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Country Specific in depth Reports

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Introduction

Offers of assistance to provide battery-operated radio sets and restore broadcast operations in countries hit by the December 26 earthquake and tsunami, in response to an appeal by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, are coming from as far away as North America.

The owner of a network of radio stations in Canada's Yukon Territory is pledging broadcast equipment and expertise for affected broadcasters.

A representative of Burr and Burton Academy, a secondary school in Vermont, USA, has said its staff will begin collecting AM/FM radio sets for survivors of the disaster.

USA

XM Satellite Radio

XM Radio - XM Emergency Alert 24/7 (http://www.xmradio.com/programming/channel_page.jsp?ch=247): "XM Emergency Alert - XM 247 is dedicated to providing critical, updated information before, during and after natural disasters, weather emergencies and other hazardous incidents to listeners across the country.

Utilizing XM's nationwide broadcast system, XM Emergency Alert delivers key survival information such as evacuation routes, shelter locations, critical health and medical information, and updated weather emergency information for impacted areas. XM Emergency Alert provides data drawn from a variety of sources, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Weather Service, police and fire departments, and local eyewitness reports.

XM Emergency Alert is produced by a dedicated staff for instant, around-the-clock information during serious local emergencies.

Chicago Fine Arts WFMT Network

Jan 7th 2005

For one extraordinary day, Chicago broadcasters showed what they can do if they set aside their competitive rivalries and work toward a common goal. The Chicago Media Tsunami Relief Drive, Wednesday's (Jan 5th) 19-hour cooperative effort that involved nearly 50 local television and radio outlets, succeeded beyond all expectations.

By the time it was over, more than US $1.7 million had been raised for the American Red Cross International Response Fund from more than 17,000 donors -- virtually all of whom had been directed to call by public-service announcements and news reports that aired throughout the day. Pledges ranged from $1 to $100,000. In fact, after more Web pledges were added it came to over $2 million from over 18,000 callers. It was the first time that anyone can remember in American broadcasting history that virtually all radio and TV stations in a single market collaborated in this way.

The driving force behind the unprecedented effort was Steve Robinson, senior vice president of WFMT-FM (98.7). Broadcast executives went out of their way Thursday to praise Robinson for putting the massive event together in just a few days.

"WFMT provided the vehicle, but Chicago's radio and TV stations drove it at top speed for 19 straight hours," a grateful Robinson told colleagues.

"As I said on the air throughout the day, each participating station has a long history of public service to this community. The Chicago Media Tsunami Relief Drive was an opportunity to come together as a group to exercise the spirit of giving we all practice every day.

"The disaster in Southeast Asia was extraordinary, it called for an extraordinary response -- and Chicago's radio and TV stations responded in an extraordinary way."

Participating TV stations included WLS-Channel 7, WGN-Channel 9 and WTTW-Channel 11. Others are expected to join. Radio stations - WFMT, WGN-AM (720), WGCI-FM (107.5), WVAZ-FM (102.7), WNUA-FM (95.5), WLIT-FM (93.9), WKSC-FM (103.5), WGRB-AM (1390), WRLL-AM (1690), WTMX-FM (101.9), WILV-FM (100.3), WDRV-FM (97.1), WUSN-FM (99.5), WXRT-FM (93.1), WBBM-FM (96.3), WKQX-FM (101.1), WLUP-FM (97.9), WLS-AM (890), WZZN-FM (94.7) and WMVP-AM (1000).

Voice of America Coverage

report by Alan Heil, former Programme Director VOA.


From the moment the world heard of the quake late on Christmas day, VOA's Central News Division began producing stories for all of VOA’s language services with updates around the clock plus longer background reports and separate stories on individual countries. In-depth correspondent reports began arriving several hours later, with detailed accounts coming from Indonesia, Thailand, India and Kenya. In the first 24 hours, correspondents provided not only a steady stream of news updates but also reported on the science of quakes and tsunamis, the potential economic consequences of the disaster, a history of similar disasters, the U.S. reaction, relief efforts, and other sidebar stories. All this reporting served as authoritative and up-to-date information for VOA's websites, which also carried audio and video streaming. A special section on VOA’s main web site was set aside to spotlight disaster coverage, and a special web page was created to list contact information for aid agencies and organizations for those who wished to contribute. A graphic on the home page directed visitors to the page, and a similar graphic was used for our TV paths to drop in between programs. VOA Director David Jackson also taped a televised message to the people of the affected areas which was broadcast several times on both television and radio throughout Indonesia.


Despite considerable logistics problems, VOA Central News dispatched correspondents to the disaster areas to provide first-hand accounts and, where possible, shoot video. Nancy-Amelia Collins, VOA’s new Jakarta correspondent, went to hard-hit Aceh. Patricia Nunan was assigned to Sri Lanka and India's Tamu Nidal state. Scott Bobb was ordered to Phuket, and then kept reporting from Thailand, while Cathy Majtenyi arranged a ride with a government delegation traveling from Kenya to Somalia.


VOA English News Now’s comprehensive coverage included a number of interviews with correspondents, eyewitnesses, and relief experts in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia, and the United States. Ongoing coverage also included daily Talk to America call-in shows featuring a live interview with a survivor of the tsunami on Phuket as well as experts from disaster relief organizations. Among the many interviews aired on News Now: the senior emergency officer for CARE Australia; the director general of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry; The U.S. Embassy press attaché in Sri Lanka; the director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii; the UN emergency relief coordinator; the spokesman for UNICEF in Jakarta; the Assistant Administrator of USAID; officials of the international federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; and medical doctors with the International Rescue Committee.


Immediately after the story broke, VOA Indonesian pre-empted all of its regular radio and TV programming to provide blanket coverage of the crisis, including all White House and State Department briefings, as well as the response of U.S. and international emergency relief organizations. The Service covered President Bush’s visit to the Indonesian Embassy and obtained an exclusive interview with the Indonesian Ambassador, who thanked the U.S. for its assistance to his country and said how grateful he was for the president’s visit. VOA’s coverage was carried by 190-plus VOA AM/FM affiliates in Indonesia, and it was also the topic during a live 30-minute joint radio broadcast between VOA and Radio Elshinta, Jakarta’s largest and most popular all news radio station. In addition, U.S relief aid was extensively discussed in a 60-minute interactive radio broadcast between VOA Indonesian and Radio Sonora, one of the top two radio stations in Jakarta. (Both Elshinta and Sonora are part of major nationwide radio networks.) During the Sonora broadcast, callers from all over Indonesia welcomed President Bush's initiative to form an international coalition to coordinate relief efforts and the U.S. pledge of $350 million in aid. Exclusive Washington coverage of the U.S. response to the disaster was also transmitted to the largest Indonesian TV networks.


A VOA video report and anchor-to-anchor Q&As were broadcast nationally on Indonesia’s Metro TV and RCTI TV, as well as on JTV in eastern Java. These and other Indonesian TV stations are receiving VOA Indonesian news packages, including reports about private donor contributions and interviews with U.S. Congressmen Dan Burton (R-IN), head of the Indonesian Caucus, and Frank Wolf (R-VA), a member of the House Appropriations Committee.


Mobilizing all of its correspondents and stringers in Aceh and elsewhere in the region, VOA Indonesian has also been providing up-to-the-minute original radio and television reports for other VOA services. Within 48 hours of the disaster, VOA stringer Budi Nahaba arrived ahead of most international press in Banda Aceh, reporting on the devastation and relief efforts and interviewing survivors, the presidential spokesman, officials of the police and armed forces, and the deputy of the Center for Relief of Aceh Disaster. VOA Indonesian’s Jakarta correspondent covered the arrival of U.S. aid personnel in Aceh onboard a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft as well as USAID financial and food assistance through the World Food Program to Aceh and Sumatra. VOA correspondents and the Indonesian Service also reported on Secretary Powell’s visit to the disaster areas.


A sampling of the many interviews conducted for radio and television: the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia; Indonesia’s Ambassador to the U.S.; Indonesian Deputy Chief of Mission; the Deputy Administrator of U.S. Agency for International Development; a member of the Organization of Indonesian Community in the United States; Head of Aceh Relief Committee; the Secretary-General for The Aceh Center in the U.S.; Chief of the Relief Center for Aceh Disaster; Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross; a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Response Unit; and members of Indonesian communities in Boston and Washington discussed their families in Aceh as well as their fund raising efforts.


VOA Indonesian also interviewed Indonesian Americans living throughout the U.S. and reported on fundraising activities and other relief efforts. Information on how and where to give donations was displayed on the VOA Indonesian web page and on their TV programs.


VOA Burmese’s extensive coverage included an interview with Jason M. Rush, UNICEF communication officer in Rangoon, who said the tsunami had claimed at least 90 lives and destroyed 17 villages in the southern tip of Burma’s Indian Ocean coast, though the government’s estimate was still 34 dead. The UN official said the agency had offered aid to the military government in Rangoon and pre-positioned medical and other supplies in the coastal towns, but the Burmese authorities had so far not made any request for aid. The UNICEF official also told VOA that the Burmese government had not provided details about the full scope of the disaster within Burma. A U.S. State Department spokesman told VOA that the U.S. is ready to provide humanitarian aid to Burma but so far has not received any request from the government. A senior official of the Burmese embassy in Washington also confirmed that the State Department has extended an offer for humanitarian aid but no decision has been made in Rangoon as to whether to request international aid at this point.


VOA Thai’s full coverage included White House and U.S. and international response to the disaster. Interviews included Kasit Piromya, Thailand’s Ambassador to the United States, who talked about the Thai government’s decision to the Royal Thai Air Force base in Utapao available to the U.S. as a command, control and communications center for rescue and relief operations in South and Southeast Asia. He also said the Thai government will be asking the U.S. for help in forecasting future earthquakes and tsunamis. The interviews about U.S. relief efforts included the Thai Consul-General in Los Angeles and the Thai Deputy Consul General in New York.


VOA Chinese Branch’s extensive coverage included live call-ins on the Mandarin Service’s Issues and Opinions television program about the U.S. government response and efforts of Americans to provide aid to disaster stricken areas. Mandarin radio programs also focused on the tragedy, reporting on all aspects of the story, including the impact it had on Chinese tourists in the area and efforts of a group organized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliver three tons of food, tents, medicine, and other materials to Medan, Indonesia. There were also reports on China’s plan to provide aid to India, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and on military efforts to stop the looting and restore order. VOA Cantonese interviewed Hong Kong Democratic Party Chairman Lee Wing-tat about how his party and humanitarian volunteer groups had worked the streets to collect $2.5 million for relief efforts.


VOA Persian’s News and Views daily TV show to Iran devoted a major portion of the show to the breaking story out of Asia, leading with a special, in-depth, original piece on the disaster that included some of the first pictures to come out of the stricken region. Coincidentally, because the quake and tsunami struck on the 1st anniversary of the Bam quake in Iran, News and Views was fortunate to have already booked an expert to discuss quakes and other natural disasters. News and Views’ daily coverage also included several original in-house TV reports on survivors and international and U.S. efforts to get aid into the devastated region. In addition, VOA Persian’s TV correspondent reported live by phone from the UNICEF Special Press Conference at the UN building in New York, where it was announced that children comprised the majority of the dead. News and Views interviews also included the head of the International Red Cross and a quake expert and architect who had worked on the reconstruction for Bam.


VOA Persian's radio programming pre-empted its regular daily programming to bring listeners full coverage of the catastrophe, including special correspondent and stringer reports and interviews, as well as a half-hour call-in show with Dr. Mansour Niazi, former professor of geophysics at the University of Mashad and currently a professor at the University of California.


VOA Hindi stringers in the region filed a steady stream of reports on the devastation and ongoing rescue and relief efforts, while correspondents of VOA’s major Indian TV affiliate, Aaj Tak, provided on-the-scene, eyewitness reports from Nagapatnam and Kanyakumari. VOA Hindi also worked the phones to secure interviews with relief officials and disaster experts, as well as those involved in community efforts in the U.S. and India to provide aid to the victims. In addition, four guests discussed the disaster on VOA Hindi’s live call-in show Hello India, including an editor of the major Hindi newspaper Nav Bharat Times, the Joint Director of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, an expert on earthquakes and an Indian-American community leader.


VOA Afghanistan Service’s Pashto and Dari air shows included call-in shows on international aid efforts and the serious health and economic consequences of tsunamis in the region.


VOA’s Bangla Service added to VOA’s comprehensive coverage by airing stringer reports from Dhaka and Kolkata (Calcutta), which included comments about rescue and relief efforts in India by India’s defense minister, the speaker of West Bengal state legislature, and West Bengal’s chief minister. The Service also interviewed the Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Dhaka, who officially asked Bangladesh for assistance, as well as several experts on earthquakes and tsunamis in Bangladesh and India. Dr. Aftab Alam, Professor of Geology, Dhaka University, explained why and how Bangladesh escaped the earthquake this time. The Service’s stringer also reported on Bangladesh aid to Sri Lanka and the $20-plus million in aid West Bengal provided to India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


VOA’s Urdu Service broadcasts also focused on the disaster and its aftermath using VOA Central News material and exclusive reports from its stringers in Islamabad and the region about the disaster and relief efforts, including Pakistan’s offer for assistance to a visiting Indian delegation that was in Islamabad for talks on improving relations. The Service also interviewed South Asians for reaction and reported on what Muslims in the United States were doing to provide emergency aid to the victims in the Indian Ocean region.


While some parts of Kenya suffered damage and loss of life, other parts of that country’s coastline were hardly affected. In an interview with English to Africa, the general manager of Hemingway’s Resort Hotel in Watumbi, Turtle Bay, at Malindi, Kenya, described conditions in his coastal area. The Service also interviewed the director of the Indian Academy of South Africa in Mobeni in KwaZulu-Natal Province about planned relief efforts for Indian survivors. Additional interviews were conducted with UNICEF workers in India, who discussed the dangers of waterborne diseases.


In Somalia, Presidential Spokesman Yusuf Mohammed Ismail told VOA’s English to Africa and Swahili services that the Somali Prime Minister would accompany international relief groups to areas struck by the tsunami to help assess the damage and determine how much relief is needed for those who have been displaced. Mr. Ismail said entire villages and coastal towns in the Puntland areas of northern Somalia had been swept away by the tsunami and thousands of people lost their homes. The new Somalia government has called for any kind of aid from the international community.


French to Africa’s Samuel Kiendrebeogo interviewed Marie-Francoise Borrell of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva about relief efforts in South Asia and Africa.


VOA Portuguese to Africa’s stringer reported that while the Asian tsunami did not reach the coast of Mozambique, it did hit other countries on the coast of east Africa north of Mozambique. The Mozambican government launched a campaign of solidarity for the victims of the Asian tsunami.


VOA’s Turkish Service coverage included interviews with Celal Segnor of Istanbul’s Technical University and a member of the U.S. Geological Survey, Avni Aksoy, the Turkish DCM in Bangkok, who talked about some of the missing Turkish tourists/citizens who were in Thailand for their New Year vacation. The service also interviewed a Turkish tourist in the Seychelles who was an eyewitness to the tsunami.


VOA’s Spanish Branch responded to dozens of requests from affiliate radio stations for special phone feeds on the latest events and developments of the tragedy. VOA stringers in Latin America provided reports on reported casualties from Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador thus far. There were also reports of condolences from several governments in the Americas. The Spanish Branch provided the International Red Cross phone number for listeners who wanted to know information about their relatives in the region: the phone number, which responds to Spanish speakers, was given throughout VOA’s Spanish language programs. A number of interviews were conducted with representatives of the World Health Organization and the International Red Cross.

All other VOA services also focused on coverage of the disaster and U.S. and international relief efforts.

US commercial networks

NBC announced that it raised more than $18 million for the American Red Cross to send to tsunami victims with its benefit broadcast on 15 January. Individual NBC stations raised another $10 million through separate telethons, the network said. Stars donated their time and the $2 million in production costs were covered by a corporate sponsor. The tsunami benefit, aired on NBC and its affiliated stations, struggled for viewer attention. It was modeled after a similar benefit aired after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which raised $130 million for victims.