Tag Archives: BBG

BBG sets five-year goals

(Source: Radio World via Richard Langley)

BBG Sets Itself a Series of Five-Year Goals

Agency points to security, need to keep pace with changing media landscape

The Broadcasting Board of Governors has a definite goal for the next five years — advance America’s national interests, work in tandem with the current administration’s national security strategies, and keep its networks up to speed with the way the media landscape has changed.

The board, known widely as BBG, recently released its 2018–2022 Strategic Plan titled “Information Matters: Impact and Agility in U.S. International Media.” The plan was presented to the board during the group’s March board meeting in Washington.

“This plan is a comprehensive roadmap for moving the agency forward in the next five years, including significantly increasing our audience reach,” said BBG Chief Executive Officer and Director John F. Lansing.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

BBG budget includes plans for shortwave

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley who shares the following item from Kim Elliott. Note that this news is dated February 22, 2018 (yes, it was lost in my drafts folder!):

Broadcasting Board of Governors budget request includes plans for shortwave

Kim Andrew Elliott
22 February 2018

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, consisting of VOA, RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Martí, Radio Sawa and Alhurra, is slated for a $24 million budget reduction in fiscal year (FY)

Of course, Congress will review and probably will modify the President’s budget request for BBG and other agencies.

Here are excerpts from the budget request pertaining to shortwave:

“TSI [Technology, Services and Innovation, i.e. BBG engineering] continues to move the BBG from traditional broadcasting technologies, such as cross-border radio transmissions shortwave (SW) and medium wave (MW serving regions where these platforms are no longer popular, to other delivery systems that are rapidly growing in effectiveness and are less expensive to operate (e.g., FM radio, DTH satellite, internet streaming, mobile, and social media). …

“As part of its multi-year global network realignment, TSI will continue to focus efforts on upgrading its shortwave capacity at the Kuwait Transmitting Station, even as use of SW decreases. With superior strategic location and extremely low operating costs, this station will be able to serve the overwhelming majority of legacy SW audiences in the most cost-effective manner possible, at a fraction of the cost of other BBG operated site or expensive leased capacity. …

“Over the years, the use of shortwave (SW) radio has declined globally. TSI has responded by consolidating broadcasts to more cost-effective transmitting stations and reducing or even eliminating SW where it is no longer relevant. In markets where SW does still retain a sizable, valuable audience, TSI is committed to making SW service available in the most cost-effective way possible. To meet this need, TSI has been upgrading the Kuwait Transmitting Station (KTS), which enjoys a superior strategic location and extremely low operating costs. In FY 2017 TSI continued to expand that facility, and in FY 2018 TSI will procure and install new antennas. In FY 2019, TSI is committed to investing in the KTS expansion further, utilizing whatever resources may be available, in order to realize longer-term savings. Ultimately, the BBG’s goal is to be able to serve most legacy SW audiences from this one site, at a fraction of the cost of all the other transmitting stations, so that other, more expensive sites may be scaled back or closed.

Philippines relay will close

“In FY 2017, TSI completed the closure of the station in Sri Lanka and in FY 2018 will close the BBG facility in Poro, Philippines. TSI’s systematic and thorough review of all transmission leases will continue in FY 2019, identifying further opportunities for savings. In the years between 2010 and 2016, total costs associated with Cross Border Radio (SW and MW ) have declined by over $25 million (34.5%), and we expect this decrease to continue as we respond to market needs and as the Administration and Congress authorize us to shutter less effective legacy facilities …

“[I]n China, including Tibet, TSI will continue to provide satellite TV and radio service via Telstar 18, the most popular satellite in China, for only a fraction of the cost of the BBG’s legacy shortwave and medium wave transmissions to the region. This allows TSI to leverage the widespread use of satellite receiver dishes across the country and provide accessible programming where local cable and internet access is restricted. In FY 2018, TSI will procure additional satellite capacity on this satellite, allowing BBG to simultaneously distribute HD and SD TV programming and capitalize on the migration of Chinese audiences to HDTV, while not stranding legacy SD users. …

“Radio remains a very popular platform in many BBG markets, particularly Africa. BBG global weekly radio audiences increased by a stunning 28 million in 2016 alone and by 35 million since 2012. While shortwave continues to be a relevant means of delivery in several African markets, in most countries rapid growth and competition in the media market have shifted radio
habits almost entirely towards FM. The BBG provides 24/7 FM radio programming in over 30 markets across the continent. …

But good news for Kuwait and Greenville stations

“As part of its multi-year global network realignment, TSI will continue to focus efforts on upgrading its shortwave capacity at the Kuwait Transmitting Station, even as use of SW decreases. With superior strategic location and extremely low operating
costs, this station will be able to serve the overwhelming majority of legacy SW audiences in the most cost-effective manner possible, at a fraction of the cost of other BBG operated site or expensive leased capacity. …

“The BCI [broadcasting capital improvement] funds in FY 2018 (and base funds in FY 2019) will be used to continue the planned reconfiguration and expansion of the shortwave broadcast
infrastructure at the Kuwait Transmitting Station. This will allow BBG to enhance transmission to multiple regions, including Africa, and achieve cost savings for shortwave broadcasts.
Because of the very low cost of electrical power in Kuwait, the Kuwait Transmitting Station is the least expensive IBB station to operate. This project will allow the agency to shift mission-critical but higher cost transmissions from other stations in the IBB network to Kuwait.

“TSI will install and deploy three newer SW transmitters at the Greenville, NC Edward R. Murrow transmitting station enabling a doubling of frequencies servicing Cuba and making it extremely difficult for the Cuban government to effectively block Radio Marti signals into the Island. …

“To serve audiences in less developed areas of the world, the BBG must continue to broadcast via traditional technologies, such as shortwave, and maintain capability and improve efficiency on these platforms by replacing antiquated equipment. But to stay relevant in competitive news markets and serve current and future audiences, the BBG must continue to invest in new cutting-edge technology. In areas where ownership and usage of shortwave radio has declined significantly, the Agency has evolved away from broadcasting in that medium. The BBG has closed transmission stations, repurposed equipment and invested these savings in
platforms that the audience has shifted to, primarily television and digital media.”

The entire FY2019 BBG budget submission is here:

Macon Dail receives the BBG Gold Medal Award

I’m incredibly proud of my friend, Macon Dail, who was recently awarded the Gold Medal Award from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Post Readers might recall that Macon is the Chief Engineer at the Edward R. Murrow Broadcasting Station in Greenville, North Carolina and was featured in our 2012 tour of the transmitting site.

Here’s the announcement:

Macon M. Dail, Jr., Chief Engineer, Edward R. Murrow Broadcasting Station (Greenville, NC) has been nominated and selected to receive the Broadcasting Board of Governor’s (BBG) most prestigious award – The Gold Medal.

The Gold Medal Award is utilized by BBG to recognize extraordinary employee contributions to the mission and goals of the agency during the past year. The nomination was made by Dail’s peers.

Dail’s nomination is the first time in the station’s more than 50 year history that a station employee has been awarded the Agency’s highest honor.

The awards ceremony [was] held in Washington, DC on November 1, 2017 at the Wilbur J. Cohen Federal Building Auditorium at 2:00 pm.

Bravo, Macon!

Not only are you an invaluable engineer, but you’ve also become an amazing ambassador for one of the largest active shortwave transmitter sites in the world. This award was very well-deserved.

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Oath being sued

(Source: iMediaEthics via Dan Robinson)

Carter Page, a former adviser to then presidential candidate Donald Trump, is suing Oath, the parent company of Yahoo News and the Huffington Post, [as] well as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The lawsuit results from news stories about his alleged ties to Russia; he calls the articles “highly damaging” and “life-threatening.”
Specifically, Page is suing over a Michael Isikoff article for Yahoo News, which he calls “perhaps the most dangerous, reckless, irresponsible and historically-instrumental moments in modern-day sensational crime story journalism.”

Isikoff’s Sept. 2016 article reported, based on “multiple” anonymous sources, that “U.S. intelligence officers” were trying to figure out if Page had “opened up private communications with senior Russian officials.”[…]

The lawsuit is uploaded here.[…]

Click here to read the full article and comment at iMediaEthics…

“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.”