BBG Watch Commentary

U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA), charged by U.S. Congress with providing news to countries without free media, including U.S. policy news, appears to have failed to report online in English and in many other languages on the overwhelmingly passed U.S. House of Representatives resolution on Ukraine.

The resolution expressed support for “democratic and European aspirations” in Ukraine and called on the Ukrainian authorities to respect democratic rights and free protest detainees.

The resolution was introduced by Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York. It passed on February 10 by a vote of 381-2. It had 58 co-sponsors.

An extensive search of the VOA English news website has produced no evidence of any news reporting or even a mention of the U.S. House Ukraine resolution.

The search showed, however, a large number of recent feature reports, including one on the VOA English language website from Reuters on a dog show in New York. Also see: Kerry v. Bieber at Voice of America – Bieber Wins, BBG Watch, Jan. 25, 2014.

The VOA Ukrainian Services posted a report on the U.S. House of Representatives resolution, but the vast majority of other VOA language services did not. The VOA Russian Service also posted a short report. Short-staffed and deprived by upper management of necessary resources, both services did not post their short reports until the next day.

These reports did not include any photos or video of  Congressman Engel or Congressman Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey, who spoke on the House floor in favor of the resolution while holding a small Ukrainian flag.

House Resolution 447 states support for “the people of Ukraine[‘s]…right to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear.” VOA English news service reported Monday from London on EU calls for new elections in Ukraine, but the main VOA news website had nothing yesterday or today on the House resolution or other U.S. reactions to events in Ukraine.

U.S House resolutions represent  the opinion of the House of Representatives and are published in the Congressional Record.  They are designed to inform the White House and the U.S. public of what members of the House of Representatives think, but they do not have the force of law and are not presented to the President for action.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) posted a long article in English on the resolution. U.S. House Backs Ukraine’s ‘Democratic, European’ Hopes, RFE/RL, Feb. 11, 2014. Like VOA, RFE/RL is also overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). Unlike VOA, however, RFE/RL is not required to specialize in reporting U.S. news and has a limited target audience compared to VOA’s worldwide English audience and audiences in countries without free media to which RFE/RL does not broadcast, such as China. The VOA Charter, passed by Congress in 1976 and which is public law in the United States requires VOA to “present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and … also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies.” (Public Law 94-350)

VOA English news and many of of VOA language services consistently fail to report on important U.S. foreign policy statements, not only from Congress, but even from the White House and the State Department that other major international media outlets such as Al Jazeera, BBC, China’s CCTV, and Russia’s RT and Voice of Russia regularly report on, often in a biased way. Critics, including VOA journalists, blame these failures on VOA’s top executives.

According to critics, VOA Director David Ensor and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch ignore VOA Charter and favor posting of feature reports and videos, including multiple ones on Justin Bieber and the British royal family, in addition to yesterday’s report on the dog show in New York.

U.S. Ambassador to Kyiv Geoffrey Pyatt tweeted about the House resolution.

Ambassador Pyatt also tweeted that there is no time to waste in seeking peaceful solutions to the crisis. VOA executives believe that reporting on a dog show in New York is more important.

H. RES. 447 — Supporting the democratic and European aspirations of the people of Ukraine, and their right to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear

113TH CONGRESS
1ST SESSION H. RES. 447
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Mr. ENGEL (for himself, Mr. ROYCE, Mr. LEVIN, Ms. KAPTUR, Mr. KEATING, and Mr. GERLACH) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

RESOLUTION
Supporting the democratic and European aspirations of the people of Ukraine, and their right to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear.

Whereas a democratic, prosperous, and independent Ukraine is in the national interest of the United States;

Whereas the Government of Ukraine has declared integration with Europe a national priority and has made significant progress toward meeting the requirements for an Association Agreement;

Whereas on November 21, 2013, following several months of intense outside pressure, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abruptly suspended negotiations on the Association Agreement one week before it was due to be signed at the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania;

Whereas this reversal of stated government policy precipitated demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens in Kyiv as well as in cities throughout the country;

Whereas the demonstrators have been overwhelmingly peaceful and have sought to exercise their constitutional rights to freely assemble and express their opposition to President Yanukovych’s decision;

Whereas the demonstrators have consistently expressed their support for democracy, human rights, greater government accountability, and the rule of law, as well as for closer relations with Europe;

Whereas on November 30, 2013, police violently dispersed peaceful demonstrators in Kyiv’s Independence Square, resulting in many injuries and the arrest of several dozen individuals;

Whereas on December 11, 2013, police raided 3 opposition media outlets and the headquarters of an opposition party;

Whereas on December 11, 2013, despite President Yanukovych’s statement the previous day that he would engage in talks with the opposition, police attempted to forcibly evict peaceful protesters from central locations in Kyiv;

Whereas several journalists, including from Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, and civic activists supporting the demonstrators have been brutally attacked;

Whereas on January 16, 2014, the Ukrainian parliament passed, and President Yanukovych signed, legislation which severely limits the right of peaceful protest, constrains freedom of speech and the independent media, and unduly restricts civil society organizations;

Whereas the passage of these undemocratic measures and President Yanukovych’s refusal to engage in substantive dialogue with opposition leaders precipitated several days of violence and resulted in several deaths and hundreds of injuries, as well as numerous allegations of police brutality; and

Whereas in the face of spreading demonstrations, Ukrainian Government representatives and opposition leaders have entered into negotiations which on January 28, 2014, resulted in the resignation of the Prime Minister and his cabinet and the repeal of most of the anti-democratic laws from January 16, 2014: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) greatly values the warm and close relationship the United States has established with Ukraine since that country regained its independence in 1991;

(2) supports the democratic and European aspirations of the people of Ukraine, and their right to choose their own future free of intimidation and fear;

(3) calls on the United States and the European Union to continue to work together to support a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and to continue to support the desire of millions of Ukrainian citizens for democracy, human rights, government accountability, and the rule of law, and closer relations with Europe;

(4) urges the Government of Ukraine, Ukrainian opposition parties, and all protesters to exercise the utmost restraint and avoid confrontation, and calls on the Government of Ukraine to live up to its international obligations and respect and uphold the democratic rights of its citizens, including the freedom of assembly and expression, as well as the freedom of the press;

(5) condemns all acts of violence and calls onthe Government of Ukraine to bring to justice those responsible for violence and brutality against peaceful protesters, and to release and drop any criminal charges against those detained for peacefully exercising their democratic rights;

(6) welcomes the repeal by the Ukrainian parliament of most of the anti-democratic measures adopted on January 16, 2014, and urges President Yanukovych to continue to engage in substantive talks with opposition leaders to address the legitimate grievances of the opposition, and to take additional steps to de-escalate tensions;

(7) urges the United States and the European Union to continue to make clear to Ukraine’s leadersthat those who authorize or engage in violence against peaceful protesters will be held personally accountable;

(8) supports the measures taken by the Department of State to revoke the visas of several Ukrainians linked to the violence, and encourages the Administration to consider additional targeted sanctions against those who authorize or engage in the use of force; and

(9) urges all parties to engage in constructive, sustained dialogue in order to find a peaceful solution to Ukraine’s current political and economic crisis.

[aside]
caption = Voice of America’s Coverage of British Royals in 2011 and 2013
alignment = none
width = 630px
collapse_state = collapsed
bg_colour = #CEECF5

Voice of America Director David Ensor. Critics say that VOA news reporting under him and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redish has declined and nearly collapsed.

Voice of America Director David Ensor. Critics say that VOA news reporting under him and VOA Executive Editor Steve Redish has declined and nearly collapsed.

U.S. taxpayers paid for these programs by the Voice of America (VOA) while many human rights-related news stories and important U.S. foreign policy pronouncements by the White House, the State Department, and members of Congress went unreported on VOA websites in recent months and years.

Years and months later, these reports on the British royalty posted on the VOA English website show zero or very few Facebook “Likes” or any other indication of any notable audience engagement through social media.

IF YOU ARE A U.S. TAXPAYER YOU MUST CHECK THIS OUT

VOA British Royal Wedding Feast

1.

Excited Crowds Fill London Streets for Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English Website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM

2.

Royal Wedding Ceremony Steeped in Grandeur, Tradition Voice of America (VOA) English Website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM

3.

Kate Middleton Wears Wedding Dress by Sarah Burton Voice of America (VOA) English Website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM

4.

Wedding Celebrations Held in Streets Across Britain Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM

5.

Americans Rise Early for Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM

6.

Celebrities, Sports Stars Among Royal Wedding Guests Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 28, 2011 8:00 PM

7.

Britain Hopes for Billion-Dollar Economic Boost from Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 27, 2011 8:00 PM

8.

Crowds Gather for Britain’s Royal Wedding; Syrian Diplomat Pulled Off Guest List Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 27, 2011 8:00 PM

9.

London Readies for Royal Wedding Day Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 27, 2011 8:00 PM

10.

Formal Clothing, Informal Speeches Typical at British Weddings Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 26, 2011 8:00 PM

11.

British Public Divided Over Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 25, 2011 8:00 PM

12.

Britain Preparing Security for Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 25, 2011 8:00 PM

13.

Britain’s Royal Wedding: From Cake to Clergy Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 25, 2011 8:00 PM

14.

Bahrain Prince Declines British Royal Wedding Invitation Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 24, 2011 8:00 PM

15.

David Beckham, Elton John Among Royal Wedding Guests Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 24, 2011 8:00 PM

16.

Britain Notes Big Change in Royal Wedding Souvenirs Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 21, 2011 8:00 PM

17.

Prince William, Bride-to-Be Middleton Visit Princess Diana’s Grave Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 20, 2011 8:00 PM

18.

Britain’s Queen Formally Approves Prince William’s Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 20, 2011 8:00 PM

19.

Britain’s Queen Celebrates 85th Birthday Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 20, 2011 8:00 PM

10.

Royal Wedding: William & Kate Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 20, 2011 8:50 AM

21.

A Royal Obsession, Do Americans Care? Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 19, 2011 8:00 PM

22.

Muslim Group Applies to Protest Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 18, 2011 8:00 PM

23.

YouTube to Air Britain’s Royal Wedding Live Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 18, 2011 8:00 PM

24.

Princesses in Training Get Tips at Royal Tea Party Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 17, 2011 8:00 PM

25.

10 Ways You Can Get Into the Spirit of the Royal Wedding Voice of America (VOA) English website, April 14, 2011 8:00 PM

26.

British Royal Engagement Sparks Interest in Modern Monarchies Voice of America (VOA) English website, November 29, 2010 7:00 PM

27.

Britain Announces Royal Wedding Date Voice of America (VOA) English website, November 22, 2010 7:00 PM

VOA on British Royal Christening, October 2013

Among five reports on the VOA website on the royal christening in Britain posted on October 23 and 24, 2013, none has more than 20 Facebook “Likes” as of October 28, 2013, one had zero Facebook “Likes” and another one had three.

Zones: Breaking News , Europe

Prince William, Kate Hold Private Christening for New Prince

October 23, 2013 12:08 PM

……..was born on July 22. In the arms of his mother as she left the the palace’s Chapel Royal, George was dressed in a long cream satin robe that was a replica of an 1841 gown made for the christening of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter. Kate, a style icon whose outfits often increase sales of similar garments, wore an off-white, ruffled skirt-suit, made by British fashion house Alexander McQueen, and pillbox hat by British milliner Jane Taylor ….

Tags: Britain , duchess catherine , Kate Middleton , prince george , Prince William , royal christening

Zones: Europe

Reporters: Reuters

Prince George’s Godparents Named Ahead of Christening

October 23, 2013 8:20 AM

……..William and Kate’s decision is a break with the tradition of choosing royal dignitaries to take on the ceremonial role, and a continuation of their effort to portray a more informal, modern image to austerity-hit Britons. After the christening, guests will attend a private tea at Clarence House, hosted by Prince Charles and Camilla. Hollywood photographer Jason Bell has been tapped to take official photos of the event, that will include a “historic multi-generational photograph” of the queen

Tags: Britain , monarch , prince george , royal christening

Zones: Europe

Reporters: VOA News

Royal Baby Christening Breaks with Tradition

October 23, 2013 12:14 AM

Carla Babb Prince George, the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is being christened in Britain on Wednesday. In a break from tradition, the christening of the world’s most famous baby will be as low key as possible. Three months ago, Prince William and his wife Catherine shared their bundle of joy with the world. And just as the royal couple broke with tradition ….

Tags: British royal family , christening , Prince William , Princess Kate , royal baby , royal christening , royalty

Zones: Europe

Reporters: Carla Babb

Hollywood Photographer to Record British Prince’s Christening

October 22, 2013 9:59 AM

Reuters A British photographer known for his portraits of rock stars and Hollywood actors was named on Tuesday as the official photographer of the world’s newest celebrity – Prince George. Prince William and his wife Kate have chosen Jason Bell to photograph the christening on Wednesday, October 23, of their son, the third-in-line to the British throne, a palace statement said. Bell, 44, is an award-winning photographer best known for portraits of celebrities such as musician Paul McCartney, footballer David Beckham ….

Tags: Britain , christening , prince george , royals

Zones: Europe , Arts & Entertainment

Reporters: Reuters

Britain’s Future Monarch Christened in Low-Key London Ceremony

October 23, 2013 12:19 PM

a central London chapel, where he made his first public appearance since his birth in July. Prince George was seen in the arms of his father, Prince William, as the elder prince and his wife Kate arrived at the Chapel Royal in St. James’s Palace for Wednesday’s traditional Anglican Christian ceremony. The infant was wearing a white satin gown, a replica of one made for Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter in 1841. In a private ceremony inside the chapel ….

Zones: World News , Europe

[/aside]

Intimidated Voice of America reporters are protesting anonymously against ‘fluff journalism’ pushed by senior management.