On the Radio

By Sebastian Sprenger / May 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

House lawmakers want to make sure local extremists aren't the only radio jockeys to be heard in the Taliban-infested border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee plan to beef up the programming of Voice of America's Radio Deewa and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in the area with $10.9 million, according to a panel report on the latest fiscal year 2009 supplemental spending bill.

The committee understands that research shows that radio is a dominant medium for news in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and that, with the exception of ((VOA's Radio Deewa)) and a few other international broadcasters, much of the radio broadcasting to this region is done by extremists.

The funds should be used to expand Radio Deewa's daily programming from six to nine hours, according to the report. In addition, lawmakers are eying a new six-hour program stream for RFE/RL, dubbed "Azadi Deewa," the report states. "Funds may also be used to establish capacity to send headlines and breaking news to listeners via mobile phones and to enhance security for RFE/RL's Kabul bureau," it adds.