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American Broadcasters Asked To Contribute To VOA Programs

July 9, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Voice of America is asking broadcasters in the United States to contribute material to help in a ″fight for ratings″ for VOA’s first regular broadcasts directed to Western Europe in more than a quarter of a century.

In a letter sent to approximately 500 radio members of the Radio-TV News Directors Association, the government-funded VOA said it will try to reach an audience ″hungry for information about American institutions, personalities and lifestyles.″

″The European audience we hope to reach suffers from many misunderstandings about America, they are eager to learn more about this country,″ the instructions note.

The unsigned letter said the news, information, feature and entertainment programming format is being developed after extensive market research. An explanation attached said VOA ″must compete for listeners’ time and attention much the same way American commercial broadcasters fight for ratings.″

VOA programs beamed to other parts of the world can be heard in Western Europe, but VOA has not developed special programs for that part of the world since 1955, when they were discontinued for budgetary reasons, according to Rogene Waite, a press aide for the agency.

She said the Western European programming is ″basically in an exploratory stage.″

Dave Bartlett, one of those at VOA working on the plans, said, ″We would like to have something on the air this fall,″ but he emphasized that final details of the project have not been approved.

The proposal came out of VOA’s growing efforts to reach the so-called ″successor generation″ overseas, which Ms. Waite described as ″the group of people in Europe that did not live through World War II and do not have the ties to the United States that their parents have.″

The new service would have a small permanent staff and depend heavily on freelance contributors who would get $50 or more for reports lasting 3-5 minutes, preferably in stereo. The reports eventually might be translated into other languages, but Ms. Waite said she did not believe the languages had been selected.

Gene Pell, the director of VOA, was away on a planning retreat and was not available to give further details of the new service.

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