Toward Public Diplomacy : External Broadcasting in Asia (Part 2)

  The trend of restructuring has also been seen in India's external broadcasting. For All India Radio, now there are three more ways to listen to its programs: website, telephone, and special telephone service, which was launched in 1998. Through telephone service, listeners can access to a capsule of the latest news highlights on telephone in Hindi and English, anytime and anywhere. A person from any corner of the world can now dial and listen to updated news on telephone 24 hours a day. On the other hand, its external services now have become more world-class like and global, broadcasting in 27 languages.

  The same trend has also been seen in Radio Korea International. With the employment of the updated technology such as satellite, today RKI broadcasts via 24 frequencies - 23 shortwave and one medium wave. As one of the external broadcasting giants in Asia, Radio Korea International transmits programs for a total of 91 hours a day. On the other hand, new language services have been continually added, bringing the total number of broadcasting languages to ten, including Japanese, Korean, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Indonesian, Arabic, German, Portuguese and Italian. And, in order to overcome the limitations of shortwave transmission and as well as to prepare for the digital age, in 1997 KRI started operating its website. With the opening of its website, the external broadcasting services in South Korea have plunged into a new era of web broadcasting on the Internet.

International Collaboration

  Fourth, international collaboration has been another new trend of external broadcasting services in Asia in the last two decades; this in turn has helped external broadcasting in some leading Asian countries to become globally reaching world class services.
After its reorganization in 1998, CBS (Central Broadcasting System) in Taiwan (the parent organization of RTI) signed a cooperative agreement with Family Radio Incorporated to increase output to the American and European continents. In order to work with a large group of radio stations in sharing programs as well as employees, CBS also signed agreements with a number of broadcasting stations in other countries, including Voice of Russia Broadcasting Company, Chinese Radio Network, Radio Australia, Radio Corporation of Singapore, Liberia Communications Network, Radio Canada International, Voice of Grenada, National System of Cultural Radio and TV of Costa Rica, ZIZ Broadcasting Company of Saint Christopher and Nevis, CHMB AM 1320 Canada, Almaz Radio, Radio France International, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America. In addition, RKI has exchange relay agreements with the BBC World Service and Radio Canada International. It also has agreement with FEBC in South Korea, which operates a transmitter to broadcast to North Korea and mainland China. Moreover, CBS has joined the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Association of International Broadcasting (AIB) and International Medienhilfe (IMH) and has formed cooperation and communication lines with many other notable international radio stations. Particularly, the relay agreement between “Voice of Free China” and the privately owned international shortwave broadcaster WYFR is an example of how the privately owned shortwave broadcasters in the United States work in conjunction with foreign governments and their external broadcasters. In most cases these foreign governments are in Asia and all of them are allies of U.S.A. Due to the various kinds of international collaborations, external broadcasting services in Taiwan have become truly global.
For the external broadcaster in South Korea, in order to provide the best possible reception to its audience, KBS World Radio transmits directly from domestic facilities, as well as by means of program exchange with Canada and the United Kingdom and through relays to many other European, American, Asian, the Middle East and African nations. In 1990, KBS World Radio started program exchange agreements with Radio Canada International (RCI), and in 1995 it started program exchanges with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Via these two powerful broadcasting networks, KRI is now able to reach the audience in both the vast American region as well as the European continent. Moreover, in order to expand its broadcasting capacity further, in 2003 KRI began to lease facilities in Rampisham, England, which commenced relay transmission of KRI's Arabic-language broadcasting to the nations in the Middle East region as well as to the countries in Northern Africa.

  Furthermore, RKI has recently started more program exchange agreements with other international broadcasters such as Radio Chine International, one of the world's three largest external broadcasting services, along with Voice of America and Voice of Russia. All these international collaborations have enabled the external broadcasting services in South Korea to move toward a globally accessible broadcaster.

Gaining Soft Power

  Fifth, in the last a few years a number of external broadcasting services in Asia have experienced transformation from a pure political and ideological propaganda machine to a tool for public diplomacy and cultural promotion, following the trend of some leading external broadcasting services in the world resulted from the adjustments of the world's political, economic and cultural landscapes and the new needs of these nations.

  Public diplomacy goes beyond the traditional or so called the elite diplomacy, which goes with the features of governments to governments. Public diplomacy is to cultivate the public opinion - by means of mass communication - in other countries and thus to create a better national image or identity around the world. A better national image or identity comes from the international opinion, which is partly and gradually cultivated by external broadcasting. Thus, external broadcasting becomes an important way for gaining this “soft power.” In the era of globalization and new technology, the more powerful and influential the country's external broadcasting is, the bigger its “soft power” is and the more effective its public diplomacy is. The winner in this informational age largely depends not on the country's political attack on or military threat to other nations; rather, it more depends on its day-to-day effective public diplomacy.

  The cold war between the Western nations and the communist countries was a first time any nation had ever sought to defeat another with words and not armaments. Yet history has show that it was a high-risk strategy. Barrage broadcasting on all available shortwave frequencies by Western broadcasters, and unparalleled investment by the communist countries into hundreds of sophisticated jamming installations, produced a state of “oscillatory antagonism.” With the over the cold war in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, it is a general trend that the external broadcasting content has changed from the political conflict and ideological propagation-oriented to somewhat more and more cultural exchange-oriented, despite the fact that political conflict and ideological propagation still remain and are always standby to be the main function of the external broadcasting services once they are needed.

  As a result, in a number of countries across Asia external broadcasting to some degree carries out part of the country's public diplomacy missions, which is to seek for the more understanding of other nation's people on the host country's foreign policies, history, culture and society. All India Radio's External Service Division attempts to acquaint listeners' abroad with the variegated cultural mosaic of India and its socio-economic milieu, and has assumed the role of the Cultural Ambassador. Its target areas span almost all the continents including areas of East, North-East and South-East Asia, West Asia, West, North-West and East Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Indian Sub-Continent.

  Presently, it broadcasts in 27 languages, with a combined daily radio broadcasting of 71 hours to about 100 countries. In 1995, The Voice of Islam was established in Malaysia. Broadcasting in English and Malay languages, it aims at projecting the unity of Islam and the relevant contemporary issues. Meanwhile, Voice of Malaysia broadcasts 28 hours of programs a day to Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Myammar, the North Africa and Middle East regions. The main objective of Voice of Malaysia is to project the image of Malaysia overseas from the political, economic and social point of view so as to encourage foreign investment in Malaysia. It also projects the local arts and crafts, customs and cultures and festivals to promote tourism.


  In recent years some other Asian countries without well-established and influential external broadcasting services have also begun to develop and emphasize their external broadcasting either on the mission of seeking for economic development cooperation or diffusing their culture, in the forms of music, life styles, traditional customs introduction and so on, in order to project their image or national identity, thus persuading or tempting foreign capital investment. Although it is by no means that these Asian countries have had a complete transformation of the role and function of their external broadcasting, it has more or less demonstrated the change in the role and function of external broadcasting in many Asian countries. And, even though the fundamental nature of external broadcasting has not changed, the approaches for reaching audience and the way for delivering content have all changed considerably.
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