Correspondence

Correspondence Radios for Freedom We at the Broadcasting Board of Governors welcome S. Enders Wimbush's "Radio Free Iran" (Dec. 18); however, we wish to correct several misperceptions. First,...

...Lecturing Iranians on "what they have to understand" will drive away audiences...
...Second, the weekly listenership Kaufman cites is irrelevant if it's the wrong audience, focused on music...
...This success comes despite persistent jamming by Iranian authorities...
...Radio Farda carries more than eight hours of news and information daily, more than any other Persian-language international broadcaster...
...presidential press conferences where Iran is discussed...
...When my article appeared, my inbox overflowed with emails from Iranians crying out for changing Farda fundamentally...
...Edward E. Kaufman Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors Wilmington, Del...
...international broadcasting while at the same time criticizing Radio Farda's use of music to draw listeners...
...The BBG is the oversight body for all non-military international broadcasting...
...As recent student protests reported by Radio Farda show, it is vitally important that these young people have a source for accurate and objective news and information about their country and the world...
...The latter, "surrogate" radios are less concerned with advocating for America than in spurring intelligent listeners to think about the costs to their nation of runaway ideologies...
...Such programming is followed soon after by analysis and discussion...
...Radio Farda also breaks format as dictated by news events, to carry live, extended coverage of events such as last week's domestic Iranian elections and U.S...
...Farda has never occupied this niche...
...Thus, Farda's niche should be intelligent debate from many sources about what the news means in addition to discussion of historical context and an accounting of the costs of missing globalization...
...First, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is not the parent organization of Radio Farda, which is jointly operated by RFE/RL and the Voice of America (VOA...
...Radio Farda also devotes significant programming to Iran's rich culture...
...In addition to carrying contemporary Persian music banned in Iran, the schedule is full of reviews of movies, books, and cultural and social events...
...With the resources made available to Farda, that number would have continued to increase among Iran's agents of change...
...Maximizing youth audiences with music should not be the decisive metric...
...Third, Wimbush seems not to understand that, contrary to the days of the Cold War, today's target countries have rich media markets where the listener has many choices...
...Congress has made it clear that it wants this distinction preserved...
...Research indicates that listeners welcome Farda's format...
...A reappraisal of U.S...
...Third, Iran is awash in "news and information" from all over the world, all of it purporting to be "accurate...
...s. Enders Wimbush responds: Edward E. Kaufman blurs a fundamental distinction between the VOA's public diplomacy and RFE/RL's strategic broadcasting...
...It is worrisome that the BBG might actually think that this is what RFE/RL did during the Cold War...
...There is a good reason for orienting Radio Farda's format to Iran's youth: More than half of Iran's population is under 30 and more than 70 percent under 35...
...Second, it seems contradictory for Wimbush to praise the history of U.S...
...The quality of the listeners and the critical positions of influence and authority they occupy are far more important...
...This was the same strategy employed so successfully by the VOA with its use of music programs to attract audiences during the Cold War...
...Fourth, lecturing audiences on "what they have to understand" was never part of RFE/RL's strategy, which is precisely why they were so effective and credible...
...While stressing balance and credibility, the radios have never been neutral: They were created to shape political landscapes...
...The station will add another 30-minute daily news program by the end of the year...
...The first objective of any programming must be to gain an audience...
...RFE/RL's original Radio Free Iran (Azadi) achieved a weekly audience of 6 percent with serious fare in only four years before it was morphed into Radio Farda...
...international broadcasting strategy, to Iran and elsewhere, is overdue...
...By an intelligent mix of news and information plus entertainment programming, Radio Farda has become, in just four years, the most popular international radio broadcaster in Iranó13.5 percent weekly listenership, more than double second-place BBC...
...We are constantly striving to improve our broadcasts and welcome constructive criticism and new ideas...

Vol. 12 • January 2007 • No. 17


 
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