International radio remains the most reliable, robust source of information for people in some nations
North Korea is rated as the second most censored county in the world after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
North Koreans who are caught accessing information not approved and disseminated by the government can be sent to brutal prison camps for extended terms, or face execution.
Yet such is the human hunger for reliable outside information, that many North Koreans brave these risks by tuning into international radio and cross-border TV broadcasts wherever practical.
Many also watch banned South Korean TV programs on black market DVDs, SD cards, and USB sticks; plus computers and mobile phones smuggled in from China. (South Korean movies and soap operas are hugely popular in the North, according to the New York Times.)
The conclusions they draw from this content are subsequently shared with other North Koreans by word-of-mouth; despite the fact that such sharers can get in serious trouble with the Kim Jong-Un regime.
Read the full RadioWorld article:
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.
Yesterday, 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 Weibo 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.
(Source: Radio Free Europe)
In an escalation of ongoing efforts to thwart Radio Farda, RFE/RL’s Persian-language Service, Iranian authorities are interrogating journalists’ family members in Iran.
Employees of Radio Farda believe that their journalism, which attracts over 10 million page views monthly on Radio Farda’s website, is the motive behind at least 20 incidents this year involving the interrogation and intimidation of their family members in Iran by officials of the country’s Intelligence Ministry.
In sessions that sometimes lasted for several hours, agents denounced the work of Radio Farda journalists and warned family members against having further contact with them. In several cases they instructed family members to tell their relatives to resign from their jobs and return to Iran; in one instance they demanded that a specific series of reports be discontinued. During questioning, family members were also asked about their foreign contacts and trips abroad.
The interrogations have targeted family members, who in some cases have been repeatedly summoned, in Tehran and at least six other Iranian towns and cities.
“This is a proxy war against Radio Farda. It shows the extremes to which the regime will go to prevent the exchange of information it doesn’t control,” said Steven W. Korn, RFE/RL president. “Our journalists make enormous sacrifices for the work they do and will not submit to this pressure on them and their families.”
Radio Farda, produced in and broadcast from Prague, is a leading source of uncensored information in Iran. Each month 1.5 million users inside the country defy the government by employing proxies to access Radio Farda’s website, which is blocked. Radio Farda and “Pasfarda,” its signature satire program, are active on social media, with a combined 300,000 Facebook fans. Iranians actively participate in Radio Farda’s weekly call-in shows, connect with it daily through hundreds of email and SMS messages, and despite government jamming, tune in to satellite radio and shortwave to hear its programs.
In media freedom surveys this year, Freedom House ranked Iran 192 among 197 countries surveyed and Reporters Without Borders ranked it 175 of 179.
(Source: Times Union)
[…]Martyn Williams, who writes the blog NorthKoreaTech.org, said that the government’s intense use of its scant resources and electricity to jam foreign news broadcasts reflected its concern about the impact of outside media.
North Korea targets between 10 and 15 frequencies used by international short-wave broadcasters, such as U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia and stations operated by South Korea’s government, for up to 18 hours a day, and on major occasions like the April centennial, it jams radio signals around the clock, Williams said.
The North appears to have recently installed more sophisticated transmitters acquired from a Chinese company, although jamming operations have been up and down this year, likely because of technical problems or power shortages, he said.
Read the full article, the bulk of which deals with social media and mobile phones, on the Times Union website. Obviously, North Korea feels that shortwave radio is a threat to those in power. They should be afraid–shortwave radio signals easily cross their fortified borders. This article will be filed under why shortwave radio.