Reporters Without Borders comments on North Korean jamming

February 22nd, 2008 - 10:56 UTC by Andy

In its annual report on North Korea, press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders notes the resumption of jamming in 2007 of broadcasts beamed into North Korea. The organisation says:

Several foreign-based radio stations have increased their airtime, while newspapers available online, in particular Daily NK, have stepped up their coverage. But the regime responded to the challenge on 11 May by resuming jamming independent and dissident radios broadcasting to the people of North Korea: Free North Korea Radio, Voice of America, Open Radio for North Korea, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Chosun. A manager at Open Radio for North Korea told Reporters Without Borders that this backward step could be linked to the opening of a railway line between North and South.

Jamming of short wave radios had noticeably eased after July 2006, since the authorities, hampered by a serious energy crisis, did not have the capacity to scramble broadcasts all day and on all frequencies.

(Source: Reporters Without Borders)


[寄稿] 北の住民 '精神的糧'の提供は放送が第一
パク・セギョン /東北亜放送研究会理事長
[2007-05-22 14:26 ]




社会教育放送を除いた民間対北放送は、外部の支援や一般の後援金だけでなんとか運営され、1日数時間放送している。しかし、受信状態は遠い所から送り出さ れるため、あまりよくない。それでもよくとらえられる方である自由北朝鮮放送も、これからは妨害電波によって到底聞き分けることができないようになってし まった。どうしてこのようになったのだろうか。


実は、北朝鮮は今年初めに廃止されたKBS短波放送に対して、この間持続的に妨害電波を放って来たが、KBSの短波送出の中断は、意図しなかったものであ り、北朝鮮政権としては妨害電波の送信機に大きな余裕が生じ、これにより民間対北放送に対する妨害電波の送出も有利になった。





原因は他にもある。韓国政府の対北政策である ‘太陽政策’は、北朝鮮に対する経済的支援や交流協力事業に偏った、言い換えれば‘心の糧’ではない‘体の糧’を提供するのにとどまっている。現在行われ ている宥和政策は、北朝鮮の住民に対する情報の流入及び、人権改善などの政策が併行されていないため、国内の民間対北放送が韓国から電波を送ることができ ないのだ。

日本政府の場合、総務省が拉致被害者問題の解決のための民間対北放送‘しおかぜ’を国内から送り出せるように気配りし、この放送に対する北朝鮮の妨害電波 に直接抗議の声を出すことは勿論、政府内の拉致問題対策本部では、直接国営の対北放送を開局するための準備作業を行っている。我々の現実とあまりにも比較 されることである。

誰よりも北朝鮮をよく理解して抱擁することができる国が同じ民族である大韓民国であるならば、その社会の問題を改善して、住民の意識を改善させなければな らないという義務も、大韓民国政府にある。今すぐにでも韓国政府は、国内のすべての民間対北放送に、国内送信施設を通じた電波送出を許可して、北朝鮮人権 問題の改善努力と持続的な情報伝達を条件にした、放送発展基金などの支援方案の準備に取り掛からなければならない。

大韓民国に対北放送は確かに存在する。しかし 、‘あってもない’という状況になりつつある。北朝鮮の住民たちに希望のメッセージを伝える民間対北放送を、強力な電波にのせて安定して伝達することがで きるためには、KBSなど関係機関の協力と、政府の支援策が切実である。こうした動きが共に実現する時、対北放送は初めてその存在の意味と役割が明確にな るだろう。

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Ethiopian Authorities Accused Of Disrupting Radio Programs

16 January 2008

Douglas's interview with Hassan Shire Shiek - Download (MP3) audio clip
Douglas's interview with Hassan Shire Shiek - Listen (MP3) audio clip

There are reports that Ethiopian authorities are jamming some international radio broadcasts, a charge the Ethiopian government denies. The stations allegedly affected are the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) and the Voice of America (VOA).

The chairperson of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, Hassan Shire Shiek, says the Ethiopian government has created stations to deliberately disrupt the signals of DW and VOA’s Amharic and Oromifa programs.

Shiek, who is currently in Toronto, Canada, told VOA reporter Douglas Mpuga that the Ethiopian authorities are denying the people what he called their basic right to know what is going on in their country.

He says the situation centers on the coverage of the controversial May 2005 elections, the Ogaden crisis and the Ethiopian government’s involvement in Somalia.

“The government has been cracking down on democratic forces, including legitimate voices of the Ethiopian people, such as civil society, political leaders and media houses,” he said. He added, “To deny the Ethiopian people the right to information, they (the Ethiopian government) have started targeting international broadcasters -- the only source of independent information.”

Shiek said, “Ethiopian involvement in Somalia is increasingly being questioned following the displacement of close to a million people and the highlight of grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Mogadishu. So the (Ethiopian) government has become jittery.”

But the Ethiopian government spokesperson, Zemedkun Tekle, described the allegations as baseless. Zemedkun told VOA that jamming international radio broadcasts is against [Ethiopian] government policy. “Maybe it is technical problems, but we are not aware that any broadcasts are being jammed. Those are utterly baseless allegations.”

Together, VOA’s and DW’s Amharic language broadcasts reach some 20 million listeners in Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea and hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians in the United States, Europe and other parts of Africa. VOA also broadcasts to Ethiopia in the Orofima and Tigirinyi languages.



Broadcast Jamming Continues in Post Cold-War World

13 October 2005

During the so-called Cold War, totalitarian regimes sought to block radio or TV broadcasts, except the ones they controlled. The Cold War is over, but those jamming efforts continue in some parts of the world. VOA Correspondent Gary Thomas reports from Washington on the 21st century battle of the airwaves.

Authoritarian governments still try to silence criticism and unfavorable news coverage in their countries by the age-old expedient of throwing critics in jail and shutting down their publications. But what does today's autocrat do about broadcasts being beamed into his country from sources outside his reach?

Simple. He jams them.

A longtime researcher on international broadcasting at the Voice of America, Kim Elliott, says the methods of jamming radio broadcasts are still much the same as they have been, even with new technologies.

"It is simply a matter of putting a noxious signal on the same frequency as the broadcaster that is trying to get into the country. And it was that way during World War II, it was that way during the Cold War, and it is still that way. If you tune across your short-wave radio, you will hear a raucous noise on one frequency, and you will hear the hapless international radio broadcaster in the background trying to get into the country," he said.

The result is rather like being in a crowded room watching a sporting event, with the cheering so loud that it is almost impossible to hear the person sitting right next to you.

Free speech advocates have always condemned jamming as an attempt to cut off the uninterrupted flow of information. Kenneth Tomlinson, the chairman of the U.S. government's Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees VOA, Radio Free Asia, and other government-sponsored broadcast entities, has said it is illegal, and interferes with the free and open flow of international transmissions.

Experts say that, ironically, newer broadcast technologies, such as television, are actually easier to jam than old-fashioned short-wave radio, simply because radio can air on so many different frequencies at once.

Broadcast researcher Kim Elliott says jamming TV signals, especially from satellites, is relatively simple.

"Of all the media available to international broadcasting, short-wave is the most difficult to interdict. And that is because of the physics of transmission at short-wave frequencies," he said. "Signals from more distant transmitters come through better than signals from transmitters closer up. Television transmissions travel much shorter distances, and so those are much easier to jam. Or, if they are from a satellite, they are easy to jam because it only requires a few watts [of power]. And it does not have that kind of immunity [from jamming] that short-wave has."

Asia specialist Vincent Brossel, with the French media research group Reporters Without Borders, says radio still remains the main source of information for many people around the world.

"The radio is something like the most democratized and the most popular media in the world, due to the fact that many people cannot read, or do not have any access to Internet," he said. "The only way to touch millions, or billions of people around the world is radio."

Analysts say this is why China has become the biggest practitioner of international radio jamming in the post-Cold War world.

Mr. Brossel says Western firms, such as the French firm Thales', have sold broadcast equipment to China that also can be used for jamming.

"What is very interesting is that some Western companies are selling technology to the Chinese, and Chinese are selling technology for jamming to some Third World countries," he said. "So, it means that, just for business reasons, foreign companies like Thales' are helping the Chinese government to prevent millions, or billions of listeners from getting some free and independent radio programs."

Thales' officials have declined to comment on the company's sales. An American firm, Continental Electronics, also has sold transmission equipment to China, and to VOA, Radio Free Asia, and Taiwan, as well.

Experts say the term "jamming equipment" is really a misnomer, since a transmitter is something of a two-edged sword that can not only be used to broadcast, but can be easily converted to jam broadcasts.

Although Iran's theocratic government officially bans satellite television and has jammed foreign broadcasts, including those of exile Persian-language stations, the jamming has been sporadic, and is usually conducted during elections and other political events. Azadeh Moaveni, an Iranian-American journalist, who has reported from Iran, says the reality is different than official policy.

"Satellite television is technically banned," she said. "It is implicitly tolerated. And you could, I think, say comfortably that the majority of the country has access to satellite news."

Sometimes political jamming is tried as well.

Eutelsat, a European satellite operator, earlier this said it would not renew its contract to carry the signal of a new language broadcast outlet called New Tang Dynasty TV, or NTDTV Its links to the Falun Gong group, which is banned in China, earned it official Chinese displeasure. Mr. Brossel of Reporters Without Borders said Eutelsat was under what he called "tremendous pressure" from China to cancel the NTDTV contract. But last month Eutelsat agreed to renew it.

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