Tag Archives: Press Freedom

BBC World Service: new shortwave services to Ethiopia and Eritrea

Note that, in terms of press freedoms, Reporters Without Borders ranks Eritrea the second most repressive country in the world, next to North Korea.

(Source: BBC Media Centre)

BBC World Service continues expansion with new services for Ethiopia and Eritrea

Three new language services for Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the diaspora are being launched today by the BBC World Service as part of its biggest expansion since the 1940s.
BBC News in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya will be available online and on Facebook. This will be followed later in the year with shortwave radio services in each language consisting of a 15-minute news and current affairs programme, followed by a 5-minute Learning English programme, from Monday to Friday.

The new BBC services will provide impartial news, current affairs and analysis of Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as regional and international news. Boosting the BBC’s operation in the Horn of Africa will also provide the rest of the BBC’s global audience with a better understanding of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Programmes will target a younger audience with social media playing a key role. In addition to news and current affairs, there will be extensive coverage of culture, entertainment, entrepreneurship, science & technology, health and sport – including the English Premier League.

These services will benefit from a growing network of journalists across the region and around the world.

Francesca Unsworth, BBC World Service Director, says: “The BBC World Service brings independent, impartial news to audiences around the world, especially in places where media freedom is limited. I’m delighted we’re extending our service to millions of people in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the diaspora worldwide.”

Will Ross, Editorial Lead for Africa, says: “We know that there is a great deal of hunger for audiences in Ethiopia and Eritrea to access a broad range of high quality content in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya. It has been a privilege to work with Ethiopian and Eritrean journalists who are so keen to learn new skills and to ensure the new language services are a success.”

RadioWorld: Radio Reaches Blocked Countries

(Source: RadioWorld via Southgate ARC)

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:
http://www.radioworld.com/global/0007/radio-reaches-blocked-countries/339993

Radio Erena “provides a voice for the voiceless”

(Source: Open Democracy)

Eritrean radio station Radio Erena provides a voice for the voiceless

Broadcasting from Paris, Fathi Osman’s Radio Erena challenges the government’s monopoly on truth and champions those who gave their lives for freedom of expression.

Last night turned out to mark a double-celebration for Eritrean journalist Fathi Osman. While the father-of-four nearly let his 51st birthday slip by unnoticed, he certainly couldn’t play down his radio station’s spectacular win at One World Media Awards in London’s BAFTA building.

Radio Erena (‘Our Eritrea’) broadcasts from Paris, where Fathi now lives with his wife and children, having fled the dictatorship five years ago. The station was founded in 2009 by the well-known exiled Eritrean journalist Biniam Simon, with support from Reporters Without Borders. The goal? To offer a lifeline of independent news, information and entertainment for Eritreans both in their homeland and worldwide.

As Fathi held out his hand to shake mine, he noticed his fingers were stained inky blue. “Ah, you can tell I’m a writer,” he observed with a smile. Currently Radio Erena’s Assistant Project Manager, in the past Fathi worked variously as a journalist and diplomat before he left the Eritrean embassy in Riyadh to seek safety in France. “I had developed ideas that the government did not accept,” he explained, “and you know, with these kinds of conflicts, in the end you will meet trouble.”

Fathi’s family was among more than 4,000 Eritreans who flee each month. And is it any wonder, given the UN June 2016 report that the regime has been responsible for crimes against humanity since 1991? Known globally as a predator of press freedom, President Isaias Afewerki has led Eritrea to be ranked consistently as the very lowest of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, though in 2017 the regime came second-last as North Korea deteriorated even further.

Afewerki’s purges in September 2001 ended Eritrea’s free press – by now, seven of the 11 journalists arrested at that point have died in detention. This year at least 15 journalists are believed to be detained without charge or trial. Dawit Isaak, a Swedish-Eritrean citizen who had returned to Eritrea to open Setit – the first independent newspaper there, has not once talked to a lawyer in 16 years of imprisonment. His fate is unclear.

Far from having deterred the four journalists based in Radio Erena’s newsroom (as well as their 25 or so correspondents worldwide), these appalling abuses have driven them to pour every effort into remedying the crackdown. The station broadcasts in Tigrinya and Arabic by satellite and short wave – and is available online or via a mobile phone app.

“Within the whole of Eritrea there’s only one radio station, one newspaper,” Fathi explained. “That means the ‘truth’ is dominated by the government. Radio Erena is working to counter that. We do everything, from exposing news that the government doesn’t want people to know, to hosting shows for singers and writers – and raising awareness of human rights is very important to us.”[…]

Continue reading the full article on Open Democracy’s website. 

Note: Radio Erena can be heard on 11,965 kHz between 1700-1800 UTC. They broadcast from Kostinbrod in Sofia, Bulgaria with 50 KW.

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.”

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CNN to stop broadcasts in Russia

CNN-International

Many thanks to Jonathan Marks who shares this breaking news item via BBC Monitoring:

CNN to stop broadcasting in Russia at end of year

Text of report by Russian state-owned TASS news agency (formerly ITAR-TASS)

Moscow, 10 November. Roskomnadzor [the Russian Federal Service for Supervision in Telecommunications, Information Technology and Mass Communications] has nothing to do with the stopping of broadcasts by the TV news channel CNN International on Russian cable networks, Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonskiy has told TASS.

“You should ask CNN’s shareholders about the reasons why the channel is stopping broadcasts,” Ampelonskiy said.

A source who is familiar with CNN’s business in Russia told TASS that CNN is stopping broadcasts on Russian cable networks for commercial reasons.

CNN is distributed in Russia on the cable and satellite networks of operators of subscription television such as Akado, Vympelkom, NTV and others.

The fact that CNN will stop broadcasting on cable networks in Russia from 31 December 2014 is stated in a letter from Turner Broadcasting System Europe (CNN’s owner), a copy of which TASS has. “With this letter we inform you that Turner is stopping the distribution of the CNN International television channel on the territory of the Russian Federation from 31 December 2014,” the letter says. The letter does not give the reasons for the decision. Turner Broadcasting System’s managing director in the CIS, Tatyana Kalita, declined to comment.

Akado and Vympelkom confirmed to TASS that they had received the letter. “Yes, we received the letter. We hope that next year the channel will broadcast on the territory of Russia again,” Vympelkom’s press service said.

Source: TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 2142 GMT 10 Nov 14

Jonathan also points out this article, which links the cessation of CNN broadcasts to a new law Putin has enacted:

(Source: Advertising Age magazine)

CNN, the cable news channel owned by Time Warner, will stop broadcasting in Russia after a new law was passed that limits foreign ownership in media companies.
Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting division said it hopes to resume broadcasting eventually, according to an e-mailed statement. The move was first reported by Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper. CNN’s Moscow bureau operations are unaffected, according to the statement.

“Turner International is assessing its distribution options for CNN in Russia in light of recent changes in Russian media legislation,” Turner wrote in the statement. “We are bringing our existing distribution relationships to an end while we do that. We hope to re-enter the market in due course, and will notify our partners of any update about resuming these services.” 

Last month, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that requires Russian media with foreign owners to reduce non-Russian ownership to 20% by the end of 2016.

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