- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It is unfortunate that The Washington Times, in a Page One story by Nicholas Kralev (“Bias found in VOA broadcasts to Iran,” April 14), chose to quote selectively from and distort the findings of a report by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General that, overall, lauded the Voice of America’s Persian News Network.

“VOA successfully built PNN into its first full-fledged network in an extraordinarily short period of time,” the report says. “Given the U.S. strategic interest in communicating with Iranians, PNN represents a major achievement in setting up a network that reaches approximately 29 percent of Iranians in Iran.”

PNN is the most successful international broadcaster in Iran and reaches more than 13 million people weekly in a country with no press freedom. It is “performing a vital function,” according to the report. “It is the only platform from which the U.S. Government can reach an Iranian audience with unbiased news and information about U.S. foreign policy and American life.”

Like many start-ups, PNN has experienced some organizational challenges since its launch as a network in 2007. However, VOA has embraced the report’s recommendations and already has instituted many of them. Reaching Iranians by satellite television, radio and the Internet, VOA’s PNN is an unqualified success for the American taxpayer.

DANFORTH AUSTIN

Director

Voice of America

Washington

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