Friday, November 21, 2014

Spanish House of Representatives President meets with Shortwave Supporters

Jesús Posada, president of the House of Representatives, the lower house of Spain’s parliament, met with representatives of several professional organizations who are trying to bring Radio Exterior de España (REE) back to shortwave. The Association of the Spanish Press in Madrid published this information on Wednesday, quoting from a release by a public platform formed by these and other officials and activists. Among the shortwave supporters received by Posada at the House of Represenatives were Joaquín Cadilla, president of the organization of longline fishermen (Organización de Palangreros Guardeses / ORPAGU), Aurelio Martin, vice president of the Federation of Journalist Associations in Spain (Federación de Asociaciones de Periodistas de España, FAPE), Augustin Yanel, secretary general of the Federation of Journalists Trade Unions (Federación de Sindicatos de Periodistas, FeSP), and Amparo Rodriguez, in charge of communication. The platform bases their complaint against the closure of the Noblejas shortwave transmitting site on the right of access to information (derecho a la información – my translation is almost definitely not legally appropriate), stating that there are thousands of Spaniards – fishermen or seafaring people, civilian and military- who have no access to the internet or satellite broadcasts.

The note also says that on about November 25, Spanish Radio and Television (RTVE) president José Antonio Sánchez will answer questions of a parliamentary commission concerning the criteria for closing Noblejas transmitting center down and dismantling it. The oppositional Socialist group requested the session.

APM also lists the members of the platform, as well as associate members.

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Updates / Related

» Solos en el Océano, El Pais, Nov 9, 2014

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Related

» Petition, October 14, 2014
» REE abandons shortwave, Oct 3, 2014

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bundestag: Deutsche Welle “structurally underfunded”

German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle is structurally underfunded, according to a press release by Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, published on Wednesday. Members of parliament representing the Christian Democrats and the Bavarian CSU as well as the Social Democrats – all of whom form the current federal coalition government – said that they had “recognized the problem”.

More details in a blog next week. [Update, 20141121: or later.]

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Buying Airtime: Will you take this content in Swahili?

» The BBC has warned that China poses a “direct threat” to its global reach by paying incentives to local broadcast companies to prioritise its state-funded CCTV service over other international networks.

The Independent, Nov 10, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

China’s Legal Reform Projects: Slowly, very slowly

The fourth plenary session of the 18th CCP central committee took place from October 20 to October 23. Less than a month before the opening of the plenum, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted a politburo statement of September 29 as saying that the plenary session’s focus would be on improving the administration of law. At the center of that, according to the SCMP, would be a battle against corruption.

In July, Stanley Lubman, a lawyer and longtime observer of legal issues in China, wrote in the Wall Street Journal‘s (WSJ) China blog (China Realtime) that the CCP’s central leading group for judicial reform of the party and the “Supreme People’s Court” were signalling a serious intention to implement measures that could lead to a shift of power over finances and personnel in basic courts, from local governments and local “people’s congresses” to provincial governments. Pilot projects were planned in Shanghai, Guangdong, Jilin, Hubei, Hainan and Qinghai. If successful, these reforms could boost citizens’ chances to challenge local cadres over issues such as illegal land seizures or concealment of violations of product safety and environmental laws. However, this didn’t mean that courts would be insulated from pressures from those higher-level officials on their decision-making. Importantly, nothing in these reforms is aimed at diminishing Communist Party control over outcomes in the courts.

Lubman also links to a creative-commons translation cooperative, China Law Translate, which describes the pilot projects on the provincial and municipal (Shanghai) level in more detail.

Ultimate CCP control reservation apart, Lubman’s article came across as sort of optimistic. Less so an article by Russell Leigh Moses, dean of academics and faculty at the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, published on October 24. If the communique issued after the plenary session was something to go by, this was a plenum that wasn’t interested in engineering far-reaching changes to China’s legal system. China would move slowly, very slowly, suggests the headline.

That said, the term under the party’s leadership (党的领导 / 党的领导下), quoted from the communiqué by Moses as a reminder that the conception and implementation of law belongs only to the Communist Party, can’t have surprised any observer.

According to the Economist, the CCP’s new enthusiasm for the rule of law springs from the campaign against corruption – see first paragraph of this post, too (SCMP quote). The battle is old (Xi Jinping’s predecessor as party and state chairman, Hu Jintao, warned in November 2012 that corruption, if not tackled by politics, could prove fatal to the party.

The battle is even older than old. Shen Zewei, China reporter for the Singaporean daily Lianhe Zaobao (United Morning News), quoted a Taiwanese researcher, Lee Yeau-tarn, in 2009 that Chiang Kai-shek had been able to implement land reform in Taiwan, but not in the mainland, because the KMT had been intricately connected with the despotic gentry.

This suggests that even Moses’ forecast could prove overly optimistic for China.

The Economist’s November 1 edition, however, sees the glass half-full – or even more positively. After all, one of the weekly’s editorials argues, the constitution, emphasized by the CCP leadership,

enshrines property rights. Of the many thousands of “mass incidents” of unrest each year in rural China, 65% relate to disputes over the (often illegal) seizure of land by officials. Mr Xi wants to make it clear that their behaviour is not just illegal but also unconstitutional. That sounds scarier.

Farmland reform, which was at the focus of the 17h Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Third Plenary Session in 2008, back then under the Hu Jintao/Wen Jiabao leadership -, is also moving slowly, very slowly. And the fourth plenary session of this 18th central committee might be considered another push into the direction of a more just, and more efficient, use of land – six years later.

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Related

» Dead Cats, rotten Fish, Nov 7, 2011
» Rural Land Certificates, July 10, 2011
» Wen Jiabao’s Endgame, April 21, 2011
» Tossing the Mountain around, Nov 8, 2010
» Farmland Reform, Oct 8, 2008

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Shortwave Newbie: Parents Dead, next Generation

“The next generation of shortwave broadcasting has begun, broadcasting news, culture, and perspective 24 hours a day, on 9395 kHz.”

Thus speaks Global 24 Radio, a commercial station using a transmitter at the WRMI shortwave farm in Okeechobee, Florida. I listened to Global-24 from 03:00 to 04:16 UTC this morning. Part of the program were Feature Story News (news on the hour at 03:00), Radio France International (RFI) news (news on the hour at 04:00), and a Jazz program around the newscasts.

Glenn Hauser‘s audiomagazine World of Radio has been invited to be part of a Radio Night program on Global-24, according to WoR’s October 30 edition (WOR 1745, 27th minute), and that would be on Tuesday nights. My own first impression is that Global-24 aggregates newscasts from different stations or services (the a/m Feature Story News appear to provide quite a number of smaller radio stations with ready-to-use newscasts, but there are also big networks among their customers, according to their reference list). There are other outsourced feature programs on Global-24, too, but according to WoR, they also have a mailbag show, i. e. a program produced by Global-24 itself. Hauser, himself reportedly an agnostic, was told by the broadcaster’s general manager that there would be not .. any  religious programming on schedule.

As for the chances that the new station will be with us for many years to come, Kai Ludwig of Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s media magazine didn’t voice an opinion of his own in a report of October 23, some nine days before Global 24 Radio went on the air, but quoted skeptics (without naming them):

The announcement has been met with skepticism on various occasions, as even in the past, when shortwave was much more significant than nowadays, a number of projects of this kind failed economically. This starts with the broadcasting facility of Radio Miami International. [The facilities] date back to former Radio New York Worldwide. The broadcasting equipment was sold to Family Radio after [Radio New York WW's] closure in 1974.

Der Ankündigung wird verschiedentlich mit Skepsis begegnet, nachdem auch in der Vergangenheit, als der Verbreitungsweg Kurzwelle noch eine ungleich größere Bedeutung als heute hatte, eine Anzahl solcher Projekte wirtschaftlich scheiterte. Dies beginnt schon bei der heutigen Sendeanlage von Radio Miami International. Sie geht auf das einstige Radio New York Worldwide zurück, nach dessen Schließung die Sendetechnik 1974 an Family Radio verkauft wurde.

Family Radio (aka WYFR) themselves haven’t closed down completely, but they sold their transmission site in Okeechobee to WRMI in December 2013. That’s where Global-24′s programs are now aired from, too.

Popular on shortwave, especially in Japan, but no great economic success: KYOI, a hit radio broadcaster from Saipan,  1986 QSL

Popular on shortwave, especially in Japan, but no great economic success: KYOI, a hit radio broadcaster from Saipan, 1986 QSL

More unsuccessful cases in the past would be WRNO and Super Rock KYOI, writes Ludwig,

who broadcasted from New Orleans and Saipan respectively, on shortwave, from 1982. KYOI was sold to the religious community Christian Science after a few years, who used the facilities for their spoken word programs, and then eventually sold them to the International Broadcasting Bureau, in 1998.

Weitere Fälle sind WRNO Worldwide und Superrock KYOI, die ab 1982 von New Orleans bzw. Saipan aus Musikprogramme auf Kurzwelle sendeten. KYOI wurde nach wenigen Jahren an die Religionsgemeinschaft Christian Science verkauft, die ab 1989 die Sendeanlage für ihre Wortprogramme nutzte und sie schließlich 1998 an das International Broadcasting Bureau veräußerte.

WRNO too had switched to spoken word programs in the early 1990s, writes Ludwig, and was sold to a missionary society after the turn of the century.

WRNO had been founded by Joseph Costello (Joe Costello III), born in or around 1941 in Algiers/New Orleans, Louisiana, who appears to have been very successful as a media entrepreneur in general, if this  (source unverified) 1997 obituary in the Times Picayune is something to go by. But he wasn’t terribly successful with WRNO shortwave in particular. In November 1991, he told then Radio Netherlands Media Network‘s Jonathan Marks that

The commercial viability for shortwave radio is just not there. In our country, advertising is sold on the rating-point system, and millions and millons of dollars in every city in the country are based on who has the share of the audience. They do a small sample of six-hundred to a thousand people and then project that out to represent a whole city or a whole metropolitan area, and then millions of dollars are placed on how you score in that sample. And to approach a buyer in New York or in any major advertising capital in the United States is … first off, they don’t understand it. At this point, Jonathan, it is not as economically viable as I thought it might be on the end of its first decade.

Maybe the rating-point system has changed since, or isn’t a problem now. Or, maybe, Global-24 is based on a different business model. While shortwave may have declined in significance, the station is able to reach out to listeners both by shortwave and the internet, and is indeed using either medium. And, of course, leasing airtime from an existing broadcaster may not be as cost-intensive as building your own transmission site. At times, a transmission roomer may have to pay for the full costs, plus a profit margin. At times, maybe, a contribution margin will make the landlord sufficiently happy.

Costello, for one, had seemed to approach his shortwave adventure with a mixture of business sense and hobby, in the early 1980s. There was no standby transmitter, he told Marks, and the only existing one, water-cooled, was at times affected by the water taken from the Mississippi.

All the same, the station received between 1,000 and 1,500 letters a month, according to Costello. What defines the difference between failure and success for Global 24 Radio remains to be seen. For sure, the audience reach of shortwave broadcasters can be measured, if people care enough.

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Related

» Shortwave Log, WRNO, Aug 31, 2014
» The KYOI story, Calvin Melen, 2002, 2011

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Huanqiu Shibao on Occupy Central: “This Country has Ways and Means”

An article published by Huanqiu Shibao on October 22 went through much of the usual reflections on how Occupy Central was – supposedly – harmful for Hong Kong, but then offers a question that may as well be considered an ultimatum:

Those who, with Western forces at their center, continue to applaud the “Occupy Central” participants, and those exiles who ran away during the early years, may look at “Occupy Central” as a hopeful indication that the fortunes would be turning in their favor. A formation that opposes China’s rise is taking shape. Their goal is to severely wound China, as a prelude to bringing down China. May we ask if this is the intention of the young students who are taking part in “Occupy Central”?

以西方为中心的外部势力会继续为香港“占中”者喝彩,那些早年跑出去的流亡者们会视“占中”为他们时来运转的希望。一个针对崛起中国的阵形眼看着一天天成型。它的目标是要重伤中国,作为“扳倒”中国的序曲。请问这是香港参与“占中”年轻学生们的初衷吗?

If not, we ask these students to leave early. For the very small minority of those who look at China as a mortal enemy this country has ways and means to deal with them.

如果不是,请那些学生早早离开。至于极少数视社会主义中国为死敌的人,这个国家自会有对付他们的办法。

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Related

» Chorus of Condemnation, Oct 7, 2014
» OC coverage links, Oct 3, 2014

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Updates/Rlated

» Anti-China scheming, “Global Times”, Oct 22, 2014

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quick Review: Princess Cheng, the Dalai Lama, and the Motherpapers

Stay away from blogging for a fortnight, and you will miss out on a lot of news. Here are some that caught my attention during the past two weeks, without time to blog about them, let alone making a real translation of it.

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1. This Land is my Land: Princess Wencheng, from Tang China to Tibet

Wang Lixiong, a Chinese tibetologist, described his take on the Tang Dynasty’s motives to get Princess Wencheng married to then Tibetan King King Songtsän Gampo.

Wang’s take is that the mere fact that you marry one of your princesses to the ruler of a distant land still doesn’t make that ruler’s land your land. If and how far his view may differ from the narratives Chinese propaganda has spread abroad successfully, would take a good translation of the entire blogpost, as published by Tsering Woeser, on October 23.

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2. That Land is China’s Land: no Entry into South Africa for Dalai Lama

I’m wondering if the Dalai Lama expects to see the country of South Africa in his lifetime. Chinafile collected some links and reactions to this most recent – apparent – refusal from Pretoria to grant Tibet’s spiritual leader a visa.

Pretoria reportedly also blocked a Dalai Lama visit in March 2009. Less than two month later, then South African minister for International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the Dalai Lama could now visit South Africa any time he wanted.

Anyway. So far, it hasn’t happened.

one_hundred_fake_euros

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3. What shall we do with the Motherpapers?

Nothing, says China Media Project (CMP), Hong Kong, a website observing the mainland Chinese media scene.

Not if it is about People’s Daily, the mother of all motherpapers, anyway. Motherpapers, writes CMP, usually get their budgets right from the Chinese Communist Party, and may also be supported by their child papers (which are more commercial, carry more advertising, and may have more interested readers). Because you can’t discuss the real challenges in China.

Personal note: I’m sometimes criticized by Chinese people for reading People’s Daily or other orthodox stuff, and for watching Xinwen Lianbo, the main CCTV news broadcast. There are so many more interesting media, they say.

Which is true. But as the CCP never invites me to their schooling sessions, not even on village level, motherpapers and CCTV is all I can get for my better information about how the party is ticking.

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There’s still more stuff I (just as superficially) read during the second half of October, but I might still get round to them in some more detail.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Petition for Spanish Foreign Shortwave Radio

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Club S500, a Spanish shortwave magazine, runs an
» online petition on change.org.

Background: Spanish foreign radio (Radio Exterior de Espana / RTVE) has decided to close down its shortwave facilities and to limit broadcasting to the internet and satellite.

Spanish foreign radio QSL card, 1986

A QSL card from REE / RTVE confirming reception of a broadcast on May 1, 1986

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Related

» Spanish Foreign Radio abandons Shortwave, Oct 3, 2014

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