Voice of America: Domestic Outlets Get Access to International Broadcasts

In a move that could provide some low-cost, high-quality
international news content to domestic cable and broadcast outlets, starting Tuesday
thousands of hours of international video and radio news content from the Voice
of America and Radio and TV Marti will become available for domestic
distribution for the first time.

Some of that content has been available on the Web, but not
in a high-resolution format suitable for framing in a TV picture. Now, thanks
to a change in law supported by the Broadcasting Board of Governors,
restrictions on domestic broadcast of that content will be lifted so that the
Voice of America can be a voice for America as well.

"News and information programs produced by BBG
journalists in 61 languages for people in more than 100 countries can also be
made available for broadcast within the United States," a BBG spokesperson
said. "Now we will be able to provide them with broadcast-quality audio
and video rather than referring them only to what's on the Web." That could
range from exclusive interviews to talk shows, documentaries and newscasts.

The move could be a boon to niche networks and broadcast
multicast channels targeting diverse populations. "Emigre communities --
many from areas in conflict -- will be able to access reliable news of their
home countries in their native languages," BBG says.

And the price is right. Because the content has already been
paid for with tax dollars, it will be available for reimbursable costs incurred
in making it available -- burning a DVD or changing a format -- although if
there is third-party content included that will have to be a separate

The target of the content is still other
countries that lack a free press, but the U.S. press that could use some free
content of their own in these tough economic times can now benefit, and the
American public "will be able to know what they are paying for with their
tax dollars," says BBG.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.