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GOP's Voice of America reform push sparks propaganda fears

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VOAThe House is moving to overhaul the handful of taxpayer-funded media organizations, but critics say the changes would turn the Voice of America into a tool for pro-western propaganda.

Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed a bill to make “dramatic reforms” to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the government-backed outlets.

“U.S. broadcasters are competing with a hand tied behind their back,” Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said after the bill passed the committee.

One of the highest profile changes in the new bill is an explicit statement that news at the Voice of America, the U.S.’s flagship foreign broadcaster, “is consistent with and promotes the broad foreign policies of the United States.”

Lawmakers said that U.S. organizations operate at a disadvantage and need leeway to promote and explain American policies, as other state-funded broadcasters do.

But the legislation has raised concerns the outlet could turn into a propaganda machine.

The Kremlin-funded Russia Today, which is itself the subject of criticism for its Moscow-friendly stance, wrote that the new bill calls “into question how much editorial independence Voice of America (VOA) will have left.”

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