Europe between past and future

Jan 29, 2014

History is made at night: Pirate Radio Raids: China, Thailand, Tunisia


Pirate Radio Raids: China, Thailand, Tunisia

That the state seeks to clamp down on 'pirate radio' is perhaps not surprizing, what is inspiring though is that across the world people find ways to defy the state's monopoly of the airwaves. Would be good to know more about the content of some of this broadcasting, I can't quite believe the official account that in China the police are just clamping down on adverts for 'sexual performance drugs'!
'Chongqing police have raided two illegal radio stations and confiscated their transmitters, antennas and computers, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday. As part of an ongoing campaign launched in April, city police located and seized illegal transmitters in Jiangbei and Yuzhong districts, the report said, but did not say if anyone had been arrested in the raids.

"The city is carrying on its joint campaign on illegal radio," Chongqing Culture Radio and Television Bureau staff member Li Xiaopeng told the Global Times on Tuesday. Li's bureau, Chongqing Radio Management Committee, and local police have all been involved in tackling the illegal broadcasts...

City residents had first tuned into obscene adverts for sexual performance drugs on their radios in late March, Zhang Xueming, a senior official from the city's radio management committee, told the Chongqing Evening Post in April. Authorities began investigating the case after receiving more than 100 reports of illegal transmissions, Zhang told the paper. The drugs advertised had been expensive, several hundred yuan each, and a few citizens had bought them and felt cheated. From April to September, Chongqing authorities have launched four raids, arresting one suspect and confiscating six transmitters, six antennas and six computers.

'Thailand’s media regulator continues its clamp down on the thousands of pirate radio and tv stations in the country. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has launched legal action against 1631 broadcasters – mostly thought to be radio stations. So far, 167 stations have been closed down and a further 109 have been searched, according to an NBTC release.The remaining 1355 broadcasters will face legal action in due course.

The stations are all accused of using broadcasting equipment without a licence and using  frequencies reserved for legal broadcasters. Owners could face fines of US$160,000 (Thai Baht 5 million) and a five year jail term. The NBTC has urged the thousands of stations broadcasting illegally in Thailand to apply for community broadcasting licences. By the end of September 2013, more than of 2,800 organisations have been approved for temporary licences, according to the Bangkok Post.

....Suffocated by fresh repression under the new government, DJ Nejib turned to a US-based cyberactivist, who taught him and a group of Egyptians and Moroccans how to assemble a pirate radio transmitter. Radio Chaabi (Arabic for popular) operated mostly through secretive night-time recordings.

Partly a celebration of music free from the threat of hardliners, early recordings simply experimented with lacing popular traditional Arabic music and rap lyrics. Politically focused efforts included collaborations with musicians from Palestine.... Days after the Guardian interviewed him, Nejib and seven colleagues were jailed following a dawn raid.

Almost three years since a wave of popular anger toppled Ben Ali's government, the first of several corrupt, autocratic Arab governments to feel the swell, Tunisia is still treading water. Attempts to hammer out a new constitution have floundered as hard left unionists have battled Islamists, in particular over a clause that would allow sharia law to be brought in...On a recent sunny Wednesday, a group of students and an enthusiastic 74-year-old grandmother handed out political flyers at kerbside cafes. Around one corner of a tree-lined boulevard, a weekly protest was taking place; on another, anarchists from a newly formed group called Désobéissance! (Disobedience!) loitered. "I no longer believe political parties can bring about change in Tunisia," said Nabil, an anarchist who said he was beaten by Tunisia's feared police for distributing "anti-capitalist" badges at a rally.

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