Monday, July 21, 2014

MN. 21.12.1989. US Invades Panama

We live in troubled times (again). Bumped into a Media Network programme recorded in December 1989. We were reporting on the media surrounding the US intervention into Panama to capture Manuel Noriega. Listener Al Quagleri tipped us off after monitoring airforce communications from Albrook Airforce Base in Panama. Lou Josephs helped us unravel the media plan, which revealed the involvement of Pentagon backed Radio Impacto as well as extended broadcasts from the Spanish service of Voice of America. We also looked at the serious situation developing in Romania and the involvement of Radio Free Europe and the plans to build a 34 million dollar shortwave facility in Israel. Note the comment that people in Europe no longer listen to shortwave, so that FM was important. We called KNLS in, Anchor Point, Alaska and talked to Dave Stuart about the volcano that's been erupting. Arthur Cushen sent in Christmas greetings. And there are changes to report at Radio Australia. They were celebrating 50 years of their existence. Andy Sennitt was celebrating the new office in Amsterdam.
I think this is a good example of a listener-driven media show, about 6 years before the Internet started appearing in peoples' homes. This was the era when radio was the Internet.

This episode is hosted on the Media Network vintage vault

MN.12.10.1989 Vilnius & VOA Bethany

Interesting programme which revealed that Radio Vilnius, Lithuania was no longer using material sent to the station from Radio Moscow. We also profiled the early days of Voice of America transmitting station in Bethany, Ohio which had recently closed down. Some nice clips, from when the shortwave bands were today's Internet - open to be explored.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

MN.02.06.1983 HCJB Quito

This is a very early Media Network from the summer of 1983. Yes, the presentation is dated and it has nothing like the pace of later programmes in the series. But it is interesting none the less. I recall the indepth interview about what HCJB was building in Pifo, near Quito Ecuador. The photo shows the studio buildings in downtown Quito which I remember visiting years later in 1995. And Professor John Campbell had some excellent insights into the clandestine radio scene in North Africa. Enjoy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Remembering Korean and Iranian commercial planes shot down

On July 17th 2014, a commercial aircraft from Malaysian Airlines, flight MH17, was shot down over Ukraine. The exact details of who was responsible are still be determined. But 298 passengers were killed, many of them Dutch nationals.

But this reminds me of an incident on September 1st 1983, when the Soviet government shot down a Korean airliner, flight 007. All 269 passengers and crew aboard the Korean airliner were killed, The aircraft was en route from Anchorage to Seoul when it flew through prohibited Soviet airspace around the time of a U.S. reconnaissance mission. In this edition of the Media Network programme as broadcast in September 1983, we hear how Radio Moscow, the voice of the Soviet government reacted. Remember this is before the took several days before an official reaction was forthcoming.

And then 5 years later 3 July 1988, at the end of the Iran–Iraq War, an Airbus A300B2-203, was shot down as it flew over the Strait of Hormuz by SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles fired from the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. The aircraft, which had been flying in Iranian airspace over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path to Dubai, was destroyed. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, perished. The only way of getting the Iranian side of the story was via shortwave from the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran. But the transmitter was only switched on mid sentence when we listened in.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

BBC starts to really integrate BBC World Service into the rest of BBC.

As Radio Australia is devastated by savage budget cuts, so BBC announces an extra 5 million pounds to the budget of BBC World Service.

We are increasing the World Service Budget from £245 million this year to around £250 million by 2016/17. We will recreate the position of Controller, World Service English, to lead World Service radio editorially. We will make savings to reinvest in new languages TV and digital priorities and manage inflation, in line with the ‘invest to innovate’ strategy announced earlier this year.

Advantage Great Britain

They are combining the editorial teams of several UK domestic programmes with some of the flagship shows on BBC World Service. This makes perfect sense providing they realise they are working for different audiences and use the relevant expertise from both teams. The best way to organise this is to define different audiences, but ensure easy sharing of all raw materials. And make sure BBC World Service material is as easy to find as their domestic colleagues. That is not presently the case. But one point concerns me: that some correspondents posts will close. Perhaps they plan to use (cheaper) freelancers instead? Not clear how they are going to save 48 million pounds in the process. 

Newsgathering – Plans are for a reshaped Newsgathering operation, involving smaller and more agile reporting teams. The World Affairs Unit, based in London, will become a smaller specialised hub; a single general reporting team is proposed; and a number of correspondent and production posts are expected to close.

It seems World Have Your Say will end in March 2015. Wonder what will happen to BBC WS Newsday programme?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bayern3 radio commercial success

I guess this must be one of the most popular radio commercials on TV - judging by the YouTube count (15.1 million views). Must have cost the producers about 1000 Euro. I would have made a one-line payoff. But may be the listeners in Bayern didn't need it.

Dreamliner Red Arrow

Farnborough is turning into a airshow for stunts. The shows seem to get wilder every year. Would you really like to be on this airliner when it did such a manoever?

StarTimes - The Red Giant of East Africa

BBC Monitoring spotted this news about Chinese owned StarTimes. Expect the number of Chinese soap operas to expand as China's influence grows and the US/UK's influence wanes. 
StarTimes are operating a bit like HBO or Netflix. Start out as a distributor/aggregator, then move on to become a production house. 

StarTimes will build a 6.9bn shillings [80m dollars] Africa headquarters and broadcast centre in Nairobi.

This, according to the management, will see it increase the airing of Chinese soap operas and start the production of TV programmes in Kenya and other parts of Africa.

StarTimes Group president Pang Xinxing, while making this announcement on Monday [14 July], said Kenya and China had good business relations.

StarTimes Group president Pang Xinxing

He commended Kenya's commitment to attracting increased foreign direct investments.
"Through this we focus on promoting economic and social transformation as StarTimes stamps its commitment to Kenya and the larger Africa," said Mr Pang. "We are also launching two new channels for the African market - Star Sport2 in July and Star Swahili in August 2014."

Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Liu Xianfa said the government has approved the construction plan.
"The future is bright for both countries as stable investments continue building the economy," said Mr Pang.

Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Arts and Culture Hassan Wario, who was present, said the proposed centre would help grow Kenyan talent in movie production.

Air service agreement

The announcement comes a week after Kenya and China signed a bilateral air service agreement allowing Kenya Airways to access more destinations in China. This sets the pace for more Chinese to visit Kenya and vice versa.

Mr Pang said the agreement would boost Chinese confidence in the Kenyan market.
The 20,000 square metre StarTimes headquarters will be based in Karen. It will employ dozens of Kenyans during the construction and during the production of cultural materials.

It is set for completion by the end of next year and will feature six units including StarTimes Africa headquarters, StarTimes Kenya offices, a film and television recording centre, StarTimes broadcast station, digital TV research and development centre as well as a training facility.

With the proposed investment, StarTimes plans to increase its revenue in the region in the face of competition from GoTV, which dominates the Kenyan market.

Source: Daily Nation website, Nairobi, in English 15 Jul 14

Radio Australia - Slash and Burn

Michael Mason, Acting Director ABC Radio sent an update on July 14th to staff about what's going to happen to Australia's external broadcasting service. Looks like many of the non-English language services will be severely cutback.

In effect, Australia's influence in Asia is being wound down. The big plus about Radio Australia was it's ability to mix the "outside looking in" with the "inside looking out". That type of approach also benefits a domestic audience. Remember the BBC World Service slogan - bringing Britain to the world - and the world to Britain. I would argue that Radio Australia did the same for Australia. Alas, not for much longer. Most of the English language production will now be compilations from the domestic services.

I wonder if there are any links between what's happened and a speech that ABC Managing Director Mark Scott gave in 2009. Called the Fall of  Rome, it spelt the end of the Murdoch empire. At that time, ABC and Murdoch were battling over the licence to run Australia's overseas TV service. It was a messy fight. Perhaps the Murdoch empire found ways to strike back? It certainly looks that way.

Here are the details from Mason.

You would have seen communications and/or media coverage around changes to the ABC's International Division as a result of funding cuts. These changes affect every area of International, including Radio Australia. Changes to Radio Australia mean that the network will now broadcast an even a greater range of ABC Radio content.

As many of you would be aware, Radio Australia have always had a close content alignment with ABC Radio, broadcasting many programs from Radio National, sport from Grandstand, some Local programs and, until recently, a co-production with NewsRadio.

Over the next few weeks we will work with our colleagues in International to identify further already commissioned content from our current radio offer to create a relevant schedule for international audiences. When the schedule is finalised we will circulate it.

Below are some other key points around the changes to Radio Australia:

* Radio Australia will continue to broadcast a 24/7 schedule built on a deeper collaboration with ABC News and ABC Radio and through collaboration with SBS.

* Pacific Beat continues, as do RA's hourly news bulletins.

* Radio Australia will work with colleagues in ABC Radio and ABC News to identify and deliver a sustainable and engaging English program service that will appeal to our International audiences.

* Language services in Tok Pisin, Khmer and Burmese will be delivered through a mix of reduced original content coupled with translated ABC content and content from SBS. The model for the French language service remains under consideration.

* Asia Pacific and Asia Review will cease production as will the Mornings program.

* Shortwave transmission of RA remains unchanged for the time being.

Newscorp owned newspaper, the Australian adds the following. Almost everything is marked as undecided. Though I suspect these cuts are pretty much final. 
The ABC News 24 channel is expected to become the foundation of the international service, with some specialised news and current affairs content featuring on the service.
It is not known whether ABC News 24 will expand its broadcast reach through the Asia-Pacific region in lieu of Australia Network or whether the Radio Australia name will be subsumed.
The proposal outlined today in Melbourne by the director of news, Kate Torney, and ABC International director Lynley Marshall is not definitive but will begin what is anticipated to be a long process of negotiations and politicking over job losses and service cuts.
The process is complicated by the fact that DFAT is yet to finalise the terms of the decommissioning of the Australia Network service in September, including the allocation of money for redundant staff and outstanding contracts.
The ABC Charter requires the public broadcaster to “transmit to countries outside Australia, broadcasting programs of news, current affairs, entertainment and cultural enrichment” that will, in part, “encourage awareness of Australia and an inter­national understanding of Australian attitudes on world ­affairs.”
While the efficacy of the Australia Network was questioned before its axing by DFAT under the Abbott government, the impact of Radio Australia’s service during times of political crisis in the Pacific region has been substantial.
Even so, the recent efficiency review of the ABC and SBS overseen by Peter Lewis recommended Radio Australia discontinue its shortwave service.
This recommendation came despite advice from DFAT that shortwave delivery is the only current source of RA in “some sensitive areas in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea”.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Eiffel Tower Spectacular

I wish The Netherlands would organise something along the same lines. Getting rather fed up of launching rockets in the rain on December 31st. This has much more style and meaning.