Voice of America Staff Petition to Congress
I received the following from Alan Heil regarding the Voice of America and the continued sinister attempts to abolish it in favor of an AM radio format. This gutting of intelligent US debate and self-presentation to the rest of the world is being spear-headed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and especially by Norman Pattiz. They have already destroyed the Arabic service of the Voice of America, which was among the best radio programming in that language. They have replaced it with Radio Sawwa, which mainly broadcasts Britney Spears and Umm Kulthum to Arab audiences, along with at tiny bit of news and interviews. Most important Arab countries are not even letting it be broadcast (it only is received on FM frequencies). It has a fair listernership among teeny boppers in Jordan, e.g. But that is not a fair trade for the movers and shakers who used to listen to the Voice of America. The BBG would like to axe the Urdu and Persian services of the Voice of America, as well.
In the post-9/11 world, this policy is a huge catastrophe for the United States. That Congress can’t hear the difference in what is now being broadcast (pablum) and what used to be broadcast (substance) makes it difficult for members to appreciate the scope of the disaster.
‘ Friends and followers of VOA and other US publicly-funded overseas networks,
U. S international broadcasting is seriously threatened at a time when strong and substantive American voices to other countries are more important than ever. Although broadcast hours have been increased to the Middle East and Islamic world, taxpayer funded, pop-music networks have replaced comprehensive news reporting and analysis there. Language broadcasts to most of Central Europe have been abolished, and during critical hours, the Voice of America is silent in English. After four years of fighting to maintain VOA’s high journalistic standards and comprehensive reporting, the highly respected director of VOA Central News, Andre De Nesnera, was removed from his position this past Thursday.
Since 9/11, actions taken by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (the oversight entity for U.S international broadcasting) have limited the scope and effectiveness of the Voice of America and its sister grantee radios. Friends of the Voice of America, mainly former staff and VOA retirees, have attempted to bring attention to the systematic dismantling of this important public diplomacy instrument. Now, some 450 current VOA employees, in a petition being circulated on Capitol Hill today, are calling on Congress to investigate the actions of the BBG. The BBG assumed sole oversight of U.S. overseas broadcasts in 1999, so a fifth anniversary review of its functions is timely, if not overdue.
Write your representatives in the House and the Senate, and complain bitterly about the Broadcasting Board of Governors and their wrong-headed policies, which are harming the interests of the United States abroad.