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.

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

  1. Julio Cesar Pereira PY5WHO/PY51236SWL

    BTW, when I was in New York, I listened to NPR on FM and what a wonderful station it is!!!!

  2. Julio Cesar Pereira PY5WHO/PY51236SWL

    So sad! I’ve had VOA as a reliable source of information and good entertainment on shortwave for over 40 years! It has helped me learn and enjoy the English language firstly listening to news on ‘Special English’, later I developed admiration for US culture and history. BBC also has an important role in that matter. And I’m very thankful to these organizations, so much so I visited the US in 2012 and last year I went to BBC headquarters in London. Despite both stations ceased their Brazilian Service a long ago, I remained loyal. One of my favorite programs on shortwave is ‘Encounter’ hosted by Carol Castiel on 4930KHz 0300 UTC. I also like listening to VOA Africa. These winds of change already feel the US more distant everyday.

  3. TomL

    Most dumb Americans could care less about VOA and R. Liberty, they don’t know what they are and don’t listen to them. As I understand it, they are supposed to be extensions of the State Dept. and supposedly removed from some of the more extreme form of politics. This new law will put them right into that mix and probably will see slightly increased budgets to counter perceived propaganda threats from overseas – a la so-called (unproven) “russian” propaganda influencing elections, etc. Sad to say, VOA and R. Liberty will become just like the dumbed-down and slanted national media you see coming out of NYC (TV & NYTimes) and D.C. (Washington Post).

    It is time for Regional Radio to be established, perhaps using shortwave, to bypass the imposed limits and chokeholds of major city centers. Many, many people are disenfranchised by only hearing from one media source (with only one point-of-view) all controlled through one large city (nationally and regionally). Even AM BCB (mediumwave) is controlled by ONE city in an area. Shortwave could be used to leapfrog over that local control of media. The technology is available for it to happen!

  4. Tom Reitzel

    I’m convinced that 70% of the US Congress needs to be removed from office. Here, we have the “people’s” chamber transferring more of the people’s power to the executive branch again. Remember the War Powers Act, trade authority, etc? I’m sure the executive branch will love having its personal propaganda unit with little oversight from the US Congress. There’s only one solution to this madness. Axe the VoA, PBS, and NPR.

  5. Kire

    Well, all I can hope for is at least someone or someones to advocate strongly for shortwave, as it can cross the internet blockade that will (in my opinion) continue to: Restrict, ie. Google/China; Redirect, ie. by manipulating algorithms so that certain results in a search are buried beneath approved or paid for results; and of course allow surveillance by all sorts of govt and non-govt entities.

  6. Concerned SWL

    If this new position answers only to the whitehouse then the whitehouse will dictate what is said… This is truly frightening.


    Worrying ..!

    But sorry to say we’ve had a similar “re-view” of the BBC Charter here in the UK. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/mar/13/government-choose-bbc-board-john-whittingdale

    The proposal to scrap the BBC Trust was officially presented to Parliament as part of a Charter review white paper on 12 May 2016. The proposed new body to oversee the BBC’s Charter is to be OFCOM, the UK’s equivalent of the US FCC

    The UK Government proposes that the next Charter should be in place for 11 years, ie 1 January
    2017 to 31 December 2027.

    We all await the future of broadcasting as we know it.

  8. ShortwaveGuy

    I personally see this as a step backwards and an opportunity to politicize and interject partisan views into what was arguably America’s most nonpartisan media entity.

    This is only a win if you think having your “candidate” and his/her views in charge of the face of America….

    I honestly see this as something to mourn….


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