New York.- A priority shifting by Bush administration and a short mind Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), led by Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, puts Voice of America’s (VOA) Greek Language Program – along with other European languages including Turkish – into jeopardy. If the proposal is going to be approved by EU Congress, in October VOA’s Greek Language program will shut down.
“It is awkward that while the proposed fiscal year 2007 budget for U.S. international broadcasting calls for an overall increase of 4.3% from fiscal year 2006, Bush administration is cutting all Balkan programming of VOA”, a prominent Greek American lobbyist told the Greek News.
Many members of Congress have been informed from Greek American organizations on the proposed cut and it is expected that they will raise serious questions, on the new priorities of VOA. A complete file on the proposal was sent to the Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair person, Carolyn Maloney and other members.
“They act like the Balkan is a peaceful corner of the planet and as if public opinion in Turkey is pro-American. There is a great need for a continuation of the programs. What they will finally succeed is to unite for the first time ever, Greek and Turkish Lobby in Washington”, the Greek American lobbyist said.
Other proposed reductions include the elimination of VOA broadcasts in Croatian, Turkish, Thai, Greek and Georgian. VOA radio broadcasts in Albanian, Bosnian, Macedonian, Serbian, Russian and Hindi would end while television programming in these languages would continue. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty will continue radio programming in Russian and Georgian while eliminating radio programming in Slavomacedonian dialect.
According to the BBG, the new policy planning is targeted to the war on terror and new technology. While proposed increases go primarily to Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Voice of America (VOA), non-war on terror related language services would see reductions and/or eliminations.
The Board of Governors’ proposed $671.9 million budget includes a number of new initiatives, enhancements and a continuation of initiatives begun in ’06. They include:
• Expanding service to Iran with a daily four-hour prime time VOA Persian television lineup and enhancing the Radio Farda website.
• Increasing Middle East television news coverage (Alhurra) from 16 to 24 hours a day and adding customized local news content and coverage for Radio Sawa.
• Adding a one-hour television program for Afghanistan in both Dari and Pashto, and enhancing transmission for VOA Pashto programming to the people of Afghanistan along the border region while adding additional FM and medium wave capability.
Faced with the increased costs of expanding critically needed television and radio programming to the Arab and non-Arab Muslim world, the Board has had to make some painful choices. As a result, the budget proposes reductions in English language programming, by eliminating VOA News Now radio while maintaining VOA English to Africa, Special English and VOA’s English website.
The U.S. government set up Voice of America in 1942. On its first day, news was beamed into Nazi-controlled lands, christened with these words:
“Our voices are coming to you from New York, across the Atlantic Ocean to London — from where they are relayed to you in Germany.”
Since then, the VOA has continued to cover the news, warts and all — including the Vietnam War, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the impeachment of President Clinton — for listeners across the globe.
Greek Program, headed by George Bistis, employees four Journalists, and serves many Greek radio stations and Alpha Tv, covering approximately 720.000 people in Greece, according to Nielsen
REACTIONS IN GREEK MEDIA
The proposed closing of the Greek Service in fiscal year 2007 has caused concern to its affiliates and generated unprecedented interest among the media in Greece and in the Greek American community.