Posts tagged ‘Southeast Europe’

Saturday, February 15, 2020

COVID-19, new Diagnostics, statistical Effects, and some Leap of Faith

China’s explanation that a jump in the number of new COVID-19 infections can be explained with new diagnostic methods is meeting with a leap of faith in official Kiev. Radio Ukraine International, via WRMI on February 14 (Febr 13 local time in the US) reported in its “Ukrainian Perspective” program that

[a]s of February 13, 60,331 confirmed cases of the novel corona virus COVID-19, including 1,369 lethal cases, have been registered worldwide. The Ukrainian health ministry attributes the [ .. not readable] increase in the number of COVID-19 cases to a new diagnostic method deployed in the Hubei province. In addition to the test and specific symtoms screening, the method includes computer-assisted lung tomography to help detect pneumonia caused by the virus. So far, there have been no confirmed laboratory cases in in Ukraine, the health ministry reported on Thursday.
[…]

The report in full – with some shortwave background noise – can be found under the following link for a while. Please click the icon.

The report also quotes Ukraine’s prime minister, who addressed the issue of evacuating Ukrainians from Hubei province, and possible health risks for Ukraine that needed to be ruled out when the evacuations were carried out.

German television’s flagship news program “Tagesschau”, with a status in Germany comparable to “Xinwen Lianbo’s” in China, also attributed the rise in statistically recorded cases to the new diagnostic measures in a report on Thursday, but took a more distanced stance in the second part of the report, when addressing “revised diagnostic results” (“überarbeitete” Diagnoseergebnisse) announced by Hubei’s provincial government.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) Christmas Program on Shortwave

As every year, Northern German Radio (NDR) has scheduled a four-hours Christmas program on shortwave – “Gruß an Bord” (greeting all ships) – for December 24, from 19:00 to 23:00 UTC. The program usually begins with a news broadcast of about five minutes at 19 UTC, and the actual Christmas program would start right after that.

[Please mind the updates underneath – Dec 18, 2019]

Leer Reformed Church weather vane, archive / edited photo

Leer Reformed Church weather vane, archive / edited

All messages will be pre-recorded, in Leer, a town in northwestern Germany, on December 8, in Hamburg on December 15, and at NDR broadcasting house (where letters and emails will be  accepted until December 15), and be read out on December 24, from 22:15 UTC, according to the NDR schedule. Sometime during the first three hours of the program, a one-hour religious service is usually transmitted.

Radio Berlin-Brandenburg’s (RBB) media magazine has published the broadcasting schedule as follows1):

19:00 – 21:00 hours UTC

transmitter
site
kW direct kHz
Nauen,
Germany
125 west 6080
Nauen,
Germany
125 south-
east
9720
Moosbrunn,
Austria
100 east 9570
Issoudun,
France
250 south-
east
9800
Update, Dec 18 125 9740
Issoudun,
France
250 south 11650
Noratus,
Armenia
100 Europe 6030

21:00 – 23:00 hours UTC

transmitter
site
kW direct kHz
Nauen,
Germany
125 west 6145
Nauen,
Germany
125 south-
east
9720
Moosbrunn,
Austria
100 east 9675
Issoudun,
France
250 south-
east
9590
Update, Dec 18 125 9740
Issoudun,
France
250 9830
Noratus,
Armenia
100 Europe 6155

The Nauen site is said to be the oldest continuously operating radio transmitting installation in the world. There was an interruption of about a decade, however, from May 1945 to 1955. By the end of the 1950s, it was also one of Radio Berlin International‘s (RBI) two transmission sites, thus carrying East Germany’s official programs for an international audience.

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Notes

1) as at November 1 (which seems to suggest that changes aren’t ruled out)

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Updates (Dec 18, 2019)

See Deutsche Welle reference to the NDR program for latest frequencies

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Related

Program history, Dec 25, 2017

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Updates: Huawei / Hong Kong / Taiwan

Heading into a few weeks of working at half speed, but while the muse keeps kicking me, I don’t feel like doing long translations yet of, say, the Bulgarian president’s visit to China. But the following two news items – neither of them really new – may remain interesting as summer moves on.

Huawei

Trade conflict between America and China – no blog yet either, but here is a bit of it, by means of a few links.

Huawei advertisement, Bremen Central Station, December 2018

“2019 will be big (thanks to
a 6.21 in display)” – advertisement at
Bremen Central Station

A public warning by the Czech cyber watchdog is met with some heavy-handed PRC diplomacy,

Sinopsis wrote in December, with some more entries on the same subject following during the first half of this year.

Addressing concerns about a “kill switch” that could be added to Germany’s G5 infrastructure if Huawei were involved, the company’s Germany boss Dennis Zuo said in an interview with German daily Handelsblatt on February 20 that such a practice by Huawei would be technically impossible – only single components were supplied by any company.

Asked how Huawei would react if state or party demanded access, and if they actually had “a chance to say no”, Zuo said that Huawei would say no indeed – Huawei was owned by its staff, not by the Chinese state. Asked if they would go to court against the Chinese state, Zuo said that they wouldn’t do that, but “we would refuse [access] in any case” (“wir würden dies auf jeden Fall ablehnen”).

German Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber, also in an interview with Handelsblatt, pointed out that “the US itself once made sure that backdoor doors were built into Cisco hardware.”

Hong Kong / Taiwan

And Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in June, awarded Taiwan a democracy and rule-of-law prize, although a somewhat embittered one:

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Updates / Related

2019 HK extradition bill, Wikipedia, acc July 4, 2019

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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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