Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1941-1974 and 1974-1996, and the Daily Report Annexes, 1974-1996, released by Readex (a division of NewsBank) in 2007, is an electronic collection of the daily reports originally issued by the FBIS in paper and microform. The reports include selected news bulletins and editorials, speeches, briefings, interviews, and policy papers gleaned from radio and television broadcasts and news services in approximately 100 countries throughout the world. Collected and translated into English by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the texts are largely from sources in regions of American strategic interest during the period.
FBIS Daily Reports are also a complement to and cross-searchable with the digital edition of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS), 1957-1994.
FBIS Daily Reports have been a key source on American diplomacy and world opinion since they were first introduced in the early 1940s. Originally circulated in paper form, the reports were a crucial tool of current awareness for generations of Foreign Service officers, foreign relations professionals, and students of international affairs. They are now primary sources for historians of politics, communications, and culture. Much of the content originated from local broadcast stations, some of them “clandestine,” like the shortwave radio operations of the Khmer Rouge Provisional Government in Cambodia during the period of Communist rule there, or from local news services like the Syrian Arab News Agency in Damascus. The collection also includes CIA transcripts of news reports filed through foreign bureaus of Western news agencies and broadcasters such as the BBC World Service and Agence France-Presse.
Each FBIS daily report, or compilation, provides excerpts and full texts, in English, of reports from several world regions. Each entry gives place, source, and original language of the source, the date of the report, and, if broadcast, the time of day. The FBIS Daily Report Annexes, 1974-1996 were originally created for analysts, with an "official use only" status.
The Foreign Broadcast Information Service was, until recently, a program of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The FBIS has monitored, recorded, transcribed, and translated radio and television broadcasts and news service bulletins from hundreds of countries around the world. The systematic monitoring of foreign broadcasting for American intelligence purposes began in 1939. The Princeton Listening Center, established by Princeton University, monitored and produced transcripts of Axis and Allied propaganda broadcasts, many of them transmitted by shortwave radio, as well as broadcasts from other places of strategic interest in Europe, from November 1939 through May 1941. In 1941, the center’s functions were assumed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and moved to Washington DC to from the Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service.
FBIS Daily Reports continued and augmented compilations generated by earlier intelligence-gathering efforts. The BBC Monitoring Service, founded in 1939, issued its daily and weekly Digest of World Broadcasts and, later, Summary of World Broadcasts from several geographic regions: the U.S.S.R., Eastern Europe, Germany, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Far East, Middle East, and Africa. These reports summarized foreign radio station transmissions from 1939 through 1997. The reports are collected on microform in the ProQuest BBC Summary of World Broadcasts series.
The BBC efforts in turn carried on the earlier practice of British government monitoring of the press in Crown colonies. The Review of the Foreign Press, 1939-1945, was produced by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and extensive excerpts from the “native papers” in India were translated and published by British colonial government offices on the subcontinent.
Kalev Leetaru has done an in-depth study of the news sources included in the FBIS Daily Reports, and those in the Summary of World Broadcasts, published by the British Broadcasting Service (BBC). See Leetaru’s The Scope of FBIS and BBC Open Source Media Coverage, 1979–2008.
The daily compilations were originally issued on a limited basis in paper form beginning in 1941 and, starting in the 1960s, in microform through the Library of Congress and later the National Technical Information Service. (Earlier FBIS compilations of foreign radio broadcasts were microfilmed and sold by the Library of Congress Photoduplication Service.) The Foreign Broadcast Information Service continued to publish its daily reports until late 1996, when they began issuing them in electronic format only. Beginning in 1995 the electronic versions were licensed by the Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service for Web distribution through Dialog’s World News Connection on a subscription basis. Under ProQuest ownership, the WNC continues to distribute reports provided by the CIA’s Open Source Center, the successor service to FBIS, although it is not clear how complete those electronic files are.
The Readex digital collection (issued in two parts along with the Annexes) begins in 1941, when the reports began to be published on microform, and continues through 1996, when the printed reports were discontinued. The product was produced by digitizing the microform editions of the paper reports. Many of these microform sets are available from the Center for Research Libraries.
At this time, Readex’s FBIS Daily Reports 1941-1974 and 1974-1996 includes reports from the following regions and countries: Africa (52 countries), Asia (27), Australia/Oceania (12), and the Middle East/Near East (20). To date the total number of pages included in the collection is close to 1.2 million. Reports on Latin America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Soviet Union, and Central Eurasia are scheduled to be added to the collection in late 2008 and 2009.