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BBG Condemns Jamming, Recognizes Award Winners at Monthly Meeting

Iran, Syria and Cambodia among countries criticized for media suppression

The Broadcasting Board of Governors expressed continued anger at satellite jamming, intimidation and the detention of journalists in Iran, Syria, Cambodia, Ethiopia and elsewhere in the world, when they convened Thursday for their monthly meeting.

The board discussed numerous examples of attempts to restrict press freedom internationally, including Marthe van der Wolf, a VOA reporter in Ethiopia who was forced by local police to erase recordings of a protest rally, and Gulnur Raqifqizi Kazimova, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty free-lancer who was prohibited from taking pictures in Azerbaijan.

“Just yesterday, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America reporters were summoned to a meeting with officials in a blatant attempt to discourage objective reporting on the Cambodian government,” Presiding Governor Michael Lynton said.

In addition, Monday, Oct. 8 marked 50 days since Alhurra TV journalist Bashar Fahmi and his cameraman Cüneyt Ünal went missing in Syria, where they are presumably being held captive. The BBG officially demanded again that the pair be released.

The BBG also recognized the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards winners: Mukarram Khan Aatif of the VOA’s Deewa Radio; Karen Caballero of Radio and TV Martí; Sailab Mahsud of RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal; RFA’s Korean Service; and Mohamed Moawad and Lamia Rezgui Bourogaa of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks’ Radio Sawa.

The board watched a video presentation honoring Leo Sarkisian, the now-retired creator of Music Time in Africa, VOA’s oldest English-language music program. They then presented a resolution expressing the agency’s appreciation for Sarkisian’s work.

Other discussion at the meeting covered BBG’s expanded broadcasting reach in China via the Telstar satellite and other developments intended to modernize and extend the reach of the agency and its media worldwide.

Public documents related to this meeting are posted on the BBG website, and video of the Oct. 11 meeting is available on-demand.