BBG Governor Victor Ashe calls shortwave broadcasting to countries without free media 'valuable'
Ashe pauses before a portrait of Murrow with Walter Patterson, right, station manager.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors announced that BBG Governor Victor Ashe toured the last remaining U.S. –based international broadcast facility recently, noting the historical significance of the base which is named for an icon of U.S. international broadcasting. BBG Watch reported earlier that the BBG executive staff tried to discourage Ashe from visiting the Edward R. Murrow Greenville Transmitting Station in North Carolina. BBG executives want to close the station down as part of their plan to limit Voice of America radio broadcasting, eliminate several language services, and to switch most of the remaining ones to Internet-only program delivery.
BBG announcement notes that during his December 8 visit to the Edward R. Murrow Greenville Transmitting Station in North Carolina, Ashe met with employees and discussed the installation’s mission, which includes shortwave broadcasting to Latin America, Cuba, the Caribbean, and Africa.
Ashe has been meeting with BBG employee and raising employee morale issues in open BBG meetings to the dismay of BBG executives. They have been rated in government-wide employee surveys as being among the worst managers in the federal government.
Ashe has also raised questions about BBG staff’s plans to privatize Voice of America and Radio and TV Marti and to merge Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa into a large corporate bureaucracy. A former Republican mayor of Knoxville and former U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Ashe is known to be concerned about the BBG staff’s eagerness to eliminate radio and television VOA broadcasting services and jobs in the United States.
BBG announcement states that Ashe said he was impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the staff of the transmitting station in North Carolina, particularly their ability to maintain aged broadcast transmitters and related equipment.
While BBG public affairs staffers tried hard to focus the announcement on the historical aspects of the visit, sources told BBG Watch that Ashe also said that employees of the Edward R. Murrow Greenville Transmitting Station are “performing a valuable service.” Ashe also called for using the official name of the station rather than referring to it as a transmitting facility. Edward R. Murrow, a famous broadcast journalist during World War II and post-war director of the United States Information Agency, was a native of North Carolina.
Sources also told BBG Watch that Ashe is concerned how BBG executives deal with the American public and members of Congress. While BBG public relations staffers posted online a short announcement about Ashe’s visit to North Carolina, they refused to issue a press release about a Capitol Hill reception to mark the 70th anniversary of VOA broadcasting to China, which was hosted by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
The BBG wanted to end radio and television broadcasts to China but their plan was blocked in Congress thanks to an amendment introduced by Rep. Rohrabacher. His amendment received full bipartisan support. Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, attended the reception and recorded a special video message in support of VOA broadcasting to China.