The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a federal agency which runs the Voice of America broadcasts and other U.S. government-funded news and information programs for overseas audiences, does not like Cantonese-language radio and TV, and neither does the communist regime in Beijing.
The BBG is proposing to eliminate all Voice of America Cantonese-language programs. Meanwhile, the central government in Beijing, acting through its local authorities, is also trying to restrict the use of Cantonese by broadcast media in Guangdong, the most populous province in China.
As reported last December by Sally Wang in South China Morning Post, broadcasters will need to have permission to use Cantonese on television, radio and in online footage from March, according to an order posted on the Guangdong provincial government website. View: Cantonese broadcasts restricted in Guangdong.
This latest move against media use of Cantonese comes just over a year after the government proposed switching prime-time programming on Guangdong TV’s main channels from Cantonese to Mandarin (Putonghua). The authorities later postponed implementation of their proposal when it triggered a series of mass demonstrations by furious Cantonese speakers. An activist behind the Cantonese-language campaign in 2010 said: “This will strangle the local traditional culture,” South China Morning Post reported.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is also on the same wavelength with the communist authorities in Beijing when it comes to another language and culture under pressure. This year, the BBG is also proposing to end all Voice of America radio broadcasts in Tibetan.
Last year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors tried to silence all Voice of America Mandarin and Cantonese radio and TV broadcasts to China and to rely only on Internet-based news delivery. The Internet in China is almost totally controlled by the Chinese regime which blocks VOA Cantonese and Mandarin websites. This attempt was stopped by the U.S. Congress which ordered the BBG to continue VOA broadcasting in both Cantonese and Mandarin.
Despite this rebuke from Congress, the BBG made a new proposal this year to close down the VOA Cantonese Service and to end VOA Tibetan radio broadcasts. It is not clear whether presidentially-appointed BBG members were informed by their executive staff about the protests in China against Beijing’s attempts to limit use of the Cantonese language. It is also not clear whether the staff told BBG members about an earlier unsuccessful attempt by the BBG to reduce radio broadcasting to Tibet. It triggered a protest in 2007 on Capitol Hill by Tibetan Buddhist monks and an admonition from Congress to the BBG not to cut radio programs to Tibet.
Cantonese and Tibetan are not the only languages targeted this year by the Broadcasting Board of Governors for cuts and reductions. Voice of America English news and other English programs will see devastating cuts under the BBG budget proposal for fiscal year 2013. The BBG wants to eliminate 71 positions currently used to prepare VOA English programs and 14 positions used to prepare VOA Spanish programs. Many other VOA services will also be cut or reduced under the BBG budget proposal.