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9 J. Radio Stud. 317 (2002)
Are They Still Listening - Reconceptualizing the Chinese Audience of the Voice of America in the Cyber Era

handle is hein.journals/jradstud9 and id is 333 raw text is: Are They Still Listening?
Reconceptualizing the Chinese Audience of the
Voice of America in the Cyber Era
Lena Liqing Zhang
The Voice of America now faces a significant challenge in China-its
top priority territory: VOA listenership has dramatically declined in
recent years. This study employed 51 face-to-face field interviews to
investigate the role the Internet has played in the declining
listenership in China for Western shortwave radio broadcasts like the
VOA. Findings suggest that the Internet has become a functionally
primary information source for the VOA target audience in China. The
growth of the Internet has led to a new pattern of media
consumption, in which the audience's demands and preferences for
information are better addressed. The continuing evolution of media
liberalization and globalization in China forced by the Internet has
also reduced the audience's demand for foreign media. The perceived
image of the VOA as a Western value purveyor is challenging its role
in the cyber era.
INTRODUCTION
Previous studies of international radio broadcasting indicated that
Western shortwave radio services, including the Voice of America
(VOA), reached a sizeable audience group in China and had a significant
influence on this target audience (Zhang & Dominick, 1996). This study
provided support for a basic assumption that people in isolated societ-
ies such as China seek out information from external sources to get a
complete picture of the entire world, including China itself, which they
cannot get from purely internal sources due to various political and
nonpolitical reasons. However, according to recent audience surveys
sponsored by the International Broadcasting Bureau, there has been a
significant and consistent decline in listening to the VOA in particular
Lena Liqing Zhang (Ph.D., University of Georgia, 1996) is an Assistant Profes-
sor of Communication at San Francisco State University. Her primary re-
search interests are intercultural communication and new media.

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