China pays local radio and TV stations to broadcast their content

(Image source: BBC)

(Source: The Independent via Andy Sennitt)

“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.

Peter Horrocks, the Director of the BBC’s World Service Group, told The Independent that the BBC’s distribution network was in danger from the hugely-ambitious CCTV and its deep financial resources.

“What the Chinese do is to pay local radio and TV stations to take their content,” he said in an interview with The Independent. “If you are a poor TV station in Tanzania and someone from China comes along and says ‘Will you take this content in Swahili?’ then you are quite likely to take it – so it’s a real threat to the future of the World Service’s content.”

As shortwave radio has become less widely used, the BBC has become increasingly dependent on local distribution partners for its radio and television output in large parts of the developing world. Around 40 per cent of the BBC’s global content is distributed through such intermediaries. “Locally distributed content is a very significant proportion of our overall audience,” said Horrocks. The BBC either seeks payment for its programming or provides it for free.”

[Continue reading…]

VOA Reduced TV to China during Hong Kong protests

VOA-Weishi-TV

The website BBG Watch recently posted a guest commentary from an anonymous VOA reporter regarding the loss of VOA Weishi TV during the Hong Kong protests. Here is an excerpt from BBG Watch:

“On Monday, September 29, the loyal viewers of Voice of America (VOA) “Weishi,” the VOA Mandarin TV program, were surprised to see their TV screen turned into a blue graphic during some hours when the original program previously aired was repeated. In the place of the professionally produced VOA TV broadcast, audiences received radio signals from Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Audience surveys, although underestimating the viewership because many Chinese are reluctant to share sensitive and potentially dangerous information with strangers, show that the popularity of the 2-year-old VOA “Weishi” is growing by leaps and bounds in China. Some of its segments, including “History’s Mysteries,” “Pro&Con” and “Issues and Opinions,” already also attract many millions of viewers on YouTube. The management’s decision to take away some of the repeat hours from the “Weishi” programs will be devastating to VOA’s Mandarin broadcasting. Meanwhile, it will not help RFA, since very few people listen to radio via TV. If they do, there are existing channels leased by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) to broadcast radio programs via satellite to China and Tibet. IBB reports to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency and the bipartisan Board in charge of all U.S. taxpayer-supported media for audiences abroad.”

Read the full commentary on the BBG Watch website.

I listened to China Radio International a few times during the peak of the protests and–no surprise–there was absolutely no mention or even hint of an uprising. Indeed, China has been actively blocking international TV news outlets like CNN and social media sites like Instagram.

China-WPFI-001

China is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world in terms of press freedoms–175th out of a possible 180 countries on the 2014 World Press Freedoms Index.

Remembering Radio Beijing: 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre

A long shot of the iconic "Tank Man" on Tiananmen Square. Photographer: Stuart Franklin

A long shot of the iconic “Tank Man” on Tiananmen Square. Photographer: Stuart Franklin

Today is the 25th anniversary of the horrible events that took place in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, during which Chinese troops opened fire on unarmed student demonstrators.

In this off-air shortwave radio recording of Radio Beijing, made on June 3rd, 1989, you’ll hear the news reader/editor depart from the script and comment on the massacre of protestors in Tiananmen Square:

It’s believed this brave news editor was detained shortly after the broadcast and spent years in a detention (re-training) camp.

Rest assured, you will hear no mention of the Tiananmen Square protests on China Radio International today–even though this year marks the 25th anniversary of the event. China’s state media goes to great lengths to keep this sort of on-air protest from happening again. State media even tries to limit on-line research of the protests; last year, we posted a fascinating article which listed banned search engine terms in China.

I also encourage you to check out Jonathan Marks’ comments (from a broadcaster’s perspective) on this particular Radio Beijing broadcast.

Is Firedrake on the decline?

(Photo: Satdirectory.com)

(Photo: Satdirectory.com)

Have you noticed less Firedrake broadcasts lately? I certainly have.  My buddy David pointed this out to me last week and since then I haven’t heard Firedrake even once. I have, however, heard the more aggressive and noisy Chinese jamming techniques.

Perhaps it’s just a “watched pot never boils” situation? I’m not sure; some SWLs on the hard-core DX reflector have also noticed a lack of Firedrake across the bands.

Have you heard Firedrake lately? Please comment with loggings.

For readers who are unfamiliar with Firedrake, check out this previous post.

The 24th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square_man_blocks_tank_238Yesterday, I had two reminders of how important shortwave radio is in China.

The first was this incredible recording shared by David Goren–an unidentified Radio Beijing announcer who departed from the script and commented on the massacre of protestors in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It’s believed this announcer is still imprisoned:

The second was an article that a journalist friend had posted. It’s simply a list of search terms that the Chinese government blocked on Sina as of June 4th. Of course, the list contains words you would assume would be included, like: 1989, 89, vigils, and memorial ceremony. But it also includes words like: Internet block, sensitive word, and inappropriate for the public. Think of how many sites and posts this blocked (certainly ours!). Of course, there are many more terms on the list–check out this article on China Digital Times for more information.

So why is shortwave radio still important in China? It’s impossible to block those search terms on radio.

Epoch Times: Radio Taiwan International dismantling two transmission sites?

RadioTaiwanInternationalLogoUpdate: This article, from the Epoch Times, is somewhat misleading: it appears that RTI is not actually being silenced; rather, they’re merely removing sites that are retired and redundant. See post comments for more info.

(Source: Epoch Times)

Media freedom in Taiwan is again under attack by political forces from mainland China, resulting in a sudden decision by Radio Taiwan International (RTI) to dismantle two of its substations. Among RTI’s customers who will lose their contracts are Sound of Hope Radio and Radio Free Asia, which have played an important role in broadcasting uncensored news to the mainland.

Earlier this month, RTI’s largest customer, Sound of Hope Radio (SOH), received a notice that the Huwei substation in Yunlin County will be dismantled beginning June 1. The eight radio antennas pointing towards China will be removed ahead of schedule, and the broadcasting business will also stop at the end of May.

Tainan, another RTI substation in Tianma, will also be dismantled in a few months’ time, according to an insider.

[…]According to insider information, RTI high-level executives visited mainland China at the end of February. Soon after, RTI announced its intention to take down the two substations.

Following the removal of the substations, RTI will terminate all its rebroadcasting customers and also stop its own shortwave broadcasting, and develop a mobile platform and Internet broadcasting instead, the insider said.

Zeng (Allen) Yong, President of SOH, told The Epoch Times he had rushed to Taiwan as he was very concerned about RTI’s move to terminate its main customers in the name of consolidating substations and eventually ending shortwave broadcasting into China–a matter of great concern to the Communist Party, which censors media in the mainland.[…]

Read the full article at The Epoch Times.