A recently launched Save Voice of America Tibetan Radio website (www.savevoatibetanradio.com) and a Facebook page (www.facebook.com/savevoatibetan) urge supporters to contact their congressmen with a message to oppose elimination of Voice of America Tibetan radio by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a U.S. federal government agency which oversees VOA broadcasts and wants to silence VOA radio in Tibet as part of its 2013 budget proposal.
On its Facebook page, Save VOA Tibetan Radio states that stopping the Voice of America’s Tibetan Language Radio would be wrong for the following reasons:
1. Wrong political message to the Chinese Communist Party.
2. VOA Tibetan language radio is a unique source of information for Tibetans.
3. Shortwave radio is still a powerful medium in Tibet.
Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, once noted that, “Tibetans call VOA broadcasts their medicine for depression and exhaustion, and on days that they don’t get to hear it, they say they’ve missed their vital medicine.”
As reported for National Public Radio (NPR) by Louisa Lim, “Protests, Self-Immolation Signs Of A Desperate Tibet,” “The [Buddhist] monks [in Tibet] listen secretly to Voice of America’s Tibetan service news every night, despite feeling almost physical pain at the bleak news.”
Save VOA Tibetan Radio asks supporters to tell their congressmen that they strongly oppose elimination of VOA Tibetan radio and provides a sample letter:
Name of Rep.
We have learnt that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has proposed to eliminate the entire radio broadcast segment of the Voice of America’s Tibetan service, in the 2013 budget proposal. At a time when Tibet is under severe repression, access to information from the free world is all the more vital. Therefore, the US administration and its subsidiary BBG’s proposal to silence the voice of Tibetans through its proposed elimination of VOA’s Tibetan radio program is, not only contrary to the goals and objectives of VOA’s existence, but unfathomable in justification.
As the first truly independent Tibetan radio news service, established by an act of Congress in 1990, VOA Tibetan service through the variety of its program, objectivity, professionalism and news dissemination capability, has not only deservedly earned the reputation for its reliability but has established one of the largest audience base both inside and outside Tibet. BBG’s proposal to eliminate the VOA Tibetan radio not only cuts Tibetan access to news and information from within and outside Tibet but helps Chinese authorities accomplish their aim of controlling free flow of communication and information.
Eliminating the Voice of America Tibetan radio broadcast to Tibet sends a wrong message to the Chinese government that their continuing abuse of human rights, repressive and restrictive Tibet policies are acceptable.
For Tibetans and all those who value human rights, freedom and democracy, BBG’s proposal to eliminate VOA Tibetan radio broadcast is very unfortunate and most troubling. VOA Tibetan radio is a lifeline for the Tibetans inside Tibet and a pride and prestige of the United States.
We request you to please use all your influence to stop eliminating VOA Tibetan radio broadcast into Tibet. We cannot afford to abandon the desperate Tibetans in Tibet at this critical time.
We thank you for your attention to this matter,
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) proposal to cut Voice of America radio to Tibet is part of unprecedented cuts and reductions affecting also many other VOA broadcasting services while the BBG expands the number of bureaucratic jobs in its main administrative element, the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).
A letter addressed to Congresswoman Kay Granger (R – TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs of the House Committee on Appropriations and to Ranking Member Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D – NY) criticizes the Broadcasting Board of Governors for expanding their bureaucracy at the expense of critical overseas broadcasts and U.S. strategic interests:
The proposed reductions are driven not by a considered strategic world view, but by bureaucratic expedience and a fundamental misunderstanding of the mission of VOA. If the fiscal year 2013 proposal is enacted, the staff level for VOA will be reduced by 13.2% from the current year. In contrast, only 3.3% of the positions from the International Broadcasting Board (IBB), which provides administrative support to the BBG, will be cut. If the fiscal year 2013 proposal is enacted the number of full time equivalent (FTE) positions for the IBB will rise from 593.2 in fiscal year 2011 to 678.2. In the same time period VOA will lose 121.2 FTE positions. The general trend of the IBB has been to grow larger while the number of language services they support is being reduced. Broadcasting should be the last thing to be cut. It makes little sense to grow the bureaucracy while cutting that which it is meant to support. The eliminations and reductions in broadcasting to Tibet, China, Laos, and Vietnam alone will cut 28 positions from VOA.
Link to the Letter