Rep. Salmon introduces bill to defund Voice of America

Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05)

Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05)

(Source:  sonorannews.com via Dan Robinson)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced the eighth Shrink our Spending Initiative bill focused on highlighting and cutting wasteful, taxpayer-funded programs. Upon introduction of his latest bill to eliminate federal funding for Voice of America, Salmon released the following statement:

“My eighth SOS bill is aimed at cutting yet another duplicative, federal program and saving you 212 million dollars by doing so. While originally commissioned to provide a ‘clear and effective presentation’ of U.S. policy, Voice of America (VOA) has veered from its original mission and become a government-funded news outlet. The United States already funds organizations that disseminate unfiltered news to regions of the world that lack a free press.

“Technology has also rendered Cold War relics, such as VOA, obsolete. The rise of the Internet and social media, especially in closed countries have connected the world in ways we could have never imagined, and with their success, and other U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcasting programs, it makes fiscal sense to eliminate this superfluous, federally-funded entity.”[…]

Click here to read the full article.

Click here if you would like to contact Rep. Matt Salmon.

VOA to increase broadcasts to Burundi

voa logoMauno Ritola shared the following message on the WRTH Facebook page this morning:

VOA Boosts Broadcasts to Burundi as Civilians Flee Political Violence

Monday through Friday:

  • 0400-0530: 7350 kHz, 9815 kHz, 11905 kHz

  • 1600-1630: 13630 kHz, 15460 kHz, 17530 kHz

  • 1930-2000: 9470kHz, 11615 kHz, 12140 kHz

Mauno also notes that the late evening frequencies are incorrect in the following VOA news release:

(Source: VOA News)

Voice of America today began boosting broadcasts to Burundi where at least 14 people have been and killed and more than 200 injured in protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza running for a third term.

VOA has additional shortwave and FM broadcasts in Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Kiswahili, French, and English with an expanded call-in show, more reporting from the ground, and new drive-time newscasts.

“At this critical moment for democracy in Burundi, we are stepping up to keep our audiences informed, “ says VOA Director David Ensor. “Voters deserve to know what is going on with presidential elections just one month away.”

The African Union and the United States say the Nkurunziza candidacy violates a regional peace deal that ended civil war in 2005. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the president’s move “flies directly in the face of the constitution of his country.”

President Nkurunziza says he is exempt from the two-term limit because his first term was chosen by parliament.

VOA is one of the last remaining sources of news in Burundi after authorities blocked access to social media, closed Radio Publique Africane, and suspended relay transmissions for two other independently owned stations — Bonesha FM and Isanganiro.

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns this harassment and says the Nkurunziza government is “blatantly trying to gag” coverage of its opponents.

VOA is adding reporters in Burundi and Rwanda along with additional staff in Washington D.C., where its U.S. government-funded transmissions originate.

Daily broadcasts air on 95.2 FM and 94.9 FM in Bujumbura and on 104.3 FM in Kigali.

There are new VOA shortwave broadcasts from 04:00 to 05:30 UTC and from 19:30 to 20:00 UTC on 7350 kHz, 9815 kHz, and 11905 kHz; and from 16:00 to 16:30 UTC on 13630 kHz, 15460 kHz, and 17530 kHz.

“With thousands of Burundians fleeing to neighboring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, VOA is committed to providing accurate and reliable news to this critical region,” says Ensor.

Support a Willis Conover US postage stamp

Willis Conover, The Voice of America (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

If you’re a fan of the iconic Willis Conover, you might consider signing this petition supporting a postage stamp in his honor.

Marie Lamb writes:

Those of us at the Willis Conover Facebook page are trying to get support for a postage stamp in honor of the great Voice of America jazz broadcaster, one of the great voices of shortwave. The recognition for this fine broadcaster and supporter of America’s music is long overdue. Please sign! Thank you–Marie Lamb.

Click here to sign.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, listen to this superb interview with Willis Conover circa 1987 on NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon:

As you’ll hear in this interview, Willis Conover actually supported a stamp in honor of the late and great Duke Ellington. Perhaps it’s time we support a stamp honoring Willis Conover. Click here to sign the petition.

Can the VOA justify its funding?

voa logoJonathan Marks followed up his last post with two more pieces from the Media Network Vintage Vault, again, on the topic of US international broadcasting.

Jonathan writes:

Interesting to see there was opposition to RFE/RL expansion in 1992. http://jonathanmarks.libsyn.com/mn06081992radio-free-asia

And Bill Whitacre is good in this edition: http://jonathanmarks.libsyn.com/mn07051992voakorea

My question remains: can VOA still justify the funding it has? It has spent billions over the last few decades, but has little to show for it.

No doubt, with the recent loss of CEO Andy Lack and the announcement that VOA Director, David Ensor, is stepping down, the VOA is struggling to remain viable.  I don’t believe this is due to a lack of good reporters or internal innovators, rather, a lack of proper management.

Jonathan also found this recently published report titled, “Reassessing US International Broadcasting” by S. Enders Wimbush and Elizabeth M. Portale. Click here to download the full report as a PDF.

VOA director David Ensor steps down

(Source: NY Times)

David Ensor (Source: BBG)

David Ensor (Source: BBG)

David Ensor, who as director of the Voice of America has presided over significant growth in the news agency’s audience despite budget cuts, announced Tuesday that he was stepping down.

Mr. Ensor, who joined the Voice of America in June 2011, said he would leave the government-funded broadcaster at the end of next month. He did not explain his decision or discuss his plans.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, credited Mr. Ensor with creating new television programming in Russian, Ukrainian, Persian, Mandarin, Burmese and Creole, among other languages. It also said he had led a digital transformation of the agency’s newsroom and expanded media programs in Africa.

[…]His time at the news agency has not been without controversy. Dan Robinson, the former chief White House correspondent for the Voice of America, said its central news operation had been devastated by staffing cuts, and he and other former employees said a number of veteran correspondents had resigned or retired in frustration. [Continue reading…]

CRI, RFA, Sputnik, and the BBC: an “information battle?”

Radio-Dial-Blurred-Dark

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Cuff, for sharing this article from The National:

Radio wars: information battle heats up as Russia and China muscle in

For about 70 years it was the base of the BBC World Service. Bush House, with its grand marble entrance in central London, stood as a powerful symbol of the BBC, home to the short-wave radio services that delivered news to dozens of countries in more than 40 languages. But the lights went out in 2012 when the World Service moved to the more prosaic Broadcasting House; two years later it lost its annual £245 million (Dh1.341 billion) grant from the UK’s government.

Both changes are symptomatic of the BBC’s less certain place in the broadcasting world as other countries significantly ramp up recruitment and funding for their own equivalent services.

Last December, Peter Horrocks, the BBC World Service’s former director, warned that the West was losing the “information war” with Moscow as the old Cold War foe pumped out wave after wave of pro-Kremlin propaganda on its rapidly expanding radio, TV and online platforms.

Horrocks had called for a rethink on financial assistance from the UK government as, even before the grant was ended, cutbacks in 2011 forced the closure of five language services and some short-wave broadcasts.

“We are being financially outgunned by Russia and the Chinese. Medium to long term there has to be an anxiety about the spending of others compared to what the BBC are putting into it,” he said.

It is now all too clear that established broadcasters that are based in the West, such as Radio Free Asia, Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe (RFE) – funded mainly through an agency of the US government – and the BBC are facing increased competition. Last November, Moscow rebranded its international English-language radio service: Radio Sputnik replaced the Voice of Russia and funding was increased for a new state-owned global news agency, Rossiya Segodnya.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s China Radio International (CRI) is an important part of the Communist Party’s foreign policy. CRI uses internet, short wave and satellite to broadcast around the world in dozens of languages, while Radio Sputnik has ambitions to broadcast in 30 languages across more than 130 countries by the end of the year.[…]

Continue reading on The National website…

VOA Radiogram #100

VOARadioGramDr. Kim Elliott, has been transmitting VOA Radiograms to a devoted set of global listeners for two years. Indeed, he recently passed a milestone by transmitting the 100th episode of the VOA Radiogram. Most impressive!

SWLing Post reader, Harald (DL1ABJ), recently sent the following message regarding reception of the 100th episode:

Dear Thomas,

Last weekend I decoded VOA Radiogram #100 on 17860 kHz AM (via Greenville, Edward R. Murrow TX station) from 1600 till 1630 UTC here in Germany.

Part of it was a text by Kim Andrew Elliott, KD9XB, telling a bit about his project of broadcasting text and pictures over AM transmitters on shortwave.

I am also attaching one of the pictures sent during VOA Radiogram #100.

Regards

Harald

VOARadiogram100 VOARadiogram100

Click here to view/download Harald’s text file (.RTF).

Many thanks for sharing this, Harald. VOA Radiograms are successfully decoded by listeners across the world. If you’re interested in decoding a VOA Radiogram, or simply following the broadcasts, bookmark VOAradiogram.net.