Fox News reported — Lawmakers Scramble to Keep Voice of America On Air in China — that Congressional lawmakers are scrambling to prevent America’s international media arm from going off-air in China, arguing that a plan to shift much of its reporting to the Internet won’t do much good in a country notorious for its web censors.
In a full bipartisan rebuke to the BBG, which manages the Voice of America and other U.S. international broadcasts, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted unanimously for an amendment, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., containing a provision that would allocate nearly $14 million exclusively for Voice of America’s Mandarin and Cantonese radio and satellite TV programs to stay on the air.
Fox News reported that “Ted Lipien, a former VOA executive who now runs Free Media Online, complained in an op-ed earlier this year that aside from the threat of censorship, two-thirds of China’s population does not even have Internet access. He accused the BBG of turning its back on human rights activists who rely on radio for information.”
Ted Lipien is also a member of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB).
BBG Watch reported that in a Washington Times editorial published last March, Lipien wrote:
“The Internet is inaccessible for 750 million Chinese. A listener to VOA radio programs in China is not likely to be a Chinese with an iPhone who goes on shopping trips to New York but someone like Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Kept under house arrest, she once succeeded in sending an email to a friend, in which she wrote, ‘I don’t know how I managed to get online.’ She then warned her friend, ‘Don’t go online. Otherwise my whole family is in danger.’ BBG officials turn their backs on people like Liu Xia when they claim that ending VOA radio to China would help them develop new media tools to reach a younger, Internet-using audience.”
Lipien ended his Washington Times op-ed with a comment about the BBG executive staff, which claims to be able to overcome Internet censorship in China but had failed to protect VOA websites from an Iranian cyber attack:
“The ability of the BBG executive staff to make wrong decisions has been so uncanny that simply by examining their program-cutting proposals, members of Congress easily could have predicted new outbreaks of unrest and assaults on free media shortly before they happened. Congress should not allow this group of managers to commit yet another blunder with a gift to the Chinese Communist Party as it celebrates its national holiday on Oct. 1, the proposed date for ending VOA radio to China.”