Washington—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) today is decrying a decision by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to silence Voice of America (VOA) global radio broadcasts in English and other languages.
The BBG oversees VOA, a government-owned broadcasting service. BBG announced its decision despite a 5.3 percent proposed budget increase for the VOA in 2007. Citing an effort to concentrate its broadcasting efforts on the Middle East, the BBG recently announced its decision to eliminate News Now, VOA’s flagship English-language service that broadcasts news updates and topical programming worldwide 14 hours a day. Additionally, BBG will eliminate VOA radio broadcasts in Croatian, Turkish, Thai, Greek and Georgian. Radio broadcasts in Russian and Hindi also would end, although television programming in these languages would continue. The cuts will potentially affect hundreds of VOA employees.
“The BBG is not making these cuts to add anything to their Middle East outreach efforts,” said Tim Shamble, president of AFGE Local 1812. “The BBG is just using the Middle East as an excuse to eliminate important VOA broadcasts in favor of upgrading television production facilities.”
“The Middle East isn’t the only place harboring individuals hostile to the American way of life. The VOA broadcasts are just as necessary in Russia, Pakistan and other unstable parts of the world as they are in the Middle East,” added Shamble. “I guess the BBG has surrendered in the war of ideas and is willing to leave it up to other nations to explain world events in English. We are asking Congress to step in and remind the BBG that English is the voice of America. Is it too much to ask that we have a BBG that respects the language of our nation?”
This isn’t the first time that the VOA has attempted to eliminate jobs. In November, AFGE called attention to the VOA’s efforts to outsource English language news writing jobs performed by Americans to Chinese contractors through a controversial streamlined outsourcing process.
During that time, AFGE enlisted members of Congress to weigh in on the matter. In a letter to VOA Director David Jackson, Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) urged the VOA to be as “transparent as possible concerning the information used in reaching the final decision [to outsource federal jobs].” Sen. Sarbanes, along with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), also demanded documentation for the VOA’s outsourcing decision.
“It’s clear that the BBG has declared war on the VOA by attempting to outsource jobs and cut necessary positions during a time when its services are needed in all parts of the world now more than ever,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “It’s illogical to eliminate VOA broadcasts during a time when winning the hearts and minds of the global community is critical to winning the war on terror.”
For more information, please visit www.afge.org.