TedLipien.com, Truckee, CA, February 28, 2011 — In this series of analyses for Free Media Online (FreeMediaOnline.org) — U.S. International Broadcasting in Crisis — Ted Lipien, former Voice of America acting associate director, examines recent Broadcasting Board of Governors’ decisions, with the focus on the latest controversial plan to completely eliminate Voice of America on-the-air radio broadcasts to China.
FreeMediaOnline.org Part One — No Apology for Failure
Like everyone else in the free media advocacy community, I was appalled by the Iranian Cyber Army’s attack last week on VOA websites. The staging of the attack did not come as a surprise. The Iranian Islamists, security services of China and Russia, and other enemies of free media around the world are engaging in cyber attacks and harass independent media all the time. The appalling thing about the Monday attack was not that it was launched but that it was allowed to succeed and lasted several hours.
Instead of the VOA website, site visitors saw an Iranian flag, a gun, and an anti-American message, as captured in the image above. Even more appalling was the cavalier attitude with which officials of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a U.S. federal agency which manages the Voice of America, responded to the attack. It was a typical cover-my-behind reaction and an attempt to minimize its significance and impact around the world. Just imagine if CNN, ABC, or Fox News went completely silent for several hours or even days. If BBG officials have their way, this is what will happen in China to the Voice of America. It had already happened to VOA in Russia for at least two days in 2009. There was no apology from the BBG to the American people on whose behalf the Voice of America distributes news and communicates with the rest of the world.