Broadcasting Board of Governors Should Stay True to Their Mandate Not Only in China and Tibet

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2012

Broadcasting Board of Governors Should Stay True to Their Mandate Not Only in China and Tibet

CUSIB/New York, NY — The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) has been vindicated by the action of Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) who approved a plan to restore funding in the FY 2013 budget request that the BBG proposed to cut earlier this year for U.S. international broadcasting to China and Tibet.

CUSIB applauds efforts by its members to bring this important issue to the attention of the American public. We are also deeply grateful to Mrs. Annette Lantos, a Holocaust survivor and human rights campaigner, who made a powerful plea to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in defense of Voice of America programs to China, Tibet, and Russia. CUSIB also thanks its Advisory Board members Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, and Jing Zhang, founder and president of Women’s Rights in China, for their efforts to show how VOA and Radio Free Asia (RFA) radio and television broadcasts help women in China who are victims of human rights abuses.

CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan stated: “Although we appreciate today’s decision by the BBG to restore Voice of America (VOA) Tibetan radio broadcasts and the Voice of America Cantonese Service, we remain concerned about how Voice of America English to Asia radio broadcasts and Voice of America Spanish and English radio, television and Internet to Latin America will be affected. We also remain concerned that the BBG executive staff ignored the message sent to them by Congress last year when they attempted to reallocate resources away from Voice of America broadcasting services and cut the jobs of their journalists committed to serving information needs of people living in countries without free media. The U.S. Congress had told the BBG in no uncertain terms that they were on the wrong course. This is not a battle we want to wage each year, and we would like to remain hopeful that the BBG will review its mission statement and use its resources wisely.”

“CUSIB would like to go on the record as opposing the proposed administrative merger of the surrogate broadcasters in its current form as undermining their independence, effectiveness and accountability to Congress and the American people,” stated CUSIB Director and co-founder Ted Lipien. “If the BBG is going to embrace internal administrative reform at its executive level, then CUSIB would strongly support increased funding from Congress for China, Middle East, Russia, Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America. If wisely managed, U.S. international broadcasting represents the best investment for U.S. national security interests. But we are concerned that the same officials who wanted to reduce broadcasts to Tibet and China using faulty research are also in charge of the proposed merger of the surrogate broadcasters and make unfounded claims about its benefits and presumed savings while pushing to limit public ownership and scrutiny over these and other operations,” Lipien said.

CUSIB supports the ongoing efforts of BBG member Ambassador Victor Ashe to protect the pro-media freedom and human rights mission of the Voice of America and the surrogate broadcasters and their journalists, especially his call for a continuation of U.S. radio broadcasting to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

CUSIB also concurs with the remarks by BBG member Michael Meehan as stated in the BBG’s official announcement: “China’s highly competitive media market and its government’s aggressive jamming of BBG content are long-standing challenges. Beijing blocks media of many kinds and aggressively stifles free expression, especially in regions where dissent continues to arise in the open, such as Tibet. While the Board understands the reality of the current budget environment, it also perceives a pressing need for the news and information that we provide to be seen and heard across China and Tibet.”

CUSIB awaits similar action from the BBG about the fate of other broadcasting services that also face unjustified cuts and reductions, including Voice of America Spanish, Georgian, Turkish, and Greek, among others, as well as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcasts to the Russian Federation, and how a careful review of how the BBG and its International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) spend their resources might be able to save those programs and also save money for U.S. taxpayers.

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is an independent, nongovernmental organization which supports free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries without free media.

For further information, please contact:
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB)
New York, New York

Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Tel. 646-251-6069

Ted Lipien, co-founder and Director
Tel. 415-793-1642
Email: contact@cusib.org
www.cusib.org

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