Voice of America

Last updated

Voice of America
AbbreviationVoA
FoundedFebruary 1, 1942;82 years ago (1942-02-01)
TypeInternational state-funded broadcaster
Headquarters Wilbur J. Cohen Federal Building
Location
Director
John Lippman (acting, since October 2023) [1]
Budget (Fiscal year 2023)
US$267.5 million [2]
Staff (2021)
961 [3]
Website www.voanews.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Voice of America (VOA or VoA) is the state-owned news network and international radio broadcaster of the United States of America. It is the largest and oldest of the U.S.-funded international broadcasters. [4] [5] [6] VOA produces digital, TV, and radio content in 49 languages, which it distributes to affiliate stations around the world. [7] Its targeted and primary audience is non-American. As of November 2022, its reporting reached 326 million adults per week across all platforms. [8]

Contents

VOA was established in 1942, and the VOA charter was signed into law in 1976 by U.S. President Gerald Ford. [9] [10] It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and overseen by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), an independent agency of the U.S. government. [11] Funds are appropriated annually under the budget for embassies and consulates. As of 2022, VOA had a weekly worldwide audience of approximately 326 million (up from 237 million in 2016) and employed 961 staff with an annual budget of $267.5 million. [2] [12] [13]

Voice of America is seen by some listeners as having a positive impact while others like lecturer Faizullah Jan of Pakistan's University of Peshawar see it as both that and in addition as American propaganda; it also serves US diplomacy. [14] [15] [16]

Languages

The Voice of America website had five English-language broadcasts as of 2014 (worldwide, Learning English, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, and Tibet). Additionally, the VOA website has versions in 48 foreign languages. [17] [2]

Radio programs are marked with an "R"; TV programs with a "T":

  1. Afan Oromo R
  2. Albanian R, T
  3. Amharic R
  4. Armenian T
  5. Azerbaijani T
  6. Bambara R
  7. Bangla R, T
  8. Bosnian T
  9. Burmese R, T
  10. Cantonese R, T
  11. Creole
  12. Dari Persian R, T
  13. French R, T
  14. Georgian R
  15. Haitian Creole R
  16. Hausa R
  17. Indonesian R, T
  18. Khmer R, T
  19. Kinyarwanda R
  20. Kirundi
  21. Korean R
  22. Kurdish R
  23. Lao R
  24. Lingala R
  25. Macedonian T
  26. Mandarin R, T
  27. Ndebele
  28. Pashto T
  29. Persian R, T
  30. Portuguese R
  31. Rohingya
  32. Russian T
  33. Sango R
  34. Serbian T
  35. Shona R
  36. Sindhi
  37. Somali R
  38. Spanish R, T
  39. Swahili R
  40. Thai R
  41. Tibetan R, T
  42. Tigrinya R
  43. Turkish T
  44. Ukrainian T
  45. Urdu R, T
  46. Uzbek R, T
  47. Vietnamese R, T
  48. Wolof
  49. English R, T

The number of languages varies according to the priorities of the United States government and the world situation. [18] [19]

History

American private shortwave broadcasting before World War II

Voice of America headquarters Voice of America headquarters and United States Capitol.jpg
Voice of America headquarters

Before World War II, all American shortwave radio stations were in private hands. [20] Privately controlled shortwave networks included the National Broadcasting Company's International Network (or White Network), which broadcast in six languages, the Columbia Broadcasting System's Latin American international network, which consisted of 64 stations located in 18 countries, the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio, and General Electric which owned and operated WGEO and WGEA, both based in Schenectady, New York, and KGEI in San Francisco, all of which had shortwave transmitters. [21] [22] Experimental programming began in the 1930s, but there were fewer than 12 transmitters in operation. [23]

In 1939, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission set the following policy, which was intended to enforce the US State Department's Good Neighbor Policy, but which some broadcasters felt was an attempt to direct censorship: [24]

A licensee of an international broadcast station shall render only an international broadcast service which will reflect the culture of this country and which will promote international goodwill, understanding and cooperation. Any program solely intended for, and directed to an audience in the continental United States does not meet the requirements for this service. [25]

Around 1940, shortwave signals to Latin America were regarded as vital to counter Nazi propaganda. [23] Initially, the US Office of the Coordinator of Information sent releases to each station, but this was seen as an inefficient means of transmitting news. [20] The director of Latin American relations at the Columbia Broadcasting System was Edmund A. Chester, and he supervised the development of CBS's extensive "La Cadena de las Américas" radio network to improve broadcasting to South America during the 1940s. [26]

World War II

External images
Searchtool.svg "La Cadena de las Américas" – Edmund Chester CBS Radio Director in 1943
Here on Getty Images
Searchtool.svg The"Viva America" program on CBS Radio including vocalist Nestor Mesta Chayres in 1946
Here on Getty images
Searchtool.svg "Viva America" – CBS Radio and Alfredo Antonini, Conductor in 1946
Here on Getty Images

Even before the December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government's Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) had already begun providing war news and commentary to the commercial American shortwave radio stations for use on a voluntary basis, through its Foreign Information Service (FIS) headed by playwright Robert E. Sherwood, who served as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech writer and information advisor. [27] Direct programming began a week after the United States' entry into World War II in December 1941, with the first broadcast from the San Francisco office of the FIS via General Electric's KGEI transmitting to the Philippines in English (other languages followed). The next step was to broadcast to Germany, which was called Stimmen aus Amerika ("Voices from America") and was transmitted on February 1, 1942. It was introduced by the “Battle Hymn of the Republic" and included the pledge: "Today, and every day from now on, we will be with you from America to talk about the war... The news may be good or bad for us – We will always tell you the truth." [28] Roosevelt approved this broadcast, which then-Colonel William J. Donovan (COI) and Sherwood (FIS) had recommended to him. It was Sherwood who actually coined the term "The Voice of America" to describe the shortwave network that began its transmissions on February 1, from 270 Madison Avenue in New York City.

The Office of War Information, when organized in the middle of 1942, officially took over VOA's operations. VOA reached an agreement with the British Broadcasting Corporation to share medium-wave transmitters in Great Britain, and expanded into Tunis in North Africa and Palermo and Bari, Italy, as the Allies captured these territories. The OWI also set up the American Broadcasting Station in Europe. [29] Asian transmissions started with one transmitter in California in 1941; services were expanded by adding transmitters in Hawaii and, after recapture, the Philippines. [30]

By the end of the war, VOA had 39 transmitters and provided service in 40 languages. [30] Programming was broadcast from production centers in New York and San Francisco, with more than 1,000 programs originating from New York. Programming consisted of music, news, commentary, and relays of U.S. domestic programming, in addition to specialized VOA programming. [31] About half of VOA's services, including the Arabic service, were discontinued in 1945. [32] In late 1945, VOA was transferred to the US Department of State.

Also included among the cultural diplomacy programming on the Columbia Broadcasting System was the musical show Viva America (1942–49) which featured the Pan American Orchestra and the artistry of several noted musicians from both North and South America, including Alfredo Antonini, Juan Arvizu, Eva Garza, Elsa Miranda, Nestor Mesta Chaires, Miguel Sandoval, John Serry Sr., and Terig Tucci. [33] [34] [35] By 1945, broadcasts of the show were carried by 114 stations on CBS's "La Cadena de las Américas" network in 20 Latin American nations. These broadcasts proved to be highly successful in supporting President Roosevelt's policy of Pan-Americanism throughout South America during World War II. [36]

Cold War

The Iron Curtain, in black.
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NATO members
Warsaw Pact countries Iron Curtain map.svg
The Iron Curtain, in black.
   NATO members
   Warsaw Pact countries

The VOA ramped up its operations during the Cold War. [37] Foy Kohler, the director of VOA during the Cold War, strongly believed that the VOA was serving its purpose, which he identified as aiding in the fight against communism. [38] He argued that the numbers of listeners they were getting such as 194,000 regular listeners in Sweden, and 2.1 million regular listeners in France, was an indication of a positive impact. As further evidence, he noted that the VOA received 30,000 letters a month from listeners all over the world, and hundreds of thousands of requests for broadcasting schedules. [39] There was an analysis done of some of those letters sent in 1952 and 1953 while Kohler was still director. The study found that letter writing could be an indicator of successful, actionable persuasion. It was also found that broadcasts in different countries were having different effects. In one country, regular listeners adopted and practiced American values presented by the broadcast. Age was also a factor: younger and older audiences tended to like different types of programs, no matter the country. [40] Kohler used all of this as evidence to claim that the VOA helped to grow and strengthen the free world. It also influenced the UN in their decision to condemn communist actions in Korea, and was a major factor in the decline of communism in the "free world, including key countries such as Italy and France. [38] In Italy, the VOA did not just bring an end to communism, but it caused the country to Americanize. [41] The VOA also had an impact behind the Iron Curtain. Practically all defectors during Kohler's time said that the VOA helped in their decision to defect. [42] Another indication of impact, according to Kohler, was the Soviet response. Kohler argued that the Soviets responded because the VOA was having an impact. Based on Soviet responses, it can be presumed that the most effective programs were ones that compared the lives of those behind and outside the Iron Curtain, questions on the practice of slave labor, as well as lies and errors in Stalin's version of Marxism. [38]

In 1947, VOA started broadcasting to the Soviet citizens in Russia under the pretext of countering "more harmful instances of Soviet propaganda directed against American leaders and policies" on the part of the internal Soviet Russian-language media, according to John B. Whitton's treatise, Cold War Propaganda. [43] The Soviet Union responded by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts on April 24, 1949. [43]

Charles W. Thayer headed VOA in 1948–49. [44] Over the next few years, the U.S. government debated the best role of Voice of America. The decision was made to use VOA broadcasts as a part of U.S. foreign policy to fight the propaganda of the Soviet Union and other countries. The Arabic service resumed on January 1, 1950, with a half-hour program. This program grew to 14.5 hours daily during the Suez Crisis of 1956, and was six hours a day by 1958. [32] Between 1952 and 1960, Voice of America used a converted U.S. Coast Guard cutter Courier as a first mobile broadcasting ship. [45]

Willis Conover broadcasting with Voice of America in 1969 Willis Conover 1969.jpg
Willis Conover broadcasting with Voice of America in 1969

Control of VOA passed from the State Department to the U.S. Information Agency when the latter was established in 1953 [32] to transmit worldwide, including to the countries behind the Iron Curtain and to the People's Republic of China. From 1955 until 2003, VOA broadcast American jazz on the Voice of America Jazz Hour . Hosted for most of that period by Willis Conover, the program had 30 million listeners at its peak. A program aimed at South Africa in 1956 broadcast two hours nightly, and special programs such as The Newport Jazz Festival were also transmitted. This was done in association with tours by U.S. musicians, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington, sponsored by the State Department. [46] From August 1952 through May 1953, Billy Brown, a high school senior in Westchester County, New York, had a Monday night program in which he shared everyday happenings in Yorktown Heights, New York. Brown's program ended due to its popularity: his "chatty narratives" attracted so much fan mail, VOA couldn't afford the $500 a month in clerical and postage costs required to respond to listeners' letters. [47] During 1953, VOA personnel were subjected to McCarthyist policies, where VOA was accused by Senator Joseph McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and Gerard David Schine of intentionally planning to build weak transmitting stations to sabotage VOA broadcasts. However, the charges were dropped after one month of court hearings in February and March 1953. [48]

Sometime around 1954, VOA's headquarters were moved from New York to Washington D.C. The arrival of cheap, low-cost transistors enabled the significant growth of shortwave radio listeners. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, VOA's broadcasts were deemed controversial, as Hungarian refugees and revolutionaries thought that VOA served as a medium and insinuated the possible arrival of the Western aid. [49]

Throughout the Cold War, many of the targeted countries' governments sponsored jamming of VOA broadcasts, which sometimes led critics to question the broadcasts' actual impact. For example, in 1956, Polish People's Republic stopped jamming VOA transmissions, [50] but People's Republic of Bulgaria continued to jam the signal through the 1970s. In 1966 Edward R. Murrow said that: "The Russians spend more money jamming the Voice of American than we have to spend for the entire program of the entire Agency. They spend about $125 million ($1,200,000,000 in current dollar terms) a year jamming it." [51] Chinese-language VOA broadcasts were jammed beginning in 1956 and extending through 1976. [52] However, after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, interviews with participants in anti-Soviet movements verified the effectiveness of VOA broadcasts in transmitting information to socialist societies. [53] The People's Republic of China diligently jams VOA broadcasts. [54] Cuba has also been reported to interfere with VOA satellite transmissions to Iran from its Russian-built transmission site at Bejucal. [55] David Jackson, former director of Voice of America, noted: "The North Korean government doesn't jam us, but they try to keep people from listening through intimidation or worse. But people figure out ways to listen despite the odds. They're very resourceful." [56]

Martin Luther King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (cropped).jpg
Martin Luther King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech
Buzz Aldrin on the moon, in a photograph taken by Neil Armstrong, who can be seen in the visor reflection along with earth. Aldrin Apollo 11 original.jpg
Buzz Aldrin on the moon, in a photograph taken by Neil Armstrong, who can be seen in the visor reflection along with earth.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, VOA covered some of the era's most important news, including Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech [58] and Neil Armstrong's 1969 first walk on the Moon, which drew an audience estimated at between 615 and 750 million people. In 1973, due to the détente policies in the Cold War, Soviet jamming of the VOA ceased; it restarted in 1979. [59]

In the early 1980s, VOA began a $1.3 billion rebuilding program to improve broadcast with better technical capabilities. During the implementation of the Martial law in Poland between 1981 and 1983, VOA's Polish broadcasts expanded to seven hours daily. Throughout the 1980s, VOA focused on covering events from the 'American hinterland', such as 150th anniversary of the Oregon Trail. [48] Also in the 1980s, VOA also added a television service, as well as special regional programs to Cuba, Radio Martí and TV Martí. Cuba has consistently attempted to jam such broadcasts and has vociferously protested U.S. broadcasts directed at Cuba. In September 1980, VOA started broadcasting to Afghanistan in Dari and in Pashto in 1982. [60] In 1985, VOA Europe was created as a special service in English that was relayed via satellite to AM, FM, and cable affiliates throughout Europe. With a contemporary format including live disc jockeys, the network presented top musical hits as well as VOA news and features of local interest (such as "EuroFax") 24 hours a day. VOA Europe was closed down without advance public notice in January 1997 as a cost-cutting measure. [61] It was followed by VOA Express, which from July 4, 1999, revamped into VOA Music Mix. [62] Since November 1, 2014, stations are offered VOA1 (which is a rebranding of VOA Music Mix). [63]

In 1989, Voice of America expanded its Mandarin and Cantonese programming to reach the millions of Chinese and inform the country about the pro-democracy movement within the country, including the demonstration in Tiananmen Square. [64] Starting in 1990, the U.S. consolidated its international broadcasting efforts, with the establishment of the Bureau of Broadcasting. [65]

Post–Cold War

With the breakup of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe, VOA added many additional language services to reach those areas. This decade was marked by the additions of services in Standard Tibetan, Kurdish (to Iran and Iraq), Serbo-Croatian (Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian), Macedonian, and Rwanda-Rundi. [66] [67]

In 1993, the Clinton administration advised cutting funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as it believed post-Cold War information and influence was not needed in Europe. This plan was not well received, and US President Bill Clinton then proposed the compromise of the International Broadcasting Act, which he signed into law in 1994. This law established the International Broadcasting Bureau as a part of the United States Information Agency (USIA), and established the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) with oversight authority, which took control from the Board for International Broadcasters which previously had overseen funding for RFE/RL. [68] In 1998, the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act was signed into law, and mandated that the BBG become an independent federal agency as of October 1, 1999. This act also abolished the USIA, and merged most of its functions into those of the State Department. [69]

In 1994, Voice of America became the first broadcast-news organization to offer continuously updated programs on the Internet. [70]

Cuts in services

The Arabic Service was abolished in 2002 and replaced by a new radio service, called the Middle East Radio Network or Radio Sawa, with an initial budget of $22 million. Radio Sawa offered mostly Western and Middle Eastern popular songs with periodic brief news bulletins. Today, the network has expanded to television with Alhurra and to various social media and websites. [71] On May 16, 2004, Worldnet, a satellite television service, was merged into the VOA network.

Radio programs in Russian ended in July 2008. [72] In September 2008, VOA eliminated the Hindi-language service after 53 years. [72] Broadcasts in Ukrainian, Serbian, Macedonian, and Bosnian also ended. [73] These reductions were part of American efforts to concentrate more resources to broadcast to the Muslim world. [72] [73] In September 2010, VOA began radio broadcasts in Sudan. As U.S. interests in South Sudan grew, there was a desire to provide people with free information. [74]

In 2013, VOA ended foreign-language transmissions on shortwave and medium wave to Albania, Georgia, Iran, and Latin America, as well as English-language broadcasts to the Middle East and Afghanistan. [75] This was done due to budget cuts. [75] On July 1, 2014, VOA cut most of its English-language transmissions to Asia, [76] as well as shortwave transmissions in Azerbaijani, Bengali, Khmer, Kurdish, Lao, and Uzbek. [76] The following month, the Greek service ended after 72 years on air. [77] [78]

Russia

In January 2016, upon his arrival in Moscow, Russian authorities detained and then deported Jeff Shell, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees the Voice of America, despite his having a valid Russian visa. [79] Russian authorities did not explain their actions. [79]

In December 2017, under a new directive from Russia's Kremlin after a new law was passed by the State Duma (Russia's lower house of parliament) and the upper house Federation Council and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Voice of America was deemed a "foreign agent" under the Russian foreign agent law. [80] [81] In June 2021, the Russian news agency TASS reported that Russia's state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor complained that the foreign agent Voice of America radio station challengingly refused to observe Russian law because it had not established a Russian legal entity. [82] Roskomnadzor also said that VOA was as a foreign agent "obliged to mark their content and provide information about all aspects of their activity, including a detailed description of contacts with the authorities." [82]

In March 2022, VOA and other news broadcasters, including the BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Deutsche Welle were blocked in Russia, [83] as after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian authorities increased censorship of independent journalism, anti-war protests, and dissenting voices. [84] [85] [86] [87] Nevertheless, many Russians have used VPNs and other software to get around Russian government blocks. [88] [89] As of March 2022, VOA broadcasts were reaching people in Russia and the region through TV, FM and medium wave radio, digital, and direct-to-home satellite. [87] In May 2023, Russia banned acting VOA chief Yolanda Lopez from ever entering the country. [90]

List of directors

  1. 1942–1943 John Houseman
  2. 1943–1945 Louis G. Cowan
  3. 1945–1946 John Ogilvie
  4. 1948–1949 Charles W. Thayer
  5. 1949–1952 Foy D. Kohler
  6. 1952–1953 Alfred H. Morton
  7. 1953–1954 Leonard Erikson
  8. 1954–1956 John R. Poppele
  9. 1956–1958 Robert E. Burton
  10. 1958–1965 Henry Loomis
  11. 1965–1967 John Chancellor
  12. 1967–1968 John Charles Daly
  13. 1969–1977 Kenneth R. Giddens
  14. 1977–1979 R. Peter Straus
  15. 1980–1981 Mary G. F. Bitterman
  16. 1981–1982 James B. Conkling
  17. 1982 John Hughes
  18. 1982–1984 Kenneth Tomlinson
  19. 1985 Gene Pell
  20. 1986–1991 Dick Carlson
  21. 1991–1993 Chase Untermeyer
  22. 1994–1996 Geoffrey Cowan
  23. 1997–1999 Evelyn S. Lieberman
  24. 1999–2001 Sanford J. Ungar
  25. 2001–2002 Robert R. Reilly
  26. 2002–2006 David S. Jackson
  27. 2006–2011 Danforth W. Austin
  28. 2011–2015 David Ensor
  29. 2016–2020 Amanda Bennett
  30. 2020–2021 Robert R. Reilly
  31. 2021–present (vacant)

Agencies

Voice of America has been a part of several agencies. From its founding in 1942 to 1945, it was part of the Office of War Information, and then from 1945 to 1953 as a function of the State Department. VOA was placed under the U.S. Information Agency in 1953. When the USIA was abolished in 1999, VOA was placed under the BBG which is an autonomous U.S. government agency, with bipartisan membership. The Secretary of State has a seat on the BBG. [91] The BBG was established as a buffer to protect VOA and other U.S.-sponsored, non-military, international broadcasters from political interference. It replaced the Board for International Broadcasting (BIB) that oversaw the funding and operation of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a branch of VOA. [68]

52 Documentary

In 2021, Voice of America launched 52 Documentary, a series that publishes weekly films about human experiences. [92] They publish on the streaming app, VOA+, and YouTube. Films average 10–15 minutes and are translated with captions in several languages, including Russian, Persian, Mandarin, Urdu, and English. Euna Lee directs the program. [93]

Smith–Mundt Act

From 1948 until its amendment in 2013, Voice of America was forbidden to broadcast directly to American citizens, pursuant to § 501 of the Smith–Mundt Act. [94] The intent of the 1948 legislation was to protect the American public from propaganda by its own government and to avoid any competition with private American companies. [95] The act was amended via the passage of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013. [96] The amendment was intended to adapt the law to the Internet and to allow American citizens access to VOA content. [97]

Policies

VOA charter

Under the Eisenhower administration in 1959, VOA Director Henry Loomis commissioned a formal statement of principles to protect the integrity of VOA programming and define the organization's mission, and was issued by Director George V. Allen as a directive in 1960 and was endorsed in 1962 by USIA director Edward R. Murrow. [98] The principles were signed into law (Public Laws 94-350 and 103–415) on July 12, 1976, by President Gerald Ford. It reads:

The long-range interests of the United States are served by communicating directly with the peoples of the world by radio. To be effective, the Voice of America must win the attention and respect of listeners. These principles will therefore govern Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts. 1. VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive. 2. VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions. 3. VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies. [11]

"Firewall"

The Voice of America Firewall was put in place with the 1976 VOA Charter and laws passed in 1994 and 2016 as a way of ensuring the integrity of VOA's journalism. This policy fights against propaganda and promotes unbiased and objective journalistic standards in the agency. The charter is one part of this firewall and the other laws assist in ensuring high standards of journalism. [99] [100]

"Two-source rule"

According to former VOA correspondent Alan Heil, the internal policy of VOA News is that any story broadcast must have two independently corroborating sources or have a staff correspondent witness an event. [101]

VOA Radiogram

VOA Radiogram was an experimental Voice of America program that started in March 2013 and ended in June 2017, which transmitted digital text and images via shortwave radiograms. [102] [103] There were 220 editions of the program, transmitted each weekend from the Edward R. Murrow transmitting station. The audio tones that comprised the bulk of each 30-minute program were transmitted via an analog transmitter, and could be decoded using a basic AM shortwave receiver with freely downloadable software of the Fldigi family. This software was available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and FreeBSD systems. Broadcasts could also be decoded using the free TIVAR app from the Google Play store using any Android device. The mode used most often on VOA Radiogram, for both text and images, was MFSK32, but other modes were also occasionally transmitted. The final edition of VOA Radiogram was transmitted during the weekend of June 17–18, 2017, a week before the retirement of the program producer from VOA. An offer to continue the broadcasts on a contract basis was declined, so a follow-on show called Shortwave Radiogram began transmission on June 25, 2017, from the WRMI transmitting site in Okeechobee, Florida. [104] [105]

Shortwave Radiogram program schedule [106]
DayTime (UTC) Shortwave frequency (MHz)Origin
Saturday1600–16309.4Space Line, Bulgaria
Sunday0600–06307.73 WRMI, Florida
Sunday2030–210011.58 WRMI, Florida
Sunday2330–240011.58 WRMI, Florida

Transmission facilities

Edward R. Murrow Greenville Transmitting Station, the VOA broadcasting station in North Carolina's Inner Banks VOA SiteB building.JPG
Edward R. Murrow Greenville Transmitting Station, the VOA broadcasting station in North Carolina's Inner Banks
The Delano Transmitting Station was closed in 2007. 2009-0725-CA-Delano-VOArelay.jpg
The Delano Transmitting Station was closed in 2007.

The Bethany Relay Station, operational from 1944 to 1994, was based on a 625-acre (2.53 km2) site in Union Township (now West Chester Township) in Butler County, Ohio, near Cincinnati. [107] Major transmitter upgrades first were undertaken around 1963, when shortwave and medium-wave transmitters were built, upgraded, or rebuilt. [48] The site is now a recreational park with a Voice of America museum. Other former sites include California (Dixon and Delano), Hawaii, Okinawa, Liberia (Monrovia), Costa Rica, Belize, and at least two in Greece (Kavala and Rhodos).

Between 1983 and 1990, VOA made significant upgrades to transmission facilities in Botswana (Selebi-Phikwe), Morocco, Thailand (Udon Thani), Kuwait, and São Tomé (Almas). [108] Some of them are shared with Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia.

VOA and USAGM continue to operate shortwave radio transmitters and antenna farms at International Broadcasting Bureau Greenville Transmitting Station (known as "Site B") in the United States, close to Greenville, North Carolina. They do not use FCC-issued call signs, since the FCC does not regulate communications by other federal government agencies. The International Broadcasting Bureau also operates transmission facilities on São Tomé and Tinang, Concepcion, Tarlac, Philippines for VOA. [109]

List of languages

Language [110] Target audiencefromtoWebsiteRemarks
EnglishWorldwide1942present www.voanews.com
Mandarin Chinese Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Republic of China (1941–1949)
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  People's Republic of China (1949–present)
1941present 美国之音 see also Radio Free Asia
Cantonese Guangdong
Guangxi
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong (1997–present)
Flag of Macau.svg  Macau (1999–present)
1941
1949
1987
1945
1963
present
美國之音 see also Radio Free Asia
Brazilian Portuguese Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 1941
1946
1961
1945
1948
2001
Amoy Fujian (1941–1945, 1951–1963)
Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Japanese Taiwan (1941–1945)
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan (1951–1963)
1941
1951
1945
1963
Tagalog/Filipino Flag of the Philippines (1946-1998).svg  Commonwealth of the Philippines (1941–1942, 1945–1946)
Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Philippine Executive Commission (1942–1943)
Flag of the Philippines (1943-1945).svg Republic of the Philippines (1943–1945)
19411946
Korean Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Japanese Korea (1942–1945)
Flag of the People's Committee of Korea.svg People's Republic of Korea (1945)
Flag of the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea.svg Soviet Civil Administration in North Korea (1945–1948)
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea (1948–present)
Flag of South Korea (1945-1948).svg United States Army Military Government in Korea (1945–1948)
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea (1948–present)
1942present VOA 한국어 see also Radio Free Asia
Indonesian Flag of Japan (1870-1999).svg Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies (1942–1945)
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Dutch East Indies (1945–1949)
Morning Star flag.svg  Netherlands New Guinea (1949–1962)
Flag of the United Nations.svg West New Guinea (UN Protectorate) (1962–1963)
Flag of Indonesia.svg Republic of Indonesia (1945–1949)
Flag of Indonesia.svg United States of Indonesia (1949–1950)
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia (1950–present)
1942present Voice of America Indonesia|
Turkish Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 1942
1948
1945
present
Amerika'nın Sesi
VOA Türkçe
Spanish Latin America 1942
1946
1953
1961
1945
1948
1956
present
Voz de América see also Radio y Televisión Martí
Persian State flag of Iran (1964-1980).svg Imperial State of Iran (1942–1945, 1949–1960, 1964–1966)
Flag of Iran.svg  Islamic Republic of Iran (1979–present)
1942
1949
1964
1979
1945
1960
1966
present
صدای آمریکا see also Radio Farda
Thai Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand 1942
1962
1988
1958
1988
present
วอยซ์ ออฟ อเมริกา
Greek Flag of Greece (1822-1978).svg Hellenic State (1942–1944)
Axis-occupied Greece (1942–1944)
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Italian Islands of the Aegean (1942–1945)
State Flag of Greece (1863-1924 and 1935-1973).svg Kingdom of Greece (1944–1973)
Flag of Greece.svg  Hellenic Republic (1973–2014)
19422014 Φωνή της Αμερικής (no longer active, kept for historical reasons)
Bulgarian Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Kingdom of Bulgaria (1942–1946)
Flag of Bulgaria (1971-1990).svg Bulgarian People's Republic (1946–1989)
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria (1989–2004)
19422004see also Radio Free Europe
Czech Flag of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.svg  Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (1942–1945)
Czech-inhabited lands of Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czechoslovak Republic (1945–1960)
Czech-inhabited lands of Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1960–1969)
Flag of Bohemia.svg Czech SR (1969–1990)
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic (1990–2004)
19422004see also Radio Free Europe
Hungarian Flag of Hungary (1915-1918, 1919-1946).svg Kingdom of Hungary
Flag of Hungary (1946-1949, 1956-1957; 1-2 aspect ratio).svg Hungarian Republic (1946–1949)
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungarian People's Republic (1949–1989)
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary (1989–1993)
19422004see also Radio Free Europe
Polish Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg General Government of Polish Region (1942–1944)
Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg Republic of Poland (1944–1945)
Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg Republic of Poland (1945–1947)
Flag of Poland (1928-1980).svg  Polish People's Republic (1947–1989)
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland (1990–2004)
19422004see also Radio Free Europe
Romanian Flag of Romania.svg  Kingdom of Romania (1942–1947)
Flag of Romania (1952-1965).svg Romanian People's Republic (1947–1965)
Flag of Romania (1965-1989).svg  Socialist Republic of Romania (1965–1989)
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania (1989–2004)
19422004see also Radio Free Europe
Slovak Flag of Slovakia (1939-1945).svg Slovak Republic (1942–1945)
Slovak-inhabited lands of Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czechoslovak Republic (1945–1960)
Slovak-inhabited lands of Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1960–1969)
Flag of First Slovak Republic 1939-1945.svg Slovak SR (1969–1990)
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia (1990–2004)
19422004see also Radio Free Europe
Arabic Flag of the Arab League.svg
Arab World
1942
1950
1945
2002
see also Radio Sawa and Alhurra
SpanishFlag of Spain (1945-1977).svg  Spanish State (1942–1955, 1955–1975)
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain (1975–1993)
1942
1955
1955
1993

(for local radio stations)
Portuguese Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal (1942–1945, 1951–1953)
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal (1976–1987, 1987–1993)
1942
1951
1976
1987
1945
1953
1987
1993

 
 
(for local radio stations)
German Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg German Reich (1942–1943)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg German-occupied Austria (1942–1945)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Greater German Reich (1943–1945)
Flag of Germany (1946-1949).svg  Allied-occupied Germany (1945–1949)
Flag of Saar (1947-1956).svg  Saar Protectorate (1947–1956)
Flag of Germany.svg Federal Republic of Germany (1949–1960)
Flag of Berlin.svg Allied-occupied Berlin (1949–1960)
Flag of East Germany.svg  German Democratic Republic (1949–1960)
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany (1991–1993)
1942
1991
1960
1993
Japanese Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Empire of Japan (1942–1945)
Flag of Allied Occupied Japan.svg Occupied Japan (1951–1952)
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan (1952–1962)
1942
1951
1945
1962
French Flag of France (1794-1815, 1830-1958).svg French State (1942–1944)
Flag of Free France (1940-1944).svg  Free France (1942–1944)
War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg Military Administration in France (1942–1944)
French- and Walloon-inhabited lands of War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France (1942–1944)
French- and Walloon-inhabited lands of Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Reichskommissariat of Belgium and Northern France (1944)
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Italian Military Administration in France (1942–1943)
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg Occupied Corsica (1942–1943)
Flag of France (1794-1815, 1830-1958).svg French Republic (1944–1946)
Flag of France (1794-1815, 1830-1958).svg French Republic (1946–1958)
Flag of France.svg French Republic (1958–1961)
19421961
Italian Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned.svg  Kingdom of Italy (1942–1945)
Flag of Italy.svg  Italian Republic (1951–1957)
Free Territory Trieste Flag.svg Free Territory of Trieste (1951–1954)
1942
1951
1945
1957
Finnish Flag of Finland.svg  Finland 1942
1951
1945
1953
Afrikaans Flag of South Africa (1928-1982).svg  Union of South Africa 19421949
Danish Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 19421945
Flemish Flemish-inhabited lands of War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France (1942–1944)
Flemish-inhabited lands of Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Reichskommissariat of Belgium and Northern France (1944)
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Reichsgau Flandern (1944–1945)
19421945
Norwegian Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Reichskommissariat Norwegen 19421945
Serbian War Ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia + Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg German-occupied Montenegro (1943–1944)
Flag of Serbia (1947-1992).svg Federated State of Serbia + Flag of Montenegro (1946-1993), Flag of Serbia (1947-1992).svg Federated State of Montenegro (1944–1946)
Flag of Serbia (1947-1992).svg People's Republic of Serbia + Flag of Montenegro (1946-1993), Flag of Serbia (1947-1992).svg People's Republic of Montenegro (1946–1963)
Flag of SR Serbia.svg  Socialist Republic of Serbia + Flag of Montenegro (1946-1993), Flag of Serbia (1947-1992).svg Socialist Republic of Montenegro (1963–1992)
Flag of Serbia and Montenegro (1992-2006).svg  Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992–2003)
Flag of Yugoslavia (1992-2003); Flag of Serbia and Montenegro (2003-2006).svg  State Union of Serbia and Montenegro (2003–2006)
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia (2006–present)
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro (2006–present)
1943present Glas Amerike see also Radio Free Europe
Albanian Flag of Albania (1943-1944).svg Albanian Kingdom (1943–1944)
Flag of Albania (1944-1946).svg Democratic Government of Albania (1944–1945)
Flag of Albania (1946-1992).svg  People's Republic of Albania (1951–1976)
Flag of Albania (1946-1992).svg  People's Socialist Republic of Albania (1976–1998)
Flag of Albania.svg  Republic of Albania (1998–present)

Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo Republic of Kosovo (2008–present)

1943
1951
1945
present
Zëri i Amerikës see also Radio Free Europe
Burmese Flag of Burma 1943.svg  State of Burma (1943–1945)
Flag of Burma (1948-1974).svg  Union of Burma (1951–1974)
Flag of Myanmar (1974-2010).svg  Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma (1974–1988)
Flag of Myanmar (1974-2010).svg  Union of Myanmar (1988–2011)
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar (2011–present)
1943
1951
1945
present
ဗီြအိုေအသတင္းဌာန see also Radio Free Asia
Vietnamese Flag of France (1794-1815).svg  French Indochina (1943–1945)
Flag of the Empire of Vietnam (1945).svg Empire of Vietnam (1945)
Flag of Colonial Annam.svg Protectorate of Tonkin + First flag of the Nguyen Dynasty.svg Protectorate of Annam + Flag of Republic of Cochinchina.svg French Cochinchina (1945–1946)
Flag of South Vietnam.svg  State of Vietnam (1951–1955)
Flag of North Vietnam (1955-1975).svg  North Vietnam (1955–1976)
Flag of South Vietnam.svg  South Vietnam (1955–1975)
FNL Flag.svg Occupied South Vietnam (1969–1976)
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam (1976–present)
1943
1951
1946
present
Ðài Tiếng nói Hoa Kỳ see also Radio Free Asia
Croatian Flag of Independent State of Croatia.svg  Independent State of Croatia (1943–1945)
Flag of Croatia (1947-1990).svg Federated State of Croatia (1945–1946)
Flag of Croatia (1947-1990).svg People's Republic of Croatia (1946–1963)
Flag of Croatia (1947-1990).svg Socialist Republic of Croatia (1963–1990)
Flag of Croatia (1990).svg Republic of Croatia (1990–1991)
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia (1991–2011)
19432011see also Radio Free Europe
Swedish Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 19431945
Slovene Slovenian-inhabited lands of Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Reichsgau Steiermark , Reichsgau Kärnten and Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral (1944–1945)
Flag of Slovenia (1945-1991).svg People's Republic of Slovenia (1949–1963)
Flag of Slovenia (1945-1991).svg Socialist Republic of Slovenia (1963–1990)
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia (1990–2004)
1944
1949
1945
2004
Wu Chinese Shanghai 19441946
Dutch Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Reichskommissariat Niederlande 19441945
Icelandic Flag of Iceland (1918-1944).svg  Kingdom of Iceland 19441944
Russian Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.svg Russian SFSR (1947–1991)
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia (1991–present)
1947present Голос Америки see also Radio Liberty
Ukrainian Flag of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1949-1991).svg Ukrainian SSR (1949–1991)
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine (1991–present)
1949present Голос Америки see also Radio Liberty
Armenian Flag of Armenian SSR.svg Armenian SSR (1951–1991)
Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia (1991–present)
1951present (web) Ամերիկայի Ձայն see also Radio Liberty
Georgian Flag of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.svg Georgian SSR (1951–1991)
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia (1991–present)
1951present (web)see also Radio Liberty
Urdu Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 1951
1954
1953
present
وائس آف امریکہ
Azerbaijani Flag of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (1956-1991).svg Azeri SSR (1951–1953, 1982–1991)
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan (1991–present)
1951
1982
1953
present (web)
Amerikanın Səsi see also Radio Liberty
Hindi Northern Flag of India.svg  India 1951
1954
1953
2008
Estonian Flag of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.svg Soviet-occupied Estonia (1951–1990)
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia (1990–2004)
19512004see also Radio Liberty
Latvian Flag of Latvian SSR.svg Soviet-occupied Latvia (1951–1990)
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia (1990–2004)
19512004see also Radio Liberty
Lithuanian Flag of Lithuanian SSR.svg Soviet-occupied Lithuania (1951–1990)
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania (1990–2004)
19512004see also Radio Liberty
Malayan Flag of Malaya.svg Federation of Malaya 19511955
Hakka Hakka-inhabited lands of Southern Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  People's Republic of China 19511954
Hebrew Flag of Israel.svg  Israel 19511953
Swatow Shantou 19511953
Tatar Flag of Tatar ASSR.svg Tatar ASSR 19511953see also Radio Liberty
Tamil Madras State (1954–1969)
..Tamil Nadu Flag(INDIA).png Tamil Nadu (1969–1970)
Flag of Ceylon (1951-1972).svg  Dominion of Ceylon (Sri Lanka, ex-Ceylon)
19541970
Khmer Flag of Cambodia.svg Kingdom of Cambodia (1955–1957, 1962–1970)
Flag of the Khmer Republic.svg  Khmer Republic (1970–1975)
Flag of Democratic Kampuchea.svg Democratic Kampuchea (1975–1979)
Flag of the People's Republic of Kampuchea.svg  People's Republic of Kampuchea (1979–1989)
Flag of the State of Cambodia.svg State of Cambodia (1989–1993)
Flag of Cambodia.svg Kingdom of Cambodia (1993–present)
1955
1962
1957
present
វីអូអេ
www.voacambodia.com
see also Radio Free Asia
Malayalam ..Kerala Flag(INDIA).png Kerala
Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands
19561961
Gujarati Gujarati-inhabited lands of Bombay State 19561958
Telugu Andhra Pradesh 19561958
Belarusian Flag of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (1951-1991).svg Byelorussian SSR 19561957see also Radio Liberty
Bengali Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh
Flag of India.svg  India
1958present ভয়েস অফ আমেরিকা
French (to Africa)1960present VOA Afrique
Sindhi Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 2022 Julypresent VOA Sindhi
Lao Flag of Laos (1952-1975).svg  Kingdom of Laos (1962–1975)
Flag of Laos.svg  Lao People's Democratic Republic (1975–present)
1962present ສຽງອາເມຣິກາ ວີໂອເອ see also Radio Free Asia
Swahili 1962present Sauti ya Amerika
English (to Africa)1963 August 4present www.voaafrica.com
www.voazimbabwe.com
Uzbek Flag of the Uzbek SSR.svg Uzbek SSR (1972–1991)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan (1991–present)

1972

present
Amerika Ovozi see also Radio Liberty
Portuguese (to Africa)1976present Voz da América
Hausa Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria 1979 January 21present Muryar Amurka
Dari Flag of Afghanistan (1980-1987).svg Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1980–1987)
Republic of Afghanistan (1987–1992)
Flag of Afghanistan (1992-1996; 2001).svg  Islamic State of Afghanistan (1992–1996, 2001–2002)
Flag of the Taliban.svg  Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (1996–2001)
Flag of Afghanistan (2002-2004).svg Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan (2002–2004)
Flag of Afghanistan (2004-2021).svg Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2004–2021)
1980present صدای امریکا
Amharic Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia 1982 Septemberpresent የአሜሪካ ድምፅ
Pashto Pashtun-inhabited lands of Flag of the Taliban.svg  Afghanistan 1982present اشنا راډیو
Creole 1987present Lavwadlamerik
Tibetan Tibet Autonomous Region
Qinghai
Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan
1991present ཨ་རིའི་རླུང་འཕྲིན་ཁང་།
www.voatibetanenglish.com
see also Radio Free Asia
Kurdish Flag of Kurdistan.svg Iraqi Kurdistan
De facto SA-NES Flag.svg Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria
Kurdish inhabited lands of Turkey
Kurdish inhabited lands of Iran
1992present ده‌نگی ئه‌مه‌ریکا
Dengê Amerîka
Somali Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia
Flag of Somaliland.svg  Somaliland
1992
2007
1995
present
VOA Somali
Nepali Flag of Nepal.svg  Kingdom of Nepal 19921993
Afaan Oromo Flag of the Oromia Region.svg Oromia Region 1996 Julypresent Sagalee Ameerikaa
Bosnian Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina 1996present Glas Amerike see also Radio Free Europe
Kinyarwanda/Kirundi Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda
Flag of Burundi.svg  Burundi
Eastern Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Democratic Republic of the Congo
Southern Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda
Northwestern Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania
1996 Julypresent Ijwi ry'Amerika
Tigrinya Flag of Eritrea.svg  Eritrea 1996 Julypresent ድምፂ ረድዮ ኣሜሪካ
Macedonian Flag of North Macedonia.svg Republic of Macedonia 19992008see also Radio Free Europe
Ndebele Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe 2003present VOA Ndebele
Shona Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique
2003present VOA Shona
Pashto Pashtun-inhabited lands of Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 2006present ډیوه ریډیو
Bambara Flag of Mali.svg  Mali 2013 Marchpresent VOA Bambara

Controversies

Abdul Malik Rigi interview

On April 2, 2007, Abdul Malik Rigi, the leader of Jundullah, an Iranian Muslim Sunni Salafi militant group with possible links to al-Qaeda, appeared on Voice of America's Persian-language service. The interview was condemned by the Iranian government. [111] [112] Jundullah was linked to attacks on both Iranian military and civilians. [113] [114] Rigi was captured by the Iranian security services and executed in 2010 in Evin Prison in Tehran. [115] [116]

Tibetan alleged protester

In February 2013, a documentary released by China Central Television interviewed a Tibetan alleged self-immolator who failed to kill himself. The interviewee said he was motivated by Voice of America's broadcasts of commemorations of people who committed suicide in political self-immolation. VOA denied instigating self-immolations and demanded that the Chinese station retract its report. [117]

Trump presidency politicization efforts

After the January 2017 inauguration of US President Donald Trump, tweets by Voice of America (one of which was later removed) seemed to support the widely criticized statements by White House press secretary Sean Spicer about the crowd size and biased media coverage. This raised concerns over possible attempts by Trump to politicize VOA. [118] [119] [120] [121] This amplified already growing propaganda concerns over the provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, signed into law by Barack Obama, which gave the powers of the board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which was relegated to an advisory role, to a CEO appointed by the president. Trump sent two of his political aides to the agency to aid its CEO during the transition to the Trump administration. Criticism was raised over Trump's choice of aides; Matthew Schuck was a staff writer for right-wing website The Daily Surge until 2015, while Matthew Ciepielowski was a field director at the conservative libertarian advocacy group Americans for Prosperity. [118] VOA officials responded with assurances that they would not become "Trump TV". [118] BBG head John F. Lansing told NPR that it would be illegal for the administration to tell VOA what to broadcast, while VOA director Amanda Bennett stressed that while "government-funded", the agency is not "government-run". [120]

On April 10, 2020, the White House published an article in its daily newsletter critical of VOA coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. [122] Emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request showed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) press official Michawn Rich had sent a memo to agency employees stating in part, "as a rule, do not send up [interview] requests for [VOA contributor] Greta Van Susteren or anyone affiliated with Voice of America", referencing the White House story. [123] On April 30, The Washington Post, referring to Steven L. Herman who covered the White House for VOA, reported Vice President Mike Pence's office "threatened to retaliate against a reporter who revealed that Pence's office had told journalists they would need masks for Pence's visit to the Mayo Clinic – a requirement Pence himself did not follow." [124]

On June 3, 2020, the US Senate confirmed Michael Pack, a conservative documentaries filmmaker and close ally of Steve Bannon, to serve as head of the US Agency for Global Media, which oversees VOA. [125] Subsequently, Director Bennet and deputy director Sandy Sugawara resigned from VOA. CNN reported on June 16 that plans for a leadership shakeup at VOA were being discussed, including the possibility that controversial former White House aide Sebastian Gorka would be given a leadership role at VOA. [126] On June 17, the heads of VOA's Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Open Technology Fund were all fired, their boards were dissolved, and external communications from VOA employees were made to require approval from senior agency personnel in what one source described as an "unprecedented" move, while Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, like Pack a Bannon ally, was rumored to be in line to head the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. [127] Four former members of the advisory boards filed suit challenging Pack's standing to fire them. [128] On July 9, NPR reported VOA would not renew the work visas of dozens of non-resident reporters, many of whom could face repercussions in their home countries. [129] In late July, four contractors and the head of VOA's Urdu-language service were suspended after a video featuring extensive clips from a Muslim-American voter conference, including a campaign message from then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, was determined not to meet editorial standards and taken down. [130]

On August 12, 2020, USAGM chief financial officer Grant Turner and general counsel David Kligerman were removed from their positions and stripped of their security clearances, reportedly for their opposition to what Turner called "gross mismanagement", along with four other senior agency officials. [131] Politico reported on August 13 that Trump administration official and former shock jock Frank Wuco had been hired as a USAGM senior advisor, responsible for auditing the agency's office of policy and research. [132] As a radio host, Wuco issued insults and groundless claims against former US President Barack Obama, CIA Director John O. Brennan, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. [133] VOA's Twitter account during this period featured stories favorable to Vice President Mike Pence and White House advisor Ivanka Trump. [134]

In response to Pack's August 27 interview with The Federalist website, a group of VOA journalists sent a letter to VOA Acting Director Elez Biberaj complaining that Pack's "comments and decisions 'endanger the personal security of VOA reporters at home and abroad, as well as threatening to harm U.S. national security objectives.'" [135] VOA's response was that "it would not respond directly to the letter because it was 'improper' and 'failed to follow procedure.' Instead, the leadership of USAGM and VOA 'are handling the choice of complaint transmission as an administrative issue,' which suggested that the journalists could face sanctions for their letter," according to The Washington Post. In the same story, the Post reported that VOA Spanish-language service White House correspondent's Brigo Segovia's interview with an official about the administration's response to Pack's personnel and other moves had been censored and his own access to VOA's computer system restricted. [136]

On July 20, 2020, District of Columbia attorney general Karl A. Racine filed suit under the District's Nonprofit Corporations Act to reverse Pack's replacement of the Open Technology Fund (OTF) board. [137] Beginning in August 2020, OTF came under increasing pressure from Peck and USAGM leadership. According to Axios, [138] [139] this was related to OTF's reluctance to extend grants to Falun Gong-related enterprises working on technology directed against China's Great Firewall; The New York Times noted Falun Gong and its Epoch Times media group frequently supported the Trump administration. [140] On August 18, USAGM announced it was setting up its own Office of Internet Freedom with less strict grant requirements and began soliciting OTF's grantees to apply to the new office. [141] [142] On August 20, OTF sued USAGM in the US Court for Federal Claims for withholding nearly $20 million in previously agreed grant funds. [143] On October 15, summary judgment was granted nullifying Pack's attempt to replace the OTF board. [144]

On September 29, six senior USAGM officials filed a whistleblower complaint in which they alleged that Pack or one of his aides had ordered research conducted into the voting history of at least one agency employee, which would be a violation of laws protecting civil servants from undue political influence. [145] NPR reported that two Pack aides had compiled a report on VOA White House bureau chief Steven L. Herman's social media postings and other writings in an attempt to charge him with a conflict of interest, and that the agency released a conflict of interest policy stating in part that a "journalist who on Facebook 'likes' a comment or political cartoon that aggressively attacks or disparages the President must recuse themselves from covering the President." [146] A preliminary injunction issued on November 20 barred Pack "from making personnel decisions involving journalists at the networks; from directly communicating with editors and journalists employed by them; and from investigating any editors or news stories produced by them," and characterized the investigation of Herman as an "unconstitutional prior restraint" of his, his editors', and fellow journalists' free speech. [147]

Suspended officials from Voice of America sued the agency news outlet on October 8. They accused Pack of using Voice of America as a vehicle to promote the personal agenda of President Trump and of violating a statutory firewall intended to prevent political interference with the agency, and they sought their reinstatement. [148]

In June 2020, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's campaign told Vox News that Biden would fire Pack if Biden won election. [149] In November 2020, US District Court Judge Beryl Howell found Pack violated the First Amendment rights of Voice of America journalists. [150]

In December 2020, The Washington Post reported that Pack was refusing to cooperate with President-elect Biden's transition team and, in an end run around the court order, had persuaded VOA Acting Director Biberaj to step down, replacing him with Robert Reilly, a former VOA director who had written critically of Muslims, gays, and lesbians. [151] [152] On December 19, 33 days before President-elect Biden's inauguration, Pack named Ted Lipien, a former VOA veteran journalist who headed the Polish Service during the final struggle for democracy in Poland in the 1980s and a former acting associate director of VOA who, according to NPR, "became a sharp critic of USAGM, VOA and the other affiliated networks on a pair of blogs" and "of the three network presidents affected, the only one without established partisan ties," as head of RFE/RL, and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a writer for Breitbart and The Washington Times who had claimed President Obama "hates America," as head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. [153] [154] [155] [156] On December 30, NPR reported Pack was attempting to add contractual language that would make it impossible to fire the broadcasting board members he had installed for two years, after which they could only be fired "for cause." Reportedly the new contracts were withdrawn after inquiries from media and Congress. [157]

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at VOA headquarters in January 2021. Secretary Pompeo Delivers Remarks at the Voice of America (50828046222).jpg
Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at VOA headquarters in January 2021.

On January 11, 2021, VOA interim director Reilly ordered veteran reporter Patsy Widakuswara off the White House beat. Earlier that day, Widakuswara had followed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo out of the building after his speech criticizing the VOA [158] and his VOA-sponsored interview with VOA Director Robert Reilly during which reporters were not allowed to ask questions. [159] Widakuswara asked Pompeo what he was doing to repair the international reputation of the U.S. and whether he regretted saying there would be a second Trump administration. [160] [161] The theme of the preceding interview with VOA Director Robert Reilly was reportedly the dangers of censorship. [162] In response, dozens of VOA journalists, including Widakuswara, wrote and circulated a petition calling on Reilly and public affairs specialist Elizabeth Robbins to resign. [163] In a statement, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and ranking member Michael McCaul said, "Absent a legitimate reason for this move, which has not been provided, we believe she should be reinstated". [159] Widakuswara was reinstated to the White House beat after President Biden requested the resignation of Michael Pack. [158]

On January 19, the nonprofit Government Accountability Project, representing fired USAGM employees and whistleblowers, sent a letter to the congressional foreign affairs committees, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, and the Inspector General of the US Department of State. The letter said that Pack had hired the McGuireWoods law firm to investigate USAGM employees and the OTF at a cost of over $2 million in the last quarter of 2020, bypassing US government investigators including USAGM's own Office of Human Resources, and called for further investigation of what it termed a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars. [164] The Washington Post later reported that a second law firm, Caplin & Drysdale, had also been granted a similar no-bid contract in possible violation of federal contracting regulations for a total cost of $4 million. [165]

Also on January 19, the last full day of the Trump presidency, Pack named a slate of five directors to head each of the three USAGM boards for RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks: conservative radio talk show host Blanquita Cullum, Liberty Counsel officer Johnathan Alexander, former White House staffer Amanda Milius, conservative writer Roger Simon, and Center for the National Interest Fellow Christian Whiton. [166]

The following day, Pack resigned at the request of the Biden administration. [167] On January 21, Shapiro resigned from the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. Biden named veteran VOA journalist Kelu Chao to replace Pack. Chao in turn dismissed Riley and Robbins from VOA, naming Yolanda Lopez, another VOA veteran, as acting director; Lopez had also been reassigned in the wake of the Pompeo interview. [168] On January 22, the Biden administration fired Victoria Coates and her deputy Robert Greenway from the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, naming Kelley Sullivan as acting head. [169] [170]

Guo Wengui interview

Guo Wengui Guo Wen-gui in April 2017.jpg
Guo Wengui

On April 19, 2017, the VOA Mandarin Service interviewed Chinese real estate tycoon Guo Wengui in a live broadcast. The government of China warned VOA representatives not to interview Guo about his "unsubstantiated allegations". [171] [172] The interview was scheduled by the team for 3 hours. After Guo alleged that he had evidence of corruption among the members of the Politburo Standing Committee of China, the highest political authority of China, the interview was abruptly cut off by VOA leadership, after one hour and 17 minutes. Guo's allegations involved Fu Zhenhua and Wang Qishan (a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, and the leader of the anti-graft movement). [173]

On August 27, four U.S. Congressmen requested that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conduct an investigation into the interruption. [174] The OIG investigation concluded that the VOA leadership decision to curtail the Guo interview was based solely on journalistic best practices, rather than due to any pressure from the Chinese government. [175] Another investigation, by Mark Feldstein, Chair of Broadcast Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park, concluded that "VOA’s senior management did its best to make decisions consistent with journalism’s best practices and industry standards,” and “was not improperly influenced by the Chinese government or anyone else. The failure [of the VOA Mandarin Service interview team] to comply with leadership's instructions during the Guo interview 'was a colossal and unprecedented violation of journalistic professionalism and broadcast industry standards.'" [175] The Feldstein report also noted that "There had been a grossly negligent approach" by the VOA Mandarin Service interview team to pre-interview vetting, and failure to "corroborate the authenticity of Guo's evidence or interview other sources," in violation of industry standards. The VOA Mandarin Service interview team apparently "demonstrated greater loyalty to its source than to its employer   at the expense of basic journalistic standards of accuracy, verification, and fairness," the Feldstein report concluded. [176] [177]

Relay station used as a CIA black site

It has been reported that a Voice of America relay station in Udon Thani Province, Thailand was used as a CIA black site referred to as "Cat's Eye" or "Detention Site Green". [178] [179]

Horn of Africa service

The Amharic Service was started in 1982. [180] From 1982 to 1986, the VOA service had a mix of staff consisting of former members of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP) and US-educated staff without strong political involved in the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution and the associated student movement of the revolutionary period. Reporting was mostly critical of the Derg led by Mengistu Haile Mariam. [180]

The 1986 to 1996 phase was according to Annette Sheckler, who became head of the VOA Horn of Africa Service in December 1998, opposed to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF)/Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which took control of Ethiopia in 1991. According to Sheckler, the reporting became more politicized due to the loss of qualified staff, the role of EPRP-supporting staff being opposed to the TPLF government, and the role of former Derg officials who were recruited to the Service. US ambassadors to Ethiopia Mark Bass, Irvin Hicks, and David Shinn objected to what they saw as a lack of balance in the Service. Sheckler believed the Chief of the Horn of Africa service's EPRP background was a factor in what she viewed as imbalanced reporting. Broadcasts in Tigrinya and Oromo were added in addition to Amhara. [180] Sheckler sees the 18-month period during 1996–98, with a new temporary service Chief, as having become "essentially ungovernable" with a "legacy of personal animosity, hostility and complete lack of professionalism". [180] Sheckler described the June 1998 phase of the Eritrean–Ethiopian War as exacerbating ethnic conflicts within the service. Sheckler wrote memos to VOA leadership describing her assessment of serious problems in the service, and was fired on November 20, 1998, officially for "a lack of professional journalistic ethics"; she describes the reason for her firing as "telling the truth". [180]

Peter Heinlein led the service from 2012 to 2014. In 2013, he wrote a complaint about his view of problems in the service. He saw a significant flaw being the confusion of roles in which translators, untrained in the principles and methods of journalism, took on the role of journalists. [181] The service was mostly seen as anti-Ethiopian government until 2018, when Negussie Mengesha, the head of the VOA Africa division for several years, met the newly appointed Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed. [181]

In May 2021, several former employees accused VOA's Amharic service, under the leadership of Negussie Mengesha, of being biased in favor of the government of Abiy Ahmed, including failing to report on atrocities committed during the Tigray War. [182] VOA journalist Jason Patinkin said that he had reported the problems "at every level of the VOA hierarchy". Patinkin resigned from the service, saying that VOA had "sided with the perpetrators both by commission and omission" of "potential crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and perhaps even genocide". [181]

In June 2021, Mail & Guardian reported on an investigation based on "hundreds of internal memos and interviews with about a dozen former and current members" of the VOA Horn of Africa service. [181] Mail & Guardian stated that during the Tigray War, the only major foreign news service that was not harassed by Ethiopian security services was VOA. VOA gave frequent coverage to the Mai Kadra massacre, mostly attributed to Tigrayan youth and documented by Amnesty International, while later focusing on the Ethiopian government's dismissal of Amnesty International's report on the Axum massacre rather than on the methods and content of the report itself. During 107 meetings of the Horn of Africa service from November 4, 2020, to April 30, 2021, during the Tigray War, most (81%) of the meetings did not have approvals by Tizita Belachew, head of the service, or by Solomon Abate, of stories on the war that included Tigrayan points of view; a majority of the stories only showed government or military officials' points of view; a fifth of the meetings had no reports on the war. Instructions emailed to staff stated that the terms "civil war" and "war" were forbidden in reporting on the Tigray War, with Scott Stearns writing on 14 November, according to Mail & Guardian, "There are to be no deviations from these instructions by any member of any Africa division language service on any platform." [181]

Twitter label controversy

After Elon Musk acquired social media platform Twitter, in April 2023 National Public Radio's main Twitter account was briefly designated as "US state-affiliated media", a label typically reserved for foreign media outlets that directly represented the point of view of their respective governments, like Russia's RT and China's Xinhua. [183] [184] [185] A few days later, Twitter changed the designation of NPR's account from "state-affiliated" to "government-funded". [186] Twitter then added the label to other sources such as PBS, the BBC, and Voice of America, which all three objected to. [187] VOA criticized the decision, stating "the label gives the impression that VOA is not an independent outlet," and that "its editorial independence is protected by regulations and a firewall." [188]

Hamas coverage

After the October 7, 2023 Hamas attack on Israel, an email was sent to Voice of America staff from the associate editor for news standards with guidance related to how to refer to the actions ("terrorist acts" or "acts of terror") and advice about how to refer to individual members of Hamas, i.e. to use the term "terrorist" only in direct quotes from sources. [189] At the time, VOA was not the only news outlet with journalists discussing how to objectively refer to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. [189] Six Republican members of Congress signed a letter sent by Senator Bill Hagerty, which criticized and strongly objected to the editorial guidance about how to refer to individual members of Hamas. [189] USAGM chief executive Amanda Bennett sent a letter to the senators to clarify that the VOA email was guidance only, and "There is no policy prohibiting the use of the words 'terror,' 'terrorism,' or 'terrorist'" at VOA, and stating the news organizations within USAGM "counsel care and attention in the use of the words but do not place any restrictions on the appropriate use." [189]

In different regions

China

A study was done on Chinese students in America. It found that through the VOA, they disapproved of the actions of the Chinese government. [15] Another study was done on Chinese scholars in America, and found that the VOA had an effect on their political beliefs. Their political beliefs did not change in relation to China, though, as they did not tend to believe the VOA's reports on China. [190]

Kurdistan and Iran

VOA's service in Iran had a negative impact on Kurds and Kurdistan according to the publication Kurdish Life in 2000. They claimed that the VOA exacerbated the conflict between the Talabani and the Barzani. [191] They further claimed that the VOA covered up wrongful imprisonments, wrongful arrests, and the building of extremist mosques. According to the same publication, Kurds were being turned into fanatics, and a new generation of terrorists was forming because of the VOA. They claimed the VOA was doing this to help PUK. [192]

Pakistan

The VOA's DEEWA Radio airs in Pakistan. Although in 2015 some listeners were suspicious that the program was promoting an American agenda, others said they were experiencing a positive effect. Some listeners felt that the programs were giving a voice to the voiceless, giving them a sense of empowerment. [14] In 2018, the Pakistani authorities blocked the website of VOA's Pashto and Urdu language radio service. [193] [194]

Russia

In response to the request of the United States Department of Justice that RT register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Russia's Justice Ministry Konovalov labeled Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as foreign agents in December 2017. [195] [196]

Turkey

On June 30, 2022, the Turkish media watchdog, Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), blocked access to VOA's website amerikaninsesi.com in Turkey because VOA had not applied for the necessary licence, which would subject VOA to certain obligations. [197] [198] The RTÜK regulation requires foreign news outlets that publish in Turkey to apply for publication licenses, mandates that at least half of the media organization be owned by a Turkish citizen, and would force VOA to remove content deemed inappropriate by RTÜK. [199] VOA Turkish subsequently broadcast over a different VOA website domain name, voaturkce.com, which in August 2023 was blocked as well. [200] VOA said that "Given VOA's status as a public service international broadcaster legally required to provide 'accurate, objective, and comprehensive' news coverage to its global audience, VOA cannot comply with any directive intended to enable censorship." [200] VOA Turkey, after it was blocked, shared instructions on its social media accounts as to how to use VPN to access its content. [201]

See also

Related Research Articles

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References

Notes

  1. Spain joined NATO in 1982.

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