Employees at the Voice of America have declared a revolt against their parent organization, asking Congress to set them free of alleged interference by the U.S. Information Agency.
In a petition circulating through the VOA building yesterday, organizers protested the "degree to which USIA and its director, Bruce Gelb, have sought to control the Voice of America, down to the content and tone of what goes on the air."
The move was prompted by Gelb's decision last month to take over VOA's budget authority, its personnel and public affairs operations. Critics accused Gelb of failing to consult on the restructuring with the White House and the congressional committees that oversee his agency.
Sen. Jesse Helms (N.C.), the ranking Republican on the committee, has written Gelb to complain about the decision, said a congressional source who asked not to be identified. Helms said the restructuring reverses changes implemented in the early 1980s by the Reagan administration to allow VOA more freedom.
But USIA spokesman Charles Bell said the reorganization was meant to eliminate duplicate functions at USIA and VOA and to merge the government's foreign radio and TV operations. He said Congress and the administration had been consulted throughout the process.