“Again, the BBG has demonstrated why it is a broken institution, unfit to handle the U.S. government’s most important public diplomacy tool: its broadcasting complex. Congress needs to act, soon, to give U.S. international broadcasting a leadership with the proper priorities,” wrote Helle Dale of the Heritage Foundation, commenting on deep cuts in Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting in Cantonese to China, Dari and Pashto to Afghanistan, English to Africa and Asia, Khmer to Cambodia, and English-learning programs around the world. It further means elimination of medium-wave and shortwave broadcasting in Albanian, Georgian, Persian, and Spanish, as well as in English to Afghanistan and in English to the Middle East.
Helle C. Dale is the Heritage Foundations Senior Fellow in Public Diplomacy studies.
by Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) recently informed its workforce about sequestration cuts to Voice of America’s (VOA) shortwave and medium-wave broadcasting. Ironically, the Board is cutting the most cost-effective part of its organization: radio.
It would be more rational to cut the bloated management and administration of the International Broadcasting Bureau, which accounts for over 36 percent of the 2013 BBG budget request. Television broadcasting would also be a good place to look for savings, being far more expensive to produce and highly variable in terms of ratings.
Last year, however, the BBG declared in its “Strategic Plan” that radio is a “legacy medium,” a hold over from the past compared to television and the Internet. Now a golden opportunity has presented itself for the BBG staff. Thus, under the guise of complying with sequestration, the board has moved ahead with plans to cut radio, plans that have been fought by Members of Congress and heavily criticized by supporters of U.S. public diplomacy for several years.
READ MORE: Sequestration Prompts Attempt to Silence U.S. Radio Broadcasting by Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation, April 8, 2013.