Former Voice of America(VOA) acting associate director Ted Lipien argues in an op-ed in Digital Journal that lifting the ban on government distribution of news in the United States was a gift designed by International Boadcasting Bureau (IBB) officials for themselves because American people do not want it and they did not need it.
Lipien explains how IBB bureacrats used deceptive propaganda to lobby for the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act for their own benefit only.
He expresses concerns that this change in the law, which was badly designed and executed because it gave new powers to government bureaucrats rather than the American public, will have a long lasting negative impact on Voice of America’s reputation at home and its ability to serve foreign audiences in countries without free media. In his view, this change in the law pushed by government officials will permanently damage Voice of America’s identity, good name and future funding for no good reason other than self-aggrandizement of a few IBB bureacrats and their consultants who live off government contracts.
Timeo oficiales et dona ferentes.
by Ted Lipien in Digital Journal
Washington – Government officials used deceptive propaganda to get Congress to overturn a ban on government news distribution in the U.S.
Would government officials resort to deceptive propaganda to help them get Congress to overturn an old law, the Smith-Mundt Act, which prohibited them from distributing government-funded news to Americans?
They most certainly did by telling members of Congress that Americans were somehow denied having any kind of access to Voice of America (VOA) news and that great many Americans were demanding that the law be changed.
These claims advanced by officials of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), a bureaucratic subdivision within the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), and a few of their outside supporters, were complete lies.
Until recently, more than 99.9 percent of Americans could not have cared less about this issue and nearly all of them, if they truly cared, already had access on the Internet to nearly every Voice of America news program. But Americans may now start asking questions after numerous reports in mainstream media and in blogs pointed out that they may become a target of government “propaganda news.” “U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans,” John Hudson, The Cable, Foreign Affairs, July 14, 2013.
There is a lot of confusion about the old law and the new one, which is what government bureaucrats were counting on to get what they wanted. The old Smith-Mundt Act did not make it impossible or illegal for Americans to hear Voice of America broadcasts. They could get VOA radio broadcasts on shortwave and later on the Internet or on satellite television audio channels.
Moreover, the old law did not ban Americans or American media from using and distributing Voice of America news and other programs in any way they chose. American radio and television stations could get them off the Internet or from communications satellites, if the signal was not scrambled, and legally rebroadcast them in the United States. Some ethnic stations did. Everybody else could get VOA news and programs on the Internet, where many Americans now look for news anyway.
A problem was artificially created and presented by government officials to get their way and to put the rest of Americans potentially at risk. The change in the law may also harm VOA overseas audiences, as officials are likely to pay less attention to them and more to their bureaucratic expansion plans in the United States.