voice of america

June 30, 2011

A week-long trip of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Nigeria has resulted in valuable programming and distribution agreements. At a town hall meeting in Nigeria yesterday, the Broadcasting Board of Governors launched the VOA Africa Health Network. The Network will help address the health and developmental needs of audiences across Africa.

Though every President since VOA’s creation in 1942 had appeared on air with VOA, Barack Obama had not; Obama preferred to reach the world via BBC World Service, Al-Arabaya, and others. Given the fact that the Administration has requested $767 million for international broadcasting, this omission was odd...

Three members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Dana Perino, Susan McCue, and Michael Meehan, will visit Ethiopia, South Sudan and Nigeria to broaden the Voice of America's reach and impact in Africa. Board members will meet with high-ranking government officials, VOA journalists and broadcasting affiliates to address challenges and opportunities in the region.

Unless Congress steps in, there is a real danger that a strategic asset of great value to the United States and to freedom-loving listeners around the world will be wasted. The battle for hearts and minds did not end with the Cold War (which broadcasting can help win, by the way). Far from it.

The Obama administration is embarking on a fundamental overhaul of Voice of America and other official broadcasters — one that seeks to adapt their traditional diplomatic missions to the era of Facebook and Twitter...the need for the United States to get its message across to an often hostile world is greater than ever.