Tag Archives: International Broadcasting

Australia: International broadcasting, soft power and the wisdom of the crowd

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Nigel Holmes, who writes:

Here are a couple of interesting url following the joint Australian DFAT & DCA Review of Broadcasting Services in the Asia Pacific. [One] gives a good overview and the [other] is a concise assessment of HF and Radio Australia in the role of broadcasting to remote areas. Have a look. Former RA Head Jean-Gabriel Manguy made a submission, I did not this time. The submissions are in the public domain.

Click here to read Trevor Bird’s submission (PDF).

Click here to read Jean-Gabriel Manguy’s submission (PDF).

(Source: Lowy Institute – The Interpreter by Geoff Heriot)

International broadcasting: the ABC vs the wisdom of the crowd

The findings of two related government reviews – on international broadcasting, and soft power – should offer an incoming Australian government the potential of a substantial policy reset following the general election in May. Specifically, they may help clarify the purpose and place of state-funded international broadcasting/digital media in Australia’s foreign relations, following a decades-long cycle of investment and dis-investment.

Shortly before Christmas, the Department of Communications published most of the 433 submissions (92 private individuals, 31 organisations or groups, and 310 signatories to a pro-forma submission) made to the first of those reviews, Australian Broadcasting Services in the Asia Pacific, excluding those whose authors wished them to remain confidential. Finalisation of the broadcasting report precedes the related Soft Power Review, being undertaken by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has proposed a completion date of around March.

So it is timely to take note of the wisdom of the crowd, as expressed through the more discursive submissions to the broadcasting review, and to compare them with the institutional perspective of the ABC as the responsible agency for international broadcasting.[…]

Click here to read the full article.

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China consolidates three national networks to form the Voice of China

China Radio International will become a part of the new Voice of China.

(Source: CNN Money via Cap Tux)

Beijing has a new propaganda weapon: Voice of China

China is creating a new giant broadcaster to ensure its voice is heard loud and clear around the world.

Voice of China, as the new outlet will be known internationally, will be formed by combining three mammoth state-run national networks: China Central Television (CCTV), China National Radio and China Radio International. It will employ more than 14,000 people.

The merger was revealed in a Communist Party document on a sprawling government reorganization program, championed by President Xi Jinping to reinforce the party’s absolute control in all aspects of state governance.

State news agency Xinhua released the document Wednesday after it was approved by China’s rubber-stamp parliament.

With echos of the Voice of America radio service created by the US government during World War II, Voice of China is tasked with “propagating the party’s theories, directions, principles and policies” as well as “telling good China stories,” according to the document.

It will be under the direct control of the party’s central propaganda department.

The new broadcast juggernaut is being formed at a time when Chinese authorities face growing challenges to control their message in the age of the internet and social media. They are making strenuous efforts to maintain strict censorship at home while pouring money into propaganda projects abroad.[…]

Click here to read the full article at CCN Money.

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RFE/Radio Liberty add transmitter in Lithuania

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Kim Elliott, who notes that Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty have added a new transmitter in Lithuania:

(Source: The Baltic Course)

A new transmitter will be launched in Lithuania this week for broadcasting the Russian and Belarusian-language services of the US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) aimed at countering Russian propaganda, reports LETA/BNS.

It will replace a 52-year-old transmitter in Sitkunai, close to Kaunas, that has been transmitting programs for listeners in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova at a lower quality.

The medium wave (AM) transmitter was manufactured some five years ago and was used by the US Defense Department in Western Germany to broadcast a radio program for American troops stationed abroad.

The transmitting power of the new device is set at 75 kilowatts, the same as that of the old one, but it can be increased up to 300 kilowatts if needed, Rimantas Pleikys, the owner of Radio Baltic Waves International, said.[…]

Continue reading…

Kim noted that the US Embassy in Vilnius also reported on the RFE tower dedication. Click here to read the post.

Thanks for sharing, Kim!

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Symposium marking the 90th anniversary of international radio broadcasting in the Netherlands

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jonathan Marks, who shares the following details about the ‘Keep in touch with the Dutch’: Symposium marking the ninetieth anniversary of international radio broadcasting in the Netherlands, 1927-2017:

(Source: Historici.nl via Jonathan Marks)

‘Keep in touch with the Dutch’:

Symposium marking the ninetieth anniversary of international radio broadcasting in the Netherlands, 1927-2017

Thursday 1 June 2017, 2-5pm

Doelenzaal, Singel 425 Amsterdam

On 1 June 1927 Queen Wilhelmina officially inaugurated international radio broadcasting from the Netherlands with a speech to listeners in the Dutch colonies. This transmission attracted attention from all over the world as it was one of the first times that sound had been transmitted via radio waves across such a distance. In the decades that followed Dutch radio-makers continued to play a pioneering role in international broadcasting, experimenting with new technologies and programming formats. This symposium aims to highlight several themes from this rich history and explore source-materials in order to think about a research agenda in this field and new broadcasting techniques in the digital age.

Program

  • 2.00-2.15pm: Vincent Kuitenbrouwer (University of Amsterdam)
    Introduction
  • 2.15-2.45pm: Bas Agterberg (Beeld en Geluid)
    Everybody Happy? Archiving RNW and the Heritage of Eddy Startz at Sound and Vision
  • 2.45-3.00pm: break
  • 3.00-3.30pm: Jonathan Marks (CEO Critical Distance)
    International Radio Broadcasting in the Era of Amazon Echo
  • 3.30-4.00pm: Rocus de Joode (Independent Consultant at JRCC)
    The Importance of Shortwave, the Madagascar Relay station Now and Then
  • 4.00-4.15pm: break
  • 4.15-5.00pm: Panel: International radio in the digital age
    – Alec Badenoch (University of Utrecht/Vrije Universiteit): Radio Garden
    – Leon Willems and Suzanne Bakker (Free Press Unlimited): Radio Dabanga
  • 5.00-6.00pm: drinks reception

Please register

Vincent Kuitenbrouwer, History Department, University of Amsterdam
Email: j.j.v.kuitenbrouwer@uva.nl

This symposium is sponsored by the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH) and the Modern History Research Group

If I lived within a reasonable distance of Amsterdam, I would certainly attend this afternoon symposium.  Impressive line-up!

Thank you for sharing, Jonathan!

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Radio Free Europe receives offhand mention in Senate hearing on Russian Hacking

Many thanks SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who writes:

[While passing by the TV at just the right time] I heard an interesting little 16 seconds of exchange in the Senate Russian Hacking hearings.

The exchange take place between Lindsey Graham and James Clapper from 1:57:40 to 1:58:24:

Click here to view on YouTube.

In this short exchange, which starts by Graham asking, “Would you agree with me that Radio Free Europe is outdated?” We learn that Clapper isn’t “familiar” with Radio Free Europe and both of them admit that they don’t listen to the radio (though Clapper believes it’s popular in some parts of the world).

Graham: “Is radio big in your world?”

Clapper: “Not in my world.”

Graham: “Yeah, I don’t listen to the radio so much either.”

Well…glad we sorted that out, gentlemen.


UPDATE — Kim Andrew Elliott comments:

That exchange might explain why the RFE/RL Press Room sent out this email on January 5…

Facts about Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

(WASHINGTON – January 5, 2017) RFE/RL serves a measured audience of 27 million people a week in 23 nations and territories by video, social networks, mobile apps, websites, podcasts and radio – whatever media they use most. From its Prague headquarters and 18 news bureaus, it provides local news and information in 26 languages to the nations of the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, including a round-the-clock Russian-language television channel.

Through last September, RFE/RL recorded one billion page views on its websites, 300 million views on YouTube and 225 million engaged users on Facebook, plus many more visits and views on other social networks and apps.

“RFE/RL’s audience is highly loyal, making their way to us despite efforts by some governments to jam us on the internet and over the air, and even to directly intimidate viewers and listeners,” said Thomas Kent, president and CEO of RFE/RL. “They find us an indispensable source of news and investigative journalism, constantly adapting to the most modern platforms to reach them.”

About RFE/RL

RFE/RL is a private, independent international news organization whose programs — radio, internet, television, and mobile — reach 27 million people in 26 languages and 23 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus, and the Baltic states. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

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Farewell, Firewall: Kim Elliott’s take on what the NDAA means for US international broadcasting

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (Photo BBG)

(Source: USC Center on Public Diplomacy)

Farewell, Firewall

Deep in the massive FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act is a provision to eliminate, in its present form, the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors. The NDAA has been passed by the House and the Senate and is expected to be signed by President Obama. The BBG is the topmost authority of the elements of U.S. government-funded international broadcasting: Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Martí, and the Arabic-language Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa. Together they broadcast in 61 languages.

This BBG’s demise eliminates the “firewall” of a nine-person bipartisan board with fixed and staggered terms, and replaces it with one politically-appointed CEO. This change will have consequences.

Traditionally, people around the world huddled around a shortwave radio to get news from abroad. Increasingly, they watch an international news channel via cable or satellite television, or access a foreign website or social media outlet. Whatever the medium used, the need for a credible alternative to domestic state-controlled media is the main reason international broadcasting has had an audience since the 1930s.

Credibility is the essence of successful international broadcasting. The shortwave frequencies, satellite channels, and online media are full of propaganda, but serious news consumers seek out the news organizations that they trust.

International broadcasting in languages such as Burmese or Hausa has little commercial potential. National governments must step in to provide the funding. The foremost challenge is to ensure that the journalism is independent from the governments that hold the purse strings.

To achieve this, there is no substitute for a multipartisan governing board. Its main function is to appoint the senior managers of the broadcasting organization, so that politicians don’t. This is how “public service” broadcasting corporations throughout the world, e.g. BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, maintain their independence.

When a government is directly involved in the production of news, the results are generally deleterious. The outcome can be as extreme as the lies and distortions of German broadcasts before and during World War II. Or the output can be something like the stultifying commentaries that filled much of Radio Moscow’s schedule during the Cold War. And, as can be observed by watching Russia’s RT or China’s CCTV News on cable TV, propaganda can also be manifest by emphasizing some topics, while downplaying or ignoring others.[…]

Read Elliott’s full article on the USC Center on Public Diplomacy website…

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How to Identify Changes in Station Schedules

The shortwave bands are in a constant state of flux. And radio reception varies with the seasons. As a result, radio stations often need to alter their frequencies and times for best all-year-round reception at the listener’s location. There are two seasonal changeovers: the “A” transmission period coincides with the northern hemisphere summer (March to October), and the “B” transmission schedule for the winter period (October to March). Leading up to these changeovers, broadcasters plan their schedules for the coming season. The B16 transmission season began last weekend.

Want to improve your understanding of shortwave propagation characteristics? Study a few of the strategies employed by broadcast engineers at international radio stations during the twice yearly schedule changeovers. You’ll quickly learn much about how it all works!

Frequency changes by international broadcasters allow you the opportunity to observe the factors that come into play at BOTH the transmitter site and the reception target zone in another part of the world. Broadly speaking, we know that when winter arrives reception of the higher frequencies declines and the lower frequencies provide better reception. The reverse applies in summer – reception on the higher frequencies are enhanced and ionospheric absorption of signals increases at lower frequencies.

In addition, these characteristics change for both daytime and nighttime reception in summer and winter. Furthermore, some interesting reception opportunities occur in certain regions of the world during the summer and winter equinoxes. On top of this, factor in the 11-year sunspot cycle and the current monthly smoothed sunspot number (SSN). So, station engineers have quite a few variables to consider while selecting their preferred shortwave bands when targeting their signals to the listener’s location in some other part of the world! Perhaps one could even consider that these calculations as both a science and an art!

hfcc-big-logo

Next, the engineers representing each station have to sit down with their colleagues (competitors?) from other broadcasters and negotiate suitable frequency allocations in each of the preferred bands. This is why we have the existence of the High Frequency Coordination Committee (HFCC). Working together to find and register suitable frequencies that don’t interfere with other transmissions is an important part of successfully ensuring that everyone “wins”. The HFCC describes its role this way:

The main objective of the HFCC is to provide the representation and services for the promotion of an efficient and economical use of the short-wave radio spectrum, and the improvement of radio reception of shortwave broadcast transmissions worldwide……

HFCC’s main activity is a direct coordination of frequencies among frequency managers and specialists of broadcasters, administrations, transmission service providers and other organisations with the aim to facilitate the resolution or minimisation of mutual interference on short waves…..

Membership of the HFCC is open to all individuals and organisations that provide frequency management and planning for recognised shortwave broadcasters.

And it has to be said that the HFCC does a very good job at trying to resolve potential conflicts and clashes in frequency registration. But we didn’t always have this informal governing body. HFCC was only formed in 1990. Prior to that, there was much “rough and tumble” as stations tried to sort it out for themselves and avoid getting in each others way. Remember also, in the 1970s and 80’s there were many more shortwave broadcasters than there are today, each with very large operating schedules. For younger readers here, imagine the international bands being six or seven times busier than they are today!

Understanding propagation characteristics, frequency allocation, antenna beam headings, different time zones and many other aspects of international broadcasting have been a source of fascination for me, both as a shortwave listener and as an amateur (ham) radio operator.

Here are some things to consider when monitoring the change in transmission seasons:

    • Learn the basics of shortwave propagation and the characteristics on display over a 24-hour period, seasonally, annually, and within the sunspot cycle. It’s a big topic and takes a while to really absorb it all!
  • Familiarise yourself with which part of the spectrum the broadcaster can be expected to successfully utilise during a certain season.
    • When finding a station on a new frequency (NF), try to locate and note down the formerly used frequency. Sometimes, that same station will return to the deleted frequency at the start of the next season (the next half of the year).
    • Noting the deleted frequency often reveals that another station has taken up position on that channel.
    • Check to see if the same transmitter site is used for the NF. With so many stations using a variety of relay sites these days, you cannot just assume that the same relay is being used for the NF as it was for the old frequency.
    • Some station schedules are complicated and can be hard to decipher. Time changes, language changes, an increase or decrease in the number of frequencies the station employs for a particular service, daily broadcasts, weekends only, weekdays only, or only certains days of the week can make it tricky to reveal how the NF relates to the old frequency. Expect that you might sometimes get it wrong!
    • A few stations (e.g. China Radio International or Radio Free Asia) use so many outlets for some broadcasts that it can be too hard to tell what was the replaced frequency. In those cases, I just throw up my hands and move on!
  • Maybe the target location of the broadcast has changed. Checking the transmitter’s azimuth beam headings can help here.

Like other “old dudes”, I have spent many years observing and documenting the schedule changes of shortwave broadcasters. This is a part of the hobby that I personally find quite absorbing. However, I’m aware that it’s probably NOT something that some others might enjoy quite so much!

Since the B16 changes came in one week ago, I have been busy monitoring the bands to find the NFs and the deleted frequencies (the ex’s) and any other variations to the broadcasting schedules of each station.

There are HUNDREDS of changes to discover. But I can’t find them all – I also have to eat, sleep, and get on with life!

However, here is a list of the 93 observations I have made over just the past few days:

NOTE: Frequencies in kHz, Times in UTC
ABBREVIATIONS: NF = New Frequency, ex = deleted frequency, QRM = interference, // = another or parallel frequency used at the same time, As = Asia, SEAs = South East Asia, etc. Af = Africa, WAf = West Africa, etc. Eu = Europe, EEu = Eastern Europe, etc. NAm = Nth America, ENAm = Eastern Nth America, etc. Oc = Oceania
FORMAT: Freq – Country of Transmitter site – Station Name – Transmitter Location – comments.

5885 NTH MARIANA IS. RFA – Tinian. Korean to EAs at 1710, NF and good signal, Nov 4.

5910 OMAN. BBC – Al Seela. S/on 1700 in Dari to SEAs, NF, good signal, Nov 4.

5955 ROMANIA. RRI – Tiganesti. Italian to SEu, 1715, NF (ex 5910) and fair signal, Nov 4.

5965 NTH MARIANA IS. RFA – Tinian. Mandarin at 2030, NF and heavy jamming, Oct 31.

5970 TURKEY. VoT – Emirler. French to Eu, 2035, NF (ex 9635), fair signal Oct 31.

5980 TURKEY. VoT – Emirler. Turkish to Eu 2005, NF (ex 9460), good signal, Oct 31.

5990 ROMANIA. RRI – Galbeni. Romanian to Eu, 2040 to s/off 2100, NF (Believed to be ex 9500), good signal, Oct 31.

6010 CHINA. CRI – Urumqi. S/on 1800 in Amoy (Min Nan Chinese), NF (ex 13700) fair signal but QRM from Korean jamming on 6015, Nov 4.

6025 IRAN. VOIRI – Sirjan. German to Eu at s/on 1720, NF (ex 9660), good signal, Nov. 4

6040 CHINA. CRI – Urumqi. Russian to EEu at 1745 to s/off 1757, NF (possibly ex 11875 for this txer site) and excellent signal Nov 4.

6050 TURKEY. VoT – Emirler. English to Eu at 2015 to s/off 2025, NF (ex 9785), fair signal, Oct 31.

6060 IRAN. VOIRI – Zhaedan. Arabic to NAf at 1802, NF (ex 7285), fair signal, Nov 4.

6070 CHINA. CRI – Beijing. Russian to EEu at 1815, NF (ex 9560), very good signal Nov 4.

6090 OMAN. BBC – Al Seela. English WS to CAs and ME, 1820, NF (ex 7375), good signal and // 6195 also heard via Al Seela, Nov 4.

6100 CHINA. CRI – Beijing. English to Eu at 1800-1900, NF (ex 9600), excellent signal and // 7405 (via Beijing) which is also a NF and well heard on Nov 4.

Click here to continue reading the remaining 78 new frequency observations

 

2016-shack-part-shot-3

Part of Rob’s shack. Top Row: Two power supplies. Middle Row: Bose powered speaker, Kenwood R5000 receiver. Bottom Row: Kenwood TS2000 transceiver, Yaesu FRG100 receiver.

Rob Wagner, VK3BVW, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. He also blogs at the Mount Evelyn DX Report.

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