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The Transformation of International Broadcasting

Por Monroe Price
Número 23

If there is a foreign policy of media space, then international broadcasting has been a traditional way to implement or fulfill it. International broadcasting is the elegant term for a complex combination of state-sponsored news, information, and what was once with pride called "propaganda"1. The Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, the BBC World Service are exemplars, but there are famous Russian, Australian, French and many other counterparts. As is the case with the very media laws and institutions themselves, these institutions are in the process of transformation. The heightened interest in the global shaping of media laws and institutions exists against an overlay of these direct efforts to affect the persuasive impact and overall mix of world imagery.

As we shall see, these have been institutions, which had the day-in, day out task of having an impact on regime structure in target societies. These have been institutions, which have had a mission of disturbing a disfavored stability by altering the mix of voices, increasing pluralism or assuring that specific perspectives were articulated and available. And it can be hypothesized that there has been, at times, some cartelization among those who are the great international broadcasters, dividing the market, establishing spheres of influence, and making legal arrangements or acting in parallel to assure mutually agreeable outcomes. International broadcasting is considered a tool, appropriately used, for helping to initiate, support, and reinforce transitions to more stable democratic societies. In times of conflict, international broadcasting is coordinated with military strategy and, increasingly, is wheeled into service as part of post-conflict peacekeeping2. International broadcasting has become an example of negotiation between states as, in the post-Cold War period, the processes for the transmission and distribution of international broadcasts turn, increasingly, on the use of traditional media frequencies managed by the society in which the signals are received.

Histories and Definitions
This article is, largely, about the post Cold War process of redefinition. Soft power, "the ability to achieve desired outcomes in international affairs through attraction rather than coercion" and the use of information to convince others to agree to "norms and institutions that produce desired behavior," are increasingly considered a major element of any country's arsenal3. In addition to renewed appreciation of the role of aggressive information efforts, international broadcasters began adjusting to a new world order and, to some extent, to new technologies. Old problems persist such as justifying the entry by one country into the domestic information space of another, measurements of effectiveness, and competition among broadcasting entities4. Changing technology, the rise of CNN, and geopolitical changes all explain a lot about the transformations that have occurred in this field; but, as it turns out, they are hardly sufficient. In the global remapping of media law-assessing how states have altered information flows and their participation in it-reflections of domestic politics seem to have influenced the outcomes as forcefully as changing international circumstances.

In the early 1960s, President Kennedy sought to build up Voice of America broadcasting for the "peaceful evolution" of socialist countries. The President aimed to make the broadcasts "leap national borders and the oceans, the 'Iron Curtain' and stone walls, in a life-and-death competition with communism."5 A United States Congress report noted, "Radio broadcasting is a most valuable means of promoting foreign policy." "We need to re-acknowledge the strategic role of broadcast stations, considering our strategic superiority, to conscientiously reappraise radio broadcasting. […] Radio broadcasting is the only way to overthrow socialism."6 During one of the many congressional subcommittee discussions concerning support for Radio Free Europe, Representative Edward J. Derwinski stated: "[T]he American people must be educated to think of the radios as weapons-albeit nonlethal-key elements in our national security."7

The Cold War, as we knew it, is over and with it the established basis for this ethereal penetration of sovereign borders has ended. Fundamental geopolitical change requires the reconfiguration of international broadcasting as new targets, new justifications, and new purposes have been explored8. New technologies and new industrial modes of distributing information, have also been influential in the reassessment of international broadcasting. Whether warranted or not, the invention and growth of CNN caused momentary questioning of the continuing need for such entities as the Voice of America and the so-called surrogate radios9.

Because of these and other changes, international broadcasting underwent a deep crisis of purpose and credibility in the mid-1990s. After the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the once-vigorous Russian international broadcasting efforts deteriorated virtually to nothing. The transmitting facilities in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries, once the source of propaganda outwards, are no longer used against the Western nations. Ironically, the United States, the UK, and Germany now began to rent the same equipment for propaganda purposes against new targets. The VOA, for example, employed seven 500 kW short-wave transmitters in places such as Russia's Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, and Krasnodar to broadcast to China and other Asian countries. The BBC rented three Russian 500-kW short-wave transmitters in Vladivostok, Cita, and Irkutsk to broadcast to China as well. The Voice of Germany Deutsche Welle used eleven Russian 1,000-kW and 250-kW short-wave transmitters in places such as Moscow, St Petersburg, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, and Samara to broadcast to China, Northeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, and Russia.

There are histories of international broadcasting that often seek to answer-usually inconclusively-how international broadcasting accomplished or assisted in the accomplishment of the goals assigned to it10. The history of the international radios is often told through justificatory memoirs, rarely by the disaffected11. The claims of achievement among the most avid believers are quite substantial. A book by Michael Nelson, former chairman of the Reuters Foundation, eloquently summarizes the position of many who support international broadcasting and are confounded by the under-appreciation of radio as a tool in altering the global political landscape. Nelson asks rhetorically, "Why did the West win the cold war? Not by use of arms. Weapons did not breach the Iron Curtain. The Western invasion was by radio, which was mightier than the sword. Those skilled in war subdue the enemy's army without battle, wrote Sun Tzu."12 Among the contrarians, a former VOA correspondent criticizes those in Congress who think, "simplistically that United States broadcasts of otherwise unavailable news and information poison authoritarian regimes and fertilize the intellectual, if not revolutionary soil so that western democratic ideals and free markets will blossom."13

The history of international broadcasting is too rich and complex to summarize here. In 1927, Harold Lasswell wrote: "The truth is that all governments are engaged to some extent in propaganda as part of their ordinary peace-time functions. They make propaganda on behalf of diplomatic friends or against diplomatic antagonists and this is unavoidable."14 In 1958, President Eisenhower included in an address to the United Nations a proposal for monitoring of inflammatory broadcasts. "I believe that this Assembly should […] consider means for monitoring the radio broadcasts directed across national frontiers in the troubled Near East area. It should then examine complaints from these nations which consider their national security jeopardized by external propaganda."15 There are interesting examples of bilateral efforts to limit the use of radio space for aggressive national purposes.

Strategies of Change
Just as commercial enterprises are sensitive to their audiences in order to be successful, international broadcasters have similar obligations. Both the BBC and the VOA support efforts to evaluate the size of their audience, and to some extent, its demographics, so that they can report to the legislators and officials who must determine whether they are performing adequately. These bodies study broadcast reception results such as number of listeners, status, listening time, place, means, and environment. They also examine target country conditions and trends such as where the center of political influence is, who makes policy, which groups are most influential, the positions and interests of the leadership, whose influence is declining, and who has the brightest future. Both the UK and the United States maintain monitoring efforts that collect foreign broadcast radio and publication data, and exchange it with each other16. These activities have not changed.

Nor has the claim of the great international broadcasters, like the VOA and the BBC, to "objectivity" and "impartiality" in their programming changed. It is a much-vaunted hallmark of both enterprises that they consider such objectivity and impartiality an integral aspect of their capacity to be successful. For example, a core section of the enabling legislation provides that United States international broadcasting shall include (though there is no statutory requirement that it be limited to) "news which is consistently reliable and authoritative, accurate, objective, and comprehensive." Such broadcasting should provide "a balanced and comprehensive projection of United States thought and institutions, reflecting the diversity of United States culture and society," which could, also, of course, be considered to fall within the bailiwick of the accurate, objective and comprehensive. But the statute also requires US international broadcasters to provide a "clear and effective presentation of the policies of the United States Government and responsible discussion and opinion on those policies, including editorials, broadcast by the Voice of America, which present the views of the United States Government." These editorials, though always clearly labeled, have been a matter of concern with the VOA as compromising credibility by requiring a position to be articulated that is the position of the government.17

Within this search for objectivity, there are important strategies. One such strategy has been called "letting out a long vine," in which adversaries are complimented while unfavorable news about the sending country is duly included. "Balance" is both journalistically praiseworthy and important as a means of validating the propaganda enterprise. However, some who oppose the international broadcasters contend that they use programming formats to encourage favorable attitudes toward the Western lifestyle as a mode of weakening support for one government of the target society. As one Chinese account put it, while broadcasts (about Western standards) are "apparently unrelated to politics it, in fact, steadily indoctrinates its listeners in negative views of socialism, to engender in them unpatriotic sentiments, morals, and customs of material lust, individualism, and anti-socialism."18

A persistent criticism, even from the friends of international broadcasting, has been that certain international broadcasters, especially the so-called "surrogates" who are charged with broadcasting the news of a target society to that society, rely, too much, on expatriates, often on political dissenters. They hold that using the powerful tones of such exiles may, purposely or unconsciously, allow the slide from impartiality to partisanship. It is the fervency of the exile that brings energy to programs. There are those who still believe that, in 1956, passionate dissidents misled Hungarians into thinking that Western aid would be theirs if they merely demonstrated their initial rebellion19. Since these broadcasts-to all parts of the world-are often in the local language (one of their great strengths), their objectivity and impartiality, their fidelity to truth rather than to the dissenter's own personal views, is wholly dependent on the quality of internal supervision and monitoring. And that, itself, is not always wholly reliable.

One of the related themes of international broadcasting, tied to an integrated and ethical view of foreign policy, is an emphasis on human rights. The functionality of the human rights emphasis-its current utility to the West-has been inadequately analyzed. Not surprisingly, one of the insistent complaints of the governments of target societies is this very purposeful emphasis.
The world debate on international broadcasting has several streams or rivulets, many quite detached from public view. The debate at its broadest asks what role international broadcasting and public diplomacy should play in a technologically and geopolitically changed world. As these things turn, the question becomes bureaucratic, ideological, intensely political, and competitive. At one level of abstraction, international broadcasting is idealized because it stands for objective coverage of world events, bringing necessary information to people who would otherwise have access to it.

At another level, more sharply edged, international broadcasting functions in authoritarian societies to provide a surrogate voice, a radio for dissenters and exiles whose perspectives do not exist or are not permitted on domestic radio. International broadcasting can be justified by those of the school of realpolitik only when it functions in a way that is consistent with the foreign policy of the country that is financing it. And international broadcasting can be justified as a means of projecting an appropriate image of the funding country so as to extend its influence, facilitate the acceptance of its foreign policies and, possibly, further its general economic and trade objectives.

The Voice of America was, through World War II, the symbol of United States international broadcasting. In the post-war era, as a response to the Cold War, a group of United States citizens, with CIA backing and ultimately virtually full CIA funding, the surrogate radios, then called Radio Free Europe (targeting Central and Eastern Europe) and Radio Liberation (targeting the Soviet Union) came into existence. For a very long time, the Radios maintained that they were wholly independent of the government, privately funded, and the government denied its clandestine relationship to it. Subsequently, the Radios merged (Radio Liberation became Radio Liberty) and the federal government acknowledged its financing role. The two distinct styles-VOA "full service" broadcasting and the Radios' highly targeted surrogate style-have been debated in Congress for several decades, and this intensified when resources became scarcer in the post-Soviet period.

Shortly after coming to office, President Bill Clinton called for the consolidation of all United States international broadcasting. This was a low poit in the prospects for international radio. Consolidation was to be an opportunity to reduce budgets, rethink missions, and question assumptions. Under his initial proposal, the budget of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) would be slashed, foreshadowing extinction. During a 5-year period, $400 million would be saved. On April 30, 1994, the President signed into law the United States International Broadcasting Act. The Voice of America and the Radios, including Radio Marti, would report to what was then called the International Broadcasting Bureau within the United States Information Agency (USIA)20. In obeisance to history, the surrogates, RFE/RL and Radio Free Asia, report directly to the Board as privately incorporated, federally funded grantees. Their employees were not part of the United States civil service as were those of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), VOA, and Radio-TV Marti. The legislation also authorized the establishment of a Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to oversee the Broadcasting Bureau, establish and maintain broadcasting standards, set broadcast priorities of the different language services, and assess the quality, effectiveness, and professional integrity of all activities. Additionally, the act, ominously, expressed the sense of Congress that the private sector should assume all funding for the radios not later than the end of fiscal year 1999.

Thus, 1994 was the low-point of the Radios' fortunes. All international broadcasting came under pressure from the great private media moguls and their political counterparts. They argued that international broadcasting was unnecessary in the "age of CNN." The Radios and the VOA were, together, considered gold-plated Cold War relics, with high salaries and an obsolete mission. That year, too, the President certified that significant national interest required relocating the operations of RFE/RL from Munich, Germany, to Prague in the Czech Republic.
In the face of this effective opposition, the Radios recognized that changing conditions in the region required rethinking the purposes of their broadcasts. No longer facing an authoritarian regime where they served as surrogates expressing the views of dissenters, they created a new role for themselves. Facilitating transitions became the new role. The Radios' missions, they claimed, had evolved from a purely surrogate task of providing "objective" news and analysis on internal events where no such media were available, to compensating for the limitations of domestic media and setting a standard by which emerging free media could judge themselves.

Although the primary mission remained that of a broadcaster, RFE/RL began to see its role, then, in a broader context. It asserted three primary missions in the transition period: (1) To act as a traditional broadcaster by providing information and news on important issues such as democracy and political organization, the environment, and economic growth; (2) To provide assistance to indigenous radio stations; (3) To train indigenous radio personnel and broadcasters. RFE/RL offered itself as a "model of Western journalism, an alternative news source, and insurantes policies to the world and to serve United States culture, trade, and tourism. Increasingly, its altered function overlapped with that of the Voice of America, causing growing friction and competition between the constituents of the International Broadcasting Bureau.

On October 30, 1997, two new United States funded radio services to Iran and Iraq began transmitting21. Produced by RFE/RL, these services originated in Prague. The service to Iran was originally to be called Radio Free Iran and had its political sources in Congress rather than in the State Department. In May 1997, after the election of President Khatami in Iran, the State Department sought to postpone or cancel the Iranian service as part of a general diplomatic overture. By April 1998, the State Department, under intense congressional pressure fostered by RFE/RL and those who favored the surrogate approach, justified the new service as designed to enrich domestic political debate inside the country and not to
undermine the government.

As a symbol of this newly articulated purpose they changed the name from Radio Free Iran to the Persian-language service of RFE/RL. Radio Democracy in Africa had a similar origin. Congressional pressure for a surrogate named Radio Free Africa was avoided in favor of a VOA division. Rather than have an ethic of "opposition" or dissent, the service would engage in conflict prevention or conflict resolution in some areas or "civic reporting and civic building" where there were "moves toward democracy." The service would adhere to the VOA charter, and the newscasts were to be VOA-determined22.

The implications of global change and increased private competition on the Radios can be seen in the emphases for the continuation of national services as articulated by Congress:
It is the sense of Congress that Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty should continue to broadcast to the peoples of Central Europe, Eurasia, and the Persian Gulf until such time as (1) a particular nation has clearly demonstrated the successful establishment and consolidation of democratic rule; and (2) its domestic media which provide balanced, accurate, and comprehensive news and information, is firmly established and widely accessible to the national audience, thus making redundant broadcasts by Radio Free Europe or Radio Liberty. At such time as a particular nation meets both of these conditions, RFE/RL should phase out broadcasting to that nation23.

Global Adjustments
The issue of international broadcasting and its post-Cold War justification was a global one. Canada and Australia came close to eliminating external broadcasting. The Australians may have had a lesser involvement in classic European Cold War politics, and instead, specialized as a major source of credible information in Southeast Asia and Oceania. As was true in the United States Australian external broadcasting was initially the victim of a general budget cutting process, and the Australian commercial broadcasters also argued against the continuation of the service. Australian companies, like that of Kerry Packer, sought to extend their sphere of influence into places such as Vietnam and Cambodia where international services previously served the market. Ultimately, after Australian troops took a dominant position in peace-keeping in East Timor, and after an effective public outcry at home, Radio Australia's budget was restored and, to some extent, expanded. A unique effort to couple an Australian international television broadcasting presence in cooperation with a subsidized commercial channel failed, with international radio becoming the favored survivor24. In Canada the budget cuts were more lasting25.

In 1999, Deutsche Welle, the German external broadcaster, was required, for budget reasons, to dismiss staff for the first time since 1949. In October 1999, its Director announced a new strategy for DW in light of these budget cuts. The principles declared were similar to changes marked for many external broadcasters. Radio broadcasts would continue for regions with real information shortage (broadcasting to the Balkans would continue and programs for Indonesia and crisis areas in Africa and Asia would be expanded). DW Radio would be discontinued in liberalized regions that were well served by privatized information markets (Japanese language programming for Japan and Spanish radio programs for Latin America). DW television would be maintained and Internet offerings expanded. As a kind of plaintive cry, the Director justified DW's existence because "growing Anglo-American media domination requires consistent offering of foreign language services and increased international cooperation."26

The debate over the future of the BBC World Service was far more public than the debate within the United States and other countries over international broadcasting. Its outcome, however, had less of an impact on the status quo. After outliving the historic spasms of fascism, the Cold War and decolonization, it became necessary for the World Service to find a more inclusive definition for its long-term purposes. In 1993, John Tusa, the outspoken (and perhaps too self-congratulatory) former head of the enterprise during the time its existence was most contested, justified the Service differently than the American surrogates had justified themselves. He writes, "We sought a theoretical framework for international broadcasting from Britain that would not turn on the hinge of a particular political dispute or ideological difference, nor one particular period of history or the immediate needs of a particular part of the globe." The criteria for the material to be broadcast, he added, were, "It must be relevant to all audiences worldwide [...]. It must appeal to a global rather than an elite audience. It must be 'international' rather than foreign." The Service's broadcasts, Tusa wrote, can do a multiplicity of different things for different people. "In part, the broadcasts operate like aid, transferring knowledge and skills; they have an element of cultural advertisement; they are an instrument of informal diplomacy; they bring individuals in touch with a nation."27

The World Service has also been undergoing something of a renaissance in the past few years. Threatened cuts in the early eighties nearly forced the closure of services like the Burmese, which typified the most readily justified parts of the service: transmissions to people whose oppressive governments deprive them of access to other reliable sources of news. Later in the decade capital budgets actually increased, enabling a dramatic improvement in transmission facilities, and a consequent jump in the listening figures. With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, as with the American Radios, the Service found itself with another new role, and another great tranche of hungry new listeners. But, attentive to warnings not to allow itself to become too defined by particular disputes or historical events, it temporarily survived the passing of that crisis with almost all its European services intact28.

The American approach to international broadcasting is different from that of the UK. United States international broadcasting is evolving into a cluster of aggressive broadcasters with specific sectoral managements typified by Radio Free Asia. There are those who favor a television broadcasting system that emulates the BBC World Service as a unified "source of reliable, factual, and dispassionate information" over the cluster. Under the latest reorganization, the VOA, together with the external radios, are subject to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, many of who are political appointees. Many of the members in the 1990s were advocates of the ethos of surrogacy and policy driven radio on the VOA. One member was appointed to protect Radio and TV Marti in order to assure that the Cuban exile community was served.

The advocates of a unified "objective" broadcaster consider that the pressure to transform into the surrogate function and to have a specific national political objective is destructive to the ability of the VOA to perform its functions. They consider that the proliferation of radios leads to the gratuitous duplication of resources and the use of those resources in ways that compromise the objectivity of the United States international broadcasters. In addition, the number of Radios has specific budget implications. The China Human Rights and Democracy Act of 1997 provided reprogrammed funding to expand both RFA and VOA broadcasts to China. Later legislation earmarked four million dollars taking it from the amount provided for overall international broadcasting operations and rerouting the money for the development of a Farsi-language surrogate broadcasting service to Iran.

The meaning of the bureaucratic and organizational distinctions among the United States international broadcasters is captured by the treatment of an interview with then newly freed Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, in mid-December 1997 recorded for radio and television at VOA's studios in Washington. State Departmental officials were concerned that broadcasting the interview might hamper US-China relations. Nonetheless, VOA broadcast the Mandarin language interview shortly after it was recorded and VOA's Mandarin weekly TV simulcast, China Forum, broadcast it in full to the PRC at the first scheduled opportunity four days later. The White House could only "encourage" VOA not to broadcast the interview. On the other hand, the White House could block Worldnet, a United States government television feed that is distributed by satellite for retransmission by local broadcasters because of the legal structure of Worldnet. VOA is required by law to have "editorial independence."29

There are some additional redefined functions for international broadcasting. For example, the VOA justified increasing its reach and audience with claims that new programming on child health and survival helps reduce child mortality. A VOA-United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored conference was held in Washington in April 1998 at which broadcasters, health experts, and health promotion specialists focused on how to use the VOA for this purpose. VOA reported that its programming on polio in Nigeria "influenced as many as 800,000 adults to bring their families in for immunizations."

International Broadcasting and Information Intervention
Another rising function of international broadcasting is to assist in the prevention of conflict, the moderation of voices so as to avoid genocides and other massive violations of human rights and the post-conflict contexts. I have discussed the complicated balance the international community seeks to find as it alters the media space to prevent future conflict and the potential for genocide. Training journalists, fostering new voices, and sparking local, indigenous media are all steps toward stability and plurality necessary for transitions to greater democratization. But there are contexts where the ground for these measures is barren. In Cambodia, Rwanda, and elsewhere, the combination of international radios may be a major mechanism for introducing a mood hospitable to peace. Combinations of so-called monitoring, peace broadcasting, and jamming are now the emerging formulas for the zones of potential conflict and healing after war and genocide30.

In Cambodia, for example, there was little in the way of indigenous media and UN radio created for the elections left after the elections. In order to fill the void, Radio Free Asia sought to establish an FM relay station in Phnom Penh. The Hun Sen-controlled Information Ministry agreed to allow the station, but, before the agreement was concluded and the station actually took concrete shape, the station's authorization was put in doubt. Newspapers charged Hun Sen with fear of RFA and VOA broadcasts "because the RFA broadcast constitutes a powerful missile that can destroy all tactics conducted by the dictatorial clique in the twinkling of an eye." With RFA's FM broadcast in Phnom Penh, "people can be informed immediately of what the Hun Sen government has done whether for national development or national destruction." The argument, hyperbole aside, was that RFA would provide pluralism of views:

Everyone is now aware that Hun Sen and his entourage have spent millions of dollars on FM radio stations to disseminate misleading information aimed at deceiving the people. Most of the radio stations controlled by Hun Sen-except Beehive Radio-represent the voice of injustice, immorality and dictatorship. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of people do not believe the news broadcasts by those stations because RFA or VOA rectifies them promptly. This is the reason why Hun Sen and his cronies have revoked their decision to let the RFA set up a relay station in Phnom Penh32.

In Rwanda, the international broadcasting community was virtually paralyzed as to the proper role it should play in altering media space where media agents had been held largely responsible for genocide33. Those trained by the West, in part, in the skills of radio production and audience building were the best at drumming up fervor for the Hutu to slaughter the Tutsi. The BBC World Service launched an FM relay in Kigali in March 1998. External donors including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the British government's Department for International Development, Christian Aid, the British Red Cross and -Save the Children Fund funded this special service for the Great Lakes. Included in the program would be news and current affairs for the Great Lakes region, development and rehabilitation features and messages from refugees and displaced people. Because of "growing competition from local, national, and international broadcasters and satellite television and the Internet," said the BBC World Service Managing Director, "it is no longer enough for the BBC to broadcast on short-wave alone; we have to be more accessible to our audience, more relevant and more aware of our listeners' needs."34

This new role, international broadcaster as potential healer involved in conflict deterrence in Rwanda, Cambodia, Kosovo, and elsewhere, altered, to some extent, the position of the international community on jamming. Jamming is the blocking of programming through co-channeling on the same frequencies or the "deliberate use of interfering radio signals sent from one or more transmitters to garble emissions from other transmitters in order to make them unintelligible at reception."35

When the use of ideologically inspired radio broadcasting was at its height in the Cold War, the United States maintained a strong distinction between civilian and military use of radio-jamming technology, a legal position that still exists and is invoked. The United States and the West generally claimed that their right to broadcast putatively objective radio programs abroad meant that an interference with these transmissions was a breach of international law in both specific radio conventions and broader rights of free expression36. With respect to the older technologies, the Soviets and the Cubans had quite a different understanding. To them, and to many developing countries, state sovereignty precluded such undesirable foreign transmissions, and jamming was, and for Cuba remains, an often-used countermeasure37.

The legal status of jamming has been much discussed, especially in connection with Radio Marti and disputes between Cuba and the United States over the legality of United States broadcasts and subsequent retaliations38. In the case of Cuba and the United States, legal relations were established by the North America Radio Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA), which became effective in 1960. It is a "treaty among certain North American countries providing a system of priorities and engineering standards designed to minimize interference and to promote the orderly use of the AM channels in the North American region."39 NARBA established power levels at which broadcasting stations were required to operate to avoid objectionable interference. In addition, the ITU Radio Regulations have provided that the short-wave band is "the internationally accepted method in which information can be transmitted across national borders," while the AM band is for domestic use. Radio Marti operates on the AM band.

The basis for Radio Marti's operation is declared in section 2 of the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act, which provides: (1) that it is the policy of the United States to support the right of the people of Cuba to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers, in accordance with article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; (2) that, consonant with this policy, radio broadcasting to Cuba may be effective in furthering the open communication of accurate information and ideas to the people of Cuba, in particular information about Cuba; (3) that such broadcasting to Cuba, operated in a manner not inconsistent with the broad policy of the United States and in accordance with high professional standards, would be in the national interest.40 It is interesting that built into the justification is the reference to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that grants all people the freedom "to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." Despite the assertion, it is not clear that Article 19 provides any government the affirmative right to make information and ideas available to whomever it chooses on the basis that the host government is engaged in a deprivation of the right.

New modes of information distribution, contexts of genocide or the potential for conflict, call for different forms of intervention. These modern interventions are similar to jamming but not within the standard definition. For example, in May 1999, at the height of the conflict in Yugoslavia, the Eutelsat Board of Directors discontinued transmitting the Radio-TV Serbia (RTS) satellite program and, thus, made RTS inaccessible in European countries. In November 1999, the United States reiterated its displeasure that Israel continued to permit the Yugoslav authorities to broadcast RTS on an Israeli satellite. After the Secretary of State raised the question, the private Israeli company Spacecom, which owns the Amos-1 satellite, announced that it stopped broadcasting the Yugoslav program, following orders from the Israeli government41. According to the Serbian authorities, "the decision [to discontinue RTS broadcasts] is a culmination of the hypocrisy of the policy pursued by Western powers, which in words urge the freedom of the media while most grossly preventing the flow of information in the world and, thereby, consciously violating the Eutelsat founding principles."

For the first time since the founding of Eutelsat, one of its members has been denied the right of transmission of its programs, which poses a most serious threat to others, too. Today it is Serbia and it is only a question of who will be the next. The Eutelsat Board of Directors have explained their decision by saying they wanted to prevent the spreading of religious and national hatred, which they are in fact precisely doing with their own decision42.

There are many who suggest that the international community should have jammed "hate" programming or programming inciting conflict in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, this being the other side of the power to inject a new set of images into a designated context. This is the face of force of the Declaration of Human Rights, the sword and the blunderbuss of the right of citizens to receive and impart information about their civil condition.

Radio Free Asia
Radio Free Asia can serve as a case study in the use of international broadcasting to affect information space in target countries. This surrogate service, established in the International Broadcasting Act of 1994, was designed to target China, Vietnam, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and North Korea43. RFA is a modern iteration of Cold War use of the airwaves, emphasizing a turn from the traditional Cold War targets to new ones. The debates about Radio Free Asia echo those about other surrogate radios. These debates are important within the United States, as well, because, as already suggested, the United States Congress increasingly funds these surrogate approaches.

Radio Free Asia is an expression of domestic political necessity as much as it is a deliberate strategic and meaningful method of affecting the mix of messages abroad. If this is the case it may be an example of a larger hypothesis: instruments of international broadcasting are a reflection of the priorities and internal politics of the sending nation. Most foreign policy, it is said, including international broadcasting, can be described as shaped by domestic politics44. There are, however, various degrees of truth to this proposition, and in the case of Radio Free Asia it may be truer than in many others.

There are a number of themes in the RFA story that illustrate the relationship between domestic policies and international broadcasting. The principal and most noteworthy element is its use as a domestic trade-off to allow "most-favored-nation" treatment for China. In an environment in the 1990's in which there were numerous objections to China's human rights policies and a liberalized trade policy was held hostage to a more aggressive attitude toward China, RFA was a convenient technique for gaining votes by demonstrating the fist of radio at the same time as facilitating the glove of opening economic markets.

During the United States election campaign in 1992, candidate Bill Clinton accused President George Bush of "coddling the dictators in Beijing" by granting most-favored-nation (MFN) trade status to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the face of the PRC's widespread human rights abuses. Once elected, President Clinton quickly moved to the stance taken by former President Bush, arguing that political and economic engagement were the best tools to dismantle the harsh dictatorship of Beijing. For this reason, as well as substantial economic reliance on trade with China, President Clinton separated MFN status from human rights, while still pledging not to abandon his goal of combating the PRC's human rights abuses. The use of Radio Free Asia in the debate took on particular significance and urgency when China was granted MFN trade status by the Clinton administration.

The link was not always explicit in the statements of the time. One influential Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, said

We have lifted the embargo on Communist Vietnam. We have extended again most-favored-nation status to the dictatorial regime on mainland China. Radio Free Asia is a statement to the oppressed that Americans may be trading and making a profit in dealing with people who suffer under this regime, but we are on the side of the oppressed. We are not on the side of the oppressor45.

The congressional debate about the wisdom or necessity of establishing the RFA does not wholly dwell on its domestic implications within the United States. It would have been more satisfying, for this argument, if there was acknowledgement that the RFA was an instrument supported by those who wished to do business with China and saw the need for the surrogate radio as a way to gain their business advantage. Support or opposition was not necessarily a marker of those who wished to demonize China so as to protect American manufacturers (say of textiles) against competitive imports.

Often, the debate focused on such questions as the similarities and differences between China in the 1990s and Eastern Europe of the late 1940s to 1960s. Advocates of RFA recited the account of the end of the Cold War that assigned a major role to the impact of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in bringing about the fall of Soviet dominion. Opponents responded that whereas the European societies under Soviet dominion were ostensibly "tightly closed," today a "flood of information reaches China." European listeners risked their lives to listen to RFE, while in China leadership policing is not so strict47.

In addition, although RFE/RL was, at one time, CIA-financed, they "started as ostensibly private organizations, giving United States administrations a deniability factor missing in the RFA proposed structure which as an overt government act, […] limit[ing] United States maneuverability in relations with the PRC."48 Opponents also argued against the efficacy of the measure, claiming that the establishment of the RFA would be perceived as a hostile American act, potentially bolstering the hardliners' position within Chinese society49. As a result, RFA might have the exact opposite outcome than intended and result in "increased repression" that could discourage an emerging "new wave of democratic leaders" otherwise hoped to displace the aging Chinese leadership50.

These opponents also argued that the best strategy to combat human rights abuses and to institute political freedom and democracy in t;undercut United States influence and our ability to moderate People of Republic of China policies to which we object."52 Finally, opponents denied the claim that the Chinese people did not have any available source of news about domestic affairs53. They asserted that informal alternative sources of domestic news were abundant in China54.

The debate was often a parochial dispute between supporters and opponents of the Voice of America. Advocates of the Voice believed that the creation of RFA would lead to a proportional cut in VOA services. In the midst of this battle over resources, VOA submitted a compromise plan in which it would satisfy the need for "surrogate service"-type broadcasting. This plan was based on the assumptions that, unlike VOA, RFA would require a "new structure and staff," that VOA already had a audience, and it would take years for RFA to "find an audience and establish credibility with a loyal listenership"; that augmenting VOA would be "a much more efficient and less expensive way" of accomplishing the objectives; that VOA, even though many assert it focuses only on "news from the United States and international developments" and cannot do targeted broadcasting, is capable and has demonstrated that it can provide specialized programming55. "Its coverage of the Tiananmen Square Uprising was an example of VOA targeted programming. People all over China were listening to get the details of what was actually happening and two VOA correspondents were thrown out of the country."56

The advocates of RFA relied on their accounts of the success of RFE/RL. Thus, much of the debates discussed the primacy of RFE/RL in bringing about change in Europe57. The proponents responded to claims that China and Eastern Europe were not comparable. They suggested that "[w]hile it is true China is somewhat more open than many of these countries were, there is a comparability [of] China today […] to, say, Eastern Europe in the mid- to late-1950s and early 1960s when Eastern Europe began to open up some."57 Some went so far as to argue that it was inequitable to broadcast RFE/RL to Europe and then to ignore the similar need in China, suggesting an implicit double standard for Europeans and the rest of the world.

In light [...] of the remarkable success of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, we see no reason why over 1 billion people in a different part of the world should be treated differently. They have every right to the same type of surrogate information, that is, news about what is happening in their own country, as do the people in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.59

Arguments were phrased in terms of a duty to provide additional information in a "stranglehold" metaphor:

The vast majority of people in China still hear what China's government wants them to hear, they only see what the government wants them to see, they only read what the government allows them to read. It is through this stranglehold on information that the Chinese government allows them to read. It is through this stranglehold on information that the Chinese government is so successful in fueling growing nationalism. There are no independent voices in China. Those who speak out are arrested, exiled, or killed. Radio Free Asia is an important instrument to help to break the Chinese government's stranglehold on news. It can provide an effective and peaceful mechanism to provide news of reform in China and of freedom around the world. It can promote democratic reforms, human rights, and basic freedoms.60

Chinese policy was considered particularly worthy of correction because its control was specifically directed to the flow of information from the West. For instance, "the Government of the People's Republic of China issued the demand that hotels temporarily shut off access to CNN programming because of concern about the impact of Tiananmen-related stories."61 In addition, the Chinese government has "prohibited satellite dishes specifically to reduce access to Western media."62 Not only in China, but in Vietnam and elsewhere.

Proponents hoped that RFA might provide the "hope and knowledge needed to change conditions in China" by fostering an increased "understanding of the meaning of political and economic freedom and democracy" thus forcing "the Chinese government to allow greater measures of each."63 In arguments claiming a special obligation on the part of Americans to support democracy and freedom abroad, the proponents stressed that RFA was necessary to "show our commitment to these countries' citizens."64 Some even going so far as to say "the fate of America is intertwined with the faith of American ideals."65 Others made a more strategic argument on behalf of RFA arguing "that the spread of democratic ideas serves the interests of the United States because democracies are far less prone to launch wars of aggression."66 For this reason RFA would serve "[a]s a prime vehicle for the dissemination of democratic ideas" creating "a cost-efficient, nonviolent means of communication."67 Some argued that RFA was not only the most efficient means for democratization and prevention of physical destruction, but also for saving money, feeling that due to budget restraints, "it is cheaper to fight some of these conflicts and wars with words rather than weapons."68

The International Broadcasting Act of 1994 brought the RFA into being and provided for its support69. RFA's obligation was to furnish a service for Asian countries "which lack adequate sources of free information," in a way that would "enhance the promotion of information and ideas, while advancing the goals of United States foreign policy."70 The legislation listed target countries: The PRC, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, North Korea, Tibet, and Vietnam71. Under the Act, the "surrogate" function of RFA was specified, that is, to construct a service that would give "accurate and timely information, news, and commentary about events in the respective countries of Asia and elsewhere and be a forum for a variety of opinions and voices from within Asian nations whose people do not fully enjoy freedom of expression."72 In addition, the Act required a report on the effectiveness of RFA within three years after the date of initial funding73. This report was to include findings as to whether Radio Free Asia was received by a sufficient audience to warrant its continuation; the extent to which such broadcasting was already being received by the target audience from other credible sources; and the extent to which the interests of the United States were being served by broadcasting Radio Free Asia74.

In May 1994, the President announced that MFN renewal was contingent upon increased "international broadcasting."75 Soon thereafter, he suggested that talks on reducing the Chinese jamming of Voice of America were progressing76. In March 1995, in an insight into the symbolic importance of nomenclature, the RFA was changed to Asia Pacific Network, but only temporarily as it angered the confrontationalists77. In September 1996, broadcasts began in Mandarin into China and soon thereafter a Tibetan language service was added78. In 1997, broadcasts were begun to Burma, Vietnam, and North Korea. In 1996 and 1997, the debate over MFN status to China was renewed, and RFA again became an important bargaining chip. Representative Porter introduced legislation to make RFA a twenty-four hour a day service, as a kind of relief valve for opposition to continued extensive trade relationships with China. The President and Speaker supported the legislation.

The international debate over the broadcast of RFA took on the character of many past battles over United States international broadcasting to older target sites including the Soviet Union and Cuba. On the one hand, the United States argued that its right to broadcast was contained within the international right, under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights giving everyone the right "to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."79 These arguments assumed, as has already been mentioned, that the "right" of individuals in target countries gave the United States the correlative power or duty under the international legal regime, to satisfy legal disabilities that such individuals might have. China, Korea, and Vietnam argued that such broadcasting violates international tenets and agreements on domestic sovereignty. The primary political response from Asian countries has emanated from China, North Korea, and Vietnam. The rhetoric of response is useful to examine. The arguments focus on (1) a critique of the free flow of information argument as being instead a form of cultural imperialism or (2) claims that the broadcasting efforts violate domestic sovereignty. For example, in China, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said,

We demand the United States not interfere further in other countries' internal affairs by using the excuse of freedom of speech. [...] It is obvious that the Free Asia Radio is a tool of psychological war, a typical tool of the Cold War period, and at the same time a direct interference in the internal affairs of Asian Nations. In other words, the Radio Free Asia is a form of cultural colonialism.80

The China Youth Daily reported,

Although the Cold War has been over for years, the United States and other Western nations rely on the superiority of their communication and information technology to increasingly launch Cold War propaganda. […] The real goal of setting up Radio 'Free Asia' is to use news media to interfere in the internal affairs of China and other Asian nations, to create chaos, and to destroy the stability of these countries.81

A foreign ministry spokesman argued that the broadcasts have 'seriously damaged the norms governing international relations [...] and are not conducive to the improvement of Sino-United States relations.82

In 1999, a report from China attacked VOA's increased broadcasting in Tibetan as a new escalation in the United States radio infiltration of China.

A look at a series of most recent actions in United States broadcasts against China shows the new United States 'smokeless war' strategy. The United States has gradually installed around China a series of relay stations and transmitters […] United States officials asserted that, 'these […] relay stations enable all of mainland China to hear the VOA,' 'making Beijing's jamming ineffective.' After President Nixon's 1972 visit to China, particularly after the establishment of Sino-United States diplomatic relations, United States officials in charge of foreign propaganda held that: this was the arrival of 'an absolutely unprecedented opportunity since 1949 to really subject China to Western ideological influences and values.' So we need to seize the "unprecedented good" opportunity, launching propaganda against China, to make up 'its gap in Western ideology and values.' The VOA has adjusted its programming in line with changing circumstances on one hand, while going all out to expand its real broadcasting might against China on the other.

Similar statements emanated from North Korea. Shortly after the initiation of Radio Free Asia in 1994, a spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry objected to the legislation and stated,

Passage of the bill […] is a criminal act of interfering in the internal affairs of and hostility against our country and other Asian countries. [...] The true intention of the United States in initiating Radio Free Asia is to infuse the so-called United States style democratic values and the toxin of bourgeois ideology into our country and other Asian countries in order to crush socialism in this region and demolish the independent governments there from within. The United States was able to use this machination and propaganda effectively to demolish from within the former socialist countries in another region in the past and to have them turn to capitalism, but it is far from workable in our country.83

Arguments from Vietnam had much the same tone. Nhan Dan, a leading Vietnamese newspaper, strongly criticized United States radio efforts, saying they were detrimental to the recent efforts to improve Vietnamese-United States relations. In a commentary, the paper called the United States efforts to open Radio Free Asia "a move to renew the psychological warfare in the Cold War period, using the pretext of democracy and human rights to launch a war of ideological and cultural invasions and interfere into Asian countries' internal affairs." The papers said that from the idea of its establishment to preparations for the start of is broadcasts, "Radio Free Asia has exposed itself as a wicked political instrument and a product of the Cold War period," which is designed "to oppose socialist countries, including Vietnam."84

A radio commentary countered the use of Radio Free Asia with an emphasis on the international legal framework for national sovereignty.

One of the fundamental principles of international law is the principle of respect for national sovereignty. In existing international law, this principle has become a rule and a condition already engraved in almost all-important international legal documents, especially in the UN Charter and in various documents of the UN General Assembly, by which all nations have full and ultimate authority to make decisions on foreign and domestic policies. Therefore, the use of Radio Free Asia by the United States to spread its propaganda and impose its political will, and to pressure other countries into changing their national policies and lines constitutes a violation of the sacred sovereignty of these countries.85

In the official Quan Doi Nhan Dan (People's Army) newspaper, the United States was accused "of seeking to undermine stability in Asia, but also expos[ing] deeper sores from a war that ended nearly 22 years ago." The paper went on to say:

You (the United States) should know that for the Vietnamese people, for a long time, whenever the adjective free is used by you it implies no beautiful meaning […] The Vietnamese people don't want to repeat that whenever the adjective free has been applied to us by you, it's linked with 'free aggression,' 'freely bombing,' 'freely spraying toxic chemicals,' 'freely killing and jailing patriotic people,' 'freely distorting the truth' […] and 'freely interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign countries'.86

RFA is an exemplar of the more aggressive face of international broadcasting. It is part of a world in which state-sponsored international media is increasing. Here, I have mainly focused on the American international broadcasters and other traditional broadcasters such as the BBC World Service. State-sponsored transmissions are rapidly changing. The satellite is the vehicle now for a multi-faceted, highly focused international broadcasting arena where states seek to nourish and persuade their own diasporas and build worldwide constituencies for their position. We have already seen a Serbian channel, lifted to a diaspora community throughout Europe on Eutelsat, but removed from the satellite by a NATO-influenced Board of Directors.

In the early 1990s, Hungary founded Duna-TV designed especially to reach the Hungarian diaspora in Romania. In the fall of 1999, the Islamic Information Ministers, meeting in Libya, proclaimed an Islamic Vision that included a concerted use of Nilesat, Arabsat, Measat, and the Indonesian satellite. As part of its emergence into statehood, the Palestine National Authority announced the launching of a national satellite TV channel. Its director noted that the objective of the Palestinian satellite channel would be to bolster the Palestinian identity. Turkey, Iran, Iraq, India, and China all have committed or have developed channels that would reach a greater public. These are not, in the modern sense, international broadcasters in the VOA or BBC mold. They hark back to the early days of the BBC when it was designed, primarily to reach its colonial communities, an early diaspora. At the moment, these channels are largely viewed as innocent purveyors of culture. We have seen, however, in the case of MED-TV, distributing programming to Kurds worldwide, that these new diaspora channels can be the cause of international concern.87

In the summer of 2001, the United Kingdom announced the curtailment of short-wave transmissions of their international broadcasting arm to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Listeners instead would have to access the World Service on the Internet or listen to a limited service is rebroadcast on FM by local stations. The move ended a tradition from 1932 when the Empire Service, as it was then called, first went on air, punctuating each hour with the familiar signature "This is London" and providing many listeners with their first live voice from a distant land88. The Voice of America cutback on its short-wave services as well. The context in which the BBC World Service and the Voice of America functioned had changed, and changed dramatically. New technologies, including the Internet, now, in specified locales, had greater audiences than traditional modes for distributing their messages. There was muttering at that and other decisions to alter priorities. But these were at the surface. What the events of the 1990s and the early twentieth century had demonstrated (even for the deeply entrenched international broadcasters) was that old principles could not be maintained without new techniques and new strategies. The interest of the originating states in affecting the mix of voices in target societies had not diminished. But what constituted suitable targets and what, as a result, constituted effective means for achieving change among them had changed. As always, there were desires to increase stability in certain zones of conflict, but to destabilize disfavored regimes as well. International broadcasters (and their clandestine cousins) had to cope with the changed agenda there as well. And, finally, the capacity of international broadcasters to shore up states that were struggling to become more democratic (or to retain their fingerhold on democracy) presented altered challenges as well.

All of these factors, as well such others as the competition from private suppliers of international news, produced the atmosphere and fact of transformation among international broadcasters. For them, after the relatively steady role they played during the Cold War, the 1990's were years of turbulence. Yet that very turbulence underscored the complexity of factors that govern one state's involvement in the media affairs of another.

Notas y referencias bibliográficas:

1 L. John Martin, International Propaganda: Its Legal and Diplomatic Control (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1958).
2 The VOA steadfastly refused during the Gulf War and Kosovo crisis to permit its programming to be relayed via U. S. Defense Department aircraft or terrestrial "psywar" stations. Because of the VOA Charter, VOA's news reporting during recent conflicts has been totally insulated from the U. S. policy apparatus, except for the Congressionally mandated broadcast of clearly labeled U. S. government editorials.
3 Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and William A. Owens, "America's Information Edge," Foreign Affairs, (spring 1996): 20.
4 For treatments of legal questions raised by aspects of international broadcasting, see Leo Gross, "Some International Law Aspects of the Freedom of Information and the Right to Communicate," in Kaarle Nordenstrng and Herbert I. Schiller, eds.,
5 National Sovereignty and International Communication (Norwood, N.J.: Ablex, 1979), pp. 208-9. See Bhagevatula Satyanarayana Murty, Propaganda and World Public Order: The Legal Regulation of the Ideological Instrument of Coercion (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968, reissued as The International Law of Propaganda, 1989); David Marks, "Broadcasting across the Wall: The Free Flow of Information between East and West Germany," Journal of Communication 33, (winter 1983). See also John L. Martin, International Propaganda: Its Legal and Diplomatic Control (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1958 reissued 1969). Much of this material is cited in Stephen D. Krasner, "Global communications and National Power: Life on the Pareto Frontier," World Politics, 43, no. 3 (April 1991): 336-466 at 344 to support his argument that the few international agreements that deal with international broadcasting "are filled with the kind of confusing and contradictory language that betrays underlying disagreements about principles and norms." Legal issues are also canvassed in Jamie Frederic Metzl, "Rwandan Genocide and the International Law of Radio Jamming," American Journal of International Law, 91 (1997): 628.
5 "China Accuses BBC of Launching 'Invasion'" BBC Worldwide Monitoring (August 5, 1999), Source: Zhongliu', Beijing, in Chinese (12 Jun 99).
6 Id.
7 Jon T. Powell, "Towards a Negotiable Definition of Propaganda for International Agreements Related to Direct Broadcast Satellites," Law & Contemporary Problems 45 (1982): 3, 25-26.
8 Gary Rawnsley has made this distinction: "Public diplomacy and media diplomacy are frequently used as interchangeable terms. [But] public diplomacy is specifically targeted at a mass audience, based on the supposition that public opinion can exert considerable influence on their governments and political systems […] Media diplomacy is much more selective and aims to address a particular government or regime directly with a view to persuading it to modify its diplomatic position or behavior. Rawnsley uses the following example: "BBC broadcasts in English targeted at the Soviet Union during the Cold War were never 'jammed' […] This suggests that the Kremlin, complete with its own monitoring organization, depended upon the BBC as a reliable source of diplomatic news, information and intelligence and, of course, as a means by which the Soviets could learn how they and their policies were being presented and received in the West. Gary Rawnsley, Media Diplomacy: Monitored Broadcasts and Foreign Policy 4 (Centre for the Study of Diplomacy, University of Leicester 1996). One example of a study of this process, marked by its reliance on the work of Herbert Schiller is Fred Fejes, Imperialism, Media and The Good Neighbor: New Deal Foreign Policy and United States Shortwave Broadcasting to Latin America, (Norwood, N. J.: Ablex, 1984).
9 CNN broadcasts largely in English, with only a language transmission in Spanish. British and U.S. international broadcasters broadcast in more than 65 languages and reach mass audiences (more than 200 million readers/listeners/viewers a week), not just the affluent that can afford television. See Don M. Flournoy and Robert K. Stewart, CNN : Making News in the Global Market (Luton: University of Luton Press: 1997).
10 See Elzbieta Olechowska and Howard Aster, Challenges for International Broadcasting V, (Oakville: Mosaic, 1998); David Abshire, "International Broadcasting: A New Dimension Of Western Diplomacy" (Washington Papers No. 35, 1976); Philo C. Wasburn, Broadcasting Propaganda: International Radio Broadcasting and the Construction of Political Reality (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1992). There are many books that deal with these questions. See, e.g., Michael Nelson, War of the Black Heavens: The Battles of Western Broadcasting in the Cold War (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ Press, 1997); Philip M. Taylor, War and the Media: Propaganda and Persuasion in the Gulf War (Manchester: Manchester University Press 1992); W.L. Bennett & D.L. Paletz, Taken By Storm: The Media, Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy (Chicago: Chicago University Press 1994); Y. Cohen, Media Diplomacy: The Foreign Office in the Mass Communication Age (London: Frank Cass, 1986); James O.H. Nason, "International Broadcasting as an Instrument of Foreign Policy," Millennium 6 (1977); Olive Renier & V, Rebenstein, Assigned to Listen: The Evesham Experience 1939-1943 (1986).
11 See Mark Hopkins, "A Babel of Broadcasts," Columbia Journalism Review, (July 1999): 44.
12 Michael Nelson, War of the Black Heavens.
13 Mark Hopkins, "A Babel of Broadcasts."
14 Harold D. Lasswell, Propaganda Technique in the World War 14 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927).
15 39 Dept of State Bulletin 337-342 at 339. 1958 Statement to the UN, August 1958.
16 "China Accuses BBC of Launching 'Invasion'," Zhongliu, reprinted in BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
17 22 United States Code Section 2002(b).
18 Id. It is interesting to note August 1999 by the Office of Audience Research, International Broadcasting Bureau: "The global audience for VOA has remained essentially stable over the past five years. Within the overall picture, however, the distribution of audience has changed significantly. The proportion of the VOA audience found in Europe and the former Soviet Union is about half what it was in 1994; conversely the proportion of the total audience found in Africa has roughly doubled in that time." Refined national totals upward in Bangladesh and Afghanistan also have increased substantially since 1994, with VOA's global audience estimated at 91 million adults who tune in at least once a week. The shift in the audience in China, as television sets have increased, has been of tectonic proportions.
19 Michael Nelson, War of the Black Heavens.
20 United States International Broadcasting Act, Pub. L. No. 103-236, title. III.
21 VOA has been broadcasting to Iraq in Arabic for more than half a century and to Iran in a restored Farsi Service since 1979.
22 "Details of new Radio Democracy for Africa," VOA broadcast, April 11, 1998, reprinted in World Broadcast Information, April 17, 1998, available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
23 22 United States Code Section 6211.
24 "New Operator of Aussie TV to be Decided Soon" Jakarta Post, April 9, 2001
25 To maintain and reinforce its service, the management at Radio Canada International made a conscious decision to be part of "Team Canada." These are assortments of business and industrial leaders sent to various countries to promote goods and services. RCI determined that Team Canada activities, "rather than just being a news story, were an integral part of reflecting what's happening in Canada." "Radio Canada International plans for 1999," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, (January 1, 1999).World Broadcast Information; Chna; WBI/0001/WB, Source: Voice of America, Washington, in English (19 Dec 98).
26 "DW services and staff cuts outlined," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts (October 15, 1999), World Broadcast Information; WBI/0042/WB. Source: Deutsche Welle press release, Cologne, in German (7 Oct 99).
27 John Tusa, "Media: Britannia Rules the Airwaves," (December 9, 1992): media page, 19.
28 Peter Popham, "The Empire Talks Back," Independent Magazine (January 17, 1996): 2.
29 In the past, the USIA was required by law to shield VOA programming from political and policy pressures. The Agency was consolidated into the State Department on October 1, 1999. Now, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a bipartisan, president-appointed U. S. government entity, provides oversight and is intended to act as a "firewall" protecting the editorial integrity of all the U. S. civilian international broadcasting organizations.
30 See Jamie Frederic Metzl, "Rwandan Genocide and the International Law of Radio Jamming," American Journal of International Law, 91 (1997): 628.
31 "Government Plans to Ban U.S.-funded RFA Criticized," Samleng Yuveakchon Khmer, (April 8, 1999), reprinted in World Broadcast Information, (April 23, 1999), available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
32 Id.
33 See Article 19 "Organization, Broadcasting Genocide: Censorship, Propaganda and State Sponsored Violence In Rwanda 1990-1994" (1996).
34 "USA, NATO Said to Be Building Ring Around Serbia," Tanjug News Agency, (August 13, 1999), reprinted in World Broadcast Information, (August 18,1999), available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
35 John B. Whitton and Arthur D. Larson, Propaganda Towards Disarmament in the War of Words 210 (1964).
36 L. John Martin, International Propaganda 87, 223 (1958).
37 Bruce Kessler, "Politics Among the Airwaves: An Analysis of Soviet and Western Perspectives on International Broadcasting and the Right to Exchange Ideas and Information Regardless of Frontiers," Houston Journal of International Law 7 (1985): 237, 248.
38 Stephen D. Bayer, "The Legal Aspects of TV Marti in Relation to the Law of Direct Broadcasting Satellites," Emory Law Journal 41 (1992): 541; see also Omar Javier Arcia, "War over the Airwaves: A Comparative Analysis of U.S. and Cuban Views on International Law and Policy Governing Transnational Broadcasts," Journal of Transnational Law & Policy 5 (1996): 199; L. Alexandre, "Television Marti: 'Open Skies' Over the South," in K. Nordenstren and Herber Schiller (eds), Beyond National Sovereignty (Norwood, N. J.: Ablex Publishing 1993).
39 Region 2 Administrative Radio Conference on Medium Wave Frequency (MF) Broadcasting: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on International Operations of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 97th Cong. 4 (1981) (statement of Hon. James L. Buckley, Under Secretary for Security Assistance, Science and Technology, Department of State) [hereinafter Region 2 Administrative Radio Conference].
40 Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act §§ 2, 3(b), H. 7677.
41 "USA 'embittered' by RTS broadcasts on Israeli satellite," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts (November 12, 1999): World Broadcast Information; Yugoslavia/Israel/USA; WBI/0046/WB. Source: Monitoring research (4 Nov 99).
42 Of course, this was during an armed intervention. See "Eutelsat Decision 'Culmination of Hypocrisy'," Tanjug News Agency, (May 27, 1999), reprinted in World Broadcast Information, (June 4, 1999), available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
43 As a historic matter, a surrogate service directed at China had previously existed from 1951 to 1953. "Radio Free Asia, an allegedly public-supported (but in reality, CIA-financed) international broadcasting station operated out of San Francisco, but transmitting from Manilla, was founded. Its dual mission was to strengthen resistance within China to the new Communist government plus prevent overseas China in Asia from 'falling victim to communist Chinese propaganda.'" John A. Lent, Broadcasting in Asia and the Pacific: A Continental Survey of Radio and Television 319 (1978). The creation of RFA was once again debated during the Vietnam War. CRS Report for Congress, Radio Free Asia, January 2, 1997.
44 James Rosenau, ed., Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy, (New York: Free Press, 1967).
45 140 Congressional Record H5130.
46 U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, Diplomacy in the Information Age, 1993 Report (Washington, D.C., February 1993): 15.
47 Id., p. 30.
48 Id.
49 Id., p. 26.
50 Hearing at 5. (Eizenstat).
51 Commission on Public Diplomacy, 1993 Report, p. 26.
52 Id. The Commission established by President Bush summarized the argument as follows: China's growing participation in the global economy's already having the effect of opening its society to outside influences, with inevitable demands for increased democracy. We encourage these trends but the creation of a new and separate "surrogate" broadcasting system-which would be seen as a hostile American act-is not an effective means of accomplishing that objective. Id. at 30.
53 Access to international sources of information is not as hotly disputed.
54 Commission on Public Diplomacy, 1993 Report, p. 26.
55 "New structure and staff": Id. at 30. "Loyal listenership": Id. "Augmenting VOA": 104 Congressional Record H5113-04, H5125 (Smith).
56 Hearing at 17 (Washburn).
57 Often responding, "[w]ould there be Earth with the Sun." (quoting Lech Walesa's comment about where these broadcasts were important to the democratic movement in Poland).
58 Hearing at 5 (Eizenstat).
59 Id.
60 142 Congressional Record 8215-03, 8231 (Pelosi).
61 140 Congressional Record H5113-04, H5127 (Gilman).
62 Id.
63 Id.
64 140 Congressional Record S4819-02, S2420 (Biden).
65 140 Congressional Record 5113-04, H5125 (Porter). Congressman Smith argued for the primacy of ideas as follows: Just let me say that throughout human history, the most important battles have not been those whose object was to control territory. The battles that really matter have always been about values and ideas. When the history of our century is written it will be large part the story of a long struggle for the soul of the world, the struggle between the values of the free world on the one hand and those of communism, fascism, and other forms of totalitarianism on the other. Throughout most of the world, the values of the free world have been victorious, not only because we had better values but also because we were not afraid to stand up for them.
142 Congressional Record H8215-03, H8228 (Smith).
66 140 Congressional Record at H5125 (Bentley).
67 Id. See also 140 Congressional Record at H5131 (Porter). Such a strategic stance was discussed in particular countries contexts; for instance Cambodia, Vietnam and North Korea. In Cambodia, 15 months after historic elections were held, the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge were again on the offensive-waging war over the airwaves as inflammatory news broadcasts by Pol Pot's forces need only refer to the Foreign Broadcast Information Service reports that many of our offices receive on a daily basis. The growing political chaos, fuelled by Khmer Rouge broadcasts, should be of serious concern to all who remember what happened inside Cambodia from 1975-1978. Radio Free Asia can play a positive role in helping Cambodia consolidate its tentative move toward democracy that is in danger of being suppressed again by the murderous Khmer Rouge.
In Vietnam, a country of 70 million people, the VOA broadcasts 2 1/2 hours a day-certainly not enough for a country of such pivotal regional importance. In Vietnam, economic liberalization has not necessarily been followed by political liberalization. Yet, although the Vietnamese Government continues to prohibit free expression, there has been a range of nascent, democratic activities that must be nourished through access to a Radio Free Asia. Although the Congress has lifted economic sanctions, we must not falsely assume that trade, by itself, will foster democracy. While the VOA gives these countries a window to world events, a Radio Free Asia will address a full and fair colloquy of events of the day within each country and culture.
Then, there is the case of North Korea, a closed, militaristic society that has the potential to foment major instability throughout the region. In a closed society such as North Korea, international radio broadcasting is extremely important for another key reason-communication with the ruling elite. Contrary to the belief that North Korean leaders are of only one mind, we know from past events that there are moderate as well as hard-line factions. Make no mistake about it, members of the ruling elite can and do listen to international radio broadcasts-perhaps behind closed doors-but listening nonetheless.
Kim Il-song will not live forever, and the succession is not clear. Through Radio Free Asia, we can implant the notion that a peaceful future is possible, with as much as the North Korean elite as can be reached. Must we wait for the outbreak of a second war on the Korean Peninsula before recognizing the need for a Radio Free Asia?" (Id. H5125-H5126 (Bentley)).
68 Hearing at 3 (Hughes).
69 United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.).
70 Id. § 6201(4).
71 Id. § 6208(a)(1). In order to receive a grant, the Congress required that the Board submit "to Congress a detailed plan for the establishment and operation of Radio Free Asia." Id. § 6208(c)(1). This plan must include how RFA will meet its funding limitations, the number and qualifications of its employees, and how it will meet its technical capabilities. Id. § 6208(c)(1)(A), (B) and (C).
72 Id. § 6208(b)(1) and (2).
73 Id. § 6208(f).
74 Id. § 6208(f)(1)-(4). Other requirements of the Report are to determine whether Radio Free Asia is technically sound and cost-effective and whether Radio Free Asia consistently meets the standards for quality and objectivity established by the statute. The Board may also "provide for the use of United States Government transmitter capacity for relay of Radio Free Asia." Id. § 6204(14). Lastly, the Act, sensitive to the concerns of the VOA constituency, required that the Board notify Congress before taking any action that "will significantly reduce" VOA broadcasting. Id. § 6208(h).
75 Executive Order 12, 850, 3 C.F.R. 606, 607 § 1(b).
76 President's Letter to Congressional Leaders on Most-Favored Nation Trade Status for China, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents 20 (June 2, 1994): 1203.
77 [T]he BBG had angered some Members of Congress by changing the broadcast service's official name in November 1995 from Radio Free Asia to Asia Pacific Network.
During a House International Relations Committee hearing in July 1996, Members challenged a panel consisting of BBG and Radio Free Asia officials to explain why they had changed the name to Asia Pacific Network. The panel responded that: 1) the name Radio Free Asia has confrontational tones and would anger the Chinese government; 2) Asia Pacific Network would encompass television, not just radio broadcasting; and 3) some people might associate the new broadcast service with Radio Free Europe, which had a much different history, including links to the CIA. Some in Congress reacted to the BBG's name change by contending that the new Asia service was meant to be confrontational. Since the authorizing law stated: "such broadcast service shall be referred to as Radio Free Asia", these members maintained that is the name. (During the appropriations process for FY1997, some Members contemplated withholding funds until the broadcast service used the name Radio Free Asia.) As of the fall of 1996, Radio Free Asia is the name used by the broadcasting entity.
CRS Report at 5.
78 The first RFA broadcast took place on September 29, 1996, broadcasting into China in Mandarin. The initial broadcasts of one hour at 7:00 a.m. and one hour at 11:00 p.m. include regional news and feature stories. The 7:00 a.m. broadcasts consist of a half hour program that is repeated at 7:30 a.m., 11:00 p.m., and 11:30 p.m., with updated news added to each half hour. Broadcasting into China is expected to double by the end of the 1996 calendar year. CRS Report at 3.
79 22 U.S.C. § 6201(1).
80 "Hanoi accuses RFA of 'cultural colonialism,'" broadcast from Voice of Vietnam External Service, (October 4, 1996), reprinted in World Broadcast Information, (October 11, 1996), available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
81 Mure Disckie, "China Media Lambast U.S. over Propaganda, Politics," Reuters World Service, November 1, 1996.
82 "Chinese defense minister leaves for U.S.," Agence France Presse, December 2, 1996.
83 "Foreign Ministry Spokesman Berates Plan for Radio Free Asia," broadcast from Central Broadcasting Station, (February 1, 1994), reprinted in World Broadcast Information, (February 2, 1994), available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
84 "Vietnamese newspaper raps U.S. Radio," Xinhua News Agency, December 7, 1996.
85 "Radio Says Revival of Radio Free Asia Violates International Law," broadcast from Voice of Vietnam, (December 4, 1996), reprinted in World Broadcast Information, (December 7, 1996), available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
86 "Cold War Remembered as Hanoi Blasts U.S. radio," Reuters World Service, December 10, 1996.
87 On April 23, 1999 the ITC, UK regulator, revoked Med TV's license on the grounds that the satellite channel was not complying with its license. The ITC characterized four specific Med-TV's broadcasts as "likely to encourage or incite to crime or lead to disorder." See: "UK Regulator ITC Revokes Kurdish Med TV's License," source: Independent Television Commission press release on (April 23, 1999), reprinted in World Broadcast Information, (April 30, 1999), available in Lexis, News Library, BBCSWB file.
88 "BBC World Service to Cut Back Broadcasts," Daily Telegraph, May 26, 2001.

Monroe Price
Director, Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy and Joseph and Sadie Danciger Professor of Law at the Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University. Originally published in Global Media and National Controls: Rethinking the Role of the State, MIT Press, 2002