The Bush administration’s budget request includes an increase of 2.6% for the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
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. The organization believes 155 million people listen to or watch its programming at least once a week. Of that, 35 million are Arabic speakers, another 25 million live in critical Muslim nations in Asia.
The board supervises U.S. government-supported, non-military international broadcasting including the Voice of America; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa); Radio Free Asia; and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí).
“A key focus of the budget request is on building a significant expansion of Internet capability and programming,” the board said in a statement. “The Internet is a key source of news and information around the world, and also serves as a means of circumventing jamming and other government interference in our broadcasts.”
Among services BBG cited as receiving budgetary support, it highlighted streams for VOA Persian TV and Radio Farda to Iran; Alhurra television program broadcast from the Middle East, 24/7 news coverage by Alhurra and customized news content on Radio Sawa, in Arabic; Radio Deewa, VOA Pashto programming, to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region as well as VOA Urdu radio and television broadcasts to Pakistan; VOA and RFE/RL Dari and Pashto programming to Afghanistan;VOA Somali to Somalia; and a 10-hour coordinated RFA and VOA stream to North Korea.