Radio Netherlands signs off shortwave for the last time. With audio.

Posted: 29 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands broadcast its final hour on shortwave from 2000 to 2057 UTC. The only frequency audible here in Northern Virginia was 15495 kHz, via Santa Maria de Galeria, Italy, the Vatican Radio site. Because the transmission was actually beamed to Africa, reception at my location was weak, fading, distant. In other words, perfect. Jonathan Groubert was live in the studio for the final announcements and goodbyes (mp3). It was an emotional moment to hear the Dutch national anthem for the last time on shortwave. I began listening to Radio Netherlands, a.k.a. Radio Nederland, in the mid-1960s, when Eddie Startz was still host of the Happy Station Program. Listen to audio of the last minutes of RNW shortwave (mp3). The loop tape on the Radio Netherlands English stream is a bit eerie, as if playing the RNW interval signal on the bones of the old Radio Nederland Wereldomroep. See previous post about same subject.

@jonathanmarks, 29 June 2012: "Radio Netherlands Last Minute Interviews 20-21 UTC June 29th 2012 p.odca.st/4662327"

Critical Distance weblog, 29 June 2012, Jonathan Marks: "Just got back from watching the very last hour of broadcasting in English from Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Holland's external broadcasting service which signed off today on shortwave, satellite, and the webstream in fact the radio station is no more. Holland has no external broadcasting service as from July 1st 2012." With audio and photos.

The last hour of Radio Netherlands on radio was 2000-2057 UTC, on 6065, 7425, 11615, 15495 kHz shortwave, and rnw.nl.

Posted: 29 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 29 June 2012: "Dear all, We're very sorry to inform you that the English service of Radio Netherlands Worldwide is closing today. As a result, this website will see some changes. From 1 July 2012 there will no longer be a daily review of the Dutch papers. Our coverage of Dutch news stories will also cease. And, since RNW's English webstream ends on 29 June, there will be no more Listening Guide. However, we will continue to provide articles online relating to our new brief: promoting free speech in areas where people are not free to gather information or to form and express independent opinions. Why? The measures are a result of steep budget cuts imposed by the Dutch government and a concomitant change in focus. Providing the world with a realistic image of the Netherlands, as we have proudly done since 1947, will no longer be one of our statutory duties."

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, schedule of special programs starting at 0000 UTC on 29 June 2012, its last day of radio. This includes "Media Network #1000" during the first hour. There will be special transmissions from Bonaire to the Americas on 6165 kHz at 0200 UTC (28 June 10 pm EDT), 0300 UTC (28 June 11 pm EDT), and 0500 UTC (1 am EDT), during which the "Farewell and Thank You" program will be broadcast.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 28 June 2012, Hilary Staples: "Your response to our announcement that the English service of Radio Netherlands Worldwide will be closing at the end of this month has been amazing. It is so good to hear how much you will miss us - and of course we’ll miss you too! ... The discussion got a bit heated here and sadly our moderator had to delete a few comments on this topic. But whether you agree that the olden days are over or not, I hope you’ll all tune in for our last broadcast on 29 June. We’re even designing a special commemoration QSL card for the occasion! It has done us good to hear from all of you." With excerpts.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 28 June 2012, Iain Macintyre: "When we were discussing how to mark the passing of RNW’s English service, I somehow managed to volunteer to put together a slideshow of faces down the ages." With photos.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 27 June 2012, Gerhard Verduijn: "'The Chinese will be quick to fill the gap we leave behind,' says Wim Jansen head of the Spanish department. 'Under the military dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s, Radio Netherlands Worldwide provided many in Latin America with a lifeline to the outside world - a solid source of trustworthy information. ... Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, who was in prison during the 1970s, says RNW kept him going. We were the only reliable broadcaster which he could get in prison.' ... The question remains as to who will take over RNW’s journalistic work in the region. Jansen: 'Radio France International and Deutsche Welle are both present in the region, but they are relatively small players. The Voice of America has never been taken seriously due to mistrust. The BBC is also back in the region. The probable winners, though, are the Chinese, an up-and-coming power in the media world. They’ve been working on getting a foot in the Latin American door for a couple of years. Their broadcasts are not fired by politics, but centre on culture and background. They’ll now be certain to take the opportunity they’re being given.'" -- Mr. Jansen overlooks VOA's Buenos Días América, with Pepe del Rio, and its tremendous following in the region. And Chinese international broadcasting, though mellowing, absolutely remains "fired by politics." The Chinese media will not be able to compete with the new Hemispheric leaders, CNN en Español and Univision Noticias.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 254 June 2012, Gerhard Verduijn: "During the Suharto years (1967-1998) Radio Netherlands was a vital source of information in a country without any press freedom whatsoever. Objective news was nowhere to be had, so the broadcasts of the Indonesia desk met a huge demand, says Corine van Dun, coordinator of the Indonesia desk. ... On 14 June Radio Netherlands organised a seminar in Jakarta called ‘What’s next’? The future of international broadcasting in Indonesia is not at all clear. [Corine van Dun, coordinator of the RNW Indonesia desk]: ‘Deutsche Welle and BBC World Service are still broadcasting to Indonesia, but they are also downsizing; partly as the result of positive developments in the field of free press, but also as a result of budget cuts. Radio Australia is also still active, but the historical ties with the Netherlands will be irrevocably cut on 27 June. A monument will cease to exist.' Radio Netherlands 3.0 may offer some scope for small scale activities targeted at Indonesia. This way, a very thin line of communication may continue to exist between Hilversum and Indonesia."

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 23 June 2012, Gerhard Verduijn: "In 2010, RNW decided to give more attention to the new economic superpower, India, and set up the South Asia desk. Devi Boerema and Johan van Slooten have worked alongside Sujan, running the website and presenting the weekly South Asia Wired programme. Partner stations in the region make use of their web and radio reports and productions. ... Now the South Asia desk is being wound up, the region is back to square one: 'People will have to find for themselves the kinds of stories which we covered. They can be found, of course, but you have to search through all sorts of web sites. We’re leaving a big gap behind.'"

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 29 June 2012, Gerhard Verduijn: The Radio Netherlands Portuguese desk "is proud of the many series and documentaries that have been sent on CD in recent years to partner stations in Brazil. ... 'Our departure represents a further erosion of the independent media landscape in Brazil. It's almost a trend: Radio France International and the BBC have already down-sized their Portuguese departments. In addition, they focus primarily on 'hard' news and not - as we do - on the background stories and controversial issues.'"

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 20 June 2012, Gerhard Verduijn: "Radio Netherlands Worldwide will continue to host an English-language website but its content will change, albeit gradually. The Netherlands will no longer be the site’s main focus. The new site will instead focus on promoting free speech in China, a number of countries in Africa, the Middle East and some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean."

BBC World Service director asks employees for money-making ideas.

Posted: 29 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 25 June 2012, Lisa O'Carroll: "BBC World Service journalists have been asked to come up with money-making ideas to help increase revenues for the corporation's international services, leading to fears over editorial independence. Peter Horrocks, the director of BBC World News, has sent an email to the 2,400 staff working in the division – which includes the World Service, BBC World News channel and BBC.com – telling them they need to consider income and exploit new commercial opportunities to maximise the value they create with their journalism. Horrocks' email lists income as one of the four objectives as staff must consider when they prepare for upcoming appraisal meetings with their managers. 'I would like each of you to contribute to the delivery of these objectives ... let us know if you have any ideas on how we can strengthen our commercial focus and grow income ... these objectives apply to all parts of Global News: editorial and non-editorial as no matter where you work you can help meet these objectives,' Horrocks wrote. A BBC spokesman said journalists had not been ordered to come up with money making schemes. He said no-one had been given financial targets and editorial independence would not be compromised. He added that the BBC's public service mission to provide impartial and independent news would always takes precedence over wider commercial goals and nothing in the email suggested anything different."

Daily Mail, 25 June 2012, Martin Robinson: "Critics fear that this could lead to them ignoring important stories across the globe in favour of ones that will bring in extra cash. It came as the corporation is being investigated by media watchdog Ofcom, who are looking into how some BBC World News programmes became 'commercially influenced'. BC bosses have already apologised for these mistakes."

The Independent, 25 June 2012, Ian Burrell: "John Tusa, the former head of the BBC World Service, described the development as 'appalling'. He said: 'I can't think of any other head of the World Service who would have used vocabulary like that to tell his broadcasters and journalists what to do.' Mr Tusa, managing director of the World Service between 1986 and 1993, said: 'The notion that as a journalist you are having to think about how you can sell or turn your output into money is just so wide of the mark.' ... Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), called for the BBC to drop the policy. 'Telling all BBC global news staff to use their appraisal meetings to contribute towards the corporation's commercial growth plans is a shocking development and threatens the ethos at the heart of public service broadcasting,' she said. 'The BBC is funded by the licence fee and should not be guided by commercial imperatives – the new staff appraisal plans are outrageous and should be dropped immediately.' Mr Tusa added: 'World Service news has always taken the whole world as its subject area, and a major story can come out of anywhere. If you start saying there are priority areas we will cover and more obscure areas we will pay less attention to, then you will undermine the overall values on which the BBC World Service has always worked and built its reputation.'"

The Guardian, Comment is free, 26 June 2012, James Robinson: "Horrocks' email does not represent an existential threat to the World Service's journalism or the public service ethos of the BBC, as some excitable commentators have claimed. The corporation already carries adverts on its news and entertainment channels overseas, as visitors to America will have noticed. The money generated is ploughed back into programming, along with the cash made by selling Top Gear to Australia or licensing Strictly Come Dancing to Pakistan. CNN, ITN and ABC News, not to mention the Guardian, all produce award-winning journalism, despite carrying adverts. The World Service already makes around £5m in commercial revenues, the vast majority by syndicating its content. But it was asked by the Foreign Office to generate a further £3m annually as part of the 2010 funding settlement. A fortnight ago, the World Service began running ads alongside its Arabic, Spanish and Russian services. So far it has received just one audience complaint."

Commercial activities do not have to compromise the journalistic independence of an international broadcasting organization. The fact that funding is diffused among several advertisers rather than from one national government would, it seems to me, enhance credibility. The fact that an international broadcasting entity is so successful that it can earn some or all of its keep should be a matter of pride. The more that BBC World Service can pay for itself, the more of the UK television license fee can be used for domestic broadcasting.

If I were an employee of BBC World Service, I would welcome a memo asking for ideas about this matter. I agree with Ms. Stanistreet, however, that this should not be part of the appraisal process. There are very good journalists, producers, etc., who have no aptitude at all for commercial enterprise.

VOA involved in controversy re the expulsion of a reporter from the UN Correspondents Association.

Posted: 28 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
National Review Online, 25 June 2012, Brett D. Schaefer: "There is a disturbing new wrinkle in the troubling effort to oust Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press from the United Nations Correspondents Association. Voice of America, whose reporter Margaret Besheer was one of the original journalists lodging the complaint about Lee to UNCA, has intensified the confrontation, officially requesting that Stephane Dujarric, head of the U.N.’s News &. Media Division, review Lee’s press accreditation. Worse, this taxpayer-supported operation is urging the U.N. to rescind Lee’s accreditation. The U.S. mission should intervene to block this press-chilling maneuver. ... By asking that Lee’s U.N. press credentials be reviewed, VOA is seeking to deny him entirely the ability to access the U.N. as a member of the media. Since Inner City Press focuses almost exclusively on the U.N., it is no exaggeration to say that this would cripple Lee’s ability to do his job. Ostensibly, VOA is making the request because it considers Lee 'disruptive and unprofessional.' Furthermore, the letter states, 'his behavior is impeding the freedom VOA’s correspondent and others need in order to report what they see and know from the United Nations.' VOA does not accuse Lee of physically threatening anyone, but of sending numerous 'borderline harassing' e-mails that make reporters 'uncomfortable.' Apparently, all the hard-bitten reporters are off covering other beats. ... On the U.N.’s World Press Freedom Day this past May, Secretary Hillary Clinton stated, 'When a free media is under attack anywhere, all human rights are under attack everywhere.' It is very hard to square that firm support for freedom of the press with a U.S.-government-funded broadcaster like VOA seeking to oust an American journalist from the U.N. because he makes a reporter uncomfortable and doesn’t act as they would like him to act." -- My attempts to access the Inner City Press website are blocked by my antivirus software (a rare occurrence), warning that the site is trying to download a trojan.

As Western media step behind paywall, Al Jazeera, RT, Xinhua, etc remain free-to-use and "expand their influence."

Posted: 28 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Globe and Mail, 25 June 2012, Mark McKinnon: "As Western newspapers and broadcasters close bureaus, cut staff and erect paywalls, the emerging media companies owned by the Communist Party of China, the Emir of Qatar and Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin continue to expand their influence and reach. I first noticed it a few years ago while I was based in the Middle East. English-language newspapers there started relying less on reports from the proven likes of the Associated Press and Reuters, a decision presumably motivated by cost. In their place were (cheaper) English-language stories from the Xinhua newswire, articles that subtly or unsubtly inserted the Communist Party’s take on global events into an otherwise anodyne news story. ... Many hotels in Southeast Asia have taken to including RT (Russia Today) News in their cable packages, often as the only English-language news channel available. ... This isn’t about who rakes in the advertising dollars – there’s precious few of those these days for anyone – it’s about the global conversation, and who gets to frame it. ... It’s not too far-fetched to imagine a near future where it’s Xinhua or RT, rather than the Associated Press or BBC, that have the only correspondents on the scene of an international crisis, meaning the world will only get Beijing or Moscow’s version of what’s happening."

NY Times launching Chinese edition (updated: "we’re not operating like a Chinese media company").

Posted: 28 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Edward Wong @comradewong, 27 June 2012: "NYTimes Chinese online edition is launching tomorrow. Stayed tuned. See weibo account. 纽约时报中文 " See also www.weibo.com/nytchinese. This appears to be the "brand" URL, though still restricted: cn.nytimes.com .

The obvious questions: Will the New York Times Chinese edition report fully about China? Will any stories about China in the English edition be absent in the Chinese edition?

Tech in Asia, 27 June 2012, Steven Millward: "The New York Times, the august newspaper turned digital media company, is venturing onto thin ice brave new territory tomorrow with the launch of the Chinese version of its website. It’ll be online at cn.nytimes.com, which is currently blank and inaccessible behind a login. To mark the event, the New York Times has just joined Sina Weibo, China’s hottest Twitter-esque site, with the official account pictured above. So far, the NYT’s Weibo ... has posted three things, all in Chinese, and one of which is the official announcement of what’s coming: 'The New York Times Chinese Edition begins operation today, and tomorrow will begin releasing news. We welcome our new friends and followers and look forward to engaging with you.' So far it has just over 3,300 fans after only a few hours in action. It’s not clear what cn.nytimes.com will hold – translations of selected articles from the main edition, or original material written in Chinese? And what of its legal status as a media company in China, with all the self-censorship that that would entail? We’ve reached out to the New York Times’ correspondent in China, and to HQ in New York, and will update if we get more information. Other major news portals have Chinese editions, such as the long-running BBC Chinese, whose website is blocked in the country. But both cn.WSJ.com and the Financial Times in Chinese remain accessible – and it seems to be a digital market that the NYT wants a part of."

Update: New York Times, Media Decoder, 27 June 2012, Christine Haughney: "The New York Times is introducing a Chinese-language Web site, part of a continuing effort to expand its reach to international readers. The site, which is called cn.nytimes.com and went live Thursday morning China time, is intended to draw readers from the country’s growing middle class, what The Times in its news release called 'educated, affluent, global citizens.' The site will feature about 30 articles a day on national, foreign and arts topics, as well as editorials. Joseph Kahn, the paper’s foreign editor, said that about two-thirds of the content would be translated from Times articles and one-third would be written by Chinese editors and local freelance journalists. The Times Company, which is well aware of the censorship issues that can come up in China, stressed that it would not become an official Chinese media company. The Times has set up its server outside China and the site will follow the paper’s journalistic standards. Mr. Kahn said that while the Chinese government occasionally blocked certain articles from nytimes.com, he was hopeful that the Chinese government would be receptive to the Chinese-language project. 'We’re not tailoring it to the demands of the Chinese government, so we’re not operating like a Chinese media company,' Mr. Kahn said. 'China operates a very vigorous firewall. We have no control over that. We hope and expect that Chinese officials will welcome what we’re doing.'"

The VOA and RFA Journalists are the Same as CCTV and Xinhua Journalists Act of 2012.

Posted: 28 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
NTD Television, 25 June 2012: "Last week the US House of Representatives held a hearing for the 'Chinese Media Reciprocity Act,' a bill proposed by congressman Dana Rohrabacher last year. The bill seeks to limit the number of media visas the United States issues to state-run Chinese media entities and journalists, so it’s equal to the number China issues to US journalists. In 2011, 811 Chinese journalists were allowed to enter the US, whereas only two from the US were allowed to enter China. The 'Chinese Media Reciprocity Act' would, if passed, seek to change the US Immigration and Nationality Act 'by establishing a reciprocal relationship between the number of visas issued to state-controlled media workers in China and in the United States.'"

Heritage Foundation, 25 June 2012, testimony by Nick Zahn, Heritage Foundation Asia Communications Fellow: "In 2011, the U.S. Department of State approved 868 (I) visas for Chinese state journalists. The Chinese continued the abysmal precedent of allowing Voice of America only two press visas to work in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The two visas belong to Voice of America. China’s government has consistently rejected visa applications for Radio Free Asia staff since 1998, when three personnel were denied travel by China into the PRC with President Bill Clinton. So in addition to the well-known disrupting of VOA and RFA broadcast signals into China, the PRC has precluded RFA from staffing a bureau there."

See also House Judiciary Committee, 20 June 2012, hearing notice with video.

Most Chinese journalists in the United States are "state-controlled," while most of the US journalists in China are from private media. This is because of the nature of the media in each country. The explusion of most "state controlled" Chinese journalists from the United States would probably result in the expulsion from China of most journalists of US private media. And the bill equates VOA and RFA journalists with those of CCTV and Xinhua. The United States should continue to show that it is different from China by not restricting access by journalists from anywhere. Publicity of the non-reciprocity would be good public diplomacy. The Chinese Media Reciprocity Act, if passed, would be the opposite.

Will the Radio Canada International transmitting site become a wind farm?

Posted: 28 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
CBC News New Brunswick, 26 June 2012: "After decades of service, the transmission towers outside of Sackville, N.B are no longer broadcasting Radio Canada International to the world. ... Martin Marcotte, director of CBC Transmission, said he's now looking to sell the New Brunswick towers and land. He said he's focussing on selling the site to other shortwave broadcasters or wind farm companies. 'It will be fairly costly to dismantle and as a last resort we would dismantle the facility, return it to bare land as it was when we first acquired that site,' said Marcotte." -- About the picture of the sink, see previous post. Look very carefully, and you can see the RCI towers in the background.

SWLing Post, 26 June 2012, Thomas Witherspoon: "During my recent visit to the Sackville site, I spoke with their Transmission Operations Technologist, Marcel Cantin; we both agreed that the most likely future of the transmitter site is to become a wind farm, much like one visible from the site in neighboring Nova Scotia. Evidently, the province has been talking with farmers whose property borders the Sackville site in hopes to procure more land for wind farm development. The Sackville site’s 280+ acres would represent a great portion of the land they wish to procure. The only obstacle I see to this not becoming a reality would be local opposition–and they may have good cause. The two main arguments against wind farms are the noise they produce (not really a problem where RCI is/was located) and the fact that they can harm migrating bird populations. The site is very close to the Sackville Waterfowl Park, a local bird sanctuary which is home or host to innumerable varieties of water birds, and which I also had the good fortune to visit when in Sackville. Opposition in this regard may be substantiated."

The SWLing Post, 28 June 2012, Thomas Witherspoon: "I was just informed by RCI Sackville that they plan to continue to broadcast their North Quebec service and various relays of other broadcasters until the end of October. Specifically: The North Quebec service will continue to operate until all five FM relays are in service to replace the shortwave broadcasts on 9,625 kHz. So far, only two of the five relays are in service. They will continue to broadcast the following station relays until October 31st, 2012, unless the various broadcasters decide to pull out early. {The relayed stations are] Voice of Vietnam, NHK, KBS, Vatican Radio (which, reportedly, will continue to broadcast until end of July 2012). gain, this schedule is subject to change and the October 31st date could be altered depending upon when VOV, NHK and KBS decide to either discontinue their relays or broadcast them from elsewhere. The implication is that the North Quebec service on 9,625 kHz will be removed, perhaps even without warning, as soon as the remaining three local FM relays are in service."

Radio Canada International's new interval signal: the sound of a cricket chirping.

Posted: 28 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Canadian Journalism Project, 25 June 2012, Angelina Irinici: "World, say goodbye to Canadian shortwave radio. As part of the cuts announced in April’s budget, Radio Canada International has shut down its shortwave transmitters and moved to an online-only Internet stream. But there are some who are continuing to fight for shortwave radio in the Internet age. ... RCI used to have two rules it had to follow: it was legally obliged to provide shortwave services and it had to regularly consult with the Department of Foreign Affairs. There was a proposed injunction on behalf of RCI employees but fell through when RCI’s lawyers discovered that changes to these two rules had been approved on June 7. Heritage Minister James Moore recommended an order in council that got rid of both requirements... ."

RCI Action Committee, 25 June 2012: "Everywhere you looked, empty desks, silent studios, and the knowledge that we are now embarking on a road so very different from what we’ve ever known in the past. ... They’ve taken us off radio, and turned us into an on-line service, a service without any of our previous programming, designed to confirm the public relations needs of those who said Radio Canada International was being 'transformed' not 'destroyed'."

RCI Action blog, 27 June 2012: "[W]e survived Day 002 – but it’s still hard to walk by the Russian Section’s area. They’re not there. I’m wondering, will we water their plants?" See also RCI Action Committee, 25 June 2012, for video of the last RCI Russian broadcast.

RCI Action Committee, 28 June 2012: "There’s not much time to reflect these days at Radio Canada International. We all have been given quotas for the number of reports and interviews we’re to produce each week. One lone technician is with us, for just this week, to help us figure out how to record our interviews in newly re-designed booths so that there’s no need to have the services of the five technicians that used to work with us. Meanwhile the 'easy' work of finding a photo, copy-pasting a web-link, writing an introduction for the website, that was supposed to take only a few minutes takes a lot longer. For many colleagues this is their first time. It’s sometimes embarrassing. After years of being a radio professional. Of feeling like a professional. It’s grade one, all over again. And having to ask our webmasters, and other colleagues how to do the most basic things. They seem like mountains, but supposedly this is so easy."

Fagstein blog, 25 June 2012, Steve Faguy: "Maybe RCI has outlived its usefulness, and its shortwave service was mostly just a hobby for lonely ham-radio types who like to tune up noisy distant stations broadcasting in single-sideband AM. In that case, it might as well be shut down completely. I've seen enough media outlets go online-only as a result of budget cuts to know that complete shutdown of RCI is, at this point, inevitable. Few people will listen to it because it's harder to access and has so little original programming, and that will be used as justification down the line to pull the plug completely. ... So while it's nice to hear that RCI won't disappear quietly, the best we can do is honour the service and regret that it's now gone. CKUT's International Radio Report, which aired Montgomery's signoff in its entirety, itself got emotional talking about RCI's shutdown on Sunday (MP3)."

Washington Post, blogPost, 26 June 2012, Olga Khazan: "Some of the most moving sentiment came from Marc Montgomery, host of [Radio Canada International'] English-language program the Link, during his final broadcast on Friday: Through sobs, Montgomery thanked users for listening for the 67 years the service has been on the air. "Goodbye to you, my radio friends, with whom we’ve shared so many stories. It’s a privilege I’ve been thankful for every single day.' He also touched on an interesting point: Many authoritarian regimes, including China, block certain Internet sites, but shortwave service continues to penetrate. Montgomery said shortwave listening continues to be important for people who don’t have Internet access." -- It's debatable whether there are enough people in enough places without internet access to justify the continuation of shortwave in international broadcasting. And it is debatable, or, better, investigatable, whether shortwave or internet can better "penetrate" the interdiction of information from abroad. Experiments from the Sackville transmitting site can help answer that question, if the transmitters and antennas remain operable, at least for a while.

The SWLing Post, 27 June 2012, Thomas Witherspoon: "On Facebook, Wojtek Gwiazda kindly shared the following message from Terry Haig (who has been subbing for Ian Jones on the MLMB): 'Dear Friends, I am distraught that the final edition of the MLMB did not go out properly this past weekend because of technical glitches. ... My apologies that we could not spend our final hour together as planned. Once again, I thank you all for your undying love, support, insight, graciousness and generosity. You are wonderful and magical. I shall never forget you. Be well, everyone. Au Revoir and peace!'" With link to the audio.

See previous post about same subject.

CNN International and BBC World News both claim success in EMS Middle East survey (updated).

Posted: 27 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
CNN Press Room, 21 June 2012: "CNN has comprehensively beaten its English language rivals in the latest EMS Middle East survey, confirming its position as the single most watched international channel in the region – just weeks after it was also named the number one international news channel in Europe. CNN decisively outperforms every international news and entertainment channel across every metric. At 33.4% the network’s monthly reach is more than double that of its nearest English language competitor – Al Jazeera English, with 15.5%. Discovery follows, with 13.1%, while BBC World News trails in 4th place with 13%. At 21.3% CNN’s weekly reach outstrips Al Jazeera English (10.5%), BBC World News (9.2%) and Discovery (8.3%). At 11.5% its daily reach is far ahead of BBC World News (7.0%), Al Jazeera English (4.3%), and Discovery (3.2%). CNN is also the number one cross platform international commercial network, reaching 41.5% per month of the EMS Middle East universe when combining TV & online. ... CNN International also leads the non-commercial public service broadcaster BBC Arabic on daily reach, and CNN's reach is more than double CNBC’s combined reach across Arabiya and English, across all three metrics. CNN achieved 33.4% monthly, 21.3% weekly and 11.5% daily reach, while CNBC scored 17% monthly 11% weekly and 5% daily." See also information about the EMS 2012 Middle East survey.

BBC World News press release, 21 June 2012: "The latest EMS Middle East survey has confirmed that BBC World News reaches more daily viewers than any other international English language news broadcaster across key Gulf markets - UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. The channel also leads CNN in daily viewers in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In addition, the survey shows BBC World News has been particularly successful in attracting business decision-makers, the well-educated and high income earners in the Gulf region. This news follows recent comScore figures showing BBC.com has the highest reach of any international news site for the Middle East and Africa, being named the number one original news site with 4.5m unique visitors each month, 45% more than CNN." -- Implicit is that Al Jazeera English leads among English-language news channels in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. NB: But see below...

Update: Jonathan Hawkins, Senior Press Manager EMEA, CNN International, has written to correct the information above: "CNN leads AJE in Saudi Arabia. ... BBC has also updated its press release to reflect the inaccuracy in its original announcement. You can see an acknowledgement of this at the bottom of the release at ... www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/worldnews/ems-middle-east.html

ArabianBusiness.com, 23 June 2012, Andy Sambidge: "CNN and BBC World News have clashed in a war of words over which is the most watched international English language news channel in the Middle East. While CNN said it had 'comprehensively beaten its English language rivals' in the latest EMS Middle East survey, BBC World News claimed it reached more viewers in the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia [sic], Qatar and Kuwait."

Media Bistro, 21 June 2012, Alex Weprin: "Most parts of the world–including the Middle East–do not have a company like Nielsen to track TV ratings. As a result surveys such as the EMS Middle East carry greater weight than they would here in the U.S."

Despite budget cut, BBC Global News audience up 6% from last year: 145m radio, 97m TV, 30m online, 44m English.

Posted: 27 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC, The Editors blog, 27 June 2012, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News: "With global competition only intensifying, the BBC World Service has also had to face significant cuts to its funding, undergoing disrupting and painful change. In this context, we're announcing today that the BBC's global weekly audience estimate has seen a steady rise by 14 million to 239 million in 2012, up 6% from last year. This has been driven primarily by the performance of our BBC Arabic and BBC Persian services. As tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa unfolded, audiences increasingly turned to the BBC for independent news they could trust. ...

"And while BBC World Service has managed to increase its overall audience to 180 million from 166 million in 2011 (an 8% increase) by delivering distinctive, high quality journalism, this should not mask that the BBC no longer serves audiences in some individual countries in the way we did previously. Funding cuts from the Foreign Office have lessened the BBC's ability to take our journalism into some countries, and the overall figures would have been even higher still without these reductions. With the Chinese, Russian and Iranian governments all pumping money into journalism designed to give their own perspective on the world, there's no room for complacency. ...

"Our English language radio programming on the BBC World Service has also performed well with audiences holding firm at about 44 million overall. ... The global audiences for BBC World Service, BBC World News and bbc.com were 145 million for radio (down 1% this year), 97 million for television (up 13% including a 45% increase in BBC World Service TV platforms) and 30 million for online (including a 20% increase for BBC World Service online). This includes a strong year for the BBC's international mobile services. The bbc.com mobile site reached 2.7 million unique users per week, a 30% increase from 2011."

The Guardian, 27 June 2012, Josh Halliday: "When [budget] cuts were announced in early 2011, the World Service had warned that the changes – which saw five foreign-language services closing and a reduction in short-wave broadcasts, with about 650 job losses – would cost it 30 million listeners. ... Last year the BBC World Service closed five language services – Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa, Serbian, and the English for the Caribbean regional service – in response to cuts to its grant-in-aid funding from the Foreign Office."

Global Twitter Q&A with public diplomacy undersecretary today at 1500 UTC.

Posted: 27 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
State Department, 21 June 2012: "On Wednesday, June 27, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EDT, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine will participate in a global Twitter Q & A. Using the hashtag #AskState, participants from around the world can simultaneously submit questions and share ideas directly with Under Secretary Sonenshine about U.S. public diplomacy. The U.S. Department of State’s official English-language Twitter feed, @StateDept, will host the session. Participants can also submit questions using the same hashtag (#AskState) in 8 additional languages using the Department of State Twitter accounts... ."

Iraq suspends plan to close VOA, Radio Sawa, BBC transmitters.

Posted: 26 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
AP, 26 June 2012: "Iraqi authorities have suspended plans to close 44 media operations in the country including the BBC and Voice of America. The reversal comes after an outcry by press freedom advocates. Ali Nasir, the deputy director of the Communications and Media Commission that regulates the news media, says the agency will give the news organizations an unspecified amount of time to obtain licenses and pay outstanding fees."

AP, 25 June 2012, Qassim Abdul-Zahra: "An Iraqi press freedom group condemned authorities on Sunday for ordering the closure of 44 news organizations, including a U.S.-funded radio station. The country's media commission said it was only targeting unlicensed operations. No media outlet is reported to have been forced to close so far. But critics say Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom they accuse of sidelining and silencing opponents in order to consolidate his Shiite party's power, is sending a warning to the media. ... The list, which officials say was compiled a month ago, only became public on Sunday. Most of the 44 newspapers, radio and television stations targeted for shutdown are Iraqi, although foreign broadcasters including the BBC and Voice of America were on the list as well as the U.S.-funded Radio Sawa. The BBC and Voice of America have closed most permanent news operations in Iraq. ... One broadcaster targeted for shutdown, U.S.-funded Radio Sawa, says it does have a license. 'We were surprised to see our radio station on the list because we think that we work in accordance with all Iraqi laws,' Sawa deputy director Salah Nasrawi said. Radio Sawa — operated by Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc., which is funded by the U.S. Congress — was broadcasting normally on Sunday."

NOW Lebanon, 25 June 2012, citing AFP: "Iraq's Communications and Media Commission ... 'published an announcement in all newspapers in February calling for them to take licenses in two months to resolve their situations,' said Salem Mashkur, a member of the board of trustees of the CMC, the independent authority charged with regulating media organizations in Iraq. 'But only a small number applied, and 39 media outlets preferred not to come and not to apply the law,' he said. Mashkur alleged that Voice of America had never obtained a license, while the BBC had done so for its Arabic but not its English service."

Voice of America, 25 June 2012: "In a statement issued Monday, VOA said it is investigating reports about the Iraqi regulator's move. The statement said 'this appears to be a regulatory matter concerning frequencies and licensing that is being discussed between local and federal officials in Iraq.' It said there is 'no indication that this regulatory issue is being directed at VOA reporters in the field.' The statement also said VOA and Radio Sawa 'will continue to work with Iraqi authorities to ensure full compliance with any new Iraqi regulations and licenses.' The BBC said its journalists in Baghdad are not experiencing any issues reporting from the country. The British broadcaster said 'it is important that the BBC and other international news organizations are able to operate freely, and bring independent and impartial news to audiences in Iraq and the wider region.'"

RT (Russia Today), 25 June 2012: "Iraq's communications and media commission announced the impending closure of several media outlets, including the BBC and Voice of America. While officials chalk the matter up to expired license fees, press freedom groups fear a looming crackdown. RT was one of the first to publish reports of the potential closures – and can now confirm that Iraqi officials from the media commission have forwarded the list of 44 outlets to the Interior Ministry. They will be the ones responsible for the actual closures once they begin. Only offices without an operating license will be closed down, the commission’s chairman Safaa Rabie told journalists. 'It is an organizational matter, not a crackdown on the press,' Rabie said."

Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (Iraq): "The JFO calls on CMC to withdraw regulations which violate the Iraq constitution, which guarantees the freedom of the press, and to follow existing media legislation, instead of those enacted by the CPA under Paul Bremer. The JFO also calls on the PM Nouri al-Maliki to reign in the behavior of the CMC, since he appointed its acting chief."

In many Iraqi cities, there is a full time Radio Sawa FM frequency, and another FM frequency that carries a mix of RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq, VOA Kurdish, VOA English, VOA Special English, and VOA English teaching programs. Alhurra also has terrestrial transmitters in Iraq, but is not mentioned in any of these reports.

Some Cold War history of Canadian international radio broadcasting.

Posted: 25 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Cold War Radios, 25 June 2012, Richrd H. Cummings: "The CBC International Service began short-wave broadcasting in February 1945 in French, English and German from its studios in the Radio-Canada building in downtown Montréal and from transmitters at Sackville, New Brunswick. Czech and Dutch language programs began in 1946. Russian-language broadcasting, directed at the Soviet Union, began in early 1951. ... By 1958 the International Service was broadcasting in 16 languages. A television documentary on the CBC Internation Service that year gave the rationale behind the short-wave broadcasts: 'Though it broadcasts in 16 languages, there's just one priority for the CBC's International Service in 1958: bringing news from Canada to listeners in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The Cold War is on, and Communist rule in those countries leaves their people with few sources of reliable news about the world.' ... In July, 1970, the service was renamed Radio Canada International (RCI). On March 25, 1991, six of RCI's 13 broadcast languages - Czech, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Polish, and Portuguese were discontinued." See previous post about RCI.

Radio Canada International leaves shortwave, rather inelegantly, in the middle of an Arabic sentence.

Posted: 24 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
RCI Spanish had the the unhappy task of closing Radio Canada International's shortwave service. The last RCI transmission was at 2300-2330 UTC. The Spanish staff was unbeat during the program. Near the end of the broadcast were announcements in French and English. Listen to the English here. The entire broadcast ended with "Ciao," and applause.

After the broadcast were announcements in, strangely enough, Arabic, promoting the website that replaces RCI broadcasts on shortwave. Radio Canada International signed off shortwave midsentence during the Arabic announcement.

@RCI_Action, 24 June 2012: "It appears last week's Maple Leaf Mailbag was aired this weekend rather than this week's final edition #RCI"

@RCI_Action, 24 June 2012: "A unique institution, only broadcaster in the world to explain Canada to the world, is gasping its last breaths right now." See more tweets at Twitter.com/RCI_Action.

See previous post about same subject.

Time Warner Cable adds Filipino On Demand service in US markets.

Posted: 24 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 20 June 2012, George Winslow: "Time Warner Cable has added the Filipino On Demand service to systems in Hawaii; San Antonio, Texas; The Carolinas; New Jersey and New York, where it will be available for free to digital customers who have a subscription to The Filipino Channel. The news was announced by ABS-CBN International and International Media Distribution, a major distributor of ethnic content into the U.S. ... 'With updated content each week, our customers can connect back home in the Philippines by catching their favorite stars and shows with the convenience of an on demand service.' Filipino On Demand service include 100 hours of Filipino entertainment, including movies, miniseries, live concerts and other content from ABS-CBN, which the largest entertainment and broadcasting company in the Philippines."

Chinese sovereign-wealth fund takes 7% stake in Eutelsat.

Posted: 24 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Space News, 22 June 2012, Peter B. de Selding: "China Investment Corp. (CIC) is buying a 7-percent stake in satellite fleet operator Eutelsat of Paris from Spain’s Abertis Telecom for 385.2 million euros ($500 million), a transaction that values Eutelsat at 5.5 billion euros, Abertis announced June 22. ... CIC, a sovereign-wealth fund, was formed in 2007 with a bond issue from China’s Ministry of Finance. The company used this to purchase $200 billion in China’s foreign-exchange reserves. In its 2010 annual report, issued in July 2011, CIC describes itself as 'a financial investor. As such, it does not seek to control any sector or company.' CIC’s investments in 2010 included minority stakes in power-utility AES Corp. of Arlington, Va., Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma City and energy producer Penn West of Canada. Given the U.S. government’s position on all things involving space technology and China, the CIC acquisition may nonetheless raise issues."

Want to hear last weekend of Radio Canada International? Transmission schedule already pulled from website.

Posted: 23 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
@RCI_Action, 23 June 2012: RCI website already changing, as last radio programs broadcast this wknd. Radio Canada International http://tinyurl.com/825ahkw #RCI #CBC #cdnpoli

The link to the schedule is here. English via Sackville is at 2000-2100 UTC, 4:00-5:00 pm EDT, through Sunday on 15235, 15330, 17735 kHz.

@rodmickleburgh, 23 June 2012: "Can anyone find ?#RCI? sign-off on The Link and post? Incredible.The announcer weeps, ending 67 years of Radio Canada International on air #cbc" -- The link to The Link farewell is here.

RCI Action Committee. 23 June 2012: "As Radio Canada International (RCI) broadcasts its last radio programming after 67 years as a broadcaster, the RCI website is in chaos. Apart from the home address www.rcinet.ca no other web addresses for programs or audio links are working. The only way to find the last programs of all the services is to go to http://www.rcinet.ca , enter the language service you want, and then look for the button 'AUTRES SAISONS'. That takes you to an archive version of the site, and you should be able to find the latest program. This change of the website, and the sloppy way that it’s being done, with no re-directs from links people usually use to listen to their favourite programmes is disturbing."

CBC News, 22 June 2012: "Jian Wang, who prepares news and current affairs reports for the Chinese section, says many people in China may not have access to RCI over the internet because of censorship. 'As you know in China … almost 10,000 [internet] pages are blocked by the government with firewalls, so people cannot go there, including RCI Chinese programs, so they can't listen to us anymore,' he said. Wang said people in China need objective sources of information. 'So we need some perspective, some objective news from Canada. We tell the truth and many of our listeners know that already.' Rashi Khilnani, who does a radio show called the Indo-Canadian report, says Canada will miss out on potential ties with the subcontinent with the loss of a shortwave service."

See previous post about same subject.

"The very paradox of America's 'Internet freedom agenda': The more Washington does to promote it, the worse things get."

Posted: 23 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Slate, 21 June 2012, Evgeny Morozov: "[T]he U.S. State Department has finally announced an ambitious partnership with Amazon. (Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos and Hillary Clinton were supposed to appear at a joint press-conference Wednesday, but it has been postponed because of Clinton's schedule.) The program—which is slated to run over the next five years—would see the State Department spend up to $16.5 million to purchase a maximum of 35,000 Kindles as well as to pay for content (i.e., books) and delivery costs. ... By striking the deal with Amazon, the U.S. government introduces perverse incentives to the global market for e-readers. Tools that have previously been seen as benign and irrelevant would now be seen as subversive. This is the very paradox of America's 'Internet freedom agenda': The more Washington does to promote it, the worse things get. Herein lies the lesson for well-meaning diplomats (and ex-cyberutopians like me): regardless of how superb and efficient e-readers, social networks, or search engines might be for information delivery, it's wrong to think of them as mere tools with stable and coherent meanings (let alone with clear and easily predictable effects). Once embraced by the U.S. government, these tools no longer exist in the geopolitical vacuum of Silicon Valley."

New Bosnia & Herzegovina DTH platfrom will be an outlet for Al Jazeera Balkans.

Posted: 23 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 19 June 2012, Chris Dziadul: "Bosnia & Herzegovina is likely to see the launch of its first locally operated DTH platform in early September. Quoting unofficial sources, Teve says that it will be known as Team Sat and distributed by Eutelsat at 16 degrees East. The new platform will initially offer viewers seven Bosnian channels, including BN Televizja, FACE tv, Al Jazeera Balkans and three from Hayat TV, among them Hayat Folk TV. ... Although Team Sat will be the first locally operated DTH platform in Bosnia & Herzegovina, satellite services in the country are already provided by Serbia Broadband’s pan-regional operation Total TV."

UK analysis: On RT, "there were a lot of women – but they didn’t say much."

Posted: 23 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcast, 21 June 2012, Liz Howell: "This month, we broadened our TV monitoring to cover for the first time the BBC News Channel, Russia Today and Al Jazeera. On radio, we once again monitored Today on BBC Radio 4, as this programme seems to have caused the most comment with its ratio of six male experts to every female. ... We thought it would be interesting to monitor channels and programmes outside the mainstream. Russia Today had a stunning score of two to one – for every authoritative woman interviewed, there was only double the number of men, which makes Russia Today top of the class when it comes to women experts. In the hours monitored, there was an average of 2.5 female experts to 5.25 male experts. But lest we get too excited, this translates disappointingly when we look at the time that the contributors spent talking: men spoke for almost five times as long as women. On average, female experts spoke for just over four minutes and men for nearly 20 in an average hour. To put it crudely, Al Jazeera was a disappointment. At the Royal Television Society Journalism Awards, it had been noted for being one of the few winners to field a team of mainly women on the podium to receive the award, so the signs were good. But in the monitored hours, Al Jazeera had five-and-a-half times as many men experts as women. Each man spoke proportionally for only slightly longer than the average woman, but that is scant compensation."

RT (Russia Today) will reach Asia in HD via MEASAT.

Posted: 23 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
MEASAT press release, 21 June 2012: "MEASAT Satellite Systems Sdn. Bhd. announced today an agreement with RRsat America - Global Communications Network Inc. to distribute Russia Today English HD and Russia Today Documentary HD channels, via the MEASAT-3a satellite across Asia. Both of these HD channels will be on MEASAT's video neighbourhood starting 1st August 2012. ... Jarod Lopez, Senior Director, Sales and Marketing, MEASAT: 'The addition of RT HD and RTDoc HD will expand the news and documentary channel selection on MEASAT, and brings to 30 the number of channels on the MEASAT HD platform.' The MEASAT-3/3a satellites at 91.5°E distribute a bouquet of premium high definition content. MEASAT's HD video neighbourhood provides to Asia a variety of channels from news and general entertainment to sports and factual programming."

Broadcast, 22 June 2012: "The broadcast industry has been slow to adopt IP as a means of delivering content, according to Information TV founder Fred Perkins, who said broadcasters could cut operational costs by embracing IP-based broadcast services 'For Russia Today, which Information TV carries in the UK, we receive a signal from Moscow at 4Mbps. I have to get that to Freeview and they insist we use a dual-SDI line at 70Mbps, which is unnecessary,' Perkins told Broadcast. Perkins said services that are carried over twin-SDI lines could be shifted onto an IP-based system for the cost of a £2,000 decoder."

Canadian Senator: "Someone has to be held accountable" for shutdown of radio on Radio Canada International (updated).

Posted: 23 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Ottawa Citizen, 22 June 2012, Chris Cobb: "Unless the CBC rethinks its 'utterly reprehensible' decision to eliminate Radio Canada International’s shortwave service, its senior managers will be called to explain the decision to a special Senate inquiry, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal said Thursday. 'This is probably the most destructive way the board of the CBC could find to manage the financial economies they have to face,' said Segal. 'It is going to take the Canadian message out of the international marketplace.' Segal, a member of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs committee and chair of its special Committee on Anti-Terrorism, says the busting down of RCI to an Internet radio station will block RCI from millions of people living under repressive regimes. ... Because the CBC has no public shareholders’ meeting, said Segal, it falls to Parliament to hold the publicly-funded broadcaster accountable. 'We in the Senate have the right to discuss and debate, and have called before our committees, public institutions that make decisions that are not in the public interest,' he told the Citizen. 'Someone has to be held accountable.' Any Senate inquiry into RCI would likely be at the Foreign Affairs Committee in the fall, he added."

Update: RCI Action Committee, 22 June 2012: "It was the last day for many Radio Canada International employees today, June 22. The daily English program 'The Link' and the daily French program 'Tam Tam' broadcast their last editions today. And the teams for some of the pre-recorded weekend programs also signed off and said goodbye to listeners as RCI stops being a radio station. A moving, and yet surprisingly jovial atmosphere, as the Russian team signed off both from radio and from being one of the services at RCI. It and the program for Brazil were among the services abolished as part of the 80% budget cut announced April 4, 2012. As well journalists gathered in the newsroom, as many signed off, turned off their computers, with only a few left for the weekend’s last newscasts. As of June 25th, none of RCI’s programming will remain. Our presence will be limited to the website, and will reflect the few resources we have left." Also: Marc Montgomery of RCI's The Link with his "historical farewell" (audio). And you don't have to speak Russian to get the sense of the final RCI Russian broadcast, 22 June 2012.

Montreal Gazette, 22 June 2012, Wojtek Gwiazda: "We continue to be convinced that it should be Parliament, and not CBC/Radio-Canada, that should decide on how strong, or how weak, Canada’s voice to the world, Radio Canada International, should be. That is why we have been calling for financial autonomy for RCI."

Radio Canada International, 21 June 2012, letter from Pete Johnson in Chicago: "Ridiculous! Mis-Guided! Poor Judgement! is the most accurate way to describe these cuts. The dictators, jammers, thugs and oppressive governments have won and the listeners have lost. ... I will dearly miss all of you and if I owned a radio station, I would offer all of you jobs." More listener comments in RCI The Link, 21 June 2012 (audio).

CBC Digital Archives: History of Radio Canada International, and CBC international radio under previous names, going back to 1945. With video.

See previous post about same subject.

PM: Addition of Euronews Ukrainian would help Europeans know "everything is not as bad as they imagined" in Ukraine.

Posted: 23 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
National Radio Company of Ukraine, 15 June 2012: "Prime Minister Mykola Azarov at a meeting on Thursday with Euronews CEO Michael Peters said that he is interested in bringing more reliable information about Ukraine to Europe. That is why, in his opinion, it is necessary to develop the Ukrainian version of Euronews. 'We are interested in developing relations with Euronews, and would like to see information about Ukraine be first of all objective... We want Europe to know more about Ukraine,' Azarov underscored. According to him, EURO 2012 has given more opportunities to open Ukraine to the West, deny the previously distributed information about the alleged prosperity of racism, crime, high prices in Ukraine and so on, which scared away tourists. 'However, many fans have come, and have been living in Ukraine for a week now, and they made sure that there is no racism, nobody is killed here, and the prices are quite affordable, lower than in Europe, and everything is not as bad as they imagined,' the premier said. Azarov also noted that he likes the political and economic news by Euronews, although he takes information from various media. ... Peters, in turn, expressed interest in receiving prompt comments from members of the Ukrainian government for the Euronews channel." -- The addition of a Ukrainian version of Euronews will not help "Europe to know more about Ukraine," for the obvious reason that most people in Europe do not speak Ukrainian. The addition of a Ukrainian stream would, however, result in more reporting from and about Ukraine, which would be disseminated in all the Euronews languages.

Philippines will deport Al Arabiya reporter -- after he is freed from his kidnappers.

Posted: 23 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Jordan Times, 20 June 2012, Hani Hazaimeh: "The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday confirmed that Jordanian Al Arabiya journalist Baker Atyani had been kidnapped in the Philippines amid conflicting reports over his disappearance. ... International media outlets have reported that a militant group in the southern Philippines is holding five people hostage, including Atyani, who heads Al Arabiya satellite channel’s Southeast Asia bureau. ... Meanwhile, the Philippine government announced on Wednesday that it was not conducting any search and rescue operation for Atyani and his Filipino crew members after establishing contact with him, local media in Manila reported, quoting interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo as saying that authorities were able to verify that the Al Arabiya journalist and his team are in Patikul, Sulu, and are reportedly not under threat. ... Robredo added that the government hopes that the three men will resurface soon, but once that happens, he will recommend to the department of justice and the bureau of immigration that Atyani be deported and banned from entering the Philippines in the future. 'If you imperil yourself and create problems for us, I think you should not be allowed in the country again,' he was quoted as saying."

Inquirer Global Nation (Philippines), 23 June 2012, DJ Yap and Julie Alipala: "Philippine authorities are still unconvinced that Atyani has actually been kidnapped and believe he and the two Filipino cameramen are in some upland area pursuing a story with the clandestine Abu Sayyaf, an extremist Islamist group associated with the al-Qaida terrorist network. However, a separate Inquirer source, peace advocate and former kidnap victim Octavio Dinampo, believed the kidnap reports were reliable, adding that the Al Arabiya team may have been taken by the same group that held for ransom a local ABS-CBN crew led by Ces Drilon in 2008. ... Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan expressed his displeasure at Atyani, saying he would have the journalist arrested and deported when he emerges from the Abu Sayyaf lair. 'I will have him arrested. I will have him investigated for promoting these criminals and then we will deport him,' Tan fumed. ... He also faulted Rolando Letrero and Ramelito Vela 'because they agreed to go with that fool.'"

BBC World News adds and retimes programs for Asia.

Posted: 22 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 13 June 2012: "BBC World News is announcing further improvements to its output in Asia, with new programmes and a new schedule for its flagship news programme. From 18 June, Newsday will move forward in the schedule to start at 6am in Singapore. BBC World News continues to invest in newsgathering and will produce new programmes from the region, including Mishal Husain Meets… and Thailand Direct. Newsday will run at 6.00, 7.00 and 8.00am in the morning [2200, 2300, 0000 UTC], with Asia Business Report and Sport Today on the half hour. Main presenter Babita Sharma will be in London, paired with Rico Hizon in Singapore. Newsday is presented live from Singapore and London and delivers an overview of the day’s big news stories, as well as the latest business and sports updates, each weekday. The programme looks at stories from both an Asian and global perspective and offers a thorough round-up for audiences both in the region and around the world."

Sky News Arabia app achieves "4*+ rating in just over a month." Amazing. What's a 4*+ rating?

Posted: 22 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
IMImobile press release, 19 June 2012: "IMImobile, a global provider of digital media solutions to telecom operators, media companies and enterprises, today revealed it is behind the hugely successful Sky News Arabia iPad app that has achieved a 4*+ rating in just over a month. The bespoke app delivers Arabic-language breaking news videos and articles by geographical region or category. The custom built tablet interface displays a unique rotating photo wall carousel, allowing users to select live-streaming news videos in a 3D environment. News stories are automatically uploaded to the app via an open API to ensure users have seamless access on the move to breaking news as it happens." -- Is it a 4*+ rating? Or is it a 4+ rating with the asterisk leading to a footnote, which I can't find in this press release? One version of a 4+ rating in apps would denote that it is suitable for all ages, but that isn't something that would be "achieved." NB: James Cridland answers the question: "Apple lets users rate apps in their App Store by using a five star rating system. In the scores, they actually show fractions of the stars coloured in - so you can get exactly 4 stars, or a little more than 4 stars. Hence 4*+." -- Obvious, then, that I'm not an Apple person.

US cable systems "have threatened to de-list BBC America" if BBC iPlayer brought to USA.

Posted: 22 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
paidContent, 19 June 2012, Robert Andrews: "The BBC is extending the 12-month trial of its pay-for overseas iPlayer, having not yet cracked the big nut of U.S. roll-out. paidContent understands U.S. cable networks are spooked that a U.S. iPlayer would hurt their TV service because it would carry shows aired by the BBC America linear channel, which they already carry to customers. They have threatened to de-list BBC America from their TV services if iPlayer launches. That has forced BBC Worldwide to choose between the two big brands for its U.S. strategy. BBC America, which, unlike iPlayer, already exists in the States, has won out. In U.S. terms, it does not have a large audience footprint, but is nevertheless the BBC’s biggest U.S.-facing brand. 'Most of us operating in the U.S. are at the behest of Time Warner and Comcast,' BBC Worldwide advertising EVP Chris Dobson... ."

BBC Worldwide Digital director on future of apps and on BBC distribution in USA via Netflix and iTunes.

Posted: 22 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Beet.TV, 20 June 2012, Andy Plesser: "Whilst the BBC Worldwide has made a considerable efforts around creating Apps for the Apple iOS and Android platforms, the future of Apps will be more Web-centric, in an HTML5 framework, says Daniel Heaf, MD and EVP for Digital, in this interview with Beet.TV. Heaf explains that among the reasons Apps will move from the current distribution platforms is a lack of discovery, along with economic issues. Also in this segment, he explain how BBC Worldwide has established a large audience in the United States via Netflix and iTunes. Heath was a speaker at the Beet.TV Video Summit at the BBC Worldwide headquarters last week." With video.

"Czech Helsinki Committee criticises RFE/RL over job contracts" (updated).

Posted: 21 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
ČTK, 5 June 2012: "The Czech Helsinki Committee (CHV) criticised Monday the procedure by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) that, it says, gives job seekers employment contracts with a disadvantageous clause, and Czech courts do not effectively protect the affected employees. The CHV told CTK Monday that two former employees - Snjezana Pelivan of Croatia and Anna Karapetyan of Armenia have turned to it. 'Both women signed with Radio Free Europe employment contracts with a clause on the choice of law of jurisdiction, that is the law of the United States. It terminated employment with both of them without stating the reasons,' the CHV said. ... Both disputes are now being dealt with ... by the [Czech] Supreme Court, the CHV said." See previous post about same subject.

Update: Hetq online, 13 June 2012: "For the first time ever a human rights organisation criticised another human rights organisation, and ironically - for violating human rights."

Lidove noviny, 15 June 2012, Lev Roitman, translation via BBG Watch: "Just don’t search the sites of BBG and RFE/RL, there is not a word there – a ridiculous, especially in the age of World Wide Web, Soviet-style attempt to hide publicly available and accessible information."

Rally in support of Radio Canada International employees draws more than 100.

Posted: 21 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada press release, 20 June 2012: "More than a hundred people demonstrated in front of the Radio-Canada-CBC building in Montreal today at noon in solidarity with the RCI Action Committee, a union-supported lobby of Radio Canada International employees. At the rally the Committee called on the federal government to stop the budget cuts at the international service, and to give RCI financial autonomy from Radio-Canada-CBC. ... SCRC [Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada] president Alex Levasseur, 'Canada's voice to the world is unique not because it broadcasts in different languages, but because it explains Canada to the rest of the world in these different languages. Our contextualized programming for people who may know little about Canada helps trade, tourism and immigration. And RCI's tradition of journalistic integrity has received worldwide respect and appreciation for 67 years.'" See also photos of the rally.

RCI Action Committee Facebook Page: Solidarity rally with employees of Radio Canada International, today at noon. "On the terrace in front of CBC Montreal - 1400 René-Lévesque boul est."

RCI Action Committee blog, 19 June 2012: "In March of 2008, the RCI Action Committee presented Hubert Lacroix, the president of Canada’s national public radio and television broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada, with a four page document. We were welcoming the new president with an outline of our concerns of how Canada’s Voice to the World had been handled by the CBC over the previous years. It included observations and suggestions. It also included a sampling of answers from a survey we had carried out of RCI employees. He never got back to us."

Le Devoir (Montréal), 21 June 2012, Stéphane Baillargeon: "L’abandon de la diffusion par ondes courtes serait de plus en plus observé chez les autres diffuseurs publics du monde. Cette technologie serait d’une « obsolescence indéniable » par rapport à « la seule voie porteuse d’avenir » du Web. « Prendre le virage Internet représente la meilleure stratégie pour assurer la viabilité de RCI et lui permettre de poursuivre sa mission de diffuser l’image du Canada dans le monde en atteignant un auditoire potentiel beaucoup plus important, écrit Marc Pichette, directeur des relations publiques de RC. Sur Internet, RCI devient un média interactif dynamique, accessible en tout temps, qui ne connaît pas de frontières. Dans sa formule renouvelée, RCI propose des webmagazines en français, en anglais, en espagnol, en arabe et en chinois [mandarin], des coproductions inédites, des productions multimédias, des nouvelles internationales et nationales et même un blogue actualités. »"

See previous post about same subject.

Aung San Suu Kyi visits BBC World Service, offering praise while lamenting loss of "versatile" programming.

Posted: 21 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC News, 19 June 2012: "[O]n Tuesday - her 67th birthday - [Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi visited] BBC World Service staff at the new Broadcasting House in central London. 'Because of the BBC, I never lost touch with my people, with the movement for democracy in Burma and with the rest of the world. For that, I would like to thank all of you very sincerely,' she said. But Ms Suu Kyi also said she was 'a little sad' about changes to programming on the World Service. 'I feel that the BBC World Service is not as versatile as it used to be - or perhaps I'm not listening at the right times,' she said. 'There used to be so many different programmes, and every time I listen to it now, it's news and commentaries. I miss the other old programmes... Bookshelf, Just a Minute, and so many others which I don't seem to hear now... It's not what it used to be,' she said."

The Guardian, Media Monkey, 20 June 2012: "'There used to be so many different programmes on,' she added, namechecking Just a Minute, Bookshelf and of course Dave Lee Travis's Jolly Good Show. 'I miss the old programmes, are they still on the World Service?' The BBC's director, global news Peter Horrocks, caught on this BBC News clip, does not appear entirely comfortable with the question. 'Some of them are, not all of them,' he replied. 'You see what I mean by saying it's not what I used to be!' responded Suu Kyi. The campaign to bring back Bookshelf starts now."

The Guardian, 19 June 2012, Caroline Davies: "At the BBC's Broadcasting House, Suu Kyi spoke movingly of what the World Service meant to her during the 15 years she spent in isolation under house arrest at her Rangoon villa on the orders of Burma's military junta."

BBC News, 19 June 2012: "The former BBC World Service disc jockey Dave Lee Travis has spoken about his meeting in London with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is visiting the UK. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate said she listened to his programme, A Jolly Good Show, during her time under house arrest. Dave Lee Travis said he was pleased to know the show had lifted her spirits, adding that he found her 'just fantastic'." With video.

Reuters, 20 June 2012, Sarah Mills, quoting Travis: "To think that somehow it helped her, I am sure it's not just me but loads of people, BBC World Service generally, it's just astonishing." See also Press Association, 18 June 2012. See previous post about same subject.

Voice of Russia commentator: VOA coverage of Obama-Putin meeting was "more on the balanced side" compared to other news outlets.

Posted: 21 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 21 June 2012, John Robles commentary: "The body language and the seriousness of the demeanor of [Presidents Obama and Putin at the G20 meeting in Mexico] was the subject of a lot of the commentary in the American press and media. However both leaders said the atmosphere was businesslike and productive. According to MSNBC the encounter between the President Putin and the US leader was chilly and cold, like a cold Moscow winter. In a piece for the AFP, Stephen Collinson characterized the meeting as; 'Obama embarking on what may be a treacherous presidential relationship', a bold and completely negative interpretation. The same writer went on to call President Putin 'the former KGB man', as if this is something bad. Could we say the same thing about Bush Senior being the 'former CIA man' as if this is something discrediting? ... The Voice of America was ... more on the balanced side reporting that 'U.S. President Barack Obama said tensions with Russia could be worked out following talks with the Russian president spanning a range of topics, including Syria, Iran and trade.' The VOA characterized the relationship between the leaders as 'prickly of late', citing the U.S. leader’s pointed delay in making a customary congratulatory call to his Russian counterpart after being elected to the post of president. They also mentioned President Putin’s decision to stay home rather than attend a Group of Eight meeting Mr. Obama hosted at his presidential retreat near Washington." Refers to VOA News, 18 June 2012.

NHK World says "establishing differentiation" is a reason for hotels to add it their channel line-ups.

Posted: 21 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Hospitality Net, 13 June 2012: "NHK, Japan's sole public broadcasting company, is introducng NHK WORLD TV for the first time at HITEC [Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference]. NHK WORLD TV, the international channel distributed by NHK's subsidiary, Japan International Broadcasting Inc. (JIB), will showcase its free-to-guest, English-speaking news, business and lifestyle programming service that is truly a welcoming sight for international travelers and a complement to a hotel's new or existing in-room entertainment package. ... 'By adding NHK WORLD TV to a hotel's TV channel line-up, owners and operators are enhancing the stay experience for international guests, and simultaneously achieving brand loyalty and establishing differentiation,' said Jay Campbell, NHK WORLD TV U.S. contact. 'Better yet, it's absolutely FREE to add it the hotel's existing in-room entertainment package or free-to-guest program.'" See also "top five reasons" for hotels to add NHK World.

e-Travel Blackboard, 21 June 2012: "Catering to the Chinese travel market, broadcast specialist, Vision247 has signed an agreement with China’s largest TV network, China Central Television (CCTV) to distribute its English language news to more than 500 hotels within the UK. Guests will be able to access CCTV’s news direct from their hotel rooms, with all information 'delivered from the Chinese cultural viewpoint', according to Vision247 chief executive John Mills. ... 'For travelling business people and those visiting the UK there is no excuse to miss out on high quality global broadcast news.'"

VOA's jazz man. No, not Willis Conover. Sim Copans, who preceded Conover.

Posted: 20 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
French News Online, 20 June 2012, Ken Pottinger: "Americans GIs and one in particular - Simon (Sim) Copans - played an important role in cementing France's love affair with jazz. ... Thanks to Sim Copans the popularity of jazz in France blossomed after World War II. His remarkable tale is also recounted more briefly here by Richard H. Cummings author of several books including "Radio Free Europe's 'Crusade for Freedom': Rallying Americans Behind Cold War Broadcasting, 1950-1960" (2010) on his Cold War Radio blog. ... Copans participated in the liberation of Paris and then got a liaison job with French radio thanks in part to his involvement with the Armed Forces Network (AFN) which installed a station in Rueil-Malmaison outside Paris. ... His role in disseminating jazz to the new generation in France is universally recognized in France and hard to overestimate says [scholar Roscoe Seldon] Suddarth. 'Copans, who remained in France until his death in 2000, became a kind of American ambassador of culture: delegate and presenter with the Voice of America (he hosted a retransmission of the Newport Jazz Festival on French radio), head of the Franklin Roosevelt Cultural Centre [sic] (this in fact is the Benjamin Franklin Library at the American Cultural Centre in Paris), and founder of L'Institut d'Études Américaines in 1959, where he also lectured. He was a major force in creating the jazz festival at Souillac, near Lanzac, his home from 1963 and where he died in 2000.'" See also this film clip from August 1950.

So many stations leaving shortwave that Glenn Hauser compiled a calendar of final transmissions.

Posted: 20 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The calendar is available at www.w4uvh.net/calendar.html. It includes the last radio programs of Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Radio Canada International. Also the final relay transmissions from Sackville, New Brunswick, of Radio Japan, Radio Korea, Vatican Radio, Voice of Vietnam, and the anti-Castro Radio República. And, unfortunately, more. See also Glenn's worldofradio.com, especially the most recent editions of DX Listening Digest.

Before Sackville and other shortwave transmitting sites are dismantled, they should try transmitting text and html, as described in The SWLing Post, 5 May 2012. No, it won't bring large audiences back to shortwave, but it will be a way to communicate news and information when the internet is disrupted. And it will be disrupted, at least temporarily, somewhere, sometime.

See previous post with the final Radio Netherlands transmissions schedules for English and Indonesian.

Papua New Guinea official praises Radio Australia news coverage.

Posted: 20 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, 20 June 2012: "A senior figure in Papua New Guinea has done something a little unusual by praising an Australian media outlet for its coverage of the country. PNG's former Chief Magistrate John Numapo, who is also Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into the country's Special Agriculture and Business Leases, has singled out Radio Australia as providing fair and balanced coverage of recent political events in the country. He tells Bruce Hill that while many PNG leaders have criticised the Australian media in the past, there are some outlets which have done a good job." With audio. -- Lynley Marshall, the new CEO of Radio Australia's parent entity, ABC International, should be pleased. See previous post.

Voice of Russia now originating 3 hours a day from London, already dinged by Ofcom.

Posted: 19 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 13 June 2012: "A ceremony celebrating Voice of Russia beginning to broadcast in the UK has just been held at the Russian Embassy on June 12. The Russian radio company now locally produces on air content in London, broadcasted on the UK’s Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) frequency. Broadcasting started on March 26, 2012. So far the amount of airtime is only three hours, from 16:00 to 19:00 local time on working days. The rest of the time the radio station broadcasts from Moscow. ... The Russian Embassy in London has hosted a presentation of the Voice of Russia radio station. Speaking at the event, company’s chairman Andrei Bystritsky said: 'A lot can be said about the history of radio. But I’d like to underscore that the Voice of Russia is the world’s oldest radio station broadcasting abroad and its history runs deeper than that of the BBC. The Voice of Russia first appeared on air on October 29, 1929. However, broadcasts abroad started even earlier, with the first programs transmitted by the Komintern radio station back in the Soviet time. The Voice of Russia isn’t formally recognized as its heir. Still, Komintern went on the airwaves in 1921, trailed by the BBC in 1931 and Deutsche Welle in 1934, which makes the Voice of Russia the world’s oldest broadcaster'. ... Today the radio company broadcasts to 160 countries in 38 languages for a total of 151 hours per day, on short and medium waves, in the FM band, via satellite and through global mobile communication networks. In many countries Voice of Russia programming is available on local airwaves. For example, in Turkey the Voice of Russia broadcasts in 15 cities 24 hours a day (in Ankara on 107.0 FM, in Istanbul on 106.4 FM, in Izmir on 90.3 FM), in the USA (in Washington on 1390 ??, in New York on1430 ??), in Brazil (in Rio-de-Janeiro on 1090 ??, in São Paulo on 1570 ??), in Kiev (the capital of Ukraine, on 106.0 FM), and also in Serbia, Poland, India, CIS countries, Baltic States and other countries."

Pink News, 14 June 2012, Stephen Gray: "Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has ruled that an interview with Christian therapist Lesley Pilkington on Russian state radio in which the presenter referred to homosexuality as a ‘disorder’ to be ‘cured’ and decried ‘aggressive homosexual propaganda’ breached the Broadcasting Code when it aired in the UK. Lesley Pilkington appeared on Voice of Russia’s Religion and Society programme in February this year to discuss her then-upcoming appeal to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy."

Voice of Russia, 13 June 2012, excerpt of interview with Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the UK, commenting on Russian media in the UK: "First of all, I’d like to say there was a huge success of Russia Today. When I was travelling from the airport to the residence for the first time I switched the TV on the automobile and I was surprised to get the signal of the RT. When I spoke to the diplomatic core, most of the ambassadors are watching it. Now I think they would prefer to listen to the Voice of Russia, because this is a competitive world, there’re different points of view and of course if we have just one radio, it won’t be enough. That’s why definitely Voice of Russia will be very useful for listeners. I know that the program is not just politics, it’s also culture, sport, exchange of ideas. I’d like to say that the British are very curious of different points of view. That’s why from my perspective this would be quite useful to have the Voice of Russia and we’re glad to have it now."

Another remembrance of Bush House, the move from which BBC World Service will soon complete.

Posted: 19 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Irish Times, 14 July 2012, Paul Clements, writing about Bush House, the soon to be vacated headquarters of BBC World Service: "During my sojourn there in 1989 – a fascinating year marked by the Central European annus mirabilis – the newsroom was mostly staffed by elderly men in cardigans padding around in slippers; it was a fun place to work. The corporation’s soft shoe allowance was still paid which meant journalists could tiptoe into radio studios to deliver late-breaking news to the presenters from far-flung corners of the globe. To walk the corridors, wander through the newsroom, peer into some of the 54 studios, or stray into one of the wings, was to experience a linguistic tour of the world. Catch the right time and you could hear snatches of Pashto, Persian, Swahili or Hausa, as well as the distinctive strains of Lilliburlero, originally written as a skit on the Irish Catholic supporters of King James and which since 1955 has been used as a famed news signature tune. More than 100 journalists worked shifts in the sprawling newsroom. Many were hard-bitten hacks who had been seasoned reporters in the field with a wealth of experience but were still mildly excited at reports of a ministerial reshuffle in a little-known African republic. Aside from its reputation for accuracy, the newsroom’s proudest boast was that it was open all year." -- The last broadcast from Bush House will be 12 July. Many BBCWS language services are already originating their programs from New Broadcasting House. See also BBC World Service equipment from Bush House to be auctioned (pdf).

BBC Worldwide licenses Royal Ascot coverage to Al Jazeera's sports channel in France.

Posted: 19 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 19 June 2012: "BBC Worldwide has licensed the live broadcast rights to prestigious five day race-meeting Royal Ascot to three new broadcasters, Channel Seven Australia, beIN Sport France and Eurosport Asia. In total, BBC Worldwide has licensed the Royal Ascot coverage to 91 territories. Territories also taking the live feed include CBC Canada, RAI Italy and NHK Japan." -- beIN Sport is Al Jazeera's new sports channel.

BBC Worldfide press release, 14 June 2012: "The BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations from 3-5 June proved a ratings hit for BBC Worldwide’s portfolio of channels with close to 5 million viewers tuning in across the globe to share in the festivities and markets such as Singapore, the US and South Africa achieving record channel ratings for the broadcasts. The figures show that international viewers’ fervour for royal celebrations remains as high as that for the Royal Wedding between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year. ... In Singapore, the popularity of the Diamond Jubilee broadcasts meant that BBC Knowledge was the #1 factual channel and the #1 most watched non-kids International channel among all Pay TV channels during 1-5 June 2. The celebrations gave the channel its best performing Sunday-Tuesday performance in terms of share percentage since its launch in 2007. In the US, coverage of the Thames Pageant helped to make Sunday 3rd June BBC AMERICA’s #1 Sunday of all time in total day delivery with a total day reach of over 3.3 million."

ATV Today, 18 June 2012, Dominic Knoght: "BBC America has revealed a host of series purchases for the network to begin airing next month on the United States broadcaster from BBC Worldwide. ... [Including[ The Nerdist. Host Chris Hardwick – comedian, writer, Doctor Who fan and creator of the hit Nerdist podcast – joins special guests in a comedic roundtable discussion of all the things that nerds love, from pop culture to news, tech trends and more."

MediaMughals, 18 June 2012: "A new seven part series on BBC World News, Collaboration Culture explores the exciting conversations that take place when leading personalities from fashion, dance, music and art are paired together to combine forces on a new, innovative project. What happens when you bring two fashion designers from different parts of the world to work together? Or when a leading Bollywood dancer is paired with an Arab-American Classical Composer? What happens when a British artist gets together with a Ghanaian coffin sculptor? ... In the series premiere on 30 June, Argentinian fashion designer Martin Churpa travels to Mumbai to collaborate with Indian designer Shilpa Chavan, known as 'Little Shilpa', to create a series of beautiful and unique outfits that will marry their two cultures perfectly."

Independent Online (Cape Town), 18 June 2012, Debashine Thangevelo quoting Komla Dumor, anchor of BBC's new Focus on Africa television news program: “The success of many African businesses and the expansion of the African financial industry and the growth of telecommunications with it are stories that deserve to be told. Our goal is to provide a balance, not set an agenda. There are also a lot of difficulties and challenges that the contingent faces. I think we need a balance for all kinds of stories.”

In Cuba, the Internet is banned, but number connected to the "intranet" increases 40%.

Posted: 19 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 15 June 2012, Marc Franc: "The number of Cubans linked to the country's state-controlled intranet jumped more than 40 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year and mobile phone use rose 30 percent, the government reported, even as Cuba's population remained largely cut off from unfettered access to the Internet. ... There is no broadband Internet in Cuba and the relatively few Internet users suffer through agonizingly long waits to open an email, let alone view a photo or video, which also hampers government and business operations. ... Cuba reports intranet use as Internet use even though access to the Internet is banned without government permission. ... Access to satellite television is also severely restricted. Satellite TV access in Cuba is illegal without special permission from the government and authorities regularly raid neighborhoods and homes in search of satellite dishes."

The Ledger (Lakeland FL), 16 June 2012, editorial: "Marco Rubio, U.S. senator from Florida, is right: America should use its technological prowess to extend affordable Internet access in Cuba. Rubio — a Republican from Miami — said during a recent Senate hearing that the United States has the capability to use satellites to provide Internet access in Cuba. Such access, Rubio contended, would enable pro-democracy Cubans to exchange information, mobilize politically and learn more about life off the island. ... The best ways to promote democracy and enable Cubans to gain the prosperity to afford technology would be to ease the embargo, and increase cultural and economic exchanges."

AP, 21 May 2012: "It was all sunshine, smiles and celebratory speeches as officials marked the arrival of an undersea fiber-optic cable they promised would end Cuba‘s Internet isolation and boost web capacity 3,000-fold. Even a retired Fidel Castro had hailed the dawn of a new cyber-age on the island. More than a year after the February 2011 ceremony on Siboney Beach in eastern Cuba, and 10 months after the system was supposed to have gone online, the government never mentions the cable anymore, and Internet here remains the slowest in the hemisphere. ... Perhaps most maddening, nobody has explained what happened to the much-ballyhooed $70 million project. ... The cable was strung from Venezuela with the help of key ally Hugo Chavez."

South Africa's SABC TV channels will no longer be available free-to-air in neighboring countries.

Posted: 18 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Business Day (Johannesburg), 15 June 2012, Ray Ndlovu and Khulekani Magubane: "Zimbabwean television viewers are anxious about a looming blackout of free-to-air SABCTV channels broadcast through Sentech, SA’s state-owned signal carrier. This follows the expiry last month of a three-month grace period extended to Sentech by a Johannesburg court ahead of a signal cut-off. Free-to-air decoders in Zimbabwe receive Sentech’s SABC signals, allowing Zimbabweans to watch SABC 1, 2 and 3. In February, the court ordered Sentech to 'take all reasonable steps necessary' to encrypt its signal within the next three months, after finding it guilty of being 'wrongful, negligent and in breach' over its failure to encrypt its signal. The case against Sentech was brought by rival e.tv’s Botswana subsidiary, eBotswana, which accused Sentech of promoting "signal piracy'. ... SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago yesterday confirmed that the encryption would cut off SABC transmission to free-to-air decoders in countries such as Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique. 'We broadcast in SA and Sentech is in charge of ensuring the signal is protected and stays in SA,' he said. 'Anybody who is not in SA and is watching SABC content terrestrially is doing so illegally.'" -- SABC cannot be viewed terrestrially very far from the South Africa border. Most viewing in neighboring countries is probably via Sentech's Vivid satellite bouquet on Intelsat 7.

Financial Gazette (Harare), 15 June 2012: "If disconnected, viewers face the dismal prospect of either going back to ZTV or the more expensive option of paying for Digital Satellite Television (DStv) which ranges from US$10 to US$72 per month depending on the package one likes. ... Sentech distributes free-to-air channels such as South African Broadcasting Corpo-ration (SABC) 1, 2 and 3 among others, which are popular among Zimbabweans who use Wiztech, Philibao, Fortec Star and Vivid decoders to gain free access to the channels. ... Anglistone Sibanda, National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations western region secretary-general, said the departure of SABC would deal a heavy blow on the people of Matabeleland, the majority of who have no access to ZBC. ... Sibanda said SABC should wait to cut-off Zimbabwe until elections, to counter ZANU-PF propaganda that usually overwhelms ZBC during polls. He added that it would be difficult for many to subscribe to DStv, adding that external radio stations such as The Voice of America’s Studio 7 would have to increase their hours of broadcast to cover up for the gap created by SABC. The SABC channels have become popular with thousands of Zimbabweans, who are frustrated by poor programming, a dearth on local broadcasting standards and the lack of variety from the only broadcaster, ZBC."

Advanced Television, 18 June 2012, Chris Forrester: "MultiChoice Zimbabwe, which offers pay-TV on its DStv platform, would benefit from the looming blackout."

Final Radio Netherlands English and Indonesian shortwave transmission schedule.

Posted: 18 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Shortwave DXing from Bulgaria, 18 June 2012: "All transmissions of Radio Netherlands World [Service] in English and Indonesian on short waves will be terminated. Here the updated schedule." -- Showing additional transmissions on 29 June, for the special farewell program, including English to North America. Spanish continues on shortwave after 2 July, 1100-1157 UTC on 9895 kHz, via Bonaire. See previous post about same subject.

DX Listening Digest Yahoo! Group, 17 June 2012, Glenn Hauser has a list of June farewell broadcasts and stations that will lose their shortwave relays via the Radio Canada International facility at Sackville, New Brunswick.

"Taking Canada's voice off the world stage."

Posted: 18 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Ottawa Citizen, 15 June 2012, Chris Cobb: "In apparent collaboration with the Conservative government, CBC is slashing 80 per cent of Radio Canada’s budget and busting the venerable Voice of Canada international shortwave service down to an Internet radio station. The $10 million cut — from $12.3 million to $2.3 million — will shut out access to Radio Canada broadcasts for swaths of the world’s population — including China, where RCI’s Internet site is blocked, and to millions of people in India and South America — all major Canadian trading partners. ... NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar accused the CBC and the Conservative government of 'taking Canada’s voice off the world stage.' 'It is sneaky,' he said in an interview with the Citizen. 'They are pretending they aren’t killing it, but they are.'" -- "Voice of Canada" is not typically used to ID RCI.

Ottawa Citizen, 16 June 2012, Chris Cobb: "If CBC carries through with its plan to reduce Radio Canada International from a shortwave radio service to an internet radio station, it will effectively be taking Canada out of international broadcasting, a U.S. broadcast specialist said Saturday. 'Just having a web page or internet presence isn’t enough,' Kim Andrew Elliott told the Citizen. 'You can build a website but they will not necessarily come. It’s easy to get lost among the thousands of other internet sites.'"

RCI Action Committee, 15 June 2012, e-mail Canada's Heritage Minister James Morre: "A little more than 24 hours ago we at the RCI Action Committee found out that on June 7, 2012, you changed the Order in Council that directs CBC/Radio-Canada in its obligations under the Broadcasting Act in dealing with Radio Canada International. You have eliminated CBC’s obligation to provide programming on shortwave, depriving almost all Chinese listeners of uncensored news from Canada, since the website of RCI is blocked by the Chinese authorities. And you have made it impossible for most listeners in the world to stay abreast of what’s going on in Canada via radio, because most people do not have easy access to the Internet."

The Canadian Press, 15 June 2012, Mike Blanchfield: “'These changes are the result of proposals the CBC submitted to us, and we accepted. The CBC has the money necessary to fulfil its mandate and we appreciate the CBC doing its part to contribute to balancing the budget,' [Canadian Heritage] spokesman James Maunder said in an emailed response to questions."

@BoatinginCanada, 16 June 2012: "Radio Canada International was our only connection to Canada/World when were cruised offshore - but Canada's government has canceled #RCI"

@RCI_Action, 16 June 2012: "Ironic: Today, a week before Radio Canada International is Internet only, the audio is not working on our website."

See previous post about same subject.

Bahrain takes its channels off of Arabsat in protest against Iranian channels on Arabsat.

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 10 June 2012, Robert Briel: "The state of Bahrain has decided to quit Arabsat in protest at Iranian channels being broadcast over the Badr satellite system. Instead, the Bahrain based TV Bouquet has now switched to the privately owned Noorsat satellite system. Noorsat was established in Bahrain in December 2004 as a private company to provide satellite space segments and operate satellite based communications infrastructure for the Arab World and neighbouring countries. Bahrain’s state news agency BNA reported the country’s Information Affairs Authority (IAA) criticised Arabsat for failing to heed repeated requests 'to take an official measure' against Iranian channels which also broadcast on Arabsat. These channels, it said, were waging a “hostile media campaign” against Bahrain and Saudi Arabia 'to incite sectarianism and shake security and stability' in the Sunni-ruled kingdoms."

Digital TV Europe, 11 June 2012: "Satellite operator Arabsat has criticised media coverage of Bahrain’s Radio and Television Union’s decision to stop broadcasting its bouquet of channels on Arabsat’s Badr 4 satellite at 26° East. Coverage has focused on Bahrain’s decision being a response to the transmission of Iranian channels on the satellite that allegedly incited sectarian strife in the troubled Gulf kingdom. Arabsat said that its last contract for capacity with the Iranian Space Agency was signed five years ago, that the capacity leased by the agency was limited in coverage and that its channels were difficult to receive in the Arab World and that the Al-Alam channel, the main source of Bahrain’s ire, ceased broadcasting on Arabsat’s transponders over the Arab world two years ago but continued to broadcast on Nilesat." See also Arabsat press release, 10 June 2012.

Bahrain News Agency, 10 June 2012: "What is being broadcast by the Iranian channels on Bahrain is not merely 'political and religious discussions', as alleged by ARABSAT in its statement, but rather media materials against Bahrain and Saudi Arabia aimed at disseminating lies and fallacies to incite sectarianism, hatred, violence, terrorism and shake stability and security in the Gulf countries-something that is completely in breach of the media work ethics."

Space News, 15 June 2012, Peter B. de Selding: "On June 9, Arabsat issued a statement saying it is an innocent bystander to 'political and religious debates. Arabsat has nothing to do with it.' Bahrain and all other Arabsat shareholders approved the Iranian lease contract in 2007, which led to Arabsat’s order of the Badr-5 satellite, launched in mid-2010, Arabsat said in its statement. Arabsat further said the Iranian broadcast beams are trained on Iran only. Arabsat admitted that some of the broadcasts might be picked up outside Iran by users with large dish antennas. To reduce this, Arabsat said, it is reducing the signal strength of the Iranian programming."

Radio station on US base in northeastern Afghanistan features "mix of music and unvetted politics."

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 10 June 2012, Rob Taylor: "It has just one phone line and broadcasts from a plywood hut safe within a U.S. base, but Nari Radio is proving an unlikely hit in one of Afghanistan's most troubled regions, with a talk-back caller base that counts even the Taliban. Nari was set up in the northeastern province of Kunar, in the foothills of the Hindu Kush, to reach far-flung communities in the valleys beneath soaring passes beside Pakistan, including insurgent strongholds in Nuristan, about 30 km (20 miles) to the north and rarely visited by U.S. forces. But with its mix of music and unvetted politics in a poverty-stricken area where radio still counts as new media, Nari has been an unexpected success for U.S. troops trying to counter an insurgency that remains strong, just months from a handover of security to Afghan forces. ... The majority of people ring in to complain about Taliban encroachment into remote valleys barely touched by Afghan security forces or ... the last U.S. combat forces based permanently in northern Kunar, with a pullout underway and scheduled for completion in October. ... 'They are not even real Taliban. They are Pakistanis. They do not even speak Pashto,' the caller says, raising a frequent accusation by Afghans."

Radio Prague recalls its broadcasts to Africa of the 1980s, "following closely the Soviet political line."

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Prague, 9 June 2012, David Vaughan: "In the last years of the Cold War, Radio Prague’s English department was many times bigger than it is today and divided into several sections, devoted to different parts of the world. One of the most important was the Afro-Asian service. Africa was an important Cold War battleground and Radio Prague’s Afro-Asian service was not just telling the people of Africa about Czechoslovakia. It also covered events within Africa itself, following closely the Soviet political line. At one time the department was receiving tens of thousands of listeners’ letters every year. ... As it summarized events in Africa in 1985, Radio Prague’s Afro-Asian service concluded that there was one hope for the continent’s future: 'There are so many protracted problems Africa has inherited from its colonial past that their solution will take several decades at the usual pace of evolution – unless all of us are surprised. There were many who back in 1917 doubted that Soviet Russia could overcome its fatal backwardness by the end of this century. It did, and so can Africa.' It is worth pointing out that at the time Prague had big ambitions when it came to international broadcasting. Throughout the 1980s a vast new radio complex was under construction that aimed to rival Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Munich. It was never completed, and for many years stood derelict. It has now been rebuilt as an office block."

Self-proclaimed Puntland press release calls VOA interview with "self-proclaimed" Somali elder a "fraud."

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Raxanreeb.com, 11 June 2012, onpassing press release purportedly from the "Puntland Government": "On 9 June 2012, the Voice of America (VOA) Somali Section gave a five-minute interview on the air to a self-proclaimed ‘Somali community elder’ who claimed to be living in Puntland State. The interview subject, whom VOA reporter Abdullahi Nur Mohamed 'Colombo' incorrectly identified as a community elder named Mr. Shire Farah Mohamud, claimed that he lives in Bali-Dhidhin village of Bari Region. Puntland Government has no information confirming the existence of a known community elder named Mr. Shire Farah Mohamud in Bari Region, and therefore the interview subject was a fraud. ... The VOA reporter’s lead-in questions portray the picture that the reporter is sympathetic to pirates and other criminal groups. ... Puntland Government calls upon the U.S. State Department and the VOA Board of Governors to analyze and review the culture of biased reporting at the VOA Somali Section since 2009." -- I can't verify that this is an authentic Puntland government press release. It does show, however, how easy it is for VOA broadcasts to the Horn of Africa to be the subject of controversy.

New host for VOA's "longest running radio program," Music Time in Africa.

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America press release, 11 June 2012: "Music Time in Africa, Voice of America’s longest running radio program, gets a new host this week, as Heather Maxwell takes over the award winning show. Maxwell, an ethnomusicologist and Afrojazz singer who has been working, researching and performing in Africa since 1987, will be producing and hosting the program, and writing for the companion blog, African Music Treasures. ... Music Time in Africa was founded in 1965 by veteran VOA broadcaster Leo 'Music Man for Africa' Sarkisian, whose dazzling and unparalleled collection of original African music is now housed at the VOA studios in Washington. ... Find the Music Time in Africa program page at www.voanews.com." -- If the PROGRAMS link is not visible at the top of the voanews.com web page, use the Radio Programs link at the bottom of the page. Or try this direct link to the Music Time in Africa page.

Report says USG media technology implementers and content creators "have much to learn from each other."

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Center for International Media Assistance: "CIMA is pleased to release a new report, The Medium versus the Message: U.S. Government Funding for Media in an Age of Disruption, by Anne Nelson, a veteran writer and journalism educator. Over the past four years, digital media have been transforming both the premises and the practices of U.S. government funding in media development. While Congress is cutting back on foreign aid budgets, resources to launch new digital media programs continue to grow. Media development professionals agree that some aspect of digital technology is now embedded in virtually every government-funded media project. Many highly technical programs, such as those addressing Internet security and circumvention, have proliferated. At the same time, traditional media development programs, including some that stress creation of quality content, face new challenges. These include geopolitical controversies and growing pressure to create metrics to prove quantitative results for qualitative missions." With link to full report in pdf format.

From the report: "Over the past four years, digital media have been transforming both the premises and the practices of U.S. government funding in media development. While Congress is cutting back on foreign aid budgets, resources to launch new digital media programs continue to grow. ... These urgent concerns have shifted the areas of operations for the State Department, USAID, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), and have created new rivalries among them. ... The U.S. government should take steps to: ... Create stronger connections between implementers working on technological platforms and those supporting the creation of content. Both sides have much to learn from each other, and the media development culture would benefit from less of an 'either/or' approach."

Decades ago, directors of the Voice of America supervised the programming, engineering, and administrative elements of VOA. The best VOA directors (like small radio stations owners) knew something about both the programming and the engineering components, and were able to combine the two for best effect. Now, with programming under VOA and engineering under IBB, that synergy may be more difficult to achieve.

Radio Netherlands compares Dutch TV news to that of Venezuela, Indonesia, South Africa and China."

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 29 May 2012, Marco Hochgemuth: "In the ongoing battle for young viewers, the Dutch public service broadcaster NOS has introduced a new look and feel to its authoritative evening television news slot. There’s more accent on visuals and the presenter moves around the studio. The changes are bound to attract complaints, but should the Dutch really grumble? We take a look at the TV news in Venezuela, Indonesia, South Africa and China."

VOA reports on Chinese woman astronaut. RFA reports on Chinese woman astronaut. RFE/RL, ditto.

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America, 16 June 2012, Stephani Ho: "China successfully launched its first woman astronaut into orbit on a mission that marks an important step in the country's plans to build a permanent space station. ... The spacecraft carries a crew of three astronauts, including China's first female in space, Liu Yang. The Shenzhou 9 is set to dock with another spacecraft, Tiangong 1, which is in orbit more than 300 kilometers above Earth. ... The crew is expected to spend 13 days in space, conducting scientific, medical and technological experiments."

RFE/RL, 16 June 2012, citing Reuters and AP: "China is just the third country to put its own woman into space. Chang Wanquan, commander in chief of China's manned space program, said the craft had entered orbit, and declared the launch a 'complete success.' ... The astronauts will remain in orbit for about a week."

Radio Free Asia, 15 June 2012, Xi Wang: Liu was hand-picked out of three potential female candidates who had undergone the grueling taikonaut training, including a huge body of theoretical knowledge, tough environmental and psychological tests, and a required 100 percent grade in examinations of operational skills." -- This is a pre-launch story. As of 1200 UTC on 17 June 2012, RFA does not have an English story about the launch having taken place, but it does have the following item in Chinese...

Radio Free Asia, 16 June 2012: "星期六下午,中国成功发射神舟九号飞船,飞船搭载三名航天员进入太空,实施首次载人空间交会对接任务。三名航天员中,女航天员刘洋是中国首位进入太空的女性。" -- Entire story.

Xinhua, 17 June 2012, via China Radio International: "'We developed a new series of spacesuits for female astronauts', said Li Tanqiu, deputy chief designer of the astronaut system department. ... For female astronauts, Chen's fellow crew had introduced low-fat food and added more vegetables to the menu, which also features desserts, chocolate and food with blood-enriching effects."

Xinhua, 16 June 2012, via China Radio International: "The United States welcomes other nations that wish to join the endeavor of the peaceful exploration of space, a NASA spokesperson said Friday while commenting on China's imminent launch of its Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft. 'The United States has been engaged in the peaceful exploration of space for more than 50 years, and we welcome those other nations that wish to join this endeavor,' NASA spokesperson Allard Beutel told Xinhua in an email interview."

ABC News and Univision will start English-language cable channel for US Hispanics (updated).

Posted: 17 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
New York Times, Media Decoder, 7 May 2012, Brian Stelter: "Catering to the growing number of bilingual Hispanics in the United States who watch English-language television, Univision and the ABC News division of the Walt Disney Company are teaming up to start a cable channel with news and lifestyle programming. Through the joint venture, both companies see an opportunity to grow: Disney, by negotiating a per-subscriber fee for the channel that will support ABC News, and Univision, by expanding into English-speaking media for the first time. The companies will each own 50 percent of the venture. They said Monday morning that the channel — which is as yet unnamed — would start sometime in the first half of 2013." See also ABC News, 8 May 2012, video report. See previous post about NBC Universal's Mun2.

Update: Ad Age blog, 8 June 2012, Edward T. Rincón: "It must not have been an easy decision for Univision, the Spanish-language media giant, to join ABC in creating an English-language TV network and digital platform aimed at U.S. Latinos. Why? Because it departs sharply from Univision's long-standing position that Spanish is the best way to communicate with Hispanics in this country. ... Univision has probably come to acknowledge that not all U.S. Hispanics want a steady diet of novelas, game shows and international news -- programming that appeals primarily to Hispanic immigrants. The audience for the new network will likely be composed primarily of native-born, English-speaking Hispanics who will want to see programming that is relevant to their experience in the United States."

Was: government shortwave radio. Is: anti-government shortwave radio, e.g. to Fiji.

Posted: 15 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, 11 June 2012: "The Fiji Freedom and Democracy Movement in Australia has leased half an hour a week on the World Radio Network, a shortwave broadcaster, to get its anti-government message across. Tui Savu, from the Australia-based Fiji Freedom and Democracy Movement told Pacific Beat that they have received positive feedback about the new program's impact. ... 'Fijians, the way they have been raised, is that whatever comes through the media, they take it as gospel. So we are wanting to show an alternative, the other side. The reason why we went for the radio is because the internet is only limited. This is a heart and mind campaign, directed at Fijians staying in the villages and rural areas. These are the people whose only source of information is through the radio.' At present the program is for just 30 minutes broadcast only in Fijian. But Mr Savo says there are plans to eventually increase the program to one hour and address different groups within Fiji. ... 'They know very well that if people start listening to the truth and to the other versions of what is truly happening in Fiji, then the people will be able to make up their own decisions.'" -- Somewhat comparable to Radio Free Sarawak. Is it really an "anti-government message," or more complete information that from Fiji's own media, allowing Fijians "to make up their own decisions"? It's interesting that as government funded stations such as Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Radio Canada International leave the air, "anti-government" stations are coming on the air. See also Fiji Democracy & Freedom Movement.

"If you have a problem in your village ... tell the world about it through Radio Free Sarawak."

Posted: 15 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Planetsave, 11 June 2012: "Peter John Jaban is a broadcaster with the independent radio station Radio Free Sarawak, which operates from a small flat in Covent Garden. The station is openly opposed to the government of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, which is led by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. Chief Minister Taib has held power since 1981, amassing enormous wealth in this time. Broadcasting in Indigenous languages, Radio Free Sarawak highlights issues occurring in native communities across Sarawak. As mentioned on the Radio Free Sarawak website, 'if you have a problem in your village or if someone is taking your land, logging, planting or polluting your area… tell the world about it through Radio Free Sarawak.'"

Free Malaysia Today, 10 June 2012, Peter John Jaban: "I’ve decided that my future is here. I was born here and I intend to remain here. There is so much work to be done, especially with crucial elections just round the corner. ... I started Radio Free Sarawak and moved to London mainly because freedom of expression here in my own country is lacking – something that I am trying to change. But, I just couldn’t stay away."

The Economist, 9 June 2012: "[T]he [Sarawak] opposition is being greatly helped by the broadcasts of Radio Free Sarawak (RFS). Whereas most of the local media are controlled by government—and it shows—RFS, broadcasting on short wave from London, attacks the chief minister and his 'cronies' for maladministration and alleged corruption."

See previous post about same subject. And radiofreesarawak.org.

Premise of Pakistani version of Sesame Street, defunded by USAID, was "a bit of a stretch," he writes.

Posted: 15 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Foreign Policy, 6 June 2012, Stephen M. Walt: "The U.S. Agency for International Development is pulling the plug on the Pakistani version of Sesame Street, which it was funding as part of its broader development and public diplomacy efforts. The reason given was alleged fraud in the handling of funds, although the Pakistani producer responsible for the program denies any malfeasance. Bottom line: another upbeat moment on the increasingly fraught U.S. relationship with Pakistan. I'm glad to hear that State's money managers are keeping a watchful eye on expenditures, but the whole theory behind this initiative seems dubious to me. Apparently the idea was that if you got Pakistani tots acquainted with cute Muppets like Elmo (the only character transplanted from the U.S. version), they'd develop a greater love of learning, a better sense of social tolerance, and they might even grow up with a more favorable image of the United States. I'm not one to deny the power of television, but this strikes me as a bit of a stretch. The Pakistani version of Sesame Street (known locally as Sim Sim Hamara) may have been popular with kiddies (I don't know) and may even have encouraged some basic literacy and tolerance." -- I think literacy and tolerance were the goals of this project, more than trying to bring about a favorable opinion of the United States. Literacy and tolerance bring about more moderate behavior, creating an atmosphere in which terrorism is less likely to flourish, and in which the United States can enjoy a bit more security. See also www.simsimhamara.org.

"517 Channels And Nothing's On": an adventure in international TV viewing.

Posted: 14 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Gadling, 11 June 2012, Dave Seminara: "I found a beautiful, affordable two-bedroom apartment in Samos [Greece] at a place called Sirena Village and when they told me they had a satellite TV subscription with more than 500 channels, I almost wept in joy. Surely of those 500 channels, one of them would be showing the French Open, and the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, right? ... What did I find? ... [A] host of unwatchable programs from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Poland, Romania, Syria, Yemen and a host of other countries. Oddly enough, there were almost no Greek channels. At first, I was just angry. There were 517 channels, but only four I'd actually consider watching: BBC World, France 24 in English, CCTV and Al Jazeera International. But later, when I decided to indulge my curiosity in this truly bizarre satellite TV package, I was able to laugh at the absurdity of it all. I had more channels from Kurdistan than from the U.S. I had the Somali Network, but not CNN. I had Dubai Sports 3, which seems to show no actual sporting events, rather than ESPN or Eurosport."

Al Mayadeen, newest pan-Arab news channel, described as the "anti Al Jazeera."

Posted: 14 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
AP, 12 June 2012, Zeina Karam: "A new pan-Arab TV station that went on the air Monday courts viewers who see mainstream coverage of the political upheaval sweeping the Middle East as biased against the regimes in Syria and Iran and their close ally in Lebanon, the powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah. The Beirut-based station Al-Mayadeen, Arabic for The Squares, hopes to counter the influence of regional media heavyweights like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, both funded by oil-rich Sunni Gulf Arab countries that have backed the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad. It also promises to support the Palestinian cause and all forms of 'resistance' — a term in Mideast parlance usually used to describe Hezbollah and other groups that fight Israel. Al-Mayadeen is headed by Ghassan bin Jiddo, a well-known Tunisian journalist who quit Qatar-based Al-Jazeera last year to protest what he contended was one-sided reporting in favor of the Syrian opposition. Since the Syrian revolt began 15 months ago, some Arabs have accused Al Jazeera of whipping up public opinion against Assad’s regime and playing on sectarian tensions."

France 24, 12 June 2012: "With its slogan, 'Reality like it is,' ... Al Mayadeen ... promises to objectively cover a region that has been home to strong opinions and even stronger emotions. But Al Mayadeen has its own critics who say the channel is backed by the regimes in Syria and Iran, making for its own set of biases."

NOW Lebanon, 6 June 2012, Shane Farrell: "With Al Mayadeen’s studios in world capitals, across the Arab world and in Iran, and with a current staff of around 500, according to reports, question have inevitably been raised as to the source of its very sizeable funding and whether the channel will reflect the agendas of those providing the money."

Al Akhbar, 4 June 2012, Bassem Alhakim: Channel director Ghassan Ben Jeddo "stresses that Al Mayadeen is going to 'disappoint two segments within the audience. First, those who believe the channel is going to raise the banner of extremism and second, audiences sympathetic to the mumana'a (obstruction) and resistance axis who think that the channel is going to launch an assault on other channels.' Both sides will notice that Al Mayadeen is a 'professional channel that reflects reality. If we are able to speak to the silent majority that is looking for accurate information then we will have succeeded,' says news director Sami Kulaib. He told Al-Akhbar that 'all sides will be represented without bias and without excluding anyone,' adding that 'this will be implemented at the internal experimental stage of the news broadcasts.'"

Jewish News 1 adds French, with Spanish and Arabic planned.

Posted: 14 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Digital TV Europe, 6 June 2012: "Jewish News 1 (JN1), the 24-hour news channel launched last year, is launching a French-language version, according to various Russian and Ukrainian press reports. JN1 initially launched in Russian and English, with a Ukrainian version also launching recently. According to the reports, the French version is now available on the Astra satellite platform and will soon launch on the Galaxy platform to extend its coverage. Further language versions in Spanish and Arabic are also planned in the coming months, according to the reports." See also fr.jn1.tv

Controversial biopic about Uighur leader gets limited Asian airing via Australia Network.

Posted: 14 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Australian, 11 June 2012, Rowan Callick: "The controversial Australian-made biopic on Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, The 10 Conditions of Love, finally gained a screening on the ABC-operated Australia Network yesterday. Producer John Lewis said that he was delighted the film, about the Turkish ethnic group in Central Asia, was broadcast after a two-year delay, but disappointed that 'the critical Asian audience -- particularly China -- has been blocked'. He said that the broadcast was not seen in East Asia but went out on satellite feeds to India and the Pacific. 'In the ABC's anxiety to accommodate China, it means the rest of Asia misses out,' Mr Lewis said. ... Bruce Dover, chief executive of Australia Network, said the network did not broadcast directly into people's homes, but rather was rebroadcast through Asian channels that delivered it. The host TV stations in Asian countries had strict rules imposed on them by their own governments, Mr Dover said. ... He said it was predictable that governments in the region would make it hard for rebroadcasters to allow the screening of The 10 Conditions of Love, because of their desire to maintain cordial relations with China. The film's makers should be happy that it had gained a screening through Australia Network, he said." -- Australia Network does "broadcast directly into people's homes" through a number of direct-to-home satellite systems in Asia. Those DTH systems might be subject to some restrictions on the content their channels can carry.

North Korea tests DRM digital shortwave, eliminating the static and fading but not the tedium.

Posted: 14 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
North Korea Tech, 8 June 2012, Martyn Williams: "North Korea appears to be testing digital radio broadcasting. Hiroshi Inoue, a radio monitor in Japan, received on Wednesday the country’s international radio service, Voice of Korea, broadcasting on shortwave using DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale). DRM is a digital broadcasting technology developed for use on AM and shortwave services. He posted a couple of clips of the on YouTube. While reception isn’t perfect, the audio identification of Voice of Korea can clearly be heard. The broadcasts are taking place on 3,560 [kHz], a frequency used by the Voice of Korea in the past for conventional analog shortwave broadcasts. In a blog posting Mr. Inoue says he heard broadcasts in several languages including English, Arabic and French. Relays of domestic KCBS broadcasts were also heard. The tests appear to be taking place with assistance from Chinese engineers. ... (Thanks to DX Aktuell for the tip!)" With audio sample.

drmna.info, 8 June 2012: "As you will hear, the high production values, overly aggressive compression and sibilant laden distortion present in VOK analogue broadcasts translate well to the digital medium of DRM." With audio samples.-- The audio samples show the tendency of DRM signals to drop out, even under not-especially-difficult reception conditions.

Wall Street Journal, Korea Realtime, 5 June 2012, Evan Ramstad: On 4 June, "the North Korean state news agency (KCNA) published yet another threat of a 'merciless sacred war' – whatever that means – and added a new level of detail: the longitude and latitude of the offices of several large newspapers in Seoul that are routinely critical of the North. ... Trouble is, the coordinates North Korea published were wrong."

RT (Russia Today) is "dangerous nonsense," writes Canadian commentator.

Posted: 14 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
National Post (Toronto), 9 June 2012, Robert Fulford: "A Wikipedia article about RT says 'Its neutrality is disputed,' a mammoth understatement. Anyone bored by news channels that try to be objective, or say they do, can look for relief to RT. If we don’t know RT’s opinions when we switch on, we soon learn them. Everyone speaks the party line, not just commentators but also the anchors and reporters. When Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin survived the recall challenge on Tuesday, RT saw the results as tragic. 'Recall Blues,' read the online heading. The RT reporter in Madison was all but weeping: 'People are shocked and devastated,' she said. The anchor woman was incredulous as well as upset: How had the workers failed to unseat their rabidly right-wing Republican governor? An RT newscaster, asking questions of a source, usually signals the answer she wants. Having noticed that the American government is using cyber warfare while trying to prevent cyber attacks on American institutions, she asked a source in San Francisco, 'What do you think of the hypocritical rhetoric' of the United States? ... RT often seems nonsensical, but it’s dangerous nonsense, no doubt widely believed, significant for that reason, and valuable to anyone who cares to know what a large part of humanity is thinking." See previous post about RT.

Voice of Russia, 7 June 2012: "The Voice of Russia is among the top ten prize winners of the All-Russian competition for the best coverage of elections. Handing the awards in the Central Elections Commission on Thursday, its Chairman Vladimir Churov thanked the journalists and emphasized the key role of mass media in modern election campaigns. Without mass media, elections would be either impossible or the turnout would be extremely low, he said."

Last day of Radio Canada International shortwave, and its Sackville NB transmitting station, will be 24 June.

Posted: 13 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Information from Wolfgang Bueschel and his sources: The last transmissions from the Radio Canada International shortwave transmitting site at Sackville, New Brunswick, will be Sunday, 24 June. The last programs from the site will be at 2300 to 2329 UTC, with Spanish on 11990 and 15455 kHz, and Portuguese on 13760 kHz.

The CBC Northern Quebec shortwave service, which also transmitted from Sackville, will be replaced by low-power FM transmitters for selected communities affected by the elimination of shortwave.

China Radio International, an important user of RCI Sackville, will have to find a new shortwave relay site.

A much reduced RCI staff will continue to provide online content services in five languages: English, French, Arabic, Spanish, and Mandarin.

RCI Action Committee blog, 13 June 2012: "We’ve just learned that last week the 2003 Order in Council that obliged Radio Canada International to broadcast on shortwave radio has been amended, and that obligation removed. As well, the obligation to consult with the Foreign Affairs ministry regarding geographic target areas and languages has been removed. Both changes were made on the recommendation of Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, and came into effect on June 7, 2012."

See previous post about same subject.

Private US shortwave broadcasters discuss how shortwave "can eke out a place in the 21st century."

Posted: 13 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio World, 7 June 2012, Alexis Hauk: "A large portion of presentations at the National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters meeting, held in Washington in May, centered on the issue of how shortwave radio — dismissed by some as in its last throes, a relic of the Cold War era disappearing under the shadow of digital — can eke out a place in the 21st century. As many of the conference’s speakers argued, that solution for now may reside in areas with little electricity, where shortwave is seen as an effective and necessary means of relaying information under the nose of repressive regimes. ... The attendees of the conference, all representing various interests in the shortwave world, hailing from across the country, got a tour of Radio Free Asia, the conference’s host location, which has managed to broadcast even to the highly censored North Korea via shortwave, which is more difficult to interrupt than the Internet and is one of the only means of bringing in news from the international community."

Times Live (Johannesburg), 17 May 2012, Paul Ash: "Some time in the 1980s, my ma gave me a Sony shortwave radio, nine shortwave bands in a box the size of a deck of cards. ... Last year, I ditched the radio in favour of a smartphone for a short trip to Poland. The bill for five days of roaming was R2500 without a single moment of entertainment. Never again. Now the little Sony has fresh batteries and the shortwave frequencies are copied on the back of a business card. No charger, no roaming hassles and free to air. E-mail can wait. I'll send a couple of postcards instead."

In a contrarian move, HCJB is transmitting via shortwave from Germany to Europe.

Posted: 13 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
@hcjbgermany, 8 June 2012: "In this very moment, the first transmission of our German transmitter in WNM, Ostfriesland, Germany is on air at 3995kHz on 1KW! RR are welcome!" -- "RR" are reception reports. HCJB has been testing from this site since August 2011. See discussion in DX Listening Digest, 24 Aug 2011.

@hcjbgermany, 11 Oct 2011: "This historical transmitter from 1973,built in GDR, will be the first transmitter for the site in Weenermoor, Germany." With photo.

@hcjbgermany, 11 Oct 2011: "It will replace the damaged one until the Collins 3 KW-transmitter is repaired."

Transmission schedule is here (pdf). -- Establishing a shortwave transmitter in Europe would seem a contrarian move, and could be contrasted with Vatican Radio's decision to stop shortwave and medium wave broadcasts to the Americas and Europe on 1 July. On the other hand, this frequency should, in theory, provide a useable intra-European signal. It might be more convenient, and it would use less bandwidth, for HCJB listeners to tune via shortwave than via the (also available from HCJB) internet. I wonder if the site will be used for DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) shortwave, as HCJB has been an active DRM experimenter.

Management changes at BBC Worldwide as it seeks to "increase ... penetration of high growth markets around the world."

Posted: 13 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Guardian, 8 June 2012, Ben Dowell and Mark Sweney: "BBC Worldwide is understood to be planning changes to its senior management team, in a reorganisation expected to result in the departure of former BBC director of vision Jana Bennett. John Smith, the BBC Worldwide chief executive, is said to be working on plans for the restructure of the 13-strong executive committee that runs the corporation's commercial arm. ... A BBC Worldwide spokeswoman said: 'We've been looking at a number of options to increase our penetration of high growth markets around the world, and sustain our record of successful growth. This work remains underway and we are not going to comment on speculation about it.' ... Bennett joined BBC Worldwide in her current job in February 2011, with responsibility for the global rollout of the iPlayer. She also oversees BBC Worldwide's wholly-owned channels outside the US, including BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC HD... . BBC Worldwide reported annual revenues of £1.16bn and underlying profits of £160m in the year to the end of March 2011 – up 10% on the previous year."

C21Media.net, 11 June 2012, Andrew McDonald: "The head of the BBC’s programme-making division has joined the board of BBC Worldwide as a non-exec director, amid speculation over a planned shake-up at the UK pubcaster’s commercial arm. George Entwistle, who became director of BBC Vision in May 2011, is the third non-exec director to be appointed to the BBCWW board from the non-commercial side of the business. ... 'The investment from BBC Worldwide into the BBC’s TV programmes plays a vital role in funding the high quality and much-loved programmes that licence fee payers expect, so I’m pleased to be able to work with BBC Worldwide at a time when that contribution will become increasingly important,' said Entwistle today. He will not be paid for his role on the board."

Because every entity must have a parent entity, parent entity of Radio Australia and Australia Network has a new head.

Posted: 13 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
mUmBRELLA, 13 June 2012: "ABC managing director Mark Scott has announced a senior staff move. Lynley Marshall has been appointed head of ABC International, overseeing Radio Australia, Australia Network and International Development. According to an internal memo from Scott, the move is after an 'extensive international search to fill the position left vacant by the retirement of Murray Green.' The memo continues 'This convergence strategy will see Radio Australia, Australia Network and News 24 working more closely. Lynley, who will bring a clear strategic focus and a track-record of bringing about significant organisational change to her new position, will also seek to identify other opportunities to take existing ABC content into international markets.'" -- And if the convergence strategy succeeds, the components under ABC international would become one component, which means there would no longer be a need for ABC International to keep peace among the components.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation press release, 13 June 2012: he ABC has a very proud tradition in international broadcasting. Radio Australia has provided comprehensive coverage into the Asia Pacific region for more than 70 years, the Corporation has delivered a credible Australia Network for over a decade and our international development work strengthens media organisations and their information delivery methods across 20 countries in the region. Today the Corporation builds on this commitment by announcing the appointment of Lynley Marshall, in the role of CEO, ABC International. Her appointment follows an extensive international search to fill the position after the retirement of Murray Green. The ABC attracted a very strong field of candidates from around the world and within the Corporation. Lynley Marshall said: 'We have the opportunity now to develop an integrated international media strategy - capitalising on the strengths of the ABC's television, radio and news services. I'm honoured to be joining the International team at this exciting time as we look to extend the reach and scope of ABC content into international markets.' ... Managing Director Mark Scott said: 'International broadcasting is a central part of the ABC Charter and with Lynley in this role, we will be well placed to take advantage of new media platforms, expanding Australia’s reach in radio, television, online and mobile. Lynley has the knowledge and experience to identify other opportunities to take existing ABC content into international markets.'"

BBC World News coverage of Jubilee was "less complete," "less British" than that of CNN International, he writes.

Posted: 12 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
National Review Online, The Corner, 4 June 2012, John O'Sullivan: "Though [Queen Elizabeth's] Jubilee itself has received nothing but praise, its coverage by the BBC has been resoundingly denounced across the political spectrum. ... Has the BBC, which used to be the golden standard by which all other media coverage of Royal events was judged, simply forgotten how to do it? Does the Corporation, which is widely known to be a redoubt of left-liberal opinion, feel embarrassed internally by coverage of the Monarchy that is not in important ways critical to hostile? Does it wish the whole Jubilee thing would go away? I can’t speak directly to those questions because I am watching the Jubilee from Prague, where I get the BBC World television service that differs somewhat from its domestic television coverage. But I can say that its news agenda does suggest some uneasiness with the Jubilee. On its first day, for instance, BBC World devoted an entire hour of its morning news program to the life-sentence verdict for President Mubarak in Egypt. ... All in all, the coverage of the Jubilee by BBC World seemed to be not only less complete than that from CNN International but also in a way less British. CNN’s English reporters such as Richard Quick [sic, Quest?] were gung-ho about the event, and its American anchors were respectful, knowledgeable, and asked interesting questions. The CNN people all seemed to think the event was an important one and worthy of serious coverage; BBC World seemed anxious to find some way of making this dull event interesting by, for instance, interviewing yet another celebrity. Maybe BBC World was operating on the assumption that its worldwide viewers would not really find a parochial British event truly fascinating. In my own take on the Jubilee in the Wall Street Journal, I point out why this is a mistake: namely, that the Jubilee is a world event since the Queen is the sovereign of 15 other countries in addition to the United Kingdom and the active and much-loved Head of the 54-nation Commonwealth. I would not have blamed (well, not bitterly blamed) CNN or any other U.S. media organization for not building their news coverage around this reality. ... I will return to my television set in a moment, hoping to enjoy the glow of the beacons and to be proved wrong in my suspicion that BBC World is uneasy with the Diamond Jubilee because it strengthens the kind of Britain that it wants to replace with a more progressive country with a less obtrusive monarchy — Sweden, say." -- John O'Sullivan was executive editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 2008 to 2011. The writes about "BBC World," the name of which is actually BBC World News.

Vatican Radio will end shortwave and medium wave to Americas and Europe on 1 July.

Posted: 12 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
News.va, 12 June 2012: "Announcing Vatican Radio’s intention to reduce its Short and Medium Wave transmissions to most of Europe and the Americas, starting July 1st, the Director General, Fr Federico Lombardi, today spoke of what he called, 'A new chapter in the history of Vatican Radio” as it evolves “from Short Waves to new communications strategies'. [Excerpts of his comments:] 'Vatican Radio’s 40 different language programmes can currently be received via satellite and the internet, and are rebroadcast by around a thousand local radio stations on FM or Medium Wave in over 80 countries around the world. They are also available live on five web channels, on demand and in podcast, from Vatican Radio’s website at www.vaticanradio.va. ... On July 1st, Short and Medium Wave broadcasts from Vatican Radio’s Santa Maria di Galeria Transmission Centre, to most of Europe and the Americas, will be suspended. These areas of the world are already well served by Vatican Radio’s local rebroadcasting partners and by widespread internet access to its services and language programming. ... Short Wave broadcasts will be further reduced over the next few years – but not at the expense of those poor, needy and suffering parts of the world (like Africa, the Middle East and Asia) which have no alternative means of receiving news of the Church and the voice of the Pope. ... Vatican Radio’s international Short and Medium Wave broadcasts have made a priceless contribution to the history of the Church, especially in 20th century Europe where they were a source of strength and encouragement for nations oppressed by war and totalitarian regimes. As this unique service is gradually phased out, making way for new communications technologies, it is important to thank those who dedicated their hearts and minds to it for so long – and for the good of so many.'"

Catholic World News, 12 June 2012: "The move away from short-wave broadcasting will bring another benefit for Vatican Radio. It will curtail the use of the massive Vatican Radio broadcast facility in Santa Maria di Galeria, a neighborhood just north of Rome, where residents have complained that the high level of electromagnetic emissions could be damaging to their health. The Vatican has denied those claims."

Al Jazeera adds Android availability for its monthly Arabic magazine.

Posted: 12 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
TradeArabia, 5 June 2012: "Al Jazeera Media Network has announced the availability of its state-of-the-art digital magazines to Arabic speaking audiences on Android devices. Following the magazines’ successful launch on the iPad earlier this year, this announcement will ensure that Android users also experience a free and full-featured portal for Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Documentary, a statement from an official said. Each edition includes the best of Al Jazeera’s content for the month, as well as special features such as comprehensive analysis, interactive graphics and video footage, the statement said. The launch coincides with an update to Al Jazeera English’s Google TV App, which now includes a live stream of the channel’s news coverage, it said."

"In two weeks, Radio Canada International stops being a radio station after 67 years."

Posted: 12 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
@RCI_Action, 10 June 2012: "In two weeks, Radio Canada International stops being a radio station after 67 yrs, following 80% cut rciaction.org/blog #RCI #CBC #cdnpoli"

@RCI_Action, 9 June 2012: "Fruitful meeting yesterday of our Committee with Canadian Parliamentarians @DenisCoderre @MarcGarneau @HervieuxPayette re #RCI cuts #cdnpoli"

See also RCI Action Committee blog, 30 May 2012 and previous post.

Radio Netherlands English section will quit radio on 29 June with special program.

Posted: 12 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 11 June 2012: "We're very sorry to inform you that the English service of Radio Netherlands Worldwide will be closing at the end of this month. ... However, we will continue to provide articles online relating to our new brief: promoting free speech in areas where people are not free to gather information or to form and express independent opinions. The measures are a result of steep budget cuts imposed by the Dutch government and a concomitant change in focus. Providing the world with a realistic image of the Netherlands, as we have proudly done since 1947, will no longer be one of our statutory duties. On 29 June we will broadcast a radio show looking back at the past decades of Radio Netherlands Worldwide. ... And, perhaps most importantly, thank you - for listening, reading, and riding this bumpy road with us over the years and through the recent, difficult times."

This is the end of an era, as Dutch international shortwave broadcasting dates back to 1927. The fact that RNW's new brief uses the verb "promote" is a clear sign that RNW is leaving the news business.

For news in English about the Netherlands, there are alternatives, including www.dutchnews.nl, www.dutchdailynews.com, www.nisnews.nl, and others listed at www.world-newspapers.com.

Persian Dutch Network, 9 June 2012, via Payvand: "The activities of RNW's Persian Service actually ended in December 2011. May 2012 was the deadline for those interested in re-launching the service to come up with independent funding. RNW is still negotiating with applicants but it is unclear when there will be clarity on continuing the service. The Persian service of Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Asr-e Holland, was launched in February 2011 and was active for around 10 months. It seems RNW was not serious about this service from the beginning: Persian Service's website was created as a sub-category of the Arabic section and the design was not compatible with other sections of RNW. Since 2006 Dutch government funding has been directed at the Persian-language radio station Radio Zamaneh".

See previous posts on 20 May and 14 May 2012.

Investigation Discovery expands to Latin America, will dub "Nightmare Next Door" etc into Spanish and Portuguese.

Posted: 11 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadcasting & Cable, 31 May 2012, George Winslow: "Discovery is planning to launch Investigation Discovery in Latin American on July 9. The new entertainment channel focusing on crime and investigation genres will replace Discovery's Liv service in the region and is expected to reach about 30 million subscribers in 38 countries. The Latin American launch of Investigation Discovery continues the rapid growth of channel, which airs in more than 100 countries in key markets in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. ... The channel's schedule will be completely dubbed into either Spanish or Portuguese and include such police dramas like Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods, a wide variety of movies and such real-life suspense dramas as Deadly Sins, Unusual Suspects, Twisted, Criminal Minds, Cold Blood and Nightmare Next Door."

Industry forecasts: More 3G, 4G, and pay TV accounts worldwide.

Posted: 11 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
BBG Strategy, 7 June 2012: "Ericsson’s June 2012 Traffic and Market report projects imminent, massive growth in 3G and 4G mobile coverage worldwide. The coming changes carry implications for international broadcasters and all media organizations… While 85% of the world’s population today is covered by a mobile network, in just five years, 85% of the planet will be covered by either a 3G or 4G broadband network. This was among the several significant headlines in Ericsson’s just released Traffic and Market Report June 2012."

Pyramid Research press release, 30 May 2012: "Pyramid Research expects that pay TV accounts will surpass the 1 billion mark in 2014 globally, with cable accounting for 58 percent of the total accounts, down from 66 percent in 2011, according to Pyramid Research’s bi-annual Media Forecast released recently. By end-2014, IPTV subscriptions will exceed 100 million, and IPTV over fiber networks is expected to contribute a larger share of the total IPTV subscriptions in 2017." -- This also has implications for international broadcasters because a finite number of international channels are carried by cable/DTH/IPTV cable TV systems. When video-on-demand via internet media, e.g. smart TVs, becomes more common, programs will be viewed on demand rather than channels watched, allowing more international broadcasters to have access to viewers -- but also diluting audience sizes.

BBG "upset" by VOA deal in Burma, orders cooperation between VOA and RFA.

Posted: 11 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America, 4 June 2012: "VOA Director David Ensor is in Burma seeking to negotiate terms that would allow the U.S. broadcaster to open a news bureau in the long-isolated southeast Asian nation. Ensor held introductory talks Monday in the Burmese administrative capital, Naypyitaw, with Parliament speaker Thura Shwe Mann. '[The speaker] seemed very open and interested in some advice on how best to proceed to bring greater democracy to Burma,' said Ensor. 'So it was a good meeting, and we are interested in [VOA's Burmese language] service having more ability to report directly on the ground here in the country.'"

Voice of America press release, 5 June 2012: "Voice of America English teaching programs will soon air on Burmese state radio under the terms of a breakthrough agreement reached Tuesday in the capital, Naypyitaw. VOA Director David Ensor, who signed the agreement with Thein Aung, Director General of Myanmar State Radio and Television, said the decision by Burma’s long-isolated government is 'a small step, but one that is symbolically important.' Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ensor predicted that 'many Burmese will enjoy learning English through VOA programs, and we hope this will lead to bigger things in the future.'"

The Irrawaddy, 7 June 2012, Yan Naing Hein: "Broadcast media like VOA as well as Burmese media groups in exile will be allowed to open Burmese bureaus after a new media law is approved next month, said Information Minister Kyaw Hsan when he met David Ensor, the director of the VOA (Burmese service). Kyaw Hsan emphasized that opening offices will not be possible immediately because the media law has yet to be approved, but it should be enacted by July or August at the latest, Ensor told a VOA broadcast on Wednesday. The Ministry of Information and VOA signed an agreement so that journalists working for VOA would be allowed multi-entry visas to come and go from Burma with ease. ... The ministry also agreed to rebroadcast some VOA Burmese-language programs through the state-owned Myanmar Radio and Television, better known as MRTV, reported the VOA. Kyaw Hsan and Ensor signed a memorandum of understanding for VOA to provide assistance including modern equipment and training for MRTV employees to improve their technical skills, Xinhua news agency reported."

Mizzima, 8 June 2012: "With the increased opening of the media sector in Burma, a number of foreign media such as DVB, CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera TV are seeking to enter the local TV market competitively."

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 7 June 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is moving to take full advantage of the recent liberalization of press restrictions in Burma. At its regular monthly meeting, the board approved a resolution offered by Gov. Michael Meehan that seeks new coordination among the BBG, the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) to build on recent breakthroughs to raise the profile of U.S. international broadcasting in the South Asian nation. VOA Director David Ensor recently signed an agreement that would bring VOA English teaching programs to Burmese state radio. In addition, journalists from both VOA and RFA have been given enhanced access to Burma in recent months. Under the resolution, the BBG, VOA and RFA would communicate with the Department of State and the Congress on its plans, including the possibility of establishing offices in Burma."

So why the sudden desire on the part of the BBG for more cooperation between nemeses VOA and RFA? During the VOA portion of the meeting, BBG member Dennis Mulhaupt, presiding in Prague, recognized Michael Meehan by saying "Governor Meehan has a motion he wants to offer, I believe, on the subject you raised." It's unclear who "you" is, perhaps Meehan, and the subject must have been raised before the public BBG meeting. In Meehan's motion, "the Board directs the Voice of America director and the Radio Free Asia president ... to work with the IBB director to coordinate the activities in and for Burma, including in-country bureaus, sharing of stringer networks, and where appropriate, sharing of content."

Later in the meeting, during discussion of a motion requiring non-disclosure of "deliberative" board matters, BBG member Vistor Ashe said to Meehan, "just as you became upset, and rightly so, about Mr. Ensor announcing an office in Burma without Board's approval... ." (Apparently Ashe sneaked in one more disclosure of a deliberative matter before the motion was passed.)

It is not certain that the government of Burma will be as willing to host the content and offices of RFA as it would be for VOA. Will the BBG require that RFA be included in such agreements with VOA? Would such a stipulation cause Burma to terminate these agreements?

And that's the news from The Broadcasting Board of Governors, where all the entities are above average.

BBG Strategy, 11 June 2012, Doug Boynton, BBG Office of Strategy and Development: "My background is in private sector sales, and experience tells me that the best time for a foot in the door at any organization is when management changes. When the first breeze blew last December, VOA’s Service Chief, Than Lwin Thun, made his first visit to his homeland in more than 20 years to attend a media conference. Afterward, he was asked to stay behind a day, and met with Information Minister, former General Kyaw Hsan. The two men talked reform, and eventually, about the possibility of VOA’s programs appearing on the state’s nationwide radio and television networks. Two trips to the remote capital of Naypyitaw, and more discussion about programs from both VOA and Radio Free Asia have yielded an agreement to place VOA’s 'Learning English' programs on the state radio network. Voice of America Director David Ensor signed the agreement with the Director General of Myanma Radio-Television, U Thein Aung, last week. By one measure, it’s modest – a short program to teach English three times weekly. But when one looks at how far we’ve come, it’s huge."

New from BBC Future, "wondrous quotes" and "mind-expanding quotes," but apparently only for persons outside the UK.

Posted: 10 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC Worldwide press release, 30 May 2012: "BBC Future and TED today announced the start of an exciting month long editorial collaboration which will see BBC Future feature wondrous quotes from TED speakers as a gateway to experience a specially selected mix of classic TED Talks and hidden gems. ... The team behind the recently launched BBC.com Future section explored TED’s extensive archive to curate 25 mind-expanding quotes that complement the core themes of the site – Science, Technology, Environment and Health. Each TED Quote is presented with the full length TED Talk, spreading ideas from some of the world’s leading experts in science and technology. ... BBC Future launched in March of this year and attracted an impressive 1.4 million unique users and 3.8 million page views within its first month, surpassing all expectations. The initial findings also revealed that articles on Science & Environment and Technology were the most popular with Science & Environment dominating both the top five and top ten most read articles." -- In a previous post, we determined that BBC Future is not available in the UK. Is this still the case?

TV version of BBC's Focus of Africa launches 18 June, "first in a range of new programming for Africa."

Posted: 10 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World News press release, 8 June 2012: "The BBC has today announced its first-ever dedicated daily TV news programme in English for African audiences. The new programme, BBC Focus On Africa, brings together the expertise of the BBC World Service’s African Service and BBC World News on television. It is the first in a range of new programming for Africa to be launched by the BBC this summer, including a major expansion of its TV offer. BBC Focus on Africa will be aired by the BBC’s broadcast partners in Africa and will be shown globally on BBC World News. It forms just one part of an expansion of the BBC’s offer on TV, radio and online. The BBC today named Komla Dumor and Sophie Ikenye as the main presenters of the daily 30-minute news programme. BBC Focus On Africa will be launched on prime-time TV across the continent from 18 June 2012 at 17.30 GMT. The programme will draw on the pool of BBC African talent on the continent and in London to report on Africa's rising economies, entrepreneurs, innovators, culture, entertainment and sport. ... Solomon Mugera, the BBC’s Africa Editor, says: ' ... While radio remains popular in Africa, TV is growing - and our partnerships with leading African broadcasters play a key part in these future plans. Mobile phone ownership is racing towards a billion, internet connectivity is rising and social media is empowering audiences. It's essential that the kind of independent journalism the BBC does that isn't slanted to one political or commercial viewpoint remains central to the new media landscape.' ... The BBC also announced that six special episodes from Africa of current affairs interview programme Rendezvous, hosted by Zeinab Badawi, will be broadcast on BBC World News from mid-June with guests including President Kikwete of Tanzania. The BBC newsgathering resources in Africa are part of a global network of 70 bureaux. The BBC made its first broadcast to Africa more than 80 years ago. The combined audience on radio and television makes the BBC the largest international broadcaster in Africa." See also BBC News, 8 June 2012.

ScreenAfrica, 8 June 2012, Joanna Sterkowicz: "A television spin-off from the BBC Focus on Africa radio show ... – also called BBC Focus on Africa – will be available in South Africa on the DStv bouquet. It is the BBC’s first dedicated daily TV news programme in English for African audiences. ... BBC Business Development manager Steve Martin emphasised that BBC Focus on Africa is part of the broadcaster’s public service endeavour. 'So we need to make sure it has as wide a reach as possible and that the programme is accessible. We’ve been working with free-to-air (FTA) channels in Africa to broadcast the programme. I can reveal that it will go out in Ghana on the FTA channel Metro and that we have similar deals in Kenya, Malawi and many other countries. The BBC chooses its partners very carefully. We are impartial broadcasters and for us the trust that people put into BBC journalists is even more important than the number of viewers that our programmes generate.'"

VOA already has successful television products placed on African television stations, e.g. Straight Talk Africa. The BBC world services have been late to develop international television because of a ruling by Parliament a few years ago that the Foreign Office grant should be spent only on radio, with international television self-funding through advertising. That stipulation is now relaxed, and BBC Global will likely move quickly into noncommercial television programs of regional interest and in languages other than English.

Debate on the enforceable-but-unenforced domestic dissemination ban simmers.

Posted: 09 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link

Heritage Foundation, 5 June 2012, Robert Bluey: "The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, adopted by the House last month, would finally remove restrictions on U.S. public diplomacy efforts that date to 1948. Reps. Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) proposed the legislation in hopes of updating America’s communication tools for the 21st century -- and also being more transparent in the process. Critics immediately pounced, misrepresenting the legislation’s goals and warning that Americans would be subject to government propaganda from the State Department and Broadcasting Board of Governors. In reality, they would now have access to taxpayer-supported programming -- much like they already do with China’s CCTV, Russia Today and Al-Jazeera."

Project on Government Oversight, 6 June 2012, Lydia Dennett: "One concern is that the origin of the propaganda for foreign audiences might not be known to the domestic recipient. Might this loosening of the ban on propaganda be a slippery slope?"

New American, 30 May 2012, Joe Wolverton II: "If this amendment remains attached to the Fiscal Year 2013 [National Defense Authorization Act] and is passed by Congress and signed by the President, then for the first time in the history of the United States, citizens and residents will be exposed to government-produced propaganda in a manner that would impress even Orwell’s Big Brother."

Public Diplomacy Council, 31 May 2012, Matt Armstrong: "[A]dhering to the current law requires the BBG must spend the money to block U.S. domestic access to its websites – would Americans then seek to acquire the very online circumvention software the BBG makes available to Iranians and Chinese? – or take its websites offline. Shall we uphold the law or do we want the Government to skirt the law? Where does that end?" See also the comments. See also Mountainrunner.us, 29 May 2012. And Mountainrunner.us, 6 June 2012.

John's Brown's Notes and Essays, 6 June 2012. "What we really need is a strengthening of the Smith-Mundt Act, so that US citizens won't be the target of the black/grey propaganda used by the military and other branches of the USG overseas, supposedly (and, granted, justifiably, but oh-so-rarely) to keep Americans 'safe' here at home. No way, if we truly honor American values, should we be fed embellished 'truth' (or plain falsehoods) in the name of national security by our federal government here at home. ... As for white propaganda directed abroad (like VOA reports on the harmless all-American skater Kwan traveling as a State Department public diplomacy envoy, smiles and all), of course there's no reason why Americans can't know about this -- as easily as they can right now, without the verbiage of the modernized Smith-Mundt Act letting them do so (and without, rest assured, of fears of being imprisoned) by simply going to the State Department homepage." With links to John Brown's previous posts on the same subject. -- Or, in the case of VOA, by going to to voanews.com -- until officials of US international broadcasting decide to observe the domestic dissemination ban by blocking USIB websites to US IP addresses. Matt Armstrong has been pointing out that Smith-Mundt applies only to State Department and BBG content, and that the Defense Department information operations have their own domestic dissemination ban.

See previous post about same subject.

Chinese official demands foreign embassies stop tweeting Beijing air pollution readings.

Posted: 09 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
MSNBC.com, 5 June 2012: "A senior Chinese official demanded on Tuesday that foreign embassies stop issuing air pollution readings, saying it was against the law and diplomatic conventions, in pointed criticism of a closely watched U.S. Embassy index. The level of air pollution in China's heaving capital varies, depending on the wind, but a cocktail of smokestack emissions, vehicle exhaust, dust and aerosols often blankets the city in a pungent, beige shroud for days on end. Many residents dismiss the common official readings of 'slight' pollution in Beijing as grossly under-stated. The U.S. Embassy posts hourly air-quality data on its popular Twitter feed, the U.S.-funded Voice of America explains. Using data from a monitoring point on the embassy roof, the feed was set up in 2009 following widespread complaints that official government readings were understating pollution levels in the smog-filled capital city, the VoA reported."

Former VOA director David Jackson joins Washington Times with "expanding international markets" as remit.

Posted: 09 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 4 June 2012, Erik Wemple blog quoting memo from Washington Times President Tom McDevitt: "David Jackson will support the company’s interests in expanding international markets for The Washington Times content. David’s wide-ranging experience in management and multimedia outreach includes 23 years at Time Magazine and four years as Director of Voice of America. He brings significant value in developing new global content, audience and revenue opportunities. David will report to my office." -- David Jackson was director of VOA from 2002 to 2006.

"The BBG expands the reach of Voice of America" with affiliate deals in Bosnia, Indonesia, and Uganda.

Posted: 09 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
BBG Strategy, 6 June 2012: "The BBG expands the reach of Voice of America with new television affiliates in Republika Srpska and Indonesia, plus a new FM affiliate in Uganda… Hema TV, broadcasting to Bosnians in Republika Srpska, is the newest affiliate for the VOA Bosnian service. ... New to the VOA family of affiliates [in Indonesia] is Metro TV, based in West Jakarta. ... Starting July 1, 2012, Voice of America will be heard on Arua 1, broadcasting from Arua Town, Uganda on 88.7 FM. Arua, located in northwest Uganda, borders both South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo."

RT (Russia Today) "most-watched foreign news channel in five key US markets."

Posted: 08 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Moscow Times, 6 June 2012: "RT, the Kremlin-backed English-language TV channel formerly known as Russia Today, cranked up its U.S. viewership to become the most-watched foreign news channel in five key U.S. markets in 2011, a media analysis report said. Viewership in New York alone nearly tripled, while the channel also made significant advances in Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the report by media analysis company Nielsen said, RIA-Novosti reported Tuesday. 'The growth of our audiences in major U.S. cities, including New York and Washington, proves that we have become firmly established as an international channel that gives an alternative to the American mainstream,' RT editor Margarita Simonyan said, Itar-Tass reported. ... Currently, 85 million people in the U.S. have access to the channel, according to Itar-Tass. The channel got a boost in 2011 as it began to be carried by cable networks in San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia, also joining the lineup for satellite provider Dish Network. RT says it reaches over 430 million people globally in at least 100 countries. The report said RT beat out EU's Euronews, France 24, Germany's Deutsche Welle, the Middle East's Al Jazeera English, Japan's NHK World and China's CCTV News in the five cities in the report, though the BBC was not included in the analysis. In New York, RT's weekly audience was nine times that of NHK World, and in Chicago, daily viewership was three times higher than Al Jazeera's. The report also said RT's typical viewers were men between the ages of 35 and 49 who have college degrees. Twenty percent of viewers have master's or doctorate degrees, and most viewers are business owners, entrepreneurs, managers, or government officials, the report said."

Why this apparent success for RT? (Comparative success: the actual audience size is probably very small.) There might be parallels here to CNN versus Fox and MSNBC. RT's competitors are merely news channels, whereas RT itself is edgier, appealing to a coalition of groups with motivations to view like-minded content. The RT coalition consists of the far left, the libertarian right, conspiracy theorists, UFO believers, adherents of the gold standard, and perhaps a few who want to meet Russian ladies.

New Euronews exec will help "make the channel a global news hub."

Posted: 08 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 1 June 2012, Robert Briel: "Grégory Samak has joined the management committee of Euronews as world director of broadcasting and programme marketing. Sanak’s task is to give new momentum to the channel, its schedule and programmes on all media, thanks to his extensive experience in television and other communication platforms. Michael Peters, chairman of the executive board, stated: '... Grégory’s mission encompasses not only the on-air version of the channel but all of its media, since he will also be responsible for building greater synergies between the content base of the various digital platforms (the internet, smart TV, mobile applications, etc.) on a worldwide scale. He will greatly contribute to boosting our strategy to make the channel a global news hub.' ... Grégory Samak: '... Euronews ... is intrinsically multicultural and thoroughly international, with a great variety of programmes. These three pillars give the channel a solid base to maintain its leadership in Europe and beyond.'"

Telecompaper, 31 May 2012: "TV channel Euronews will bid for digital radio licences in Paris, Nice and Marseilles in a tender ending on 31 May, Les Echos reports. Euronews, currently broadcasting in eleven languages, aims to create a true multimedia platform for its content, company CEO Michael Peters told Les Echos. Euronews intends to enter digital radio in partnership with Espace Groupe, which operates the MFM music network. Its radio content will be identical to what it shows on TV, with different scheduling and a radio-specific rhythm, according to Peters."

China Radio International invites Jewish former refugees to submit accounts of their time in China.

Posted: 07 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Jerusalem Post, 3 June 2012, Gil Shefler: "They were reluctant adventurers whose painful decision to leave their homes in Europe and travel thousands of miles over land and sea was driven by fear of Nazi persecution rather than wanderlust. Nonetheless, the experience of thousands of Jews who took refuge in China during World War II was one they would never forget. Now, on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the People’s Republic of China and Israel and 67 years after the war ended, China Radio International is inviting former Jewish refugees who lived in the country during that period to submit accounts detailing their life story for a contest. 'In recent years ties between Israel and China are strengthening and there has been a noticeable improvement in economic, political and cultural ties,' said Ma Weigong, deputy editor of China Radio International. 'This project called "My China Experience" will bolster ties between refugees and their descendants with China.' The winner, who will be announced in July, will win a free trip to China with his or her family."

BBC World News "Thailand Direct" series will "give as rounded a picture as possible."

Posted: 07 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Bangkok Post, 3 June 2012, Voranai Vanijaka: "The BBC has received its fair share of criticism in its coverage of Thailand's political crisis. Now BBC plans to launch its first international series of programmes on the Kingdom, Thailand Direct. The coverage will focus on the country's economic, social, cultural and political aspects. The programme will be broadcast globally on BBC World News from Aug 27-Sept 7. Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service, said during a visit to Bangkok last week that the series would be 'rounded', but will not be 'soft' and would go 'behind the scenes'. ... BP: The head of Monocle, Tyler Brule, has been hired by the Pheu Thai government to talk up a positive image of Thailand. Will the BBC take a similar tack or will it be hard hitting? PH: Well, we will never say we are going to do soft coverage, or easy coverage. So when we do Thailand Direct, we will be doing the news stories. We will be doing the controversy. But we will also get to the other side of Thailand, the character and the life of Thailand. The BBC's commitment is to give as rounded a picture as possible. But we will never ever get soft or fail to ask the tough questions. ... BP: Is 'Thailand Direct' in partnership with a Thai agency, the Thai government? Will it be stamped with a seal of approval by the Tourism Authority of Thailand? PH: No, I mean may be there will be some advertising that some Thai companies might buy. But there's no relationship between commercial and editorial activities. We would never give up our editorial control."

Families of Radio Farda journalists interrogated in Iran. And more IB to Iran.

Posted: 07 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
RFE/RL press release, 31 May 2012: "In an escalation of ongoing efforts to thwart Radio Farda, RFE/RL's Persian-language Service, Iranian authorities are interrogating journalists' family members in Iran. Employees of Radio Farda believe that their journalism, which attracts over 10 million page views monthly on Radio Farda's website, is the motive behind at least 20 incidents this year involving the interrogation and intimidation of their family members in Iran by officials of the country's Intelligence Ministry. In sessions that sometimes lasted for several hours, agents denounced the work of Radio Farda journalists and warned family members against having further contact with them. In several cases they instructed family members to tell their relatives to resign from their jobs and return to Iran; in one instance they demanded that a specific series of reports be discontinued."

Press TV, 31 May 2012: "As recently as a few days ago, BBC-Persian and Voice of America as well as the Saudi funded Al-Arabiyeh network embarked on broadcasting especial programmes, in which the UK-based anti-Iranian terrorist group known as al-Ahwazi was the main theme of propagation. ... News channels like the BBC, VOA and some Arab funded channels including Al Arabiyeh are among several other networks tasked with portraying terrorist groups like the al Ahwazi as freedom fighters, and this is while that the same networks are largely turning a blind eye on several freedom-seeking movements like in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where people are increasingly mobilized against the countries’ despotic regimes."

The Atlantic, 6 June 2012, Christopher Thornton: "For most Iranians, the most reliable sources of information remain not Iranian but Western, and often American: Radio Farda, the Farsi-language service of Radio Liberty, funded by the U.S. congress and supervised by the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors; the BBC, with its new Farsi service; the Voice of America; and CNN, whenever the transmission can pierce the government filtering technology. ... The appeal of the United States to ordinary Iranians goes almost entirely unnoticed, and therefore unexplained. Many Iranians regard the American ideal, at least as they perceive it, as a symbol of all they want their own society to be -- free, prosperous, 'great' -- but isn't."

The National (Abu Dhabi), 6 June 2012, Michael Theodoulou: "Press TV, viewed as Tehran's propaganda mouthpiece in the West, has a curious fixation with Britain's royals. ... Meanwhile, Iran's closet anglophiles meanwhile have avidly followed the jubilee celebrations on satellite televisions channels that are officially banned but easily accessible."

BBG Innovation Series, 6 Apr 2012, April Deibert: "Persian websites in Farsi often face the problem of using a cartoon-like font, called TAHOMA, that is technically an English font that has an Arabic font set in the family. The fact that the font is not Persian means that it is potentially difficult to read on some computers and also that it can be culturally insensitive. Office of Digital and Design Innovation’s Manager of Design Steve Fuchs and Voice of America (VOA) Persian’s Bruce Bahmani explained the evolution of the project. NASSIM is a Persian font face designed by Titus Nemeth, who created the typography for both BBC and al-Jazeera. 'This is the first Persian font with special coding to optimize web legibility,' noted Fuchs, 'it is therefore unique, and to my knowledge, the only Persian typeface in the world that is optimized in this way. It is only available from Rosetta type, which has an exclusive licensing agreement with Titus. This new font will bring the VOA Persian Service into typographic parity with the BBC and al-Jazeera.' ... The new Persian VOA site (as shown in the graphic above) 'was extremely well received and many users commented on how much better the site looks and how much more readable the text appears; there are no spacing, no kerning, and no proportion flaws,' added Bahmani."

Radio Free Sarawak host in hiding, "fears for his safety."

Posted: 07 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Australia, 4 June 2012: "A radio presenter missing in Sarawak, Malaysia, has said in an online post that he is safe but in hiding over fears for his safety. Radio Free Sarawak criticises authorities. Radio Free Sarawak presenter Peter John Jaban - who is based in London - was taken away by three men soon after arriving in Sarawak state, on the island of Borneo. ... Jaban has filed reports critical of the state government. ... Radio Free Sarawak's reports often focus on alleged graft by the state government in the harvesting of the state's rich rainforest timber resources." See also Radio Australia, 6 June 2012, with audio.

The Star (Kuala Lumpur), 4 June 2012, Yu Ji: "Peter John Jaban, who has admitted that he staged his own disappearance, is willing to meet with the police. 'I can come to a police station with my lawyer, provided the police are not rough with me,' Jaban said, according to Sarawak Report founder Clare Rewcastle-Brown."

The Star, 3 June 2012, Yu Ji: "The mysterious disappearance of Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) presenter has brought much mainstream media coverage to the pirate radio station."

See also radiofreesarawak.org.

Syria alShaab TV created "to broadcast what Syrian President Bashar Assad was trying to cover up."

Posted: 06 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
USA Today, 1 June 2012, Kristen Gillespie: "At 8:30 p.m. in a makeshift newsroom on the top floor of a nondescript building, Syrian news anchor Qutaiba Al-Khatib tapped away on his laptop, writing a script for a newscast. The lead story: the killing in Houla of 108 civilians, including dozens of children, allegedly by supporters of the regime. Within hours, this secret broadcast operation had beamed news and videos on the massacre to Syrians and to points throughout the Arab world. ... Syria alShaab TV has become a prime mover of news on the Syrian rebellion, quickly moving video from amateurs inside a war zone that journalists are largely unable to cover. ... Station founder Mohammad al-Ajlouni, a Jordanian-American media entrepreneur, said his aim when he began the channel was to broadcast what Syrian President Bashar Assad was trying to cover up. 'I never thought the channel would turn into one of the engines of the Syrian revolution, but it has,' he said. 'Syrians knew the only way to get the images out there was to do it themselves.' The channel, whose name means 'Syria of the People,' began broadcasting in July 2011. It is funded by al-Ajlouni... . The content is broadcast on satellite airwaves, streamed online and on mobile devices at syriaalshaab.tv and posted on the channel's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages."

LinkAsia combines reports from Asian citizen journalists and commercial and state-run media.

Posted: 06 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Current.org, 30 May 2012: "LinkAsia, a weekly digital/broadcast hybrid news show from nonprofit Link TV, curates stories from citizen journalists as well as packages of official news from commercial and state-run networks including CCTV in China, NHK in Japan, MBC in Korea, NDTV in India and VTV4 in Vietnam. ... 'A show that started out as a weekly chronicle of politics and business in Asia, created for a U.S. audience — fed from syndicated news packages from Asian nations — is a full, nuanced ongoing examination of life as it is experienced by people who live there, juxtaposed with the "official portrait" of that life by the region's official media organizations," writes Caty Borum Chattoo, a LinkAsia studio producer, on MediaShift. 'It's the gap between the two that has created and supported the most valuable reporting and analysis — and the digital tools that allow us to continue to follow the long tail of the story after it may have faded from immediacy.'"

VOA and CUSIB directors comment on US international broadcasting to China.

Posted: 06 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America, From the Director blog, 25 May 2012, David Ensor: "Unlike well-funded Chinese state television, which has been opening bureaus around the world, including a shiny new one in Washington D.C. with dozens of journalists, VOA is currently allowed only two accredited reporters in all of China. Our longtime standing request for four journalist visas, including one for Shanghai, goes unanswered by Beijing. Despite these obstacles, we are reaching people ... with information they care about. These efforts cost money, and while China spends billions on an expanding global media empire, we face both increasing costs and tight budgets. By some estimates, China will spend about $8 billion in the next couple of years to expand international radio and TV broadcasts, as well as the Xinhua News Agency, and its flagship newspaper, the People’s Daily. By contrast, the United States government spends about $750 million on its entire international broadcasting and media effort, which includes the Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and other stations reaching 187 million people in 59 languages around the globe. Spending comparisons, though imperfect, do raise important questions: is the United States doing enough to effectively penetrate restricted media environments like China’s with uncensored information? What is the most effective way to reach that audience? We need to do more, and we are gearing up to do so. The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees VOA, RFA and others, recently voted to recommend to Congress that spending on programming to China be held at present levels, despite budget tightening, and development of a more robust overall strategy for U.S. efforts to reach audiences in Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan and Uighur. The best way to reach more people in China today may be satellite TV and radio, since more than ten percent of the population has a satellite dish or access to programming from one. VOA currently offers programming on shortwave radio, satellite radio and TV and the Internet, in addition to social media. Soon, VOA will launch a new expanded two-hour daily satellite television program in Mandarin. The U.S. also works creatively to limit the impact of Chinese government efforts to censor international news sites on the Internet. We cannot, and we do not need to match China dollar for dollar. No matter how many billions they spend, the audience knows that CCTV does not offer objective news or a platform for open discussion. There will always be an audience that does not want to be told what to think. What we can do, is to match China’s 'soft power' push to influence global public opinion, with a renewed and reinvigorated effort to reach more of the Chinese people with balanced, informative programming, and responsible discussion about the issues that affect us all."

Radio World, 31 May 2012: "Women and families in China victimized by human rights abuses need Voice of America and Radio Free Asia broadcasts, in the opinion of Ann Noonan. She’s executive director of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting, which describes itself as a non-partisan media freedom advocate. The group has been critical of BBG restructuring and programming goals, and has called for the board itself to be reformed. Noonan spoke at a conference in New York on family planning policy and population development in the People’s Republic of China. It was sponsored by Women’s Rights in China and Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, headed by members of CUSIB. 'We are relived that for the second year in a row, the U.S. Congress has publicly rebuked the Broadcasting Board of Governors for trying to silence broadcasts to places like China,' Noonan continued, according to a transcript. 'We are delighted that the U.S. Congress has assured the American taxpayer that programs like Voice of America Mandarin, Cantonese and Tibetan radio broadcasts will remain in place.' ... CUSIB said VOA and RFA programs 'are believed to be a vital source of uncensored information for many women and their families who are opposing the Chinese government’s family planning policies. Many of these women live in rural communities. VOA and RFA websites are censored and blocked by the Chinese government, leaving radio and to some extent satellite TV as the only accessible, affordable, and safe method of receiving uncensored news.'"

This might seem like a victory, but what we are left with is two US stations broadcasting to China. No matter how much money is available to US international broadcasting, key resources, such as talent, frequencies, transmitter sites, and satellite slots are scarce. In US international broadcasting, these scarce resources are divided in half. Administrative costs (and job opportunities) are multiplied. And no matter how much we hear about the "complementary" roles of the entities, both VOA and RFA will not fail to report the main news stories of China, Tibet, and their other target countries. The result is duplication. Duplication is a significant cause of waste in federal spending. The $750 million allocated to America's "entire international broadcasting and media effort" must be spent more wisely.

See also "America Calling China: A Strategy for International Broadcasting."

Vietnamese court rejects appeal by activists jailed for "conducting propaganda" and for interviews with foreign radio stations.

Posted: 05 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Asia, 30 May 2012, Joshua Lipes: "A Vietnamese court on Wednesday dismissed the appeals of two activists against jail terms imposed on them for spreading 'anti-government propaganda,' despite calls for their unconditional release by international rights groups. Female blogger Ho Thi Bich Khuong, 44, was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of house arrest while Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, 40, was given two years in jail and two more under house arrest. Both their sentences were meted out last December. The two had been arrested on November 15 for violating article 88 of Vietnam’s penal code, which forbids 'conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,' state media said at the time. Khuong was also accused of slandering the Vietnamese government in interviews with foreign radio stations and of belonging to rights groups with 'reactionary' people."

Radio Survivor, 30 May 2012, Matthew Lasar: "Last year Vietnam’s government arrested two unlicensed radio operators who appear to be linked to the Falun Gong Buddhist group. The crackdown came in response to pressure from China. The government charged Vu Duc Trung and Le Van Thanh with unlicensed broadcasting and streaming their program, The Sound of Hope Radio Network, to Chinese listeners. They operated on a farm about 800 km from China."

Cambodia's pre-election ban on FM relays calls for synergy in USIB. But don't bet on it.

Posted: 05 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of America, 4 May 2012, Kong Sothanarith: "A Ministry of Information official confirmed Monday the government had banned broadcasts of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia during the election Sunday. San Putheary, chief of the audio-visual department at the ministry, told VOA Khmer the ban was to maintain a 'quiet atmosphere' as Cambodians went to the polls to elect local leaders of commune councils. 'We banned all stations that handle VOA and RFA programs,' he said, adding that the ban had been conducted legally. Chea Sundaneth, director of the Women’s Media Center, which broadcasts the US-government programming on FM102, said they had received a call from the ministry Thursday night and were told to cease the broadcasts. They also ceased broadcasts of Radio France International and Radio Australia. ... Pro-government media and state-run TV were allowed to broadcast throughout Election Day, he said, 'and they broadcast especially about [ruling Cambodian People’s Party] leaders.'"

Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 4 June 2012: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors today condemned the Cambodian Ministry of Information’s decision to force FM stations to stop airing election programming from Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America. ... 'This action runs contrary to the principles of free and fair elections,' said BBG Presiding Governor Michael Lynton. 'News and information programs help shape a well-educated citizenry and should be encouraged, not denied. These attempts to silence RFA and VOA are counterproductive to the goals of building a democratic society in Cambodia.' RFA and VOA play a critical role in informing the Cambodian electorate on fundamental election issues, and they provide a platform for the full spectrum of political opinions in the country. ... Two VOA Khmer Radio programs on June 3 were broadcast as normal on an AM frequency, via short wave and online."

The Phnom Penh Post, 5 June 2012, Joseph Freeman and Vong Sokheng: “'This is a lawless ban and signifies growing danger for media and freedom of expression in Cambodia,' he said VOA Khmer service manager Chris Decherd said the ban cut off hundreds of thousands of listeners, and that was a conservative estimate. Because of the ban, 'we lost more than half our audience on one of the biggest news days of the year', he said, adding that VOA programming was back on the air yesterday morning. ... Radio Free Asia expressed disappointment in a statement yesterday: 'This arbitrary decision is especially troubling as it was made during the final days of the commune election campaign, a time when the free flow of election information is critical.'"

Committee to Protect Journalists, 4 June 2012, Bob Dietz: "The decision to silence the overseas broadcasters was apparently made by the Ministry of Information and came with no advance warning. The government couldn't silence shortwave signals coming into the country, but the shutdown of the FM signals was the most effective in urban areas, where the FM signals are strongest. In an email message, RFA told us they were taken by surprise by the shutdown and that they had received no complaints from the government in the run-up to the voting. Authorities did not release a statement about the shutdown of the broadcasters. RFA called it a giant step backward for the country. That seems about right."

This might seem like a situation where shortwave can come to the rescue. Unfortunately, most Cambodians do not own radios with shortwave bands. There are, however, enough shortwave radios that they could make a difference, especially by way of group listening, or the passing on of information in the spirit of the old "two-step flow" theory of communication. I assume VOA and RFA are already advertising their shortwave frequencies in the Cambodian print media.

Then there is VOA's medium wave relay near Bangkok, already used for VOA's Khmer broadcasts. More Cambodians have medium wave bands than shortwave bands, though reception via the VOA medium wave relay will be good only at night and in the pre-dawn hours. RFA cannot use this relay because Thailand objects to the Cold War nature of the name Radio Free Asia.

RFA probably offers more reporting than VOA on the Cambodian election, but VOA presently has the best transmitter to reach Cambodia. Can synergy be achieved here? Can VOA use RFA reports, with attribution to RFA, without running afoul of the Thai government? Given that VOA and RFA are in a state of virtual bureaucratic war, would VOA use RFA reports? Would RFA consent to VOA using its reports? Would RFA consent to VOA using its reports, if necessary, without attribution?

The BBG states, above, that "RFA and VOA play a critical role in informing the Cambodian electorate on fundamental election issues, and they provide a platform for the full spectrum of political opinions in the country." This is a smoking-gun admission of duplication in US international broadcasting, despite the protestations of USIB senior executives, who have a stake in preserving the boondoggle, that RFA and VOA are "complementary."

This episode illustrates the dysfunction of the "many brands" structure of US international broadcasting.

Al Jazeera may move its London studio to Shard skyscraper, providing "amazing backdrop."

Posted: 04 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 30 May 2012, Tom Bill: "Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera is in advanced talks to move into London's Shard skyscraper, the tallest tower in western Europe, a source close to the deal told Reuters. The 95-storey Renzo Piano-designed glass tower, with views across London's financial district and the landmark St Paul's Cathedral, has so far failed to sign an office tenant as companies shelve moves due to the turmoil in the euro zone. The Shard is being developed by London-based entrepreneur Irvine Sellar and funded by the state of Qatar. 'This is obviously related to the Qatar link. The views across London would be an amazing backdrop to its TV shows,' the source said on condition of anonymity."

Al Jazeera press release, 30 May 2012: "Al Jazeera English is celebrating its third win in the “International Television and Radio” category at the Amnesty International UK Media Awards, this time for Shouting in the Dark, a powerful documentary detailing the uprising and subsequent crackdown on Bahraini anti-regime protests."

"BBC is most visited original news site in Europe" according to internet metrics.

Posted: 04 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Wall, 25 May 2012, @gordonmacmillan: "New figures released by Comscore show that the BBC is most visited original news site in Europe and is second overall behind Yahoo’s news agregation site. According to Comscore’s data, the BBC has the second highest number of unique visitors after Yahoo with over 26 million unique users per month in Europe, putting it ahead of all its major international competitors including Mail Online, the Guardian and the New York Times. The figures, which include the BBC’s international website BBC.com, measure audiences across Europe with nearly 10 million unique visitors per month outside the UK. ... No surprise to hear that growing numbers of people are accessing BBC News on mobiles and tablets and that in an average month the BBC News sites and apps are visited by around 8.5m users worldwide on mobile and tablet devices."

Romanian-American remembers "therapeutic" broadcasts of VOA and RFE.

Posted: 04 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Mountain Press (Sevierville, TN), 31 May 2012, Adriana Zoder: "If you paid taxes during the ’80s, I want to thank you. Some of your tax money funded the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe broadcasts I used to listen to. Many other Romanians and Eastern Europeans listened to these radio stations even though they were forbidden. Ceausescu’s government jammed the signal, making listening difficult, but these broadcasts — as much as we could hear them — were a life saver. Romanian media were censored and unreliable. We would not have known what was really happening in the world or even in Romania itself, if it hadn’t been for these two radio stations. This is how we found out about Nadia Comaneci’s desperate run across the border, for instance. This is also how we learned that the Berlin Wall had come down. But beyond the news, it was sympathy we craved. The knowledge that the West knew our situation and the hope that, maybe, one day, we would be free not just in our minds, but in reality. ... The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe spoke boldly about the reality of our lives. It was therapeutic to hear about our situation over the radio waves."

Competition for Radio Sawa? UAE's Hayat FM features "more music" and BBC Arabic news.

Posted: 04 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Gulf News (Dubai), 3 June 2012, Janice Ponce de Leon: "Enjoy a modern mix of your favourite Arabic music from Sunday along with relevant local and international news at the newest FM station in the UAE on 95.6 Hayat FM. Hayat FM (which means life) will broadcast nationwide live on Sunday beginning 6am. It is the newest addition to the portfolio of Gulf News Broadcasting (GNB) in cooperation with the UAQ Broadcasting Network. The station’s modern and upbeat programming has been designed to cater to listeners aged between 18 to 39. Unlike most radio stations in the country, Hayat FM promises to deliver less talk and more music to its audience. ... But beyond music, Taylor said Hayat FM will also feed listeners with the latest local and international bulletins at the top of the hour. Hayat FM has entered into an exclusive arrangement with the BBC Arabic Service to supply international news in Arabic throughout the day — a partnership that is happening in the country for the first time. ... 'Because of the multinational communities in UAE, the future of radio stations does not lie in single radio stations, they lie in networks...' Vikram Dhar, head of GNB, said. 'Hopefully in the next 24 months, we will look at starting Malayalam, we will look at starting Farsi, we will look at starting Tagalog.'"

OMG! VOA's much publicized OMG! Meiyu videos include no mention of VOA.

Posted: 03 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Wall Street Journal, 30 May 2012, Alina Dizik: "Even people who live overseas are eager to pick up American idioms. Jessica Beinecke reaches an audience of 8.5 million Chinese each week as host of OMG! Meiyu, a Voice of America Web show that Ms. Beinecke, 25, hosts in Mandarin. Recent expressions include 'eye gunk' and 'wandering eyes.' But students often find it hard to understand which phrases are age-appropriate, she says. 'I'm worried that [I'm] creating this audience in China who is going to speak like a 25-year-old blonde woman,' says Ms. Beinecke."

The Athens (Ohio) News, 28 May 2012: "Meet Jessica Beinecke, the 25-year-old host of the popular Chinese web show, 'OMG! Meiyu' (translation: "OMG! American English"), produced by the U.S. government's international broadcast institution Voice of America (VOA). Five days a week, the upbeat Beinecke sits in front of a six-year-old MacBook's webcam (According to Beinecke, her new laptop's HD webcam is 'so good it makes me look 50 years old') and teaches her Chinese audience American phrases and slang, such as 'comparing apples and oranges' or 'booger.'"

Business Insider, 15 May 2012, Ana Douglas: "And she does it all in (flawless!) Mandarin. Can you say 'internet sensation'? ... Every weekend her viewers pick the topics for the following week, and her first video ‘Yucky Gunk’ immediately went viral with over 1.5 million hits. During the next six months of production, the show received over 7.8 million hits. Now she is the biggest English language internet celebrity in China and is breaking down cultural barriers with her fresh approach to journalism."

PBS Newshour, 10 Feb 2012: "David Ensor is Voice of America's director. He says, while 'OMG' may not fall within the traditional idea of what VOA does, the show helps the Chinese further understand American culture. DAVID ENSOR: We are a communications company, multimedia, on many platforms. We're reaching out to various peoples around the world, and our mission is to report the news, yes, but also to explain America and American values to people around the world. What Jessica is doing is going to be something that I think you'll see more people doing here, which is reaching out to the younger generation in different countries and communicating with them."

Notice that it was about halfway down in the PBS story before VOA was even mentioned.

This coincides with the fact that VOA is not mentioned on the OMG! Meiyu YouTube videos, and presumably not on other social media, as well. This distance from the VOA brand and URL is necessary to ensure that the distribution of OMG! Meiyu remains unimpeded in China.

But how does this help VOA? VOA succeeds buy distributing credible news and by establishing its reputation -- and its brand -- as a conveyor of credible news.

Explaining "American values" to the world may be more of a US public diplomacy function. Whether VOA or State, when talent like Jessica Beinecke steps forward, it should be considered a blessing, and given the support of at least one US bureaucracy.

No surprise: In the Arab countries, Arabic overtakes English as the most used language on Facebook.

Posted: 03 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
The Next Web, 30 May 2012, Nancy Messeih: "Last year we reported that Arabic was set to overtake English as the most popular language used on Facebook across the region, and as SpotOn PR reports, the Arabic language has pulled ahead. Analysing Facebook usage in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – specifically Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen - SpotOn PR found that 39% of the combined 39+ million Facebook users access the site using its Arabic interface – which translates to 15.6 million users. That puts Arabic ahead of English, which now accounts for 36% of the Middle East’s Facebook users, while French comes in third with 23%. ... Egypt has the most Facebook Arabic users, with 60% of its over 10 million users opting for their native tongue, but the country with the highest rate of users who actually prefer Arabic over English is Yemen, sitting at 82%."

Advice about smiles from VOA's Pat Gates lives on.

Posted: 03 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Deccan Chronicle (Hyderabad), 30 May 2012, Father Dominic Emmanuel: "As a former broadcaster many years ago, I used to hear on the radio station Voice of America, 'If you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours.' A smile from us does undoubtedly bring a smile on others’ faces, and smiles while they can be contagious do not cost us anything." -- Pat Gates gave this advice about a smile at the end of each VOA Breakfast Show. Ambassador Pat Gates Lynch died in December 2011. See previous post.

Plans for an Al Jazeera French-language channel again reported, again denied.

Posted: 02 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Broadband TV News, 29 May 2012, Robert Briel: "Al Jazeera is preparing to launch a French news channel based in Dakar, according to a report in Le Figaro. The broadcaster denied earlier reports it was to set up a French language channel. The target audience of the new channel is in French speaking Africa, including the Maghreb region. This could explain why the studios for the new channels will be based in the capital city of Senegal rather than in Paris. The new channel will be in direct competition with the French international news channel France24, which has strong distribution in French speaking Africa. Reports of a French language news and information channel from the Doha based broadcaster surfaced earlier, but Al Jazeera denied such a project existed."

Le Figaro, 28 May 2012, Paule Gonzales and Georges Malbrunot: "Une chose est sûre: même si la chaîne francophone élit domicile à Dakar, Doha restera le centre de décision en ce qui concerne les questions de diffusion du signal.

AFP, 2 June 2012: "La chaîne satellitaire Al-Jazeera du Qatar a affirmé mardi qu'elle n'avait pas de projet de lancement d'une chaîne d'informations en français, comme l'ont rapporté des médias français. 'Nous démentons avoir des plans pour lancer une chaîne d'informations en français qui serait basée à Dakar ou ailleurs', a déclaré à l'AFP un porte-parole d'Al-Jazeera, interrogé sur les informations en ce sens relayées par la presse française."

Voice of Russia reporter begins circumnavigation ("because we broadcast radio for the whole world") on the barque Sedov.

Posted: 02 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Voice of Russia, 29 May 2012: "Last November at the 6th International forum 'Dialogue of cultures', traveler, ethnographer and film director Leonid Kruglov announced an ambitious project – a world cruise onboard the famous barque Sedov following the route of the first Russian circumnavigation that had taken place at the beginning of the 19th century and was headed by Ivan Kruzenshtern. The other day it became known that a Voice of Russia correspondent was joining in the voyage too. ... The 'Voice of Russia' observer Karina Ivashko became one of the winners of the journalists’ contest to take part in 'Circumnavigation-2012': ... 'I returned to Moscow full of determination to go to the management and convince them of the necessity of participation in this project for the Voice of Russia. No doubt, circumnavigation is our theme, because we broadcast radio for the whole world.' ... 'The bosses appreciated my "flaming eyes" and approved of the venture. ... The barque Sedov started its world cruise on May 20, from St. Petersburg. You can follow the project’s progress on the Voice of Russia radio station and on our Internet site."

Voice of Russia, 28 May 2012, via Russia & India Report: "The VOR has recently marked the 70th anniversary of the beginning of its broadcastings in India. The jubilee meeting was a solemn occasion celebrated at the VOR’s home, in the House of Radio, Pyatnitskaya Street, Moscow. The honorary guest at the event was Ajai Malhotra, India’s Ambassador to Russia. The Russian Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin joined in the celebration via web conference that linked Moscow and New Delhi, alongside with scientists, diplomats, business people, journalists and cultural workers. Alexander Kadakin stressed that the VOR started broadcasting in Hindu in 1942, a period full of hardships, when Russia sought out means to tell its Indian audience how the nation fought against the Nazi’s army during World War II. The Voice of Russia has always been clearly heard and much loved in India, the Russian Ambassador said, adding it always conveyed the message of a tried and true friendship, which has been there between the two countries for decades. ... Every day, the VOR broadcasts two hours in Hindu and one hour in Urdu. ... Thanks to the VOR’s cooperation with the local radio station FEVER 104 FM, it is now broadcast in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore. ... The VOR is now set to deepen its ties with Indian FM radio stations, make new programs about Russia’s highly esteemed classical culture, as well as launch new quizzes and contests that are so popular with the Indian audiences." -- Voice of Russia was, until 1991, Radio Moscow.

CNN International adds Anthony Bourdain for travel/food show, and iReport ambassador in London.

Posted: 02 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
WorldScreen.com, 29 May 2012, Mansha Daswani: "Anthony Bourdain is set to host a new weekend series about food and travel for CNN, beginning in early 2013. The chef and author currently hosts two series for Travel Channel: No Reservations and The Layover. The new show for CNN will be produced by the same team behind those two shows, Zero Point Zero Production and exec producers Chris Collins and Lydia Tenaglia. The new series will examine cultures around the world through their food, dining and travel rituals. In the U.S. it will air Sundays in prime time. The series is also scheduled to run on CNN International. Bourdain will also offer commentary on other CNN programs and platform."

New York Times, 29 May 2012, Brian Stelter: "CNN described the addition of Mr. Bourdain’s program as a 'further step in broadening and distinguishing CNN’s weekend programming from its traditional weekday news coverage.' To longtime CNN watchers, it may seem a back to the future move, because the network used to have lifestyle shows ... on the weekends. Those shows, however, were mostly produced in house."

journalism.co.uk, 31 May 2012, Rachel McAthy: "CNN has announced new investment in its iReport citizen journalism platform with the first appointment outside the US with a new iReport ambassador in London with a worldwide remit. Speaking to Journalism.co.uk at the News World Summit in Paris, CNN International's vice president for digital Peter Bale said the new appointment will be responsible for driving audience interaction. ... He said he hoped the platform was not "displacing" any of CNN's existing staff, but said there have been incidents where CNN would not have been able to cover events using overage from agencies or by itself. Therefore with 'so many people in so many places' the platform can only add to CNN output."

New York Post, 30 May 2012: "Big overseas events like the Japanese earthquake and the Arab uprisings are a 'vindication that you can get good ratings on international news,' says Mark Whitaker, CNN’s managing editor. CNN intends to put more emphasis on international news on its two US networks, CNN and HLN, he says. The future of CNN may not be in the US, Whitaker suggested, but in CNN International, a channel seen in more than 200 countries and which gets its revenue from carriage fees — not advertising." -- But plenty of ads are seen on CNN International, indicating that the network derives at least some of its revenue from that source.

See previous post about CNN International.

Sky News Arabia website employs "two of the Arab world’s most influential and inspirational caricaturists."

Posted: 02 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Business Intelligence Middle East, 28 May 2012: "Two of the Arab world’s most influential and inspirational caricaturists have begun showcasing their take on regional developments through daily cartoons on Sky News Arabia’s website. Syrian Ali Ferzat and Jordanian Emad Hajjaj create exclusive artwork for the channel, shedding light on socio-political and economic issues affecting the Arab world in what is a first among regional news channels which usually rely on sourcing cartoons from third parties." See previous post about Sky News Arabia.

Al Jazeera sees "a lot of opportunity in the world for sports channels."

Posted: 02 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Reuters, 24 May 2012, Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic: "Al Jazeera, best known for its Middle Eastern news coverage, aims to become a global powerhouse in sports broadcasting over the next five years, its director told Reuters. The Qatar-based broadcaster will launch its new sports channel dubbed 'beIN Sport' in France next week and plans for two more channels in the United States in August. It is also currently weighing whether to bid for the UK rights to the English Premier League, said Nasser al-Khelaifi, director of Al Jazeera Sports, in an interview. 'There is a lot of opportunity in the world for sports channels,' said al-Khelaifi on Thursday."

Broadband TV News, 31 May 2012, Robert Briel: "Canal+ is waging war against Al Jazeera. Subscribers to CanalSat bouquets will not be able to get access to Al Jazeera’s new sports channels bein Sport 1 & 2, which launches tomorrow, June 1. Canal+ has also taken legal action to prove unfair poaching of its journalists by the Quatar based broadcaster."

Miami Herald, 20 May 2012, Michelle Kaufman: "Al Jazeera, the network known for its news coverage of the Middle East, is delving into international sports — soccer, in particular — and Miami is expected to be one of its American broadcasting hubs. ... Sources said the network is in negotiations to acquire the U.S. TV rights to Spain’s La Liga, Serie A and the French Ligue 1. Al Jazeera surely has enough money to go after the English Premier League and Champions League rights, as well. The idea is to build a global soccer brand and raise Qatar’s profile in the international soccer landscape. Al Jazeera is in talks with Imagina US, a Miami-based production company that would provide studios for the broadcasts of the European matches Al Jazeera acquires. It would go after English- and Spanish-speaking announcers and commentators in the United States to broadcast the matches and host shows. It is unclear what cable channels would carry 'be IN Sports' properties, and when they would be ready to launch, but Fox, Gol TV and ESPN certainly have another competitor to worry about."

Eutelsat press release, 24 May 2012: "Eutelsat Communications announced today that its HOT BIRD satellite TV neighbourhood at 13° East and the EUTELSAT 5 West A satellite at 5° West have been selected by beIN SPORT to broadcast its two new channels for the French market, beIN SPORT 1 et beIN SPORT 2."

In English-language international television, "talent moves around like riders on a merry-go-round."

Posted: 01 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Washington Times, 24 May 2012, Michael Johnson: "RT from Moscow mentions anti-Putin demonstrations but does not treat them as big news. Kremlin control of the media somehow does not get a mention. The French seem to consider their domestic news as the center of the universe. Al-Jazeera is surprisingly balanced but will tell their correspondents to dig into collateral damage war stories that other correspondents might ignore. Even Hillary Clinton publicly said she likes watching Al Jazeera while traveling. The English-language talent moves around like riders on a merry-go-round. Familiar BBC faces now populate Al-Jazeera, and the BBC trades names and faces with CNN like the NBA swaps pro baseball [sic] players. Russia Today has found an impressive lineup of English-language correspondents and anchors for some unknown source. CNN International, managed separately from CNN domestic, has assembled perhaps the world’s best stable of television correspondents, including Nic Robertson, Arwa Damon, Matthew Chance and (when she is allowed out) the Syrian-born and multilingual Hala Gorani. ... International television is the obvious way forward in this globalized world, and displaced foreigners will be increasingly catered to as key markets. Lesson No. 1 for the business side of television: they have the money." -- Recommended reading. As was evident from the mailbag of VOA English, "displaced foreigners" were a significant part of the audience. The audience appreciated hearing news about where they were from at least as much as where they were.

France 24 journalist back in Paris after a month of FARC detention in Colombia.

Posted: 01 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
France 24, 1 June 2012: "Roméo Langlois, the French journalist who was freed on Wednesday by leftist rebels after more than a month of captivity in Colombia, arrived in France on Friday morning. Langlois, a FRANCE 24 correspondent, returned to Paris on an Air France flight and was greeted at Charles de Gaulle airport by his parents and two French ministers. Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti and Development Minister Pascal Canfin, who is in charge of international cooperation, welcomed Langlois home. The recently appointed culture minister paid homage to Langlois for 'having paid with his detention the price… for the freedom of information.' ... In his first comments after his release on Wednesday, the French reporter criticized FARC for creating a 'media circus' around his capture and accused them of engaging in a 'political game', while specifying that he had not been mistreated. From his first days in captivity, Langlois negotiated for the use of a video camera. His demand was fulfilled after three weeks. The journalist said he was able to get an interview with one of the guerrilla leaders of the Front 15, a regional FARC unit, in which the issues of kidnappings and the cultivation of coca were discussed. Langlois, who appeared with a camcorder in hand in video footage of his release, said that while the recorded material would be part of a new video report, he planned on living in France in the coming months. 'There are not many journalists covering the conflict in Colombia, in the jungle, in the complicated areas where there are clashes. The Colombian media are limited in how much they can say—there is plenty of self-censorship. So international and independent media have a role to play,' Langlois concluded."

AFP, 24 May 2012: "A Bahrain policewoman charged with torturing a female journalist during last year's crackdown on anti-government protests will go on trial next month, the prosecution said on Thursday. The officer who was not named was accused of torturing the Bahraini correspondent of France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya, Nazeeha Saeed, when she was arrested on May 22 last year, according to a statement."

"Radio Free Europe is a model for American global engagement."

Posted: 01 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Partisans, 25 May 2012, Prajwal Ciryam: "Despite potential concerns over true independence, one thing going for RFE/RL is its heavy reliance on local reporters. RFE/RL is frequently an arbiter and amplifier of local voices, a role that shields it from some of the more aggressive criticisms one could make of publicly supported, mission-oriented journalism. ... The first lesson to take from RFE/RL about America's participation in the world is the obvious one: Bolstering civil society is a more powerful, efficient, and admirable approach than embarking on vaguely defined military excursions. It is premised on the realization that a functioning civil society is a precondition for democratic systems, not an inevitable product of them. The second lesson is more subtle. Whether the engagement is journalistic, political, or militaristic, empowering locals is better than imposing from afar. RFE/RL is about localism at a global scale, America as the positive enabler, and a world in which our country concerns itself with leadership instead of hegemony." -- "Mission-oriented journalism" is not really journalism, unless the mission is journalism.

RFE/RL, Off Mic blog, 22 May 2012, Kristyna Dzmuranova and Larisa Balanovskaya: "Known around the office as an enthusiast for the outdoors, 30-year-old [Volodymyr] Noskov, who lost his eyesight during childhood, has worked for RFE/RL [Ukrainian] since 2009. Based in Kharkiv, Noskov frequently covers news related to Yulia Tymoshenko but he does not consider himself a political journalist. 'Talking to politicians wears me out,' shares Noskov. 'No matter what I report, I am always looking for the human angle in the news.'"

NHK World now available to Comcast subscribers in the New York City area.

Posted: 01 Jun 2012   Print   Send a link
Japan Culture NYC, 26 May 2012: "One month after expanding its reach in New York to Time Warner and Verizon Fios subscribers, NHK WORLD TV is now available on Comcast. Customers with Comcast can catch the stand-alone 24-hour English-language TV news channel produced by NHK, Japan’s sole public independent broadcasting corporation, throughout the region on Channel 265. As part of this new rollout to New York area Comcast subscribers, on Saturday, May 26 at 7:10 p.m., NHK WORLD TV will be airing 'Surviving the Tsunami,' its Peabody award-winning documentary special chronicling the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011."

Lifehacker Australia, 25 May 2012, Angus Kidman: "The long-in-the-making merger of [Australia's] pay TV providers FOXTEL and AUSTAR finally became official this week after being approved in April. ... Among the small changes you might notice from July 1, when the two companies effectively become one: ... --Two news channels — CCTV and Al Jazeera — will be added to the FOXTEL Get Started package. (AUSTAR customers already had these channels.) ... --AUSTAR HD will add Discovery Channel, MTV Live, National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild, plus the Foxtel 3D channel."