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US Officials Defend Arabic-Language Radio Sawa - 2004-10-13

Officials of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors have strongly defended Arabic-language Radio Sawa against criticisms contained in a draft report by the State Department inspector general.

Board Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson and board member Norman Pattiz wrote employees Wednesday that Radio Sawa has achieved "some of the most important accomplishments in the history of international broadcasting." They said the two-year-old station has established "unprecedented credibility with Middle East audiences."

The draft report questioned the station's compliance with Voice of America charter mandates that U.S. policies be presented "clearly and effectively" in "responsible discussions."

Radio Sawa, unlike other Broadcasting Board of Governors programming, such as the Voice of America, uses broadcast music, more than news and discussion.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said he could not comment on what he described as a preliminary document that he said is being revised to reflect fears by some officials that the wrong criteria may have been used to judge the station.