BBG Watch Commentary
Showing complete contempt for longtime radio listeners, Voice of America (VOA) executives, carrying out sudden orders from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), have stopped today all VOA shortwave radio transmissions to Asia without hardly any prior notice to the listening audience. Voice of America broadcasters are complaining that the management did not give them a chance to say proper goodbyes and thank-you to their shortwave radio audiences.
— Jim Stevenson (@VOAStevenson) June 30, 2014
VOA English and numerous other languages are affected, as are some broadcasts by Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). While shortwave cuts by VOA were not uninticipated, IBB’s decision to give broadcasters only three days to implement them resulted in a major management and public relations blunder.
This was not the fault of Voice of America journalists and broadcasters who found out about these orders only late Friday. Some VOA reporters tried to let their audiences know about the termination of VOA shortwave radio to Asia in private tweets.
However, many VOA radio listeners in Asia are too poor to afford Internet, have inadequate Internet connection to steam audio of VOA radio programs, or have their access to VOA websites blocked by repressive regimes as in China.
Audio shared Victor Goonetilleke on PCJ Media and PCJ Radio Facebook Group
The following tweets are from former VOA White House and foreign correspondent Dan Robinson:
VOA's abrupt goodbye to Asian shortwave audience in English . . .that's all folks" https://t.co/dlVouyKza3
— Dan Robinson (@DanRobinsonDC) June 30, 2014
Some reactions worldwide to the abrupt shutdown by VOA and other U.S. funded international broadcasters of… http://t.co/vsRDGUZeHv
— Dan Robinson (@DanRobinsonDC) June 30, 2014
Broadcasters in Asia are making fun of the blundering BBG – IBB – VOA bureaucracy.
Special VOA Newscast on PCJ Radio Int. — Satire
As you might be aware the Broadcasting Board of Governors has taken the very wise decision to end all Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and VOA English broadcasts.
On June 29, 2014 at 1230UTC PCJ Radio International will broadcast a Voice of America newscast that the VOA management pulled from it’s schedule. It includes the spokesperson for the Broadcasting Board of Governors and an interview with David Ensor the director of the Voice of America.
This is a VOA Newscast about the cuts expected to take place.
Some time ago, International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executives working for the U.S. federal agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) in charge of taxpayer-funded international broadcasts, had proposed cutting numerous Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) shortwave transmissions to Asia and the Middle East. The proposal was approved by the bipartisan BBG board and sent by the Obama Administration to the U.S. Congress as part of the agency’s budget request. Journalists knew that some of these cuts might happen if Congress approved the BBG budget, but what they did not expect was to be told suddenly by IBB last Thursday night that the cuts will be implemented on June 30. In fact, the IBB announcement went just to the heads of these media outlets. Many VOA program producers still did not know about it on Friday and Saturday. Of course, VOA shortwave radio audiences in Asia had no idea that they will lose their programs in a couple of days and many still don’t since IBB and VOA failed to issue official announcements.
Everyone knows that IBB bureacrats propose these radio cuts to protect their own highly-paid positions in Washington. In the last seven years, the number of IBB bureaucratic jobs increased 37% while numerous broadcasts were being cut. Unfortunately, various BBG boards went along with these program cuts, showing no concern for audiences that cannot afford access to the Internet or see the Internet blocked by repressive regimes. The official IBB explanation is that the agency needs to transition to digital media, as if radio on the Internet was not already digital. Voice of America is already digital, but its management proved itself to be incapable of delivering news and multimedia content in an attractive and most efficient way to people who most need it.
After spending millions of dollars on their “digital projects” and destroying VOA’s news reporting, IBB and VOA executives have delivered the VOA English News Twitter account that has fewer followers (106K as of June 29, 2014) than the UN Peacekeeping Force Twitter (126K as of June 29, 2014). Even the State Department Twitter account has close to one million followers (962K as of June 29, 2014); some members of Congress have more than VOA English News; BBC, CNN, and NYT have several million each. Russia’s RT Twitter has 679K Twitter followers as of June 29, 2014.
The Voice of America’s niche has always been providing news to the most disadvantaged and most oppressed nations and communities around the world, but IBB and VOA executives are trying to change this model and turn VOA into a regular, commercial global news outlet like CNN. Their plan is not working. The U.S. Congress wants to reform the entire agency, but especially the International Broadcasting Bureau and the Voice of America.
In the meantime, audiences in Asia and the Middle East are about to lose their VOA shortwave radio broadcasts without any prior announcement. That’s how much these IBB bureacrats think about radio listeners.