural science, as well as its iconic imagery of natural beauty from around the world. National Geographic Channels International and ADMC also broadcast the National Geographic Channel in Arabic across the Middle East. The new Arabic-language edition of National Geographic magazine will bring to 33 the number of local-language editions of the magazine."

North Korea's idea of social networking: 10,413 followers, following zero.

Posted: 28 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link

The Korea Herald, 25 August 2010, Shin Hae-in: South Korean conservatives "emphasize the need for the government to come up with active countermeasures to Pyongyang’s cyber terrorism, which is anticipated to grow into a larger threat as the reclusive state becomes more familiar with information technologies. North Korea is believed to operate an elite team of hackers. This team reportedly attacked websites of South Korean and U.S. government agencies and businesses last year. But others here say the government is overreacting. 'I actually think this is an interesting issue. I want to welcome North Korea on Twitter,' said Roh Hoi-chan, a lawmaker of the left-leaning New Progressive Party and an active micro-blogger himself. 'It is impossible to unilaterally promote oneself in Twitter. I am actually surprised our government feels threatened by this.'" -- It appears that hacking has been lumped together with social networking. And North Korea's idea of social networking is evidenced by twitter.com/uriminzok, which has 10,413 followers, but follows zero other Twitter users.

Internet Evolution, 24 August 2010, Nicole Ferraro: "[I]t's more than just a little silly to assume that the 'powers of the Web' are literally strong enough to push a regime like North Korea to change its ways. For all of the ways that the Web can become a force for good, an equalizer, it can also be used as a tool for keeping citizens down, and for spreading propaganda, particularly when people aren't given access to the same tools as their oppressive leaders."

Radio Netherlands, 26 August 2010, Andy Sennitt: "All the 'North Korean' websites ... are actually hosted on servers located in other countries. It's quite common for websites to use servers outside their country of registration, but it makes it difficult to find out who's really behind these sites. ... Whoever is behind these initiatives seems to have good contacts with Pyongyang, as the short video of Jimmy Carter appears to be an item from the TV news, and was uploaded very quickly after the event. Of course, as North Korean TV is now available on satellite, it could have been recorded from a satellite feed. Further monitoring of the YouTube channel may make it clearer exactly what is going on. All this online activity makes the Voice of Korea, formerly known as Radio Pyongyang, sound very old-fashioned, not helped by the atrocious audio quality of the shortwave service. I rarely listen to it, but I would be very surprised if the Voice of Korea makes even a passing reference in its broadcasts to YouTube and Twitter." See previous post about same subject.

Foreign Policy, 26 August 2010, Joshua E. Keating: "Strangely, the .kp domain is overseen by an organization headquartered in Germany. Fiber-optic cables have reportedly been laid into North Korea from China, so someone in the country is getting broadband. This access is most likely limited to the Foreign Ministry, which is charged with monitoring the outside world, and Kim Jong Il's inner circle. The Dear Leader himself is reportedly an avid web surfer -- he once asked U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for her email address -- and describes himself as an 'Internet expert.'"

And as a testament to the value of cultural exchange (though, in this case, not sanctioned by Pyongyang), see the YouTube video North Korean People's Army Funky Get Down Juche Party.

"More than a million people" used Radio Farda's proxy server in July (updated).

Posted: 27 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 23 August 2010: "More than a million people inside Iran circumvented aggressive censorship and logged on to RFE/RL's Persian-language website in July through a proxy server, a system ensuring the anonymity of its users. It was the first time Radio Farda's proxy server recorded a million visits since it was put in place in April 2009. In addition, the site received 40,000 visits on Sunday, August 15 - a record high for a day without breaking news. ... In total (the proxy server plus regular web traffic), Radio Farda's website drew more than 4.3 million visits last month. Users viewed nearly 13 million web pages and downloaded more than a million hours of audio programming." -- By "people," I assume this means unique visitors, all of whom might not be so unique, given the imperfections of web metrics. I'm guessing the proxy server frequently changes URLs. How do Iranians keep up with the URLs? Is anti-censorship software involved?

Update: Radio World, 26 August 2010, Leslie Stimson: "We’ve been reporting for years how U.S. international broadcasters, like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty — as well as other similar broadcasters worldwide, like the BBC World Service and Radio Netherlands — are putting more of their distribution resources into Internet, television and FM, and less on shortwave as more of their audience migrates to these newer distribution methods. The transition has been contentious, with some critics saying the Broadcasting Board of Governors has cut its shortwave resources too deeply. Despite newer audience avenues, some things, like censorship, are still around. When I worked as an on-air journalist at VOA in the mid-’80s on a program that delivered news and entertainment to Haiti, the Russians frequently tried to jam our shortwave frequencies. (And what a cat and mouse game that was. On-air and technical operations personnel wouldn’t know until right before the program aired each day what frequency we’d be using; that mattered, to get the control room and studio in-sync.)" -- I don't remember any Soviet jamming of VOA broadcasts to Haiti. Radio Moscow, transmitting on many frequencies, would often cause incidental interference to VOA broadcasts. And I don't know what the transmitting frequency would have to do with getting the "control room and studio in-sync."

Russia Today (RT) increases its often-controversial coverage of the United States.

Posted: 27 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 22 August 2010, Andrew E. Kramer: "Russia Today has been broadcasting worldwide, in English, since 2005. Until a year ago, however, the focus fell exclusively on Russia. Coverage was more nuanced than offering lavish praise of the mother country’s fine grain harvest, but still intended to show Russia in a positive light. What is new is the channel’s effort to report news about the United States for an American audience. ... In the United States, the BBC is the most-watched foreign news company that receives government financing. The entire viewership for foreign-government-sponsored news in the United States, including Russia Today, Al Jazeera English and others, is still so minuscule that Nielsen, the ratings agency, said it did not break out the numbers for such stations. ... With television news budgets drying up in the United States, state or public channels may find a larger role, Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, said in a telephone interview. 'Any means you come up with to pay for journalism is potentially corrupting,' he said. 'It’s really how you build a firewall between the news gathering and the funding.' The problem with Russia Today, he said, is that 'there is no firewall, and you can infer that from watching.' ... 'The Americans have a view of Russia and they show it to us,' Aleksei Makarkin, an analyst at the Institute of Political Technology, a Moscow think tank, said in a telephone interview. 'Russians have a point of view about America, too, and we want to show it to you.'" -- Hmmm, surrogate broadcasting, Russian style. The article mentioned -- once -- the change of the channel's name to RT. Otherwise, it was referred to as "Russia Today" throughout the piece. This was not a successful rebranding exercise.

Creative Boom Liverpool, 27 August 2010: "Martyn Andrews ... has worked with many global networks, from the BBC to Russia Today where he presents programs centred around the cultural aspects of modern Russia. Shows such as 'A Prime Recipe', 'Moscow Out' and the travel programme 'Wayfarer' – which has seen Martyn clock up some serious air miles, visiting over 500 countries across 4 continents. ... CB – What was it about Moscow that influenced your decision to take that direction in your career? MA – I had worked for the BBC, a English speaking TV channel in Israel and one in New York, I was back in London doing a journalism course and hosting 'Lounge Living TV' when I heard that Al Jazeera, France 24 and Russia Today were all launching. They were all new English speaking international news channels aimed at giving a different media voice to the world. I met up with RT in London, originally for a news presenter position. I wasn’t given a job. A few weeks later I emailed them ten reasons why they should hire me. The offer came through. A contract and a one way ticket to Moscow! I had worked with Russians before in New York and loved their passion, craziness and energy. So I thought.. 'Oh why not..' Plus I knew that Moscow was one of the most exciting, developing cities bursting with money, excitement and opportunity!" -- Five hundred countries? Maybe 500 places, as there are only 192 United Nations member countries.

In Cuba, "they even censor Telesur."

Posted: 26 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Havana Times, 24 August 2010: "HT reader Julio de la Yncera and HT writer Erasmo Calzadilla —both Cubans— live on opposite sides of the Florida Straight. ... Julio de la Yncera: I find it anti-democratic that the press and information in Cuba is totally controlled by the Cuban government. Does it seem fair to you that the Cuban regime monopolizes the means of information dissemination? Erasmo Calzadilla: No, of course not. I don’t find it fair that someone controls the information that another person consumes. What’s most comical is that they even censor Telesur, which is produced by the same friends of the 'Revolution.' For the rest, you have to keep in mind that there exist other means apart from the official media sources through which information circulates. For example, communication by word of mouth or computer flash drives, etc. is not 'totally controlled,' as you say. Havana Times is an example of this. There are many other people working extremely hard to maintain active, horizontal and non-censored communication." -- Telesur is an international channel based in Caracas.

Voice of Vietnam and Voice of Russia agree to "enhance cooperation"

Posted: 26 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Voice of Vietnam, 24 August 2010: "Radio the Voice of Vietnam (VOV) and the Voice of Russia have agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of radio and broadcasting and multimedia services. ... The Voice of Russia agreed with VOV’s proposal on exchanging information, experiences and personnel, saying that both broadcasters can help each other in different fields. He also mentioned the development of the internet and digital broadcasting."

Balochistan residents miss Radio Pakistan shortwave transmitters. And more shortwave in the news.

Posted: 26 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Express Tribune (Karachi), 16 August 2010, Shahzad Baloch: "Ironically, many in Balochistan are more familiar with the reporters and anchors of BBC Urdu radio and All India Radio than Pakistan Radio. ... Until three years ago, Radio Pakistan Quetta had a short-wave transmitter which covered the entire province and received a good response from the listeners. When the short waves were removed and just the medium wave transmitters were retained, radio signals became too weak to be heard in remote places. The transmitters have completed their life and even the companies which developed them have closed down."

Indiantelevision.com, 21 August 2010: "All India Radio has undertaken replacement and digitalisation of 70 MW transmitters, 34 old FM transmitters, setting up of 130 new digital compatible FM Transmitters, nine short wave transmitters and 98 studio centres in 34 states and Union territories."

Wired.co.uk, News Culture, 25 August 2010, Duncan Geere: "The output of a mysterious radio station in Russia, which has been broadcasting the same monotonous signal almost continuously for 20 years, has suddenly changed. Numbers stations are shortwave radio stations that broadcast computer-generated voices reading numbers, words, letters or Morse code. Their purpose has never been uncovered, but evidence from spy cases suggests that they're used to broadcast coded information to secret agents. Over the past week or so, the output of one particular station that broadcasts from near Povarovo, Russia, increased dramatically. The station has a callsign of UVB-76, but is known as 'The Buzzer' by its listeners because of the short, monotonous buzz tone that it normally plays 21 to 34 times per minute. It's only deviated from that signal three times previously -- briefly in 1997, 2002 and 2006. In early August, a garbled recording of a voice speaking Russian was heard by listeners." Per Wikipedia, it transmits on 4625 kHz.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 25 August 2010, Dan Browning: "Trevor Cook, the 39-year-old Minneapolis money manager ... was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in federal prison for bilking at least $158 million from hundreds of mostly elderly retirees seeking a secure, reliable income stream. ... Cook was aided by several associates who solicited investors on a Christian shortwave radio network, and by some affiliated money managers in Minneapolis."

American couple "shocked" that Al Jazeera English is not available on cable in New York City.

Posted: 26 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 25 August 2010, Jonathan Ezer: "My wife and I were recently travelling through Europe. While resting in our hotel room, we quickly got bored of CNN International, and gingerly switched to the 'depraved' channel. Of course, we had heard about Al Jazeera. We heard that it was anti-American. We heard it was propaganda. ... But we were surprised at what we found. We saw an excellent documentary about illegal satellite dishes in Iran. According to the report, citizens are profoundly unsatisfied with the state sponsored television stations, and they crave news from the outside world. ... My wife and I agreed that when we got back home to New York, we would watch more Al Jazeera. We were shocked to find out that despite 1000+ channels, it's not available on Time Warner Cable." With link to viedo of the AJE report about Iranian satellite dishes. -- A free live stream is available from aljazeera.net, offering a very small screen at adequate quality, or a larger screen at miserable quality. Higher quality live video can be obtained from Aljazeera.net for $5.95 a month, or from livestation.com for $4.99 a month.

Former VOA employees in the news.

Posted: 25 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 22 August 2010, Sol Sandres: "It was 1951. I had just been cashiered as a scriptwriter for Voice of America, in part for ferociously advocating Vietnam's independence. My guest — whom I was just meeting — was a refugee living off the charity of the Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers. I had sought him out, told by various Vietnamese friends his resume was more than a match for Ho Chi Minh's propaganda-acquired reputation. That afternoon, the future president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, lectured me on, among other things, the tangled relationship between Vietnam and China. ... In his long lament on why the ardent American support for the French efforts in his country would fail, Diem pointed particularly to the new threat of Chinese communism."

Roanoke Times, 22 August 2010: WDRL, an "independent television station -- which broadcast over-the-air on channel 24 and was on cable systems in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market, the New River Valley and Southside Virginia -- was taken off the air in late July, after a federal judge in West Virginia upheld a $1.1 million judgment against the station's owners. ... Mel Eleazer put WDRL on the air in Danville in 1994, after a lengthy career in radio and television. A native of Columbia, S.C., Eleazer, 54, worked in radio and TV while a student at the University of Jacksonville in the 1970s. He joined the U.S. Coast Guard and worked for Voice of America, where he met his wife, Nele, a VOA reporter. He spent 16 years with Voice of America and then bought a small TV station near Yanceyville, N.C., in 1991."

Which means that FIFA dismisses Radio Free Asia's report that the North Korean World Cup team was punished.

Posted: 25 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 25 August 2010: "FIFA has dismissed allegations that North Korea's coach and players were punished for losing all three of their games at this year's World Cup. ... 'The (North Korean) FA assures FIFA that Mr Kim Jong-hun, head coach of the national team, and all the other members of the national team are training as usual,' FIFA said in a statement. 'The association also indicates that there were no sanctions to the coach and that the reports on this matter were baseless. With all of the information at hand, and having checked all of its sources, FIFA has decided to close the matter.' ... Radio Free Asia and South Korean media claimed Kim and his team were forced onto a stage at the People's Palace of Culture in front of 400 government officials, students and journalists." -- No mention of FIFA officials actually meeting with the coach and players, which is not very assuring. And how does one check sources in North Korea?

AP, 25 August 2010: The North Korean team "is scheduled to play at the Asian Games in November in Guangzhou, China."

Asia Times, 25 August 2010, Kay Seok: "Radio Free Asia quoted three independent sources saying that the football team had gone through a humiliating six-hour session of public criticism on July 2 at the Pyongyang People's Cultural Palace." See previous post about same subject.

Six-year prison sentence for Iranian journalist, arrested after Deutsche Welle interview.

Posted: 25 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
CPJ, 18 August 2010: "The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Iranian authorities to reverse a six-year prison sentence against Iranian journalist Badressadat Mofidi. Mofidi was formerly the secretary-general of the Association of Iranian Journalists in Tehran, an organization that was established by prominent journalists in 1997 and shut down by the authorities in 2009. ... Mofidi was arrested on December 29, only a few days after she discussed the government's press policies in a December 22 interview with the Persian service of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle."

Deutsche Welle, 20 August 2010: "In a lawsuit filed in an American federal court earlier this week, two Iranians alleged that the sale of Nokia Siemens Networks mobile phone surveillance technology led to the arrest and torture of one of them in Iran over a year ago."

Will the news undo China's use of Woo to woo international favor?

Posted: 25 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Asia Times, 24 August 2010, Kent Ewing: China has enlisted "50 Chinese celebrities in an unprecedented international advertising campaign to improve the country's global image. The charm offensive is set to begin this September, ahead of celebrations for 61st birthday of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, and will also feature Olympic diving diva Guo Jingjing, film director John Woo and movie star Jackie Chan. The famous 50 will appear in 30-second television commercials as well as a 15-minute promotional film selling China's virtues to the rest of the world. ... The problem, however, is that, no matter how winning the new promotional campaign turns out to be, China will also continue to make news in a variety of unflattering ways. ... Let's face it: it's hard for the world to warm to a country that is the only friend and supporter of regimes such as that of Kim Jong-il in North Korea and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. ... In the end, the greatest self-defeating irony of China's global media blitz is the shackles that its leaders place on national media and the great firewall of censorship they have attempted to erect in cyberspace. China's state propaganda machine may be reaching out to the world, but an army of censors at home is busy blocking the world from reaching China."

NHK World: Official channel of Wyoming's greater sage grouse.

Posted: 25 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Billings Gazette, 21 August 2010, Jeff Gearino: "Public television film crews from station NHK World in Japan recently finished shooting an hourlong documentary focusing on the landscapes and wildlife in the Red Desert, which lies about 30 miles north of Rock Springs in Sweetwater County [Wyoming]. ... The Japanese film crews were guided and aided by the Laramie-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance for the production, which is being produced and directed by Japanese filmmaker Akira Matsubayashi. The documentary aims to help raise the international profile of the Red Desert area, which is in the country’s least-populated state, Biodiversity officials said in a media release. Minami Tamura, the Ottawa, Canada-based coordinator of the production, said the director was originally interested in producing a film about the behavioral side of the greater sage grouse. But while Matsubayashi was filming the 30-minute documentary, he decided to expand the production and include a longer piece on the Red Desert, Tamura said." -- This seems like something US international broadcasting should be doing, at least in partnership with US domestic broadcasting (given the topic, probably US domestic public broadcasting). Of the new crop of global English channels, NHK World is especially good at producing thoughtful and visually rich documentaries.

P.J. O'Rourke: RFE/RL's Radio Azadi has "no agenda except to be factual."

Posted: 24 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Weekly Standard, 30 August 2010 issue, P.J. O'Rourke: "There must be something in Afghanistan that we’ve got right. There is. Radio Azadi, the Afghan bureau of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is on the air 12 hours a day, seven days a week, half the time in Pashto, half the time in Dari. What Radio Azadi does is known as 'surrogate broadcasting,' meaning the content is Afghan-produced as a way for Afghans to get news and views in a place where otherwise they have to be delivered mostly face-to-face. And there is no agenda except to be factual (although facts are an agenda item if you care about freedom, which is what Azadi means in Dari). ... The Pashtun tribal leader said, 'Azadi is doing very well because they are telling the facts.' He griped that other media were insensitive to religion and culture. ... The governor [of an Afghan province] ... recalled the days before Radio Azadi, during Taliban rule, when the only outside media was the BBC Afghan service. 'The Taliban told people that they would go to hell if they listened to the BBC. Then everyone listened.'"

A typically funny P.J. O'Rourke essay, although it has sort of a Huckleberry Finn ending.

Radio Azadi deserves all the praise that O'Rourke heaped upon it. He, however, made no mention of Radio Ashna, VOA's service to Afghanistan, in Dari and Pashto eight hours a day on the same medium wave and FM frequencies as Radio Azadi. Unless Radio Ashna is one of the "other media" that are "insensitive to religion or culture."

In the "days before Radio Azadi," the BBC Afghan Service was not the only outside medium. The VOA Dari and Pashto services were active during the Taliban rule. In fact, a 1999 survey of Afghan males showed that 80 percent of them listened weekly to VOA. VOA was rewarded for this success by the creation, in 2002, of Radio Free Afghanistan, local name Radio Azadi, under RFE/RL.

(Also before Radio Azadi, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, was another Radio Free Afghanistan, 1985-1993, under RFE/RL, supporting some of the people that the present Radio Free Afghanistan opposes.)

Surely the deafening silence about VOA Radio Ashna can't be attributed to lax reporting. O'Rourke used the words tribe or tribal about 45 times in his article. US international broadcasting is also tribal. By way of the O'Rourke essay, praising Azadi and ignoring Ashna, the Azadi tribe stole a few of the Ashna tribe's PR points. The fraternal entities under the Broadcasting Board of Governors support, commend, and congratulate each other, and wish each other to jump off a cliff.

See previous post about P.J. O'Rourke's visit to RFE/RL in Prague.

Mindgrub helps VOA "explore the use of mobile applications" in China.

Posted: 24 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Mindgrub Technologies press release, 22 August 2010: "Voice of America is a multimedia international broadcasting service and saw a great opportunity in delivering English based content to targeted audiences interested in American culture and experiences. Mindgrub teamed up with VOA to achieve this goal and the first implementation for China allowed them to explore the use of Mobile Applications due to their high use of the internet and mobile devices. This mobile solution for learning allows their end-users access to the same content on the web, and enabled them to participate in discussions and forums from anywhere, at anytime."

Those North Korean social networking accounts are not actually from North Korea.

Posted: 24 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Forbes, 23 August 2010, Taylor Buley: "A North Korea government official tells Forbes that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is not using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as reported by thousands of publications worldwide. The accounts are run by government supporters, not government officials, living in Japan and China, not North Korea. Those social media sites are still banned in North Korea, says the official."

IDG News, 23 August 2010, Martyn Williams: "A Facebook account established by a North Korea-linked Web site was deleted by the social networking service on Friday, but a new group sprang up over the weekend to take its place. The account belonged to Uriminzokkiri, a Web site that provides Korean-language news and propaganda from North Korea's central news agency. The Web site appears to be run from servers in China but is ultimately controlled from Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. ... 'The page in question was removed because it violated our terms of use,' said Kumiko Hidaka, a Facebook spokeswoman by e-mail. Facebook did not immediately say which of its terms of use were broken, but section 16 puts usage restrictions on countries on the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control list... . North Korea appears on the U.S. government's list. But over the weekend a replacement account was launched and is still available at time of writing. ... The profile details it as belonging to a single male who wants to network and meet friends and has interests in Korean reunification and, perhaps bizarrely, lactose free milk."

RFE/RL, Tangled Web, 23 August 2010, Luke Allnut: "If North Korea were tweeting it would seem to be the final nail in the coffin of the idea that social media -- or even going a bit further back, the Internet -- is somehow an exceptional medium in that it tends to lean toward the progressive and can only serve to emancipate."

See previous posts on 21 August and on 19 August, the latter including Bloomberg's prudent use of the adjectives "purported" and "suspected" in describing the pro-North Korean Twitter account. This social networking effort might be a classic black clandestine effort, with all the messages pro-Kim Jong-il for now, but eventually deviating from the party line, maybe supporting one faction over the other, as a way to sow discord inside the DPRK, or among its supporters.

Report: Budget cuts will force BBC World Service to drop Russian and Latin American services.

Posted: 23 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Mail on Sunday, 22 August 2010: "The BBC is embroiled in a row with the Government over cuts in funding for the World Service. Officials at the Foreign Office have told the BBC to expect a reduction of up to 40 per cent in its annual £280 million budget. BBC sources say transmissions in Russia and Central and South America face the axe as executives have decided to prioritise broadcasts in regions of greater geopolitical significance, including poverty-stricken Africa, the politically troubled Middle East and Asia, with its increasingly influential commercial markets. ... It is understood the BBC will announce the end of broadcasts to Russia and Latin America in October when the Government finalises its spending review."

Financial Times, 19 August 2010, Jim Pickard and Alex Barker: "Michael Moore, the Lib Dem Scotland secretary, warned before the election that the DfID [Department for International Development] budget could be raided by other departments. He said: 'One thing that we will need to look very carefully at is that we don’t see DfID’s budget being the recipient of a lot of resources only for it then to be funnelled back to the FCO or the MoD.' Lord Howell, a foreign office minister,said, in a Lords debate last month, that ministers were considering using the DfID budget to help compensate for cuts of £11m to the BBC World Service. 'It is possible that some of the BBC World Service activities can be categorised as overseas aid and could be supported by DfID,' he said."

Perhaps BBC Worldwide international sales of BBC programming and concepts would be an appropriate source of funds for World Service.

Collector of 1,200 radio sets is subject of BBC World Service documentary (updated).

Posted: 23 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 20 August 2010. "A youthful passion for all things electrical became a lifelong obsession for Gerry Wells, who has converted his home into a museum to accommodate his 1,200 old radio sets, says Nick Rankin of the BBC World Service. ... Gerry has transformed his childhood home into the British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum, where he lives with 1,200 old radio sets. None of them is digital, they still work, and he knows their history." Download audio from BBC World Service Documentaries Archive.

Update: The Guardian, 23 August 2010, Elisabeth Mahoney: "This feature told his life story engagingly – Wells got into trouble as a teenager obsessed with all things electrical, stealing from bomb-hit houses in the war – and hovered over the significant oddness of the way Wells lives. I loved the bit where an equally peculiar couple wandered in: a bee-keeper and paper restorer, looking for someone to fix their television. Most of all, though, this captured a sense of a life from another era, and one lived intensely in a radio-filled nook."

Plan for offshore broadcasting to overcome censorship in Fiji.

Posted: 23 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
New Zealand Herald, 23 August 2010, Roger Maynard: "In a move inspired by pirate radio stations of the 1960s, political activists in the South Pacific are planning to position a Dutch-registered merchant vessel in international waters off the coast of Fiji to defy censors in the military dictatorship. Opponents of the coup leader and self-appointed Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, hope to have the station broadcasting news and interviews by the end of next month to circumvent draconian media laws imposed on press, radio and television. ... With most of the population too poor to access the internet or satellite television, most Fijians rely on the press and transistor radios for their news. That is why Usaia Waqatairewa of the Fiji Democracy Movement has opted for pirate broadcasting. Now exiled in Australia, he plans to stream live programming to the ship from a Sydney newsroom and rebroadcast the material from a transmitter on the AM waveband."

Another WWII shortwave listener who wrote to POW families.

Posted: 22 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Ithaca Journal, 19 August 2010, Natalie L. Goodell: "Meredith Brill lived in Slaterville Springs with his parents, sister and grandparents. The Brill children had a full childhood and never really felt any sense of deprivation during the Depression. Mr. Brill was a short wave radio enthusiast and plane spotter, according to letters in the collection at the History Center in Tompkins County, and his sister, Hazel. He would listen to broadcasts about men who had been captured in World War II and write to their families to give them information about their son's whereabouts. He received countless letters thanking him for his good deeds. He also received a letter from the 'Free France' radio station whose English broadcasts he regularly tuned in to. He listened to these broadcasts and wrote these letters because he was exempt from the draft due to flat feet."

Another essay about increased competition in international broadcasting.

Posted: 22 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 20 August 2010, Faisal al Yafai: "Foreign markets used to be places where English-language broadcasters could rely on being the loudest, clearest voices in the media babel. No longer. International TV and radio broadcasters such as the BBC, CNN and Sky News are under intense pressure and competition from local-language media and English-language media. ... Faced with this new cacophony of voices, media brands have one of two options: they can shout louder and more furiously, sacrificing accuracy for volume and speed – this is the model the conservative Fox News channel in the US has taken, along with many tabloid newspapers – or they can speak softly and clearly, capturing audiences with the quality of their journalism. This seems to be the approach the BBC and the grey lady of The New York Times are taking." See previous post about same subject.

Former Press TV employees call for release of Iranian women sentenced to death.

Posted: 22 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Press Gazette, 20 August 2010: "A group of journalists formerly employed by Press TV, the controversial news network controlled by the Iranian government, have written a letter to The Times calling for the release of a woman sentenced to death for adultery. Seven journalists who have worked for Press TV, including Andrew Gilligan and Nick Ferrari, have taken up the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani who was condemned to death by stoning in Iran for after being found guilty of an 'illicit relationship' with two men." See previous post for Press TV question to President Ahmadinejad about the woman.

Thanks to an expensive truck, NBC had the only live video of US combat brigade leaving Iraq.

Posted: 22 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 19 August 2010, Marisa Guthrie: "What started out as just another embed with the military for NBC's Richard Engel turned into what appeared to be an exclusive for the news division as the network had the only live video of the last combat brigade to pull out of Iraq. In fact, several news organizations including Fox News and Al Jazeera English were on the same embed with the fourth Stryker Brigade as it drove out of Iraq into Kuwait on Wednesday (Aug. 18). But NBC News was the only television news organization with satellite capability, thanks to the up-armored Bloom Mobile, affectionately named for late correspondent David Bloom who died suddenly in 2003 of a pulmonary embolism while travelling with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. ... The truck cost $1 million to make; it has a special gyroscope mounted satellite that allows NBC News to broadcast from dicey locations like Iraq and more recently from the Gulf of Mexico for the BP oil spill there. In fact, the truck was in the Gulf when NBC News got word of the embed opportunity. It took two weeks to ship it from the Gulf to Iraq via Dubai... ."

Xinhua's CNC World channel should be popular once everyone sets their parameters to 6065MHz/3840MHz.

Posted: 22 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Xinhua, 17 August 2010: "China View from CNC World is a 20-minute daily English in-depth news program that brings global audience a panorama of what happens across China and face-to-face interviews over hot issues in China that interest people around the world. Global viewers can tune into CNC English programs via Asia-Pacific Satellite-6 at 134 degrees east longitude, with parameters set as '6065MHz/3840MHz.' The programs can also be viewed at www.xhstv.com/english_video_online.asp." -- On Apstar 6, the (C band) downlink frequency is 3840 MHz. The uplink frequency -- which I don't think "global viewers" need to know -- is 6065 MHz.

The Irish Times, 18 August 2010: "China's state-run news agency Xinhua will open its first Dublin bureau later this year, part of a global expansion by the country’s most powerful media organisation and the propaganda arm of the ruling Communist Party."

Version of television series "The Office" being developed for China (updated).

Posted: 22 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 13 August 2010, Adam Gabbatt: "Having exported The Office to six countries, including the US and Israel, Ricky Gervais has set himself an even bigger challenge: translating the dreary mundanity of life in a Slough paper merchants for viewers in the People's Republic of China. ... The original sitcom, which was first broadcast in the UK in 2001, has been sold to some 70 territories around the world by BBC Worldwide. ... Given that media outlets in China operate under tight state control, the level of Gervais and [co-writer Stephen] Merchant's involvement could be smaller than that it has been in other incarnations... '"

AP, 16 August 2010, Anita Chang: "Gervais did not give any clues about the timing of the Chinese show but the project appeared to be in the early stages. A spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster's commercial arm which licensed some international versions of the show, said there was 'no deal in place, no broadcaster, no production company.'"

Update: Deadline.com, 21 August 2010, Tim Adler: "The BBC has now admitted to me that it is indeed developing a Mandarin version of the show with NY-based film financier John Heyman, father of Harry Potter producer David Heyman. So a Hong Kong subsidiary of Heyman’s World Film Group is developing The Office with BBC exec Pierre Cheung in Beijing. There’s no broadcaster on board yet. Auntie has already sold The Office format to the U.S., Chile, France, Germany, Israel, and Quebec. Next week BBC Worldwide is hosting BBC Showcase China, a screening event for over 100 Chinese TV buyers in Beijing including state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), as well as regional, local and digital networks."

The remarkable life of a British-Japanese shortwave broadcaster.

Posted: 22 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Japan Times, 21 August 2010, Barbara Bayer: "Ichiro Urushibara, a British citizen who has spent 69 years in Japan, has enough memories and amusing anecdotes to entertain people for hours and keep them coming back for more. ... His first attempt to break into radio came in 1955. It was thwarted by NHK. 'I was about to get the job when they saw that I didn't have a college degree.' Nonetheless, he was later welcomed at other stations and went on to work in both radio and television for more than two decades, much of it under the pseudonym Ken Tajima. Among his many stints were the news in English for Nippon Shortwave Broadcasting in 1957 and a five-year live disc-jockey-cum-talk show from 1963 in a booth overlooking Ginza for six days a week. -- Usually called the Nihon Short-Wave Broadcasting Company, this was a domestic shortwave station in Japan -- though often heard by shortwave listeners outside Japan. It's still on the air as the Nikkei Radio Broadcasting Corporation.

North Korea's social networking initiative: "another propaganda playground."

Posted: 21 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
IDG News Service, 20 August 2010, Martyn Williams: "South Korea has begun blocking access to a Twitter account operated by a North Korean Web site. ... The blocking appears to be aimed solely at @Uriminzok Twitter account's main page address (twitter.com/uriminzok) and is easy to bypass for anyone with a little technical knowledge. Connecting to the same page over a secure Web connection, to twitter.com/uriminzok, still allows access and retweets of messages from the account can also be seen via the accounts of users that relay the message. ... In the last few days a Facebook group has also been established in the name of the Web site, but it's authenticity cannot be confirmed. It carries links to content on the site and from the YouTube channel, but unlike the other social media efforts it is not listed on the Uriminzokkiri home page. It has also been 'friending' other users, something that the Twitter channel is not doing."

Washington Post, 21 August 2010, Chico Harlan: "Under its stringent National Security Law, the South Korean government gives itself the right to ban access to pro-communist information. Already, Seoul blocks several dozen pro-North Korean or North Korean-run Web sites, though that does not apply to the North Korean YouTube channel, which launched about a month ago."

BBC News, dot.Rory blog, 20 August 2010, Rory Cellan-Jones: "[W]hat really caught my eye was a link to this extraordinary YouTube video. As a colleague put it, it seems to be a kind of Korean West Side Story, and could end up as a viral hit. ... Some hoped that web 2.0 would be all about setting the masses free to express themselves. But for some governments, the likes of Twitter and YouTube just provide another propaganda playground." See previous post about same subject.

VOA's Willis Conover and his introduction to the music of Duke Ellington.

Posted: 21 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 20 August 2010, William F. Gavin, reviewing Harvey G. Cohen, Duke Ellington's America: "Willis Conover, whose jazz broadcasts over the Voice of America helped to win the Cold War, once told me that as a teenager, as yet unformed in his musical tastes, he purchased many recordings of then-popular swing bands. One day the record-store owner said: 'If you like these bands, why don't you listen to Duke Ellington? He's the real thing.' It is the thesis of Harvey G. Cohen's "Duke Ellington's America," a massive, exhaustively detailed, and richly documented re-examination of Ellington's life and works, that Ellington was indeed the real thing." -- With illustration of the cover of the book, which shows The Duke next to a La Voz de los Estados Unidos microphone, the hemispherically correct name of the VOA Spanish Service. It's now La Voz de América, or voanoticias.com. Ellington's "Take the A Train" was the signature tune for Conover's VOA Jazz program.

Kyiv Post, 19 August 2010: "It’s hard to think of a stranger duo than the United States and Belarus. But music is known to cross borders. American jazz vocalist Sharon Clark will perform together with Apple Tea band from the former Soviet state. ... Her partners in concert, six members of the Belarusian band, are well-known musicians in Eastern Europe. They say they got addicted to music in 1970’s listening to rock and jazz on the Voice of America radio or the records smuggled from abroad."

Keep radio in the international broadcasting mix, he writes.

Posted: 21 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The China Post (Taipei), 21 August 2010, John J. Metzler: "[W]hen the BBC cuts its Arabic service for Sudan as it recently did, the listeners there are deprived of an alternative voice and source of accurate unbiased information. In Third World countries, it's not like people can say, 'well there's no BBC, so let's go online and surf or even watch CNN TV or tune into Al-Jazeera.' In regions lacking dependable power and electric such alternatives are simply not an option, whereas radio is, precisely because it is cheap and available. While Western broadcasters are cutting traditional shortwave radio broadcasts, we actually should be expanding them to places like Islamic Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the myriad of other 'Stans' which emerged from the rubble of the old Soviet Union. These countries need fair, serious and balanced information to counterbalance a muzzled or constricted press." -- BBC did not cut its Arabic service for Sudan. It was taken off FM transmitters inside the country by order of the Sudanese government. (See previous post.) The number of places where radio is the only available medium for international broadcasting is declining. When television and internet are introduced, they tend to be more popular than radio.

Examples of Africans listening to BBC and VOA.

Posted: 21 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
San Francisco Bay View, 18 August 2010, Ann Garrison interviewing Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Rwandan presidential hopeful who was arrested: "Ann: I’ve heard that Rwanda has quite an oral tradition, that even if there isn’t any published media that the word travels from village to village. Victoire: Of course. They can hear the radio. There are different Rwandese radios in the country, but we use BBC and Voice of America because we cannot use the public or private radios."

Daily Guide, 18 August 2010: Death of "Mac Tontoh, a leading member of the world acclaimed UK- based Ghanaian afro pop group, Osibisa... . Mac Tontoh, who was one of the great pioneers of the fusion of African and western music, tuned in to jazz broadcasts on VOA and the BBC World Service."

BBC and VOA criticized for flood coverage priorities.

Posted: 21 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Central Chronicle (Madhya Pradesh), 18 August 2010, editorial: "Prominent Western media, particularly the BBC and the Voice of America, have been sharply focused on the Pakistani floods, taking only a secondary look at the floods in China and Europe and refusing to even mention such 'minor' aberrations of nature as the cloudburst in Ladakh [region of Jammu and Kasmir]. The fact that the nature's fury in Ladakh had left nearly 100 American tourists stranded was not enough to move the likes of VOA for a mention in their bulletins."

Radio/TV Martí: "One cannot say it is a total failure."

Posted: 21 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Poder (Miami), 18 August 2010, Siobhan Morrissey and David Adams: Radio/TV Martí director Pedro Roig "claims that during his regime the station has been transformed into a more effective news network. The operation went from seven or eight programs a week to 12 or 15, the director says. He also oversaw the creation of a second TV studio and the transition from using an ineffective naval blimp - dubbed Fat Albert - to a turboprop plane that now transmits TV Martí to Cuba from an air- borne platform over the Straits of Florida. Roig also added a new program Musica de mi alma, where musicians, such as Grammy Award winner Albita donate their time and talent so that people on the island know that Cuban culture is alive and well in Miami. [A report by Senator John Kerry] recognized that news coverage had improved, but indicated that only 2 percent of Cubans listen to Radio Martí and 'claims that TV Martí has any stable viewership are suspect.' Roig dismisses those figures. He places the listeners of Radio Martí at roughly half the island nation. Viewers of TV Martí could be as high as 10 percent, Roig adds. He bases his numbers on interviews with recent arrivals from Cuba, which he argues is more reliable than telephone surveys, which can be skewed because Cubans are reluctant to speak openly due to fears of government phone tapping. Any decision about the network’s fate is at least a year off, explains a congressional aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But if a move occurs, lawmakers want the organization to travel light - minus TV Martí, the aide says. Radio Martí, on the other hand, has potential. 'It could be a calming voice rather than a provocative voice, projecting the positive voice of America to the Cuban people,' he says. 'One cannot say it is a total failure.'"

An argument for the tree-falling-in-the-forest theory of international broadcasting.

Posted: 21 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link

Update: Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, 19 August 2010, Hell Dale: An "important issue relating to U.S. international broadcasting is the allocation of funding between Voice of America and the growing number of U.S. surrogate broadcasters in the RFE/RL mold, all of whom are managed under the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Audience share is one of the most discussed measurements—and for good reason. That’s what domestic commercial broadcasters use, so why not the government’s international broadcasters? For instance, should we cut broadcasting to countries where the government jams [RFE/RL] broadcasts, causing audience share to drop, such as Iran? Looking at audience research is one of the first items on the to-do list of the new Broadcasting Board of Governors under Chairman Walter Isaacson, which met for the first time on July 30. This research determines budgets and programming decisions. Yet, reliable numbers are hard to come by in closed societies. And in some ways, they do not affect the core mission. The congressionally mandated charters of RFE/RL have very specifically defined parameters, which have little to do with audience share and everything to do with [P.J.] O’Rourke’s argument." -- Not having an audience does not affect the core mission? Perhaps, if international broadcasting is all about the message, regardless of whether anyone is listening. See previous post for P.J. O'Rourke's essay.

National Guard Commando Solo aircraft could, if necessary, domestically disseminate.

Posted: 21 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 17 August 2010, Jeff Stein: The mission of the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania National Guard, including its Commando Solo EC-130 aircraft, "is psychological operations -- propaganda, in a word. Or at least it was until June, when the name of the mission was changed to a more civilian-friendly 'Military Information Support Operations,' or MISO. Under any name, the planes are equipped to broadcast radio and television messages to target audiences, including in the United States. Although the unit’s main mission is foreign, to counter an adversary’s propaganda or propagate our own (such as all-is-lost surrender messages aimed at Iraqi troops), the 193rd is also ready to spring into action domestically under the Defense Department's Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, which was established in Colorado Springs, Colo., after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. ... 'Commando Solo has the capability to broadcast TV, radio, you name it, precisely what is needed after a hurricane, an earthquake -- whatever it takes to get out the information,' said Joel Harding, of the Association of Old Crows, the electronic warfare veterans association."

U.S. Army Special Operations Command News Service, 17 August 2010, Dave Chace: "Brig. Gen. Bennet Sacolick takes command of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School from Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Csrnko at Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 17. ... These regiments make up the Army's special operations community: Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Military Information Support Operations. SWCS, as the Army's special operations university, trains and educates Soldiers and service members throughout the Department of Defense in advanced unconventional warfare techniques. At 54-years-old, Sacolick has commanded the Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Airborne) and served with the Central Intelligence Agency as a senior service college fellow."

Curious example of international broadcasting: Discovery's Military Channel will launch in India.

Posted: 20 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 19 August 2010, Adam Benzine: "Discovery Networks Asia Pacific (DNAP) is set to launch five new pay-TV networks in India, including Discovery 3D and Investigation Discovery. According to local reports, the broadcaster has applied for a licence to launch five more channels in the country: Discovery Kids, Military Channel, Discovery Home And Health, as well as ID and the aforementioned 3D network. The news comes after DNAP earlier this year launched its Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo channels in the territory. The five new nets would take DNAP's Indian portfolio to 11 channels, with existing channels including Discovery Channel, HD World, Discovery Travel & Living and Animal Planet."

WorldScreen.com, 18 August 2010: "Coinciding with the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Investigation Discovery is to air a new documentary, ID Investigates: Why is Bin Laden Alive?, which looks at how it is possible that no one has been able to capture or kill the al-Qaeda leader. ... 'ID is proud to partner with the world-class news unit at the BBC, and world-renowned journalist Peter Bergen, to offer viewers an in-depth examination into the theories surrounding his disappearance, and provide some possible answers—something we’re all looking for.'"

Sixty US documentaries to 25 countries.

Posted: 20 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
State Department press release, 18 August 2010: "Award-winning contemporary American documentary films and filmmakers are giving audiences around the world new insights into life and culture in the United States. A touring program of about 60 independently produced documentaries is traveling to almost 25 countries worldwide, where U.S. filmmakers and film experts will introduce the films and conduct seminars and workshops on filmmaking and emergent media at U.S. embassies, international film festivals, universities and other venues. Curated and administered by the University Film and Video Association, the American Documentary Showcase is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. ... The documentaries cover diverse topics ranging from the story of a Puerto Rican American Muslim hip-hop star to the integration of immigrants into a rural Southern town; from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the effects of mountain-top coal mining to the story of two expatriates from communist Hungary who became iconic Hollywood filmmakers. The 2010 American Documentary Showcase is scheduled to travel to Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras, Kenya, Mongolia, Morocco, Nigeria, Namibia, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe."

Foreign channels coming to India's free DTH satellite service.

Posted: 20 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Indiantelevision.com, 18 August 2010: "New Delhi: The augmentation of the capacity of the country’s only free direct-to-home platform DD Direct Plus to 97 channels will cost Rs 554.3 million. ... DD sources told indiantelevision.com that around 90 television channels by 82 applicants are in the queue for being uploaded on DD Direct Plus. ... The channels include three foreign channels: Japan’s NHK TV, Korean Broadcasting Corporation and Deutsche Welle. Around ten more foreign channels are expected to join soon."

Swissinfo steps up efforts to survive amid budget cuts.

Posted: 20 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
genevalunch.com, 18 August 2010, Ellen Wallace: "Swissinfo, the multi-language Internet arm of Swiss Broadcast Corporation, is stepping up its appeal to the public to sign a petition intended to help it survive. The news and information site, whose global reach is greater than that of TSR (Swiss public television) or the Tribune de Geneve, according to web-monitoring company Alexa, is threatened by budget cuts that staff say will mean its death."

genevalunch.com, 18 August 2010, editorial by Ellen Wallace: "Swissinfo rose from the ashes of Swiss Radio International, a switch from an older media approach shared by other countries: Britain’s BBC, the US Voice of America and others. Moving to the Internet made sense, and swissinfo has proved its worth with strong traffic. A primary mission is to help the one-fifth of the Swiss population that lives outside the country stay in touch and informed. In addition, its reporters often offset skewered reports by journalists from outside the country who misunderstand or don’t take the time to educate themselves about how Switzerland functions—critical at times like the summer of 2009 when the US and Switzerland were negotiating their UBS treaty." See also www.swissinfo.ch, including petition.

South Koreans might violate law if they respond to North Korea's "purported" Twitter account.

Posted: 19 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 18 August 2010, Bomi Lim: "South Koreans who post comments on a purported North Korean Twitter Inc. account may fall foul of national security laws that bar the country’s citizens from communicating with their Cold War foes. 'People would have to bear in mind that they could be violating the law' if it is confirmed to be North Korean, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong Joo told reporters today in Seoul. The government is investigating the suspected accounts on Twitter and Google Inc.’s YouTube site, she said, without elaborating." -- But South Koreans would be posting comments to Twitter, not to any North Korean based website.

Yonhap News Agency, 19 August 2010, Sam Kim: "South Korea quickly blocked access by its nationals to the [@uriminzokkiri] statements, citing a law that requires them to gain government approval if they want to view such material. An official at the Korea Communications Commission, however, said that North Korea continues to modify the Internet protocol (IP) addresses of its statements to fool the South Korean watchdog. ... Observers said Seoul may be overreacting. The North Korean Twitter Web page 'is more amusing than anything else,' Michael Breen, author of 'The Koreans' who runs a communications consulting firm in Seoul, said. 'The government here needs to lighten up and give its own people access and stop being afraid of the North Korean propaganda.' 'Twitter is a symbol of information technology. The South should consider ways to open the North through channels like Twitter rather than block them,' Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said." -- I can see how South Korea can block www.uriminzokkiri.com, but can they block @uriminzokkiri without blocking Twitter altogether?

PC World, 17 August 2010, Martyn Williams: "The U.S. government has welcomed North Korea's jump onto Twitter and challenged the country to let its citizens see the recently created account. 'We use Twitter to connect, to inform, and to debate. We welcome North Korea to Twitter and the networked world,' wrote Philip Crowley, a state department spokesman on his Twitter account. The message came days after Uriminzokkiri, the closest thing the insular country has to an official Web site, established a Twitter account. The account has to date posted messages only in Korean but that hasn't stopped it becoming somewhat of a Twitter hit. Publicity from the launch has resulted in over 5,000 followers subscribing to the slow stream of government propaganda. 'The North Korean government has joined Twitter, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well?,' asked Crowley on his Twitter account."

Note that Bloomberg uses "purported" and "suspected" to describe the YouTube and Twitter accounts. It's difficult to know for sure if any DPRK website is really "official. See www.uriminzokkiri.com/Newspaper/english/. Also www.korea-dpr.com, "the Official Webpage of The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)," though apparently from Europe. And www.kcna.co.jp, the Korean Central News Agency, obviously via Japan. See previous post about same subject.

Worldspace and the propensity to pay to listen to radio.

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Business Express (New Delhi), 17 August 2010, Vanita Kohli-Khandekar: "Most Indians rejected pay radio. Just about 175,000 people had subscribed to pay Rs 135 a month for WorldSpace radio, more than eight years after its existence in India. (WorldSpace has since shut down.) All that talk of superior music or ad-free content did not work for most Indians. They were happy multi-tasking with the prattle of radio jockeys on the 200-odd free FM radio stations. On the other hand, Indians are perfectly happy paying Rs 150 and more for a ticket to watch a film at a multiplex or Rs 50 to watch it on a pay-per-view channel on DTH. ... The point — any market for any good or service usually finds its own level."

International news channels on Boxee. Great! What's a Boxee?

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 17 August 2010. "The online video news service Livestation has just released an App for Boxee, bringing the news channels, announced Matteo Berlucchi of Livestation. ... The Livestation app for Boxee can be found by searching for ‘live news’ on Boxee and it allows users to watch both their free-to-air channels like Al Jazeera and BBC World News or the subscription based ones such as CNN International, CNBC or Bloomberg." See also www.boxee.tv -- I don't quite get it, but the FAQ mentions the Acer Revo, which I own to watch television from the internet on our HDTV, so maybe I'll try it.

Turner acquisition will increase CNN International availability in Sweden and Norway.

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Television Business International, 17 August 2010: "Turner has acquired Scandinavian channel operator Millennium Media Group, a deal that will see it expand its entertainment presence in the region. The Time Warner subsidiary Turner Broadcasting Europe has acquired 100% of the company, which owns five channels including entertainment channels Star! and TV7 and movie channels Showtime, Silver and Silver HD. ... The two companies will merge their respective channel portfolios, which will see Turner adding CNN International, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies and Boomerang, and it will be run by Millennium Media Group founders CG Anderson and Ignas Scheynius. The deal is currently subject to regulatory approval in Sweden and Norway."

Al Arabiya DG says mosque near Ground Zero would be "unwise."

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
MEMRI Blog, 17 August 2010: "In an August 16, 2010 column in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, Al-Arabiya TV director-general and the paper's former editor, criticized President Obama for supporting the construction of the Cordoba House mosque at Ground Zero in New York. He stated that it would be unwise to construct a mosque at that location, saying that no practicing Muslims live in the area, and that the mosque would become a focal point for both the supporters of terrorism and the champions of Islamophobia. Therefore, he argued, it would be preferable for Obama to throw his support behind issues that are of real concern for the Muslims, such as promoting Middle East peace." With excerpts.

On ABC, ABC MD Mark Scott makes the case for ABC as Australia's international broadcaster.

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
ABC Media Watch, 16 August 2010, Jonathan Holmes: "Sky News ... has got its eyes on another very precious ABC asset, which is the overseas Australia Network, which is funded, largely, by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Sky thinks it should be allowed to tender for that channel, why shouldn’t they be allowed to? Mark Scott: Well if there’s a tender for it, Sky will be able to bid for it and the ABC would bid to keep up with the service. But we have in our charter the fact that we are to broadcast internationally. We’ve been doing an outstanding job for the best part of 10 years or so with Australia Network. But the Lowy Institute recently did a review of international broadcasting around the world. There’s a big increase in the levels of international broadcasting and it’s being delivered by public broadcasters around the world. Jonathan Holmes: What, exclusively? Mark Scott: Exclusively. Jonathan Holmes: Well I mean CNN and people like that are not public broadcasters. Mark Scott: Yes but CNN is a private company, they receive no government funding to do that service and so if Sky News wants to run its own international service, there’s no inhibitor on that as well. But governments fund public broadcasters. Jonathan Holmes: But why couldn’t Sky do that? Mark Scott: What the Lowy Institute found was that the public broadcasters had the credibility and the independence to deliver that service. We have no other commercial agenda, we have no other business in those countries, there’s no distraction by commercial interests. All we have to do is deliver as an independent public broadcaster and nowhere else in the world, nowhere else in the world is this put out to tender. We don’t put our embassies out to tender, we don’t put our defence force out to tender and other countries don’t put their public broadcasting and their international broadcasting out to tender."

I'm not convinced by Mr. Scott's logic. There's no distraction by government (as sole funder) interests? I'm partial to private international broadcasting, because there is no government funding to fuel doubts about credibilty, and because it costs the taxpayers nothing. However, in languages such as Burmese, Bangla, Hausa, there is little or no commercial potential for international broadcasting. There is, on the other, a demand among audiences in those places for reliable news. Hence, the need for government funded but autonomous international broadcasting. See previous post about same subject.

Eleven million leaflets lofted over the Iron Curtain.

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Historytimes.com, 16 August 2010, Richard Cummings: "In August 1951, the National Committee for a Free Europe abolished its Research and Publications Service and created the Free Europe Press (FEP), which was used not only for the printing of various publications in the USA and Europe but also for the printing of leaflets and launching of balloons to carry them to the countries [of] Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary. Permanent launching sites were constructed set up in Fronau, Freying, and Hohenhard, West Germany. This test operation, known as the 'Winds of Freedom,' was on an experimental stand-alone basis, i.e., the launching of the balloons was not fully part of a coordinated programming effort with Radio Free Europe broadcasts. ... In total, over 11,000,000 leaflets were dropped behind the Iron Curtain during the two weeks of the 'Winds for Freedom' operation at a cost of $233,041.89." -- Richard Cummings, retired RFE/RL director of security, is author of Cold War Radio: The Dangerous History of American Broadcasting in Europe, 1950-1989 and the soon-to-be published Radio Free Europe's 'Crusade for Freedom': Rallying Americans Behind Cold War Broadcasting, 1950-1960.

Biography of "Axis Sally" will be published in October.

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Casemate Publishing press release, 16 August 2010: "Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany by Richard Lucas, the first fully-documented biography of the notorious World War II broadcaster, will be published on October 19, 2010. One of the most notorious Americans of the twentieth century was a failed Broadway actress turned radio announcer named Mildred Gillars (1900–1988), better known to American GIs as 'Axis Sally.' Despite the richness of her life story, there has never been a full-length biography of the ambitious, star-struck Ohio girl who evolved into a reviled disseminator of Nazi propaganda. Her 1949 trial for treason captured the attention and raw emotion of a nation fresh from the horrors of the Second World War. Her 12-year imprisonment and life on parole is a remarkable story of a woman who attempts to rebuild her life in the country she betrayed. Author Richard Lucas is a graduate of Hamilton College, Clinton, NY and Binghamton University, Binghamton NY. He is a freelance writer and lifelong shortwave radio enthusiast." See also blurb at Casemate Publishing website. An excellent book on the subject is John Carver Edwards, Berling Calling: American Broadcasters in Service to the Third Reich, Praeger 1991.

Congressman visits last operational VOA shortwave transmitting site in the United States.

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Daily Reflector (Greenville, NC), 16 August 2010: "U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield ... will tour Voice of America’s Site B transmitter facility outside of Grimesland [North Carolina]... . Along with viewing a live broadcast, Butterfield will meet with staff and discuss Radio Marti, which is broadcast by shortwave radio to Cuba. President Obama’s 2011 budget recommends closing the local VOA site, which would save $3.1 million for its parent organization, Broadcasting Board of Governors, according earlier news reports. Butterfield and Pitt County’s other congressional representative, U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C., have opposed the closure. The Broadcasting Board of Governors said the closure is part of the organization’s efforts to update satellite and other broadcasting technology. The local facility, which opened in 1963, employs 23 people."

Daily Reflector, 17 August 2010: "'We have one advantage over the Internet — no one can stop us,' Al Bailey, an lectronics technician at the facility, said. Stopping Internet delivery is as simple as cutting a phone or fiber optic line or padlocking the server location, he said. Internet programming also can be traced. The equipment needed to jam shortwave radio signals is expensive, he said. Although the Pitt County site broadcasts to three regions, its signal can be heard worldwide, Bailey said."

See previous post about same subject.

Non-mainstream press notes VOA report on US Iraq withdrawal "ignored by mainstream press."

Posted: 18 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Raw Story, 16 August 2010, Stephen C. Webster: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters on Wednesday that by the end of the month, approximately 50,000 U.S. soldiers will remain in Iraq to serve an advisory role to the country's military. Those forces, he said, would be fully withdrawn by the end of 2011. Unless, that is, they're asked to stay. At the time, that quote was noted only by Voice of America, the government's official news service. It was completely ignored by the mainstream press, until Intelligence Daily reporter Michael Collins noted the comment and ran it in a headline."

OpEdNews, 16 August 2010, Michael Collins: "The article notes that Gates made the statement, 'to reporters on his aircraft during a domestic trip on Wednesday.' Apparently, it wasn't newsworthy except to the official news agency for the United States government.... The VOA presented a one sided set of arguments for breaking the commitment of the President of the United States, Congress, and the will of citizens. Surely, the president will fire the head of VOA and take Gates to the woodshed for creating confusion about a vital national security interest." -- Of course, the president cannot fire the VOA director. The International Broadcasting Act of 1994 formed the Broadcasting Board of Governors to hire and fire VOA directors and RFE/RL, RFA, and MBN presidents, so that the president can't do so on political grounds. Mr. Collins's piece refers to VOA News, 12 August 2010. Secretary Gates's sentence, "[i]f a new government is formed there and they want to talk about beyond 2011, we're obviously open to that discussion," was also quoted by Lara Jakes, AP, 12 August 2010. I think AP would count as "mainstream."

Azeri-Press Agency, 17 August 2010: "U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has told a major U.S. newspaper the July 2011 date to start withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan is set in stone, putting him at odds with his top Afghan war commander, General David Petraeus, APA reports quoting 'The Voice of America'." Refers to VOA News, 16 August 2010.

Evidence of effectiveness: Comment by PM Maliki in Alhurra interview causes suspension of talks to form Iraqi government.

Posted: 17 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
AFP, 16 August 2010: "Iraq's two main political blocs led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ex-premier Iyad Allawi broke off coalition talks on Monday over remarks made by Maliki on television, Allawi's group said. 'We ceased negotiations with (Maliki's) State of Law,' spokeswoman Maysoon al-Damaluji told AFP. She was referring to Maliki's comments that the secular Iraqiya was a 'Sunni bloc' in a television interview to be broadcast later the same day on Al-Hurra, a US-funded, Arabic-language station."

CNN, 16 August 2010, Jomana Karadsheh: "Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's al-Iraqiya party announced Monday that it was suspending talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's coalition in response to comments he made in a television interview. Maysoon al-Damalouji, a spokeswoman for al-Iraqiya, told CNN the group decided to suspend negotiations after al-Maliki described Allawi's candidate list as a 'Sunni list' in an interview aired Monday by the U.S.-funded network Alhurra."

BBC News, 16 August 2010: "The al-Iraqiya bloc was negotiating with the second-placed Shia-led bloc of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But it has been angered by a TV interview in which Mr Maliki said that it represented the Sunnis of Iraq. Al-Iraqiya, which says it is non-sectarian, wants a televised apology from Mr Maliki before talks can resume. ... The latest dispute comes after Mr Maliki called al-Iraqiya a 'Sunni bloc' during a television interview with the US-funded al-Hurra TV channel."

Where to get news about China overtaking Japan as second largest economy: 1) RFA? 2) VOA? 3) RFE/RL?

Posted: 17 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
It's a tie between RFE/RL and VOA. RFE/RL, which does not, for now anyway, broadcast to China, has the longest text report (from agencies). See RFE/RL, 16 August 2010. VOA, 16 August 2010, has a shorter report from agencies, but it's accompanied by a 2:42 video report by VOA's Mil Arcega. Nothing, at least in English, from RFA. There are stories more along the lines of RFA, 17 August 2010, Chinese authorities killing dogs without testing them for rabies.

On Press TV, Ahmadinejad mentions BBC Persian and VOA role in Iranian election.

Posted: 17 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 15 August 2010: "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the Tehran Declaration provides solutions to the world's nuclear problems by transforming confrontational attitudes. Iran, Brazil and Turkey drew up the declaration in May as part of trilateral efforts to resolve Iran's stand-off with the West over its nuclear program. Press TV has conducted an interview with President Ahmadinejad to shed more light on the matter. ... Ahmadinejad: You must pay attention to ... the conspiracies and plans of the US and its allies. Before the elections, they had announced they would do anything possible to prevent the government of Ahmadinejad to be re-elected. President Obama was not supposed to interfere in our internal affairs. But during his Middle East tour, he said that he hopes there would be a change in Iran, so they organized many things that are unprecedented in the history of Iran. BBC Persian and VOA mobilized all their resources. ... Press TV: Every so often an issue comes along which is seized upon by the enemies of Iran and magnified and it becomes a big problem. One such is the punishment scheduled originally against the woman convicted of adultery, the so-called stoning case. I see that president Lula from Brazil has asked Iran if he can take this woman into exile there to solve this problem. Can Iran agree to this? Ahmadinejad: ... I think there is no need to create some trouble for President Lula and to take her to Brazil. We are keen to export our technology to Brazil rather tha[n] such people."

Voice of America press release, 12 August 2010: "Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) has told VOA's Spanish Television that growing ties between Iran and Brazil are a 'slap in the face' to U.S. President Barack Obama, who is trying to isolate Iran over its controversial nuclear program. ... Congressman Engel told VOA he is 'not satisfied' with the explanation that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has provided about his meeting in May with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. ... The portion of Congressman Engel’s interview dealing with Iran [aired] on Thursday’s El Mundo al Día (The World Today)."

Mexican blog reports on drug war with "undifferentiated content." Opportunity for international broadcasting? (updated)

Posted: 17 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 12 August 2010, Olga R. Rodriguez: "An anonymous, twentysomething blogger is giving Mexicans what they can't get elsewhere – an inside view of their country's raging drug war. Operating from behind a thick curtain of computer security, Blog del Narco in less than six months has become Mexico's go-to Internet site at a time when mainstream media are feeling pressure and threats to stay away from the story. Many postings, including warnings and a beheading, appear to come directly from drug traffickers. Others depict crime scenes accessible only to military or police. The undifferentiated content suggests that all sides are using the blog – drug gangs to project their power, law enforcement to show that it too can play rough, and the public to learn about incidents that the mainstream media are forced to ignore or play down. ... 'For the scanty details that they (mass media) put on television, they get grenades thrown at them and their reporters kidnapped,' the blogger said. 'We publish everything. Imagine what they could do to us.' ... It can be extremely gory, but his neutrality has helped build his credibility. 'We don't insult them, we don't say one specific group is the bad one,' he said. 'We don't want problems with them.' Critics say it's free public relations for the cartels. 'Media outlets have social responsibilities and have to serve the public,' said Carlos Lauria, of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. 'This is being produced by someone who is not doing it from a journalistic perspective. He is doing it without any ethical considerations.'"

This is an example of value-free journalism, thus derided by pundits but appreciated by its audience. Given that Mexican domestic media seem to be unable to report this story, there might be an opportunity here for international broadcasting (given the Mexican media environment, this could be web-only "broadcasting"). However, the pressure to inject "ethical considerations" means that there are more opportunities for international broadcasting to Mexico to be done badly than to be done well. More later.

Update: Los Angeles Times, 16 August 2010, Tracy Wilkinson: "A new word has been written into the lexicon of Mexico's drug war: narco-censorship. It's when reporters and editors, out of fear or caution, are forced to write what the traffickers want them to write, or to simply refrain from publishing the whole truth in a country where members of the press have been intimidated, kidnapped and killed. ... Social media networks such as Twitter have filled some of the breach, with residents frantically sending danger alerts. And a secretive 'narco blog' has started posting numerous videos of henchmen and their victims, no matter how gruesome. But, residents say, the social media too have been usurped by traffickers, who use the system to spread rumors and stoke panic."

P.J. O'Rourke: RFE/RL "delivers information ... the source of citizenship."

Posted: 17 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
World Affairs, The Editors' Blog, 12 August 2010, P.J. O'Rourke: "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s real mission is neither frighteningly complicated nor terribly simple. RFE/RL delivers information. Information is the essence of what might be called the 'Attitude of Liberty' — the feeling of being free. People must, of course, feel free of physical and economic oppression. But first they must feel free of ignorance. ... Information is the source of citizenship. Without information no one can even attempt to build a civil society. ... The simple and direct lines of communication that RFE/RL has opened — and spends all day and night keeping open — are the lines that guide the way to democracy. Thus it isn’t wrong to say that RFE/RL 'promotes democracy.' But it’s the kind of democracy promotion that rolls off the tongues of people, not the kind that’s stuffed down their throats."

RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 23 July 2010, Charles Dameron: "Humorist and American political commentator P.J. O'Rourke understands the power a few laughs can have in breaking divisions between people and subverting entrenched authority. 'Humor means...to humanize people. Humanizing people is an extremely valuable thing to do,' the acclaimed author told a recent gathering of RFE/RL's Prague staff. 'Humor can rob tyrants of their dignity, and dignity in the form of self-importance is one of their most important tools.' ... His message was of special relevance for journalists at RFE/RL's Iranian broadcast service, Radio Farda, which recently introduced a biting satirical show (Pas Farda, or 'The Day after Tomorrow') that mocks the Islamic Republic's ruling elites and pushes the limits of political talk in Iran. The host of the show, Farshid Manafi, previously produced a similar program on Iranian radio that was shut down by government authorities four years ago. Today, he broadcasts his humorous take on the foibles of officials in Tehran with relative impunity." See previous post about VOA Persian News Network's satirical show.

RFE/RL, 26 July 2010, P.J. O'Rourke, interviewed by Luke Allnut: "I don't care much for blogging because it is undigested thinking, because it comes straight from the heart, or the lizard brain, or the mouth without due consideration. Very little that gets blogged is of very much worth. Almost everything should be thought over."

North Korea now sharing its propaganda on YouTube (updated: Twitter, too).

Posted: 17 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 12 August 2010, Rick Wallace: "North Korea has extended its propaganda efforts to video-sharing site YouTube. The regime has uploaded clips praising dictator Kim Jong-il and rejecting claims it sank a South Korean patrol boat in March. Korea's Yonhap news agency reported yesterday that 10 clips were found on the Google-owned site uploaded under the newly registered name of 'uriminzokkiri', which corresponds to that of the regime's official website. One English-language video praised Mr Kim as a 'general sent by the heaven'. Another one, posted a week ago, berates South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan over his controversial gibe to disgruntled young Leftists in the South that they should try life under Mr Kim." See also www.youtube.com/user/uriminzokkiri, but everything here seems to be in Korean. For English videos, search YouTube for uriminzokkiri, although you will also get videos passed on by other sources. (For example "Kim Jong-il, Son of Partisans".) With YouTube, it's easier to navigate out of the content you are looking for, than to navigate into it.

Update: AFP, 15 August 2010: "North Korea's propaganda campaign has surged into the 21st century with a new Twitter account, hot on the heals of its foray into video with clips posted on YouTube. The secretive regime has begun micro-blogging under the name @uriminzok, with a number of posts pointing its few dozen followers to anti-Seoul and anti-US statements on the country's official website (http://www.uriminzokkiri.com). South Korea blocks the site and few in North Korea have access even to a computer. ... Most followers posted derisive comments in Korean." -- All the tweets I can see are in Korean. It has 3,506 followers, but follows no one.

Motions in wrongful death suit by family of murdered Radio Free Asia GC.

Posted: 17 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 14 August 2010, Keith L. Alexander: "Attorneys for the three defendants in the Robert E. Wone wrongful death suit are objecting to a request by Wone's widow to see the trio's phone and e-mail records, according to court papers filed this week. ... Wone, a lawyer who worked as general counsel for Radio Free Asia, was found stabbed to death in the men's home. The men said an unknown intruder came into the townhouse and killed Wone. No one has been charged in the slaying. [Joseph R.] Price, [Victor J.] Zaborsky and [Dylan M.] Ward were acquitted in June on charges of covering up for the killer and tampering with evidence. ... Wone's family, including his widow, Katherine, is suing the three men for $20 million." Trial date set for 13 June 2010. previous post about same subject. See also Who Murdered Robert Wone website.

HBO investing in original documentaries from East Europe.

Posted: 17 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Variety, 14 August 2010, Will Tizard: HBO's "Central and Eastern European branches have committed to a growing slate of original regional docus that wouldn't be out of place on the BBC. ... HBO doesn't disclose how much coin it's committing to original docus but, says Marc Lorber, head of original programming in Central and Eastern Europe, the slate is steadily growing. 'We're not looking to supplant the commercial broadcasters nor the public TV channels,' he says, 'certainly not when we're only producing four-to-six documentaries per key country. But, on the other hand, lacking commercial advertising as well as certain time restrictions does give us a freedom to explore stories that other channels might not be able to.' And, while the cabler doesn't feel educational programming is a prime obligation, he adds, the strong stories and characters in the content 'often enlighten as much as they entertain.'"

BBC to West Europe: was MW and SW, is now television sales.

Posted: 16 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 12 August 2010, Ian McDonough: "The BBC began its European service as a mix of BBC One and Two into the Nordic market, over time evolving into what is now the five-channel bouquet of BBC World News, BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge and CBeebies. Localisation has become increasingly important for the channels that were broken out of the old BBC Prime. Local continuity for CBeebies in Poland surely a contributory factor for a 40% increase in advertising sales in the country against a falling market. Ian McDonough, who has just moved up from VP commercial development has just become BBC Worldwide Channels’ new senior vice president and general manager, EMEA, not unreasonably says he wants to continue that success. McDonough’s brief covers the all five channels, though programming and marketing for BBC World News is through a separate board, leaving McDonough and his team to handle distribution."

Technorati, 12 August 2010, Kaleel Sakakeeny: "The British Broadcasting Corporation, known the world over as the BBC, just launched its new travel site, part of a series of site revamps that will include other lifestyle features, and its timing may be impeccable. With its own legendary reputation as a highly credible news and information source , the BBC’s new travel venture now boasts Emirates Airlines, unarguably one of the top tier, elegant airlines in the business, as its key sponsor. BBC will partner for content with the well-respected Lonely Planet (it's owned 75% of Lonely Planet (LP) since 2007), and the broadcast giant's way to travel may have been paved by the Huffington Post’s recently introduced travel section, setting the stage for the BBC venture. BBC.com/Travel is headed up by David Allen, a one-time NY Times Travel and Styles Editor, with a mandate to deliver first person accounts from the road"

The East African, 16 August 2010: "The BBC play writing competition panel recently visited Uganda and several other African countries in search of new talent. Winners, who are mostly unknown, up-and-coming playwrights, get a great opportunity for international exposure."

In addition to 24-hour channels, China will employ 30-second spots for international promotion (updated).

Posted: 16 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
AP, 4 August 2010: "Basketball star Yao Ming, movie director John Woo and piano prodigy Lang Lang are among dozens of celebrities who will appear in television commercials later this year in a bid by China to boost its image abroad. ... The stars will promote China's economic, cultural, sports and other achievements in 30-second television commercials, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The State Council, China's Cabinet, said the ads will promote an image of prosperity, democracy, openness, peace and harmony. Filming is to be completed by October and the ads will air on international networks such as CNN, Xinhua said. No dates were given for when they will be broadcast."

People's Daily Online, 5 August 2010. The 30-second commercials "will be broadcast worldwide through media agencies, including the BBC and CNN, before China's National Day." See also People's Daily Online, 6 August 2010. China's national day is 1 October. Will these spots increase China's popularity ratings, or just CNN International's revenues?

Update: Global Times (Beijing), 15 August 2010, Catherine Chan: "It will be a challenge to produce advert sophisticated enough to win over an international audience and at the same time create a product Chinese people can be proud of. ... At least China's latest advertising campaign might go someway to countermanding the Western media's general focus on the more negative aspects of China. But a nation's image cannot and should not rest on the strength of a 30-second commercial."

Heritage: Broadcasting entertainment and new media technology contribute to low Arab opinion of US policies.

Posted: 16 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry blog, 12 August 2010, Helle Dale: A recent poll should "prompt questions about the direction vis-a-vis the Middle East set by the State Department’s Public Diplomacy team under Undersecretary of State Judith McHale. The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll was conducted by University of Maryland Professor Shibley Telhami in conjunction with Zogby International between June 19 and July 20 and included respondents from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. The numbers tell a startling story: Arab respondents who described themselves as 'hopeful' for the Administration’s Middle East policy fell from 51 percent in 2009 to a mere 16 percent this year. Meanwhile, those who described themselves as 'discouraged' ballooned from 15 percent this year to 63 percent. ... Where are the U.S. public diplomacy tools that could help explain to the Arab population just how dangerous a nuclear-armed Iran would be, for the world, the Middle East, and the Iranian people? Well, those tools have been abandoned in favor of the broadcasting of entertainment and the love affair with new media technology." -- So let's return to Arabic-language radio on shortwave focusing on how dangerous a nuclear-armed Iran would be, and see how much audience it attracts.

Israeli-based Arabic-language website "will tackle issues widely considered taboo in the Arabic press."

Posted: 16 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Ha'aretz, 16 August 2010, Maya Sela: "Two prominent Israeli-Arab literary figures yesterday launched Qadita.net, an Arabic-language politics and culture website they say will tackle issues widely considered taboo in the Arabic press. The site's editors are author Ala Hlehel and Anton Shalhat, a journalist and culture critic. Hlehel said yesterday that the site is aimed at 'restoring the written word as the center of content in Arabic discourse and returning cultural texts as the focus of the Arab literary, cultural, political and societal experience.' Hlehel said quality will be the sole determining factor for featuring items on the site. 'We'll post controversial texts that touch on social and cultural sensitivities,' he said. 'The margins of freedom of the press in Arabic are shrinking under political and social tension from the whole Arab-Islamic scene, with its suffocating effect on free creation.'"

VOA Persian News Network weekly satiric program is an internet hit.

Posted: 15 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
PBS Frontline, 13 August 2010, Arash Karami: Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi created the weekly satiric show Parazit on Voice of America's Persian News Network (PNN). "A shared sense of humor toward politics, religion, and social issues is what first brought the two together. But it wasn't until after they had spent a few years at VOA and tired of their 'routine and boring' jobs as low-level assistants that they began sharing notions for a show which would allow them to utilize their particular talents. Arbabi says their wrote down their very first ideas on a napkin as they sat in a bar. They pitched their concept to management and were initially given a time slot for just a brief segment. Soon enough, they built up a following and the narrow slot expanded. They are currently recording the second season of their original program, now 30 minutes long. Kambiz, who hosts, has been drawing comparisons to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. Parazit is now fairly ubiquitous -- there's the Facebook page, the YouTube channel, the show blog, the file sharing page, and of course, Voice of America's official PNN page. They are such an Internet hit that they say most of their fans at first have no idea Parazit is even part of VOA."

Al Manar pulls TV series based on Gospel of Barnabas after protests.

Posted: 15 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Ahlul Bayt News Agency, 13 August 2010: "Ahlul Bayt News Agency (ABNA.ir), Al-Manar and NBN television channels on Friday announced they will stop airing 'The Christ' TV series after it stirred a row among Lebanon's Christians. In a joint statement they released, the two channels noted that the TV series they chose for their Ramadan holy month's schedule was aimed at highlighting the great personality of Prophet Issa bin Mariam (pbut) and his Divine message. 'The Christ TV series reflects, with full honor and glorification, his life, picture, role, pain and sacrifices,' the statement said. ... Pastor of the Maronite Catholic Church in Byblos, or Jbeil, Bishop Beshara Raii has said the film series is based on the Gospel of Barnabas, a Gospel 'not recognized at all by our church.' ... NBN Director-General Qassem Sweid defended 'The Christ,' saying it does not harm Christians at all. 'We made sure it was produced in accordance with the Koran,' he said."

David Miliband: "Radios are being distributed in Burma" to listen to BBC, etc.

Posted: 15 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, Comment is Free, 13 August 2010, David Miliband, former foreign secretary and currently Labour leadership candidate: "The Burmese junta has announced elections for 7 November. They will not be free. They will not be fair. And they will mark the culmination of a process begun by the junta to tighten its grip on the throat of Burma's people. ... Foreign Office ministers must of course raise concerns with their Burmese counterparts as regularly as possible. But just as important is co-operation with organisations such as Amnesty, and to be as vocal as possible whenever the opportunity arises. Radios are being distributed in Burma so that people can listen to the BBC World Service and other stations to get an understanding of what is happening outside the communication wall."

Sound of Hope president not allowed to enter Singapore.

Posted: 15 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Epoch Times, 12 August 2010, Matthew Robertson: "An executive of an independent radio network that focuses on Chinese human rights issues was refused entry to Singapore on Aug. 11. The broadcast network and commentators suspect the refusal relates to the Chinese regime’s influence over the Singaporean government, and have decried the move as a violation of media freedom. As of Aug. 12, Liao Shuhui, President of Sound of Hope Radio Network’s Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia divisions, was being held at the Singapore airport. ... SOH is a primarily Mandarin Chinese service that reports on human and civil rights abuses on the mainland; it offers reports online, and provides a shortwave broadcast to China. In particular, the station reports on the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese communist regime. It’s the latter association, radio station executives believe, that has led the Singaporean government to close its doors to Ms. Liao."

International Emmy nominations for Russia Today, Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 15 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
RIA Novosti, 13 August 2010: "Russia Today (RT) TV channel broadcasting in English, Arabic and Spanish became the first ever Russian television station nominated in the prestigious Emmy International Television Awards, RT press service said. ... RT's report on the first visit to Russia by U.S. President Barack Obama in July 2009 is up for the top prize in the 'News & Current Affairs' nomination."

RFE/RL, The Power Vertical blog, 13 August 2010, Robert Coalson: "There seems to be some good news on the Russian media-freedoms front. First, congratulations are in order to RT (formerly, Russia Today), which has received an Emmy nomination in the international news category for its coverage of U.S. President Barack Obama’s July 2009 trip to Moscow. RT is a state-funded English-language satellite channel."

The Peninsula (Doha), 13 August 2010: "Al Jazeera English is in contention for the International Emmy Award for News and Current Affairs for the third consecutive year. ... Al Jazeera English had journalists on both sides of the border during the 22-day Israeli offensive in Gaza, which began on December 26, 2008 and ended on January 17, 2009. The submitted coverage follows the start of a ground offensive in the territory on January 5, 2009."

Gulf Times (Doha), 14 August 2010: "Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC) has bagged the 'Best Short Documentary Film Award in Anthropology' for its Written in the Wind at the Jade Kunlun Awards, 2010 held in Qinghai, China. ... Written in the Wind introduces 'Silbo', the language of whistling which represents a heritage unique to La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands."

CNN and CNN International introduce simultaneous segment in which anchors test their knowledge.

Posted: 15 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Media Bistro, 11 August 2010: "CNN anchors Ali Velshi and Richard Quest will debut a new cross-channel segment on their respective programs tomorrow, 'Quest & Ali,' or 'Q&A.' The segment will air simultaneously on 'CNN Newsroom' on CNN, and 'Quest Means Business' on CNN International. 'Q&A' will feature a single topic, submitted by a viewer through Twitter, Facebook or CNN.com. Each host will have one minute to explain what they know about the subject, followed by a test conducted by a team of CNN producers. Whichever hosts gets more questions correct, wins."

Americans, lacking international news channels, are lacking coverage of Pakistan's floods.

Posted: 15 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily Kos, 10 August 2010, Sourmash:"I am writing this in response to a rec’d diary posted earlier today saying there is little coverage of the Pakistani floods in the US media. I would have written this sooner, but since I live in Pakistan, I only watch local news and BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN International, so I thought the floods were getting good coverage. It pains me to hear that they are not. Not surprising, of course, but hard to hear nevertheless."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 13 August 2010, Catriona Luke: "British readers and viewers know little of Pakistan and – with the exception of writers such as the Guardian's Declan Walsh and Saeed Shah, as well as Aleem Maqbool, who has given sensitive coverage for the BBC in Islamabad, and exemplary analysis and comment on the BBC World Service by Owen Bennett-Jones and Lyse Doucet – reporting of the country is poor and superficial. BBC News online is not exempt from criticism. In its old format, the BBC online South Asia site had always run features and good news stories about India, but Pakistan coverage was pretty much limited to bombings, violence and hardship."

TV by the Numbers, 12 August 2010: "New Orleans Rising, reported by CNN’s In America anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien, is an in-depth look at how five years after the hurricane [Katrina]; even a united and highly successful middle-class community like Pontchartrain Park struggles to rebuild. ... CNN International will broadcast New Orleans Rising on Sunday, August 22nd at 3pm ET."

New DRM application promises (small scale) television via shortwave.

Posted: 14 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Digital Radio Mondiale newsletter, August 2010, Hilary Malicka, DRM project manager: "IBC Amsterdam will be the venue for the world’s first transmission of Diveemo, the new DRM application where the audio is accompanied by a small scale video signal. This video application can show your TV-news over vast geographical areas, unhindered by the usual gatekeepers and can reach the screens of radio sets over great distances. Diveemo can be transmitted over all broadcast bands supported by the DRM worldwide standard (LW, MW, SW and above)."

UK FCO report reveals "wide availability globally on the open market" of satellite jamming equipment.

Posted: 14 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Eurasianet.org, The Bug Pit blog, 12 August 2010, Joshua Kucera: "The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has released its annual Strategic Export Controls report, in which it reports on military exports over the last year. ... This year they had a case study on Kazakhstan, and came to the conclusion that the sale would be OK: "In 2009, an export licence application was received for military rated radio jamming equipment. In view of the capacity of the equipment to jam satellite broadcasts, this application raised concerns regarding Kazakhstan’s human rights record, including internal repression of the media, and freedom of speech. ... The technical assessment of the equipment revealed that, whilst the equipment could be used for satellite jamming, this would be technically difficult. The technical assessment also revealed the wide availability globally on the open market of a number of systems which could be used to jam satellites and which were cheaper and more effective at satellite jamming. It was therefore concluded that this equipment would not have been sourced for that purpose. In light of this assessment the application was approved because the goods were likely to be used for their stated end use and accordingly, there was no clear risk that they might be used for internal repression.'"

When South Korea does not live up to its soap operas, a few North Korean defectors go back.

Posted: 14 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Asia Times, 13 August 2010, Andrei Lankov: "It is well known that some 20,000 North Korean refugees currently reside in South Korea. However, ... an estimated 200 of them are not here any more. Surprisingly, they have moved back to the North. ... [One] group of returnees are those refugees who were disappointed with life in South Korea. Most of the North Koreans went South with great and often inflated expectations, but soon they discovered the life they had to lead was far less glamorous than the life they saw in smuggled copies of South Korean TV dramas. ... [The returnees] are often used for propaganda, telling horror stories about life in the capitalist hell down south. Professional propaganda mongers help them to prepare such stories in which the personal experiences of the returnees (bitter, to be sure) are liberally mixed with necessary inventions." -- Keep in mind, this is only 200 out of 20,000.

New York Times, 11 August 2010, Michael Z. Wise: An exhibition at Vienna's Museum of Applied Art "encompasses more than 100 oil paintings and watercolors from North Korea’s national museum, known as the Korean Art Gallery Pyongyang, as well as architectural drawings and models. This is the first time that secretive totalitarian state has sent a large number of its artworks outside its sealed borders. ... Dutiful farmers, steelworkers, street sweepers and seamstresses all beam with joy; well-nourished children laugh in dazzling sunlight. 'We Are the Happiest Children in the World' is one surreal title. An image from 2000 — just after the peak years of a famine estimated to have cost three million lives — depicts the portly dictator Kim Jong-il lifting the lid off a steaming pot in a kitchen laden with succulent meats and fruits as two white-toqued chefs and an army officer stand by. 'The Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il Deeply Concerned Over the Soldiers’ Diet,' reads the caption. ... 'However much we may think of it as a joke or odd,' [Jane Portal of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts] said, 'we’ve seen it all before in terms of communist and totalitarian societies — from the Soviet Union to the Nazis to China. This is the last remnant of that, the last bastion of this kind of thinking that’s bound to disappear. That’s why it’s so important for it to be seen and collected for posterity.'"

The Observer, 15 August 2010, Imogen Carter, reviewing Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea: "Jun-sang's gnawing feeling that North Korea was a corrupt regime was confirmed when he began illegally watching South Korean TV; it was, he says, 'like looking in the mirror for the first time and realising you were unattractive'."

North Korea expands its mobile phone network -- but not near the border (updated).

Posted: 14 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Korea Times, 11 August 2010, Kim Young-jin: "The North Korean government has launched mobile phone services in several cities outside Pyongyang, giving ordinary citizens their first chance to own a cell phone, a report said Wednesday. According to Radio Free Asia, cities near the border with South Korea have been excluded and high prices will likely preclude the vast majority of citizens from going mobile. The services opened Aug. 1, the report said. Citing a source in China, RFA said post offices in the North began selling mobile phones on prepaid plans from Aug. 1. ... Sources in the North said those in cities near the border remain forbidden from using cell phones because their proximity to the South could allow illegal cross-border communication. ... The phone service is operated in partnership with the Egyptian firm Orascom Telecom, which established networks for the North Korean elite two years ago."

Update: The Korea Times, 13 August 2010, Kim Young-jin: "Egypt’s Orascom, which operates the mobile operator Koryolink in partnership with the North Korean regime, said in a first-half report that services have expanded to several cities other than Pyongyang and that 184,531 subscribers had signed up as of June 30. Sixty percent of citizens now technically have access to the services, the firm said."

Prepare for a round of pan-Arab television news talent poaching (updated).

Posted: 13 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Arab Media & Society, Summer 2010, Paul Cochrane on the recently announced plans by Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and, separately (or perhaps not), by Sky News, with an Abu Dhabi investor, to start pan-Arab news channels: "A lot of questions still hang in the air about News Corp.'s entry into the region's media landscape and how the upcoming news channels will fare. There is already talk that the Prince Alwaleed and Sky ventures will be seeking to poach journalists and anchors from Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, while Al Jazeera has indicated that the network will up investment to be more than prepared for new contenders. Two new channels may of course be beneficial for media freedoms in the region, making it harder for governments to restrict four channels rather than just Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Yet it may not make any difference given the provenance of the channels. The channels may be used as tools to stoke tensions between Gulf countries – best exmplified by the spats between Saudi Arabia and Qatar over Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya – and over wider geopolitical issues, such as Iran, Iraq and Yemen. And crucially, will these new channels 'objectively' cover stories in their headquarters' countries?"

Digital Production Middle East, 9 August 2010: "The region now faces the prospect of four competitive, well-financed, locally based, Arabic-language news stations. The consequences of this may be most keenly felt by the two existing market leaders. However, with Al Jazeera seemingly focused on the international distribution of its English-language service, it may be undeterred by the new entrants. Sky News has received plaudits in the UK for its accessible style and reputation for breaking news. Existing channels could be forced to raise their game." See previous post about same subject.

Update: Gulf News (Dubai), 12 August 2010, Abbas Al Lawati: "It is no secret that news channels in the Middle East are a losing business. Many would prefer not to even call them a business. Their managers do not hide the fact that the channels are not commercially driven or commercially viable. Salah Negm, a regional media veteran and director of news at Al Jazeera English told Gulf News recently that the region's news channels did not consider their returns in terms of revenue, 'but viewers'. The two newcomers are expected to change that."

The Economist examines the increased competition in international broadcasting.

Posted: 13 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Economist, 12 August 2010: "The cold war was the state-backed broadcasters’ heyday, with big budgets for propaganda wars about the virtues and vices of capitalism and communism. Powerful short-wave transmissions required costly kit; getting hold of the frequencies required international arm-twisting. It was a game for big and rich countries only. Peter Horrocks, head of BBC Global News, recalls 'a comfortable world'. New technology has cut costs and demolished most barriers to entry. Wavebands matter less than bandwidth. Even for those unable to watch or listen on the internet, satellite dishes and fibre-optic cable are hugely expanding the choice of programmes. Incumbents are struggling. In the past year the BBC World Service lost 8m viewers and listeners. Of the six American taxpayer-financed broadcasters that measure their reach, five see a decline. That poor performance came when budgets were generous. Now they will be flat or falling. ... Faced with these trends, Erik Bettermann, the head of Deutsche Welle, has largely given up trying to reach large numbers of people in the developing world, in favour of concentrating on informed urban elites. His aim is to make the German station a yardstick against which other news reports can be checked: not so much a loud voice as a dependable one."

Recommended reading. However, it states: "Last week a poll of six countries for the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, found that 39% of viewers watched it more than any other international news network. Just 1% of viewers favour Alhurra, America’s well-funded Arabic channel." This is an unrealistic measure of the performance of international broadcasting, which usually supplements rather than competes head-on with domestic media in the target country. Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya are effectively domestic stations in the Arab world. A more useful measure would be how Alhurra is doing versus the other Arabic-language channels from non-Arab nations. See previous post.

The Economist, 12 August 2010, leader: "The case is strong for providing core global English-language programming, aimed at urban, well-educated audiences that make trade and investment decisions (or are thinking about where to send their children to university). Leaving that solely to commercial stations such as CNN would be a mistake. For outfits like the BBC, repackaging existing news-gathering for this international audience is a minor cost, with decent returns (especially if the programmes carry advertising, as they should). ... International broadcasters should therefore devote resources sparingly to countries where reliable news is already plentiful. They should concentrate on offering material that such markets fail to provide. In India, for example, it makes little sense to match local stations’ vernacular-language coverage of local news. ... International broadcasters should therefore devote resources sparingly to countries where reliable news is already plentiful. They should concentrate on offering material that such markets fail to provide. In India, for example, it makes little sense to match local stations’ vernacular-language coverage of local news. Better to offer a view from outside, such as foreign and business news from faraway places that local broadcasters may lack the budget or the confidence to cover." -- Is there talk in the UK of leaving global English television "solely to commercial stations such as CNN"? BBC World News is (as stated in this leader) itself commercial. And as a soon-to-be (so BBC claims) profit-making operation, why would BBC World News go off the air?

The international broadcasting of the Detroit International Jazz Festival.

Posted: 13 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Detroit International Jazz Festival, 11 September 2010: "Today, organizers of the Detroit International Jazz Festival (DJF) unveiled a unique concept to share the 2010 festival with the world on DJF's Jazz Planet tv – an interactive web experience that will stream via the internet live and taped performances, news flashes, interviews and behind-the-scenes commentary throughout Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 3 - 6. ... Viewers everywhere – from London to Afghanistan - will experience the uniqueness of one of the world's largest free jazz festivals, how it blends urban chic and a hip and diverse audience with some of the best music on the planet. 'It will be fun, spontaneous, and capture the unique vibe of the festival that Russ Davis (Voice of America) described as "Jazz Disneyland" last year,' says Festival Director Terri Pontremoli." See also detroitjazzfest.com/jazzplanet. -- Russ Davis is host of VOA's "Jazz America."

Former VOA director/RFERL president goes after those who think the only good tree is one that has been chopped down.

Posted: 13 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Star Exponent (Culpeper, VA), 12 August 2010: "Saying county officials should be accountable for stripping downtown Madison’s main park, a group of Madison County residents has created what they are calling the Madison County Tree Party. The group is planning a recall of some or all of the Madison County Board of Supervisors as a way to channel some of the community outrage over the supervisors’ unanimous decision to strip War Memorial Park of all of its larger trees and all of its shrubs – a move these residents say ruined the historical park. ... The Madison County Tree Party name was picked by Syria resident Ernest 'Gene' Pell, who helped spearhead the group’s early formation. Pell is a former Voice of America and Radio Free Europe director and is the husband of Madison Troop Support President Susan Pell." -- Gene Pell was VOA director from June to October 1985, when he left to be RFE/RL president.

Puntland president celebrates 12th anniversary of self-governance by criticizing VOA reporter (updated).

Posted: 13 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Somaliweyn Media Center, 3 August 2010. "In the occasion of the celebration day of 12th anniversary after Puntland region has declared its own governance from the rest of Somalia President Mohamed Mohamoud Farole has strongly criticized Ali Xaarare who is senior veteran Somali journalist who currently works with the Somali section in the Voice of America in Washington DC. The President has strongly criticized how Journalist Xaraare has taken an interview with Sheikh Mohammed Saiid Atom a man who is believed to be affiliated with Al-Shabab an Islamist faction which operates in the southern regions of Somalia, but declared himself to be a free man from Al-Shabab network." Also reference to "controversial interview" on VOA in Garowe Online, 3 August 2010.

Update: The National Union of Somali Journalists, 12 August 2010: "The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemns the suspension from work of Mr Nuh Muse Birjeb, a journalist working with the Voice of America (VOA) – Somali Service who is at the same the correspondent for Universal TV in Puntland regions. ... Puntland has been carrying out several repressive actions against journalists working for VOA Somali service. Mohamed Yasin Isak, who was the VOA Correspondent in Galkayo, fled to Kenya in fear of his life after he escaped from several attacks."

News Corp sells controlling stake in 3 TV businesses in China. Offloading the "difficult parts"?

Posted: 12 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
AP, 10 August 2010, Joe McDonald: "Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is selling a controlling stake in three of its TV businesses in China to a government investment fund as the media conglomerate scales down its ambitions in a market where foreign investors have struggled to succeed. ... The sale marks a change in strategy for News Corp. in China's heavily regulated media market, where the communist government limits foreign ownership. Other media companies also have launched partnerships with Chinese entities to gain a bigger foothold. News Corp. has pursued ventures in China for nearly two decades but has backed off its ambitious plans in recent years as the government tightened controls on media." See also AFP, 10 August 2010.

Radio Australia, Connect Asia, 11 August 2010, Karen Snowdon: "[A]fter almost 20 years of going it alone, News Corp is selling its control in three stations. They're Xing Kong, Xing Kong International and music channel, Channel Mainland China. Plus, the Fortune Star movie library. ... The buyer is China Media Capital, a private equity fund backed by China's second largest media company, the Shanghai Media Group. It was set up just last year as the first fund of its kind to expand internationally. ... [Professor Wanning Sun of the University of Technology in Sydney]: 'This is actually a way of offloading some of the difficult parts of the business onto the Chinese part. And it comes with the mandate of expanding Chinese soft power overseas, so it will have a much easier access to Chinese support. So, Murdoch and his company is really trying to have it both ways so they don't have to deal with the Chinese government on a day to day basis in terms of the regulation and interventions and scrutiny while at the same time share the profits.'"

America.gov, State.gov, Smith-Mundt, and Mayor Bloomberg's support for the Ground Zero mosque.

Posted: 12 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Politico, 10 August, Ben Smith: "The White House has been avoiding the New York mosque issue -- it's pretty much lose-lose, politically, they seem to think -- but the State Department yesterday appears to have offered a tacit endorsement to Mike Bloomberg's vocal support for the project, posting his speech on its public diplomacy website America.gov with translations into Arabic and Persian." Refers to Bloomberg remarks via America.gov, 9 August 2010.

State Department press briefing, 10 August 2010, with assistant secretary Philip J. Crowley: Q: Why was [the Bloomberg speech] not posted on the regular State Department website? Crowley: I think Smith-Mundt probably has as much to do with that as anything. ... Q: But why would Smith-Mundt prohibit this? Crowley: It doesn’t. But again, part of our efforts to help people understand a vigorous debate that is going on within New York and around the country, we posted Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks on America.gov, which is our website that is geared primarily to helping people overseas understand views on important issues here in the country. We did not think that it was necessary for us to make sure that American citizens are aware of Mayor Bloomberg’s remarks. ... Q: Okay so – all right, well, on Smith-Mundt, right? The reason that that was passed in the 40s was to prevent the State Department or the U.S. Government in general from spreading propaganda to citizens of the United States in the United States. Crowley: That’s true. Q: Does the fact that you put this on the – on a website that was basically created because of Smith-Mundt and not on the regular website imply that you think that Bloomberg’s comments were propaganda? Crowley: No, it is to whom we were directing those comments. We were directing them to audiences overseas and we did that on one and not the other expressly because of the obligations that we have under Smith-Mundt. And this becomes a very complicated issue, because we know that on State.gov, our State Department website that is primarily geared towards audiences here in the United States, we do have people overseas who do tap into State.gov and we have American citizens who also tap into America.gov. In fact, we are constantly trying to evaluate the relevance of Smith-Mundt given the internet age and the fact that information now cannot be really – information that’s channeled overseas can have the ability to return instantly to the United States. Q: You’re convinced that you’re okay to be talking about America.gov from this podium. Crowley: I, from my position, can talk about both. Q: Got it." -- Whether or not Smith-Mundt is still "relevant," the internet age has finally made it technically practicable. IP blocking could be employed to make America.gov inaccessible within the United States.

Senator Dorgan still wants to shut down TV Martí.

Posted: 12 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Bismarck Tribune, 10 August 2010, Rebecca Beitsch: "Sen. Byron Dorgan, D- N.D., laid out a plan for what he’d like to accomplish before the end of the congressional session, hoping a change in perspective might mean better odds for bills he’s introduced multiple times. ... He also said he has not given up on changing U.S. relations with Cuba, opening up trade and travel and shutting down TV Marti. The American-run TV station broadcasts into Cuba to dispel myths about both the U.S. and Cuban governments, something Dorgan said is costing taxpayers half a billion a year." -- Half a billion? The FY2010 budget for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí) was about $30 million.

Zimbabwe's new shortwave station, Voice of Zimbabwe, reportedly on the air (updated and corrected).

Posted: 12 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Zimbabwean, 5 August 2010: "Voice of Zimbabwe, a subsidiary of the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) was officially launched in the Midlands capital of Gweru on 30 July 2010. Voice of Zimbabwe was established in 2007 and broadcasts on shortwave frequency."

SW Radio Africa, 6 August 2010, via The Zimbabwean: "Voice of Zimbabwe, a state controlled shortwave radio service, was launched last week Friday in Gweru and has signaled ZANU PF’s reluctance to open up the airwaves. The station is reported to have been set up in 2007 with its general manager Happison Muchechetere saying they would carry out test runs before the actual programming started. Four years later it would seem they have finally managed to produce some programming." -- Voice of Zimbabwe was reportedly created to counter the shortwave stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe, i.e. VOA Studio 7, SW Radio Africa, and Voice of the People. No mention of a frequency or schedule, and I have not seen any reports from shortwave DXers who have heard this station. Back in September 2007, 5975 and 4828 kHz were given as its frequencies.

Update: Glenn Hauser writes that Voice of Zimbabwe has been heard on 4828 kHz by shortwave listeners reporting to his DX Listening Digest, 20 May 2010 and since. Also on 3396 kHz on 25 June, as reported in DXLD, 30 June 2010. Content has been mostly music.

See what happens when BBC World Service quits broadcasting the bongs of Big Ben?

Posted: 12 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 11 August 2010: "[T]he supremacy of Greenwich Mean Time is being challenged by a gargantuan new clock being built in Mecca, by which the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims could soon be setting their watches."

The Telegraph, 11 August 2010: Big Ben "might still be the world's most recognisable clock, but its significance is dwindling for many ever since the BBC World Service's English services stopped broadcasting the 'bongs' on a daily basis (now only happens at 0000 GMT on New Year's Day)." -- Actually, we World Service English listeners would only hear the "bongs," indicating what time it is, at 0000 UTC, oops GMT, on New Year's Day. What we used to hear, usually at :15, :30, or :45 past the hour, were the various versions of the "Westminster Quarters," or "Westminster Chimes," from Big Ben.

BBC World News recruits Australia Network reporter to anchor India Business Report.

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India Infoline News Service, 11 August 2010: "BBC World News today announces the appointment of Nidhi Dutt as presenter of India Business Report, the half-hour weekly programme that examines the business landscape across India. Nidhi joins BBC World News from the Australia Network, where she covered events in India and across South Asia for ABC television as well as on radio and online. ... India Business Report on BBC World News has in the last few years successfully presented the varied facets of the Indian economy to audiences not just in South Asia, but across the world."

India steps up border broadcasting in Kashmir region.

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iGovernment (Government of India), 10 August 2010: "The Government of India has approved a Rs 100 crore scheme for strengthening broadcasting signals in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir to counter anti-India propaganda in the state. 'There are reports that anti-India propaganda is received in the state of Jammu and Kashmir from across the border. Several programmes have been mounted by All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD) to counter such propaganda,' Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told Parliament in response to a question."

FIFA investigates Radio Free Asia report about mistreatment of North Korean World Cup team.

Posted: 12 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia News, 12 August 2010: "Football's governing body, FIFA, is opening an inquiry into reports that North Korea mistreated its team after its poor showing at the World Cup. The North Koreans initially put up a good fight against Brazil, which prompted national television to screen their next match live, something previously unheard of. But Radio Free Asia alleges after they lost seven-nil to Portugal the returning players were humiliated and their coach sentenced to hard labour. FIFA has warned the claims will be hard to investigate."

The Telegraph, 11 August 2010, Peter Foster: "Last month, Radio Free Asia said that all members of the North Korea squad, apart from two foreign-based players, were subjected to 'harsh ideological criticism' after they lost all three matches and conceded the highest number of goals by a team at the competition. 'We sent a letter to the football federation to tell us about their election of a new president and to find out if the allegations made by the media that the coach and some players were condemned and punished are true,' said Sepp Blatter, the Fifa President. 'We are doing this as a first step and we will see how they answer.'"

AP, 11 August 2010: "The head of the Asian Football Confederation, Mohammad bin Hammam, said Wednesday that he had spoken with four players last month, but that they had not reported mistreatment."

CNN, 12 August 2010: "Blatter said FIFA, which has strict rules about no government interference in member associations' affairs, was wary of making an official statement about the reports. 'We once had a case in another country where it was said players were also condemned and under physical pressure, and we sent someone and it turned out not to be true,' he said in quotes carried by the AFP agency."

BBC News, 11 August 2010: "The report also spoke of 'rumours' that the coach was sentenced to 'forced labour at a residential building site in Pyongyang'. There were no reports of the meeting in North Korean state media, nor has neighbouring South Korea been able to confirm the claims."

FIFA press release, 12 August 2010: "FIFA has confirmed that, on 11 August 2010, it sent a letter to the DPR Korea Football Association to ask for information on recent media reports related to the association and on the extraordinary Congress of the association held on 19 June 2010. Until FIFA has received a reply from the DPR Korea Football Association, FIFA will not be in a position to comment any further."

See previous post. It hinges on the "knowledgable sources," and specifically a "Chinese businessman," cited in the RFA report.

IPTV brings 55 "foreign retransmission channels" to South Korea.

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Chosun Ilbo, 10 August 2010: "Mid-sized foreign media companies are ... racing to enter the Korean market. France 24, Australia Network, Taiwan's ETTV Asia, Germany's Deutsche Welle, Russia Today, the UK's Granada TV and the Living Asia Channel from the Philippines are among the 55 foreign channels that got the green light from the Korea Communications Commission to broadcast in Korea over the past two to three years as 'foreign retransmission channels.' Those channels are allowed to broadcast their content in Korea directly without editing. Just four or five years ago, there were less than 10 foreign retransmission channels here, but their numbers increased exponentially with the launch of Internet Protocol TV in late 2008."

In Russian heat wave, "the flow of information has stopped."

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Slate, 10 August 2010, Masha Gessen: "[T]he disastrous Russian heat wave has exposed a key failing of Russian society: The flow of information has stopped. There is not a single newspaper that even strives to be national in its coverage. The television is not only controlled by the Kremlin; it is made by the Kremlin for the Kremlin, and it is entirely unsuited to gathering or conveying actual information. Even the Russian blogosphere is bizarrely fragmented: Researchers who 'mapped' it discovered that, unlike any other blogosphere in the world, it consists of many non-overlapping circles. People in different walks of life, different professions, and different parts of the country simply do not talk to one another." -- Sounds like a job for international broadcasting.

BBC News, 9 August 2010: "The BBC's Russian Service has been receiving pictures from readers of the thick smog as it makes its way across Russia." See also RFE/RL, 22 July 2010, "Heatwave in Russia."

Fact Checkers Unit: "buzz-worthy" international broadcasting.

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Broadcasting & Cable, 9 August 2010, Andrea Domanick: "Samsung Electronics and NBC Universal Digital Studio have joined forces on a new original digital series, Fact Checkers Unit, NBC announced Monday. The series will premiere Aug. 17 and marks the first time a mobile phone provider and studio have teamed up for global distribution of a series. It will debut on factcheckers.com, major U.S. cable video-on-demand services and mobile platforms, as well as Syfy's digital platforms in the U.K., Syfy Universal throughout Asia/Pacific and the Sci Fi Channel in Australia. Based on a short film of the same name, FCU: Fact Checker's Unit follows the antics of two enthusiastic celebrity fact checkers played by Russell Karinen and Dylan Sacca. ... 'As the leading producer and distributor of original digital content, FCU: Fact Checker's Unit represents a logical next step for our studio's production and distribution prowess, combining buzz-worthy programming with quality content and recognizable talent,' said Cameron Death, Vice President, NBC Universal Digital Studio."

BBC World Service "lifeline radio programmes" to flood-affected areas of Pakistan (updated).

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BBC World Service press release, 4 August 2010: "In response to the devastating floods in northern Pakistan, lifeline radio programmes are to start in the most severely affected areas through the BBC Urdu service. Developed by BBC World Service Trust and Internews, the new infoasaid service will transmit life-saving information to the hundreds of thousands of people currently cut off from emergency aid efforts and most at risk. BBC Urdu will transmit six daily bulletins in Urdu and Pashto, providing vital information including how to stay safe, avoid disease and access aid."

Update: BBC World Service Trust, 10 August 2010: "Millions in Pakistan began tuning in to emergency lifeline radio programming yesterday, as BBC Urdu launched a new service to people in the most severely flooded areas of the country. ... Receiving over 800 calls in the first five hours, the lines were instantly inundated by stranded residents who highlighted disease and hunger as the main issues faced by the almost 14 million people affected."

BBC taken off four FM transmitters in Sudan (updated).

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 8 August 2010: "The BBC's licence to broadcast in Arabic on local frequencies in north Sudan will be suspended from Monday, the government announced, citing violations by the broadcaster such as smuggling in satellite equipment. ... [T]he measure would effectively end FM broadcasts in Arabic by the BBC in the north. Sudan has often clamped down on local media but generally does not censor foreign news organisations. The government said the BBC had tried to smuggle in satellite equipment in a diplomatic pouch, that it was working in South Sudan without permission from the central authorities and that the BBC's charitable arm was working in the country without the correct permits. ... The BBC [said] the station would still be available on short wave, satellite or via the BBC website."

BBC News, 9 August 2010: "The BBC has a weekly audience of four million in Sudan." See previous post about same subject.

Update: Sudan Tribune, 10 August 2010: "The SPLM’s [Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement] deputy secretary-general, Yasir Arman, has criticized the Sudanese government for suspending BBC Arabic radio relays in north Sudan, accusing the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) there of seeking to 'control all media sources.' ... 'These attempts', says Arman, 'aim to render Sudanese citizens absent and deprive them of media and information sources so they only listen to the NCP’s media message broadcast by official media outlets and the majority of newspapers it controls.'"

Committee to Protect Journalists, 9 August 2010: "'Sudan has shown itself to be intolerant of any international attention, and this ban on BBC Arabic is merely the latest example,' said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator."

BBC World Service Middle East analyst has new book about political Islam.

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Saudi Gazette, 8 August 2010, Susannah Tarbush: "In his book 'The Muslim Revolt: A Journey through Political Islam,' the British journalist Roger Hardy draws on his 25 years as Middle East and Islamic affairs analyst at BBC World Service radio to explore the often fraught relationship between Islam and the West. During his time at the BBC Hardy made and presented a number of fascinating and insightful radio series... ." See also Columbia University Press blurb.

Hillary Clinton praises BBC (without mentioning BBC) mobile English lessons in Bangladesh.

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RT @BBC-WST, 9 August 2010: In a speech to USAID, Hillary Clinton mentions our mobile English lessons in Bangladesh" Referring to State Department, 14 July 2010, Secretary Clinton's remarks to USAID conference: [T]he reality of the world we live in today is that technology and innovation are the great equalizers and can be used to create opportunity where there is very little of that commodity. ... In Bangladesh where more than 300,000 people, which is just unimaginable – but 300,000 people, Paul, had signed up to learn English on their mobile phones."

Report: RASA is new television channel of Iran's Green Movement.

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Eurasia Review, 6 August 2010: "Since the monumental election fraud that occurred in June 2009, Iranian authorities have made no secret of how threatened they feal by satellite television stations such as the Voice Of America and BBC Persian. Shortly after the outbreak of last year's spontaneous protests, the Islamic Republic launched a relentless jamming campaign against the two stations. While these and many other television channels and websites have been a thorn in the side of the governments, the absence of an independent television station dedicated to the aspirations of the Iranian people had always been felt. For far too long, Iranians have either had to watch the state’s most effective propaganda machine, the so-called 'national' television—with an outstanding commitment to spreading lies and falsifications—or to turn to foreign-based Persian-language television stations often funded by foreign governments which do not have the Iranian people’s interests at heart do not share the real concerns of the Iranian nation. But that was before 5 August 2010! On Thursday, an independent television station calling itself RASA (Resan-e Sabz-e Iran or Iran’s Green Media) officially announced on its website that the group would soon be launching a new television station dedicated to the Iranian people’s struggle for acheiving their most basic rights. ... The ease and simplicity with which ordinary Iranians can obtain satellite television, means that the Green Movement will now be able to reach out to an ever larger audience in smaller cities and the most rural and remote corners of the country." See also rasatv.net. -- No information on actual satellite it will use.

Some want Al Jazeera and Russia Today off of Florida college television station.

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Daytona Beach News Journal, 8 August 2010, Deborah Circelli: "Daytona State College's nightly airing of Al Jazeera English, the news network with Middle Eastern ties, is sparking debate among viewers and college board members over anti-American concerns and freedom of speech principles. A couple of viewers are asking that Al Jazeera English, a subsidiary of Al Jazeera Network, be taken off the air. Supporters say the network is often misunderstood and gives a voice to different perspectives. ... Some concerns were raised at Daytona State College at the end of last year, including by a soldier in Ocala who said the newscast was anti-American. The college in January temporarily replaced the 30-minute broadcast for a few days but officials put it back on because they said they received more response for the broadcast than against it. But Jerry Kenney, 58, a private pilot at Spruce Creek Fly-In who does production and cable programming work, sent an e-mail to college leaders recently stating Al Jazeera English and Russia Today, which also airs on the channel, have 'hate-America' messages. He wants both removed from the station and plans to take his concerns to the Sept. 16 board of trustees meeting."

Cogeco Cable press release, 5 August 2010: "Cogeco Cable today announced the addition of five new digital channels to its Ontario TV programming line-up. Starting today, the majority of Cogeco Digital Television customers can get access to AMC, the NFL Network, Big Ten Network, CosmoTV and Al Jazeera English. ... Al Jazeera English (channel 182) is an award-winning 24-hour news and current affairs channel. With more than 60 bureaus around the world, Al Jazeera English provides independent and impartial news for a global audience."

International news channels hope for quality of audience to compensate for quantity of audience.

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Big Think, 10 August 2010, Philip Cayla, chairman and CEO of EuroNews: "The news channel is... themselves are niche channels in each country, you never go beyond one percent of audience rating. For an international channel, it is niche of a niche, so we never go beyond 0.1 or 0.2 percent. It's true as well for CNN International and BBC World. So it's really an elite which wants to enlarge their understanding of the outside world."

Canadian psyop in Afghanistan and its "counter-propaganda" mission.

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Canadian Press, 8 August 2010, Bill Graveland: The Canadian "Psy Ops (psychological operations) tactical team in the Panjwaii district [Afghanistan] ... is not as much about military intelligence as 'influence peddling' -- a sales job aimed at getting the impoverished local people to accept the Canadian Forces. ... 'We don't like the word propaganda because of all the negative connotations about that but our primary mandate is influencing the population and influencing the enemy' [Sgt. Tyson Martin] said. Psy Ops might be considered an anti-propaganda unit, Martin suggested. 'Counter-propaganda falls into that as well. We're out there trying to sell the IO (Information Operations) messages, trying to influence and in return get information and when we do come across insurgent campaigns we're out there to formulate a plan to counter that.'"

History Channel, Biography, and other AETN channels coming to India.

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 4 August 2010: "A&E Television Networks and leading Indian broadcasting group Network18 announced a joint venture, AETN-18, which will launch popular AETN channels here including The History Channel and Biography. The Mumbai-based JV is awaiting regulatory approval and the timelines for the channel launches will be announced shortly, according to a joint statement." Ownership of the JV (joint venture) will be 51% Network18, 49% AETN.

Iran's culture ministry publishes unsurprisingly unsympathetic book about Radio Farda.

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 9 August 2010, Robert Tait: "Radio Farda is part of a cultural invasion helping Western intelligence agencies wage a 'soft war' against the Islamic republic, according to a book published by Iran's Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry. 'A Survey of Radio Farda,' published this spring by the ministry's Bureau of Media Studies and Planning, brackets RFE/RL's Persian-language outlet with Voice of America and the BBC as hostile 'media operations' working against Iran. ... 'It is naive to think that media such as Radio Farda, with funding of tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars, airs programs on Iran arbitrarily and with no coordination,' [author Massud Mohammadi] writes." -- The article summarizes the book's conclusions about Farda's news coverage, but does the book also mention, and object to, Radio Farda's music format?

Columnist is not free of confusion about Radio Free Iraq.

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Chronicle Herald (Halifax, NS), 9 August 2010, Scott Taylor: "Although the U.S. had established Radio Free Iraq as a broadcast news outlet, they failed to use this resource to clarify breaking news stories. I can recall tuning in one day in the hopes of obtaining an update on a massive battle that was raging in the Shiite suburb of Sadr city. As U.S. helicopter gunships pounded the ghetto buildings, tanks rumbled across the Tigris river bridges and smoke billowed over Baghdad, the only thing airing on Radio Free Iraq was a lengthy interview with a U.S. military postal worker explaining how he prioritized deliveries to forward operating bases." -- I don't get the impression that Scott Taylor speaks Arabic. Radio Free Iraq, part of RFE/RL, transmits only in Arabic, and would not likely discuss US military postal procedures. Perhaps he was listening to US Armed Forces Network (AFN) Iraq, which goes by the name Freedom Radio. Freedom Radio, by the way, has a Facebook page.

Radio Free Asia selected for environmental reporting award (updated).

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia press release, 28 July 2010, via Salem-News.com: "The Society of Environmental Journalists today awarded Radio Free Asia (RFA) First Prize for Outstanding Online Reporting on the Environment for its 2010 multimedia series 'The Last Untamed River.' The prize, in recognition of RFA’s investigative reporting trek down the Mekong River, will be awarded in Missoula, Montana, on Oct.13 at the SEJ’s 20th annual conference, the nonprofit organization said. ... [The series] addresses climate change and melting glaciers, urbanization and industrialization, the decline of forests and fisheries, and finally the development of China’s dams and control over water flow, as seen by ordinary citizens—from nomadic herders and fishermen—as well as regional experts and analysts. RFA’s videographers traveled for nearly 3,000 miles along the Mekong River from Tibet to Vietnam and the South China Sea." Refers to RFA's Mekong Diaries. -- RFA, 4 December 2010: "The video journalists must remain anonymous to protect them as well the people they interviewed."

Update: Society of Environmental Journalists website: "'The Last Untamed River' is a memorable project that vividly depicts the dimensions of an environmental issue unfamiliar to many people. This visual voyage down the Mekong River from its source to its mouth brought to life a river ecosystem — make that ecosystems — of enormous complexity. We see and hear about the fragility of this storied river from the people who live near it, as well as the problems brought about by those who benefit from its exploitation. It’s a remarkable and thorough treatment, adding a variety of often ignored voices to a global problem. It is outstanding journalism, and the ancillary materials give the project even more depth."

Broadcasting Board of Governors issues first-ever public summary of its meeting.

Posted: 11 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 6 August 2010: A "Record of Decisions" of the 30 July 2010 meeting of the BBG -- the first meeting of the new members of the BBG -- included assignments of Board members to look into 1) Cuba broadcasting, 2) use of social media, 3) VOA Persian News Network, 4) governance, and 5) budget and strategy. Also: "The BBG will look for opportunities to hold open meetings to the extent that it can responsibly do so while protecting the integrity of Board processes and the BBG's statutory mandate." -- Amazing. This is the first public account, that I am aware of, of any BBG meeting. There has never been an open BBG meeting, but perhaps that will change, also.

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 2 August 2010, Remarks by BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson about former members of the BBG: We are gathered today to learn from you, the former members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. It is also an occasion to honor the service of the four most recent departing members of the Board. We are grateful to you for your long and dedicated service to the mission of U.S. international broadcasting. You have given us an important legacy to build upon. ●You initiated ambitious broadcasting projects that have reaped significant successes, including increasing global audiences by 75 percent since 2002. ●You were supportive of new media initiatives before the term was popular. ●You recognized the value of training and employee recognition and restored budgets for these activities. ●You took strong stands on critical issues. ●Most importantly, you tenaciously defended the journalistic mission of the Agency and preserved the firewall." -- The willingness of the four outgoing members, Joaquin Blaya, Blanquita Cullum, Jeffrey Hirschberg, and Steve Simmons, to serve beyond their terms (in some cases well beyond their terms) was a fine example of public service, and provided leadership to US international broadcasting during some uncertain times.

Liberty Maven, 6 August 2010, Matt Malkus: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors might be more aptly named the American Bureau of Propaganda. The stated mission of the BBG is to 'promote and sustain freedom and democracy by broadcasting accurate and objective news and information about the United States and the world to audiences overseas.' Wait – how can you be objective and also aim to 'promote and sustain freedom and democracy?'"

Magharebia and SETimes: Invasion of the news snatchers?

Posted: 10 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 7 August 2010, Philip Seib: "One of the most impressive online U.S. public diplomacy venues is Magharebia, a website and news service for North Africans that is published by the United States African Command (AFRICOM). Offered in Arabic, English, and French, Magharebia illustrates how providing useful information and advancing national self-interest can be successfully combined in a public diplomacy venture. The website (www.magharebia.com) presents diverse news items from the region, everything from weather reports to arts news to sports coverage to harder-edged political stories. The site is supplemented by a daily news monitor. Magharebia’s content does not appear blatantly self-serving, and the site’s continuing anti-terrorism message is forceful but not shrill."

MountainRunner.us, 6 August 2010, Matt Armstrong: "[D]ue to the absence of information outlets focused on the region (excluding tightly controlled local propaganda stations), the Defense Department created and maintains these sites [Magharebia and SETimes] to provide news, analysis, and commentary collected from international media and contributors paid by the Combatant Commands. Their purpose is to increase awareness of regional and global issues to mitigate security threats that may stem from a lack of information, misinformation, or disinformation by local populations. ... These sites could continue to operate in close proximity to the Government or become surrogate sites similar to RFE/RL. These sites could move into State's geographic bureaus, but these also do not have the skills, capabilities, or authorities necessary. State's geographic bureaus are headed by an Assistant Secretary, a rank that lacks the necessary political power and highlights State's organizational focus on countries rather than regions."

I have read magharebia.com and its sibling setimes.com on and off for the past few years. Perhaps my perception is colored by their Defense Department sponsorship, but my impression is that their content is (to borrow a phrase from Douglas Adams) almost, but not quite, entirely unlike news.

Each site states that it provides "accurate, balanced and forward-looking coverage" about the region it covers. Might be.

A graduate student could assess this self-description for Magharebia by consulting news.google.com and similar indexes, and finding out how often stories about Algeria, Mauritania, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia are covered by at least two major news organizations, but not by Magharebia. Also determine which stories are covered by Magharebia but not be any other major organization. Discern patterns and discuss.

Some history of historical shortwave broadcast station WRUL, Scituate, Mass.

Posted: 09 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Patriot Ledger (Quincy MA), 8 August 2010, Jim O’keefe, writing about shortwave broadcast station WRUL in Scituate, Massachusetts: "[I]n April 1940, WRUL was ... called upon to help the Allied cause. Radio Oslo, then under Nazi German control, ordered all Norwegian merchant vessels to return immediately to a German, Italian or Japanese port. But Norway’s ambassador to Washington was aware of the scheme. He persuaded [owner Walter] Lemmon to let him broadcast on WRUL and reverse the Radio Oslo order in the name of the Free Norwegian Government. No ships returned to an Axis port. ... By 1942, U.S. forces were fighting in World War II and WRUL had ceded all its control and programming rights to the Voice of America. Soldiers now guarded the Scituate transmission building, while the Boston studios hammered out the news of the day, radio lectures, entertainment and code to occupied countries – with their American agents – in as many as 12 different languages." -- In my early shortwave listening days, I regularly tuned in to Radio New York Worldwide, WRUL, later WNYW, from those Scituate transmitters.

1960s radio design "gave a sense of the big, wide world of shortwave." And more shortwave in the news.

Posted: 09 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Gizmodo, 4 August 2010, Joel Johnson: In early-1960s West Germany, "[t]he time was ripe for an innovative radio, which simultaneously morphed into a paradigmatic work by the designer Dieter Rams. ... You already gain a sense of the big, wide world of shortwave opening up through eight shortwave radio bands in addition to long wave and medium wave. Drawing on considerable technical advancements, the device represents a climax of German engineering achievement, providing excellent reception of even the most remote station." The model is the T-1000 and, unmentioned in the article, it was manufactured by Telefunken. For some old radio dials that include shortwave, see www.indianaradio.com (spotted by Benn Kobb).

CNN, 4 August 2010, Arwa Damon: Nashat Majeed, a guitar instructor in Baghdad: 'I used to have a small radio and I would listen to Voice of America,' he said. 'There was a daily music show called "Top Ten Songs." I used to listen to guitar music and I loved it.'"

Mediaite, 4 August 2010, Jocelyn Rousey: Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" "was released in 1979, the same year as the Islamic Revolution, and it really spoke to people who realized all the things the ayatollahs had promised them were lies. After the Islamic Republic banned rock ‘n’ roll, Iranian kids used shortwave radios to transmit ‘Another Brick’ to one another. It just exploded, and became their anthem." -- Perhaps referring here to citizen's band radio transceivers, which became popular in some places outisde the United States.

Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 2 August 2010: "The South African Radio League's councillor for the IARU Monitoring System (IARUMS), Fred Scheepers, ZS1FCS, invites radio amateurs and shortwave listeners to join a campaign to remove non-amateur stations from the 40 metre amateur band. It requires many persons to monitor the band from 7000-7200 kHz for intruders and record their details such as the station ID, the frequency and time. Many intruder broadcast stations will broadcast their ID on the hour and half hour." -- The range 7000 to 7200 kHz is for the exclusive use of radio amateurs. Until March 2009, 7100-7200 was used by international broadcasters in the eastern hemisphere, and a few broadcasters remain in that segment.

Southgate Amateur Radio Club, 5 August 2010: UK regulator "Ofcom has said radio listeners can report interference caused by Power Line Adaptors (PLA/PLC) via the Ofcom website. ... It seems strange that Ofcom should make radio listeners fill in an inappropriate "Abuse on an Amateur Radio System" form when it's interference to their favourite radio station they are complaining about, not interference to Amateur Radio. Perhaps Ofcom will consider amending the heading on the form to make it clear that it covers radio listeners as well."

Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, NB), 31 July 2010, Jennifer Pritchett: Memories of shortwave expert Dave Clark. "At NATO's radio branch, Clark was a key contributor in developing a high-frequency [shortwave] radio standard called STANAG 5066, which allowed 26 NATO countries to communicate better with one another on the battlefield through the use of compatible radios. ... Davras Yavuz, Clark's supervisor at NATO, says Clark was an expert in high-frequency radio, a cheap form of communication that doesn't require the use of satellites. It allows people to exchange information via skywave communications through the ionosphere, a part of the earth's atmosphere from an altitude of about 50 to 400 kilometres."

Study in 55 countries shows increasing use of internet video.

Posted: 08 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 6 August 2010, Sue Tabbitt: "The rise of internet video is threatening traditional TV habits, according to a new Nielsen study. The research, How People Watch, asked 27,000 online consumers in 55 countries how they watch video. It confirmed that an important subset of the global population (the connected population) is consuming video across multiple platforms. Around 70% of connected consumers, globally, now watch online video, though North Americans and Europeans lag behind other regions. More than half of connected consumers worldwide watch online video in the workplace. Mobile video is already being used by 11% of respondents, with penetration highest in the Asia-Pacific region, and among consumers in their late 20s." See also nielsenwire, 4 August 2010. -- Keep in mind, the sample involves people who are already online. If one is online, especially with broadband, it very likely that one will eventually encounter a video on how to change lug nut studs, or of a kitten riding a tortoise. But regular viewing of a full newscast? Or of a live stream of a television channel? Access to internet video is important to international broadcasters who do not have a cable channel, or placement of programs or reports on television stations, in the target country. But, with internet video, there is lots and lots of competition, like the kitten riding the tortoise.

Blogging in Cuba is largely for international consumption.

Posted: 08 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
New York Review of Books, August 19 2010 issue, Daniel Wilkinson: "The biggest challenge for Cuban bloggers isn’t outright censorship. It’s simply finding a way to get online. To set up a private connection requires permission from the government, which is rarely granted. Public access is available only in a few government-run cybercafés and tourist hotels, where it costs approximately five US dollars an hour, or one third of the monthly wage of an average Cuban. As a result, bloggers often write their posts on home computers, save them on memory sticks, and pass them to friends who have Internet access and can upload them—for example workers in hotels and government offices. Others dictate their posts by phone to friends abroad, who then upload them through servers off the island. No amount of resourcefulness, however, can change the fact that most people in Cuba are unable to access even the unblocked blogs. Indeed, the bloggers themselves are not always able to read their posts online. Some have never even seen their own sites. Still, by reaching large audiences abroad, the critical blogs pose a threat to the Cuban government’s international image—which explains why the government and its supporters have reacted so virulently, attempting to discredit the bloggers as pawns or even paid mercenaries in the service of US imperialism." -- No mention of Facebook or Twitter in this piece. Apparently Cuba is still in the blogging phase of the internet. With a paucity of users, the internet in Cuba is still not very "social."

Washington Post, 6 August 2010, Al Kamen: Jay Mallin, former news director of Radio Martí under the Reagan administration, and co-author Don Bohning, will argue against the 50-year-old US trade embargo with Cuba in the October Soldier of Fortune magazine.

Now that we have the social media, who needs the media?

Posted: 08 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 7 August 2010, Mona Eltahawy: "[T]hanks to social media's increasing popularity and ability to connect activists with ordinary people, Egyptians are protesting police brutality in unprecedented numbers. ... While social media didn't invent courage -- activists have long protested the tactics of President Hosni Mubarak, a U.S. ally who has maintained a state of emergency in Egypt since assuming office in 1981 -- the Internet has in recent months connected Egyptians and amplified their voices as never before." -- This piece makes only one reference to traditional mass media: "This week, a woman in a full-length veil went on television to accuse two police officers of raping and robbing her. Her tearful segment has gone viral on YouTube." Checking into this story, I learned from AP, 7 August 2010 that "[h]er story first surfaced in the local independent al-Dustor newspaper (traditional medium) on July 31. Later she described the attack on "the private Modern Misr satellite station" (traditional medium). Traditional media still seem to play a role.

Which frame looks better on the internet? The Chinese or the American?

Posted: 08 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog, 3 Agust 2010: Monroe Price: "As global framing contests go, one of the most spectacular is the transnational effort to define proper regulation of the Internet (and in the process characterize China’s information policy). In June, China’s State Information Office issued a White Paper on the Internet. It could be seen as a response to another important text, Hillary Clinton’s much acclaimed January Newseum speech on the same subject, called 'Remarks on Internet Freedom.' These papers, especially the China White Paper, have not received the attention that they deserve. ... [T]he China White Paper makes this pitch to the international community, a call for 'the establishment of an authoritative and just international Internet administration organization under the UN framework through democratic procedures on a worldwide scale.' This is presumably antithetical to the U.S. position—but it has its diplomatic advantages. Over the next years versions of these competing ideas will be marketed by the two powers. Already, the debate has had its innings at the World Summit for Information Society (WSIS). Google is investing to develop a supportive perspective for the U.S. position. The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program recently launched a year-long forum drawn from public, private and government sectors 'to suggest new ways to preserve the values and potential of the global Internet.'" See previous post about China's white paper. See previous post about Secretary Clinton's speech.

Controversy over funding of BBC World Service Trust women's program in Afghanistan.

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Sun, 6 August 2010, Simon Hughes: "The BBC was at the centre of a furious funding row last night after it was revealed it received a £200,000 Government handout to counter violent extremism. It was given the money by the Foreign Office and used it for the World Service to make a 'woman's hour' radio programme for Afghanistan. But MPs and taxpayers' groups voiced outrage at the grant and questioned why it had ever been paid. ... Last night a BBC spokesman confirmed: 'This was money which went to the BBC World Service Trust, which is a charity. It contributed towards the cost of a "woman's hour programme" for women in Afghanistan.'"

The Scotsman, 6 August 2010, Wesley Johnson: "A Foreign Office spokesman said its counter-terrorism spending was now 'aligned to tackle the threats that the UK faces to its people and interests', and that projects such as the BBC's Afghan Women's Hour programme were unlikely to win such grants today."

The Spectator, Coffee House blog, 6 August 2010, John O'Connell: "You can debate the merit of such a project but the BBC World Service are funded by the FCO – if this programme was such a good idea then it could have been supported from existing budgets." See also The TaxPayers' Alliance, 6 August 2010.

The UK is trying to bring about positive change in Afghanistan. Media projects can be effective in this regard, and BBC World Service, though its World Service Trust, has the necessary expertise. The grant, therefore, makes some sense. The BBC World Service Trust, unlike its parent BBC World Service, engages in projects that advocate for various causes. Nevertheless, any arm of World Service taking money from the Foreign Office to help promote specific policy goals is problematic.

"Youth culture" is fine, but when will BBC WS Trust create a program for grumpy old men?

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The New Nation (Dhaka), 6 August 2010: "The hit youth magazine show 'BBC Buzz' returns to television screens for a third series this Friday, on August 6, on ATN Bangla at 9:20pm. Having already proved to be a huge success, with a total of 5 million viewers, the new series will continue to showcase the people and stories that celebrate the best of everyday life in Bangladesh. Created by the BBC World Service Trust, BBC Buzz is the first show in Bangladesh dedicated to youth culture and made exclusively by young people for young people. ... BBC Buzz will continue to be hosted by the young and talented Azra Mahmood. While mentioning about show Azra, 'BBC Buzz offers young people somewhere to go on a Friday night that's all about their lives. It's a show about people's inspirations, what really matters to them and where they want to be in life.'"

BBC in China: Wibbly Pig, ZingZillas, but no news.

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 5 August 2010. "BBC Worldwide Sales & Distribution today announced the launch of BBC Showcase China, a television screening event to be held in Beijing on 25 August 2010 alongside the Beijing TV Festival. Tailored for the Chinese market, BBC Showcase China will host over 100 buyers from across the Chinese television industry including state broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), and regional, local and digital networks. At the event, BBC Worldwide launch more than 500 hours of the latest programme offerings from its catalogue covering genres such as children's, entertainment and factual. Titles include Life, Human Planet, Seven Wonders of the Solar System, Sherlock, Luther and children's series Wibbly Pig and ZingZillas." -- But no BBC Chinese, jammed and blocked in China, nor anything to do with news.

Mark Scott again makes the case for ABC as steward of Australian international broadcasting, including Australia Network.

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 6 August 2010, Rowan Callick: "The ABC's managing director Mark Scott has defended his organisation's claim on government funding to keep running Australia Network. Australia Network is beamed by satellite into the Asia-Pacific region. He attacked commercial media -- which have in the past been invited to tender to run the service -- for having 'both the liberty and the habit of aligning your editorial agenda to suit your commercial agenda'. ... Mr Scott claimed research into 10 international broadcasting services conducted by the Lowy Institute found none 'were outsourced by their government'. The 'soft power' or 'public diplomacy' propagated through Australia Network 'helps achieve foreign policy and trade objectives', he said."

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 August 2010, Hamish McDonald: "Mark Scott, the managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, is puzzled why Rupert Murdoch is chasing a $20 million-a-year subsidy from Canberra. After all, the Australian-born American print and broadcast media tycoon on Wednesday reported a stunning $US2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) annual profit for his international News Corporation. Yet back in his homeland, his part-owned news channel Sky TV is vying to wrest the international TV broadcast service Australia Network, largely financed by a $20 million-a-year allocation from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade budget, from the ABC."

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 5 August 2010, text of Mark Scott's speech "Soft Power, Public Diplomacy and the Role of the Public Broadcasters" to the Asialink public luncheon: "A Government's willingness to fund a public institution like the ABC which determinedly holds Government to account, seems to me a powerful expression of Australia's democratic values: a symbol of a belief that independent journalism is essential to a free society. It shows that Australians do not just preach democratic ideals, but live them. And it shows the limits to Government power in democratic societies. By representing the values of the Australian people and the Australian way of life - rather than the Government's views - the ABC makes the most meaningful contribution to Australia's public diplomacy. ... In running a commercial media service, you can have both the liberty and the habit of aligning your editorial agenda to suit your commercial agenda -- as various print outlets or Fox News do for instance. This is perfectly acceptable commercial practice. In doing so, the Board of News Corporation is serving its commercial shareholders just as it's expected to. Meanwhile, the Board of the ABC is expected to do its duty on behalf of its stakeholders, trustees working in the interests of every Australian."

Recommended reading: this is a theoretical approach to international broadcasting. Mr. Scott stresses ABC's credibility but is willing to place ABC's international activities in the category of "public diplomacy." I prefer the BBC World Service practice of dichotomizing the work of international broadcasting and public diploimacy.

I also don't agree that commercial broadcasters are necessarily biased towards their commercial stakeholders. In fact, it could be argued that it's easier to maintain independence when funding comes from dozens of advertisers, with their influence thus diffused, than from one government, with all the power to increase or decrease funding. Keep in mind, too, that BBC World News and CNN International are advertiser funded. With a few vocal exceptions, most people do not consider these channels to be biased.

AFG Venture Group, 6 August 2010: "Michael Fay, head of AFG Venture Group's education division, today took part in the launch of a nationwide [Australian] safety campaign for international students. The 'Think Before' campaign (www.thinkbefore.com) is being distributed worldwide using innovative digital animation video on social media platforms and mobile phones to improve both pre-arrival information as well as personal safety advice to international students already in Australia. There are an estimated 650,000 international students from over 100 countries studying in states and territories across Australia. The safety messages are in English and twelve other languages - Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Nepalese, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese. The student safety initiative was spearheaded by Australia Network television, Victoria Police, and International Education Association Inc. (ISANA)."

WorldScreen.com, 3 August 2010: "Australia Network, available across the Asia-Pacific region, has acquired a total of 337 hours of programming from Endemol Worldwide Distribution, including the soap hit Home and Away ... Packed to the Rafters, Rescue Special Operations and Tangle, the first season of Rush and Spirited. The network's head of programming, Rod Webb, said ... 'This new deal with Endemol reflects the strength and quality of the revival of the Australian drama production industry, and will enhance our ability to provide a window on Australian culture to our Asian and Pacific neighbors.'"

Her dream of an Israeli Al Jazeera includes "news as we see it."

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 3 August 2010, Brenda Katten: "Let us dream for a few moments – what could we show on our own al-Jazeera? Aside from presenting the news as we see it (how important this is) we would have the opportunity of taking our viewers into our hospitals, showing how in this 'apartheid state' Palestinian patients from the Palestinian territories, as well as Hamas-controlled Gaza, are being given full medical treatment. Palestinian children are given bone marrow transplants to beat their cancer and sophisticated life-saving heart operations." -- Or, instead of "news as we see it," Israel might consider news as news. That would certainly make an impression. Whatever we may think of the journalistic worthiness of Al Jazeera English, they are gathering video and telling stories from all parts of the world, including many areas neglected by other news organizations. Other international news channels will have to compete against that. Meanwhile, 30 and 60 second spots on other international channels, such as those about to be deployed by China, might cover the themes mentioned in her op-ed.

Paris-based France 24 applies for channel in ... ben ... euh ... Paris.

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 6 August 2010, Robert Briel: "No less than 18 parties have applied for a licence to the French media regulator CSA for the remaining digital terrestrial capacity in Paris. A single channel became available after public broadcaster France Ô left the R1 multiplex. The interested parties include France 24, NextRadioTV, France Télécom Orange, NRJ Group and Euronews, but also a number of hopeful local broadcasters."

RCN press release, 3 August 2010: France 24 is now available to "all RCN cable video subscribers on channel 54 in New York, Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Boston and Chicago and on channel 36 in DC. ... RCN Corporation is a competitive broadband services provider delivering all-digital and high definition video, high-speed Internet and premium voice services to residential and small-medium business customers."

UK regulator rules that Press TV program on Israel's flotilla attack was not impartial (updated).

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Digital Spy, 2 August 2010, Andrew Laughlin: UK broadcast media regulator "Ofcom has ruled that a current affairs program on the recent attack on an aid flotilla bound for Palestine breached the broadcasting code by failing to maintain due impartiality. The program, titled Remember Palestine, was presented by Cherie Blair's sister Lauren Booth on Press TV, which is a news network controlled by the Iranian government. ... According to Ofcom, the program began with a pro-Palestinian song and featured anti-Israeli imagery and comment throughout, including interviewees referring to a 'massacre' and a 'barbarous attack' on the flotilla. Another contributor referred to Israel as being 'a state above the law'. After being asked for comments by Ofcom, Press TV said that 'the intensity of the descriptions in the program merely reflected the general atmosphere around the world'." -- Press TV is subject to Ofcom regulation because it has studios and uplink facilities in London.

Update: Press TV, 6 August 2010: "With regards to the 'impartial presentation' of its case, Ofcom seems to suggest that the acceptable way of describing the attack is that an interception led to an incident in which nine people were killed. International organizations, the European Union, and world leaders have strongly criticized the Israeli attack on ships, and even mainstream media has used the terms 'assault', 'raid,' and 'stormed ships.'"

RFI taken off FM in Benin for 14 hours after "too much coverage" of accusations against President Yayi.

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
RFI, 3 August 2010: "Radio France International’s FM signal in Benin was restored Tuesday after 14 hours of silence. The signal went dead shortly after midnight Tuesday, with no immediate official explanation. Early Tuesday morning, RFI's French language correspondent was questioned by authorities. ... RFI had reported Monday on a request made by parliamentarians last week that President Boni Yayi be formally charged and tried by the High Court for 'abuse of authority and perjury'."

AFP, 4 August 2010: "The reports aired over the weekend as the tiny West African country celebrated 50 years of independence from France, with some 10 African heads of state visiting for the occasion. RFI broadcasts were interrupted shortly after midnight on Tuesday and the correspondent, Raissa Gbedji, was questioned for two hours by officials from broadcast regulatory agency HAAC, she told AFP. 'The chairman of HAAC, Theophile Nata, who received me in the presence of his chief of staff, told me that RFI provided too much coverage of the parliamentarians' accusation against the president, spoiling the celebration of the independence anniversary,' the correspondent said."

Ethiopian Americans protest at Chinese embassy about jamming technology and other issues.

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Abugida Ethiopian American Information Center, 4 August 2010: "On Thursday, the 5th of August, 2010, Ethiopian Americans residing in the greater Washington DC area will hold a protest demonstration at the Chinese Embassy located on 3505 International Place, NW Washington, DC, starting from 10:00 AM in the morning. China is supporting a rogue regime in Ethiopia against the interests of the people of Ethiopia and Ethiopian-Americans. By providing military technology, radio and satellite television jamming technologies, the government of China has played a role in the suppression of liberty and basic human rights in Ethiopia. These technologies provided by the Chinese are being used against several independent radio stations including the Amharic services of the Voice of America and Deutsche Welle. The latest victim of the rogue regime’s airwaves piracy is the newly launched and popular Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT)."

Ethioguardian.com, 6 August 2010: "Human rights activists on Thursday burned the Chinese flag to protest Beijing's support for the Meles Zenawi regime which stands accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide." With link to video of the demonstration.

China Radio International adds FM relays in Senegal.

Posted: 07 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Le Soleil (Dakar), 5 August 2010: "Sénégalais et Chinois vivant au Sénégal peuvent maintenant capter les émissions en français et en chinois de Radio Chine internationale (Rci) sur les fréquences FM suivantes: 102.9 à Dakar et à Ziguinchor, 106.6 à Saint-Louis et à Kaolack." See also China Radio International, 4 August 2010. -- These appear to be four FM transmitters with CRI programming in France and Mandarin, at least. No mention of any other languages, such as English.

So the tagline Sun, Sand, Sea, and Surrounded by Senegal won't do.

Posted: 06 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
"Mr Francis Mboge, chairman of [The Gambia's National Centre of Arts and Culture] said there has been a rapid change in the way tourist destination or other countries market themselves. According to him, when one watches CNN international, it is very rare in the promo spots to see a country marketing its sand, sun or sea. 'Countries now market their people, their culture, I believe we should follow suit. We cannot just rely on sun, sand and sea,' he said."

US international broadcasting might take a lesson from this consolidation within US domestic broadcasting.

Posted: 06 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
"CBS is rolling up all of the Web sites for its New York City broadcast properties, including TV and radio stations, into a single mega-site combining news and lifestyle content from WCBS-TV, WCBS-AM, WINS-AM and WFAN-AM. The move, announced during CBS Corp.'s second-quarter earnings conference call, could be the first of many such mergers of CBS local station Web sites in markets around the country. The local super-site intends to increase the scale and efficiency of CBS Web operations by combining audiences for the individual sites. It will also boost audience engagement with online and broadcast channels alike by exposing visitors to new content they might not otherwise see or hear from 1010 WINS and WCBS-AM, all-news stations; WFAN, an all-sports station; and WCBS-TV (Channel 2), which has lifestyle, entertainment, and local news." The new site's URL is www.CBSNewYork.com. -- See previous post about a consolidation proposal for US international broadcasting.

RFE/RL alumna moves up at AP.

Posted: 06 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
AP, 3 August 2010: "Deborah Seward, the Paris bureau chief for The Associated Press, has been named an assistant managing editor for the news cooperative. ... Seward will help oversee the AP News Center, a headquarters operation in New York that works closely with AP's regional and department leaders worldwide to deliver competitive coverage across all media formats. ... Seward began her AP career in Warsaw, Poland, in 1988, and has held a number of positions in the cooperative, including serving as bureau chief in Moscow from 2000 to 2003 and as international editor of the AP from 2003 to 2005. She left for one year to direct the Central Newsroom of Radio Free Europe/Liberty in Prague, where she supervised convergence of that organization's broadcast and English-language website operations."

Nomination of International Broadcasting Bureau director moves forward.

Posted: 06 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, The Cable, 3 August 2010, Josh Rogin: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved by unanimous voice vote the nomination of Richard M. Lobo to be director of the International Broadcasting Bureau. -- The IBB was set up by the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 as the administrative umbrella for the entities of U.S. international broadcasting that are, or are part of, government agencies. They are VOA, Radio/TV Martí, and (since folded into VOA) Worldnet TV. Other than the members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the IBB director is the only presidentially-nominated, Senate-confirmed official of U.S. international broadcasting. For implications, see previous post.

French pay radio company acquires Worldspace L-band allocation.

Posted: 06 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 4 August 2010, Julian Clover: "Onde Numérique, a French pay radio operation founded by former Worldspace executive Franz Cantarano has acquired some of the liquidated assets of the Worldspace organisation. The company has picked up a number of regulatory, technological and marketing assets in a move that received the endorsement of the bankruptcy Court in Toulouse, France. It follows the January 2009 liquidation of Worldspace France and Worldspace Europe. The assets include the L-band MusicaA filing (1467-1492 MHz), filed by the French Administration in 2006 with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), at the 21 degrees East orbital location. Onde Numérique is developing a bouquet of 50 commercial free channels tailored for France." -- The Worldspace Afristar satellite is at 21 degrees east. Will Onde Numérique use that (aging) bird, or launch a new one?

For Chinese news channels to succeed: "change the whole political system .. difficult, I think."

Posted: 05 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, Connect Asia, 2 August 2010, Lily Yan on China's 24-hour English news channels CCTV and CNC World: "Chinese media has achieved some success overseas. Xinhua has become the major news source in Africa, beating CNN and BBC by offering much cheaper news services. ... German scholar Falk Hartig ... says it will be a mission impossible for the Chinese news media to have a truly credible voice. Hartig: I think they should change something in their self-understanding of what kind of media or what kind of journalism they are doing. But at the end of the day, if they would change this, they would need to change the whole system. When they change the whole journalism system, they would have to change the whole political system, this is difficult, I think." See previous post about same subject.

"How Technology Is Making Censorship Irrelevant." Maybe.

Posted: 05 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Wired Epicenter, 1 August 2010, Peter Kirwan, "Today, there are only two countries in the world where censorship-induced paralysis exists on anything like a comparable scale: Burma and North Korea. Everywhere else, the terms of trade between free speech and censorship have improved since the Cold War. ... The experience of Iran suggests that the results can be significant. The Berkmann Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University suggests that 35,000 regularly-updated blogs are written in Arabic worldwide. Yet a separate Berkmann study suggests that as many as 70,000 active blogs are written in Farsi." There are blogs, and there is professional journalism. If the latter is being blocked, how many people in the affected countries can and will use proxy sites, anti-censorship software, or other workarounds? Will the people who can overcome censorship cut and paste real news into their blogs, for distribution within the unblocked web? All of this is difficult to assess and measure.

Foreign Policy, 4 August 2010, Brian Fung: "Only 0.1 percent of China's population actually listens to VOA's radio and TV shows, according to an oversight report (pdf) issued yesterday by the U.S. State Department. Meanwhile, the Chinese government actively jams VOA's transmissions by playing competing material on all its frequencies and blocks Chinese Internet users from accessing VOA's Chinese Web site. It's a coordinated strategy that should sound familiar to anyone who's lived in China or read about the mainland regime's penchant for censorship. But VOA has its own tricks, too. Among them? A never-ending e-mail campaign that tells eight million Chinese a day to use proxy servers to circumvent the Great Firewall. ... The service also has a highly developed mobile strategy. In 2008, VOA convinced a major (unnamed) cell phone company to install four language programs on all the 6.5 million devices the company hoped to sell that year." -- China presumably employs common anti-spamming techniques to discourage the VOA e-mails. How many people actually receive the e-mails and, if they do, open them? The language programs are a foot in the door, but the content is not news.

Tibetan Review, 5 August 2010: "All internet cafes across Tibet have been ordered to finish installing by the end of Aug’10 a state-of-the-art surveillance system which would not only restrict contents that could be viewed by identified surfers but also monitor their internet activities. 'All the Internet cafes must now install it,' Radio Free Asia online Aug 3 quoted Chen Jianying, head of the customer service department of the industry group Internet Cafes Online, as saying."

Wall Street Journal, 4 August 2010, Spencer E. Ante and Phred Dvorak: "Research In Motion Ltd. co-CEO Michael Lazaridis lashed out at governments seeking to ban his company's BlackBerry phones, saying they risk undermining the growth of electronic commerce by demanding access to secure communications and transactions. 'This is about the Internet,' Mr. Lazaridis said. 'Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off.' RIM is being pressured by authorities in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India and other countries to provide greater access to the encrypted information sent by its devices."

Television, internet, and unacknowledged secularization in the Arab world.

Posted: 05 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Middle East Online, 5 August 2010, Hicham Ben Abdallah El Alaoui: "[T]here is also the growing presence of indigenous media outlets -- from news sources like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, through popular soap operas and the popular literature of self-help and romantic advice, to the explosion of musical and artistic creativity, which the internet has made possible and Arab youth have seized upon enthusiastically. In the Arab world as everywhere else, it is a prodigious cultural mash-up, whose commercialised version is the 'festivalisation' of modern Arabic culture -- a phenomenon in which Arab businesses, promoters and middlemen are entirely complicit. ... What is occurring in the Arab and Muslim world is a kind of schizophrenia: In private, one regularly consumes the cultural profane (via television, videos, the internet, and popular literature, or in carefully segmented semi-public spaces); in public, one proclaims one’s Muslim identity, avoids going to a movie theatre, and perhaps makes a show of religiosity by attending the mosque, sporting a beard or a veil. The two forms of cultural experience unfold in parallel, but it is the religious norm that maintains hegemony in the public space. In the Arab and Muslim world today, cultural practices produce a process of secularisation, but no one may acknowledge or accept it."

There is the Goodyear blimp, and then there is the Al Manar glider.

Posted: 05 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
UPI, 2 August 2010: "A glider with the name of Hezbollah's television network inscribed on the wings landed at an Israeli military base near southern Lebanon, the military said. The Israeli army reported that an unmanned glider with the words 'al-Manar' inscribed on it landed near a border camp during the weekend. The glider wasn't carrying weapons or surveillance equipment, Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper reports."

BBC World Service as "a remarkable bargain."

Posted: 04 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Evening Post (Bristol), 31 July 2010: "It would be no exaggeration to say that the BBC is a public relation expert's dream in international goodwill terms. The BBC World Service has been named countless times in countless places as one of the most trusted international media organisations ever. And yet we hear worrying sounds of an axe being sharpened in readiness for cuts in the vicinity of the British Broadcasting Corporation. ... The BBC World Service provides international news, analysis and information in English and in 32 foreign languages to more than 180 million weekly radio listeners around the globe. At way under £300 million per year (met mainly by parliamentary grant aid), this represents a remarkable bargain."

BBC World News anchor Nik Gowing on the growth of his channel.

Posted: 04 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The Financial Express (New Delhi), 1 August 2010, Sukalp Sharma, interviewing Nik Gowing, anchor of The Hub on BBC World News: "I joined the BBC 15 years ago when we had maybe five million people watching BBC World. In those days a 24x7 news channel was not something which people naturally thought about. In fact, my former editor at ITN said I don’t know why you’re leaving and going to a 24x7 news channel because there is no future for it. And he was wrong. We have now proved it with kind of figures that we have got and with the kind of reception that we have got. And there are a number of other channels that have arrived there who are also competing in the space, but our viewing figures keep going up. So I’m doing what I set out to do; it doesn’t come easy though."

In a US federal prison, finding out about the release of a fellow prisoner from BBC World Service.

Posted: 04 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
National Post (Toronto), 31 July 2010, Conrad Black, newspaper magnate and former publisher of the National Post, who was just released from the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, low security section, in Florida: "Most evenings as a captive, I telephoned my wife, Barbara, at between 11 and 11.30 p.m., just before the telephones were shut down for the day. I did so on Monday, July 19. Her opening gambit was 'What have you heard?' and I dimly replied 'Nothing special.' 'You haven’t heard?' Thus did I learn, as the emails had been down in the entire compound for five days, that my appeal bond application had been granted. Half an hour later, when I was in bed using my night light to do a crossword puzzle, two fellow residents approached, a few minutes apart, to say that they had heard of it on the BBC World Service." -- They were perhaps listening via the public radio station in nearby Orlando, which carries BBCWS in the overnight.

The Independent, 1 August 2010, Claudia Pritchard: "Kirsty Norman [was] one of 3,000 Britons trapped in Kuwait when Iraq invaded on 2 August 1990. In A Quiet Invasion, her calm and honest recollection of the fast-moving events, told a spellbinding tale. ... Norman encountered boredom, terror, and, most corrosive and exhausting of all, uncertainty. ... And who did not well up at the mere words World Service, as the narrator described evenings around the shortwave radio?"

New BBG chairman won't be the new Newsweek editor.

Posted: 04 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Aspen (CO) Daily News, 3 August 2010: Sidney Harman, purchaser of Newsweek magazine, "is close with Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson [and new chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors], who is a former editor of Time magazine. The pair have been talking about the potential purchase for about a month. ... Current Newsweek editor Jon Meacham is resigning and no replacement has been named, but Isaacson ruled out the job. 'I’ve already edited a news magazine,' he said."

VOA computers cannot be used to "download, browse, or e-mail" the WikiLeaks AfPak documents (updated).

Posted: 04 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 28 July 2010, Al Kamen: "The International Broadcasting Bureau apparently responded Monday to WikiLeaks' massive dump of classified documents with this e-mailed instruction to Voice of America employees. 'It has come to the attention of the IT Directorate and the IBB Office of Security, that some agency employees would like to download material related to the story that appeared on the front page of the Washington Post regarding leaked classified material about the US efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are a number of documents currently available on the Internet that are classified as secret or higher. While this material has been leaked, it has not been officially de-classified and, for our purposes, is still considered classified material. Our agency network, storage systems, and e-mail are not classified systems and cannot have classified material stored on them. Please do not download, browse, or email any of these files from agency computers.' So you can report on the reporting, but not use the actual material."

So is RFE/RL, a government-funded corporation rather than a government agency like VOA, subject to the same prohibition? Apparently not, judging from their extensive coverage of this story. See, for example, RFE/RL News, 26 July 2010. They also interviewed Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, RFE/RL News, 27 July 2010.

This is why, in my recent New York Times op-ed, I proposed "a merger of the separate [US] broadcasting entities into one corporation," (emphasis added), rather than one agency.

Meanwhile, other international broadcasters have downloaded, examined, and reported on the documents. See, for example, Deutsche Welle, cited by Actmedia News Agency (Bucharest), 27 July 2010.

Update: Washington Post, 4 August 2010, Al Kamen: "The matter was added to the agenda at Friday's gathering of the new [Broadcasting Board of Governors], which passed a unanimous resolution in closed session that 'authorized the Director of the Voice of America to proceed with reporting on the disclosure of classified documents available on the WikiLeaks website in a manner that is consistent with the VOA Charter and the BBG's statutory mission, and to balance this effort with due consideration for the laws and executive orders' on using classified information. We got a copy of the resolution Monday, but apparently it didn't filter down to the VOA newsroom. And while the resolution appeared to clarify things in a way that would have pleased Edward R. Murrow -- asserting that reporters and editors, not IT and security folks, are the ones in charge of coverage decisions -- the long-standing, inherent tensions surrounding government employees working as independent reporters remained."

Senate Appropriations Committee wants to keep IBB Greenville shortwave station on the air.

Posted: 04 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Glenn Hauser, editor of DX Listening Digest, spotted the Senate Appropriations Committee FY 2011 recommendations for U.S. international broadcasting. The committee recommends a budget of $749.2 million, $11.2 million below the BBG request of $755.1 million, but above the $733.8 million FY 2010 budget.

"The Committee does not support closing the Greenville Transmitting Station in North Carolina, or the request for expanded FM (including six additional FMs for Radio Sawa), digital, and new media efforts. While the Committee does support the BBG's efforts to expand into new technologies, the Committee is concerned that closing Greenville may be premature given the continued viability of shortwave in Africa, the use of shortwave for broadcasts to Cuba and Latin America, including surge broadcasts to Haiti, as well as Greenville's capacity to provide contingency and backup capabilities to the BBG network worldwide."

The committee also does not support "expanding TV Marti's transmission on DirecTV, or the request included under the Broadcasting Capital Improvements heading to expand and renovate the TV Marti studio until a strategy is submitted to the Committee, and the Comptroller General has conducted an assessment of the strategic plan."

"The Committee provides $114,614,000 for the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, $2,848,000 below the request. The Committee is concerned with the steadily increasing costs of MBN operations and the sustainability of this program."

Broadcasting Capital Improvements: "The Committee recommends $6,875,000 for Broadcasting Capital Improvements, which is $6,760,000 below the budget request."

RFE/RL journalist arrested covering environmental protest in Moscow.

Posted: 04 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 28 July 2010: "Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn that Elena Kostyuchenko, a reporter for the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and Yury Timofeyev, a reporter for Prague-based Radio Liberty, were arrested while covering the violent dispersal of environmentalists who had camped out at Khimki forest, north of Moscow, in an attempt to prevent part of it being torn down. ... Kostyuchenko and Timofeyev were taken to a nearby police station following their arrest on the edge of Khimki forest on 23 July. Both were manhandled at the time of arrest and Kostyuchenko sustained a neck injury as a result of a violent blow." See also RFE/RL, 28 July 2010 and RFE/RL video, 23 July 2010.

Report: VOA and DW not yet on list of authorized media in Rwanda.

Posted: 04 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
The New Times (Kigali), 30 July 2010, Edmund Kagire: Rwanda's Media High Council (MHC) "Wednesday released a list of accredited media outlets which submitted complete requirements for re-registration as required by the law. The list is made up of 19 electronic media (TV and Radio) and 22 newspapers. ... Among the notable absentees include; Voice of America, Deut[s]che Welle, Rwanda Dispatch, Business Daily, Rushyashya and Voice of Africa among others. [Executive Secretary of MHC Patrice] Mulama said that the MHC has contacted law enforcement authorities to ensure that those that don't appear on the list don't publish or broadcast as it is illegal and contravening the law." -- BBC is among the list of authorized stations.

Reporters sans frontières, 2 August 2010: "With just a week to go to a presidential election on 9 August, the Rwandan authorities are openly flouting the rules of the democratic game. ... By excluding them from the approved list, the communiqué has the effect of banning Rwanda’s leading newspapers, such as Umuseso, Umuvugizi and Umurabayo, and several radio stations, including Voice of Africa Rwanda (a Muslim radio station) and Voice of America."

Second source for a Radio Free Asia report about Uighur webmasters.

Posted: 03 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
DPA, 30 July 2010: "A US-based Uighur rights group on Friday accused China of 'suffocating' free expression by the country's Uighur minority after reports that three Uighur webmasters were sentenced to long prison terms last week for 'endangering state security.' ... Dilshat Perhat, 28, was sentenced to five years in prison after a closed trial in Urumqi, the regional capital, his Britain-based brother said. The two others, identified as Salkin and Nijat Azat, were sentenced to three years and 10 years in prison respectively, Dishat Perhat's brother told the group, confirming a report by US-based Radio Free Asia."

AFP, 30 July 2010: "A Chinese court has jailed the webmasters of three Uighur-language Internet sites who were detained following deadly ethnic unrest in China's Xinjiang region last year, Radio Free Asia said Thursday. ... They were the heads, respectively, of the Uighur websites Diyarim, Salkin, and Shabnam -- three of the most popular Uighur-language sites, which were blocked in China following the deadly unrest."

Report: US ambassador says he did not say what VOA said he said.

Posted: 03 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
BalkanInsight.com, 28 July 2010, Petrit Collaku: "US ambassador to Kosovo Christopher Dell has denied reports from the Serbian section of Voice of America which cited him talking about special autonomy for the northern part of Kosovo. 'I didn’t call for autonomy for the north, neither has PM Thaci done anything like this, neither privately nor publicly,' Dell said." -- A search on Dell at voanews.com comes up with nothing recent, so this VOA report was not also in English.

As long as everyone understands that her remit does not include US international broadcasting.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
State Department press release, 27 July 2010: "The State Department is pleased to announce the appointment of Dawn L. McCall as Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) at the Department of State. ... McCall founded International Media & Entertainment Partners, LLC in 2009. From 1999 to 2007 McCall was President of Discovery Networks International, a division of Discovery Communications. During her tenure as President, as the senior executive in charge of Discovery’s international business, McCall managed a staff of 1,000 professionals worldwide and expanded Discovery Networks International from a single channel operating in a handful of western European countries to a portfolio of 19 television networks and new media products, offered in 170 countries in 35 languages." See also the IIP web page, which, perhaps in deference to the domestic dissemination prohibition, does not have a link to its America.gov.

WorldScreen.com, 29 July 2010: "Dawn McCall is taking a leave of absence from her role as the managing partner of International Media & Entertainment Partners, the international media consultancy founded by former Discovery Communications executives, to join the U.S. State Department."

MountainRunner.us, 27 July 2010, Matt Armstrong: "Hopefully she will not only build up a now-very lackluster America.gov website, but increase the overall quality and capability of IIP so it can be the communication hub for the US Government. This will require effective engagement with the rest of the department, across the interagency, including Defense, and the Congress, who, unfortunately but not surprisingly have little real knowledge of the value and purpose of IIP."

Wonks comment about satellite jamming and the National Space Policy.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Arms Control Wonk, 29 July 2010, Sam: The new US National Space Policy "states that 'Purposeful interference with space systems, including supporting infrastructure, will be considered an infringement of a nation’s rights.' ... Strategically, I don’t know if you want to invoke the threat of military action every time, say, Iran decides that its citizens really don’t need to be able to watch BBC Farsi. ... Because making a determination that interference is in fact purposeful is so difficult, the new policy also offers another category when it talks about 'responsibility' and discouraging irresponsible behavior. My impression is that this term may end up serving as some sort of backstop for behavior we can’t or don’t want to publicly attribute or describe as being purposeful, but want to condemn nonetheless." -- Which might explain the incident back in February.

Ibid, Mark Gubrud comment: "Trying to ban downlink jamming is pointless when it is so easy to overpower the relatively faint signal from a satellite, at least within a limited area, and when JDAMS and other uses of satellite signals provide such compelling reasons for someone under attack by the US military to do so. Uplink jamming and dazzling are relatively harder to do, but easy enough that it would be foolish to expect that states would not retain the capabilities. A ban on weapons for such interference is still useful, however, both to reinforce a ban on their use, and to suppress a global open market for the needed equipment."

International Broadcasting Bureau guards beat US embassy guards -- in Sri Lankan cricket match.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Daily Mirror, 29 July 2010: "International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) the local guard force of Iranawila registered a comprehensive win by 81 runs over the US Embassy Guard Force in their annual 20/20 cricket encounter played at the Free Trade Zone ground in Katunayake recently. IBB elected to bat first and scored 167 runs for 7 wickets. G.G.R Silva top scored with 67 runs inclusive of eleven sixes. In reply, the US Embassy Guard Force could score only 86 runs all out." -- The IBB team works at the shortwave relay station near Iranawila, Sri Lanka.

China joins growing list of countries to be confused by Australian rules football.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Herald Sun (Melbourne), 1 August 2010, Andrew Hamilton: "The AFL is on the verge of announcing a landmark broadcast deal with the Chinese Government that will see the sport become Australia's first to be beamed live into China. Chinese vice president Xi Jinping has backed the deal that would see one game per week of this year's AFL finals series, including the grand final, broadcast live on State owned TV. ... It is understood the deal involves a content-sharing agreement between the ABC's Australia Network, an expat broadcast service into south-east Asia and China's state-owned Shanghai Media Group. Premier Anna Bligh, who was the guest speaker at last night's Chairman's Circle function, said China was critical to Queensland's economic performance and said the game had the potential to strengthen ties with the Asian powerhouse."

The Australian 26 July 2010, James Chessell: "China has emerged as a front in the battle between Sky News and ABC to secure the next $100 million DEFAT contract to broadcast Australia Network. ... Selected Australia Network programs -- which range from ABC news to Bananas in Pyjamas and Home and Away -- 'will soon' be seen [in English] on International Channel Shanghai. ... Sky and the ABC are keen to underline their international credentials as Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith considers submissions on the future of Australia Network." See previous post about same subject.

ABC News 24 is not an international channel.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Lifehacker, 26 July 2010, Angus Kidman: "[I]t’s still a little remarkable that none of its on-screen services are accessible from overseas. A Facebook group set up to discuss the issue points out that the ABC’s charter includes a requirement to enable 'Australian citizens living or travelling outside Australia to obtain information about Australian affairs and Australian attitudes on world affairs'. Making ABC News 24 available would seem an obvious (and cheap) way of doing that, on top of (or instead of) the overseas networks it runs in some parts of the Asia-Pacific. iView isn’t available overseas either, and the ABC has said in the past that this is because it can’t get global streaming rights to many programs. That should arguably be less of an issue for news content — while the News 24 service includes streamed BBC World News content, that would be pretty easy to exclude from an on-site streaming option for overseas IP addresses. The news FAQ says that copyright on footage from Reuters and other agencies prevents ongoing streaming, but that wouldn’t necessarily block selected ABC programs which are repeated on the channel." -- It would be a chore to bleep out all the copyright restricted content, and it would leave a channel with lots of holes in it. Furthermore, an internationally distributed ABC News 24 would be in competition with ABC's (for now) Australia Network, the channel that is meant for international consumption.

Radio Australia adds FM outlet in Palau.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia press release, 27 July 2010, via Saipan Tribune: "Starting Aug. 1, if you live in Palau's busy central district of Koror, you will be able to connect to ABC Radio Australia's newest 24-hour Pacific service on 91.5FM. ABC International director Murray Green will officially launch 91.5FM, accompanied by popular Radio Australia presenter Clement Paligaru, at the Palau Pacific Resort on July 30. The new service was made possible by working in close partnership with the Palau Ministry of State, and continues to build on Radio Australia's dedicated Pacific FM radio network. ... Radio Australia's 91.5FM will deliver programming in Koror and surrounding areas, enabling local audiences to connect to a diverse choice of Pacific focused programs that have thus far been available only via shortwave. ... Radio Australia now has a network of 12 FM relays in the Pacific broadcasting 24 hours a day."

Fourteen new international networks for Comcast customers in California.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Comcast press release, 26 July 2010. "Comcast's California Region today announced that it will launch 75 new TV networks for customers in Fresno... . Fourteen new international premium networks will be available including Antenna Satellite (Greek), Band Internacional (Brazilian), C1R (Russian), Deutsche Welle (German), GMA Life (Filipino), MYX, PFC 100% Futebol (Brazilian), RTPi (Portuguese), STAR India GOLD (South Asian), STAR India NEWS (South Asian), STAR ONE (South Asian), TV Globo (Brazilian), tvK (Korean) and VIJAY (South Asian)."

New president for Adventist World Radio.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Adventist News Network, 30 July 2010: "The Adventist World Radio board yesterday selected the ministry's vice president for finance, Dowell Chow, to serve as its new president. ... AWR provides thousands of hours a day in broadcasting in 107 languages over AM, FM, shortwave, Internet and podcasting. Based at the church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, AWR employs 31 people, including staff in offices overseeing operations in Europe, Africa and Asia. Most of the hundreds of local studio and engineering staff worldwide are employed by local church entities. ... Chow said some of AWR's key operations include its extensive network of FM radio stations, training for local partners and the ministry's offerings of podcasting -- last month the organization launched a website with podcasts in more than 80 languages."

Swissinfo observes 75th anniversary of its predecessor's first shortwave broadcast.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
swissifo.ch, 30 July 2010: "Seventy-five years ago on Sunday, swissinfo’s predecessor, a shortwave radio service from the Swiss Broadcasting Corp., transmitted its first signal round the world. To celebrate the station’s rich history as the 'voice of Switzerland abroad', swissinfo has compiled excerpts of some of the more memorable programmes, interviews and reader pictures collected throughout the years. ... Over the decades, shortwave broadcasts eventually grew more obsolete, and the last radio programme of what became Swiss Radio International aired in 2004. But the station’s mission lives on. Today the multimedia platform, swissinfo.ch, has assumed a federally mandated duty to inform the Swiss abroad and an international audience about news and events in Switzerland." See also swissinfo's 75 year anniversary special section.

YouTube's Life in a Day Except in These Six Countries Contest.

Posted: 01 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 31 July 2010, Yoani Sanchez, translating Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo in Diario de Cuba: "Who can participate in [YouTube's Life in A Day contest]? Anyone over 18 can send footage, except citizens or residents of Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Myanmar (Burma), Syria and Sudan, and other people and entities limited by the United States' program of export controls and sanctions." See also contest rules.

Mashable, 29 July 2010, Jolie O'Dell: "A court in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia has demanded a Russian ISP block access to YouTube because the site hosted 'Russia for Russians,' which was judged to be an extremist video. ... [A] Google rep told the Moscow Times, 'To limit access of Rosnet users to the whole YouTube.com site, not to a particular video, breaches the right for freedom of information, guaranteed by Article 29 of Russia’s Constitution.'"