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Voice of America Marks 65th Anniversary


The Voice of America is marking its 65th anniversary Saturday, amid plans to expand news coverage to the Middle East, North Korea and Latin America.

The U.S. government-funded agency that oversees VOA, the Broadcast Board of Governors, says its proposed 2007 budget of nearly $700 million is targeted at some of the world's more troubled regions.

The plans call for increased spending in television broadcasts to Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also calls for expanding Spanish-language programming to Venezuela and funds new broadcasts from VOA and Radio Free Asia to North Korea.

The increased coverage, however, comes amid plans to cancel radio broadcasts in several languages, including VOA's flagship English broadcast News Now.

The controversial decision to cancel English radio broadcasts comes as Russia, China and the Arabic television network al-Jazeera are expanding their television and internet programming in English.

Earlier this month, the Broadcast Board of Governors said the budget reflects the agency's commitment to English programming because the focus will be on expanding its news coverage through the internet and its Special English programming.

VOA first broadcast on shortwave to Nazi Germany February 24, 1942, just weeks after the United States entered World War Two. In that broadcast, news announcer William Harlan Hale told listeners, "The news may be good. The news may be bad. We shall tell you the truth."

VOA Director Dan Austin says although the technology of broadcasting may have changed in the intervening years, the Voice of America's adherence to its core mission remains the same. He says the agency will continue to honestly and accurately report the news.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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