Sen. Campbell's letter in support of Radio Liberty and Voice of America

Following is the full text of a letter sent to the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, regarding proposed cuts to Voice of America and Radio Liberty. The letter is dated July 22.

Mr. Kenneth Y. Tomlinson
Broadcasting Board of Governors
330 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20237

Dear Mr. Tomlinson:

I am writing to express my concern about the Broadcasting Board of Governors' decision to significantly reduce resources for Radio Liberty's Ukrainian service and the Voice of America's Ukrainian service for Fiscal Year 2004. This decision will have an adverse affect on the ability of the U.S. to objectively and independently impart information to the people of Ukraine at an especially vulnerable time.

Just last month, I delivered a statement in the United States Senate on the troubled media environment in Ukraine, where I discussed in detail the country's continued lack of compliance with international human rights standards, including OSCE commitments, on freedom of expression. Due to censorship and control of the media - especially the electronic media - by pro-presidential interests, the role of Voice of America and Radio Liberty has become all the more essential in providing Ukrainians with balanced and comprehensive information about opposition politicians and their policies, as well as serious problems such as corruption, persecution of journalists, arms proliferation, U.S. strategic interest, trafficking in human beings, AIDS and many other important issues.

Ukraine - which now stands at the crossroad between democracy and authoritarianism - is scheduled to have pivotal presidential elections next year, the results of which will determine Ukraine's future for years to come. Ukraine's poor track record on media objectivity in recent elections should not be understated. Democratic opposition leaders legitimately fear that their access to the media will be severely constricted in the run-up to the presidential elections. There are already troubling indications confirming these concerns. With the media in Ukraine under assault and poised to work against opposition candidates in the critically important upcoming elections, it would be foolhardy to cut programming or otherwise scale back resources for the Ukrainian services Voice of America and Radio Liberty.

These stations are heard by millions of Ukrainians on a regular basis and are respected as a sources of independent, objective news, covering U.S.-Ukrainian relations, U.S. foreign policy, American institutions and society, as well as the internal political, economic and social situation in Ukraine. As such, they are an integral component of the U.S. foreign policy goal to help ensure Ukraine's transition to a secure, democratic, market-oriented member of the Euro-Atlantic community.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell
U.S. Senate

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 3, 2003, No. 31, Vol. LXXI

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