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FWD:Radio Free Asia broadcast to Bu

Subject: FWD:Radio Free Asia broadcast to Burma

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Date:         Sun, 19 Jan 1997 15:45:38 -0500
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Issue ID: 97/01/19  21:00 GMT                Compiled by Thubten [Sam] Samdup
                         Sunday, January 19, 1997

1. Radio Free Asia set to broadcast to Burma, Vietnam
    by Veronica Smith

    WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (AFP) - Radio Free Asia, the controversial new US
government-funded broadcasting service transmitting to China and Tibet, said
Friday it will add services to Burma and Vietnam next month.

    Richard Richter, president of the service, said the direct Burma
transmissions will begin February 3, featuring a half-hour format of breaking
news and more extended, magazine-style news reporting.

    On February 5, the service will begin "exactly the same scenario" of
programming for Vietnam.

    "The ideas is to come on before the beginning of the Tet, on the
seventh," he said in an interview. "It's a time of celebration and we'll horn
in on it."

    Richter said the Burma broadcasts will be heard between 7-8 a.m. and
9-10:30 p.m., while in Vietnam they will air between 5:30-6:30 a.m. and 9-10

    The service anticipates having three transmitters functioning each hour
to Burma, and four for Vietnam.

    The Voice of America probably will announce the frequencies so listeners
can tune in a day before the broadcasts begin, he said.

    Heading the Burmese service is So Thin, a former Burmese diplomat, he
said. Bich Nguyen, a scholar and writer on arts and public affairs, will
direct the Vietnam service.

    Radio Free Asia is technically a private corporation but is funded by
about 10 million dollars annually in federal government grants.

    Congress has charged Radio Free Asia with broadcasting news and
information in eight languages to Asia: Mandarin, Tibetan, Cantonese,
Burmese, Korean, Khmer, Laotian and Vietnamese.

    The first broadcasting, in Mandarin to China, began last September 30;
the Tibetan-language service was added on December 1.

    Beijing condemns the direct broadcasts to the mainland as US interference
in its internal affairs.

    Washington defends the service as a means of delivering news and
information to Asian countries where such information is controlled.

    Richter said there had been concerns about whether the signal was being
blocked in China, but monitoring studies indicated that the China service
"has been well heard since we've been on the air."

    "Each day the reception has been at a four level, which means good, and
sometimes it's been at five, which means excellent."

    Monitors for the Mandarin service are in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong,
while those for the Tibetan-language broadcasts are in Katmandu, Islamabad
and New Delhi.