VOA is More Successful than Radio Farda
چرا صدای آمریکا موفق تر از رادیو فردا است
It may be very surprising that generally Radio Farda has had better management than VOA in the last ten years and the staff at Radio Farda are more dedicated to their jobs and put more efforts and this can be seen from the web reports of Radio Farda but VOA has a lot more audience than Radio Farda. One may say it is because the VOA brand has had a longer history but that is not all. Radio Farda is from the RFE/RL origin that was started by CIA. In the Soviet Union, that reality by itself could boost the number of people liking a station whereas for Iran, that is a damper. Not only the 1953 Coup against Mossadegh in Iran has created a bad image of CIA among Iranians which even Shah's son distances himself from it, even the BBC to this day has a bad reputation because of cooperating with the CIA coup at that time. VOA does not have such an image among Iranians. Iranians do not trust many news sources inside Iran either because of the same reason, i.e. for being controlled by intelligence authorities.
Basically people in Iran do not first go to VOA for the quality of its programs. They choose VOA because they want to know what the US thinks about different issues in a nutshell. That is why VOA news items were very short to the point in the past but recently VOA Persian is posting long news reports which are ignored by the readers (that is not the main topic here in this discussion). People think of VOA news as objective news whereas thinking that Radio Farda has had CIA background, they think of it as a covert activity and not an objective news source and ignore it, although in reality a lot of their reports are very balanced and are thoroughly investigated. The image of covert operations hurts not only Radio Farda, even some attempts by Israel trying to misuse VOA Persian as a front has hurt the VOA's image in Iran, the same way Radio Israel was always unsuccessful (1).
I am not saying the Radio Farda's programming is like Radio Israel. In fact, although it started as part of RFE/RL group of CIA originated broadcasts such as Radio Marti for Cuba, but in practice, Radio Farda has been moslty a moderate voice and not been the mouthpiece of a neocon hawkish approach and has been mostly supportive of Islamic Reformists, nonetheless the image they have, especially being broadcasted from Prague, gives them that CIA looks of some covert operations overseas like the extrajudicial CIA activities in Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and other Eastern European areas in the post-911 era. In contrast, VOA being broadcasted from Washington, DC is seen as being more balanced.
It is interesting that France which has increased its broadcasts worldwide in the last few years, emphasizes broadcasting from Paris. Even the Chinese CCTV English tries to say it is broadcasting from DC. It is suprising that US is not doing that by consolidaing all broadcasting in Washington DC. Maybe it is cheaper to run business from Prague but it is like selling perfumes, people buy Parisian perfumes even when it costs more. The reality is that in a place like Prague, it is easy to sway the balance to one direction but it is not so easily doable to make one sided control of news in DC no matter how hard the various lobby groups try (2).
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
June 20, 2015
1. Dagan, VOA and Israel's Objectives
دگان، صدای آمریکا و اهداف اسراییل
2.Transparency: Iran News and Lobby Groups in Washington, DC
شفافیت: خبر ایران و گروه های لابی در واشنگتن