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Clandestine Brodcast Makes Waves In Olympic Sized Swimming Pool posted on August 8th, 2008

Today, on 08-08-08, the Olypmics began in Beijing, China. While millions around the world would tune in to watch the opening ceremony, viewers in China itself would fall victim to a last-minute government restrictions. Only those outdoor venues sanctioned by the government would broadcast the ceremony. This measure is only a part of a long-standing censorship in free media in China, sparked by fears that non-sanctioned or foreign reporters would broadcast anti-government content that would reach the ears of Chinese citizens and perhaps create dissidence. As a result of strict censorship, foreign correspondants in China have been hassled in the weeks leading up to the Olympics. Behind the Great Firewall of China, the government has taken back a promise to offer uncensored internet to foreign journalists in China, including blog-hosting sites used by both news corporations and individuals.

The censorship has incited a protest by a French group known as Radio Without Borders (or RSF for Radio Sans Frontieres). Using miniature antennas, RSF began a broadcast at 08:08 am local time in French, English and Mandarin, which was heard on 104.4 FM in different districts of Beijing. The twenty minute program featured RSF secretary general Robert Menard and several Chinese human rights activists urging the Chinese government to free imprisoned Chinese activists and private correspondants and stop jamming international frequencies. This program, according to the RSF, “is the first non-state radio station to have broadcast in China since the Communist Party took power in 1949. Only international Chinese-language radio stations broadcasting on the short wave would be able to break this news and information monopoly, but they are jammed by the authorities.”

RSF has planned protests throughout the Olympic ceremony and urges individuals on its website to cyber-demonstrate. RSF’s twenty minute broadcast may not have been enough to influence change, but it succeeded in it’s mission to be an embarassment to the Chinese government just 12 hours before the opening ceremony. The broadcast said: “It’s our way of saying to them: Despite everything you do, here are the voices of people you want to silence.”