The proposed fiscal year 2008 budget for U.S. international broadcasting calls for an overall increase of 3.8% from the anticipated fiscal year 2007 level that strengthens targeted programming to provide essential access to news and information to critical audiences, according to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
The budget proposal is also aimed at increasing overall audience reach around the world by utilizing the latest technology and strengthening transmission capability.
Of the Broadcasting Board of Governors` (BBG) $668.2 million request, $142.4 million is allocated for programming to the Near East, South, Central Asia and Eurasia, $116 million for Arabic language programming, $67.2 million for East Asia, $45 million for Latin America and $13.6 million for Africa.
The proposal includes enhancements the agency believes are pivotal to promoting freedom and democracy and enhancing understanding in key regions. They include:
 Establishing a 10-hour coordinated stream of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) daily programming to North Korea.
 Launching a daily three-hour live Alhurra television program produced and broadcast from the Middle East.
 Continuing VOA`s Somali Service`s 30 minute daily radio broadcast scheduled to launch February 12, 2007, to the millions of Somali speakers in Somalia, Djibouti and the greater Horn of Africa.
 Improving Radio and TV Martí`s reach into Cuba through additional transmission capability and enhancing the production of the programming. VOA programming to Cuba would be increased to 7 days a week.
The budget also fully funds initiatives begun in FY 2006 to critical Muslim audiences. These include the expansion of VOA television to Iran to a 12 hour stream, VOA Pashto radio programming to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region, television programs to Afghanistan and Pakistan and Alhurra Europe, the 24/7 service to Arabic speakers in Europe.
To fund these initiatives and mandatory cost increases, the request proposes the following savings: elimination of VOA and RFA broadcasts in Cantonese as well as VOA Uzbek.
Reductions to the following:
 Ukrainian broadcasts by both VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL);
 Tibetan broadcasts by VOA and RFA;
 VOA Portuguese to Africa; and
 broadcasts in Romanian, South Slavic and Kazakh by RFE/RL.
Other savings will come from reductions in support services.
The FY 2008 request also includes several enhancements and reductions requested in FY 2007. These include funds to increase Alhurra`s live news capacity to 24 hours a day; expansion of VOA Spanish language programming to Venezuela; additional transmission capabilities for RFE/RL Russian and RFA Korean broadcasts and increased funding for employee training and award programs.
Proposed reductions for FY 2007 included in the FY 2008 request include eliminating VOA broadcasts in Croatian, Greek, Georgian and Thai as well as RFE/RL broadcasts in Macedonian.
The request includes eliminating VOA radio broadcasts but continuing television programming in the following languages: Serbian, Albanian, Bosnian, Macedonian, Hindi and Russian.
The proposal also calls for discontinuing 14 hours a day of VOA NewsNow English broadcasts while maintaining VOA`s English to Africa and Special English services and continuing to strengthen VOA English on the Internet.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported, non-military international broadcasting, including The Voice of America (VOA); Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa); Radio Free Asia (RFA); and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí).
Through its broadcast services, the BBG provides the United States and its leaders direct and immediate access to a worldwide audience of 140 million people. Current governors are Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Joaquin F. Blaya, Blanquita W. Cullum, D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, Edward E. Kaufman, Steven J. Simmons, and Mark McKinnon. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice serves as an ex officio member.
This news was monitored by the Action Ukraine Monitoring Service for the Action Ukraine Report (AUR), Morgan Williams, SigmaBleyzer, Editor.