Posts tagged ‘public diplomacy’

Thursday, December 4, 2014

DW director resigns “Reporters without Borders” post

Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg has resigned from the “Reporters without Borders” (RSF) board of trustees, reports Germany’s domestic broadcaster Deutschlandfunk (DLF). The report quotes RSF managing director Christian Mihr as saying that RSF had asked Limbourg to resign.

Limbourg and RSF disagree about DW’s cooperation with Chinese television broadcaster CCTV, a cooperation of which RSF is highly critical.

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

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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Deutsche Welle projects: “cooperating” with CCTV, “countering” Russia Today

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Main link: Druck auf die Deutsche Welle, October 1, 2014

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1. News article: “Pressure on Deutsche Welle”

Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg advocates a role for the foreign broadcaster as an English-language counterweight to Russian propaganda outlet Russia Today, according to an article published by Kölnische Rundschau, a paper from Cologne, on October 1. “It’s not about responding to massive Russian propaganda with ‘counter-propaganda’, but about conveying our free democratic concept by means of good journalism, in accordance with Western standards, the paper quotes Limbourg.

The two parties that have formed Germany’s federal government in a “grand coaliton” since December 2013 differ about the idea. While Roderich Kieswetter, a member of parliament from chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party (CDU), likes the idea that someone “counters with medial elucidation”, the Social Democrats’ (SPD) parliamentary budget commission member Johannes Kahrs is skeptical: “I don’t think much of propaganda”. He added that “to state our values should be as much a matter of course as paying the DW employees in accordance with tariffs”.

Neither CDU nor SPD have committed themselves to increasing DW funds so as to enable the station to counter Russia Today.

Either way, Kölnische Rundschau writes, Limbourg is “under heavy pressure”, “on several fronts”. German news magazine Der Spiegel had reviewed DW’s China coverage critically – ever since freelance journalist Su Yutong had been fired, a constant stream of accusations that Limbourg had “kowtowed” to Beijing kept flowing, and Limbourg’s cooperation plans with Chinese state television CCTV had been “another step on a course that was being criticized as precarious”. Christian Mihr, head of the German section of Reporters without Borders (RSF), had told conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) that his organization “sharply condemned” the cooperation, and the Green-leaning paper taz pointed out that CCTV had broadcast several “public confessions” of journalists and bloggers. Markus Löning, the federal government’s human-rights commissioner, criticized Limbourg’s plans as “dangerously naive”.

Kölnische Rundschau also points out that some 200 employees have lost some or all of their work at DW. Freelancers are said to be particularly affected by saving measures.

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2. Assessment

Are Limbourg’s plans doomed already? Not necessarily. While recent decisions are controversial, Limbourg might still see them through – or back down in certain, but not all fields, depending on how support and opposition develop. When it comes to “cooperation” with party mouthpieces from China, there’s probably a lot of silent support in Germany that isn’t always reflected in the media. At least some circles in German business, the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA), criticized German media this summer for being “inaccurate” in their China coverage, according to a report by Deutsche Presseagentur (dpa),:

It was “the common task of governments and companies on both sides to promote a good reputation of Chinese companies in Germany”, the recommendations, on hand at dpa newsagency in Beijing on Tuesday [July 8], say. This was about a “fair and accurate” presentation. Background [of these recommendations?] is Chinese criticism of German media which “irresponsibly and inaccurately report about Chinese human rights and political issues”, a position paper still in progress says.

APA chairman Hubert Lienhard, talking to journalists, resolutely denied the existence of this paragraph in the raft. However, only a week ago, a draft of the paper containing this criticism circulated in the German embassy in Beijing. Accusations like these were, however, not adopted in the recommendations to the two heads of government, recommendations the APA commission does not want to publish. […]

It is this kind of climate where business interests gain weight, and where principles go down. That said, at least publicly, the German federal government wasn’t sympathetic towards the APA recomendations.

While former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, chairman of the board at Nord Stream AG, a consortium for construction and operation of the Nord Stream submarine pipeline between Vyborg in Russia and Greifswald in Germany, tirelessly advocates cooperation with Russia, Moscow doesn’t appear to have nearly as much sway over German published opinion or business as Beijing.

This doesn’t seem to suggest that countering Russian propaganda should be a priority. But it’s an easier target than Chinese propaganda.

And many Western “opinion formers” have apparently felt haunted by Russian propaganda, or by what they consider to be the effects of it, right at home.

Confucius Institutes are apparently much less offensive.

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Related Tag

» Deutsche Welle

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Related

» Chinesische Rochade, FAZ, Sept 26, 2014
» Weichgespült, DJV, Sept 15, 2014

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Spanish Foreign Radio abandons Shortwave, and Opportunities

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Radio Exterior de Espana (REE/RTVE) plans to close down its shortwave radio transmission site near Noblejas. This means that Spanish foreign radio would no longer be on shortwave at all. There had been guesses that REE shortwave would close down on September 30. Now, it is suggested that broadcasting may continue until mid-October, according to Glenn Hauser‘s audio magazine World of Radio, October 2 edition (downloads here).

Some places are too slow for online streaming

Some places are too slow for online streaming

One may wonder how many means of communications are abandoned because they aren’t considered cool anymore. And one may also wonder how many things may be kept in use without a great deal of debate because their virtues seem go without saying.

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The World doesn’t revolve around Europe

It depends on where you are. When it comes to shortwave broadcasting, it depends on whether you are in Europe, or whether you are in Asia. Try the cheapest shortwave receiver you can lay your hands on, wherever in this world you may currently be, and you will get tons of signals from China – some from the domestic service for the need to reach remote areas within the country, some for the external service China Radio International (CRI), and some simply to jam “hostile” stations like Falun-Gong operated shortwave transmissions from Taiwan.

Either way, Beijing demonstrates that shortwave matters in China.

India, too, depends on shortwave for reaching remote territories within the country (and in some areas, Naxalite activities, too, may make it advisable to bridge certain distances by AM signals, be it medium- or shortwave). According to Adventist World Radio‘s (AWR) Wavescan program on August 10, quoting statistics from four years earlier, All India Radio (AIR), the country’s main radio network, operated 54 shortwave transmitters, 149 medium-wave transmitters and 172 FM transmitters in about 2010.

Time will show how serious DRM – digital radio mondiale – will get as a technology in India – four years ago, there were discussions to convert some ten percent of the existing shortwave transmitters to DRM capability.

On the 2014  National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters (NASB), an American organization, George Ross, frequency manager at the shortwave broadcasting station KTWR in Guam, told an audience that besides India, the largest group of listeners to the station’s DRM shortwave signals were Japanese. On August 31, AWR broadcasted excerpts of the talk earlier this year in Greenville, N.C., where Ross enthused about India going DRM – and how Japanese shortwave listeners responded to tests actually targeted at India. It was also Japanese listeners, according to Ross, who conducted a survey that eventually justified KTWR DRM broadcasts in Japanese.

If there is an industrialized country where shortwave still matters, it’s Japan. The survey provided from KTWR’s Japanese listeners suggested that there would be 11,000 listeners to Japanese DRM broadcasts from Guam right away, with a lot of growth potential once such broadcasts began. The two most likely locations in Asia where shortwave would be listened to, in Ross’ view, were India and Japan.

The story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that both Jeff White the producer of Wavescan, and George Ross, are dedicated to shortwave. Jeff White owns WRMI, a shortwave station in Florida, and both he and George Ross take a great interest in DRM as a measure to make signals both more reliable and much more energy-efficient. If Indians will start to use DRM receivers to a large scale any time soon, if a critical number of Indian listeners can afford DRM receivers or if the Indian state would subsidize DRM-ization of the audience side remains to be seen – these are a lot of “ifs”.

But to me, the most thought-provoking issue here isn’t if the future of shortwave will be analog or digital. It is that there seems to be a future for shortwave at all. And what is even more food for thought to me is that India, Japan and China are places where shortwave broadcasting matters and where it continues to matter. Places where – according to conventional wisdom – the future is.

 

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Where’s the Strategy?

Rhein-Main-Radio-Club from Frankfurt, confirming a broadcast via HCJB Weenermoor, a 1.5 kW transmitter in northwestermost Germany.

Rhein-Main-Radio-Club from Frankfurt, confirming a broadcast via HCJB Weenermoor, a 1.5 kW transmitter in northwestermost Germany

When Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, discontinued shortwave both to Europe and to the Far East, at least they had a strategy. It wasn’t a smart one – or, at any rate, to tell the world that old listeners didn’t matter anymore – unless they were opinion formers or opinion leaders in the target areas (guys considered to have regular access to the internet) doesn’t look terribly smart to me. You can be pretty sure that many of those people who are going to make big decisions in China tomorrow do not have access to the internet today.

But REE doesn’t even seem to have a strategy at all. They just want to save – reportedly – 1.2 million euros per year. That’s why they want to close down their shortwave transmission site.

That’s no intelligent decision. And at home, it isn’t helpful either.

After all, shortwave is technology that is easy to grasp, even for absolute beginners. If engineering is an interest Spain wants to encourage among the kids, to throw shortwave away looks like no great idea. To retain existing listeners is much more effective than gaining new ones – although the latter business shouldn’t be neglected either.

In terms of tech, it’s hardly a coincidence that Japan is one of the most avidly shortwave-listening countries. Nor does it look like a coincidence that Germans, people from a comparatively successful economy, on a private basis, keep their country on the shortwave map with a number of small shortwave transmissions (rule of thumb: 1 kW-transmitters).

In the words of Ralph E. Gomory, a mathematician from the U.S.,

[w]e need successful industries and we need to innovate within them to keep them thriving.

Gomory didn’t mean to make a case for shortwave. But if you want to keep an interest in technology awake, among the public in general, and among the young in particular, make sure that there’s applied, easily comprehensible communications technology around.In that light, even during times of economic and political troubles, a transmitting site like Noblejas should be considered an opportunity, not a liability.

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Related

» A new SDR receiver, Oct 2, 2014
» A chat with the International Space Station (German), Merkur Online, June 29, 2014
» HAM Flower, Idealli, June 2008

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