Funding Cuts to Voice of America Chinese Language Services

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is

deeply concerned by reports of large funding cuts to Voice Of America’s (VOA)

Chinese language services.


The United States

Government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the operation

of VOA and several other international broadcasters such as Radio Free Asia,

announced a 57 per cent reduction in staff numbers to its Mandarin service and

closure of all Cantonese-language programming, VOA reported on

February 16.


According to a proposal before the

United States Congress, the BBG would reallocate funds to enhance the agency’s

global satellite transmission infrastructure and expand efforts to move VOA to

an all-digital broadcast platform.


“While we were told that we will

move to a news service utilising the internet and mobile communications

technologies, these budget amendments raise questions about whether there will

be sufficient manpower for news gathering,” a VOA reporter



“We’ve had no assurances of job

security among these changes to an all-digital platform and we are mindful that

China’s cyber policing efforts could

prove to be problematic.”


David Wu, a Democratic member of

Congress from Oregon, told VOA on February 16 that he is

“utterly opposed” to any reduction in the broadcaster’s Mandarin service. Wu

said he will raise the matter with speaker of the House of Representatives John

Boehner and chairman of the House committee responsible for the BBG budget Frank



The BBG also decided to close its

Croatian-language service operated by Radio Free Europe. According to VOA,

various congressmen have already expressed their opposition to the proposed

changes. Former BBG member Blanquita Cullum said: “This is not the time to

retreat. This is the time to advance and reach out with more



“Recent internet blacklistings on

internet searches on the Egypt and Iran protests have shown that China’s

capacity for controlling the internet and blocking access to information is

second to none,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan

White said.


“Furthermore, there are a great number of Chinese citizens

who live in poverty and would have tremendous difficulty accessing VOA services



“The IFJ urges the United States

Congress to overrule the proposal and the BBG committee to consider other means

of expanding the VOA service which will not threaten the job security of media

practitioners, or the public’s ability to access the




For further information contact IFJ

Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125



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