Tag Archives: BBG Watch

BBG Watch: VOA coverage of H.R.4490 “lacks balance”

VOA-Screen-Shot-2014-07-28-at-9.53PM-EDT(Source: BBG Watch)

“It took Voice of America a few hours to post a report, which includes quotes by two outside opponents of the bill: former VOA deputy director Alan Heil and Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire, but has no quotes from any outside supporters of the bill, including human rights NGOs, U.S. community leaders, and former Voice of America journalists who wrote a letter to President Obama in support of the legislation.

So much for balance in Voice of America news reporting as required by the VOA Charter.

For an alternative view, see BBG Watch report and commentary on the House passage of H.R. 4490, called the U.S. International Communications Reform Act of 2014.

If VOA English News quotes non-congressional critics of the bipartisan bill — there was no criticism of the bipartisan bill voiced today in Congress since it is widely supported as essential for saving Voice of America from mismanagement — VOA English News should have also quoted non-congressional supporters of the bill.”

Continue reading…

Hat tip to SWLing Post reader, Dan for sharing this post.

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An open letter to the BBG

voa logoMany thanks to Keith Perron who shares his open letter to the Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman, Jeff Shell.

Keith’s letter focuses on the importance of shortwave radio from the perspective of a broadcaster and of someone who has traveled to remote areas in Asia.

BBG Watch published Keith’s letter yesterday and featured it on their website.

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Russian “clamps down” on US media, US to increase funding for RFE/VOA

Photo of Kremlin: ??????? ?. (Julmin) (retouched by Surendil) via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Kremlin: (Julmin) (retouched by Surendil) via Wikimedia Commons

This morning, I noticed the following press release from the US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG):

Russia Clamps Down Further On U.S. International Media

The Broadcasting Board of Governors has condemned a recent decision by Russian authorities to cut off all remaining radio transmissions by U.S. international media in Russia.

In a one-sentence letter dated March 21, Dmitry Kiselev, the director of the information agency Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), stated that “we are not going to cooperate” with the BBG’s request to continue a long-standing contract for broadcasting on Russian soil. Effective at the end of March, this decision removes the last vestige of Voice of America programming – including news in Russian and English-language lessons – from a local frequency in Moscow (810 AM).

“Moscow has chosen to do the wrong thing and restrict free speech,” said BBG Chairman Jeff Shell. “This is a fundamental value shared by many countries around the world. The BBG will continue to reach audiences in Russia through digital platforms and via satellite transmissions.”

Distribution of VOA and RFE/RL programming in Russia reached a high point in 2005, when VOA Russian programming was distributed on a nationwide television network and both VOA and RFE/RL had extensive partnerships with domestic Russian radio stations. But starting in that year, the Russian government turned greater attention to these stations and asked them all to re-apply for their licenses. And beginning in 2006, by denying the licenses of the stations that re-applied and intimidating the others, Russian authorities systematically eliminated domestic radio distribution of BBG-supported programs and almost all television distribution. In 2012, Russian authorities forced RFE/RL off its last remaining domestic radio outlet, an AM frequency in Moscow.

“We urge Mr. Kiselev and other Russian authorities to open Russian airwaves to more of our programs and those of other international broadcasters,” Shell added. “We’re asking for an even playing field: As Moscow’s media crackdown deepens, Russian media – including Russia Today television, which is under Mr. Kiselev’s authority – enjoy open access to the airwaves in the United States and around the world. The Russian people deserve the same freedom to access information.”

Kiselev, known for his strident anti-Western and homophobic views on Russian state television, was appointed in December 2013 to lead Russia Today. At the same time the Voice of Russia and the RIA Novosti news agency were merged into Russia Today.

The move also comes amid a fast-moving campaign to target opposition and independent media. Lists of “traitors” have been circulating in Moscow, and pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov recently added RFE/RL’s Russian Service, Radio Liberty to his “list of traitors” on Facebook. In the same vein, politonline.ru, a part of the Pravda.ru media holding, has created Russia’s first top-20 list of the most “anti-Russian” news outlets. This list, which places Radio Liberty sixth, is being shared by influential Russian political advisors such as Alexander Dugin, who wrote on his Facebook page that “this is the order in which Russia’s most contemptible media outlets will be closed or blocked.”

Russians are increasingly turning to the Internet and social media for their news. VOA’s digital strategy incorporates content across platforms. In addition to live interactives with domestic television channels, such as Russian Business Channel, VOA’s web-TV show, Podelis, allows users to connect and engage with the content in real time using social media. Podelis, which means “share” in Russian, provides a unique opportunity to engage in discussions about current events, Russian politics and U.S.-Russia relations. VOA’s social media following in Russia has grown significantly and visits to VOA’s website have doubled every year since 2008.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian Service provides 24 hours of radio programming via the Internet and satellite, a website that was visited more than 6.5 million times in March, and a strong presence on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. RFE/RL has started a multi-hour, daily video stream for Russia consisting of coverage of the most important events with reactions from Russian citizens as well as opinions from the West. The stream also includes live roundtable ?discussions and expert interviews on Russia.

On Wednesday, BBG Watch posted an article with details about new legislation that would increase funding for Russian, Ukrainian and Tartar language services to “counter the propaganda that is supported by Russia.”

Here’s a quote from a press release in their article:

“S. 2183 is international broadcasting legislation originally authored by Chairman [Ed] Royce (and included as Section 103 of the Ukraine Support Act (H.R. 4278) that the House passed last week). The legislation authorizes increased funding for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America to enable them to expand their broadcasting in Russian, Ukrainian, and Tatar. This legislation requires the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to counter the propaganda that is supported by Russia and increase the number of reporters in eastern Ukraine. In addition, this legislation recognizes the threat to free media that neighboring states are under and bolsters the Balkan and Moldovan language services.”

Is it me, or is this starting to feel like the Cold War again?

I think the BBG would be wise to take a close look at the VOA Radiogram. In this case, the target audience is highly computer literate and could easily decode VOA transmissions with a simple shortwave radio and free, open-source software.

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VOA White House Correspondent Dan Robinson Retires

DanRobinson-WhiteHouse

Noted Voice of America reporter, Dan Robinson, retired on Friday, February 28, 2014 after 35 years of service to the international broadcaster and listeners around the world. Many of us are fortunate to know Dan: not only is he highly respected as a correspondent, but he is also an avid shortwave listener and DXer.

Dan Robinson with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Dan Robinson with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Amongst other news source, Dan’s early retirement was noted by BBG Watch and The Federalist. BBG Watch stated:

“[Dan Robinson], as other VOA reporters before him, apparently decided they could no longer tolerate mismanagement and poor work environment.”

Former members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Ambassador Victor Ashe and Ms. Blanquita Cullum, noted his retirement as “a loss” to the agency.

I encourage you to read the full report on BBG Watch.

I’ve just learned that Dan Robinson will be the keynote speaker at the Winter SWL Fest this week.

Best wishes moving forward, Dan! I know you’ll continue to have meaningful impact through your future ventures.

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BBG Watch: Ashe seeks comments on U.S. international broadcasting

This is a great opportunity to communicate directly with a BBG member who wants your input regarding upcoming changes to US international broadcasting:

(Source: BBG Watch)

Often referred to as a senior Republican member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Ambassador Victor Ashe has invited the public, including BBG employees and contractors, to send comments to his personal email address, Send an e-mail to BBG member Victor Ashe, on the controversial plan to merge BBG-managed Radio Free Asia (RFA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) into a single administrative unit.

Ashe has become a champion of transparency and raising employee morale at the federal agency which oversees U.S. international broadcasting. He is one of nine members serving on the bipartisan Board. In the absence of Michael Lynton, the BBG’s interim presiding governor, the meeting in Miami was presided over by Governor Dennis Mulhaupt. Governor Dana Perino was also absent. Both Lynton and Perino have a poor attendance record at BBG meetings. Lynton is a Democrat. Mulhaupt and Perino are Republicans.

While the open meeting of the Board on Friday at the headquarters of Radio and TV Marti in Miami, Florida, was chaired by Governor Mulhaupt, Governors Victor Ashe and Michael Meehan clearly dominated the discussion. On-demand video and audio from the meeting is available on the BBG official website.

Ashe called attention to a number of unresolved issues in the proposal to merge the publicly funded surrogate broadcasters who get their grants from Congress through the BBG. He expressed concerns about the lack of information on the selection and the authority of the CEO for the new merged entity. Ashe warned that rushing to implement the plan in its current form may damage U.S. international broadcasting and said that he would oppose the idea of selecting a CEO for the proposed entity as early as next month.

[…]Ashe also announced that Edward R. Murrow’s only son, Charles Casey Murrow, will participate in the the rededication ceremony at the BBG Edward R. Murrow Transmitting Station in Greenville, North Carolina, in honor of the renowned broadcaster and director of the USIA (1961-1964) and in recognition of World Press Freedom Day. Ashe and Congressman Walter Jones (R – NC) also plan to attend the event. The BBG and IBB executive staff wanted to close down the facility, but Ashe insisted that the only remaining shortwave transmitting station on U.S. territory remain open.

During the meeting in Miami, BBG governors also stressed the importance of U.S. broadcasting to Latin America, but it is not clear what they plan to do about their FY 2013 budget proposal to eliminate several positions in the Voice of America Spanish Service. There was no mention at the open meeting about the FY 2013 budget proposal to eliminate dozens of VOA newsroom and English broadcasting positions and cuts and reductions in other VOA programs, including VOA Georgian, Turkish, and Greek broadcasts.

Read the full article at the BBG Watch website.

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