Broadcasting Board of Governors ignores Congress
A guest commentary by Edite Lynch
“Purging” as it is being applied to what is happening to the Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts is a correct term because the term itself is very closely allied with what totalitarian governments, like communists, autocrats, or imperial Presidents do when they feel threatened by any group of people who do not adhere or march to the tune of their trumpets.
This word resonates sharply with what has been an ongoing activity by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in its efforts to decimate U.S. broadcasting to many countries of the world, among them Tibet and China. Anyone who has a modicum of interest or understanding of what it means to live under an oppressive regime would be appalled by the direction in which the BBG is taking the Voice of America.
The explanations given thus far that the Internet is a more useful tool for addressing America’s public diplomacy are lacking in truth and common sense. Everyone knows that totalitarian regimes and their leaders are aggressive players in boycotting and in censorship of any Western influence or talk of freedom, human rights, living and breathing with dignity.
In spite of Congressional budget allotments for specific broadcasting, the BBG has acted in direct opposition to what Congress has dictated that must be done.
It would seem that the Executives leading the BBG do not agree with what Congress stipulates and are actively pursuing their own inexplicable agenda, which is even more worrisome. It appears that advancing the humanitarian goals of American public diplomacy abroad is not required by those in charge of the BBG. They are quite content to throw billions of people under the bus, deny them access to news from America and prevent them from learning that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also applies to those souls who live under repressive and communist regimes.
With the advent of a new President in 2008, the activity and misdirection by the BBG has multiplied and moved quickly in spite of what Congress has said and done. They are behaving like autocrats themselves and influencing the editorial of direction of the Voice of America. They are exercising judgement that lacks humanity or compassion for the unfortunate people around the world who yearn to listen to VOA.
President Obama has shown his disdain for the relevancy of the three branches of government. The BBG executives are acting in the same manner and obviously are taking lessons from their patron. How disheartening for all those selfless persons who for seventy years made a huge difference in the lives of billions around the world. A bunch of highly paid wonks want to destroy the bedrock of American public diplomacy around the world to people who really need to hear its message of freedom and hope.
The Internet is great where it works for those who can afford it. The Internet is also almost free for millions of originators of news websites, particularly in the West, although not free enough for the poor and the oppressed in the rest of the world.
So where does all the money go at the BBG from destroying radio if not to the bureaucrats and their big contractors.
The people who most desperately want to listen to uncensored radio broadcasts from America in their own language are neither free nor rich. They often can’t afford the Internet. If the can afford it, they may not use it to access Western news sites out of fear of being discovered, or their Internet access is effectively censored by the cyber police in countries like China.
Radio can be jammed but never with complete effectiveness. Radio is free and listening to radio is both anonymous and safe. The poor and the oppressed will rely on radio to overcome censorship and be assured that America has not forgotten them.
But being poor and living under an oppressive regime is not something that Broadcasting Board of Governors and International Broadcasting Bureau bureaucrats worry on a daily basis.