Tag Archives: Broadcasting Board of Governors

“Shifting away from shortwave”: Significant reductions for BBG under FY 2018 budget

Edward R. Murrow Transmission Site near Greenville, North Carolina

(Source: BBG Press Release via Dan Robinson)

FY 2018 budget request reflects key BBG priorities amid spending constraints

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Broadcasting Board of Governors today released the FY 2018 budget request to support key U.S. foreign policy goals by providing news and information around the world while accommodating the current tight fiscal climate.

“As is true throughout the federal government, the budgetary environment requires that we prioritize our resources while emphasizing impact and maintaining the level of excellence our audiences have come to expect,” said CEO John F. Lansing. “Despite reductions in spending, we are committed to our mission, impacting the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world by providing accurate, unbiased, and uncensored news and information.”

The tight fiscal environment necessitates BBG to improve operational efficiencies and make difficult resource trade-offs to effectively meet performance goals and support U.S. foreign policy priorities.

The $685.1 million budget request includes transmission, program and staffing reductions across all BBG networks—the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks—and the International Broadcasting Bureau, including the Office of Technology, Services and Innovation. This includes reducing, and in some cases, eliminating certain language service capacities; shifting away from shortwave transmissions where they have the least impact; and optimizing information technology.

Although the funding request represents a 12.9 percent reduction from the FY 2017 enacted budget, it prioritizes funding for U.S. foreign policy goals, including combatting violent extremism, countering Russian disinformation, and enhancing programming for North Korean audiences. It also capitalizes on the momentum gained from the streamlining of operations in 2016 and the aggressive shift to digital already underway at each of the five networks.

The request includes $680.4 million for International Broadcasting Operations, including Federal and non-Federal networks, as well as $4.7 million for Broadcasting Capital Improvements.

The FY 2018 budget request contains proposals to continue the agency’s responsive shift to the most effective media platforms, respond readily to crises, keep pace with shifts in audience demographics and interests, and sharpen strategy and results measurement to drive performance.

BBG’s extensive network of seasoned, professional and well-connected journalists is particularly strong in regions where ISIS, Russia, Iran, China and other global actors that do not share American values are attempting to make further inroads.

“Should Congress enact this budget, there is no doubt that staff reductions would be difficult,” Lansing said. “We will do everything possible to minimize the effect on our employees by emphasizing attrition, early retirement opportunities, and agency buyouts for federal employees wherever possible. Our staff and journalists are the core of what drives our impact around the world. We will do everything we can to safeguard our greatest asset.”

Dan Robinson: “Voice of America has never been independent”

SWLing Post 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 in the Columbia Journalism Review titled Spare the indignation: Voice of America has never been independent“:

Spare the indignation: Voice of America has never been independent

I encourage you to read his full article and please direct your comments to the original post on the Columbia Journalism Review website.

NPR: VOA Chief On The Future Of The News Service

(Source: NPR)

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.

Click here for the full story at NPR.

Radio Free Europe receives offhand mention in Senate hearing on Russian Hacking

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:

Click here to view on YouTube.

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.”

About RFE/RL

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).

Washington Post: “A big change to U.S. broadcasting is coming”

View of the Capitol Building from the roof of the Voice of America on 330 Independence Ave., S.W.

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.[…]”

Click here to read the full editorial at The Washington Post online.

Also, Richard points out this article in BBG Watch which highlights comments from Dan Robinson.