Dear Hon. Congressmember  Adam Schiff,

I am writing to ask for your support of the Rohrabacher amendment to the 2012 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill which restores funding for the Voice of America Mandarin & Cantonese broadcasts to China.

The amendment is to be voted on tomorrow Wednesday, July 27, 2011.

In February the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) announced cost-cutting measures that would cancel VOA radio and TV broadcasts to China from October next year, while expanding other digital media efforts.

The conclusion that traditional broadcasts in China were losing their effectiveness appears to have been reached after a series of surveys was conducted in China.  Information of that survey shows that as part of its International Audience Research Project, the BBG hired the services of New York-based InterMedia, a global communications and media research organization, which then relied on contractors in Beijing to conduct the survey.

Even though the BBG admits that Tibet and the Xinjiang provinces of China are not included in their survey because  “ information is tightly controlled and tuning in to foreign broadcasts is … illegal … audiences can be difficult to measure. “, it failed nonetheless to recognize that the rest of  China where the survey was conducted,  is also illegal to listen to VOA.

Given the prospect of punishment facing anyone in China who admits to listening to VOA broadcasts, there are doubts as to whether the surveys can provide a true assessment of the broadcaster’s reach and effectiveness.

Your vote to restore the funding will be most important for the people in China who relie on VOA for their accurate news and information.

Ann Lau
Chair, Visual Artists Guild