Thursday, March 03, 2016

Tough Nut: BBC Plans a North Korean Service

by Kim Elliott
The BBC has confirmed its intention to create a radio service for North Korea, although, despite a recent report, a start date for this service has not been set. North Korea’s recent test of what it described as a hydrogen bomb, and its launch of a long-range missile, have instilled urgency to the BBC’s plans.
BBC specifies that this will be a radio service rather than the multimedia operation that is typical in 21st-century international broadcasting. In North Korea’s tightly controlled media environment, there really is no alternative to radio to get information to all but the most elite layer of the country’s population. 
North Korea can be reached by medium wave (“AM”) and shortwave radio. Medium wave is preferred because radios with this band are more typical than those with shortwave bands. Medium wave transmitters that can reach North Korea are in short supply, however. One such transmitter in Russia, previously used by international broadcasters, has been dismantled. China will not supply MW transmitters to BBC for obvious geopolitical reasons. Japan has no history of hosting relay transmitters for international radio stations. With the business case for medium wave radio declining in Japan as it is in the rest of the world, perhaps this opportunity for revenue will be re-explored.
Additional story USCAnneberg/USC Center on Public Diplomacy at: