Posts tagged ‘soft power’

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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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, 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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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, August 2014: WRNO – “a Piece of the USA”

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1. WRNO Worldwide

WRNO Worldwide, New Orleans, was a North American shortwave radio station. It was on the air from 1982 to the early 1990s, with rock music and program slots by a number of organizations, such as Pete Bergeron‘s La Voix de la Louisiane program, featuring Cajun music, or Glenn Hauser‘s World of Radio. During the 1980s, with programs really worth listening to, WRNO might have become a heavy competitor to the Voice of America (VoA), if its signal reach had been greater.

QSL, veri-signed by Costello

QSL: the operators and their ham callsigns, 1987

The owner, Joseph Costello (Joe Costello III), born in or around 1941 in Algiers/New Orleans, Louisiana, became a millionaire in the media business, according to this  (source unverified) 1997 obituary in the Times Picayune. The history of the shortwave station doesn’t seem to suggest that WRNO ‘s shortwave station added greatly to his wealth, although according to this (unverified) account, it became profitable within months, . From the original rock format, the station went on to leasing airtime to religious and political broadcasters, and Costello’s heirs put the shortwave station up for sale, according to the October 1998 edition of NASB Newsletter. The sales notice also provides hints as to why WRNO would never reach an audience as sizable as VoA did – at least as of 1998, there was only one transmitter site, and a log periodic antenna oriented towards the eastern half of North America.

But Costello’s ambitions hadn’t been small. While he apparently acknowledged that the last thing they [i. e. listeners abroad] need is another station playing their local music, Costello was a fan of shortwave radio, according to this account by one of his former (unverified) employees, who also quotes him as saying that people outside America admire us and want to come here; I’m giving them a piece of the USA – a piece of the USA complementary to, rather than a competitor of, VoA, according to the same account.

WRNO is now a religious broadcaster. The DX Listening Digest of April 5, 2001 reported that

WRNO Worldwide shortwave is sold to a non-profit religious group, whose directors include a citizen of Zimbabwe and a citizen of Australia. The New Orleans operation was one of the very few attempts to create a viable commercial shortwave operation (doing CHR). It was an offshoot of WRNO-FM, and has recently been in the hands of executor and New Orleans communications attorney Ashton Hardy. Looks like the Ft. Worth-based Good News World Outreach will run WRNO Worldwide as a non-commercial proposition (Mstreet Daily Apr 5 via Lawrence rec.radio.shortwave via Lamb, Cumbre DX via DXLD)

(Most recently tuned to on July 20, 2014, 02:36 UTC, 7505 kHz.)

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2. Recent Logs, August 2014

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:

AFS – South Africa; ARG – Argentina; AUT – Austria; B – Brazil; CHN – China; CLN – Sri Lanka; CUB - Cuba; D – Germany; E – Spain; F – France; GRC – Greece; INDHOL – the Netherlands; IND – India; J – Japan; KOR – South Korea; KRE – North Korea; LTU – Lithuania; NIG – Nigeria; ROU – Romania; RRW – Rwanda; S – Sweden; SVN – Slovenia; THA – Thailand; TJK – Tajikistan; UGA – Uganda; USA – USA.

Languages (“L.”):

Am – Amharic; C – Chinese; Ca – Cantonese; E – English; F – French; G – German; Gr – Greek; Hu – Hungarian; Pan – Panaji; Pe – Persian; Po – Portuguese; R – Russian; Sp – Spanish; Sw – Swedish; T – Thai.

Many logs this time, thanks to the summer vacation.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
 11510 Radyoya Denge Kurdistane  F Ku

Aug

1

17:25 5 5 4
 11540 Radio Farda  CLN Pe

Aug

1

17:30 5 5 5
  6165 RHC Cuba  CUB  E

Aug

1

04:00 5 5 4
  3995 HCJB Weenermoor  D  G

Aug

2

04:30 5 5 4
 17860 Voice of Khmer M’Chas Srok  1)  

Aug

3

11:30 5 5 4
  7550 AIR Delhi (All India Radio)2)  IND  E

Aug

4

18:21 4 5 4
 12020 VoA Deewa Radio  CLN Pa

Aug

7

01:00 5 5 5
 15344 RAE Buenos Aires3)  ARG  F

Aug

7

20:00 3 4 3
 15344 RAE Buenos Aires  ARG  G

Aug

7

21:00 4 4 4
  3905 (Dutch pirate radio)  HOL  E

Aug

9

20:15 5 5 5
 13760 Voice of Korea  KRE  E

Aug

9

21:01 5 5 4
  9540 IRIB Tehran  IRN  J

Aug

9

21:34 2 4 2
  9570 Radio Exterior de Espana4)  E  S

Aug

9

22:00 4 3 3
  6000 RHC Cuba  CUB  E

Aug

11

03:59 3 4 3
  6165 RHC Cuba  CUB  E

Aug

11

04:00 4 5 4
  7550 AIR Delhi (All India Radio)  IND  E

Aug

11

18:20      
  9540 Radio Japan5)  J  C

Aug

12

15:30 2 2 2
 15235 Channel Africa  AFS E

Aug

12

17:00 5 5 4
  7550 AIR Delhi (All India Radio)  IND  E

Aug

12

17:45 5 5 4
 15650 Voice of Greece6)  GRC Gr

Aug

12

19:00 5 5 4
  6165 Radio Japan  LTU  R

Aug

13

04:30 5 4 4
 17770 Radio Thailand  THA  T

Aug

13

10:35 3 5 3
 15160 KBS Seoul  KOR Ko

Aug

14

09:00 4 4 4
 15160 KBS Seoul  KOR Ko

Aug

14

09:35 4 4 3
 15000 WWV (NIST), Colorado  USA  E

Aug

16

12:46 2 3 2
 15000 WWVH (NIST), Hawaii7)  USA  E

Aug

16

12:46 2 3 2
  3995 HCJB Weenermoor  D  G

Aug

16

18:00 4 4 3
 15220 China Radio International (CRI)  CHN Hu

Aug

17

10:03 3 5 4
 15440 China Radio International (CRI)  CHN Ca

Aug

17

10:07 2 4 2
  7550 AIR Delhi (All India Radio)  IND  E

Aug

17

17:40 5 5 5
  4765 Radio Progreso  CUB  S

Aug

18

02:17 4 4 3
  5015

Radio Miami International

(RMI) / RG Stair

 USA  E

Aug

18

02:22 4 4 4
  5980 Channel Africa  AFS  E

Aug

18

03:06 5 5 5
  5040 RHC Cuba  CUB  E

Aug

18

05:00 5 5 4
  7550 AIR Delhi (All India Radio)  IND  E

Aug

18

18:15 5 5 5
 11711 RAE Buenos Aires8)  ARG  E

Aug

19

02:00 4 4 4
  9540 Radio Japan5)  J  C

Aug

19

15:38 2 2 2
 11711 RAE Buenos Aires  ARG  E

Aug

21

02:00 5 5 4
  5025 Radio Rebelde  CUB  S

Aug

21

03:00 4 3 3
  4976 Radio Uganda  UGA  E

Aug

21

03:12 3 2 2
  5040 RHC Cuba  CUB  S

Aug

21

03:45 5 4 4
  9800 Deutsche Welle Kigali  RRW  E

Aug

21

04:30 5 4 3
 15160 KBS Seoul  KOR Ko

Aug

21

09:00 4 4 3
 3775.1 DARC / DLØDL Deutschlandrundspruch  D  G

Aug

21

17:30 3 4 4
 15120 Voice of Nigeria  NIG  E

Aug

22

08:03 3 4 3
 15120 Voice of Nigeria9)  NIG  E

Aug

22

15:20 3 4 2
 15175 AIR Delhi (All India Radio)  IND Pan

Aug

22

15:30 3 4 3
  4976 Radio Uganda  UGA  E

Aug

22

20:15 3 2 2
  3995 HCJB Weenermoor  D  G

Aug

23

04:30 5 5 4
  6065 Radio Nord Revival10)  S

E/

Sw

Aug

1

05:20      
   918 Radio Slovenia  SVN  E

Aug

26

20:30 3 3 2
 15345 RAE Buenos Aires3)  ARG  G

Aug

26

21:01 4 4 4
 11711 RAE Buenos Aires3)  ARG  E

Aug

28

02:00 5 5 5
 10000 Observatório Nacional  B Po

Aug

28

06:04 2 2 2
 15120 Voice of Nigeria  NIG  E

Aug

28

09:00 3 5 3
 15275 Deutsche Welle Kigali  RRW Am

Aug

28

16:40 5 4 4
 15275 Deutsche Welle Kigali  RRW  F

Aug

28

17:00 4 4 3
  3770 DARC / DLØDL Deutschlandrundspruch  D  G

Aug

28

17:30 5 5 5
 15435 RRI Bucharest  ROU  C

Aug

29

13:05 5 5 5
 15542 Voice of Tibet (Norway/Tajikistan)  TJK  C

Aug

29

13:15 4 3 3
  3995 HCJB Weenermoor  D  G

Aug

30

18:00 5 5 4
  9800 Deutsche Welle Kigali  D  E

Aug

31

04:00 5 5 4
  6155  Adventist World Radio (AWR)  AUT  F

Aug

31

04:50 5 4 4
 6155 Radio Austria International (German)  AUT  G

Aug

31

05:00 5 4 4

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Footnotes

1) The transmitter site is said to be Dushanbe-Yangiyul, Tajikistan, but that’s unconfirmed by the “clandestine” station itself. The organization behind it also runs a website which seems to suggest that they are don’t like Vietnamese Cambodians, or anything Vietnamese for that matter.

2) Receivers used were a Sony ICF2001D with a number of outdoor antennas, a Silver XF-900 with a built-in telescopic antenna or connected to outdoor antennas, and a Grundig Satellit 300 with a bit of wire instead of a long-gone telescopic antenna. Currently, AIR would usually come with S=5, unless your receiver is very  simple.

3) Radio Argentina al Exterior (RAE) has rarely kept exactly to its scheduled frequencies (11710 and 15345 kHz) recently; deviation seems to remain within +/- 1 kHz.

4) Radio Exterior de Espana has been a constant companion of many shortwave listeners for many decades – here in northern Germany, Spanish and English programs could be easily picked up at daytime and nighttime. For a while, they even ran a German service. New bosses (taking office on September 1) reportedly intends to scrap shortwave. REE English service hosts Alison Hughes and Justin Coe informed their listeners about a slew of rumors, from the 23rd minute of this recording. (Found via DX Aktuell.) There’s also information on changes at REE in Glenn Hauser’s World of Radio audio magazine 1733 of August 7, 2014, from the 26th minute – you can currently pick the 1733 edition from there.

5) Jammed by China People’s Broadcasting Station (CPBS, aka CNR), as described in this post.

6) The Voice of Greece may not be on air regularly.

7) This may look confusing, but the two transmitters, with the same frequency, coexist reasonably well.

8) See also FN 3)), for deviations from scheduled frequency. Not only the frequencies, but the choice of music, too, has shifted somewhat – from classical Tango to more modern songs, including some Argentine rock music. Worthwile listening, especially with reception conditions as good as currently.

9) Fair signal, but modulation issues, as frequently the case with Voice of Nigeria. However, the program is also easily audible at times, as in the morning (previous line).

10) Many things are not as dead as first reported, and this is true for Swedish shortwave broadcasting. Radio Sweden International (RSI) abandoned shortwave years ago, but once a year, Radio Nord Revival is on the air from several locations in Sweden. On August 23, there was a live broadcast, but before and after that, test broadcasts were made, on a number of frequencies as stated here. Radio Nord was an offshore commercial station in the Baltic Sea, in operation from 1961 to 1962, with an interesting (mostly American) background story. The Radio Nord Revival is apparently organized by old fans of the former offshore broadcaster.

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Related

» WRNO WW recording, E. Feaser/Youtube, of December 14 (UTC), 1983

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Related tag:

» shortwave radio

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

But what if Russia invades (Eastern) Ukraine?

Every epic fail has its turning points. In many cases, historians, years after the events in question, identify turning points different from those presented by the media during the days of war itself.

In the view of many observers, a Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine – yes, you might call that an invasion, but it seems to me that much of our media prefers the term intervention, unless if it is a Russian intervention – would be such a turning point. If it happens, and if it’s too big to be ignored, it would be one.

But maybe, even if such a Russian intervention, with or without a Western reaction, would happen, historians would identify another turning point: the day when Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko ended the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine on June 30 and vowed that Ukrainian government forces would “attack and liberate” the land. What else should a president of a sovereign country do? And, more interestingly, did he do that in accordance with wishes from EU capitals and Washington DC, or did he do so because he is, after all, Ukraine‘s president, and not the EU’s?

The West has helped you hitherto, Ukraine – but not necessarily by its surpassing favor. Obviously, Russia has its – yet to be determined – share in Ukraine’s agony, but so has the West, and not least Western media.

When a German veteran correspondent, Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, told German television on April 16 that she shared the unease of many German news watchers about an anti-Russian bias, it felt to me as if a general gag order on my country’s media had been lifted. Of course, I was wrong. First of all, there hadn’t been a gag order on reporting flaws or dishonest intentions in Western Ukraine policies. There had only been influences – from political parties who populate much of the boards of German broadcasters, for example. And my sense of relief wasn’t justified either because that interview wasn’t run at primetime, but on a Wednesday night, at 23:20 central European time.

Which is quite characteristic – that’s how media channels can claim that they are pluralistic. Broadcast this kind of stuff when most ordinary people have gone to  sleep. (I only got aware of the video on the internet.)

The media had described the situation as if the EU had only ideals rather than interests, Krone-Schmalz said. Even proposals from Moscow that would have been worth a debate had been labeled as “propaganda”. Rather than taking their positon as observers as neutrally as possible, many journalists had, for example, almost completely missed out on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement’s security aspects, particularly its article 7.

Indeed, I remember noone in the mainstream press taking issue at all.

It is understandable that Western governments want to have options now if Russia invades Ukraine – umm, starts an intervention, umm, sends a convoy with Russian humanitarian assistance to enable humanitarian aid in Donetsk or Luhansk. But to massage public opinion so as to ensure its support for whatever kind of option is wrong. It leads to further bad choices, just as past manipulations have led to the current standoff.

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Related

» Poland seeks Compensation, BBC, Aug 1, 2014
» Nobody dares to (German), Junge Welt, Aug 9, 2014
» Advocacy Journalism, Jan 26, 2012

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

State Vandalism on the Air: from Beijing with Fear and Loathing

It couldn’t last. NHK Radio Japan‘s Chinese programs on 9540 kHz came in with a good signal here in Northern Germany for many months, but that seems to be over now. China People’s Broadcasting Station (CPBS), aka China National Radio (CNR) from mainland China occupies the frequency now.

Radio Japan QSL card from 1986, showing a tea plantation.

Can you pick us up? A Radio Japan QSL card from 1986, showing a tea plantation.

That doesn’t make Radio Japan completely inaudible here, but it’s no fun to listen to a faint Japanese signal behind vocal mainland Chinese commercials. I’ll probably switch NHK podcasts.

To use domestic radio to block international broadcasters is vandalism.

When it comes to certain historical Chinese facts, the Communist Party of China can’t even coexist with them. It seems that Beijing can’t coexist with information from abroad – no matter if facts, lies, or propaganda – either.

The way China is jamming Radio Japan is, by the way, a pussy-footed way of spoiling shortwave. The “Firedrake” would, at least, be a candid statement, even if still as ugly.

Rebroadcasts of China Radio International (CRI) programs and other Beijing-made propaganda, like the ones via Radio Luxemburg‘s 1440 kHz, ought to be tagged with an announcement at the beginning and the end of every hour on the air, informing listeners that while they can listen to the message from Beijing unimpeded, the senders themselves are denying Chinese nationals the experience of listening to international broadcasters.

That one line would tell more about China than a one-hour broadcast by China Radio International.

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Updates/Related

» Radio Japan Mandarin podcasts, regularly updated
» Jamming of BBC continues, March 28, 2014

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

“Optimizing Something”: Russia centralizes Propaganda, scraps Shortwave Broadcaster and other traditional Institutions

As the end of March drew nearer, central Europeans could still hear the station from afar, a muted signal behind some gentle, steady noise. The “Voice of Russia” targeted Australia and New Zealand with an English-language program of four hours daily, from the transmission site of Angarsk, near Irkutsk. Those appear to have been the last programs in English. Chances are that some programs in Japanese were also still aired at the time. A shortwave listener in Taipei kept listening to VoR’s Chinese programs on shortwave, right to the end on March 31 (his post contains some recordings).

Listeners who wrote inquiries to VoR got a reaction. But overall, very little, if anything, was mentioned in the programs on shortwave, about the nearing end of the service. For sure, no words of respect were lost about the medium’s use during some eighty-five years of Russian external broadcasting. Maybe they hadn’t been of much use after all, as the message never seemed to sink in in the target areas? In that case, you could hardly blame shortwave.

On April 1, all of VoR’s shortwave transmissions had become history.

APN-Verlag, via Radio Moscow

The old-fashioned way: propaganda booklet by mail, Ria Novosti via Radio Moscow, March 31, 1987.

The “Voice of Russia” (VoR), formerly known as Radio Moscow or Radio Moscow World Service, only exists as a brand now, within the media empire of Russia Today, which also swallowed Ria Novosti. “We will use the old brand for the time being, but leading international specialists are already working on the new brands and they will be ready soon, the “Voice of Russia” and/or Interfax quoted Russia Today’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan. A renewed English newswire would be launched on April 1, and it would be available round-the-clock on June 1.

No additional funding would be needed, the editor-in-chief was quoted as saying: “We are not asking additional money for all that, which means we will have to optimize something to get resources for the creation of something more modern. We will stop using obsolete radio broadcasting models, when the signal is transmitted without any control and when it is impossible to calculate who listens to it and where.”

Indeed, this had been the message of Vladimir Putin‘s presidential decree in December, on certain measures to raise the operational effectiveness of state-owned mass media.

Radio Moscow QSL, apparently featuring the Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

Radio Moscow QSL, Lenin Mausoleum, 1980s.

On the same day, December 9, Ria Novosti offered a comparatively candid interpretation of the decree: The move is the latest in a series of shifts in Russia’s news landscape that appear to point toward a tightening of state control in the already heavily regulated media sector,

Ria Novosti wrote, and added that

In a separate decree published Monday, the Kremlin appointed Dmitry Kiselyov, a prominent Russian television presenter and media manager recently embroiled in a scandal over anti-gay remarks, to head Rossiya Segodnya.

Russia Today is the English translation for the actual Russian name, Rossiya Segodnya. Rossiya Segodnya, however, is apparently not related to the English-language television channel whose name had also been “Russia Today”, Ria Novosti wrote.

Ria Novosti then added some more information, beyond its own dissolution:

RIA Novosti was set up in 1941, two days after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, as the Soviet Information Bureau, and now has reporters in over 45 countries providing news in 14 languages.

Last month Gazprom-Media, which is closely linked to state-run gas giant Gazprom, bought control of Russian media company Profmedia from Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. In October, Mikhail Lesin, a former Kremlin advisor, was appointed to head Gazprom-Media.

Reuters also reported the Gazprom-Media story, in November last year.

Radio Moscow, the “Voice of Russia’s” predecessor as the Russian (or Soviet) foreign broadcasting service, was a superpower on the air, during the 1980s. 2094 program hours per week are said to have been produced in that decade,  compared with 1901 hours per week by their American competitors at the Voice of America (VoA).

The discrepancy was even greater when it came to transmitters and kilowatts,according to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel at the time: while Radio Moscow had threehundred transmission sites at their disposal, it was only 110 on the American side – and VoA only had one-twentieth the budget of Radio Moscow.

That was to change, at least in relative terms: the Reagan administration had convinced Congress to provide considerable funding. But as the Cold War came to an end, government interest on all sides in foreign broadcasting faded.

As far as Russia’s external broadcasters, now named “The Voice of Russia”, was concerned, not only the financial or technical equipment weakened, but so, apparently, did their self-image. Religious and esoteric organizations populated many last quarters of the Voice’s – still numerous – broadcasting hours in German, and at least among German-language broadcasters, there seemed to be different concepts of what would be successful or professional coverage of Russian affairs, a feature by German broadcaster DLF suggested.

The broadcasting house certainly no longer came across as the elites’ jumping board, as a place where Egon Erwin Kisch or Bertolt Brecht once worked.

The Kremlin, apparently, saw neither glory and soft power, nor a sufficient degree of checkability in VoR and put an end to the station. It’s hardly conceivable that it could still be revived as a mere “brand”, without actual radio whose signals would reach beyond a few square miles.

But “daily Russian life” – something Russia Today is supposed to cover – may still look different from the ideas of the “new generation” of media planners. On ham radio bands with wide reaches, Russian operators are active above average. And even if Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia’s new propaganda mega-medium, may be unaware of ham radio or finds it uncool, her boss, Dmitry Kiselyov, should still like it: a ham radio contest commemorating Yuri Gagarin’s 80th birthday.

After all, the internet is a rather non-traditional form of propaganda.

Will Putin’s message sink in, where Stalin’s, Khrushchev’s, or Brezhnev’s mostly failed? If not, don’t blame shortwave – and don’t blame the internet, for that matter.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Shortwave Log, Northern Germany, March 2014: “Voice of the Sky”

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1. All India Radio

All India Radio‘s (AIR) shortwave signal beamed to Europe, on 7550 kHz, is about as strong as Radio Romania International‘s (RRI). You could basically build a receiver yourself to tune to AIR’s 7550 kHz frequency – from a toaster, your old kitchen clock, of from anything that contains a bit of copper. Seriously, a very very basic shortwave receiver with its built-in antenna will usually do, and AIR will come in more clearly than a local medium wave station next to you. If you listen from central Europe, that is.

QSL card, 1985, depicting the Writer's Building, Kolkata (Calcutta). Click picture for Wikipedia article.

AIR QSL card, 1985, depicting the Writer’s Building, Kolkata (Calcutta). Click picture for Wikipedia article.

Just as is the case in China, shortwave remains an important means of radio broadcast in India, for domestic, regional, and international broadcasting. AIR’s shortwave transmitting site near Bangalore (aka Bengaluru) became one of the biggest transmitting centres in the world in September 1994, according to the station’s website, but is only one of many sites all over the subcontinent.

 

The Delhi studios are apparently linked to the shortwave transmitters by satellite. Once in a while, especially in broadcasts to East Asia at 10:00 UTC, you may only get the carrier signal (beautifully strong on 17510 kHz, for example, but without modulation, i. e. any content). Usually, things get better during the one-hour broadcast in such cases. AIR seemed to suggest that the satellite links may be occasionally interrupted in reply to a Japanese listener in a feedback program on March 31. Earlier this year, the frequency of 7550 kHz to Europe saw some short power blackouts during the broadcasts between 17:45 and 22:30 UTC.

The regional broadcast aired daily at 15:30 to 15:45 UTC on 9910 kHz is much shorter than the external programs, but with a more lively news bulletin (for including some original soundtracks or sound snippets from covered events). The General Overseas Service, on the other hand, contains much more Indian music, such as Carnatic instrumental music, Hindostani classical music, and music from Indian films.

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2. Recent Logs (from/after March 29)

Some or many of the international broadcasters’ frequencies are likely to have changed on March 29/30, with the usual, twice-a-year, adaptation to winter/summer propagation conditions. Therefore, only a handful of very latest logs for March.

International Telecommunication Union letter codes used in the table underneath:
EGY – Egypt; F – France; IND – India.

Languages (“L.”):
A – Arabic; E – English; J – Japanese.

kHz

Station

Ctry

L.

Day

GMT

S I O
15130 Radio
Japan
F J Mar
30
20:19 4 5 3
 9910 AIR
Delhi
IND E Mar
31
15:30 4 4 4
 7550 AIR
Delhi
IND E Mar
31
19:05 5 5 4
 7550 AIR
Delhi
IND E Mar
31
20:45 5 5 5
 9965 Radio
Cairo
EGY A Apr
2
00:45 3 5 3*)

Sony ICF 2001D receiver plus inverted-V antenna for 1rst /2nd / 5th entry; Silver XF-900 analog shortwave receiver with its built-in telescopic antenna for 3rd/4th entry (AIR Delhi, 7550 kHz).

*) Contrary to Radio Cairo‘s foreign-language services’ modulation which is usually intelligible unintelligible, this Arabic broadcast’s modulation was beautiful.

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Related

» Special Programme, BDNews24, March 26, 2014
» Logs February 2014
» AIR Bangalore GOS transmitters, Wikimapia

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