Tag Archives: Free Press

BBC: Thailand TV and radio remains blacked out under military control

1000px-Thailand_(orthographic_projection).svg-001Many thanks to Andy who shares this article from BBC News. Here’s a clip:

“The day after the military takeover in Thailand, television and radio remains blacked out and under military control.

Instead, viewers and listeners are being fed a diet of traditional music interspersed with orders and announcements from the country’s new military rulers.

Each of the announcements – around 20 so far on the first day of military rule – is read out several times over both television and radio.

Other forms of communication, such as print media, the internet, landline and mobile phones have not been affected so far, although all media have been requested to refrain from criticism of the military authorities. [Continue reading…]

Reports from shortwave radio listeners are similar: many heard announcements in Thai along with patriotic music on Radio Thailand. I attempted to listen the the RT broadcast targeting eastern North America at 00:00 UTC on 15,590 kHz, but the signal was simply too weak. I could only hear a faint woman’s voice in the static.

If you are able to hear Radio Thailand where you live, consider recording a broadcast for the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive Click here to view for a comprehensive Radio Thailand schedule.

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Thailand military suspends TV and radio programming

Original Image by Zuanzuanfuwa via WikiMedia Commons

Thailand’s army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, declared a coup today (Thursday, May 22), and detained key party leaders while suspending the constitution in “a bid to restore order” after nearly six months of ant-government protests.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha has also ordered all domestic TV and radio outlets to halt normal broadcasting and only include content the military provides until further notice. Only yesterday, a group of Thai media bodies accused the Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC) of violating the constitution when the POMC banned 14 satellite TV outlets. Now that the constitution is suspended, I suppose it is no longer an obstacle.

I’m curious if Radio Thailand will be on the air today–if so, I assume broadcasts will contain military sanctioned content. I would encourage you to tune to Radio Thailand and, if possible, even record a broadcast to archive if they are indeed on the air.

The following is Radio Thailand‘s English broadcast schedule per Shortwave.am:

  • 9390 kHz, 1230-1300 UTC, Target: Oceania
  • 9390 kHz, 1400-1430 UTC, Target: Oceania
  • 9390 kHz, 1900-2000 UTC, Target: Europe
  • 9390 kHz, 2030-2045 UTC, Target: Europe
  • 15590 kHz, 0000-0030 UTC, Target: Eastern North America
  • 15590 kHz, 0030-0100 UTC, Target: Western North America
  • 15590 kHz, 0200-0230 UTC, Target: Eastern North America
  • 17640 kHz, 0530-0600 UTC, Target: Europe

Thailand is no stranger to full-blown military coups; this is their twelfth since 1932. I’ll be following this story closely as events unfold.

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Cameroon takes a note from Mugabe, shuts down 11 media outlets

cm-map

Cameroon (Source: CIA)

While I certainly can’t confirm they got the idea from Robert Mugabe, nonetheless, it seems more than coincidental that as Cameroon enters an election cycle, the government is closing down media outlets that journalists describe as critical of the current government.

(Source: VOA via Andy Sennitt)

Cameroon’s National Communications Council has closed down 11 newspapers, television and radio stations, for what it describes as disrespect of ethics and professional norms. But journalists say these private media outlets are being silenced because they are critical of the government.

On Friday morning, Cameroon’s state radio CRTV announced the suspension of three radio stations, a television station and seven newspapers.  The report said Cameroon’s National Communications Council also suspended a journalist and two publishers.

The journalists and media organs were accused of failing to respect professional norms and ethics. But Ngah Christian Mpipgo, publisher of the Guardian Post— one of the suspended newspapers — called the act an abuse of press freedom.

“I mean, I look at it as some kind of repression,” he said. “It is understood that the Guardian Post is too critical of government action, and then coming at a time when we are preparing for elections, I have to just conclude that it is a way of stopping us from exposing a well-planned government rigging machinery,” said Ngah.

The publisher said the law stated publishers should be informed and warned before any government sanctions were meted out.  But that was never done.

“We have never received a warning,” he said.

However, some journalists said the Communications Council had called on media practitioners to be more professional, but the calls were largely ignored.

Simon Lyonga, president of the Yaounde chapter of the Cameroon Association of English-Speaking Journalists, said that many of those working in Cameroon’s media industry were, in his word, quacks.

“We are in a profession where anybody comes in, they usually do not know the ethics of the profession and so go against it.  So I think if somebody is sanctioned for not respecting the ethics of the profession, to me [that] is not press censorship,” said Lyonga.

Some media outlets in Cameroon have published articles warning of alleged actions by the government to rig upcoming municipal and council elections in favor of the ruling party, Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement.

Kilian Ngalla, a journalist who has been closely observing these developments, said the closure of the media outfits could be interpreted as an initiative to silence critical voices.

“At a time elections are coming, it is curious that the government chooses this time to start banning press organs.  When you look at the composition of the National Communication Council, the president there is appointed by the president of the republic. And that director is executing the opinion of the head of state.  I think they are actually gagging the press,” he said.

The suspension order said that except for one radio station, the media outlets may be re-opened next month – after the September 30 elections.

I’ve added this article to a growing list tagged: Why Shortwave Radio?

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Cambodia bans foreign radio in advance of elections

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

(Source: Radio Free Asia)

The Cambodian government has ordered local radio stations to stop broadcasting foreign programs ahead of general elections in a move widely seen as a major setback to media freedom in the country and aimed at stifling the voice of the opposition.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s administration on Tuesday asked all FM stations to cease rebroadcasting Khmer-language radio programs by foreign broadcasters in the run-up to the July 28 elections, saying the move was aimed at “forbidding” foreigners in Cambodia from campaigning for any group in the polls.

Local stations who flout the order face legal action.

“Upon receiving this directive, I would like to ask that all the directors of FM station to implement it accordingly,” acting Information Minister Ouk Pratna said in issuing the order.”If any station doesn’t follow this directive, the Ministry of Information will take legal action against it according to the existing law.”

Khmer programs of at least three foreign broadcasters—U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA), as well as Radio Australia—will be barred from being aired under the directive.

Three other foreign broadcasters—the state-run Voice of Vietnam and China Radio International and French public radio station RFI—will not be affected as they operate their own stations in Cambodia.

Move ‘questions legitimacy’ of elections

The U.S. government immediately lodged a protest with the Cambodian authorities over the directive, saying it will throw in doubt the legitimacy of the elections, in which Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is widely expected to win, enabling him to extend his 28 years in power.

The CPP has won the last two polls by a landslide despite allegations of fraud and election irregularities.

“The directive is a flagrant infringement on freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and is yet another incident that starkly contradicts the spirit of a healthy democratic process,” John Simmons, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, said in a statement.

“While Royal Government officials at the highest levels have publicly expressed an intention to conduct free and fair elections, these media restrictions, and other efforts to limit freedom of expression, will seriously call into question the legitimacy of the electoral process,” he said.

About 10 local FM stations carry Khmer programs by RFA, which also broadcasts on shortwave in Cambodia.

RFA said in a statement that it “remains committed to bringing objective, accurate, and balanced election coverage to the people of Cambodia at this critical time” and vowed that it “will do so on every delivery platform available.”

“The Ministry of Information’s directive doesn’t stem from complaints of programming irregularities, but rather is a blatant strategy to silence the types of disparate and varied voices that characterize an open and free society,” it said.

Beehive Radio

Mam Sonando, a Cambodian activist who runs the independent Beehive Radio and an ardent critic of Hun Sen’s administration, called the ban “illegal” and “childish” but added that he would comply with the order.

He said the order would hurt political parties scrambling to convey their messages to the people ahead of the elections.

Mam Sonando, who owns Beehive Radio, told RFA earlier this week that the Information Ministry is restricting overseas groups from buying airtime at Beehive Radio and had turned down requests to set up relay stations to beam to the provinces.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was puzzled by the Cambodian government’s suggestion of foreign meddling in the elections.

“There has been no history in Cambodia of foreigners participating on a partisan basis in elections,” said Brad Adams, executive director of Asia Division. “What this is really about is they don’t want foreigners coming in and observing the elections and then doing their job independently and professionally and then reporting their results.”

He said the Hun Sen government was trying to prevent reporting of events leading up to the elections.

“It’s about the fact that they know the elections are going to be very poor—they are structurally poor, they are poor in implementation and poor in practice and they don’t want this reported,” Adams said.

“The problem is that the world doesn’t work like that anymore. They can’t keep the eyes and ears of the world out. So, the reality is going to be reported.”

The Cambodian government has ordered local radio stations to stop broadcasting foreign programs ahead of general elections in a move widely seen as a major setback to media freedom in the country and aimed at stifling the voice of the opposition.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s administration on Tuesday asked all FM stations to cease rebroadcasting Khmer-language radio programs by foreign broadcasters in the run-up to the July 28 elections, saying the move was aimed at “forbidding” foreigners in Cambodia from campaigning for any group in the polls.

Local stations who flout the order face legal action.

“Upon receiving this directive, I would like to ask that all the directors of FM station to implement it accordingly,” acting Information Minister Ouk Pratna said in issuing the order.”If any station doesn’t follow this directive, the Ministry of Information will take legal action against it according to the existing law.”

Khmer programs of at least three foreign broadcasters—U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA), as well as Radio Australia—will be barred from being aired under the directive.

Three other foreign broadcasters—the state-run Voice of Vietnam and China Radio International and French public radio station RFI—will not be affected as they operate their own stations in Cambodia.

Move ‘questions legitimacy’ of elections

The U.S. government immediately lodged a protest with the Cambodian authorities over the directive, saying it will throw in doubt the legitimacy of the elections, in which Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is widely expected to win, enabling him to extend his 28 years in power.

The CPP has won the last two polls by a landslide despite allegations of fraud and election irregularities.

“The directive is a flagrant infringement on freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and is yet another incident that starkly contradicts the spirit of a healthy democratic process,” John Simmons, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, said in a statement.

“While Royal Government officials at the highest levels have publicly expressed an intention to conduct free and fair elections, these media restrictions, and other efforts to limit freedom of expression, will seriously call into question the legitimacy of the electoral process,” he said.

About 10 local FM stations carry Khmer programs by RFA, which also broadcasts on shortwave in Cambodia.

RFA said in a statement that it “remains committed to bringing objective, accurate, and balanced election coverage to the people of Cambodia at this critical time” and vowed that it “will do so on every delivery platform available.”

“The Ministry of Information’s directive doesn’t stem from complaints of programming irregularities, but rather is a blatant strategy to silence the types of disparate and varied voices that characterize an open and free society,” it said.

Mam Sonando

Mam Sonando, a Cambodian activist who runs the independent Beehive Radio and an ardent critic of Hun Sen’s administration, called the ban “illegal” and “childish” but added that he would comply with the order.

He said the order would hurt political parties scrambling to convey their messages to the people ahead of the elections.

Mam Sonando, who owns Beehive Radio, told RFA earlier this week that the Information Ministry is restricting overseas groups from buying airtime at Beehive Radio and had turned down requests to set up relay stations to beam to the provinces.

Election reporting

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was puzzled by the Cambodian government’s suggestion of foreign meddling in the elections.

“There has been no history in Cambodia of foreigners participating on a partisan basis in elections,” said Brad Adams, executive director of HRW’s Asia division. “What this is really about is they don’t want foreigners coming in and observing the elections and then doing their job independently and professionally and reporting their results.”

He said the Hun Sen government was trying to prevent reporting of events leading up to the elections.

“It’s about the fact that they know the elections are going to be very poor—they are structurally poor, they are poor in implementation and poor in practice and they don’t want this reported,” Adams said.

Cambodian Center for Independent Media Director Pa Nguon Teang said the ban was aimed at curbing the views of the opposition in the country.

Freedom of the press has increasingly declined in the country, with reporters exposing government corruption and other illegal activity coming under deadly attack and facing death threats, including from the authorities, according to a rights group and local journalists.

Stifling ‘opposition radio’

Pa Nguon Teang felt the directive was specifically aimed at RFA and VOA.

“The ban intends to stifle the voice of RFA and VOA because the government has regarded the two stations as opposition radio stations,” he said, adding that by preventing local stations from carrying programs by the two entities, the government believes it can “silence” the opposition parties.

Local rights group Adhoc’s chief investigator Ny Chakriya said the ministry’s ban is “not based on any applicable laws,” pointing out that “it is illegal and can’t be enforced.”

“The ban is against the constitution because the constitution guarantees freedom of expression,” he said.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh, director of the Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, also called the move a violation of the constitution.

“Any order preventing media dissemination is against the constitution,” he said.

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Vuthy Huot and Samean Yun. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

Andy Sennitt (with Focus Asia Pacific) points out that VOA has many affiliate stations in Cambodia that will be affected. VOA still plans to broadcast election coverage on medium wave and shortwave, however.

If this sounds all too familiar, you might remember Zimbabwe’s radio ban earlier this year.

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Syria loses the Internet (again)

SyriaMapThis week one of my favorite public radio programs, Marketplace, aired an interview with Matthew Prince, CEO of website security firm CloudFlare. Marketplace’s host, Kai Ryssdal, asked Price why Syria’s Internet is so vulnerable to shut-down. You see, on Tuesday Syria’s Internet had completely shut down by 2:48 PM EST and remained down for a total of 19 hours. Price’s explanation:

“Certain countries have limited access to the internet. In the case of Syria, there are only four connection points, and they’re all run by the national Syrian telecommunications company.”

Interesting.  Other countries that are similarly vulnerable include Greenland, Cuba, North Korea, Libya, and Tunisia.

photo (1)A few months ago, I wrote a post on this very topic, entitled: Syria stifles the Internet while Canada stifles shortwave. I’m pleased and gratified that Popular Communications Magazine picked up my article; it’s published in their April 2013 issue.

Shortwave radio is not the solution to all communications needs, of course, but it is certainly the only international broadcast medium I know of that is impossible for a country like Syria to completely shut down. As I’ve said before, shortwave radio has no regard for national borders, requires no subscription, no apps, no computers, and is nearly impossible to trace to the individual(s) using it.  It is free speech, for free.

For more insight into Syria’s insecure Internet, listen to this full segment from Marketplace via the embedded player below:

Tagged under our growing category: Why Shortwave Radio?

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RNW looks into Zimbabwe’s history of media repression

Zimbabwe-MapIronically, Radio Netherlands Worldwide was once an international voice for those living without free press. In the following RNW article,  Dlamini points out that technology is advancing at a rapid pace and media outlets increasing; however, radio remains the most accessible means of receiving news and information, and unlike technologies that rely on the Internet and mobile phone networks, radio listening cannot be easily traced or monitored by those in power.

It is my sincere hope that, somehow, RNW’s voice will once again find the means to speak for those in need of free press.

Even 33 years after winning the fight for independence, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe remains a harsh critic of the white colonial government’s system. But with his recent ban on radios, he is imposing the same oppressive tactics that he himself once fought against to liberate his people.

By Nkosana Dlamini, Harare

As I write, Zimbabwe’s statutes are being stiffened with the state oppression that Mugabe himself once fought against. A case in point is the state’s recent banning of small wind-up radios with a short-wave dial.

To understand better, let’s first rewind a few decades…

Chiefs and Commandos
Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, gained independence in 1980 after a protracted guerrilla war. At its peak, in the 1970s, the two main fighting movements, ZIPRA and ZANLA, established exiled radio stations in neighbouring countries where their fighters received training. These stations broadcast into Zimbabwe via short and medium-wave. It was the way to communicate with the local villagers who supported the war by sharing intelligence and foodstuffs.

But in a bid to thwart enemy operations, Ian Smith, the last white Rhodesian ruler, developed strategies that forced radios to be fitted with frequency modulation (FM), as opposed to short wave.

Manufactured by local Zimbabwean firms, Smith’s FM radio sets were branded with the name ‘Chief’.[…]Other radios were manufactured under the name ‘Commando’ and distributed to soldiers in the bush. The government’s intention here was to keep spirits up with music and programmes in which troops could request favourite songs and relay messages about their welfare to loved ones.

Mugabe’s heavy hand
Smith claimed – as Mugabe does now – to be shielding people from pirate stations broadcasting hate speech. In both eras, locals have been instilled with fear. They have had to resort to listening to exiled stations from under the blankets and in their barns, anxious that their neighbours might see them using forbidden radios.

[…]Even under Zimbabwe’s stringent laws today, it is not a crime to own a radio receiver. But, by day, Mugabe’s state agents confiscate the radios and harass citizens found in possession of them – a practice that gets revved up each time a Zimbabwean election looms. By night, the same agents return home to tune into exiled stations via the radios they’ve confiscated. In some instances, they distribute them among their relatives.

The state says it is confiscating the receivers because they are being brought into the country by NGOs without paying a customs fee. In some instances, the do admit they are trying to prevent ordinary citizens from accessing exiled Zimbabwean radio stations through shortwave – a unique feature in these radios.

In other ways, too, Mugabe has proven worse than his predecessor. He has made repeated attempts to scramble these stations’ signals. He is also allegedly responsible for the 2002 bombing of exiled station Radio Voice of the People and the 2000 and 2001 bombings of independent newspaper The Daily News.

Today’s listener
But Mugabe may be fighting a losing battle. Technological advances are no longer so slow. Today’s listener is not only more stubborn, but also more able to access alternative media sources such as the internet and digital satellite broadcasters.

Radio is also accessible via cell phone and computer. Most Zimbabweans now own cheap Asian-import cars fitted with radios that can access Studio 7, the exiled station most despised by Mugabe which has coverage even wider than that of the FM state broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC). Radio Voice of the People and Short Wave Radio Africa are two other exiled stations that attract a generous listenership.

And the stricter Mugabe gets about the ban’s imposition, the more ravenous becomes the appetite of Zimbabwean citizens. They want to hear precisely what the state broadcaster cannot – or will not – put in their domain.

(Source: RNW)

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