Monday, December 1, 2014

Spanish Foreign Radio, Shortwave

Radio Exterior de Espana (REE) may be back on shortwave soon, Adventist World Radio‘s (AWR) media program Wavescan reported on Sunday. Spanish Radio and Television (RTVE) president José Antonio Sánchez reportedly announced the radio station’s return to shortwave during a hearing in a Spanish parliamentary commission last week, but without stating a definite time frame.

Interest groups and the military had voiced opposition against dismantling Spain’s main shortwave transmission site Noblejas, according to Wavescan.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Spain’s Radio and Television Director acknowledges Importance of Shortwave

Spanish newspaper Heraldo de Aragon‘s online edition publishes the demand by a pro-shortwave alliance – a “platform” of activists from a number of professional organizations – that Radio Exterior de Espana (REE) restore its shortwave broadcasts “immediately”. The platform welcomed a statement by Spanish Radio and Television Corporation (RTVE) president José Antonio Sánchez that shortwave broadcasts were an essential public service (un “servicio público esencial”).

What Sanches said in a parliamentary commission session, apparently on Wednesday, might seem to suggest that there may be chances that REE would return to shortwave, but my Spanish isn’t good enough to read it reliably. RTVE’s website apparently doesn’t cover the issue.

The demands appear to focus on broadcasts for Spaniards abroad, not least sailors and fishermen. Bringing the English or French services back to shortwave does not appear to be a priority among Spain’s shortwave supporters.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Occupy Central: one Movement, two Pictures

Much of recent weeks’ coverage on Occupy Central has been rather gloomy, as this article by Zachary Keck in The Diplomat on October 15. Keck also mentioned a meeting between Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong director Zhang Xiaoming (张晓明) and pro-establishment Hong Kong lawmakers on October 14. And a Reuters report stated the obvious, quoting sources: Beijing’s “bottom line” wouldn’t change, and making use of the army to suppress the movement would be a “last resort” – that would be if there was widespread chaos – killing, arson and looting. During the first week in October, the new National Security Commission chaired by President Xi Jinping had reached a position which left Hong Kong’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying with little leeway in dealing with the students.

A China News Service (CNS) article, written by an author named Guo Ping, quoted Zhang Xiaoming in indirect speech, but apparently extensively – it’s at times hard to see where Guo Ping quotes Zhang, and where he uses words of his own.

Since Hong Kong’s return [in 1997], the article says (or quotes), the core of the political dispute had been if or if not the principle of “one country, two systems” were respected, if or if not the governance rights (管治权) of the central authorities in Beijing over Hong Kong were respected, if or if not the constitutional status of Hong Kong’s basic law was respected, all of which concerned the direction of how the principle of “one country, two systems” was put into practice (香港回归以来围绕政制发展问题的争议,核心是要不要尊重“一国”的原则,要不要尊重中央对香港的管治权,要不要尊重基本法的宪制地位,这些是关系到“一 国两制”实践发展方向的大是大非问题。三个“要不要”直接抓住了当前问题的焦点所在).

As is well known, “one country, two systems” is the fundamental policy by which our country achieves peaceful reunification. “One country” points to [the fact that] this happens inside the country, that Hong Kong is an unseparable part of the country, directly belonging to the central government’s local administrative areas. “Two systems” means within “inside one country”, with the principal part carrying out a socialist system, and with Hong Kong and a few other regions carrying out a capitalist system. It can be said that “one country, two systems” isn’t only the great pioneering undertaking of the Chinese people to resolve the issue of national unity, but also a model and a sample for other countries to reference when having to solve similar problems.

In general, either Zhang’s or Guo Ping’s (the author’s) utterances appear to be a (for now) verbal “day of reckoning”, shovelling all “opponents” into one bag and threshing it: Hong Kongers who had opposed the introduction of “national education” (国民教育) and calling it “brainwashing education” (恐吓), Hong Kongers who “threatened and intimidated mainland tourists”, and “clamoring for Hong Kong independence”. All these plus (or including) Occupy Central.

Zhang’s speech to the Hong Kong legislators could be regarded as a speech to all Hong Kongers, Guo Ping concludes

Legislator Kenneth Leung probably wasn’t among Zhang’s audience in October. In a “Letter to Hong Kong” on RTHK on Sunday, he drew a very different picture of the movement’s effects on Central:

Central has become a cleaner, more pleasant and connectable business district for city dwellers. The sharp decrease in local traffic results in the reduction in road side pollution, making the air more breathable and the temperature more bearable. Walking becomes such a pleasant experience that people enjoy strolling during lunch time and evening, stopping occasionally to have a chat or a cigarette. Studies conducted in the States revealed that “walkability” of a community has a direct correlation with the local population’s life quality and health. Also, a recent study conducted by George Washington University on 30 metropolis in the States indicates that a city’s domestic productivity is higher when office and retail space is located in “walkable” communities

With the hindsight of these studies and the recent experience, it is high time for the Government to rethink about re-routing local traffic flow and re-designate most part of Central to become a pedestrian zone.

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Related

» A Chorus of Condemnation, Oct 7, 2014

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

German Television Interview with Deutsche Welle director: Aha, the Russians do Propaganda

After facing many inconvenient questions about the editorial independence of his multimedia broadcaster during the past months, from the media, from politics, and from Reporters without Borders, Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg got airtime this month with much nicer questions. On November 16, Berlin Direkt, a primetime political magazine on Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), one of Germany’s two national – domestic – television channels, interviewed Limbourg.

Q:   Russia currently upgrades its foreign television, and other [media] – internet, radio – incredibly, and also invests a lot of money into these. Is the restructuring of Deutsche Welle an answer to that offensive?
A:   I think that it [DW restructuring] has to do with that, because we simply noticed that very many broadcasters, internationally, spend a lot of money for their purposes, and that we obviously have to see to it that the German perspective and German values for which we stand, i. e. democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, that these are heard in the world. Therefore we have, of course to enter this competition to a degree, even if that is quite expensive.
Q:   And even if this will immediately lead to the accusation that aha, the Russians do propaganda, but Deutsche Welle spends more money, too, so Deutsche Welle, too, does propaganda?
A:   No, I think that in our place, that’s nothing to do with propaganda or counter-propaganda, but we want to score with enlightenment, and this means that we won’t explicitly try to work against someone, but we work for our values, and I think that it explains itself, that  when you stand for democracy, freedom of the press, and pluralism, that precisely therefore, we have nothing to do with propaganda, but on the contrary: we try to represent plurality of opinion. That means, too, of course, that we listen to other opinions such as opinions of the Russians, and work with these.
Q:  How is Deutsche Welle positioned in Russia, and how are you received there?
A:  We have a correspondent bureau in Russia and we have, of course, a very strong and, during the past months, yet strengthened, Russian and Ukrainian service which are in very, very high demand. The numbers of users have tripled or quadrupled. But we wouldn’t be able to launch a broadcaster in Russian in Russia; you don’t get a licence from the government for that.

I didn’t watch Berlin Direkt on television. On the ZDF internet pages, you can access both the interview and a report that provides some background information about Deutsche Welle’s Russian competitors – ZDF certainly portray Russia Today television, Radio Sputnik, and Russia’s umbrella organization for foreign media, Rossiya Segodnya, as competitors for Deutsche Welle. The Berlin Direkt report starts right from the first minute here, and there may not be a great deal of information about Russia’s foreign propaganda around at German television. “Recently, German is spoken, too”, the ZDF anchor suggests in his lead-in.

In fact, the first program by Radio Moscow that ever targeted a foreign audience was in German. That was in 1929. The German programs continued through the years of the 2nd World War, and when Radio Moscow was reorganized as the “Voice of Russia” in December 1993, the German-language tradition – many hours a day, seven days a week – continued. It still does.

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Update/Related

Putin’s side of the story, …

… in an interview with the other main German tv channel, ARD, Nov 17.

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Main tag: Deutsche Welle

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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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