Posts tagged ‘competitiveness’

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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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.]

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Deutsche Welle China Strategy: Statement by Reporters without Borders (RSF)

September 25 / September 30

25.09.2014 – Reporters without Borders Germany (ROG) calls on the director general of Deutsche Welle (DW), Peter Limbourg, to change Deutsche Welle`s strategy on China. During the last few weeks, the tax-financed German broadcaster Deutsche Welle has taken some alarming decisions related to its Chinese programme. Furthermore, Peter Limbourg has decided to agree on a highly controversial co-operation with CCTV – the Chinese state broadcaster.

The executive director of Reporters without Borders Germany, Christian Mihr, states: “We highly condemn the co-operation agreement between Deutsche Welle and the Chinese State broadcaster CCTV.” He continues: “This co-operation is incompatible with Deutsche Welle`s statutory mission as CCTV is part of the repressive apparatus directed against Chinese journalists. Deutsche Welle should not try to increase its reach in China at the expense of freedom of the press. As a member of the Reporters without Borders Germany board of trustees, we urgently call on Peter Limbourg to reconsider his decision.”

In a press release dated September 4, Deutsche Welle announced its intention to work with CCTV in the future. According to the statement, Deutsche Welle will produce music and business-related content together with CCTV. In addition, CCTV will broadcast an adaptation of Deutsche Welle`s lifestyle magazine Euromaxx (see: http://bit.ly/1sXLxjk).

CCTV IS A FUNDAMENTAL PILLAR OF CHINESE STATE PROPAGANDA

CCTV is China`s largest television broadcaster. At the organisational level, CCTV forms part of China`s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. Consequently, CCTV is directly connected to the government and plays a fundamental role in Chinese state propaganda. In fact, regulations force all other Chinese TV stations to broadcast CCTV`s 7pm main evening news.

During the last few months, CCTV has repeatedly broadcast “forced confessions” (see: http://bit.ly/1j3J0EI). During these broadcasts, critical journalists and bloggers were made to publicly criticise their own behaviour. On May 8, this was even done to a Chinese freelancer working for Deutsche Welle – to Gao Yu. The 70-year-old journalist has been held in criminal detention in China since she was arrested at the end of April (see: http://bit.ly/1yqVPB7).

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS GERMANY`S LETTER TO PETER LIMBOURG

On September 16, Reporters without Borders Germany wrote to Peter Limbourg, the general director of Deutsche Welle, calling on him to answer a number of questions concerning Deutsche Welle`s cooperation with CCTV. This letter, available in German, can be accessed under: http://bit.ly/1ptN1jp. His answer is available in German under http://bit.ly/1vkzYFO.

Deutsche Welle describes the co-operation agreement with CCTV as a dialogue. However, numerous previous cases experienced by Reporters without Borders demonstrate that similar forms of communication and co-operation have usually been skilfully put to work for state propaganda. Reporters without Borders Germany doubts, that Deutsche Welle will be able to avoid such instrumentalisation.

Despite Peter Limbourg’s answer, certain questions remain unanswered:

How have the agreements between Deutsche Welle and CCTV been formulated? What exactly has been agreed to? Will Deutsche Welle supply content for CCTV and enable its Chinese partner to select what it wishes to broadcast? Or will CCTV have to broadcast all of Deutsche Welle`s contributions? How would this affect, for example, a China-critical programme on the artist Ai Weiwei? Could CCTV decide to reject such a programme?

Furthermore, it is still unclear why Su Yutong, who was working on Deutsche Welles`s China programme, was dismissed. Officially, she is said to have publicised internal matters. However, Reporters without Borders Germany is extremely worried that Su Yutong`s dismissal is related to Deutsche Welles`s new approach in its China-programme.

Our letter to Peter Limbourg included an invitation to participate in a panel discussion organised by Reporters without Borders Germany on “The Chinese media” aimed at clarifying these questions. Peter Limbourg made no mention of our invitation in his letter of response.

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Related

» Sanctions against Chinese State Media, Aug 29, 2014

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deutsche Welle Task Plan: “Germany must not fall behind”

According to a press release on Wednesday, Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg handed the broadcasting station’s task plan to Norbert Lammert, president of German federal parliament or Bundestag, on Tuesday. The plan (Aufgabenplanung 2014 – 2017) is both a to-do-list and project description, and a request to parliament to fund the projects it contains. On the DW photo, Limbourg manages to look like Lammert’s rich and benevolent uncle with lots to offer.  The photo was shot by Jan Röhl, a freelance photographer in Berlin, who has made photos for DW every now and then and whose website says that every theme should be photographed in a way that makes the beholder wish to experience the displayed situation or to buy the product (das jeweilige Motiv sollte so fotografiert werden, dass der Betrachter den Wunsch verspürt, die dargestellte Situation zu erleben, das Produkt zu erwerben).

“We want to face up to international competition better. To do that, DW has initiated an ambitious course of reorientation”, the director said during the presentation of DW’s strategy for the coming four years. “The interest among global decision makers and opinion formers in our country continues growing. Especially during international crisis and conflicts, the German positions are sought for. Germany’s medial voice in the world communicates it – multi-medial and in thirty languages.”

„Wir wollen uns dem internationalen Wettbewerb besser stellen. Dazu hat die DW einen ambitionierten Kurs der Neuausrichtung eingeleitet“, sagte der Intendant bei der Überreichung der DW-Strategie für die kommenden vier Jahre. „Das Interesse der globalen Entscheider und Meinungsbildner an unserem Land wächst weiter. Gerade in internationalen Krisen und Konflikten sind die deutschen Positionen gefragt. Deutschlands mediale Stimme in der Welt vermittelt sie – multimedial und in 30 Sprachen.“

To the Bundestag president, Limbourg pointed out the enormous efforts made by other states as they strengthened  their global soft power. Russia, for example was advancing the launch of its foreign television program Russia Today’s German program. China, too, was strengthening its medial foreign representation. With this task plan, “we want to convince German politics that Germany must not fall behind in this field”, the director said.

Gegenüber dem Bundestagspräsidenten wies Limbourg auf die enormen Anstrengungen hin, die andere Staaten zur Stärkung ihrer Soft-power in der Welt unternehmen. So treibe Russland den Start eines deutschsprachigen Programms seines Auslandsfernsehens Russia Today voran. Auch China baue seine mediale Außenrepräsentanz aus. Mit der jetzt vorgelegten Aufgabenplanung „wollen wir die deutsche Politik überzeugen, dass Deutschland hier nicht ins Hintertreffen geraten darf“, so der Intendant.

Bundestag President Lammert said: “During these times of current crises, Deutsche Welle fulfills the growingly important task to inform impartially and to explain things. The German program of Deutsche Welle should continue to play an important role.

Bundestagspräsident Norbert Lammert sagte: „Gerade in diesen Zeiten aktueller Krisen erfüllt die Deutsche Welle die immer wichtiger werdende Aufgabe, objektiv zu informieren und aufzuklären. Dabei sollte das deutsche Programm der Deutschen Welle weiterhin eine wichtige Rolle spielen.“

The German program should continue to play an important role. Hear, hear.

Either way, the press release points out that English is meant to become the “flagship” (of DW content, apparently). The focus on English isn’t new, nor is the stated requirement that all content would be planned consistently multi-medially, and interlocked with each other. Interaction with global decisionmakers (“globale Entscheider”) and participants in the formation of political opinion (“Teilnehmer an der politischen Meinungsbildung”), not least by means of “social media” is also emphasized.

Parliament President Lammert should be careful what he wishes for. If German programs should indeed continue to play an important role at DW, chances are that the German language will be savaged by dead sheep. The Germish used in the press release sounds like a washing powder commercial – only less succinct.

Persil washes whiter.

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Related

If Congress will pay, July 5, 2012
Trying to Pigeonhole, Feb 19, 2012
Opinion Leaders, May 20, 2011

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Friday, August 29, 2014

RSF and Republican Congressman demand Sanctions against Chinese State Media

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Reporters without Borders react to Xiang Nanfu’s release

Xiang Nanfu (向南夫), a Chinese journalist, has recently been released on parole after what Reporters without Borders (RSF) suspect was a forced concession. Xiang’s “confession” was broadcast by CCTV 13, a state-run Chinese television channel targeted at a Mandarin-speaking audience beyond the PRC. According to RSF,

on 13 May, ten days after his arrest, he was shown on CCTV13 confessing to having “smeared the Party and the government”.

Announced his release yesterday, the police said he was being freed on parole “because of his poor health and above all because of a relatively good attitude in pleading guilty.”

Xiang’s forced confession was broadcast just five days after a similar “confession” by the well-known journalist Gao Yu. Broadcasting forced confessions is often used to discredit dissident news and information providers.

RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire calls on

the European Council to adopt sanctions against CCTV13 and its executives – China Central Television CEO Hu Zhanfan, CCTV board member Jiao Li and CCTV vice-president Zhang Changming – for broadcasting these forced confession.

Xiang Nanfu had reportedly been charged with publishing “false stories” on Boxun, a dissident website, that “seriously harmed” China’s image. The BBC, in May this year, described Boxun as a website that ran sometimes thinly sourced stories.
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China Human Rights 3 Protection Act of 2014 Bill

Note: documents linked to underneath may be removed or changed – accessed and quoted from on August 29 – JR

According to Voice of Tibet (VoT), a Tibetan exile radio station based in Norway and broadcasting on shortwave from Tajikistan, U.S. Congress is considering a bill (no. 5379) that would intend to protect internationally acknowledged freedom of speech, free flow of information and and foreign journalists and media workers in China. The bill may also limit visa for high-ranking officials in China’s state media wanting to visit the US, and could revoke visa for Chinese media workers with Chinese media in the US.

A bill text as introduced on July 31 in the House of Representatives by Chris Smith (Republican) is available online. Updates should become available from here as they are coming up.

The issue of foreign journalists and media workers is addressed on page 16 of the draft, section 4: To further protect the internationally recognized right of free expression, ensure the free flow of information, and protect foreign journalists and media personnel in China.

Section 4 also addresses competitiveness (page 19). Chinese media organizations that could become targets for sanctions are listed on page 17.

The story about the bill sponsored by Smith has so far mainly been popular on dissident websites, and the apparent lack of mainstream media interest seems to suggest that the initiative won’t develop much traction in Congress.

Opinions from readers more familiar with American politics are welcome.

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Related

» State Vandalism, July 3, 2014
» Voice of Tibet (PBS), Feb 1, 2014
» The Firedrake, Mar 17, 2012
» Be more Xinhua, Oct 10, 2009

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

The only Answer to Bad Journalism: bad Journalism

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Voice of America QSL, 1986

Going, going, gone? Voice of America QSL, 1986

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Russia has returned to its old Pravda-like disinformation tactics, which is why we absolutely have to do the same thing China and the Arab nations are creating sophisticated new broadcasts, and Twitter and social networks are changing the game.

Walter Isaacson, a former Board of Governors Chairman, suggesting that the Voice of America (VoA) should follow a “double mission” to clearly present American policy as well as provide objective news. Quoted by the New York Times.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Norway: “appeasing China seems to take precedence”

Norway’s prime minister and foreign minister are not going to meet the Dalai Lama when he visits next month, as part of an effort to ease tensions with the world’s second-largest economy, Bloomberg reported on April 23. Views and News from Norway wrote on April 9 that Parliamentary President and a long-time supporter of Tibet, Olemic Thommessen, said he would not be meeting with the exiled spiritual leader because it was more important to repair relations with China. Relations between Oslo and Beijing had been frigid ever since Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, reports the Norwegian English-language website. It was Norway’s – now ruling – Conservative Party, including now prime minister Erna Solberg, who spoke up for human rights issues and Tibet in 2008. The Dalai Lama himself is a Nobel  laureate and visits on the 25th anniversary of being awarded the peace prize.

According to the Views and News report,

Olav Gunnar Ballo, another former leader of the Tibet committee, said it’s a shame Norway’s leading politicians haven’t come out in support of the Dalai Lama, and it’s cowardly that appeasing China now seems to take precedence over human rights issues that were so actively brandished in the past.

According to the Voice of Tibet, a Norway-based broadcaster and website operator, demonstrators protested, on Wednesday, against high-ranking politicians’ decisions not to meet with the Dalai Lama. Among the demonstrators – about 400 according to News and Views -, were Liberal Party leader Trine Skei Grande, MP Rasmus Hansson of the Green Paerty, and rock musician Lars Lillo-Stenberg. Norway should not cave in to force and threats, one of the organizers reportedly told Norway’s public broadcaster NRK. According to Views and News, Liberal Party leader Grande said that

the Dalai Lama would not be received “in the basement” […] but would be brought to parliament to meet “as many politicians as we can manage to scrape together. We will show that people are concerned about the cowardice shown.”

These are strong words of criticism – and as they come from Norwegians, these words are laudable. But before Europeans elsewhere join the condemnations easily, they should pause and think what they or their countries were doing while Norwegian business was kept in the cold by Beijing. In fact, Oslo resisted the pressures for a remarkably long time.

But it is also true that the Nobel Peace Prize committee in Oslo – independent from government in formal terms, but not when it comes to membership and influence – has made a joke of itself in recent years. Awarding Liu Xiaobo was a brave choice, but the award that had preceded it a year earlier – to Barack Obama -, and the one that followed in 2012,  to the European Union, were silly (to put it mildly).

Are the current (small-scale, but still bigger than elsewhere) protests only the last echoes from Norway’s better days? Or are they an indication that civil society is picking up important issues where the elites are failing? The Dalai Lama himself has turned more to people-to-people diplomacy in recent years, at least formally.

That’s where the future is.

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Related

» press conference, FMPRC (English), April 28, 2014
» press conference, FMPR (Chinese), April 28, 2014
» Dalai Lama in Oslo, schedule May 7-9
» Out of the Flames, Woeser/High Peaks, April 15, 2014

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