Baltic broadcasts suffer another setback

Hope for saving Radio Free Europe and Voice of America broadcasts in Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian dimmed July 16 when the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives failed to restore funding for the services.

Baltic-American supporters had looked to the committee to add USD 8.9 million back into the fiscal 2004 budget proposed by the Bush Administration for the State Department. The department includes the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency that oversees American broadcasts to audiences abroad.

The administration’s proposed budget eliminates funding for RFE and VOA broadcasts to Eastern Europe, shifting the money to services aimed at listeners in the Middle East.

In its review of the budget, the Appropriations Committee supported the Bush Administration’s request for international broadcasting, a total of USD 564 million.

If the full House of Representatives approves the State Department budget as it stands now, and if the Senate does the same, the Latvian broadcasts would end come October.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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