John Lansing is the CEO of the governing body in charge of the government-funded Voice of America news service.
He talks with Steve Inskeep about the agency’s operations under the new administration.
Many thanks SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who writes:
[While passing by the TV at just the right time] I heard an interesting little 16 seconds of exchange in the Senate Russian Hacking hearings.
The exchange take place between Lindsey Graham and James Clapper from 1:57:40 to 1:58:24:
In this short exchange, which starts by Graham asking, “Would you agree with me that Radio Free Europe is outdated?” We learn that Clapper isn’t “familiar” with Radio Free Europe and both of them admit that they don’t listen to the radio (though Clapper believes it’s popular in some parts of the world).
Graham: “Is radio big in your world?”
Clapper: “Not in my world.”
Graham: “Yeah, I don’t listen to the radio so much either.”
Well…glad we sorted that out, gentlemen.
UPDATE — Kim Andrew Elliott comments:
That exchange might explain why the RFE/RL Press Room sent out this email on January 5…
Facts about Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
(WASHINGTON – January 5, 2017) RFE/RL serves a measured audience of 27 million people a week in 23 nations and territories by video, social networks, mobile apps, websites, podcasts and radio – whatever media they use most. From its Prague headquarters and 18 news bureaus, it provides local news and information in 26 languages to the nations of the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, including a round-the-clock Russian-language television channel.
Through last September, RFE/RL recorded one billion page views on its websites, 300 million views on YouTube and 225 million engaged users on Facebook, plus many more visits and views on other social networks and apps.
“RFE/RL’s audience is highly loyal, making their way to us despite efforts by some governments to jam us on the internet and over the air, and even to directly intimidate viewers and listeners,” said Thomas Kent, president and CEO of RFE/RL. “They find us an indispensable source of news and investigative journalism, constantly adapting to the most modern platforms to reach them.”
RFE/RL is a private, independent international news organization whose programs — radio, internet, television, and mobile — reach 27 million people in 26 languages and 23 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus, and the Baltic states. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares this editorial from the The Washington Post:”
“FOR YEARS, members of Congress have fumed about what they regard as ineffective U.S. public diplomacy, including the failure of broadcasting operations such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to match the reach and apparent influence of networks such as Russia’s RT and Qatar’s al Jazeera. A frequent and arguably fair focus of criticism has been the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the body created to supervise government-funded media outlets while serving as a firewall between them and the political administration of the day.
A radical change to that system is now coming — and it looks like one that Vladimir Putin and Qatar’s emir might well admire. An amendment quietly inserted into the annual National Defense Authorization Act by Republican House leaders would abolish the broadcasting board and place VOA, RFE/RL and other international news and information operations under the direct control of a chief executive appointed by the president. The new executive would hire and fire senior media personnel and manage their budgets.
[…]The point of board governance was to prevent direct political interference in programming by the White House, State Department or other agencies. It was a guarantee that for decades has helped to attract journalistic talent to the broadcasting organizations, as well as listeners seeking reliable information. The board of governors had serious problems: Its members served part time, and not all took their duties seriously. But the system’s biggest flaw was remedied three years ago with the creation of a chief executive position.
The new reform, driven by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.), enhances that executive’s power and makes him answerable to the White House rather than the bipartisan board. A new advisory panel will be created, but it will be toothless: Its members will also be nominated by the president from a pool provided by Congress.[…]”
Also, Richard points out this article in BBG Watch which highlights comments from Dan Robinson.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Dan Robinson--former White House, Congressional and foreign correspondent for the Voice of America–who alerts us to a major development at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
Note that the BBG supervises the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio y Television Marti, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.
House Rules Committee approves conference report containing reform of U.S. international media management structure
[T]he BBG met today [November 30, 2016] and were trying to put a positive spin on this, but this development essentially lays the groundwork for the elimination of BBG completely, though a first stage would have remaining governors on the board serve in the first iteration of a new International Broadcasting Advisory Board (IBAB).
Also, and importantly — Congress is going ahead with a proposal to create a Global Engagement Center that would have as its main purpose, countering foreign misinformation and disinformation.
A link to the actual language in the House Committee on Rules conference report to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is below:
[Y]ou can read the actual language, beginning on Page 1396 for the Global Engagement Center and then right after, on Page 1404, on the BBG.
[Again], pages 1404 – 1421 in the conference report details making the BBG advisory and therefore putting it out of the direct decision making path and likely reducing its power, influence and impact.
The remaining BBG members would be allowed to serve out terms, constituting the first “International Broadcasting Advisory Board,” modifying the U.S. international broadcasting act with powers focused in hands of CEO, and creating a Global Engagement Center (see Pg 1396 before section on BBG) to counter foreign misinformation and disinformation…there is no specific mention of VOA in the conference report to the 2017 NDAA
‘‘SEC. 306. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL
13 BROADCASTING ADVISORY BOARD.
14 ‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in subsection
15 (b)(2), the International Broadcasting Advisory Board
16 (referred to in this section as the ‘Advisory Board’) shall
17 consist of five members, including the Secretary of State,
18 appointed by the President and in accordance with sub-
19 section (d), to advise the Chief Executive Officer of the
20 Broadcasting Board of Governors, as appropriate.
Global Engagement Centeer: PURPOSE.—The purpose of the Center shall
2 be to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the
3 Federal Government to recognize, understand, ex-
4 pose, and counter foreign state and non-state propa-
5 ganda and disinformation efforts aimed at under-
6 mining United States national security interests.
see video here:
SWLing Post readers are likely aware that contributor, Dan Robinson, is the former White House, Congressional and foreign correspondent for the Voice of America.
I’ve just learned that Dan has authored a piece questioning the viability of the BBG as the US presidential transition take place.
Dan’s commentary titled “What’s A President-elect To Do . . . With the BBG?“ appears on the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy site:
I encourage you to read his full article and please direct your comments to the original post on the Center on Public Diplomacy website.