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Cablegate: Rrt Erbil: Nawroz Tv Co-Op Makes News

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #3856/01 3451326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101326Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0776

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 003856

SIPDIS

PA FOR OBS GEORGE SANTULLI AND MIKE KIEL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL SOCI OEXC OIIP KPAO IZ
SUBJECT: RRT Erbil: Nawroz TV Co-Op Makes News

(U) This is a Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) Erbil reporting
cable.

Summary
-------

1. (U) A two-week TV co-op project in the United States gave
millions of people in Iraq's Kurdistan Region an extraordinary
window into the workings of American democracy. From October 27 to
November 7, the three-person crew from Kurdistan's Nawroz TV visited
Washington, Chicago, and San Diego, and broke new ground when a
Nawroz journalist did a live report from Obama campaign headquarters
on election night
-- the first-ever live TV broadcast from the United States by a
Kurdistan Region media outlet. The Nawroz crew faced a number of
hurdles including delays in getting their U.S. visas issued and
translation support while on the program. The TV producer hired by
the Office of Broadcast Services to work with the Nawroz crew
successfully overcame these glitches, combining her extensive TV
experience with a large dose of patience to make the project a
success. As of December 10, Nawroz TV has aired nearly 20 separate
items shot during the co-op. End summary.

Context
-------

2. (U) With the strong support of Embassy Baghdad's Public Affairs
Section and PA's Office of Broadcast Services (OBS), RRT Erbil's
Public Diplomacy Section sent a three-person crew from Nawroz TV, a
major Kurdistan Region satellite station, to the United States for
an October 27 to November 7 TV co-op program. Nawroz cost-shared by
paying for the crew's roundtrip airfare to the United States, while
OBS paid for the crew's expenses in the United States. This
included OBS' hiring of an extraordinary TV producer, Cecilia
Callahan, whose patience and experience played a key role in the
project's success. (Note: See paragraph 6 for a detailed list of
the co-op's results.)

The Co-Op: Washington...
-------------------------

3. (U) The crew's first stop was Washington, D.C., where they
focused on the final days of the presidential campaign. They did
extensive interviews with pro-Obama and pro-McCain members of the
Kurdish-American community and covered a large McCain campaign rally
in the Washington area.

...Chicago and San Diego
------------------------

4. (U) Given the choice of being at Obama campaign headquarters or
McCain headquarters on election day, the Nawroz crew opted for
Chicago. After overcoming some technical difficulties, and with
indispensable assistance, advice, and coaching from Cecilia Callahan
and AP television satellite support staff in London, the Nawroz crew
broke new ground: they did the first live broadcast by a Kurdistan
Region media outlet from the United States. The Nawroz crew
finished the co-op in San Diego, where they focused on the city's
large Kurdish-American community and how Kurdish immigrants have
adjusted to life in the United States.

Lessons Learned
---------------

5. (U) There were several lessons-learned from this co-op:

-- JOURNALISTS FROM THE KURDISTAN REGION NEED OUR HELP TO IMPROVE
THEIR TECHNICAL/PROFESSIONAL SKILLS. Had it not been for the
patience and experience of Cecilia Callahan, this TV co-op would not
have been a success. The Nawroz crew was dedicated and
hard-working, but clearly not as skilled as their counterparts from,
for example, Baghdad. Ditto for Nawroz satellite technicians in
Erbil, who required significant coaching in order to be able to
downlink a satellite signal from Chicago.

-- APPLY EARLY FOR VISAS. Had it not been for the persistence,
professionalism, and dedication of our colleagues in Embassy
Baghdad's Consular Section and Office of Provincial Affairs (OPA),
the Nawroz crew would not have been able to travel to the United
Qthe Nawroz crew would not have been able to travel to the United
States in time for the program. Journalists from Iraq need to apply
for their visas at least four months ahead of their planned
departure.

-- MAKE SURE SOMEBODY ON THE TV CO-OP CREW SPEAKS EXCELLENT ENGLISH.
One member of the Nawroz crew spoke only basic English, so Nawroz
arranged for additional translation support from the Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG) office in Washington. However, when
Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani visited the United States
at the same time as the Nawroz project, the KRG had to call the
interpreter in to support the Barzani visit. Working with OBS and
Cecilia Callahan, the RRT was able to provide last-minute
translation support, which the head of the Nawroz crew said "saved
the project."

Results
-------

6. (U) Here is a detailed list of co-op products that have been
broadcast by Nawroz TV, which reaches an estimated viewing audience
of five million people (broken down by each of the project stops):

WASHINGTON:


-- Interview with NEA DAS Richard Schmierer (also published in
Haremi Kurdistan magazine)

-- Interview with KRG Washington office representative Qubad
Talabani

-- Interview with the head of the Washington Kurdish Institute, Dr.
Najmadin Karim

-- Interview with the KRG Washington office's director of cultural
affairs, Najat Abdullah

-- A special report about how Halloween is celebrated in America

-- Interview with the head of VOA

-- Interview with the head of VOA's Kurdish service

-- Interview with staff of VOA's Kurdish Service

-- Interview with anti-WMD protesters in front of the White House

-- Interview with supporters of McCain and Obama in the Washington
area Kurdish-American community

-- Report on McCain campaign rally in Virginia

-- Interview with McCain campaign volunteers at the rally in
Virginia

CHICAGO:

-- Live election-day coverage from Obama campaign headquarters in
Grant Park

-- Interviews with Obama supporters in Chicago

-- Interview with Obama's barber

SAN DIEGO:


-- Report on Kurdish Human Rights Center in San Diego.

-- Interview with director of the Kurdish Human Rights Center.

-- Interview with a Kurdish-American professor at the University of
San Diego

-- Interviews with members of the San Diego Kurdish-American
community

Comment: Hats Off to OBS
-------------------------

7. (U) This project would not have happened without the strong
support of OBS' George Santulli and Mike Kiel. Their patience with
the crew through a range of technical and translation difficulties
was much appreciated. Moreover, their selection of Cecilia Callahan
as the producer for this project was spot-on. Cecilia was extremely
diligent, holding several conference calls with the Nawroz crew
before the start of the project, adjusting the schedule when their
departure from Iraq was delayed by visa difficulties, and being
extraordinarily gracious when the KRG Washington office unexpectedly
pulled the plug on its translation support. We at RRT Erbil and the
Nawroz crew are in her debt.

8. (U) RRT Erbil also wishes to acknowledge that this historic
co-op, which gave millions of people in the Kurdistan Region an
extraordinary window into the workings of American democracy, would
not have been possible without the support of Embassy Baghdad's
Public Affairs Section.

CROCKER

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