In a Christian Science Monitor op-ed, Joseph A. Bosco, who served in the office of the secretary of Defense as a strategic communications officer from 2002-2004 and as China country desk officer from 2005-2006, criticizes the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) for proposing cuts in news broadcasting to China, Tibet, Burma, Vietnam, Laos and other countries without free media while China and other authoritarian regimes expand their propaganda outreach abroad. In response to strong criticism by media freedom groups, human rights organizations and members of Congress from both parties, the BBG has already announced its intention to reverse some but not all of its proposed cuts in Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasts. The cuts were proposed by the BBG executive staff and initially accepted by most BBG members.
The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com
Why Voice of America is losing to voice of communist China – at home and abroad
In the war of ideas between freedom and authoritarianism, the Voice of America (VOA) broadcast program is losing to the voice of communist China – not because Beijing’s message is better but because its strategic vision and will to win surpass Washington’s.
The United States government is unilaterally disarming (through funding and personnel cuts) much of its program of speaking truth to the Chinese people. Meanwhile, the People’s Republic is aggressively expanding its campaign to spread untruths, especially about Western anti-China “plots.” Worse, China’s misinformation now openly targets the American people, as well – and does it from American soil.
Yet the Broadcast Board of Governors, which manages and oversees all US civilian international broadcasting, proposes cutting parts of its radio transmissions to China and Tibet as well as Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. The board plans to eliminate dozens of personnel directly or indirectly involved in local language broadcasts to those countries even as it adds scores of administrative positions despite budget constraints.
The board of governors proposed drastic reductions in its Mandarin radio broadcasts until Congress ordered a halt. It is now reviewing its plans for total elimination of the Cantonese program reaching China’s most dynamic and democratic-leaning population. The rationale was that “audiences…prefer digital and social media.”
By contrast, Beijing recognizes the continuing importance of radio and television to tens of millions of Chinese. The government-controlled China Central Television has just opened a new state-of-the-art broadcast bureau in Washington, D.C. as part of a major overseas expansion aimed at boosting China’s international influence.