Thursday, July 15, 2004
VOA vs. al-Hurra
An article from a couple days ago in USA Today reports the unrest at Voice of America. This unrest is the result of taxpayer money being funneled away from VOA and towards Radio Sawa and al-Hurra television. Why? Because VOA isn't quite doing the propaganda job that the US government wants.
The petition asserts that the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S taxpayer-funded broadcast outlets, has been funneling money into new radio and TV stations that are not subject to the same journalistic standards and monitoring as VOA. The new broadcast outlets are directed primarily at the Middle East, where the U.S. image is at a historic low.And despite claims that Radio Sawa and al-Hurra are doing a great job, there is some evidence to the contrary.
"As broadcast professionals ... we call on the U.S. Congress to conduct an immediate inquiry into the actions of the Broadcasting Board of Governors," the petition says. It goes on to accuse the board of "killing VOA" by closing its Arabic radio service, reducing English-language broadcasting and launching services with "no editorial accountability" and limited breaking news.
Shibley Telhami, an expert on Arab media and public opinion at the Brookings Institution, says a separate survey he has just completed of 3,300 people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates doesn't indicate that Al-Hurra has had much impact on viewers in those countries. The survey shows that Al-Jazeera, a decade-old Qatar-based network often criticized by the Bush administration for having an anti-American slant, is the No. 1 choice for news, followed by al-Arabiya, a Dubai-based channel that is only a year old. No one surveyed said Al-Hurra, which went on the air in February, was a first choice and only 3.8% picked it as a second choice for news, according to that survey.So not only is VOA being gutted to fund these Bush babies like Radio Sawa and al-Hurra, but that money is basically going straight down the toilet. Fantastically done, boys. Keep up the good work.
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