Guest Commentary

BBG Watch occasionally publishes guest commentaries. This one is from Victor Goonetilleke, a native of Sri Lanka who is both an educator and radio engineer. Views expressed are only those of the authors and not of BBG Watch, its volunteers, or sponsors.

We invite those with opposing views and others who want to comment on this or other issues followed by BBG Watch to submit their op-eds for consideration.

ALSO READ: BBG Shortwave Committee Chair defends himself against criticism by CUSIB, Radio World reports, BBG Watch, July 23, 2014.

ALSO READ: CUSIB Slams BBG Shortwave Chair, By Paul McLane, Radio World, July 23, 2014.

‘American policies are being blasted to bits’ while Voice of America shortwave radio goes silent in Asia

By Victor Goonetilleke

Victor Goonetilleke
Victor Goonetilleke

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) member Mr. Matt Armstrong cannot be blamed for he clearly shows that he doesn’t understand what radio means to those who listen. He does not appear involved in the whole process, but looks at it from a detached state. He is like a surgeon who operates and removes an organ, for he neither feels the pain nor has to cope with what it is to live without what he had removed. He appears not to know what the snatching of Voice of America from radio audiences does to the relationship between the world and the United States. He appears not to know what position America has given up.

You really have to walk along a dusty road with fear gripping you wondering what is happening in your own country to know what this means. There are no landlines or broadband, mobile phones or an Internet service provider. All you might have access to is a small radio.

Yes, what the Voice of America needed was a complete rethinking of how to reach and connect with the audience, not the peace meal approach of recent years. The content had to change, not the elimination of one of the modes of delivery.

The West today has only four hours of radio broadcasting to the world, from the also limping BBC World Service. In the face of Chinese jamming of even English-language radio broadcasts, it appears that the US Broadcasting Board of Governors has also decided to abandon ship. Today, Israel and American policies are being blasted to bits in social media and in international radio programs.

Where is America and where is its voice? For the first time in many years, I feel that we are getting a one-sided view of the world.

Even when I sent my comments to the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ Special Committee on the Future of Shortwave Broadcasting, I felt the decision had already been taken by the BBG. With people like Mr. Armstrong, the Committee Chair, who don’t appear to understand these issues, a request for comments was a needed aspect of the whole process to be able to say that we have consulted.

The only justification for having done what the Broadcasting Board of Governors did would be if the US economy was in such dire straights that the BBG had no choice. You appear to say good bye from the United States with a message that we are no longer the strongest nation on earth.

Victor Goonetilleke, a native of Sri Lanka, is an educator and radio engineer.

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