BBG Watch Commentary
The U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) has cut short its interview with Chinese businessman Guo Wengui who was alleging widespread corruption within the Chinese Communist Party. As reported by South China Morning Post, “Washington DC-based Voice of America cut the interview short owing to ‘pressure from various parties’, VOA interviewee Guo Wengui, who is subject to an Interpol ‘red notice’, said in a video posted on his Twitter feed following the VOA interview.” VOA management denies that censorship was involved.
READ MORE: POLICIES & POLITICS Plug pulled on US interview with wanted Chinese tycoon Guo Wengui, Robert Delaney, US correspondent, South China Morning Post, UPDATED : Thursday, 20 Apr 2017, 10:48PM
No well-managed media outlet that decides to conduct a highly controversial interview would abruptly cut it short during broadcast without opening itself to accusations of censorship, as well as mismanagement.
At a recent board meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency in charge of the Voice of America, Ann Noonan, Executive Director of the independent and non-partisan Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org), expressed concerns about poor management of U.S. international media outreach. CUSIB has also commented on the latest VOA incident.
READ MORE: CUSIB Asks for Investigation About Why VOA China Service Cut Live-Stream Interview with Chinese Billionaire Guo Wengui, CUSIB, April 21, 2017
READ MORE: CUSIB concerned about partisanship and mismanagement at BBG and VOA, CUSIB, April 21, 2017
Critics among outside experts as well as many VOA journalists say that both the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the Voice of America need experienced, strong and effective leaders and managers to prevent such incidents and miscommunications from happening again.
As reported by BBG Watch, the White House may be close to deciding on who will be the new CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, but no decisions regarding the have been announced by the Trump administration and it is still unclear when any management reforms may be implemented at the BBG. Some worry that the administration may try to politicize VOA, but so far the only evidence of serious bias, partisanship and violations of the VOA Charter have occurred under the leadership of the Obama administration holdovers at both the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Voice of America.
The following explanation of the abrupt termination of a Voice of America interview was provided to various media organizations by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal agency in charge of VOA:
BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS
“On Tuesday VOA interviewed Guo Wengui. Guo reacted to an Interpol Red Notice for his arrest issued the day before. He talked about the mistreatment of his family, about being coerced by national security people to work for them, and about his relationship with a senior official who is now in custody. The one-hour interview was simulcast live via TV, radio, web and social media. We had multiple plans to conduct additional interviews with the subject for social media and later in the day made the editorial decision to record this material, edit, and post it in the coming days. In a miscommunication, the stream was allowed to continue beyond the first hour. When this was noticed the feed was terminated. We will release content from these interviews and will continue to report on corruption issues.
The original one-hour interview can be viewed on the VOA Mandarin website:
Guo Wengui is a Chinese real estate tycoon currently living in the U.S. Guo is reported to have irregular business dealings involving senior government officials. On Tuesday Interpol issued a Red Notice for Guo after a local Chinese government issued a warrant for Guo’s arrest.”
END OF BBG STATEMENT
While the BBG statement says that the live interview with Guo Wengui was conducted on Tuesday, it was in fact conducted on Wednesday, April 19.
The independent and nonpartisan NGO Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) is asking for a congressional investigation. CUSIB points out that “miscommunication” at the U.S. agency charged with communicating with the world is in itself a troubling sign of continuing mismanagement.
CUSIB PRESS RELEASE
April 21, 2017
For Immediate Release
CUSIB Asks for Investigation About Why VOA China Service Cut Live-Stream Interview with Chinese Billionaire Guo Wengui
The Committee for US International Broadcasting (www.cusib.org) has released the following statement:
“In an effort to protect Voice of America China Service from being unfairly influenced or manipulated by outside political sources, the Committee for US International Broadcasting is asking for a thorough congressional investigation about what transpired on April 19, 2017 during a VOA live-stream broadcast of Chinese billionaire Gui Wengui as he spoke about corruption in China.
Guy Wengui was described by The New York Times as a “Chinese-born billionaire who in recent months has publicized allegations of corruption against relatives of high-ranking Communist Party officials is now a wanted man after Beijing asked Interpol to issue a global request for his arrest.” He was in New York doing an exclusive live interview with Voice of America.
CUSIB shares the concerns of Chinese viewers who tuned in to that interview and want to know why it was abruptly cut, thereby damaging the journalistic integrity and reputation of VOA among those viewers. The official explanation from the Voice of America and its parent agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), that it was a case of “miscommunication” is in itself troubling as it shows that the U.S. agency created to communicate with the world continues to be mismanaged.
Was VOA influenced by political powers to cut the live-stream broadcast, and if so, who was involved? More specifically, who in VOA gave the order to censor the broadcast of Guo Wengui, and who may have pressured VOA to censor this special live-stream broadcast?
CUSIB urges VOA’s audience to remain vigilant about this very serious matter and to demand for VOA to remain true to its mission statement to be “accurate, objective, and comprehensive.”
For further information, please contact Ann Noonan at (646) 251-6069 or Ted Lipien at (415) 793-1642.
END OF CUSIB PRESS RELEASE