Archive for ‘media’

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Donald Trump’s Quiztalks

When Donald Trump speaks without a script, it sounds like BBC Radio 4 entertainment – the I’m-sorry-I-haven’t-a-clue style, where people are supposed to talk without repeating a single word, or without mentioning a specific world. Something like …

Host: Mr. President, you are supposed to speak about clocks for sixty seconds, and you must use the word “clock” only once.
Trump: I don’t mind clocks. I like those things. I actually love them. We have a great relationship. The only problem with clocks is …
Detector: BUZZ!!!


Anyway. Why is the president supposed to participate in a game where winning is not important? That’s preposterous.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

East-West Relations: “Not the Partner” (1)

The Economist‘s title story on March 3 this year was about “how the West got China wrong”. In some more detail, the same edition explored as to how China is “not the partner you were looking for”.

As a public, we seem to have a tendency to categorically idealize and devalue relationships – even between nations and civilizations. This is how Max Frisch, a late Swiss author and playwright, put cooling love affairs into an exemplary gloomy dialog:

“You are not,” says the disappointed he or she, “who I thought you were.” (“Du bist nicht”, sagt der Enttäuschte oder die Enttäuschte, „wofür ich Dich gehalten habe.”)

Now, I’m not thinking of West-East relations as a love affair, and Max Frisch was describing the feelings of individuals. But the quote applies all the same (even if Frisch would certainly disapprove of putting it into this East-West context). Propaganda shapes “collective identities”, and according to Jacques Ellul, it offers man “a remedy for a basically intolerable situation” – the impossibility of grasping “the world’s economic and political problems”.

Both Western and Chinese narratives about a disappointing relationship are beginning to take shape. Both are top-down propaganda – people at the grassroots, this blogger included, can only draw information from mainstream and alternative media, blogs (which frequently turn newspaper steaks into hamburger meat without changing the substance), and individual contacts. That’s no great competition for propaganda – rather, it’s part of it. I don’t claim to be able to escape from it, either. I’m experimenting. I’m still blogging because it’s fun.

During this summer, I might try to depict “how the West got China wrong”, and “how China” (or uncertain shares of  Chinese public opinion, anyway) “got the West wrong”. It may also be interesting to speculate about how we will continue to get each other wrong, or which of the mainstream narratives, if either of them, will prevail – or how they may have to take realities into account in order to prevail.

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Related

The Primacy of Politics, June 13, 2010

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Radio Austria International returns to full Morning Broadcasts on Shortwave

Radio Austria International (RÖI) returned to its usual 70- to 80-minutes shortwave broadcasts late last week, with transmissions from 05:00 to 06:20 UTC from Monday through Friday, and from 05:00 to 06:10 UTC on Saturdays and Sundays. This followed several weeks of reduced RÖI airtime, from 05:30 to 06:10/06:20 UTC only, caused by problems with one of the three (or four) shortwave transmitters at the Moosbrunn shortwave transmitting site.

On April 14, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) media magazine, apparently based on information from the company operating Moosbrunn station or from Radio Austria, reported that a vacuum variable capacitor had to be replaced, and that Moosbrunn would be back to normal after spare part delivery and fixture.

RBB noted that only two transmitters were functional at the time, and that the operators had to switch the first thirty minutes of RÖI’s morning transmission to Radio Japan, which also goes on air from Moosbrunn at 05:00 UTC. After the end of radio programs produced for listeners outside Austria, the Moosbrunn operators have relied on selling airtime to a number of foreign radio stations, including Radio Japan, Adventist World Radio, DARC (Germany’s ham radio association airs a one-hour broadcast on every Sunday morning from there), the BBC, and a number of other broadcasters (see table there).

Radio Japan invariably broadcasts via Moosbrunn from 05:00 to 05:30 UTC during the winter and the summer season. RÖI’s program varies with daylight saving time. It is aired from 07:00 to 07:20/07:10 central European time and during European Summer Time alike, which spells 06:00 – 07:20/07:10 UTC from late October to late March, and 05:00 – 06:20/06:10 from late March to late October.

Listeners were in for a surprise on May 16 however, when RÖI went on air at 05:00 UTC, to give only two news headlines and then go back off air. It came back around 05:30 UTC, as had been the case during the previous weeks, but I’m told that on Thursday morning (this morning, May 17), the program was safely on air all through the scheduled first half hour (and probably beyond).

According to RBB, the operators of Moosbrunn transmitting station air RÖI’s domestic program (there is no program targeted at listeners abroad by RÖI anyway) out of legal necessity, to justify the operations, as pro forma, the site still serves to convey information concerning Austria to an audience abroad.

(That said, the RÖI program broadcast on shortwave is part of the domestic broadcasting routine, and therefore, obviously, all in German.)

RÖI programs are broadcast on 6155 kHz, while Radio Japan’s programs are using 5975 kHz. Radio Japan’s broadcast is in English, and there haven’t been German programs produced by Japan’s foreign radio for decades. In 1987, the German service had celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Is Austrian Radio leaving Shortwave?

Austria’s public radio ORF has reduced its airtime on shortwave, from 70 (on weekends) or 80 (Monday through Friday) minutes to only 40 to 50 minutes now. The German-language program, the “Ö-1-Morgenjournal”, was cut short either on Sunday or Monday morning, and every morning since.

The broadcasts are the remains of what was a substantial international radio service until 2003. Until Saturday or Sunday, the remaining broadcast  was still announced as “Radio Österreich International / Radio Austria International / Radio Austria Internacional” at the beginning of the daily transmissions, but there were no programs specifically targeted at foreign listeners. All programs are produced for a domestic, German-speaking audience.

Reportedly, the company operating the shortwave transmission site in Moosbrunn has announced the closure of the site by 2020 “at the latest”.

The transmission site is also used by some foreign broadcasters. Radio Japan (NHK World Network) airs a half-hour program in English for Europe via Moosbrunn, on 5975 kHz, from 05:00 to 05:30 UTC. The BBC World Service also leases airtime from Austria.

If the Moosbrunn transmitters are indeed shut down, Austrian public radio will probably have to look for alternative shortwave broadcasting operators (probably abroad), or simply exit shortwave.

The current behind-schedule transmissions of the Ö-1 programs (only from 05:30 UTC instead of 05:00 UTC) may just be a technical glitch, but reducing  or suspending broadcasts temporarily is no unusual way of measuring an unknown audience. When the number of reactions from an audience is considered meagre, this will usually lead to a termination of broadcasts.

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Update

[April 12, 2018] Austrian Radio’s service department writes that the the current situation would probably continue for about a week, as the transmitter site was waiting for the delivery of a spare part.
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Friday, March 30, 2018

CCTV, CRI, CPBS: by any other (English) Name

Bloomberg appears to have been the first media company outside China to publish the news, and the Financial Times followed with an article about the creation of “a new broadcasting behemoth”, designed to “broaden [China’s] global news footprint and bolster its soft power abroad,” still on March 21.

While the CCP may have the means to feed more than one propaganda monster, the new organization will apparently be the result of a “merger” of China Central Television (CCTV), China Radio International (CRI) and China National Radio (CNR, or, in Chinese, Central People’s Broadcasting Station/CPBS).

But this may not have as far-reaching implications for the three organizations as it first seems.

Call it a deer: Radio Beijing QSL (1990) – the broadcaster’s current name is China Radio International

“Voice of China”, the planned “merged” organization’s future name, isn’t necessarily an imitation of the “Voice of America”, as supposed by the FT author. Central People’s Broadcasting Station’s first channel (there are nine channels altogether) has long been referred to as “Voice of China” (zhongguo zhisheng), but always in Chinese, while the station’s occasional English-language identification announcements have simply referred to the network, as “China National Radio”. In its “about us”, CPBS/CNR, on their website, refer to their first channel as “zhongguo zhisheng” in Chinese, and as “News Radio” in English.

On shortwave, China’s “voice” frequently co-channels undesired broadcasts from abroad – it kills two birds by with one stone, “telling the good China story” and hooting down less desirable stories.

The document announcing the merger of the three media organizations – Deepening Reform of Party and State Institutions – was released by the CCP’s Central Committee, unabridgedly published by Xinhua newsagency on March 21, and republished, among others, by the Chinese State Council’s website.

The naming of China’s media has been somewhat messy for decades – “China National Radio” for a foreign audience and “Central People’s Broadcasting Station” for the Chinese-speaking audience, a lot of tampering with CCTV (China Central Television) or, in its foreign guise, as CCTV News, or as CCTV 9, or as CCTV English), and (perhaps the messiest bit) China Radio International’s (CRI) strategy of “borrowing boats” abroad.

The Central People’s Broadcasting Station/CPBS) was given the English handle of “China National Radio” in 1998, while in Chinese, it has always remained CPBS (zhongyang renmin guangbo diantai).

According to the Deepening Reform of Party and State Institutions document, the Chinese-English double-naming remains the approach of choice. While all three organizations – CCTV, CRI and CPBS (CNR) are going to retain their traditional names at home, they will be referred to as “Voice of China” in English.

If that means that CRI listeners will listen to the “Voice of China”, die “Stimme Chinas”, la “Voix de la Chine” and to “zhongguo zhisheng” (CRI has a Chinese service, too) remains to be seen.

The China Media Project (CMP) at the University of Hong Kong picked up the merger story on March 22, one day after it had first been reported. They provide a full translation of the portions of the Program dealing with media and public opinion. In the leading in to their translation, the CMP points out that

… China Central Television was previously overseen by the General Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television (previously just SARFT), a department under the State Council. The super-network will now be situated as a state-sponsored institution, or shiye danwei (事业单位), directly under the State Council, and directly under the supervision of the Central Propaganda Department.

The sections of the document (as translated by CMP) also arrange for a transfer of the General Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television’s (SARFT) responsibilities to the Central Propaganda Department.

But for CCTV, CRI and CPBS, the biggest (real) changes don’t appear to be about organization. Shen Haixiong, Wang Gengnian and Yan Xiaoming may well keep their jobs and status, provided that they always make the right ideological adjustments.

Update 1 [April 2, 2018]

CRI online, March 21, 2018, editor: Yang Lei

2018-03-21 | 来源:国际在线 | 编辑:杨磊

CRI online news: In the morning of March 21, Central People’s Broadcasting Station, China Central Television, and China Radio International held a mid-level cadre meeting and announced a decision by the Central Committee to establish to form the Central Radio and Television Station  [in People’s Daily’s English translation: Central Radio and Television Network] and its leadership. Comrade Shen Haixiong is to serve as the Central Radio and Television Station’s director and party secretary.

国际在线消息:3月21日上午,中央人民广播电台、中央电视台、中国国际广播电台召开中层干部大会,宣布中央关于组建中央广播电视总台和领导班子任职的决定。慎海雄同志任中央广播电视总台台长、党组书记。

The organization’s deputy director Zhou Zuyi read out the Central Committee’s decision and delivered a speech. Central propaganda department standing vice minister Wang Xiaohui presided over the meeting and delivered a speech.

中组部副部长周祖翼宣读中央决定并讲话,中宣部常务副部长王晓晖主持会议并讲话。

According to a Beijing Daily article published online on March 28, Yan Xiaoming, who used to head CPBS, will serve as the new organization’s deputy director, while Wang Gengnian, formerly CRI’s director, has retired.

Wang will reportedly be 62 in May this year. Online encyclopedia Baike says that he joined the CCP in May 1986. He was CRI’s director from 2004 until last month. He was also CRI’s party secretary.

Update 2 [April 5, 2018]

This article by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) puts the merger of domestic and foreign radio and television into perspective: upgrading the CCP’s “leading groups” (领导小组) to commissions, [t]he offices in charge of religious and overseas Chinese affairs now .. under the United Front Work Department, responsible for overseas liaison work, merging the Chinese Academy of Governance with the Central Party School, or the creation of a “central education body” over the education ministry for “improving political education in schools and universities”.

In general, the party takes more direct control in several fields, sidestepping the government (as seems to be the case with the “central education body”). In another article of the same day, March 21/22, the SCMP noted that

China is to broaden the scope of a controversial Communist Party department responsible for its overseas liaison work to include ethnic and religious affairs.

The consolidation of the United Front Work Department is part of a restructure of party agencies announced on Wednesday. It will take over the duties of state agencies overseeing ethnic and religious affairs, as well as the overseas Chinese portfolio.

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Notes

If China Copyright and Media (a great resource if you look for the CCP’s/PRC’s bureaucratic output) isn’t faster, I might summarize the document sometime during Easter.

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Updates / Related

十九届三中全会要点, CD, March 1, 2018
Foreign Experts wanted, May 2, 2016

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Taiwan cuts Shortwave Broadcasts in French and Spanish – here is why it shouldn’t

Cutting Shortwave broadcasts in French and Spanish

The French and the Spanish programs of Radio Taiwan International (RTI) are no longer broadcast on shortwave. On March 5, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg‘s (RBB) Radio Eins media magazine reported that RTI would terminate its broadcasts in German on March 25, i. e. the day when the current international shortwave frequency plan (A-18) came into effect1).

A notice was added by the Radio Eins editors a few days later, saying that RTI’s German service kept denying this information. However, Radio Eins did not name the source or sources of their information, citing rather general “trade circles” (Branchenkreise).

On March 9, in a regular mailbag program, RTI’s German service reacted to listeners’ questions concerning the shortwave issue, and stated that while the Spanish and French departments were indeed to exit shortwave with effect from March 26, the German service’s shortwave broadcasts would continue.

Seventeen days later, the German service’s denial proved correct – its broadcasts have been continued, now on their traditional summer frequency of 6185 kHz, as predicted on March 9.

In its report, Radio Eins also pointed out that Radio France Internationale (RFI) had terminated its shortwave broadcasts for Asia years ago, and that this had also put an end to Radio Taiwan International’s once lower-cost access to transmissions from France (with transmitters located at Issoudun, central France). The two international broadcasters appear to have exchanged airtime in the past.

On its website, RTI hardly (if at all) communicates the decision to terminate the shortwave broadcasts in Spanish and French. However, a month before Radio Eins wrote about RTI’s shortwave closures, shortwave-watching website swling.com had quoted from an RTI email saying that the station’s French and Spanish services would “unfortunately stop broadcasting on shortwave”. There appears to have been no mention of the German programs at the time.

Following a Trend …

RTI is following a trend among foreign radio services from industrialized countries2). As noted by Radio Eins, Radio France Internationale ended its shortwave broadcasts to Asia years ago. German foreign Radio, Deutsche Welle (DW), terminated its shortwave broadcasts in Chinese with effect from January 1, 2012. Three months earlier, DW had ended its shortwave broadcasts in German.

Earlier in 2011, the BBC and the Voice of America (VoA) had announced their Chinese programs’ withdrawals from shortwave (the VoA later reversed the decision, but BBC Mandarin kept to their exit).

One of the more contested decisions to abandon shortwave was Radio Australia‘s. It took effect by the end of January, 2017. The station made a – not terribly successful, it seems – effort to communicate the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) decision.

Radio Australia’s (now abandoned) role in informing Pacific islanders about emergency situations via shortwave was deemed essential by some critics, and Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Radio Australia’s only existing competitor on shortwave in the Pacific region, leapt at the gap left by the Australians.

But funding public diplomacy is hardly popular in most free societies. Slashed budgets may irritate or infuriate the trade or the immediate users of an abandoned service, but they will hardly become known to a wider public. After all, the (noticeable) remonstrators are usually just some listeners abroad, and apart from that, they are no voters.
In RTI’s case, the question – from the audience perspective – seems to be how prepared the target areas are for the termination of shortwave broadcasts. As for France and Spain, the answer seems to be easy: industrialized, reasonably good internet connections, and with only a few people (probably) who would still listen on shortwave anyway.
But there are drawbacks. In general – this goes for countries with a highly developed internet infrastructure and Latin America or North Africa alike – it is much harder to gain new listeners, than to retain existing ones.
RTI’s management (or the lords of their budgets) may have drawn inspiration from reports like ECLAC’s 3), discussing sharply increasing internet use and access in Latin American countries, and the Caribbean.

But the ECLAC, while optimistic about the development and prospects of the internet in Latin America, also notes that no country in the region has at least 5% of its connections with speeds of more than 15Mbps, compared to 50% in advanced countries, and there is a difference of 41 percentage points in Internet penetration between urban and rural areas in the country that has the greatest gap in the region.And a report (apparently published online in December 2016) by Statista, a Hamburg-based market research company, saw the region’s average monthly internet usage at 18.6 hours in 2016. When you leave Brazil – the leading country in terms of monthly internet usage – out of the calculation, the rate will be even lower.

If the trends indicated by the two papers continue, there may be a time when switching off shortwave makes sense (at least when considering the costs, and the pressures from the broadcasters’ funders). But the data suggests that RTI’s decision to do so came too early.

… but neglecting the Facts

One of the reasons that international broadcasters stop using shortwave frequencies is that radio is a medium used by the poor, rather than by the affluent and influential. That’s not how they communicate their decision (if there is communication at all), but the trade’s high-flown jargon suggests just that.

In a press release of May 18, 2011, less than a year before abandoning shortwave broadcasts in Chinese, German (its native language) and Hindi, Deutsche Welle wrote that by focusing on the internet in many regions of the world, “info seekers” would be reached more effectively,

… especially those who are or will be influential in their countries’ public opinion, and people who actively campaign for democracy, civil liberties and progress in authoritarian states, thus strengthening civil society.

… insbesondere insbesondere jene, die Einfluss auf die öffentliche Meinung eines Landes haben oder zukünftig haben werden, sowie Menschen, die sich in autoritären Staaten aktiv für Demokratie, Freiheitsrechte und Fortschritt einsetzen und so die Zivilgesellschaft stärken.

But nobody knows who will call the shots in a target area, ten or twenty years from now. In Venezuela, it’s an ex bus driver now. Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2011, Lula da Silva, reportedly only learned to read at the age of ten, and worked as a peanut seller and shoe shine boy as a child. Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, was born to a subsistence farming family and started his political career as a rural labor unionist.

If they had been born ten or fifteen years ago, none of them would be a likely regular internet user.

Shortwave radio may not matter as a medium, when it comes to commercial viability, as the owner of a North American shortwave radio station admitted in 1991. In that light, Facebook could be a more or less “real” alternative to shortwave radio.

But on “social media”, a foreign radio station is just one “friend” among many. There may be no studies available, but if there were some, they would probably show that shortwave listeners are a much more dedicated audience than internet users.

In short: shortwave radio remains a crucial medium, especially for Taiwan. The country will almost inevitably lose all or most of its remaining “diplomatic allies” in Latin America, as it has lost official diplomatic ties with nearly every country worldwide already. If shortwave remains crucial in Taiwan’s communications with European countries may be debatable, but to maintain Taiwan’s visibility in Latin America, there can be no doubt that shortwave would be worth the (quite manageable) costs.
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Note

1) While KBS World’s German service via Woofferton, England, is announced under the broadcasting station’s name (Korean Broadcasting Station), Radio Taiwan International’s name is ommitted. Instead, the HFCC states the operator’s company name (Babcock Communications) there. The KBS frequency is also operated by Babcock, and also from Woofferton.
2) Japan may be the only exception.
3) The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The report linked to is dated September 12, 2016.

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Related

Inclusive Internet Index, Economist Group, 2018
Abandoning Shortwave & Opportunities, Oct 3, 2014
A bottomless pit of waste, PCJ, around 2014

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Argentine Radio to the World: “Universal Topics”

As part of its “National People’s Congress 1rst plenary session” coverage, China Radio International (CRI) also quotes Adrián Korol, director of RAE, Argentine Radio Nacional’s international radio station.

CRI online, Yin Xiaotong and Li Mingqi reporting — On 13th of March, the “People’s Republic of China Supervision Law (draft)” has been proposed for the National People’s Congress first plenary session’s consideration. As an important environment for national legislation against corruption and for deepening the national supervision organizational reform, the supervision law (draft) deliberations haven’t only lead to heated debate at home, but have also attracted foreign media attention.

国际在线报道(记者尹晓通、李明其):3月13日,《中华人民共和国监察法(草案)》提请十三届全国人大一次会议审议。作为国家反腐败立法和深化国家监察体制改革的重要一环,监察法(草案)的提审不仅在国内引发热议,同样也吸引了外国媒体人的关注。

The director of Argentine National Radio’s foreign broadcasting station, Adrían Korol, believes that corruption has become one of the problems faced by all mankind. China’s supervision law offers important experience for Latin American countries to learn from. “I believe that (this proposed draft) is absolutely necessary, and marks another important step by China on its road of fighting against corruption. Undoubtedly, corruption is currently one of the major issues for all humankind to confront.”

阿根廷国家电台对外台台长阿德里昂•克罗尔认为,腐败已成为全人类共同面临的难题之一,中国的监察法对拉美国家具有重要的借鉴意义,“我认为(这项草案提交审议)是非常有必要的,标志着中国在反腐败道路上又迈出了重要的一步。毫无疑问,目前腐败是全人类共同面临的重大问题之一。

“For many years, corruption has pervaded all aspects of life in most Latin American countries. Fighting against corruption is very important, because corruption has globalized. All countries need to learn other countries’ innovative and efficiently carried-out experience, and match these with their own realities. To propose this supervision draft to the Natonal People’s Congress will undoubtedly be influential.  It will become a sample of how to confront, strike and defeat corruption, it offers important experience for Latin America and countries in many other regions to learn from.”

很多年来,腐败问题已经渗透到拉美绝大多数国家的各个领域。反腐败斗争非常重要,因为腐败已经实现全球化,各国需要学习其他国家具有创新性的、行之有效的反腐经验,再与自身实际相结合。提交到全国人大审议的这份监察法草案无疑将产生重要影响,它将被作为如何面对、打击和战胜腐败问题的样本,对拉美地区和很多其他国家都具有借鉴意义。”

Korol visited China and had cooperation talks with China Radio International earlier this month.

RAE programs are broadcast via WRMI (Florida, USA) and Kall-Krekel (Germany), and through the internet. If sent by ordinary mail, reception reports on shortwave broadcasts are confirmed with a special QSL card in Argentina’s national colors – click picture for more info.

RAE carries a short podcast by Korol, as he addresses RAE listeners from Beijing. My Spanish is rather poor – translation errors are therefore not unlikely, and corrections are welcome:

Hello, friends of Radio Argentina to the World, and greetings from China. I’m Adrián Korol and I’m here on invitation by CRI, Radio China International, to talk personally on a cooperation agreement on which we are working, and about our country, its people, and culture. These are important days here in the People’s Republic of China, for what is called the “two sessions”, a series of meetings of the representatives of the people, where proposals on issues are dealt with which are fundamentally important for life in this country. The two sessions also deal with many universal topics, such as the environment, or the struggle against corruption, something very visible in many parts of Latin America and the world. A topic that catches attention, and positively so, is the eradication of poverty, which happens quite rapidly. There’s also the reform of the constitution as another major issue in the two sessions which are taking place here in Beijing.

Korol also refers to cooperation talks already underway between Argentine television and China’s ministry of communications, and points out three major points of (envisaged) cooperation between RAE and CRI:

[…] content, training, and technology. These topics will have an important effect on RAE, our international service, which completes its sixtieth year this year.

According to some written context added to the podcast, RAE writes that Radio Nacional’s executive director Ana Gerschenson appointed Korol to try to get RAE included into Argentine Television’s (RTA) cooperation with China Central Television (CCTV).

Korol was also quoted by China Daily‘s Chinese online edition (中国日报网), along with media workers from Angola, Australia, and Pakistan:

In an interview, Argentine National Radio’s reporter Adrián Korol said: “I’m from Argentina, and therefore very interested in the direction of relations between China and Latin America. China has left a deep impression on me, and I want to understand the future development between China and Argentina.”

阿根廷国家广播电台记者阿德里昂克罗尔在接受采访时说:“我来自阿根廷,所以我非常关心中国和拉丁美洲的关系走向。中国给我留下深刻印象,我想了解中阿的未来发展方向。”

Asked about his impression of foreign minister Wang Yi, Adrián Korol said that he liked him.

在被问到对外交部长王毅的印象时,阿德里昂克罗尔表示,自己很喜欢他。

Adrián Korol also said that he liked China, and even though he had only come from the other side of the world for the first time, he felt a warmth as if he was at home.

阿德里昂克罗尔进一步表示,他很喜欢中国,虽然是第一次从地球的另一端来到这里,但就感觉跟待在家里一样温暖。

Huanqiu Shibao also carried the story.

Korol’s remarks to CRI about the “two sessions” (see beginning of this post) were duly posted under CRI’s “Our new Era – NPC and CPPCC’s 2018 All-China Two Sessions” category. China’s media habitually collect favorable foreign commentary on events in China, while suggesting that China doesn’t care when reactions abroad are less favorable.

On Wednesday, Xinhua newsagency also quoted extensively from foreign punditry (which can probably best be summed up as “strong China, sunny world”). The report quotes a Japanese professor, a Palestinian economist, an Indonesian think tank’s chairman, a global security expert from South Korea, an Argentine China researcher, another Japanese professor, a researcher at Russia’s “Valdai Club”, a publisher from the US, a Cuban international politics researcher, another researcher from Russia, and a French China expert.

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Note

RAE programs are broadcast on shortwave via WRMI (Florida, USA) and Kall-Krekel (Germany), and streamed on the internet. If sent by ordinary mail, reception reports on shortwave broadcasts are confirmed with a special QSL card in Argentina’s national colors.

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Related

Entrevista al embajador de Argentina, CRI, March 6, 2018

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Shortwave Logs: Radio Romania International (RRI)

If you are looking for a European broadcaster on shortwave, the BBC World Service may come to your mind – or Radio Romania International (RRI). The latter’s range of program languages is quite diverse: English, Chinese, French, Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, and German. One a week, on Sundays, there’s a broadcast in Hebrew, too, with a review of the week1).

— Some history

According to the station’s website, first experimental radio programmes for target areas beyond Romania’s borders were aired in 1927. Broadcasting became official on November 1, 1928, on 747 kHz (401.6 meters) – apparently targeted at a domestic audience, in Romanian only. French and English programs followed in 1932, “to inform the diplomatic corps in the Romanian capital city”, and weekly programs in French and German were targeted at central and western Europe. Before the second world war, all foreign broadcasts depended on medium wave transmitters. When the first shortwave transmissions began, the focus appears to have been on the Balkans, and the Middle East. According to RRI, [i] t seems that the first letter received from abroad came from Egypt.

It’s a detailed account of RRI’s history (and that of its preceding organizations, all headquartered in Bucharest’s General Berthelot Street), and will most likely contain some information that is new to the reader.

Olt County's coat of arms, 1985 and post-1989

Olt County’s coat of arms, as depicted on a QSL card of December 1985, and as of these days (click picture for Wiki entry)

— Languages, Programs, Contraditions

RRI provides news, background reports and some cultural coverage. Much of the content is the same in English, German, and Chinese, but focus may differ somewhat. While there is news, some background information and cultural programming in all these languages, listeners’ preferred topics seem to count, too. German listeners frequently enquire about European and social issues – something that appears to be of less interest to Chinese listeners. The scope of Chinese programs may also be somewhat limited by air time: thirty minutes per broadcast in Chinese, rather than sixty, as is the case with some of the broadcasts in English, French, and German.

When it comes to international exchange or openness, RRI certainly can’t be accused of discrimination. The Institut Francais is shown among their partners on the French service’s web pages, and a link to the “Confucius Institute” in Bucharest adorns the Chinese-language main page, side by side with one to the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (with no specified status).

According to RRI’s English service’s website, RRI’s Chinese service, which first went on air on October 1, 1999, benefited from […] Chinese language experts […] as well as our colleagues from Radio China International, the Romanian language department […].2)

Given the kind of “news” being broadcast by China Radio International (CRI), this kind of cooperation doesn’t look appropriate.

Some caveats: undue Beijing’s influence isn’t limited to RRI in particular, or to southeastern Europe in general3) (as suspected by some German quarters). A number of German universities have opted for cooperation with the agency from Beijing, for example, and areas of cooperation are hardly less sensitive.

Also, RRI’s news broadcasts in Chinese don’t appear to differ from those of the English or German departments. When Chinese listeners hear about Romanian citizens who take to the street, opposing changes to the country’s legal system, or Japan’s prime minister emphasizing liberty, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law as Japan’s and Romania’s shared values and principles, it may be met with more open minds, than if broadcast by a source that is deemed hostile by its audience.

All the same, turning October 1, 1949 into common ground between the audience and the station’s first broadcast in Chinese (October 1, 1994) spells a major contradiction, when suggesting at the same time, on a different history page, that RRI services turned towards the future, towards once again building a bridge between Romania and the democratic world and re-establishing the link between Romanians living abroad and those back home, a link that had been weakened on purpose by the totalitarian regime.

— Audience

RRI doesn’t offer detailed statistics – few international broadcasters do. It seems likely, however, that a presence on shortwave makes a difference for the better. I wouldn’t hear or read much about the country, if its signals didn’t come in handy. I’m suspecting that within Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, you can listen to RRI with a pressing iron (any appliance with spiral coils should do).

What has kept this blogger from giving feedback to the station is their online policy. It seems that everything that is mentioned in their listener’s-feedback programs goes right online, as a transcript. Facebookers probably won’t mind, but more traditional listeners may be a different story.

Either way, RRI certainly has its fans, and its multipliers.

— Shortwave

Shortwave plays an important role, at least when it comes to middle-aged and old listeners. For one, there’s the technical aspect. Nobody is encouraged to disassemble and reassemble his smartphone, or to boost its transmission power or its sensitivity. Use of shortwave, however, involves technical aspects, and people interested in some DIY. And while an app user may brush any source of information away after a few seconds, shortwave listeners’ attention span is likely to be sturdier.

It would seem to me that among a number of other aspects (sound not least – I find digital sound ugly), shortwave broadcasting signals respect for the listeners. It is more costly than web-based communication, it doesn’t provide broadcasters with as much information about how “efficient”, in terms of listener numbers, their productions actually are (which means that even the invisible listener matters), and it doesn’t ask if a listener lives under circumstances that allow for internet access – be it for economic or censorship reasons.

Shortwave is therefore a unique RRI feature. Bulgaria abandoned its shortwave transmissions years ago, so did Radio Poland, Radio Ukraine International, and Radio Prague (except for some airtime on German or American shortwave stations respectively). Radio Budapest, once one of the most popular Eastern European external broadcasters, is history.

— Recent RRI logs

Broadcasts in Chinese, German, and Hebrew
Time UTC Lang. Date Freq. S I N P O
07:00 German Jan21 7345 5 5 5 4 4
13:30 Chinese Jan21 9610 4 5 5 3 4
17:05 Hebrew Jan21 9790 4 5 5 3 4

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Footnotes

1) RRI’s website states 19:05 hours as the beginning of the transmission, which is standard time in Romania, and in Israel (17:05 GMT/UTC).
2) The Romanian department at CRI still exists, with an online presence, and medium/shortwave transmissions.
3) The “Spiegel” interview in German.

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