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 WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Malcolm S. Forbes Jr., chairman of the bipartisan Board for International Broadcasting (BIB), refuted recommendations made today by the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy concerning the future of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
 "Their assault on Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty is dangerously shortsighted. RFE/RL are the most cost effective instruments we have for influencing events in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union on a daily basis.
 "Few people realize they perform a unique function -- reporting on news in these countries in a depth and detail no one else provides. By contrast, the Voice of America concentrates on life in the United States."
 He said RFE/RL are regarded as virtually indigenous media by the struggling democratic forces within recipient nations.
 "When an RFE/RL broadcaster uses the pronoun `we,' he means `we Poles' or `we Russians.' When a VOA broadcaster says `we,' he means `we Americans.'"
 RFE/RL have more listeners in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union than the BBC, the Voice of America or any other international radio station.
 According to the region's democratic forces, the need for the Radios has only increased since the end of the Cold War. Leaders such as Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel and Russian Vice President Alexander Rutskoi have protested the proposed shutdown of RFE/RL, pointing out that their accurate and comprehensive information provides a much needed counterweight to weak domestic media organizations which are too often propaganda vehicles.
 Concerning the advisory group's recommendations to cancel the Israel transmitter station, BIB officials pointed out that the panel has no engineers and did no studies as to why volatile Kuwait would be a preferable site.
 BIB officials added that the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy is funded and housed by the United States Information Agency and over the years has served as a de facto public relations arm of the U.S. Information Agency. They said that during the course of this review of international broadcasting, no member of the advisory commission discussed broadcast issues with either the BIB or RFE/RL.
 Forbes also noted that the group's recommendations directly contradict two recent in-depth studies conducted by bipartisan commissions headed by former VOA Director John Hughes. Their recommendations also violate Clinton's campaign pledge to establish and house Radio Free Asia under the BIB. Because broadcasting controlled by State Department diplomats cannot have credibility in the receiving countries, the Hughes Commission strongly concluded that a Radio Free Asia must be independent of USIA.
 Forbes concluded: "It is astonishing that Mr. Korologos and his colleagues would unwittingly ally themselves with militarists, extreme nationalists, anti-Semites and other authoritarian forces in that part of the world who would also like to see RFE/RL off the air.
 "RFE/RL costs a pittance; it is non-violent; it is effective. Here we have an administration that is desperately searching for ways to bolster democratic forces in Russia and elsewhere. These Radios are regarded in that region as the soul of democracy. Why turn our backs on them now?"
 -0- 3/18/93
 /CONTACT: Gregory Garland of the Board for International Broadcasting, 202-254-8040/

CO: Board for International Broadcasting ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:

TW-KD -- DC020 -- 7599 03/18/93 15:57 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 18, 1993
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