Washington, D.C., June 25, 2009 - The Voice of America's (VOA) mission is providing accurate news and information to the people of Iran and the world, the agency's director said today, adding the free flow of information is a "fundamental human value."
Danforth W. Austin, in an interview with News Talk, a daily show aired on the VOA Persian News Network (PNN), told viewers in Iran VOA would continue giving them a full and balanced view of events inside their country and around the world.
"That is our promise to the people of Iran," Austin said. "The access to free and credible information is very important … Right now, the VOA is the only way many people in Iran can find out what is going on in their own country." He added the free flow of information "is a fundamental human value regardless of religion or background."
Austin denied Iran's allegations that international broadcasters, including VOA, worked to threaten the country's territorial integrity. "That's simply not true," he said.
VOA's specific mission is journalism, providing credible, trustworthy information that people can use to form their own opinions, Austin said. The U.S. Government-funded agency reports on those who support – and disagree – with U.S. policy, he added, explaining that VOA encourages debate and an open forum.
Moreover, Austin said VOA would be delighted to secure interviews with senior Iranian officials, as well as officials from the United States and other countries. "That’s good journalism," he said.
Austin's comments came amid a growing crackdown on international media in Iran, including efforts to jam VOA's satellite television signals. He said a "number of steps" are being taken to deal with the jamming.
VOA, with a TV and radio audience of nearly 30 percent of adults inside Iran, has played a major role in keeping Iranians informed during the tumultuous period since the June 12 presidential elections.
Since then, VOA http://www.voapnn.com/ has been flooded with videos, pictures, emails and telephone calls from inside Iran; added a daily breakfast show and a Special Report; created a dedicated Twitter account, and posted material on other sites, including YouTube www.youtube.com/user/PNNVideo ).