July 05, 2010 12:37
The U.S. Congress has passed a bill to renew the license for Radio Free Asia, a private, nonprofit radio station, on a permanent basis. RFA has brought news and information chiefly about North Korea to listeners in nine Asian countries where full, accurate, and timely news reports are unavailable.
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed the bill to delete a clause whereby RFA's license expires in September.
RFA began broadcasting in 1996 based on the International Broadcasting Act passed by Congress in 1994. It broadcasts programs on radio and the Internet in nine languages, including Korean, Burmese, and Vietnamese. The budget allocated for RFA was US$37 million in the fiscal year of 2010.
Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California, who introduced the bill, stressed the need to support RFA, saying that according to a survey of defectors, more than half of refugees who fled the North since 2006 regularly listened to foreign broadcasts. The annual upkeep for RFA is equivalent to the cost for the fuel cap of a single B-52 bomber, he added, but its effect is much more powerful.
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