Saturday, February 19, 2005

VOA Persian Langauge Broadcasting to Expand

The Washington Times:
The Voice of America's news broadcasts to Muslim countries are in line for significant budget increases this year and next, with much of the new spending aimed at expanding the U.S. message into Iran, administration officials said yesterday.

The White House is seeking an additional $7.3 million for VOA in this year's emergency defense supplemental-appropriations bill for the postwar effort in Afghanistan and Iraq, most of which will be used to expand the agency's Persian-language TV broadcasts to Iran, whose regime Mr. Bush has denounced as part of the "axis of evil" that is suspected of aiding the terrorist insurgency in Iraq. ...

When this year's 6 percent supplemental increase in VOA's budget is added to spending for other VOA-related projects, including new, state-of-the-art TV studios at its Washington headquarters, "the real increase in VOA's fiscal year '06 budget would amount to 14 percent," said Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which operates all of the government's nonmilitary international broadcasting.

An administration official said the increases were pushed aggressively by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is an ex-officio member of the BBG. ,,,

According to VOA plans for the coming year, the supplemental-funding bill will allow its Persian-language satellite-TV programs to expand from daily half-hour broadcasts to one hour "News and Views" newscasts that will be repeated and updated throughout the day, similar to U.S. cable network news programming. ...