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President Ford Signs The VOA Charter

Cold War Radio Museum

Cold War Radio Museum

Drafted in 1960, the VOA Charter was signed into law on July 12, 1976 by President Gerald Ford to guarantee that the Voice of America would not engage in unbalanced or partisan reporting.

The VOA Charter, which is U.S. law, has been increasingly ignored in recent years by some of the partisan or otherwise strongly ideologically-biased Voice of America officials, editors, and reporters.

In 2016, for the first time in Voice of America’s history, some VOA foreign language services posted in full unbalanced and unchallenged partisan commercials and statements. Some VOA central English newsroom reporters posted privately political campaign memes on social media and authored VOA reports that violated various provisions of the VOA Charter.

Almost all such content was in favor of the Democratic Party candidates and causes. The Obama administration-appointed VOA director Amanda Bennett and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) [the agency’s new name since 2018 is the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM)] CEO John Lansing said that they opposed such partisan commentaries by VOA editors and reporters but failed to stop them.

VOICE OF AMERICA BROADCASTS

Title V of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 is amended by adding the following new section:

The long-range interests of the United States are served by communicating directly with the peoples of the world by radio. To be effective, the Voice of America must win the attention and respect of listeners. These principles will therefore govern Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts:

1. VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news. VOA news will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive.

2. VOA will represent America, not any single segment of American society, and will therefore present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.

3. VOA will present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, and will also present responsible discussions and opinion on these policies. (Public Law 94-350)

Author
Curator

Ted Lipien is the online Cold War Radio Museum's principal volunteer editor. He is an independent journalist, writer, and media freedom advocate. He was Voice of America’s Polish Service chief during Poland’s struggle for democracy and VOA’s acting associate director. He also served briefly in 2020-2021 as RFE/RL president. His book “Wojtyła’s Women” was published in 2008 by O-Books, UK. E-mail him at: tedlipien@gmail.com.

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