Voice of America Journalists Protest Ending of VOA Radio to China, Part Two
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All Americans, including members of Congress, who support free press and human rights, should watch this disturbing but highly informative video about the Obama administration’s plan to end Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts to China on Oct. 1, 2011, which happens to be the national holiday of the Communist regime in Beijing.
The video shows a group of remarkable journalists from the Voice of America Mandarin and Cantonese radio, TV, and Internet services directing pointed questions to VOA Director Dan Austin and making persuasive arguments against the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) decision to end all on-the-air radio news broadcasting in their languages to China.
It’s now up to the U.S. Congress to save VOA from the BBG’s effort to destroy the Voice of America as a broadcasting organization. VOA radio broadcasts to Russia had already been terminated by the BBG in 2008, resulting in an over 80% drop in audience reach.
The BBG and Voice of America Director Austin makes a claim that Internet-only program delivery strategy prepares VOA for the future by targeting new media and a younger audience when in fact BBG’s own research shows that it has been a failure in Russia and is not likely to reach a vast new audience.
VOA Chinese Service journalists point out that the BBG with the support of VOA Director Austin are terminating VOA radio broadcasts that have a larger audience in China and higher name recognition than Radio Free Asia (RFA) and BBC. The BBG plans to give VOA shortwave frequencies to RFA. One cannot be but impressed with professionalism and expert knowledge of these journalists when they point out to Director Austin that 750 million of Chinese have no Internet access and that the regime in Beijing can block and censor Internet access for those who have it. Director Austin keeps repeating that the strategy will bring a new audience when in fact — as the members of his Chinese services point out — they already have extensive Internet presence. They also pointed out to him and it was obvious from his answers that neither he nor the BBG has a plan to deal with any future blocking of the Internet in China.
Director Austin insisted that the Chinese government is unlikely to block the Internet completely, but as one of the VOA Chinese Branch journalist pointed out, he saw his friends being killed next to him in 1989 on the Tienanmen Square and has no doubt that the Chinese government is fully capable of doing everything possible to prevent the free flow of information if its authoritarian rule is threatened. He also pointed out that while shortwave radio transmissions can be jammed in some limited areas, it is the only way of securely communicating with the Chinese people.
From Free Media Online.org
“We believe that members of Congress and the American public are being grossly mislead by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) officials who oversee the Voice of America (VOA) and want to terminate all on-the-air uncensored news radio broadcasts to China on October 1, 2011, which happens to be the national holiday of the Chinese Communist Party. Time after time, BBG officials have shown their inability to understand market research in closed societies and failed to grasp the desperation of people living under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.
Their earlier decision to cut VOA radio broadcasts to Russia has resulted in over 80% drop in audience reach, and they have shown their inability to expand Internet audience there, just as they could not protect VOA websites from a successful Iranian cyber attack last week.
Members of Congress and American taxpayers should demand from BBG officials to explain why they want to eliminate radio broadcasts by the Voice of America, which has more listeners in China than Radio Free Asia and BBC; why they want to ignore 750 million Chinese; and what they plan to do during any future Tiananmen event in China when the regime in Beijing will completely block or censor the Internet at the most convenient time for them and the most inconvenient time for the U.S. government and pro-democracy supporters in China,” said Free Media Online president Ted Lipien.
Ted Lipien is a former BBG manager and until 2006 former acting associate director of the Voice of America.