Confusion whether BBG committee approved saving VOA Tibetan radio and VOA Cantonese Service

BBG Governor, Amb. Victor Ashe

There appears to be some confusion whether at the meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Strategy and Budget Committee that took place on April 10, 2012 at BBG Headquarters in Washington, DC its members voted to save VOA Tibetan radio and the VOA Cantonese Service from the proposed elimination. The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) website reported that BBG senior Republican member Victor Ashe urged the other committee members, Governors Michael Meehan and Enders Wimbush, to save VOA Tibetan radio and VOA Cantonese broadcasts from being terminated. (Governor Michael Lynton was not in attendance.)

CUSIB quoted Ashe as saying: “I cannot say the full committee agreed or disagreed. It is unclear. However, what I think is clear is that Congress will not allow this cut to take place.”

Ashe apparently told several people that he believes the Strategy and Budget Committee has decided to recommend to the whole Board that these services be saved. It is unclear, however, whether this assessment is shared by another Republican member, Governor Enders Wimbush, who has been a strong supporter of eliminating Voice of America radio to Tibet and all VOA Mandarin and Cantonese radio and television broadcasts.

The information below about the Committee meeting was provided by one of our sources who told us that the BBG/IBB executive staff went into overdrive upon learning that Ashe may have succeeded in persuading other BBG members to save VOA services. The source told us that these International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executives are painfully aware that if broadcasting services are saved their own jobs may go on the chopping block for embarrassing the Board with their Tibet and China recommendations and being rated by OPM the worst managers in the federal government. That’s why they are so determined to kill these services and will do anything to get BBG members to support them. They count particularly on support from Governor Wimbush, the source told BBG Watch.

“The Committee noted concerns expressed by Governors and entity heads about the proposed cuts to VOA programming to Tibet and other areas in China that are described in the FY 2013 budget.

The Committee requested that the IBB Director develop a holistic [sic] plan for VOA and RFA broadcasting to China. The Committee also requested that the IBB Director form a working group on China broadcasting including the VOA Director, the President of RFA, the Director of the IBB Office of Strategy and Development, and the Director of the IBB Office of Technology, Services and Innovation. The Committee asked that the IBB Director provide such a holistic plan for the Committee and plenary Board’s consideration at the April Board meeting.

The Committee noted Governor Ashe’s recommendation that the BBG should continue broadcasting in shortwave to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.”

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Reposted from the CUSIB website:

BBG’s Victor Ashe pushes for saving Voice of America and Radio Free Asia broadcasts

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) member Ambassador Victor Ashe has called the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) to express his appreciation for CUSIB’s pro-media freedom and human rights activities mentioned in a recent letter to the BBG from Annette Lantos, a human rights campaigner. Mrs. Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, is the wife of the late Congressman Tom Lantos and the Chairman of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.

Ambassador Ashe told us that he shares Mrs. Lantos’ concerns about the proposed elimination of the Voice of America radio broadcasts to Tibet and shutting down of the VOA Cantonese Service.

Ambassador Ashe said that even prior to receiving Mrs. Lantos’ letter, he had raised similar concerns with Governors Michael Meehan and Enders Wimbush at the meeting of the BBG Strategy and Budget Committee that took place on April 10, 2012 at BBG Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Ambassador Ashe said that he specifically urged keeping Voice of America Tibetan radio broadcasts on the air.

“I cannot say the full committee agreed or disagreed. It is unclear. However, what I think is clear is that Congress will not allow this cut to take place,” he told CUSIB.

He also said that he strongly supports continued U.S. radio broadcasting to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

CUSIB Director Ted Lipien said that the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting welcomes Ambassador Ashe’s support for continued U.S. government-funded news broadcasting to nations without free media. We hope that other Broadcasting Board of Governors members will join Ambassador Ashe and reverse the proposed broadcasting cuts, Lipien said. CUSIB believes that these cuts disgrace America’s reputation as a champion of human rights, would undermine U.S. national security and harm countless individuals who depend on VOA and RFA for uncensored news and a message of hope and support from the American people.

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