Voice of America
Learn more about Voice of America
- "VOA" redirects here. For the language construct, see Verb Object Agent.
Voice of America (VOA) is the official international radio and television broadcasting service of the United States federal government. It is vaguely similar to other international broadcasters such as the BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Radio Netherlands, Radio France Internationale, Voice of Russia and Radio Canada International, although these other agencies are not fully government-controlled. Its oversight bureau is the International Broadcasting Bureau, which is committed to "public diplomacy."
There are also many affiliate and contracted radio stations which carry VOA programs. VOA programs in many of its broadcast languages are also available on the World Wide Web in both streaming media and downloadable formats. VOA formerly was based on a 625-acre site in Union Township (now West Chester Township) in Butler County, Ohio, near Cincinnati. The Bethany Relay Station operated from 1944 to 1994. Other former sites include California (Dixon), Hawaii, Okinawa, Liberia, Costa Rica, and Belize.
The Voice of America currently does radio broadcasts in 44 languages and television broadcasts in 24 (marked with an asterisk):
VOA's parent organization is the International Broadcasting Bureau, which is overseen by the presidentially-appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors. Although the IBB was originally seen as a "wall" protecting VOA and other official U.S. civilian international broadcasters from political interference, critics in recent years have questioned the degree of independence of VOA's news programs from government policies.
VOA was organized in 1942 under the Office of War Information with news programs aimed at areas in Europe and North Africa under the occupation of Nazi Germany. VOA began broadcasting on February 24, 1942. Transmitters used by VOA came from shortwave transmitters used by the CBS and NBC. Voice of America began to transmit radio broadcasts into the Soviet Union on February 17, 1947. During the Cold War, VOA was placed under the U.S. Information Agency. In the 1980s, VOA also added a television service, as well as special regional programs to Cuba, Radio Martí and TV Martí.
The VOA has been broadcasting on the Internet since 2000 in English. Content in other languages is also available online through a distributed network, using more than 14,000 servers in some 65 countries. The International Broadcasting Bureau, in its 2007 budget, proposes reductions in VOA's English language programming, by eliminating VOA News Now radio while maintaining VOA English to Africa, Special English, and VOA's English website.
 Laws governing VOA-IBB's activities
Under United States law (the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948), the Voice of America is forbidden to broadcast directly to American citizens. The original intent of this legislation is to keep the federal government from having a direct outlet to their domestic public, unlike many European countries. The law explicitly forbidding VOA from carrying out any domestic broadcasting activities is partly derived from the U.S.'s lack of a state-funded domestic radio or television broadcaster. The law was also designed to satisfy the needs of the U.S.'s commercial radio broadcasting companies. The U.S. PBS (TV) and NPR (Radio) networks in the U.S. function with some public funding, but without the oversight that state broadcasting corporations typically have. Both networks have supplied material for VOA Worldnet TV (which was merged into VOA in 2004), or VOA's Radio's flagship English Service. No other international broadcaster has these kinds of restrictions governing their activities.
In special cases, such as the 1981 TV program Let Poland Be Poland, Congressional approval was required to show Americans the program. However, VOA is audible on shortwave and broadcasts streaming audio over the Internet, which enables Americans to hear the programming.
 International Broadcasting Bureau services
VOA broadcasts several programs aimed at specialist audiences through the International Broadcasting Bureau. Radio Martí and TV Martí are aimed at Cuba. Radio Sawa is aimed at a younger audience in the Arab world (note: Radio Sawa is funded by the IBB, but is not part of VOA). Radio Farda is aimed at a younger audence in Persian for Iran. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia are VOA sister services aimed at the ex-communist states and oppressive countries, particularly in Europe and Asia. Many Voice of America announcers, such as Willis Conover, Pat Gates, and Judy Massa became world-wide celebrities.
The Voice of America headquarters is located at 330 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC, 20237, USA. IBB runs a number of transmitting sites throughout the world, including its domestic relay stations at Greenville, North Carolina and Delano, California. IBB operates a series of relay stations outside the US: Germany ( Transmitter Ismaning), United Kingdom, Botswana, Greece, Kuwait, Morocco, Saipan & Tinian, Philippines, São Tomé, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and recently Pakistan. Guam relay stations are available for use if crises in East Asia develop.
 Pakistani Service
The Voice of America program. Khabron Se Agay, is telecast in Pakistan by GEO TV. VOA says the program's purpose is to foster further understanding between the Pakistani and American peoples. This program includes documentaries about the United States and its people and about Pakistanis who are living in United States.
 A comparison of VOA-RFE-RL-RM (IBB) to other broadcasters
The Voice of America has 22 domestic and 16 overseas correspondents, who are U.S. citizens and employees of the U.S. government. They are augmented by contract correspondents and part-time "stringers," in numerous countries, who file in English and numerous languages used by VOA's various language services. The interval signal is "Yankee Doodle," played by a brass band, followed by the announcement: "this is the Voice of America, signing on." For many years "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean" was used for the interval signal .
VOA allocates a certain amount of its budget to television production and programming.
 Featured shows
 National sovereignty
Some critics have suggested that the US government violates national sovereignty by broadcasting and operating in their countries.<ref>Karen Wald. "Cuba Battles for Sovereignty of the Airwaves", Latin America Press.</ref>
In March 2006, five Voice of America staff were arrested on anti-state charges in Ethiopia. Charges were later dropped by the Ethiopian government.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
 Paying for appearances
Recently, news accounts charge that VOA has for years been paying mainstream media journalists to appear on their shows. According to El Nuevo Herald and the Miami Herald, these include: David Lightman, the Hartford Courant's Washington bureau chief; Tom DeFrank, head of the New York Daily News' Washington office; Helle Dale, a former director of the opinion pages of the Washington Times; Georgie Anne Geyer, a nationally syndicated columnist; and Pablo Alfonso, staff reporter for El Nuevo Herald, and Wilfredo Cancio, a writer for the paper.<ref name=Miami>Casey Woods. "Report: U.S. paid many other journalists", Miami Herald.</ref>
In response, spokesmen for the Broadcasting Board of Governors told the newspaper El Nuevo Herald that such payments do not pose a conflict of interest. "For decades, for many, many years, some of the most respectable journalists in the country have received payments to participate in programs of the Voice of America," one of the spokesmen, Larry Hart, told El Nuevo Herald.<ref name=Miami>Casey Woods. "Report: U.S. paid many other journalists", Miami Herald.</ref>
 See also
- Radio Free Europe
- Deutsche Welle
- Radio Free Asia
- Pentagon Channel
- American Forces Network
- BBC World Service
- Voice of Russia
- Radio Canada International
- Radio Netherlands
 External links
- Official website
- VOA news
- Radio Marti
- Willis Conover Collection from the University of North Texas Libraries. This digital collection features playlists and other materials from Willis Conover, a jazz producer and broadcaster on the Voice of America for over forty years.ar:إذاعة صوت أمريكا
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