The Reagan administration, as part of its campaign to counter the spread of Soviet influence, plans to increase U.S. radio propaganda activities overseas, including additional broadcasts to Central Asian regions of the Soviet Union bordering on the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.
In contrast to the steep budget cuts the administration wants for most federal programs, the fiscal 1982 budget proposed by President Reagan Tuesday would boost grants to Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty from the $94.3 million recommened by the Carter administration to $98.3 million. At the same time, Reagan adopted for the Voice of America Carter's $188 million proposal for 1982, up from this year's $101.6 million.
Although these amounts are relatively small in the overall budget, administration sources said yesterday that the figures are a significant indicator of how the administration wants to use resources to shape U.S. foreign policy.
Specifically, the sources said, they represent a first step toward carrying out Reagan's campaign pledge "to communicate with the world" about the superiority of the American system over communism.
In that respect, the sources continued, overseas broadcasting activities are regarded by the administration as an effective and relatively cheap way of delivering this message.
According to the sources, the main burden fo this mission will go to the Board for International Broadcasting, a federal agency that has been responsible since 1974 for channeling operating funds to Radio Liberty, which broadcasts to the Soviet Nion, and RFE, whose broadcasts are aimed at the other countries in the East European communist bloc.
The sources said for the decision to increase their role rests peimarily with Richard Pipes and Carnes Lord of the National Security Council staff. With the backing of national security Council staff. With the backing of national security adviser Richard V. Allen, they argued during budetary decision-making that support for radio propaganda should be increased, not cut.
If Congress approves the increases, the sources added, the board's first emphasis will be on upgrading Radio Liberty's ability to broadcast to Central Asia and on hiring language and research experts to deal with that predominantly Moslem part of the Soviet Union.
The sources denied that broadcasts to that region will be aimed at inciting unrest.
The Soviet government is known to be concerned about stirrings there of the religious unrest that has affected such neighboring countries as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and U.S. broadcasts to that part of the Soviet Union are certain top be viewed in terms of tghe administration's determinnation to arrest what it sees as increasing Soviet influence in Southwest Asia.
The proposed VOA increases are in contrast to the administration's decision to cut back other activities of its parent organization, the International Communication Agency.
Since laws governing VOA operations specify it should be a comprehensive, worldwide disseminator of information, administration officials concede its potential use as on overt propaganda instrument in the EastWest conflict is more limited.
However, VOA still is regared by the administration as a valuable public relations tool for the United States, and 81 million of the proposed increase is for construction of facilities to increase its transmission range.
In addition, one of its new priorities will be to start broadcasts in the Azeri language to the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, which borders on Iran.