Voice of America (VOA) established since 1942 is the United States largest international broadcaster that provides news to over 275m people globally. The channel produces content in 40+ languages for digital, TV and radio platforms. It can be accessed using satellite and cable subscriptions while FM and MW transmissions can be used to receive radio stations. The affiliate stations of network are more than 2,200.
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The comprehensive coverage of news through World War II, Cold War era, and War against terror has been a long journey since the inception of America’s international broadcaster. VOA is a division of U.S. Agency for Global Media. USAGM administers United States’ non-military broadcasting globally and is financed by the Congress under the budgeting of embassies and consulates for external operations. The channel is headquartered in Washington, DC. The tax-payer annual fund of USD 218.5m was allocated to the station in 2016. The weekly programming produced by the agency rose to 1800 hours of radio and television combine. It would then reach to 236.6m employees while the number of staff employed by the stations was around 1,050.
All American shortwave stations were under private ownerships before World War II. The networks included International Network owned by National Broadcasting Company (a multi-lingual network that would broadcast in six languages), Corsley Broadcasting Corporation and Latin American International Network owned by Columbia Broadcasting System (a chain of 64 stations operating in 18 countries). FCC in 1939 devised the new policy:
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.
World War II
The US government even before the attack by Japanese on Pearl Harbor started to feed commercial shortwave transmitters about the news and war commentary through Office of Coordinator of Information (COI). The initial move was to source the channels on voluntary basis through FIS: Foreign Information Service, however, it later in Dec 1941 after US formally entered the war started direct programming from San Francisco office. Philippines was the first location, followed by Germany on Feb 1, 1942 through launch of “Stimmen aus Amerika” (Voices from America). Sherwood of Foreign Information Service (FIS) was the one who created the term “The Voice of America which formally started its operations on Feb 1, 1942 from 270 Madison Avenue, NY City.
Somewhere in the middle of 1942, OWI: Office of War Information took the control of VOA operations. It reached an agreement with BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation to share medium-wave transmitters in Britain and later expanded its reach into Tunis, Palermo, Italy and Bari after the allies successfully captured those areas. American Broadcasting Station in Europe was structured during the same time. Asian broadcasts premiering from California in 1941 were expanded to Hawaii and Philippines after recapture.
Cold War and Post-Cold War Times
VOA began to air programming in Russia to counter communist propaganda of the Soviet Regime in 1947. Soviet Unions on April 24, 1949 in response jammed the signals of the service. Charles W. Thayer would head the station in 1948-1949. The Arabic service resurfaced on Jan 1, 1950 and regularly updated it listeners during Suez Canal Crisis in 1956. During 1960s and 1970s, the channel aired some of history’s most highlighted events including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech and Armstrong’s first walk on the moon. It also aired round-the-clock transmissions during Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1982, the channel started Dari and Pashto broadcasts in Afghanistan. Expansion to Mandarin and Cantonese was made in 1989.
The controversies attached with station include Mullah Omar Interview in late September 2001, Abdul Malik Rigi interview and Tibetan protester and Guo Wengui interviews.
VOA believes in journalistic codes and values, accuracy and balance, fairness and context and comprehensiveness, Audiences can listen and watch the station online with United States and World news from Americas, Middle East, South & Central Asia, Europe, Africa and East Asia. You can connect with station using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Here is the website: www.voanews.com
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