Monday, January 24, 2011

Tunisa: TV is Still King Of The Airwaves

I believe that TV is the uber information weapon. While TV is not everywhere, it is certainly more pervasive than the Internet. A TV needs power and an antenna while the Internet requires some sort of smart phone or computer and a connection. The Internet seems to be for those who can afford the devices and the access while TV continues to be for the masses.

Photo: Author's photo of Mount Trebevic SRT Repeating Tower, Bosnia

The NY Times article “Tunisia Shuts Down Private TV Channel” which was dated 23 Jan 11 and appeared in the 24 Jan print edition (see: reported that Tunisian government had shut the TV Station down.

Government sources claimed justifiable reasons for the shutdown. However, the action was alleged to have fanned the current flames of discontent even higher. There were also comments about the station owner and the wealth that the owner and family had gained.

The shutdown was reportedly short lived with station coming back on the air Monday local time.

Some of my loyal readers may recall my earlier postings about TV. For those new to the Blog, I’ve often said that TV is a far better info weapon than the Internet. While I was in Bosnia during October 1997, the Republika Srpska and NATO got into, as the Brits might say, a bit of a sticky wicket. Seems NATO alleged that the Serb Radio and TV (SRT ) was inciting the local population against NATO forces.

The 1st Infantry Division under the command of MG David Grange mounted an attack against one of the TV repeater/transmitters in the network antenna stream and effectively halted TV broadcasts. The NATO press release can be found at:
The population was dependent on TV for their entertainment. The fact that the State may have controlled the new content was not nearly as important as the daily dose of pirated Venezuelan soap operas. The Serb government was compelled to negotiate with NATO in order to regain their broadcasting capability and thereby assuage the population.

The lesson for MISO personnel is clear. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, know your AO’s TV channels and their executives like you know yourself. Part of your information preparation of the battlefield is to draw overlays of broadcast and print media to determine their effective footprints. It also makes sense to analyze the programming to determine if the medium is controlled by a particular political faction and to get a feeling for their audience demographics. It is also worthwhile to try and determine where the medium derives its revenue.

MISO forces can and do utilize a variety of media for paid advertising so that one way to get your message out can sometimes be to simply pay for the service. Care must be taken in working with media from a business as well as a cultural perspective so that media management is positively disposed to you and your efforts.
Sometimes the media can provide or point you to credible local spokespeople which can be invaluable.

Bottom line: never underestimate the power of an irate TV viewer!

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