BBG Budget Would Bring Shifts in Some Programming Emphasis

U.S. government international broadcasting officials are seeking more money for broadcasts to North Korea, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Cuba.
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U.S. government international broadcasting officials are seeking more money for broadcasts to North Korea, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Cuba.

Meanwhile they are pushing for cuts in content targeted to audiences elsewhere, including programs in Cantonese, Uzbek, Ukrainian, Tibetan, Portuguese, Romanian, South Slavic, Kazakh, Croatian, Greek, Thai and others. Cuts must be approved by Congress.

The proposed 2008 Broadcasting Board of Governors budget calls for an increase of 3.8%. Officials say this level would make targeted programming stronger and increase audience reach through better technology and transmission capabilities.

Proposed use of the money includes a new 10-hour stream of VOA and Radio Free Asia daily programming to North Korea; funding the new Somali Service’s 30-minute daily radio broadcast; and improving Radio and TV Martí’s reach into Cuba.

The BBG wants to further fund initiatives to Muslim audiences including VOA Pashto radio and Alhurra Europe, a service to Arabic speakers in Europe.

The organization proposes to do away with VOA and RFA broadcasts in Cantonese as well as VOA Uzbek. It would cut back on Ukrainian broadcasts by VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Tibetan broadcasts by VOA and RFA; VOA Portuguese to Africa; and broadcasts in Romanian, South Slavic and Kazakh by RFE/RL.

It also renewed requests for cuts it had asked for last year.

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BBG Budget Would Increase 2.6%

Its request is $699.5 million. BBG said the budget introduces new initiatives to reach audiences in critical areas of the world, including the Middle East, Iran, Somalia, Russia, China and Venezuela.