Posts tagged ‘Czech Republic’

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Stun grenades on Zeman’s Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: Prague and Taipei establish sister-city relations

The following is Taiwanese coverage of city-sister relations between Prague and Taipei. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Red star over Radio Prague: a pre-1989 QSL card, confirming reception of a broadcast on December 30, 1985

Red star over Radio Prague: a pre-1989 QSL card,
confirming reception of a broadcast
on December 30, 1985

Radio Taiwan International (RTI), December 12, 2019

The Prague city hall assembly unanimously passed a proposal today (December 12) to conclude a sister city agreement with Taipei. Mayor Zdeněk Hřib is likely to sign the agreement with Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je next month.

布拉格市議會今天(12日)無異議通過與台北市締結為姐妹市的提案,市長賀瑞普(Zdeněk Hřib)預計將在下個月與台北市長柯文哲簽署。

Prague city council discussed the proposal today, and because of a consensus between all governing coalition parties, a vote was taken right after a short explanation by mayor Hřib, with 39 votes in favor of the proposal, zero opposing it, and two abstentions.

布拉格市議會今天討論與台北市締結為姐妹市的提案,由於在聯合政府執政的各黨有共識,市長賀瑞普簡短說明後即直接進行表決,結果以39票贊成、零票反對、2票棄權的壓倒性高票通過。

Hřib had said after a city government meeting last week that he would officially sign a sister city agreement with Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je in January next year, to strengthen Prague’s cooperation and relations with Taipei in economics and trade, culture, tourism, education and in other fields. Besides, Prague’s Zoological Garden was hopeful to get a pangolin as a gift from Taipei.

賀瑞普上週在市政會議後曾表示,將在明年1月與來訪的台北市長柯文哲正式簽署姐妹市協議,加強布拉格與台北在經貿、文化、觀光、教育等領域的合作關係,此外,布拉格動物園可望獲得台北贈送的穿山甲。

Central News Agency (CNA), December 13, 2019

Zdeněk Hřib only took office last year. In January this year he said that he wanted to remove the clause concerning the one-China policy, and Taiwan being an inseparable part of [China’s] territory, from the sister city agreement with Beijing. He also met with Tibetan exile government leader Lobsang Sangay on his own initiative, openly challenging [Czech] president Miloš Zeman’s pro-China policies with a stun grenade at Czech-Chinese relations.

賀瑞普(Zdeněk Hřib)去年底才上任,今年1月即宣布要廢除前任市長與北京締結的姐妹市協議當中有關一個中國政策和台灣是中國不可分割領土的條款,並在市府主動接見西藏流亡政府首長洛桑森格,公然挑戰總統齊曼(Miloš Zeman)的親中政策,為捷克和中國關係投下震撼彈。

According to Hřib, he had done an internship in Taiwan as a student and got a good impression of Taiwan, referring to himself as a “Taiwan fan”. He also visited Taiwan in March, had a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, and tested the water for concluding a sister-city status.

按照賀瑞普自己的說法,學生時代曾到台灣實習的他對台灣留下好印象,自稱是「台灣迷」。3月他還親訪台灣,晉見總統蔡英文,為締結姊妹市一事試水溫。

In fact, Hřib’s friendly conduct towards Taiwan also reflects, to a certain degree, dissatisfaction among Czech society with China.

事實上,賀瑞普的友台作為,也一定程度反映了捷克社會近年對中國的不滿。

In 2016, Chinese state chairman Xi Jinping visited Prague for the first time and pledged large-scale investment. [Czech president] Zeman replied that he hoped the Czech Republic, as an unsinkable aircraft carrier, could “help China expand its investment in Europe”, standing out in Europe’s world of politics by its friendship with China.

2016年,中國國家主席習近平首次訪問布拉格,承諾為捷克帶來大筆投資,齊曼還呼應說希望捷克成為「協助中國在歐洲擴張投資永不沉沒的航空母艦」,對中國的友好在歐洲政壇獨樹一幟。

But several years later, many of China’s investment pledges have not materialized, and Ye Jianming, a mysterious businessman and svengali between the two countries, has suddenly disappeared. Hřib’s plan to remove the one-China clause grabbed the opportunity provided by the misgivings among Czech society, concerning China.

然而,幾年過去了,中國的許多投資承諾都沒兌現,在兩國之間牽線的神秘商人葉簡明還突然消失。賀瑞普打算廢除一中條款,正好抓住捷克社會對中國質疑聲四起的時機。

Also, the Czech Republic which overthrew the communist dictatorship thirty years ago, originally attached importance to the values of democracy and human rights. But in recent years, the Czech Republic has suffered a lot from right-wing populist policies. President Miloš Zeman and prime minister Andrej Babiš have no intention of continuing the spiritual heritage left behind by the Velvet Revolution [of 1989], departing from Vaclav Havel‘s line of humanism and pro-Europeanness.

其次,30年前曾推翻共黨獨裁統治的捷克,原本就特別重視民主和人權的價值。不過,近年來,捷克深受右翼民粹政治所苦,總統齊曼和總理巴比斯(Andrej Babiš)都無意延續絲絨革命留下的精神遺產,背離前總統哈維爾(Vaclav Havel)的人道主義和親歐路線。

[…]

As expected, Hřib’s actions were answered with Chinese retaliation. In April this year, at an annual meeting at the Czech trade and industry ministry, Taiwan’s representative to the Czech Republic was, for the first time, forced to leave the venue under pressure from China’s ambassador.

一如預料,賀瑞普的舉動遭到中方報復。今年4月,捷克貿易工業部為外國使節舉辦年度會議,由於中國大使施壓,我國駐捷克代表首度被迫離席。

Following that, Beijing cancelled Czech Philharmonia’s and another three important Czech ensembles tours of China. And Zeman publicly threatened that China could discontinue direct flights between Chinese cities and Prague, and cut financial assistance for soccer club Slavia Praha.

隨後,中國又一連取消布拉格愛樂(Prague Philharmonia)等4個捷克重要表演團隊在中國的巡迴演出行程。齊曼還公開威脅,中國將中斷中國城市和布拉格的直航和切斷布拉格斯拉維亞足球俱樂部(Slavia Praha)的金援。

Interestingly, China’s retaliation proved counterproductive. After having been forced out of the meeting at the Czech trade and industry ministry, [Taiwan’s] representative Wang Chung-I was interviewed by a big newspaper, thus greatly improving Taiwan’s visibility. And cultural minister Lubomir Zaoralek has rarely met with China’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, criticizing China’s unilateral cancellation of Czech ensembles’ performances which had “seriously harmed China’s image”.

有趣的是,中國的報復反而造成反效果。駐捷克代表汪忠一被迫離席後,立刻接受大報專訪,大幅提升台灣能見度。文化部長左拉列克(Lubomir Zaoralek)罕見接見中國駐捷克大使,批評中國片面取消樂團演出「嚴重傷害中國形象」。

[…]

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Related

Interview with mayor Hřib, Radio Prague, Aug 16, 2019

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Prague committed betrayal, but it was us, because we were faster

According to Guanchazhe, an online news portal in Shanghai quoting from a press conference at China’s embassy in Prague, it was Prague’s city council.

Prague unilaterally ended city friendship agreement1) with Beijing, our embassy’s reaction

布拉格单方面终止同北京市友城协议,我大使馆回应

Question: on October 7, the Prague municipal committee2) decided to end the city friendship agreement it had signed with Beijing. Could you please tell us if the Chinese embassy to the Czech Republic has a comment about this?

问:10月7日,布拉格市委会决定终止布拉格市同北京市签署的友城协议。请问中国驻捷克大使馆对此有何评论?

Answer: We have taken note of Prague’s municipal committee’s decision to unilaterally end the city friendship agreement it had signed with Beijing and to pass this on to the the city assembly for consideration. This kind of behavior can even be called treachery, desctruction of Sino-Czech relations and of the atmosphere of the two countries’ local exchange and cooperation. Beijing city has already filed solemn protest to Prague.

答:我们注意到,布拉格市委会日前决定单方面终止该市同北京市签署的友城协议并提交市议会审议。这种行为可谓背信弃义,破坏中捷关系和两国地方交流合作氛围。北京市已就此向布拉格市提出严正抗议。

Concerning this, I would like to emphasize that the one-China principle is a matter of Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, touches upon China’s core interests, is the foundation and a prerequisite for all of China’s external exchange and cooperation, and also an accepted international relations’ norm and the international community’s general consensus. The Czech government has consistently supported the one-China principle. China wants to continue the work with the Czech government and all walks of life, for the promotion of exchange and cooperation on all levels between China and the Czech Republic, including the strengthening of the two countries’ local friendly exchange and cooperation.

在此我要强调,一个中国原则事关中国主权和领土完整,涉及中方核心利益,是中方开展一切对外交流合作的基础和前提,也是公认的国际关系准则和国际社会普遍共识。捷克政府一贯坚持一个中国原则。中方愿同捷克政府和社会各界一道,持续推进中捷各层级各领域交流合作,包括加强两国地方友好交流合作。

We urge the Prague municipal authorities to correct their course soon, in tune with the great trend of the era and the advancing tide of history, and to get back onto the correct track of promoting the development of bilateral relations. Otherwise, their own interests will be harmed in the end.

我们敦促布拉格市政当局早日改弦更张,顺应时代发展大势和历史进步潮流,回到促进双方关系发展的正确轨道上来,否则最终损害的将是他们自己的利益。

Guanchazhe published the above Q and A on Wednesday.

But according to Beijing News (新京报), a paper from Beijing, republished here by sina.com on Thursday, it was Beijing’s foreign affair’s office (waiban) that took the decision.

Ever since November 2018, the new Prague authorities’ main officials and others, in disregard of accepted international relations’ norm and the international community’s general consensus, despite China’s solemn position and strong opposition, has again and again taken wrong measures and made improper remarks concerning Taiwan, Tibet and other Chinese core interests.

2018年11月以来,捷克布拉格市新一届市政当局主要官员等人,无视国际关系基本准则和国际社会共识,不顾中方严正立场和强烈反对,屡屡在台湾、涉藏等涉及中方核心利益的重大问题上采取错误行动并发表不当言论。

According to Beijing News, Beijing city’s waiban published its statement on October 9, suggesting that it was Beijing that ended the sister partnership.

We hope that the related personnel2) will soon become aware of the mistake and remove the negative effects by practical actions.

希望布拉格市有关人员早日认识错误,以实际行动消除负面影响。

The paper also notes that the two cities had signed the agreement in March 2016. China Radio International quoted then Prague mayor, Adriana Krnacova, as referring to the partnership as a big opportunity to make educational exchanges, for students to travel back and forth and learn from each other.

According to the South China Morning Post, Prague’s city council had voted to end the agreement after current mayor Zdenek Hrib’s unsuccessful efforts to get Beijing to remove a “one China” pledge from the agreement.

Hrib had never been in Beijing’s good books. Probably, the bid to remove the “one-China” clause from the agreement, and a visit to Taiwan, including a meeting with the country’s president Tsai Ing-wen, were major acts of wrong measures and improper remarks by that piece of personnel from Prague.

Either way, a sinologist from Prague, commenting on Radio Prague International on Thursday, didn’t come across as terribly worried about the consequences, while foreign minister Tomáš Petříček was quoted as saying that said threats had no place in diplomacy.

____________

1) usually referred to as a sister city relationship in Western media
2) What is referred to as “municipal committee” by Beijing News (in accordance with Chinese local government structures) is actually Prague’s city council
3) 有关人员

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Taiwan’s Representative to Czech Republic: Relations not affected

The following is a translation of a CNA (Central News Agency) article from Taiwan, with some details of an interview Taiwan’s semi-offical ambassador Wang Chung-I (汪忠一, officially his country’s diplomatic “representative”), gave to a Czech newspaper on Tuesday. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main Link (CNA): Dispute around Taiwan’s Representative having to leave his seat won’t affect relations between the two Countries (被迫離席風波 駐捷克代表:不影響兩國關係)

Central News Agency CNA reporter Lin Yuli, Berlin, April 10 – Taiwan’s Representative to the Czech Republic, Wang Chung-I, who took part in a conference hosted by the Czech ministry of trade and industry, and was removed under Chinese pressure. Czech media published interviews with him, and Wang Chung-I believes that this diplomatic dispute will not lead to bad effects on the two countries’ relationship.

(中央社記者林育立柏林10日專電)駐捷克代表汪忠一上月參加捷克貿易工業部主辦的會議,因中國施壓被迫離席。捷克媒體刊登他的專訪,汪忠一相信這起外交風波不至於影響兩國的關係。

The case of the Taiwanese representative having been forced to leave the venue had led to great controversy in Czech political circles. Forty senators across party lines have sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Andrej Babis in recent days, demanding that trade and industry minister Marta Novakova should assume political responsibility, and the House of Deputies‘ foreign  affairs committee also met to discuss this diplomatic dispute.

台灣代表被迫離場事件,最近在捷克政壇引起軒然大波。40名跨黨派的參議員日前聯名致函總理巴比什(Andrej Babis)要求貿易工業部長諾娃科娃(Marta Novakova)負起政治責任,眾議院外交委員會也開會討論這起外交風波。

Major Czech paper “Economic Daily” (Hospodarske Noviny) published an entire page of an interview with Wang Chung-I on April 9. Wang Chung-I said that after the incident, the representative office [i. e. Taiwan’s semi-official embassy in Prague] received support from all walks of life in Czechia, also e-mails of encouragement from members of the general public, which made him feel pleasantly surprised.

捷克大報「經濟日報」(Hospodarske Noviny)9日用一整版的篇幅刊出汪忠一的專訪。汪忠一表示,事件發生後,代表處收到捷克各界的聲援,還有民眾寫電子郵件來鼓勵,讓他感到驚喜。

He pointed out that during the past 19 years, Taiwan had always received invitations from the trade and industry ministry, and had always sent someone to take part in the conferences. He knew that the trade and industry ministry was under great Chinese pressure, and had therefore issued no protest to the ministry, and rather held talks with Czech diplomats to make mutually sure that this incident woudl not affect bilateral relations.

他指出,過去19年台灣每年都收到貿工部的邀請,也都派人出席這場會議。他知道貿工部受到中國的強大壓力,因此事後沒有向貿工部抗議,但與捷克外交官員進行了會談,互相保證這件事不至於影響雙邊關係。

Wang Chung-I emphasized that in the past, similar incidents had occured in Czechia, and usually it was the Chinese ambassador opposing the Taiwanese representative being in the place. If the organizing unit maintained its right to invite whom it wanted to invite, the Chinese ambassador would leave his seat, this was his first time to have to leave the place because of Chinese pressure.

汪忠一強調,捷克過去也曾發生過類似的事件,一般而言是中國大使反對台灣代表在場。如果主辦單位堅持有權決定想邀請的人,中國大使會離席,這是他第一次因中國施壓而被迫離場。

In the interview, Wang Chung-I also quoted former Czech president Vaclav Havel, a man with friendly feelings towards Taiwan, as describing in a book why Czech and Taiwanese people had similar lines of thought.

汪忠一在這篇專訪中,還引述了對台灣友好的捷克前總統哈維爾(Vaclav Havel)的話,他在一本書中曾描述捷克人和台灣人為何有相同的思維方式。

Wang Chung-I pointed out that both Czechia and Taiwan were rather small countries, both with experience in resisting powerful neighboring countries, and common values of respect for human rights, freedom and democracy.

汪忠一指出,捷克與台灣都是比較小的國家,一樣有與超強鄰國對抗的經驗,而且共享尊重人權和自由民主的價值觀。

Czechia is a major tourist destination in Europe, with its capital Prague attracting particularly many Taiwanese tourists. Prague’s mayor Zdenek Hrib mentioned in a meeting with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen late last month that he hoped to establish direct flights with Taipei.

捷克是歐洲的觀光重鎮,尤其首都布拉格吸引許多台灣觀光客,布拉格市長賀吉普(Zdenek Hrib)上月底訪問台灣會見蔡英文總統時才提到,希望與台北建立直航。

Wang Chung-I said that last year’s number of Taiwanese tourists visiting Czechia reached up to 190,000, an annual rise by ten percent, and for tourism and commercial exchange between the two countries, he hoped that a direct flight connection between Prague and Taipei would soon materialize. (Editor’s name) Number

汪忠一表示,去年台灣旅客造訪捷克的人數高達19萬,年成長率10%,為了兩國的觀光和商務往來,他也期盼布拉格與台北的直航能早日實現。(編輯:高照芬)1080411

Friday, April 5, 2019

Prague Castle*) incident: “The Minister should have known what to do”

*) Correction, April 11, 2019: not at the Castle, but at the trade ministry in Prague.

Update, April 11, 2019: Reportedly, trade minister Marta Nováková will be replaced, along with transport minister Dan Ťok, in a cabinet reshuffle.

Britain’s Daily Mail quotes a “series of missteps”, the way she dealt with the Chinese ambassador’s “request” to remove Taiwan’s representative from a meeting at the trade ministry among them, but mainly her comments on Czech mobile data prices.

====================

The top levels of Czech politics may be confused, but civil society stands up to blackmail. While it is true that the world’s leading democracies are falling over themselves to do business with China, the Czech Republic’s tradition is different from that of the London School of Economics.

Beijing doesn’t appear to advertise its ambassador’s implementation of its one-belt-one-road project in Prague, but Zdeněk Hřib, Prague’s mayor and one of the critics of Beijing’s most recent attempt to sideline Taiwan, isn’t an unknown in China anyway. A blogger named Warfare Bureau stationed with Taiwan Special Task Force member no. 666, publishing on a Guanchazhe platform, shows rightful indignation about Hřib’s current visit to Taiwan:

Actually, this mayor of the Czech Republic capital who has just taken office has often before raised his unfriendly voice against China. Early this year, he voiced doubt about the “one-China clause” in the sister city agreement between Prague and Beijing, asserting that he “could not see the need to retain it,” and demanding renegotiation.

其实,这位才上任不久的捷克首都新市长曾经多次发表对华不友好的声音,今年初贺瑞卜在受访时就公然对与北京缔结姐妹城市关系时协定中的“一中条款”表示质疑,他声称,“实在看不出保留的必要性”,要求重新协商。

According to the blog, Hřib said in an interview with Czech media that if the Prague city council demanded to repeal the article from the agreement, he would negotiate with Beijing, and if negotiations failed, Prague would have to withdraw from the agreement.*)

Even worse, the guy, reacting to Beijing’s plans to send a Panda to Prague, had said in 2016, in an interview with Taiwan’s Liberty Times (自由時報), that “human rights are much more important than Panda’s”. (What a shameless lie.)

It might be worth mentioning that Hřib is a member of the Czech Pirate party. A lot of politicians talk about “values”, but some actually have the nerve to practice them.

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Related

Rising Aggression, Jan 28, 2017

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Notes / Updates

*) Prague’s city council decided on January 21 that the article about the “one-China policy” should either be removed, or the partnership with Beijing be terminated, according to Radio Prague‘s German service on that day.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Oldřich Číp, ? – 2018

Oldrich Cip, a longtime advocate of shortwave radio, died on July 27.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Blog and Press Review: Frugal New Year

Warning: the following translation from a classic is just my guesswork – if you copy that for your homework, the mistakes will be your fault, not mine. Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Frugal New Year: the Xi Style

The year of the dog is upon us, and it must be a dog’s life if you are a cadre in the Xi Jinping era. That’s what you might believe, anyway, if you read secretary general Xi Jinping’s spiritual nourishment for comrades. After all, in a totalitarian society, administration, legislation, crackdowns and Something Understood all need to come from the same source.

People’s Daily has published three instalments of Xi Jinping thought. The first: go and visit the poor, and ask about their suffering, find solutions to the problems and dump the worries. The second: have an affectionate reunion with your family, as a good family style promotes virtue.

For the third instalment, the sermon turns to the New Book of Tang:
奢靡之始,危亡之渐 (which means something like “what begins lavishly will move towards danger”, I suppose).

I can only find the Chinese original [no English edition] of the  New Book of Tang online, and there, in chapter 105, Chu Suiliang, an advisor with morals, tells his surprised sovereign the meaning of things that only appear to be innocent at first glance:

帝尝怪:“舜造漆器,禹雕其俎,谏者十馀不止,小物何必尔邪?”遂良曰:“雕琢害力农,纂绣伤女工,奢靡之始,危亡之渐也。漆器不止,必金为之,金又不止,必玉为之,故谏者救其源,不使得开。及夫横流,则无复事矣。”帝咨美之。

The emperor said: “Shun made the lacquer, Yu gave us the embroideries, but the remonstrances never seem to end. How can small things be evil?”
Suiliang said: “ornate artwork harms the peasantry, and embroidery hurts the working women. What begins lavishly, will indeed move towards danger. It doesn’t end at lacquerware, it takes gold, too. It doesn’t end there, but jade will be required, too. Those who remonstrate do not want to see things pass the point of no return.”

If my impression of the Chinese texts is basically correct, Xi seems to present himself as someone who speaks truth to power – which is corny at best, and quite probably populist. The latter, anyway, is a tool lavishly handed around among the Davos jetset more recently, and it probably works fine, especially at the grass-roots level, with people who routinely delude themselves.

Roar back, if you still dare, fly or tiger.

Xi Jinping probably found a lot to copy from Ronald Reagan. His May 4 speech in 2013 resembled Reagan’s endless-opportunities speech in 1984. While frequently considered risk averse when it comes to reform, optimism, a “determination … to educate his audience” and “unobtrusive and imperceptible moral influence” (OK – it depends on how much corniness you’ve grown up with) are features Xi’s propaganda style seems to share with the late US president’s.

Footnote: when it comes to education on the ground, education of the public appears to be anything but imperceptible, as The Capital in the North reported in January.

Central Europe (1): After the “Czech Reversal”

The China Digital Times has an article by a Czech academic, describing Chinese influence in Eastern Europe (although the Czech Republic is hardly “eastern” European), and more particularly about a “China Energy Fund Committee” (CEFC). Czech president Miloš Zeman, who is quoted there with some of his characteristically tasteless remarks (about Chinese eyes, before he changed his mind), has explicit opinions about journalism, too.

Central Europe (2): German Mittelstand’s Main Thing

If the German Mittelstand can’t be found in China, it’s probably because they are investing and selling in the Visegrád countries, and beyond. the Handelsblatt‘s English-language edition has a critical assessment of Mittelstand companies role in Central Europe, quoting an apolitical German trade functionary to prove its point:

Ultimately, politics is not that important for businesspeople. Order books are full: That’s the main thing.

Obviously, German politicians (and journalists, for that matter) aren’t nearly as sanguine, and following US President Trump’s attendence at a Three Seas Initiative summit in July 2017, the Economist even recorded Teutonic tremors:

Germany is already concerned about China’s “16+1” initiative with central and eastern European states, a series of investment projects that the Chinese expect will build influence in the region. The Germans are also putting pressure on the Polish government over its illiberal attacks on independent newspapers, judges and NGOs. And they are fending off Polish criticisms that their proposed “Nord Stream 2” gas pipeline from Russia to Germany will make Europe more dependent on Russia.

But the Mittelstand shows no such unease. In fact, smaller and medium-sized companies often feel easier about countries that are closer to Germany, both regionally and culturally – it takes less time to travel, less time spent abroad, less worries about intercultural competence (or its absence), and less worries about market barriers or technology theft.

Hualien, Taiwan

Most people will have heard and read about the earthquake that caused deaths and injuries, especially in Hualien, on Tuesday.

But the place should be known for its beauty, too. There’s a travel blog about the Taroko Gorge, apparently written by a Singaporean, with some practical advice which  should be quite up to date (based on a visit in November 2016). That, plus some history.

The Spy Radio that anyone can hear

No, that’s not the BBC. They’ve only produced a video about numbers stations.

But what’s the fun in them if anyone can listen? I want some numbers of my own.

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Related

Budapest Guidelines, in Chinese and in English, Nov 2017

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

World Radio Day 2013: Authentic Experience, enhanced by Listening Live

If shortwave had been discovered today instead of eight decades ago it would be hailed as an amazing new technology with great potential for the world we live in today.

This is how former BBC World Service managing director John Tusa is quoted on the pages of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Radio Prague QSL, December 1985

Radio Prague QSL, December 1985

February 13 was World Radio Day (yours truly wasn’t aware on Wednesday, either). One of the UNESCO articles,  Shortwave Broadcasting – Challenges and Opportunities -, written by Oldrich Cip,  the High Frequency Coordination Conference (HFCC) chairman, makes quite a case for shortwave radio. Excerpts:

The prospect of rising affluence in many world regions creates an increasing opportunity for this specific delivery platform. Three billion people – or 50 per cent – of world population lives below the poverty line on less than 2.50 USD a day.1 Their first choice of communication devices will be a mobile telephone, a radio or both. For most, listening to a local FM channel, a community station or an international broadcast is still more affordable than a computer, a television or other electronic devices.
[…]
Reduced interest and funding of shortwave broadcasting, including the dismantling of infrastructure, will make shortwave broadcasting during humanitarian disasters more difficult or even impossible.

Cip also advocates Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM): Given the dramatic improvement in sound quality over present analogue AM broadcasting, it is anticipated that DRM will soon become the preferred technology for shortwave radio.

Discussing Shortwave Broadcasting and Internet Applications – Competition or Synergy, Cip comes across as somewhat ambivalent (and in favor of shortwave, in case of a doubt):

The presence of broadcasters across all distribution platforms is important for effective worldwide delivery. Audiences are able to personalize their listening experience.

But:

There is evidence that radio is best for live listening —- especially for news, current affairs and sport programmes. Authentic experience is enhanced by listening live to long-distance shortwave radio stations and their programmes.

And:

Radio has a strong emotional appeal. People listen regularly to one or two radio stations only. This appeal of radio has been even more typical in shortwave broadcasting. Enduring bonds and contacts between listeners to shortwave stations and broadcasters have existed long before the advent of social media.

“New delivery platforms” and social media could do a lot to enrich shortwave broadcasts and help collecting user-generated content, writes Cip – but to him, a world without shortwave appears to be unthinkable.

Maybe the emotional-appeal argument is strongly tinged with nostalgia, but I doubt it. I’m much younger than Cip, and many stations have dropped from my map since they went off air.

In his capacity as Radio Prague‘s frequency manager, when asked in 2006 if he was afraid there could perhaps be a loss of political will to continue with shortwave international broadcasting, Oldrich Cip chose a rather diplomatic reply:

Yes, I think that is a preoccupation not only of myself but of other international broadcasters and of people who work in this field. But at the same time I am confident that some form of international broadcasting will survive, and will continue throughout this millennium.

Whatever “some form of international” broadcasting meant. When Radio Prague went off the air (or shortwave, but heck, where’s the difference?) in 2011, Cip was more explicit:

[…] The delivery methods of international radio have diversified, with the internet and satellites, but shortwave has some specific properties, and it is my very strong belief that there will always be a specific segment of the audience that prefers shortwave broadcasting from terrestrial transmitters to other delivery methods. I am afraid that some of the decision makers in some of the big organisations may cause a domino effect, whereby when they start reducing then the smaller ones follow suit. So I am afraid that the reduction of shortwave broadcasting around the world was made quite hastily and is not a good development.

In 2011, Cip was right. And it seems to me that Radio Prague – different from other European station who has signed off as a radio broadcaster in recent years – was quite explicit in acknowledging that they were going to lose listeners:

[…] To those of you who will be unable to listen online, it has been our great pleasure and privilege to offer you this service. From all of our staff, thank you very much for listening, and goodbye.

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Related

» Weltrauschtag, Gustlik/DFC, Febr 13, 2013
» VoR terminates shortwave for Europe, Dec 31, 2012
» BBC: Taking back their Gift, Nov 4, 2012
» DW Chinese: Sad Responsibility, Oct 27, 2012
» Radio Canada International Retired, April 9, 2012
» DW, End of the Radio Era, Jan 2, 2012
» Why limit yourself, Chris Freitas, July 27, 2011
» Radio Netherlands: anticipatory obedience, June 10, 2011

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

RFE/Radio Liberty: Broadcasting Board of Governors orders Cease-Fire, Fires Steven Korn

America's Space Shuttle Program, featured on a VoA QSL Card of 1986

Mr. Korn goes on a vacation. Click on this picture for Bachrach’s blogpost. (VoA QSL Card of 1986.)

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has reportedly fired Steven Korn, president and CEO at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. However, the governors had been in no hurry to inform the press, Judy Bachrach wrote in a blogpost on Christmas eve, so as to encourage the press (i.e., me) to linger in order to discover what was bubbling beneath the blather. While much of the meltdown of Radio Liberty’s Russian service could be attributed to Vladimir Putin, Korn had aggravated things, not least with the summary sacking of 41 seasoned Russian journalists, Bachrach wrote. So did an alledged closeness of leading members of the Russian service. Russian dissidents, and Mikhail Gorbachev, had complained about that.

Korn would formally keep his position until February, but won’t be allowed to fire any more members of RFE/Radio Liberty, Bachrach wrote and told her readers that she welcomes sources for further information. Korn took the position as RFE/RL’s CEO on June 3, 2011.

RIA Novosti‘s German service quotes BBG member Victor Ashe, also by drawing on Bachrach’s blogpost, as saying that Steve Korn was a tremendous disappointment as the No. 1 person at RFERL, but ignores all the content of her post that is critical of Putin and the Russian authorities.

The summary firing of the Russian journalists had met with a lot of criticism in recent months, among others from human rights activist Pavel Litvinov and from David Satter.

But Russia wasn’t necessarily the only minefield for Korn. Industrial-relations issues apparently emerged in the Armenian and Croatian services, too, and earlier this month, Lev Roitman, a retired RFE/RL senior commentator, reportedly appealed to the BBG to resign collectively, in an open letter quoted apparently republished by Orer, an Armenian magazine based in Prague.The open letter did have some words of praise for Victor Ashe, however, who – alas unsuccessfully – tries to bring some political and human sense to BBG’s endeavors.

Ashe, a Republican and a former ambassador to Poland, had also been commended by supporters of Voice of America‘s (VoA) Mandarin service, a year ago.

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Related

» RFE/RL job contracts criticized, June 24, 2012
» An open letter from Anna Karapetyan, Mediamax, March 16, 2012

Update/Related

» Actively involved, U.S. News & World Report/freeM, Nov 2012

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