Senate Appropriations Committee rejects BBG proposal to drop VOA Chinese radio and TV.

Posted: 30 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Blogger News Network, 28 Sept 2011, Ted Lipien: "The media freedom website BBG Watch reported that the Senate Committee on Appropriations has rejected the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) proposal to end Voice of America (VOA) radio and TV broadcasts to China and criticized the BBG for the lack of transparency. The committee recommended $740,039,000 for U.S. international broadcasting operations, for the operating and engineering costs of VOA, Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which includes Radio and TV Marti, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), which includes Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa, and the BBG in FY2012. The Obama Administration has asked for $754,261,000. The BBG’s FY2011 budget was $740,017,000. The BBG. manages these U.S. government-funded entities and broadcasting operations. In a highly critical language included in a report recommending the passage of the bill (S. 1601) making FY2012 appropriations for the Department of State, the BBG and other foreign operations, the Senate Committee on Appropriations expressed concern with 'the lack of transparency' regarding the BBG proposal. The committee noted that in addition to ending VOA radio and TV to China, the BBG also wanted to reduce shortwave and medium wave transmissions to Russia, Iran, North Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. The committee directed the BBG to notify the committee when BBG broadcast hours are reduced or increased and when transmission platforms are changed. The committee approved funding for the continuation of these broadcasts and transmissions, including VOA radio and TV programs to China." See also BBG Watch, 28 Sept 2011, BBGWatcher. A note from VOA director David Ensor to VOA China Branch staff is reprinted by BBG Watch, 29 Sept 2011.

OIG inspects IBB transmitting sites in Germany, noting that they are doing more with less.

Posted: 30 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
US Department of State and Broadcasting Board of Governors Office of Inspector General, 28 Sept 2011: Inspection report: "International Broadcasting Bureau’s Germany Transmitting Station." "•The International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Germany Transmitting Station provides global systemwide support to other IBB transmitting stations, transmitters in third countries, and affiliates in third countries in terms of innovation, automation, monitoring, and intervention, and it does so with a talented staff that has been reduced to historically low numbers. •The IBB Germany Transmitting Station serves a critical role in supporting the implementation of part of the U.S. strategic communication strategy in Afghanistan through the Golden Eagle program and other transmitting initiatives. •The Lampertheim site has been transformed from being only a shortwave transmitting station to also performing many satellite system functions, including serving as the alternate satellite uplink for IBB Prague and IBB Transmitting Station Kuwait. ... •Thanks in large measure to automation pioneered by its own staff, the IBB Germany Transmitting Station does as much as, or more than, the larger station of earlier years and with less staff, reducing the number of shifts from three to one."

Multitasking Turner Broadcasting + CNNI executive will help integrate company's business across Turkey, Middle East, Africa.

Posted: 30 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
TradeArabia, 28 Sept 2011: "Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) has announced that Rani R Raad will be adding the role of senior vice president and managing director for Turkey, Middle East and Africa for Turner International to his existing responsibilities at CNN International. ... [T]he newly-created role will see Raad include the entertainment channels Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TCM and Cartoon Network Arabic within his remit, alongside CNN International and CNN Arabic. Raad will continue in his current role of senior vice president and managing director for CNN International advertising sales and business development, overseeing CNN's global commercial initiatives, while also managing and facilitating the growth of Turner’s business in Turkey and the MEA region. ... 'Our aim is to integrate our business operations more closely across Turkey and MEA, and this role will form a key part of that plan.'"

RT (Russia Today) will be "available globally on smartphones, iPad and tablet devices" via Yamgo mobile TV network.

Posted: 29 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Yamgo press release, 28 Sept 2011: "RT, the Russian English-language news channel has launched on mobile TV network Yamgo. The round the clock live news channel will be available globally on Smartphones, iPad and Tablets devices. RT, the Russian English-language news channel has launched on mobile TV network Yamgo. The round the clock live news channel will be available globally on Smartphones, iPad and Tablets devices. The Yamgo TV network delivers live TV to mobile devices worldwide using a 2.5G, 3G and Wi- Fi connection. RT is the latest addition to a line-up which now includes music, sports, movies, entertainment and news channels. ... By launching on the Yamgo network, RT will be available on all leading mobile platforms and devices including iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch), Android (phones and tablets), Nokia, Blackberry, HTC, Samsung and HP webOS."

Emmy award for BBC World News America story about North Korea.

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BBC World News press release, 27 Sept 2011: "BBC Newsnight and BBC World News America have triumphed at the 32nd Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards with a unique insight into North Korea by BBC correspondent Sue Lloyd-Roberts. The Emmys were presented by the National Academy of Television arts and sciences in New York last night, Monday 26 September 2011. Inside the North Korean Bubble commissioned by BBC Newsnight won the category of Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast. The film saw reporter Sue Lloyd-Roberts accompanied by Newsnight cameraman Tony Joliffe, gain extremely rare access to one of the world's greatest enigmas - North Korea. While taking the 'model tour,' Lloyd-Roberts was able to offer an insight into everyday life in this closed country. It was originally broadcast in the UK in June last year."

Turkmenistan seminar on election coverage "implemented by BBC World Service," organized by groups with many syllables.

Posted: 29 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Turkmenistan.ru, 27 Sept 2011: "A two-day seminar on international experience in election coverage started in Ashgabat. The seminar has been organized by the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda of Turkmenistan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Project on cooperation in improving mass media in Turkmenistan, implemented by BBC World Service and funded by the European Union. The seminar has brought together representatives of the working group on media under the CEC, consisting of journalists of the Turkmen State News Service, national newspapers, television and radio."

China Radio International, in Mandarin, available on New Zealand satellite service.

Posted: 29 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
DPA, 28 Sept 2011: "Five new agreements between New Zealand and China were signed in Wellington Wednesday during an official visit by Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu. New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English, who witnessed the signings with Hui, said the agreements showed the growing relationship between the two countries. ... China Radio International signed a cultural agreement to provide Chinese language content and editorial resources to World TV Ltd, which broadcasts in New Zealand." See also the World TV Ltd website, "New Zealand's Nationwide Asian Channels Provider."

"World media tycoons" meet at the World Media Summit in Beijing and say nothing especially interesting.

Posted: 29 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Xinhua, 28 Sept 2011, Li Hongmei: "World media tycoons gathered in Beijing for the World Media Summit Presidium Meeting (WMSPM). The 2-day gathering has yielded positive fruits as expected --- the tycoons discussed the development and new landscape of world media industry. Topics focused on system and mechanism for cooperation, IPR protection, journalists' on-the-job safety and the media's role in natural disasters. The meeting was attended by leaders and senior members of the Associated Press (AP), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), New York Times, Itar-Tass, Kyodo News, News Corporation, Thomson-Reuters, Al Jazeera Network, Google and Time-Warner's Turner Broadcasting System (TBS). At the press conference coordinated by Li Congjun, President of the Xinhua News Agency, the 11 media leaders explained their understanding of traditional media and new media, opportunities and challenges in the new era of media, shared responsibilities assumed by the world media in coping with stiff challenges for humans, and the common willingness to form an international media order in a fair, rational and balanced way. Tom Curley, the AP president and CEO, said in light of the breakneck pace of new media, traditional media companies seem to have lost revenue opportunities but still have a chance to reverse that with adaptation to new technologies. ... Xinhuanet had a brief interview with Ahmed Sharikh, advisor to H.E. Sheikh Hamad Bin Tamer Al Tani, the Chairman of Board of Al Jazeera Network, immediately after the press conference. When asked whether he thinks Al Jazeera is a global media leader in the making, he said the news organ is not merely pleased with leading the regional media, but is striving to be one of the most influential media outlets in the world. He said the firepower for any news organization is to go to sound journalism, and the great storytelling." -- "International media order"? That sounds familiar.

China Radio International, 27 Sept 2011: "Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, thought that companies could build on cooperative projects and collaborate on successful projects where possible. 'A few years ago the BBC had a successful collaboration with CCTV, creating a natural history documentary of China - entitled "Beautiful China" or "Wild China". I think we should explore, whether it's in culture, art, history, music, or the environment, traditional TV or new media, what we can make together in ways that audiences in China and around the world can enjoy the program.' On the topic of current affairs, it is hard to find a way to cooperate but debating programs might be a solution, Thompson added."

Xinhua, 27 Sept 2011. "Executive President of the WMS and President of Xinhua News Agency Li Congjun pointed out that the rise of the new media is an advancement of the time that propels the media to adjust to the development of the economy, science and technology, all of which definitely affect the structure of traditional media."

Xinhua, 27 Sept 2011: "President of the WMS and President of Xinhua News Agency Li Congjun ... proposed that the WMS should remain a high-end platform for global media to enhance communication and cooperation, and create mutual benefits while addressing common challenges."

Xinhua, 27 Sept 2011: "During the Presidium Meeting of the World Media Summit (WMS), Li Congjun, executive president of the summit and president of China's state-run Xinhua News Agency, said that IPR protection is facing new problems along with the development of new media and digital technology, adding that there have been sporadic cases of media IPR infringement."

Xinhua, 27 Sept 2011: "Leaders of world media giants on Tuesday urged in Beijing more attention to the safety of journalists whose jobs often put them in danger."

Financial Times, Beyondbrics blog, 29 Sept 2011, Kathrin Hille: "The astonishing thing is that some of the most powerful men of global media have agreed to sit down and be used as props in Beijing’s show. Eleven heavyweight media executives including New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr, BBC director-general Mark Thompson and AP president Tom Curley attended the summit and discussed things such as the protection of intellectual property rights, journalists’ safety, the media’s role in disasters and media cooperation in the new media era. That, at least, was the agenda according to Xinhua, which not only hosts and heads the World Media Summit’s secretariat and its website but also seems to have produced all media coverage there is about the event. Requests by foreign journalists based in Beijing for accreditation were politely declined (by Xinhua). ... This year, two remarkably clear and simple messages came out of the meeting: China will “as always guarantee the legitimate rights of foreign news organisations and their reporters and provide convenience for their reporting work in the country,” and China wishes that 'foreign media would issue increasingly precise, balanced and objective reports about China' – according to Xinhua, that is."

GlobalPost, 28 Sept 2011, Kathleen E. McLaughlin: "What happens when top executives from the world’s most powerful media companies gather in China to discuss the future of journalism? Not much, if press accounts of this week’s World Media Summit in Beijing are any guide."

China Media Project, 28 Sept 2011, David Bandurski: "These media executives are representing themselves — or allowing themselves to be represented — as governing members of an organization that states publicly on an official website apparently managed by Xinhua News Agency itself, bearing an all-rights-reserved Xinhua copyright, that it plans to 'set a code of conduct binding for all' in order to 'tackle challenges and problems confronting all.' Li Congjun, the former deputy propaganda chief who runs Xinhua and is now the Summit’s president apparently proposed 'establishing a WMS [World Media Summit] mechanism outlining a common code of conduct.' Gentlemen, I think everyone understands why you have agreed to sit at the table. But is this really an agenda you have all signed up for? How much do you really understand about this institution? And what right do you have, however powerful your news organizations, to speak for the rest of the world’s media in setting any agendas beyond those of your corporations?"

Voice of Russia, 27 Sept 2011: "The World Media Summit 2012 will be held in Moscow."

Decision on the Australia Network tender, "imminent" for several months, might happen Monday.

Posted: 29 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Australian, Media, 28 Sept 2011, Michael Bodey: "A decision on the much-delayed Australia Network contract is imminent with the item listed as an agenda item at Monday's federal government Cabinet meeting. Both relevant, or duelling, min[i]sters, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd will be present at what is expected to be the final deliberation on a recommendation by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on whether the ABC retains the right to broadcast the channel through Asia or whether the contract will be handed to the Sky News consortium. The final decision for the ten-year contract was expected to made by the deadline of September 16 after it was delayed in May. Reports suggested a panel of public servants initially recommended the contract go to the broadcaster of Sky News, Australian News Channel Pty Ltd, which is a joint venture of Nine Digital, Seven Media Group and British Sky Broadcasting (part-owned by News Corporation, publisher of The Australian). ... Sky News has also complained about inappropriate lobbying of government ministers by ABC chief Mark Scott in jostling for the $223 million contract."

The Australian, Media, 28 Sept 2011, Michael Bodey: "The ABC's news division has been hit by a 1.5 per cent budget cut and job losses, but ABC News 24 is not to blame, according to an email from head of news Kate Torney. The email circulated to staff this morning confirmed a broad 1.5 per cent budget cut and staff losses due to 'attrition', Media can reveal. ... The ABC awaits a decision from the federal government on the ten-year, $223 million dollar contract for broadcast of the Australia Network service into Asia and the Middle East, which is the subject of Cabinet deliberation on Monday. The federal government indecision has severely affected ABC News' planning and budgets."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC's international iPlayer "could start a revolution of sorts in global media distribution."

Posted: 29 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 28 Sept 2011, Nick Ross: "The BBC's iPlayer has launched in Australia. Usually the service allows Brits to watch live TV or 'catch-up TV' - the term for watching shows which recently aired. The ABC has a similar service called iView which is now the third most popular section of ABC Online (and is growing, fast). Both, however, only allow access to people based within the host country. The Australian iPlayer is a very different beast and could start a revolution of sorts in global media distribution. The new global iPlayer uses a commercial model (unusual for a public-funded broadcaster) and will only serve as a Video On Demand service. It will ultimately provide access to the bulk of the BBC's massive television archives, with over 1000 hours being available at launch and "hours" of additional footage being 'regularly added'. Subscriptions will cost $9.49 per month or $89.99 per year. The first ten hours are free to allow 'try-before-you-buy'." -- Presumably Australian $.

paidContent.org, 27 Sept 2011, Robert Andrews: "What about the U.S.? 'Our timelines are always changing. It is our intention to launch there,' [a] spokesperson says. Right now, the global iPlayer is still in a 'pilot' phase. BBC Worldwide is not disclosing the subscriber count for the two-month-old product but claims to paidContent it is 'exceeding all targets'."

Sydney Morning herald, 29 Sept 2011, Adam Turner: "The app’s interface is uncluttered, slick and responsive, making it easy to flick through categories to discover new content. The app runs over w-fi or 3G, but you can download programs in the background to watch while you’re offline. ... At $9.49 per month the BBC service isn’t cheap, but it offers great value for money when you consider how much content is on offer and that you can watch it offline."

The Australian, 29 Sept 2011, Michael Bodey: "The service primarily offers library programming and will not cannibalise content from BBC News or new release material from BBC Worldwide's Australian channels including UKTV. Nor did the service plan to hurt the BBC's current output deals with Australian TV networks... ."

BBC Worldwide press release, 29 Sept 2011: "Matthew Littleford has taken on the role of General Manager of the pilot for the global BBC iPlayer. Littleford joined BBC Worldwide in April 2011 as Creative Director for the commercial and international video on demand service that launched in 11 Western European countries in July this year and today, 29th Sept launches in Australia. As General Manager, Littleford is responsible for editorial and day to day operation, marketing, promotion, product and technology and reports directly to Jana Bennett, President Worldwide Channels and global BBC iPlayer."

Let the talent raids begin: Sky News Arabia "editorial elite" résumés include Al Arabiya, Alhurra, Al Jazeera, BBC Arabic.

Posted: 29 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Arabian Business, 27 Sept 2011, Joanne Bladd: "Sky News Arabia, British Sky Broadcasting’s (BSkyB) first foreign-language news channel, said Tuesday it is on track to launch in early 2012. The planned 24-hour Arabic channel has hired 70 staff and expects to hire a further 300 by the close of the year, the company said in an emailed statement. ... Questions were raised over the launch of the news channel after the collapse of News Corp’s $12bn takeover bid for BSkyB in July, after the Rupert Murdock-owned firm became mired in a phone hacking scandal. ... Sky News Arabia, a joint venture between BSkyB and Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp, will be going head-to-head for viewing figures with the Prince Alwaleed-backed Alarab news channel."

AMEinfo, 27 Sept 2011: "As part of Sky News Arabia's commitment to developing local talent, [it] also announced the launch of a graduate internship program which will be offered to appraising journalists from around the region commencing at the start of the 2012 academic year."

Rapid TV News, 28 Sept 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "Joining the Sky News Arabia editorial elite is Yasser Thaber as director of output, and Pierre Kesserwani, director of newsgathering. They will work alongside the already anointed director of news, Nart Bouran, in establishing the editorial stance of the 50:50 joint venture between BSkyB and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's private investment company, Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation. Thabet joins Sky News Arabia from Al Arabiya, where he held the post of programme editor for four years. Prior to Al Arabiya, he worked for Al-Hurra in the US and Al Jazeera in Qatar. Meanwhile, Kesserwani joins Sky News Arabia from BBC Arabic in the UK, where he spent four years running the newsgathering desk and liaising with the planning and interview departments."

In Libyan "vacuum," "new media outlets have blossomed," including Libya Al Hurra and an English FM station.

Posted: 29 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Globe and Mail, 27 Sept 2011, Susan Sachs: "In fact, in the new Libya there are no rules. The country is running on ad-hoc decisions most often made by committees in individual towns and neighbourhoods. The Transitional National Council, the anti-Gadhafi forces’ provisional governing body, has not appointed interim ministers. In the vacuum, new media outlets have blossomed. Local television and radio channels have sprung up in the larger cities of Benghazi and Misrata. Dozens of newspapers have appeared across the country. But the biggest battle is for the media-related equipment, frequencies and property in the freshly liberated capital, which was the hub of the ousted dictator’s massive international and domestic propaganda machine. [Saleh] Magdub is a case in point. He set up Libya Al Hurra in the studios of a channel that was controlled by Col. Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam. The sets, computers and other equipment were purchased only three years ago and are housed in a modern downtown building. ... A committee of rebel activists from Benghazi has occupied what once was the state-run pan-Africa radio service. It offers mainly patriotic songs and call-in shows. Another NTC effort is a new FM radio station that broadcasts in English. 'It wasn’t allowed before, so why not have an English language station?' said Mohamed Kish, one of the founders." -- Libya Al Hurra is not to be confused with, but will be confused with, the USIB Alhurra. The pan-African station was the Voice of Africa, and it broadcast on shortwave in Arabic, English, French, Hausa, and Swahili.

"Influential" VOA gets two recent mentions in the Philippines press.

Posted: 28 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Asian Correspondent, 28 Sept 2011, Tony Cruz: "[T]he proposed Anti-Planking Act, filed by Rep. Winnie Castelo, a partymate of President Noynoy Aquino, continues to attract attention locally and internationally – and the latest is the influential Voice of America which took it as a topic last night (Manila time). Sarah Williams of VOA’s Crossroads Asia asked me about my views on the bill, and I wish to explain further."

Manila Standard Today, 21 Sept 2011, Victor C. Agustin: "A critical Voice of America report says Mount Pinatubo sand is being illegally exported, possibly to land-hungry Singapore. The VoA report says the Philippines has become an international supplier of river sand, after Indonesia and Malaysia banned their export to the neighboring city-state, which has built up a ravenous demand for the non-corrosive sand, as opposed to sea sand, to feed its massive reclamation and building project." -- The VOA report, 19 Sept 2011, is not itself "critical," but it includes several quotes which are critical of sand smuggling.

Not exactly broadcasting, but Wired article investigates "The Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma."

Posted: 28 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Wired, 27 Sept 2011, Peter Savodnik: "From a lonely rusted tower in a forest north of Moscow, a mysterious shortwave radio station transmitted day and night. For at least the decade leading up to 1992, it broadcast almost nothing but beeps; after that, it switched to buzzes, generally between 21 and 34 per minute, each lasting roughly a second—a nasally foghorn blaring through a crackly ether. The signal was said to emanate from the grounds of a voyenni gorodok (mini military city) near the village of Povarovo, and very rarely, perhaps once every few weeks, the monotony was broken by a male voice reciting brief sequences of numbers and words, often strings of Russian names: 'Anna, Nikolai, Ivan, Tatyana, Roman.' But the balance of the airtime was filled by a steady, almost maddening, series of inexplicable tones."

Al Jazeera Kabul bureau chief released from Israeli prison after plea bargain and £900 fine (updated).

Posted: 28 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 27 Sept 2011, Harriet Sherwood: "An al-Jazeera journalist has admitted to having ties to Hamas six weeks after being detained by the Israeli military following a visit to his family in the West Bank. Samer Allawi, the Arab TV network's Kabul bureau chief, was released from detention on Monday after a plea bargain resulted in a suspended jail sentence and a . Allawi was arrested on 9 August when trying to leave the West Bank via Jordan to return to Afghanistan. His lawyer told Human Rights Watch he had been threatened with physical harm while in detention for months without charge unless he admitted membership of Hamas. Under interrogation, Allawi admitted he had been recruited by Hamas in Pakistan in 1993. A military court convicted Allawi of 'conspiracy to provide a service for an outlawed organisation'."

Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz, 27 Sept 2011: "Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Afghanistan, Samer Allawi, was released from an Israeli prison Sunday night after reaching a plea bargain under which he confessed to serving as a Hamas operative. Allawi reached a deal with the Israel State Prosecutor’s Office under which he will receive a suspended sentence of three years, after he confessed to serving as a Hamas operative and working on behalf of the terrorist organization, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) released in a statement. ... During his interrogation, the Shin Bet said he also discussed his activities as a member of the mujahideen in Afghanistan from 1988 to 1992, during which he confessed to participating in a rebel raid on an Afghan military base as well as guerrilla operations against Soviet forces."

Reuters, 26 Sept 2011, Dan Williams: "'There was no evidence against me,' Allawi told Reuters upon returning to the West Bank. 'The whole arrest episode was a charade aimed at extorting Al Jazeera. I was not the target.' He met with Hamas, Allawi said, because 'I meet people everywhere from whom I can get the news'."

AP, 26 Sept 2011: "The prosecutor alleged that ... Allawi agreed to help strengthen public support for Hamas by reporting stories that would positively portray the Palestinians, but that he did not act on that due to 'inability or unwillingness.' Salim Wakim, the journalist’s attorney, said his client was sentenced with 'very, very, very trivial crimes.'"

The Guardian, 28 Sept 2011, Tara Conlan: "Al-Jazeera has denied allegations that its Kabul bureau chief has links to Hamas and accused Israeli authorities of 'blatant breaches of human rights' over its treatment of the journalist. Samer Allawi was detained by the Israeli military for 49 days following a visit to his family in the West Bank. The Arabic news channel's journalist was released from detention on Monday after a plea bargain resulted in a suspended jail sentence and a £900 fine. A spokesman for al-Jazeera said Allawi faced 'false accusations' and suffered 'psychological trauma' as a result of his detention."

See previous post about same subject.

NBC will remake Borgen, a Danish political drama.

Posted: 28 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Television Business International, 27 Sept 2011: "US network NBC is to remake Borgen, a Danish political drama from the producers of Forbrydelsen (The Killing). This comes after British public broadcaster the BBC acquired the DR-produced series. The show is the latest Nordic-originated series to be developed by a US broadcaster following AMC's Fox and Fuse Entertainment-produced remake of The Killing. Borgen, which is produced in house by the Danish public broadcaster DR, is a political drama that centres around the fight for political power and the surprise election of Sidse Babett Knudsen's Birgitte Nyborg. It was acquired by the BBC's head of programme acquisitions Sue Deeks and will air on BBC Four, which aired the original Danish version of The Killing. BBC Worldwide Productions, which is run by former BBC One controller Jane Tranter, will produce the series in association with Universal Television and Deadline Hollywood reports that Friday Night Lights executive producer David Hudgins will write and exec produce the series with Jason Katims." -- Will the US version be about politcis in Denmark? Or in the United States? See also Deadline, 26 Sept 2011, Nellie Andreeva, including trailer of the Danish Borgen.

This could develop into a new reality show: Dancing With Italian Attorneys (updated).

Posted: 28 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 11 Aug 2011, Clive Whittingham: "The son of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has denied saying it is okay to copy other TV formats, as a row about Mediaset's latest dance show escalates. Mediaset, Italy's largest commercial broadcaster, has picked up the rights to Endemol's dance competition programme Baila! which previously aired in South America as Bailando por un Sueno. However, a row has broken out with pubcaster Rai, which says the programme is a copy of BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) format Dancing With The Stars, which it airs under the title Ballando con le Stele. Rai has taken Mediaset, founded by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and still controlled by the Berlusconi family, to court on copyright charges. ... In a statement Mediaset 'rejected all accusations of plagiarism' and said it was calmly waiting for the decision of a judge on the case in Rome. ... BBCWW has issued a statement to C21 saying: 'We take any potential infringement of our rights seriously and are currently considering our options.'"

Update: Advanced Television, 27 Sept 2011, Chris Forrester: "An Italian court has ruled in favour of the BBC Worldwide and RAI’s joint action against Mediaset/Endemol TV dance show ‘Baila!’, which the court said had too many similarities with BBC format ‘Strictly Come Dancing’/’Dancing with the Stars’"

Iranian House of Cinema backpedals on its criticism of filmmakers' arrests. Official says more arrests are coming for cooperation with BBC.

Posted: 28 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
UPI, 27 Sept 2011: "Iran's intelligence minister has issued a warning to his fellow Iranians to not cooperate with the BBC, less than week after arresting six filmmakers. Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said Sunday he is advising all people 'who are thinking about cooperation with BBC to be careful not to fall into the trap of this anti-Iranian and counter-revolutionary institution,' the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported. More arrests are coming, he said, asserting his ministry had 'obtained important information about people who are in connection with BBC' and that 'intelligence agents are diligently pursuing the issue.' ... 'Basically, BBC is not a media, rather it is an organization in disguise which has a Baha'i-Zionist nature with political-intelligence missions,' Moslehi said."

Press TV, 26Sept 2011: "The defendants are members of the Iranian Alliance of Motion Picture Guilds. The alliance has issued a statement in their defense. But they also complain that their statement has become politicized. The Iranian Alliance of Motion Picture Guilds says it has no business with those who want to tarnish the image of Islamic Republic. The alliance has also condemned those who are trying to misrepresent the contents of its statement."

Tehran Times, 27 Sept 2011: "The Iranian House of Cinema (IHC) has announced that it has always avoided collaborating with those TV networks that are enemies of the system of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 'We eschew them,' said the head of the IHC Board of Directors Chairman Farhad Tohidi during a press conference on Monday that was also attended by IHC Managing Director Mohammad-Mehdi Asgarpur.The press conference was organized to subdue a media frenzy that arose after the IHC issued a statement over the arrest of six Iranian documentary filmmakers, who have been accused of 'collaboration with the BBC Persian service' in Iran. In the statement, the IHC, which is the Iranian cineastes’ guild, had asked Iranian security officials to uphold the rights of the filmmakers. It had called on judicial officials to conduct an accelerated and just legal inquiry. 'Due to its primary responsibilities, the IHC intervened in the issue. A guild should naturally pursue the subject and protect the security of its members,' Tohidi said. ... IHC Managing Director Asgarpur said that the context of statement is totally clear. 'Some media outlets create an atmosphere of misapprehension by their erroneous analyses,' he added. 'Due to the fact that both BBC and VOA do not have good relations with the system and both are managed by Bahais, neither are suitable networks for [Iranian] cineastes to screen their films and to express their opinions.' The statement was severely censured by the Majlis. The Cultural Committee of the Majlis announced on Monday that it plans to discuss the IHC’s move. 'This statement, in fact, is not the statement of the House of Cinema of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is the statement of the house of cinema for the old colonialism of England,' committee spokesman Sattar Hedayatkhah said. He expressed hope that the IHC would implement reforms in its policies. 'Otherwise, we should begin to doubt the necessity for the existence of the organization,' he threatened".

Press TV, 27 Sept 2011: “'The detainees were paid tens of thousands of dollars for each of their programs,' Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said on Monday. 'The [Iranian] government has found important information in light of the arrests, which serves as further evidence that political intelligence gathering is high on the BBC's agenda,' he added."

Press TV, 27 Sept 2011: "A senior Iranian lawmaker says those arrested in connection with having worked for the state-funded BBC were detained for serving the colonial objectives of the UK. 'We believe that the Intelligence Ministry has acted based on the evidence and documents in its possession,' Fars News Agency quoted Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel as saying on Tuesday. ... 'Whoever cooperates with the [BBC] has effectively worked in favor of the British government's goals; but sometimes there is the issue of the free flow of information and sometimes the issue is working towards the British government's colonial aims,' he explained."

Trend News Agency (Baku), 27 Sept 2011: "Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, condemns the recent arrest of six independent film-makers in Iran, the official statement reads. 'The High Representative condemns the recent arrest in Iran of six documentary film-makers, who are accused of working for the BBC Persian service, and calls for their immediate release,' the statement says. Ashton is equally concerned at reports of harassment of several other people alleged to have links with the BBC Persian service, the statement says."

RFE/RL, 27 Sept 2011: "Organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival, the largest in North America, have decried the recent arrest of six independent filmmakers in Iran 'whose work should be seen and their voices heard.' In a statement, they expressed 'deep concern' over the arrest last week of Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Katayoun Shahabi, Hadi Afarideh, Nasser Saffarian, Shahnama Bazdar, and Mohsen Shahrnazdar by Iranian authorities. Mirtahmasb is the co-director of banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi's latest film, 'This Is Not A Film,' which was screened at the Toronto film festival."

Movie City News, 26 Sept 2011, Ray Pride: "Facets Multi-Media, Chicago’s independent film exhibitor, distributor, and educator, today issued a statement condemning the arrest of six Iranian filmmakers on September 17: 'Facets strongly condemns the arrest of Mohsen Shahmazdar, Haidi Afarideh, Naser Safarian, Shahnam Bazdar, Mojtaba Mir Tahmaseb, and Katayoun Shahabi, and calls on Iranian judicial authorities to release them unconditionally. Facets also calls on the international community to support their release.' ... To mobilize public awareness and protest, Facets plans to deliver a petition to the Iranian delegation to the United Nations. The petition is online at www.facets.org."

RFE/RL, 27 Sept 2011: "Three Iranian journalists working for state media outlets are reported have been arrested in recent weeks, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. The arrests of Mehrdad Sarjouei, Amir Ali Alamehzadeh, and Hadi Ahmadi add to a growing list of imprisoned journalists in Iran. ... Iranian opposition websites reported on September 25 that Alamehzadeh, who works for the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), was taken into custody on September 17. His whereabouts are unknown. Ahmadi, who writes for the economy section of the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), was arrested in Karaj, west of Tehran, earlier this month. And the Kaleme website, which is close to opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, reported that Sarjouei, who writes the international section of English daily newspapers published in Tehran, was arrested more than two months ago. He is currently being held in Ward 209 of Tehran's Evin prison."

See previous post about same subject.

Tai Freedom radio of Shan State, Burma, follows in the tradition of clandestine radio for revolutionaries.

Posted: 28 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Mizzima, 19 Sept 2011, Thea Forbes: "Tai Freedom Radio provides a beacon for the Shan people in this region of Shan State in Burma. It is the radio broadcasting operation for the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the political wing of the Shan State Army (or SSA). ... Tai Freedom Radio was established in 2002, and it has a team of more than 10 broadcasters, and transmits news on fighting and current affairs to people living in the area surrounding Loi Taleng, the SSA headquarters. ... Is Tai Freedom Radio ethno-nationalist propaganda? Or is it Shan news for Shan people? It’s both, according to Sai Sang, 27, who has been a broadcaster at the station for three years. ... Clandestine radio has long been an important apparatus for revolutionaries. 'Radio Rebelde,' the broadcasting station set up by Ernesto Che Guevara in 1958 (and which still operates today) to transmit the aims of Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement to the Cuban people, was even used strategically to transmit some tactical military instructions over the airwaves. Tactical broadcasts reportedly became just as popular as ordinary programmes and made the local Cuban population feel closer to the movement. Here in Loi Taleng, however, megaphone politics are somewhat different. The consequences for Shan civilians caught listening to Tai Freedom Radio by the Burmese government authorities could be severe."

Cameraman for Alhurra contractor dies of wounds from sniper fire in Yemen.

Posted: 28 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 26 Sept 2011: "A Yemeni cameraman died in a Sana'a hospital on Saturday, five days after being struck by sniper fire while covering an anti-government protest in the capital, according to local and international news reports. Hassan al-Wadhaf, who filmed his own shooting, is the second journalist to be killed in Yemen since demonstrations began in February. Struck twice in the face, al-Wadhaf had been in critical condition since the shooting. The fatal shots were fired by an unidentified rooftop sniper, whose affiliation could not be verified. ... Al-Wadhaf was working for the Arabic Media Agency, a production company that provides reports for the Saudi-based satellite news channel Al-Ekhbariya, the U.S. government-funded Al-Hurra, and the Iraqi state outlet Al-Iraqiya." See also Reporters sans frontières, 27 Sept 2011. See previous post about same subject.

Eutelsat's Atlantic Bird 7 launched, will beam "popular stations like al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya" to the Middle East and North Africa.

Posted: 27 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 24 Sept 2011, Jonathan Amos: "Sea Launch, the rocket company that operates from a converted oil rig in the Pacific, has returned to flight. Saturday saw the firm put up its first satellite payload since emerging from bankruptcy protection last year. The spacecraft, owned by Eutelsat, will beam TV channels into the Middle East and North Africa. ... 'Atlantic Bird 7 will not only be new and more modern, it will be larger and more powerful,' Eutelsat CEO Michel de Rosen told BBC News. 'It will allow us to have more television channels and more high-definition channels, so we will be able to serve more customers.' Popular stations like al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya will be switched across to the new satellite once it is up and running." See also the Atlantic Bird 7 footprint.

South Korean and Vietnamese television channels sign deals with RT (Russia Today) and other international broadcasters.

Posted: 27 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Yonhap, 26 Sept 2011: "Yonhap News TV, an all-news cable channel [in Korean] to be launched later this year, signed a content exchange agreement with Taiwan's leading TV network TVBS on Monday, the latest in a series of such deals the South Korean broadcaster has made with foreign partners. ... The MOU is the latest in a series of agreements Yonhap News TV has forged with foreign TV stations in recent months. These include deals with Al Jazeera Satellite Network; Russia Today (RT), a Moscow-based 24-hour news-only channel; and the Hawaii-based Korean channel KBFD-TV."

VietNamNet, 26 Sept 2011: "Vietnamese Television (VTV) and the Russia Today television channel (RT) on Sept. 22 signed an agreement on exchange of TV programmes, experts, professional skills and other relevant fields. ... The delegation is scheduled to leave Russia for Belarus on Sept. 24 and work with the National State TV and Radio Company of Belarus in Minsk."

Deutsche Welle Akademie training Liberian and Sierra Leonean journalists to report on the extractives industry.

Posted: 27 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Awoko, 23 Sept 2011, Saidu Bah: "Deutsche Welle Akademie trainers with funds from the German International Corporation (GIZ), has commenced two-week training in Liberia to build the capacity of journalists in Sierra Leone and Liberia to report effectively and adequately on the Extractives Industry. ... The project aims to give Liberian and Sierra Leonean journalists the instruments they need to provide their audiences with balanced, objective and impartial information on extractive industries with a view to promoting public debate on resources and making their use more transparent."

Al Jazeera Children's Channel "is the only children's channel invited" to cover UN youth environment conference in Bandung.

Posted: 27 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
AMEinfo.com, 26 Sept 2011: "Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC) is setting sail to Indonesia to take part in the United Nation Environment Program's (UNEP) International Children and Youth Conference on the Environment TUNZA, taking place in the city of Bandung from 27 September to 1st of October 2011. ... TUNZA is a platform for children and youth to express their thoughts and concerns on tomorrow's issues related to nature, and species. ... Al Jazeera Children's Channel (JCC) will have a unique presence as the only children's channel invited by the UNEP to cover the different angles of this conference and highlight the youth's interaction and participation in what's known to be one of the most prominent environmental awareness youth conferences."

Al Jazeera after Wadah Khanfar "is less important ... because the field is more crowded."

Posted: 27 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Foreign Affairs, 27 Sept 2011, Philip Seib: "[D]espite its expanding global reach, the Arab world's flagship 24-hour satellite news channel must now face the fact that Arabs' dependence on it is decreasing. As more and more of the region gains access to the Internet, a proliferation of information providers is eroding Al Jazeera's dominance. Meanwhile, the revolutions that the network helped drive have unleashed a cascade of largely local news outlets, which provide more direct competition. There is no doubt that Al Jazeera will remain a major force in the region for years to come, but its singular role as a unique provider of open, honest content may already be a thing of the past. ... This is not to predict the demise of Al Jazeera. The network will remain a significant player in Arab journalism and politics for many years to come. It will continue to merit careful scrutiny by governments that want to understand the region. But Al Jazeera will be, to a certain extent, a victim of its impressive success and is unlikely to retain the dominance it once enjoyed."

Bloomberg, 26 Sept 2011, Nicholas Noe and Walid Raad commentary: "Al-Jazeera is less important these days in part because the field is more crowded. According to the Jordan-based Arab Advisors Group, the number of fully operational, free-to-air satellite TV channels in the Arab world grew by 12 percent from 448 to 501 between April 2010 and April 2011. Half these channels are based in Egypt, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Israel is set to launch an Arabic station, Hala TV, which would represent the third time Israel's broadcasting authority has tried to establish an Arabic channel. A former Al-Jazeera bureau chief, Ghassan Bin-Jiddu, who resigned recently over the station’s coverage of Syria -- he deemed it biased against the Syrian government -- plans to launch Al-Mayadin TV, based in Beirut, which will have the Palestinian cause as its centerpiece. All of which may signal that despite the deep pockets of both Qatar and Saudi Arabia -- where a member of the royal family owns the second most popular news station in the region, Al-Arabiya -- the range and depth of media choices is inexorably expanding for a population demanding change and choice both on TV and in the halls of power."

The Jewish Chronicle, 27 Sept 2011, John R. Bradley: "In short, Al Jazeera's often sensational, but always powerful and unpredictable, coverage of Arab affairs has become a hindrance to Qatar's efforts to ingratiate itself with Western powers and contain further revolts. The replacement of Mr Khanfar as news director by a member of the Qatari ruling family, rather than an attempt to restore the channel's reputation for objectivity and professionalism, actually marks the abandonment of any such pretensions. That will be music to the ears of the US and its regional ally, Israel, whose strategic interests are threatened by continuing unrest in the Arab world. But it is yet more bad news for the spread of democracy in the region."

Middle East Monitor, 26 Sept 2011, Amira Huweidi: "The pace at which Al Jazeera's new policies will be enacted is still not clear; nor do we know if there will be a swift re-evaluation of Khanfar's projects such as Al Jazeera Live [Mubasher] which covered events in Egypt and is operated by a management group alleged to have Islamist inclinations. ... The fate of Al Jazeera Live, which has been broadcasting the revolutionary songs of Sheikh Imam, a symbol of the opposition during the Anwar Sadat era, in celebration of the Egyptian revolution is the end of the contribution of the channel which has supported the Arab revolutions. Its fate will be decided in Doha and the result will tell us a lot about the policies of the new Director-General.

Arabian Business, 25 Sept 2011, Claire Ferris-Lay: "The decision to replace Khanfar with an executive at Qatargas and a member of the royal family, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, has been seen by some as a clear demonstration of the Qatari royal family’s efforts to retain its grip on the network’s coverage. ... Others disagree. 'The Qatari royal family founded the company; they were there before Wadah Khanfar and they are there now. There won’t be any fundamental changes taking place,' says Farhad Bin Sauood, a manager with Al Arabiya.net. Khanfar himself, during an interview with Al Jazeera in the days following his resignation, called his replacement a 'great manager and a great director.'"

See previous post about same subject.

Pierre Hanotaux is the new deputy director of Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France.

Posted: 27 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 22 Sept 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "Alain de Pouzilhac, the CEO of French holding Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France, has named Pierre Hanotaux as Deputy Managing Director. The new deputy MD of the firm that owns RFI, TV France 24 and part of TV5, replaces Christine Ockrent who left in controversial circumstances. Hanotaux, formerly the principal private secretary of Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand, will in his new position help conduct the current reform of the strategy of Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France that aims to set up a French international media group." -- But there is a confusing division of the old deputy director resposibilities between Hanotaux and Christian de Villeneuve. See L'Express, 22 Sept 2011, Renaut Revel.

Guinean singer Sia Tolno wins Radio France International Découvertes Award.

Posted: 26 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio France International, 23 Sept 2011: "The jury presided by Richard Bona has elected Sia Tolno from Guinea-Conakry as the winner of this year’s RFI Découvertes Award. The artist topped the final selection, ahead of Bongeziwe Mabandla (South Africa) and Metzo Djatah (Senegal). Djatah took the Internet public’s vote, which counted for one voice in the judging. Tune into RFI and RFI Musique over the next few days to hear Sia Tolno’s music." With video.

"What's the best way to watch Aussie TV when you're abroad?" Several incomprehensible solutions.

Posted: 26 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Sept 2011, Adam Turner: "What's the best way to watch Aussie TV when you're abroad? A friend might be moving overseas for work next year and has asked me for ideas on the best way to keep up with Australian television. He was wondering if it would be worth taking a Telstra T-Box, but from my experience they’re all but useless when not connected to Bigpond. ... I reckon the Boxee Box would be a lot more useful than a T-Box, especially as it features a built-in VPN client and a Flash-enabled browser. There are plenty of Australian-based VPNs around, which would make it easy to watch Australian Catch Up TV on his television. Even better, he could look for a global VPN service which offers connections for multiple countries such as the US, UK and Australia. My friend already has an Apple TV, so it’s easy for him to hire movies from the US and Australia. If he’s keen to watch live Australian TV, he could always consider something like a Slingbox, which sits in the lounge room and streams the output from your AV devices across the internet. Another option is to run the Orb media centre on a computer with TV tuners. Of course this means you’re relying on someone in Australia to maintain the gear and supply the internet access, which isn’t always practical. I also suggested he take a look at cloud-based PVR services such as MyTVR. It works via a smartphone or browser, so it might even work with the Boxee Box’s browser (I haven’t tested it). I’m not sure if MyTVR employs geoblocking, but if it does you could bypass it using the Boxee Box’s VPN client." -- Strangely, the article does not mention Australia Network, but one of the comments does.

Award winning film "explores a mysterious web of shortwave radio towers" that transmit Radio Canada International.

Posted: 26 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chronicle Herald (Halifax), 23 Sept 2011: "The Joy Awards were presented at the 2011 Linda Joy Brunch on Thursday, during the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax. ... The Joy Post Award, worth $17,500, went to Amanda Dawn Christie for Spectres of Shortwave. The documentary explores a mysterious web of shortwave radio towers over the Tantramar Marshes in New Brunswick. The site, the largest civilian shortwave facility in Canada, broadcasts signals around the world. 'Christie’s film examines themes related to cultural identity, international communication systems, changing technologies, rural myths, environment and politics among others,' says the release. 'And cinematically there is the visually arresting landscape of the towers themselves through the seasons.' Christie is a lecturer at Mount Allison University, a writer and an arts administrator." -- The shortwave facility is the Radio Canada International transmitting site at Sackville, NB.

Al Jazeera English receives Online Journalism Award for coverage of Egypt uprising.

Posted: 26 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
TradeArabia, 26 Sept 2011: "Al Jazeera English (aljazeera.com) has received the 'Breaking News' award at the Online Journalism Awards [of the Online News Association] in Boston. The accolade was for its coverage of the uprisings in Egypt, when the site received a 2500 per cent spike in traffic. ONA judges commended Al Jazeera's use of online tools to powerfully communicate the way the revolution immediately impacted people's lives. Al Jazeera online journalist Dorothy Parvaz, who was captured in Syria and Iran earlier this year, accepted the award on behalf of the network." See other ONA winners.

New book details history of Radio Free Scotland -- actually Sound On Your TV Scotland.

Posted: 26 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Scotsman, 25 Sept 2011, Tom Peterkin: "'Attention! Attention! this is Radio Free Scotland calling! Do not switch off! Listen when the BBC is off the air!' Those dramatic words will strike a chord with Scots of a certain age, who remember tuning in to an illicit broadcasting phenomenon that pre-dated the famous pirate radio station by almost a decade and kept the fires of Scottish Nationalism burning when they were perilously low. From 1956 until 1977, a small group of enthusiasts illegally produced Radio Free Scotland, transmitting from safe houses across the central belt as they dodged the police and GPO detector vans attempting to hunt them down. Against the odds, these pioneering Tartan Pimpernels somehow managed to evade capture and, with their clapped-out transmitting equipment, tuned into television frequencies to get their Nationalist message into living rooms. In the black and white era – long before 24-hour television, BBC television ended a day's programming with a rendition of God Save the Queen. Once the last notes had been sounded, the television airwaves, in certain parts of the country, were hi-jacked by Radio Free Scotland and its strange mixture of Nationalist polemic, satire, discussions, interviews and rock'n'roll music. As a little girl growing up in Edinburgh, Christine Grahame, the SNP MSP, was one of those allowed to stay up late to listen for the weekly broadcasts that Nationalist radio hams somehow managed to send through ordinary TV sets. ... In the early days, much of the technical aspect of looking after the transmitters – a Halicaster then later a Viking Challenger – was down to a great, great nephew of the writer RL Stevenson – a lawyer named Louis Stevenson, who emigrated to the US around 50 years ago." -- The story refers to the forthcoming book Pirates of the Air: The Story of Radio Free Scotland, by Gordon Wilson. The old UK 405-line television system used AM-mode audio, the same as transmitted by much of the amateur radio equipment of the time. The Wikipedia article about Radio Free Scotland states that it also transmitted on 262 meters (1144 kHz) medium wave.

ABC iPhone streaming app now includes nine Radio Australia channels (updated: be aware of data consumption).

Posted: 26 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Lifehacker, 20 Sept 2011, Angus Kidman: "The ABC has had radio streaming in its iPhone app since it launched, but the option just got a lot more appealing with the addition of 19 more stations: 10 metropolitan ABC Radio stations and nine channels from Radio Australia. Before you ask: I checked with the ABC, and while there are no immediate plans to add a similar streaming facility to the Android app, the broadcaster is keeping a close eye on Android uptake in Australia and there will be more Android apps in the future. As ever, this is an option more sensible used with a Wi-Fi connection than over 3G. The ABC app is a free download for iPhone and iPad users." -- Presumably the nine Radio Australia channels cover all its language services.

Update: Computer Daily News, 26 Sept 2011: "But Aunty adds: 'As with all online content, the ABC encourages users to be aware of their data consumption whilst using mobile devices. When designing and building mobile applications the ABC does all it can to prevent unintentional data use.'" -- Because of cost considerations? I don't think there are any privacy issues when listening to ABC radio streams.

More arrests in Iran for alleged links to BBC Persian.

Posted: 26 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 26 Sept 2011: "Iranian authorities have summoned an unspecified number of people for questioning over their alleged links to BBC's Farsi-language service, the country's intelligence chief says. The summons followed the arrest this month in Iran of six independent filmmakers for allegedly providing the BBC with video and news reports perceived as damaging to Iran. ... The intelligence chief, Heidar Moslehi, also accused the BBC of operating as a cover for British intelligence and of seeking to harm Iran by hosting Iranian dissidents. He made the remarks to Iranian state television today. ... 'The British intelligence services have begun a new phase of anti-Iranian activities under the cover of the BBC,' Moslehi said. He also issued a veiled warning of more arrests in the case."

Press TV, 25 Sept 2011: "Deputy Judiciary Chief Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi told reporters on Sunday that that the enemies have no objective other than inflicting harm on Islamic Iran by launching channels such as the state-run BBC Persian. ... Raeisi added that by portraying the atmosphere of the country as tumultuous, they are trying to prepare the grounds to exploit the situation for their own benefit, saying that the US and its allies are funding such networks."

Press TV, 25 Sept 2011: "According to an Iranian Intelligence Ministry statement, the members of the network provided the BBC with propaganda subjects to be exploited in psychological warfare by the enemies of Iran and Islam. The statement added that the members of the network, some of whom have been arrested, carried out anti-Iran missions commissioned by the BBC through illegal underground activities in return for massive sums of money." See also Fars News Agency, 25 Sept 2011.

Press Trust of India, 25 Sept 2011: "Iran's House of Cinema, the country's motion pictures guild, has criticised the arrests, issuing a statement carried by some local media that 'there was no law to prohibit the sale of film to foreign television' stations."

See previous post about the arrest of the filmmakers.

BBG press release, 23 Sept 2011: "The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG ) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) take the opportunity of this UN General Assembly to protest an escalating campaign by the Iranian government to silence independent media in Iran. ... We deplore such arbitrary practices that have included satellite jamming; continuous Internet disruption; intimidation of journalists, government critics and online activists; and aggressive hacking practices. These tactics have been aimed at BBC Persian, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Radio Farda and the Voice of America's Persian News Network."

RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 24 Sept 2011, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Vahid Pourostad, a well-known Iranian journalist who before being forced to leave Iran about a year ago served on the editorial boards of a number of reformist newspapers. One of Pourostad's duties was to ensure that the content of the papers did not violate any of the 'red lines' of the Iranian establishment. Reformist newspapers, he says, are forced to practice self-censorship in order to survive in the Islamic Republic, where in recent years scores of publications have been shut down. Pourostad, who was arrested in Iran in the postelection crackdown and is now a broadcaster with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, talked about his work with Persian Letters."

US Armed Forces Network ends local operations in Iraq. Listeners included University of Baghdad students.

Posted: 26 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Stars and Stripes, 24 Sept 2011, Mark Patton: "Since World War II, voices of [Armed Forces Network] disc jockeys have been heard over the airwaves by deployed troops, a sure sign of a sustained American presence. The same held true for Iraq, where AFN started broadcasting from Baghdad in December 2003. 'Freedom,' a song written and recorded by Paul McCartney in response to the 9/11 terror attacks, was the first song played on AFN Iraq. 'Freedom Radio' became the moniker of the station’s programming. Friday marked the latest footnote in AFN’s wartime history, as Toby Keith’s 'Courtesy of The Red White and Blue' became the final song to be broadcast from AFN Iraq’s studio. ... DJ Staff Sgt. Jay Townsend said many AFN listeners were students at the University of Baghdad, near AFN Iraq’s home studio at Forward Operating Base Prosperity.'The university students send in requests day after day. A lot of them like country music, old-school country,' Townsend said. ... AFN Iraq’s Facebook page is full of pleas from Iraqi listeners, begging them not to leave. 'I don’t know if anybody in Vietnam wrote anything like that to the American troops,' Townsend said."

DVIDS, 23 Sept 2011, Sgt. Vannessa Josey: “'We’ve reached more than U.S. troops and civilians. We reach out with our radio broadcasts to Iraqi civilians. They hear our radio broadcasts and say how great it is to hear what our culture is about,' said Staff Sgt. Aaron Salinas, technician NCOIC and unit movement officer of the 206th BOD. Salinas continues, 'I think our legacy is that lasting relationship between us and the Iraqi people as we depart and they’ll still have a piece of us because we were here for eight years and they listened to AFN radio for that long. There will be an Iraqi saying, "I grew up listening to AFN Radio" and maybe it will bring a little more understanding and maybe some peace.'"

CNN, 23 Sept 2011, Charley Keyes: "The unit's motto is 'serving those who serve,' [Lt. Col. Freddie] Mack says. 'We all can't wait till the 31st of December to board planes, so some of that transition has to start now.' ... The transmitters will stay in place for now, but music and news will come from Europe." See also WIAT-TV (Birmingham), 22 Sept 2011, video.

The last major shortwave project? World Christian Broadcasting hopes to be on the air from Madagascar by January 2012.

Posted: 25 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Reporter-News (Abilene, TX), 22 Sept 2011, Charles G. Anderson Sr.: "Former World War II combat veteran of Guam and Iwo Jima Lowell Perry died in a plane crash in the Caribbean on March 25, 1977, at age 53, but his dream of setting up shortwave radio stations to teach the Bible around the world did not die with him. The dream began in Perry's living room in Abilene and grew into World Christian Broadcasting Inc. ... Now, Perry's dream is about to become a reality. One station is already set up in Alaska and is reaching into China and Russia and numerous other nations, while another will open in Madagascar that will broadcast into Egypt, Jordan, India, and other countries. It has not been an easy task, said Charles Caudill, president/CEO of World Christian Broadcasting, based in Franklin, Tenn. 'Our station in Alaska was set on fire by arsonists,' he said. 'The damage was about $200,000.' He said three transmitters will soon be on their way to Madagascar. 'We hope to have the station in operation by January 2012,' Caudill said." --- The Alaska station is KNLS. Plans for the Madagascar shortwave transmitting site date back to 2005, with ambitions "to reach five billion." Actual completion of the station has taken an unusually long time. Coups, coup attempts, cyclones, etc., have not been helpful. At this point, it might make more sense for WCB to acquire the shortwave relay facility in Madagascar that Radio Netherlands plans to abandon. On the other hand, WCB has done so much work at its own site that it may prefer to continue from that location.

DX Listening Digest, 21 Sept 2011, Glenn Hauser: "Had a nice conversation with Kevin Chambers, Director of Engineering at World Christian Broadcasting. Target for Madagascar World Voice to start up is now toward the end of the B-11 season [end of March 2012]. A test schedule has been registered effective as early as 1 February 2012. But we saw the transmitters still in the Continental factory [in Dallas, TX]. They are almost complete but obviously have not been shipped yet. Antennas are as wind-resistant as they can afford to build them, but cyclones periodically hit the area, even on the NW coast of the island, and are bound to batter the station at some point. ... [Chambers did] not seem to think that the RNW facilities, soon up for grabs, would have been suitable for WCB needs."

"The Afghan war of the 1980's was really the last of its kind." Correspondents listened to shortwave to stay informed.

Posted: 25 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Truthout, 23 Sept 2011, foreign correspondent Edward Girardet as interviewed by Joni Praded: "The Afghan war of the 1980's was really the last of its kind, as far as the media was concerned. It was tough, but also romantic and highly exhilarating. It was like living in the 19th century. Computers and mobile phones were just beginning to come in, but no one worked with them effectively while traveling clandestinely inside Afghanistan. A few used satellite phones, but they were incredibly expensive, and sat dishes for TV transmission were too heavy and bulky. So, basically, you disappeared inside and didn't file until you were back out. So, this meant sometimes being out of touch with your editors for weeks, even months, at a time. ... You also listened to the BBC, VOA and other shortwave radio stations, so you could stay informed about global events and could always place the story into context when you got out."

This radio is anachronistic in two ways: 1) It's made of wood. 2) It tunes shortwave.

Posted: 25 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Portland Monthly, 22 Sept 2011, Kristin Belz: "The Magno Wooden Radio from Areaware ... is made of wood from Indonesia. Sustainably-harvested wood, I might add... . The Magno Radio plays on the look of old-fashioned radios, vaguely echoing the 1940s or ‘50s without copying. The designs are witty and simple, and come from Singgih Kartono, an Indonesian designer who not only has given these objects their unique look but has created a progressive economic system by which to produce them. ... The radios pick up AM and FM radio stations (short wave, too, in the case of the large and medium sizes)." -- Frequency coverage is 2.2 to 22 Mhz, which is good, but with all that spectrum squeezed onto a few inches of dial space, there will be nothing resembling fine tuning.

FT interviews Trevor Baylis, inventor of the clockwork (wind-up) radio.

Posted: 25 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 24 Sept 2011, Angus Watson interviewing UK inventor Trevor Baylis: "Q: Why did you make a wind-up radio? Baylis: I was watching a programme on HIV in Africa. It was horrific. It said that the best solution would be to get information to people using radio, but electricity and batteries were rare and expensive. I thought about an old fashioned wind-up gramophone and thought: surely you can have a clockwork radio? I went out to the garage and within half an hour had a working prototype. Q: Was the radio an immediate success? Baylis: I went to everybody to no avail. The Design Council’s rejection letter is framed on my toilet wall. It was the BBC World Service that promoted it. Then it was amazing, the rich and famous people who got on board. I found myself sitting in Nelson Mandela’s house, chatting away as if we were old mates."

The result of his efforts is Freeplay Energy. For a time, his wind-up radios were manufactured in South Africa. By 1999, all production had moved to China. Freeplay Energy is now owned by Hong Kong based Euro Suisse group.

"Increase the budget of VOA Persian," and more international broadcasting to Iran in the news.

Posted: 25 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
National Iranian American Council, 23 Sept 2011, Loren White: At a hearing of a House committee on 22 September, "Mehdi Khalaji of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) stated, 'I think that it is very important to strengthen our diplomatic relationship with the Iranian people.' He offered two methods for helping achieve this--increase the budget of Voice of America Persian, and increase 'people to people exchanges,' with Iran by easing travel and study visas restrictions for Iranian citizens to come to the U.S."

House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Africa, 22 Sept 2011 (find the hearing on 22 Sept, then click on the names for testimony)...

Michael Singh, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: "[W]e should strive to break the Syrian, and particularly the Iranian, regimes’ monopoly on information. This requires a multifaceted effort. We should step up our efforts to broadcast accurate and unbiased information into these countries via satellite, internet, and other means. We should increase our efforts to counter the regimes’ efforts to interfere with those broadcasts. We should push back on the regimes’ efforts to spread their own misleading propaganda domestically and internationally. And we should do that which is in our power to aid Iranians and Syrians themselves, most importantly, to disseminate news and information."

Mehdi Khalaji, senior fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: "Despite the fact that the Islamic Republic is legally committed not to interfere with other countries' satellite broadcasting in Iran, the regime regularly jams transmission of television and radio satellite programming and violates rules set up by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). This is a clear violation of the Iranian people's right to receive and impart information and ideas through the media. Unfortunately, the ITU has little authority to enforce its rulings. Yet because Iran itself is using the same satellites -- including Eutelsat, Hotbird, and Nilesat -- to broadcast in other countries in different languages, Congress can pass a bill prohibiting Iran from using any service that interrupts other countries' usage in a manner that violates international law. U.S. and European satellite companies in particular should not provide services to Iran if the regime continues to jam satellite transmission of U.S. and European-based television and radio. Also, individuals who are involved in planning and executing the jamming of satellite transmissions should be sanctioned."

Iranian.com, 24 Sept 2011, Alidad Mafinezam: Ramin Asgard, director of the VOA Persian Service, is one of this year's an honorees of the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian-Americans.

The Christian Post, 23 Sept 2011, Alex Murashko: "The Iranian government’s tracking of Christians in Iran has intensified over the last several months, according to Open Doors USA, an organization that provides help to persecuted believers in Jesus worldwide. ... Michael Wood, an American who works in the Middle East office of Open Doors USA, told The Christian Post that the house church movement in Iran is one of the fastest growing in the world. However, the Iranian government is doing its best to squelch the movement, he said. ... 'We heavily use radio broadcasts, short wave and satellite TV broadcasts to send programs back into the country that are used in house church groups,' Wood said. However, this method has also proven to be risky. 'Satellite broadcasting in the country is illegal,' he noted. 'It’s illegal to have a satellite dish, but if you were ever to fly into Tehran you would see satellite dishes all over the roofs of homes.'"

Commentator criticizes USIP report on Pakistan but describes Deewa Radio debate as "a welcome step."

Posted: 25 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Times (Lahore), 24 Sept 2011, Farhat Taj: "The report, ‘Pakistan, the United States and the End Game in Afghanistan: Perceptions of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Elite’, by Jinnah Institute (JI) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), is anti-Pakhtun in line with Pakistan’s military establishment’s policy of strategic depth. ... The good news is that radio Deewa, Pashto service of Voice of America’s radio, plans to air a critical debate on the JI-USIP report. This is a welcome step. The debate will break the monopoly of the ‘elite’ over the foreign policy discourse by taking it to the ordinary people of Pakistan, who have suffered the most in the state’s pursuit of the strategic depth policy and will provide a break from the daily pro-establishment views emanating from TV talk shows."

Columnist describes RFE/RL Azerbaijani broadcasts as "weird and rather disturbing," but provides no examples.

Posted: 25 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 27 Sept 2011, Xandra Kayden: "There is something weird and rather disturbing about Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) - a U.S.-funded media outlet that is famous for broadcasting information during the Cold War to support our friends and undermine our enemies - attacking an ally over our mutual enemy, radical jihadism. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has claimed repeatedly that Azerbaijan is not at risk from the threat of spreading Iranian-backed radicalism and therefore, accuses it of human rights violations for considering banning head scarves in public schools (something France did recently) and imprisoning radical clerics who foment the overthrow of the government in favor of becoming a satellite of the mullahs in Iran. ... Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has been vehemently and relentlessly attacking Azerbaijan for closing mosques that preach Islamic fundamentalism, banning head scarves in public schools and imprisoning radical clerics. ... U.S. foreign policy and concerns are certainly not served by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in this instance. As part of its mission, the service claims that it provides 'uncensored news, responsible discussion and open debate.' This is a noble mission, yet even a brief look at the RFERL’s coverage of Azerbaijan shows a clearly negative bias toward Azeri authorities. Perhaps, such an approach was justified during the Soviet years when the objective was to use all means necessary to undermine our Cold War enemy. But what value does it have today against one of the very few friendly nations we have in a strategically critical area of the world? The issue is not RFERL’s freedom of speech because it is a U.S. taxpayer-financed entity established to advance U.S. interests. Given that, one would expect that its message to Azerbaijan would confront the one broadcast by the Iranian government’s propaganda outlet, Sahar TV, rather that echo it." See also the comments. (Illustration by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times.)

This commentary is of very little value because it does not cite a single RFE/RL news story, nor quote so much as a sentence, to support its point about RFE/RL's coverage of Azerbaijan. Some of RFE/RL's coverage of Azerbaijan is available, translated into English, here. It is not necessarily representative of all of the news and current affairs content provided by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service (Radio Azadliq), but it does show that Radio Azadlik reports on dissatisfaction within Azerbaijan that is probably not reported by Azerbaijani domestic media.

The US "surrogate" international broadcasters do have a dilemma. They must focus on the domestic affairs of their target countries, especially on news ignored by the target countries' domestic media. As such, they can be perceived as the bad-news-about-the-target-country stations.

As I discussed in my Foreign Service Journal essay, reporting neutral news and good news about the target country, whenever it is news, makes the bad news more credible. Furthermore, a consolidation of US international broadcasting would "smooth out" the content of the surrogate stations by adding coverage of the world and of the United States. It would show that there are problems in the rest of the world, not just in the target country.

"Anxiety and apprehension" among ABC staff because of delayed decision in the Australia Network tender.

Posted: 25 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Age (Melbourne), 24 Sept 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Gillard government dithering in deciding who will run Australia's $223 million overseas TV service is causing 'anxiety and apprehension' in ABC staff ranks, a leaked management email claims. The public broadcaster is battling Sky News - part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation - to retain the rights to broadcast Australia Network into Asia on behalf of the Foreign Affairs Department. A final decision - already delayed from an initial deadline in May - was supposed to be taken by Friday, September 16. 'This date has now passed and we have had no indication of an outcome,' ABC International director Murray Green told staff this week in an internal email. 'It was earlier indicated that the matter would be referred to cabinet. I realise that no indication of an outcome at this time is causing anxiety and apprehension for staff and contractors. I am immensely grateful for your ongoing commitment to serving our audiences in this pressing time of uncertainty,' Mr Green wrote. ... The aim of Australia Network is to act as a showcase in the region of Australia's national values. It targets a middle-class audience in 44 countries with a mix of news, drama, sport, children's programs and limited advertising." See previous post about same subject.

BBC Worldwide names EVP for Asia, the third of its regional EVPs. "We see a huge opportunity for BBC Worldwide in the region."

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 23 Sept 2011: "BBC Worldwide, the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the BBC, today announces that Ted Lai is to join as Executive Vice-President (EVP) for Asia with effect from 1 December 2011. This is the final appointment in a line-up of three newly appointed regional EVPs, with Fred Medina appointed for Latin America and Joerg Bachmaier for EMEA earlier this month, as BBC Worldwide focuses increasingly on international revenue opportunities. All three EVPs will be responsible for BBC Worldwide’s strategic development in their regions, driving future growth through new brand, product and service initiatives. Lai will be based in Hong Kong... . Steve Macallister, BBC Worldwide President & MD Worldwide Sales & Distribution and Asia, said: '... We are delighted to have someone of his expertise and breadth of experience joining us as we extend our business and brands further in Asia. We see a huge opportunity for BBC Worldwide in the region.'”

Taliban warlord found out from a VOA Pashto broadcast about the $5 million bounty on his head.

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 23 Sept 2011, Michael Georgy: "Sirajuddin Haqqani does not carry a gun or wear a turban as he moves stealthily through the Waziristan wilderness along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, hoping to avoid detection and getting hit by a U.S. missile from a drone aircraft. Yet, from his safe houses and mountain redoubts, the guerrilla commander has directed some of the most brazen attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and is now seen as one of the most dangerous warlords in the Taliban insurgency. ... For now, Sirajuddin is one of the world's most wanted men with a $5 million bounty on his head. He said he discovered that while listening to the Voice of America. 'I don't know why, but I could not sleep that night,' he said in Thursday's interview. 'In the morning, I tuned into a Pashto-language broadcast of the Voice of America and came to know about this.'"

Kazakhstan's Caspionet available as an internet video stream, with 6 viewers last time we checked.

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 23 Sept 2011, Andy Sennitt, citing Caspionet: "Kazakhstan’s national satellite channel, Caspionet, has started broadcasting in North America through the Galaxy-19 satellite, which is part of the largest platform for foreign channels on the market. The station broadcasts in Kazakh, Russian and English. Its website gives the following times, which appear to be local time (UTC+6): Kazakh: 00.00-03.00, 06.00-09.00, 12.00-15.00, 18.00-21.00; Russian: 15.00-18.00, 21.00-24.00; English: 03.00-06.00, 09.00-12.00. The station is also available via online streaming. It doesn’t seem to have many viewers though. When I checked just before posting this item, it said: The number of viewers at the moment: 5 people; Maximum of views today: 8 people; the number of views today: 124 people." -- When I checked at at 2115 UTC, 6 viewers at the moment, 12 maximum of views today. For many international broadcasters, audiences were probably as small during the shortwave era, but there were not the instant, and brutally honest, web metrics. The content is very much similar to that of the old set-piece international shortwave broadcasts, but with video added.

"Germany can not prohibit satellite TV channels transmitting from other EU member states into its domestic territory."

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 22 Sept 2011, Jörn Krieger: "Germany can not prohibit satellite TV channels transmitting from other EU member states into its domestic territory. The decision whether a channel's programmes comply with federal laws has to be made by the country in which the broadcaster is based, ruled the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxemborg. The judges had to decide whether Germany is allowed to ban the programmes broadcast by Denmark-based Kurdish satellite channel Roj TV. Germany argues that the channel would stir violence between Kurds and Turks and support PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party which is classified as a terrorist organisation by the European Union. ... As a result of the ruling, the reception and private use of Roj TV is not prohibited and remains possible in Germany. However, as a prohibited association, Roj TV can no longer produce programms or organise activities in Germany such as, for example, showing its programmes in a public place like a stadium."

Forum calls for Russian-language FM radio station, affiliated with Voice of Russia, in Paris.

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 20 Sept 2011, Mikhail Aristov: "Russian should be recognized as one of the EU official languages. This brave conclusion was made by the participants in the Russian Forum which was held at the Russian Embassy in Paris. The forum gathered delegates from all organizations of the Russian diaspora in France. ... The forum appealed to the French Audiovisual Council for frequencies in the FM range for broadcasting in Russian. The radio station will be established with the support of The Voice of Russia. All initiatives put forward in Paris will be considered by the participants in the International Conference on the Status of the Russian Language in Moscow on the 17th -18th of October."

Burma reportedly unblocks websites of VOA, BBC, RFA, and DVB (updated).

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 16 Sept 2011: "Myanmar's new government has stopped blocking some foreign websites such as the BBC and YouTube in a gesture toward openness that is tempered by remaining harsh laws that still keep readers of such sites at risk of arrest. Once-banned websites that were opened this week for viewing include the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Corp., as well the Democratic Voice of Burma, Radio Free Asia and the video file sharing site YouTube. ... This week, journalist Sithu Zeya of the Norway-based news broadcaster Democratic Voice of Burma was sentenced to a 10-year-prison term for circulating material online that could 'damage tranquillity and unity in the government' under the country's Electronic Act, Reporters Without Borders said." See also Reuters, 15 Sept 2011.-- This news is tempered by the fact that only a small percentage of Burmese have access to the internet.

Reporters sans frontières, 20 Sept 2011: "Reporters Without Borders has confirmed that access to a number of previously banned foreign news websites including Youtube, BBC, Reuters, The Bangkok Post, Straits Times, Radio Free Asia, Irrawaddy, Democratic Voice of Burma, and the Burmese version of Voice of America has been unblocked. Internet connections nonetheless continue to be very slow. 'The unblocking of websites just a few months after Internet café regulations were tightened is curious,' Reporters Without Borders said. 'If censorship is being partially lifted, the authorities should say so publicly and should undertake to open up the Burmese Internet even more. And they should acknowledge that allowing the public to have access to previously blocked websites does not pose a threat and does not result in any public order disturbance, as they long maintained in order to justify the censorship.'"

Irrawaddy, 20 Sept 2011 (via Asia Sentinel), Irrawaddy senior reporter Aye Chan Myate as interviewed by Irrawaddy editor Aung Zaw: "I think the exiled media still plays an important role. Many people in Burma—farmers, workers, students, opposition members and ordinary citizens—listen everyday to the Burmese-language services of Radio Free Asia, the British Broadcasting Corporation and Voice of America. They also watch television channels like the Democratic Voice of Burma and visit websites and blogs run by The Irrawaddy and other exiled media groups. This indicate that the exiled media still plays a large and broad role inside Burma." See also AP, 19 Sept 2011, Todd Pitman.

VOA press release, 13 Sept 2011: "Burmese opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi says the release of political prisoners in Burma cannot be separated from the process of democratizing the country. In an exclusive interview with a VOA Burmese Service reporter in Rangoon, the Peace Prize laureate was asked how she could agree to cooperate with the government when about 2,000 political prisoners are still jailed. ... The interview with reporter Khin Soe Win was made possible after the Burmese government allowed a VOA Burmese Service journalist into the country for the first time since 1995. The radio and television interview was conducted in English and Burmese."

Update: Asian Correspondent, 27 Sept 2011, Kyi May Kaung: "This week saw the first ever TV broadcast from inside Burma, by a Voice of America newscaster. In living memory, at least in my living memory, this has not happened openly before. Foreign correspondents routinely need to enter Burma (oops, the official name is Myanmar, often mispronounced 'Mee ahn mar') declaring themselves paint salesmen or just plain tourists, on their visa application forms. So it was with surprise and some incredulity, that I watched the videos posted U Tube style at the VOA link above. What’s this thing with international women correspondents and jump suits?"

China mainland and Taiwan media representatives meet to discuss "exchanges to promote mutual understanding and cooperation."

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Xinhua, 23 Sept 2011, via China Radio International: "Representatives from news media organizations on the Chinese mainland and Taiwan Thursday called for more cross-Strait media industry exchanges to promote mutual understanding and cooperation. A mainland media delegation, led by Zhou Xisheng, vice president of Xinhua News Agency, arrived in Taipei on Thursday for an eight-day visit to Taiwan. The delegation consists of representatives from ten major mainland media organizations, including Xinhua, the People's Daily newspaper, China National Radio, China Radio International and China Central Television. The delegation will visit several media organizations and associations based in Taiwan during the visit. ... Tsai Eng-meng, chairman of the Taiwan-based Want Want China Times Media Group, said that the group is willing to step up cooperation with mainland media to boost the international image of the Chinese people." See also the Want China Times website.

Al Jazeera and the departure of Wadah Khanfar: "towards a less troublemaking editorial"?

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Scotsman, 24 Sept 2011, Chris Stephen: "The shock resignation this week of Wadah Khanfar, the highly-acclaimed head of Qatar television network Al Jazeera, has focused attention on Qatar's pivotal role in Libya's revolution - and on what the emir gets in return. ... Why [Khanfar] decided that his face no longer fitted, in what should be his hour of triumph, can only be guessed at, but the station had recently begun stepping on toes in Libya, through promotion of an exiled Libyan Islamicist, Ali Salibi. He has been screened by the station taking swipes at NTC prime minister Mahmoud Jibril, accusing him of lacking democratic credentials. This, in turn, has focused attention on the battle for power between Islamicists and pragmatists which, say diplomats, weakens the NTC. Did Al Jazeera go too far? Or rather, did the emir worry that it risked taking sides in the post-revolutionary politicking? Only time will tell. Or rather, Doha's coverage will tell."

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 22 Sept 2011, Hugh Miles: "The network was established primarily so militarily indefensible Qatar could punch above its weight in international affairs through the application of "soft power". It's a strategy that has worked out well, as Qatar has remained secure and al-Jazeera has helped drive major changes in the region at a fraction of the cost of military intervention. But al-Jazeera has always been a double-edged sword and the forces it has helped unleash could potentially threaten Qatar's national interests and even challenge its own undemocratic political hegemony. At such a turbulent time it may be easier for the Qatari government to have al-Jazeera safely under government control. The onus is on the new director-general to prove he can still think as independently as Khanfar."

New York Times, 20 Sept 2011, David D. Kirkpatrick: "Al Jazeera played an early and influential role in covering — some would say encouraging — the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt last winter. It was even more aggressive in its focus on the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and the struggles of what it called 'freedom fighters' in Libya, where Qatar came to play a major role in supporting the rebellion. But some people now cite what they see as a double standard in the network’s sensational coverage of the unrest in Syria on the one hand, and its relatively negligible coverage of the strife in Bahrain, Qatar’s Persian Gulf neighbor."

CNN, 23 Sept 2011: "'Generation after generation,' Khanfar said in an interview with CNN in March, people had to contend with 'a security state, very harsh, very cruel, there was systematic oppression and suppression taking place.' But this year, in the form of the Arab Spring, a new mood took hold, led by a 'new generation that is connected to the Internet, wired and ... (with a) proper understanding of the universal values of freedom. ... I think Al Jazeera provided people with alternatives, with many new voices.'" With video.

The National (Abu Dhabi), 23 Sept 2011, Ben Flanagan: "[T]he possibility remains that the WikiLeaks revelations were the real reason behind Mr Khanfar's resignation. 'It would be ironic if it turned out that WikiLeaks was the reason for his departure,' says Matt Duffy, an assistant professor of journalism at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. 'It's come full circle.' Another irony of the WikiLeaks case is that - of all the accusations levelled against Al Jazeera, including its so-called anti-American slant - is the implication of a cosy relationship with the US government that is rumoured to have toppled Mr Khanfar. Qatar is, of course, a US ally. 'Did Al Jazeera become too mainstream? I doubt it, because if anything, the Qataris would be happy for them to tone down their perceived anti-US bias,' says Prof Duffy."

Monthly Review, 23 Sept 2011, As'ad AbuKhalil: "It is too early to speculate on the future of Al Jazeera, but one thing is clear. The network thrived and grew when its conflict with Saudi Arabia gave it a wide margin of freedom, and when it was able to articulate the grievances of most, if not all, Arabs. The Saudi-Qatari alliance has severely limited the parameters of acceptable debate on the network and has made it yet another propaganda outlet for another Arab potentate. Furthermore, the network is increasingly keen on pushing the Islamist line of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates. This may not necessarily kill the network but it will substantially change its audience and reputation."

RT (Russia Today), 22 Sept 2011: "'The reports say that the US government has been monitoring Al Jazeera Arabic before the English channel even started. Then Al Jazeera English as well,' Omar Chatriwala, a former Al Jazeera reporter told RT. 'They went through the website, both English and Arabic, and kept the detailed list of things that they found inaccurate, inappropriate, journalistically questionable or simply that they didn't like. Then they would sit down with Wadah and would discuss these points.'"

The Economist, 24 Sept 2011: "A deeper criticism of Al Jazeera is not that it sponsors rebellion, but that it promotes one particular stripe. Colleagues who quit the channel complain that Mr Khanfar packed its staff with Islamists, many of them sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. In coverage of Libya, for example, Al Jazeera has put Islamist factions, some of which happen to be backed by Qatar, in the spotlight at the expense of secular rivals. Perhaps the appointment of a member of the emirate’s ruling family as the channel’s new chief will curb such enthusiasm."

The National (Abu Dhabi), 22 Sept 2011, Anealla Safdar and Ben Flanagan: "Sheikh Ahmad's appointment was likely to lead to a 'repositioning' of Al Jazeera's coverage, said the media commentator Ali Jaber, speaking in his capacity as dean of the Mohammed bin Rashid School for Communication at the American University of Dubai. 'This is a political decision rather than a professional one,' Mr Jaber said. 'It should indicate a displeasure of the shareholders of Al Jazeera about the political performance of the station lately. It will reflect in a clearer way the direct interest of the state of Qatar and the royal family,' he said. 'It can only change towards a less troublemaking editorial.'"

Reuters, 21 Sept 2011, Una Galani commentary: "In one sense, Qatar’s decision to put a member of the ruling family at the helm is in keeping with the practices of its royal neighbours. Gulf leaders have a tendency to put their most prestigious institutions in the hands of insiders. Al Jazeera has become a tool of immense political influence, as highlighted by disclosures in Wiki leaks that Khanfar had modified the channel’s coverage of the Iraq war following pressure from the United States. By consolidating the ruling family’s power at the top, it will now be even harder for Al Jazeera to claim it is free from bias, and more difficult to dismiss the complaints of foreign governments. ... But the reshuffle may be in the best interests of Qatar, which has recently discovered that its immense wealth gives it international clout independently from its broadcaster. The World Cup, military participation in Libya, investments abroad, and a pledge of aid to Egypt all have raised Doha's standing. They are also less threatening to the stability of its powerful neighbours -– and of Qatar itself."

Al Jazeera English, Listening Post, 24 Sept 2011: "When the former director general of Al Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar announced on Twitter that he was leaving the network, the news media immediately began speculating why. The New York Times amongst others, linked his departure to leaked US diplomatic cables that appeared to show Mr. Khanfar had altered Al Jazeera's coverage at the request of the US government. The focus then turned to his successor, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani – a member of the Qatari royal family – and whether the network was losing its independence with his appointment. We turn the spotlight on ourselves this week and look at the circumstances around the resignation of a man who held the top spot at Al Jazeera for eight years and the implications for the global news network."

See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English hires co-creator of satirical puppet series Spitting Image as executive producer.

Posted: 24 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 22 Sept 2011: "Al Jazeera English has appointed one of the creators of iconic satirical puppet series Spitting Image as a full-time executive producer as it increases its original factual programming. Jon Blair has signed up as exec producer of all Al Jazeera English's major series and specials. ... He has ... won an Oscar, two Emmys and a Bafta for work on films such as Anne Frank Remembered, Dancing with the Devil and The Age of Terror. Blair said: 'Al Jazeera is committed to making quality factual television and telling stories of global importance. That's why I'm here. The breadth of the ambitious projects I'm already involved in is why I was excited to take on this role.'"

France 24 now available on a digital terrestrial bouquet in Atlanta.

Posted: 23 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 22 Sept 2011: "France 24 has expanded its reach in the US after signing a new distribution agreement with WANN TV. The deal means the English version of the news channel will be available throughout Atlanta. France 24 said its penetration in the US increased by 50% in the first half of 2011. Its French and English channels are available on DISH World throughout the US. Its English channel is also available on Time Warner Cable in the New York metropolitan area, on RCN, Comcast, Cox and FiOS TV in Washington D.C. and on RCN in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and Boston. WANN TV is a DTT network reaching 2.4 million households in the Atlanta metropolitan area." See also www.wanntv.com.

Deutsche Welle proposes partnership with Wartburg College (Iowa) and may offer internships at its Washington studio.

Posted: 23 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
WCFCourier.com (Waterloo, IA), 21 Sept 2011, Jimm Offner: "Wartburg College [in Waverly, Iowa] has been emphasizing its German roots in recent years, and Tuesday the Waverly school had a German media leader on campus preaching that enhanced understanding. Erik Bettermann, director general of international broadcasting conglomerate Deutsche Welle, based in Bonn, met with Wartburg leaders and students to stress that international connection. ... He also hinted that the connection could take on a more concrete component, through possible internships and advanced study for Wartburg students who graduate from the school's mass media program and are interested in enhancing that background with some international experience. Deutsche Welle Akademie is a two-year international media studies master's degree program, which attracts non-German students from all over the world. 'We have media studies in Bonn with the University of Applied Science and the University of Bonn, and I have proposed --- and they have to reflect on it --- that we go into partnership with Wartburg College,' Bettermann said. Deutsche Welle also may consider an internship program at its Washington, D.C., studio for students who want an international background without leaving the U.S."

Iowa Public Radio, 20 Sept 2011, Pat Blank: "This week the CEO, Erik Bettermann is visiting the U.S. Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank caught up with him Monday at Waverly’s Wartburg College. They discuss how entertainment news has begun to influence mainstream media and how social media is providing new challenges for broadcasters."

Jewish News One (JN1), "new addition to the alphabet soup of television news," launches with a balloon launch.

Posted: 23 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
European Jewish Press, 23 Sept 2011: "Jewish News One (JN1), the first ever 24-hour global Jewish television, dubbed a ‘Jewish Al Jazeera’, started broadcasting in English on Thursday. 'We are on air, JN1 began international broadcasting,' announced producer Peter Dickenson at a launch and presentation event in Brussels. At the same time, Vadim Rabinovitch, Vice-President of the European Jewish Union (EJU), an organization dedicated to promoting Jewish life in Europe, symbolically released dozens of balloons bearing the channel logo in the sky to mark what he called 'an historic day.' ... JN1, which is broadcast via satellite, cable network and internet, to Europe, North America and the Middle East, ambitions to present news from a Jewish perspective, said Alexander Zanzer, head of the Brussels bureau."

The Jewish News One website is http://www.jn1.tv/. It provides satellite parameters, but does not, at least yet, offer a video stream. See also the JN1 Facebook page.

New York Post, 22 Sept 2011, Michael Starr: "It's already airing in Europe and is expected to be available here 'in the coming months,' according to its Brussels-based coordinator, Alexander Zanzer. No word, yet, on which satellite carriers here are negotiating to carry JN1. ... 'JN1 will report on news like all other channels, but with more focus on Jewish affairs and the Middle East and Israel in particular,' he said. 'It is not intended to be biased in any way. It will provide just another view of events.'"

The Jewish Daily Forward, 20 Sept 2011, Renee Ghert-Zand: "Jewish news junkies will be pleased to know that they will very soon be able to get TV news covering Israel and the Jewish world 24/7. On September 21, Jewish News 1 will go on the air and reach viewers in North America, Europe and the Middle East via satellite. ... At the beginning, all broadcasts will be in English, but there are plans for the addition of seven other languages, including Hebrew, French, Italian, Russian and German. ... As they gear up for their first broadcast, Zanser, his team and his backers are hoping that come later this week, remote controls in Jewish homes worldwide will be clicking not to CNN or BBC, but to the new addition to the alphabet soup of television news: JN1."

See previous post about same subject.

Comparing BBC, VOA, and US public broadcasting: balanced or muddled?

Posted: 23 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Nieman Journalism Lab, 22 Sept 2011, comment from Bob Jacobson: "NPR today has more profound problems than its sound and stories. It has a muddled voice. Either it hews to the truth and controversy at all costs, a la BBC. Or it is the Voice of America, pandering to the still mysterious 'center,' the people who supposedly insist on hearing both (as if there were never one, never three, but only two) sides to each story. The latter is the direction PBS has gone, except for the determined producers of Frontline, POV, Independent Lens, and Need to Know (formerly Moyer's slot) -- and it's been disastrous. Even C-SPAN, which deliberately goes the middle road as its cable owners demand, is more exciting. PBS is dull, dim, and always in need of dough. Maybe David Koch and ExxonMobil can be leaned on just a little more?" -- Yes, news items that include input from both (or more) sides of the story may seem, at times, contrived. But as a news consumer, I appreciate the effort. It establishes the credibility of the news organization. If I want point of view, there are plenty of other media offering that.

Kyrgyzstan takes foreign (chiefly Russian) channels off cable TV during presidential election period.

Posted: 23 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Trend News agency (Baku), 22 Sept 2011: "In connection with the presidential election scheduled in Kyrgyzstan for October 30, cable television companies and the state enterprise Kyrgyztelecom from September 25 will stop the retransmission of foreign channels, including Russia's Channel One and RTR, representatives of these companies said at a press conference here on Thursday. The Russian television broadcast will be resumed on October 30, Itar-Tass reported. ... At the same time, according to experts, the people of Kyrgyzstan during this period will be able to watch foreign TV channels by satellite television and on the Internet, and the authorities have no technical capability to deprive them of this opportunity."

In Pakistan's frontier regions, BBC and VOA compete with "illegal radical radio stations."

Posted: 23 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Gulf Times (Doha), 21 Sept 2011, Kamran Rehmatin in Islamabad: "Nationally, TV may be the dominant communication medium in Pakistan but radio still remains a crucial conduit for communicating with Pakistanis in many parts of the country, especially areas in conflict. This is particularly the case in rural areas and less economically developed provinces. ... In many areas of Fata[Federally Administered Tribal Areas], and even some areas of KP [Khyber Pakhtunkhwa], citizens are exposed to uncontested propaganda and erroneous information from illegally run radical radio. ... For many areas Fata, and in some places in KP, the main alternatives to these illegal radical radio stations are government-controlled FM stations based in urban centres, along with international stations such as the BBC World Service, Voice of America or Afghan-based Deeva Radio. Only three radio stations, all owned by the state, transmit in Fata region." -- "Deeva Radio" is probably Deewa Radio, a VOA service in Pashto for Pakistan's frontier region.

VOA journalists receive awards from the Religion Newswriters Association.

Posted: 23 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Poynter, 20 Sept 2011, Jim Romenesko: "Religion reporters from across the country won top honors Saturday (Sept. 17) at the 2011 Religion Newswriters Association’s annual awards competition. ... The television national/cable news awards went to Mike O’ Sullivan of Voice of America... . Jerome Socolovsky of Voice of America took third." This RNA web page has links to Mike O'Sullivan's "Haitians Turn to Faith for Support," and to Jerome Socolovsky's "Ground Zero Mosque Controversy Puts Many US Muslims on Defensive."

House bill would allow US to issue no more visas to Chinese "state-media workers" than China issues to BBG (updated).

Posted: 23 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Rep Dana Rohrabacher press release, 13 Sept 2011: "Today, Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Randy Forbes (R-VA), and Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced H.R. 2899, the Chinese Media Reciprocity Act of 2011. The bill would require the Department of State to issue the same number of visas to Chinese state-media workers as China issues to American journalists working for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). During Fiscal Year 2010 approximately 650 Chinese citizens entered the United States on I Visas (international journalist visas), compared to only two American BBG journalist’s granted permission to be stationed in mainland China. 'There is a very alarming disparity between the number of Chinese state media workers whom we grant visas to and the number of visas the Chinese grant to their American counterparts,' said Rohrabacher. ... H.R. 2899 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to ensure open and free journalism access in China by enforcing the established reciprocal relationship between the number of visas issued to state media workers from each country. The bill would also require revocation of a sufficient number of I visas issued to Chinese state media workers 30 days after its enactment in order to reach parity with the number of visas issued by China for BBG employees seeking entry to China. Rep. Rohrabacher offered a similar amendment to the FY 2012 U.S. Department of State Authorization Bill, which passed during the full committee markup over the summer." -- If passed, this could have a bizarre outcome: China challenging the law in US federal courts on First Amendment grounds. Whatever the result of such a legal action, it would publicize the lack of reciprocity, which is one of the tenets in my strategy for US international broadcasting to China.

New Tang Dynasty Television, 19 Sept 2011: Zhao Yan, a "former New York Times news assistant thinks the bill is excellent, but should include more. 'Phoenix TV and CCTV are available on US TV cable networks, including Chinese-language TV … However, can we watch American CNN, Colombia TV [sic, CBS?] and Fox TV, as well as ABC, NBC, and other media, including VOA and Free Asia? Can they be openly aired or published in China? No, [we] can’t find them in China.'"

Update: Heritage Foundation, 23 Sept 2011, Helle Dale: "The real answer lies with the free market in information and ideas. Were the Chinese government to embrace the concept of truly free media, not only would China’s share of the global media increase exponentially, but Chinese reporters would undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms in the United States."

In North Korea, "increasing numbers can access information from the outside world."

Posted: 22 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 20 Sept 2011, Shaun Waterman: "North Korea is 'one of the darkest places on Earth,' but there are chinks in the wall that the communist dictatorship uses to keep its people isolated. Exiles in the South are beginning to exploit them by smuggling in DVDs, flash drives and shortwave radios that are floated across the border in helium-filled balloons, members of Congress were told Tuesday. Defectors from North Korea and human-rights experts painted a harrowing picture of life in the vast prison camps run by the regime. They told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that even in the hermetic, one-party state where listening to foreign broadcasts is a crime and domestic radios are locked on a single frequency, increasing numbers can access information from the outside world. ... One of the 'crimes' for which North Koreans can be imprisoned is for listening to or watching broadcasts of foreign radio or TV. Nonetheless ... surveys of those who had escaped indicated that as many as 30 percent of the population have listened to foreign radio broadcasts, including those from the U.S. funded Radio Free Asia. Among other sources, radios were smuggled in from China."

AFP, 21 Sept 2011, Shaun Tandon: "[A]n expert who testified before the committee said that human rights abuses appeared to be worsening in North Korea, perhaps due to succession dynamics in the regime. ... Along with Pyongyang's provocations against South Korea, 'the border crackdown aimed at preventing North Koreans from defecting to China has intensified and the political prisoner camp population has been on the increase,' he said. The crackdown comes as North Koreans increasingly have access to smuggled radios, allowing them to listen to South Korean broadcasts or US-backed Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, Scarlatoiu said."

See also House Committee on Foreign Affairs press release, 21 Sept 2011, with links to testimony, especially that of Greg Scarlatoiu and Suzanne Schlote, both of which mention radio into North Korea.

Wall Street Journal, Korea Realtime, 21 Sept 2011, Evan Ramstad: "For a guy who was apparently targeted for death last week, North Korean defector Park Sang-hak doesn’t sound surprised or scared. Mr. Park is a leader of Fighters for Free North Korea, an activist group that sends leaflets, videos, radios and money into North Korea via helium balloons. Last Friday, police and intelligence agents arrested another North Korean defector who was carrying poison needles on the way to what he believed was a meeting with Mr. Park, raising suspicion that he planned to kill Mr. Park. ... 'I will never stop my work, sending anti-North propaganda on giant balloons across the DMZ and letting North Koreans know the truth. The more North Korea puts pressure on me, the more work I will do. I never yield to threats. All defector activists are risking death, of course, and have expected such difficulties from the beginning.'" See previous post about same subject.

BBG chairman: If USIB news coverage is not "in line with U.S. policy, it doesn’t matter. We cover it."

Posted: 22 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
CQ Weekly, 19 Sept 2011, Jonathan Broder: "'We have to be credible, informative and accurate. That’s core to our values,' Isaacson said in an interview. 'With the democracy movement now sweeping the Middle East, these values are incredibly closely aligned.' Added Isaacson: 'And if there ever were a case in which coverage of an event might not seem in line with U.S. policy, it doesn’t matter. We cover it.' Such an aggressive, news-focused approach could get Isaacson in trouble on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers have criticized Alhurra for broadcasting interviews with the leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas — groups the United States has branded as terrorist organizations. On top of such editorial disputes, Isaacson faces other hurdles in Congress. He’s likely to feel some push-back on his plan to streamline the broadcasting networks, especially if such moves cut into the broadcasts of Radio Martí’s Cuba service and VOA’s Chinese-language broadcasts, both sacred cows for some lawmakers. And he’ll have to fend off deficit hawks seeking to cut the board’s annual budget. ... Isaacson is aware of the challenges and says he’s ready to take them on. 'These are battles I’m not afraid to have,' he said. Some of these battles will take place as the House and Senate consider the fiscal 2012 State Department and foreign operations authorization and appropriations bills, which are due to move this fall in both chambers."

VOA Music Mix apparently acquires "Juke in the Back," a 40s/50s R&B retrospective.

Posted: 22 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Houston (MO) Herald, 19 Sept 2011: "Beginning last weekend, 'Juke In the Back' became a part of programming on Voice of America. The show will air in Central Europe and Africa on Saturdays at midnight (Central European Time) and on Sundays at 10 p.m. .... 'I'm so excited that "Juke In The Back" will be heard all over the world, exposing many people in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America to American roots music,' program host and producer Matt the Catt said. 'I think the musicianship, the beat and the overall sound of American rhythm and blues music will really resonate with many around the globe.'" -- This is presumably on VOA Music Mix, though I can't be sure, because there is no(!) VOA Music Mix program schedule at the VOA website. Music Mix can be heard on the handful of VOA 24-hour FM relays, when priority VOA English and language programming is not on the air. The name "Juke in the Back" is explained by the program's opening: "You know what was on the jukebox in the front. Now Matt the Cat is going to show you what was on the juke in the back." That would be the rhythm and blues tunes from 1946 to 1954, which "laid the tracks for what was to become Rock n’ Roll." See also the Juke in the Back website.

Death of former senator Charles Percy, who played a key role in the enactment and restoration of the VOA Charter.

Posted: 22 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Former Senator Charles H. Percy "passed away September 17 at the Washington Home in the District of Columbia after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 91, just ten days shy of his 92nd birthday. The Illinois Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee played a key role in enactment of the Voice of America Charter, Public Laws 94-350 of 1976 and 103-415 of 1994. The Charter remains a cardinal principle of all U.S. publicly-funded civilian international broadcasting today, that news broadcasts of the nation’s overseas networks will be 'accurate, objective and comprehensive.'" See additional notes by former VOA deputy director Alan Heil.

Kevin Klose, former RFE/RL president and IBB director, to step down as dean of University of Maryland journalism school.

Posted: 22 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Poynter, 21 Sept 2011, Jim Romenesko: "Kevin Klose, who was named dean at University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism in February 2009, says he’s stepping down next June, and 'beginning July 1, I will be fully engaged in the classroom, where the work of educating the next generation of journalists challenges us all.'" Kevin Klose was president of RFE/RL Inc. from 1994 to 1997, and director of the International Broadcasting Bureau from 1997 to 1998, when he was named president of National Public Radio.

Euronews plans full-time Polish channel, localized content (starting with Ukrainian), and unified app.

Posted: 22 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 21 Sept 2011: "Euronews is planning to launch a unified Euronews application for iOS and Android devices, as well as an app specifically designed for people on the move. ... 'We are now working on two apps,' CEO Michael Peters told DTVE. 'We will have a pure Euronews app which will be the same for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. We are also working on another app just for the iPhone – Euronews Express – for people in a hurry.' Euronews is also working with Google to run a series of live interviews of major figures who will relate questions posted by citizens on the internet. The first in the series will be with European Commission president José Manuel Barroso. Separately, Euronews is also planning to launch a Polish version of the channel following its Ukrainian launch earlier this year. The channel has been test-broadcasting in Polish between 17:00 and 24:00 since July, but the broadcaster hopes to follow this up with a full launch at the beginning of 2012. Euronews is also to trial more localised content, starting with its Ukrainian feed from October 5. 'Some programmes will be replaced just for Ukraine with Ukrainian content,' said Peters. 'This is just a test – we want to see how well it works.'"

Iran's Spanish-language HispanTV "works hand-in-hand" with Venezuela's Telesur.

Posted: 22 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Florida Jewish Journal, 21 Sept 2011, Sergio Carmona: The Israel Project's director of Spanish Media Program, Leah Soibel, "expressed concern with Iran's strategic influence, which she finds most frightening regarding its presence in the [Latin American] region. This influence includes Iranian state news agencies transmitting in Spanish for some time and its launching of HispanTV, the Spanish language version of Press TV. She said that in its trial phase, it works hand-in-hand with Venezuela's TELESUR TV network." -- HispanTV is unlikely to get channel slots on many cable systems in Latin America, nor on any of the major DTH systems such as DirecTV Latin America. This will limit its influence in the region.

BBG and IBB combine to form the International Bureau of Broadcasting Governors. Well, not really.

Posted: 22 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Broadcasting Board of Governors has released a chart showing the reorganization of the administration of US international broadcasting. See this pdf, two pages showing the present and future structures. (See also documents from the 15 September 2011 meeting of the BBG.)

The main feature of the reorganization is the merger of the staffs of the BBG and the International Broadcasting Bureau. USIB now enters a situation in which the IBB director, a political appointee selected by the president with Senate consent, becomes the senior executive of a board that is supposed to provide the insulation ("firewall") between the government and the entities of US international broadcasting.

This will not be a problem under the present IBB director, Richard Lobo. But what if a future IBB director is especially partisan and wants USIB to provide strong support for the policies of his/her administration? Somewhere it is stipulated that the IBB director will be concerned only with administrative matters, and not with content. (Hence the dotted lines between the IBB director and the entities.) Will that stipulation hold? Or will a future IBB director withhold administrative or engineering support from an entity or language service with whose content he/she is displeased?

Ideally, US international broadcasting should consist of one corporation, with one board, one layer of senior management, and one "entity." The only political appointees should be the members of the bipartisan board.

As confessed in my disclaimer, my day job is in the International Broadcasting Bureau. Where am I after the reorganization? I'm hiding under my desk.

As Ayman Mohyeldin moves from AJE to NBC, he says he was almost AJE + ABC, or AJE + CBS.

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Columbia Journalism Review, 19 Sept 2011, Dave Marash, former Washington anchor for Al Jazeera English, interviewing Ayman Mohyeldin, previously a reporter for AJE, taking a new job as correspondent for NBC News: "[I tried] to find an American network that would work with Al Jazeera, allowing me to report for Al Jazeera as a primary reporter and to be a special news contributor, to do programs for any of these American networks, the kind of deal that I had seen done with other correspondents like Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, and Christiane Amanpour. To my surprise, two of three of the networks were willing. They liked the idea and wanted to explore making it work. The network I ended up with was the one that didn’t want to play. Q: Would Al Jazeera have gone along? Mohyeldin: I can say now in hindsight, they said no. At the time I thought I could make a convincing argument that it would be beneficial to them to have an Al Jazeera reporter working for one of the three American networks, but even though Al Jazeera reporters do appear on other networks, to try to work out an arrangement on sharing me on assignments posed too great a logistical challenge. It was territory that was very new to Al Jazeera, that they just weren’t ready to explore at this time."

Deewa Radio and France 24 reporters encounter difficulties near the Bin Laden compound.

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières, 19 Sept 2011: "Reporters Without Borders condemns the continuing curbs on the movements of journalists in Abbottabad, the town in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces on 2 May. ... In one of the latest incidents, Muhammad Ihsan Khan, a journalist working for [VOA's] Deewa Radio, a US-based station broadcasting in the Pashto language, was punched and kicked by unidentified individuals near the perimeter wall of the compound where Bin Laden was living. Khan had come to cover a visit by the judicial commission that the government appointed to investigate the intervention of the US special forces. Two France 24 journalists, Noémie Karine Géraldine LeHouelleur and Olivier Joulie, were arrested near the Bin Laden compound on 7 September and were questioned at Mirpur police station for six hours by police and members of the Federal Investigation Agency for 'travelling without valid documents.' Joulie did not have the required special permit."

In Yemen, cameraman for Alhurra contractor critically wounded by sniper fire.

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 19 Sept 2011: "Yemeni journalist Hassan al-Wadhaf, a cameraman for the Arabic Media Agency, is in critical condition after being hit in the face by sniper fire while covering protests today in Sana'a, a colleague told CPJ. 'We hope that Hassan al-Wadhaf will recover from his critical injuries,' said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. ... The Arabic Media Agency is a clearing house that produces reports for the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra TV and for Al-Ekhbariya, a Saudi Arabia-based satellite news channel."

Reporters sans frontières, 21 Sept 2011: "Reporters Without Borders has learned that Al-Hurra TV cameraman Hassan Al-Wadhaf sustained a serious eye injury on 18 September while covering attacks by security forces and baltajiyas (militiamen) on demonstrators in Sanaa, in which 26 people were killed. Hospitalized in a critical condition, Wadhaf was later reported to be on life-support equipment with no chance of recovery."

Speculation about why Al Jazeera's DG is leaving. He says "It's the right moment."

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 20 Sept 2011, Ian Black: "Wadah Khanfar always cut an impressive figure in his director-general's office at al-Jazeera headquarters in the Qatari capital, Doha. But his career at the top of the most important news organisation in the Arab world ended on Tuesday when he was replaced by a member of the Qatari royal family. It was an abrupt and dramatic move at a critical time in the Middle East. ... It is thought that Khanfar had become too independent a figure for the Qataris, and that he had come under pressure from them. Recently al-Jazeera has been accused of pulling its punches over the uprising in Bahrain, where Saudi Arabia dominates regional policy. Al-Jazeera's Lebanon chief, Ghassan Bin Jiddo, resigned in April, apparently in disagreement over coverage of some of the revolts. But on Tuesday night Khanfar denied speculation that his departure was linked to outside pressure. He told the Guardian: 'I have spent eight years with the network. We have been talking in this part of the world about change, about presidents who stay for decades in their posts. I thought maybe it is good to give an example as well, while the network is at the peak of its performance. It's the right moment.'"

Al Jazeera English, 21 Sept 2011: "In an interview with Al Jazeera, Khanfar discusses his decision to resign and dispelled suspicions that it was linked to political pressures." Video.

CBS News WorldWatch, 20 Sept 2011, Joshua Norman: "Much of the speculation for Khanfar's resignation revolves around Al Jazeera's coverage of the Arab Spring. The network - which pioneered independent Arab-centric news coverage - has been accused of favoring causes dear to Qatar's ruling family. The Guardian writes: 'It is thought that Khanfar had become too independent a figure for the Qataris, and that he had come under pressure from them.' It is true that Sheikh Ahmad bin Jassim bin Mohammad Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family with uncertain media credentials, has been appointed as Khanfar's replacement. The network's website offered no biographical information on the new top executive. Those details mean that particular rumor will be hard to quash."

Foreign Policy, 20 Sept 2011, Blake Hounshell: "My sense from watching the Arabic network's coverage over the past few months is that it had more or less dropped the pretense of independence, and at times seemed like the official network of the Qatari Foreign Ministry. For instance, its Libya coverage was utterly over-the-top, enthusiastic cheerleading for the rebels -- and it just so happened that Qatar was heavily engaged in overthrowing Muammar al-Qaddafi. When Qatar brokered a peace agreement between warring factions in Darfur, Al Jazeera broke away from its normal coverage for two hours to show the final announcement. And, as many have noted, the Arabic channel's usual aggression has been noticeably lacking when it comes to Bahrain. It's hard to imagine a hard-charging guy like Khanfar -- who clearly has his own ideological leanings -- putting up with that sort of thing for very long. So maybe he just didn't want to toe anybody's line. Whatever the reason, Arabs will be watching closely to see if his successor clips Al Jazeera's wings.

Twitter, 20 Sept 2011, Richard Sambrook (former director of BBC Global News) @sambrook: "Sorry to hear @khanfarw is stepping down as DG of Al Jazeera. Huge achievements during his leadership."

Twitter, 20 Sept 2011, W. Khanfar @khanfarw: "Entertained by all the rumors of why I have resigned."

The Guardian, 20 Sept 2011, Brian Whitaker: "[A]l-Jazeera's role in promoting free flow of information and opening up political debate in the Middle East is hard to overestimate – its actions probably contributed towards the emergence of the 'Arab spring'."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC World Service offers last tour of Bush House before move to Broadcasting House.

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
RTHK (Hong Kong), 18 Set 2011: "Bush House, the building in central London that's been the home of the BBC World Service for the past seven decades, is opening its doors to the public for the last time. Hundreds of people have been queueing to visit the studios and art deco entrance hall. From next year, World Service programmes and bulletins will come from Broadcasting House - also in London." See also Bush House history from BBC.

Syrian YouTube channel says Al Jazeera "built enormous 'cinematic replicas' of Syrian cities" to fabricate the Syrian uprising.

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, The Lede, 14 Sept 2011, Jillian Dunham: "A YouTube channel called the Syrian Interpreter has posted a subtitled recording of the Syrian television station Addounia TV claiming in a Sept. 9 broadcast that the news station Al Jazeera has built enormous 'cinematic replicas' of Syrian cities and squares in the Gulf state of Qatar in order to fabricate the uprising in Syria. These replicas were built 'with the help of some French and American directors' and are 'exactly like the ones set up of the Green Square for Libya, with which they duped the Libyans and the world that Tripoli fell,' according to the channel’s English translation. ... A spokesperson for Al Jazeera said: 'This is wackiness of the highest order which no one will be taking seriously.'" With video.

Press TV, 19 Feb 2011: "Press TV has conducted an interview with Ammar Waqqaf of the British Syrian Society... Waqqaf: ... In Damascus, there was this huge [pro-Assad] demonstration in the Umayyad Square and the Syrian TV had to use a helicopter to show the enormity of the situation. We are talking about at least 1.5 to 2 million people in that square, and what did the BBC show? Just a few tens of people holding President Bashar Assad's [placards]... Press TV: I know viewers are used to this kind of bias, but what do you think goes through the heads of journalists on the ground or these journalists here in London because they are not allowed into Syria and are monitoring the situation in Syria from afar through their sources? What do you think goes through their minds as to why they can be so obviously biased? Waqqaf: I actually do not know. We demonstrated as well as a group, as you know, at the Syrian Social Club outside Bush House, BBC World Service building, and we told them is there a specific reason why 9 out of 10 of your guests are all anti-Syrian government? Is there a specific reason why you show only the videos that the opposition is showing?"

On BBCWS Newshour, a week of guest presenters, including Christiane Amanpour and Christine Ockrent.

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 18 Sept 2011: "BBC World Service's award-winning news and current affairs programme Newshour will be hosted by five guest presenters, from Monday 26 September to Friday 30 September. The presenters – drawn from the world of international broadcasting and media – will each present the programme for one edition at 13:00 GMT, which will air to a global audience. The line-up includes: Renowned broadcaster, journalist and author Jeremy Paxman, who anchors the BBC's flagship television news and current-affairs programme Newsnight... . Christine Ockrent, one of France's most respected journalists, the first woman to anchor the evening news on French TV [and was previously head of France 24]... . Broadcaster and journalist Redi Tlhabi who ... presents primetime shows for Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg and 567 Cape Talk in Capetown, South Africa... . Award-winning journalist, broadcaster and one of the most experienced foreign correspondents, Christiane Amanpour, who has over two decades of experience reporting from some of the world's major conflicts and now hosts This Week with Christiane Amanpour on ABC News in the USA, will anchor Newshour from New York, USA, on Thursday 29 September. Journalist Evan Davis, who presents BBC Radio 4's leading news and current-affairs programme Today in the UK... ."

BBC World Service press release, 18 Sept 2011: As debate continues over whether the Palestinians should ask for a UN resolution recognising Palestine as an independent state, a new global poll for BBC World Service reveals that, in all 19 countries surveyed, more citizens would prefer to see their government vote to support the resolution than vote against it – although only by a modest margin in many countries.

North American edition of the BBC News website now has the Magazine, which is too difficult to describe in this headline.

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC The Editors blog, 19 Sept 2011, Giles Wilson: "A year ago we launched a North American edition of the BBC News site, run from our bureau in Washington DC. As well as strengthening our coverage of US issues, it meant we could offer a front page of the website targeted directly at our millions of readers in the US and Canada. Two weeks ago, we introduced an extra element to the website, following a further expansion in Washington - an international edition of the Magazine index. This is great news for readers of the website outside the UK, and also for the Magazine's regular followers at home, who will be able to access all the new content too. As was the case with the launch of the North American edition, the international Magazine is done with the backing of BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, which funds our services internationally. Since we started the Magazine in the UK in 2003 it has grown to become a focus for original features, such as our piece looking at 50 years of Private Eye covers, as well as regular items like 7 days 7questions, Who What Why, and Paper Monitor. Until now, however, it has never had a high prominence on our international site. It has also been largely text and still images."

With BBC websites, it's not always easy to find things. Here is how to find the BBC Magazine, home to longer-form articles. First, type bbc.com. If you live in the USA, it will be the commercial version of BBC.com, with advertisements. (This morning's ads are for Bridgestone and Viagra; the latter warns of Viagra counterfitters: "See how they try to pull it all off and how we help take them down." Perhaps more information than we really need.) Anyway, BBC.com is sort of a portal page. But there is no sign of Magazine here. So, just guessing, I clicked on News. Now on the BBC News page, there is Magazine in the upper right corner. A short URL to the BBC News page is bbcnews.com.

Strange idea of promotions: Al-Shabab radio station awards AK-47, grenades as contest prizes for children.

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 20 Sept 2011: "A radio station run by Somalia's al-Shabab Islamist group has awarded weapons to children who won a Koran-reciting and general knowledge contest. Andulus radio, based near Mogadishu, gave the group which won first prize in the Ramadan competition an AK-47 rifle and the equivalent of $700 (£450). The second prize-winners received an AK-47 and $500, while the third prize was two hand grenades and $400."

Former Ukrainian president is also a former VOA listener. "It really made a major impact on me."

Posted: 21 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, 20 Sept 2011, George Diepenbrock: "[Former Ukrainian president Viktor] Yushchenko recounted his days as a child in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border listening to radio broadcasts each morning, including Voice of America, which was often jammed. 'That was a voice of truth, and it really made a major impact on me,' he said."

From South Africa, a pointed prose poem about CNN.

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Artslink.co.za, 17 Sept 2011, Johan Kupferburger: "This is CNN. Das ist CNN. Esta es la CNN. We're live, streamin', tweetin' and podcastin' straight onto your iPad. From Atlanta. From everywhere. Even from Tristan da Cunha. Twenty four seven three six five. Around the clock. Around the globe. Wherever you are. On Air. On Line. Going Beyond Borders. ANY country's borders. Even if we’re not wanted. Outta my way, I'm with CNN. I'm in the zone, buddy. The Green Zone. We're embedded. To the hilt, baby. On the Front line. But preferably in a decent Hotel."

Renovate the old VOA Kavala, Greece, site for DRM digital shortwave?

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 12 Sept 2011, letter from Adil Mina, vice president, Continental Electronics: "Although I helped design and build many VOA facilities worldwide, the finest ever built was constructed in Kavala, Greece, with 12 each CEC 250 kW HF transmitters, a 500 kW CEC medium-wave transmitter, two 50 kW HF communication transmitters, power plant, curtain antennas (more than 36), houses, etc. That station was closed about six years ago and turned over to the Greek government; it is now dormant. I am doing my best to find somebody who is willing to renovate it and start operation with DRM [Digital Radio Mondiale digial shortwave]. Its location is ideal for Europe, North Africa, Asia and other targets." See previous post with photos of the Kavala site.

No regionalized Al Jazeera English for the USA. "We only have one transmission."

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Arabian Business, 19 Sept 2011, Elizabeth Broomhall: "One way of accommodating a US audience could be to adjust the content of [Al Jazeera English] to suit American viewers. [Al Anstey, managing director of AJE] cuts in, and says there is no chance of manipulating content in any part of the world. 'We only have one transmission. So what people see on AJE in the US is the same as our audiences worldwide. Are we going to tailor that to the US market? No. We are an international news channel — that is the value we bring to the market place, and that’s how we will continue into the future. We put every country in the world on a level playing field and evaluate the story on its merit. That means we cover the developing world as much as the developed.”

Large turnout at tour of old VOA Bethany transmitter site may lead to more opportunities for public visits.

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Cincinnati Enquirer, 19 Sept 2011, Adam Kiefaber: "An encouraging weekend turnout might keep the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting open to the public more frequently, at least for occasional tours, while the building undergoes more renovation. Closed for two years, the VOA Museum was open for three hours Saturday for tours, and about 100 people showed up. It will close again soon for more outside renovation and a new roof. ... One of Saturday's tour guides, Clyde Haehnle, was a project engineer at the Voice of America Bethany Relay Station and was involved with the project when it was built in 1944 under the direction of Powell Crosley Jr." See also museum website.

AP, 13 Sept 2011: "A Butler County [Ohio] building that helped the government spread pro-democracy messages for 50 years will open for tours this weekend for the first time in two years. The Voice of America building relayed radio signals from broadcasters in New York and Washington around the world from 1944 to 1994. The site is now the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting, but has been closed while it undergoes a restoration. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the museum will open for monthly public tours beginning Saturday. It will shut down again for more work during the winter. The VOA station began relaying news and entertainment around the world in 1944. The station closed in 1994 after the fall of the Soviet Union." -- The facility spread news more than "pro-democracy massages," and, in its latter decades, was used to transmit to Latin America and Africa rather than to the Soviet Union.

Cincinnati.com, 12 Sept 2011, Cliff Peale: "Miami University will suspend the full-time MBA program on its Oxford campus and focus limited dollars on the part-time program at the Voice of America campus in West Chester." -- Adjacent to the museum, on the old antenna field.

World's first CNN Cafe opens in Seoul. What's a CNN Cafe? (updated)

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitpic, 14 Sept 2011, Paula Hancocks @PHancocksCNN: "The world's first CNN Cafe opens in Seoul today in Young Poong bookstore, Jogno. Check it out!" -- I asked Steve Herman, VOA's Seoul correspondent, what a CNN Cafe is. Steve asked Paula Hancocks, who replied: "It's a cafe where you can watch CNN on a plasma screen with personal headphones, use state of the art computers for free and there's a live ticker with the most recent CNN wires."

Update: Campaign Asia-Pacific, 19 Sept 2011: "The new CNN concept 'coffice' (coffee-office) offers customers free wi-fi, computers and printing services, and features CNN content across different platforms, including a live feed of the CNN International channel on a large screen, the latest CNN newswires on a digital ticker and computer terminals featuring cnn.com and cnngo.com. The new marketing initiative is due to the growing number of self-employed and students who study at coffee shops. 'CNN Café is not just another coffee shop, but an information hub for locals to get the latest international news from CNN, as well as a chance to learn English in a more comfortable, relaxed environment,' said Ron Lee, senior vice president and general manager of Turner Entertainment Networks Korea."

International broadcasters Voice of Russia and Press TV report on US cable about international broadcaster Al Jazeera (updated).

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 14 Sept 2011, Inessa Frolova: "The WikiLeaks whistleblower website, known for its scandalous revelations, has once again perplexed the world. This time it published information on close contacts between the Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite television network and the US military intelligence. The leaked documents say that the US government instructed the channel’s director on how to highlight events and which of them should be held back. ... Certainly, such a way to treat information could not but affect people’s confidence in Al Jazeera materials, says the Arab channel’s former Moscow Bureau Chief Akram Khuzam. 'It is wrong to say that people confide in Al Jazeera. This was true when the network was only being created. Today, in my opinion, half of the overall Arab population disbelieves it. Objectivity is simply paling into insignificance,' according to Akram Khuzam. Experts suppose that Al Jazeera’s exposure by WikiLeaks may cause the shutdown of the company’s offices in the Arab countries. Recently, Egypt suspended live broadcasts of its Al Jazeera Mubasher, referring to violations of the law on radio and TV licensing procedures."

Press TV, 11 Sept 2011: "A recent cable released by WikiLeaks reveals that the managing director of the al-Jazeera network has had relations with the US government officials. According to the cable released on August 30, the US government has previously had a say in what content to appear on the al-Jazeera website."

Update: Foreign Policy, 19 Sept 2011, Omar Chatriwala: "[A]fter the last dump of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, on Aug. 30, articles have begun to circulate -- especially in Iranian and Syrian media outlets -- about Al Jazeera's close relationship with a surprising interlocutor: the U.S. government. In particular, a newly released cable issued by the U.S. Embassy in Doha and signed by then ambassador Chase Untermeyer, details a meeting between an embassy public affairs official and Wadah Khanfar, Al Jazeera's director general, in which the latter is said to agree to tone down and remove what the United States terms 'disturbing Al Jazeera website content.'" -- Chase Untermeyer was director of the Voice of America from 1991 to 1993.

Al Jazeera director general Wadah Khanfar announces that he will step down.

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 20 Sept 2011: "Al Jazeera's director general, Wadah Khanfar, has announced that he will step down after eight years as the network's top executive. Khanfar said he had been discussing his decision to step down with the Chairman of the Board for some time. In a farewell note to Al Jazeera staff, Khanfar mentioned that upon his appointment he spoke with the chairman and they set the goal to establish Al Jazeera as a global media leader. In final discussions, they agreed that this target had been met and that the organisation is in a strong position going forward. ... 'When we launched in 1996 "media independence" was a contradiction in terms,' he said in his note to staff. 'State media was prevalent and was blatantly used for propaganda and misinformation. Within such an environment the public probably doubted that Al Jazeera would fulfill its promise of independent journalism. We managed to pleasantly surprise them by exceeding all expectations. ... Our audience quickly saw that Al Jazeera was of them and their world - it was not a foreign imposition nor did it seek to impose a partisan agenda.'"

The Guardian, 20 Sept 2011, Ian Black: "Qatar's government has replaced Wadah Khanfar, the director-general of the al-Jazeera satellite TV network, with a member of its own royal family – a sudden and dramatic move at a time of unprecedented turmoil across the Middle East. ... The new director-general is said to be Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, an executive at Qatargas and a member of the country's ruling dynasty."

Gulf News (Dubai), 20 Sept 2011, Habib Toumi: "Wadah has come under intense pressure recently after a confidential US cable from the US embassy in Doha where Aljazeera is located and published on Wikileaks, claimed that the pan-Arab station general director had agreed to US government request to delete and alter its website content that 'disturbs' the US government. ... Shaikh Ahmad, the new director, is seen as a success model for young Qataris following a series of achievements in the gas sector."

After Al Jazeera was closed in Cairo for broadcasting live, Egyptian plans news channel to broadcast live from Doha.

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Almasry Alyoum, 17 Sept 2011: "Information Minister Osama Heikel said Saturday that he ordered the closure of the Egyptian studios used by Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera because the network had not obtained a license to broadcast live from Egypt. Last week Egyptian security forces raided the offices of the Egyptian affiliate of Al-Jazeera, sparking criticism of a perceived crackdown on news media and freedom of expression. Heikel said Al-Jazeera has violated the country's rules by not applying for or receiving a license to broadcast live tapes. ... Meanwhile Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris has said he plans to launch a new news channel to broadcast from Qatar. Sawiris told daily newspaper Al-Ahram that the new channel will broadcast live programs from the Qatari capital. Sawiris did not give details or say why he wants the television station to be based in Qatar." -- I think "live tapes" means live coverage of a event. See also Egypt State Information Service, 18 Sept 2011. See previous post about same subject.

Cancellation of Super Girl on Chinese TV could be a super opportunity for international broadcasting.

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 19 Sept 2011, Michael Bristow: "Chinese regulators have told a TV station to stop broadcasting a popular talent show called Super Girl [快乐女声]. The authorities say the programme is too long - although many suspect other reasons. Hunan Satellite Television, which makes the programme, said it would air shows that promote moral ethics and public safety instead. Chinese officials often ban programmes they think are too vulgar or not suitable. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) told the Hunan station that Super Girl broke time rules for this kind of show. They should be no more than 90 minutes long, but episodes of Super Girl - in which women of all ages compete in a singing contest - can last more than three hours. But a senior employee at the station told the BBC that regulators were jealous of the popularity and financial success of Super Girl. 'It is widely believed that the real reason for the ban is that Hunan TV's talent programmes have been extremely popular,' she said."

The Telegraph, 19 Sept 2011, Malcolm Moore: "Yin Hong, a professor at Tsinghua university's school of Journalism and Communications [said] 'The "voluntary" cancellation of Super Girl is just the first example. There will be more to come. Local television stations are supposed to restructure and make adjustments,' he added. On Saturday, SARFT also suspended the movie channel of Shijiazhuang Television in Hebei for one month after deciding that it had 'magnified distorted ethics and moral values' and 'caused extremely negative social effects', according to the state media."

The Shanghaiist, 19 Sept 2011: "Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of Danwei.com, thinks that the issue isn't about the content, but rather the success of HST, a provincial station - 'I think it's more about clamping down on the uppity provincial station - making sure they don't have a runaway hit that puts [state broadcaster] CCTV to shame. I think CCTV is very wary when any provincial station has a breakaway hit and SARFT and CCTV are very close.'"

UAE multilingual radio network adds Farsi-language station.

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 19 Sept 2011, citing ARN: "The Arabian Radio Network (ARN), has added a new radio station to its seven stations, to celebrate its 10th anniversary, with the launch of a new Farsi speaking radio station for the UAE. Broadcasting on 93.4 FM, Radio Shoma (‘Your Radio’) will also be available online via the internet. Transmitting for 24 hours each day, the new station will provide a wide range of entertainment and music shows. Located at Dubai Media City ARN, a subsidiary of Arab Media Group, is the largest radio network in the UAE with eight dedicated Arabic, English, Hindi and Malayalam stations. The network also broadcasts a number of programmes targeted at the Filipino community and during the last six years broadcast a Farsi programme 'Persian Wave' on Dubai Eye as part of its offering to listeners."

Iranian authorities arrest six film-makers, accusing them of working for the BBC.

Posted: 20 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 19 Sept 2011: "The Iranian authorities have arrested a group of film-makers and accused them of working for the BBC Persian service, which is banned in the country. State TV reports that the group of six were paid to make secret reports for the Farsi-language service. The BBC says no-one works for the Persian service inside the country - either formally or informally. The arrests came a day after the service showed a documentary on Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The BBC's James Reynolds says the channel's signal, which is sometimes accessible inside Iran, was disrupted during the broadcast."

Reuters, 19 Sept 2011: "Iran has arrested several people for supplying information to the British Broadcasting Corporation, accusing them of seeking to portray a negative image of the Islamic state, media reported on Monday. ... BBC Persian broadcasts live news, documentaries and entertainment programmes aimed at Farsi speakers, mostly in Iran and Afghanistan. Terrestrial Iranian television is completely controlled by the state. In London, the BBC said in a statement that the six filmmakers arrested in Iran were not BBC staffers but 'independent documentary filmmakers whose films have been screened in festivals and other venues internationally.' BBC Persian television had brought the rights to broadcast their and other films, a common practice, but had not commissioned them, the statement quoted Liliane Landor, Controller, Languages, BBC Global News, as saying."

AP, 19 Sept 2011, Raphael G. Satter: "Iran's authoritarian theocracy is strongly opposed to [BBC Persian], which it accuses, along with the British government, of fomenting the mass protests that broke out after the disputed election. The country has gone to great lengths to jam broadcasts and block websites of foreign-based Farsi-language media, including BBC Persian and Voice of America."

Reporters sans frontières, 20 Sept 2011: "Reporters Without Borders condemns the Iranian government’s targeting of the BBC’s Farsi-language TV station, BBC Persian. Its satellite signal was jammed on 16 September when it broadcast a documentary about the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The next day, pro-government media announced the arrest of several of the station’s 'collaborators' in Iran".

Iran is planning a Russian-language satellite channel.

Posted: 19 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 19 Sept 2011, citing Press TV: "The Head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Ezzatollah Zarghami has announced Tehran’s willingness to launch a satellite channel for audiences in Russian-speaking countries. Launching a Russian-language television network is a top priority for the IRIB, Zarghami said upon returning from a visit to Ukraine. ... IRIB’s Russian TV will be the fourth specialized channel to be launched by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, following the appearance of the Arabic language Al-Alam television network, round-the-clock English language Press TV and Spanish-language Hispan TV. The Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to reach out to Latin America with Spanish-language Hispan TV to explain its 'ideological legitimacy.' As a large part of the world’s population speaks Spanish, we will start a network (in Spanish) within the next few months, Zarghami announced in the Iranian capital of Tehran in September 2010. ...

"Andy Sennitt comments: Not for the first time, IRIB has chosen a strange place to make an announcement about a new language service. Last month it announced the launch of its Spanish network in Brazil, where they speak Portuguese, not Spanish. Now they have chosen Ukraine, the largest non-Russian country that was part of the old Soviet Union, to announce a service in Russian. It’s true that many Ukrainians speak Russian (the two languages are similar) and there is a significant Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine. But, like other former USSR countries, Ukraine is fiercely independent and wants to promote its own language and culture, and discourages Ukrainian nationals from watching TV programmes in Russian."

"Jewish version of Al Jazeera" begins broadcasting on Wednesday, from studios in Tel Aviv, Brussels, and Kiev.

Posted: 19 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Ynetnews, 19 Sept 2011, Akiva Novick: "The first-ever Jewish news network will begin broadcasts this Wednesday. Jewish News 1 (JN1) was born as an alternative to the world's leading news networks – CNN, Fox News and Sky News. But its main goal is to serve as the Jewish version of al-Jazeera, which has won the hearts of tens of millions of Arab viewers over the past 15 years. According to the Makor Rishon newspaper, the channel will be broadcast via satellite to Europe, North America and the Middle East. In Israel it will be offered by the Yes satellite company. 'Jewish News 1' will broadcast news from Israel and the world 24/7. The network has already set up studios in Tel Aviv, Brussels and Kiev, and additional studios will be opened in Washington, Paris and London in the coming months. The network has 12 correspondents, all foreigners, who are currently deployed in six countries. The casting of reporters to cover the news in Israel, Europe and Russia will be completed in the coming days. The network will begin its broadcasts in English, but its managers seek to offer news in seven additional languages, including Hebrew, French, Italian, Russian and German."

Some history of radio listening in China, including to the "cheeky, slightly salacious" BBC and VOA.

Posted: 19 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
China Daily, 18 Sept 2011, Cang Wei: "It may seem rudimentary or almost obsolete in today's terms, but decades ago, it was radio that brought the world into Chinese homes. Those days of family and friends crowded around a little transistor radio are still very much part of the indelible memories of several generations. ... In the 1970s and '80s, a radio also became part of the requisite purchases for a newly wedded couple and their home. People of that era dreamed of having 'three spinning and one resounding' items - a bicycle, a sewing machine, a watch and a radio. ... With the economic reforms and opening-up policies in the late 1970s and early '80s, radio gradually lost its position to television, although it still retained a tandem role. For many college students too poor to buy a television, the radio still provided information and entertainment as they tuned in to the BBC and Voice of America to find out what was happening outside China, and at night, they would cluster around the set for cheeky, slightly salacious radio programs. ... By 1996, the number of television sets had soared to 232 million, and currently, China is the world largest market - with more than 1 billion viewers and television sets in over 350 million households. But television's gradual monopoly was being challenged by the time the new millennium arrived. In 2000, the Internet showed how powerful it was going to be with 10 million users online; about 18 per cent of all households in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou already had access to the World Wide Web."

Zimbabwean editorial rails at radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe.

Posted: 19 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Herald (Harare), 19 Sept 2011, editorial: "The European Union stands guilty of being an overly interested stakeholder in the Zimbabwean body politic and as such lose the right to be observers as their political judgment is already clouded by imperial pre-conceptions geared towards engendering regime change in our country. ... Worse still, the Europeans funded and continue to fund the unquestionably partisan pirate radio stations that broadcast concocted hate programmes meant to gang Zimbabwe's electorate against Zanu-PF. Together with the United States, the European countries play host to Studio 7, Voice of America, SW Radio and all other similar imperial projects that propagate falsehoods about our political landscape."

App for mobiles and tablets "will aggregate and stream news feeds from UN agencies and programs."

Posted: 19 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 15 Sept 2011, John Eggerton: "The United Nations Foundation has launched a first-of-its-kind customizable mobile and tablet app that it says will aggregate and stream news feeds from UN agencies and programs in real time. But don't look for it to take on CNN International. The idea is instead to enlist support and interest in the foundation's many worthy campaigns, including the 'nothing but nets' mosquito netting drive and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. ... The app is free, and available on Android, iPhone/iPad, and Windows Phone." -- I remember listening to the United Nations Radio, decades ago, via VOA shortwave transmitters.

New anchor joins Alhurra's flagship news program Al Youm.

Posted: 19 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Alhurra press release, 17 Sept 2011, via Zawya: "Egyptian anchor Bassel Sabri joins Alhurra's Al Youm on Sunday, Sept. 18th. He will co-anchor the magazine program with Engy Anwar from Al Youm's main studios in Dubai. 'Al Youm is a unique program coming from five countries giving us an opportunity to connect with viewers across the region,' stated Sabri. 'This is great team and I am excited to be a part of it.' ... Sabri has an extensive journalism background, most notably working for seven years as the editor-in-chief and news anchor for the English-language programs and newscasts on Nile TV International. Within that position, he hosted a variety of political, cultural and social programs including the weekly economic program Mondays. In addition to his duties at Nile TV, Sabri anchored and served as editor of Egyptian TV Channel 1's primetime newscast The 9 O'Clock News in Arabic from 2008-2011. Prior to joining Alhurra, he was the host of Masr Ennaharda (Egypt Today) on Egypt Channel 1 and the El Masreya satellite channel."

This week's VOA jazz alumnus is a Czech-American trumpeter.

Posted: 19 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
New Haven Independent, 16 Sept 2011, Neena Satija: "Laco Deczi sneaked past border patrol guards while they were watching a Russian hockey final in what was then called Czechoslovakia. The journey he began 27 years ago will lead him this coming week to the stage at Toad’s—where the world-famous jazz trumpeter will play some of his world-famous tunes—then to American citizenship. ... Deczi, who is now 73, has lived and breathed jazz since he was a young boy in Czechoslovakia listening to Voice of America radio every night at 9 p.m. 'They would play the news for 15 minutes, and then for 45 minutes they would play jazz,' he said. That was when he heard the greats: John Coltrane, Clifford Brown."

Chorus named for the Voice of America will perform at a park named for the Voice of America.

Posted: 19 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Chorus named after Voice of America will perform at a park named after Voice of America. WXIX-TV (Cincinnati), 16 Sept 2011: "A family-oriented variety show is scheduled to take place at The Voice of America Park’s Ronald Reagan Lodge on Sunday, September 25 at 3pm in West Chester. Entitled 'Sundae at the VOA,' the show will feature the Voice of America Chorus, a variety of men’s and women’s barbershop quartets, various instrumental groups, and 100 singers from Adena Elementary School. The ticket price of $20.00 includes a homemade ice cream sundae." At the site of the old VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting station. See previous post about tours of the museum in the transmitter building.

Scan of the FM radio band from a Pyongyang hotel reveals not much variety.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
North Korea Tech, 16 Sept 2011, Martyn Williams: "Switch on an FM radio in Pyongyang and there isn’t much to listen to, according to a scan of the FM band by a recent visitor to the country. Mark Fahey found just two radio stations available, although one was repeated on multiple frequencies. Pyongyang FM Broadcasting (Pyongyang FM Pangsong) was broadcasting on 105.2 MHz. Mark said the station, 'opened each morning with a few minutes of test tone, an interval signal and that the 6AM time signal.' ... The second station, Pyongyang Broadcasting Station (Pyongyang Pangsong) was broadcasting on 89.2, 91.2, 92.9, 93.3, 93.9, 94.5, 96.7, 97.3, 97.7, 98.1, 99.6, 101.8 and 106.5 MHz. All frequencies were carrying the same program. ... Pyongyang Broadcasting Station is the same program heard on several mediumwave and shortwave channels in East Asia. ... Fahey scanned the FM band from the 32nd floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel, so some of the channels could have been relays in nearby towns and cities. " With recordings. -- So no South Korean stations are audible, even from the 32nd floor. The distance would be a stretch for FM frequencies, easier for medium wave, very easy for shortwave.

South Korea arrests North Korean defector, accused of poison-needle plot against anti-DPRK leaflet activist.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 16 Sept 2011: "South Korean officials have arrested a North Korean defector on suspicion of plotting to kill high-profile activist Park Sang-hak, reports from Seoul say. Mr Park is an anti-Pyongyang activist involved in sending propaganda leaflets to the North. Named only as An, the arrested man is reported to be a former commando in his 40s who defected to the South in the late 1990s. Reports said he had a poison-tipped needle on him when he was arrested. Mr Park, another defector from the North, leads a group that flies balloons across the border carrying leaflets criticising the North Korean leadership."

Xinhua's CNC World now via Time Warner cable in the New York area.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Xinhua, 14 Sept 2011: "Xinhua News Agency's 24/7 news channel CNC World has increased its reach to North America and is now broadcast on Time Warner Cable as viewers in the greater New York area are able to receive the CNC program on channel 502 starting on Wednesday. ... CNC World has now reached all continents except Latin America. CNC World, which was launched on July 1, 2010 in Beijing, offers international news coverage timely and objectively and has become a new source of information for a global audience."

More comparisons of CNN International and CNN domestic.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Consortiumnews.com, 13 Sept 2011, Robert Parry: "Once Bush launched the Iraq invasion in March 2003, CNN – like the other U.S. news networks – positioned itself as supportive of the 'troops,' but had a special problem in that it broadcasts internationally and thus required at least a facade of objectivity, unlike Fox News and MSNBC which aggressively pandered to pro-war sentiments. CNN’s solution was to offer startlingly different war coverage to Americans on domestic CNN than what global viewers saw on CNN International. While domestic CNN focused on happy stories of American courage and appreciative Iraqis, CNNI carried more scenes of wounded civilians overflowing Iraqi hospitals. Ironically, when this divergence was noted in the U.S. press, it was framed as CNN pandering to its international audiences with more negative coverage of the war on CNNI, rather than CNN pandering to an American audience with more jingoistic coverage in its domestic feeds."

Redding.com, 11 Sept 2011, Doug Craig: "CNN International, for example delivers a different product from what we see, stateside."

CNN and foreign print media websites popular in Australia.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, "7.30," 15 Sept 2011, Greg Hoy: "Hoy: Data collected by Expirian/Hitwise research shows in the 10 most popular TV network websites in Australia, CNN International ranks number four. The top 10 Australian print media sites also include some formidable foreign competition. Matt Glasaner, Experian/Hitwise: So there's a big interest in the Australian population about what's happening abroad, a global perspective."

Al Jazeera English documentary will report "more slaves worldwide than ever before," including 50,000 in the USA.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Monsters and Critics, 15 Sept 2011, April MacIntyre: "According to Al Jazeera, slavery persists in The United States of America and there are more slaves worldwide than ever before, according to a shocking new documentary series premiering on Al Jazeera English on 10 October 2011. Oscar and Emmy winning executive producer Jon Blair says, 'Slavery: A 21st Century Evil has been a year in the making and represents one of Al Jazeera's most important global investigations. Shot on three continents, this is the most in-depth study undertaken by any broadcaster of how and why modern day slavery persists.' 'Slavery: A 21st Century Evil' suggests there are up to 50 000 slaves in America -- with 17 000 new slaves arriving every year."

Huffington Post, 15 Sept 2011, Jack Healey: "Unfortunately, our [US] media waste too much time reporting on celebrities, sensationalizing family dramas, and giving opinions -- not news. I want my news to be factual, socially relevant, and delivered from diverse perspectives. Al Jazeera English (AJE) helps to fix this problem by providing solid reporting from diverse perspectives not often heard in the mainstream U.S. press. AJE is truly global in its coverage. It is the only news network with more bureaus in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (the regions where most of the world's people live) than in Europe and North America and has won accolades and awards for its coverage of the tsunami in Japan, the drug war in Mexico, this year's inspiring 'Arab Spring.' But it does not stop there. Its coverage of the U.S. is also top-notch. The channel has had superb reporting on how the current economic crisis is affecting Americans. ... A global power needs an informed citizenry. Cable companies should provide access to this valuable resource to all their costumers. This would be a great step toward helping Americans understand the culture and politics of other regions, in turn helping us become better neighbors to the world."

TradeArabia, 17 Sept 2011: "Al Jazeera, a leading international channel based in Qatar, said it is now available on Flipboard, a leading social magazine based in California. The social magazine app will list Al Jazeera on their 'featured section', bringing the channel's news and programming content from around the world to more than three million Flipboard users, said the channel in a statement."

TV5Monde now available in more US cable homes -- for $10 a month.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 16 Sept 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "TV5Monde Etats-Unis has signed major new distribution deals with leading US cable TV operators Comcast and Time Warner Cable. These two agreements are designed to strengthen the premium channel which is offered on demand at $9.99 each month. The Comcast deal sees the channel added to cable networks in Pennsylvania and New Jersey where TV5Monde is now accessible to 2.5 new million households and will add 1.9 households in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. The deal with Time Warner Cable adds 1.5 million households in cities from North and South Carolina and extends distribution in the North of New York State." -- Programs are in French, though some have English subtitles. For those interested in French-language cinema, or who want to learn French, it might worth worth $10 a month. See the TV5Monde USA website.

Perth footy fans watch Friday night final on one-hour delay, while Australia Network viewers throughout Asia-Pacific get it live.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Sept 2011, Simon White: "Once again Perth footy fans won't get a Friday night final live on TV – but AFL lovers in Guam, the Northern Marianas, Palau and Mongolia will be far more fortunate. Channel 7 will screen tomorrow night's Hawthorn-Sydney semi-final showdown from the MCG on one-hour delay from 6.30pm. The reasoning is again that a 5.30pm telecast would be 'too early' and that people 'won't even be home by then.' But that logic doesn't seem to apply to Hong Kong, Mongolia, Malaysia and Brunei, all of which are in the same time zone as Perth and will receive live free-to-air coverage of the Hawks-Swans clash via satellite service, the Australia Network. And the 'won't be home' argument certainly doesn't appear to hold water in fellow Australia Network destinations Laos, Cambodia and Burma – the first two of which will get a live broadcast from 4.30pm and the latter from 4pm. Among other more obscure destinations for Australia Network's live feed of the do-or-die Hawthorn-Sydney blockbuster are Nauru (population 9000), the Marshall Islands (68,000), Guam (178,000), Palau (21,000) and the Northern Marianas (80,000)."

WorldScreen TV Kids, 14 Sept 2011, Marissa Graziadio: "The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) has secured a range of deals for the first and second seasons of the Matchbox Pictures-produced series My Place. My Place seasons one and two have been picked up by Australia Network and Public Broadcasting Services Malta."

Voice of Russia cites Radio Sawa on Turkish Air Force treating Israeli "objectives" as hostile.

Posted: 18 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 13 Sept 2011: "The Turkish Air Force will identify Israeli objectives as hostile, Radio Sawa reported on Tuesday with reference to a Turkish military source. This will be made possible by the new 'friendly – hostile' identification system with which Turkish F-16 jet fighters are being equipped. The source said that fire will be opened at Israeli objectives. Relations between Turkey and Israel became tense after the recent publication of the UN report on the Freedom Flotilla incident."

Prince Alwaleed's news channel Alarab is still in the news. So are assault charges against him, re-opened by a Spanish judge.

Posted: 17 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 15 Sept 2011, Faisal J. Abbas: "It seems that 2012 will be the year when Arab viewers may finally see the break up of the dominance currently imposed over the Arabic satellite news channel market by the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya. Whereas preparations and staffing continues for the highly anticipated launch of Sky News Arabia from Abu Dhabi, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal announced that Alarab will be the name of his new international news channel, also scheduled to be launched in 2012. (though no exact date has been announced for either channel). ... Following the announcement, Alarab's managing director (and former editor of Saudi Arabia's Al-Watan daily newspaper) Jamal Khashoggi, answered some questions relating to the channel on Twitter. 'Alarab is going to be to the left of Al-Arabiya and to the right of Al-Jazeera,' Khashoggi Tweeted in response to a question about Alarab's editorial line. ... Alarab's headquarters and main broadcast center has not yet been announced, although according to Saudi-owned daily Al-Hayat, Prince Alwaleed has stated that the channel will 'not take orders' from the Saudi Minister of Information and its priority will not be 'Saudization' as it is a 'Arab, Muslim channel before being Saudi.' ... However, like the eternal dilemma Al-Jazeera has when it comes to its questionable coverage of its homeland, Qatar, it will remain to be seen how Alarab will cover Saudi Arabia. After all, editorial integrity can't be promised, it must be proven."

The Media Line, 15 Sept 2011, David Rosenberg: "[A]n all-news channel is an expensive proposition demanding huge investments in people and equipment, [Rob Beynon, chief executive DMA Media, which a international media company that helps launch news channels around the world, including the Middle East] said. When the U.S. government launched Al-Hurra in 2004, its first-year budget was $60 million and that figure doubled in subsequent years. Backers can expect several years of losses and an audience that waxes and wanes depending on the flow of news. 'You have to be very distinctive in your marketplace to make money. People will watch news channels when there’s a big story and often there can be days, weeks or months when there isn’t one and you have to get in there and develop the brand,' Beynon said."

The National (Abu Dhabi), 18 Sept 2011: "In the pan-Arab paper Asharq Al Awsat, columnist Hussein Shabakshi ... said the Arabic media landscape might be crowded, but the new channel has plenty of potential, especially with the involvement of Bloomberg, a trendsetting news platform with a clean reputation. There is more to the Arabic media landscape than Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, which have defined consumption of audio-visual media products in the Arab world. But other Arabic news channels have been launched by non-Arab countries. These include the US-funded Al Hurra, the UK's BBC Arabic, the US's CNN Arabic, France 24 Arabic, Russia Al Youm, China's CCTV Arabic and Turkey's TRT Arabic. Clearly, competition is not in short supply. But there is optimism that Al Arab will manage to make a niche for itself, the columnist argued. Editorially, the veteran Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is taking the helm. Financially, the channel will be cushioned by an 'ambitious funding scheme' aiming to cover its spending for the next ten years. 'Let the viewer and the market have their say,' he concluded." -- There is no CNN Arabic television channel, although CNN does have a website in Arabic.

Investor's Business Daily, 15 Sept 2011, editorial: New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg "has no qualms about doing business with the creepy billionaire. They seem to see eye-to-eye on many issues. Take the Ground Zero mosque. Bloomberg gave his blessing to the outrage. In fact, to the shock of many, the mayor actually promoted its construction. His support is said to have been colored by Alwaleed, who happens to be one of the project's biggest foreign boosters."

New York Times, 13 Sept 2011, Raphael Minder: "A Spanish judge has reopened an abandoned sexual assault case against a Saudi prince who is one of the world’s richest men, reviving accusations that he raped a 20-year-old model on a luxury yacht in the Spanish Mediterranean in August 2008. The prince, Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, is the largest individual stakeholder in Citigroup and, among his other major holdings, is the second largest investor in the News Corporation. Forbes valued his fortune this year at $19.4 billion, making him the 26th richest man in the world and the single richest in the Arab world. The accuser did not go public, and the original complaint appears to have remained largely unknown. The case was quietly closed in July 2010 for what a judge on the Mediterranean resort island of Ibiza called a lack of evidence. But on appeal, a Spanish provincial court for the Balearic Islands, which has jurisdiction over Ibiza, ordered the judge to resume investigating and to summon the prince to appear. ... Heba Fatani, a spokeswoman for Prince Alwaleed’s investment arm, the Kingdom Holding Company, called the accusations 'completely and utterly false.'" See also CNN, 15 Sept 2011, Al Goodman.

Arab New, 16 Sept 2011, via Eurasia Review: "[A]nyone familiar with Prince Alwaleed would be outraged by such reports. Here is someone who is not just renowned for his philanthropy and extensive charity activities around the world, he is known for his utter simplicity and rare integrity of character. ... Whatever be the truth, which will eventually come out before the world and let’s hope soon, what is unacceptable is the manner in which a newspaper of the standing of the New York Times went to town with the story without checking facts and primary sources. We don’t consider it responsible journalism. The highbrow newspaper failed to stick to the basics of journalism in reporting this so-called case."

See previous post about Alarab.

Employee of the old (1951-53) Radio Free Asia establishes college scholarship.

Posted: 17 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR), 16 Sept 2011, Saul Hubbard: "A University of Oregon graduate is donating $5 million to provide scholarships to a group that she says is often overlooked — the children of middle class families. ... The Mary Corrigan and Richard Solari Scholarships will be for $5,000 a year, renewable for a maximum of four years. ... Mary Solari graduated from the UO in 1946 with a degree in psychology, and went on to work for NBC Radio, Radio Free Asia and Bechtel Engineering before marrying Richard Solari and raising three daughters. She now lives in Aptos, Calif." -- Apparently she worked for the "old" Radio Free Asia, funded by the CIA 1951-53. See Cold War Radios, 4 Mar 2011, Richard H. Cummings.

Forbes Kazakhstan magazine launches. It's in Russian.

Posted: 17 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Chaikhana blog, 15 Sept 2011, Farangis Najibullah: "It wasn't long ago that Kazakh tycoons first began appearing on 'Forbes' magazine's annual list of the world's billionaires. Now the self-described 'capitalist tool' itself is venturing into Kazakhstan. The first issue of 'Forbes Kazakhstan' was launched this month in the oil-rich Central Asian country in partnership with the local United Media Group (UMG). Beginning with a circulation of 10,000 copies, the Russian-language magazine will combine local business stories with content selected from the U.S. edition of Forbes, publishers say." -- Does the Kazakhstan Russian edition of Forbes borrow content from the Russian Russian version of Forbes?

VOA director David Ensor tells newsroom staff: "There are going to be some RIFs."

Posted: 17 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBG Watch, blog, 15 Sept 2011, BBGWatcher: "Here are some more quotes from VOA director David Ensor from his meeting with staff of the Central News Division, as reported to us by some of the participants. A RIF (Reduction in Force) will happen. 'There are going to be some RIFS. I don’t think it is constructive to put a number out when the numbers have to go through about five different other groups, now it goes to the Board in a few days time, then it has to go to (OMB Director) Jack Lew, then it goes to subcommittees on the Hill.' ... 'I’m going to fight like hell' to minimize cuts, Ensor said. On the BBG’s plan to end VOA Chinese broadcasts, which members of Congress are working to block, Ensor suggested that he is in favor of expanding satellite television transmissions which were to be eliminated under the BBG plan. 'I would like to have a proposal in a matter of weeks on an expansion in the number of hours of satellite television, I would like to see some ideas, let’s come up with a smart idea because I think we need to move some of the money we are spending on Mandarin shortwave.' ...

"February will be a key month as the BBG is forced to make 'a whole series of decisions' about consolidation. 'The BBG currently told the RFA (Radio Free Asia), RFE (Radio Free Europe)and MBN [Middle East Broadcast Network, which runs the U.S. government's al-Hurra television] to combine into one.' For the time being, Ensor said, VOA will remain a federal organization. ... Steve Redisch, VOA’s Executive Editor who was acting director before Ensor arrived to take up his political appointment, said the massive restructuring would not eliminate 'brands' such as Alhurra television for the Middle East, Radio Sawa which broadcasts to the Mideast, or TV Ashna, a relatively new VOA TV operation for Afghanistan. ...

"Responding to one employee who asked how long he expects to remain in his position, Ensor said he hopes to remain for at least two years. 'I have already had to threaten to quit once. I think in this kind of a job, I am a political appointee, you have to be ready to walk. In order to stand for the things that you believe are essential for the organization. An organization like this needs a boss who is willing to walk on principle in order to get the things that the organization needs to go forward. ... I am not a civil servant, I am a political appointee, and I am going to try and stand for this organization with a certain backbone." See also BBG Watch blog, 14 Sept 2011.

Actually, Mr. Ensor is not a political appointee. He is a civil servant. He really should know this. One of the main reasons for the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 was to depoliticize the hiring of the VOA director. Formerly the VOA director was appointed by the president, sometimes with Senate consent. Now that position is filled by the bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors. The only political appointees now in USIB are the BBG members and the IBB director (who refrains from decisions affecting content).

BBG Watch is a new, clandestine website "launched and maintained by former and current BBG and VOA employees and their supporters." It is anti-BBG and appears to be pro-VOA in the internecine rivalry among the entities of US international broadcasting.

BBG decries "repression and intimidation" of USIB journalists in Nepal, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Burma, Angola.

Posted: 17 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 15 Sept 2011: "At today's Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) meeting, the Board ... called public attention to a string of disturbing incidents of repression and intimidation perpetrated against BBG journalists in recent months in Nepal, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Burma and elsewhere. The Board decried the longstanding interference with media freedom in Iran and Board Chairman Walter Isaacson noted that, 'Taken together, these practices amount to the construction of an "electronic curtain" isolating the Iranian people from the rest of the world.' The Board's full statement on recent threats to its journalists can be found online here."

BBG's Michael Meehan: "I could just resign and go home and move on to other things."

Posted: 17 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting Board of Governors, 15 Sept 2011, video stream of the BBG meeting on the same day: Member of the BBG Michael Meehan discussing the June 2011 trip to Africa by him and by BBG members Susan McCue and Dana Perino: "I just wanted to go on the record to anyone in the sound of my voice that to understand that we're here to protect the journalistic mission of this place, and if not I could just resign and go home and move on to other things. It's not essential for me to be here. But I just want to go on the record to say that now that management has taken the actions that they have taken, to be clear that we stand foursquare on the side of journalists and that we will stand up to the people who will impede the freedom of journalists to do their work around the world." (Listen to audio, mp3, 1 min 35 sec.)

Mr. Meehan refers to the situation (see previous post) in which the VOA Horn of Africa chief was suspended and later reassigned to the VOA central newsroom after he revealed, in an interview on a VOA Amharic broadcast, some specifics about the BBG's meeting (which he also attended) with the Ethiopian communications minister. Will the former VOA Horn of Africa chief now also be able to go on the record to anyone within the sound of his voice to provide his version of events? I don't know much about the specifics of this case, but I do know that language service chief is the most difficult and grueling job in US international broadcasting. Service chiefs should, whenever possible, be treated with appropriate forbearance.

After Mr. Meehan's statement, the new VOA director David Ensor said: "May I just thank the governor and the governors who went to Africa for their dedication and the the hard work that went into that. ... Your interest is just priceless. Thank you for the effort."

Also noteworthy from the 15 September BBG meeting...

--Approval of the merger of BBG and IBB staffs under the IBB director. And approval of revised grant agreements (no specifics given) with the grantee organizations (RFE/RL, RFA, and MBN).

--The BBG has created a Commission on Innovation, with members including James Montgomery of BBC Global News.

--An FM relay (presumably for Radio Sawa) will be set up in Benghazi, Libya, after the transmitter was held up for three weeks by Egyptian customs. An FM relay transmitter in Tripoli, Libya, will follow.

--A "direct-to-home" satellite feed for VOA and RFA Mandarin will be established on Telstar 18, the "number one ranked" satellite in China. The feed will consist of audio and still visuals, some of which will display the URLs of proxy servers to allow access to the VOA and RFA websites.

--USIB news bureaus will be consolidated. This includes VOA and MBN in New York, London, Cairo, and Jerusalem. VOA and RFE/RL "are working towards" co-locating in Moscow in 2012. VOA and RFA "are working towards co-locating in places such as Bangkok." Governor Victor Ashe mentioned that RFA was subject to a drive-by shooting in Phnom Penh, and the VOA office in Phnom Penh, a mile away, knew nothing about it.

--A consultant will look into the consolidation of USIB.

--MBN president Brian Coniff reported that a new survey in Egypt shows the Alhurra audience has doubled to nearly eight million.

RFE/RL blogger describes NBC report as "a great piece of propaganda for Ahmadinejad" (updated).

Posted: 16 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 14 Sept 2011, Golnaz Esfandiari: A "flattering report, described as the 'first-ever behind-the-scenes access' into the Iranian president’s daily schedule, was aired on the U.S. television network NBC. The 'exclusive' report, which reveals unimportant details about Ahmadinejad's life (including the fact that he works with his shoes off but his reading glasses on) is a great piece of propaganda for Ahmadinejad, who heads to New York next week to attend the UN General Assembly. The positive report has been also noticed in Tehran, including by Ayandehnews, which referred to it as NBC’s 'propaganda piece' about Ahmadinejad. The report portrays Ahmadinejad as a hard-working, compassionate, and religious president who leads a very simple life and cares deeply about his people. Ahmadinejad's PR team couldn’t have done it better. ... The NBC report mentions Iran's rising inflation and the poor people who swarmed the president during a visit to a remote province while pleading for food and other necessities. But what it doesn't say is that many economists believe Ahmadinejad’s policies and his mismanagement of the economy are largely to blame. Instead of challenging the Iranian president, the NBC reporter, Ann Curry, asks him easy questions that are quite usual even on Iran’s state media. Curry: 'Mr. President, why have you made this point to come to one of the poorest parts of Iran to highlight the art and the crafts?' Ahmadinejad (through a translator): 'I want to show that we all have some common humanity, human values.'"

Update: Atlantic Wire, 14 Sept 2011, Uri Friedman: "Is the criticism fair? It's true that Curry's 'behind-the-scenes' report on Ahmadinejad's grueling schedule -- with its images of the president jogging 'Rocky style' and hugging a man whose wife is sick--is a bit of a puff piece, albeit an interesting one. Curry asks softball questions like 'why do you work so hard?' and 'why have you made this point to come to one of the poorest parts of Iran to highlight the art and the crafts?' But the report isn't entirely glowing, either. At one point, for example, people swarm Ahmadinejad and plead for food and other basic services. ... In this week's interview, Curry touches on sensitive issues like concerns about Iran developing a nuclear warhead (7:23), Ahmadinejad's 'explosive' 9/11 conspiracy theories (29:50), and Iran's aggression toward Israel (38:40). She also asks how 'what Syria is doing, with all due respect Mr. President, [is] any different than what Iran did to the young people protesting your reelection' (42:11). She stops short, however, of delving into Iran's domestic human rights and economic issues, and often doesn't press Ahmadinejad when he proves evasive." See also Jerusalem Post, 16 Sept 2011, Yaakov Katz.

"Brave New World Service" think piece calls for greater World Service role in BBC news output within the UK.

Posted: 16 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter.com, 15 Sept 2011, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News, @PeterHorrocks1: "John McCarthy's insightful report 'Brave New World Service' published. He poses sharp and relevant questions. ibt.org.uk

International Broadcasting Trust, Sept 2011, "Brave New World Service", by John McCarthy: "In 2012 the World Service will be moving from its long standing home in Bush House to a building shared with the domestic news services of the BBC. The new custom built centre at Broadcasting House will be known as ‘W1’. The move is the first stage in a plan to integrate the World Service with BBC domestic news in order to create one, multi-platform, global newsroom. ... The World Service has never been more relevant or needed; for those audiences around the world who have no other source of honest news, for those who want a cool, calm, authoritative voice to cut through the babble of available information and for the UK public in general, who need more information about the rest of the world. ... There is a genuine opportunity to bring its expertise to a wider UK audience by enhancing the quality, tone and range of the BBC’s international coverage. But that opportunity needs to be seized decisively and will only be successful if the BBC can find a way of articulating the value of the World Service to UK audiences and to its own journalists. Now is not the time for platitudes and quiet assurances, the BBC needs not only to be clear and decisive but must be brave in its approach. It must take the lead as a public service broadcaster, using the opportunity that World Service expertise provides, to modernise the domestic news agenda to more accurately reflect the nature of our globalised world. Of course, this must not be at the detriment of the World Service’s international role, which should be maintained and nurtured in the years to come."

This report is mainly about the integration of World Service into the larger BBC as the World Service becomes funded by the license fee. The report does not discuss the most difficult challenge for international broadcasting, which is getting information into countries that jam or block that information. BBCWS has been cutting back on its Mandarin output because it has not found a solution to China's interdiction of BBC Mandarin content.

The Guardian, 15 Sept 2011, James Robinson and Dan Sabbagh: "The chairman of the BBC Trust defended the size of the corporation's news operation and said it was popular with viewers because of its quality, reliability and accuracy. Lord Patten told the Royal Television Society's biannual conference in Cambridge: 'Would Britain be better served if we weren't on the spot when Osama bin Laden was killed and had to depend on American television companies to cover it? I'm not sure that would be of benefit to the public.' He argued that the BBC's greatest strength was its ability to cover global events such as the murder of the former Pakistani president Benazir Bhutto on the ground."

Iran filters traffic using Tor circumvention tool. Tor quickly finds a workaround. For now.

Posted: 16 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Tor Project, 14 Sept 2011, arma: "Yesterday morning (in our timezones — that evening, in Iran), Iran added a filter rule to their border routers that recognized Tor traffic and blocked it. Thanks to help from a variety of friends around the world, we quickly discovered how they were blocking it and released a new version of Tor that isn't blocked. Fortunately, the fix is on the relay side: that means once enough relays and bridges upgrade, the many tens of thousands of Tor users in Iran will resume being able to reach the Tor network, without needing to change their software. ... We're working on medium term and longer term solutions, but in the short term, there are other ways to filter Tor traffic like the one Iran used. Should we fix them all preemptively, meaning the next time they block us it will be through some more complex mechanism that's harder to figure out? Or should we leave things as they are, knowing there will be more blocking events but also knowing that we can solve them easily?"

"Receiver solutions" for DRM digital shortwave "were a huge attraction" at IBC Amsterdam.

Posted: 16 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium press release, 14 Sept 2011: "At DRM’s strongest ever presence at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam, participants were given a unique opportunity to take part in a digital journey with DRM including practical demonstrations highlighting its benefits and features. Three events were held on the 10th, 11th and 12th of September at the booths of Transradio, Nautel and Fraunhofer IIS (all DRM members) respectively which were well attended and well-received. The new receiver solutions presented at these events were a huge attraction that made these events a success. ... At the Transradio booth on Saturday, 10th September, participants were constantly taking pictures of the ‘stand-alone’, ‘USB’, ‘car’ and ‘professional monitoring’ receivers displayed against the Transradio transmitters. DRM enthusiasts had certainly not seen so many DRM receiver solutions in one place before. ... On Monday Frauhofer IIS hosted DRM for the first time at its booth and almost by popular demand gave the floor mainly to the receiver manufacturers Chengdu New Star, Frontier Silicon, Himalaya, MSWay and Uniwave, who had a chance to promote their solutions side by side. In all, it was a very successful IBC for DRM which managed to showcase the full technology and also demonstrated that there are a variety of chipset and receiver solutions now available for international DRM markets." -- But will these "receiver solutions" lead to actual receivers? See also Radiopassioni, 10 Sept 2011, Andrea Lawendel. See previous post about same subject.

Love Asia By Radio (KTWR Guam), 16 Sept 2011, NH2MS: "We have had an encouraging learning experience during our DRM test transmissions. ... We have received listener reports from Japan and Australia. The main beam of the 75KW signal was actually headed toward India." With link to YouTube video of reception in Japan.

If you're in Europe, you can listen to Eur Radio on your radio.

Posted: 16 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Solaris Mobile press release, 9 Sept 2011: "Solaris Mobile Ltd., the Dublin based operator of hybrid satellite and terrestrial wireless networks, has today announced the launch of EUR RADIO - a new, free, pan-European digital satellite radio demonstration platform which will serve the European Union region. The new free-to-air distribution service platform, EUR RADIO, will be used initially for marketing and demonstration purposes but could become the catalyst for a commercial service, providing listeners across the EU with a bouquet of radio channels, both public and private, covering the majority of European languages. ... The first phase will include the following European radio stations; HIT RADIO FFH (Hessen/Germany)and planet radio (Hessen/Germany). The platform will also include the TV channel, France 24 (France). The new digital audio service will complement existing national services and offer users unique benefits not seen before when crossing member state borders and using broadcast networks. EUR Radio demonstrates how listeners in the near future will be able to tune into a radio station in their native language regardless of territory or location. Once tuned into the station of choice, reception and broadcast quality will remain constant and of superior digital quality whilst traveling across country borders within the EU, a first for broadcast customers within Europe. ... Solaris Mobile will make its S-Band capacity on the W2A satellite available to facilitate EUR Radio, which will go live this year. The EUR Radio service offering may also be available in densely populated areas [when line of sight of the satellite may be restricted] through the use of Solaris Mobile's existing national CGC networks." -- Until receivers dedicated to this service are developed, reception is presumably via satellite television receivers.

NHK World TV wins ConnectedWorld.TV award for its earthquake/tsunami coverage.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Sept 2011, Gavin J. Blair: "NHK World TV won Broadcaster of the Year at the inaugural Internet television ConnectedWorld.TV Awards, for its coverage of the triple Japanese disasters in March. The international English-language channel of Japan’s public broadcaster ran rolling 24-hour coverage of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis through cable television, and on its website, which attracted 5.4 million visitors in the two weeks from March 11. 'In serving the global audience NHK employed all the traditional broadcast elements of good journalism and excellent technology on a new media platform via the Internet to serve an incredible thirst for information,' said Michael McEwen, one of the judges, at the ceremony in Amsterdam on Monday evening. NHK was chosen from a shortlist that included the BBC and TV5 Monde from France. 'The NHK and BBC often lead their colleagues in both innovation and service quality and while there is little to separate these two great public broadcasters there is no question that NHK's worldwide distribution of earthquake information that was consistently of quality and humanity gives it the edge for this year's award,' declared the judges." See also www.connectedworldawards.tv. -- Apparently ConnectedWorld.TV was not able to get the URL connectedworld.tv.

Essay on press freedom in Europe includes discussion of subsidies to Euronews and Arte.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
EurActiv.com, 14 Sept 2011: "As a public good, the question of granting public subsidies to media has often been raised. State television and radio were long the rule in Europe, although privately held broadcasters became increasingly common after World War II. The BBC earned Europeans' respect and gratitude for providing trusted news during the Nazi occupation and for opening its airwaves to governments in exile. Today, state-owned broadcasters in Europe tend to be outnumbered by private TV and radio stations. In Britain, this has even led some to call into question the necessity of retaining a publicly-funded media service. In most countries, though, public-funded television is generally seen as a guarantee that quality programmes will continue to be aired in the public's interest. Guided by an editorial independence charter, such stations are meant to offer programmes that would not normally attract sufficient advertising revenue or large enough audiences. Arte, a cultural TV channel funded by France and Germany, is a good example of this. At EU level, multilingual TV channel Euronews is known for benefiting from European Commission funding, giving a European angle to its coverage. Smaller media, including EurActiv.com and its network of national affiliates, have also won funding under specific EU projects to cover topics considered of public interest (never exceeding 30% of annual turnover). But while some MEPs [members of the European Parliament] have pushed for EU intervention to help make European media more profitable, some fear that this could hamper the independence of the press."

Al Jazeera's 15th anniversary events will include poetry contest, art fairs, forum, theatrical events, and an operetta.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Gulf Times (Doha), 14 Sept 2011: "The Al Jazeera Network is preparing for grand festivities to celebrate its 15th anniversary. The festivities will begin on October 22 and conclude on November 20. Mounir Daymi, executive office manager at the director general office and head of the supreme committee organising the festivities ... pointed out that festivities this year have a special dimension in the light of the Arab uprisings. The festivities would reflect the various concepts that have been adopted and promoted by Al Jazeera, most important of them being the value of freedom as well as the right of people to fight injustice and build a better future. ... He also announced that an Arabic poetry competition in co-operation with the ministry of culture and arts (MCA) would be held. ... Daymi added that the festivities have been planned to include formative art fairs, an international forum that would study the effects of Al Jazeera on the Arab uprisings, theatrical events, a musical operetta, and a family celebration for Al Jazeera employees. There would also be publications on the occasion illustrating the role of Al Jazeera."

Radio Martí is a factor in appeals for the "Cuban Five," now serving US prison sentences.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, Checkpoint Washington blog, 14 Sept 2011, Karen DeYoung: "This week marked 13 years since the U.S. imprisonment of five Cuban nationals who were convicted of espionage and related charges in Miami. Their release is a cause celebre in Cuba, whose government says they were subjected to an unfair trial and were wrongly convicted. ... [T]he Cuban government on Monday [held] a massive gala in the Cuban capital, where the families of the five were treated as heroes and victims. Senior officials called the prisoners’ treatment 'inhumane and cruel' and again demanded their release. ... A new round of appeals is currently pending, with lawyers for the five re-arguing the venue question, in part on grounds that U.S. government funds paid for some of the overwhelmingly negative local media coverage during their trial. Many of the journalists who wrote scathing articles in Miami’s Spanish-language press were also employed by the government’s Radio Marti, which sends largely critical broadcasts to Cuba from Miami."

Public diplomacy: From Israel via "public diplomacy video," from Pakistan via Wall Street Journal ad.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Arutz Sheva, 13 Sept 2011, Gavriel Queenann: "Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon starred in a new public diplomacy video explaining the main reason for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is not Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria, but successive Arab leaders' resistance to Jewish sovereignty. Ayalon asks, 'If Israel's presence is the cause of the conflict, then it follows that there is no conflict before 1967, when Israel was not in the West Bank. Right? Let's look at the facts. The PLO – the Palestine Liberation Organization – was created in 1964, when the entire West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands. Why create a PLO in 1964 when Israel has no presence in the West Bank and Gaza? What Palestine were they liberating?'"

Wall Street Journal, India Realtime, 13 Sept 2011, Tom Wright: "Pakistan has taken out a half-page advertisement in The Wall Street Journal to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in an attempt to shift what Islamabad feels is an anti-Pakistan narrative in the American media. 'Which country can do more for your peace?' the ad asks, sitting below a story on page A10 of the U.S. Journal’s Saturday/Sunday edition titled 'When the Towers Came Down.' 'Since 2001 a nation of 180 million has been fighting for the future of world’s 7 billion!' it continues. 'Can any other country do so? Only Pakistan…Promising peace to the world.'"

New York Times blog uses RFE/RL video of attack on US embassy in Kabul.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, The Lede blog, 13 Sept 2011, J. David Goodman: "[T]he United States Embassy there came under sustained attack on Tuesday, a brazen strike on one of the most secure locations in the country. ... The video below posted by Radio Free Afghanistan, the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe also known as Radio Azadi, captured fighting in the partially constructed tower." See also RFE/RL, 14 Sept 2011.

Committee to Protect Journalists still has questions about NATO airstrikes on Libyan broadcast facilities.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Jounalists, 13 Sept 2011, Joel Simon, CPJ executive director: "On August 4, CPJ wrote to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen requesting information about the July 30 attacks on broadcast facilities in Libya in which NATO aircraft destroyed three broadcast dishes. As we noted in our letter, CPJ is concerned any time a media outlet faces a military attack. Such attacks can only be justified under international humanitarian law if the facility is being used for military purposes or to incite violence against the civilian population. ... We received a reply on August 12, signed by Martin Howard, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Operations. ... Howard noted that NATO carried out extensive monitoring of Libyan TV broadcasting and that throughout July Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi used the state broadcaster to make frequent calls for violence against the civilian population. But the letter lacks specifics. ... We would like to know the specific instances in which Qaddafi used the media to call for violence against the civilian population, and the specific language that he used. Moreover, we would like to know how NATO commanders assessed the likelihood that destroying three broadcast dishes would in fact achieve their objective, which was to prevent Qaddafi from communicating with the Libyan public."

China establishes major media presence in Brazil.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 12 Sept 2011, Eric Ehrmann: "Seeking to put more of its own spin on global affairs and provide counterspin to offest coverage generated by CNN, the BBC, the Voice of America and other U.S .public diplomacy outlets, official Chinese media is expanding its footprint in the southern hemisphere. To make this happen, China has entered into a strategic partnership with Bandeirantes, one of Brazil's major multimedia companies. A YouTube video featuring China's ambassador to Brazil does not provide financial details of the arrangement. China Central Television (CCTV) now makes São Paulo the headquarters for its Latin American operation. Recently, several additional journalists and staff from China's 'big three,' which includes CCTV, Peoples' Daily and Xinhua news service, were added to the São Paulo contingent. The expanded coverage is an example of how China shape-shifts content delivery to support its global policy initiatives on a broad spectrum of issues including currency, defense, development, energy, food security and technology. Content produced out of São Paulo can be fed to CCTV viewers in Mandarin, Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Russian." -- Radio Bandeirantes was a major partner of the old VOA Brazilian Portuguese service. BBC is still active in Brazil.

South Korean content floated over North Korea's southern border, smuggled across its northern border.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 14 Sept 2011: "South Korea's military operates giant trucks which print and send thousands of leaflets and transmit broadcasts as part of psychological warfare against North Korea, said a report disclosed on Wednesday. ... Details of South Korea's military psychological operations (psy-ops) unit emerged in a defence ministry report to Song Young-Sun, a member of parliament's defence committee. ... The South has five-ton trucks equipped with a satellite data receiver and a printer to publish up to 80,000 leaflets a day, and giant helium balloons to carry leaflets into its isolated communist neighbour, the report said. 'The military is known to launch the balloons twice or three times a month, depending on wind direction and weather conditions,' the aide to Song told AFP."

The Chosunilbo, 14 Sept 2011: "After the North sank the Navy corvette Cheonan in March last year, the military resumed broadcasting the "Voice of Freedom" propaganda programs that had been suspended in 2004. ... 'We keep a database of some 1,300 leaflets and about 470 materials for broadcast programs in preparation for wartime psy-ops against the North,' a [South Korean] military spokesman said. 'U.S. personnel of the Combined Forces Command are participating in producing leaflets, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CFC commander review and approve them.'"

AP, 9 Sept 2011: "In South Korea ... an activist said his group sent huge balloons floating into North Korea on Friday; the balloons contained U.S. dollar bills, booklets and DVDs critical of the Kim dynasty. The North has angrily reacted to such activities taking place near the border in the past, calling them a push by the South Korean government to incite subversion in Pyongyang. Seoul denies a link to the activists."

Strategy Page, 13 Sept 2011: "A month ago, several hundred men from the Escort Bureau (the personal security force for the ruling Kim family) were assigned to the Chinese border. There, the Escort Bureau troops went after police and border guards who were taking bribes to allow people (and goods) to enter or leave the country. ... While the Escort Bureau troops had arrested many security personnel and civilians, they were still corruptible in the end. In response to this, or simply to follow up on the success of the Escort Bureau troops, the government has now sent a special 'Unit 828' to ensure honest border security. This outfit was recruited from the propaganda staff of the most senior government propaganda organization. Unit 828 will be there to seek ways to halt the flow of South Korean culture into North Korea. Most of this traffic is in the form of videos, usually on DVDs. This stuff is very popular in North Korea, but its depiction of a wealthy, happy South Korea, undermines decades of North Korea propaganda."

Broadcasting Board of Governors meeting webcast today at 1800 UTC.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBG events, 15 Sept 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will meet on Thursday, September 15 at BBG headquarters in Washington, D.C. to receive and consider a report from the BBG’s Governance Committee, including the revision of Agency grant agreements. There will be an update on digital innovations. Broadcast executives will give programming and coverage updates. The meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. [EDT, or 1800 UTC], will be webcast both live and on-demand, at www.bbg.gov."

From this NPR story we know, at least, there is more variety on the Libyan radio dial.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
NPR, All Things Considered, 12 Sept 2011, Jason Beaubien: "The fall of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has brought about a dramatic change on the radio dial in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. In the past, Libyans could only tune in to the government stations. Foreign broadcast signals were blocked. And what the state-run stations offered was tightly controlled and laden with pro-Gadhafi propaganda. Now, the airwaves that used to only carry four state-run stations — broadcasting only in Libyan Arabic as a mouthpiece for the Gadhafi regime — are filled with broadcasts from across the Mediterranean and neighboring Tunisia. There's news from Radio France International. Announcers yell in Italian. A station in Tunisian Arabic can be heard. Shakira is singing in Spanish and English. In the past, the government jammed all these broadcasts." -- This story does not quite add up. The Gadhafi regime jammed all foreign station audible in Libya? Unlikely. And what "airwaves" are "filled with broadcasts from across the Mediterranean"? If it's the FM band, the broadcasts are for the most part from within Libya. RFI already has an FM station in Banghazi, on 105.5 MHz. BBC World Service also has FM relays in the country. The Radio Sawa frequency list does not show any FM outlets in Libya.

HCJB assisting a radio training project in Liberia, home of "renowned international broadcaster ELWA."

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HCJB press release, 9 Sept 2011, Ralph Kurtenbach: "In July 1990 the [Liberian civil war] forced the evacuation of staff from renowned international broadcaster ELWA after clashes on the station's campus between fighters of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia and government troops. Staff returned and reopened the broadcasting and healthcare ministries in 1991 only to flee fighting in Monrovia again in April 1996. Missionaries and Liberian staff reinitiated ministries in 1997. ELWA has partnered with HCJB Global and other broadcasters since 1985 in the World by Radio effort, making Christian broadcasts available in numerous languages that didn't yet have Gospel programming." See also some history of ELWA. -- A major VOA shortwave relay site in Liberia was also destroyed by the civil war.

USAID's radio-based learning programs in South Sudan.

Posted: 15 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
USAID Frontlines, September/October 2011, Jane Namadi and Ezra Simon: "One of USAID’s most important tools in raising literacy and improving learning in South Sudan is radio — the medium that reaches the broadest segment of the population of more than 8 million. USAID uses radio-based learning not only to provide teachers with lessons they can present to their students but also to reach non-traditional, generally older students who may not have had the opportunity to attend school. In 2010, USAID’s radio-based learning programs have reached nearly 100,000 students and 445,000 youth and adults who did not have access to regular school instruction. The USAID-supported South Sudan Interactive Radio Instruction has broadcast over shortwave, FM, and through MP3s since 2005, programming that also includes civic education programs. Community radio stations that USAID supports also broadcast the Agency’s radio-learning programs."

When the "emerging countries" emerge, they, too, can experience "Facebook fatigue."

Posted: 14 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Independent Online (Cape Town), 13 Sept 2011: "Facebook fatigue is setting in. Time has wearied users of Facebook and while total usage is growing thanks to emerging countries, established markets such as the US, UK and Canada have seen large declines in terms of active participation such as status updates, sharing content, messaging and installing applications. That’s the recent finding by GlobalWebIndex, the world’s most detailed global insight study into consumer behaviour online. Active behaviour on Facebook in the US such as messaging friends and joining groups in the past month are down 15 percent and 10 percent respectively. ... Facebook fatigue is setting in. Time has wearied users of Facebook and while total usage is growing thanks to emerging countries, established markets such as the US, UK and Canada have seen large declines in terms of active participation such as status updates, sharing content, messaging and installing applications. That’s the recent finding by GlobalWebIndex, the world’s most detailed global insight study into consumer behaviour online. Active behaviour on Facebook in the US such as messaging friends and joining groups in the past month are down 15 percent and 10 percent respectively." -- I had Facebook fatigue about 36 hours after opening my Facebook account. I love, and will continue using, my steam-powered PC, connected to a professional-grade 24-inch display suitable for the eyes of someone in the "or older" bracket of most questionnaires.

Adweek, 6 Sept 2011, Dylan Byers: Blogger Ben Smith "is concerned that blogging may not have much of a future. Since the early days of the 2008 campaign, Smith has distinguished himself by being first to the news. Having a jump on the competition of even just five minutes has made all the difference, he says. But a lot has changed since 2008. Twitter, Smith says, is 'sort of draining the life from the blog.' 'Where people were hitting refresh on my blog because they wanted to see what my latest newsbreak was, now they’ll just be on Twitter, and I’ll tweet it out and they’ll see it there,' he says." -- Well, they see the headline, or teaser, at Twitter, then, if interested, use the link to see the larger blog post. So what is the problem?

CNBC EMEA press release, 13 Sept 2011: "CNBC’s ‘Europe’s Mobile Elite 2011’ ... showed that the use of Twitter as a business and marketing tool has seen a rapid increase amongst users, almost doubling in use to 61% up from 31% a year ago. ... Accessing news websites via a mobile device has fallen 10% since 2010 due to the proliferation of news mobile applications downloaded. News apps are by far the most popular (75%), followed by weather (54%) and social networking apps (39%). The results indicate that access to traditional news websites over mobile devices is likely to fall in favour of using apps. ... Facebook continues to be the favoured network amongst social media users, although the number of senior executives with accounts has dropped off to 77% from 81% a year ago."

US public diplomacy in Afghanistan includes "pulse racing music" and "quick cuts from scene to scene."

Posted: 14 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Nextgov.com, 12 Sept 2011, Joseph Marks: "To the long list of public diplomacy efforts the U.S. State Department has launched in Afghanistan, add the TV show 'Eagle Four,' a '24'-style cop thriller that has proven, in early analyses, to be the most popular of several TV programs financed by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. In addition to 'Eagle Four,' which NPR described in December as filled with 'pulse racing music' and 'quick cuts from scene to scene,' the embassy has funded a youth-oriented soap opera set at a Kandahar university and a reality show-style documentary about army life, according to David Ensor, the embassy's recently departed communications director who's now the director of Voice of America. The shows are all meant to serve some public policy function, Ensor told an audience at the U.S. Institute of Peace on Friday. 'Eagle Four,' for example, is aimed at raising public respect for Afghan police officers, who are widely regarded as corrupt, while the youth-oriented soap opera focuses heavily on female students who would have been banned from attending university during Taliban rule." See previous post about same subject.

On Latin American pay TV, high cost of international channels causes "high churn."

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Rapid TV News, 12 Sept 2011, Michelle Clancy: "In the Americas, more than 16 million homes upgraded from analogue to digital TV in 2010, new research from Informa has revealed. Also, during the year, more than 7 million new homes in the region subscribed to pay-TV, with DTH performing particularly well. ... Although a high-profile merger has not resulted in the dominance hoped for, DirecTV Latin America (DTVLA) is also reporting significant subscriber growth. Potential entrants into the Latin American TV sector have previously been discouraged by the major debt loads of prospective partners. But significant efforts to clear debts have been made, with several major media players successfully rescheduling their debt burden. Exchange rate fluctuations and major increases in local prices of imports from the US had a particularly detrimental effect on the broadcast sector. Many cable and satellite operators pay international channels in US dollars but receive subscription and ad revenues in local currencies. Operators sometimes pass on these extra costs to their subscribers, causing high churn. Dollar denominated contracts can also lead to greater piracy and subscriber underreporting by operators."

Space Systems/Loral press release, 8 Sept 2011: "Space Systems/Loral, the leading provider of commercial satellites, today announced that it has been awarded a contract to provide two high-power satellites to Intelsat for Direct-to-Home (DTH) television service in Latin America. The two satellites will be operated by Intelsat, which will provide them to DIRECTV Latin America, a leading DTH digital television services operator in Latin America."

Hillary Clinton put "our people ... on key channels like Al Jazeera ... because that’s where people are."

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State Department, 9 Sept 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks to the John Jay School of Criminal Justice: "One of the first things I did after arriving at the State Department was to appoint a special representative to Muslim communities around the world and to step up our engagement in the most crucial media spaces. We put our people – especially Arabic, Urdu, Dari speakers – on key channels like Al Jazeera and others to explain U.S. policies and counter at least some of the widespread misinformation out there. There was this idea that it was – it would be a waste of our time to go on channels and go onto websites to refute and rebut what was being said, but we’re in a fight, and I’m not going to let people say things about us that are not true. If they want to say things about us that are true, we’ll explain that. But to make up stuff, to be accusing us of things that are totally outlandish and outrageous, was just unacceptable. You’re the only way we will get into the conversation where it matters most, and we have to show up. I sometimes get asked by members of Congress: I saw an American diplomat on X, Y, or Z; why? It’s because that’s where people are. That’s where we need to be. I make no apologies for that. It is with this in mind that we developed and launched the new Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, which is tightly focused on undermining the terrorist propaganda and dissuading potential recruits. The center is housed at the State Department, but is a true whole-of-government endeavor. It has a mandate from the President. And as part of this effort, a group of tech savvy specialists – fluent in Urdu and Arabic – that we call the digital outreach team are contesting online space, media websites and forums where extremists have long spread propaganda and recruited followers. With timely posts, often of independent news reports, this team is working to expose al-Qaida’s and extremists’ contradictions and abuses, including its continuing brutal attacks on Muslim civilians. This effort is still small, but it is now growing."

VOA reporter in Uzbekistan "finally" permitted to travel to Germany for study (updated: now in Hamburg).

Posted: 14 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Eurasianet.org, 21 July 2011, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick: "Abdumalik Boboyev, a correspondent for the US-sponsored Voice of America, has finally been permitted to travel to Germany, ferghananews.com reported. Boboyev was arrested and charged with 'libel' last year for his broadcasts, as well as unlawful border-crossing. He managed to avoid prison and the latter charges after an intensive campaign on his behalf by human rights activists and both public and private intervention by US diplomats, but was fined $11,000 for 'insulting the Uzbek people.' The journalist was invited for a year of study at a Hamburg institute, but was initially denied permission to travel as a person still under a court ruling. Uzbekistan still retains the Soviet-era practice of requiring exit visas to travel from the country. Finally, Boboyev was authorized to travel abroad for two years, and says he intends to return home after completing his studies."

Update: Deutsche Welle, 12 Sept 2011, Janine Albrecht: Boboyev "is a journalist, like most of the people who receive funding from the Hamburg Foundation to live in Germany. But unlike others, Malik did not flee from his homeland. He wants to use his time in Germany to gain a fresh perspective on his life and his work. ... Malik began working as a radio and Internet correspondent for the American broadcaster Voice of America. 'I wrote about a great many things including political affairs, freedom of the press, the widespread use of child labor in Uzbekistan and human rights issues,' he said. ... Malik spends most of his time in Germany at his kitchen table or the desk in his apartment in Hamburg. The city and its inhabitants remain somewhat strangers to him. He is envious that his colleagues here in the West are able to work so freely, seemingly without restrictions."

New York Times is developing a Mandarin language website. Other languages may follow. Whither USIB?

Posted: 14 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Capital, 13 Sept 2011, Joe Pompeo: Joe Kahn takes charge of the foreign news desk at the New York Times. "The foreign desk is ... involved in an initiative at the Times to develop news sites in foreign countries. When they are up and running and the business side is figured out, the foreign desk will be deeply involved in their development. The first, rolled out earlier this month, is India Ink, the Times' first country-specific blog, which now falls under his purview. And the foreign desk is likewise involved in at least one 'big additional initiative' that will add a foreign language component to the Times’ content strategy, said Kahn. The plan is to launch an online editorial product for China, where the paper already maintains its largest foreign bureau (Kahn worked in that bureau, as well as The Wall Street Journal’s, before becoming deputy foreign editor in 2008), within the year. 'If things go well, I expect we’ll see The New York Times producing a pretty robust product in Mandarin Chinese before long,' Kahn said, though he declined to go into detail. ... More such foreign-language sites could pop up over the next couple of years. About the Chinese product, asked whether reporting from that site might make its way into the main Times news report translated into English, Kahn said he hadn't worked that out yet. 'But most likely we would not have a substantial reverse-translation operation,' he said. Instead: 'Most of the writers, even those who produce original stories in another language, would be able to produce stories in English as well.'" -- The International Broadcasting Act of 1994 stipulates that US government funded international broadcasting shall "[n]ot duplicate the activities of private United States broadcasters." Will this be the end of the VOA and RFA Mandarin services? And of USIB services in other languages that the Times takes on? See previous post.

Alarab will be the name of the new Arabic news and business channel, in partnership with Bloomberg.

Posted: 14 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The National (Abu Dhabi), 14 Sept 2011, Ben Flanagan: "Two giants of the financial world have joined forces to launch an Arabic news TV station with a focus on business. The Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal has partnered with the US financial data company Bloomberg to produce Alarab, a 24-hour station set for launch next year. Bloomberg will provide five hours of business news per day for the new channel, which will have 'an emphasis on freedom of speech', said Andrew Lack, the chief executive of Bloomberg's multimedia group. Mr Lack said editorial independence was a prerequisite for Bloomberg to enter the deal. 'This channel is going to come with an independent spirit and an independent view that we at Bloomberg support very strongly,' Mr Lack said. 'We wouldn't have been engaged in this effort if in fact the effort wasn't driven by this fair, independent and balanced approach.' ... Alarab will vie for audience share with the two mainstream Arabic news stations, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. It will also compete with the existing Arabic business station CNBC Arabia. The TV news market is set to become even more crowded with the planned launch of Sky News Arabia, which is to be broadcast from Abu Dhabi early next year. ... Mr Lack said that Bloomberg was accustomed to operating in competitive markets. 'We're used to a crowd. You've always got four or five competitors. That comes with the territory,' he said."

Alarab News Channel press release, 13 Sept 2011: "Alarab will focus editorially on the important shifts taking place across the Arab world with an emphasis on freedom of speech and freedom of press. Furthermore, it will uphold the principle of free transfer of information as well as, objective, balanced and credible reporting. The News channel will cover the latest developments around the world and will also highlight political, social and economic issues in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world."

Politico, 13 Sept 2011, Keach Hagey: "Alarab enters a cluttered Pan-Arab satellite television market, but one without much of a business news presence. The channel’s main competitor will be Al Arabiya, the news channel owned by the Saudi-backed MBC Group, which has its headquarters in Dubai and has midday business coverage focused on the Saudi stock market."

See previous post about same subject. So while Prince Al Waleed remains the largest shareholder in News Corp outside of the Murdoch family, Alarab is "an independent venture from Kingdom Holding Company and the Rotana group and is privately owned by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal." News Corp will be associated with Sky News Arabia, a planned competitor to the planned Alarab and to the already existing Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Are the names Alarab and Al Arabiya as similar in Arabic as they in English? And on the subject of Sky News Arabia...

Digital Production Middle East, 9 Sept 2011, Chris Newbould: "Sky News Arabia has finally announced two of its key suppliers for the channel, which is due to launch early next year. In the eventual disclosing one of the region's worst-kept secrets, Sky has confirmed that EVS will supply ingest, production and playout platforms, while Haris will also supply solutions for part of the channel's playout automation. Sky News Arabia is the first such venture for Sky in the region, and could represent a major new player in regionally-based, Arabic language news providers, with the added backing of a major international news brand."

Deutsche Welle expands its Arabic TV to six hours per day.

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Deutsche Welle, 12 Sept 2011: "Deutsche Welle will begin broadcasting its new television channel for the Arab World on September 12, 2011. Audiences from Morocco to Oman can tune in to a six-hour block in Arabic – always in primetime throughout the region. DW-TV ARABIA will continue to inform its viewers about the most important developments in Arab countries, Germany and the rest of the world. ... English-language programming will complete the channel’s 24-hour line-up. Up until now, the schedule alternated hourly between Arabic, or German with Arabic subtitles, and English. ... The core of the new DW-TV ARABIA schedule will be made up of four 30-minute segments of 'Journal' – Deutsche Welle’s news flagship. There will also be Arabic versions of 'Arts.21' and 'GLOBAL 3000'. In addition to 'Quadriga', there will be four new talk shows added to the mix. These will all be conducted and broadcast in Arabic and offer viewers the chance to participate while shedding light on the changes in the Arab World."

Australian senior ministers will give evidence in Australia Network bid inquiry.

Posted: 13 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Age (Melbourne), 13 Sept 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Senior ministers including Stephen Conroy anhttp://www.theage.com.au/national/mps-quizzed-on-tv-deal-20110912-1k62r.htmld Martin Ferguson have been required to give evidence in an official investigation into complaints over Australia's $223 million overseas television service. The investigation by the Australian government solicitor was triggered after Sky News complained that ABC chief Mark Scott had unfairly lobbied a minister in a bid to win the contract. The ABC has been asked to explain Mr Scott's actions. ... Mr Ferguson's office yesterday declined to comment on the investigation but he has previously said he regarded Mr Scott's call as inappropriate. A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman last night declined to say if the investigation had concluded."

AFP, 13 Sept 2011: "Australia on Tuesday said it would hold a media inquiry following the British hacking scandal which sank Rupert Murdoch's best-selling tabloid News of the World. A spokesman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the scope of the inquiry was yet to finalised but the ruling Labour party had decided that a probe was required. ... Murdoch controls about two-thirds of Australia's regional and metropolitan newspapers, has a stake in broadcasters Sky News and Fox Sports, and is angling to run the Australia Network, the international public TV channel."

See previous post about the Australia Network tender.

At IBC Amsterdam, Thomson proposes DRM SW/MW/LW for feeds to FM rebroadcasters.

Posted: 13 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 12 Sept 2011: "Shortwave is an efficient technology for delivering programming to a wide area from a single transmission site, but FM provides higher quality audio and a ready supply of inexpensive receivers. At IBC2011, Thomson Broadcast is demonstrating a solution that bridges the two technologies, using the DRM30 digital radio standard to distribute programming for retransmission on FM. With the system, a broadcaster originating a DRM30-encoded short-, long- or medium-wave signal could take the same over-the-air signal listeners with a DRM receiver can hear and, using a DRM-FM transponer, demodulate and transpose it to an FM signal that can be picked up by an standard FM receiver, including the sort common in many mobile phones. For example, a medium-wave channel with a bandwidth of 9 kHz could be used to distribute two DRM30 digital audio programs at a bitrate of up to 14.7 kbps; if the channel is extended to 18 kHz, bitrates of up to 26.5 kbps would be possible. The DRM-FM rebroadcasting transmitter takes the over-the-air DRM30 signal, decodes the digital programs and then can retransmit the two services locally on FM. The system could be used by NGOs or international broadcasters to distribute programming to low-power FM stations in remote or wide-spread areas without the need to use satellite connections." -- During the IBC show, I was expecting, but did not see, any news about DRM receivers, or even about DRM "receiver solutions."

In the AIB People's Choice award, the people will decide among Alhurra, Press TV, or other international broadcasters.

Posted: 13 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Association for International Broadcasting/Yahoo! Maktoob press release, 11 Sept 2011: "Yahoo! Maktoob and the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) have announced that the 2011 People’s Choice Award will be hosted on Yahoo! Maktoob, harnessing the site’s enormous reach, which includes over 55 million users in the Middle East and North Africa. The People’s Choice is the category in the AIB’s international media excellence awards which is open to online viewers everywhere who vote for their favourite entry, and each year attracts entries from broadcasters across the globe. This year’s topic for the People’s Choice award is 'Best Coverage of Democracy Uprisings' reflecting the momentous changes happening in the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring and highlighting the impact that traditional and social broadcasting has had in enabling the movements for change. The deadline for final entries is Friday September 16th, but already programmes have been submitted from Europe, Middle East, and Africa and include entries from Al Jazeera, Al Hurra, France24, NDTV, Press TV and The Doha Debates. A short list of the six best will be selected from which online users from across the world can view and vote on Yahoo! Maktoob from the second half of October. The winner will be announced at the AIB’s ceremony on the 9th November. Yahoo! Maktoob will be hosting the programmes on special pages in both English and Arabic versions, allowing a worldwide audience to participate in viewing and then choosing the one they like best."

Depending on international broadcasting for news on 9/11/2001.

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CNN, 11 Sept 2011, Alden Mahler Levine, who was in Jordan on 9/11/2001. "By the time I reach the internet café, the first tower has fallen; the second falls shortly thereafter. The normally chaotic back room is silent. Nearly every monitor displays CNN."

Detroit Free Press, 11 Sept 2011, Bob Cousino: "It was evening in Japan. I had just gotten home from teaching an English class at Denso Corp. I flipped on the TV and sat down to eat the late dinner I had bought at a convenience store. The breaking news was on CNN International. The first tower had already been hit."

Digital Journal, 10 Sept 2011, Christopher Szabo: "In those days they had a four O’clock bulletin on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s English service, so I took a break and turned it on. ... "[T]hey cut to a reporter in Washington, D.C., who was saying a plane had apparently crashed near the Pentagon, but they weren’t sure what plane it was. Then back to the well-known images of the second plane and then the collapse of the Towers. The problem was the reporters and anchors were from a local version of CNN, not CNN International which I was used to watching, so I didn’t recognise them. I began to think perhaps it was a hoax."

New Atlanticist, 12 Sept 2011, Lord Robertson, who was NATO Secretary General in Brussels on the day: "A second plane, and it was a major incident. Plates were abandoned, talk ended, cars summoned and it was high speed back to HQ. I listened in my armour-plated car to the BBC World Service with growing dismay and alarm."

New York Times, 11 Sept 2011, Scott Shane: "As the hijacked airliners neared their targets, [Osama bin Laden] asked an aide to get a Western news channel on the satellite television in his van. But the aide, Ali al-Bahlul, could not get a signal. So they turned to the radio ... switching between Voice of America and the BBC, and then cheering and firing their guns in the air at the first bulletin announcing that a plane had hit the World Trade Center."

Somalia's al-Shabaab bans radio listening, with special shout-outs to BBC and VOA.

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Africa Review, 11 Sept 2011, Abdulkadir Khalif: "Somali radical group, al-Shabaab has issued an order banning residents of Shaballe town, 100km south of the capital Mogadishu from listening to radio. Announcing the ban, senior al-Shabaab official, Sheikh Abdullahi Mumin said the stations had a bias towards non-Muslims besides airing misleading information against the group. He pointed an accusing finger at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VOA) and Radiyo Muqdisho, a state run broadcaster in the country’s capital."

VOA press release, 8 Sept 2011: Voice of America is broadcasting special drought-related radio programs delivering life-saving information to the hundreds of thousands of victims of the humanitarian crisis who are now at risk of starvation in Somalia and the Horn of Africa. The first of the half-hour radio programs, broadcast on medium-wave Thursday night in the Somali and Amharic languages, features an exclusive interview with USAID Director Rajiv Shah, who recently visited the region and calls the famine 'an extraordinary tragedy.' ... The new programs are broadcast Monday through Friday on MW frequency 1431. They are also broadcast on shortwave, streamed on VOA Somali and Horn of Africa websites and broadcast throughout Africa on the Arabsat satellite." -- The 1431 kHz medium wave frequency is from the Radio Sawa relay in Djibouti. A remarkable example of inter-entity cooperation in US international broadcasting, where the entities have not traditionally been inclined to do one another any favors.

Burmese journalist who worked for BBC and RFA returns to Burma, is detained and interrogated (updated).

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The Irrawaddy, 6 Sept 2011, Wai Moe: "Sein Kyaw Hlaing, a veteran Burmese journalist working in exile for the BBC Burmese Service (BBC Burmese) and Radio Free Asia (RFA), was reportedly detained and interrogated in Rangoon after accepting President Thein Sein's offer to exiles to return home. Sein Kyaw Hlaing, who became well-known by Burmese audiences while working as a broadcaster for the BBC Burmese in the1990s, was reportedly detained by Burmese secret service officers shortly after he arrived at the Rangoon International Airport in late August, one of his friends told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday. ... While he worked with BBC, Sein Kyaw Hlaing was notable for his business reporting. With the Washington-based RFA, he covered the affairs of the ruling generals and ministers. One minister he reported on was Aung Thaung, a leader of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and former minister of Industry-1. After working with the RFA, Sein Kyaw Hlaing became the editor of the New Era Journal based in Thailand. Currently, he is an outside contributor for RFA."

Update: Radio Australia, 12 Sept 2011: "There has been a report he has since been released from detention but his friend and journalist with the Thai-based Irrawaddy News Magazine, Kyaw Zwa Moe, has told Connect Asia he has not been able to contact Sein Kyaw Hlaing. 'Unfortunately at the airport he was detained and taken to the interrogation centre,' he said. 'There he was interrogated for days'."

Gadhafi still heard via Al-Rai TV, "a blip in the regional plethora of channels."

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CNN, 9 Sept 2011, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Moni Basu: "Moammar Gadhafi no longer has his Tripoli compound or his vast power apparatus. He is a fallen leader, a fugitive wanted by the world's eminent criminal court. And yet, he still has a voice. It goes out loud and clear to the entire world thanks to Al-Rai, a privately owned Syrian-based television station that has, in recent weeks, taken over for Libyan state media in fulfilling a role as Gadhafi's mouthpiece. ... So why is Al-Rai such a strong supporter of Gadhafi and his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who has also taken to its airwaves? For starters, Al-Rai is not in the vein of commercial networks such as Al-Arabiya, Al Jazeera or even CNN, said Arab television expert Joe Khalil. It's a blip in the regional plethora of channels: about 500 of them that serve up news and entertainment to the Arab world."

Iran aims for launch of its Spanish-language HispanTV by the end 2011.

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CNSNews.com, 9 Sept 2011, Edwin Mora: "The Iranian government is racing to launch its first Spanish-language news channel by the end of this year, which is expected to reach audiences in Latin America and Europe, a Brazilian news outlet reported. HispanTV, the name of the upcoming Iranian channel, has already made its debut on the Web, covering news in Iran, the Americas, the United States, Canada, Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa and also reporting on culture, health, sports, society, economy, and technology. The Iranian channel is expected to air 'varied' programming, including interviews and talk shows about movies and books on Iranians and Hispanics. Pilot programs, such as one about the 'the massacre of Pakistanis' by the United States are already available on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter." The website is www.hispantv.com.

CPJ calls for "due process" for Al Jazeera Kabul bureau chief detained by Israel.

Posted: 13 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Protect Journalists, 12 Sept 2011, Joel Simon, executive director: "The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the Israeli government's ongoing detention without charge of Al-Jazeera correspondent Samer Allawi and calls on you to ensure that the journalist is allowed due process. On August 9, Allawi, the Kabul bureau chief for Al-Jazeera, was arrested at the al-Karama border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank while leaving the Occupied Territories after a three-week vacation in his hometown near Nablus, Al-Jazeera reported. The journalist, who lives in Kabul, was visiting his parents and was not on assignment. ... Allawi's detention has periodically been extended by the military, and on September 5, the military court extended his detention for another eight days. He has yet to be charged and no evidence has been presented against him. ... Israeli authorities should not hold Allawi for an extended period of time without charge." See also UFree, 10 Sept 2011. See previous post about same subject.

Egypt police raid Egyptian offices of Al Jazeera Mubasher. The channel continues from Doha, via Nilesat.

Posted: 13 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
McClatchy Newspapers, 9 Sept 2011, Mohannad Sabry: "Security police raided the Egyptian offices of the Al Jazeera news channel Sunday and detained a member of its technical staff in the first move of its kind against a foreign news organization since the ruling military council declared a state of emergency in the wake of the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Egypt's ruling military council later announced that the emergency decree would be expanded to allow prosecution for the 'spreading or broadcasting of any false news, information or rumors.'"

Reporters sans frontières, 12 Sept 2011: "The government news agency MENA said that, although local transmission of Al-Jazeera Mubasher Egypt’s signal was cut, it continued to be freely available on Nilesat, like Al-Jazeera itself. MENA also claimed that local residents had filed complaints accusing the station of 'sowing dissent' and 'calling for demonstrations.' Al-Jazeera Mubasher Egypt is still broadcasting on the same satellite frequency, but from Al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar instead of its studios in the Cairo neighbourhood of Al-Agouza."

MENA, 12 Serpt 2011: "Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr was shut down for disregarding Egyptian laws, said Information Minister Osama Heikal Monday, denying charges that the satellite channel was targeted because of its content. ... Two hundred satellite channels and newspaper offices have properly filed for the renewal of their permits and channels operating legally have not been closed, he added. ... Ahmed Zein, the head of Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, told reporters that his office submitted a request to renew its broadcasting permit four months ago but was told to continue broadcasting as usual."

Wall Street Journal, 12 Sept 2011, Matt Bradley: "Employees at Al Jazeera Live [Mubasher], which started broadcasting from Egypt shortly after the revolution against Mr. Mubarak, said they believed Egypt's Ministry of Interior was retaliating against Al Jazeera because it broadcast live images of protesters' attacking the Israeli embassy late Friday night."

New York Times, 11 Sept 2011, Heba Afify and David Kirkpatrick: "The network, Al Jazeera Live Egypt, was founded in the aftermath of the uprising and has become known for its attentive, if not sensational, coverage of street protests, including the Israeli Embassy attack on Friday. The raid forced the network to halt its programming for a period before it resumed broadcasting from Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar."

Al Jazeera Mubasher is somewhat like C-Span, offering live, uninterrupted coverage of events. It was a key player in the Arab Spring demonstrations.

The British Council becomes a shortwave broadcaster. Sort of.

Posted: 12 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Agência Angola Press, 8 Sept 2011: "Angola National Radio and British Council launched 'Obla air', an English language teaching programme for learners to be broadcasted nationally on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 12pm, for 15 minutes, until October 5. According to a press release that Angop had got access to, the programme will be transmitted in modulated frequencies FM 93.5 and Short Wave 9530, as well as for provincial radio. The radio programme is for the benefit of students and professors of English language."

Stories of yesteryear, when youngsters listened to shortwave radio.

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First Arkansas News, 10 Sept 2011: "What would a series dedicated to old time radio serials be without some attention paid to a juvenile adventure program? Those 'kids on adventures' things were big back when OTR was king, and one of the more popular programs in the genre was the ambitiously named Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police. Yes, Speed was your average American boy — interested in short wave radios, aviation and fighting crime on an international scale."

San Antonio Express-News, 9 Sept 2011, Elaine Ayala: "George S. De Leon, an opera aficionado who sang tenor in the San Fernando Cathedral choir and mentored Sylvia Villarreal, who went on to sing opera internationally, died Sept. 3 of a heart attack. He was 76. De Leon developed a love of opera as a boy, first listening to it on a short-wave radio."

Euro Weekly News, 9 Sept 2011, Stephen Amore: Our family "apparently moved up the social scale and acquired a radiogram, remember them? A huge sideboard which opened up to reveal a record player with the same ‘drops down before it plays’ mechanism and also a radio! Holst ‘The Planets’ never sounded so good. This was a thing of beauty and when listening to the radio a huge glass screen lit up etched with the names of exotic radio stations from all around the world; all long and short wave of course."

Canada's fifth largest cable provider adds CNN International and Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 12 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
EastLink press release, 9 Sept 2011: "EastLink announced today the launch of three world news channels with the introduction of CNN International, Al Jazeera English, and Bloomberg Television in HD and SD. ... CNN International - One of the world's leading international news channels carries news, current affairs, politics, opinions, and business programming worldwide. Their motto, 'Go Beyond Borders,' emphasizes CNN International's perspective of utilizing local reporters often directly affected by the events they are reporting. Al Jazeera English - The world's first 24 hour English language news and current affairs channel to be broadcast from within the Middle East. This channel aims to provide both a regional voice and a global perspective through its fearless news reporting and award winning programming. Al Jazeera English takes viewers inside global news stories putting the human story at the forefront while providing a bridge between cultures." -- EastLink is Canada's fifth largest cable provider. Its channel lists do not include BBC World News, so EastLink carries only two of the "big three" global English news channels.

International broadcasters make use of Brookings Institution television studio.

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Brookings Institution, 9 Sept 2011, Ron Nessen: "CNN has done more interviews in the Brookings [television] studio than any other news organization, a total of 1,033. In second place is National Public Radio, with 728 interviews. And in third place is the BCC [sic, probably BBC] with 482 interviews. Because of the expertise of Brookings scholars on international issues, the studio is often used by foreign news outlets, including the Middle East news organizations Al Jazeera and Alhurra." -- Do you suppose the Brookings Institution really thinks Alhurra is a "Middle East news organization"?

Alumnus of VOA English teaching radio launches English teaching facility in upstate New York.

Posted: 12 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Watertown (NY) Daily Times, 10 Sept 2011, Brian Kidwell: "Chinese businessman Jingtian (James) Ma’s plan to open an English as second language school at the former Academy at Ivy Ridge here may be credited to his listening to United States government radio more than 30 years ago. Mr. Ma, 55, says he hopes that one year from now, Chinese youths will come here to spend their last year of high school learning English at the former school for troubled youths on Route 37 west of the city. He bought the 238-acre campus last month in a sale that is expected to close next month. He also bought a former restaurant that not only will offer native cuisine, but will be expanded to feature specialty shops. But in 1977, Mr. Ma was an architect, fresh out of university in his native Qindao province. English was a challenge, so he decided to listen to language lessons that were broadcast on the Voice of America. It paid off, especially a few years later, when he was beginning a career in the import-export business. Others were stunned when told how he became so fluent. 'You learned English on the radio?' Mr. Ma last week recalled being asked. 'Unbelievable.'"

Oh oh. Some governors of the Broadcasting Board of Governors governing with expired terms.

Posted: 12 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Layalina Perspectives, September 2010, Matt Armstrong: "The BBG is the only federal agency run by a committee composed of eight governors appointed by the President, not more than four of whom may be from the same party, and the Secretary of State, who usually delegates his or her Under Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy as the representative. By statute, Governors’ terms are of different lengths to guard against complete leadership changes like the one occurring now. However, this requires action by the President and Congress to appoint new Governors when (or before) terms expire. The terms of the just replaced members of the Board expired four to six years ago (Governors whose terms have expired are allowed to continue serving until their replacement is confirmed). Sadly, due to unnecessary delays by Congress in confirming the new Board, (the slate was nominated in November 2009), three governors are serving on expired terms. The new Governors are: Walter Isaacson as chairman (for a term expiring August 13, 2012); Victor Ashe (August 13, 2010); Michael Lynton (August 13, 2012); Susan McCue (August 13, 2011); Michael Meehan (August 13, 2010); Dennis Mulhaupt (August 13, 2011); Dana Perino (August 13, 2012); and, S. Enders Wimbush (August 13, 2010)."

New York Times's new India Ink blog taps India's media "growth potential."

Posted: 12 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
paidContent.org, 9 Sept 2011, David Kaplan: "With newspaper revenues in a downward spiral in the U.S., it’s easy to forget that there’s one area where daily tabloids and broadsheets are still thriving: India. While the NYTimes.com’s new India Ink blog is an online only, it does suggest that western publishers may look to the large Indian market for growth potential, especially as broadband penetration and incomes rise there. The NYT’s sharper Indian focus comes more than two years after the Wall St. Journal launched its Indian effort. Given the accelerating ad market in India right now, it seems like the NYT should be able to catch the growth that’s happening there."

Apparently, Boston radio listeners are not so WILD about China Radio International.

Posted: 12 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
PRI's The World, 9 Sept 2011, Anne Donohue: "In June, Boston’s ... WILD began leasing its air time to an English language service of China Radio International, a product of the Chinese government. The programs are an eclectic mix of news and information on Chinese culture and society interspersed with syrupy English and Chinese pop music and the occasional Chinese language lesson. ... Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam has spent much of his summer listening to the new Chinese WILD. He found some of it amusing — features on hermaphroditic butterflies and snoring police at Beijing hotels, for example. But he also detected a decidedly pro-Beijing bias on some news stories. Even so, Beam thinks China International Radio might just work. 'I think it could easily be as effective as Voice of America, Deutsche Welle,' Beam said. ... Harvard Professor Joseph Nye has written extensively about China’s use of soft power. He says there are limits to how much goodwill China can create through government projects. ... '[T]the problem that CCTV or China Radio International faces is that its a governmental organ. And if its propaganda, it’s not attractive, and doesn’t produce soft power.' Nevertheless, China is throwing a reported $6.5 billion into this soft power initiative. But AM radio may not get them much bang for their buck. The ratings at the new WILD are dismal: they are reaching only half of their previous audience, about 500 listeners during any given 15 minute interval." See previous post about same subject.

The Wrap, 9 Sept 2011, Dan Bloom: "As you know from media reports by now, Sinhua [Xinhua], the state-controlled propaganda agency of the Chinese Communist Party, has leased a long-term advertising logo space in Manhattan’s iconic Times Square, renting a huge LED sign called a 'spectacular' in U.S. advertising parlance. ... Why China’s soft public-relations push in Times Square? Well, for one thing, Sinhua has introduced a CNN-like 24-hour English-language broadcast service — China Network Corporation (CNC World), which seeks to reach millions of gullible viewers around the world — with state-sanctioned propaganda of the most nefarious and sophisticated kind."

International channels for video reporting, because "no American TV journalists showed up."

Posted: 11 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 2011, Dave Marash, former Al Jazeera English anchor: "[C]omparing what the three American networks and the three cable news channels did on those two days in June with some foreign news channels—Iran’s Press TV, Russia’s RT, Britain’s BBC, and Qatar’s Al Jazeera English—we came away wanting more from America. ... Maria Finoshina’s report on RT, for example, on how selling and buying gas in Tripoli has become a female preoccupation because men in a city under siege had more important things to do, was news to me, and told me something more significant about Tripoli than the presence of angry supporters of Muammar Qaddafi. I also learned new things from RT’s Sean Thomas, who took me to the southernmost Russian Orthodox Church on Earth, in Antarctica, and from Press TV’s Ashraf Shannon’s story of conflict over natural gas in Gaza. During the civil war in the Ivory Coast, France 24 and Al Jazeera English regularly had reporters on the scene. My impression watching the story, confirmed with US officials there, was that no American TV journalists showed up. ... Al Jazeera English’s hallmark has been video reporting. 'We have better visual content than anyone else,' brags Snorre Wik, a director of photography at AJE. He says he’s regularly allowed to give the viewer a “sense of adventure, the feeling that they are experiencing something tangible and not in theory ... which is why real video is more valuable and more powerful than anything that anyone can tell you.' ... Lawrence Pintak, a former CBS News Middle East correspondent turned academic, says that AJE stands head and shoulders above all the other English-language news channels, because of its dominance in eyes-on coverage. AJE, he says, 'just plain has so many more boots on the ground. It has more boots on the ground than the BBC and armies more boots on the ground than CNN International.'"

Huffington Post, 9 Sept 2011, Michael Calderone: "Tony Maddox, managing director of CNN International, said that when coverage of the Iraq war was at its peak, the network had an operation of about 40-50 people on the ground. 'The bill was huge,' he said. 'It ran into millions of dollars.' Despite the large investment, Maddox said that CNN got a lot in return by producing stories for a 24-hour domestic network, CNN International, HLN and CNN.com. 'For the broadcast networks the model is different -- they still have the same shows they always had,' Maddox said, referring to their having less programming hours for news each day. 'The extensive investment in Iraq coverage would impact the bottom line. I do not know how each company dealt with that, but as a viewer I see less of a presence overseas.'"

"Feeding a supercomputer with news stories could help predict major world events, according to US research."

Posted: 11 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 9 Sept 2011: "Feeding a supercomputer with news stories could help predict major world events, according to US research. A study, based on millions of articles, charted deteriorating national sentiment ahead of the recent revolutions in Libya and Egypt. While the analysis was carried out retrospectively, scientists say the same processes could be used to anticipate upcoming conflict. The system also picked up early clues about Osama Bin Laden's location. Kalev Leetaru, from the University of Illinois' Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Science, presented his findings in the journal First Monday. The study's information was taken from a range of sources including the US government-run Open Source Centre and BBC Monitoring, both of which monitor local media output around the world." -- Open Source Center was previously the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. At the Open Source Center home page, this friendly greeting: "If you are not an authorized user, exit this system immediately."

Bangladeshi satellite TV channels may soon have easier access to India.

Posted: 11 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Press Trust of India, 7 Sept 2011: "Bangladeshi satellite TV channels may soon be able to telecast their programmes in India, Bangladesh's Information Minister said on Tuesday. 'The chief ministers (of four Indian states) assured me of taking steps so our private television channels can easily be downlinked in India,' Information Minister Abul Kalam Azad told newsmen emerging from a meeting along with eight other Bangladesh ministers on the sidelines of the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Azad added: 'this will create an opportunity for building people-to-people cooperation being wanted by both the neighbours.' Bangladesh TV channels currently require permission from Indian authorities for telecasting their programmes."

The Financial Express, 22 Aug 2011, editorial: "The fact is, while viewers in Bangladesh are bombarded with all kinds of Indian 'infotainment' -- TV serials, cinemas, talk shows and what-not, with hefty doses of advertisements of consumer products -- via their satellite channels, Bangladeshi TV channels are yet to enjoy similar access to viewers."

Chinese online activists concerned that further controls over China's internet "are imminent."

Posted: 11 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 9 Sept 2011: Grace Kei Lai-see and Yang Jiadai: "China's propaganda chief has spoken publicly about the problems of controlling the activities of the country's 500 million netizens, fueling fears that further attempts at control are on the way. Propaganda department chief Liu Yunshan made the comments on Wednesday during a round-table media discussion held with participants from China, Japan, and South Korea, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency. 'The central propaganda department won't be able to completely control [the actions] of 500 million netizens,' Liu was quoted as saying in response to widespread criticism of his department. 'The criticisms [leveled at us] overestimate the propaganda department,' he said. Many online activists have expressed concern that further controls over China's Internet users are imminent, especially in the wake of official campaigns against 'rumor-mongering' via social networks and microblogging platforms."

Taliban's web presence is in Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Persian, Urdu and English.

Posted: 11 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 9 Sept 2011, Bashir Ahmad Gwakh, Radio Mashaal broadcaster, commentary: "The Taliban once banned photography, movies, and use of the Internet on the grounds that they were all 'un-Islamic.' Now, however, the terrorist group’s perspective has radically changed. ... It possesses several Internet domains, which host official content and have backup domains in case of an attack on the main website. ... Although the Taliban has numerous blogs and websites, two of their official websites Al-Emarah.net and Shahamat.info (mostly videos) are their main official tools of propaganda. Along with pictures and videos, they provide text materials in Arabic, Pashto, Dari, Persian, Urdu and English. As not many people have access to the Internet in Afghanistan, the primary target group is foreigners. The Taliban reaches Afghans through pamphlets, brochures, mobile radio, audio and video CDs, magazines and religious sympathizers."

Cambodian human rights court starts contempt proceedings against VOA Khmer (updated again).

Posted: 11 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
AFP, 31 Aug 2011: "Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes court said Wednesday it had started contempt of court proceedings against Voice of America Khmer for revealing confidential information about a new Khmer Rouge case. The move comes after the US-funded news service posted an article and video on its website describing prosecution allegations of mass killings and other atrocities by three mid-level cadres during the regime's 1975-79 rule. The service cited a document obtained by a source close to the court. ... The news service chief Chris Decherd refused to comment directly on the court action, but said ... VOA's role was to serve Cambodian citizens 'who deserve and are well-served by objective and quality news reporting about issues and topics that impact and affect their daily lives'. This marks the first time judges have followed through on warnings to launch contempt proceedings, following numerous leaks to the media. Their terse statement however failed to clarify if action was being taken against the journalist, the editor or the producer of the piece, all of whom are understood to be in Washington, DC. 'They have no power to enforce contempt sanctions against a journalist who is not in Cambodia,' said Anne Heindel, a legal advisor to the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which researches Khmer Rouge atrocities."

Phnom Penh Post, 1 Sept 2011, Mary Kozlovski and Thomas Miller: "Commentators said yesterday the move was an attempt to stifle public discourse on cases 003 and 004, which many believe are set for dismissal amid political pressure."

VOA statement, 1 Sept 2011: "The Voice of America is concerned about a legal warning issued in connection with VOA coverage of the U.N.-backed tribunal in Cambodia that has been investigating atrocities committed by the former Khmer Rouge regime. ... Voice of America is concerned about the potential 'chilling effect' this threat by the co-investigating judges could have on coverage of an important international story. Some rights groups have accused judges at the tribunal of failing to fully investigate cases brought by prosecutors. Voice of America believes the warning issued by the co-investigating judges is unwarranted. The Voice of America has a journalistic and legal responsibility to provide balanced and comprehensive coverage of important issues. The careful use of confidential sources and documents that provide important insight into critical issues is a well-established practice by independent journalists the world over. Furthermore, the documents in question have been used by other news organizations. Voice of America and its Khmer Service are committed to providing accurate, objective and comprehensive coverage of the ongoing investigation into Khmer Rouge atrocities and issues of importance to the people of the region and the world." See also DPA, 2 Sept 2011.

Update: VOA News, 9 Sept 2011, Men Kimseng: "VOA Khmer reporter Sok Khemara, whose reporting in Cambodia last month is at the center of the contempt charges, told “Hello VOA” Thursday that he had received a number of threats and acts of intimidation in his 20-year career as a reporter. This has included threats from government officials who demanded he give up confidential sources or stop reporting a subject altogether, he said. 'Whatever the threats against me, as a journalist, I have a responsibility to bring the truth to the public,' he said. 'We don’t work for ourselves, but rather the public.'"

Great photos of the old VOA Kavala (Greece) shortwave relay station.

Posted: 11 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Picasa Web Albums, 11 Mar 2006, Charles Lewis: The Voice of America relay station at Kavala, Greece, "was one of the world's largest and most impressive international broadcasting facilities. It was a major US diplomacy player in the Cold War Era. It was shut down and the nearly 2000 acres site was returned to the Greece government a few years ago. I served there in 1997 to 2002, initially as Transmitter Plant Supervisor and then as Deputy Station Manager for the last three years." -- "Impressive" may be an understatement. In many instances, listeners to my VOA program "Communications World," in Japan, Australia, India, Europe, South Africa, and North America, would tune in to the program at the same time on the same frequency (9760 kHz). You might recognize one of the photos. (Thanks to Ivan Huziak for the link.)

Deutsche Welle partners with Vodacom to provide "Learning by Ear" telenovela to African mobile phones.

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Radio Netherlands Media Network, 9 Sept 2011, citing Tanzania Daily News: "African communications group Vodacom and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), have signed an agreement for provision of entertainment and social education programmes on various topics including democracy, human rights, HIV/AIDS and environment. The DW programme known as radionovela ‘Learning by Ear’ will be available on-demand for all mobile service subscribers. It is targeted to teenagers and young adults and provides information on important topics like HIV, human rights, democracy and the environment with an exciting mix of stories and features. Learning by Ear is produced in all of DW’s programming languages for Africa and is already broadcast in Tanzania as part of Radio/Kiswahili, Vodacom Head of Corporate Affairs, Nector Foya, said in a statement issued in Dar es Salaam on Thursday."

Al Jazeera Swahili "poaching" BBC talent. Al Jazeera Balkans building "glass studio."

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Variety, 10 Sept 2011, Christopher Vourlias: "Al-Jazeera, already a mainstay in Africa, has announced plans to launch a Swahili-language news network next year based in Nairobi, where Al-Jazeera English already has an East African bureau. According to local sources, Al-Jazeera has begun an aggressive recruitment drive to staff the new bureau. The move is part of the Qatari-owned net's global expansion that will also include new channels broadcast in Turkish and Spanish. Execs at Al-Jazeera are tight-lipped about the Swahili station, confirming only that it will launch in 2012. ... The deep-pocketed Qataris are already rumored to be poaching talent from Kenyan competitors, as well as the BBC's Swahili radio service. ... The new net should capitalize on the growing popularity of Al-Jazeera English, which many East African viewers consider to be more objective than Western competitors like the BBC and CNN."

Qvest Media press release, 9 Sept 2011: "The Qatar-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera is further expanding its international portfolio. The broadcaster is planning to go on air with a new news channel for the Balkan region in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. As a leading system integrator, Qvest Media has been commissioned by Al Jazeera to handle the implementation of all the associated technical studio, production and broadcasting capacities. ... Once construction is complete, Al Jazeera will report live with about 100 staff on-site in the local languages from a glass studio with news spanning the various regions."

Its 9/11 anniversary coverage will be "test" for Al Jazeera English.

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AP, 8 Sept 2011, David Bauder: "This weekend's events also may provide a test of whether Al Jazeera English, still seen mostly online in the United States despite its availability in a total of 250 million homes worldwide, can get past a lingering sense of hostility that many Americans feel toward it. ... [Owen Watson, international executive producer] contrasted Al Jazeera English's coverage to advertisements he has seen for domestic reporting of the event with the theme of 'America Remembers.' 'We're providing a niche that is not available somewhere else,' said Amjad Atallah, bureau chief for the Americas at Al Jazeera English. Still, Al Jazeera has a lingering image problem in the United States that has been most obvious in its failure to become available on all but a few cable television systems. Many Americans don't distinguish the Qatar-based network from its Arabic-speaking main network, Al Jazeera, which started in 1996 and had problems with the Bush administration, Atallah said." -- If Al Jazeera Arabic and English have the same name, and are part of the same company, then Americans are entirely justified in not distinguishing the Arabic and English sides. Al Jazeera can never be more credible than its least credible language service.

The Oakland Tribune, 8 Sept 2011, Bill Mann: "I was furious at CNN, MSNBC and other cable networks when they dropped virtually all their coverage of the battle for Tripoli still going on recently for a 5.8 earthquake on the East Coast. ('I don't even get out of bed for anything less than a 6.2,' one L.A. viewer e-mailed CNN's Jack Cafferty). ... Desperate for coverage of what was going on in Tripoli, I switched over to Al Jazeera's English-language TV feed at english.aljazeera.net. I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. It was almost like watching the BBC. It wasn't what I expected. If anything it was dull, but it had some great Tripoli coverage, most of it by solid British reporters of stories U.S. cable hadn't touched."

Commentator slams proposal by Euronews CEO for a Europe-wide TV license fee.

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Daily Mail, 5 Sept 2011, Mary Ellen Synon: "This is how it starts: first a European Commission fellow-traveller (in this case, Philippe Cayla, the head of Euronews, the broadcaster of so-called EU perspective news which is 25 percent funded by the commission) identifies a 'problem' – which is, according to Cayla, the fact that news broadcasters in Europe are largely depend on advertising and subscription. Not that Cayla explains why this is a problem -- mind you, it is a problem if you dislike ideological independence in your news reporting -- except perhaps that more people would rather watch real news put out by these ‘problem’ media organisations than by his own. Anyway, the Euronews boss proposes a solution to this ‘problem.’ He wants the EU to impose a license fee (ie, a new tax ) on all of us, to be taken by the EU but distributed by independent -- yes, sure --bodies outside the control of national governments. The money would go to ‘a number ‘of media organisations. Yes, not to all, just to ‘a number.’ As in, the new tax revenues will go to broadcasters anointed by the eurocrats."

EurActiv, 18 July 2011, Daniela Vincenti-Mitchener: "According to Cayla, the greatest challenge for a TV channel like Euronews is probably the transition to the Internet. 'We need a strong brand,' he argued. In a highly competitive business with thousands of other channels, he wants people to say 'I want to watch Euronews' and not X, Y or Z. Euronews started broadcasting 20 years ago with the aim of rivalling US news channel CNN. Since then it has opened services in 10 different languages, including Turkish and Arabic. Today, it has six million viewers per day and can be understood by 50% of the world's population, approximately three billion people, reckons Cayla. But Euronews' ambition is to be watched by half the world's population. Despite having given strategic priority to non-European languages, Cayla notes that Euronews did not intend to become an instrument of soft power, but happened to unofficially become one by broadcasting 'the image of Europe'."

Telesur reporter suggests "up to 50,000 people ... massacred" in Libya.

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Venezuealanalysis.com, 7 Sept 2011, Tamara Pearson: "'None of the private media belonging to the large transnational companies has reported on the large scale damage brought about by NATO,' said TeleSUR journalist Rolando Segura at the Thought Artillery vs Lie Factory conference held this week in Caracas. ... While Segura, who had just returned from Libya, said, 'It’s said that just as a result of the NATO bombing, more than 1,800 people have died, and now they are already saying that as a result of the conflict as a whole, the total could be up to 50,000 people who have been massacred as a result of this invasion and aggression against Libya'."

Venezuelanalysis, 6 Sept 2011, Nil Nikandrov: "The Libyan rebels' August 23 attack on the Venezuelan embassy and compound in Tripoli went largely unreported, though fatalities were narrowly averted as Venezuelan ambassador Afif Tajeldine and the embassy staff moved to a safer location at the last moment and left Libya shortly thereafter. ... It is widely expected that the approach the Empire put to work to destabilize Libya and Syria will in the foreseeable future be employed in Venezuela… Reuters mentioned the plan on August 17, saying that 'Political violence in Venezuela threatens to undermine the outcome of next year's election whether President Hugo Chavez wins a new six-year term or not'. Outbreaks of protests in Venezuela will be backed by vocal media campaigns launched by BBC, Euronews, CNN, Fox, Al Jazeera, etc. and will likely be paralleled by acts of vandalism and street killings perpetrated by terrorist groups which will sneak into Venezuela from other countries."

Correo del Orinoco International, 11 Sept 2011, via Venezuelanalysis.com: "This week Telesur welcomed home a news team just back from covering NATO’s war on Libya from that nation’s capital, Tripoli. On arrival at Venezuela’s Maiquetia International Airport, the journalists denounced the ongoing 'fabrication of lies' by mainstream media outlets and accused the international press of 'producing the arguments needed for a continuation of the war'. The Libyan people 'have been invaded by destruction, war, suffering and death, when the solution to the conflict could have been secured by peaceful means', affirmed Telesur journalist Rolando Segura, who spent the last four months in Libya alongside cameraman Henry Pillajo. ... Rodriguez pointed out that while NATO bombs continue to hit populated urban centers, 'we watch as the large networks like CNN and the BBC report on the precision of NATO bombs' instead of the impact these bombs have on the Libyan people’s daily life."

On 9/11 anniversary, detractors accuse US international broadcasting of "self-flagellation."

Posted: 10 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Commentary, 8 Sept 2011, Michael Rubin: "Now, as the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks nears, it may be time for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) to consider its mission and how it achieves it. 'Winston,' an Iranian expatriate blogger, points me to a section on the RFE/RL homepage called 'highlights' which includes a section called #my911, which features personal remembrances of that horrific day. Below is one of the remembrances published on a website funded by American taxpayers and written by a contributor from Peshawar, Pakistan: 'On that day my father and I were going from Peshawar to Charsadda to attend my cousin’s marriage… While on the way one of my friends called me on my cell phone, the use of which was still rare in those days, and he told me to switch on my television. However, I told him, “I am on the road and not able to get to a television now.” At the same time he told me that someone had attacked America. It was unbelievable for me but when I turned and told this to my father, a big smile appeared on his face. He replied that it had happened because of what America is doing with the international community. After that, when I reached Charsadda, I came to know that everyone was happy about the attack.' There’s a tendency among many U.S.-government funded broadcasters to believe broadcasting criticism bolsters credibility. In reality, many foreigners just find the self-flagellation pathetic. They tune into VOA and RFE/RL to hear news which their own governments censor, or which their own journalists could never tackle. Expressions of glee at the murder of nearly 3,000 people are not something RFE/RL should tolerate, whether on the RFE/RL website directly, or in a separate project among the 'highlights.'" -- Doesn't news "which their own governments censor, or which their own journalists could never tackle" include criticism of those governments? But if criticism of the US government is not covered, would criticism of the target country's government have any credibility at all? No, such a broadcasting effort would probably be dismissed as "pathetic."

Family Security Matters, 7 Sept 2011, Peter Gadiel and Patrick Dunleavy: "Integral to the defense of our values and ideals is the Voice of America, yet VOA in many cases appears to be unequal to the job. For example in 2009, [the] head of the Urdu service of VOA ordered employees of the South Asia Division to discontinue use of the term 'Islamic terrorists' and replace it with 'terrorists.' Also to be 'avoided' were 'Islamic Fundamentalism, Muslim Fundamentalists, Islamist and Muslim extremists.' VOA cannot possibly defend American values and ideals against a violent enemy when it refuses even to acknowledge that the violent enemy exists."

Event on Wednesday discusses "BBC's unique opportunity to bring the world to the UK when it integrates the World Service into the BBC in 2014."

Posted: 10 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
International Broadcasting Trust website (pdf): "Brave New World Service Invitation: 14th September, 6.30pm at Blenheim Salon, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX. We’re delighted to invite you to the launch of a new report looking at the future of the World Service, published by the CBA [Commonwealth Broadcasting Association] in association with IBT [International Broadcasting Trust]. Please join us next Wednesday evening for the launch event and a panel discussion with the report’s author, broadcaster and former hostage John McCarthy; Peter Horrocks, the Director of the World Service and Rita Payne, from the Commonwealth Journalists’ Association. Written by John McCarthy and Charlotte Jennwer, the report highlights the BBC's unique opportunity to bring the world to the UK when it integrates the WS into the BBC in 2014. Panelists include John McCarthy and Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC Global News and BBC World Service."

Some recordings of Kim's "Communications World" program on VOA, 15 September 2001.

Posted: 10 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
America Under Attack - Live web page, maintained in Hungary: This website in Hungary has the only known surviving recording of my VOA "Communications World" program just after the 9/11 attacks. My Washington FM Band/Bandscan, from the night of 11 Sept, might especially be of interest.

Just after the attacks occurred, VOA News Now, a global English-language news service, was keen to share any information it could obtain. I was called into the studio to talk about the New York City television stations that were suddenly off the air, at this critical time, because their transmitters were atop the World Trade Center buildings. My friend Ralph Brandi in New Jersey recorded some content from WCBS and WINS, the all-news stations in New York, ans sent it to me as audio files. That was also shared with the VOA News Now audience.

Smart TVs may provide international broadcasters (and their competitors) access to more target countries.

Posted: 10 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 8 Sept 2011, Jonny Evans: "Smart TV (also called 'Connected' or 'Hybrid' TV) is big news at this year's IFA trade show, where the likes of Samsung and LG are showing-off their connected TV products. These televisions are televisions with Internet access, which enables you to use the TV as a portal for all manner of online services. Surf the Web, share email or access any supported video-on-demand service, including YouTube. ... In future, some TV channels will be made available as apps on these next-generation devices - Euronews this week announced a deal with Samsung to offer its shows on that company's connected TVs. In years to come, it seems you'll subscribe to the channels you most like directly as apps, using these apps on your television, computer, iPad and smartphone. This will transform existing broadcast business models, and will require new cooperation between trans-national licensing bodies as broadcasters move to cater to increasingly international audiences with their content, and content providers seek compensation for the shows they create."

One of the impediments to international television is the difficulty for international broadcasters to obtain one of the finite channels on cable, DTH satellite, and IPTV systems in the target country. Smart TV theoretically expands the number of available channels to infinity, though it also expands the number of competitors to infinity. The international broadcaster's competitive position will improve if it has -- and does a good job of marketing -- an app that works on most available smart TVs.

Sudan Armed Forces spokesman criticizes Al Jazeera reporting and calls assault on its reporter "isolated."

Posted: 10 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Sudan Tribune, 7 Sept 2011: "The spokesperson of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad said today that the assault on an Al-Jazeera TV correspondent by Sudanese soldiers in Blue Nile state was an act of an individuals and isolated. Osama Sayed Ahmed recounted his ordeal on Al-Jazeera Arabic TV saying that he was verbally abused and beaten up by SAF soldiers who accused him of circulating false news on Blue Nile state. He was also ordered to leave the state where fighting erupted last week between SAF and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) military units. SAF spokesperson said that a commission was formed to investigate this so that incidents like these are not repeated stressing that attacking journalists is 'unacceptable'. He also urged news outlets to ensure accuracy in their reporting of SAF activities adding that Al-Jazeera’s report yesterday on the heavy gunfire Blue Nile state capital of Damazin dealt a setback to of efforts made to reassure displaced citizens to return home. Colonel Sa’ad said Al-Jazeera omitted to mention to the fact that the shooting was accidental thus opening the door wide open for speculations on a possible hostile act."

Radio Dabanga, 7 Sept 2011: "Osama Sayed Ahmed, correspondent for Arabic news network Al Jazeera, was arrested by the Sudanese security forces on Tuesday, a spokesperson of the Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) said. ... The SJN said, 'From what has happened to our colleague Osama, we can infer the intentions of the regime to stub out free voice and whoever goes out in search for the truth without any bias.'"

An Al Jazeera English Texas high school football contretemps (updated again).

Posted: 10 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net blog, 4 Sept 2011, Gabriel Elizondo: "I’m in the middle of a two-week drive across the United States. I am stopping along the way in small towns and big cities to talk to people of all walks of life about the wide-ranging impact (or not) of 9/11 on American life. ... 'Let’s stop at a random high school and film a game and talk to people about 9/11; what better a setting to immerse ones self into Texas rural life than high school football.' ... [Booker High School principal] Mrs Yauck bounced up from her seat, approaches me warmly, and gives me a wonderful Texas hospitality smile and said something to the effect of 'what an interesting project' I was doing. ... She said she was out of business cards, so I reached into my back pocket, pulled out my wallet, grabbed by business card, and handed it to Mrs. Yauck. I don't think anything can wipe that double-wide smile off Mrs Yauck’s face. But my Al Jazeera business card does the job pretty quick. 'So you’re from Al Jazeera,' Mrs Yauck says in a sharp tone, still looking down at my card. Looking up at me, she adds quickly, 'So what’s your spin on this story?'"

Aljazeera.net blog, 5 Sept 2011, Michael Lee, superintendent of Booker, Texas, schools, responding: "We did not have prior notice and we certainly did not have time to verify who you were. Also, I would have asked you not to do those things at a public event, on public property and at a public school function. If you had done these, then the FERPA rights for our students would very well have been violated, especially for the students whose parents have signed papers not allowing the pictures of their children on the web. I do regret however, that you did not return to talk to me more, or 'confront' me as you stated in your blog. I think we would have enjoyed a nice conversation."

Fort Worth Star Telegram, 6 Sept. 2011, Bud Kennedy: "Look, I'm not sure how they teach the First Amendment in Booker. But as long as nobody's interrupting the game, a peaceful conversation in a public place should not be Lee's business. Forget all that now. Elizondo ruined his own case by unfairly blaming Booker for being fearful and bigoted, just because he couldn't do interviews. ... Al Jazeera left out the most important part of any game story. Booker beat Hooker, 46-27."

Update: Amarillo Globe-News, 7 Sept 2011, Kevin Welcoh: "'The courts have given public schools considerable latitude in controlling their environment,' said Ken Paulson, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center, a free-speech advocacy group. ... 'If Al Jazeera went to a Booker football game to do an interview, and the reporter was taken into custody by police, it might be a First Amendment violation if local media did the same thing and didn’t get arrested.'"

Slate, 6 Sept 2011, Will Oremus: "Is Elizondo just being paranoid to see anti-Muslim sentiment at work? There’s no way of getting into the mind of the administrators, but comments on some of the conservative-leaning sites that have picked up the story make it clear they wouldn’t be the only Americans to shun Al Jazeera. ... Not that commenters on more liberal sites showed much more tolerance. One who posted on Wonkette shrugged at the report of the brush-off: 'I say the same thing to Fox Newsies.'"

American Thinker, 8 Sept 2011, William Sullivan: "The disgust presented in Elizando's blog screams hypocrisy. We have to wonder how he might feel about FoxNews reporters visiting a local soccer game in Anytown, Middle East, on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, asking how they felt about the event a year later."

Former Radio Netherlands journalist is appointed head of new Libyan television channel.

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Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 8 Sept 2011: "Former Radio Netherlands Worldwide journalist Tareq Alqzeeri has been appointed director of Libyan television channel Libya Alahrar. The news and current affairs channel was created shortly after the start of the Libyan revolution to act as a counterweight to former dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s state television. Mr Alqzeeri, who worked for RNW’s Arabic desk, was one of the founders of the opposition channel. The owner Mahmud Shammam, who is also Media Minister on the National Transitional Council, has asked him to transform the rebel channel into a fully-fledged news channel to replace Libyan state television at some point in the future."

New documentary film includes scene from shortwave listeners convention (updated).

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Movie Reviews by Dusty, 20 Aug 2011: "Resurrect Dead is not a flesh-eating zombie flick. It’s more of a film-noir documentary that follows a team of average citizens using their noodles to solve a mystery. The Toynbee Tiles started appearing in the early 80's. Most people ignored and walked over them without a thought. They appeared most densely in the Philadelphia area, but they have been spotted all over the East coast. If that's not enough to pique your interest, there are also Tiles in South America. ... The mystery leads our fearless sleuths to places where skepticism is a must. They find themselves at a short wave radio convention where they are following a lead. There is a scene here that is completely unrelated to the Tiles. A presenter at the convention gives a speech and demonstration of thought transference via short wave radio. ... The apparatus was a foil pie plate that he wore like a hat, with an antennae on top, or bottom depending on how you wish to view the pie plate." -- The shortwave radio convention was the 2006 Winter SWL Fest, near Philadelphia. The thought transfer session was tongue-in-cheek. I was at the event, but in another room at the time, trying to coax reception out of receivers at the Digital Radio Mondiale exhibit. See also www.resurrectdead.com.

Update: A.V. Club, 8 Sept 2011, Elliott Sharp interviewing director Jon Foy and producer Colin Smith: "AVC: What was one of the biggest leads you had in the investigation? JF: The biggest breakthrough was making a connection to shortwave radio—but to go further down that road will lead to pure spoiler territory. AVC: How did shortwave radio get introduced as a clue? JF: There was a newspaper article, an interview with a guy named Bill O’Neil who ran a website about the tiles up until the early 2000s. He received an email by someone who claimed to have come across the tiler on a Greyhound bus handing out handbills. When we tracked him down, it turns out this person didn’t see the tiler on the Greyhound bus, but he did come across a series of wheatpastes related to the Toynbee tiler that referenced shortwave radio transmissions. This clue became a major breakthrough that opened up a whole new avenue to pursue, and it was ultimately the right one."

"People do not need to like the United States in order to abandon violence."

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 8 Sept 2011, William McCants & William Rosenau: "In recognizing al-Qaeda's failures and weaknesses, we should reevaluate the political, military, economic, and other instruments the United States wields against terrorism. Three of these methods need particular scrutiny [including] ... one used in part of a broader set of information operations: positive messaging about the United States. There are excellent reasons to pursue public diplomacy, but countering terrorism is not one of them. The young people who are vulnerable to al-Qaeda's recruitment pitches are likely to be impervious to positive messages about the United States. In addition, linking public diplomacy with counterterrorism risks alienating intended audiences, which can easily detect the fear and hidden agenda lurking behind the friendly American smile. The United States needs to dissuade people from attacking its citizens -- but those people do not need to like the United States in order to abandon violence."

Katty Kay is new anchor of BBC World News America.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Bistro, 7 Sept 2011, Alex Weprin: "Longtime BBC Washington correspondent Katty Kay has been named lead anchor of 'BBC World News America,' the nightly newscast that airs on the BBC World News cable channel and on PBS stations across the U.S. Kay is effectively replacing Matt Frei, who had been the lead anchor on the newscast before jumping to Channel 4 in May. Kay also appears regularly on many U.S. networks on shows such as 'Meet the Press.'" With BBC press release.

Fox owns US rights to Canada's "Little Mosque on the Prairie," but doesn't develop the series in the USA.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Newsnight, 7 Sept 2011, Catrin Nye: "Influential American broadcaster Katie Couric has suggested a way to change attitudes to Muslims in the US. Pointing to the success in the 1980s and 90s of TV sitcom The Cosby Show in improving relations between African-Americans and whites, she argues that a Muslim version of the show may counter some Americans' negative perceptions of the community. But just across the border, in Canada, this 'Muslim Cosby Show' already exists. Little Mosque on the Prairie, made in Toronto, is recording its sixth and final series. ... The rights for Little Mosque were acquired by US TV network Fox, but the show was never remade. Creator Zarqa Nawaz says she has come up with something at least very close to the 'Muslim Cosby Show' four times already, but nothing has made it to the pilot stage in the US."

OpEdNews.com, 7 Sept 2011, Stuart Jeanne Bramhall: "I decided to watch a few episodes at http://watchlittlemosque.com/ ... I rarely campaign for letters and emails to politicians (they don't seem to accomplish much). However, in this case I think Fox needs to hear from several hundred thousand Americans demanding the right to watch Little Mosque on the Prairie on network TV."

Jacksonville public radio station replaces NPR's "Tell Me More" with BBC's "Tell Me More Cheaply."

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The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), 7 Sept 2011, Roger Bull: "WJCT (89.9 FM) is dropping the long-running 'A Prairie Home Companion' along with two other radio shows because of budget cuts. Effective Oct. 1: - 'A Prairie Home Companion' will be replaced by 'Bob Edwards Weekend.' - 'Tell Me More' will be replaced by BBC's 'World Have Your Say.' 'Tell Me More,' which airs weekdays at 1 p.m., wasn't particularly well-received, Boylan said. But the price is rising from about $8,000 a year to $16,500. 'World Have Your Say,' a global call-in show from BBC that will replace it, will cost $3,865."

CNN International notes ratings success among European business elite.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN International press release, 8 Sept 2011: "CNN is the international news channel of choice for Europe’s most senior business decision makers, according to the latest data from the Ipsos Business Elite (BE) Europe Survey, released today. The channel now outstrips its competitors on daily, weekly and monthly reach, cementing its position as the number one destination for international news. The 2011 survey, which examines the media consumption habits of senior business professionals in the largest companies across 17 European markets, illustrates reach during one of the most extraordinary years for global news in living memory. CNN International is placed ahead of its global rivals – including dedicated business channels – with a monthly reach of 33.5%, a weekly reach of 16.1% and a daily reach of 4.1%. CNN enjoys a clear lead over all international news, business and factual channels in all measures, including monthly, weekly and daily reach. According to the survey CNN was not only ahead of BBC World News and Euronews, but also outperformed the dedicated business networks CNBC and Bloomberg, by 184% and 194% respectively."

Thirty-three years since the umbrella murder of BBC Bulgarian broadcaster Georgi Markov.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Novinite Sofia News Agency, 7 Sept 2011: "Bulgaria [marked] Wednesday the 33rd anniversary since the murder of Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian émigré broadcaster and a dissident writer, who was poisoned in London in 1978. On September 7, 1978, Georgi Markov, had been walking on foot to a bus stop to go to work at BBC. Once he reached the Waterloo Bridge over the Times River, he felt a sudden pain, similar to an insect bite, at the back of his left leg. He looked back and saw a man, picking an umbrella from the ground, crossing the street in a hurry, and catching a cab. When he arrived at his office in BBC, Markov noticed a small red bump right where he felt the stinking earlier. He told one of his colleagues about the incident. The same evening, he was admitted in the hospital with high fever and died on September 11. ... [In 1971] Markov moved to London where he learned English and started working for the Bulgarian section of the BBC World Service (1972). ... Later, he also worked with Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe." See also Cold War Radios, 9 Sept 2011, Richard H. Cummings.

Iran is now jamming BBC Persian on two satellites: Eutelsat W3A as well as Hotbird.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 7 Sept 2011: "The deliberate jamming of BBC Persian TV from within Iran has now moved to two different satellites for the first time. The Hotbird satellite has been targeted since July and now the Eutelsat W3A satellite is subject to interference. Eutelsat, the satellite owner, has validated the geolocalisation of the source of the interference as being in Iran. Both BBC and Eutelsat condemn this extensive and deliberate act that is contrary to international conventions for the use of satellites. ... Last year, the ITU Radio Regulations Board urged Iran to end interference hampering Eutelsat satellite operations. BBC Persian TV continues to stream live online and on satellites T12 (15 degrees West) and EB2 (25.5 degrees East)."

Old news: BBC global iPlayer will offer previously broadcast "strands" from BBC News.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 8 Sept 2011: "On Friday 9th September 2011 the global BBC iPlayer app, available in 11 European markets will introduce a weekly-updated BBC News programme collection to its multi-genre video on demand service. A selection of highly acclaimed News strands, previously broadcast on BBC News channels – both domestic and international - over the past week will be available for new and current subscribers to stay informed and view at their leisure."

Broadband TV News, 8 Sept 2011, Julian Clover: "BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith has said the prospect of the new Global iPlayer eating the BBC’s own lunch is a danger that has been present for a very long time and requires careful management. Speaking at the opening session of IBC 2011 in Amsterdam, Smith said canabalisation had been an issue since the launch of BBC Worldwide’s channel business. 'Through careful windowing you can have content shown on your own linear channels and other broadcasters'." -- The BBC Worldwide international commercial channels include BBC Enetrtainment, BBC Knowledge, and CBeebies.

NHK documentary on Japan's earthquake and tsunami will be broadcast by English-language NHK World.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Realscreen, 6 Sept 2011, Kelly Anderson: "NHK, Japan’s national public broadcaster, will air programming this week that will address what life has been like in the region six months after its most recent major earthquake and tsunami. ... On September 11, NHK will air the special The Great East Japan Earthquake: The Unknown Threats of Mega-Tsunami, which uses footage to re-examine the destruction caused by the tsunami. The documentary will also broadcast on the English-language service, NHK World TV, on October 1."

State-BBG OIG inspects and reports on the "well managed" VOA Indonesian Service.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
US Department of State and Broadcasting Board of Governors Office of Inspector General, 31 Aug 2011, "Inspection of Voice of America's Indonesian Service." •The Voice of America (VOA) Indonesian Service (the service) is a well managed operation that has established a credible presence in Indonesian media markets with a strategy that relies on affiliate stations to broadcast its television and radio products. In more than 11 years, the service has changed from being a small, shortwave operation to a modern, vibrant, multimedia organization that carefully uses audience research to target its viewers and listeners. •Television has eclipsed radio in Indonesia, and the use of new media is growing rapidly; Indonesia is the second largest user of Facebook in the world. VOA Indonesian television broadcasts are carried on some of Indonesia’s largest stations. The service has appropriately directed resources in response to these changes in the media environment. •Although the percentage of news in the service’s television products is significantly lower than the percentage of feature material, the service believes that this ratio between hard/soft news and information is the appropriate mix, given the local media environment. On the other hand, the radio market is different and VOA radio programs continue to provide a larger percentage of hard news."

This plan for an American World Service is really for a domestic terrestrial service.

Posted: 09 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Columbia Journalism Review, Behind the News, 6 Sept 2011, Justin D. Martin: "I constantly wish for a twenty-four-hour network devoted to serious global news, like BBC World or Al-Jazeera. Even people in the US with expanded cable packages are denied serious global news coverage, of course, as most cable providers do not offer Al-Jazeera English and too many don’t carry BBC, and domestic cable news channels routinely cover hours upon hours of nonsense. ... In the July/August edition of CJR, Lee Bollinger offered a bold proposal to address these problems, suggesting creation of an 'American World Service,' much like BBC World News. Bollinger imagines the outlet as a catalyst to enhance the global exchange of ideas: '[A] media institution with sufficient funding to bring the highest-quality American journalism to the global public forum.' It seems to me that one of the primary benefits to an American World Service would be to also bring more serious global journalism to Americans."

While Mr. Bollinger's proposal was for a channel that would broadcast both domestically and internationally, Dr. Martin's implementation seems to be for domestic consumption. This would be a serious news channel that would be available on terrestrial television, thus not requiring a cable or satellite connection. But in almost all markets, the terrestrial channels are already spoken for. Would the government use eminent domain to bump a private, for-profit, commercial channel and replace it with this government-funded news channel?

Dr. Martin does not mention CNN International. CNN International might have more entertainment and sports news that Dr. Martin would prefer, but it has much more substantial world coverage than CNN domestic. Getting CNNI on more cable and satellite platforms would do much to overcome the world news deficit in the United States. If terrestrial distribution is desired, CNN International could be placed on a digital subchannel of a partner stations. No government funding would be required: CNN International pays for itself through advertising, much of it by countries promoting tourism, trade, and investment. It does not take much imagination to see a business plan emerging here -- both for CNN International and BBC World News.

Another feature of Mr. Martin's plan is that it would employ VOA journalism. One of the best arguments for the repeal of the Smith-Mundt prohibition of domestic dissemination is that US international and domestic broadcasting could barter content, strengthening the output of each side. The BBC world and domestic services greatly benefit from such an arrangement. So do CNN International and CNN domestic.

In America Calling: A 21st Century Model, I suggest that US international broadcasting be franchised to a consortium of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC. The consortium would provide the senior executive board, firewall, expertise, and newsgathering resources. In turn, the consortium members would benefit from the regional and language expertise of US international broadcasting.

Herald de Paris, 8 Sept 2011, Jes Alexander: "Time-Warner ... still [has] a whole lot of fixing to do to HLN, the former CNN Headline News channel. The half-hearted HLN re-branding was a monumental blunder. My suggestion to Time-Warner is to quickly re-vamp the mostly goofy HLN while Nancy Grace is off dancing. You have three outstanding newsrooms in CNN proper, CNN International, and CNN Mexico, there is no reason you can’t present headlines from around the globe, 24/7, increasing your market share without increasing your payroll. How? It’s simple, really. The single largest minority demographic in the US is Latin-American. By losing the talking heads of the Nancy Grace era and replacing them with English language news delivery from the CNN Mexico newsroom, you can’t help but to attract a stronger audience. So, too, you have to stop selling airtime to infomercials and cable outlets. It’s unbecoming of a news channel."

Al Jazeera English is "no-frills, though not quite stuffy, news with a foreign accent."

Posted: 08 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Market Watch, 7 Sept 2011, John Friedman: "I’ve watched a steady diet of Al Jazeera over the past few weeks to see what makes the network tick. It is no-frills, though not quite stuffy, news with a foreign accent. Put it this way: If the BBC and Bloomberg News got together and had a baby, the offspring might be something just like Al Jazeera. ... I saw well-produced, thoughtful pieces about political, economic and financial subjects that gave me a keener understanding about places I’ll probably never get to visit — or learn about on the 6:30 p.m. evening news shows. I learned about the panic in a Pakistani village suffering landslides after a deluge, the aftermath of the election in Japan, Ramadan buffets and accusations that food was being wasted during the period, the World Athletic Championships from South Korea, world-class sprinter Usain Bolt’s stunning disqualification because of a blatant false start, and press coverage of a carnival in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood."

Report: Botswana invited the US to send troops to guard the VOA relay facility in that country.

Posted: 08 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
New Zimbabwe, 6 Sept 2011: "Botswana invited the United States to send troops to guard a transmission station used by the Voice of America's Studio 7 to broadcast into Zimbabwe, leaked diplomatic cables show. Zimbabwe’s western neighbour was concerned by rising rhetoric against the radio station which is funded by the United States government and broadcasts from Washington through medium and shortwave. ... Zimbabwe has in the past spoken strongly against Botswana's decision to continue hosting Voice of America (VOA) transmitters. It claims they are being used by the United States government to transmit propaganda against President Robert Mugabe."

Head of Al Jazeera Kabul bureau, held in Israeli prison, asks to see his doctors (updated).

Posted: 08 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 4 Sept 2011, Joanna Paraszczuk: "The Haifa District Court ordered the Israel Prison Service on Sunday to file a written response no later than Monday regarding a petition over the detention of Al Jazeera journalist Samer Farik Mohammad Allawi. Allawi, the head of Al Jazeera's Kabul bureau in Afghanistan, was arrested on August 9th when he tried to cross into Jordan over the Allenby Bridge. According to Al Jazeera's Jerusalem bureau, the Palestinian born journalist, who heads the Qatar-based news agency's Kabul branch in Afghanistan, was returning from a three-week vacation with his family near Nablus. Israel suspects Allawi of belonging to Hamas and of carrying out actions against state security. Allawi, who is being held in custody in the Kishon Detention Center after Samaria Military Court ruled that his detention will be extended, had petitioned the Haifa District Court to order the Prison Service to permit his doctors to visit him in prison."

AFP, 3 Sept 2011: "About 150 journalists, photographers and cameramen demonstrated in Gaza City on Saturday for Israel to release the Palestinian head of Al-Jazeera's Kabul bureau. They held a sit-in in front of UN offices to demand 'the immediate release' of Samer Allawi. ... The demonstrators called on the United Nations to intervene against Israel's 'arbitrary' detention which 'violates the freedom of the press.'" See previous post about same subject.

Tablet Magazine, 1 Sept 2011, Lee Smith: "Last week the Israeli daily Maariv relayed a report from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs explaining that Israel is incensed with Qatar and intends to break off relations with the spunky Persian Gulf emirate. ... As part of its campaign against Qatar, the Maariv report claimed that the Israeli government would no longer allow journalists employed by Al Jazeera, the Qatari emir’s de facto public diplomacy wing, to operate within its precincts. However, the station’s bureau chief is still working from Jerusalem and is in little danger of being chased out of the country. Nonetheless, by shining the spotlight on Al Jazeera, Israel is illuminating the satellite network’s negative influence in the region."

Update: AFP, 7 Sept 2011: "Al-Jazeera satellite news channel has called on Israel to release its former Kabul bureau chief ahead of the journalist's appearance before a court on Wednesday. ... According to [its] statement, Israeli authorities used Allawi's personal passwords to gain access to Al-Jazeera's internal news and email networks."

For expats in China, getting satellite TV involves "four guys turning up at your doorstep with a car boot full of dishes."

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 6 Sept 2011, Joseph Jones: Getting satellite TV in China "consisted of four guys turning up at your doorstep with a car boot full of dishes. At my old apartment the security guard ranted a bit when they tried to put the dish. Apparently the proximity of the nearby PLA barracks meant that there was a danger military frequencies could be picked up. Luckily the PRC's plans for Taiwan never did flash up onscreen and interrupt Jamie Oliver. The TV package was an illegal Philippine feed. Along with the usual offerings, there were a number of peculiarly Pilipino television channels: the Christian ones. At least half a dozen of the 50-odd channels were completely dedicated to a strange kind of evangelical Christianity. Even when the Chinese government periodically scrambled every other channel, JCTV (yes, that's right, JCTV) would come beaming through. Amongst its programming delights were 'show and tell' shows on how man had coexisted with dinosaurs and 'evidence' of Noah's Ark, complete with khaki-clad experts and an array of dubious-looking fossils and relics. ... On the plus side, football-mad Asia means I can watch the beautiful game for seven hours straight on a Saturday night. All I'm waiting for now is to find a half-decent British pub serving a ploughman's lunch, and my reasons for moving back to the UK go down by one." -- The Philippine feed is Dream Satellite TV on Koreasat 5 at 113.0°E, popular among expats in China for its English-language channels and good signal into China. Even though it appeals primarily to expats, its widespread adoption in China suggests that an audio channel on this package consisting of VOA and RFA Mandarin would be worth a try. When VOA Mandarin radio is eliminated, the non-RFA portion of the 24 hours could be filled with VOA English (now mostly for Africa, thus of interest to African expats in China). See also the Lyngsat age for Dream Satellite TV.

SABC International is finally in the news. The news is that SABC International no longer exists.

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Update (South Africa), 5 Sept 2011: "SABC journalist and presenter, Desiree Chauke ... said ... 'In 2000 I was invited to join SABC Africa, and the basis is that they will want full commitment and at the point I stopped the addition of activities and focused my energies on SABC, which has been the case since. SABC Africa doesn’t exist anymore, I moved to SABC International and it was closed down for various reasons and at the moment I am based at Morning Live as the producer of the show'." -- Channel Africa, however, is still on the air.

CNBC Africa and Namibian Broadcasting Corp begin content partnership.

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Update (South Africa), 6 Sept 2011: "CNBC Africa and the Namibian Broadcast Corporation (NBC) have concluded a strategic partnership that will see top quality business news content from the channel being broadcast across Namibia from September. The agreement will also see CNBC Africa featuring more Namibian content on the 24/7 network across Sub-Sahara Africa. ... This agreement will in essence see CNBC Africa setting-up a bureau at the NBC in Namibia – giving the channel the opportunity to source business and economic interviews from the country, while the NBC will have access to CNBC Africa’s business news content and programming to distribute on its terrestrial platform. CNBC Africa is distributed in 49 Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa via Multichoice and also is available on DStv channel 410." -- CNBC Africa, based in Cape Town, is licensed to use the CNBC name, along with some CNBC and NBC programs.

Syrian news agency accuses Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya of "blatant hostility."

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Syrian Arab News Agency, 3 Sept. 2011: "A number of satellite channels entered a new stage of bltanat [blatant] hostility towards Syria, calling openly for providing terrorist groups with weapons and money and adopting all opinions that support this regardless of who is behind them or what agenda they're carrying out. In the coverage of these channels – particularly al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya – of Friday's events in Syria, all reports called for arming the terrorists and foreign interference in Syria in a manner that betrays clear annoyances and disappointment over the gradual return of normal life to several Syria cities which had witnessed criminal acts by armed terrorist groups."

Syrian Arab News Agency, 2 Sept 2011: "The family of child Mousa Salameh on Friday related the details of how he was injured while playing in the streets, denying the lies of channels that claimed that he was shot dead by security forces. ... Mousa's uncle Ghazi al-Melhem said that his nephew is alive and in good health, discrediting the allegations made by al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya that he died and that he attending a funeral."

Press TV, 4 Sept 2011: "Syria's national television has broadcast confessions of an individual that had cooperated with foreign media in fabricating footage on demonstrations in the country, Press TV reports. Mohammad Ibrahim Khanoudi's confessions were broadcast on the Syrian state-run TV on Saturday, a Press TV correspondent reported. The 45-year-old Syrian national admitted to joining a foreign-funded media group that fabricated videos of demonstrations and repressions by the Syrian security forces. ... The fabricated videos were sold to stations like al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya and Orient TV for USD 100 each clip, according to Khanoudi."

Hulu launches Hulu Japan, while Netflix begins Lat Am rollout.

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
paidContent.org, 1 Sept 2011, Staci D. Kramer: "Hulu’s first offering outside the U.S. is live: Hulu Japan, a subscription service with 'hundreds' of films and thousands of hours of TV. For ¥1,480 a month or roughly $18.50, Japanese subscribers can watch across an array of devices just like U.S. subscribers of Hulu Plus with one exception—Hulu Japan is ad free. Then again, they are paying more than twice the $8 monthly lug of Hulu Plus in the U.S. Hulu Japan launches with programming from CBS, NBCUniversal International Television Distribution, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company (Japan) featuring content from Disney/ABC Television Group and The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Disney, Fox and NBCU are equity owners in the online video portal. But the launch version doesn’t offer Japanese programming. Hulu promises to rapidly add more programming, including Japanese-produced content and content from across Asia. ... Hulu Japan is more like streaming video rival Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) than Hulu U.S. in one respect: TV shows are previous seasons, not current."

Update: Home Media Magazine, 6 Sept 2011, Erik Gruenwedel: "Netflix has formally bowed subscription streaming service in Brazil, the first of 43 planned Latin America countries, the Caribbean and Mexico. ... On the Sept. 7, the Spanish-language version of the Netflix streaming service goes live in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. ... Netflix is expected to launch streaming operations in Europe by next year, beginning in Spain."

US Institute of Peace event on Friday will discuss "media interventions in conflict zones."

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
United States Institute of Peace, "Media in Conflict: The Evaluation Imperative," 9 September 2011, 9:00am to 12:15pn EDT, in Washington. "Never before have the media played a more integral role in conflict management. At the same time, funding agencies and policymaking bodies have greater expectations for demonstrating impact and efficacy in this area. To meet these growing needs, media development practitioners, donors, international broadcasters and methodologists have collectively authored the USIP PeaceWorks titled 'Caux Guiding Principles.' The Principles aim to improve monitoring and evaluation of media interventions in conflict zones. Such media interventions can consist of the media working to promote a particular message to influence public opinion, or they can be projects geared towards building the capacity of media organizations themselves." The keynote address will be given by David Ensor, the new VOA director. Bruce Sherman, on the staff of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, will also be speaking. -- I hope that international broadcasters, in their understandable desire to contribute to "conflict management," don't forget that the audience is mainly interested in credible, reliable news. See my essay on this subject.

Euronews claims it is "the most distributed international channel on connected TVs." Now where is the owner's manual?...

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
DigitalTVEurope, 5 Sept 2011: "News broadcaster Euronews has significantly expanded its presence on connected TVs after signing recent deals with a number of TV manufacturers. The news channel has signed deals to bring its content to connected TVs from Philips, Samsung, Toshiba and LG as well as Vestel and Loewe via NetRange MMH, an independent manufacturer of white-label products. Euronews said it was becoming the most distributed international channel on connected TVs. According to the broadcaster the connected TV market is estimated to reach over 123 million sets by 2014." See also Broadband TV News, 5 Sept 2011. "Miguel Relvas, [Portugal's] parliamentary affairs minister, ... told journalists that the government would pre-pay €225 million in debts owed by the state-owned broadcaster RTP in 2012 within the framework of preparations for privatisation. ... However, with a clear emphasis on the financial reality following the EU/IMF bailout of Portugal, Mr. Relvas informed the commission he had asked RTP both to rethink its €2 million contract with the Euronews channel and 'to find synergies' with national news agency Lusa, particularly in terms of international bureaus."

African movies distributed to the world through Roku players and connected TVs.

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Appmarket.tv, 2 Sept 2011, Richard Kastelein: "SyncTV, the leader in delivering television services to the largest set of Internet-connected TVs, mobile devices, and other service-enabled devices, today announced a new partnership with UK-based video-on-demand (VOD) service, African Movie Channel (AMC), to deliver hundreds of authentic classic, recent and new Africa-origin films to both Africans and the global diaspora through Roku Streaming Media Players and Samsung Connected TVs."

Rapid TV News, 4 Sept 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French-speaking international channel TV5 has enriched its TV5Monde+ Afrique web TV channel with a Facebook app. The web TV service, developed by ViewOnTv, can be watched live on its Facebook fan page offering varied content from and about Africa. It is the latest in an upping of the ante by TV5 in the interactive space and follows the addition of TV5Monde+Afrique to the TV5Monde offering embedded on connected TV sets."

Ten years after 9/11, is a lighter US military footprint the best public diplomacy?

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 5 Sept 2011, Andrew Hammond: "Like the Cold War, the challenges that are posed by the campaign against terrorism cannot be met by hard assets alone. ... This factor is, ironically, very well understood within the top echelons of al-Qa'ida. For instance, its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has said 'more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. We are in a media battle for the hearts and minds'. Similarly, bin Laden emphasised the importance of communications, once noting 'the media war in this century is one of the strongest methods; in fact, its ratio may reach 90 per cent of the total preparation for the battles'. It is in this context of winning Muslim hearts and minds that, 10 years after 9/11, Obama now has such a precious political window of opportunity to relaunch the campaign against terrorism. Seizing the moment would require the US giving higher priority, as it did during the Cold War, to public diplomacy, broadcasting, development assistance and exchange programs."

CNN, 5 Sept 2011, Steven Kull commentary: "When George W. Bush, in what has to go down as one of the greatest public diplomacy missteps of all time, announced a 'crusade' against terrorism, the assimilation of American actions into the long-standing narrative of Western hostility to Islam was all but complete. ... As America begins to gradually disengage from Iraq and Afghanistan there is the potential for negative feelings toward the United States to begin to abate. Muslims generally perceive U.S. military forces in the region as a threatening presence designed to keep the region the way America wants it to be. Any lightening of America’s military footprint will further mitigate this sense of being coerced."

Iranian media accuse BBC Persian of encouraging Kurdish rebel attacks.

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 5 Sept 2011: "The state-funded British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is seeking to encourage the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) terrorist group to continue militant attacks against Iran. A senior member of the PJAK leadership council, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the BBC in a recent interview that she decided to join the militant group to fight for the rights of Kurds. She added that she is ready to kill Iranian soldiers for her cause, IRNA reported on Monday. The BBC report said that since Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) recently deployed a large number of its troops to the northwest of the country along the border with the Iraqi Kurdistan region, PJAK has been preparing for a full-scale confrontation with Iran."

Human Right Watch describes difficulties for VOA reporter in Angola.

Posted: 07 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
AlertNet, 5 Sept 2011, citing Human Rights Watch: "On September 3, 2011, police agents and groups of unidentified men apparently allied to the authorities violently dispersed an anti-government rally involving several hundred protesters. The demonstration, at Luanda's Independence Square, called on President José Eduardo dos Santos - in power for 32 years - to step down. ... Alexandre Neto, a journalist with the Portuguese-speaking radio service of Voice of America, told Human Rights Watch that unidentified men knocked him down and took the backpacks that contained his mobile phones. ... On August 21, police disrupted a news conference being given by the September 3 demonstration organizers in Luanda, seizing their documents and briefly detaining five organizers. On the same day, police also briefly detained VOA journalist Alexandre Neto, and confiscated his camera, after he had taken pictures of the location of the planned news conference. All were released from custody on the same day and the police returned the journalist's material." See also Committee to Protect Journalists, 6 Sept 2011.

VOA press statement, 7 Sept 2011: "Voice of America deplores an assault against one of its journalists in Angola Saturday, which took place as he tried to cover a pro-democracy rally in the capital Luanda. ... Voice of America urges the authorities in Angola to respect the rights of journalists and insure they are not subjected to attack while performing their duties. The incident on Saturday is one of several cases of VOA reporters being harassed in Angola and it is the second time police have tried to take photographic equipment from Mr. Neto."

Media Institute of Southern Africa, 7 Sept 2011: "Two reporters from the Portuguese RTP were also assaulted and their camera damaged during the events, the station said. Antonio Cascais, also a Portuguese journalist with the German radio Deutsche Welle, said he was beaten and assaulted after arriving at the demonstration site, and was not returned his material."

Tough room: private South Korean group will try satellite TV directed to North Korea.

Posted: 06 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA News, 6 Sept 2011, Steve Herman: "A private South Korean group says it intends, as soon as next year, to beam satellite entertainment television programs into the isolated North. North Koreans are allowed to watch only the government’s television channels, which mainly broadcast news, movies and documentaries predictability exhorting the successes of the country’s communist leadership. But a group of South Koreans wants to give those on the northern side of the divided peninsula some lighter fare, hoping that will help unify, at least culturally, the two Koreas. Unification TV is to be composed primarily of South Korean dramas and other entertainment programs. ... The station’s founders say the programming they will air should be neutral and inoffensive to the leaders in Pyongyang or Seoul. Skeptical analysts note it would be nearly impossible for impoverished and repressed North Koreans to acquire and install the roof-top satellite dishes and receivers needed to view the TV signal from space."

US Army radio station in Afghanistan: Pashto ballads, call-in, jokes, and Army's narrative.

Posted: 06 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 24 Aug 2011, Kevin Sieff: "DJ Abed Lawang is one of the biggest names on the airwaves, known for playing hit Pashto ballads, telling jokes and hosting a popular call-in show about farming practices. But there’s one key fact the disc jockey has never told his listeners: He is broadcasting from a studio on a U.S. Army base, delivering messages written by American military officers. He is one of more than 20 radio DJs in Paktika province, and dozens more across the country, who are engaged in what the U.S. military considers a crucial operation: persuading residents in an area dominated by insurgents to embrace Afghan and NATO forces. In practice, that means he has to pause between Pakistani love songs and pas­sages from the Koran to read about the heroism of Afghan and American armies, as well as the destruction wreaked by insurgents. The commentary is not always well received; he uses the pseudonym to protect himself... . The radio campaign has been a boon to the U.S. war effort, enabling the Army to advance its own narrative after successful operations or destructive Taliban attacks. ... 'We hear the station’s messages about the Afghan government and ISAF achievements. It is sometimes good information, but many people here assume [Light FM] is run by Americans. It doesn’t seem independent,' said Ali Mohammad Nazari, 20, a Sharana resident."

BBC Worldwide names EVP for Latin America, with more regional EVPs to come, "driving international revenue growth" (updated).

Posted: 06 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 31 Aug 2011: "BBC Worldwide, the main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the BBC, today announces that it has appointed Fred Medina to the role of Executive Vice-President (EVP) for Latin America with effect from 12 September. In this newly-created BBC Worldwide role, Medina will be responsible for BBC Worldwide’s strategic development in Latin America and in the US Hispanic market, delivering new brands, products and services initiatives to drive future revenue growth across the region. He will be based in Miami ... . The new role reflects BBC Worldwide’s stated strategic aim of driving international revenue growth and an increased focus on regional opportunities, and will see similar roles created for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and for Asia, in addition to existing positions for North America and for Australia and New Zealand."

Update: BBC Worldwide press release, 5 Sept. 2011: "As part of its strategy to drive international growth, BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s main commercial arm and a wholly owned subsidiary of the BBC, today announces the appointment of a regional Executive Vice-President (EVP) for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Joerg Bachmaier. ... Joerg comes aboard from Endemol Group, where he was Senior VP/General Manager for the Americas for Endemol Worldwide Brands."

RFE/RL Azerbaijani correspondent abducted, expelled to Iran (updated).

Posted: 06 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 2 Sept 2011: "A freelance correspondent for RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Radio Azadliq, is back in Baku after being abducted and forcibly expelled to the Iranian border by unidentified men in the Azerbaijani exclave of Naxcivan. Yafez Hasanov had been in the Julfa district to investigate the death of Turac Zeynalov, who had been summoned to Naxcivan's National Security Ministry on August 24 on accusations of 'working for Ira' and found dead the following day. ... Hasanov, who has reported for Radio Azadliq since 2010, said on Wednesday (August 31) he was planning to investigate other sensitive cases in the region when three men in a vehicle commonly used by state security agents stopped him on the street and told him to get in the car. ... Hasanov was driven to the district customs office and told to cross the border and return to Baku via Iran. ... RFE/RL President Steven Korn called the incident 'outrageous, dangerous, and criminal,' and said that 'it warrants an explanation from the Azerbaijani government.'" See also Azeri Report, 2 Sept 2011.

Update: Reporters sans frontières, 6 Sept 2011: "Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the unacceptable escalation in harassment of the media by the authorities in Nakhchivan, an autonomous Azerbaijani exclave between Armenia and Iran, especially last week’s expulsion of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reporter Yafez Hasanov (Яфез Xасанов)."

Pakistan's information minister wants "deep interaction between Radio Pakistan and China Radio International."

Posted: 06 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Press Trust of India, 4 Sept 2011: "Pakistan's Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, who is [in Beijing] here on an official visit ... said APP [Associated Press of Pakistan] was planning to formulate specific segment of news sharing in Chinese language. She said Pakistan was in 'talks to give landing rights' to Chinese state-run TV channel CCTV as given to international electronic media outlets. The minister said that we are also examining how the Chinese language programmes in Pakistan vis-a-vis Pakistani programmes, including drama, documentaries, arts and culture and youth programmes can be telecast in each other countries. 'We want deep interaction between Radio Pakistan and China Radio International (CRI),' she noted." See also APP, 4 Sept 2011. -- I'm not sure which story was first.

Alaska calling the Philippines: Another story of shortwave listening during captivity.

Posted: 06 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
USA Today, 1 Sept 2011, Rick Hamson: "Martin and Gracia Burnham, American missionaries, are kidnapped in May 2001 in the southern Philippines by the Muslim rebel group Abu Sayyaf. They’re moved through the jungle as the rebels try to get ransom. ... 5.20.2002: The Burnhams persuade their captors to let them listen to a shortwave radio. They find a Christian station in Alaska and hear their first spoken Scripture in almost a year, from Romans 8: 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' The preacher continues: 'If you are in the midst of a hard situation, and if you could hear Christ in the next room praying, you wouldn’t be afraid of a thousand enemies. He would be calling your name.' The minister prays for the oppressed and the persecuted, including Christians treated wrongly because of their faith. Martin and Gracia look at each other, tears in their eyes. It’s like he’s praying for them." -- The Christian shortwave station in Alaska would be KNLS, Anchor Point, whose English transmissions are beamed to the "Pacific Rim."

Commentator praises Al Jazeera for "taking the side of the people against the dictators."

Posted: 05 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 4 Sept 2011, Nehad Ismail: "I must confess that up to a year or so ago I had been somewhat uneasy about some of the Al Jazeera Arabic output. This has now changed. I am now an ardent admirer of the Station's honourable stance in taking the side of the people against the dictators in such an unambiguous and decisive manner. ... This is not to say that other Channels notably Al Jazeera English, Al Arabiya and BBC Arabic are not doing a sterling job. Their coverage of the uprising has been of the highest professional standards, but less strident and more restrained than Al Jazeera Arabic. Al Jazeera and al Al Arabiya have played a pivotal role in the popular Arab uprisings. Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya were described as contemptible dogs by Gaddafi and Bashar al Assad." -- For news channels, I still vote for "less strident and more restrained."

The Peninsula (Doha), 5 Sept 2011: "The Algerian media has launched a campaign against Al Jazeera channel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy alleging that they have joined hands to destabilise the Algerian system, Egyptian daily Al Ahram has reported. The Algerian media has alleged that there is a secret understanding between Al Jazeera and the French president to export the Arab spring to Algeria and change its political system. Algerian French newspaper Liberty said some Algerians had successfully tried to block Al Jazeera’s website."

CNN International report catalogues pro- and anti-Gadhafi Libyan television channels.

Posted: 05 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 2 Sept 2011, Nima Elbagir: "Pro- and anti-Gadhafi television channels are popping up across Libya. CNN's Nima Elbagir reports." Video report.

BBC Monitoring, 2 Sept 2011: "For Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the loss of Tripoli also meant that he lost his media outlets - a main driver of his personality cult and his authoritarian rule up until a week ago. An extensive media group of dozens of domestic and satellite radio and TV channels, newspapers and magazines vanished, leaving Col Gaddafi with severely limited choices. After National Transitional Council (NTC) forces went into Tripoli on 21 August, dozens of Col Gaddafi's TV and radio stations swiftly went off the air and the publication of state press ceased."

Iranian punk musician says appearance on VOA's Parazit "is the end of me going back to Iran."

Posted: 05 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Huffington Post, 3 Sept 2011, King Raam, lead singer of Iranian-American punk band Hypernova, as interviewed by Gaby Dunn: "I went and did an interview on [Voice of America]. There's a show called 'Parazit.' 'Parazit' is like the Iranian Jon Stewart. They have 500,000 fans on Facebook and they're watched by 40 million people a month. If you go on that show in Iran, and they're like basically an anti-governmental show, speaking out against the government's brutality. Basically if you go on that show, you are automatically on the blacklist for never going back home. I finally decided to do it. Almost every single Iranian on the planet watches that show. If I go on this show, this is the end of me going back to Iran. Because my friends with much less records than mine, they went back and their passports were taken away at the airport."

Alhurra's program Al Youm went to Cairo for Eid.

Posted: 05 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Middle East Broadcasting Networks Inc press release, 1 Sept 2011: "Alhurra’s primetime magazine program Al Youm celebrates Eid live from Cairo’s Tivoli Dome today. Al Youm's Egyptian fans can come out to watch the live show co-hosted by Engy Anwar and Amr Khalil. The broadcast will feature a performance by Egyptian singer Ramy Sabry who will sing his hit song Kelma. ... Engy Anwar remarked, 'I am really looking forward to meeting with Al Youm’s audience for the second time. Having the show outside the studio always brings a whole new energy to the program.'"

New app brings CNBC content to "different internet connected devices" in Europe, Middle East, Africa.

Posted: 05 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 3 Sept 2011, Robert Briel: "CNBC, the business and financial news channel, has launched the CNBC Real-Time TV App, available for connected TV platforms throughout the EMEA [Europe, Middle East, Africa] region. The CNBC Real-Time TV App, which is free to use, allows viewers to access content from CNBC’s TV and online platforms via their internet connected televisions, giving them access to the latest essential business and financial news and data. Features of CNBC’s Real-Time TV App include CNBC’s latest EMEA videos with CEOs, market analysis and investor insights; Real-time market data with live data from the London Stock Exchange, NYSE, NASDAQ and Deutsche Börse (further exchanges will be added in due course) and a My Portfolio feature enabling viewers to personalise a watch list of up to 30 favourite stocks for easy monitoring The CNBC Real-Time TV App is available via different internet connected devices, including TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and home theatre systems on Panasonic Viera Connect, Philips Net TV, Samsung Smart TV and on the Virgin Media cable network in the UK."

BBG seeks proposal for VOA social networking studies in Lagos, Jakarta, and - even though VOA no longer has Arabic - Cairo.

Posted: 05 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
FedBizOpps.gov, 29 July 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Governors [sic: meaning the BBG governors responsible for the IBB?] requires a contractor to conduct a social networking study of the following markets: Lagos, Nigeria, Cairo, Egypt, and Jakarta, Indonesia. The Broadcasting Board of Governors operates the Voice of America (VOA) is a U.S.-based, publicly funded international broadcaster dedicated to providing objective news and information to audiences in under-served media environments around the world. While traditionally focused on delivering its content via broadcast media, VOA is moving aggressively to expand distribution via new media platforms. In particular, recognizing the explosive growth of social networking around the world, VOA is interesting in exploring how this phenomenon can best be used to supplement and enhance its traditional methods of content distribution. To succeed in this effort, VOA requires a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of exactly how web and mobile-based social networking contributes to the flow of information in key markets."

Cairo? VOA no longer broadcasts in Arabic. Arabic has been turned over to Alhurra and Radio Sawa.

The report of such a study should say this, but probably won't: In the shortwave era, VOA had 120 million listeners. With the advent of social media, VOA will have 120 million competitors. Going back to shortwave is not the answer (too late now, anyway). But what is the answer in this new age of overabundant content sources? What will elevate US international broadcasting to more than a spit in the ocean? As a first step: the entities of US international broadcasting must quit competing with each other. It is time to consolidate their resources and talents.

By the way, I'm responsible for VOA audience research in Indonesia. This is the first I've heard about the Jakarta study. One of the reasons I curate news about international broadcasting from the house where I live is to find out what is going on inside the building where I work.

In interview, head of Polish Radio External Service provides mixed message about his station's mission.

Posted: 05 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The Warsaw Voice, 2 Sept 2011, Peter Gentle interviewing Marek Cajzner, head of the Polish Radio External Service: "Q: In its broadcasts, which reach target audiences on FM, AM, traditional shortwave and as webcasts, the station builds a favorable climate for business relations between Poland and the European Union, on the one hand, and countries beyond Poland’s eastern border, on the other. How does that fit into your overall mission? Cajzner: The Polish Radio External Service works on three fronts. One direction is to reach Polish communities abroad. Another one is to draw countries to the east of Poland into the sphere of European and pro-Western thinking. Yet another direction is both eastward and westward-oriented. It is to promote Poland as a European and world player and a good partner in business. The goal of the Krynica forum is to build economic bridges. For our part, we are also aiming at projecting Poland as a country offering investment and business opportunities, and, in relation to the countries beyond Poland’s eastern border, a country which understands their problems well and can bring business to them. ...

"Q: Poland is the next-door neighbor of Belarus, a country that many say is frozen in time. It is also seriously underreported in the Western media. What is your station’s role in informing the people of Belarus about what goes on in their own backyard, also in terms of the economy, and in letting the world know about the situation in Belarus? Cajzner: These two directions complement each other. Obviously, we talk to Belarusians in Belarusian, and to ethnic Poles there in Polish. We reach them through FM/AM relays from Ukraine and Lithuania. It is in Poland’s interests that Belarus changes. But for that to happen we also need to sustain interest in what is happening there among Western European countries and in the EU. We need to give plenty of coverage to Belarus in our broadcasts to the West, also on our website in English. We are excellently positioned to do that, given that we have a network of our own correspondents across Belarus. Our Belarusian service understands its audience very well and we can pick up stories emerging from Belarus and broadcast them to our Western audiences."

At www.thenews.pl, the English-language portal of Polskie Radio, I did not find a section devoted to news about Belarus. After a search, the most recent news item about Belarus was from 25 August.

Mr. Cajzner's responses position the Polish Radio External Service as both a provider of news and a public diplomacy instrument to promote Poland. A look at thenews.pl, however, reveals a serious news site, with no hint of a public diplomacy mission. Promoting Poland as a "good partner for business," etc., is probably best accomplished by 60-second television ads on foreign channels, not by an entire radio station. These ads would ideally be commissioned by a Polish public diplomacy agency, not by a news organization. See also Polska: "the official promotional website of the Republic of Poland."

The Irish love hurling so much they will listen to it on shortwave.

Posted: 04 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
RTÉ Radio Worldwide web page: "RTÉ Radio will broadcast the GAA All Ireland Hurling Final on Sunday, 4 September and the All Ireland Football Final on Sunday, 18 September on all wavelengths and via the internet to Irish people and communities around the world. ... Shortwave to Africa: In Africa, where many Irish people live and work, often in relative isolation with poor communications, RTÉ is providing special transmissions on shortwave radio." -- Via leased shortwave transmitters outside of Ireland, which has not had its own shortwave broadcast service since the 1940s. (Via RadioActivity, 3 Sept 2011, Alokesh Gupta.)

As EU investigates French government payments to AFP, could AFP take on same "public service" role as France 24?

Posted: 04 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 31 Aug 2011, Gabriele Steinhauser: "The European Union's competition regulators are examining whether France is providing tens of millions of euros in unfair state aid to Agence France-Presse, sparking deep concern among officials of the French news agency. AFP Chief Executive Emmanuel Hoog said the agency was hoping to avoid the 'darkest scenario,' in which it would be forced to return to the French government the portion of 10 years worth of payments deemed illegal. The French government pays the agency euro111.65 million ($161.3 million) a year in subscriptions for its ministries and administrations, which the European Commission says accounts for 40 percent of the agency's revenue. ... France, which is already overhauling its relationship with AFP, could also try to get subsidies to the agency approved as compensation for a public service provided by the agency, as it has successfully done with TV news channel France 24."

New VOA director David Ensor interviewed by NPR's Scott Simon.

Posted: 03 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
NPR Weekend Edition Saturday, 3 Sept 2011: "Host Scott Simon speaks with David Ensor, who took over directorship of Voice of America last month. A longtime journalist for NPR, CNN and ABC News, his most recent post was in Afghanistan, where he was director for communications and public diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul."

Mr. Ensor's main challenge will be to keep VOA relevant during a new era of content overabundance, rather than the content scarcity of previous decades.

During the interview, Mr. Ensor says that on 6 September, VOA will begin special broadcasts with information for Somalia refugees. His reference to working with a "sister station" suggests use of the Radio Sawa medium wave relay at Djibouti. See previous post about similar broadcasts of BBC Somali.

Crowdsourcing Cablegate: Aljazeera.net asks readers to select "most interesting" of WikiLeaks unredacted US cables.

Posted: 03 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 2 Sept 2011: "More than 250,000 US diplomatic cables are now online after WikiLeaks published its entire collection unredacted. Our journalists want your help to find the stories contained in them. ... Copy-paste a link to the cables you find most interesting and send them to Al Jazeera in the form below. We will be reading your confidential responses and turning the best ones into stories. If you have additional information we need to know, please also add it to the form."

In Kenya, controversy over digital TV distribution contract to Chinese company.

Posted: 03 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Africa-Asia Confidential, August 2011: "In Kenya, Chinese companies have landed a couple of deals but not without riling the local private sector and attracting criticism around issues of national security issues. Pan African Network Group, a Chinese company, won a lucrative bid to distribute digital TV signals across Kenya last month. Of at least six bidders, only Pan African Network Group qualified, according to Francis Wangusi, the head of broadcasting at the state-run Communications Commission of Kenya. James Rege, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy, Communications and Information, said that he would launch an investigation to determine why local companies did not qualify for the bid. Rege said that the awarding of the licence to a foreign company, one from a country prone to censorship, had opened Kenya to sabotage. The Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services lost an appeal on the contract to the Communications Commission of Kenya. The Kenyan controversy followed the accusations in mid-June of pro-democracy Ethiopian Satellite Television. The company accused Beijing of supplying technology, training and technical assistance to allow the authorities in Addis Ababa to block short-wave radio and satellite transmissions."

Radio Prague celebrates 75th anniversary with promise of no further budget cuts for at least a year.

Posted: 03 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Prague, 31 Aug 2011, Jan Richter: "Marking Radio Prague’s 75th anniversary, the Czech-born, UK-based writer, and former Radio Prague reporter Benjamin Kuras and Radio Prague’s own David Vaughan discuss the most interesting moments in the station’s history." Audio report.

Radio Prague, 31 Aug 2011, Jan Richter interviewing Jan Bondy, head of the Czech Foreign Ministry public diplomacy department: "Q: Radio Prague suffered severe budget cuts in recent years, including one of over 40 percent. What are the outlooks for the future? Bondy: It’s true that the cuts were enormous, but they affected the whole ministry, not just Radio Prague; we had to close some embassies and so on. But it looks like there should be no budget cuts for at least next year."

Radio Prague, 31 Aug 2011, Radio Prague director Miroslav Krupička as interviewed by Sarah Borufka: "[T]he focus is shifting from shortwave to the internet, social networks, to what we sum up with the term new technologies. One of the results of the shrinking budget is the closure of our shortwave broadcasts, which happened earlier this year. And we have to somehow reach the audience in other ways; we have to replace the old technology with new ways of reaching listeners. Radio Prague’s internet site is quite well developed. I think we were one of the first Czech media to launch an internet site, back in 1994. We currently have one million visits a months on radio.cz, but there also are other technologies, for example the social networks."

Radio Prague, 31 Aug 2011, message from listener Stan Schmidt: “I started listening to Radio Prague back in 1968. I was spending the summer with my grandparents at the farm, and in the kitchen, there was an old tube radio with a wooden cabinet and my grandfather still used it to listen to the farm reports and baseball games. And that 1930s radio was how I found shortwave and Radio Prague. I would like to thank you for all the news and entertainment over the years.” More anniversary greetings on 3 Sept 2011.

See previous post about the same subject.

BBC Worldwide launches Lonely Planet Magazine in Thailand, as it prepares to sell the publishing rights.

Posted: 03 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide Press Release, 29 Aug 2011: "BBC Magazines launches Lonely Planet Magazine in Thailand, making it the tenth international edition of the publication since its launch in the UK in 2008. ... The first issue of Lonely Planet Magazine Thailand is on sale from 1 September 2011, with a 120, 000 print run and a cover price of 100 Thai Baht. ... The magazine is now available in the UK, Korea, Brazil, France, Spain, Asia (Singapore), Argentina, Philippines, Taiwan and India, with more international deals in the pipeline. ... On 16 August 2011, BBC Worldwide and Exponent Private Equity announced that they have signed a sale and licensing agreement for the publication of titles currently published by BBC Magazines. Under the terms of the deal Exponent will acquire, in full, Radio Times and a number of magazines less closely aligned to the BBC, as well as the rights to publish BBC-branded titles under licensing and contract publishing arrangements." -- Lonely Planet will be under license to Exponent. See The Guardian, 16 Aug 2011 and BBC Worldwide press release, 16 Aug 2011.

"Overwhelmed with questions and suggestions on relief aid," BBC Somali launches daily program on the subject.

Posted: 03 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 1 Sept 2011: "BBC World Service has launched special radio broadcasts to serve the Somali-speaking population affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa. The purpose of the daily 15-minute radio programmes by BBC Somali is to help people to make informed decisions that may help them survive the famine. At 14.15 local time (11.15 GMT) every day, Gurmad (Rescue) on BBC Somali delivers special news bulletins, practical information and expert advice for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). It will also reach those who have stayed in their home towns and villages. Editor of BBC Somali, Yusuf Garaad Omar, comments: 'We have been covering the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa since it started to unfold, and our reporters were overwhelmed with questions and suggestions on relief aid – or lack of it. So we decided to devote a special programme to address these issues, and as a majority of those affected are Somali-speakers, it was also obvious that BBC Somali is the right channel to reach these people.' ... Available on shortwave and BBC FM relays across the Horn of Africa, Gurmad is also rebroadcast by the BBC's partner radio stations: Kenya's Star FM, whose network covers Dadaab refugee camp and Mogadishu; Shabelle FM in Mogadishu, Somalia; and the private Somali network, SBC. Gurmad also features on a special index on bbcsomali.com, in text and audio."

Low-price satellite pay-TV package to Uganda includes "BBC World, CNN and Al Jazeera."

Posted: 02 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 2 Sept 2011, Sikonathi Mantshantsha: "Naspers Ltd. (NPN) will expand its pay- television service to Uganda next week priced at about $7 a month and roll out packages in other African countries to add subscribers in an underserved market. 'The low-price packages are really meant to give someone an opportunity to be a pay-TV subscriber and then hopefully to scale them up to the higher-price packages,' Eben Greyling, chief executive officer for pay-TV at Naspers, Africa’s largest media company, said in an interview. 'If you look at our current penetration there is certainly much more room to grow.' Naspers added 977,000 pay-TV subscribers in the year ended March 31, taking its total to 4.9 million across the continent, including 3.5 million in South Africa. The expansion of the African pay-TV market may be propelled by 221 million consumers who will advance from poverty to earn annual incomes of $1,000 to $5,000 by 2015, according to McKinsey & Co. estimates. Last month Naspers introduced a $7 a month package in Zambia. Before Naspers, the country only had a state-owned broadcaster. Naspers will use the low-priced package of 20 channels, including access to the 'Big Brother' show and Africa Magic and Africa Magic+ film and music channels, to gain a mass market for pay-TV, Greyling said by phone from Johannesburg. Among the channels are news stations including , and entertainment and religious channels, he said." -- Naspers is a holding company that owns 100% of satellite-delivered Multichoice Africa. It's interesting that the Naspers name rather than Multichoice (mentioned once), or Multichoice satellite service DsTV, is stressed in this article.

BBC World News will broadcast "Kung Fu Nuns" documentary. (If you're outside of India, good luck finding the schedule.)

Posted: 02 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
TVnext.in, 1 Sept 2011, Avantika Gaikwad: "'Kung Fu Nuns' is the intriguing title of a documentary film which will be telecast on BBC World News on Saturday, 3rd September... . Directed by Indian documentary film director Chandramouli Basu, this 22 minute film by 24 Frames is produced by Arjun Pandey and Ambica Kapoor. ... This is the story of an incredible transformation taking place among Buddhist nuns in some Himalayan communities. The film shows the struggle of a group of nuns of the Drukpa lineage who break centuries of tradition to cross barriers of male dominance which have excluded them from some practices and learning, and kept them secondary to the monks. Their cause has been decisively pushed by one man - His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the Drukpas." -- BBC World News doesn't really have a website any more, so it's difficult -- well, actually, for me, it was impossible -- to find more information about this program.

An important function of the BBG firewall is to protect US international broadcasting from the Heritage Foundation.

Posted: 01 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 31 Aug 2011, Helle Dale: "The U.S. should work with the Broadcasting Board of Governors to make international broadcasting part of an integrated government-wide U.S. counterterrorism communications strategy. The firewall established by the U.S. International Broadcasting Act of 1994 between State and BBG to ensure editorial independence for the broadcasters has turned into a detriment in terms of resource allocation and lack of congressional oversight."

I think the Heritage Foundation misses the Soviet Union. The USSR provided a large, easy-to-hit adversarial target. The Soviet Union also established central planning, which is what the Heritage Foundation would like to employ to "integrate" the content US international broadcasting. Instead of market based international broadcasting, which provides the audience with the credible news they are seeking, a central committee for the coordination of content would determine what the audience should listen to. Except that the audience will tune elsewhere.

Chairman of Rádio e Televisão de Portugal says "every reason" to make suspension of shortwave transmissions permanent.

Posted: 01 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 31 Aug 2011, citing TVI24: "The chairman of the board of Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP), Guilherme Costa, said on Tuesday that the company has 'every reason' to suspend the shortwave transmissions of RDP Internacional. Mr Costa, quoted by the Lusa news agency, said such a platform is obsolete from the technical point of view, is generally poor quality in terms of reception, and is expensive, adding that discussions about shortwave began within the organisation in May 2009. He said that RDP had received 190 messages on the suspension of shortwave broadcasts, and more than half came via email from people who can listen to broadcasts on the Internet. RTP announced in May that it would temporarily suspend the shortwave broadcasts of RDP Internacional from 1 June, citing the low number of listeners and the need to reduce costs." From TVI24, 30 Aug 2011.

New DRM digital shortwave receivers, but are they coming soon to a dealer near you?

Posted: 01 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital Radio Mondiale North America, 31 Aug 2011: "Currently we are informed that India officially will launch DRM. Therefore the immediate demand in India is quite promising. Also Brazil and Russia is reviewing DRM for the official launch and DRM consortium people are promoting DRM in those countries. We naturally should aim the markets that have plans to start DRM broadcasting officially like India, Brazil and Russia. There is a lot of interest from Europe and Australia and we will go to the markets with high interests. North America? Why not? If there is demand, we will look into the possibilities to launch our products. However we need to study the market very carefully. ... We are getting some actual requests from broadcasters and local distributors in different countries. Throughout IBC show in September we will meet more potential customers for commercial productions. We have decided to emphasize on the DRM reception with good audio quality to go into the market quickly. Other multimedia functions and other data service function can be added by customers’ requests later on. Our ultimate goal at the moment is 'spread affordable DRM radios as soon and as many as possible'. We will offer both module type and final product type and the customers can decide their release time and date." See also PDF overview of MSway’s DRM products and strategy. And DRMNA, 29 Aug 2011.

Fraunhofer press release, 30 Aug 2011: "Fraunhofer IIS, the world’s renowned source for audio and multimedia technologies, today announced the availability of the Fraunhofer MultimediaPlayer for digital radio standards Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM30/DRM+) and DAB (DAB Classic/DAB+). The software enables device manufacturers of PC-based receiver solutions and smartphones to seamlessly integrate playback of digital radio programs, as well as the variety of data services offered by digital radio."

So when your neighbor's XAVB2602 interferes with your shortwave reception, turn on your vacuum cleaner and hair dryer.

Posted: 01 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Netgear press release, 31 Aug 2011: "Netgear, Inc., a global networking company that delivers innovative products to consumers, businesses and service providers, today introduced the Powerline AV+ 200 Nano Dual-port Set (XAVB2602)... The Powerline Nano Dual-port Set features a tiny adapter that plugs into any electrical outlet and provides two Ethernet ports for connecting Internet-enabled devices such as TVs, PCs, Blu-ray(TM) players and video game consoles to home networks. Powerline networking, which makes connections through a home's existing electric wiring, is ideal for reaching rooms beyond the range of WiFi signals, without the cost and complication of installing Ethernet cables. ... Interference from devices that emit electrical noise, such as vacuum cleaners and hair dryers, may adversely affect performance. Powerline devices may interfere with devices such as lighting systems that have a dimmer switch, short wave radios, or other powerline devices that do not follow the HomePlug Powerline Alliance standard."

Every few months we are reminded that bluesman Taj Mahal listened to shortwave as a child.

Posted: 01 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Madison.com, 31 Aug 2011: "Growing up in Springfield, Mass., blues legend Taj Mahal used to huddle at the foot of the family’s shortwave radio as sounds from all over the globe filled the house. 'I’d be listening to music from Havana, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Dakar, Senegal,' said Mahal, 69, born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks in Harlem, N.Y. 'I can still see myself punching into Honolulu and hearing this music with depth and soul and gravity, and thinking, "Wow, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to see what it’s like there?"' This exploratory spirit has served as Mahal’s guide from the moment he released his self-titled debut in 1968. Though a bluesman at heart — the singer/guitarist learned his craft studying the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker — Mahal’s music has always encompassed a more worldly point of view, incorporating elements of those Caribbean, South American and African sounds that filtered into his psyche while he listened to his parents’ radio as a child." -- He was probably listening to the great Radio Tahiti rather than any shortwave station from Hawaii that I'm familiar with.

China's English-language CCTV News and CCTV Documentary will be available in Washington (updated).

Posted: 01 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
MHZ Networks press release, 29 Aug 2011: "CCTV News and CCTV Documentary launch as two new MHz Networks 24/7 channels in the Washington, DC metro area on October 1. CCTV News, a global news channel broadcasting headlines, business, money and travel magazine programs in English from China launches on MHz Networks 3. Viewers will be able to watch the channel on digital broadcast 30.3, Comcast 273, Cox 472, RCN 32 and Verizon FiOS 458. CCTV Documentary, a channel featuring cultural, historical, nature docs, information and more about the world in English from China launches on MHz Networks 6. Viewers will be able to watch the channel on digital broadcast 30.6, Comcast 276, Cox 475, RCN 35 and Verizon FiOS 452. Frederick Thomas, MHz Networks Chief Executive says, 'The addition of CCTV programming in D.C. opens a full-time window into China for all the residents of the region through free over-the-air and cable TV distribution.' CCTV joins the existing MHz line-up of premier full-time broadcast partners in DC, including Al Jazeera English, France 24, NHK World TV and RT/RT Espanol. Thomas adds, 'There is perhaps no other country which all Americans wish to know more about than China.'" (Via Radio Netherlands Media Network, 30 Aug 2011.)

Unless they are moved elsewhere, these channels will be bumped from the MHz Networks Washington-area bouquet: 1) Metro Chinese Network (now on 30.3), a mixture of Mandarin-language entertainment and news programming from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. 2) MHz Native, a mix of Vietnam's VTV4, mostly in Vietnamese with some English, and Euronews in Germans and Italian. The other channels on the ten-channel bouquet include NHK World, RT (Russia Today), Al Jazeera English, France 24, RT in Spanish, Arirang TV (South Korea), and Ethiopian TV.

Regarding the CCTV channels in Washington, there is, of course, no reciprocity. US broadcasts in Mandarin are not transmitted within China. This is why "Publicize the lack of reciprocity in media between China and the United States" is one of the planks in my strategy for US international broadcasting to China.

Will Xinhua's English-language CNC World bid for another of the MHz Networks channels, in order to keep up with rival CCTV News? Perhaps China's English-language Blue Ocean Network will also join in.

Update: TPM, 31 Aug 2011, David Taintor: "Speaking on limited press freedom in China, [MHz Networks chief Frederick] Thomas said, 'We don't limit who we carry. We try to bring all of it through. We leave it to the viewer to decide what they're looking at.' And certainly, popular uprisings across the Middle East and Africa have raised Americans' awareness of international news outlets. 'Without beating up on the American news networks, there's no secret that there's been a retreat on international coverage,' Thomas said. 'These other networks, in a sense, fill that void. You ight want to factor in the source from time to time, but generally speaking, when you're able to get contrasting views, you're able to get a better sense what's going on.'"

Media Bistro, 31 Aug 2011, Alex Weprin: "And they [CCTV] are hiring! Check out a posting for a business producer on our job board here."

In Burma, some websites become accessible, but not those of BBC, RFA, and VOA Burmese.

Posted: 01 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
Mizzima, 30 Aug 2011, Tun Tun: "Some previously banned Web sites including Mizzima’s Burmese language Web site and other exile-based news Web sites and blogs are now accessible in Burma. IT experts could not explain the new availability and warned that it could be temporary. The English language Web site of Mizzima is still banned, however. Likewise, the Norway-based DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma) Web site’s Burmese section and the BBC, RFA and VOA Web sites are still banned in Burma. ... According to tests made by Mizzima reporters in Rangoon on Tuesday, the Web sites of CNN, the English- language Bangkok Post and Reuters are still banned. ... The BBC Burmese Service Web site is still not available, but people can access the BBC World Service [in English] and also the mail Web sites of Hotmail and Yahoo. Despite some opening up of banned Web sites, Internet users said that the speed is now slower than before. An Internet café shop owner said that the highest speed available on Tuesday was 50 Kbps."

Libya Alhurra and Springfield Alhurra conflated by dint of sloppy journalism.

Posted: 01 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link
The New American, 30 Aug 2011, Joe Wolverton II: "[D]espite his own claims ... that [Libyan journalist Mohammed] Nabbous was one of the unfettered voices crying in the wilderness of war, [journalist Don] DeBar insists that Nabbous was 'clearly a U.S. agent.' As proof of his claim, DeBar points out that Nabbous 'founded Libya's version of al-Hurra.' The entry for al-Hurra posted on Wikipedia explains that 'Alhurra (or al-Hurra) (Arabic: الحرّة‎, al-Ḥurrah [alˈħurra] 'The free') is a United States-based satellite TV channel, sponsored by the U.S. government.' Furthermore, Wikipedia states, 'The station is forbidden from broadcasting itself within the U.S. under the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act concerning the broadcast of propaganda.' What is clear, then, is whether or not Nabbous was a U.S. agent, he was employed by a media company funded by the government of the United States.

Two lessons here. First, use Wikipedia as your first but not your only source of information. In May, Mohammed Nabbous founded Libya Alhurra, not affiliated with the Alhurra (based in Springfield, Virginia) that is under the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Second, "Alhurra" was a poor choice of name for the USIB Arabic channel because many organizations in the Arab world, with varying degrees of validity, call themselves Alhurra (Free). (In April, the Libyan rebels set up a mobile network called Libyana Al Hurra.) The consolidation of US international broadcasting should result in a single, global, memorable brand name befitting a news organization.

PanArmenian.net, 31 Aug 2011: "According to a classified cable sent by former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson, Turkish MFA Deputy Director General for Security Affairs Sakir Torunlar called the embassy on April 18, 2007 to express concern about a program on the Armenian Genocide scheduled to be aired on Iraqi TV station Al Hurra. Torunlar said that, 'were this a commercial station with advertisers, it might be understandable, but al Hurra appears to be congressionally funded.'" -- Mr. Torunlar's perception was correct: the Iraqi Alhurra is part of the Springfield Alhurra.

Update: Times of Malta, 1 Sept 2011, Ranier Fsadni: "The National Transitional Council’s station, Libya al-Hurra, has transmitted ... poetry and, no doubt, the art will continue to play a role in narrating the various battles as part of a seamless narrative."

Sudanese president promised to release all journalists, but Radio Dabanga employees still in custody.

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 30 Aug 2011, Johan van der Tol: "Last weekend, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir promised to release all journalists in his country. He said their release was an important step on the road to full press freedom. But will he keep his promise? 'Promises by presidents have not always been fulfilled. Right now, only one journalist has been freed, but others - and there are many more - haven’t. So we're weighing the value of his comments,' says Hildebrand Bijleveld, the Dutch editor-in chief of the independent Sudanese Radio Dabanga. Dabanga is based in the Netherlands under the name Radio Darfur and broadcasts news and other programmes via shortwave to Sudan. Dabanga is not allowed to operate inside Sudan. The station is financed by the NGO Press Now, which supports independent media organisations all over the world. Radio Dabanga's offices in Khartoum were closed in 2010 after a raid by the Sudanese security police. Nine of its employees were detained."

Reporters sans frontières, 29 Aug 2011: "Abdelrahman Adam, an employee of Radio Dabanga, and six of the station’s other employees, who have been detained since 30 October 2010, were not freed. ... Broadcasting on the short wave from the Netherlands, Radio Dabanga is the only station that specializes in covering the situation in Darfur. As it is not legally recognized by the Sudanese authorities, its employees in Sudan lack press cards and official recognition of their status as journalists. The detained Radio Dabanga employees are accused of divulging state secrets, undermining the constitutional system, calling for resistance and inciting sedition ... . [One of the violations] carries the death penalty."

Al Jazeera commentator writes of a "re-imagined BBC World Service, infused with the hip, cosmopolitan tenor of Al Jazeera."

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 30 Aug 2011, Tarak Barkawi: "[W]hat if Britain began to think of itself as an authentically post-colonial state? What if it fostered an identity that encompassed both sides of the imperial experience, the coloniser and the colonised? All of a sudden, those who have been so excluded from British life, immigrants from former colonies, would be propelled to the centre. They would be equal participants in 'Brown Britain' with a humbled ruling class once again open to the influences of the East, willing to mix with native society. Instead of the UK being a place where other countries have diasporas - Pakistani, Nigerian, Malaysian, et cetera - the UK would have networks and diasporas of its own, who fully identified with the project of Brown Britain. They would be a leading edge for business and influence around the world. A re-imagined BBC World Service - infused with the hip, cosmopolitan tenor of Al Jazeera - could become the voice of Brown Britain and of the aspirations of a post-imperial world."

In India, partnerships with CBS, BBC seek to add FM radio licenses, and "Big CBS Prime" TV channel will launch.

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
DealCurry, 29 Aug 2011, Irfan Khan: "Reliance Broadcast is talking to PE funds and strategic investors to raise upto $86 Mn for it's radio business. The company which owns radio channel BIG FM and three English entertainment channels, launched recently in a joint venture with CBS Corp. The company will use the funds to buy radio licences in the upcoming auctions. It expects to own 100 radio licences after the auctions. ... The promoters of Radio-One, a JV between Next MediaWorks and BBC Worldwide, are also investing fresh funds in the company to buy new frequencies in the up-coming auctions. It runs FM stations in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Pune."

Press Trust of India, 18 Aug 2011: "Anil Ambani-led Reliance Broadcast Network on Wednesday entered into an equally-owned joint venture with global media conglomerate CBS Studios to launch a series of television channels in India, a burgeoning market currently valued at around Rs26,000 crore. The JV, Big CBS Networks, will initially launch English general entertainment channels (GECs) such as ‘Big CBS Prime’ for the upwardly mobile, ‘Spark’ catering to the youth and ‘Love’ for women audience. 'We feel the English GEC segment in India is very limited and hence there is a tremendous scope for growth in the market which is estimated to overtake the US market in terms of homes having access to satellite television,' Reliance Broadcast CEO Tarun Katial told reporters here. ... The channels will be rolled-out phase-wise by October, he said, adding they will be available for viewers even in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. Besides offering brand new series of their own, the company will derive 70,000 hours from CBS’ vast programme library and tap third-party suppliers for content, he said."

Al Arabiya satellite signal jammed, briefly.

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Arabiya News, 31 Aug 2011: "Al Arabiya News Channel was jammed by unknown sources beginning early on Wednesday. It returned to normal broadcasting later on Wednesday. This deliberate jamming seems to have been intended to interrupt Al Arabiya’s coverage of events taking place in the Arab region, especially in Libya and Syria. The channel can be watched on its original permanent frequency on the Nilesat (12341 Vertical), in addition to the alternative frequencies of (12476) and (11488.) Viewers can either do an auto-search for the new frequency or through the manual search."

Shortwave frequency coordinating conference will be held in Dallas and will discuss "other platforms."

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Shortwave frequency coordinating conference will be held in Dallas and will discuss "other platforms." Radio World, 30 Aug 2011: "The use of other platforms among shortwave broadcasters is a touchy subject for true believers. But for many in the shortwave world, the use of FM, online and other media is simple reality. One manifestation of that shift: The approaching B11 HFCC/ASBU shortwave broadcasters conference in Dallas, Sept. 12–16, has announced an expansion of its agenda. The High-Frequency Coordination Conference is a semi-annual gathering at which shortwave broadcast frequency schedules are coordinated. These meetings been going on since 1989 but this will be the first one in the United States. 'B11' refers to the broadcast season that runs from October 2011 to March 2012. Event organizers say the time has come to start addressing additional modes of delivering messages. Chairman of the HFCC Oldrich Cip recently wrote: 'The merits of broadband delivery of media through the Internet or via mobile devices in comparison with the traditional delivery of TV and sound radio from terrestrial transmitters are frequently on the agenda of meetings and discussions of domestic broadcasters and broadcasting unions.' ... But organizers also stressed that one of the major themes of the conference will be the continuing importance of shortwave for international broadcasting." See also the HFCC B11 conference website.

The (old) Air America associated with the (old) Radio Free Europe and the (old) Radio Free Asia (updated).

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Vancouver Sun, 29 Aug 2011, Jonathan Manthorpe: "The dwindling band of veterans of one of the Central Intelligence Agency's most successful clandestine operations have again been rebuffed in their efforts to get pension and other government benefits. A report to the United States Congress by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) late last month argued retirement benefits should not be given to the 500 or so surviving employees of Air America, the CIA-owned air force that was an essential part of the agency's operations in wars in Southeast Asia from 1950 until 1975. ... [E]mployees of other CIA cover operations such as Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and the Asia Foundation were all credited with service time for federal benefit purposes." -- That's the old Radio Free Asia of the early 1950s, not connected to the present-day RFA. The CIA's funding of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty ended in 1971.

Update: RFE/RL historian A. Ross Johnson adds: "A section of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 [5 USC 8332 (b) (11)] provides that federal employees can under specified circumstances count time employed at 'certain overseas broadcasting organizations' (including RFE/RL, the original Radio Free Asia, and Armed Forces Network) toward federal civil service pension status." -- So apparently the Air America employees are not specified in such legislation.

Malaysian website honors Radio Free Sarawak as "force to be reckoned with."

Posted: 31 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Nut Graph (Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia), 29 Aug 2011: "This week, as we welcome 54 years of Malaysian independence, The Nut Graph celebrates, in no particular order, 13 individuals, groups and initiatives [including] ... With articles and radio streams still being churned out about the Penan community and illegal logging activities, Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak are still going strong after the Sarawak Elections in April 2011. The state election, which saw the BN securing a two-thirds-majority win, may have been their focal point, but the team continues its work undaunted. Despite a small setup and operating from a distance, the team has proven themselves a force to be reckoned with. They got an international campaign going on Sarawak’s environmental degradation and corruption, and involved foreign news agencies in the action. Their campaigning and publicity blitz has borne fruit: the Swiss president has ordered the Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority to investigate Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s assets in Swiss banks, and there is now a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission probe on him." See also radiofreesarawak.org.

"The 9/11 Decade" on Al Jazeera English "focuses primarily on the search-and-destroy mission against Al Qaeda."

Posted: 30 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Daily News, 30 Aug 2011, David Hinckley: "I strongly suspect that many U.S. television viewers will rank the Al-Jazeera Network - even Al-Jazeera English, a different operation from the parent in the Middle East - as the last place they will look for a retrospective on the decade since Sept. 11. This is too bad, because 'The 9/11 Decade,' the first of a three-part series, discusses in a balanced way important and legitimate factors that are considered only peripherally in most U.S. productions. While U.S.-produced documentaries focus on America, for obvious and good reasons, 'The 9/11 Decade' turns its eye more to what has happened since 2001 in the Middle East. This reminds us, up front, that people there have suffered as well. It doesn't draw comparisons to New York or Washington. It merely reminds us that 9/11 has had worldwide implications and repercussions. 'The 9/11 Decade' focuses primarily on the search-and-destroy mission against Al Qaeda that America launched within hours of the attacks."

CNN, Global Public Square, 29 Aug 2011, Shashank Joshi: "In understanding how the fall of Tripoli will create its own ripples, we have to understand why Libya was affected in the first place. Longstanding political economy grievances were certainly present, but these had not suddenly worsened. And despite widespread accounts of the Twitter revolution, the answer is not social media. Only 5.5 percent of Libya enjoys Internet access and a pitiful 0.96 percent is on Twitter. Rather, much older media - satellite television - was more important. Since the middle of the 1990s, stations like Al Jazeera shattered the old state monopoly on information and supported what came to be called a new, vibrant and self-critical 'Arab public sphere'. Images of mass mobilization and brutal repression echoed around that public sphere. Few in Cairo could ignore Tunis' jubilation, and the shelling of Hama was felt in Amman - even if differences of religion, ethnicity and nationalism remain."

Arutz Sheva, 25 Aug 2011, David Lev: "Qatar is ... the home of Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, which the Foreign Ministry considers extremely anti-Israel. As a result, the Ministry has worked in recent months to prevent reporters from the network from operating in Israel, and has stopped giving them visas. Currently, the only way for an Al-Jazeera reporter to enter Israel is using a passport from a country that has full diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, but the Ministry is seeking ways to keep these individuals out of Israel as well."

Weekly Standard, 5 Sept 2011 issues, Lee Smith: "First there was Egypt, a longtime target of Al Jazeera, which prides itself on the role it played in bringing down Mubarak. And yet, when the Shia-majority opposition took to the streets in Bahrain, Al Jazeera remained silent. With Qatar keeping to the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council consensus, Bahrain has weathered the storm and put down its opposition. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is having a much harder time of it, partly because Al Jazeera is shining its spotlights on him and inviting opposition figures to air their grievances with his bloody regime."

CNN, 28 Aug 2011: "The Syrian Arab News Agency report said Al-Jazeera and Al Arabiya once again proved 'to be part of the conspiracy plotted against Syria through their psychological and media war strategies.'"

FrontPage Magazine, 29 Aug 2011, Matthew Vadum: "Leftists are pushing to make Al Jazeera’s English language channel widely available on college campuses and cable TV networks throughout America in order to undermine public support for Israel."

Estonian president, alumnus of RFE, re-elected to second five-year term.

Posted: 30 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 29 Aug 2011, Ott Ummelas: "Estonian lawmakers re-elected President Toomas Ilves for a second five-year term, strengthening political stability in the Baltic nation. ... Ilves, 57, who was born in Stockholm, in 2006 became Estonia’s third elected president since the end of Soviet rule. Educated at Columbia University, he ran the Estonian desk of Radio Free Europe during communism and later served twice as foreign minister." For more about President Ilves's time at RFE/RL, see Cold War Radios, 30 Aug 2011, Richard H. Cummings.

Increased access to international broadcasts in Ohio and North Carolina (updated: and Utah).

Posted: 30 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
WOUB Public Media (Athens, OH), 21 Aug 2011, Bryan Gibson: On WOUB AM, 1340 kHz: "Between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., we'll have up-to-date news coverage from the BBC World Service ... . The BBC's World Have Your Say, a 'global conversation' hosted by Ros Atkins, Madeleine Morris and Rachel Harvey, airs at 1 p.m. ... Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., we'll continue to bring you the BBC Newshour."

WOUB Public Media, 23 Aug 2011, Kelly Martin: "Viewers with access to WOUB’s digital television services will have two new programming channels. September 1, World and MHz Worldview will begin airing on WOUB-TV. World will air on digital channel 44.3 from WOUB’s Cambridge transmitter and MHz Worldview will air on digital channel 20.3 from the Athens transmitter. MHz Worldview will offer international content from prominent broadcasters such as: Al Jazeera English, Arirang TV, Asian News International, Deutsche Welle, Ethiopian TV, euronews, FCI, France 24, Israel Broadcasting Authority, MAC TV, NHK World TV, RT and VTV4, as well as local & independent producers, global content providers and original MHz Networks productions."

WRAL (Raleigh), 23 Aug 2011: "Time Warner Cable is launching international channels to bring news and entertainment to the many cultures across North Carolina, officials said Tuesday. Hindi Passport offers a variety of selections of new south Asian programs and includes Sony Asia, TV Asia and Zee TV. Filipino Pass Plus offers high demand Filipino programming and includes GMA Pinoy, GMA Life, DWLS DZBB and The Filipino Channel. Mandarin Passport offers the most popular programming available in Chinese and includes CCTV-4, CTI Zhong Tian, Phoenix and Phoenix North America. Russian Passport offers convenient access to channels with Russian programming and includes C1R Worldwide, RTVi, RTN and TV 1000 Russian Kino. Time Warner Cable customers will also have the following International Premium channels ART (Arabic Radio/TV), TV Japan, Bollywood Hits On Demand, TV5 (French), SBTN (Vietnamese), RAI (Italian) and Deutsche Welle (German)."

Update: KCPW (Salt Lake), 25 Aug 2011: "In the evenings, KCPW will rebroadcast 'CityViews' at 8 pm, with programming from the BBC World Service rounding out the evening from 9 pm to midnight."

Wizbang, 30 Aug 2011, comment by Commander_Chico: "It's also odd and creepy that you can't get, at any subscription price, any foreign broadcast news sources on US cable and satellite services, with a few exceptions in places like DC and NYC. Don't tell me that at least some of the channels like BBC World, France 24 English, Deutsche Welle English, Russia Today or Al Jazeera English would not get a bigger viewership, with excellent high income advertising demographics, and make more money than some of the ten Bible-beating channels on cable and satellite. If you're outside the USA, you get to watch all of those, plus the US cable networks. But we're free here in the USA, aren't we?"

Radio Prague international service will mark its 75th anniversary with press conference and tent.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Prague website: "On August 31, 2011, it will have been 75 years since the Czechoslovak company Radiojournal launched its regular shortwave broadcast. We consider that day to be the beginning of Radio Prague. To mark the anniversary, Radio Prague will be doing some special programmes and preparing the following events. ... Wednesday, August 31, 2011: A press conference on the current state of international broadcasting will be held for Czech and foreign journalists in the Czech Radio building. Journalists will have the opportunity to see the 75 Years of Radio Prague exhibit and visit the international broadcasting workspaces. A Czech Radio 7 tent will be set up at Na príkope 15, Prague 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The staff at the tent will be distributing Radio Prague promotional materials and will be drawing attention to the Prague broadcast for foreigners on 92.6FM and 99.3FM. There will also be live broadcasts from the tent." With link to pdf document about the station's history. (Via Alokesh Gupta's RadioActivity, 29 Aug 2011.)

Another crackdown on satellite dishes in Iran.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, 23 Aug 2011: "In the past week, Tehran Police Special Operations forces came together with plainclothes forces and, as part of a continuing operation, raided homes in Tehran’s Saadat Abad neighborhood and collected satellite dishes. 'During the raid, forces tried to intimidate and frighten the neighborhood residents and attempted to destroy satellite dishes on people’s roofs,' a neighborhood resident told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Police commandos used ropes to climb onto balconies and enter people’s private homes." With photos.

The Deutsche Welle Akademie's children's television project in Tanzania.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
IPP Media, 27 Aug 2011, Lydia Shekighenda: "German deputy head of mission to Tanzania Hans Koepple has stressed the importance of television programmes for children to help them develop learning skills and build self-confidence. Closing a 10-day training programme for Independent Television (ITV) programmes in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Koepple said TV programmes had an important role in educating children to be responsible adults. The 10-day training programme was meant to enable programme producers to improve the production of children’s programmes. It was organised by Deutsche Welle Akademie through the East African TV project for children. 'A TV programme can provide education and be a useful aid in pre-reading and acquiring mathematics skills. It also creates identities and role models,' Koepple said."

Texas Chinese Radio, home-grown competition for CRI and CCTV in Houston.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
KUHF-FM (Houston), 29 Aug 2011, Ed Mayberry: "Tuning up and down the AM dial in the Houston area, there's more than the usual mix of news, sports talk and Rush Limbaugh. Broadcasting on 1540, KGBC [Galveston] rebroadcasts China Radio International, the state-owned broadcaster from Beijing. ... The broadcasts are part of a $6.6 billion effort by the Chinese government to expand its worldwide influence. That includes television. On television, there's channel 55.5, branded as ITV — one of six HD channels on KTBU, mainly presenting round-the-clock news from China Central Television, in Mandarin. ... But there's also an AM station that targets the over 200,000 Chinese expats in the Houston area. It's AM 1320 Texas Chinese Radio. ... Judd Huang is with AM 1320 Texas Chinese Radio. 'Our programming is like a variety show, and our local programming (is) based on interviews. We talk about immigration, we talking about medical, we talk about sports. And then we also do local news reports.'" With audio.

"Sky, supposedly a UK domestic news channel, is much better source for international news than the BBC's international channel."

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, Organ Grinder blog, 29 Aug 2011, Patrick Foster: "As the Libyan rebels rolled into Tripoli, Sky News beamed a steady stream of live reports from Alex Crawford. The network's special correspondent led the way in last Sunday's rebel convoy advance, from the celebrations in Tripoli's Green Square, and, on Tuesday, from the confines of Colonel Gaddafi's freshly-liberated compound. Amid the events in Tripoli, the Gaddafi administration did not seem to be the only regime in danger of crumbling. The BBC was consistently a step behind, its correspondents not just in the wrong districts of the capital, but even in the wrong cities – or, even more frustratingly for the corporation, confined under armed guard in Tripoli's Rixos Hotel. While Sky had Crawford, the three-times Royal Television Society journalist of the year, on the scene, BBC big guns such as John Simpson and Jeremy Bowen were nowhere to be seen. It was an embarrassing week for the corporation, whose overseas budgets and staffing levels dwarf those of its commercial rivals. 'We have not exactly covered ourselves in glory,' one senior BBC executive admitted to the Guardian. One of the corporation's executive directors was more explicit, telling colleagues that the broadcaster had been 'creamed' by Sky."

Ibid, 29 Aug 2011, comment from HKGooner: "Sad to say, but BBC World News, which we get here in Asia is also very poor, I hardly ever switch it on anymore. Both CNN and Sky trump it on keeping on top of stories, and making their coverage engaging. Perhaps more disappointing for the BBC is that Sky's overall analysis and background explanation to events is much better, the upshot of which is that Sky, supposedly a UK domestic news channel, is much better source for international news than the BBC's international channel."

Syrian authorities prevent opposition figures' travel to Lebanon for Alhurra debate.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Tulsa World, 29 Aug 2011: "Syrian authorities pursuing a crackdown against President Bashar Assad's critics banned three prominent opposition figures from leaving the country Sunday, activists said. Michel Kilo, Loay Hussein and Fayez Sara were on their way to neighboring Lebanon to take part in a televised panel discussion when they were told by Syrian immigration authorities at the border that they were prohibited from leaving out of concern for their safety in Lebanon. Hussein denounced what he called an attempt to keep them from speaking on television. The debate was to be aired by the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra television."

US-based online BDeshTV adds news from state-owned Bangladesh Television.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 28 Aug 2011, citing BDeshTV: "BDeshTV, a new Online TV company based in the USA, has announced that Bangladesh’s National Television (BTV) has signed an agreement allowing BDeshTV to broadcast all BTV news and related items live from its online TV channels to audience worldwide. Viewers anywhere in the world can now watch BTV news instantly and freely at www.bdeshtv.com. Since its launch on 26 March 2011, BDeshTV has been very well received globally. ... The key objective of BDeshTV is to promote Bangladeshi art, culture and literature by utilizing cutting-edge technology. ... BDeshTV’s contents are focused towards the Non-Resident Bangladeshi (NRB) population living in the USA and worldwide." See also Bangladesh Television website.

8th Military Information Support Group activated at Fort Bragg.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, 27 Aug 2011: "The 8th Military Information Support Group (Airborne) was activated Friday at Fort Bragg. Col. Brian Cavanaugh uncased the colors of the group as part of a reorganization of all active-duty Army psychological operations forces. The ceremony was held on Meadows Field at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters. ... Military information support operations includes influencing foreign opinion on the battlefield and in disaster areas through print and broadcast. The 8th Group will have about 1,070 soldiers. ... The 8th Group will assume responsibility for the 1st, 5th and 9th Military Information Support Battalions. The 1st Battalion will operate in Latin America. The 5th will work in the Pacific, and the 9th is in charge of all tactical operations for military information support operations worldwide."

From RFI and TV5Monde: Learn French with the News in English. Somehow.

Posted: 29 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 26 Aug 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "French-speaking TV and radio international broadcasters TV5Monde and RFI [Radio France International] are launching a new iPhone app which helps to learn speaking French language from news. Called Learn French with the News in English, the application offers to both inform oneself and learn or improve the language used by media. This service is operational into seven other languages including Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Pers[i]an, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese. ... Free of charge, the new app can be downloaded from iTunes Store and shared with other users on Facebook. A complete version is commercialised for 4.99." See also RFI communiqué de presse, 25 Aug 2011.

VOA Southern Africa satellite radio channel actually covers all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
WRN Broadcast press release, undated(!) but WRN tweeted link to it on 26 Aug 2011: "WRN Broadcast, the international broadcast managed services company, has announced the launch of their transmission of a new satellite radio service for Voice of America - VoA Southern Africa. This direct-to-home (DTH) service will cover all of sub-Saharan Africa on a popular satellite but the programming will largely be tailored to audiences in Zimbabwe. The new radio channel will air 24 hours a day and will be free to listeners. Initially, prominent programming includes the news show ‘Studio 7', call-in programme ‘Live Talk', as well as other content in English, Portuguese, Shona and Ndebele. VOA Africa Division Director, Gwen Dillard, says home satellite use is growing around the world and this new service 'demonstrates Voice of America's commitment to bringing objective and reliable news programs to our audiences on platforms they are comfortable using.' Meanwhile WRN Broadcast added, 'we are pleased to provide another DTH satellite service for United States international broadcaster, VoA. Not only does DTH to small dishes have good audience penetration in countries such as Zimbabwe, it is also cost-effective compared with terrestrial alternatives'." -- Satellite dishes have become more popular in Zimbabwe, providing alternatives to the television monopoly within the country. Those Zimbabweans willing to listen to radio on their satellite television receivers can do so with greater audio quality than is usually possible via shortwave and transborder medium wave.

Amid mayhem in northern Nigeria, BBC Hausa is "widely trusted and listened to."

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 26 Aug 2011, Bashir Adigun: "A car loaded with explosives crashed into the main United Nations' building in Nigeria's capital [Abuja] and exploded, killing at least 18 people in one of the deadliest assaults on the international body in a decade. A radical Muslim sect blamed for a series of attacks in the country claimed responsibility for the bombing, a major escalation of its sectarian fight against Nigeria's weak central government. The brazen assault Friday in a neighborhood surrounded by heavily fortified diplomatic posts represented the first suicide attack to target foreigners in oil-rich Nigeria, where people already live in fear of the radical Boko Haram sect. ... A spokesman for Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack later Friday in a communique to the BBC's Hausa language shortwave radio service, which is widely trusted and listened to throughout Nigeria's Muslim north. The sect has made such claims before to the service."

NGO: BBC Pashto reporter may have been killed by US special forces during attack on Taliban-held TV station.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 25 Aug 2011, Ben Farmer: "A BBC journalist killed during a Taliban suicide assault on a television station may have been shot dead by American special forces soldiers trying to clear the building. ... Ahmed Omed Khpulwak was among at least 22 killed, mostly civilians, during a two-pronged militant attack on government buildings in Uruzgan province last month. ... Khpulwak, 25, was a reporter for the BBC Pashto service and had done freelance work for The Daily Telegraph. ... According to an investigation by the Afghanistan Analysts' Network, an independent Kabul-based research group, Khpulwak may have survived the initial assault only to be shot by coalition forces clearing the building. ... The BBC has asked the Nato-led coalition to investigate his death and the findings of that formal inquiry are expected to be released soon." See also Afghanistan Analysts Network, 24 Aug 2011, Kate Clark.

A new era of peace? VOA and RFE journalists enter Libya in the same car.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA Russia Watch blog, 25 Aug 2011, James Brooke, VOA Moscow bureau chief: "Leaving Tunisia’s Djerba Island, we stopped at Tatouine to stock up on necessities before crossing into Libya. We loaded up our minivan with bottled water, dried food and nuts. ... Tunisia border police stamped our passports out of Dehiba. Fifty meters away, rebels cradling automatic weapons welcome us to what they call ‘Free Libya.' They peered inside our car and waved us on – me, Elizabeth Arrott, VOA’s Cairo Bureau Chief, video journalist Japhet Weeks and Jamie Kirchick of Radio Free Europe."

The introvert shortwave listeners of Ely, Minnesota.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Minnesota Public Radio, 25 Aug 2011, Siobhan Heanue, journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, visiting Minnesota as a fellow with the World Press Institute: "I've been in Minnesota two weeks and this place just keeps getting wilder. Often, introverts make the best adventurers. They're the ones who watch and learn, who have the patience to look for patterns in nature, to perceive threats. They seek out alternative ways from point A to point B, when there doesn't seem to be a way forward at all. The small town of Ely, Minn., attracts adventurers and introverts. Those who come to get away in the summer, and those who choose to stay away and put down roots. ... Remote border towns like Ely used to have strong traditions of listening to shortwave radio, picking up news channels from around the globe. The imperative to tune in to the world is made stronger by the immediate isolation. Today, reams of fiber optic cable lie by the roadside, ready to be laid. Because the farther out you are, the more important it is to stay connected."

Caracol and Arirang: proof that for any two countries, there can be a TV coproduction deal.

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
C21Media.net, 25 Aug 2011, Michael Pickard: "Colombian broadcaster Caracol Television has strengthened its ties in Asia, signing a coproduction deal with a Korean network. The pact will see privately-owned Caracol and Arirang TV - part of the Korean International Broadcasting Foundation - build copro links while also sharing arts, science, sports and news content. ... The deal comes after Caracol earlier this week hired Venevision exec Roberto Corrente as Eastern European and Asian manager for distribution arm Caracol Internactional."

"You can watch more live soccer on TV here [in the USA] than in Europe."

Posted: 28 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
MLSsoccer.com, 24 Aug 2011, Greg Lalas: "This may be an apocryphal comment made by European visitors and remembered by American soccer fans always looking for the silver lining, but there’s a significant symbolism to it: You can watch more live soccer on TV here than in Europe. It’s probably true. Today, US audiences have their choice of three soccer-specific channels, a regular presence on the ESPN networks and four Spanish-language channels that regularly show live matches. Then there are the various satellite channels, such as RAI (Italy), TV5Monde (France), TV Globo Internacional (Brazil) and that glorious section of DirectTV dedicated to the beautiful game. Plus, starting in 2012, NBC and the new NBC Sports Network will join the party when they begin broadcasting MLS and US national team games. In a typical week these days, a US-based soccer fan gets to choose from upwards of 50 live matches on cable TV alone (i.e., not on satellite). Life was not always so clover-filled for soccer fans. Two or three decades ago, finding soccer on the tube was as likely as finding a baseball game in Uganda."

Elliott Abrams: "Al Jazeera’s influence does not come from what it broadcasts in English."

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link

Foreign Affairs, 24 Aug 2011: "As described in 'Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark,' the visceral documentary video produced by Al Jazeera English, the uprising in Manama was, 'the Arab revolution that was abandoned by the Arabs, forsaken by the West and forgotten by the world.' With exhaustively dramatic scenes -- including footage of the 3 AM assault on Pearl Roundabout where police scattered protesters by opening fire, shooting hundreds -- the documentary pits the individual struggle of frustrated citizens on the street against the wider, high-stakes global maneuverings of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the powerful Saudi leadership, and the West, each of whom angle for influence over the fate of the strategically vital island. Not long after it was first broadcast, the Al Jazeera documentary ended up a victim of its own aggressive reporting. Reports surfaced early this month that the network, which is financed by the Qatari government, pulled the plug on subsequent rebroadcasts." With link to the video. See also Maclean's, 22 Aug 2011, Richard Warnica.

Council on Foreign Relations, Elliott Abrams, Elliott Abrams: "Al Jazeera has clearly been pulling its punches about events in Bahrain. But some comments have protested that on the contrary Al Jazeera has covered the troubles in Bahrain and even done a whole program on it. True — in English only. Bahrain did protest the show, called 'Shouting in the Dark,' but who is kidding whom here? When the owners of Al Jazeera–namely the royal family-decide that the protests in Bahrain are to be covered fairly by Al Jazeera English only, and slighted in Al Jazeera Arabic, they are doing a huge favor to the Bahraini authorities. Al Jazeera’s influence does not come from what it broadcasts in English." -- I hesitate to contradict a fellow Elliott, but: Al Jazeera English has, by now, enough of an audience, and is cited sufficiently often by other news media, that a fair proportion of Al Jazeera's influence comes from its English output.

"Al Jazeera English expects to broadcast in all US states within the next five years." And more Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
ArabianBusiness.com, 25 Aug 2011, Elizabeth Broomhall: "Qatar-based TV channel Al Jazeera English expects to broadcast in all US states within the next five years, its managing director said, after inking a deal with Time Warner to air in New York. The 24-hour station, the first English-language news channel headquartered in the Middle East, is in talks with cable and satellite distributors as it seeks to grow its overseas footprint. 'Conversations with all the big satellite and cable operators in the United States have been going on since we launched, they have been progressing very well in recent months and they are continuing,' said managing director Al Anstey. 'For me it is a question of when, not if, we make the break through onto other operators in other parts of the United States.'"

Metro (London), 24 Aug 2011, Andrew Williams interviewing Al Jazeera English news presenter Nick Clark: "Why would someone watch Al Jazeera English when other news channels are available? Clark: It offers a global perspective on news stories. Of course, it’s based in the Middle East and focuses on what’s going on there but it also gives a balanced approach to everything that’s going on in the world. We have stories from countries that other channels don’t touch."

Denver Post, 22 Aug 2011, Joanne Ostrow: "Cable television breathlessly tracked the progress of the Libyan uprising, while the whereabouts of Moammar Khadafy? remained unknown. That question provided a focal point for broadcasters, after the arrest of Khadafy's sons, and after a popular, gun-waving, Khadafy-supporting Libyan TV anchor also was arrested. But for TV viewers flipping through channels for solid information, one thing was clear: Al Jazeera English continues to deliver credible, timely coverage every bit as reliable as any competing broadcast or cable network — and often ahead of the curve. ... Developments in the neighborhood — the Arab League's updates and word from the U.N.'s emergency session — beamed through first on Al Jazeera English, making it the go-to resource for this breaking news."

MediaPost, 22 Aug 2011, David Goetzl: "Just as it did during the Egyptian uprising earlier this year, Al Jazeera's English version provided gripping, stellar coverage as the revolution marched in Libya over the weekend. Save the contributions from our oil dollars, it was all completely free -- streamed on the Internet non-stop with hardly an ad. The correspondents for Al Jazeera English seemed to always be a step ahead, notably in broadcasting from the Green Square in Tripoli as the rebel forces took over. And, while there, showing the massive, scary structure erected to display an image of Colonel Qaddafi that would be coming down."

Variety, 20 Aug 2011, Steve Clarke: "While many U.K. news outlets are expected to broadcast live from Ground Zero and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, with some traveling to Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera hopes to broaden the perspective. It's sending reporters to other, unspecified parts of the world (it declines to give details for fear of alerting rivals) to see how these countries are reacting to 9/11 10 years later."

paidContent.org, 16 Aug 2011, Ingrid Lunden: "Pulse, the news-reading app for iOS and Android devices, has signed up its first international partner, and it’s a biggie: Al Jazeera will become the first foreign news organization to partner with the company to deliver news and videos from its Al Jazeera English catalog of content. In the landgrab that we are seeing among news aggregators, reading apps and digital news-stands— they include Flipboard, Zite, Taptu and so many more—this is one move to attempt to differentiate and move into new markets. Al Jazeera is Pulse’s first international news partner, but it’s not the company’s first attempt to capture an international audience. In addition to English, the app is already translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, and Korean."

Globe and Mail, 22 Aug 2011, Gayle MacDonald interviewing Tony Burman, former managing director of Al Jazeera English: "Does the online dissemination of news matter more in the Arab world, than say, Europe and North America? Burman: In the Middle East, we’re dealing with a part of the world where more than 60 per cent of the population is under 25 years of age, which is far more than in this country. Although this is not a population blessed with millions of computers, they have millions of cellphones, and this is increasing. In Tunisia, where the 'Arab Awakening; began last December, it began with one dramatic incident, captured on a cellphone which was put on Facebook and then rebroadcast repeatedly on television throughout the region and the world. This is a ground-breaking example of the new cyclical relationship that is developing between new and traditional media."

CNN and Fox provided "decent" Libya coverage by tapping international partners. MSNBC had video of a bear shoplifting.

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Salon, Alex Pareene, 24 Aug 2011: "On Sunday, when there was huge, historic news breaking very suddenly in Libya, the best television coverage of the event available for Americans was, obviously, on al-Jazeera English -- which is still not available on most cable packages but streamable online -- though CNN acquitted itself pretty well primarily just by switching over to its CNN International arm. (Until Wolf Blitzer showed up late at night to ad lib atonal vowel sounds in his imitable style.) Even Fox did ok, by playing footage from their British pseudo-sister channel Sky News, which had an actual real-life reporter embedded with the Libyan fighters entering Tripoli. (Though Fox decided mustachioed neocon John Bolton would be the best person to put the footage into perspective for their American audience, a group largely unused to anything resembling unfiltered international news.) So thanks to CNN's international arm and Fox's decision to hand the reins over to their multinational corporate parent company's other, superior news network, two of America's three '24-hour cable news networks' had decent coverage and compelling firsthand pictures and videos from Tripoli as the anti-Gadhafi forces took the city. On MSNBC, there was video of a bear shoplifting. The bear was caught on camera! ... I trust MSNBC's cheap and trashy weekend programming is the result of a series of rational business decisions, but MSNBC is the cable arm of an actual major network news organization with real-life foreign correspondents and international bureaus."

Adweek, 22 Aug 2011, D.M. Levine: "According to sources at MSNBC who agreed to speak to Adweek on condition of anonymity, yesterday’s programming choices were a product of the network’s priorities. 'Part of the success of MSNBC is the huge ratings it gets on weekends with these long-form [documentary] shows,' they said. 'There are certain times, maybe three or four times a year, when that hurts you because something big breaks. If it happens on the weekends, this place is at a disadvantage. You don’t have people staffing every news desk; you don’t have everybody doing news.' Odd as it is for a news network to not have news desks staffed on a weekend, the programming strategy has paid off. Last weekend, for example, MSNBC’s Sunday installment of Caught on Camera was the network’s biggest draw of the weekend and its fourth highest-rated show for the entire week."

Media Bistro, 23 Aug 2011, Alex Weprin: "Yesterday, CNN International made a rather significant error while talking to Sara Sidner from Tripoli. The on-screen graphic showed a map highlighting the city of Tripoli in Lebanon, instead of the city of Tripoli in Libya, where the actual fighting continues to rage on."

Twitter, 23 Aug 2011, CNN Public Relations @CNNPR: "On 8/22 CNN mistakenly showed a map with Tripoli in Lebanon. We made the correction immediately and we regret the error."

International broadcasting in the Chin dialects of Burma.

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Chinland Guardian, 24 Aug 2011, Van Biak Thang: "At least five radio stations have made broadcast sessions in three Chin dialects across the globe, including Falam, Hakha and Tedim. The stations involved Chin Radio Programme aired in Falam dialect from Naypyidaw, Burma, Radio Free Asia in Falam, Chin Radio Programme of Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) in Falam, 3CR Chin Radio Program in Hakha from Australia and AWR Chin in Tedim from USA. AWR Chin of the Adventist World Radio, a mission radio arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, makes a daily broadcast session on the Christian gospel while the others mainly air a variety of programmes including political news, cultural entertainments and educational as well as literary issues."

Report of South Korean TV reception in northern North Korea needs some fine tuning.

Posted: 27 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Chosunilbo, 24 Aug 2011: "South Korean TV programs can now be watched even in the northernmost part of North Korea if the channels are adjusted secretly, according to Open Radio for North Korea. The belief so far was that South Korean channels can be watched in areas close to the South Korean border, such as Hwanghae Province, but the radio station claims it is possible as far North as Onsong, North Hamgyong Province, which is just across the Duman (or Tumen) River from China. ... The source said the best reception for South Korean TV is between 9 p.m. and midnight, when the news is on [North] Korean Central TV. 'Some people remove the soldering on the receivers at this time and then put it back before they go to bed,' the source added. Open Radio speculated that this became possible only last year. North Koreans were astonished when they first encountered South Korean TV coincidentally, and had to try to hide their delight. But now watching South Korean TV has become so prevalent that even when security officials find it out, residents stand up to them, telling them there is nothing worth watching on North Korean TV."

We have to interpret cautiously the information from "sources" in North Korea, especially when it is just one source.

It's possible that North Koreans, who television sets adhere to the PAL transmission system, can receive degraded pictures from South Korean stations, which use the NTSC transmission system. It is also possible that North Koreans are acquiring Chinese-manufactured multi-system television sets, capable of receiving both NTSC and PAL signals.

North Hamyong Province, however, is 500 kilometers from the nearest possible South Korean television transmitter. Terrestrial reception over such a distance would be unlikely except during rare propagational skip conditions. A more likely explanation is that South Korean televisions shows are now available on Chinese television channels, especially those serving the Korean community in China. Reception of Chinese channels, which use the PAL system, is much more likely in northern North Korea. Another possibility is that someone in that part of North Korean has access to a satellite TV receiver.

South Korea is scheduled to complete its transition to digital terrestrial television by the end of 2012. This will make it impossible for North Koreans, still using analog sets, to receive South Korean stations. North Koreans might, however, bring in Chinese-manufactured television sets capable of digital as well as analog reception. Digital television reception is "fussier" than analog, so it will be more difficult for North Koreans to "DX," or achieve long distance reception of South Korean television.

The appetite for entertainment is infinite. North Koreans will go to great lengths to watch the shows they want to watch.

For Discovery Networks, increased international profits, elevated international job titles.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 23 Aug 2011, Robert Briel: "Discovery Networks International (DNI) has announced that, on a going forward basis, the managing director role in its four regional businesses will be named president and managing director. Mark Hollinger, president and CEO of Discovery Networks International, made the change to more accurately reflect the roles and responsibilities of this position in the respective regional businesses – Asia Pacific, CEEMEA (Central & Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa), Latin America U.S. Hispanic and Western Europe, and the scale of the business overall. As recently reported, DNI’s second quarter 2011 earnings grew 20% to $368 million (€255.8 million), which contributed significantly to Discovery’s overall growth. ... The executives and their new titles are: Dee Forbes, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Western Europe; Tom Keaveny, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific; Kasia Kieli, president and managing director Discovery Networks CEEMEA (Central & Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa); and Henry Martinez, president and managing director, Discovery Networks Latin America and US Hispanic. The title change is effective immediately and their roles and responsibilities stay the same." See previous post about Discovery's international profits.

The RFE/RL sound archive will be subject of a presentation at the Audio Engineering Society convention.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcast Newsroom, 22 Aug 2011: At the Audio Engineering Society convention, 20-23 October 2011 in New York City: "Audio Archiving and Preservation 101 - Two Important Broadcast Collections: Presenter - James Sam, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University. The audio preservation program at the Hoover Institution Archives of Stanford University is a real-world implementation of archival best practices. Two large collections of the Archives are the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Commonwealth Club of California collections. These are eerily similar in their recording formats and time spans. Despite being generated on two different continents, their archival approach remains the same. Mr. Sam will discuss this approach and its implications for both legacy and new recordings. He will also describe preservation methods used, employing fascinating examples from the collections."

BBG's net circumvention efforts descend from previous decades' shortwave anti-jamming efforts.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Nextgov, 23 Aug 2011, Joseph Marks: "The agency that once set up transmitters in Europe to overcome the Soviet Union's attempts to jam Voice of America's shortwave radio broadcasts is now deploying advanced Web proxy and IP address shielding technology to jump online firewalls that block the country-specific websites for VOA, Radio Free Asia and other government-funded news agencies under the purview of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. In most cases, BBG's circumvention tools don't just ensure users can access the agency's news sites. They also create what its chief information security officer and director of Internet freedom programs, Ken Berman, calls an 'encrypted pipe' -- essentially a search bar at the top of the websites for VOA China, Persian News Network and other BBG outlets that allows users to go nearly anywhere on the Internet without alerting national Web censors. ... Ultimately, Berman said, while the circumvention tools have changed, the basic ideology has not. 'This really is just a continuation of this agency's attempts to overcome shortwave jams,' he said. 'Coping with jamming has been a way of life for this agency since the Cold War.'"

VOA News, 22 Aug 2011, Matthew Hilburn: "A new web technology being championed by China is allowing a short-term gap in its so-called 'Great Firewall,' which blocks Chinese Internet users from sites blacklisted by the government in Beijing. Experts say how the gap is closed could have ramifications for the entire world. The gap exists because of IPv6, the next generation of Internet protocol designed to replace IPv4. The change is needed because the old system is about to run out of IP addresses, the combination of numbers that identify your computer over the Internet. IPv6 will offer a nearly infinite number of IP addresses. ... To answer the shortage, China has been a leader in rolling out IPv6. But it’s only available to a small slice of the population, mainly in the big cities and around large universities. At least some of these users seem to be able to surf without blocking or filtering. ... 'Yes, I have used IPv6 to go around the firewall,' user 'Dxing' told VOA on Google +. 'For now, the firewall cannot deal with IPv6,' said user 'Brain,' a student in Heifei on Google +."

BBC Worldwide sells "Frozen Planet" to China's CCTV.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Realscreen, 24 Aug 2011, Adam Benzine: "The BBC has sold its blue-chip natural history series Frozen Planet into China, with state broadcaster CCTV acquiring the title at the second annual BBC Showcase China event in Beijing this week. ... It is a coproduction with Discovery Communications, ZDF in Germany, Antena 3 in Spain and Skai TV in Greece. BBC Worldwide, the UK public broadcaster’s commercial arm, hosted some 150 guests at the Showcase event, which took place during the Beijing TV Festival. ... Pierre Cheung, BBC Worldwide’s sales and distribution VP and general manager for Greater China ... [said] that the BBC had now sold five formats in total into China, including Top Gear, Dancing with the Stars and Tonight’s the Night."

VOA Somali audio now available on UK phones, both mobile and sedentary.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
VOA press release, 22 Aug 2011: "Voice of America’s Somali Service, which has been providing extensive coverage of the devastating drought in Africa, is now being offered to mobile phone users throughout Great Britain. The new service is made possible by the partnership between VOA and AudioNow, a mobile distribution provider. The VOA Somali Service broadcasts are available on any phone, 24 hours a day, by dialing 020 3519 3010." -- "Any phone" presumably means also landlines. Speaking of landlines, just after the 23 August earthquake, while people outside were not getting their cell phones and Blackberries to work, I picked up the landline phone in my office and called my wife on our landline phone at home and got through immediately. One cheer for old media.

How to succeed in international broadcasting: allow viewers to buy stock shares online.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 23 Aug 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "CNBC Arabiya, the 24 hour Arabic financial and business TV channel, has entered into an agreement with UAE broker Al Ramz Securities to allow viewers to safely buy shares online. CNBC Arabiya will tap into Al Ramz’s Borsat online trading platform during its TV show Al Mahfaza. To be broadcast under the auspices of the UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), CNBC viewers will be able to monitor the markets and securely execute sales and purchase orders. ... CNBC Arabiya provides viewers with Middle East business news and stock market summaries, regional corporate news, personal finance updates, as well as economic and financial developments in Europe and America – and how they impact the Middle East." See also press release via AMEinfo.com, 22 Aug 2011. -- At the CNBC website, there are links to CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia, but none to CNBC Arabiya. Because of this, I think CNBC Arabiya, like CNBC Africa, is independently owned and has a license to use the CNBC name.

Chinese media expansion into Europe outsourced to a company in Tampere, Finland (updated: Radio86 on Rondo FM).

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Helsingin Sanomat, 12 Aug 2011: "An inconspicuous red-brick building stands next to the main library of the University of Tampere. Housed inside is a secretive media company whose 60 employees are basically working for the Chinese government. The building houses Radio86, which was set up by Chinese businessman Yinong Zhao. Radio86 produces audio programming about China for the internet, and buys programme time for the broadcasts from Finnish and foreign radio stations. Radio86 is run by Futuvision Media, which gets its financing from the Chinese government-owned China Radio International. China recently decided to outsource most of its European media activities to this Tampere-based company. ... There are more than ten target countries, and the number is growing. This year the company has established a strong foothold in a Greek radio station, and a similar project is planned for Turkey. ... A Helsingin Sanomat source says that the aim is to increase the programme flow and to set up separate radio stations. That is why the focus is now on Africa, Caucasia, and Eastern Europe – areas where broadcast licences are easier to acquire than in the West." See also radio86.com. -- Interestingly, the Radio86 website has very few mentions of China Radio International. On the other hand, the China Radio International portal page links for Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, etc., lead to Radio86 web pages.

Update: Helsingin Sanomat, 19 Aug 2011, Antti Järvi: "Radio86 is run by Futuvision Media, which gets its financing from the Chinese government-owned China Radio International. This week [Finnish radio netwok] Rondo FM started to broadcast programmes produced by the station. Each day, one and a half hours or programming by Radio86 is aired. ... Those working for Radio86 say that the station’s workers do not have liberties, only obligations. China Radio International exercises control over the story topics. Certain subjects - such as the Falun Gong movement, the situation with Tibet, or the rights of the Uyghur people - must not be broached when interviewing people. The employee turnover rate within Radio86 is high. ... Furthermore, Radio86 broadcasts its programmes from the Pori medium-wave station to the Baltic States and Northern Europe."

BBC America will join BBC World News on Cablevision digital cable in the USA.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC America press release, 23 Aug 2011: "Cablevision Systems Corp. today announced the addition of BBC AMERICA to iO TV digital cable on channel 101. The network is launching in some markets today and will be available in standard and high definition across Cablevision’s entire service area by Thursday, August 25. As part of the company’s agreement to launch BBC AMERICA, Cablevision has also extended its carriage agreement for BBC World News, currently found on iO TV’s channel 104. ... [Cablevision's] television operations provide a full suite of advanced communications services ... over state-of-the-art cable systems that pass nearly 6 million households and businesses across the New York tri-state area and throughout four Western states."

Top Gear episodes to be available to Facebook users: 48-hour access for 93p each.

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 23 Aug 2011, Mark Sweney: "BBC Worldwide is make episodes of Top Gear available to Facebook users at a cost of 93p. The BBC's commercial arm has developed a video-on-demand app for Facebook that will allow users of the website to rent a limited number of Top Gear episodes using Facebook Credits. ... Once rented, episodes will be available to view for 48 hours. Facebook has about 700 million users globally, but the Top Gear episodes will only be made available for users in Europe, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand."

"Where is the Middle East equivalent to Radio Free Europe?"

Posted: 26 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Commentator, 23 Aug 2011, Robert Halfon MP: "The last [UK] government, some of our universities and businesses, lost their moral compass when it came to dealing with the Libyan regime. Whilst senior new Labour Government figures hob-nobbed with Gadaffi and his family, our academic institutions accepted millions in blood money, whilst companies rushed to Libya to sign commercial deals. ... Liberty is a human right. Sometimes it requires military intervention, other times it requires hearts and minds. Rather than appeasement, our foreign policy should be directed at supporting resistance groups to dictators, funding radio, TV stations, and the internet, in the same way the CIA did in the Cold War to undermine Communism. Where is the Middle East equivalent to Radio Free Europe?"

If one is thinking of the latter, post-1956 Radio Free Europe, it concentrated on providing the credible news that was lacking in the state controlled media of its target countries. In that case, there are several Middle East equivalents of RFE, including Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Alhurra, BBC Arabic, and France 24 Arabic.

But Mr. Halfon writes about "supporting resistance groups." That's less of a journalistic and more of an activist enterprise. US and UK funding for such media outlets should be done quietly and at arm's length, with the resistance group handling the actual content and operations. And it should be realized that most of the target audience will tune instead to the station that provides real news.

Religious broadcaster FEBC's shortwave station on Saipan, already off the air, "will decommission" by the end of the year.

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Saipan Tribune, 24 Aug 2011, Clarissa David: "Far East Broadcasting Co., a non-profit, non-denominational missionary organization that broadcasts the gospel of Jesus Christ to many parts of Asia, will decommission its radio station on Saipan by the end of the year, after 27 years of broadcasting on island. Bob Springer, FEBC general manager, attributed their decision to government deregulation and advances in communications technology that he said have significantly reduced the demand for shortwave broadcasting. ... 'In the last two and a half years, FEBC has studied the trends in technology in the audience listening habits and the conclusion of this exhaustive study has been we should cease broadcast from Saipan while continuing shortwave broadcast from our facilities in the Philippines,' Springer said. ... At the height of its broadcasting efforts, FEBC broadcasted to about 15 different countries in 24 different languages and dialects, including that of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Ukraine." -- FEBC's KFBS shortwave station actually stopped broadcasting in April. "Decommission" probably means the actual dismantling of the facility. According to Wolfgang Bueschel in the DX Listening Digest Yahoo! discussion group, 24 Aug 2011, the transmitters from Saipan have already been moved to the Philippines. See previous post about same subject, with link to extensive information about KFBS.

Al Jazeera English correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin returns to NBC News. "Evidence of acceptance" of AJE?

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, Media Decoder, 22 Aug 2011, Brian Stelter: "Ayman Mohyeldin, a star Al Jazeera English correspondent, is rejoining NBC News, the news organization where he started 10 years ago. Ayman Mohyeldin, a star Al-Jazeera English correspondent, is joining NBC News. Back then he was a desk assistant for NBC in Washington; now he’ll be a foreign correspondent for NBC, based in Cairo and covering the whole of the Middle East. ... Mr. Mohyeldin’s reports helped Al Jazeera English gain visibility; GQ magazine earlier this year called him 'the closest the network has to some rough approximation of an Anderson Cooper.' Al Jazeera English has fought for cable and satellite carriage in the United States this year by citing the work of Mr. Mohyeldin and others. Though his departure is a setback, it may also be evidence of acceptance of the Qatar-based network by American networks." See also NBC Universal press release, 22 Aug 2011.

"America lacks a central voice in terms of both reporting itself to the world and the world to its diverse citizens."

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Market Watch, 22 Aug 2011, Kim Hjelmgaard: "Writing in the current issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, Emily Bell of Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism said that the BBC is 'omnipresent in the U.K. — an all-encompassing news website, eight national TV channels and ten national radio channels, dozens more local and international channels, [plus] outlets on each platform dedicated to breaking news.' ... [A]mid the litany of established and proliferating news operations tethered to public mandates as well as purse strings — PBS and NPR in the U.S.; China’s Xinhua News and CCTV; Russia’s RT; France 24; Canada’s CBC; NRK in Norway; Australia’s ABC — the BBC stands out, even in these heady days of social media, for its ability to reach 'over the course of the week,' as BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten said recently, 'every single person in the country.' ... Bell, a former journalist for the Guardian, said in her article that 'America lacks a central voice in terms of both reporting itself to the world and the world to its diverse citizens,' and that as a now U.S.-based news consumer she often feels like she has 'no such go-to broadcast news source when big stories break.' ... Time Warner Inc.’s CNN may share some of the same global, stentorian authority of the BBC, the National Public Radio complex may vaguely hew toward a similar political DNA at times, but the former is beholden to stock markets and the latter is in receipt of a paltry $1.43 per person in annual federal funding compared to over $80 per person in the U.K, according to data compiled by the Free Press media-advocacy group." -- I think this analysis sells short the news efforts of ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN. The United States does, nevertheless, need more world news. The trio of CNN International, BBC World News, and Al Jazeera English on more cable systems would help. So would more cooperation between US domestic and international broadcasting. See also the referenced article in Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 2011, Emily Bell.

The Guardian, Comment is Free, 24 Aug 2011, Mark Thompson, BBC director general: "If ... it's argued that, notwithstanding the breadth of choice, too many people choose to consume BBC News, then there are two other obstinate facts to confront. First, the BBC's charter calls for it to try to serve every household; if you want to abolish the BBC by all means advocate that, but if not, is it reasonable to criticise it for doing exactly what it has been asked to do? Second, the British public tell us that one of the key reasons why they use the BBC more than other news providers is because they trust it more than other news sources. If policymakers begin to regard high levels of public trust as a problem to be corrected, we really are in trouble."

nuvoTV, English-language channel targeting US Latinos, gets expanded Comcast distribution.

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RBR.com, 17 Aug 2011: "Comcast Corporation announced an expanded distribution agreement with nuvoTV, an English-language general entertainment network targeting American Latinos and fans of Latino culture. ... The agreement with nuvoTV (formerly Sí TV) is being called part of Comcast’s continuing effort to bring Latino-themed programming to its customers." See also mynuvotv.com.

Shortwave quickly fading: UK's Rampisham transmitting site will close after 70 years (updated).

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BECTU, 18 Aug 2011: "BECTU [UK media and entertainment labor union] members at the Rampisham transmitter site in Dorset run by Babcock Engineering were shocked to learn yesterday (17 August) of plans to close the facility by Christmas with the loss of 19 jobs. Staff across the UK had been expecting bad news after the decision by BBC World Service in January this year to sharply reduce the number of hours of shortwave broadcasting and to end it altogether by 2014. Despite this advance warning, yesterday's announcement still came as a shock. The company also plans to close three posts at the Woofferton site in Shropshire with four at Orford Ness in Suffolk also at risk of closure. An initial meeting between BECTU representatives and management took place yesterday; the consultation period is due to end on 19 September. Assistant general secretary Luke Crawley said: ' ... Transmission members will note with regret that this announcement will also end seventy years of shortwave broadcasting from Rampisham.'" -- According to the World Radio TV Handbook, the site has ten 500-kilowatt shortwave transmitters.

Update: Real West Dorset, 22 Aug 2011, Jonathan Hudston: "As well as being a significant part of Dorset life, Rampisham is also of national and international importance. Britain has three major sites broadcasting internationally on shortwave. The others are Woofferton in Shropshire and Skelton in Cumbria. Rampisham broadcasts more hours than they do, is more reliable, and has a wider reach across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. (It’s a little-known fact that the National Grid runs right through the Rampisham site, supplying 60,00[0] volts. I think it has only ever lost power twice in 70 years. Once was during the Great Storm of 1987, which shows it takes something pretty extreme). The three sites are all owned by Babcock Engineering."

BBC and VOA are "trusted sources of information" among Hazara community in Afghanistan.

Posted: 25 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 22 Aug 2011, Sian Powewll: Refugees "[f]rom the Hazara ethnic minority [of Afghanistan] ... have lived in Kuala Lumpur for nearly four years, waiting for the magic letter inviting them to become Australians. ... A survey of Hazara men conducted in four Afghan provinces late last year showed a degree of ignorance about Australian policy. ... Some of the Hazara quoted in the survey had no access to the internet, some had no electricity in their homes, and many relied mostly on news from friends and family, although the BBC, Voice of America and certain Afghan broadcasters were also ."

Press TV says BBC Persian TV documentary admits that BBC Persian radio had a role in the 1953 Iranian coup.

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Press TV, 21 Aug 2011: "The BBC Persian TV channel has at last acknowledged the role of the BBC Persian radio in the toppling of the democratically elected government of Iran in the 1953 coup. The coup overthrew the government of the then Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh leading to the restoration of absolute monarchy under dictator Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi who was later toppled in the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In a documentary aired on August 18 on the anniversary of the coup, BBC Persian channel admitted for the first time to the role of the BBC Persian radio as the propaganda arm of the British government in Iran. ... 'The British government used the BBC Persian radio for advancing its propaganda against Mosaddegh and anti-Mosaddegh material were repeatedly aired on the radio channel to the extent that Iranian staff at the BBC Persian radio went on strike to protest the move,' the Cinematograph narrator said."

Tehran Times, 24 Aug 2011, Persian Press Review: "Javan, in a news analysis, criticizes BBC Persian TV for twisting the truth behind the unrest gripping Britain and has drawn a comparison between its coverage of the turmoil in Britain and the political unrest that occurred after the Iranian presidential election of June 2009. The news report says that the BBC Persian service fanned the flames of unrest in Iran through blowing events out of proportion and acted as an agitator. ... The Persian service of BBC is labeling the protestors 'rioters' while it never used this term to refer to those who took to the streets of Tehran to protest the result of elections."

Head of Al Jazeera Afghanistan bureau arrested by Israel after vacation in Nablus (updated again).

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
"The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) Wednesday condemned the Israeli authority’s arrest on Tuesday of Samer Allawi, Al-Jazeera bureau chief in Afghanistan. The center considered the arrest of Allawi, as he was leaving the West Bank to Jordan through Al-Karama (Allenby) bridge after spending a vacation with his family in the city of Nablus, 'a blatant violation of freedom of speech and international law.' It called on the international community to immediately pressure Israel to release him. Musa’ab Allawi, Samer Allawi’s brother, said that the Israeli authorities called him Wednesday morning to inform him that his brother was arrested and that he will be transferred to al-Jalama prison for interrogation, without stating any reason behind the arrest." See also the MADA press release, 10 Aug 2011 (pdf).

Aljazeera.net, 16 Aug 2011: "Samer Allawi, Al Jazeera Arabic's Kabul bureau chief, has been brought before an Israeli military court, almost a week after he was arrested by Israeli officials when he tried to cross the border between Jordan and the occupied West Bank. Israeli authorities extended his detention by seven days and charged him with being a member of Hamas on Tuesday. ... Salim Waqim, Allawi's lawyer, told Al Jazeera that his client was interrogated about his work and management of Al Jazeera's Kabul bureau, his personal financial information, and his relationships with colleagues, friends, family and relatives. Israeli authorities took his computer login information and during his interrogation Allawi was accused of being a member of Hamas and having contact with its military leadership, Waqim said."

Committee to Protect Journalists, 17 Aug 2011: "The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by Israel's continued detention of Al-Jazeera journalist Samer Allawi, who has been held without charge for eight days. ... On Tuesday, a week after his arrest, he appeared before a military judge, Al-Jazeera reported. Although Allawi was not charged with a crime, the judge extended the detention for seven days, after which he must appear before the same court, his lawyer told CPJ. The lawyer, Salim Waqeem, said Allawi has been interrogated about his work, personal finances, and his relationships with colleagues, friends, and family. During the 25-minute court hearing, authorities cited a 'secret report by Israeli intelligence' accusing Allawi of membership in Hamas and having ties with its military wing, Al-Jazeera reported. During the hearing, Allawi disputed the allegations, called his detention arbitrary, and said authorities were 'fishing for information to convict me or Al-Jazeera.'" See also Ha'aretz, 17 Aug 2011, Gili Izikovich.

Canada Free Press, 17 Aug 2011, Cliff Kincaid: "Critics of Al-Jazeera have called upon Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, to hold hearings on Al-Jazeera’s involvement with terrorist organizations and whether that activity qualifies the channel to be officially designated by the U.S. Government as a global terrorist entity that provokes violence against Americans and American interests. Under such a designation, which has been applied to Al-Manar, an affiliate of Hezbollah, the channel could be banned from operating in the U.S. Al-Manar was labeled a global terrorist entity and banned from the U.S. in 2004."

Update: Rapid TV News, 22 Aug 2011, Rebecca Hawkes, : "Al Jazeera is calling for Israel to 'immediately release' its journalist Samer Allawi, who has now been held by the state without charge for 12 days. Mr Allawi, was arrested on 10 August, 'without reason while on vacation with his family in the occupied West Bank,' according to a statement from the Qatar-based satellite TV network."

China Radio International helps reunite Norwegian with her family photos.

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
China Daily, 22 Aug 2011, Liu Wei: "During a trip to the Panjiayuan flea market in Beijing in 1999, actor Wang Weiguo stumbled across 20 exquisite frames and was immediately attracted by the photos in them - beautiful photos of a blond woman's life from baby to young lady. Some were obviously family photos that included both the girl and her parents. ... 'I couldn't be at ease until I found the photos' owner. And I believed I would.' In 2010, Wang told TV host Zhang Zequn about the photos. He was touched by the story and suggested Wang try China Radio International (CRI), a network that broadcasts in 43 languages to a global audience. CRI made a video about the story and posted it on its website in English on Dec 27, 2010. Soon many Web users joined the search for the lady in the photos. On March 16, an Internet user noticed that one of photos was Norwegian actress Julie Ege and her daughter. ... The young girl in the photos turned out to be Joanna Syson, the elder of her two daughters, and a documentary filmmaker in Norway. The video was sent to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and eventually reached the Facebook page of Joanna's younger sister. Soon after, CRI got an e-mail from Joanna. 'It's a miracle, unbelievable. I never thought I was going to see them again,' she wrote." See also CRI, 30 Mar 2011 and CRI, 22 Apr 2011.

In Antigua, CNN and Turner channels moves from one cable provider to another.

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Antigua Observer, 15 Aug 2011, Tameika Malone: "Since a deal was struck between Turner Broadcasting System Latin America, Inc (TBSLA) and Karib Cable giving them exclusive rights to broadcast TBSLA programming, the cable provider is speaking for the first time, saying they did not double-cross [competing cable provider] CTV with the July agreement. 'We at Karib Cable would like to clarify that our deal with Turner to broadcast their channels exclusively in Antigua & Barbuda was concluded after Turner had decided to serve a Cease and Desist Order on CTV to stop the broadcasting of their channels. ... In the July 22 deal, CTV was left without the rights to broadcast programming from CNN, TNT, CNN Headline News, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and truTV to its subscribers. ... 'I paid for CNN and I want CNN. For too long now I have been receiving inferior service from CTV,' [a] blogger said. Meanwhile, Karib has upgraded several channels. For example, channel 11 now becomes CNN International, iSat is now available on 20, Space is on 70, Fox Soccer Plus is on 95, Ten Cricket is on 97, CNN en Espanol is on 107, and FX is on 124."

BBC Radio 1 no longer available on Sirius XM satellite radio in the USA (updated).

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Sirius Buzz, 10 Aug 2011, Charles: "Although it has not officially been announced by Sirius XM, it has recently been confirmed that BBC Radio 1 has been dropped from the Sirius XM lineup. After their six year run, a recent announcement from the press office of BBC Worldwide confirms the fans worst fears. 'The BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide has been in partnership with SIRIUS Satellite Radio to broadcast Radio 1 on their main network, since 2005. This agreement has now unfortunately come to an end and BBC Worldwide are in current discussions with the satellite radio station to find ways to continue to bring popular music channel, BBC Radio 1, to the US audience. We will keep you posted.' For the past 24 hours my inbox has been overflowing with irate fans who simply wanted an explanation or a little warning. Those same fans have since brought the fight to both twitter (#bringbackBBCR1) and the Sirius XM Facebook page (almost all the comments) to voice their displeasure.

Radio-info.com, 11 Aug 2011: "The Facebook page named 'Get BBC Radio 1 back on Sirius XM' already has over a thousand 'likes,' says the New York Times. The satcaster’s Patrick Reilly says 'We are proud of our relationship with the BBC, whose World Service we also broadcast. We will continue to explore programming opportunities to work with the BBC in the future.'"

Replacing BBCR1 is Studio 54 Radio.

Update: New York Times, 16 Aug 2011, Melena Ryzik: "Less than a week after it replaced BBC Radio 1 with a channel devoted to the disco hits of the Studio 54 era, Sirius XM, the satellite radio broadcaster, announced that the British music channel will return to its regular lineup — but only online."

Satellite Radio Playground, 19 Aug 2011, Demian Russian: "Following a very informative interview with Strategy Analytics Senior Analyst John Canali on Wednesday night’s Playground Radio program, I was expecting to discuss the usual topics of the market and Sirius XM’s stock chart with my co-host Spencer Osborne and our listeners. We were amazed to see the switchboard light up with call after call from listeners irate about the cancellation of BBC Radio 1. For close to two hours we heard passionate callers eloquently convey how important BBC Radio 1 was to them on Sirius XM’s Satellite Radio platform and how upset they were with the channel’s sudden removal, as well as the lack of communication from Sirius XM. Many said that BBC Radio 1 was not only their favorite channel, but in many cases was the only channel they listened to. ... While it is not publicly known what the programming cost of BBC Radio 1 was to Sirius XM, it is easy to assume that the in-house produced Studio 54's programming costs are substantially less."

RFE/RL exclusive: VOA interview with senior US diplomat Marc Grossman.

Posted: 24 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, 20 Aug 2011: "Marc Grossman, the U.S. senior representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, recently sat down at the State Department in Washington with Voice of America's Lina Rozbih to discuss a wide range of regional issues, from the future of Al-Qaeda and the Haqqani network to India-Pakistan relations and the recent instability in Afghanistan as the United States begins to draw down its troops." Followed by transcript of the interview. -- I was not able to find this interview, at least by way of a search, at the VOA website. This is at least the second major VOA interview made available at the RFE/RL website. This inter-entity USIB synergy is an encouraging development.

NPR, The Two-Way blog, 19 Aug 2011, Mark Memmott: "There's word from Voice of America this hour that members of the Georgetown University men's basketball team and players from China's professional Bayi Rockets club have 'cleared up some of their differences ... a day after they fought on a basketball court in Beijing.'" With excerpt of VOA report.

Maybe he should apply for that new BBG speechwriter job.

Posted: 23 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Digital Journal, 19 Aug 2011, Ted Lipen: "[T]he BBG still wants VOA Chinese news to be available in China only on the Internet and claims to be able to pierce the Great Internet Firewall, which protects the regime that has the best cyber police and the best hackers in the world. ... If nothing is done to change the political patronage system that is killing U.S. international broadcasting, we may soon hear about new radio and TV programs being terminated as pro-democracy movements are crushed in key areas of the world. We may even learn about new BBG missions to negotiate with repressive regimes, perhaps this time in Cuba, Burma, or North Korea. Let us hope the U.S. Congress will put a stop to such nonsense. The American people want U.S. government-funded broadcasts to promote human rights and to put fear into dictators. They don't want to spend close to a billion dollars a year so that BBG members can travel around the world to meet with media censors, listen to their complaints, and then censor and fire Voice of America journalists. It is high time for the Obama Administration to wake up to the fact that those in charge of this dysfunctional agency, confused about their mission, have become a major embarrassment and a political liability, both at home and abroad."

In past years, VOA directors were appointed by presidents. Now they are appointed by the presidentially appointed bi-partisan Broadcasting Board of Governors. The "political patronage" has been shifted from content managers to the members of the Board. With that layer now between them and the administration, USIB journalists can concentrate on providing reliable and comprehensive news.

The BBG is most effective when its members are selected because of their experience as journalists and media managers. Furthermore, the Board should concentrate on macro issues and stay out of content, except to protect the independence of the journalists who produce that content.

The American people might want USIB "to promote human rights and to put fear into dictators." If USIB is willing to endure the inconvenience of having an audience, that audience wants something else: news that is more credible than the "news" they receive from their state-controlled domestic media.

Sky News Australia deal to distribute content into China boosts its bid versus ABC for the Australia Network contract.

Posted: 22 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Aug 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Sky News has trumped the ABC in the battle to win the $223 million deal to run Australia's official TV service in Asia by snaring a landmark deal for television broadcasts in China. The agreement signed with Chinese state television CCTV in Beijing yesterday means live and breaking news stories from Sky News, part owned by Rupert Murdoch, will be broadcast in China with reciprocal rights back into Australia. The deal makes it almost impossible for the ABC to match Sky News in the bid for the Australia Network to aggressively expand the audience in the China market. ... The contract is expected to be decided before mid-September after the government re-opened the tender. The deal does not provide a much sought-after permanent presence on Chinese TV screens - known as landing rights - but is a big boost in accessing the world's fastest growing economy. In addition to China's several English-language TV stations, Australian programs will appear on one of the state broadcaster's channels with Chinese captions. ... The live-to-air aspect of the Sky deal is a sign Beijing is coming to trust Sky News after agreeing to limited program sharing in April last year. Sky promised in its Australia Network bid to set up a separate channel for China as a way of expanding the audience and dealing with strict censorship. ... The ABC has an agreement to share footage with Chinese state television but has baulked at the prospect of sharing stories and programs. 'The ABC is not going to stick on a Chinese documentary about Tibet,' said an ABC source. 'Let's just say there is a cultural difference in what we see as objective.'"

The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Aug 2011, Pip Bulbeck: "The agreement will allow CCTV to provide its viewers with live pictures of events happening in Australia, including state visits by Chinese leaders and other material with a China angle. However, the agreement will have no effect on Chinese state control of news broadcasts."

Cobar Age, 19 Aug 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The ABC says its independence charter stops it getting too close to Chinese-state controlled media after its rival Sky News gained a strategic toehold in China in the contest for Australia Network. Sky News has signed with China's state television, CCTV, for live broadcasts into the world's most populous market - a deal central to its pitch for the $223 million contract to run Australia's overseas television service. The promise of greater access in China was key to a panel of public servants in May judging Sky News the better bid over the ABC, only for the Gillard government to intervene before its final decision and to change the tender rules. The ABC yesterday said it had its own arrangements with Chinese state broadcasters for exchanging news footage, including CCTV. But the deals do not extend to the exchange of live news."

This certainly complicates the competition between Sky News Australia and the ABC for the Australia Network contract. Sky News has found a pragmatic means for getting its content into China, with Chinese subtitles -- that's huge. However, if the content is relegated to some digital-only channel not available to most Chinese, it's not so huge. On the other hand, the ABC's adhering to principles and not allowing CCTV content on its channels speaks well for the ABC's bid for Australia Network. Ultimately, some sort of compromise will have to be worked out to allow Australian content into China.

Eldest son of Qaddafi calls Al Jazeera to grant interview while under rebel custody.

Posted: 22 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 22 Aug 2011, Max Fisher: "As rebels encircled Tripoli late on Sunday, Muammar Qaddafi's eldest son Mohammed did something unexpected: he picked up the phone and dialed al Jazeera. The network, which has effusively covered (and, at times, cheerleaded) the downfall of his family's four-decade rule, was an unlikely point of contact for the wealthy Libyan prince. But Muhammed had something to tell the world. ... [H]e offhandedly revealed that he was under rebel custody. 'Some people besieged my house. There were heavy sounds of gunfire and explosions. I just hope that security and stability come to Libya and the entire Muslim world. The rebels who apprehended me are very cordial and have not harmed me. This is a very positive sign, not only for me, but for all Libyans,' he said. ... Just as Mohammed was building toward his point, loud, rapid gunfire erupted on his side of the call. 'I'm being attacked right now. This is gunfire inside my house. They're inside my house,' he said, remarkably calm. He began praying, and within two or three seconds the line went dead."

News on News, 22 Aug 2011, Kevin Coy: "CNN and CNN Interational began simulcasting on Sunday afternoon as it became apparent that the Libyan Rebel movement had started to enter the country's capital city, Tripoli."

BBC News, 22 Aug 2011, Alexander, activist in Damascus: "In Syria, a minority of the population thinks that only traitors watch Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya, so if there's a television in a grocery store, it will show only State TV. But State TV is not telling the full story of Libya: it just focuses on how many people have died there. Syrians tend to get their news after work, when they go home and watch cable TV. Syrians thought that if Libyans couldn't topple Gaddafi despite having Nato support, we had no chance to get freedom. It's obviously a great moment for Libya and it's good news for Syria too."

"Axis Sally" biographer on NPR's "On the Media."

Posted: 22 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
NPR On the Media, 19 Aug 2011: "Fifty years ago this summer, Mildred Gillars was released from prison. Known more widely as Axis Sally, Gillars broadcasted pro-Nazi propaganda during World War II on German state radio. After the war, she became one of the only women ever convicted of treason in the United States. Brooke spoke to historian Richard Lucas, who wrote Gillars’ biography, about her broadcasts, her trial, and her quiet life in Ohio after her imprisonment." With audio. See previous post about same subject. -- Thanks to Amir Soleimani for the news tip.

BBC World Service, in transition, must still consider "the frame of mind ... of an international listener."

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
London Review of Books, 25 Aug 2011, Jo Glanville: "Where audiences can listen to the World Service on the better quality FM, they do so. But FM transmitters have limited reach beyond urban areas... . In some countries, the BBC is dependent on regulators for licences – in Nigeria the BBC isn’t allowed to broadcast any form of news on FM – or is subject to arbitrary government control, as illustrated recently when it was taken off air in Sri Lanka and Ivory Coast. In Rwanda in 2009, the World Service was accused of genocide denial and banned from FM when the government took exception to a broadcast. If it is considered an important part of the World Service’s mission to impart information to audiences in countries where the media are restricted, then shortwave surely wins out as the more reliable means of communication. It can be jammed, but it cannot be wholly disabled – as the internet and mobile phone networks were in Egypt earlier this year. ...

"BBC domestic staff and World Service staff have long regarded each other with mutual snobbery. The World Service is sneered at for its pedantry and high-minded interest in international affairs (‘Auntie Mabel doesn’t give a toss about Serbia’ is the sort of remark you could hear at some BBC news meetings), and World Service staff can be sniffy about the domestic BBC’s populism. They also worry that their approach to international affairs will not be appreciated in the wider BBC. ‘I suspect that the majority of people in the domestic BBC think that broadcasting internationally is just putting in a bit more foreign coverage,’ [former World Service managing director John] Tusa said. ‘The fact is that you have to think yourself into the frame of mind and approach of an international listener. It’s not a matter of distorting what the news is: you have to make the effort to ask what does the world look like from there? How do we broadcast independently without bias and keep an understanding of what the international listener needs?’"

Recommended reading. Jo Glanville provides a comprehensive look at the state of World Service as it prepares to depend on the license fee for funding.

BBC World Service reporter in Tajikistan tells court he was tortured while in custody.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 19 Aug 2011: "BBC World Service is concerned about the treatment of its correspondent, Urunboy Usmonov, after details of torture emerged during his trial which commenced this week in Khojand, Tajikistan. When questioned, Mr Usmonov told the court that he'd been tortured in custody following his arrest on 13 June this year, including beatings and security officers burning his arms with cigarettes. He also said he'd been forced to sign a confession which had been dictated to him. The BBC condemns the torture of Mr Usmonov and has asked the Tajikistan authorities to investigate these incidents. The BBC has consistently maintained Mr Usmonov's innocence and regards the allegations as completely unfounded. Meetings and interviews with people representing all shades of opinion are part of the work of any BBC journalist. The BBC has asked the Tajik authorities to drop all charges against Mr Usmonov so he can return to his work as a highly respected journalist and writer."

The Guardian, 16 Aug 2011, John Plunkett: "Urunboy Usmonov, a reporter for the BBC World Service, was arrested in June accused of being a member of Hizbut-Tahrir, an extreme Islamist organisation that is banned in the former Soviet republic. He was due to appear in court in Khujand city, according to the BBC."

CPJ, 17 Aug 2011: "The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Tajik prosecutors to drop the fabricated extremism charges against Urinboy Usmonov, the BBC World Service correspondent in Tajikistan, and acquit him."

Dutch cable provider UPC carries (almost) all domestic BBC channels.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 16 Aug 2011, Robert Briel: Dutch cable system UPC "carries all domestic BBC channels with the exception of BBC News 24. However, UPC carries BBC World News, until now the only international BBC channel available on the network. This will change as UPC also plans to add BBC Entertainment. ... And from Discovery Networks, UPC will replace Discovery Travel & Living with Investigation Discovery."

England nil: BBC World Service drama will be about England's failed World Cup bid.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 15 Aug 2011, Ben Dowell and Owen Gibson: "Radio 4 and the BBC World Service are developing a drama about England's failed bid to host the 2018 football World Cup. The drama documentary, which is expected to air on both radio stations later this year, will explore the three days in Zurich in December last year when English optimism turned to despair and the Football Association's bid crashed out in the first round of voting."

According to data, Monaco and Iceland are the most weird countries. Oh, sorry, the most wired countries.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
CNN, 19 Aug 2011: "Nearly 2.1 billion people -- about 30% of the world's population -- use the Internet, according to the most recent data compiled by internetworldstats.com. That's more than five times the amount of people who were online at the end of the year 2000. The most Internet users are in China and the United States, but China's 485 million users account for only 36.3% of the country's population. The Internet is much more common in the U.S., where its 245 million users make up 78.2% of the population. The most wired countries in the world are Monaco and Iceland, where at least 97% of people are online. ... At the bottom of the list are mostly poor African countries, including Liberia, Ethiopia and Somalia."

AdAge, 16 Aug 2011, Edmund Lee: "According to ComScore, which will start publishing data on YouTube's channel partners tomorrow, 40% of YouTube's audience clicked over in July to watch music videos, more than any other category. ... Major media companies listed include Associated Press, with 6.6 million viewers, and Hearst Television, which owns 29 local TV stations, with 3.1 million watchers. BBC Worldwide had a YouTube audience of 2 million." -- BBC Worldwide is mostly entertainment output of the BBC (Dr. Who, Top Gear, etc) rather than BBC news output. One commenter to this article points out that ComScore is actually measuring networks of channels rather than individual channels. See also www.comscore.com/youtube

BBC Entertainment and FOX Crime part of English television expansion in India.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Indian Express, 19 Aug 2011, Dipti Nagpaul D'souza: "Guy Ritchie’s big-screen adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes got mixed reactions in India. But BBC Entertainment’s (BBCE) modern small-screen interpretation of the character, titled Sherlock, when it aired earlier this year, garnered a huge following. This did two things for them — it consolidated BBCE’s position among the English general entertainment channels in India and secondly, helped it narrow down their target audience to the Indian youth that is truly driving the market. ... If one goes by the recent programming trends on television, it is hard to miss that English entertainment channels are taking an aggressive stance to increase their share of viewership pie. ... Star network is planning an official launch of FX and various media campaign for FOX Crime both of which are a part of the Star bouquet. Himmat Butalia, Marketing Head, Sony PIX, says the channel is attempting to establish a personal connect with the youth through the digital medium."

The Independent and Ofcom look into BBC World News documentaries by company also on contract to the Malaysian government.

Posted: 21 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Independent, 17 Aug 2011, Ian Burrell and Martin Hickman: "The BBC has launched an investigation into how it broadcast to millions of people around the world programmes made by a company that had received millions of pounds in payments from the government of Malaysia. It has suspended all programming from the London-based production company, FBC, which since 2009 has made at least four BBC documentaries dealing with Malaysia and controversial issues such as the country's contentious palm oil industry and its treatment of rainforests and indigenous people. In a statement, the BBC said: 'FBC has now admitted to the BBC that it has worked for the Malaysian government. That information was not disclosed to the BBC as we believe it should have been when the BBC contracted programming from FBC.' ... In the Third Eye programme, one of several productions made on Malaysia for the BBC in the last three years, viewers were told of the key role of the Malaysian palm oil industry in meeting the growing demand for food in countries such as China and India. ... Only a brief reference was made to the reasons why the palm oil industry is the subject of fierce debate. Environmental groups complain that its spread has caused devastating levels of deforestation which harm biodiversity, threaten the livelihoods of indigenous people and put at risk the survival of the orang-utan."

The Independent, 18 Aug 2011, Ian Burrell: "Ofcom, the media regulator, is examining the circumstances surrounding the screening of programmes on Malaysia made by a London-based company allocated millions of pounds by that country to work on a global strategic communications campaign."

The Independent, 18 Aug 2011, leader: "More than any other media outlet, the BBC relies on a reputation for independence and impartiality. It is a status that is both the result of its public funding, and an implicit part of the bargain. ... That the producers of such programmes failed to disclose to the BBC that they were part of a media organisation that received millions of pounds from the Malaysian government must give cause for concern. So too is the fact the BBC did not have the means to discover this before programmes were broadcast."

Straits Times Indonesia, 19 Aug 2011, via Jakarta Globe: "The British Broadcasting Corporation has suspended all programming from an independent production company which made documentaries on Malaysia for the BBC, after the company admitted it had worked for the Malaysian government. This followed a similar decision taken two weeks ago by American broadcaster CNBC. It had pulled a weekend business programme, also made by British-based FactBased Communications (FBC), following allegations that FBC had been paid to produce programs to boost the image of Malaysian leaders."

Malaysia Today, 18 Aug 2011, Teoh El Sen: "'The issue has put another dent in Malaysia’s tattered image globally and attracted worldwide media attention. Surely Putrajaya and Kuching must now disclose their roles in this illegal public relations campaign,' [Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, communications director of Malaysia's People's Justice Party] said."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC Worldwide CBeebies app will keep Asia-Pacific "young children entertained on the go."

Posted: 20 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 19 Aug 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "A new Apple app to access content from the CBeebies pre-school children’s channel is being launched across the Indian subcontinent and wider Asia-Pacific region by BBC Worldwide. Parents in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Australia will now be able to keep their young children entertained on the go via their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch devices with enduring favourites such as ‘Charlie & Lola’, ‘In the Night Garden’, ‘Teletubbies’, and ‘3rd and Bird’."

International radio and the Soviet coup of 1991.

Posted: 20 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 16 Aug 2011, Will Englund: "Throughout the contentious summer of 1991, when the control and thus direction of the Soviet Union seemed to be up for grabs, the press here was pushing hard against the unwritten boundaries of glasnost. ... For a year, a small station called Ekho Moskvy, or Echo of Moscow, had been reporting and commenting on the news. Among reformers, in particular, it was a sensation. For the first time, they felt, they didn’t have to listen to the BBC or Radio Liberty to find out what was really going on. Ekho built a tremendously loyal audience — which it has retained to this day."

Washington Times, 19 Aug 2011, Jan Sherbin: "I happened to be visiting the Soviet Union during those historic days 20 years ago. ... Looking back, I recall that we Americans took the dramatic events more seriously than the locals. They wondered why we asked to watch TV. We said we wanted news. The locals laughed; they knew that when something unsettling happened, Soviet TV aired the “Swan Lake” ballet. We learned to garner information the same way the locals did - via shortwave radio. In Kiev the day the coup started, we joined the crowd at October Revolution Square, where people huddled around shortwaves, catching news from the BBC and Voice of America."

Kyiv Post, 18 Aug 2011, Marta Dyczok: "When I landed in Kyiv in the spring of 1991, an Oxford Ph.D. student coming to Ukraine to do research, I quickly decided that the best vantage point to see history unfolding was to become a journalist. So I got myself a job with The Guardian of London. ... Susan Viets, of The Independent in London, had a short wave radio, so like Mikhail Gorbachev, we followed the BBC News bulletins and hired a taxi to take us back to the capital. ... For me, Ukraine remains continually interesting, but for those living and working here, it can’t be easy, despite the fact that everyone has a cell phone now."

In this recording (mp3), Radio Moscow personality Vasily Strelnakov describes what happened in 1991, followed by a recording of Radio Moscow's North American Service at the time of the coup. As you can hear, Radio Moscow, at least briefly, went along with the putschists. However, on a US radio network interview, I heard Radio Moscow broadcaster Joe Adamov, who for decades followed the line of whatever Soviet regime happened to be in power, lambasting the coup leaders. The Radio Moscow audio comes from Radio Netherlands Media Network on 22 Aug 1991 (mp3), via Jonathan Marks's Vintage Vault.

"Dictators Can't Stop the Desire for Fun."

Posted: 20 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Dong-a Ilbo, 16 Aug 2011: "South Korean pop music, or K-pop, has reportedly started to gain popularity in North Korea. Despite a stern crackdown by the North’s security authorities, many people in the North led by the children of high-income families are learning the latest South Korean folk songs and dance, news reports say. Introducing this trend, the U.S.-based Radio Free Asia said Tuesday, 'Names of South Korean dance groups, such as Girls’ Generation’ and Big Bang are no longer unheard of in North Korea.' A Chinese trader who frequently visits North Korea told the broadcaster, 'South Korean dance fever is sweeping young people in Pyongyang,' adding, 'A homemaker of a well-heeled family asked me to get a Girls’ Generation CD to her recently.'"

allkpop, 16 Aug 2011, limabean17: "RFA also said that, according to a Chinese trader, 'Disco is all the craze among the youth of Pyongyang in their 10s and 20s. The wealthy North Koreans try to teach their children South Korean dances and songs instead of musical instruments. A renowned instructor has emerged to teach this choreography.'"

Chosunilbo, 18 Aug 2011, Park Hae-hyun: "The situation became so bad that the North Korean leader referred to North Pyongan Province as 'a playground for capitalist delinquents' after seeing the infusion of South Korean pop culture there during his recent visit and ordered a crackdown. But there is a saying that you can hide the truth or a yawn, but you cannot stop them. North Koreans love to have a good time just like everyone else. And no government will be able to repress the human desire to play."

The original RFA story, widely cited especially in the South Korean press, does not appear to be available in English at the RFA website.

"Cincinnati liars" transmitter building will be home to three museums, funds permitting.

Posted: 19 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 16 Aug 2011, president of the board of directors for the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting: Ken Rieser: "The Voice of America Bethany Station was built in 1944 on a wartime basis under the direction of broadcasting pioneer Powel Crosley. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was determined to broadcast radio messages overseas. Powel Crosley committed his innovative team of engineers in Cincinnati to building transmitters and antennae system capable of this. A 640-acre site was selected north of Cincinnati in the rural community of West Chester and not far from neighboring Crosley’s powerful WLW transmitter. Here, engineers set about building something that had never been built before. Intricate antennae systems would soon be scattered throughout the property and an impressive art-deco structure resembling a WWII airfield control tower was built to accommodate the six new 200-kilowatt transmitters (10 kW was the standard power at the time). The transmitters were designed and built by Crosley engineers with every component custom-made; and they would remain in service to the U.S. government for the next 50 years. The technology was top secret and perplexed Hitler and others as America’s Voice continued to permeate Europe and South America. Frustrated by the inability to block this powerful voice, Hitler referred to the facility as 'those Cincinnati Liars. ... With the advent of newer satellite-based technology, ground stations like VOA’s Bethany were no longer needed, and the facility was decommissioned in 1995. ... As [a museum on the site] took shape it was evident that the space was larger than needed for just the VOA Museum and West Chester Amateur Radio Association, which was operating an amateur radio station out of the building. At the same time two local museums were looking for new homes. They were the Gray History of Wireless Museum and Media Heritage. Both were excellent fits for the VOA Museum. The Gray History of Wireless Museum boasts one of the largest collections of antique radio equipment in the country and was assembled by Jack Gray, a former VOA Bethany Station engineer. Media Heritage is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and maintenance of historic broadcast recordings, photographs, scripts, film, printed text, oral histories and other media related to the history of radio and television in the Greater Cincinnati area, the Midwest and the nation. Both of these museums are now housed in the Bethany Station building. ... The goal is to raise $12 million to convert the Bethany Station into a museum that will preserve the rich history of VOA, wireless radio and Cincinnati broadcast history."

Washington Post: Pakistan's Geo TV accused of anti-Americanism but paid to broadcast VOA segments.

Posted: 19 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 19 Aug 2011, Karen Brulliard: "Pakistan’s largest media group, commonly referred to as the Geo-Jang group, ... is regularly criticized for using its four domestic television stations and two top newspapers to promote some very different ideas, including Islamist extremism, anti-Americanism and government loathing. ... So wide is Geo’s reach that the United States, despite its misgivings, subsidizes it. Geo is paid to broadcast a segment four nights a week from the U.S. government’s Voice of America, an arrangement that the U.S. Embassy sought to end in 2008 because of what it called the group’s 'blatant hate speech and intentionally inaccurate and irresponsible reporting,' according to a cable obtained by WikiLeaks. That plea fizzled, American officials said. 'We recognize them as . . . the biggest and most influential media outlet in the country,' said U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez. 'How can we not engage with them?'"

Burmese newspapers drop banners against VOA, BBC, RFA, DVB. At least for now.

Posted: 19 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 17 Aug 2011, citing Reuters: "Myanmar’s state-run newspapers dropped back-page banners attacking Western media for the first time in four years today, the latest indication its new government could be softening its stance towards opposition voices. Three official newspapers dropped half-page slogans that were running daily, accusing the Voice of America (VOA) and the BBC of 'sowing hatred among the people', and other Western media of 'generating public outrage'. ... Removing the slogans is seen as the latest gesture of openness since elections last year ended five decades of army rule and ushered in a civilian-led administration. ... State newspapers have also been less critical of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the figurehead of Myanmar’s democracy movement who was freed last year when her period of house arrest expired."

Democratic Voice of Burma, 17 Aug 2011, Joseph Allchin: "The removal of the slogans comes shortly after the government’s first-ever press conference last week, and a somewhat successful attempt to soften its draconian image. Despite the move, 17 of DVB’s video journalists remain behind bars, along with nearly 2000 political prisoners. The current figure is well above the average for political prisoners in Burma since a military dictatorship took power in 1962."

The Irrawaddy, 19 Aug 2011, Aung Lynn Htut: "Instances of disagreement and discontent among second-tier generals in the Burmese army have surfaced increasingly in the past few months. ... Since around 2009, foreign broadcasting stations such as the Voice of America, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Free Asia and Democratic Voice of Burma have highlighted the economic situation of families within the army. Consequently, officers and soldiers from army units in Yemon, Inndagaw and Hmawbi areas, which are under control of the Rangoon Command, stood up and called for better living conditions. It was reportedly quite effective as several top generals were shaken by the move."

On new Indonesian DTH satellite service, Al Jazeera English is in the basic package, CNN International in the premium.

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
MEASAT press release, 12 Aug 2011: "MEASAT Satellite Systems Sdn. Bhd. announced today an agreement with PT Central Tivi Digital to support Centrin TV’s Direct-to-Home (DTH) service in Indonesia. Under the agreement, which includes PT Patra Telekomunikasi Indonesia as a local partner, MEASAT will provide Ku- band capacity on the MEASAT-3a satellite for the platform. Centrin TV is a new DTH operator serving the Indonesian Pay TV market. Centrin TV focuses on bringing family orientated entertainment to its subscribers. It offers several basic packages and add-on packages, which includes channels like Disney, Nickelodeon, Universal, HBO, CNN International and Discovery." -- See also www.centrin.tv, where we learn that the basic package at 49.900 Rupiah (presumably per month) has Al Jazeera English. CNN International is in the premium package at Rp 89.900.

Comparing the internet freedom activities of the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (updated).

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The New Republic, 8 Aug 2011, Max Schulman: "An examination of the State Department’s record of its 18-month-old Internet freedom agenda reveals significant failures, both in overall funding efforts and in the omission of vital tools from its approach to helping activists crack through the layers of censorship imposed by repressive regimes. ... [The Broadcasting Board of Governors], an independent government agency responsible for Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, has been struggling for years to reach audiences restricted by government censors. Of late, this task has put the agency on the front lines of the Internet freedom battle in China, Iran, and elsewhere. In order to get around censorship, BBG board member Michael Meehan explained to me, the agency has spent millions of dollars on extra proxy servers for GIFC circumvention tools like Ultrasurf and Freegate. While fully aware of their upper-end limitations, BBG experts have concluded that these tools remain among the best options available. The RFA website maintains a page, entitled 'Getting Around Internet Blockage,' with well-updated advice for users and links to circumvention tools. 'The U.S. government does not spend enough money on this,' says Meehan. 'It’s probably off by a factor of ten.'"

Update: VOA Digital Frontiers, 12 Aug 2011: "While some in Washington had tried to portray this as a David-vs-Goliath intra-governmental battle (with the State Department being the Goliath), representatives for both organizations have downplayed such speculation. And both State and the BBG actively continue exploring new ways to pry open the digital locks governments like Burma, China, Iran and many others put on the Internet."

The Globe and Mail, 12 Aug 2011, Paul Koring: "'The bad guys have lots of tools,' said Ian Goldberg, an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo’s Cheriton School of Computer Science. A math genius, who won international acclaim while still in high school, Prof. Goldberg’s prowess as a cryptographer gained fame in cyberspace when he cracked Netscape’s supposedly unbreakable encryption. Now he is part of team that has come up with an anti-censorship system called Telex. ... Until a few days ago, when the joint University of Waterloo and University of Michigan team announced their Telex test running inside a computer lab in Ann Arbor, China’s cyber police may not have known there was a chink in their cyber wall." See previous post about Telex.

VOA News, 13 Aug 2011, Kurt Achin: "By mobile phone, Internet and shortwave radio, Tibetan exiles maintain a constant watch on their friends, contacts and relatives living in Tibet under Chinese control. China's increasingly sophisticated ability to conduct cyber-warfare is making the task more challenging, and pushing Tibetan exiles to develop training programs for keeping themselves secure online.

Arrest for listening to aircraft radio in South Africa compared to listening to BBC and VOA during WWII and Cold War.

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Business Day (Johannesburg), 12 Aug 2011, Vashek Korinek: "My parents risked their lives listening to BBC during German occupation in the Second World War, so did I listening to Voice of America and Radio Free Europe under a Stalinist regime. Now we risk our freedom by tuning, accidentally or otherwise, to an aircraft radio traffic on a receiver freely available over the counter. Over the past 25 years I have been held at a gunpoint and robbed several times. Not one criminal was apprehended for these crimes. So it is heartwarming to know that I am safe from criminals like Julian Swift who dared to tune a radio and listen to the natter of an aircraft crew. It is even more heartwarming to see that the law officials have finally found someone their own size to take on!"

Business Day, 7 Aug 2011, Chantelle Benjamin: "Aircraft-spotting enthusiast Julian Swift returns to the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court today to defend himself against several charges of interception of electronic equipment. Mr Swift appears to be the first aircraft spotter prosecuted in terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica) and the Electronic Communications Act." See also Business Day, 8 Aug 2011, Setumo Stone.

Pakistan's new Chinese-built satellite can transmit 150-200 TV programs and has "strong capabilities against ... jamming."

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
NASASpaceFlight.com, 11 Aug 2011, Rui C. Barbosa: "China has launched a domestic communications satellite for Pakistan’s SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission) at 16:15UTC on August 11 from the Xi Chang Satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province. The launch of Paksat-1R was conducted by the Long March 3B/E (Chang Zheng-3B/E) launch vehicle. ... The satellite ... can support the transmission of 150-200 TV programs simultaneously to ground users using a 0.45m antenna device. The DFH-4 satellite also features strong capabilities against hostile interference and jamming."

Ahlul Bayt News Agency, 9 Aug 2011: "Lualua TV, a satellite TV station launched by 15 members of the Bahraini opposition on 17 July in London, has been jammed since the first day despite changing frequency regularly. According to Eutelsat, the jamming is being orchestrated from Bahrain. Lualua TV wanted to broadcast from Bahrain but it was repeatedly denied permission. It is still managing to broadcast on the Hotbird satellite." The Next Web, 14 Aug 2011, Nancy Messieh: "Launches on Livestation instead."

Euronews broadcasts "exclusive" interview with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 4 Aug 2011: "The era of hegemony, slavery and World War II has ended and all governments and nations must currently cooperate to help establish a 'better world,' said President Ahmadinejad in an interview with Euronews TV channel on Wednesday."

Gulf News (Dubai), 11 Aug 2011, Francis Matthew: "[I]n a rambling interview that Ahmadinejad gave Euronews ... he remained confident and defiant about Iran's nuclear programme, even if he wrongly picked on Germany and Belgium as examples of European countries with nuclear weapons."

Euronews, 4 Aug 2011: "Ahmadinejad – the full exclusive interview." Video and transcript of the interview by Jon Davies.

Head of planned news network says "he doesn’t intend his channel to become a pro-Israel station."

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Jewish Tribune (Canada), 10 Aug 2011, Avraham Zuroff: "Billionaire, philanthropist and founder of the WJC’s Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, [Alexander] Machkevitch announced earlier this year at the Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal conference in Washington, DC, of his plans to create an alternative news network. 'Every day and every hour people get negative information about Israel,' Machkevitch said. 'Therefore, the most important thing is to represent Israel on an international level, with real information.' ... At the recent WJC Board of Governors conference, Machkevitch told the Jewish Tribune that he doesn’t intend his channel to become a pro-Israel station. Nor is he sure where its headquarters will be. 'We’re conducting a feasibility study,' he said. 'The results will be available in September.' Machkevitch is looking for investors who will receive shares between 2 and 3 per cent. As for the network’s angle, 'we’ll be telling the truth,' he said."

Uzbekistan blocks, unblocks some news websites. International broadcasting sites remain barred.

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 13 Aug 2011: "Internet users in authoritarian Uzbekistan say some international news websites that had been blocked this week are now accessible. Several major news sites, including those of Reuters and Bloomberg, had been blocked for two days. But three Uzbeks contacted by The Associated Press on Friday said the sites had been opened. ... A handful of Russian news sites made unreachable this week could still not be accessed. Uzbeks have been barred for several years from visiting the websites of the BBC and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which produces programs on Central Asia."

BBC World Service now available on FM in Benghazi and Misrata, Libya.

Posted: 14 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 12 Aug 2011: "The BBC is announcing the launch of World Service content on FM radio in the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Misrata. The BBC World Service exists to provide accurate, impartial and trusted news around the world – balanced and reliable news and information plays a particularly important role for audiences during times and in areas of conflict. BBC Arabic has an established audience in Libya on TV as well as SW and MW radio and we are pleased to be extending our availability to FM radio. The programming is principally in Arabic radio, with the addition of the World Service English Newshour programme once a day." On 91.5 MHz in both cities.

BBC Hindi website re-launches "with new design and features."

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Press Trust of India, 10 Aug 2011: "BBC world service on Wednesday re-launched its Tamil website, with new design and features, including enhanced content-sharing functions, a mobile version and an access to archived radio programmes. Revamped bbctamil.com has a wider format, featuring more convenient and detailed content categorisation. Enhanced with ability to host video stories, the site also features image galleries, a press release from BBC said. ... BBC Tamil is part of BBC world service. Its 30-minute daily radio broadcasts, between 15.45 and 16.15 GMT (21.15 and 21.45 IST), provide an essential global and regional insight and bring high-quality, accurate and impartial news to Tamil-speaking audiences in India, Sri Lanka and across the world. Every week, about 690,000 people listen to BBC Tamil broadcasts. The BBC’s special Tamil-language infotainment output for India’s FM market includes sports, business and showbiz bulletins and is available in Chennai via partner station, Big FM."

Xinhua occupies "prominent" advertising space in Times Square (updated again).

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 25 July 2011, Stuart Elliott: "One of the most prominent advertising spaces in Times Square is soon to be occupied by a Chinese brand. This is a rendering of how 2 Times Square will look with a new sign for Xinhua that will replace a sign for HSBC. Xinhua, the news agency operated by the Chinese government, is leasing a giant sign, known as a spectacular, on 2 Times Square, the building that is the northern anchor of the district. The new LED sign, 60 feet high by 40 feet wide, is being built for Xinhua (pronounced Shin-wa) and is scheduled to make its debut next Monday. Xinhua, which has recently expanded its business presence in the United States, is taking over the space on 2 Times Square that had been occupied for the last decade by the HSBC bank. The HSBC lease expired and was not renewed. ... Many media analysts, however, are skeptical that Xinhua will make much headway anytime soon in markets like North America and Europe, where residents are sophisticated and often look askance at information delivered by news agencies owned by governments — any governments. Also, reports by Xinhua on topics like Taiwan and Tibet, which are of considerable political concern to its government bosses, are not necessarily known for being objective."

The China Post (Taipei), 28 July 2011: "This artists rendering provided by Sherwood Outdoor shows a 60-foot by 40-foot sign for China's Xinhua news agency that is about to take a spot in New York's Times Square." -- It shows the Xinhua logo, but will it be instead something to do with Xinhua's CNC World television channel? Update: No...

Wall Street Journal, 1 Aug 2011, Aaron Rutkoff: "Xinhua, the news agency run by Chinese government, joined Time Square’s glowing pantheon of corporate iconography Monday, taking the second-highest position in a tower of flashing displays for Prudential, Coca-Cola, Samsung and Hyundai. The huge LED sign measures 60 feet by 40 feet and replaces a billboard at 2 Times Square that had been leased by HSBC for the last decade. ... The state-run news agency recently finalized a deal to move to the top floor of the 44-story skyscraper at 1540 Broadway — the same building that is now home to the huge Forever 21 store and near media giant Thomson Reuters. ... The billboard will bring new visibility to the news organization, but it won’t help spread Xinhua’s news to tourists and office workers hurrying through Times Square. In its current incarnation, the billboard does not carry headlines or news summaries, unlike many other displays controlled by media organizations in Times Square (including the Dow Jones ticker at 1 Times Square, which is run by the same company that owns The Wall Street Journal)."

Update: Washington Times, 9 Aug 2011, Dan Bloom: "The problem is that Xinhua is not a brand. It is rather the mark of branded disinformation and propaganda. Americans need to know that. Like the former USSR, today’s China thinks it can fool the Western world with glass skyscrapers, space flights and glowing Times Square signs. But the West knows better - or does it? Xinhua is merely flexing its public-relations muscles as it attempts to pull the wool over gullible eyes in America and Europe. Xinhua isn’t a news agency. Let’s be honest: It’s the propaganda arm of a one-party state in an undemocratic land ruled by fear and paranoia that uses trumped-up prison terms to keep dissidents in line. Xinhua is akin to the old Soviet propaganda machines of yesteryear that served Russia so well in the 1970s and ‘80s. Remember Tass? It’s one thing for Times Square to open its advertising space to private brands from across the globe, and surely Chinese brands like Haier and Lenovo are welcome to showcase their logos there. But a 'news agency' that prints blatant falsehoods about events inside China and in the West, and has the unmitigated gall to call its workers 'journalists'? Whoever let Xinhua into Times Square ought to have his head examined."

BBC, CNBC drop programs after report of alleged ties between producer FBC Media and the Malaysian government (updated).

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News on News, 4 Aug 2011, Kevin Coy: "The BBC has dropped shows produced by FBC Media, part of FBC Group Ltd, after it came to light that the business was operating on behalf of the Malaysian Government. The BBC have said in a statement to News on News: 'The BBC is committed to the highest editorial standards and takes these issues seriously. The BBC was not aware of some of the information provided and we are examining the claims made as a matter of urgency. All independent TV companies who produce programmes for BBC World News have to sign strict agreements to ensure programmes meet the BBC's editorial guidelines, including avoiding any conflict of interest. We have contacted FBC to seek further information. As a precautionary step, we will not broadcast programmes made by FBC whilst we look into these claims.' The blog which initially broke the story, the Sarawak Report, also claimed that the BBC were aware a week ago, and have appointed a team to investigate the activities of FBC Media. ... CNBC has also indefin[i]tely suspended the weekend current affairs show 'World Business', also produced by FBC Media. A CNBC spokesperson said; 'In light of serious questions raised last week, CNBC immediately initiated an examination of FBC and its business practices and has withdrawn the programme "World Business" indefinitely.'"

Today (Singapore), 5 Aug 2011: "FBC Media is also said to have dealings with US-based CNN."

Politico, 8 Aug 2011, Keach Hagey: "CNN International is in the hot seat over allegations that the host of one of its business shows used his platform to give sympathetic interviews to clients of a PR firm and television production company he led. Concerns about the activities of the UK-based company, FBC Media, led CNBC to yank its FBC-produced 'World Business' program a week and a half ago and BBC to pull any FBC-created content pending an investigation last week. But so far, CNN International has stood by its host, John Defterios, who it said left his job as president of FBC Media in March, when he signed on full time with CNN. ... Last week, CNN spokeswoman Lauren Cone told POLITICO: 'CNN’s recent interview with the Malaysian prime minister was set up solely by CNN with the PM’s office. John Defterios became a full-time employee with CNN in March, at which time he severed his affiliation with FBC.'"

Update: News on News, 10 Aug 2011, Kevin Coy: "CNN International is standing by presenter John Defterios amidst claims of his involvement with a communications company acting on behalf of the Malaysian and Kazak Governments. ... CNN spokesperson Claudia Coles told News on News that Defterios became a full time member of CNN staff in March 2011, at which point he severed all ties with FBC Media."

Asia Sentinel, 12 Aug 2011: "The Malaysian government appears to have abruptly dropped a controversial multi-million contract with a London-based media company that was designed to plant favorable news stories about Malaysia with some of the world’s leading television networks, according to a Kuala Lumpur news portal, Malaysian Insider. Publicity over the contract, first reported by the Sarawak-based blog Sarawak Report, has resulted in embarrassment to both Malaysia and some of the world’s biggest television networks. ... The story appeared to have escaped the notice of the media both inside and outside of Malaysia." See also Asia Sentinel, 11 Aug 2011

Al Jazeera Kiswahili begins hiring (updated).

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Daily Maverick (Johannesburg), 2 Aug 2011, Simon Allison: "Al Jazeera has started recruitment prior to the launch of Al Jazeera Kiswahili, a new channel in the Swahili language. The channel, which will stick with the news and current affairs shows familiar to viewers of Al Jazeera English, will broadcast across East Africa and be headquartered in the region – probably in Nairobi. This is big news for the East African media market, which is already the most vigorous in Africa, and is a huge step for the Qatar-based news outlet. ... [I]ts journalistic ethos is markedly different from the CNNs and BBCs of this world; eschewing 'parachute journalism', it believes in recruiting local journalists to report on local issues and has gained a reputation for incisive, fearless reporting – except if the topic is the internal politics of Qatar, on which the channel is conspicuously quiet. Its move into the Swahili market is part of a strategy of global expansion, which includes plans for a Turkish Al Jazeera and a Spanish Al Jazeera." -- A Spanish Al Jazeera? First I have heard of that plan. See also the Al Jazeera Swahili employment announcement.

Business Daily (Nairobi), 5 Aug 2011, Paul Wafula: "Qatar’s al-Jazeera Network and China Central Television (CCTV) are scouting for talent in the region that will support production of relevant content to compete with British Broadcasting Corporation and American Cable News Network that have dominated the international broadcast market in the region."

Update: Bizcommunity.com, 10 Aug 2011, Walter Wafula: "The Al Jazeera Media Network in Qatar is set to establish a regional news and current affairs media network in East Africa, the company said on 8 August 2011. The new network has been named the Al Jazeera Kiswahili and will be aired in the five East African Community Partner states including; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Kiswahili is the most widely spoken language in East and Central Africa and is the national language of Tanzania and Kenya. 'Al Jazeera Kiswahili Channel is expected to launch in 2012 and is currently recruiting,' said the company in an advertisement published in the East African newspaper on Monday. ... The recruitment drive by Al Jazeera comes a month after China Central Television (CCTV), the Chinese national broadcaster announced several vacancies for East African electronic media journalists and staff. The move set the stage for increased competition for the limited talent-base by both local and international news channels operating in the region."

Continued discussion about the recent addition of Al Jazeera Englsh to New York City cable TV.

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Jewish Week (New York), 9 Aug 2011, Stewart Ain: "[A]fter being blacked out in virtually all of the United States, the Al Jazeera [English] television network owned by the Qatar royal family has come to New York. ... Don Irvine, chairman of the nonprofit Accuracy in Media, said he is 'disappointed' Al Jazeera was able to 'come in through the back door [on someone else’s channel] when it would otherwise not get on.' 'We call it terror television because it has been used as a mouthpiece for al-Qaeda,' he said. ... Asked about its coverage of Israel, [former Al Jazeera English managing director Dave] Marash said it 'clearly keeps its eyes on the interests and treatment of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, which gives them plenty of occasion to criticize the Israeli government. But in Israel they do try to report stories out, and to base them on facts or clearly attributed points of view. 'It may be anti-Netanyahu, anti-Likud etc. ... but it is not anti-Semitic.' He pointed out that during Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Al Jazeera English reported the attacks on Israeli civilians 'with as much outrage as it reported attacks on innocent Lebanese, which is typical of their approach.' 'The Arab Spring can, I think, be called the Al Jazeera Revolution,' Marash added, 'since the values of the revolution were promulgated to the revolutionary generation via Al Jazeera Arabic.'"

Huffington Post, 10 Aug 2011, E. Nina Rothe: "During my travels in the Arab world, I always hoped the journeys would time out just right with an episode of my favorite entertainment show on AJE: The Fabulous Picture Show hosted and produced by Amanda Palmer. Palmer, with her grace and professional strength, could cinematically unite the Arab and Western worlds but also bring to the forefront important international films that may never get a chance to be seen otherwise. On the latest episode of the FPS, now airing on AJE, Palmer spoke to Israeli filmmakers Tomer and Barak Heymann about Tomer's personal documentary titled The Queen Has No Crown, interviewed visionary French director Luc Besson and introduced audiences to Swedish filmmaker Göran Olsson's Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, a documentary particularly interesting in light of the recent people-power movements of the Middle East."

New Al Jazeera English documentaries include exploration of "the significant role we played" in the Al Qaeda conflict.

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Realscreen, 10 Aug 2011, Barry Walsh: "Al Jazeera English has announced plans for five documentary series premiering between this month and October, designed to delve deeper into the subject matter of some of the network’s top news stories. The 9/11 Decade, premiering August 30, will illuminate issues surrounding both sides of the al-Qaeda conflict that has shaped today’s world via three documentaries: The Intelligence War, The Image War and The Clash of Civilizations? 'The series uncovers that al-Qaeda lost the intelligence war, rather than the CIA winning it; that al-Qaeda had a remarkably efficient propaganda machine but threw it all away; and that far from a war of civilizations between the West and Muslim extremists, we now have democratic uprisings across the Arab world,' said Paul Eedle, director of programs for Al Jazeera English. 'Al Jazeera became part of the story, so we’ll be exploring the significant role we played, which resulted in accusations being slung at us by both sides of the conflict.'" -- Let me now sling an accusation at Al Jazeera English for boasting of becoming "part of the story." It really should be more of an admission.

Radio Netherlands, 10 Aug 2011, Mirjam van den Berg: "Picture this scenario: A wealthy holidaymaker checks their chiwawa into a ‘dog hotel’ before jetting off into the sun, meanwhile you have to work long hours doing a crummy job and your entire village back home expects you to pay for funerals, weddings and new jeans. That’s the European reality for hopeful African immigrants. Or so says television series ‘Surprising Europe’, which is being aired on Al Jazeera English starting this week until October." See also YouTube, 8 Aug 2011, Surprising Europe.

US television's limited coverage of US wars is "actually a national security issue."

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Nieman Watchdog, 10 Aug 2011, John Hanrahan: "As skimpy as newspaper coverage of the Afghanistan/Pakistan war has been, TV has been even stingier. The Tyndall Report, which monitors network TV news (but not Fox or CNN), reported that in 2010 the Afghan war received a total of 416 minutes of coverage out of some 15,000 minutes of news broadcast by ABC, CBS and NBC in their 30-minute weekday evening news programs. ... U.S. news junkies, of course, can also take the time to access, on the Internet or on television, other English-language news media that currently have reporters in Afghanistan: the BBC, Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Guardian newspaper of London, and Al Jazeera, among others. ... [University of Michigan professor Juan Cole] said Al Jazeera (accessible on the Internet and by a limited number of U.S. home television viewers) shows itself to be more interested in informing the public from many of the world’s hot spots than U.S. networks which, he said, view the Afghanistan war as a 'downer story' amid their frothy entertainment programming. As Cole said about Al Jazeera in his blog: '... Al Jazeera is not sympathetic to al-Qaeda or Muslim radicalism, but has a philosophy of reporting all sides of conflicts...Unlike U.S. network news, they don’t consider themselves our nannies, that they should filter the news for us and protect us from hearing the words of enemies.' The failures of U.S. television news coverage contribute to a poorly-informed citizenry – a state of affairs, Cole said, that is 'actually a national security issue.'" -- Extensive reporting of Afghanistan and Pakistan by RFE/RL and VOA is not mentioned in this piece. It's an example of how a partnership of US international and domestic broadcasting would benefit all the broadcasters, as well as the US audience.

Chicago Sun-Times, 8 Aug 2011, Laura Washington: "American television needs a news booster shot. Al-Jazeera could be the cure. There’s always room for more context and content. Too much of our TV outlets’ international coverage has been reduced to parachuting into countries in crises. We pretend to understand the dynamics of forever-brewing conflicts and controversies. Al-Jazeera knows the Middle East, from al-Qaida to Mubarak. No television outlet was better equipped to cover the Arab spring and its seismic developments in Syria, Yemen and Egypt."

Radio New Zealand International launches online archive of Pacific leaders remembering independence "from 1960 onwards."

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Radio New Zealand International press release, 8 Aug 2011: "On Tuesday 9 August Radio New Zealand International (RNZI) will launch a new online feature called 'New Flags Flying' (www.rnzi.com/newflagsflying) The online service will feature extensive archival audio and transcripts of 16 former Pacific leaders as they remember the move to independence and self government in the Pacific. From 1960 onwards, first in Polynesia, then in Melanesia and Micronesia, colonies became nations and millions of 'subjects' became citizens. The interviews on the website provide a unique record of Pacific history and reflect the views and memories of the most influential decision makers of their time. The project is the work of veteran New Zealand broadcaster/writer Ian Johnstone and former New Zealand diplomat Michael Powles who have both spent considerable time in the Pacific and have personal memories of many of the leaders."

In the Australia Network tender process, talk of "full investigation" and "formal complaint."

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Age, 11 Aug 2011, Daniel Flitton: "The opposition is pushing for a full investigation of government interference in the public tender for Australia's $223 million official overseas television service. Coalition [of opposition parties] foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop last night said [ruling party] Labor's excuses for making late changes to the bidding rules to run the service, known as Australia Network, were implausible and said an investigation would need to look into any conflict of interest in the role of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. She confirmed the Coalition was considering a call for a probe by the Commonwealth Auditor-General into the handling of the fiercely fought tender between the publicly funded ABC and Sky News Australia, part-owned by Rupert Murdoch."

The Age, 12 Aug 2011, Daniel Flitton: "Sky News has lodged a formal complaint with the Department of Foreign Affairs over ABC chief Mark Scott's alleged lobbying of a senior cabinet minister in the fiercely contested contract to run Australia Network. In a move that raises the chances of costly litigation over the disputed $223 million overseas television service, Sky News - part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation - has also complained about a speech Mr Scott delivered in June in spite of rules that prohibit the bidders speaking out on the tender. Under tender guidelines the department must respond to the Sky News complaint, with the Australian government solicitor charged to guarantee probity of the process."

Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Aug 2011, Daniel Burt: "Sky [News Australia] is a hungry beast that eats itself. The format is news and news, followed by panel shows and then news again featuring clips from the last panel show. There are also half-hour blocks allocated respectively to American ABC News, CBS News and New Zealand Prime News. These make for a refreshing change from being spoken to earnestly, to being spoken to earnestly in a foreign accent. ... Sky is up against the ABC in a tender process for the Australia Network, a $230-million, 10-year contract to broadcast Australian television to the world. It's an important weapon in global diplomacy and the brief is to showcase Australia as versatile, mature, multicultural and dynamic. But it's hard to present all this with a short attention span."

See previous post about same subject.

CNN International MD on the cost of international news coverage: "You don't know the half of it."

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 9 Aug 2011, George Winslow interviewing Tony Maddox, managing director of CNN International: Q: These big international stories have come at a time when a lot of U.S. news organizations have shut down many of their international bureaus. Where does that leave the U.S. TV industry in terms of covering international events? Maddox: It is always possible to fly into stories. We fly into stories. We are not always permanently based in some of the places that we go to. But frankly I think the audience cares about authenticity. I think they know whether or not you are committed to a story, whether or not you have the background knowledge and a genuine expertise. If they see [CNN's] Arwa Damon reporting on Syria, [its apparent that she speaks Arabic] and has grown up in that region and that she knows the region. There is an expertise and an authenticity there that is very difficult to achieve if your journalism consists of helicoptering into a place for 24 to 48 hours and then leaving again. Ultimately, that doesn't give you the same quality of coverage and the same level of intelligence, no matter how well-intended. ... Q: When you have a year like this with a lot of big international stories, has that really ramped up some of your costs? Maddox: You don't know the half of it. It has been a year of significant investment in our ongoing news coverage. But we want to invest in quality news coverage. It is what the brand is about, and we see increases in our audiences when we have those really big news stories. For our distribution partners, it also helps to reinforce the idea that CNN is a vital service and a distinctive service. That is an important message for us when we talk about renewing our distribution rates. Although it involves investment, it is ultimately good for business."

BBC.com says it is second largest news site in Canada, with "3.5 million uniques."

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Mediacaster, 9 Aug 2011: "BBC.com continues to build its digital presence in Canada, with word that it has appointed Reeshma Esmail as its new Vice President, Head of Digital Ad Sales for BBC.com and Lonelyplanet.com. ... BBC.com cites comScore ratings to show it's the country's 2nd largest news site, with an audience of over 3.5 million uniques. Globally, BBC.com's is ranked 1st delivering over 65 million unique users."

From the Heritage Foundation, confusion about US international broadcasting.

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, 10 Aug 2011, Helle Dale: "The Security Assistance Act of 2011 (Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2012, H.R. 2583), which authorizes appropriations for the State Department for fiscal year (FY) 2012, represents a strong, back-to-basics answer to the Obama Administration’s overly ambitious attempts at redefining U.S. foreign relations. ... Public diplomacy in the form of educational and cultural exchange programs as well as U.S. international broadcasting would be at slightly lower levels than last year. Noteworthy was the incorporation of the Middle East Broadcasting Network, along with Radio Free Asia, which effectively takes it off the table for the reorganization planned by the Broadcasting Board of Governors."

MBN and RFA have been incorporated since they were created. The language in the bill simply adds MBN to RFE/RL and RFA in the existing provision about civil liability in the International Broadcasting Act of 1994: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any and all limitations on liability that apply to the members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors also shall apply to such members when acting in their capacities as members of the boards of directors of RFE/RL, Incorporated and Radio Free Asia." The amendment strikes "Incorporated and Radio Free Asia" and inserts "Incorporated, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks." (I would like to like strike all three, and VOA, too, and insert USIB Inc.)

Internet cannot replace VOA radio broadcasts to China, she writes.

Posted: 13 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Free Media Online, 9 Aug 2011, Jing Zhang, president, Women’s Rights in China: "As I grew up, I learned to listen to short-wave broadcasts. Democracy, freedom and human rights became my lifelong passion, which entailed the price of nearly six years’ imprisonment. ... In those days, massive numbers of radio listeners in Mainland China relied on Voice of America for a sneak peek of the outside world through a narrow but open gate. Through VOA, the Chinese public understood that 'Imperialist America' was not the monster the official propaganda made it out to be; that the Chinese should also enjoy human rights; that all men were created equal; that democracy was actually a good thing. Many of those who listened to VOA later became leaders and staunch believers who propelled the Democracy Movement — from Democracy Wall in 1979, Tiananmen in 1989, to today. The credit due to VOA, who accompanied the struggles of more than two generations of Chinese, could not be overestimated. ... The Internet offers undeniable advantages. However, it cannot replace radio broadcasting. In today’s China, foreign radio broadcasts in Chinese are still a crucial source of outside information for the majority of the population who lack access to the Internet. Voice of America not only provides indispensable and truthful news reporting, it also upholds the image of the United States and is a valuable antidote to the Great Foreign Propaganda Plan of the Chinese regime. Not only would the elimination of VOA’s Chinese language service be contrary to the spirit and values of America’s Founding Fathers, it would inflict irreparable harm on generations of dissidents and advocates of freedom and democracy, and silence the most vulnerable groups in Chinese society—the women and children." -- In modern China, access to internet is much greater than access to a shortwave radio. In fact, more people have an internet connection than any kind of radio set. And the gorilla in the room remains the fact that USIB has two stations dividing a very small audience in China between them. See my essay on USIB to China.

Journalism educator Dan Gillmor calls for Dish Network to add the big three global news channels.

Posted: 12 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
San Francisco Enquirer, 10 Aug 2011, Sarah Granger: "I ... caught three factual errors on national TV news networks, including a CNN anchor mistakenly naming the Prime Minister as Gordon Brown, not David Cameron. I don't expect all reporters to know all the details of the three previous riots in Brixton, but they should at least know who the sitting British Prime Minister is. ... Dan Gillmor, author of Mediactive and well-known journalist earlier this week called domestic news networks 'deliberately shallow' in a Google Plus post, while pleading with Dish Network to add BBC World News, Al Jazeera English and CNN International."

Wall Street Journal, 5 Aug 2011, Brigid Grauman: Frie Leysen, "a soft-spoken, steely willed Belgian arts curator who has been behind some of the most cutting-edge festivals of the past 30 years": "'Like people in Bangkok, Buenos Aires and Brussels, we all go on the Internet, we all can watch BBC World, CNN and Al-Jazeera,' she says. 'Even if our perspective is completely different, we have a lot of things in common. We share the time we live in. That is why contemporary art is an excellent entry point for starting to understand each other.'"

The future of international broadcasting includes Jollywobbles, Gigglebiz, and Zingzillas Zing Bop.

Posted: 12 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 9 Aug 2011, Kristin Brzoznowski: "A new round of commissions have been made by BBC Worldwide Channels for its portfolio of networks, with 112 hours of new content coming for 2011, including the murder mystery Dripping in Chocolate. In 2010, BBC Worldwide Channels commissioned 34 hours, with this year's 112 hours representing a substantial increase. Among the shows given the greenlight is Year of Adventures, inspired by Ben Fogle's Lonely Planet book of the same name. The 5x50-minute show will be produced by BBC Bristol, to air on international feeds of BBC Knowledge, BBC HD and BBC Entertainment in January 2012. ... In the way of kids' fare, new titles include Andy’s Wild Adventures, made by the BBC’s Natural History Unit; Baby Jake; Jollywobbles; season one of Zingzillas Zing Bop; season two of Gigglebiz; season two of ZingZillas; season three of Show Me Show Me; and season six of Nina & the Neurons."

Religious broadcaster TWR tests its new shortwave transmitter on Guam.

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KTWR Love Asia By Radio blog, 9 Aug 2011, dgregson: "We are pleased to report on 9 August 2011 we successfully accomplished an initial power up RF test. For about 10 minutes we aired a station ID test and music tone at 0500 UTC on 31M at 57KW." -- KTWR is the Guam station of religious broadcaster TWR, formerly known as Trans World Radio. More posts about the construction of the transmitter are available at the blog.

Internews supported radio stations in South Sudan "are the most important sources of information in their communities."

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Internews Program News, 5 Aug 2011: "A network of FM radio stations in South Sudan established and supported by Internews are the most important sources of information in their communities, according to a new research report. Internews commissioned an extensive impact assessment of its five radio stations: in Malualkon in Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Leer in Unity State; and Turalei in Warrap which broadcasts into the disputed region of Abyei. Two other stations are in the transitional areas of Kauda, in the Nuba Mountains of Southern Kordofan and Kurmuk in Blue Nile State. The network has an estimated audience reach of 1.7 million listeners. ... Internews’ project “Radio for Peace, Democracy and Development in South Sudan,” began in 2006 and is made possible by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development." With link to the report. -- It's actually a potential audience reach of 1.7 million, although the report indicates that large proportions of people in each community listen to the stations. See previous post about a BBG agreement to place FM transmitters in South Sudan to relay VOA and Radio Sawa.

Review of the BBC global iPlayer app.

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Irish Times, 7 Aug 2011, Ciara O'Brien: "[L]ast month, BBC Worldwide began offering a new global iPlayer to iPad users. I’ve been testing it, with a six-month subscription from BBC. So far, I’m impressed. There are a few things you should know about the global iPlayer service. First of all, disregard the name. The only thing it really has in common with the original BBC service of that name is a few of the programmes. While the UK iPlayer is a seven day catch up, live TV and live radio service, the global app is more of a mix of archive material and newer programmes. You can stream the content over 3G or wifi, though obviously wifi would be preferable. And you can also download shows to watch later, when you don’t have an internet connection or are outside the service area. It launched with 1500 hours of content, from Fawlty Towers and Last of the Summer Wine to Luther and Doctor Who. And about 100 hours will be added every month, so there’s plenty to work through. ... €6.99 a month may not be everyone’s idea of value. You do get a small amount of free content, and it’s intended to have some sponsor funding to bankroll this, but at the moment the free stuff is extremey limited. The good thing is though that you can browse the content without a subscription, so you can see what’s on offer and decide if it’s something that would be worth paying for before you pay a cent."

Will BBC/Storz TV programming deal "appeal to the perceived stupidity of the American audience"?

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 8 Aug 2011: "Starz Entertainment and BBC Worldwide Productions announced today an innovative multi-year partnership to develop, produce, and distribute premium television series. These series will be co-developed by Starz and BBC Worldwide Productions and will air on Starz's television networks. The new series will be one-hour dramas that appeal to the Starz and international audiences. BBC Worldwide Productions will produce the series, in close partnership with Starz's Original Programming team. The programs, to be announced at a later date, will be distributed by Starz in the United States and English-speaking Canada. BBC Worldwide will distribute the series internationally."

flick filosopher, 8 Aug 2011, Maryan Johanson: "If Miracle Day is any indication, these new projects will be the definition of 'lowest common denomination': dumb it down to . Don’t expect the American audience to show it is capable of enjoying something just a bit smarter... never mind that it has already demonstrated as much with the purely BBC Doctor Who and the purely BBC Torchwood doing well in the States. Dumb it down some more in order to grab the mainstream audience, which couldn’t possibly cope with timey-whimey and Welsh accents. *grrrr*"

This month, Iran will launch "intranet" to "replace the international Internet."

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Reporters sans frontières, 3 Aug 2011: "Communication and information technology minister Reza Taqipour Anvari announced at the start of July that the first phase of a 'National Internet,' also called 'Clean Internet,' will get under way at the end of August, offering an 8 Mbps speed broadband connection that will later rise to 20 Mbps and a national search engine called 'Ya Haq' (Oh Just One) to be launched in early 2012. The project’s aim is to 'better manage national emails and information gathering within the country and to improve security,' he said. Surveillance of dissidents’ email will inevitably increase. Online social networks are used in Iran to resist government repression and circulate independent news and information, despite the severity of the censorship system. This new project will reinforce censorship and surveillance of netizens. It consists of an Intranet designed ultimately to and to discriminate between ordinary citizens and the 'elite' (banks, ministries and big companies), which will continue to have access to the international Internet."

RFE/RL, 8 Aug 2011: "Radio Farda, RFE's Persian-language service, reported last week that the regime had opened a Facebook page mimicking its own to discredit it and confuse visitors." -- Doesn't every Facebook page mimick all other Facebook pages?

Shortwave broadcasting threatened by new media, budget cuts, and, now, solar flares.

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Radio Netherlands, 9 Aug 2011: "A flood of reports came in during an RNW broadcast this morning; short wave reception was extremely poor and some listeners reported being unable to hear anything at all. A huge solar flare that started at around 0800 UTC was responsible for the reception problems and fade out. Solar flares disrupt the way a shortwave signal bounces off the ionosphere. Normally, a short wave signal bounces and, despite the fact that the Earth is round, can travel thousands of kilometres. RNW’s medium wave frequency – 1296 kHz – has not been affected by the solar flare as medium wave is not dependent on an ionosphere bounce during daylight hours. Around an hour after the solar flare started, shortwave reception began returning to normal." See also Space.com, 9 Aug 2011. -- The solar flares produce short-term disruptions but long-term improvements in shortwave propagation.

RT (Russia Today) reaches half a billion YouTube views, with the help of UFOs and a flying donkey.

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RT (Russia Today) press release, 8 Aug 2011: "RT's total view count on YouTube has now exceeded half a billion, making the Russian news channel a world record setter. In terms of the total view count, RT is well ahead of other major media outlets - Al Jazeera English gets only half as many hits; Reuters and Sky News are viewed 12 times less; and CNN International receives 100 times fewer clicks. Thanks to its snowballing popularity, RT's revenue from YouTube has already exceeded half a million U.S. Dollars. 'It's a remarkable achievement, and I'm proud that we made it over such a short period of time,' said RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan. In 2007, RT was the first of Russia's channels to start uploading content to the world's largest video hosting service, YouTube. In March 2011, RT became YouTube's most viewed channel, beating the hugely popular music video website Vevo. As of today, RT's total view count on YouTube has exceeded 500 million and, according to YouTube Trends analysts, is growing at an average rate of 850 thousand views per day." -- See also the YouTube RT Russia Today channel and click on Most Viewed. Many of the top views have to do with Japan's tsunami, but stories about UFOs and one about a flying donkey are high on the list.

Perth Now, 11 Aug 2011: "Russia Today seems to have the lion's share of top videos on YouTube and this is the best of them. Eerie street scenes that makes London look like set of 28 Days Later? Check."

New York Times, The Lede, 11 Aug 2011, Robert Mackey: "Perhaps it should now be said that Vladimir Putin, the “Superman” of global politics, is now also its Indiana Jones. Self-styled, that is. As video from the state-run broadcaster Russia Today shows, even when the prime minister of Russia goes scuba diving, he does so with purpose and does not come up empty handed. The footage shows Mr. Putin on Wednesday in a stage-managed dive off the coast of the Taman Peninsula, combing the sand in very shallow waters of the Black Sea when, lo and behold, the camera pulls back to reveal two Greek urns poking out at photographically appealing angles from the sun-brightened bottom."

Perhaps there should be a proposed RFE/RL Baluchi service in addition to a proposed VOA Balochi service.

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Foreign Policy, 4 Aug 2011, Abubakar Siddique, senior correspondent for Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty covering Afghanistan and Pakistan: "While Baluchistan makes up nearly half of Pakistan's 800,000-square-kilometer territory, its population accounts for less than 5 percent of the country's 180 million people. Baluchi separatist factions headed by young leaders are now perpetuating their fifth rebellion in Pakistan's 64-year history -- Islamabad crushed earlier insurgencies in 1948, 1958, 1962, and 1973 to 1977." See previous posts about proposed VOA Balochi and Sindhi services.

Protests against NATO bombing of Libyan TV: "Media outlets should not be targeted in military actions."

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AP, 6 Aug 2011: "An international media safety group has joined calls Friday for the United Nations to investigate NATO's bombing of Libyan television, which reportedly killed 3 people and injured 15. The International News Safety Institute (INSI) asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to determine whether last week's airstrike amounted to a breech of a 2006 Security Council resolution that bans attacks on journalists. ... On Wednesday, the International Federation of Journalists also condemned the bombing and called for a probe. NATO has said the bombing was in line with its U.N. mandate authorizing airstrikes to protect the civilian population."

AP, 9 Aug 2011: "NATO has rejected growing international criticism of its airstrike on Libyan television last month, saying Tuesday it has no evidence the attack caused any casualties. ... On Monday, the head of the U.N.'s cultural and educational body echoed that criticism, saying the attack also violated the Geneva Conventions. 'I deplore the NATO strike on (Libyan TV) and its installations,' said Irina Bokova, director-general of the Paris-based body. 'Media outlets should not be targeted in military actions,' she said. 'Silencing the media is never a solution.' UNESCO — which sees itself as a defender of freedom of expression — is scheduled to discuss the airstrike at an upcoming conference in September."

See also International News Safety Institute, 5 Aug 2011. And UNESCO, 8 Aug 2011.

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 8 Aug 2011, citing Almasry Alyoum: "A Libyan envoy arrived in Cairo today to discuss the broadcasting of satellite TV channels that support Libya’s current regime. A few weeks ago, Egyptian authorities instructed Nilesat to stop carrying 14 channels that support Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, as they incite against peaceful protesters. However, Nilesat did not carry out the instruction, and lodged an appeal. Ali al-Kilany, chief of Libyan state TV, arrived from Damascus on a brief visit to Cairo. Sources close to Mr Kilany said he will meet with several Egyptian officials to discuss the broadcasting issue."

Perhaps Washington PR firm Qorvis can help its client Bahrain find new ways to criticize Al Jazeera.

Posted: 11 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Salon, 8 Aug 2011, Justin Elliott: "Bahrain is in the news again, this time for what appears to be the comically evil persecution of the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders. So, naturally, the ruling monarchy of the Gulf nation has hired a top Washington public relations firm to burnish (or attempt to salvage) its image, according to a new foreign agent registration filing. Qorvis Communications will be paid $40,000 per month, plus expenses, for the public relations work, according to a contract submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. ... Qorvis distributed a statement to American journalists writing about the incident, with the Bahrain Health Ministry claiming that Doctors Without Borders 'was operating an unlicensed medical center in a residential apartment building.' Qorvis, which promises clients 'integrated strategies to help you tell your story better,' did not immediately respond to a request for comment about its work for Bahrain. The contract is signed by Qorvis partner Matthew Lauer, who was previously a public diplomacy official in the Bush State Department and a spokesman for the South Carolina Democratic Party." -- Matthew Lauer is a former executive director of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

The Guardian, 7 Aug 2011, Ian Black: "Bahrain has protested to its neighbour Qatar about a film produced by al-Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite TV channel, which highlights continuing anti-government protests by Bahraini Shias. Bahraini papers attacked 'lies and slanders' in the 50-minute documentary, which shows how Facebook was used to target pro-democracy activists – 'unmasking Shia traitors' – and catalogues human rights abuses by the regime. The film was shown on al-Jazeera English, not its sister Arabic channel, which has been attacked for pulling its punches in coverage of the unrest in Bahrain compared with its sympathetic approach to revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria."

New York Times, 9 Aug 2011, Brian Stelter: "Al Jazeera English has quashed several planned rebroadcasts of 'Shouting in the Dark,' an hourlong documentary about Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that had its debut last week and brought complaints from Bahraini authorities. The decision this week to halt the repeats raised concerns among Al Jazeera’s staff members that the channel was succumbing to political or diplomatic pressure from Bahrain and its ally Saudi Arabia. In response to inquiries by The New York Times, a spokesman for Al Jazeera said Tuesday that the documentary would be rebroadcast on Thursday and would be paired with a round-table discussion. The episode illustrates the thorny issue of independence for Al Jazeera, one of the world’s biggest satellite news organizations, which is financed by the emir of Qatar and is perceived by some people to be a diplomatic tool of the country. Al Jazeera insists that the Qatari government does not interfere in the network’s editorial operations."

AFP, 11 Aug 2011: "The head of the Qatar-based satellite news channel Al-Jazeera English defended a documentary about this year's unrest in Bahrain, in comments published Thursday, after an angry response by Bahraini authorities. Al Anstey said in an interview with Qatar's Peninsula daily that the documentary, 'Shouting in the Dark,' did not include comment from Bahraini authorities because they refused to speak to the channel."

The Peninsula (Doha), 9 Aug 2011: "Bahraini authorities are so upset with Doha-based Aljazeera TV Channel that they are reportedly not allowing the Channel’s staff — both Qatari nationals and expatriates — into the country. There is an unofficial entry ban on Aljazeera staff into Manama, say social networking sites in Qatar as well as in Bahrain. The move might be fallout of a documentary English Aljazeera telecast on Wednesday, they suggested."

At Pyongyang airport, "boxes of South Korean-made Samsung TVs that North Koreans were lugging back from their travels."

Posted: 10 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Korea Herald, 8 Aug 2011: "Amid the general bleakness in inter-Korean relations, there are reports of some signs of change in the North. For one, Pyongyang has refrained from verbally attacking President Lee Myung-bak from the beginning of this month. Since the summer of 2008, North Korea’s official mouthpieces had called President Lee a variety of names in denouncing his shutting down economic and humanitarian aid programs for the North. ... Jean H. Lee, AP’s Seoul bureau chief, concluded that 'North Korea is a country in transition; you can see it on the streets.' At Pyongyang airport, 'we could barely get past all the . Cell phones jangled from everywhere,' she reported. More than 535,000 North Koreans now use cell phones, compared to 70,000 in 2009, though most of them can only make domestic calls." -- Presumably the Samsung's work with the North Korean PAL television transmission system, different than the South Korean NTSC system, both soon to be superceded by various versions of digital television in the region.

BBC World Service Trust uploads a stylish "Communication is Aid" animation to YouTube.

Posted: 10 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
YouTube, 25 July 2011, BBC World Service Trust: "In any emergency, be it natural disaster or man-made, long or short-term, people's lives are turned upside down. Knowing what's happening, where to go for assistance and who to call for help is crucial to their survival and recovery. The BBC World Service Trust is working with Internews to co-ordinate the 'infoasaid' project. The goal of the project is to help humanitarian organisations integrate two way communication into their emergency programmes, in turn improving the quality of humanitarian response. This new 'Communication is Aid' animation demonstrates the positive impact of two way communication with crisis affected populations." -- I wonder if this also might have something to do with arguments in favor in transferring money from the the UK's DFID (Department for International Development) to BBC World Service. Maybe not, as the Department for International Development, along with Internews and BBCWST, is credited at the conclusion of the video.

NHK World presenting 13 specials on "war, peace and nuclear weapons" during August.

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Realscreen, 3 Aug 2011, Kelly Anderson: "In NHK World’s upcoming 'August Chronicles' series, war, peace and nuclear weapons will be examined over the course of 13 specials, to coincide with the August commemoration of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Programming begins on August 5 with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, the annual ceremony for world peace that marks the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and is followed by the docudrama Lost Innocence, Lost Lives on August 7. The special takes a look at the young boys who committed to fighting in the Pacific War. ... 'This March, Japan was hit by a huge earthquake which subsequently led to the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station,' said the network in a statement. 'While we acknowledge that the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the belligerent use of nuclear weapons are a different matter, this year, we feel it is imperative to reflect on the damage caused by nuclear war, considering the rising interest in the effects of radiation since Fukushima crisis.'" See also NHK World website.

France 24 celebrates launch in Israel with cocktails in Jaffa.

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Jerusalem Post, 4 Aug 2011, Greer Fay Cashman: "Francophiles will be pleased to know that they now have an additional news outlet accessible in Israel. As of last month, France 24, the international French news channel that broadcasts in the language, can be seen on HOT 143 [cable TV]. The service is available free for HOT subscribers. To celebrate the launch, Frank Melloul, the strategic development and external affairs director of France 24, and Yoram Mokady, content director at HOT, hosted a cocktail reception at the Cordelia restaurant in Jaffa." -- The usual question: France 24 French or France 24 English? Or both?

Report: Al Jazeera English denied credentials to cover the American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in New Orleans.

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Capital Times (Madison, WI), 9 Aug 2011, Eric Carlson: "After filling out my registration form to receive press credentials, I was told by an alarmed ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council, meeting in New Orleans] intern to wait while she fetched her boss. The look on her face made me think that perhaps she had heard of the Center for Media and Democracy and our new project ALECexposed.org. A very stern-looking gentleman arrived and told me my application would be denied on the grounds that CMD was an 'advocacy organization.' ... My only comfort? Al Jazeera English was also denied credentials on the grounds that ALEC was not an 'international' conference — even though numerous international politicians were addressing the ALEC conference in rooms chock-full of global corporations." -- I searched aljazeera.net for "legislative exchange." Last I checked, it's still searching.

A review of Roger Tidy's "very logical and deliberate" book: Hitler's Radio War.

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The SWLing Post, 7 Aug 2011: "Hitler’s Radio War (Robert Hale, publisher, 2011) is a comprehensive history of the multi-language, insidious Third Reich initiative to brainwash their perceived antagonists, both prior to and in the aftermath of each invasion. Tidy’s complex and multi-faceted history unfolds in a very logical and deliberate manner. By placing his emphasis on the broadcasters, or radio talent, Tidy also presents a history of traitors, misguided expatriates, and political opportunists. Personalities such as the infamous Lord Haw Haw and Axis Sally (although there are actually two Sallies, as Tidy reveals) often had a passion for political change or their own self-centered achievement, and allegiances which were known to shift with the wind. Tidy describes how the Third Reich’s Gestapo became particularly adept at hunting this type of personality and turning any discovered talent into the 'friendly' voice of Fascism. Tidy’s comprehensive radio history is made particularly relevant to radio enthusiasts like myself in a number of ways. For example, his text frequently includes large sections of original broadcast transcripts, most fascinating in their revelation of the seductively crafted politicism of Hitler’s war machine. And Tidy’s mention of stations quite often includes specifics such as: »frequency information (i.e., the meter band), »a description of the interval signal or theme, and »the geographical transmission sites of broadcasts, particularly useful in understanding their efficacy."

Robert Hale Publishing website: "This book tells the story of Nazi international broadcasting during and before the Second World War. At its peak German radio stations broadcast in fifty-four languages to a worldwide audience. For the first time in an international conflict, citizens of the warring nations could hear enemy propaganda in their own living rooms. Many of the voices that they heard belonged to a new type of criminal, the radio traitor. The nickname Lord Haw-Haw is still famous internationally, but there were numerous other radio renegades speaking on behalf of the Nazis. The Nazis' propaganda was sinister enough, but they also ran a series of secret stations that spoke to enemy audiences in the name of 'patriotic' dissidents who claimed to be broadcasting from clandestine transmitters in their own countries. Using archival material, "Hitler's Radio War" dissects the message that Germany's overt and covert propaganda stations broadcast to their audiences, as well as the lives and motivations of the broadcasters."

Also recommended on the same subject: Horst J. P. Bergmeier and Rainer E. Lotz: Hitler's Airwaves: The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing, Yale University Press, 1997. And John Carver Edwards, Berlin Calling: American Broadcasters in Service to the Third Reich, Praeger, 1991.

Indian commentator: "The radio is gone forever to posterity except for a few diehard devotees like me."

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The Hindu, 6 Aug 2011, V. Natarajan: "Who can ever forget the excellent broadcast quality of the BBC World Service, and Voice of America and their coverage for any oversees news? ... Another popular station, Radio Ceylon, used to broadcast in many Indian languages — Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Telugu, besides Hindi. Five decades ago, Radio Ceylon was the most popular broadcaster for Tamil and Hindi film songs, and its popularity was more due to its impeccable style of presentation of programmes, which included a variety of songs — both old and new — to suit every listener's tastes. ... who still cling to it for whatever that is left of it. Of course, it has been resurrected in another avatar as FM (frequency modulation) ... which is no match to the erstwhile radio box with its three-band range in which one could 'surf and download' several national and international stations from America to Europe and from Beijing to Radio Australia in the far-east with a tiny knob for navigation of the dial!" See also letters to The Hindu, 8 Aug 2011.

DISH Network now offers Blue Ocean Network, its second English-language channel from China.

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
AsianWeek, 5 Aug 2011, onpassing apparent pres release: "DISH Network L.L.C. ... launched a new English channel called Blue Ocean Network (BON) as part of its International Basic Package on July 27, 2011. The channel offers 24/7 English programming that focuses on Chinese culture, lifestyle and business. BON (DISH Network Ch. 678) is independently-owned and privately funded English-language Television Network offering Americans unprecedented and comprehensive programming focusing on a contemporary and rapidly changing China. Until BON, Americans had limited access to quality programming and content that explored the multi-faceted Chinese world from their perspective. ... BON marks a new era of compelling, fresh and unbiased programming featuring exceptional production values that meet American audience standards. Produced in China by China’s most distinguished pioneering media company, BON covers the never-seen-before China with exclusive and original programs presented in Western style." -- BON thus becomes a competitor to CCTV News, another English-language channel from China available on DISH Network. The third English-language channel from China, CNC World, does not seem to be offered by DISH.

International operations pace increased 2Q profits for Discovery Communications.

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Broadcasting & Cable, 4 Aug 2011, Jon Lafayette: "Discovery Communications posted higher second-quarter profits thanks to big gains by its international operations. ... 'Discovery continues to deliver strong financial results, particularly across our unique international platform, as the depth and breadth of our content assets have enabled the company to capitalize on the sustained ad market strength worldwide as well as take advantage of the evolution of pay-tv across the globe,' David Zaslav, president and CEO, said in a statement. ... Discovery's international networks registered a 31% increase in operating income to $173 million on a 20% increase in revenue to $368 million."

Discovery Communications press release, 4 Aug 2011 (pdf): "International Networks’ revenues for the second quarter increased 20% to $368 million primarily led by distribution revenue growth of 18% and advertising revenue growth of 25%. Excluding the impact of foreign currency fluctuations, revenues increased 14% led by 12% distribution revenue growth, mainly from increased subscribers globally and higher rates and subscribers in Latin America. Advertising revenue in local currency terms was up 17% during the second quarter primarily from higher pricing and sellouts across all regions."

Study: Al Jazeera English Twitter account has higher retweet rate than news competitors.

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Poynter, 5 Aug 2011, Steve Myers: "A new study by SocialFlow [indicates] that conversational tweets can spur clicks but headline-oriented tweets can be effective in sharing information regardless of whether users click on a link. For part of the study, SocialFlow looked at clickthroughs and retweets for four media brands: The New York Times, Fox News, The Economist and Al Jazeera English. ... When it came to clickthroughs, Al Jazeera’s @AJEnglish was the standout, with a retweet rate of more than twice the other media outlets. At the time, its feed was handwritten about 5 to 20 percent of the time (now it’s 15 to 30 percent); the rest was automated, according to Riyaad Minty, head of social media for Al Jazeera Networks."

Will young Indonesians grow into Radio Australia's "serious, talk-based content"?

Posted: 09 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Jakarta Globe, 5 Aug 2011, Ismira Lutfia: "Syifa Merdekawati has her own recipe for getting the news: Take a couple hours of television viewing, add in a steady stream of Twitter feeds from news portals and top it off with several hours of poring over newspapers on the weekend. For the 20-year-old university student, Twitter is the medium of choice when it comes to getting instant news updates. ... Similar trends elsewhere have prompted traditional media outlets to adapt. Radio Australia, for instance, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s international radio and online service, has expanded its outreach by making its content available on mobile and digital platforms. Mike McCluskey, the chief executive of Radio Australia ... says Radio Australia’s programing appeals more to older people because much of what it puts out is serious, talk-based content, while the younger audience is more focused on entertainment and lifestyle. 'We do have to make content that appeals to younger audiences as well. You can’t rely just on the older demographic listening to traditional media forms,' he says. 'This is one reason why we’re making our media content available in digital online and mobile platforms.' McCluskey, who has been in radio for 28 years, says that while the trend may be shifting, people still have a tendency to become more interested in as they get older. 'I think one of the challenges is to maintain that high quality and news-focused content and to engage younger people by trying to make news and talk-based content more relevant and more stimulating, more interesting and dealing with issues that matter to younger people,' he says."

"BBC Worldwide will introduce its new programming season at the BBC Showcase Latin America" in Rio.

Posted: 08 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 5 Aug 2011, Iñaki Ferreras: "BBC Worldwide will introduce its new programming season at the BBC Showcase Latin America event from 28-30 August in Rio de Janeiro. The broadcaster’s new content library is made up of more than 50,000 hours. Among them, 2,000 content hours are in HDTV, 575 are in Spanish, and it also has a wide range of digital offerings. ... Among some of the BBC’s most popular productions in Latin America are Dr Who, Torchwood: Miracle Day and Frozen Planet."

A somewhat clumsy but interesting discussion about Alhurra (updated).

Posted: 08 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
WBEZ (Chicago), "Worldview," 27 July 2011, Jerome McDonald: Since the "U.S. government’s most expensive foreign broadcasting effort: the Arabic-language news channel Alhurra ... was founded in 2004, the U.S. has sunk close to a billion dollars into it. Alhurra, based in Springfield, Virginia, has garnered sharp criticism and allegations of mismanagement. But the station's also had some recent successes to point to during the Arab Spring uprisings. We speak with Philip Seib, lead researcher for a 2008 report on Alhurra and director of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California, about the news channel and public diplomacy efforts around the world." With link to audio (hint: I had to download the audio, because listening online did not work on my browser).

Recommended listening. The interviewer, however, equates international broadcasting with public diplomacy, even to the point that he seems to think that public diplomacy consists only of international broadcasting. In his introduction, he said "[t]he Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees all US public diplomacy." Some of us prefer to categorize international broadcasting and public diplomacy as separate, complementary, and sometimes adversarial activities.

Professor Seib kept bringing the conversation back to the need for reliable news. Listen to this audio excerpt (mp3 1:45) , including: "If you want an audience in the Middle East, the only way you're going to be able to capture and maintain that audience is if you report honestly and recognize what the audience is interested in. ... If the United States wants to do journalism it will have to do journalism. If it wants to do politics, it can do politics. And I think that is a decision that the policy makers need to make."

In this second audio excerpt (mp3 2:20), Professor Seib suggested Alhurra could complement Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, perhaps by using more content from American domestic television. "There is tremendous interest in the United States. That's the great asset that American public diplomacy officials have."

By my reckoning, there are at least three three possibilities for an Alhurra format:

1) Stay as a mostly news channel. Alhurra has enjoyed some success with its present format, achieving an audience that is a respectable fraction of that of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, and larger than that BBC Arabic and all the other Arabic news channels from non-Arab countries.

2) Become an "Americana" channel. This is what Prof. Seib thinks Alhurra should have been from the beginning. Indeed, an Americana channel could use centrally produced video and be versioned by USIB into several languages. The problem is that, from the many surveys that I am familiar with, audiences in most countries do not "have a tremendous interest in the United States." In fact, their interest in the United States is much less than we American would like to think that it is. An Americana channel would therefore have a niche audience, but perhaps large enough to be worthwhile.

3) Tie up with a US commercial channel. Alhurra could perhaps reduce expenses by tying in with a general-purpose US international commercial channel, such as Hallmark or Bravo, or with a sports network. At various times during the broadcast day would be Alhurra's own flagship news programs.

The WBEZ interview would have benefited from more specific audience data. In fact, Alhurra spokesperson Deirdre Kline added a comment to the WBEZ web page linked above with some of that audience data. Unless the BBG provides ready access to its audience research findings -- the taxpayers who fund USIB deserve to see it -- Alhurra will continue to suffer from, and might even be done in by, misinformation about its ability to attract audiences.

Update: John Paul Christy of the BBG Office of Public Affairs informs us that two recent studies on Alhurra performance are available at www.bbg.gov/reports/other-reports.

Gulf News (Dubai), 29 July 2011, Fran Mires, executive producer of "Al Youm" on Alhurra TV, as interviewed by Anupama Chand: "Al Youm is the brainchild of Joaquin Blaya, a former associate from the days when I first launched a Spanish-language show, Ocurrio Asi, in 1990. It ran for 11 years on Spanish language network Telemundo. Blaya believed that the Alhurra TV channel needed something along the lines of the The Today Show or Good Morning America on the American network NBC. They were looking for a person to helm the show. He knew I had the experience of launching a foreign language show [Ocurrio Asi] and so asked me if I was interested. This was definitely tougher for me but I took on the challenge. ... We believe that if we are true to our mission, and provide relevant content emanating from the region, aiming to be balanced, fair and accurate people will watch the programme."

Heritage Foundation and Fox News are apparently not the US international broadcasting efficiency experts.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Heritage Foundation, The Foundry, 2 Aug 2011, Janos Bako: "After the Cold War, building on the results of the Reagan era, there was no doubt about American leadership—its superpower status was indisputable and China was still considered only a rising regional power. Seeing today’s trends, the U.S. needs leadership as we have seen in President Reagan. The U.S. needs a firm foreign policy based on American national interests, not one influenced by China’s sensitivities. While China has launched a worldwide economic, public diplomacy and media and PR campaign, the United States is looking at a greatly reduced international media presence due to cuts in the budget of Voice of America. The United States should strengthen its public diplomacy, reverse the current trends, and send a firm message of strong American leadership again. Without this, neither U.S. allies nor American citizens may see 'the city on the hill' as the Founding Fathers imagined the United States 235 years ago." -- There goes the Heritage Foundation again. Always trying to maintain high levels of government spending. Actually, though, I don't think the Obama Administration proposed a reduction to the VOA budget for FY2012. Such a cut would be more the work of Republican members of Congress who are seeking cuts in government spending across the board. If only there were a conservative think tank in Washington: there are obvious opportunities for efficiencies in US international Broadcasting, so that a budget reduction, within reason, and tied to reforms, could actually result in improved performance.

Fox News, 4 Aug 2011, Judson Berger: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, argues that it only makes sense to go digital in a country with the largest Internet-using population in the world. Board officials claim the existing shortwave radio broadcasts don't have the audience they used to and that the Chinese government is jamming them anyway. In changing platforms, the board projects it will save $8 million and eliminate about 45 positions. But critics of the move, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., say the United States is setting itself up to cede vital territory in the battle of information abroad. 'We've used Voice of America to pump in Democratic messages for years,' Rohrabacher spokeswoman Tara Setmayer said. 'Now it's another area where it looks like we're succumbing to the wants of the communist Chinese.' A House panel moved last month to try and save those radio and TV broadcasts. The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted unanimously for a bill containing a provision that would allocate nearly $14 million exclusively for Voice of America's Mandarin and Cantonese radio and satellite TV stations. 'Such funds may not be used for any other purpose,' the provision says." -- So the Rohrabacher amendment would maintain the same delivery strategy to a country where USIB audiences numbers are dismally small. If there were a fiscally conservative member of Congress, he/she might want to look at the duplication between VOA and Radio Free Asia (mentioned only once, in passing, in this Fox News piece). Also see my essay on strategies for broadcasting to China.

Venezuelan based Telesur now available to Globecast WorldTV satellite homes in North America.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
"This week Latin American television network teleSUR expanded its distribution capacity to allow the Caracas-based news channel to reach over 100 million homes across the United States. In an agreement signed with Globecast WorldTV, teleSUR is now available free of charge to all viewers of WorldTV, a digital network that sells satellite radio and television to people across North and Central America as well the Caribbean. TeleSUR, which celebrated six years of non-stop programming last month, was first established in 2005 as an alternative to US-based programming on Latin American news and events. Before signing the agreement with WorldTV this week, teleSUR was already available to some 250 million viewers in all of Latin America, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. ... Founded by member states Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay, teleSUR uses the motto “Our North is the South” as part of a stated editorial policy of 'showing Latin America through the eyes of Latin Americans" instead of through U.S.-based networks such as CNN, Voice of America, and others." -- Available to 100 million homes if the home has a satellite dish, and the dish is pointed to the Galaxy 19 satellite used by Globecast WorldTV, and the occupants of the home speak Spanish.

The "conservative Republican" who works for China Radio International (updated).

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
China Radio International, 4 July 2011, Tom McGregor: "With my first commentary as a China-World Affairs columnist for China Radio International, I make a bold declaration: I'm a U.S. Citizen who endorses China and the Republican Party. Yes, people from all political backgrounds can champion China's cause, while staying true to their convictions. ... As a conservative Republican, I support these reforms and urge Beijing to continue on with the brave journey. The GOP endorses a free market approach to improve an economy, and it appears Beijing is taking a similar stance. ... I've been observing China for over ten years, while I worked for the Seoul Times in South Korea, the Dallas Blog in Dallas, Texas U.S.A. and then when I moved to Beijing last October. ... Some critics of China contend that foreigners should not work for the Chinese government. They imply that those who do are traitors to their homeland. I disagree and insist that by working with Beijing, I'm doing my part to help China open up."

Update: The Daily Caller, 2 Aug 2011, Tom McGregor: "I often get asked these questions: 'Do you copy and paste your column from Chinese government propaganda documents? Do you worry about getting sent to a prison camp if you write a negative comment about the Communist Party of China? ... My answer to all these questions is 'no.' I actually stand behind everything I write and often I do criticize Chinese government policy or Chinese society. ... I will admit that some political editing occurs with my column, but the so-called political editing has not been as extensive as I anticipated before taking the job. ... I realize that China is not a perfect country, but no nation is perfect. I support its efforts to implement reforms and encourage Beijing to continue on this path. So long as the Chinese are sincere about the reforms, I’ll have a job at CRI. Considering the state of the U.S. economy, I truly appreciate having a job." See two of his recent commentaries at CRI English on 2 Aug and 3 Aug 2011.

Al Jazeera English reporter says Rep. Paul Ryan dismissed her questions, calling them "rude."

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Dane101, 4 Aug 2011, Jesse Russell: "Al Jazeera recently launched a program called Fault Lines. The half hour long news program analyzes the political and economic 'Fault Lines' that 'run through the world.' ... This week they released an episode called 'The Top 1%' which explores the growing equality gap in the United States that has expanded by leaps and bounds over the last 30 years. ... Wisconsin's very own Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, makes an appearance in the episode when the discussion turns to his budget plan. When the Al Jazeera reporter asks Ryan if his plan is undemocratic 'given the fact the majority of American people oppose cuts to so-called entitlement spending' and 'why he won't talk about tax burden for the richest in the country given the fact that wealth is so concentrated?' The reporter said the only answer Ryan gave was the her 'questions were rude.'" With video. See also Aljazeera.net, 2 Aug 2011.

Qatar survey of internet users shows success for bbc.com, aljazeera.net, and Radio Sawa.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
ictQATAR press release, 3 Aug 2011: "Individuals, businesses and the government in Qatar are widely accessing and using digital media in varied ways, and the digital content industry in the country seems poised for considerable growth based on the findings of the Qatar Digital Media Landscape Report 2011, which was published by ictQATAR. ... The report found that Internet users in Qatar primarily accessed websites in English, with only 29 percent accessing the Internet in Arabic, despite 42 percent of the population having Arabic as their first language. ... In terms of international online news outlets, BBC was the preferred choice for English speakers, while Al Jazeera was the preferred choice for Arabic speakers." With links to the full report in pdf and html formats. According to the full report: "Among radio channels, entertainment channel Radio Sawa, cultural channel Al Quran Al Kareem, and news broadcast station Al Jazeera are the most preferred Arabic language radio stations among Arabic speaking Internet users."

Al Jazeera English now has 30 minutes weekdays, plus 60 minutes Sunday, on Australia's SBS.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Media Spy, 4 Aug 2011: "SBS will begin broadcasting news bulletins from Al Jazeera English from next week, bringing the Middle East-based service to mainstream Australian free-to-air television for the first time. Announcing the move on Thursday, the broadcaster said that it would air a half-hour bulletin at 3:30pm on weekdays, along with a one-hour bulletin on Sundays at 2:00pm. The broadcasts begin [8 August]. Until now, Al Jazeera was available in Australia only to subscribers to the regional subscription television provider Austar, via online streams or on select community stations. ... The daily broadcast of Al Jazeera bulletins will join other international news programmes aired in SBS's afternoon line-ups, including Deutsche Welle's The Journal and the American PBS NewsHour." -- SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) is Australia's multilingual plus English public broadcaster for immigrants.

Critics of Australian Broadcasting Corporation cite Australia Network tender process as evidence.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Drum (opinion), Australia Broadcasting Corporation, Judith Sloan: "The tender process for the contract to operate the Australia Network, currently held by the ABC, has been pulled and the final decision has been transferred from the Foreign Minister to the Minister for Communications. The rumour is that the decision had been three to one in favour of Sky News Australia being awarded the 10 year contract. But due to 'changed international circumstances' – what, because international circumstances never change? – there has been a change of heart. It's now a shoo-in that the contract will be awarded to the ABC. The Friends of the ABC will no doubt be delighted, although they were absolutely aghast at the prospect of the Australia Network being taken over by those purveyors of hate-media, the Murdoch empire. The fact that News Corporation is only a minority shareholder in Sky News Australia is neither here nor there. For the ABC to be awarded the contract will be completely consistent with the ABC Managing Director's view that the (independent) ABC should be an arm of government peddling ‘soft diplomacy'. In this way, the ABC can help to 'co-opt people rather than coerce them' and to use the media to put 'our nation's culture, values and policies on show'. ... The ABC now needs to take a leaf out of the BBC's book and to wind back its areas of activities. In response to budgetary cuts and a freeze on licence fees, the BBC is shrinking. The BBC World Service is significantly refocusing its areas of interest and cutting its staff by 25 per cent, BBC Online is also narrowing its offerings and cutting its workforce and there are significant job cuts in the BBC itself."

The Australian, 4 Aug 2011, editorial: "Despite its many failings, the ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] has a large and loyal audience and deserves public support. As a public institution, however, it should and must do better, and should start by abandoning its fetish for form over substance. Its flagship evening current affairs show 7.30 was weeks late back on air after the Christmas break because a new studio set was still being built. The program employs two of the best TV journalists in the country, yet they have been let down by poor editorial judgments, and ratings have suffered. News 24 has struggled to compete with its nimbler commercial rival Sky News. Sky's ability to do more with less was recognised by a tender review panel that recommended granting it the contract for the government-funded Australia Network. Only the extraordinary intervention of the government saved the ABC's blushes. Meanwhile, staff resentment grows at the resources being sucked up by News 24 for little tangible benefit. In radio, there are plans to further downgrade Radio National, a station that should be the flagship of the corporation uniting the nation in intelligent conversation." See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL Iran blogger was on BBC's World Have Your Say, discussing Syria.

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL in the News, 5 Aug 2011: RFE Senior Correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari, who writes the influential Iran blog "Persian Letters," joined two other bloggers to discuss international response to the deteriorating situation in Syria on the BBC World Service Television's "World Have Your Say" program. The Syria segment starts at the 25:40 mark in the program. -- The link is to the YouTube video of the program

The television version of World Have Your Say is on BBC World News, the 24-hour global English news channel. The radio version is on BBC World Service. While Golnaz Esfandiari blogs at RFE/RL about Iran, on this edition of WHYS she spoke only about the unrest in Syria. She was introduced as a "journalist and blogger in Washington. She's editor of Iran blog Persian Letters." No mention of RFE/RL.

The links to World Have Your Say from the BBC World Service and BBC World News (actually BBC World Radio and TV) websites lead to the WHYS blog. This blog does not have information about each program. For this, you must go to the WHYS Facebook page. I suppose the idea is for the program's web presence to be interactive, like the program itself. The Facebook interface is, however, very much inferior to a properly designed web page.

Chinese microbloggers out-report state television on rail tragedy, and are difficult to censor

Posted: 07 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, 28 July 2011, Michael Wines and Sharon LaFraniere: "China’s two major Twitter-like microblogs — called weibos here — have posted an astounding 26 million messages on the tragedy, including some that have forced embarrassed officials to reverse themselves. The messages are a potent amalgam of contempt for railway authorities, suspicion of government explanations and shoe-leather journalism by citizens and professionals alike. The swift and comprehensive blogs on the train accident stood this week in stark contrast to the stonewalling of the Railways Ministry, already stained by a bribery scandal. And they are a humbling example for the Communist Party news outlets and state television, whose blinkered coverage of rescued babies only belatedly gave way to careful reports on the public’s discontent. While the blogs have exposed wrongdoers and broken news before, this week’s performance may signal the arrival of weibos as a social force to be reckoned with, even in the face of government efforts to rein in the Internet’s influence. The government censors assigned to monitor public opinion have let most, though hardly all of the weibo posts stream onto the Web unimpeded. But many experts say they are riding a tiger. For the very nature of weibo posts, which spread faster than censors can react, makes weibos beyond easy control. And their mushrooming popularity makes controlling them a delicate matter." AFP, 2 Aug 2011: "The mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party on Tuesday urged more officials to go online and speak honestly with web users, in a sign of the growing importance of social networking sites in China. The comment piece in the People's Daily comes after Internet users flooded popular Twitter-like sites to vent their anger at the government's handling of the July 23 train crash that killed 40 people and injured nearly 200 more."

Update: BBC News, 7 Aug 2011, Michael Bristow: "These new ways of communicating - there are 480 million internet users in China - are proving to be a challenge for China's unelected leaders. For perhaps the first time, people have a tool to tell the government exactly what they think. ... Microblogs and the internet have not changed the fundamental nature of government in China, but they are forcing officials to change the way they operate."

RT (Russia Today) program host Alyona Minkovski will be guest on C-Span's Q&A on 7 August.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
C-Span website: On C-Span's Q&A, Sunday, 7 Aug 2011, on C-SPAN at 8pm/11pm ET: "Our guest is Alyona Minkovski, host of 'The Alyona Show'. Minkovski discusses her television program, shown weeknights at 6pm and 10pm on RT. Formerly known as Russia Today, RT is a Russian government funded media network. She talks about her program's goal of examining the news not typically covered by traditional media outlets in the United States. She comments on segments of her hour long program which include 'The Tool Time Award,' and 'Alyona's Happy Hour.' Topics range from media coverage of Sarah Palin, to the proposed length of US troop involvement in Afghanistan. She also discusses her parody of broadcaster Glenn Beck in one of her episodes."

Settlement reached in wrongful death lawsuit by widow of Radio Free Asia general counsel.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, The Crime Scene , 3 Aug 2011, Keith L. Alexander: "The wife of slain Washington attorney Robert Wone on Wednesday settled a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit against the three roommates who shared the Dupont Circle-area rowhouse where Wone was fatally stabbed five years ago. The agreement was reached on the fifth anniversary of Wone’s death. On the evening of Aug. 2, 2006, Wone, 32, was fatally stabbed in his chest and abdomen while spending the night at the elegant home in the 1500 block of Swann Street NW after working late at his job as general counsel for Radio Free Asia. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed."

The Blog of Legal Times, 3 Aug 2011, David Ingram: "Kathy Wone said. 'I’m happy to leave the defendants to their own devices. They can continue to rot from the inside-out with the secrets they keep.'"

See also the Who Murdered Robert Wone blog.

Success in domestic dissemination: BBC World Service audience grows in the UK despite budget cuts.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 4 Aug 2011, John Plunkett: According to Rajar radio listening ratings in the UK: "One of the biggest year-on-year gains was at the BBC World Service, which is axing staff and services after its funding was cut by the government. The station's UK audience grew just under 34% year on year to 1.72 million, a shade under the last quarter's record 1.79 million." -- In the UK, BBC World Service is heard overnights on the BBC Radio 4 longwave frequency, and 24/7 via DAB digital radio and internet streams.

Review of BBC2's "The Hour," whose storyline includes intrigue at BBC World Service in "post-rationing" London.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Herald.ie (Dublin), 3 Aug 2011: "We've reached the halfway point in The Hour and a sense of 'Mmm, I dunno,' has begun to take hold. As in, 'Is it working?' 'Mmm, I dunno.' The first episode was excellent, introducing us to the chief characters and brilliantly painting drab, seedy post-rationing London in muddy brown and greys. ... Anyway, the mysterious killer/spook Kish (Burn Gorman, late of Torchwood), who was lurking in newsreel footage of the murdered debutante (if you haven't seen any of this, there's no point in trying to keep up), has been seconded to The Hour. He's supposedly been working for the BBC World Service for eight years and has been parachuted in to act as a translator of Arabic, but no one can find evidence of him having worked on a single programme. ... Cue a chase through the corridors of the BBC, followed by the most unconvincing stairwell scuffle I've seen, after which Kish, having dropped a few more hints, throws himself over the banister to his death.".

Amendment to create VOA Sindhi service approved by House Foreign Affairs Committee (updated).

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Pakistan Observer, 28 July 2011, Hashim Abro: "Sindhi writers, intellectuals and broadcasters across Pakistan and around the globe thank the US Congressmen for their unanimous consent to the Amendment to Foreign Affairs bill for Sindhi language Programing. It is apt to to mention here that the US Congress’ Foreign Affairs Committee has approved the funds to the tune of $1.5 million ( on annual basis) for the Voice of America ( VOA) to be used only for Sindhi language programming. The Sindhis in Sindh, Balochistan, and in other parts of the Pakistan and the globe regard Brad Sherman and other Congressmen not only as their well-wishers and promoters of Sindhi language but also 'Messiah’ for their language. For this noble move, the people of Sindh and Sindhi diaspora will always remain indebted to them throughout the ages. However, on behalf of the Sindhi I can say only a big 'Thank You' to US Congressman for this landmark amendment."

Associated Press of Pakistan, 27 July 2011: "Sindhi are born sufis and moderate. These are global citizens and treat humanity as 'One Family' and who keep the humanity above all religions because they believe that to love an to be loved, to respect and to be respected is the key concern of all religions. ... Around two hundred writers, intellectuals, broadcasters, social and human rights activists, lawyers and others attended the meeting [House Foreign Affairs authorization markup] and all of them were all appreciative of this noble gesture of US Congressman."

See also final language of the amendment. But did this amendment get past the House Appropriations Committee? If it did, the Senate would have to go along. Adding language services without increasing an international broadcaster's overall budget reduces the resources available for each service. See previous post about a proposed VOA Balochi service.

Update: Pakistan Observer, 3 Aug 2011, Kyle B. King, VOA Senior Editor (PR): "This is in response to a recent letter in Pakistan Observer’s website 'VOA Sindhi programme' by Hashim Abro. The Voice of America is constantly searching for new and better ways to expand its global audience. Decisions about funding for new language services are made by the US Congress. While we await final Congressional action on the recent proposal to broadcast in the Sindhi language, the Voice of America will continue to use the best and most cost-effective ways to reach the people of strategically important countries like Pakistan with accurate and comprehensive news and discussion about the United States and the world."

"Ask Alan," in Persian, via the State Department's USAdarFarsi social media accounts.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
State Department media note, 2 Aug 2011: "The Department of State is pleased to announce 'Ask Alan,' a new effort to engage with the Iranian people through our Persian language social media brand, USAdarFarsi. USAdarFarsi is active on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Every month on Facebook and Twitter, we will be asking our fans for questions on a topic that we set in advance. Our Persian language spokesman, Alan Eyre, will then provide answers to the most popular questions in Persian in a 5-7 minute long video that will be posted on our USAdarFarsi YouTube channel and then advertised both on our Facebook page and Twitter feeds. The topic for August was visas, and we invite you to watch the August edition of 'Ask Alan' today at http://www.facebook.com/USAdarFarsi. ... We recognize 30 years without diplomatic relations has affected our ability to understand each other. We are increasing our use of social media outlets in order to expand our dialogue with Iranians."

Report: Al-Shabaab forces locals to turn their dishes from Thaicom, and its Somali-language channels, to Arabsat.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Suna Times, 2 Aug 2011, Mohamed Abukar: "The Al-Shabaab militia in Jowhar town, Middle Shabelle region, has banned locals from watching satellite-dishes, especially Thaicom-site that transmits TV channels broadcasting in Somali language. The militia ordered Jowhar town residents to refrain from watching channels transmitted by the Thaicom-site, compelling them to face their satellite dishes towards Arab-site. Several Somali channels like Universal TV, Horn Cable TV, Somali Notational TV, Royal TV and Somali Channel broadcast on the Thaicom-site to reach to the Somali population in Somalia and the rest of the world. ... All the Somali TV channels broadcasting on Thaicom-site feed the Somali people with news stories as they unfold in and outside Somalia, including Somali government military gains in the recent battle with the militia group. ... Earlier the Al-Shabaab banned the public from listening to the BBC and VOA, accusing them of carrying Western ideologies." -- I think "Thaicom-site" means Thaicom satellite, and "Arab-site" means Arabsat. The channels to Somalia are on the C-band transponders of Thaicom 5 at 78.5°E, whose "global" footprint stretches to reach East Africa.

Rapid TV News, 27 July 2011, Rebecca Hawkes: "East Africa’s Wananchi Group has secured a revolving credit facility to help finance the roll out of its Zuku direct to home (DTH) satellite TV network. Already it has placed almost US$1 million worth of technical support orders with Canada’s International Datacasting Corporation (IDC). The vendor financing package, developed by IDC in cooporation with Export Development Canada (EDC) and an undisclosed Canadian financial institution, will help expand DTH delivery of Zuku, which already provides triple play broadcast, internet and telephony services via cable in Kenya. ... The financing deal will help enable the African digital media company to realise its plans for DTH rollout not only in Kenya, but in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia."

Newest net anti-censorship tool will require ISP cooperation.

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Technology Review, 2 Aug 2011, Brian Krebs: "Current anti-censorship technologies, including the services Tor and Dynaweb, direct connections to restricted websites through a network of encrypted proxy servers, with the aim of hiding who's visiting such sites from censors. But the censors are constantly searching for and blocking these proxies. A new scheme, called Telex, makes it harder for censors to block communications. It does this by taking traffic that's destined for restricted sites and disguising it as traffic meant for popular, uncensored sites. To do this, it employs the same method of analyzing packets of data that censors often use. ... The Telex system has two major components: 'stations' at dozens of Internet service providers (ISPs)—the stations connect traffic from inside nations that censor to the rest of the Internet—and the Telex client software program that runs on the computers of people who want to avoid censorship. ... Bruce Schneier, a cryptography expert and chief security technology officer at BT, calls Telex 'well-thought-out and designed,' but says the system would not work without widespread adoption by ISPs around the world. 'There are two ways to deploy this system: ask nicely, or make it a law [for ISPs to implement it]." See also telex.cc. -- Not to be confused with the mostly outmoded telex switched network of teleprinters.

"Texting Is the Most Important Information Service in the World." "Mobile Subscriptions Outnumber Toilets."

Posted: 06 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 2 Aug 2011, Jamie Holmes: "The 'feature' mobile phone is the globe's top selling consumer electronics product. For many of the world's poor, due to meager connectivity in rural areas and the costs of more advanced mobiles, these phones effectively support only voice and text (or SMS) functions. Feature mobiles have spread into some of the most remote areas of the globe, with 48 million people now with cell phones but no electricity, and by next year, 1.7 billion with cell phones but no bank account, according to one estimate. Skyrocketing phone subscriptions in the developing world account for over 70 percent of total subscriptions. In May, Coca-Cola's Director of International Media, Gavin Mehrotra, announced that "SMS is [our] number one priority" in mobile marketing. A mobile analyst called it "a true bombshell announcement" that shocked the large marketing conference at which it was made. ... Eventually, it seems, smartphones will drop in price, the necessary telecom infrastructure will expand and increase mobile Internet access, and feature phones will disappear from the global marketplace. For now, however, SMS services hold a world of untapped potential, transforming the text function into far more than a simple spinoff of the mobile phone."

TV Technology, 2 Aug 2011: "The ITU broke down Internet and mobile phone penetration regionally. Mobile phone penetration in Africa last year was 45.2 percent; the Americas reached 94.5 percent. Asia and the Pacific was at 69.2 percent, while Europe stood at 117.7 percent. Internet user penetration in Africa grew over 20-fold in the decade to 2010, from 0.5 to 10.8 percent. In the Commonwealth of Independent States, Internet penetration grew from 10.2 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2010. Internet user penetration in Asia and the Pacific grew from 3.3% percent in 2000 to 22.5 percent in 2010. By 2010, Internet user penetration in Europe had grown to 67 percent."

VOA press release, 4 Aug 2011: "Cell phone users in Liberia can now hear the latest Voice of America news headlines on their mobile devices. The new service is hosted on the Cellcom network in Liberia and is made possible by a partnership with AudioNow, a mobile radio distribution provider that has teamed up with VOA in other markets. Any phone user can access the English language news summaries in Liberia by calling a single national number. In an effort to take advantage of the explosive growth in cell phone use, Voice of America has been steadily expanding the availability of its news programs on mobile devices in Africa and elsewhere." See also VOA press release, 20 July 2011, about similar service for Guinea.

AudioNow press release, undated (no link available): "AudioNow announced today that British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Voice of America (VOA), and Radio France Internationale (RFI) have made their live and prerecorded content available to mobile listeners throughout Guinea and Liberia on AudioNow's proprietary mobile radio platform beginning August 1st . The service is hosted on the Cellcom mobile network. Listeners can access these broadcasters simply by dialing a local number. Cellcom subscribers also have the option of calling 'short access codes' which are available at a reduced flat rate. ... Cellcom is one of Western Africa's leading mobile providers and is distinguished by its innovative approach to global connectivity. The company operates telecommunications networks in Guinea and Liberia."

Is SMS a useful medium for international broadcasting and public diplomacy? SMS usually involve a cost, so it must be considered whether it's cheaper the send the content by a real mass, e.g. radio, or television advertisements. If the cost accrues to the recipients, the recipients will be annoyed, and their opinion of the originating country probably adversely affected. Free but unsolicited messages to the recipients, cluttering inboxes, can also provoke displeasure.

Sometime a mobile service provider will take on a news service as an added value for customers, involving no cost to the news provider or to the recipients. Such news must be considered by the customers to be relevant, reliable, and credible. Public diplomacy messages would probably not be considered an added value.

Another impediment to using SMS for international broadcasting and public diplomacy is that it usually involves a prominent gatekeeper, i.e. a business agreement with the mobile provider. This is probably why most international broadcasters opt for mobile versions of their websites, such as Deutsche Welle and VOA. This , however, requires less-prevalent mobile devices with internet access. News via SMS from international broadcasters is less common, but includes this from BBC World Service for Bangladesh (announced 2007) and from Al Jazeera to unspecified service areas (announced 2006). I don't know if either of these is still available.

As seen above, another way to send news via less-than-smart "feature" mobile phones is via audio -- sort of like a one-way telephone call. AudioNow is a significant player in this business. Its revenue comes from advertisements placed in the broadcaster's audio stream.

Finally, with the advent of smartphones, "feature phones will disappear from the global marketplace." SMS might, too, because smartphones will offer more choice in content and more media, e.g. video. Twitter via smartphones could replace the function of the old SMS, except, perhaps, for personal messages.

Voice of Russia recently opened a studio in Istanbul.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 1 Aug 2011, Chernitsa Polina: "A new studio for making programmes for The Voice of Russia has recently opened in Istanbul. The press-secretary of the Russian prime minister Dmitry Peskov has visited this studio. ... The conversation with the Russian prime minister’s press-secretary took place in the new studio which makes programmes for The Voice of Russia. This radio station actively broadcasts in Turkey. Its audience is millions of residents of five largest cities of the country: Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa and Antalya. Dmitry Peskov says that humanitarian relations between our countries will grow in the future and one of the oldest and most influential radio stations of the world will play its part in this."

Euronews Ukrainian launches on 24 August.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Advanced Television, 2 Aug 2011: "Euronews and National Television Company of Ukraine have revealed the official launch of euronews in Ukrainian following an agreement signed in October 2010. NTU is one of euronews’ shareholder channels. This 11th edition will be aimed particularly at the Ukrainian market, as well as the Ukrainian community around the globe. Following its exclusive launch one week before online, the first broadcast will be made on August 24th 2011 at 14:00 CET – Independence Day in Ukraine."

Future of public diplomacy: State Dept will put world's 5 billion mobile users on speed dial.

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The Washington Diplomat, 27 July 2011, Jacob Comenetz: "Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation to Secretary Clinton, offered The Diplomat plenty of arguments to counter those who would discount the utility of Twitter as a diplomatic tool. He described it as a 'progressive agent of change' because, like other network technologies, it 'tends to distribute power away from large institutions and nation states and toward smaller institutions and individuals by elevating ideas and voices of all kinds.' Ross admited Twitter posed 'interesting challenges for large institutions because it is a community that privileges immediacy, interactivity and provocative creativity.' But he emphasized the value of the tool, and digital diplomacy more broadly, in allowing the U.S. government to interact with non-traditional audiences. 'In short, digital media allows more people to participate in diplomacy,' he said. But despite the growing buzz around Twitter in the United States, Ross also pointed to the perhaps more significant explosive growth of mobile phone use in the developing world, calling it a 'game changer' for foreign service officers. In fact, mobile subscriber penetration has reached more than 5 billion people worldwide out of a total world population of 6.9 billion, according to the United Nations, which estimates that by 2012, half the people living in remote areas will have one."

Notice how the most successful social media accounts are not very sociable? In our business of international communication, the BBC Global News Twitter account is followed by 893,889, but follows only 16. Radio Sweden has 3,977 followers, but follows only one. The biggest Twitterer of all is Lady Gaga, who is followed by 12,304,654. Her account says she follows 142,278. No she doesn't.

CNN International schedule includes 15 minutes a week about African business.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
East African Business Week, 31 July 2011, Emma Onyango: "The Cable News Network (CNN) through its flagship programme, Marketplace Africa has opened a window of opportunity to African businesses both on and off the continent to showcase their business prowess to the rest of the world. Launched 18 months ago, CNN Marketplace Africa offers viewers a unique window into African business. It is the destination for movers and shakers at the forefront of African business. Hosted by CNN's South Africa correspondent Robyn Curnow, the 15-minute weekly show involves the host chatting with major players and innovators changing the face of African enterprise and brings fresh, cutting-edge business news. It airs every Wednesday at 8.45pm CAT [Central African Time]), as well as weekend repeats on Saturday and Sunday."

Canadian CP-140s replace US EC-130Js for airborne broadcast psyop to Libyan forces.

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Canadian Press, 30 July 2011, Murray Brewster: "Canada has joined an air war of a different kind in the skies over Libya, one where persuasion and sometimes insults are the weapons. Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes recently started broadcasting propaganda messages aimed at forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. It’s a psychological warfare operation, or PSYOPS, initially started by the Americans but now overseen by NATO — the kind of mission western militaries are reluctant to talk about openly. The Canadian broadcasts are relatively benign in comparison to some of the harsher messages NATO has aimed at Gadhafi’s troops, in which women’s voices are telling them to stop 'killing the children.' The Canadian messages, in English, are read hourly during patrols along the Libyan coast over AM/FM frequencies that Libyans usually monitor. 'For your safety return to your family and your home,' says the message, which can be heard over unencrypted frequencies the military uses to broadcast basic information. ... The messages are part of a stepped-up PSYOPS campaign which is sometimes referred to in the army as the 'black art.' Italian aircraft dropped propaganda leaflets over Tripoli last May as part of the increased pressure. At the beginning of the air war, the United States dispatched its secret, a specially outfitted C-130J transport plane known as 'Commando Solo,' to warn Libyan ships to stay in port or risk being destroyed by NATO. Although propaganda broadcasts have been around a long time and reached their zenith during the Second World War, the use of radio and sometimes television messages broadcast from aircraft to bend the mind of enemies goes back to the Vietnam War era." -- Are the Canadian messages only in English? No Arabic?

US-funded Shamla Voice is probably competing well with US-funded Radio Azadi and US-funded Radio Ashna.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Stars and Stripes, 18 July 2011, Neil Shea: "Shamla Voice [is] one of the few radio programs in Afghanistan — and possibly the only one outside Kabul — where residents call in with questions or comments addressed to a panel of government officials, [including] the police and army. ... This homegrown presence is part of what makes the weekly, hourlong Shamla program successful, said Capt. Andrew Miller, the man who initiated this experiment six months ago when he began taking calls himself — sometimes even from insurgents. 'It’s been very interesting,' said Miller, commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division, and of Combat Outpost Nerkh, where Shamla Voice is produced. 'Back at the beginning of this, we’d take 30 calls in an hour, and we’d miss like 80 more calls. It’s definitely made a mark.' The 29-year-old from Baton Rouge, La., never planned to step into direct media. Miller said the station was originally set up to play music and broadcast public service announcements and bulletins from coalition forces. ... Miller believes the program has given Afghans degrees of transparency and connection with security officials that were absent. It also made him a minor celebrity. Out on patrols, or when meeting local leaders, sometimes people would approach him and say, 'You’re the guy on the radio!'"

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 3 Aug 2011, citing IRNA: "Most of the Afghan television networks have been broadcasting Iranian religious films since the start of the fasting month of Ramadan in the country on 1 August. Afghanistan has more than 30 private TV networks as well as a state-run TV network which air religious films during Ramadan. Since the two countries are co-lingual and share numerous cultural commonalities, there is no need for dubbing the Iranian films."

Fellowships and honors for US international broadcasters.

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Kudos & Awards, 1 Aug 2011, Sarah Adler: "Journalist Daud Khattak, who who will soon take up an assignment in our Washington bureau after working in Prague for RFE's Pashto-language Radio Mashaal, has been selected as a 2011-2012 Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow by the National Press Foundation. ... Fellows learn about the way bureaucracy works, developing sources, getting access to information and building relationships with Washington players and people in charge of public relations and information networks. ... Shaheen Buneri, Khattak's colleague at Radio Mashaal, has also been recognized for his work by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, which awarded him a 2011 Persephone Miel Fellowship. The fellowship, a joint project of the Pulitzer Center and Internews, allowed Buneri to travel to his native Swat Valley where he produced a series of reports on lingering resentment two years after the Pakistani government deployed 25,000 troops to wrest control of the region from the Taliban."

Payvand Iran News, 4 Aug 2011: The Washington DC Chapter of PAAIA is pleased to honor two additional accomplished Iranian Americans at its Passing the Torch of Success Event on Sunday, September 18, 2011. Christiane Amanpour, Host of ABC News' This Week and former Chief International Correspondent for CNN and Ramin Asgard, Director, Voice of America - Persian, former Political Advisor to US Central Command, Former Director, Iran Regional Presence Office in Dubai will be honored at this event, which will be held at Lisner Auditorium of the George Washington University."

With French soccer deal, Al Jazeera seeks "to become the equivalent of a local European broadcaster."

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Times, Eric Pfanner, 31 July 2011: "Al Jazeera used to be known, somewhat unfairly, as the television network of Osama bin Laden. Now it wants to become the network of Yoann Gourcuff, Alou Diarra and Eden Hazard. Mr. Gourcuff, Mr. Diarra and Mr. Hazard are stars of the Ligue 1, the top division of the French professional soccer league. In June, Al Jazeera acquired the rights to show Ligue 1 matches in France, signaling an escalation in the broadcaster’s global ambitions. Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, has had a significant sports operation in the Middle East for several years, beaming World Cup and European professional soccer, American basketball and Wimbledon tennis across the region via satellite. It is also well known for its news and entertainment channels. But the deal with the French league, which is to take effect in 2012, is different: For the first time, Al Jazeera will broadcast a major Western sporting event in the league’s domestic market. Its goal is to become the equivalent of a local European broadcaster, no longer content to be seen as merely a niche news channel from the Middle East." See previous post about same subject.

BBC Hindi's special series Friendship beyond Borders "will bring together musicians from India and Pakistan."

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC Hindi press release, 2 Aug 2011: "BBC Hindi is launching special programming which will bring together musicians from India and Pakistan. Every day, between 3 and 7 August, the Friendship beyond Borders series on the BBC Hindi FM programming, broadcast via partner FM stations across India, talks to some of the best known singers and musicians from India and Pakistan about music, mutual understanding and peace. ... The Pakistani singer, Shafqat Amanat Ali, tells the BBC that visa issues between the two countries should be relaxed so that people can meet their loved ones and families without any obstacles. The Friendship beyond Borders series concludes on Sunday 7 August with a special edition of the BBC Hindi popular weekly chat-show, BBC Ek Mulaqat, which brings together internationally acclaimed rock musicians - India's fusion band, Indian Ocean, and Pakistan's pop band, Strings. Talking from the BBC's Delhi and Karachi studios respectively, they discuss things that matter to them and that shape up their music. ... The Friendship beyond Borders series will be aired across India by BBC Hindi's FM partner radio stations. BBC Hindi will also broadcast the series on shortwave in the lead-up to India's Independence Day on 15 August. The website bbchindi.com will feature special stories based on the series as well as the audio of the music of the profiled artistes."

Did Radio Liberty employ "liberal Uighurs" to broadcast to Xinjiang?

Posted: 05 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Eurasia Review, 1 Aug 2011, B. Raman: "When the Chinese occupied Xinjiang in 1949, a large number of the political elite of the province fled to Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Some of them migrated to West Germany and were used by the CIA during the cold war for assisting it in the broadcasts of Radio Liberty directed to Xinjiang. These secular and liberal Uighurs in the diaspora ... are admirers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and interact closely with the Tibetan diaspora in the West."

Radio Liberty broadcast to Xinjiang? I asked RFE/RL historian A. Ross Johnson about this. He reminds us of this RFE/RL history page, with a link to this list of all RFE/RL language services, past and present. Uyghur is listed 1966 to 1979, beamed to "Russia". Radio Free Asia now broadcasts in Uyghur.

BBC Lonely Planet and Knowledge magazines launch in Taiwan, under licensing deal.

Posted: 04 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Licensing.biz, 1 Aug 2011, Samantha Loveday: "BBC Worldwide is teaming with Cite Publishing to launch two of its publications into Taiwan. Lonely Planet Magazine was released in the region today (August 1st) and will be followed by BBC Knowledge Magazine on September 1st. Both titles will be released monthly and will feature local content." See also BBC Worldwide press release, 1 Aug 2011. See Newtalk.tw, 27 July 2011, for a photo (click to expand) of the front covers. -- In classical Chinese characters.

BBCWS Africa editor "furious to be on strike." BBC WS Arabic staff end six-day strike today.

Posted: 04 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 1 Aug 2011, John Plunkett and Josh Halliday: During the BBC journalists' strike on Monday: "Picket lines were lightly staffed, with six people outside White City, the home of BBC Television, at lunchtime, and three at Broadcasting House, where the radio stations transmit from. However, the mood outside the World Service's Bush House HQ – where the dispute is centred - was more defiant. A 20-strong picket line held a giant sheet with the words, 'BBC kills World Service'. Martin Plaut, Africa editor at the World Service, said: 'I'm furious to be on strike today. I'm really not happy at all. In all my time at the BBC – I joined in 1984 – I've never seen the BBC in this state.'"

The Guardian, 1 Aug 2011, Josh Halliday: "Outside Bush House, the home of the World Service, ... [t]wenty strikers held aloft a white sheet emblazoned 'BBC kills World Service' in huge capital letters, with 'kills' written in blood red."

National Union of Journalists, 3 Aug 2011: "Journalists on strike at the BBC’s Arabic Service have produced their own news bulletin 'Strike This Evening' to cover their story. The strikers explain to viewers the background to their action against unfair working conditions. Management plans to introduce a new rota system which would add 26 days to the working year. The unprecedented six-day strike at the service is due to end ... August 4. The impact of the strike has been clear on the content of the BBC Arabic Service, which is dominated by documentaries. Main presenters in television and radio were replaced by freelances and unqualified journalists while some flagship programs were taken off air or replaced. A senior BBC Arabic manager has decided to leave the newsroom and join his NUJ colleagues on the picket line in a move welcomed by the journalists." With video.

See previous post about same subject.

Radio One, Indian joint venture with BBC Worldwide, increases revenues, actually reduces loss.

Posted: 03 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
afaqs!, 2 Aug 2011: "Radio One first quarter revenues for the current year stood at Rs 11.13 crore, a 14% growth over first quarter revenues of Rs 9.79 crore [97,000,000] last year. The loss before tax in the first quarter of the current year was lower by 79% when compared to the same period last year, thanks to a one off exceptional gain. ... Quote from Tariq Ansari, CMD Next Media Works : The first quarter of the year has been a challenging one for the radio industry, but I am happy to see that we have been able to grow our top line by 14% over the first quarter of last year. ... Radio One Ltd is a joint venture of Next MediaWorks and BBC Worldwide and runs FM stations under the brand 94.3 Radio One in 7 cities namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Pune."

Media Mughals, 3 Aug 2011, Nitesh Sharma: "Radio One promoters has decided to invest fresh capital into the company soon to participate in bidding for new frequencies that the government is opening for the private sector."

Report: Radio Free Asia is noting some hits from North Korean IP addresses.

Posted: 03 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Korea Herald, 2 Aug 2011, Song Sang-ho: "More North Koreans are apparently surfing the Web to find out about their country’s ties with South Korea and the U.S., and other issues affecting them, according to the U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia. Questions have been raised over the surfers’ identities as the autocratic communist state has severely restricted Internet access for fear that it could be used as a conduit to share their democratic aspirations. According to RFA, six Internet protocols [IP addresses?] originating from the North have accessed its website via Google since early this year, and the number of hits to the website from the protocols has steadily increased in recent months with 24 times recorded this July. After tracking the IPs, RFA also found that the viewers used Microsoft’s Window XP operating system to search or gather information on subjects banned by the reclusive state. The surfers accessed the site mostly after 9 p.m., according to RFA. It also came as a surprise that the surfers used Windows XP rather than North Korea’s own operating system, called 'Red Star.' Information searched for included pieces on reunions of families separated across the border since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, North Korean people’s lives and other social and political issues. In the secretive state, only top-level government officials were previously able to use the Internet. But it has recently allowed several universities such as Kim Il-sung University to use the Internet for academic purposes. RFA was not ruling out the possibility that foreigners residing in the North could have used the Internet as it has found some signs of translation from Korean to Russian." -- I couldn't find the original report translated to English at the RFA website.

China Radio International in Boston: "hint of triumphalism," but also "ridiculing government spokesmen" about the rail disaster.

Posted: 03 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Boston Globe, 2 Aug 2011, Alex Beam: "Not enough people know that WILD-AM (1090) [Boston] has stopped broadcasting the loony rants of the Rev. Al Sharpton and is now airing a variety of loony, semi-normal, and just plain odd shows emanating from China Radio International in Beijing. The locution is dodgy - John Boehner is often 'Boner' or 'Bonner' - and the politics are occasionally suspect. Yes, I was listening when the State Council Information Office released its Assessment Report on the National Human Rights Action Plan of China. 'Thirty-five percent of the binding targets and over 50 percent of the targets concerning the people’s livelihood had been met ahead of time or exceeded,' I learned. Pip, pip! Yes, they have been savoring America’s embarrassing flirtation with default, but let’s be truthful - who hasn’t? And yes, the world’s next superpower can’t be blamed if a hint of triumphalism permeates its broadcasts. China refits an aircraft carrier, China launches its own network of GPS satellites, China’s growth rate 'slows' to 9.5 percent. It ain’t bragging if they done it. Did I detect some schadenfreude in CRI’s announcement that disgraced US Representative-sexual miscreant David Wu - the first Chinese-American to serve in the House - was born in the renegade republic of Taiwan? Chinese agitprop, you say? Sure. But what is propaganda, really? The United States spends $200 million a year blasting the Voice of America all over the world. So is the VOA desperately needed enlightenment for a world floundering for truth, or US propaganda? Have you ever read a corporate annual report, where the white guys in suits explain that their bonuses were necessary for the betterment of mankind? The State Council Information Office has nothing on them. CRI, intended for foreign audiences, plays it, well, almost straight in reporting on events in China. For a while, they were my only source of information about the July 23 bullet train crash that killed at least 39 people. CRI has returned to the story again and again, ridiculing government spokesmen and questioning the ultramodern technology of the country’s high-speed rail system. 'You don’t hear about bullet trains in Europe getting stopped by lightning and thunder,' announcer Brandon Blackburn-Dwyer said on 'Beijing Today,' alluding to the reported cause of the deadly crash. -- OK, I "excerpted" more of this than I should have, but it was all astute commentary. See previous post about same subject.

Al Jazeera English gets 24/7 cable access in New York City. Actually, make that 23/7.

Posted: 03 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
New York Daily News, 1 Aug 2011, Richard Huff: "Al Jazeera English has finally found a place in New York City, but it's only a sublet. The news network began leasing space on Monday from WRNN, a privately-owned broadcast operation that provides news for its own channel RNN-TV and Verizon's FiOS 1 News operations. Al Jazeera hit the airwaves on WRNN's RISE, a cable channel available on Time Warner Cable systems Ch. 92. It will soon be available on Verizon FiOS, Ch. 466. Officials estimate Al Jazeera English will be available in upwards of 2 million homes in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester and much of New Jersey. ... Al Jazeera will occupy 23 hours a day on RISE, with the remaining hour being programmed locally by RNN."

New York Times, 1 Aug 2011, Brian Stelter: "The country’s biggest cable and satellite companies each declined requests for interviews about Al Jazeera last week; most cited policies against talking about any specific carriage decisions. But they expressed no public concerns about Al Jazeera’s content. ... Al Jazeera is not the only international news channel seeking space; the BBC is trying to persuade the companies to carry BBC World News, too, so far with little luck. ... RISE will carry one hour of local programming a day, as it is required to do under its carriage agreements."

Huffington Post, 1 Aug 2011, Michael Calderone: "Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English, told The Huffington Post that AJE's website receives more online traffic from New York City than from any other city around the globe –- evidence of high demand in the Big Apple. Now that the network will be reaching cable viewers, too, Anstey hopes to make further inroads into the media capital."

TPM, 3 Aug 2011, David Taintor: "It's only been a few days since Al Jazeera English launched in New York City, but a spokesperson for the network says the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. While most of the evidence has been anecdotal, more than 200 emails have come through the network's Demand Al Jazeera English campaign since the NYC launch."

The National (Abu Dhabi), 3 Aug 2011, Ben Flanagan: "[O]n Monday the English-language channel hit the airwaves in New York City - and said it was engaged in talks with numerous cable and satellite broadcasters over distribution in other parts of the US.

Tongan-language radio comes to southern California.

Posted: 02 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA), 27 July 2011, David Olson: "Every Saturday night, Salesi Paea stays up late to listen to Southern California's only Tongan-language radio program. It's a chance to hear familiar music from his South Pacific homeland and inspirational preaching from the Tongan minister who hosts the hour-long show. 'He gives us information on what's happening in Tonga,' Paea said. 'If there's a tsunami or something, you'll hear it on the radio.' The show is part of the trilingual programming on Corona's KWRM-AM, a radio reflection of the Inland area's increasingly broad diversity. During most of the day, the 5,000-watt KWRM broadcasts Chinese-language programs. Overnight and in the early morning, it switches to Spanish."

BBC America's first original scripted series is set in 1860s Irish neighborhood of New York City.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC America press release, 28 July 2011: "In its most significant original programming commitment to date, BBC AMERICA has announced its first original scripted drama series, Copper. The 10 episode series ... is set in the Five Points Irish neighborhood of New York City in the 1860’s. The series focuses on a rugged young Irish cop who has to navigate the unruly and sometimes violent currents of his immigrant neighborhood, while simultaneously interacting with uptown Manhattan high society and the emerging black community in Harlem. Copper will commence production in the fall of 2011 in Toronto and premiere on BBC AMERICA in Summer 2012."

Commentator compares VOA and BBC coverage of Kosovo border clashes.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Antiwar.com, 30 July 2011, Nebojsa Malic: "In 2004, when Albanian mobs rampaged across the province for days, the Western press described the pogrom as 'clashes.' The word was in use once again this week, shifting responsibility from the heavily armed Albanians backed by NATO armor to their Serb targets. Voice of America - an official mouthpiece of the U.S. government – said not a word about the Albanian takeover ploy, instead blaming the 'Serb mob' which was 'not loyal to Kosovo,' and sought to depict this as a deliberate Serb provocation of NATO, 'already stretched by wars in Afghanistan and Libya.' An example of more sedate reporting was the BBC, which also blamed the violence on 'Serbian nationalists' and made much of the torching of the checkpoint, but managed to mention that EU and the US have criticized [Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim] Thaci’s action as 'provocative' – albeit at the very end of the story." With links. See also RFE/RL, 26 July 2011, Ron Synovitz.

China Radio International's Tamil service receives 30% of the station's audience mail.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hindu, 30 July 2011, Ananth Krishnan: "S. Pandiyarajan was fiddling around with his shortwave radio set one hot summer evening at Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, when he stumbled upon a strange station. At first listen, it was a language he couldn't identify. It sounded like Tamil, but spoken in an accent he could not recognise. He listened on, straining his ears. To his surprise, he discovered that the voices were coming from faraway China. 'I could hear two Chinese people speaking in perfect Tamil!' he said. 'And this was Sentamizh [classical Tamil], which you never hear anywhere, anymore, even in Tamil Nadu.' That evening, Mr. Pandiyarajan became the latest member of China Radio International's fast-growing overseas fan base. ... Leading the station is Zhu Juan Hua, from Shanghai, who prefers to go by the Tamil name Kalaiarasi. Ms. Zhu has been with CRI Tamil since its launch, among the first group of students in this country who were trained in Tamil. ... Speaking in fluent Tamil, she says the station receives more than 450,000 letters every year, accounting for 30 per cent of all the letters CRI's more than 60 channels receive."

Radio Netherlands meets with Anglophone African partner stations.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands, 29 July 2011: "The first ever conference for Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s (RNW) partners in Anglophone Africa took place in Kenya this week, bringing together media organizations from 10 countries. The partners included a diverse range of professionals from commercial and state media outlets, community and university radio stations, as well as newspapers and magazines. ... High on the agenda was a discussion and debate about the productions made by RNW for its partners in Africa, and how ties between all participants can be strengthened. The two weekly radio shows Bridges With Africa and Africa in Progress were presented, as well as the website www.rnw.nl/africa , and the weekly comedy video What’s Up Africa that brought a good laugh among many partners. ... RNW Africa was also subject to some critical remarks during conference, particularly regarding a radio report that dealt with sexual taboos in Africa: 'A well chosen topic, but the presenter should have done her home work better.'" -- Will the announced budget cuts at RNW make RNW a different kind of "partner"?

RFE/RL media analyst shares social media expertise at TechCamps in Lithuania and Moldova.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 28 July 2011, Sigrid Lott: "Camilla Hawthorne, a new media analyst for RFE, was recently asked to share her expertise and skills in social media and online activism at TechCamp training sessions in both Lithuania and Moldova. ... About 80 activists from civil society organizations (CSOs) representing Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, the countries of the Balkan region, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine participated in TechCamp: Vilnius on June 29-30, where they focused on how technology can be used to facilitate citizen journalism and further their objectives for strong democracies and open societies. ... TechCamp is a global program under U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative, which is an effort to galvanize the technology community to assist civil society organizations around the globe by providing capabilities, resources and assistance to enable them to harness digital media and Internet circumvention tool (ICT) advances in order to build their digital capacity and online activism efforts. CSOs support the collective values and beliefs that non-governmental communities have for the promotion of a healthy democracy."

Silver Telly Award for documentary about the old VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting station.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Cincinnati Enquirer, 31 July 2011: "The video documentary 'America’s Voice,' produced for the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting by Murray Multimedia Resources in West Chester, has won a Silver Telly Award for 2011. The award is the highest award given by the Telly Awards, which honors outstanding local, regional and national commercials, programs, video and film production." See the documentary at the National Voice of America Museum of Broadcasting website.

VOA executive editor discusses "extraordinary move" to pull story from the VOA Horn of Africa website (updated).

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Addis Voice, 29 July 2011, Letter from Steve Redisch, VOA Acting Director and Executive Editor: "I’ve been asked to react to the accuracy of the reporting about the situation involving VOA’s Horn of Africa service, so I decided now is a good time to clear up some misconceptions that have evolved over the past few weeks. Voice of America’s Horn of Africa service will not be shying away from reporting on Ethiopian politics. Freedom House rates the Ethiopian media as 'not free,' and our audiences there can rely on VOA to provide accurate, objective and comprehensive news and information about their government. VOA will provide an array of voices and opinions to allow Ethiopians to make their own decisions about what to believe and who to trust. That is our job and the job of a free media. ... The Government of Ethiopia has presented VOA with complaints about our Horn of Africa broadcasting. We are investigating those complaints as we would any complaints from any individual or government, including the US government. When the independent review of those complaints is completed, we will present them to the Ethiopian government, and then make them public."

YouTube, 28 July 2011, VOA executive editor Steve Redisch as interviewed by Henok Fente of the VOA Horn of Africa Service: "The report [on 23 June] that was on the Voice of America [Horn of Africa] website and on the Voice of America contained inaccuracies. And those inaccuracies were to the point where they could not be corrected and have the story remain on the website. So we took it off the website. It's an extraordinary move by any journalistic organization to take a story of a website once it's been published. We did it because we could not fix that story. It had many inaccuracies about it. It mischaracterized the visit [to Addis Ababa] by the BBG. It mischaracterized what the Ethiopian government was saying the the three members of the Board of Governors. ... David Arnold [former VOA Horn of Africa chief, reassigned to the VOA English desk] is a valued member of the Voice of America. As a US federal employee, he is accorded certain rights. We are looking into what happened as far as his involvement in the inaccuracies that were in the story as well as his involvement in the interview that was done. And once that review is over we'll make a decision as to what David Arnold does next."

Addis Voice, 26 July 2011, LJ Demissie: "Pandora’s Box was opened during an interview which one of the vesting [visiting?] team members — the VOA Horn of Africa Service Chief — David Arnold gave to VOA Amharic Service on June 23, 2011. Immediately after his interview was aired, it became absolutely clear that the purposes of a 42-pages document that was given to the visiting team was not supposed to be unveiled in public because it comprises names of the despotic Ethiopian government critics whom the government wants to silence and their valuable views against their tyrannical government which VOA Amharic Service broadcast from January 2011 to May 2011."

Free Media Online, 28 July 2011: “Free Media Online president Ted Lipien, who once served as VOA’s acting associate director, said ... 'It is outrageous that the Broadcasting Board of Governors executives arranged such a ill-defined trip and then, apparently with active involvement of some of the presidentially-appointed BBG members, dismissed a well-respected VOA journalist and censored news reports in a clear violation of the VOA Charter. BBG officials must apologize to Voice of America listeners, restore Mr. Arnold to his previous position, and stop all attempts at censorship and intimidation of journalists, including forbidding taking notes at meetings, a practice that’s identified with communist and other dictatorships and does not belong in America. The U.S. Congress should investigate this incident... .'"

Thilo Hoppe press release, 28 July 2011 (pdf): "According to reports from journalists at Voice of America and Deutsche Welle, the Ethiopian government is keeping a 'blacklist' of names of 'undesirable' journalists and 'subversive' critics. In this context, Thilo Hoppe, a Member of the German Bundestag who is himself amongst those listed, has made the following statement: 'The attempt to ban foreign media broadcasting in Ethiopia from conducting interviews with opposition activists and critical observers demonstrates once again the sorry state of freedom of expression in Ethiopia. ... If more than lip service is to be paid to this human-rights dialogue, these new cases of violation of press freedom must also be clearly and firmly raised in discussions with Ethiopian partners."

Addis Voice, 28 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: An Ethiopian who went to Bonn to work as a part-time freelancer complains about the conditions of his employment by Deutsche Welle.

YouTube, 29 July 2011, report by ESAT, television service to Ethiopia, about recent events at VOA and Deutsche Welle. -- It's in Amharic, but you can get a sense of the report from the photos, video clips, and one English audio excerpt.

Update: Critical Distance Weblog, 31 July 2011, Jonathan Marks: "VOA Newsroom Management would be wise to openly distance themselves from the discussion between the BBG and the Ethiopian government. The BBG may, thru diplomatic negotiation, secure deals with governments to permit enhanced coverage through local FM outlets. It has worked in other countries, and it has helped make media be more open in several countries. Indonesia is a good example. But whatever they negotiate should not be on the basis of an agreement by BBG to influence the current output from VOA in any shape or form. So, if the deal was to review or reduce coverage of any thinking other than the Ethiopian government line, in return for local relays of health information, then that's a rather weak BBG negotiation strategy."

Nazret.com, 1 Aug 2011, Alemayehu G. Mariam: "The VOA should learn that removing online programs, suspending employees for telling the truth, directing reporters not to take notes during meetings, delaying response until issues become critical and taking other acts that appear to be heavy-handed and create a climate of self-censorship are things that should not be repeated because they cast considerable doubt over the integrity and professionalism of the institution."

See previous post about same subject.

The restructuring of US international broadcasting, shifting from radio to the internet and social media.

Posted: 01 Aug 2011   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 31 July 2011, Bill Gertz: "The Obama administration is sharply restructuring the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency in charge of all U.S. government broadcasting, while being urged to increase the spread of unfettered news and information around the world. Cuts in official U.S. radio broadcasting to Russia and the Middle East since 2001 and plans to end Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts to China in October have sown 'chaos and confusion' in the agency, one senior agency official said. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is shifting broadcasts from radio to the Internet and social media. ...

"A former BBG official said U.S. international broadcasting is in serious trouble because of a lack of focus and mismanagement - problems that have plagued the agency for several years. The shift to Internet and social media services is rife with problems, the former official said. 'The whole Internet strategy is bogus,' this former official said, noting that Iranian hackers shut down some 40 VOA Internet broadcast sites for five hours in February. ... The Iranian VOA hacking followed by two weeks the disclosure that VOA is ending all radio broadcasts to China this year in favor of Internet broadcasting and some radio through the heavily jammed Radio Free Asia. The decision was made after China refused to permit VOA to use China-based ground stations to transmit its programs, even though the Obama administration provided China with broad access to U.S. airwaves for its state-run media. ...

"A BBG report outlining the 'realignment strategy' for shortwave and medium-wave radio broadcasts stated that 'the process and transition will be as painful as they are necessary.' ... Plans to cut short- and medium-wave radio broadcasts are projected to save $75 million annually and be carried out in phases by closing VOA stations in the Philippines, on the Pacific island of Saipan, in Germany and in North Carolina, and scaling back Kuwait-based stations. The goal is to cut $82 million by 2014, the report said."

Although there are some inaccuracies, credit to Mr. Gertz for providing an overview of a complicated reorganization in what is already a complicated bureaucratic structure.

As recently as a quarter century ago, US international broadcasting would face media environments in target countries that would consist of a moribund state-controlled broadcasting monopoly, plus external broadcasts from VOA and/RFE/RL, BBC, and perhaps one or more other foreign shortwave stations. It was a time of information scarcity. Now, even in unfree societies, the websites and social media of US international broadcasting must compete with hundreds of domestic websites, tens of thousands of social media participants, and dozens of television channels. It is the present day overabundance of information and entertainment that is causing the "chaos and confusion" in US international broadcasting.

Competing in this environment will be difficult. The necessary first step is to transform US international broadcasting from its present feudal collection of entities that compete among themselves, to a single-branded multimedia entity that can cope with the real competition.

Mr. Gertz is incorrect in writing that "the Obama administration provided China with broad access to U.S. airwaves for its state-run media." China Radio International and CCTV were on US radio stations and cable channels during the George W. Bush administration and probably before that. It is the outcome of US press freedom, and the desire of some private US radio stations and cable channels, that might not otherwise have opportunities for profit, to make money by brokering time to international media.

Al Jazeera commentaries and reports provoke America with alternative views re US wars, climate change, and Glenn Beck.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera.net, 27 July 2011, Ted Rall: "Americans don't see the brutality of their wars in the newspaper, on the nightly news, in their weekly newsmagazines, or at the movies. They don't even see them in books, where educated people turn for nuance and breadth. Coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, such as it is considering that most such books are written by American reporters embedded with US forces, is decidedly Americentric, such as Dexter Filkins' bestseller 'The Forever War'. ... American citizens are morally responsible for the wars and the war crimes committed in their name. The sad truth is, however, that they don't know what's going on - and they don't lift a finger to find out."

Aljazeera.net, 27 July 2011, Dahr Jamail: "Achim Steiner from the UN Environment Programme said last week that climate change would 'exponentially' increase the scale of natural disasters, and that it 'threatens peace'. Steiner warned that an increase in the frequency of natural disasters across the globe could prove a major challenge in the coming decades. He said recent crises, such as the famine in Somalia, show that 'our capacity to handle these kinds of events is proving a challenge, particularly if they occur simultaneously and start affecting, for instance, global food markets, regional food security issues, displacing people, creating refugees across borders'. The most recent assessment report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2007, reached some key conclusions. The report found that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and that world temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4C during the 21st century. ... [A Gallup Polls finds] that 43 per cent of Americans think the media exaggerates the seriousness of climate change. How Americans view climate change varies widely depending upon their political beliefs, the poll found." Compare to...

Forbes, James Taylor, 27 July 2011: "NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed." See also MSNBC, 29 July 2011, Stephanie Pappas.

Aljazeera.net, 24 July 2011, Ahmed Moor: "The Norwegian terrorist who murdered more than ninety innocent civilians - many of whom were teenagers - did not act alone. Or rather, he acted within a cultural and political context that legitimises his fearful and hate-infested worldview. It is now clear that Anders Behring Breivik was exposed to large amounts of right-wing propaganda. ... Anders Behring Breivik, Mohammed Atta and Baruch Goldstein are all cut from the same rotten cloth. Anwar Al-Awlaki and Glenn Beck - the peddlers of the faith - all share the same core afflictions. These men are insecure, violently inclined, and illiberal. The outside world scares them."

In Maine, Al Jazeera Washington bureau chief attracts small protest. Together they help raise $50,000 for General Knox Museum.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Bangor Daily News, 28 July 2011, Heather Steeves: "Al-Jazeera’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief drew parallels between an uprising in the Arab world and America’s own revolution during a fundraising speech for the General Henry Knox Museum on Thursday night. The appearance by Abderrahim Foukara drew protesters as well as a capacity crowd of about 350 to the Strand Theatre. A handful of people stood outside with signs saying his news network is a microphone for terrorists. The protesters were outnumbered by supporters 3 to 1. ... The moderator of the evening’s events, Mac Deford, made light of the protests outside the Rockland movie theater, saying the sign holders raised awareness for the event and increased ticket sales to the sold-out speech, which likely raised about $50,000 for the museum, according to executive director Ellen Dyer. ... Foukara’s speech mostly focused on the Arab Spring, the recent pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East. ... 'Democracy might not be a panacea for all ills, but so far it’s the best doctor in town,' he said. 'Americans know a thing or two about breaking the shackles of tyranny. They did it when they voted for an African-American president. Many people in this country say the breaking of shackles began way back in 1776 when the British were told what young Tunisians have told their dictators recently,' he said."

Village Soup, 29 July 2011, Shlomit Auciello: "He said differences between China and the U.S. could give the U.S. an advantage as new governments form in the Arab world. He mentioned China's suppression of the Internet, and said the U.S. had an edge when it came to democracy. China can not export democracy, he said. 'You cannot give what you do not have,' said Foukara. He reminded his audience that Morocco, an Arab nation, was the first country to recognize the newly formed United States in 1777."

Maine Public Broadcasting Network, 29 July 2011, Keith Shortall: "'We recognize right of him to come and speak or for the museum to invite him. This is an issue of very poor judgement,' said one man, who gave his name only as 'Ted.' He held a small placard with the Act For America emblem. 'I'm just a private citizen who is here trying to bring this to people's attention, that this is very poor judgement giving credence and a platform for an organization that is dedicated to destruction of the United States and Western civilization,' Ted said. ... But the critics were well-outnumbered by counter-protestors, who also held signs. 'It's an embarrassment to our state--these people don't stand for us,' said Jeffrey Evangelos, of Friendship. Evangelos is holding a sign that reads, 'Attention Tea Party! Stop Embarrassing Maine With Your Hate and Ignorance.'" Also from MPBN, audio of his talk.

See previous post about same subject.

Difficulty and controversy for Radio France International in Guinea, Burundi, and Senegal. And a new FM relay.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Committee to Preotect Journalists blog, 28 July 2011, Mohamed Keita: "On Monday, Guinea's state-controlled media regulatory agency imposed a 'temporary' ban on media coverage of the July 19 attack on the private residence of President Alpha Condé, silencing private radio and television talk programs in which critical questions were being raised about the episode. In such circumstances, Guinean listeners turn to foreign media outlets such as France's state-funded international broadcaster, Radio France Internationale (RFI), the most popular station in Francophone Africa. With programs such as 'Appels Sur L'actualité,' a daily news call-in show, RFI is considered by millions of African listeners to be an essential source of news and information. Wednesday's 'Appels Sur L'actualité' began with an ominous statement read by host Juan Gomez. 'We had planned this morning to debate the attack last week against the residence of the Guinean president, but yesterday the National Communications Council of Guinea decided to temporarily suspend any program or article about the attempted assassination against the head of state as well as all call-in programs.' Gomez told listeners they would have to debate another topic. Squeezed between the expectations of listeners and the conditions set by governments leasing the local frequencies it needs, RFI found itself in a difficult position. 'We are not submitting to a censorship measure; we regret it and we hope that it will be temporary.' RFI Deputy Director Geneviève Goetzinger told CPJ today. RFI has suffered for its critical reporting on current events in Africa. The station has seen its reporters expelled from Chad, Rwanda, and Senegal, its local correspondent jailed in Niger, and another correspondent killed in the Ivory Coast. RFI has had its broadcasts temporarily banned in a number of countries, most recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the government of President Joseph Kabila sought the removal of RFI senior reporter Ghislaine Dupont, the station's DRC specialist who was expelled from the country in 2006. Nevertheless, RFI management remains adamant the station will continue to report without interference. 'Our editorial line is set in Paris, in complete independence from all the governments in the world,' Goetzinger said."

Amnesty International, 28 July 2011: "The Burundian government should immediately release two prominent lawyers jailed amid an ongoing dispute with the government, Amnesty International said today, as a national lawyers' strike continues. Head of the Bar Association Isidore Rufikiri was arrested on 27 July after speaking at a rally in the capital, Bujumbura. Burundian lawyers are on strike this week to call for the release of their colleague, Suzanne Bukuru, who was arrested on 15 July on charges of 'complicity in espionage' after speaking to French journalists about a case of alleged rape. ... The prosecution also questioned Edras Ndikumana, a correspondent for Radio France International (RFI), about his role in putting French journalists in contact with Bukuru."

African Press Organization, 29 July 2011: "After questioning Ndikumana about his report, the prosecutor confiscated his mobile phone for several hours. He also asked Ndikumana to remain available for further questioning."

RFI press release, 14 July 2011: RFI adds its third FM relay in Burundi, at Mt. Mutumba in the north of the country, for French and Swahili broadcasts.

BBC Sport, 28 July 2011: "Blackburn Rovers' El-Hadji Diouf has been banned from all football-related activities in Senegal for five years. The Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) handed the ban to the forward after remarks he made in the media about corruption in African football. ... Diouf reacted angrily to the FSF's claims that he had failed to appear for a disciplinary hearing last week. The committee wanted to ask the Blackburn striker about comments he had made on Radio France International, claiming that 'the whole system of African football is corrupt'."

BBC Worldwide chief lists China, Vietnam and India at the top of "his plans for further international expansion."

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Telegraph, 30 July 2011, Amanda Andrews: "Of the BBC's 2,950 pieces of individual intellectual property, [BBC Worldwide chief John] Smith earmarked five power brands. These are Top Gear, Doctor Who, Lonely Planet, Dancing with the Stars and BBC Earth, and they account for 27pc, or £308.1m, of total turnover. The most controversial has been the BBC's investment in Lonely Planet. ... 'Just from a brand-building point of view, bbc.com is essentially a news machine. You just have to look at the adjacency of news and travel and natural history. If you're going anywhere in the world, or if you're curious about the world, you want to know what's in the news and you want to know about the politics.' ... 'The next thing we are doing with it [Lonely Planet] is to get it onto television. And when we've done that, we've completed the journey we set out for it,' says Smith, who says a channel could join other international TV channels, which include BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge and CBeebies. ... Worldwide's biggest markets are currently English-speaking – the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand. But Smith has identified a list of countries where he sees significant growth within the next few years. Top of the list are . The other likely revenue drivers are Turkey, Indonesia, South Korea, Russia, Chile, Brazil, Malaysia, Colombia and Argentina."

It's interesting that Vietnam is listed in Mr. Smith's top three. Vietnam has become robust multichannel market (cable and DTH satellite), with many internatioinal channels participating, including CNN, BBC World News, and Discovery. TV5Monde has begun subtitling in Vietnamese. But the party may soon be over for international channels in Vietnam, as the Hanoi government has announced its plans to regulate their content.

Meanwhile, can US government funded international broadcasting, under the Broadcasting Board of Governors, compete in Vietnam? Perhaps not, with most of the energy spent on VOA and Radio Free Asia competing with each other in Vietnamese, splitting scarce resources, and duplicating coverage.

RFE/RL's Radio Azadi fifth on unenviable list of media suffering violence in Afghanistan.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL, Journalists in Trouble, 29 July 2011: "The death of Ahmed Omaid Khpalwak in Afghanistan's southern Oruzgan province this week is a cruel reminder of the dangers that continue to confront journalists in Afghanistan. ... Internews, a media training organization, and its local partner, Nai Supporting Afghanistan Open Media, have released an extensive report on violence against journalists in Afghanistan that is the result of a 10-year monitoring project. The report analyzes data in terms of location, gender, type of attack and motive and includes an interactive map. Among the media organizations suffering the most violence over the last decade, RFE’s Radio Azadi is fifth."

Financial Times reports on UK roots of incoming VOA director David Ensor.

Posted: 31 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 29 July 2011, Annie Maccoby Berglof: "Three-and-a-half years after taking a private sector job as head of public relations at Mercuria, an energy company, Ensor was [in January 2010] tapped for a new senior US government post in Afghanistan: director of communications and public diplomacy for the US embassy. The job of communications 'tsar' included a hefty budget to build up Afghan television, telephone and radio infrastructure and programming: '[The late diplomat] Richard Holbrooke asked me to go. I wanted to do my part to make sure Afghanistan moved into the modern world and never became a base for terrorist camps again,' says Ensor, 60, tanned from his time in Kabul. ... While Ensor is American, his English/British family roots run deep. His father, an oil executive, was a British bomber pilot and squadron leader during the second world war... . Soon Ensor will be packing up with his family again to assume a new post as director of Voice of America in Washington."-- David Ensor has already been sworn in as VOA director. He will arrive in DC and begin work in August.

Iranian blogger for Deutsche Welle freed on bail in Tehran.

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle, 27 July 2011, Bayat Parsa: "After two weeks, Deutsche Welle blogger Pegah Ahangarani has been released from Iranian custody. But the charges against her still aren't clear. Hamid Hekmat, the expatriate uncle of Pegah Ahangarani confirmed on Wednesday that his niece has been released on bail for 58,000 euros ($83,000). ... It is ... unknown whether the Iranian judiciary will pursue the case further. Ahangarani was allowed no legal representation during her detention. The 27-year-old was supposed to blog for Deutsche Welle's Farsi service about the Women's World Cup in Germany. On the night of July 12, one day before her departure from Tehran, she received a subpoena from the Information Ministry. There, she was threatened with arrest. Ahangarani didn't travel to Germany the next day. So as not to endanger her, Deutsche Welle discontinued the joint blog project. Despite this, she was arrested a little later." See previous post about same subject.

Appeal for jailed Vietnamese dissident who "called for a multi-party regime" and was interviewed by VOA and RFA.

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
VietNamNet, 28 July 2011, Tuoi Tre: "The appeal hearing for Cu Huy Ha Vu, 54, who has been given a 7-year jail term for writing many articles against the Vietnamese State and Government, will be opened on August 2, said the Supreme People’s Court. Pursuant to Article 88, Section 1 of the Penal Code, Vu is charged with 'conducting propaganda against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.' ... Lawyer [Tran Dinh] Trien told VTC News that Vu has appealed the entire verdict handed down against him by the first instance court. According to the indictment from the Hanoi People’s Procuracy, from 2009 to October 2010, Vu wrote many anti-State articles and posted them on the Internet. Vu answered interviews from the Voice of America and the Radio Free Asia, in which he distorted and maligned Party and State guidelines and policies, defamed the administration and State institutions, and blackened the Vietnamese people’s resistance wars. He also called for a multi-party regime in Vietnam and demanded that Article 4 of the Vietnam’s Constitution be abolished."

Voice of Russia originates some programs from Washington, but "how to overcome questions about credibility?"

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
USC CPD Blog, 28 July 2011, Kimberly DeGroff Madsen: "Voice of Russia, Russia’s state-funded radio station, is taking a new approach to informing Americans: using American and Russian voices to broadcast international news from American soil. For the first time since its beginnings in 1929, Voice of Russia will broadcast to Americans from Washington, D.C. instead of Moscow. Russia has everything to gain from an improved image in the world’s eyes, but Voice of Russia (VOR) has some major obstacles to overcome if this project is to be a success. The first obstacle is one that faces any news venue: how to attract listeners. The second is more difficult and very pertinent given the history of media in Russia: how to overcome questions about credibility."

Australia Network bidders offer "economics" versus "goodwill."

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 July 2011, Harold Mitchell: "[W]ho will run the Australia Network? On the one hand, the ABC wants to continue its good work. On the other, there has been a very strong bid from a commercial partnership of News Ltd, the Seven Network and the Nine Network. It's probable that the commercial service has put in a stronger bid in terms of the economics of the deal. The ABC, on the other hand, would argue that it has decades of goodwill in the region. ... I hope that the government resolves the issue quickly." See previous post about same subject.

Columbia Journalism Review issues correction to its story mentioning VOA website's corrections policy.

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Columbia Journalism Review, 27 July 2011, Justin D. Martin: "The websites of The Economist, Foreign Policy, the Singapore Straits-Times, The Times of India, World Politics Review, The Moscow Times, Voice of America and Foreign Affairs have neither visible corrections pages nor prominent corrections policies, to list a few. Voice of America does at least have an accuracy policy on its site, stating that 'VOA corrects errors or omissions in its own broadcasts at the earliest opportunity.' ... Correction: This article originally reported that the website of Voice of America contains no statement regarding its online corrections policy. In fact, such a statement is available here, under 'Corrections': http://www.voanews.com/english/news/69075687.html. CJR regrets the error."

State Department official calls for return of VOA and RFE/RL access to FM dial in Azerbaijan.

Posted: 30 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Turan, 27 July 2011: "'U.S. is concerned about state of fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan', said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas O. Melia, who recently returned from his visit to Azerbaijan. Melia spoke at the House Foreign Affairs Europe and Eurasia Subcommittee hearing on 'Eastern Europe: The State of Democracy and Freedom' July 26, TURAN’s Washington DC correspondent reports. ... He said that the Azeri government should allow the National Democratic Institute and Human Rights House in the country, to resume their activities, and permit Voice of America and RFE/RL to use national FM frequencies." See also Mr. Melia's testimony (pdf), which also contains several mentions of media freedom throughout eastern Europe.

BBC global iPlayer content will be $10 a month, but the app will be free (updated).

Posted: 29 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Broadcast, 22 July 2011, Catherine Neilan: "BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith has revealed details of the subscription service that will be used for the soon-to-be launched Global iPlayer. Users will be able to download the iPad app for free, but will pay a subscription of $10 (£6.20) a month to access content. Smith told Broadcast that content would remain on the device for an unlimited period of time for users to watch offline. Users will be able to watch their downloads more than once, he added. ... The service will go live as a pilot in Western Europe this summer. As first revealed by Broadcast, the Global iPlayer will be a ‘Best of British’ proposition, which will include both archived content and new programmes."

Update: The Guardian, Apps blog, 28 July 2011, Stuart Dredge: "'This is not a catch-up service: this is a video-on-demand service. We will have content from the last month, but also the best from the catalogue stretching back 50 to 60 years.' Users will be able to search for specific shows or browse genres including comedy and drama, but BBC Worldwide has also hired a team of editors to curate the international iPlayer."

iPadinCanada, 27 July 2011, Gary: "The service will offer some free ad-supported content, but their main model is based on subscriptions coming in at €6.99 a month or €49.99 a year. The global version of iPlayer will work over 3G and support downloading of shows for offline viewing via overriding the iPad’s ability to sleep, a move they said Apple has no issue with."

PC Magazine, 28 July 2011, Peter Pachal: "The global iPlayer has some differences from other iPad video apps like Hulu Plus or ABC's video player. Notably, it can stream shows over 3G connections as well as Wi-Fi, and users will be able to download and store shows for viewing while offline. The BBC is said to have worked closely with Apple to make this possible. ... Subscribers won't have access to the entirety of BBC's on-air offerings, however. BBC Worldwide is said to have hired a team of editors to "curate" the content on the iPlayer, picking which shows to put on the app."

How private US shortwave station WRUL, in 1940, helped keep Norwegian ships out of German hands.

Posted: 29 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldNetDaily, 26 July 2011, Barry Farber: "With only 3 million people at the time [1940], Norway had the third-largest merchant fleet in the world; behind only Britain and America. Hitler salivated at the thought of that prize. When the Germans invaded Norway, special German units rounded up all the ship owners and hustled them down to the radio station in Oslo and handed them prepared statements ordering their entire fleet to head immediately for the nearest German, Italian or Japanese port 'to enter Norway's glorious new future as Germany's partner.' Norway's ambassador to the United States, Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstjerne, put in a call to the owner of a short-wave station, WRUL, with transmitters in Scituate, Mass. He asked permission to make an announcement to all Norwegian ships to ignore the gunpoint order from Oslo and, instead, head for the nearest British, American or neutral port. WRUL's owner, Walter Lemon, agreed. The effort was not 100 percent successful. It was MORE than 100 percent successful. Not a single Norwegian ship went to an Axis port, and one that was already in an Axis port (Tokyo) heard the Morgenstjerne message and successfully steamed out!" -- It might be a stretch that the ship at Tokyo heard WRUL's transmitter in Massachusetts. In the Atlantic, more likely. This is, in 1940, when U.S. shortwave broadcasting was still a collection of private stations. In the 1960s, Barry Farber had a talk show on WRUL, later WNYW.

Journalists at BBC Arabic begin a one-week strike over "anti-social and unsafe shift times," etc.

Posted: 29 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Ahram Online, 28 July 2011: "Journalists at the BBC’s Arabic Service are to strike this week in a dispute over working conditions. The action begins from midnight on Friday night (29 July), and continues until midnight on Thursday 4 August. Management plans to introduce a new rota system which would add 26 days to the working year. A majority of the 162 National Union for Journalists (NUJ) members among the Arabic Service staff voted in favour of the six-day strike. NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: 'The current proposals for the Arabic Service will result in increasing the number of anti-social and unsafe shift times. This will drastically disrupt people's lives and will lead to dramatically increased levels of work-related stress and sickness.'" See also National Union Journalists, 28 July 2011.

National Union of Journalist, 29 July 2011: "Last week an NUJ member in BBC Monitoring was escorted out of the door and within hours there were 3 new jobs advertised he was qualified for. Three people have been forced out of the BBC to date, and more are due to leave in the next few weeks. In response, journalists at the BBC are going ahead with Monday’s 24 hour strike action starting at midnight on Sunday 00.01 August 1 and a work to rule will commence as journalists return to work on Tuesday August 2." -- The one-day strike applies to all BBC journalist, not just those in BBC Arabic.

Minute of silence today at 1100 UTC for BBC Pashto stringer killed in Taliban attack.

Posted: 29 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Twitter, 29 July 2011, Nathalie Malinarich, @nmalinarich: "BBC holding a minute's silence at noon [1100 UTC] to mark the death of Omed Khpulwak, killed in #afghanistan."

BBC Press Office, 28 July 2011: "The BBC can confirm the sad news that its stringer in southern Afghanistan's Urozgan province, Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, was killed in an insurgent attack earlier today. Afghan security officials say that up to six suicide bombers had stormed the provincial governor's compound and other government offices in the provincial capital, Tarin Kot. Ahmed Omed was in the local Radio/TV building when it came under attack. Ahmed Omed was 25 and joined the BBC on 1st May 2008, as a stringer. He was also working for Pajwak Afghan news agency. Peter Horrocks, Director BBC Global News, said: 'The sympathies of the BBC and all of his colleagues go to Ahmed Omed's family and friends. Only this morning he was reporting on BBC Pashto about another Taliban attack that happened last night. The BBC and the whole world are grateful to journalists like Ahmed Omed who courageously put their lives on the line to report from dangerous places.'"

BBC The Editors blog, 28 July 2011, Peter Horrocks: "The BBC World Service has a deep and extensive commitment to the country of Afghanistan. To the world at large that is represented by the News correspondents who broadcast in English to the UK and the globe. To the people of Afghanistan that commitment is represented by the reporting and voices of the BBC teams in Afghanistan broadcasting in the languages of Pashto and Dari. At the last count the BBC was listened to by 40% of the population and is by far the most trusted international news provider in the country. That trust has been earned over many years by the commitment to fair reporting and the bravery of dozens of reporters and stringers across the country. Ahmed Omed Khpulwak was one of those brave reporters who have created that bond of trust with the people of Afghanistan."

BBC News, 28 July 2011, Dawood Azami: "Omed is the third BBC reporter to be killed in Afghanistan. Merwais Jalil died in Kabul in the civil war in the 1990s. Abdul Samad Roohani was killed by unknown gunmen in Helmand province three years ago."

Because All India Radio "chose not to" have greater impact, Indians put up with the "positive ordeal" of foreign radio via shortwave.

Posted: 28 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Frontline, 30 July 2011, Bhaskar Ghose: "For almost the whole of the 20th century, the media in India meant the print media – newspapers and magazines – apart from the state-run radio service, All India Radio (AIR). Perhaps radio could have had a greater impact on the media world, but it chose not to. One says ‘chose not to' deliberately. It stayed a rather formal purveyor of carefully chosen information presented in its news bulletins and what were called features and spoken word programmes, and of entertainment, for which it soon came to be valued among its large number of listeners. The classical music that it presented through programmes such as the National Programme of Music was not only appreciated but created an awareness of music among many. The large following that Hindustani and Carnatic music now has in the country owes a great deal to the regular broadcasts of classical music on AIR for decades. Its information-based programmes were, however, rather conservative. The news broadcasts never carried live reports from the field even when it was technically possible to do so using a telephone; field reports were confined to features on different ‘socially relevant' programmes meant to enlighten rather than inform. This was, of course, owing to the fact that AIR was state-owned and -controlled, and the initial identity given to it by the British was carried on for a fairly long time before some radio professionals began to bring in changes – nothing major, because they needed government approval, and the government saw radio as a propaganda tool more than anything else. Foreign radio channels were available, but only on the frequency called short wave, which soon became crowded and was, in any case, a channel full of static, which made listening, on occasion, a positive ordeal."

Discovery Networks International will air "Norway Massacre" special around the world, but maybe not in the USA.

Posted: 28 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Hollywood Reporter, 25 July 2011, Georg Szalai: "Discovery Communications' Discovery Networks International said Monday that it has commissioned ITN Productions to produce a one-hour news documentary about the Friday bombing and shooting spree in Norway. The special, called 'Norway Massacre: The Killer's Mind,' will air on Discovery Channel across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region beginning in August. The company didn't immediately mention the U.S. as a market where the program will air. ... CBS, NBC and ABC did not break into their regularly scheduled programming to cover the situation in Norway."

Work for BBC Greek during WWII spurred film career of "Zorba the Greek" director.

Posted: 27 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
ΕΞΠΡΕΣ (Athens), 26 July 2011: "Internationally acclaimed film director, screenwriter and producer Michael Cacoyannis died in and Athens hospital in the early morning hours on Monday at the age of 89. The director of the award-winning films 'Zorba the Greek' and 'Stella', Michael (Michalis) Cacoyannis was born in Limassol, Cyprus, and was sent by his father to London in 1939 to become a lawyer, but after producing Greek-language programmes for BBC World Service during WWII he developed an interest in film instead, ending up at the Old Vic school and enjoying a brief stage career as 'Michael Yannis', before beginning to work on films."

In Pakistan's tribal areas, international broadcasts are more "local" than Radio Pakistan.

Posted: 27 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
KUT (Austin), 25 July 2011, Tayyeb Afridi: "The people in FATA [Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas] are very used to radio broadcasting and they prefer Pashto news bulletins from VOA Pashtu Service, BBC Pashtu, Radio Azadi Afghanistan Pashtu Service, and Radio Mashaal Pashtu. The literate people of FATA also listens BBC Urdu Service, VOA Urdu Service, Voice of Germany Urdu Service, Radio Veritas Asia Urdu Service, Radio China Urdu Service, Radio Tehran Urdu Service and Delhi Radio Pashtu Service. How could Radio Pakistan compete with that much news broadcasting? If you have a news service that only provides information about the government -- what the President said, what the Prime Minister said and what the Information Minister said – then you are just ignoring community problems. You can’t compete in the tribal areas when there’s so much other, reputable, news broadcasting. The government has lost an important potential audience to Radio Deewa and Radio Mashaal. ... When I asked Shandi Gul, an office boy who works at Radio Razmak, North Waziristan why he listened Radio Mashaal, his reply was simple: he just wanted to know what was going on in his surroundings. This proves that days of centralized information dissemination has been gone and people are now more concerned about local news."

Radio Netherlands Media Network, 26 July 2011, citing Dawn: "The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Monday cancelled the licences of six TV channels. The authority cancelled the licences of Aaj Entertainment, Geo English, Mirror TV and Roze TV, as they failed to 'launch their transmission/operations, as required under the terms & conditions of the licence,' said a statement. A channel is required to be operational within one year from the award of licence."

Sen. Kirk says US international broadcasting should be used for "undermining the Assad dictatorship."

Posted: 27 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Daily Caller, 26 July 2011, Jamie Weinstein: "Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk lambasted Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich for his recent trip to Syria in an extensive interview with The Daily Caller in his Capitol Hill office last week. ... Kirk said America should speak out clearly against the Assad dictatorship, but not deploy military force. 'I think this is an area where the limitations of U.S power and the lack of any overarching, compelling U.S. national security vital interest mean that we should say Assad is a dictatorship, reach out and support dissident groups, make sure that Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and all other Internet means of undermining the Assad dictatorship are used,' he said, 'but it should not involve the U.S. military or any boots on the ground.'" -- VOA does not broadcast in Arabic. "Radio Liberty," or RFE/RL, has Arabic only to Iraq, through its Radio Free Iraq. It's easy to be confused by the mishmash of USIB brands. Reliable, independent news can play an important role in "undermining" dictators, but perhaps Sen. Kirk is thinking of a more direct approach.

Advice for BBC: World Service impartiality is good, but don't short-change "the people who pay for domestic services."

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Financial Times, 25 July 2011, Philip Stephens: "The [BBC] has an enviable global reputation. This provides an important slice of what policymakers call Britain’s soft power. Objectivity and impartiality are commodities in short supply in much of the world – hence the high standing of the BBC’s World Service. But preserving an international reputation does not mean trying to compete with Google – nor short-changing the people who pay for domestic services."

The Drum (Glasgow), 25 July 2011: "The National Union of Journalists has once again claimed that the ‘disastrous’ BBC licence fee deal should be reassessed in the face of reports that the Conservative Party altered its stance at the behest of James Murdoch. ... 'The decision to freeze the licence fee for the next six years has led to the axing of vital language services at the BBC World Service and the imposition of 20 per cent spending cuts across the BBC.'"

BBC America developing content specifically for US audiences, including series that "helps the shy and retiring to man up."

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Variety, 25 July 2011, Sam Thielman: "With a rising profile among viewers and advertisers, BBC America has begun creating content specifically for U.S. audiences: The network has greenlit two new series all its own and has five more in development. The Beeb's Stateside sister net has bought six hourlong episodes of 'Hard Drive With Richard Hammond,' based on the BBC's 'World's Toughest Driving Tests' and starring 'Top Gear' host Hammond, as well as 13 half-hours of 'Would You Rather With Graham Norton,' a gameshow shot in New York that pits comedians against each other. Both are working titles. ... It's also developing 'James May's Man Lab,' a U.S. version of the Brit show of the same name, in which 'Top Gear' host May ."

BBC America press release, 25 July 2011: "The move comes on the back of BBC AMERICA’s highest rated quarter ever. In second quarter 2011, the channel beat all previous records and was up 30% year-on-year in prime and 31% in total day."

egmCarTech, 25 July 2011, Omar Rana: "No matter how appreciative we are of the History Channel bringing us the American version of Top Gear, there is still something that makes the UK Top Gear better than the rest. While we will probably never get Jeremy Clarkson, James May or Richard… actually, wait – we’re getting Richard Hammond in the states?"

In "new focus for Latin America," Deutsche Welle will expand Spanish television from 2 to 18 hours daily.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 21 July 2011: "Erik Bettermann, Director General of Deutsche Welle, is using a business trip in Latin America to present the expanded television line-up for the region. He is visiting six different countries from July 14 to 29, 2011. Starting in February 2012, DW will expand its Spanish-language programming from two hours to 18 hours daily."

Newsroom Panama, 25 July 2011: "Local viewers of the German State television network Deutsche Welle, will be happy to hear that the company is looking to set up a Latin American headquarters in Panama. Deutsche Welle broadcasts around the world in German, Spanish and English and its European broadcasts are currently available on CableOnda. They have a high cultural content. The possibility of a Panamanian base was raised this week during a meeting between Erik Berrermann head of the German radio and television organization, Erik Bettermann, and President Ricardo Martinelli."

DW Spanish press release, 26 July 2011: Bettermann: "Un aspecto fundamental me deja insatisfecho: la dotación económica de Deutsche Welle. Sinceramente esperaba que el Gobierno reconociera, no solamente de palabra, el significado de una presencia medial fuerte en el exterior, sino que también le facilitara los medios de capital adecuados. Me decepciona que el presupuesto federal aumente y que a la vez se reduzcan nuestros medios."

CCTV sponsorship of "Opening Night Gala Dinner" at Eurovision's News Xchange might "excite" some comment.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
News Xchange news, undated: "Here is some exciting news about this year's News Xchange 2011 in Cascais, Portugal. Great networking opportunities! We have just confirmed that our Opening Night Gala Dinner will be sponsored and hosted by CCTV News Content, a new service provided by CCTV for global news content exchange (http://newscontent.cctv.com). CCTV News Content distributes political, social, economic and cultural news produced by the CCTV Newsgathering team for use by broadcasters worldwide. CCTV News Content will host all News Xchange delegates to a very special dinner and set the stage for what we believe will be our best News Xchange ever." -- I might just get through life without attending a gala anything.

IRIN radio for Somalia is under new management, ergo name change to Radio ERGO.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Media Network, 25 July 2011, Andy Sennitt: "The IRIN radio service for Somalia has taken on a new name – Radio ERGO – as of 1 July 2011, as the service has been taken over by IMS Productions Aps, a non-profit organization with headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. A branch office of IMS Productions Aps has been opened in Nairobi, Kenya, to support and administer Radio ERGO. The radio will continue to broadcast daily humanitarian news and information in Somali. The word Ergo has great significance in the Somali language. It carries the essential meaning of mediators or envoys in the interest of people in need, and can also refer to those who mediate in conflicts. ... The one-hour daily broadcasts of Radio ERGO are heard across Somalia and the region, including the Kenyan refugee camps on shortwave [0830-0930 UTC on 13685 kHz via Dhabayya], and are rebroadcast by seven local FM stations." With links to IMS Productions and IRIN.

News Corp-backed company plans second Farsi channel, targeting female viewers; third channel by year-end.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Arabian Business, 24 July 2011, Elizabeth Broomhall: "Broadcast Middle East, the News Corp-backed broadcaster, said plans to launch a second Persian satellite channel would be unaffected by the widening scandal surrounding its parent firm. ... Broadcast Middle East, which is 50 percent owned by Rupert Murdoch, said the channel would tap into rising demand for Farsi-language television shows and would specifically target female viewers. Existing channel Farsi 1 draws in between 20 and 30 million viewers a day, [CEO Zaid] Mohseni said, airing shows such as ‘24’, ‘Prison Break’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother’. 'We had a pretty great response for Farsi 1. We got a huge viewership,' he said. 'Based on this and surveys we did, we found there was demand for a second channel.' The company plans to hire 35 employees to staff the launch, bringing its total staff count to 85, and is eyeing a third channel by the year-end."

One of two planned Arabic news channels might be a business channel, and Bloomberg partner.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Arabian Business, 25 July 2011: "Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed is in talks to launch an Arabic-language business news channel with financial data company Bloomberg, Arabian Business has learned. It is understood the Kingdom Holding chairman and Bloomberg could announce the new venture within the next two months, in a deal that would see Bloomberg directly compete with news channel CNBC Arabia. The 24-hour channel could also prove a rival for planned news service Sky News Arabia, British Sky Broadcasting’s (BSkyB) first foreign-language channel, due to launch in early 2012. ... Details of Prince Awaleed’s likely tie-up with Bloomberg are unclear. A source close to the project told Arabian Business: 'It’s along the lines of what Bloomberg already does on English broadcasting. If that formula of high-end business news can be repeated in Arabic 24/7, it could prove very successful.'" See previous post about same subject.

CNN International MD says CNN spends more on original content, so it has less third-party content.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
JoongAng Daily (Seoul), 23 July 2011, Shin Ye-ri and Yim Seung-hye" "Tony Maddox, 50, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, based at CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta, believes that not many people sit in front of the television to watch scheduled news and that is why CNN doesn’t feel threatened by the introduction of social media but 'embraces them.' ... Maddox arrived in Seoul on Thursday on a three-day trip to hold meetings with jTBC, JoongAng Media Network’s new broadcast channel. ... Under Maddox’s direction, CNN has been spending 'enormous sums of money' since 2007 to add more correspondents to cover the world, which he said was in contrast to other media companies that have been reducing the number of foreign correspondents to cut back on expenses. This is a move, Maddox said, that CNN has taken to 'distinguish itself in the marketplace' in such an era in which everyone can say they are a reporter by having a mobile phone in hand. 'We spend more money on original content at the expense of third party content,' Maddox said. 'We invested the money in our own content so people would have a distinct reason for coming to CNN as opposed to coming to CNN and finding stories that they could find anywhere else,' he said."

Al Jazeera launches initiative to protect its staff from threats "across the globe."

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Peninsula (Doha), 25 July 2011: "Wadhah Khanffer, Director of Al Jazeera, announced an initiative to protect and reinforce rights of Al Jazeera staff in collaboration with various international human rights organisations. The initiative is to be conducted and followed up by the public freedom department and human rights department. Al Jazeera aims to plan and launch campaigns to defend its staff across the globe by following up with their problems with regional and international human rights organisations. ... The new initiative has been launched at a time when reporters throughout the world are facing many threats. Since eruption of the so called radiant revolution spring, Al Jazeera staff was victims to detention, physical harassment and torture in Egypt, Yemen and Libya. Also in Syria, they were, under threats by many messages online."

National Press Club press release, 22 July 2011: "The Aubuchon Press Freedom Award honors people whose actions embody the struggle to advance press freedom and open government. Each year, the Club selects one domestic and one international figure to receive the award. ... For 2011, the domestic winner is [Laura] Logan, the CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent and also a correspondent for '60 Minutes.' ... The international winner is al Jazeera's [Dorothy] Parvaz, also a reporter who had to face terrifying conditions merely to do her job. ... She was detained on April 29 upon arriving in Syria and placed in a jail where she heard the sounds of savage beatings, before being sent to Iran. All told, she spent 19 days in detention and out of touch with her family and colleagues."

Ethiopian-Americans stage noisy rally at VOA, expressing their concerns re VOA Horn of Africa controversy.

Posted: 26 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Addis Voice, 25 July 2011: "Washington DC–Hundreds of Ethiopian Americans and supporters of press freedom held a protest rally Monday at Voice of America headquarters. The protesters braved heat wave to demand VOA and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to make sure that the Horn of Africa section operates freely without undue pressures and censorship. 'No censorship, VOA remain true to your missions,' chanted the protesters. In a letter they submitted to VOA and BBG executives, the protesters demanded investigation into reports of censorship and mismanagement. ... The crowd was angered by the failure of VOA to cover the rally properly. VOA Amharic service sent a reporter after the rally was dispersed." With videos.

Addis Voice, 25 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "Hours after hundreds of protesters demanded Monday top executives of Voice of America (VOA) and Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to stop censoring and putting undue pressures on the Horn of Africa section, VOA Acting Director and Executive Editor, Steve Redisch, gathered the section’s staffers and told them to continue their work without any restrictions or self-censorship. In the brief meeting, Mr. Redisch said that he felt sorry for not meeting them sooner and thanked the section’s staffers for the 'marvelous' job they have been doing. He also expressed VOA’s trust on them and their professionalism, informed sources told Addis Voice. 'I have no problems with your shows,' Redisch was quoted as saying. He told them to perform their duty as they used to before regardless of the complaints of the government of Ethiopia. He said that VOA had never asked anyone to give less priority and airtime to political coverage."

Free Media Online, 24 July 2011: "Free Media Online (FreeMediaOnline.org) president Ted Lipien, who once served as acting associate director of the Voice of America, said that 'siding of some of the Broadcasting Board of Governors members with the repressive Ethiopian regime against a highly respected VOA journalist represents an appalling new low in the history of this failed body... '"

Addis Voice, 23 July 2011, Yilma Bekele: "The question becomes is VOA abiding by its code? The fact of the matter is abiding by the code is the only currency VOA got. Its credibility should never be brought into question. The report shows biased attitude and impartiality."

Addis Voice, 25 July 2011, Elon Samson: "Almost all critical Ethiopian websites are crammed up with articles about the VOA saga. ... I dare to state that our cacophony is worthless for the following reasons: First VOA is not an Ethiopian radio. It is funded by the American government and has its own missions and objectives, which is to serve the interest of the American government. ... ESAT [satellite TV to Ethiopia] has captivated the minds of everyone in Ethiopia to the degree unparalleled in the Ethiopian media history. Our people at home have never lamented for the jamming of VOA as they did for ESAT. ... VOA has never been a radio of freedom. It is a professional media exercising professionalism, but Ethiopia needs more than that. Ethiopia needs a media that envisages and propagates freedom and professional reporting. As a media of freedom it should advocate and call for freedom and democracy with vigour and tenacity; as a professional media it should make a balancing reporting. The media we need should make a balanced and truthful news and news analysis, at the same time advocating for freedom and democracy in the rest of its programs. VOA meets the first requirement, i.e. it is a source of good news, but not a force for change, freedom and democracy. To my understanding it is ESAT which combines the two essential ingredients that our country needs right away- being a media of freedom at the same time a media of profession. I don’t wonder if people cry for ESAT, but makes no sense for me to cry for VOA." -- If VOA is a source of "good news" -- presumably meaning good-quality news -- then it is very much a "force for change, freedom and democracy." Advocacy for freedom and democracy is also a commendable activity, but it and good journalism don't really mix. They should be done by separate organizations from separate buildings.

See previous post about same subject.

Old VOA content (Alan Shepard and Jim Reeves) in the news.

Posted: 25 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Atlantic, 24 July 2011, Cecilia Peterson: "Folkways issued [a] documentary album in 1964 chronicling space exploration called Man in Space: The Story of the Journey (FX 6201). Originally a Voice of America radio program, it tells the story of the the first manned Mercury mission in May 1961 where Alan Shepard became the first American in space. I find the second track of this album especially poetic, so I will present the transcript here in full: 'Our story begins on the morning of Friday, May 5th, 1961, at 34 minutes past the hour of ten, at Cape Canaveral in the state of Florida. A man touches a button, the touch ignites the engines of a powerful rocket standing not too far away, gleaming white in the powerful light of the tropical sun. With a roar and a blast of flame, the rocket starts to lift straight up. For the hundreds of men and women who usually work at Cape Canaveral the launching of a rocket has become almost routine, but not in this case. For at the top of the rocket, inside a strange looking vehicle that looks something like a child's toy top, there was a man. ...'" -- With the Smith-Mundt domestic dissemination prohibition certainly in effect in 1964, I wonder how Folkways obtained access to this VOA content.

The Tennessean (Nashville), 24 July 2011, Anita Wadhwani: "'Gentleman' Jim Reeves was a velvet-voiced country crooner famous for his tuxedos, his clean-cut good looks and lovelorn lyrics such as: 'Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.' ... In his 11 years as a Nashville musician, Reeves had 11 No. 1 hits in the U.S. A staple of Voice of America broadcasts, he also developed a huge fan base overseas, particularly in northern Europe, where devoted Jim Reeves fan clubs still operate. Today, there are also active fan clubs in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa."

China's CNC World global English news channel officially launches, with plans to expand into French, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, etc.

Posted: 25 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
News on News, 24 July 2011, Kevin Coy: "A new television news channel operated by the Chinese Xinhua news agency has been launched worldwide. The China Xinhua News Network Corporation has been set up to provide an alternative news service to television stations across China, and also operate a second worldwide news channel, alongside CCTV News. In a statement, CNC said; 'To build CNC as a brand, the English and Chinese language channels will make full use of CNC reporters stationed across the world and deliver the latest world news as it happens. We’ll strive to make CNC a viewers’ favorite. CNC will gradually develop its and other language news programs. Feature channels such as the Confucius channel and Environment channel will also be set up.' The statement continued; 'CNC is dedicated to objective reporting of information and news to the world. Although based in China, it is designed to focus on the world news, not merely covering the country’s events. Following industry standards commonly practiced, it aims to be an unbiased global news network that offers objective, comprehensive, in-depth and multi-dimensional news coverage and an alternative source of information for the global audience. CNC World presents breaking news, in-depth analysis of global events, and exclusive coverage of China's top stories. CNC World reporters are stationed in more than 120 bureaus across the globe, bringing viewers quality coverage on local issues." See also the CNC World website.

However, for news about the Chinese officials being sacked after the fatal high-speeed rail crash, I see nothing at the CNC World website. For that news, see Al Jazeera English, 24 July 2011. See also The Atlantic Wire, 24 July 2011, Ujala Sehgal. Does CNC World want to be a competitor in the world of news channels? Then it should offer, in its own words, "objective, comprehensive, in-depth and multi-dimensional news coverage" of this story.

China flatters the United States by emulating the latter's system of fragmented and duplicative international broadcasting entities. CNC World will have to compete with the English-language CCTV News and the English-language Blue Ocean Network. If it has any energy left after that, it can try to compete with the likes of CNN International, BBC World News, and Al Jazeera English.

Radio Free Asia, 25 July 2011, Fung Yat-yiu: "In a regular directive sent to news editors setting out the guidelines for coverage of major stories, the Communist Party's powerful central propaganda department set the angle to be adopted in covering the crash. 'The major theme for the Wenzhou bullet train case from now on will be known as "in the face of great tragedy, there's great love",' the department said. The directive was posted on the 'Ministry of Truth' website, which regularly posts copies of government orders that are leaked by journalists. 'Do not question, do not elaborate,' it said. ... 'I’m very curious to see how this accident will be reported on CCTV News this evening,' wrote [a online commentator], in comments translated by the China Geeks blog."

Sky News Australia should withdraw from Australia Network tender process, she writes.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
On Line Opinion, 22 July 2011, Tania Penovic: "The ABC has been engaged in a tender for a service which it currently operates, Australia's publicly-funded overseas television network known as Australia Network. The service offers our nation's culture, values and perspectives to an international audience. All comparable international services are delivered through public broadcasters. These include the iconic BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America. Such services present a diversity of human stories and promote cross-cultural understanding. In their provision of news, guided by ethical standards and uncompromised by commercial imperatives, such services demonstrate the host nation's commitment to human rights and democracy. ... An outsourced international voice of Australia would inevitably be muffled or modified if commercial imperatives so dictate. News Corp has demonstrated a willingness in the past to exploit business opportunities by compromising broadcasting. News Corp's link with Sky is not as tenuous as its copy has asserted. Sky should now withdraw from the tender process, as News Corp has (at least for the moment) from its BSkyB takeover bid."

AFP, 22 July 2011, Amy Coopes: Rupert Murdoch "is a dominant media player in Australia, his home country and the birthplace of his News Corp empire, owning two-thirds of the nation's newspapers and a stake in broadcasters Sky News and Fox Sports. The British scandal has sparked growing calls for an inquiry into ownership and regulation of the Australian media, which may overshadow Murdoch's bid to run the international public TV station the Australia Network."

Reuters, 21 July 2011: "An independent panel set up to decide the A$223 million Australia Network tender unanimously backed Sky over the incumbent ABC, a source with direct knowledge of the decision told Reuters, but The Age said the panel was later overruled by the government which imposed a new 'national interest' hurdle. [Communications Minister Stephen] Conroy declined to comment on the confidential tender process, but said News Ltd's anti-Labor agenda had been obvious to senior ministers since executives attended a recent meeting at Murdoch's US property at Carmel in California. 'This is a democracy. It is entitled to choose to go down the path it's going, and equally people like myself and (Treasurer) Wayne Swan are entitled to point out their coverage is biased,' Conroy said."

See previous post about same subject.

BBC World News has new health show called (how many focus groups did it take to come up with this?) The Health Show.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 21 July 2011: "BBC World News will broadcast a new weekly magazine programme, The Health Show starting on 23 July 2011. The 26 part series will cover a range of important global health issues. The series will report from around the world and focus on regions where people are vulnerable to specific health issues. It will examine the latest scientific and technological advances, as well as explore new medical insights into the biggest health challenges and dilemmas. ... Emma De'Ath , Commissioning Editor, BBC World News says, 'Health is an area that we know our global audience wants more of, so we're really excited to have this new weekly show coming to the World News Channel. The team will be actively seeking the audience's response to these health stories which have global relevance and offer a window into the future of medicine.'"

BBC World Service celebrated at festival in Daventry, home of its first transmitter site, 1932-1992.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 24 July 2011: "'Radio gave us the power to get under a cell door and get to someone who had literally disappeared for years,' says broadcaster John Waite, discussing his historic broadcast on the World Service for his cousin Terry Waite while he was held in captivity in Beirut. John, Terry and Sir John Tusa, who was managing director of the BBC’s World Service from (1986 to 1992), visited the iCon Centre in Daventry, for a special event celebrating the history of the World Service in town this week, as part of Daventry’s first Arts Festival to celebrate the Cultural Olympiad. The service has a long history in the town starting as the BBC Empire Service (now the BBC World Service) in 1932, where broadcasts were transmitted from Borough Hill until 1992, having been chosen for its central location in the country. The radio announcement of 'Daventry calling' made Daventry familiar to millions of listeners across the world, especially during the Second World War, where crucial information was broadcast. ... Sir John Tusa, said: 'People need to know what is going on in the world and the World Service does that correctly and fairly. Daventry has an important part of the World Service’s history, and is one of those historic names which will always be associated with it.'"

"BBC World Service is a gift of incomparable value" even if "a bit slow off the mark sometimes."

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
The Sunday Nation (Nairobi), 23 July 2011, Gerry Loughran: "When you get on in years, sleep can be a patchy business so by my bedside these days a radio is tuned permanently to the BBC World Service. ... I have been listening to the World Service for years. Often this consisted of standing on a hotel balcony in some godforsaken city on a Saturday evening, waving a short-wave radio in the air to catch the football results and hearing, 'Aston Villa 2, Manchester United 1, Birmingham 1, Newcastle United hiss/crackle, rattle/pop …' I suppose that would not happen today with all the technology but it certainly gave a touch of authenticity to the 'foreign' part of my job description. The BBC World Service has a well-deserved reputation for objectivity and accuracy, even if this means being a bit slow off the mark sometimes. Generally, I would not dispute this claim, though I do remember once crouching behind walls in Amman with guns firing all round me and hearing the BBC man in far-off Beirut tell the world that all was quiet in Jordan that day. But, hey, anybody can make mistakes, right? And if Britain never gave nothing else to the world, its 365-days-a-year, 24/7 BBC World Service is a gift of incomparable value."

Iran's Islamic Guidance Ministry warns Iranian journalists not to cooperate with BBC and VOA Persian.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Rooz Online, 22 July 2011, Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah: "The press deputy at Iran's ministry of Islamic Guidance called the BBC Persian Service and Voice of America news organizations 'antagonistic media' and warned Iranian journalists and media activists to 'seriously refrain' from 'giving them interviews, engaging in news cooperation with them' and generally establishing 'any contacts' with them. ... The press official's statement also accused BBC Persian Service and Voice of America of "pursuing an inappropriate policy and position" towards Iran and of 'publishing false reports and fake analysis on events in the Islamic republic.' He asserted that the goal of these activities was to 'destroy the realities taking place in the country and hurt the foundations of the Islamic regime.' ... Responding to the question on why Iranian officials were negative towards the BBC, [head of BBC Persian Jamshid Barzegar] said, 'Unfortunately there is such a view, but it has no bearing on the BBC's professional, free, fair and accurate work. We have repeatedly announced our readiness to interview officials of the Islamic republic who have refrained from doing this.'" -- Similar to Burma's recent warning to its journalists.

Rep. Rohrabacher amendment would maintain funding for VOA Chinese, keeping it on radio and TV.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Taipei Times, 24 July 2011, J. Michael Cole: "The battle to keep Voice of America’s (VOA) Mandarin and Cantonese radio and TV broadcasts to China alive continued in the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday with a unanimous vote for a proposal that would secure money for the embattled China unit. The authorization bill, sponsored by US Representative Dana Rohrabacher during a markup hearing, reserves US$13.76 million from the total budget for government-sponsored broadcasting next year to be strictly used for Mandarin and Cantonese radio and TV broadcasts. That amount is equal to this year’s operational budget for VOA’s China unit. ... The BBG in February announced cost-cutting measures that would cancel VOA radio and TV broadcasts to China from October next year, while expanding other digital media efforts. That measure, which sparked accusations that US President Barack Obama’s administration was seeking to remove irritants to Beijing, is expected to cost about 40 jobs at the VOA China unit." See also the text of the amendment (pdf). And another Rohrabacher amendment (pdf) that would issue Chinese media no more US visas than the number China grants to reporters of US international broadcasting. -- The House Appropriations Committee is next to decide on these funding issues, with a State and foreign operations markup scheduled for 27 July at 10:00 AM EDT.

Ethiopian exile media keep up heat on VOA Horn of Africa controversy. Rally Monday in front of VOA HQ.

Posted: 24 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link

Addis Voice, 22 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: "The controversy over censorship and maladministration at the Voice of America (VOA) took a bizarre twist yesterday as the Director of Africa Division, Gwen Dillard, forbid staffers from taking notes at a meeting she held with employees at VOA Horn of Africa section, reliable sources told Addis Voice. ... Dillard said that VOA would like to focus more on nonpolitical matters and gave some instances. According to her, programs and reporting focused on education, health and development would be more beneficial to listeners. As an example, she said that a schoolgirl must have a chance to talk about her interests and future aspirations. Dillard also said that training would be made available to help journalists produce such people-focused programs and stories."

Addis Voice, 18 July 2011, Abebe Gellaw: VOA Horn of Africa chief David Arnold "was suspended in a letter written by BBG Governor Michael Meehan, a member of the delegation that met with Ethiopian government officials last month. While the official VOA position on the report in question is that it contained unacceptable inaccuracies, it emerged that no single factual error was found in the report."

Ethiopian Review, 24 July 2011: "Ethiopians residing in the Washington DC Metro Area will hold a rally at the VOA on Monday morning, July 25 starting at 9 PM to protest against recent attempts by the khat-addicted dictator in Ethiopia and his paid ($50,000 per month) lobbyists in the U.S. to censor news broadcasts to Ethiopia. The protesters also speak out against the squandering and mismanagement of Ethiopia’s resources that is currently exposing over 10 million Ethiopians to famine. Place: VOA, 330 Independence Ave SW, Washington DC Time/Date: 9:00 AM, Monday, July 25, 2011."

ethiopiantimes, 22 July 2011, Eskinder Nega/: "Come Monday, July 25, 2011, a protest rally by Ethiopians on 330 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC will most likely draw the keen interest of a southern Republican Senator, Tom Coburn. Here at last is the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the US government agency which has oversight authority over the VOA, at the center of a brewing controversy. Coburn is the junior Senator form Oklahoma who was first elected to Congress in 1994. ... He is celebrated for his battles against pork-barrel and the expansion of the federal government. And no government agency than BBG irks him more. 'The BBG is the most worthless organization in the federal government,' he has said in an interview with The Cable in 2010. 'All they are doing is spending money.'" -- But Sen. Coburn's "Back in Black: A Deficit Reduction Plan," suggesting $9 trillion in federal budget savings, does not mention the BBG except for its 53 SUVs. See previous post.

Nazret.com, 23 July 2011, Alemayehu G. Mariam: "Just as the VOA has a duty to become a voice for the voiceless, on July 24, 2011, the VOA has a duty to listen intently to the voices of the voiceless who will appear to register their concerns. the vast majority of Ethiopians in the U.S. are fully supportive of the VOA and its mission. We have great respect and admiration for the professionalism and integrity of VOA journalists, reporters, editors and management. Above all, we fully support the VOA for being a beacon of not only information and knowledge for the people of Ethiopia, but also a voice of democracy, human rights, moderation and reconciliation."

It would be helpful for news organizations outside of the partisan Ethiopian exile press to have a look at this controversy. Is VOA really backing off of hard news to facilitate its growing NGO-type activities?

Cambodian PM denounces VOA and Radio Free Asia, put praises Radio France International.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
AP, 22 July 2011: "Cambodia's prime minister denounced two U.S.-funded radio stations Friday for what he described as inaccurate and unfair reports. Hun Sen said that reports broadcast in the Cambodian language by Voice of America and Radio Free Asia were groundless. The stations carry news and analysis sometimes critical of the government on subjects such as human rights and corruption. ... However, Hun Sen praised Radio France International, a French station, for its broadcasts. 'Radio France International, aired in the Cambodian language, their news and analyses, are accurate. I always save their analyses as part of my basic information,' Hun Sen said. ... Hun Sen said he would offer paid jobs to staff members of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia if they wanted to work with local radio stations. 'You are Cambodian, you speak Cambodian, you ought to do everything according to Cambodian value,' he said." -- VOA and RFA broadcast via domestic FM radio stations in Cambodia. RFI has its own full-time FM transmitter in Phnom Penh.

TV5Monde introduces Android app.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Rapid TV News, 22 July 2011, Pascale Paoli-Lebailly: "TV5Monde’s mobile TV app, formerly only available on the iPhone and iPad application is now available to all smartphones and tablets on Android Market. The app is available free of charge from the French-speaking international channel list of Android Market. Functions include VOD, schedules, personalised alerts, and access to TV5Monde’s main website and mobile portal." -- French-language TV5Monde partnership of public broadcasting entities in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada.

Deutsche Welle says that Iranian actress, who is also a DW blogger, is in custody in Tehran.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Deutsche Welle press release, 21 July 2011: "The Iranian filmmaker, actress and blogger, Pegah Ahangarani, has been taken into custody in Tehran. She was supposed to come to Germany and write a blog for Deutsche Welle about the Women's World Cup. ... The editorial team from DW’s Farsi service also learned that she has been denied legal counsel from Ahangarani’s friends and acquaintances. Deutsche Welle has reported the incident on its Persian language radio programs and website and has strongly protested against the arrest of the actress, demanding her immediate release. Ahangarani had written a DW blog for the Berlinale film festival and had also come to Bonn to attend the Deutsche Welle Blog Awards – The BOBs – in 2009." See also RFE/RL, 21 July 2011. See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL reporter fined in Belarus, another warned in Turkmenistan (updated).

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 11 July 2011: "A RFE/RL correspondent in western Belarus has been found guilty today of taking part in an illegal protest and fined the equivalent of about $200. Mikhal Karnievich, a correspondent with RFE/RL's Belarus Service, Radio Svaboda, was detained on July 3 while reporting on protest events in Hrodna. ... RFE/RL President Steven Korn denounced the trial outcome and the pressure Belarus authorities have placed on journalists who have been covering weekly 'silent protests' organized by Revolution Through the Social Network."

Update: Naviny.by, 22 July 2011: "Eleven people who were arrested in Minsk on Wednesday evening during a so-called silent protest were sentenced the following morning to jail terms, which ranged from 10 to 12 days. ... Those sentenced to jail terms included Alena Likhavid, the mother of Mikita Likhavid, a 21-year-old member of the Movement for Freedom who is serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence over participation in the December 19, 2010 post-election protest. Ms. Likhavid and some other women were reportedly grabbed when they started to clap their hands in response to the arrest of Dzmitry Buyanaw, son of Radio Free Europe/Radio Europe correspondent Lyubow Lunyova."

RFE/RL, 21 July 2011, Claire Bigg: "Some [Belarusian protesters] also chanted 'Peremen' (Change), after a popular song by Soviet rock icon Viktor Tsoi's band Kino that heralded the Soviet Union's collapse. The song, adopted by some protesters as a rallying cry, has recently disappeared from the airwaves of the country's radio stations." With video.

RFE/RL, 15 July 2011: "An RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan has been warned by the authorities about his reporting on the deadly explosions at a weapons depot near the country's capital last week, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports. ... RFE/RL correspondent Dovletmurad Yazguliyev, who reported on the event, was summoned by security officials on July 14 to appear at the police department in the small town of Annau, a suburb of Ashgabat, where he lives. ... Yazguliyev, who is in his 40s, said he was treated well and in a polite manner while being questioned. But he said he was warned that if he is summoned by security forces again because of his blogs he will be charged with 'disseminating defamatory information through the media' and 'causing national, social, and religious provocations.' Yazguliyev, who has worked for RFE/RL for about three years, would face prison sentences of two and five years for those charges, respectively, if tried and found guilty."

MTV buys BBC Radiohead concert video.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 20 July 2011, Kristin Brzoznowski: "MTV Networks has tapped into the music catalogue of BBC Worldwide America to bring Radiohead: The King of Limbs—Live From the Basement to U.S. audiences. The intimate concert features the English rock group as they perform their eighth studio album in full, for the first and only time, on the music show From the Basement."

National Geographic expedition to Swan Island recalls the radio station that broadcast from there to Cuba.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
National Geographic News Watch, 20 July 2011, Andrew Howley, describing day three of an expedition to Swan Island: "Hiking along the island’s air strip gave us perspective on the island’s history, as we could see the foundations of cement buildings and the extended runway gave us visions of an island bustling with activity during World War II and for a brief time with the CIA’s Radio Free America broadcasts. But now most of the island has fallen into disrepair and decay, with only seven [Honduran] soldiers assigned to the island."

The station was called Radio Swan, later Radio Américas, and it broadcast mainly to Cuba from 1960 to 1968. I remember hearing the station on 6000 kHz shortwave and on the medium wave split channel of 1165 kHz (it was nominally on 1160 kHz). See the Swan Island DX Association web page and the station's Wikipedia entry.

VOA labeled as "propaganda mouthpiece" and (same day) "official broadcasting service of the USG."

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Gizmodo, 20 July 2011, Sam Biddle: "Iranian's propagandist media mouthpiece is claiming an American spy drone's been bagged over a nuclear enrichment plant. The US' propagandist mouthpiece, Voice of America, says it didn't happen. But who to believe!"

NPR, The Two Way blog, 20 July 2011, Eyder Peralta: "French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé expressed a bit of a softer stance on a surrender and cease-fire deal with embattled Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi. ... The Voice of America, the official broadcasting service of the United States government, reported negotiations were ongoing in France and Moscow." -- "US funded" will suffice.

Montenegrin-American pianist is another VOA (and AFRS) jazz alumnus.

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
KALW (San Francisco), 20 July 2011: "Born in the former Yugoslavia, jazz pianist Larry Vuckovich first heard jazz over Voice of America radio during World War Two. Later, after his family immigrated to San Francisco, he continued to learn jazz by listening to the radio, and attending shows at area jazz clubs. You can hear this acclaimed musician Sundays at the Bliss Bar in San Francisco's Noe Valley." With audio selection.

According to his biography, Mr. Vuckovich was born in 1937, so he could have listened during World War II as a very young boy. I doubt that VOA, preoccupied with the war, broadcast much jazz during those years. The biography says he was "drawn to jazz music he heard on Armed Forces Radio and Voice of America during World War II and the Communist regime that followed." That makes more sense: jazz (probably mostly big band) on US Armed Forces Radio during the war, and on AFRS and VOA after.

Qatar's embassy in Damascus closes after attacks by anti-Al Jazeera crowds (updated).

Posted: 22 Jul 2011   Print   Send a link
Global Post, 19 July 2011, Annasofie Flamand and Hugh Macleod: "Infuriated by what they see as Al Jazeera’s exaggerated coverage of the regime’s crackdown on protestors, pro-Assad mobs have twice attacked the Qatari embassy in Damascus in the past week, hurling tomatoes and rocks, just as they did at the US and French embassies a few days earlier. Qatar and Syria had long enjoyed cordial relations, but recently Al Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite news channel with both Arabic and English versions, has come under strong criticism by the Syrian regime for its coverage of the popular revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship. ... A resident of Damascus told Global Post he had noticed Al Jazeera’s logo painted onto the sides of skips [waste bins] across the city, seemingly in protest that Al Jazeera’s news was 'rubbish.' ... Now Qatar’s ambassador to Damascus, Zayed al-Khayarine, has packed his bags and left Syria with the embassy suspending its work, an official from the Qatari delegation told AFP."

Update: Syrian Arab News Agency, 21 July 2011: "Tens of citizens gathered in front of the Justice Palace, filing a lawsuit against al-Jazeera satellite channel for its fabrications and incitement against Syria, which resulted in the martyrdom of civilians and army membe