BBG Media Highlights - April 15, 2013
About Our Broadcasters

The Newtowns all around us- New York Daily News, April 14, 2013

After Schumer's emotive but news-less news confab, I went to a meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Unknown to the often myopic media pack here, it oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and other broadcast groups. It employs 3,500 people and reaches 190 million people worldwide each week at a cost to taxpayers of $750 million a year. The board meeting included a report from Libby Liu, the head of Radio Free Asia, who showed an online video report by her journalists about ethnic violence in Burma. There were 180 dead and thousands left homeless in ethnic riots last year and 43 have died in sectarian violence in recent weeks. Unlike Newtown, those horrors didn't pierce our consciousness.


A lesson in public e-policy- The Guardian, April 15, 2013

Toomas Hendrik Ilves must feel one of a kind when he attends international summits. His personal trajectory has nothing in common with the backgrounds of most other heads of state. Born in Stockholm in 1953, where his parents had taken refuge from Soviet Estonia, Ilves was raised mostly in the United States. There, he got a bachelor's degree in psychology from Columbia University and a master's degree in the same subject from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1991, when Estonia became independent, Ilves was in Munich, working as a journalist for Radio Free Europe (he is also fluent in English, German and Latin.) Two years later, he was appointed ambassador to ... where else? ... the United States. In 2006, a centrist coalition elected him president of the republic of Estonia (1.4 million inhabitants).


How Thatcher changed this Soviet man's heart and mind- The Washington Times, April 14, 2013

It wasn't just Margaret Thatcher's steadfast economic and foreign policies that helped to defeat the Evil Empire and bring down the Iron Curtain. She also changed hearts and minds, and this author, who grew up on the other side of the Iron Curtain, has a personal story to tell. As many Soviet kids did in the 1970s and 1980s, I occasionally tuned my shortwave radio to Voice of America or the BBC Russian Service, hoping to hear their alternative take on world events and, if I was lucky, get the latest rock-music updates. One of the functions of the Iron Curtain was to keep us, the "builders of communism," blissfully unaware of the outside world. All our news had to be processed by the state-run media filter and approved by the formidable censorship apparatus.


Dictator blocking your Internet? Try a Radiogram- Radio Survivor, April 12, 2013

One of my favorite correspondents has brought the Voice of America's Radiogram project to my attention. The venture experiments with transmitting digital text and images via shortwave broadcasting. Dr. Kim Andrew Elliott is running the show with some technical assistance from my aforementioned contact: Bennett Kobb. "These experiments are intended to establish the best mode for transmission of text via international AM broadcast," Kobb told me. The resultant data modes "are more robust against intentional and unintentional interference than is speech. Ultimately, simple software will be distributed that will enable nontechnical persons to decode the news broadcasts even where they are jammed or too weak to hear otherwise."


Radio still has the power to change the world. One listener at a time.- Radio Info, April 14, 2013

In 1990, I bought one of the first digital tuning multi-band Sony radios in Hong Kong. I'd scan the  bands for English language content and occasionally find the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Australia. But I'd also hear stations out of Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines. The signal seemed to roll in and out with these imaginary waves in the South China Sea. Unlimited mobile Internet access on my Android phone is my new shortwave receiver in Hong Kong. I can tune into stations in rural South Australia such as 5AU, get my statewide fix from ABC Local in Adelaide or feel the pulse of Aussies as they commute.

Citations of BBG Broadcasters

Europol: Mexican drug cartels want a foothold in Europe- Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2013

In May, a deputy administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration told a group of U.S. senators that Mexican cartels are involved in the African methamphetamine trade, and have "documented links" to criminal groups in Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "We haven't identified specific cartel activity in Africa," a DEA official told the Voice of America in June. "We've identified Mexicans in Africa, and we know they are affiliated with cartels - we just haven't put it together." The Europol statement said that law enforcement officials had recently "averted" the Sinaloa Cartel's attempts to set up a major European cocaine wholesaling operation. Thus far, according to the report, few violent incidents in Europe have been attributed to the Mexicans. "We do not want the level of violence and brutality which we see in Mexico mirrored in Europe," said Rob Wainwright, the Europol director.


News you might have missed: Iran considers annexing Azerbaijan (again)- Foreign Policy, April 12, 2013

On Tuesday, Iran's Fars news agency reported that Azerbaijani-speaking lawmakers in Iran had introduced a bill to re-annex their neighbor to the north. Iran lost Azerbaijan in 1828 -- "The most frustrating chapter in the history class!" Fars laments -- when it was forced to sign the Turkmenchay treaty, ceding the territory to Russia. The legislators propose revisiting the terms of the treaty, which, according to Fars, means "the 17 cities and regions that Iran had lost to the Russians would be given back to Iran after a century." For its part, Azerbaijan has told Iran to "bring it" -- diplomatically speaking. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that Siyavush Novruzov of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party has declared that revisiting the treaty would result not in Azerbaijan being annexed to Iran, but rather in Tehran ceding its northwestern territory to Azerbaijan.


Venezuelans head to polls to elect new president- UPI, April 14, 2013

Maduro, the acting president, had a 7-point lead over challenger Henrique Capriles in the most recent major polls -- down from 15 points at the end of March -- the Los Angeles Times said. Maduro has said he would further what he calls the Chavez revolution, channeling billions in oil revenues into health, food and education programs for the poor, Voice of America reported. Capriles has labeled Maduro a liar, incompetent and corrupt, and said he plans an aggressive strategy to halt rising inflation, spiraling crime and food shortages, the Times reported.


Chinese authorities detained 21 Tibetans in Kyegudo- Phayul, April 14, 2013

The Chinese authorities detained twenty-one Tibetans following a conflict between Tibetans and Chinese securities over forced land eviction at Kyegudo in Eastern Tibet. Citing sources with contacts in the area, the Washington-based Voice of America said, "21 Tibetans have been detained after a conflict between local Tibetans and Chinese troops over forced land eviction in Kyegudo in Qinghai (Ch: Yushu)." "The conflict arose after angered local Tibetans protested the authorities over demolition of their rebuilt homes and tents." VOA said. It is reported that six Tibetans were severely injured while four armies were hurt in the incident.


Japan agrees to rice deal with Myanmar- Asia Times, April 15, 2013

Japan is helping Myanmar (also known as Burma) to regain its status as a top rice exporter by making its first purchase of the grain from the Southeast Asian country in more than four decades and investing in rice processing plants there. Myanmar has already ramped up rice exports to record levels after two years of reforms following the end of military rule and Japan's moves could further boost production, local industry officials say. "We have seen that Japan is enthusiastic about investing in Burma's rice production," Myanmar Rice Industry Association Chairman Chit Khaing told Radio Free Asia's Burmese Service.


CAMBODIA: Khmer CNRP'S policies that deserve support- Asia Human Rights Commission, April 15, 2013

It has been my view that Hun Sen, a shrewd politician, would come to see the personal benefit of releasing Sonando. I've observed in recent articles that Hun Sen has metaphorically used the popular Khmer circle dance, the Ramvong, to keep Cambodians and foreigners guessing as he has formulated his decision. Sure enough, on March 15, Mam Sonando walked out of Phnom Penh's Prey Sar Prison. CAMBODIA's Court of Appeal decided there was "no evidence" to support the charges against him and the Court ordered his release. "I am happy that I have been released, but I am also sad because I didn't commit any crime. The court convicted me of a crime that I never could have conceived of," Sonando told Radio Free ASIA. He is out of jail, but he is not a free man. Some less serious charges (such as "illegal logging") still hang over him. Cambodian activists cheered Sonando's "victory," and Sonando vowed, "I will educate the people about their rights, the law, and democracy so that voters will be better informed."


Kyegudo quake-hit Tibetans held for protesting demolition of rebuilt homes- Tibetan Review, April 14, 2013

Chinese authorities have demolished around 1,000 Tibetan homes in the Kyegudo (Chinese: Jiegu) county-town of Yulshul Prefecture, Qinghai Province, provoking a clash between protesting Tibetans and Chinese paramilitary People's Armed Police on Apr 9, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Apr 11. The clash, which ensued after the paramilitary troops used violence to break up a protest by more than 100 Tibetan residents, ended with at least six Tibetans and four security personnel being injured and 21 Tibetans being detained.The area was hit by a devastating earthquake on Apr 14, 2010, officially resulting in nearly 3,000 people being killed. Tibetans have accused the authorities of demolishing Tibetan homes after the natural calamity on the pretext that they were unsafe and dispossessing Tibetan land in the name of rebuilding with little or no compensation.


New HIV/AIDS Drug In South Africa Streamlines Treatment And Lowers Costs- Nature World News, April 12, 2013

South Africans living with HIV or AIDS are being offered a new option for treatment that will significantly reduce the number of pills they have to take daily. The South African government, which sponsored the new medication, says it will be the least expensive HIV/AIDS treatment in the world, according to Voice of America news.  Treatment for one patient using the old system of anti-retrovirals reportedly cost the government 400 rand ($45) per patient.The government says it will save at least 300 rand ($33) per patient with the new treatment system, which effectively combines the properties of three separate treatments into one pill. The drug, called Atrozia, is combination of three drugs that are used in treating HIV: tenofovir, emtricitabine and efavirenz.


Azerbaijan: Insider Deals Thrive In Ministry- hetq, April 15, 2013

Minister Ziya Mammadov's son, Anar, and the Minister's brother, Elton, are business partners with the members of the family of the founder of the Baghlan Group, a prominent Azerbaijan company involved in major projects in transportation, construction, sports complexes and oil exploration. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) found that Baghlan was the contractor on a series of major initiatives by the Ministry including the importing of 1,000 London taxis to Baku, the construction of an international bus station, and a lucrative road construction project. The Group has received preferential treatment and the interlinked companies owned by the families have taken large shares or even monopolized certain transportation sectors like bus transport, taxis, road constraction, and cargo transportation services in the country.


Obama tax return: President's return revealed shows he made $690K, paid $112K- examiner, April 14, 2013

Tax day is almost here and all Americans will need to file their taxes, and that includes those that inhabit the White House. A report from Voice of America on Saturday, April 13, 2013, shows that President Barack Obama paid an effective federal tax rate of 18.4 percent in 2012 and saw income from his books drop as he ran for re-election.

Of Interest

Media Activity by the Yemeni Television Channels- Al Jazeera, April 13, 2013

Last spring the Yemeni revolution boom media is unprecedented in the media television, and became Yemen has a wide network of television channels of up to more than 16 satellite channel between the private and government, dominated mostly of a political nature and track groups and political parties and tribal leaders in the country.
Yemen has seen within the past two years, a major shift in the visual media after he encouraged the Yemeni youth revolution to break the government monopoly of the sector, and the launch of several satellite channels, which has been for many years the preserve of the state as a sovereign sectors in the country.  


All Politics Is Economic- International Herald Tribune, April 15, 2013

In the last couple of months, so many Russian publications have closed, lost their funding or fired some of their most prominent journalists to prove their loyalty to the Kremlin that only a handful of independent publications remain. Each closure, firing or investor pullout has been presented as an economic decision. But every time, the same debate has flared up: How political are these economic decisions? Every Russian entrepreneur lives with the fear of having his business taken away by someone more powerful and better connected. Most media owners have outside business interests that enable them to bankroll their media projects. When a publisher is told that he may lose his business if he does not fire an independent-minded editor or close a publication, his decision to comply is certainly economic. And just as certainly, it is political.


Media for sale?- The News (Pakistan newspaper), April 13, 2013

That elements of the Pakistani media were open to political influence in exchange for hard cash has long been suspected but never conclusively proved. It may be now. A Pandora's box of troubles may open with the imminent release of a hitherto hidden list of journalists and media organisations that have been bribed by the government, allegedly in the name of 'national security'. Once again it is the Supreme Court that is lifting the lid on the box. This apparently looks like an onerous task but it is prayed and wished that the SC finally takes this big and long overdue step.


Can government learn how to 'fail fast'? - Washington Post, April 12, 2013

Often the obstacles to quick government innovation are political and social. Bureaucratic processes, and expectations from the public and elected officials, slow things down. That's because trying things means, inevitably, that sometimes they will fail. And nobody likes to see money wasted, least of all public money. Residents, and reporters, understandably recoil at any sign that funds might have been squandered on a project that turned out to not be a good idea. But it's actually more fiscally responsible to try a lot of cheap ideas than to spend years on staff and consultants to pick a single idea, which still might not work out; what's most important is to make the attempt quickly and cheaply ("fail fast," as the lingo in the tech world goes).

About Us
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting, whose mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG broadcasts reach an audience of 175 million in 100 countries. BBG broadcasting organizations include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti).