Broadcasting Board of Governors Gets More Funding from Bush Administration

Overseer of VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Gets 2.6% Budget Hike

While the Bush administration proposed cutting funding to public broadcasting in the United States by more than half, it increased the budget for broadcasting to the Middle East and elsewhere.

According to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees government-supported nonmilitary broadcasts --VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, for example -- it was given a 2.6% increase in its budget to $699.5 million.

Much of the new focus will be on building out its Web presence, the BBG said, in part to help circumvent jamming of its broadcasts.

The broadcasts continuing to get funding in the name of "combating global extremism" include broadcasts to Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere in the Middle East, as well as Somalia and North Korea.

BBG said its weekly audience is about 155 million people, one-fifth of which are Arabic speakers.