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Cablegate: Meeting with Information Minister And

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 001018

SIPDIS

For R (Undersecretary Tutwiler); ECA (PHarrison);
IBB; NEA/PD (Mquinn, Pagnew); NEA (Tkrajeski)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OIIP YM
SUBJECT: Meeting with information Minister and
National TV Chairman


1. (U) SUMMARY: On March 24, PAO held meetings
with the Director of Yemen TV and the Minister of
Information to brief them on upcoming media
training programs sponsored by the Embassy and to
discuss further cooperation in the information
sector. Both interlocutors expressed readiness to
work with the Public Diplomacy Section and
presented a number of requests. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) In a meeting with Yemen TV Director Abdul
Ghani Al-Shamiri, PAO John Balian proposed a
number of programs to be acquired by State TV,
such as "American Passages", "Democracy: A History
of US" and others. PAO also told Mr. Shamiri that
USAID Yemen may be able to acquire rights to
"Sesame Street" in Arabic from Cairo and that
program might be available to Yemen TV, if
desired. Mr. Shamiri welcomed these offers, but
insisted these were piecemeal propositions.
Instead, he presented his own plan, which he said
would cement the cooperative relationship between
the US Mission and Yemen TV. His plan for
cooperation (i.e. U.S. assistance) consists of
three parts: a) Training/Preparation of Cadres; b)
Programs; c) Equipment.

3. (U) Training: Mr. Shamiri asked that the
Embassy provide Yemen TV with US television
experts who could train his staff in all aspects
of television broadcasting, including journalistic
techniques, cameramanship, production,
newscasting, documentary techniques and
programming in general. He would also like to have
the newsreaders of his budding English-language
news program to get some training in the United
States to improve their English and their delivery
techniques. He said he lacks the cadres to
implement real reforms at Yemen TV. If possible,
he would also like to send a few promising young
cadres to study broadcasting in the United States.
Mr. Shamiri said he currently sends his workers to
Syria to train at the broadcasting institute
there, but that he is not satisfied with that
training.


4. (U) Programs: Mr. Shamiri asked that we make
available to Yemen TV some commercial American TV
programs that illustrate law enforcement and the
rule of law. He specifically mentioned the
Reality-TV show "Police" and "Law and Order" as
well as other reality shows that present an
unvarnished picture of one aspect of life in
America. He said these would be very popular in
Yemen and would raise the people's esteem of the
United States. He also asked that we provide
English language instruction videotape series so
he could start a TV-based English teaching
program. Additionally, Mr. Shamiri would like to
have scientific and nature related programs
produced in the United States.

5. (U) Equipment: Mr. Shamiri would like the
Embassy to donate two digicam or betacam cameras
(or one of each) to Yemen TV to be devoted, he
said, to covering U.S. sponsored activities in
Yemen and the shooting of documentary programs on
U.S. projects in the country. He would also like
us to provide Yemen TV with state of the art
editing equipment (together with training on how
to use them). He would also like Worldnet to
replace the satellite dish (provided by Worldnet)
that is now out of commission and the accompanying
decoder so he may resume pulling down programming
for broadcast. Mr. Shamiri said the French
Embassy had provided Yemen TV with equipment to
cover French projects in Yemen as well as to teach
French on TV. He said that as a consequence, he
had opened a "French" office at Yemen TV that
would deal exclusively with French programming.
He said the Germans are now sponsoring several of
his workers for training in Germany. And he said
other foreign representations have also approached
him with offers of assistance.

6. (U) Comment: Television is the most important
medium in Yemen and Mr. Shamiri's proposed
cooperation would give us unprecedented access to
that medium. Mr. Shamiri's request for equipment
and access to programs would only cost an
estimated 250 to 300 thousand dollars, a small sum
by any standards for what the Mission would get in
return. Post does not have the funds to cover
these costs. Given Washington's interest in the
electronic media, we are requesting that
additional resources be tapped to take advantage
of this window of opportunity. Mr. Shamiri's
request for training could be handled through
existing exchange programs (special IVPs and
Speakers).

7. (U) Meeting with Information Minister: Prior
to the meeting with the Director of National TV,
PAO John Balian met with Minister of Information
Hussein Al-Awadhi (an alumnus of U.S. educational
exchange programs) to inform him of upcoming media
training programs sponsored by the Embassy. Mr.
Awadhi appreciated the efforts of the Public
Diplomacy Section to organize a media-training
workshop in mid-May and a radio production
workshop in mid-July. In turn, he asked for U.S.
assistance for some projects his Ministry is
contemplating.

8. (U) Regional FM Radio Stations: The Minister
said the government wants to established small FM
radio stations in some regions of the country. He
said the government has already allocated the
necessary funds but need our assistance in finding
suppliers for the needed equipment in the United
States and a U.S. expert to advise them on the
setup of the radio stations. He asked if we could
finance the trip of such an expert to Yemen.

9. (U) A Radio Museum: Mr. Awadhi also said he
wants to convert a building next to the Ministry's
main building into a "Radio Museum". He said the
first centerpiece of the proposed museum will be
the equipment that was used at the very start of
radio broadcasts in Yemen in 1940. He said the
equipment was donated by the United States and he
feels the United States should participate in the
setup of the museum in light of this fact.
Therefore, he would like some financial assistance
as well as technical advice on how to set up the
museum properly.

10. (U) Training for TV Announcers/Hosts:
Additionally, the Minister would like us help him
send some promising TV announcers and program
hosts to improve their presentation skills. He
would like them to get hands on training on how
best to read the news, how to conduct talk shows,
how to organize roundtable discussions, and so on.
He would also like to see some working journalists
sent to the United States for advanced studies in
journalism.

11. (U) Comment: The Minister's request for
assistance with the proposed FM stations could be
easily met. AID has experience with community
radio stations and local broadcasting and knows
experts who have set up such programs. AID could
also help in identifying U.S. equipment suppliers.
The Minister's request for training could also be
handled through existing exchange programs with
some more funding. Post is not so enthusiastic
about the proposed museum project.

HULL

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