As observed by Dr. Helle Dale of the Heritage Foundation, “despite having adopted a new strategic plan, the board then spent a good 10 minutes of its October 13 meeting discussing contracting an independent firm to perform a feasibility study of consolidation.” If consolidation of services is part of a plan already adopted—and to some degree already underway—” Dr. Dale asks “why does it now need to be studied? The initial cost of such an independent study by Deloitte Consulting to be delivered on November 10 (an amazingly short timeframe) is $275,000. The same firm would subsequently be responsible for an implementation plan to the tune of $1.3 million. The whole scenario suggests that the study will serve as justification and cover for decisions that have already been made.”
BBG member Ambassador Victor Ashe asked a very good question, does the proposed consolidation make sense if various broadcasting entities are successful due to their separate cultures and identities? Ashe expressed his scepticism that a quality study can be done in such a short time. He also suggested that besides studying personnel, administrative and financial issues, there is also the need to consider broader aspects of journalism, effectiveness and public image of the broadcasting entities under the proposed consolidation.
The plan, developed by the same management team that wanted to end all Voice of America radio and TV broadcasts to China, would in effect turn VOA and other broadcasting entities into a private enterprise run by bureaucrats who would be getting free money from Congress. It would also end the special role of the Voice of America of reporting on, explaining, and discussing U.S policies. The plan in effect rejects the idea that there is a difference between VOA and the so called surrogate broadcasters. The BBG wants VOA to compete with private broadcasters in the U.S. to achieve higher audience numbers promised under this plan.
The $1.3 million Deloitte contract includes $150,000 for travel expenses.
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