Voice of America is ending its shortwave radio broadcasts into China. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees both news agencies, determined that only a handful of countries still have large enough audiences for shortwave broadcasts.
The announcement was made in early July, yet news is only now beginning to circulate in the Chinese press. The late realization is likely due to how the BBG announcement was made. China was just not included on the list.
A press release from Voice of America (VOA) states that all shortwave broadcasts for “English News programs to Asia” were ended on June 30. Also eliminated were shortwave broadcasts for Azerbaijani, Bangla, English (Learning), Khmer, Kurdish, Lao, and Uzbek, according to the press release.
According to the BBG’s list of service changes, however, shortwave broadcasts will continue from VOA and Radio Free Asia (RFA) in Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan, and Uyghur.
RFA and VOA did not immediately respond to phone calls requesting comment.
The VOA press release states, “broadcasting via shortwave is expensive, and its use by listeners has been on the decline for years.” It notes that BBG determined the level of impact doesn’t warrant the cost, and so it “no longer favors broadcasts via this medium to most of the world.”
The cuts only include shortwave broadcasts. Services will continue on AM, FM, television, and online.
In addition to VOA and RFA, the cuts extend to broadcasts of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.
Most countries will only see reduced times in the shortwave broadcasts. The cuts are determined by the number of shortwave broadcast listeners in each country, and whether alternatives are widely available.
No cuts are mentioned for the Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan, or Uyghur broadcasts.