Wednesday, May 23, 2007

KBS program cuts result in heavier jamming

Cuts in shortwave broadcasts to North Korea by the Korean Broadcasting System have resulted in heavier jamming of other broadcasts to North Korea. The intensfied jamming of Free North Korea Broadcasting, run by defectors, is also affecting another nongovernmental broadcaster, Open Radio for North Korea.
Currently, radio broadcasts for North Korea aired from South Korea are KBS’ Social Education Radio as well as nongovernmental Free North Korea Broadcast, Open Radio for North Korea, North Korean Missions Broadcast, and others. But KBS has significantly reduced its shortwave airtime and frequency use. Social Education Radio has discontinued its shortwave transmissions and is now only aired on mediumwave. The suspension of shortwave has freed jamming transmitters in North Korea which are now aimed at the other stations instead.
Park Se Kyung, Chairman of the “North-East Asian Broadcasting Institute”, believes KBS should restart its shortwave transmissions to North Korea. He says that, if KBS cannot implement this due to various internal and external constraints, a transfer of broadcast capability to outside parties should be aggressively examined.
Mr Park says that if nongovernmental broadcasts carrying the message of hope to North Korean citizens are to be safely transmitted, cooperation from KBS and its related organizations as well as the government’s policy of support is urgently needed.
Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders has deplored the North Korean government’s resumption on 11 May of its jamming of independent and dissident radio stations, and called on the South Korean government and the international community to defend their right to broadcast freely.
“North and South Korea are celebrating the historic reopening of a railway line between the two countries, yet the Pyongyang regime is trying to stop North Koreans from getting news other than that served up by the regime,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “This is a violation of international law.”
North Korea’s ruling Labour Party, the only party allowed, last month denounced news from the outside world that allegedly aimed to destabilise the regime and ordered the security forces to stop all video cassettes, written material, mobile phones and CDs from entering the country. The jamming may have been part of these measures or, an Open Radio official told Reporters Without Borders, may have been linked to the reopening of the railway. Jamming of these shortwave stations had substantially declined since last July.
North Korea’s serious energy crisis apparently prevents the regime jamming all frequencies round the clock.
North Korea is ranked bottom in the Reporters Without Borders worldwide Press Freedom Index.
(Source: The Daily NK, Reporters Without Borders/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)